How important is it?

The autumn equinox has just passed, and so balance is on my mind. Day and night were in equal balance for just a moment, and now we tip into the dark time of the year, the Underworld.

Equinox by Molly Costello

Equinox by Molly Costello http://www.mollycostello.com

Actually, balance has been on my mind for a while now. A couple of weeks ago, at our Full Moon ritual, we used my Balance Guided Meditation to reassess the priorities in our lives.

And I’ve had a few conversations with friends recently about how to balance all the parts of our lives. We all seem to be so busy! Working more than one job, doing things on the side to make ends meet, going to classes (or teaching them) in the evenings, making time for family… Where’s the me time? What about exploring things just because we WANT to? Or the things that support our overall well-being?

The question that keeps coming up for me is how important is it? (And then the refrain from Walk Off the Earth’s song These Times: “I just don’t want it, I just don’t want it enough I guess”, which is totally me when it comes to exercise… I want to, but I don’t want it enough.)

For me, my spirituality and spiritual practice is vital. Being a priestess is an essential part of who I am and what I do. I can’t turn that part of myself off. I am sad and disappointed when I have to miss rituals or festivals. My spiritual family is as important to me as my biological family.

And while I understand that priority is not the same for everyone in my spiritual community, I always have a moment of disorientation when someone chooses another activity over spiritual practice. I have to remind myself that my priorities are not necessarily their priorities. I imagine others have the same experience with me since exercise is low on my priority list.

Not only do I have to ask myself how important something is to me, I need to remember to ask others how important a certain thing is to them. Because they may not want it as much as I do, and expecting them to is setting us both up for disappointment.

And asking myself how important something is helps remind me to not expect too much of myself, and not over-commit myself. In this way I avoid overwhelm, or disappointment about not being able to do everything I want to do. Well, sort of. I still get disappointed that I can’t do it all, however, I have more realistic expectations about what I am willing to sacrifice, and what I am NOT willing to sacrifice.

So, how important is it to you?

Blessings,

Mary

 

Why are good habits so hard?

I know what’s good for me. I know what keeps my body, mind, and spirit healthy.

good habits are so hardAnd yet, over and over, when my life gets challenging, the good habits are the first to go. And the last to come back. Especially for my body.

More often than not, I eat fairly healthy. Ok, ok, I like my chocolate. I do my best to keep it in moderation.

When my stress levels rise, though, I crave junk food. I know, I know, it’s a temporary feel good. And yet, I can’t seem to summon the willpower to resist.

I need to exercise more. My body is unhappy with being out of shape. I regularly look at options for classes to take, and they don’t fit my schedule. Or it’s expensive, or too much driving back and forth, or any number of excuses.

I have several exercise DVD’s, a yoga one that I actually love. And sleep takes precedence 99% of the time. Or pain. (To be fair, though, I stretch almost every morning, mostly to help deal with the pain.)

Why are good habits are so hard? Hard to establish and hard to maintain?

Meditation and journalling – so good for my mental and spiritual health. Meditation is the last of my good habits to go, and the one I drop the least often (thank goodness – I don’t know how I would handle my life if I didn’t meditate). I haven’t journalled in ages, though. (I do write this blog post, so that’s kind of like journalling…)

Am I just lazy? Well, sometimes, yes. To be honest, there are times (lots of them) that I would rather watch Netflix than work out. There are SO many other things I could be doing, that I want to be doing. Reading and learning and creating.

Not enough being.

And yet, HAVING to exercise or eat healthy or journal or meditate can also be too much doing and not enough being.

I enjoyed a nothing weekend last weekend. I had a (mostly) nothing day this weekend. The rest of my week tends to be pretty filled to the gills. So snatching a bit of screen time or book time here and there is my mental health break.

I’m honestly not sure how to find the right health balance – one that includes exercise. It’s just not as high a priority for me as other things. Because doing too much, which I regularly do, doesn’t allow time for being.

All the motivational quotes about good habits say things like, “Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, but much more rewarding.” Or, “Good habits, once established, are just as hard to break as bad habits.”

