What is blooming for you?

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As the world outside comes back to life, the birds sing once again, and the sunshine sheds its light on the goodness around us, we know that hope is blooming.

Growth

–What is blooming for you? It could literally be flowers and vegetables, but it could also be something inside you that you want to grow. Or a project that you want to build. A change that has been bubbling all winter that you are ready to manifest. Maybe it’s within something you have no control over, but have to accept it into your life. If you aren’t sure, writing about possibilities will help the ideas take root.

Seeds

–Once you know what you want to grow, get specific. Here are some suggestions:

Personal–health, reducing stress, self-care, relaxation, exercise

Job stability or a new one–going back to school, getting a promotion, changing careers, retirement or what to do now that you have retired.

Simplicity–downsizing, decluttering, slowing down, spending time with who and what matters.

Rain

–In spring we often view rain as a hindrance to our ability to enjoy ourselves or the outside world. Rain is needed to nourish the earth so that flowers can grow, trees can bloom, birds can find worms to eat. Without the rain nothing would grow. April showers do bring May flowers, but we have to find the goodness in the dark clouds or setbacks that may affect what we want to grow.

–What do you see as rain in your life? What is the negative that you feel is preventing the growth, that you might have seen as a hindrance, but actually can help you bloom and nourish what you planted?

Sunshine

–What positive sunlight can you cast on your seeds to help them grow?

–What can you do to nourish yourself and what you are blooming?

–Shifting your perspective to seeing the good in very situation will make the harder parts of growth and change a bit easier.

Flowers

–Once those seeds sprout and you are growing what you planted, how will you feel? –What will it change or affect in your life?

–What does it look like? Describe it like you would a flower or plant.

Create a visual. It could be flowers with what you want to grow in the petals or a garden with the seeds noting what you want to bloom. It can be a quick reminder and motivator in our daily path to grow, heal, and become more aware of who we are. Writing in your journal helps to translate what you want on the page into your life.

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Visual example by Arthur Forest

Write about the process of what you are growing. Every moment of our growth or transition into spring, into change, into something different whether we want it or not needs to be a gentle movement. The more we ease into the moment, the easier the transition, the more we are aware of our intention and our potential.

 

 

Day Two–Kitchen Create Space

Can you tell I’m decluttering? It felt more like adding to the chaos today. Day two of creating space was challenging. I thought the kitchen would be fast and easy. How wrong I was! It was difficult to stay focused. I had some foundation items to take care of, and I’m still editing Saving Atlantis. I find setting a strict schedule is forcing me to be efficient, but I physically can’t do what I had planned in one day.

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I took this photo when I had to take a break. It’s my whole life in a nutshell, but I love that my journal just happened to be in the midst of the storm. Enjoy the little things. So very true.

I had the pleasure of talking with one of my lovely nieces, I walked the dogs, lifted weights, and took time to enjoy the evening sky.

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Back to business. Anything that was chipped, not used in years, or didn’t serve me any longer were placed in boxes for Stephen’s apartment and donating. I got caught up in changing where I placed my dishes and glassware. They were switched a few times, but we’ll see how it goes!

I left my storage container area for last. I didn’t take a picture of it, because I believe it would burn your eyes. Just ask my sister, Michele, who has seen it first hand. But I will show you the results!

 

 

 

I love that there is so much space. My good dishes were way up high, and I always forgot what I had to use for those special occasions.

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All my storage containers were placed mostly at eye level. It looks so neat, doesn’t it? We’ll see how long it lasts. I like to have the tops on the containers, because it takes so much time to find the cover. It takes up more space, but saves my sanity.

My utensil drawers drove me absolutely nuts! I had about 30 pens mixed in with serving spoons, 20 coupons for Venezia’s Pizza, (which went to Stephen), post-it notes, paper clips, and bad batteries. I kept only what I needed and got rid of the rest.

I cleaned the front of the fridge, but will do the inside this weekend. I still need to clean the outside of my cabinets, the appliances, and the counter will need a good scrubbing. So far my office and my kitchen aren’t quite where I need them to be, but keeping to my schedule definitely kept me on task. I accomplished much more than I had hoped.

I’m not getting to transferring my computer files to create needed storage space on my computer. I had scheduled this for the evenings, but I will do this on a separate week.

