Trying Out Word Press Themes. . .

I get bored with the same shoes, clothes, food, anything. . .  after too long.  It drives my husband crazy.  I’m sorry, hon,  Anyways. . .. I’m trying out Word Press themes this week.

Visually, I’m having a hard time finding the one that speaks to me in a way where I say, “Oh man. . . this is it.”

Maybe it’s because I am not to the pay money stage yet for a theme.  I want free.

But, along with free, you lose the ability to choose fonts and background colors.

Anyways. . . this week, I’m trying out themes. I need help and advise.  Serious and critical.  What do readers like?  Coming from a literacy background I know that struggling readers need black font on white background.  It’s hard for me to stray from that.

But, I need pieces of my art in there.  Most of my posts will have my art journal page as the image.   I need that in there.

So, I’m looking for advise here.  Tell me.  Critical or positive.  Let me know.  What is it that attracts readers to actually stay long enough to read an entire post?

Shari 🙂

p.s. the Snoopy artwork was borrowed from http://stepupyourgamenow.com/2012/06/to-decide-or-not-to-decide-that-is-the-question/ and I read the entire post.  It didn’t help.  But, I loved the site!  I’m now a follower. 🙂

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How Dreams Speak To Us

I had the most bizarre dream last night.

Actually, it was this morning, as I woke up at 5 a.m. and told myself to go back to sleep.  It’s those morning dreams that really shake you up.

Sporty (my hubby) and our dog, Sandy were in a duck hunting/retrieving contest.  Somehow, I became apart of this endeavor by being the one to remain on shore in order to canoe out into the water to fetch Sandy if she was in trouble and bring her to land.  Now, mind you, I don’t hunt or do these outdoorsman-ish things.  So, why I was a part of this whole scheme, I have no idea.  Just the fact that I agreed to it affirms that it was a dream.

Well, the blessed hunters and dogs took off in their duck boats.  Us “dog-savers” patiently awaited by the edge of the shore.  For some odd reason, we were all to stay lined up facing the water with one knee kneeling.  I don’t know. . . maybe so no one got a head start?  Fer dum.  My knee was getting wet.

As I eye-balled the twenty or so other participants to see what I was up against, I noticed that they were all men.  Young men.  Fit.  With muscles.  Well, there was one other woman way down the line yonder, but she was also army-fit.  And, she was decked out in the proper attire.  I’m sure she had the latest most updated Eddie Bauer or Filson hunting gear and it adorned her sculpted physique.  Me?  I had on jeans, my mud boots and this oversized jacket that I was being swallowed in.

What the hell was I doing here?

We sat there for what seems like hours.  All of us quiet and intent on being focused for this task.  My knee was getting sore.

Eventually, one lone dog came in sight of us all.  Binoculars thrust to our eyes.  As this dog paddled and gulped water attempting to drag a well fed duck (it WAS a big duck), it’s owner harnessed his canoe and oared out to greet and guide his faithful dog into the shore safely.  Once on shore and the duck dropped, he ordered the dog to hop back into the canoe and the “dog-saver” ferociously oared back out to the open water to join the dog back to the hunter.  Oars were moving at a vicious pace, strong and steady.  The muscles in his arms and shoulders tense enough to see through his jacket.  The dog rested in the boat awaiting his next fetching.

“WHAT????” I fareaked. “Sporty never told me that I was going to need to paddle BACK out into the water with the dog!!!  I can’t do that!!  I’ll be lucky if I can lift that damn oar, let alone paddle way out yonder!  Dang it!  Double Dang it!”

Again. .  . what the hell am I doing here?????  I don’t belong with these people.

More dogs appear.  All colors.  I  frantically scramble for my foggy binoculars and search for Sandy. I have to wipe off my binoculars as I can’t see through them, the piece of crap it is.  I notice what others are using and again, reassurance of my knowing I am outta my league.

As I scan from shore to shore, I notice a light-colored lab.  I gather my stuff and hop into my canoe, making sure no one is watching me for fear they will judge my ineptness and this business.  I try to look unnoticeable as I creep in between a few other canoers.