I don’t find that to be necessarily true. I have to choose the good habits over and over and over again. And sometimes the good habit is a much more difficult choice.

How do you maintain your good habits?

Blessings,

Mary

 

It’s a Delicate Balance

This applies to so much of my life right now – finances, work, school, home, emotions.

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny fall day. I did something I haven’t done for a very long time (too long, to be honest) – I went for a walk in the woods. I definitely haven’t found the right balance of exercise and nature recently!

It’s been raining here, so the path was really muddy. The creeks and the puddles were full. Leaves blanketed the ground, and the sun dappled through the mostly bare trees.

I thought a lot about my husband – when he’s here, he walks that path pretty much every day. I miss him. He supports me in so many ways. I know that he is still supporting me as much as he can. It’s much more challenging from across the continent, though. That’s a definite balancing act – supporting each other physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Another delicate balance I’ve been thinking about lately is the balance between active manifesting and surrendering.

Manifestation - VisualizationManifestation involves several steps. I’ll use my car as an example.

First, I have to be clear about what I want. I want a reliable vehicle, preferably a minivan, to be able to get my children to school, me to work, and our family on our occasional trips. By reliable, I mean one that is in good running order. I want it to fit within my budget, or have my budget expand to accommodate the acquisition of the vehicle.

I need to take steps toward making it happen. Wishful thinking and visualization alone won’t necessarily bring about the change I seek. I need to be on the lookout for vehicles that will work. I can research which vehicles fit my needs.

The conundrum comes with that action. I start trying to work out HOW I’m going to manifest my ideal vehicle. I can wish to win money. I can apply for loans. What if that’s not really in my highest good? I don’t have the biggest picture because I am in the middle of my own life. If I push too hard on a specific solution, I may miss an easier or better opportunity that the Universe would present to me…if I weren’t so caught up in solving the problem on my own.

I’m working on that delicate balance of taking action, and letting the Universe take care of the how. Besides, it’s considerably less stressful when I’m not worrying about how it is going to happen. And that helps the delicate balance of my emotions!

Though if you hear of anything, please let me know!

Blessings,

Mary

Lazy, or Accomplished?

The past few weeks I have felt kind of lazy. I’ve been sleeping late, and then staying up late, which makes me want to sleep late again.

Balance between Being and Doing

Funny how this has come up before…

Lately I’ve been watching movies and TV shows online. Sometimes they are totally distracting me from doing the work that I said I was going to do this summer. Most of the year I don’t watch many movies or shows. So I’ve been binging. And I feel a little guilty about it.

I am judging myself as being lazy. I’ve let my discipline lax. When I sleep in late, I am less likely to go through my regular morning routine of meditation and stretching. I get out of bed feeling like I have wasted part of the day already, so I better get on with it. I have so much to do, and yet the days fly by, one after another.

It’s not that I haven’t accomplished anything. I have the course that I’m creating for the Seminary almost complete – only two more assignments to come up with. I had a wonderful visit with my parents, and made my mom a sweater coat. I’m keeping up with the courses I am taking. I’ve facilitated one handfasting, and I have another one coming up. I’ve been doing a lot of tarot readings.

And really, don’t I deserve a break? I go full out most of the year. I push myself pretty hard. So taking some time out, to chill and refill my cup isn’t unreasonable. In fact, I encourage others to do just that!

So why do I feel so guilty? I guess I have high expectations for myself. There’s so much I want to accomplish in my life. There is a pressure to always be *doing* something.

I’ve started setting myself small goals. Do this thing, and then you can have this much time off. Work on this for a while, and then relax for a while. It doesn’t completely get rid of the guilt, and it definitely makes it a lot smaller.

I also remind myself of the things I have accomplished, like I did in this post. By looking at what is complete, or what I have made progress toward completing, I feel a lot better about myself.

Balancing work and play, production and leisure isn’t easy. It is a constantly moving progression. And knowing that I am going to be back into a heavy workload soon helps me be more at ease with taking a little more leisure time now.