I feel good about where I am in the process! I am hearing from a lot of you who are decluttering. Let me know how it’s going and if you have any helpful tips!

Be Here Now

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There is a soothing space in this moment. Right now. As I bring my pen to journal, the scratching of the ink along the page is like a mantra, calming my system, focusing my mind on what is right in front of me. As I connect with my words, nothing else matters. Any stress, anticipation of my day, worry about the world or those I love all melt away. All I am is in this single moment. A writing meditation.

It’s quiet. My dogs rest around me secure in their safe place. I am aware of my self, my emotional and physical state. Being here now makes it easy to accept where I am, because there is no other place to be. As the thought to add something to my list urges me to turn the page to my calendar, I keep writing, push those thoughts away and remain here. In this place.

Be Here Now. There is no other time that will give me what I need. I soak it in and appreciate now.

How can you be in your moment, where you are, right now?

I’m Ready

My journal entries are often inspired by authors whose words resonate with me. I completely agree that you will connect with a book in different ways depending on where you are in your life. I picked up Cheryl Richardson’s book, Waking Up in Winter, because of the sub-title: In Search of What Really Matters in Mid-life. I figured I could connect to some of it. Plus it was written in journal form, and since I’m working on a book about journaling. I thought I could get some insight.

 

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On page 23, she writes about how saying no after always saying yes can rock the boat of life. For those who start saying no, it can be very positive, but those “around them get upset and start questioning the new behavior because change feels scary and unsettling to the safe and familiar tribe.” (23)

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I have taken to opening a page daily in Melody Beattie’s book, Journey to the Heart. This morning I read a passage called, Are You Ready, Willing, & Able? (283) It’s dated for October 1. Significant month for me. I read it out loud to my dogs. They need daily inspiration as well! When I finished, Dakota my 105 pound rescue placed his paw on the book and stared at me. “OK!” I said. “I am ready, willing, and able!”

Melody’s entry was about being ready to get what I want. Once I know what I want I have to tell a friend, shout it out to the world, and probably let my dogs know. Then watch how I feel about it, observe what obstacles jump in my path, the fears, doubts, and distractions that prevent me from being ready.

Hmm. When two books collide to push me along my path, I have to listen. I have written about my amazing tribe. Some might clamor for me to say ‘no’ more while others might wonder what is wrong with me.

Even as I write this, huge blocks are being thrown in my way. It’s because I’m a people pleaser. I hate to disappoint even if my soul’s purpose is dying on the side of the road. The one word I would change in Melody’s passage is ‘want.’ It’s not about getting what I want. It’s about getting what I ‘need.’

Through the many years of journaling, yoga, and deep soul searching, I have learned my path is led by my words. I was meant to be a writer, to share my stories, to entertain, to offer hope. In addition, I need to share my craft with others, so that they can find their own voice, healing, and purpose.

I was on that path 10 years ago when my son became ill. Yes, I have continued to write, publish, and teach, but I need to do it more. I need to jump in and submerge myself in this world of words to follow the path I veered from 10 years ago.

Ironically, the foundation that my husband and I started in memory of Nick is in line with my passion to write. My words have helped families battling cancer. I have written about the inspiring stories that move me. I can still do this, but I have to make space for more of it.

Don’t worry, Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation is still here. But we are changing some of our focus based on what the children, young adults and families need emotionally when facing a cancer diagnosis or to heal from losing a child. How fortunate for me that my gift of expression can fulfill my mission to help children with cancer and beyond.

But to do this, I have to say no to other opportunities within the foundation, within my life, and people’s expectations of me. I know I will disappoint some and that is a block I am learning to set aside. Remember my prompt on Emotional Strength? If you need training on how to remove a block, check that one out.

Sharing that I am growing my writing and teaching career is scary, but it’s so exciting. I have characters and worlds in me clawing to get out. I have a support system that lifts me daily and urges me to follow this journey. If you notice this shift, know that nothing is wrong. Just like my husband and I encouraged our boys to live fulfilling lives, I am doing the same.

Letting go of other’s expectations of me and following my heart is truly the greatest gift I can give to myself and the world.

What are you ready, willing, and able to do now?

What have you recently said yes to that made your stomach twist? What would you have liked to say?

