Sitting on the Fence Post

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For a long time, I have been at a crossroad in my life.  It is time to make a choice, instead of sitting on the fence railing and not doing anything.  You see, I used to be a Christian.  About a year ago, I began questioning my faith and my God and Jesus.  It all started while singing along with a song on the radio.  One of the verses said;  “praying to a god that I don’t even believe in.”  When I realized what I had sung, I immediately covered my mouth and looked up like I was going to be struck down by lightning.  After some time, I relaxed and admitted to myself that this was how I truly felt.  It was a hard thing to admit, but I decided I was going to allow myself the time to really investigate my beliefs.

At first, it was exhilarating learning about different religions and beliefs.  I found I was drawn to spirituality and the belief of one creator.  I studied up on many ascended masters and this intrigued me and I began including them in my prayers.  I learned about chakras and learned where mine were located and how to balance each of them during meditation.  This led me to Reiki and I received a healing.  It was quite interesting.  It felt like energy that surged through each of my chakras.  During one Reiki treatment, the Reiki Master cut chords I had to past relationships that were keeping me bound.  I actually had visions of the people that were involved during my healing.  Once the healing was over, she told me she cut some chords and explained what she meant by that.  I told her about the visions I had and that it involved the same people that she was cutting the chords from.  I also saw my spirit animal for the first time and it was a white tiger. Naturally, I had to look up what a white tiger animal totem meant to me on Google!  You have to love Google!

I learned how to do Reiki on myself and would do it almost daily and also concentrated the energy on areas in my body that ached.  Then I learned how to ground myself to mother earth to dissipate any negative energy that I may have picked up during the day.  Through a counselor, I learned a meditation where I would expand my energy out as far as I could expand it to protect myself from negativity or negative forces.  During one such meditation, I saw an image in my mind’s eye that looked like Jesus and looked like me at the same time.  It was like we were one in the same person.

A friend of mine invited me to a group on Facebook with other like minded people in a closed group.  We experimented through prayer, readings, and then with psychic readings.  To my surprise, when prodded by my friend, I was asked to psychically read the others in our group.  I surprised myself.  I was able to pick up on something for each person in our group that I didn’t know about them.  This shocked me.  I learned to trust my intuition more and speak up if something needed to be presented to one of the members.  During this time I learned how to invoke Archangel Michael and other archangels during my nightly chakra attunements.  During one of these attunements, I was able to see my light body for the first time floating above me.  This was amazing to say the least.

Eventually, the group ended.  Since then, I began to slack off of praying, meditating, grounding myself, and balancing my chakras.  I searched and searched for like minded people like me and haven’t found many people with the same beliefs as I have.  My faith began to fade and I began to doubt my beliefs.  It was a conundrum.  On one hand, I didn’t believe in Jesus and Christianity any longer, but I also wouldn’t allow myself to believe in the creator, the archangels and ascended masters either.  I realized today that I was afraid to make a choice because I didn’t want to make a serious mistake.  I chided myself and asked myself why I had to be so different from other’s all the time.  It did make me pause because it wasn’t the first time in my life where I did the opposite of what other’s did.  I don’t take pleasure in being different and believe me, it would be easier if I could be part of the pack.

After some serious thought, I decided that I am going to continue with my belief in a creator, the archangels and the ascended masters.  If I could turn back to Christianity, I would, but every fiber of my being knows that my beliefs aren’t there anymore.  So today, I rededicated myself back to my spiritual walk, even if I have to do it alone.

I have read on more than one occasion to be still and all the answers I seek are inside of me.  So I meditated for about a half hour this morning.  Prior to meditating, I asked for a sign that I was on the right path.  I also asked that my life purpose would be revealed to me.  My phone rang at 9:19 this morning.  I looked up this angel number and it said I was at the start of my spiritual journey and that my life purpose is leading, compassion, and generosity.  The angel number was also verification that the angels were there with me.  It encouraged me to let go of the old.  So I am letting go of my old beliefs.  Honestly, the only reason I was holding on to my old beliefs were because they were familiar and I missed the people from my church.  I thought about going back to the church, but knew I couldn’t fake something I didn’t believe in any longer.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Art Journalling about Bubbles

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bubble journal 1

In my Art Journaling class, we were asked to use bubbles on our pages.  This sounded like fun to me.  I decided to take some scrapbooking paper and rip it up to make the background of my page.  Once I arranged the pieces, I glued it on to the page.  Then I painted a milky white acrylic paint over both pages.  The color was too opaque, so I used a sponge and water to wipe most of the paint off.