Blessings,

Mary

Sometimes I’m a Little Bit Crunchy

 

And sometimes I’m a bit of a… you’ll have to watch the video to find out!

 

For any of you who are curious, here are the proportions I use for my natural shampoo and conditioner:

Shampoo
1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp baking soda

Dissolve the baking soda in the warm water and pour into a container (I use an old shampoo bottle). Shake before using.

To use, pour straight onto your hair, focusing on the roots. Scrub and rinse. It doesn’t lather like regular shampoo. It thoroughly cleans your hair of any chemical buildup, so if you have colored your hair, you may not want to use it. I haven’t colored my hair in ages, so I am not worried about that.

Conditioner
1 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
7-10 drops peppermint essential oil (optional)
7-10 drops rosemary essential oil (optional)

Mix and store in the shower (again, I use an old conditioner bottle). Shake well before using.

To use, pour directly onto your hair, focusing more on the ends. You can let it sit on your hair for a while before you rinse it out, or you can leave it in. This helps restore the pH balance of your hair. Once your hair dries, you won’t smell the vinegar. It won’t feel slippery like with regular conditioner, so I was amazed at how easy my hair was to comb out – no tangles at all!

Tooth Powder
4 Tbsp baking soda
2 packets Stevia powder (because I like it a little sweet, and it helps counteract the flavor of the baking soda)
10 drops peppermint essential oil

Mix well with a spoon and store in a container with a lid. If you leave it open, the baking soda will absorb the odors in the air where it is stored – not the best idea if you are storing it in the bathroom!

Feel free to adjust the amounts of any of the ingredients. You’ll find lots of different versions out there on the Internet.

I’d love to hear some of your natural personal care recipes, or home remedies below. And let me know where you experience balance in your life, and where it is more of a challenge for you. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

UPDATE 2014-04-26

I just went 3 weeks back on shampoo and conditioner in an attempt to maintain color for an event. My hair was oilier, my scalp was SUPER itchy, and my hair tangled very easily. It also felt heavier.

After one wash back with the “no-poo”, my hair is lighter, softer, much less oily and much less snarly.

I recommend using non-pasteurized apple cider vinegar. I have noticed my hair is shinier than when I use the pasteurized. I think is has to do with the enzymes.

I don’t use the essential oils much any more. Just the straight solutions.

Also, several people have mentioned that they add honey to the baking soda, and it is gentler on their hair. Good luck!

How to Recover from Hell Week

Last week was particularly busy for my family. It seems the theater bug has bitten my whole family.

Missoula Children’s Theater came to town this past week. If you haven’t heard of them, they run a wonderful program for children. Two actor-directors travel around in a red F150. It carries the whole set, scripts, costumes and props to put on a one-hour play, usually a version of a well-known fairy tale. Children from all of the local schools are invited to audition after school on Monday. Those who are chosen rehearse all week, and perform twice on Saturday. At the end of the evening, the actor-directors pack up their truck and move on to the next community.

All three of my boys auditioned, and all three got parts in The Pied Piper!

A few weeks ago, my husband received a call and was asked to audition for a reader’s theater production of Norm Foster’s The Foursome. Reader’s Theater is where the actors read from scripts. They use limited sets, props and costumes, relying primarily on expression to convey the meaning of the play. His performances were also this week.

Stop. RelaxSo basically, because of other events scheduled for Sunday and Monday of last week, it has been a pretty crazy two weeks. My husband and I declared this Sunday a day of rest.

I slept in for the first time in…quite a while. I had a very strong desire to stay in my pajamas and not do anything all day, except maybe surf the net. And then the sun started shining through the front window, and it called me to move my body. So I compromised. I put on my yoga clothes and did yoga for the first time since sometime last fall. Or maybe even last summer.

I forget how much I enjoy the yoga DVD I have. (Jada Fire’s Expressive Yoga for the Soul if you are interested.) And I was truly amazed at how much stronger and more flexible I am since I have been working out on the Wave Vibration Fitness Machine at my chiropractor’s office. Some day I’m going to get one to use at home!