When can you say no, in order to create space for what you need to do?

How would you feel?

What is blocking you? Why?

Start small and build up that NO muscle. It gets easier the more you say it and the more you fill your space with what nourishes you.

Building Emotional Strength

This morning, I attended Jessica Padula’s 90-minute Hot Baptiste Beats yoga class at Clifton Park’s Hot Yoga Spot.

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Janine and Jess, Baptiste sisters!

I wish I had taken a photo of us together after today’s class, because even though this one symbolizes our connectedness, today’s would have displayed our emotional strength.

Class started with a reading about spinning your wheels and getting stuck where you don’t want to be. Sometimes we have to dig in and kick hard enough to get where we really need to be. We don’t get there by waving a magic wand. We get there through determination, self-inquiry, and doing the work.

But how do we know where we are going? How do we build the necessary muscles to make such an important journey? How do we know what to pack?

The power in yoga is breaking down to break through and build ourselves up when we are stuck in that deep rut. This rut can be caused by a countless number of things. Grief, loss, depression, low self-esteem, abuse, addiction, the world around us, and the list can go on and on.

Jess compared building our emotional strength to lifting weights. When we lift, we actually cause mini-tears in our muscles that then connect back together to become stronger and bigger. But there has to be a balance. If we keep lifting a large amount every single day, then our muscles never heal. We will cause damage and be in pain.

She explained that this is the same with emotional strength. But here is the most important part. Jess said, “Emotional strength doesn’t mean being numb.” If we deny and avoid the tears, the pain gets deeper, and the damage can be permanent.

I have always been open about losing my son, Nick, to cancer. This year is 10 years since he was diagnosed and passed away. For a large part of those 10 years, I ignored those tears and stuffed down the pain of not being able to see my son, talk to him, or hold him. It’s a heavy burden to bear, and some of the damage may very well be permanent. A broken heart, an ache that never goes away, and a sadness that waits for another opportunity to show its face can throw me off for days.

Every time something reminds me of Nick or I comfort another family who has lost their child to cancer, a small emotional tear forms. Whether it’s in my heart, my soul, my body, it affects me mentally, emotionally, and physically. I have often ignored that tear by numbing out: eating foods that aren’t good for me so I feel the physical pain of a stomach ache, instead of the hurt in my heart; I take on so many activities, create more events to plan and attend I don’t have downtime; I make it my absolute purpose to fix anything and everything from someone’s relationship, to organizing someone’s wedding, to healing a person’s depression, so I can save someone.

I do all this, because if I ever opened up to the full scope of my loss, those tears would become rips. Don’t get me wrong, I love helping people and being in service. But I wasn’t taking care of myself or being in service to me and my purpose.

Over the last three years, I have become aware of those tears and how I react to them. I found relief through yoga to heal the physical pain. But it was by journaling that I understood how I could face the emotional tear, heal it, and build my emotional strength. Jess’ analogy perfectly described what yoga and journaling does for me.

My yoga practice and the empowering community created a safe space for me to cause the tear in my emotions, just as if I was lifting weights. I don’t know how many times I have broken down in class and left feeling lighter, but drained. Through journaling I am able to work with that tear. What caused the break down? What is blocking me, holding me back, how am I not supporting my purpose or exercising self-care. By acknowledging the tear and being alright with the fact that it was there helped me to soothe it. Eventually my writing released the spasm of pain and strengthened my heart, so that I can walk alongside my loss and live my purpose.

It doesn’t end with yoga. Today was an emotional class. I felt the pain of my fellow practitioners, and I wanted to go to them and comfort. But I stayed in my practice and shared my energy without causing myself irreversible pain and tears.

So I say to anyone who feels those emotional tears, write about it. Release the toxins that are hurting you. Understand where they come from. By nursing each emotional tear, we build the strength to deal with all that life may put in our path. The combination of yoga and journaling has strengthened me emotionally to the point where I know what balm will heal my heart and soul.

Thank you, Jess, for living your truth and sharing it with our incredible yoga community.

What are your emotional tears?

What caused them?

What ways have you avoided your emotions or numbed out to the tears?

How has that affected you physically, mentally and emotionally?

What can you do right now to heal one tear?