Next, I took a stencil and painted the bubbles across both pages.  I let that paint dry, and then used my fingers to paint the blue in each bubble.  I also used a white pen to highlight each bubble.  Then I outlined each bubble with black and white pens.  Once that was dry, I outlined each bubble with glitter paint.

I was searching through my magazines and found the pictures and lettering for my pages, and cut them out.  I affixed them to my pages with mod podge.  Then I covered both pages with mod podge to finish it off.  Lastly, I used a blue glitter pen to go around both pages to finish it off.

It was a lot of fun deciding what I wanted to do and how I wanted to lay it out.  I thought about making thought bubbles, but then I saw this picture of a woman blowing up bubble gum and knew that was it.  The icing on the cake was the picture of the woman in the shower.  The lettering worked out perfectly for this layout.

Resist Art Journaling

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resist art journal

I am part of a group on Facebook for art journaling.  Each week, we are given two assignments to art journal about.  This weeks assignment is called Resist art journaling.  I had to research plenty of sites online to figure out how to do resist.  It looked pretty simple until I set out to do it.  Resist is a technique that uses stuff like glue or tape or stencils.  Anything, that when used leaves a negative impression on your journal page.

For my first attempt, I used glue and drew fall leaves and a pumpkin with the glue.  I let it dry and used gelato pens to color the background.  Everything was going along well, until I decided to use my acrylic pens to outline the leaves and pumpkin.  It was the wrong thing to use because it left a large outline around each object.  A smaller tipped pen would have done a much better job.  I decided to try again.

My second attempt, I used a stamp of some weeds, and used distressed ink to ink the stamp.  I applied the stamp several times along the bottom of my journal.  Then I took the gelato pens and went around the perimeter of the page, using water to blend it in around the edges.  I then used another color gelato pen for the center of the art journal and again, used water to blend the color into the paper.  Immediately, I noticed that I should have waited to use my stamp last.  The color of the gelato covered up my stamp. I decided to start over again.

Finally, on my third attempt, I tried something completely different.  I used my acrylic paints and painted four primary colors around my art journal.  Once that dried, I used a stencil and the same four paints over the stencil.  This created my resist effect and I liked the way it looked.  The second part of the assignment was to write what we found irresistible.  So I spelled out irresistible on my art journal in red glitter letters.  Then I added stickers to represent all the things I find irresistible like family, adventure, travel, friendships, and laughter.  It was nice to take the time to think of what I am grateful for and I enjoyed this assignment thoroughly.

It is fun to join different groups on Facebook to learn new things.  I am looking forward to the next challenge.

How I lost 65 pounds and quit smoking at the same time

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autumn leaf with heart

This year was a whirlwind to me.  I quit smoking at the beginning of the year and also lost 65 pounds at the same time.  As I become more spiritual, I matured as well.  One day I just decided enough was enough, and set out to lose my bad habits.  It was much easier than I expected it to be.  I didn’t change the way I cooked, but watched my portions instead.  This made the most sense to me.  The only restriction I had was the size of my portions, but I kept the foods that I loved.  I lost all my weight in 3 months.  I quit smoking cold turkey and never turned back with the help of Chantix.  It helps reduce cravings while you quit.  I tried to quit smoking several times before quitting for good.

Unfortunately, because I lost my weight so quick, I messed up my thyroid and have lost a lot of hair.  Now that I am maintaining my weight, I find that the hair loss has slowed down.  I didn’t weigh or measure my food.  I just eye-balled the size of my portions.  I probably could have eaten more if I measured my food and wouldn’t have lost my hair as a result.  I wouldn’t recommend losing your weight this quick.  In some ways it was nice, especially when buying new clothes.  I went from a size 3XL or a size 24 down to a size 10.  If anything, I ended up being too skinny.  My butt was so small that I didn’t fill out many of the jeans and pants I tried on.  I eventually tried the skinny jeans and it fit perfectly.

