VidyEssence

Mental Self-Care, starts with the ‘S’ word

Posted by in Self-Care

 

 

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No,  I am not referring to the one in a sentence like I don’t give  a s***. This is anger, careless,  avoidance or denial, and even though this describes a bit what I will talk to you about here, this is not the word.

Before I get to tell you what the word is, let me get a few things out of the way:

  1. Some may also refer to the appellation ‘’intellectual’’ or psychological. Mental, intellectual, psychological, these words will be used interchangeably here. To me, in this blog post, they mean the same thing.
  2. As I am referring to a wellness wheel and as I did, and still do extensive research on anything self-care, I need to give you the list of most physical self-care assessment tools I found out there. This is  a way for me to bring some continuity and also give you access to a quick tool to evaluate where you are at in your life but there is  always more as I do not believe quick self assessments are deep enough to find sustaining healthy solutions.
  • Take day trips or mini-vacations
  • Make time away from telephones, email, and the Internet
  • Make time for self-reflection
  • Notice my inner experience – listen to my thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, feelings
  • Have my own personal psychotherapy
  • Write in a journal
  • Read literature that is unrelated to work
  • Do something at which I am not expert or in charge
  • Attend to minimizing stress in my life
  • Engage my intelligence in a new area, e.g., go to an art show, sports event, theatre
  • Be curious
  • Say no to extra responsibilities sometimes

 

We will go back to some of these items later in this post but let’s keep our eyes on the list so we can really address the subject.

  1. Stress’s definition. I want to strongly link our mental wellness and self-care into how we deal with what we call stress. With this in mind, here is what I found that resonates with what I want to talk about.

Merriam Webster partly defines stress as:

‘’A state resulting from a stress; especially: one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.’’

At the Oxford dictionaries dot com, there is this complementary  explanation to the first:

‘’A  state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.’’

 

Now let’s get clear!

So what we are looking for is basically to be mentally sane. Without saying that anybody that live under stress is mentally ill as I know this is not the case, I like to point out the second sentence here on this definition of mental health on medicinenet.com:

‘’Mental health is more than just being free of a mental illness. It is more of an optimal level of thinking, feeling, and relating to others.’’

As we often hear it is not only what happens to you that matters, but mostly how you decide to react to it. And I will stress the word choose.This may be an unconscious choice but the truth is, we can control our mental more than we often do and this is still a choice, whether we like to admit it or not. In my case, anything I learn about something I can control,  I am happy because this means I can change my life’s journey to the best!

Of course there are as many definitions as there are people. One person may say stress is when you have a lot to do, not much time to do itread feeling overwhelmed. Another person might say it’s being unemployed, while a third might say it’s his boss. Most of those stressors refer to how we react to what is happening and are directly linked to our relationship with first and foremost ourselves but also other people, time, space, objects, situations, etc. In the end, it boils down to mainly these few questions:

  • Are life events going as expected?
  • Are things happening in my life congruent with my value systems?
  • Do I live according to my life purpose?

In everyday situations,  a lot of us automatically react to stress with the flight or fight response. To me, this is when my essential oils come in handy (The how to is for another post!) However, because we can’t run away from the tiger because there is none, it becomes more of a “rough, tough or ‘’stuff” reaction. We may  feel rough and act irritated or we “stuff” our emotions, and we are also good at toughing it out. Repression, as we know will always come out later in other ways. The biggest and saddest problem with stress is that it accumulates.

At first we can witness some physical or emotional un-ease: headache, difficulty to fall asleep, digestion issues, skin irritation bouts of anxious moments, to name a few. When we are not asking ourselves the critical questions and acting upon the answers to create an appropriate course of action to make sustainable transformation it may lead to physical or mental-emotional dis-ease. For sure, the misalignment is real.

So I am sure you have not forgotten about the s word. Me neither. The word is Simplify. Simplify your life! And by this I mean the many different aspects (8, from the wellness wheel, more or less, as you wish) of your life.

As we feel un-ease  we may need to un-do,  aka change the way we do things in general, recreate a different thinking process as to not repeat the same detrimental experiences consistently. Unplugging literally and figuratively is a good example and metaphor. In some ways this is somewhat similar when we are referring to dis-ease.  We may need to ‘’dis’’ and ‘’de’’ a lot.  dis-connect de-cluttter, dis-charge, dis-engage.

Going back to the questions  above:

  • Are life events going as expected?

We may want to  look at our expectations and see if any of them are  unreasonable, or are questionable in a sense that we can lower them and we can still be happy. I am sure most of the time we can lower our expectations down a few notches. I am also sure we can still be happy when things do not turn out like we had planned. I am not saying I can do this easily. Not-at-all!

This is where the perfectionists in us will have difficulty. This is where we need to release control and let life flow. This is where we ought to simplify our to do list, ‘’forget’’ a few things and still be content.  For my oil fans, this is where you want your cypress nearby as a reminder.