What else do you do to build your emotional strength? What tools do you use?

Love Yourself as You Are

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Because of the snowy weather, my journaling workshop at the library has been cancelled, but this doesn’t mean we can’t journal together!

February is the month of hearts, love, and romance. Not everyone partakes in these festivities, and this month or Valentine’s Day can actually be sad and lonely for some of us.

My theme of Finding Purpose and putting dreams into action has to start with the most important step you will ever take in your life. Loving Yourself. This has been popping up all over the place, so I know I need to write about it.

I love the quote by Steve Maraboli where you have to love yourself enough to take action required for your happiness. How we feel about ourselves affects every decision we make. Take personal health. In restorative yoga this morning, Instructor Jess spoke about accepting your body where it is right now, not how it was yesterday or how it may be tomorrow. And not only accepting it, but being grateful for your body and your beautiful legs that carry you throughout the day.

This was perfect for me, because I woke up feeling very creaky! I’ve been working out, trying to get in better shape, and eat right. In class, I felt tight and was actually mad at myself for not making quicker progress. Then Jess said to breathe through the pose. I not only breathed through the pigeon pose, I also worked through that self-doubt and anti-love. I was working so hard on putting myself down, I forgot about how amazing my body is. How it gave birth to two babies and carried them through childhood. How I biked 100 miles for a charity or earned my karate belts by physically defending myself. Or how I sit for hours and use my fingers to type words from my heart. How my arms hold others in love and comfort. How I am alive, healthy, and able to walk up a flight of stairs.

For your journal prompt, take each part of the above quote and write about it:

*Write about the amazing ways your body supports you and what it has done in your life.

*What action can you take to be happy in any part of your life today? It can be as simple as reading a book, calling a friend, taking the time to journal or play in the snow if you have some, ride the waves if you live near a beach.

*What is holding you back from your past? What story are you holding on to? Can you write the ending where you say goodbye or have closure? Who in your life is filling yours with drama? Is it time to let them loose?

*What are you looking for in a relationship? This could be with a partner, your current spouse, family or friends. You deserve to not only love yourself unconditionally, but to be loved that way as well.

*How do you want to feed your mind? Go back to school? Read a book? Learn a language or draw, sing, etc.

*What physical activity can you partake in to make you feel good? Do you want to join a gym, take kickboxing, dance, yoga, martial arts, biking, meditation, walks. The sky is the limit. Movement means happiness!

*What do you need to forgive yourself for? Can you write yourself a letter? Can you have empathy for yourself like you would have for a friend? Putting that guilt aside, perhaps knowing that you cannot change what happened, but be with it, and give yourself a break is enough for now. Not forgiving yourself is one of the heaviest burdens we can bear.

*What is one step you can take today to loving yourself? This is a long list of questions. Take what moves you today, write, and take action. Then tomorrow go to another or continue on the same one.

You are worth every moment of happiness, self-love, and joy. Believe it for yourself and have a beautiful day.

love-yourself

Where are you Needed?

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Photo by Alysia Thomas

When we set priorities in our lives on how to spend our time, whether it’s work, personal or emotional, so many distractions can get in the way. But sometimes it’s not only distractions. There may be a project or mission you have been working on, which has built a life of its own. You are good at it, and it’s successful. It’s easy to stay in that comfort zone, rather than venture out into something new. But what happens when you get the nagging feeling that your path has changed? What you are doing has served you in the past, but now your purpose has grown as you have.

Asking where you are needed now might help you soothe those nagging thoughts.

My purpose of bringing hope has been brought to others in many different ways over the years. I have written fiction books that soften the harshness of reality and inspire others to fight for what they believe in. I have written a non-fiction book that honors young adults who never gave up. I teach the art of writing fiction and journaling to open people’s worlds to possibilities.

The creation of Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation was a manifestation of two parents’ grief and the need to help others emotionally and financially. That need is still there. 90 children each year are newly diagnosed and over 900 each year come back for treatment and checkups just at The Melodies Center in Albany Medical Center. The need for the foundation is there, but where am I needed within or outside the foundation?

What comes up for me is writing techniques that I share with others on how they can heal and become self-aware through journaling. Person to Person connections. That is where I thrive and as more people struggle with illness, a lost sense of purpose, and pain, that need grows even stronger.