I also didn’t exercise until my weight was off.  I bought a Fitbit and started walking everyday and made it my goal to walk 10,000 steps.  I also joined the YMCA to do weight training to build up my muscle.  The local YMCA just didn’t appeal to me after going there for several months.  So eventually, I quit going.  Walking 10,000 steps came easy to me.  I have an open floor plan in my house and I would walk around and around until I hit my mark.  This takes about 1 1/2 hours.  Sometimes I walk up to seven miles a day.  I found an app for my IPad for yoga that I just love.  It is called Daily Yoga and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to tone up and become more flexible.  It has free and paid workout plans to try.  I am not that flexible and thought it would be extremely hard to do.  I was surprised how quick I progressed with my flexibility.  My flexibility is much better and so is my balance and strength.  But the biggest plus is less overall pain in my body and less stiffness.  This is the biggest reason I do yoga.  It makes me feel terrific when I am done.

The hard part of weight loss for me is maintaining it.  I quickly found out that cheat days aren’t really worth it because you spend the rest of the week trying to lose what you gained.  Now instead of a whole cheat day including desserts and sweets, we now have a cheat meal or dessert, but not both.  My body is more sensitive to food now.  If I eat something that is rich or greasy, I don’t feel too good afterwards.  I no longer drink sodas or sweet tea for this reason also.  I don’t need the extra calories and I honestly don’t miss it.  But I do find that I crave ooey-gooey desserts like brownies and cakes with icing.  But we have to be careful if we want that for our cheat meal.  I can’t make a cake or brownies or cookies because we simply can’t resist it.  One serving isn’t enough and we keep eating it over the next several days until it is gone.  If I make a cake now, there is a smaller cake mix that is two servings and that is what we do.  Or we ask for a dessert like cheesecake to go from local restaurants and take it home to eat.  This works for us because we aren’t tempted by the leftovers.  I went through a tough spell when I realized that I couldn’t return to the way I ate before.  I had to make peace with that and accept the new way of life for us.  It just discovered my love of baking and now I can’t use that skill much except for special occasions.

We are also changing the way we eat.  We cut out most processed food, except a frozen pizza that we have once a week.  It is only 352 calories for a half a pizza.  It tastes good and satisfies our need to have pizza without killing our diet.  I am changing the way I eat even further.  I have cut out bread and all white stuff like sugar, and potatoes.  Now we have brown rice, or Jasmine rice because it has a lower GI index.  Instead of white potatoes, I now eat red potatoes.  I also want to try baking a sweet potato to see if I like it.  Our noodles are all veggie noodles and it tastes good.  I find I can eat more this way and not gain weight.  I don’t eat cereal any longer, now I eat eggs with fruit and cheese.  It is a lower carb diet.

My daughter inspired me to eat this way because she did this and lost a lot of weight.  She was eating more and was more satisfied and the pounds just melted off. She has found that she is more sensitive to cheat foods as well.  But all other diets she tried didn’t work for her and this did.  She told me to forget all the stuff I learned about low fat eating.  She also stressed that there are no bad foods except watching the amount of carbs I eat and substituting the carbs with lower GI carbs.  This is not easy to do, but I am going to try it.

So I started eating this way about a week ago.  I still have more work to do to fine tune my diet because I haven’t stuck to it 100 percent and have been cheating.  I am up 13 pounds from a recent vacation.  Now I am in the process of trying to get it off in a healthier way than I did before.  I am looking for something that works for me and keeps the weight off.  Hopefully, this will work for me too.  My husband had also dieted along with me and lost 20 pounds.  He would like to lose another 10 pounds to be where he wants to be.  To help me stay motivated to eat 90% good for 5 to 6 days a week, I created a calendar to track my eating at a glance.  I also track my exercise.  I found a calendar app that is also color coded.  I can look at a week and see which colors are predominate so I can see where I need to improve.  I use one color for a 90% day and my walking and yoga days.  Then I use another color to reflect bad eating and lack of exercise.  This is simple to do and keeps me motivated.  It also shows me where I need improvement.

By gaining the 13 pounds back, my butt came back.  Unfortunately, so did my tummy!  I guess I will have to deal with a flat butt to be at the right weight for me.  I just had a physical and all my numbers were very good and my blood pressure is normal again.  That is a plus for me.  Because I quit smoking we are also saving money on our insurance payments.