Mothers! Yes you! You know deep down in your heart that your children would rather have your fullest attention when they share a wonderful discovery rather than have you make sure the counter is cleaned up right after lunch. Yep! This was me a lot when my kids were younger and this is still me from time to time. We need to go see behind the need for cleanliness here. What is it we are avoiding?

  • Are things happening in my life congruent with my value systems?

In order to find an answer to  this question, we need to first clarify our values. This in itself is quite a process, an important one that is. For this reason, I  will make sure we address this either in a blog post series but most probably in a webinar and playshop program. Let’s say though that at least asking ourselves this question is the first step towards clarity. When we have clarity we have what is needed to  head in the right direction: a map!

  • Do I live according to my life purpose?

This is another huge question, I know one that I cannot briefly go into. No wonder why? this is the work of a lifetime! Another program on it’s way! One clue, notice when you feel the most joyful, what you really like to do when there is not time nor money constraint. This is a great first observation.

So when overwhelm comes your way de-stress and ask yourself one of these additional questions:

  • Where is the dis-connect and where do I need to really disconnect?
  • Where and when can I create stronger boundaries and say no? to others, to activities, to more stuff?

What can I de-clutter?  

  • My address book or contact list (relationship)
  • My space (stuff)
  • My planner (activities)

Relating to your life purpose or values you can ask: ‘’How does this (activity, person thing) add value to my life or serve my higher purpose?’’ Those are not always easy questions to find answers to but they are surely the ones that will render you more happiness once you find the answer.

Now enough said, this is your turn! Share you thoughts and tips so we can all benefit from each other’s experiences.

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Are resolutions the solution for January 1st?

Posted by in Self-Care

If you feel like all you did was cook, buy, celebrate, eat, sleep and start again, you may not feel ready to answer the crucial question: “What are your resolutions for 2016?’’.  We have  enough stress and pressure all year long to add this one to the mix, don’t you think? Isn’t it  about time we bring more mindfulness to this tradition?

When hearing from most of us, it often ends sadly before spring comes. By understanding why  we took on some great or grand resolutions in the past just to watch them fall  to the wayside,  we can learn how  to make sustainable changes that will last all year long and beyond.

Although I had time to relax in the past two weeks,  with family around, it seemed like there was not enough time  alone for me to really figure out what my intentions are for the New Year. I love introspection and with all of I experienced this year especially, I need even more time to figure out what I want my life to look like, not only for 2016 but this year and beyond. (Fortunately,  I realized that depending on the calendar we use there are other dates for the New Year!

If we make some resolutions, they should be done when we feel ready to do so. Personally I plan on spending most of the winter in soul searching mode., I am balancing my life, relaunching my career according to my dharma, and creating a  lot of new habits to reflect this new journey. This is no small task but this is feasible and… highly desirable! I want to  devote enough time to really reflect on what and why long enough to have a sustainable approach to it. I know the how will come naturally if I bring in faith and trust in the process, even if I will also plan it a little bit. As you know a dream without action stays a dream and I want to live the dream I will paint. The most important piece is to let things flow and believe there is a reason to everything that happens in our lives in the present moment.

If some of you feel the same way, I invite you to use this next upcoming 8 weeks of  Self-Care Sunday on Facebook and blog posts on the web as I will share about the many aspects of the wheel  of wellness and  see how these sharings could help you use this winter season to inner reflect and be ready to act on real, well thought out goals and dreams for your life when everything is renewing itself in the spring.

When we really think about it, resolutions  seems to be a lot about self-care.

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Self-Care: Digging deeper into emotional health

Posted by in Self-Care

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I guess that because we are made of flesh,we tend, as human being, to think about physical health first. I believe that there is a strong, if not huge, mind-body connection and that what we think and how we feel influence greatly what happens on our physical plane. Self-Care is an inside job.
What comes first? The chicken…

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or the egg?