I reach Sandy and find her to be repeatedly diving down deep into the water as if she released the duck from her jaw and it sank to the bottom of the lake floor.  (Do ducks sink?  I don’t know. . . it’s a stupid dream.)  Regardless, she painstakingly dives down deep for this dead creature.  I’m thinking she is going to drown herself attempting to retrieve something her instinct tells her she must have.  Animals are like that.

No Fear.  Not.  A.  Bit.

Unlike Me.

I call to her and she ignores me.  As I yell louder for her to obey, she finally paddles over to me and I grab her and yank her into the canoe.  She falls limp to the canoe floor and pants relentlessly.  I have never seen her so exhausted.  Like her heart might jump out of her skin.  I’m kinda scared.

I oar to shore and pull her out of the canoe, easing her up high on the shore.  I wipe her off and wrap her with a towel and we just rest.  She needs rest.  This poor dog.  I’ll be darned if I’m taking her back out there to that, that, whatever they do out there.  There, there, poor Sandy.

Then, I see the collar.  It’s a thin yellow collar.

This is not Sandy.

Sandy has a wide camo collar.

Oh my God.  Where is Sandy?  Where is she then?????  Almost all of the other dogs have arrived by now.  Dog-savers have rushed them back out to the waters and here I sit with some strange dog.  I think I am sick.

Had I been so side tracked paying all my attention to THIS dog that I missed my own when she came near?  Did I miss her struggling and diving underwater and neglect the signs to get out there and save her?

Whose dog is this?  And, why isn’t anyone looking for her?

I fail.

Yes.  I fail.

Then, I woke up.

I shake my head and think, “Geez, what the heck was THAT all about?”

As I’m drinking my coffee, I share my dream with Gracie, my 19-year-old daughter.  “What is the significance of this dream, do you think?”  I ask her.

“It’s telling you that you really love Sandy!”  she beams.  She goes to let Sandy in, her tail wagging and she licks Gracie’s face giving her dog kisses.

“Don’t we Sandy!” she says, “we just LOVE you, hunny bun!” in her cutie pie voice.

But, that’s not it.  I know I love Sandy.  I don’t need a dream to tell me that.

I have a dream journal of which I attempt to record my dreams.  It’s necessary for me to look for the patterns in my subconscious mind in order to unlock these blocks and to hear the messages from God that he wants me to know.

I’ve learned to look for the symbolic meanings in dreams and think about where I am in my own personal growth process.  I first always look for the main emotion and actions I take in dreams.

In this dream, I feel one dominant emotion throughout the entire dream.

Fear.

Fear that the others in this contest all deserve to be there.  They are better than me.  They’ve had training and practice.  They all probably have even won contests and have award-winning dogs.  I’m not up to their standard.  By far.

Fear that I have lost Sandy forever and let her die.  Because of my negligence and attention to other things I did not focus on what identified her as Sandy.  I did not pay attention.  This dog of whom my family adores is gone.  I must face this now.

Fear of my husband.  How will I tell him?  Again, I attempted something and could not do it.  Could not complete the task.  Disappointment will cover his face.  His eyes will be disgusted and he won’t say a word.  But, there will be a veil of resentment that will tarnish his actions and words.  All of this will be piled up on the already smoldering mountain of resentments.  Add another log to the fire.

This dream signifies my fears.  Fear of writing.  Fear of creating.  Fear of reaching out to others who are like me in order to find connections and like-minded souls.  Fear that I don’t deserve to be there.  Fear of failing.  Fear of professing who I think I really am.  Fear of doing what I really want to do.

Fear is resistance.  Resistance is evil.

Steven Pressfield tells us this in his book The War of Art.  “Resistance prevents us from achieving the life God intended when he endowed each of us with our own unique genius.”  We are all a genius at something.  God made sure of this.  He blessed us with this.  It is our gift back to him to use this gift and to share it with the world.