I have taken a windy path to this road, and I couldn’t have gotten to this level of awareness and ability without my previous experiences. Plus, that nagging feeling goes away for me when I accept the truth of where I should be. It doesn’t mean that I am leaving what I am doing. But it does mean that I am shifting my role. The best way I can serve others is by following my purpose. It hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

Where are you needed? Write about it and connect to what you feel when you are writing. Your gut knows you better than anyone. Listen to it and follow your path.

 

Finding Purpose–Sharing your Gifts

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Angel Oak Tree, Johns Island, SC (Photo by Janine Cammarata)

When we take care of ourselves, find out who we are, and grow our purpose, we may want to share it with the world. Trees absorb the energy and nutrients from the earth, take what they need, and then releases all their goodness so that we can live. That is part of their purpose and their branches and leaves reach out to make an impact on others.

  1. What do you want to give to the world?
  2. What is your purpose and how will you share it?
  3. How do you want to make an impact?
  4. What does that impact look like to you?
  5. How does it feel to know what truly feeds your soul?

Trees have known a secret since the beginning of life on earth. They have to shed what doesn’t serve them anymore to make room for what will. Even the evergreens lose their needles and renew again. When leaves fall, it’s a sign that another season has come to an end. Another cycle has come and gone, so that another one can begin.

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  1. What can you let go that no longer serves you?
  2. Is there something you are doing that prevents your newly found purpose from evolving?

Creating space to let the new in or to allow room to grow is part of our learning process. As seasons change, so do we.

Finding Purpose–What Will you Grow?

Finding purpose in life and what drives you is a lifelong endeavor. It will change as your life circumstances do, but being aware of where you are and want to be is the next step. If you have followed the Finding Purpose series, you have established your values, what is important to you, and the type of person you are.

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Everything wonderful starts with something small. Life forms from a tiny acorn.

Journal about the following questions:

  1. What do you want to grow within yourself?
  2. What or who do you want to grow into?
  3. What kind of life do you want to live?

I’d like to grow a sense of community through my teaching and writing. Through my written word and connection, I instill a sense of hope that we can all make a difference, even if it’s a small one. As with the acorn, a small act of kindness can grow into something incredible and self-sustaining.

Old oak

 

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Template to use on your personal oak.

Use this acorn or draw your own and write the words you came up with on your quest for growth. For me it’s writing, yoga, community, personal health, family, connection, hope.

You have the power within yourself to be the best person you want to be. It’s all in you. Nurture it and watch it grow into something beautiful and amazing.

 

Finding Purpose–Root Values

Finding our purpose. Living our dreams. Being the person we want to be. These are strong notions that need deeply instilled values to implement.

The oak tree has huge significance to me as it probably does to so many people. When my son was in the hospital battling cancer, this poem was sent to me. It was a daily prayer to Nick that he would never break from this disease. His spirit never broke, but unfortunately his body did.

Then this poem and all that it signified became my personal mantra, symbol, and prayer to keep going without one of my boys. I have bent, lost my way, cracked branches, had holes drilled into me, have bared my soul, but I have never broken.

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Through my journaling and becoming self-aware through yoga, I have learned what I stand for, and not only how deep my roots go, but also what I value in this life. As part of that knowing, my purpose is to share with others, so that under the worst possible circumstances, you have hope. That is my purpose, that is my impact word–HOPE. We all need it.

Over the next couple days, I will share this process with you. It began with my last post of writing about your personal awesomeness. Start there if you please.

 

oak tree

You can use this image of an oak tree, draw your own or find another image. The point is that the oak tree symbolizes ourselves and our foundation.

Step One: Journal on the following questions:

  1. What are your core beliefs and values?
  2. What is important to you?
  3. Why do you have these values, where did they come from?
  4. How were they instilled in you?
  5. How do they impact your life?
  6. How do you live by them?

Step Two: Write your values in the roots of the oak tree. Words such as honesty, trust, dependable, etc. are words that you will have chosen to describe your values after you journaled. There are no wrong answers. It is whatever is right for you.

Be honest with yourself as this is the path to your purpose and you want it to be true.

Let me know how it goes for you. Keep it in your journal as we will come back to it tomorrow.

Happy Journaling!