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Are the thoughts managing our emotions or our emotions dictating our thoughts? Does this work both ways? Whatever the process is, we are still the one to be accountable when it comes to creating the reality we put ourselves in. I tend to think the mental (i.e. the thought) is the one tricking us into associating a specific emotion with a circumstance, but who knows? Still, the emotion remains. Fortunately, we can utilize the emotion of love to be able to care better about ourselves.
This is why we can really tackle Self-Care in all its beauty when, and only when, we are in Self-Acceptance and Self-Love mode. Otherwise we will be able to keep certain routines for a while but we will easily fall back into the old habits as fear predominates. If love is the main player, self-acceptance will be there and then self-Care will become a long lasting lifestyle. If you add presence, you will even turn these routines into rituals.
Some emotions might come to the surface every time we live a similar situation in the present moment that triggered some specific reactions and emotions in the past. As children, we have interpreted some events in a way that served us. Oftentimes, it was our only way to understand and conceptualize what was going on in our lives. It may have been a defense mechanism, a way to emotionally survive. As adults, we may not have revisited these events and reasons to evaluate if they still are of service to us. When they are no longer serving us, they are hurting us… and probably others as well.
When will we know what needs to be changed? It starts when we have inner conflict, when we get irritated, annoyed, impatient, angry, sad, tensed, anxious, depressed, and the list can go on and on. Any negative emotion is here to teach us and by the same token, if we accept the challenge, help us grow. This is when we need to make time to reassess the needs from the past, versus the ones form the present, forgive, let go and create a new paradigm for who we are as adults.
EASIER SAID THAN DONE
Some of those ah-hah moments can come so quickly that we are able to resolve them easily. Others, well, may linger for a longer time. This is mostly because we are not ready to look at it in the eyes. We unconsciously know the truth will be difficult to hear. Chances are we think it will create a lot of movement in our lives and the fear factor create paralysis.
As mentioned above we may have had circumstances in our childhood where we came to the conclusion that we were not enough. This happens a lot. We may have felt abandoned, rejected, humiliated, treated unfairly, or betrayed. If we have not felt loved it is hard to turn around and accept ourselves.
As we age, we accumulate experiences that leave emotional scars. We can also feel the transformation in our physique, or see our limitations, the real ones and the ones we create for ourselves. This can initiate a cycle of non acceptance.
As a child, I wanted so badly to have my mother’s love and affection that I would have done anything for her in exchange for some positive attention. Nowadays, I have dealt with most issues related to this fact. I can attest though that, for the longest time, I was not able to say no, I easily felt guilty, I went overboard and overdid it a lot in order to get some attention and love.
For those of you who know me, you will not be surprised to learn that in these circumstances, this is where my essential oils come into play. If I had to make an essential oil kit for someone who is ready to embark on a self transformational journey into emotional health, bergamot would be the first one in. This is the oil of self acceptance. It is said to relieve feelings of despair, self-judgment and low self esteem, and to have a cleansing effect on stagnant feelings and limited belief systems.
There are multiple facets of personal growth and some other oils as well as some other tools, professional help are worth exploring too. Journaling is also an amazing way to bring up to the surface those emotions we need to deal with. There are many more ways we can open our hearts to all of this. Each person has a different experience and each of us has the key to find what works. When we are ready and open to transformation, the solutions will come easily and effortlessly. Still, it starts with love.
When feeling unworthy of love you can add a few drops of bergamot in your hand, take some deep breaths and use an affirmation you create (a positive statement made in the present tense, or as if it had already happened) and say something similar to these two examples:
• I love and accept myself unconditionally and this self love radiates out my entire being and manifests as proper self-care.
• I am opening my heart more to give and receive love.

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As you consciously give yourself time to do this daily, observe how things start to shift in the direction you need. Even when things do not seems to be going where you want to go, be open to the lessons and messages Life is sending you, and trust that the universe or God, that higher power however your beliefs are, has a grand plan for you living the life you were meant to live.

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Self-Care Sunday

Posted by in Self-Care

As I thought about how I would share my new love for, and adventure in self-care, I came up with the idea of sharing with you some insightful information on my Facebook business page under the Self-Care Sunday event. Sunday has been the rest day for some religions for quite some times, hence, most of us have this conception of rest on that day, even though we may not be practicing it consistently. It seems to me that it is ingrained in my family culture as I have been raised with the idea that Sunday was a day to do the pleasurable stuff: socialize, play, practice your hobby, rest etc.

As I take action toward a more sustainable life for myself, I know journaling and inner reflection will be needed. Of course, sharing my self-care journey  with you is something I am thrilled of doing! I truly want this to have a positive impact on you as well, as I know we are all going too fast, doing too much, and not saying no enough.  If my life experience can serve others to be more proactive with their health, that makes my day.

This is why I am inviting you to click here now and like my Vidyessence Facebook page and accept my invitation or join the FB event as this is where I will share articles, thoughts, quotes, posts, and videos. Exceptionally, today’s  post will be all about self-care, and starting next Sunday, December 20,  you will be able to get some WOW (Word Of Wisdom) from connecting with me on this particular day.

What is self care?

Of course it is in order to really understand first what we are talking about. Self Care implies the care of one’s self.  I am not revealing to you a big truth here. It is a very active and powerful choice to engage in the activities that are required to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health. What is the most revealing aspect of this is that it requires accountability and being proactive.  There are a lot of things in life that require us to  take actions in a positive manner. We have more choices than we can think of, meaning we are more in control of our lives than we realize. As an example, joy and forgiveness are choices and to a certain extent, health is as well. Most of the time, it is a matter of training our brain to choose what we want in life and creating new habits to make it happen. I know, easier said than done. However one cannot succeed without even trying…

Back to Self-Care. Most experts agree that focusing on the following five areas will create the greatest impact on our lives: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual and social health. I was aware of the first four as they are  the four aspects of what comprise our entire being. Now that I think about it, it make sense that, as social beings, we need to create social  health as well. We are interdependent species so we need not to forget that interacting with others in positive ways is part of caring for our very own needs.