It was fun going through our closets and dressers with my hubby. We gathered up all the clothes that didn’t fit any longer and donated them to a local charity.   Now I enjoy clothes shopping.  I don’t have to shop in the woman’s section.  Now I wear misses clothing and I love all the choices I have.  It is nice to wear clothing that reflects my tastes and to look good as well.

My Spiritual Awakening

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pumpkins made out of twinePeeling back the layers of my being to expose my truth is liberating and hard at the same time. My journey started over a year ago quite innocently.   While singing, one of the verses said “praying to a God that I don’t believe in.” I never paid attention to the words before, but this time it hit me hard because it was my truth. I immediately put my hands over my mouth and ducked like I was going to be struck down by lightning. But then I relaxed and allowed myself to admit it was true for me. It felt good to give myself permission to explore this and if there is a God, he will allow me to do this so I am not just following him blindly like I had been doing all of my life.

I have been searching all my life for God in different churches, in books, and by talking to other people. Growing up, I was Catholic. I enjoyed going to the church but it was more ritualistic in nature, than spiritual. When I was in my teens, after being confirmed a Catholic, I changed churches. There was a Nazarene church nearby and I attended with our neighbors. It was okay, but didn’t appeal to me. It fulfilled the need to be connected to others, but not in my soul.

The Baptist church didn’t appeal to me and neither did the Methodist church. I have to say I felt most at home at the Methodist church.  But I also experienced a lot of anxiety while going there. Something was off and I couldn’t put my finger on what was off about it. They had asked me to be a prayer intercessor and I reluctantly did it each Sunday, but felt hypocritical doing it. Praying for others was hard for me because I didn’t pray much on my own. This didn’t feel any better after doing it awhile. Then they asked me to be a lay pastor. I did the training, but also felt at odds with this title and the responsibilities that came with it. Now I was handing out the sacraments to the congregation and attending meetings monthly.  I felt like a total fraud.

The church was probably one of the best ones that I attended and the people that went there were nice.  But every time I went there, I would get anxious. It didn’t ease up with time. My shoulders would get so tense, that I ached afterwards for the rest of the day. Eventually, I quit going to this church too. Admittedly, I miss going and miss the people that attended there too.

Then one day, I went to an event called Shift Charlotte. It was an eye opener for me. There were many different vendors there. There were card readers there, healers of different types, and all of this was quite new to me. For fun, I went to a woman to get a reading. While talking to her, I began to experience sharp chest pains that made me clutch my chest. She told me that she was sending energy to my heart chakra to open it up. This was new to me and she explained what a heart chakra was to me and also what all the other chakras were and how I was out of balance. She piqued my curiosity.

Then I met a reverend. She asked me if she could pray for me and I said sure. She had me sit facing a wall with Jesus and Mother Mary hanging on the wall. There was also a candle lit. She stood behind me and prayed and it touched me deeply and I began to cry. I thanked her when she was done and left a donation.

Then I met a woman that also did readings. She had a huge black geode on her table. It was a black quartz looking gemstone, but I don’t know the name of it. She asked me to touch it and tell her if I felt anything. I told her I didn’t. So she had me stand up and hold the geode and I couldn’t believe all the power that geode had in it. I wasn’t aware that gemstones had this kind of energy in them. This geode was so powerful that I felt the energy enter my body and go all the way through me into the ground. It grounded me and made me feel peaceful. This piqued my interest and we chatted for awhile about how to clear the energy from gemstones and how to program them. It was quite interesting to me.

There were many different healers there. Some used sound to clear your chakras, some used Tibetan bowls to clear your chakras and put you back in balance. All of this was new to me, but I felt like I fit in with the people at this event. It just felt right to me. This experience has stayed with me ever since it happened.

Once I left the event, I became a sponge. I learned everything I could about chakras and learned how to balance them. I bought crystals and tried to clear their energy and program them. I actually mined my own crystals from a local river. This led to Reiki and I learned how to do Reiki and energy healings on myself.  I joined a small group on Facebook where we explored our gifts together. I learned that I had some psychic abilities that were dormant until I joined this group. We were all exploring our gifts, God, the ascended masters, the archangels and prayer.  We supported each other on our journey together. It was an eye-opening experience for me. There was such a hunger within me to learn everything I could from books and the people I encountered.

meditation, reiki, prayer, ascended masters, archangels, gemstones, chakras

I became more spiritual and less religious. It helped me understand why churches didn’t appeal to me. Since starting this journey, I have let go of Jesus. He just doesn’t resonate with me, not even as an ascended master.

