Step Back to Basics

It’s summer. The sun has mostly been out, everything is growing, the birds sing joyfully, and my dogs roll around in the grass. 

I love summer, but haven’t quite felt like I’m enjoying it. I’m busy and jumping from one event to another, one project to another, one unnecessary activity to another. 

I need to slow down and get back on track. How do I do that?

The first thought that came to mind is step back to basics. To me that means cutting back on what stresses me and fill it with what nourishes me and makes me happy. 

Here are some ways to step back to basics:

1. Cut back on what I don’t enjoy doing. Of course there are times when I have obligations to fill. I’m not someone who enjoys housework, but I make it better by listening to music or an audiobook or setting a timer to see how much I can get done. 

2. Go for a walk. Nothing slows me down and brings perspective quicker than taking my dogs for a walk. 

3. Listen to music. Discover new types or artists. 

4. Make time for a hobby that you love. If you don’t have one, then figure one out. Maybe it’s carving wood, painting, hiking, reading, pottery, photography, learning an instrument or language. What brings you joy?

5. Shut down the technology. My son yelled at me this morning as I’m using my phone to blog. He wanted me to talk to him and not get caught up in social media. I put my phone down until he left for work! It’s so easy to get dragged into someone else’s drama and not even know what the drama is! We feed off everyone’s negative responses. Stick to the facts and call that person if you are concerned. 

6. Be Still. Sit outside and enjoy the sounds, scents, and sights around you. Be in that moment. Or if you have a garden connect to nature and the earth. 


7. Unclutter your life by getting rid of what you don’t use and either give it to someone or recycle it. 

8. Eat close to home and food that is simple and fresh. Farmer’s Markets are abundant. Eat fresh and organic when you can. Eat what nourishes you. 

Here is a list of markets in the Capital District

Cut out the fluff and activities that don’t serve you. Do what moves you and makes your heart and body feel lighter. This takes listening to yourself and not loading your life up so much that your spirit is tamped down. 

There is nothing wrong with slowing down and getting back to basics. It also means getting back to the foundation of who you are. 

How will you step back to basics?

Words Matter

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Words Matter. It’s like a new slogan pounded into my heart this morning when I first heard it. Words, especially saying the right or wrong ones can make a huge difference for everyone who hears them.

It is extremely difficult to communicate sometimes. I know I have been afraid, worried, deterred from sharing what I have truly wanted to say. My journals hold my truths, because they aren’t judged and no one sees them. My journal is the holding space where I can let those words simmer, settle or dissipate the sparked emotions I’m feeling at that time.

Words can save relationships or they can destroy them. When words are spoken rashly, no matter how hard we try to take them back, they are already out there spreading like a plague often with no idea of how it started. Rashly spoken words are often ones dying to be released. They are words that feel defeated, not acknowledged, debased, and forgotten. Then once the words build up, they literally choke the holder and spew out like flash floods or spin out of control like a tornado, or burn everything in its path as a volcano does.

Using a journal to get a feel for how those words will land is vital to speaking your truth in a way that honors how you feel, but also honors the relationship you have with another person. I tell writers all the time to let your piece sit for a day, week or month then go back to it. When you read it again, you have created a distance that allows you to truly see what you have written. The same goes with journal writing. Let it simmer then cool and view it from a calmer frame of mind. You may or may not feel the same. Either way at least you have that chance to clearly state how you feel and why without the emotional  charge.

Do you notice how hard it can be to tell someone how you feel about them? It shouldn’t be so difficult to tell someone you love them. I tell my son most every time I say goodbye that I love him, because even though he knows it, I am grateful that I can speak those words to him, and he can say them back.

I’ve been quite nostalgic lately, and I think that’s causing me to express my feelings even more than I usually do. I want people to know that I care about them, and it not only feels wonderful to me that I have expressed myself, but it also sends positive energy their way. It doesn’t always have to be verbal. Texting, writing notes and placing them where someone will find them, or sending cards to those who live far away all create joy and love that is so needed in our world today.

Words Matter. At the end of my life, I want to know that I have told those I love how much they mean to me. I want to have stood up for the wrongs that I have seen in this world. I may not be able to take back harsh words spoken in the heat of anger or frustration, but I will make sure that I am complete with that person in that we have had a chance to express how we both feel and respect our differences.

It’s not easy to do all of this. It’s also not easy to find the words that can express the depths of our feelings, but we should at least try. Words can destroy, create wars, break up families, and kill. Yet, words have the power to heal, to offer hope, love, acceptance, and joy. Those are the words I choose. The words that let people know they matter.