So where do we start? By understanding what self care is all about, and maybe recognizing what it is not. Then, cultivating  awareness of what we do in terms of self care, and finally, adding some well needed and deserved self-care time and rituals into our routines. Over time, we will come back to each of these five components in more depth, but let’s go over them briefly today so you can make your own self-care list.

Physical health:

We do not need to look that far to find enough for us to care for.  Nutrition, sleep, exercise are some of the key elements to greater health. We often don’t think about removing toxins from our environment though. Since the industrial revolution more and more chemicals are entering our lives. Consciously creating healthy habits to remove any of these harmful products will also greatly impact our physical health.

Emotional health:

Enjoy the company of those you love, be playful, allow yourself to cry. Do things you love just for the sake of it like reading a book or watching a funny movie. Anything that can help you access your emotional self and live the emotions as they arise is good!

Psychological health:

Engaging your mind as a muscle is as important as physical exercise too! Trying out something new, being curious or attending a cultural event are just a few ways to do it. Taking care of calming the mind with meditation is also something worth trying. Same for therapy. If there are some mental-emotional blocks in your life, or relationship or situation you need help with, there is no need to try to do it all on your own.

Spiritual health:

We often forget to nourish our spirit, as if it doesn’t need our attention. When we do so, we are unknowingly dimming our inner light. We need this vibrancy to be fully alive and to live every moment with grace and gratitude. Living your purpose in life is the one amazing way to acknowledge your spirit. Denying our calling can cost us our health. I can tell you a lot about that!

This may sound like a long journey and sometimes we may feel as we will never get there. Rest assure that the best way to live your calling is by starting living your dream, one day at a time. Listen to your inner voice, journal about what makes your heart sign and add more of that joy list in your life. Maybe you can find a like minded community of people to spend some time with? My all time favorite is spending time in nature. This is my sanctuary: always free, always giving and forgiving. Just pick one and block your weekly schedule to make it happen!

Social health:

We are interdependent being. We were not meant to live isolated and yet this is what we are doing more and more. We  live in a culture of competition rather than collaboration, in  a culture of individuality rather than community.  It is about time to reverse this. Offering help but even more having the courage to ask for help is something we all need to work on more. Spend time with ourselves is important. Same apply with our meaningful relationship: one on one time with each of your children? A date with our spouse? An  impromptu call to a friend? How much rejoice this can cause? The giver is also the receiver. I know you have felt this, at least once in your life….Keep doing it!

We live in an amazing  time where there is a plethora of professionals to help us on our path to joy.  It is a matter of researching and evaluating which type of workers will be best suited for your needs. Creating a team of expert to guide and help you on your overall well being is not a bad idea. We will come back to that at another time.

If you read this article until now, it shows you are ready for an authentic change. I want to be your first act of self care kindness witness, fan and accountability partner. Post here your #Self-CareActOfKindness so we can all inspire each other on this path to Joy and health!

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Breast Cancer Prevention at its best !

Posted by in Self-Care

I am like a kid today…Really! Yes I have been waiting to share with you the number 1 tip for breast health for more than six long weeks. I do not know if you are as excited  as me; probably not, because you have no idea of how this could impact your life in a positive manner. This was such a revelation to me that it totally shifted my world around this summer. And it still does. Yet this is so simple and easy…and yet so hard to do all at once.

When Renée handed me the pink breast health tips card and said to me: ‘’MJ, tip number 1 is the most important tip of all. If you are not willing to do it, I might as well keep the card’’,  I knew she was damn serious! I made a promise to myself to give it my best, to go slow if need be but stick to it. Change one thing at  a time but start. I also knew exactly where to start…

Self-Care

Yes this is it! These two  words are at the cornerstone of the tip number 1, but this is not all! And this is where the secret sauce is. Tip number 1 is  Balance stress with self-care! Aim to give to yourself at least 30 to 60 minutes of self care each day. If you are a mother like I am, well, chances are you may be the least person on your list. BIG mistake!  Have you ever realized that a Happy Mother makes Happy Kids? Also if you are living through a difficult  or stressful situation, you need to add some extra self-care in there. Remember that the idea is  to balance your level of stress with your level of self-care. As North Americans, in general, we are already deficient in self-care time. It is not rare to eat on the go, sleep less than needed, skip exercising here and there or altogether, etc.  It is as if we need to learn how to care for ourselves again.

Imagine if on top of that you have to deal with a stressful situation like a sick family member, a divorce, job loss, a child with issues at school, or you need to care for an elderly parent. Those situations are the ones where we need self-care the most… and what do we do instead? We cut the little bit we had! This is why I think when we are in a difficult and stressful  time in our lives it can look like it is an eternal downward spiral. When you have more stress you also cause more acidity in your body.This is in turn causes inflammation and creates a PERFECT environment (terrain) for more disease! You see, the spiral already, don’t you? This is why self-care is the foundation to health!