My journey has been exhilarating, but it was also very hard on me. Letting go of the known for the unknown is very scary. Unlearning what was taught to me was hard as well. There was a fear of being wrong and offending God. But I let go of this because my God has always been the same god no matter what religion I practiced.

Questioning my religious beliefs led to questioning my other beliefs in an honest way. I really had to take a hard look at my shadow self as well. This was difficult because it is hard to face the cold hard truth of who you are as a person. The good and the bad. You can’t change what you don’t admit to yourself. My whole world was turned upside down. It was hard in one aspect, but exhilarating in another aspect.

I began to meditate. It took some experimenting with different types of meditations to find a good fit for me. I don’t meditate daily but want to make that my goal. It helps to center myself and to go within to find the answers I am seeking. I also do new moon rituals and sage my home monthly to clear the energy.

This journey is a lonely journey for me. North Carolina is part of the bible belt, so I am reluctant to share this part of myself with others. Honestly, most people probably think I am nuts. I know I would think that if I hadn’t had these experiences. It is hard to find your tribe. I would love to meet other people that are exploring their beliefs like I am. When I would go through a rough spell, I would consider going back to the Methodist church. But my heart just isn’t open to religion any longer. It’s familiar and that is the attraction.

My family except my husband, daughter and son do not know any of this about me. It is time for me to come out of the closet and just be who I am. My family may not understand but I don’t think they will turn their back on me either.

Because I have a mental illness, I am checking myself all the time to stay grounded in reality. It is a delicate balancing act.

My First Art Journal Page

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Page 1 of My Art JournalI joined an online art class to learn how to make an art journal. I have never made one before and all the techniques were new to me too.  For our first assignment we were told to use our initials for our page.  They gave us many references to look up and YouTube videos for further guidance.  We could use Zentangles and doodles to enhance our initials.  We could use a written journal page or book page to use as a background.  It was up to us how much or how little we wanted on our finished page.  They also suggested writing about ourselves and inserting hidden initials throughout the page.

One of the references that I found interesting is one that lists the alphabet in different languages.  I decided to use the German letter “K” and “k” for my piece.  I chose this because I am part German.  I used watered down acrylic paint for the background.  Then I used stencils and used the caps from my paints dipped in acrylic paint to create more visual interest on the page.

Once I was happy with the background, I used pen and ink to draw the doodles around the large letter K.  To finish up the page, I wrote my initials around the border of the page.  I did notice in different places on the page, that my pens didn’t write as well on the acrylic painted surface if it wasn’t watered down enough.  So I plan to go shopping today to buy some watercolor paints to take care of this problem.

It was fun creating this page and learning new techniques.  Once I started my page, I was hooked and didn’t want to stop.  It was also interesting to see all the other pages the group had completed.  There were lots of different interpretations and wonderful ideas to use on my next page.

My Journey to Wellness and My Love of Art and Writing

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My Journey to Wellness and My Love of Art and Writing

Being retired has it’s challenges, especially because I medically retired when I was 36 years old.  I was diagnosed with bi-polar and schizoid affective disorders.  It felt like my world had come crashing down on me from all sides.  It didn’t help that we also moved from Florida, to Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut, and finally North Carolina.  We moved because of my husband’s job.  So I didn’t have any sense of family or any roots for the past 21 years.  We moved to North Carolina six years ago and made this our home.

Over the years, each new doctor reevaluated me and gave me a brand new diagnosis.  This was frustrating because they would change my medicine.  My body didn’t like all the drug changes.  I would get so bad that I could barely lift my arms, brush my teeth, or comb my hair.  My husband would have to help me get ready each day.  It was quite demoralizing to know what I looked like and have to ask for help for the simplest things that I could not do myself.  I didn’t want people to see me this way and I was embarrassed to have my family see me in this state.  It would take up to six months in each place that I lived to tweak the medicine enough to get rid of all these side affects.  But it also blunts me.  I don’t feel things like I used to because I am numb to everything around me.  I also have big spans of time that are missing from my memories that I cannot recall at all.  I was tested for this and was told that I also had a dissociative disorder.  I learned through the years to not get too hung up on the actual diagnoses as long as my medicines are working well for me.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t at my optimum self with my medicines until this year.