The kicker is this pesky and sometimes debilitating fear.  This resistance.  I must recognize the resistance first as fear.  This is tricky because resistance can be disguised as many other things:  alcoholism, drug abuse, over eating, internet compulsiveness, ummm. . . too much Facebook, too much Pinterest, gossip, shopping and even excessive reading to find answers to your resistance and fears.

Yikes.  (I’m looking away here.  You can’t see me.)

I am Sandy in this dream.

My job is to keep this adored being, this creative and spirited soul alive.

If I neglect her and get sidetracked with those other resistance tricks, she may die.

I just can’t let that happen.

Shari 🙂

5 Powerful Reasons You Need Morning Pages in Your Life

Morning Pages image

I have done morning pages most of my life, way before Julie Cameron wrote about them in her book The Artist’s Way back in 1992.  When I first read The Artist’s Way for the first time in 2006, I smiled.  What I was doing now had a  name.

I have at least 50 notebooks filled with writing.  Probably more.  They are everywhere. Somedays I write 10-15 pages, others my mandatory 3.  Whatever it may be, I have to write.

I stopped doing morning pages when I started my blogs. 

Why?  How can someone who has done something for a life time stop doing something that is so engrained in their being?  What could possibly cause this?

I started using my blog AS my morning pages.  

Instead of going to the notebook and pen in the mornings, I was now going to my computer attempting to compose a writing for an audience.  I fretted over the frustration of topic choice, choosing a catchy title, crafting that first lead sentence that hooks and then always trying to keep a focus and stick to some pain points.

A  blog has a distinct structure that you try to attain.  This is not morning pages.  I was at a creative standstill.  A block.  Some days I just sat at my computer and pondered.

I didn’t write.  I wasn’t writing.

Julie Cameron’s book Walking in This World arrived on by doorstep yesterday.  As I leafed through the first pages, she reviews the “Basic Tools” for any creative soul.  Morning pages were right there, on the page, as the first, most powerful tool.

I love it when you know something so deep in your core and your veer from it for some reason or another and then, all of a sudden, the Universe sends you a little reminder that you need to remember to do what you know.  Gives me chills.

So, I’m back to my morning pages again. 🙂

Why are morning pages so powerful, you ask?

Well, I’ll give you 5 really big reasons.

1.  There is no wrong way to do morning pages.

Morning pages are at least 3 pages of long hand writing (no computer) in a notebook that is free-flowing stream of conscious writing.  They are not meant to be art or even any good.  Not that they might be.  They could.  They are only meant for your eyes.  No audience.

2.  The drama gets put on the page.

Julie Cameron says, “All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in your morning pages is the stuff that stands between you and your creativity.”

It might be worry over bills.  It might be anger at your husband.  It might be you beating yourself up because you drank too much last night.

Whatever this is, it’s drama.  If you get it on paper, it’s leaked out of you.  You did something with it.  So, you can move on.

If I can get my drama on the page, I have less drama in my life.  My head is clearer and I can focus my thinking on the things I want to focus on.

3.  Morning pages teach us to get beyond our critic in our heads.

Because there is no wrong way to do the morning pages and we can write whatever we feel and not care what it says or how it looks, we have the right to ignore the critic in our brain telling us that our writing (or anything else for that matter) is crap.

“We have a logic brain.  This is our Censor that gives us our second, third and fourth thoughts whenever faced with our own original thoughts,”  writes Julia.  Quite often, it spits at us words like, “You can’t write that!” or “Who are you kidding?”

And we have our artist brain.  This artist brain is our creative being.  It has glorious thoughts of “what-if’s” and sees a beautiful leaf and thinks, “I’m going to press leaves and string a bunch of them together to make a leaf garland and hang it above my kitchen window!”  Artist brain is random, free and idealistic.

Julie proclaims that “morning pages teach logic brain to stand aside and let artist brain play.”  Why is this important?  I don’t know about you, but my logic brain is dominant in my brain 24/7.  I know I need to train it better.

4.  Morning pages are a form of meditation.

If we write enough so that it feels like breathing, we begin to see new insights in our writing.  We see the same issues, read over the continued whining and we realize that we need to make changes.