Processing stress the healthy way

When it comes to stress, I am right here! I have a certain way to  build up stress when some people don’t. My husband could probably write a book on this…poor guy! For me it is manifesting when I feel the urgency to finish something: a deadline coming or any type of performance stress like sales goals, being on time,  etc. If you couple this with working from home and having kids around from time to time..this is often a disaster! It is important for our health to be able to realize what triggers stress and as part of the tip number 1, to learn how to process our stress in a healthy manner. Spirituality, journaling, therapy, physical activity and even 12-step work are a few suggestions.

Testing the water

Life is all about trial and error. By journaling, we are able to notice patterns and discern what is best for us. Personally, I realized what helped and added this to my rules to live by. To make it work better for me, I have two rules to make it happen more effortlessly.

  1. Early morning: I plan my self-care time for early morning. I do meditation for 30 minutes before the kids get out of bed—I need absolute quiet time not to end up grumpy rather than peaceful—and then the rest of my Self-Care time  happens after they leave for school and before my work day starts. This way, there are no excuses that can be made, like I had no time. Also, when I do  start my days like this, they are so smooth compared to those where my Self-Care is neglected.
  2. DO IT no matter how long: I used to wait for the perfect timing, length of time, etc to do my yoga home practice. I felt that, as a yoga instructor, I needed  to do at least an hour a day. Well, with young children, this did not work at all! It took me so long to realize that it is more important in any kind of Self-Care, to create the habit rather than doing nothing at all!  Once a practice or habit is established, the want and desire becomes stronger, so that eventually, you really want to do it, no matter what and you find and create time to increase your practice as it becomes like a drug. YOU NEED it to feel good. Now I have changed my expectations and relationship with my yoga practice. Some days I just stretch for a few minutes, sometimes I attend a local yoga class. Some others days, my yogic practice is my meditation or simply conscious deep breathing.

If you apply this last tip you are in for success as it is more about intention than punishment. We need not to be hard on ourselves. TLC applies to us first!

This Self-Care idea has taken such an important role in my health that I decided to make it part of my mission! Stay tuned as I reveal the way you can take a stand for yourself by caring more for yourself and unite with other women about the importance of creating self-care in our lives.

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A ritual worth practicing, daily, all year long

Posted by in Self-Care

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“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As we are witnessing the change of season and can now really feel Autumn is here, I am ready to slow down a bit and create some time to relax , curl up on the sofa by the fireplace with a blanket, a cup of tea and a good book. This is a time when we tend to gather as a family around a board game, a craft project or at times, a movie. I am beyond thankful for my husband and my two children as they are what makes my life so rich and full. They are always there to support me on  any crazy endeavor I decide to jump into.

I am sure with Thanksgiving celebration here in the  United States, we are more attuned to what we are grateful for. But what happens during the rest of the year? I was introduced to a  daily thankful practice a few years ago with this work of mine in doTERRA. You see, this business is really more about self-development than merely using, educating and sharing oils. This is true on our (Wellness advocates) part and on our customers and partners too. To me at least, it is about evolving and growing together into our full potential. When this does happen, we vibrate at a higher level and hopefully, we tend to stay healthier and happier.

There are many ways to practice thankfulness. You can find a lot of articles or posts online that talk about it so there is no point for me  to repeat the ‘’10 ways to’’ you can find someplace else. In my  humble opinion, practicing gratefulness starts with adding some mindfulness into our lives. When we are in the present moment it is easier to be in awe with what is. The sunrise, the smell of the grass after the rain, your other half preparing your lunch because you woke up late. All these easy to miss and sometimes mundane things are the ones that make life very special. They are here and present whether we notice them or not. I am sure we all have more things to be grateful for daily then we realize. It is just about being present and noticing them.

The good thing about being grateful is that the more we practice it, the less we focus on our little problems and the happier we are. I found, from this website this list of benefits quite interesting. It is said that people who practice gratitude consistently report this host of benefits:

  • Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure;
  • Higher levels of positive emotions;
  • More joy, optimism, and happiness;
  • Acting with more generosity and compassion;
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated.

Some people like to fill pages of a gratitude journal. Some others like to state what they are grateful for out loud or in their heads. I am sure you have or will find your own way too. Lately I found it helpful to do it first thing in the morning and then go back to my day as I lay in bed on the weekend or as I close my work day and go over my agenda. It is so easy to see what we did not have time to do, what got in the way: kids’ sickness, interruptions, no more ink in the printer, red light when we are late…

When we  realize we get another day healthy, with a roof over our heads, having people we love and care for in our lives, warmth, light, air to breathe, clean water to drink, a smile when we need it, how can we not be thankful for it all?