It felt so good to have a day with nothing really planned. It is so easy to get wrapped up in all the projects I am involved in. I sometimes forget that I need to schedule down time as well. Rest and relaxation are an important part of keeping balanced and maintaining positive mental health. When balance and mental health are not looked after, everything else becomes much more difficult.

The only thing I scheduled for the day was a phone call with a friend that I hadn’t talked to in ages. It was refreshing and energizing to catch up with her, and laugh with her. Again, it definitely helped with the balance and positive mental health.

I am very grateful that I, and my husband, took a day off, a day of nothing, a day of rest.

Blessings,

Mary

Walking a Tightrope

Ah, September. The children are going back to school, and so are many adults I know. It seems to me that September is really one of the busiest times of the year, second only to December, perhaps.

I have meetings scheduled, more online coursework to complete, rehearsals are starting, and more responsibility at work. I also have to get ready for The ONE: A Spiritual Event later this month. I’m working really hard not to let myself get overwhelmed, and some days that is easier than others.

In some ways, being so busy is exciting.  There are lots of beginnings, opportunities, fresh starts. And in other ways, it is scary. Will I manage to keep all of my commitments, and still keep my sanity?

Tightrope WalkerI find myself once again looking for that elusive thing called balance. I understand it is not a static state of being – breathe and the balance is upset one way or the other.  I imagine myself as a tight rope walker, with a stack of plates balanced on my head and holding my breath lest they fall. If I can make it from here to the other end of the rope without breaking any plates, then I’ll be able to breathe deeply again.

Why do I do this to myself – take on so many activities that it is difficult to keep up with them all? Partly because there are so many parts of me to please. I am a wife, a mother, an employee, a theater lover, a coach, a life-long learner…the list goes on and on. I wouldn’t be satisfied with coming home after work and sitting back in front of the tv.

And yet, there is a (rather large) part of me that longs for weeks of no schedule, no plans, just sleep and eat and do whatever takes my interest at the moment.

So I take those moments when I can get them. And sometimes it means leaving something undone. I can take responsibility for my actions and my happiness. Taking care of myself is vitally important. And if I can meet others needs, too, then it is a great day.

Here’s to making it through the month! 🙂

Blessings,

Mary

The Balance Between BE-ing and DO-ing

I’ve noticed a trend in my life.  I either get stuck in the DO-ing-ness of my life, or drift off into the BE-ing-ness of it. The balance between the two is elusive.

Not long ago, I was all DO-ing.  My days were scheduled to the minute, and I got a lot done.  My DO-ing times can be very productive.

And then, a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t want to DO anymore.  I just wanted to BE.  In these BE-ing times, its all about me.  I read fiction. I sleep.  I avoid checking my email for days at a time. I really want to hibernate, or go be a hermit. Its not that I DO nothing.  I still go to work, and I am still taking care of my family.

And then, I start feeling like I am wasting my time, because I am not DO-ing anything productive. But I don’t want to. But I need to keep the commitments I have made. And on and on goes the conversation in my head.

Balance between Being and DoingSo how do I keep a balance between my DO-ing and my BE-ing?  That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? 🙂

Knowing that balance is not a static position, but one that is fluid, in constant adjustment, helps. There is no one thing that I can do and suddenly achieve balance for the rest of my life.  It’s something I have to work at.

So here are some things I am DO-ing to incorporate BE-ing into my days:

  • I set aside time each day to BE. Part of that is my morning meditation, part of it is my daily walk.  Part of it is writing in my journal.  While all of these are still “activities”, they aren’t about achieving an immediate goal, or accomplishing a task. They contribute more to my over-all well-being.
  • I set an intention each morning for something I would like to accomplish that day.  This way I make sure I am not drifting through my days getting nothing done.

What things do you do to balance BE-ing and Do-ing?  I’d love to hear your ideas, and add more tools to my toolkit!

Blessings,

Mary