In my own life, the answers to my questions magically appear in my writing.  Many times I have stopped in my own tracks and looked at what came out and cried.  God speaks to us through our writing.

We meditate to discover who we are.  To listen to the whispers from God.  Writing is a form of meditation and the great power in it, more so than meditating without writing, is that the writing that ends up on page helps us to map our pathways.

It is almost impossible to write your morning pages morning after morning without feeling a divine unexpected inner guidance.

I consider it a gift.

5.  Morning pages are not just for writers.

Morning pages are for everyone.  If you know how to hold a pencil and scribble some letters, you can do morning pages.  We all have inner work to do.  Every soul is searching for something.  We all are praying for answers.

Everyone can find them in our pages.

If you haven’t written for a while, go buy a cheap composition notebook and find your favorite pen.  Set your alarm for a half hour to an hour early and start your pages.

Write anything. Write about how you don’t know what to write.

Just get it on the page.

Shari 🙂

Being A Stuffer Doesn’t Help

I’m a stuffer.  Yup.  First Class.  Deep to my core.

Not a stuffer in that I stuff myself with food (well. . . I have done that on occasion, too) or stuff junk in my closet (my closet is a mess though).

I am a stuffer of my emotions.

I’m not sure how I came to be this way.  As the oldest sibling in my family, I think I felt a responsibility to always know what to do,  to model behavior and certainly not to get angry at my younger siblings if I was being responsible for taking care of them.

As I grew into my teenage years and adulthood, “being nice” was of the utmost importance to me.  Frustration, anger, sadness, or jealousy were emotions you did not display for I feared others would not like me.  And, I desperately needed people to like me.

Well, it continued into adulthood and I still battle “stuffing” as a wife, mother and teacher. Being known as a nag, squeaky wheel, difficult or flat out “drama mama” has never been very attractive to me, and again, people might not like me then.  And, I thought I was just having patience.

Stuffing can be disguised as patience.

So, I’m curious how this affects my inner organs.  We have outer toxins and these inner toxins. And, frankly, I’m a little bit more concerned about my ability to feel, show and release my toxic emotions than I am of the dirt on the cucumbers right now.

Through lots of reading and research I learned some interesting stuff.

I discovered that when we are angry, jealous or resentful, we are putting our liver under stress.  Yes, our liver.

The liver ensures that energy and blood flow smoothly throughout the body.  Liver is considered as the seat of anger; it stores not only your anger but the anger from others as well and the toxic energy stored will eventually affect the organ’s function. When this happens, one can have a liver imbalance and you may notice symptoms such as menstrual pain, headache, irritability, inappropriate anger, dizziness, dry, red eyes and other eye conditions, and tendonitis.

This summer,  I released a lot of built up stress, anxieties and resentments when I disappeared to the cabin, of which I will continue to write about.  Since arriving home, I have a revived sense of inner peace and love and I have been able to maintain that through meditation, creativity and spending time on myself.  Through this Reset, I know I am releasing even more, deeply embedded toxins that have maybe been there longer.

I anticipate feeling miraculously amazing when the Reset is complete.  However, fall is in the air and the leaves are already turning yellow, which means my profession will be calling my name.

Autumn signals school to start.

I fear the stuffing will begin to compile again.  I need a game plan.  I deeply care about my health and I also know that when I feel good physically, mentally and spiritually, I can more easily love those I am surrounded by.  And, that is what’s important to me.

I’m going to work on writing a disciplined plan for myself and eventually share it here.  First, I need to do a bit more research.  If it’s going to be long term, it also has to be realistic.  It’s easy to find a bunch of ideas online and make a long list here, but, that’s not going to help me if I don’t live it.

I will, however, share one method of releasing emotions that worked for me  yesterday.

Spend time with a pet.

I was frustrated yesterday over an event that happened and I spent five minutes with Sandy, our yellow lab, and her love, her attentiveness, her presence and her silliness helped me to shift into a completely different emotion.  My anger lifted and soon, I felt joy seep into my being.   A loving pet can do that.

What about you?  What do you do to lift and release your anger/resentments?