If you made it until this last sentence, you will know I am grateful for all of you  (whether you are reading this post or not) for being part of my life. Every encounter, every discussion, words of inspiration, like on FB makes my day brighter.  What makes me even happier is to know I can have a positive impact, even if a small one, in your life.  I truly hope the way I serve is adding to your thankful list as well. If there is any more or better way I can serve you, please let me know!

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Confession of a bra user

Posted by in Self-Care

On this beautiful fall afternoon I am taking some time to write to you about  breast health tip #2. I went back to my file to get to know the subject I had set up for this week. Suddenly the underwire bra I was wearing became quite unbearable. You see, I  was meeting clients this morning; so wearing a bra was the way to go! However, I am surprisingly happy to realize that the uncomfortable physical feeling of wearing one is happening more and more in the last few months. I feel constrained, itchy and if I try to ignore the situation it does not help. I am so happy to be working from home as I can surrender to the need of being braless at any point in time.

THE Confession…

I have to confess I was a bit  judgmental  in my head when I saw women without bras. ‘’C’mon, we are in the 21st century!’’ I had a hard time feeling good when not wearing one, hence my discomfort even when seeing others embracing their freedom of choice. Of course I did not know all the health implications either! I remember one day having a conversation with a breast cancer survivor selling bras in a store telling me about  being cautious with underwire bras. It was too short of a conversation for me to really understand the deal.  And because my features tend to disappear dramatically when I don’t wear a thing… I was not mentally ready to do the leap and change this habit of mine.  So this was my reason to wear a bra: enhance my features! Of course the padding plays a major role too! There used to be a time when such a thing did not exist. This is all marketing to make us feel like we are not good enough the way we are.The standards are inconceivable: Only those of us  with a boob job seem to meet them. This is such a shame!

A wind of change

Ten or so years later: I am ready because I know my health is of greater importance than the way I look. Little did I know about the impact of constricting the lymphatic system 6 months ago. Now I do and I cannot pretend I don’t. Now that I know I may as well embrace the knowledge and take corresponding actions.

Which type are you: Underwire,  Wire-Free or Braless?

Doesn’t if feel like one of those personality tests? Have you ever stopped to think about where you are on that scale? I can tell you I am a little bit of all of them. I have not yet removed the wires from my bras (shame on me), and I  have not taken the time to find other great fitting bras. Who likes to shop for bras anyway? Still, as I am writing this, I thought the way to make things happen is to take the time to think and make a plan…and then act on it. Are you ready? Here is my suggested plan of action.

5 step transition from underwire to braless

  1. To convince yourself of the uselessness of bras, please read this article.

Understand that bras act pretty much like a crutch, preventing your body from building itself to the challenge of holding on to your features. I can attest I  never had an issue in this department  so I am not here to judge. However, knowing this can affect the way you look at the need for a bra.

2. Schedule more frequent braless time

Notice when you are home if you think about removing your bra right away. This is by far, the easiest and simplest part of any plan. It costs you nothing and no time. All you need to do is to take off your bra as soon as you take off your shoes. Hooking a new habit to an old one makes it easier  to remember, and thus succeed! It is suggested to remove your bra after 8 hours or so in order to help the breast tissue relax.

3. From underwire to wire free bra

Right there you are doing a good thing to lessen the impact of bra wearing to a minimum. Schedule a girlfriend bra shopping and lunch outing. Bringing along a friend will help to make sure that you do not come home discouraged or empty-handed. As you take on this challenge with a friend, it will be easier to stick to it. Like having a friend to motivate you to go to the gym. Another option is to simply remove the wire from your existing bras. This is a fast, cost effective option you can do right now. I bet this is almost as freeing as when women were getting rid of their bras in the Freedom Cans in the 60’s.

4. Dare to go braless

I can guarantee you that you will crave more freedom as time goes by. What are your options then? There are a lot of  shelf camisoles and tops, nowadays, offering some support but still giving  you more breathing space.  Some others like to add an extra layer to wear so it is not as obvious that they are not wearing bras.

5. Embrace your body as it is

This should have been on top of this list. Once we understand the role marketing plays in all of that, how our health is as stake, and change our perception of what we should look like, this is quite easy to transition. Increasing our self-acceptance is key as those marketing lies do not have the same impression on us then. We are building a stronger sense of self and can easily affirm and act on our deepest values. For me it starts with health.

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Show your breasts how you care !

Posted by in Self-Care

Not so long ago I shared with you in total humility how I felt about my breasts. I  think at some point I got caught up with the self defeating negative inner talk about aging and my body changing accordingly. Well, this is part of life and once we accept what we cannot control or change, we can move on and do the best we can with what we have. This is probably one easy tip for a happier life for sure.