I have to say that I just couldn’t accept that I had to retire medically, and I was in denial for years that I really had anything wrong.  Prior to retiring I was very successful in the Air Force for ten years and then in civil service for 9 years.  I took great pride in my work, so it was hard to swallow that it all went up in smoke.  Being a salaried worker spoiled me because I came and went as I pleased, and didn’t have to answer to anyone.  When I worked different part time jobs, it was like starting over again.  I had a boss to answer to and most of the time, they were much younger than I was.  So I had to swallow my pride on more than one occasion.  But eventually, I had to quit my last two jobs.  I began having problems with using a cash register and I kept making mistakes.  So out of frustration, I resigned from the last two jobs I had.  I realized working wasn’t in the cards for me any longer.

Life wasn’t that fulfilling for me at all.  I stayed busy cleaning the house and working on our yard, but slowly, I lost hope.  I began to stay home more and more and isolated myself.  I gained a lot of weight, and didn’t exercise much, and also quit taking care of our home like I used to.  During this 21 year period of time, I had eight nervous breakdowns with psychosis and it shook me to my core.  I didn’t feel safe and didn’t trust myself to be rooted in reality.  This made me isolate myself even more.  My entire family was affected by this and worried that I may never be normal. I worried about this too.

But everything has changed in the past year.  I decided that I needed to get over myself and accept my diagnosis.  But in many ways I feel that I am cured from more breakdowns in my future.  I decided to trust myself again and I quit being so critical of myself.  Instead of telling myself all the things I can’t do, I began to look at what I could change to take back control of my own life.  I wasn’t in the greatest health, so I set out to lose weight and quit smoking.  I was able to lose 65 pounds in about 4 months and I successfully quit smoking at the same time.  My weight dropped so fast that I was too skinny and had gone from a size 22 to a size 10.  Unfortunately, I lost a lot of hair because I lost my weight too quickly.  I began walking for exercise using a Fitbit and made it my goal to walk 10,000 steps a day.  I also added yoga to my exercise and do yoga for 1/2 hour to an hour 5 days a week.  I did gain some weight back when we went on vacation to Hawaii to see my daughter and her family.  Now I am in the process of losing again, but I think 155 to 160 is the right weight for me.

My psychiatrist that I loved had to close his business and move away.  This broke my heart because he had me all settled on the right medications.  He really listened to me and I had a lot of respect for him.  This happened this year.  I found another doctor that was a good fit for me, and he also had to close his business.  So now I am seeing another doctor and I am hoping and praying that we will have a good rapport.  I have only seen him once so far.  It is too soon to tell.

In the past, I used to do artwork of various types when I was depressed. It was a form of communication when I couldn’t express what was going on with me verbally.  I also used to play the piano as a way of soothing myself.  Other than an occasionally art class, I rarely did anything artistic any longer.  But all that changed several months ago when I decided to give it a try.  It is strange for me to be creating art from a positive place.  I never considered doing art just for the joy of doing it.  In the past, only my closest family members saw my art.  Over the years they tried to encourage me to do something with my art, but I shunned away from it.  I wasn’t depressed so I didn’t have a need for it as an outlet.  I also used to write in journals and I kept that very private as well.  But something changed in me and I began to paint again.  One painting led to another and then another.  It is relaxing and I enjoy the process of learning new techniques and meeting other people who are artists as well.

I asked my daughter if I could sell my art prints in her Etsy store and she said yes.  I want to see how well I can do.  With each painting or piece of artwork I get better and learn something new.  I am not expecting much, but it is fun to see how well my art will do.  I signed up for the local art crawl in April here in Statesville and look forward to that.  By then I will have many paintings to chose from.  Right now I only have 5 prints in the shop.  It is my goal to create one thing per week.  My daughter is also going to arts and craft shows in Hawaii and she sells my prints for me as well.

My love of art have also helped me with my love for writing and I decided to start this blog.  Just like my artwork, I am learning as I go.  I know my writing needs a lot of polishing up, but I am no longer afraid to share my imperfect self with other people.  I am loving the journey that I am on.