Please share. It helps us all when we share what works. 🙂

Shari 🙂

What Toxins Live in YOUR Body??????

Day 8 (day 2 of the detox week) of the Beachbody 21 Day ReSet has been my most painful.  As I write, I am lying in my bed taking deep breaths just trying to allow the back pain to pass.  My body is alive with aches and pains and fatigue today.

I should have expected this.  The first week was all about preparing our bodies for THIS week – the “Detoxification” week.  I have been doing ample amounts of online research to determine the justification for this pain.

I keep getting the same message.

My body is releasing toxins into the bloodstream.

The importance of drinking tons of water during this phase is also crucial.  This finally flushes those toxins OUT of your body.

My 24 year old daughter, who is also doing the Reset, is feeling no pain.  I, on the other hand, almost 47, have been around longer to absorb theses toxins.

So, what ARE these toxins anyway?????  I feel stupid for even asking the question.  But, really, I am fairly healthy.  I don’t live near a chemical plant or garbage dump.  I don’t smoke.  How can my body be so filled with toxins?

You would be amazed.

I did some research and found a few sites that have totally creeped me out in how much badness there is to contaminate our bodies.  I had no idea (well. . .some, but not enough to really freak me out).

Toxins are in our shampoos, make up, perfume, soaps, cleaning products, paint fumes, plastics, sunscreens, sick buildings, vaccinations, flu shots, fabrics, pesticides,  and even our cell phones and computer screens emit toxins into our bodies.

I am deeply troubled though, by the amount of toxins that enter into our bodies on and in our food.  There are thousands of chemicals intentionally added to our foods, not to mention the additional chemicals added during processing and storage.  Aughhhh!

But. . . thank goodness!  There is hope!

When I finish this Reset, I am making some life changes in order to reduce the amount of toxins I consume.  Here are a few of them:

1. Buy fresh produce.

Not in bags, not frozen, not in cans.  FRESH.  Better yet, buy from a farmer’s market.  Better than that, figure out how to grow a garden and freeze and can for winter.

2.  Buy an Ultrasonic Food Washer.

Even if your produce is fresh, they still contain chemicals and toxins. Washing them throughly is critical.  This food washer is the answer to eliminating the majority of those baddies.

3.  Start buying organic beauty products. . . shampoos, soaps, etc.

I’m nervous about the quality and cost compared to what I buy now, but that is a bridge I’ll have to cross.  By now, surely, you’d think some companies have created some quality products.  If you know of any, please let me know.

Along with eating clean, drinking tons of water, exercise and epsom salt baths, this will be my new beginning!

What kinds of life changes could you make to live a healthier life without toxins?

Shari 🙂

 

(illustration from http://www.nativevilliage.org

Re-Setting My Body

In an earlier post, I write about my frustration with how I feel at a good place in spirit and mind, but my body won’t cooperate and join the team.  I vowed to ask my daughter, Lauren (she’s a personal trainer), for help. . . and to actually listen to her this time.

My body, with its years and years of toxicity due to stress, eating and drinking the wrong stuff, inconsistant exercise has finally screamed so loud at my mind and spirit that it’s time to take serious action or I will never achieve balance.

The first thing Lauren is having me do is  The Beachbody Ultimate Reset.  This is a 21 day, no-starvation, life-changing, cutting-edge, cleansing and detoxing inner-body tune-up.  You can read all about it here.

I am on Day 4 and am feeling amazing, I have to say.  The food is fabulous!  Except for one recipe that contains this nori seaweed, but we substituted romain lettuce leaves.

Lauren and I are making a You-Tube video of our journey, as the sweetheart is doing it right along with me.  Talk about support.  I am excited to share this experience with others and if one person can take something away that helps them, I’ll be happy. 🙂

If you’d love to follow my journey, click here for Lauren’s You-Tube videos or you can find them on Lauren’s facebook page, which is here!

This morning, I choose one of my Soul Coaching Oracle Cards to give me guidance for the day and the card I randomly choose said, “Commitment”.  Hmmm. . . go figure. 🙂

Shari

Shari 🙂