After having this thought that I could lose my breast from cancer, I had another look at them, for real and figuratively, and decided to fully embrace who I am. I found that the lymphatic  breast massage,  the #3 breast health tip I’m sharing with you today, is an amazing way to reconnect to our breasts with love rather than fear or disgust. I tended to forget to do my monthly self exam probably in part because there is a fear connotation to it. You are touching  your breast to feel if there is anything wrong or abnormal. Now, that is looking for trouble!

To the contrary, the lymphatic breast  massage is an act of love towards our body and ourselves. It is really easy to do and there is more than one way to do it. You can certainly Google lymphatic breast massage or click here and watch Renee as she guides us through her version of it.

It is one thing to know how to do it but, if you are like me, you may wonder what the lymphatic system is all about. (I knew little about it before writing this post and I am sure I still know just a tiny bit more. This is why I will eventually have someone vlog about it with me as it is a well needed system that is underestimated in my humble opinion.) What I know for sure, though, is my deepest appreciation for its work to keep us healthy.

The lymphatic system is our second circulatory system working alongside with the thymus,  spleen and liver to remove any excess waste from our bodies. A healthy lymphatic system  helps purify the blood through the largest mass of lymph tissue in the body, the spleen. This system is also amazing at keeping our immune system strong, fighting bacteria on our behalf.

Other than the breast lymphatic massage there are a few others easy things you can do to get your lymph moving for your greatest health. Here are a few:

  1. Get moving: Unlike the cardiovascular system the lymph does not have any help to get its fluid moving.This is another great reason we all need to exercise daily!
  2. Breathe deeply: As you breathe more consciously, the breath will get deeper and it will oxygenate your body even more, which helps to support the lymphatic system.
  3. Try Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga is a deeply restorative practice where the poses are held for at least 3 minutes, and up to 10 minutes. The pressure of your own body in these prolonged holds can help release areas of lymphatic congestion.
  4. Practice this one yoga pose: One easy way to move the lymphatic fluid and thus help it get rid of toxins, is to adopt this pose called Viparita Karani or leg up the wall pose. Not only is this pose helpful to the lymphatic system, but it may also help you to sleep better. Try it tonight!

When performing your  lymphatic breast massage, I suggest using one or a  combination of these oils to enhance the process and support the body at the cellular level:

  • Roman Chamomile: Cleanses the blood and helps the liver to reject and discharge poisons
  • Lavender: Eliminates waste from the system
  • Helichrysum: Stimulates the liver
  • Geranium: Assists the body in dealing with environmental stress
  • Cypress and Grapefruit: Both oils aid lymphatic decongestion and Cypress increases circulation
  • Lemon: Cleanses and increases lymphatic functions
  • Lemongrass and Helichrysum:  Both oils promote lymphatic drainage
  • Marjoram : Supports the spleen
  • Protective Blend:  Supports the thymus and the immune system

Because I want to support my cell function and am constantly working to remove toxins, prevent cancer and reduce environmental stress to my body, I  decided to add the DNA blend to my breast massage regimen.

One side note on the emotional component: The lymph is often associated with flow,  love and joy. Hence, the organs part of the lymphatic system have also been  targeting some of the same emotional qualities. Isn’t it funny how our body is definitely talking to us and is such a messenger to guide us to look at our emotional issues?

As you can see, when it comes to lymphatic system support, there is a vast array of options. This is a great self-care activity to add to your evening ritual, especially if your breasts are constricted by a bra all day long. I invite you to take a closer look at your lymph system and treat it well.  We should be grateful for this system which was designed to get the trash out for us! Let’s keep it moving!

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2 simple words to bring you more happiness

Posted by in Self-Care

GabMJ

Pace and Space

I have been thinking about writing on this theme for the longest time. More than a year, that I’m actually having those two words wandering in my brain. More than a year, that I’m actually  not giving myself the proper environment to get to think out loud about those words on paper. What I wanted to write about is what I like and miss the most in my life: Pace and Space. Isn’t it ironic?  Welcome to the chronicle of a woman’s journey to find deep heartfelt joy and a meaningful life.

Pace, to me, is  all about slowing down. It is a matter of consciously creating a rhythm that works with who we are and what we value. Honoring who I am is very difficult when it comes to thinking about the use of my time.  I tend to take on projects and say yes, or even worse, sometimes opening my mouth too quickly and offering help..Why?   Because, I perceive that there is an opportunity not to be missed or I feel that  if I am not stepping in, nobody else will. All of these are lies and excuses!   I can also tell it may have something to do with the fact that being distracted is an unconscious plan to avoid facing my real dream as it may hurt if I do not succeed. Self sabotage at its best!

I have been doing this for years without understanding it deeply in my heart until recently. And because human beings need practice, I have relapses and go back to the old days where I would stretch myself thin to do it all. We cannot be everything for everyone. That is a people pleaser mentality. Yes, you could also call it the superwoman syndrome. I also compare this to attempting to be Mother Theresa.  This is too high of a standard to achieve in this life.