If you are angry at someone or a situation or feel betrayed and hurt, write down what happened, how it made you feel, and what you would like to do about it. Then let it sit for at least a day. When you go back to it, does the situation still have the same level of emotion? Do you still feel the need to have a conversation with this person or group? If so, from this space of calm, write down what you would like to say. Does it convey the message and tone that you want to convey? If unsure, it may be helpful to ask a trusted friend.

Tell someone today how much they mean to you, whether in a note or face to face. Watch how it makes them feel. Do they light up, smile, and return the emotion? It can be anyone, spouse, parent, friend, family member. How did it make you feel? The more you express yourself, the easier it gets.

 

 

 

Everyone Needs a Tribe

When my son became ill, the first thing I did was gather my tribe. Everything else but the fact that my son had cancer was placed on the back burner. We gathered together even on July 4th when everyone already had plans.

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The immediate DeTillio, Cammarata, Thomas, Albin, and McCormick clan! 

 

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Janine, Michele, Stephanie, and Sal gather around our matriarch–Momma Rita!

I remember walking down to Clifton Commons where we always watched the fireworks with my siblings and many of my karate family. The rest of my tribe waited for me and my family on the sidewalks, on the fields, and back at our house offering love, hugs, and comfort.

We heal with love, but underneath that coziness was steel lined with determination. There is nothing more solid than a group of people who will do anything for you, who will pick you up without judgment, and hold you until you can find your feet again.

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Moms with a purpose and ready to fight for others. 
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Family by choice!

Throughout Nick’s illness, my tribe, especially including my group of ladies held us up by bringing us food, cleaning my house, taking Stephen when needed, visiting Nick, supporting me and Luke when we were away from each other so much, and emotionally kept us strong.

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When Nick passed, my tribe became the glue that kept me and my family together as we shattered apart.

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They let me grieve and do what I needed to do in order to make sense of this tragedy. Again no judgment. Only patience and love, even as they handled their own loss. That’s how it is with a tribe. The loss of one affects us all.

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My tribe has grown and our foundation has become stronger.

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It’s really hard to explain what we have together, but we appreciate the depths of our connections. When one of our tribe suffers, is wronged, or is ill, we feel it to our core. We have known terrible loss, but we have risen up from it to bring beauty, hope, and healing to our world. And whatever may come, we will always fight like the warriors we are.

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As our tribe continues to grow, know that once a part of the family, always a part of the family. No matter where you may be.

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Nick always a part of our tribe.

Who is your tribe? How do you support one another when you need it most? How can you let your tribe know that you are there for them? Write a note of thanks to each of them and how they positively impact your life. You don’t need a large tribe, just enough to get you through the tough times and celebrate in the good.

 

 

 

Are you Listening?

Girl listening with her hand on an ear

Last night I had a dream that I was in a training. Everyone was sharing their journal entries after some very serious self-inquiry. My friend was sharing her entry with me, but there were so many distractions around me that I didn’t listen to what she had to say. It was obvious from her face that she was waiting for my reaction, and I felt bad that I hadn’t fully concentrated on her words as they meant so much to her.

Yes, it was a dream, but there have been many times in my life that this happened to me. Someone was talking to me, and I would wait for them to take a breath so I could get my opinion in. Or I’m on the phone with someone, but I also click through Facebook. I’m introduced to someone at an event, and I’m actually listening to the music, so I don’t remember their name. The worst was when my son, Stephen, brought it to my attention that I tuned him out when he spoke about his video games. Yes it was hard for me to understand some of what he was talking about, but it was important to him.

It’s hard to admit, but by doing so I became present to the fact that if I truly care about what people say to me, then I need to listen with my whole body, mind, and spirit. Of course it depends on the situation. A friend and I may be shooting the breeze and just gabbing to pass the time. We may be talking while walking or paddle boarding, so the multi-tasking is appropriate. However, when someone else’s body language is serious, tense, or upset, I now tune out the world and focus completely on them.

The alternative is like my dream. She feels bad that I didn’t hear her, and I feel bad that I didn’t take the time to listen. Journaling is about being honest. And being honest about when you aren’t completely authentic is tough to do. I don’t want to regret not taking the time to fully absorb what someone trusts enough to tell me. I want to be there 100%. Now I know that I’m listening.

Have there been times in your life that you tune out or don’t give someone 100% of your attention and it caused tension or upset them? Do you remember a time when you didn’t feel listened to? Write about how you can fully listen the next time you speak to this person or let them know that you need their full attention.