So the real questions to ask is Why do we feel the need to be so fast paced? What is so important that we cannot stop? More often than not, the sense of urgency is only in one location: in our head. A lot of what we feel important is just not. Taking the time to stop,  live life, and spend time with people we love is of greater importance than finishing up the to do list that has no end.  Society has pushed us to believe that being an overachiever is a quality worth cultivating. Have you tried overwatering  a seed to make it grow faster?

Space…I see this word as twofold.

The physical environment: Obviously the place where we live and work are what comes to mind at first. Let’s do a quick experience. Stop reading now and lift you eyes off the screen. Look around you. What do you see? Which words would you use to describe your current environment? Is it noisy or calm? Cluttered or in order? What you perceive is a direct reflection of your life. I can tell you that right now my home environment reflects the busyness of my work and the scattered items everywhere are like my mind: racing in all directions without  clear focus of where it needs to be in this very moment. How can we focus if everywhere we look there is a constant  reminder of things we have to do? How can we have a peaceful, relaxed gaze when there is mess all around us? Decluttering  and making time daily to put away what I use is of  great importance to me. Because I work from home, everything is an invitation to be distracted from the important task at hand.

The in between thing space

Well, it seems like I made this mistake for so long and still do it  from time to time.  Stacking activities and appointments back to back like a pile of dirty dishes in the sink is asking for trouble and disaster! Giving ourselves space to breathe in between activities  is NOT a waste of our time. It is quite the opposite.This is what gives us time to:

  • Put things away to their respective locations;
  • Reflect on what just happened or what was said in an important conversation;
  • Pencil that appointment we just took;
  • Finish writing a note from our training or meeting
  • Drink water, go to the bathroom,stretch and take a few deep breaths;
  • Get ready physically, mentally emotionally and even spiritually (read being focused and present) for the next important thing or person in our calendar.


Space on your calendar will inarguably give you a new sense of pace. Pace will help you be more comfortable and happier in your space. They both depend on each other. Once you start implementing one, the other, like a twin, will be there nearby, ready to be embraced by you. Will you open yourself to it?

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PH7.2: Is this the new version of you?

Posted by in Self-Care

As I was researching for this blog post, I was able to access what is described in the Book Think and Grow Rich the creative imagination. As a strike of divine intervention, I was lead onto one link, and then another. The impulse was too strong to ignore it. Following the gut feeling to pursue this search rather than writing asap, I unraveled the  terms I was needing to explain my life’s mission and make some interesting links about our body and Mother Earth. I had never heard of these names or concepts before but this is, to my knowledge and  to this day, what is the closest to what I want to convey to all who are ready to hear it:

Ecological Medecine, as defined on the web site http://www.sehn.org/ :

Ecological Medicine is a new field of inquiry and action to reconcile the care and health of ecosystems, populations, communities, and individuals.

The health of Earth’s ecosystem is the foundation of all health. Human impact in the form of population pressure, resource abuse, economic self-interest, and inappropriate technologies is rapidly degrading the environment. This impact, in turn, is creating new patterns of human and ecosystem poverty and disease. The tension among ecosystem health, public health, and individual health is reaching a breaking point at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century.

EcoHealth, is the second term I found. It  can simply be explained with these two sayings:

Linking ecosystem’s health and human health;

Healthy environment = healthy people.

I always like to observe and find metaphors between the human body and nature  and use nature as a teacher on how to live my life. Let me tell you that  I have never been deceived. In nature you need proper soil to grow your food and nutrients are there to feed the plant what it needs to produce its work of love. Same for our own ecosystem. We have our own flora and the pH is also directly correlated to nature and our ecosystem.

Tip #4 Work on keeping a healthy body pH of 7.2 by decreasing inflammatory foods and beverages.

In nature having a balanced PH is greatly important to protect  wildlife as well as avoiding, in the case of lower ph, the suffocation of the lake or pond.

Ph in our body ecosystem is crucial. It is probably one of the most important elements affecting our health status and bodily functions. Many conditions and diseases have out of range pH levels.

Acidic and alkaline

Most fruits and vegetables, including citrus, make your body alkaline. You need 8 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables to keep your body alkaline. Green leafy vegetables are first on the list. On the other end, meat, dairy, and grains make your body acidic. Some  recommend that our food intake should be 75% alkaline foods.  Meatless monday anyone? This cannot be more apropos as the World Health Organization has released a study this week showing the link between red meat and cancer.

Not only do foods make your body alkaline or acidic. Emotions such as anger, hate, sadness, despair, and loneliness also change your body chemistry to acidic. Happy emotions, such as love, make your body pH alkaline. This is why we must be mindful of everything that goes into our bodies, from our food to our thoughts. This is the part of the environment that I like to specialize in. Creating physical and emotional harmonious environments at  home and at work can do so much to help us take care of ourselves. Isn’t it empowering to know that? I cannot wait to hear from your experience.  Which step or steps will you make to begin rebalancing your ph level?

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