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RESOLUTION PROGRESS REPORT

Hello, dear readers. It’s time, once again, (long past, really), for a progress update on this year’s resolutions, or experiments, as I like to call them. And what an appropriate time to reflect and take stock than right at the approach of the Autumnal Equinox?

It’s been an interesting year, so far. As always, nothing has been as planned, exactly. But I feel I’ve been pretty consistently making progress on my path – through many self-corrections, re-directions, stumbles, and pauses along the way.

It’s been really interesting to me how, especially in the last few months, I’ve been noticing so many pieces of my past resurfacing in both new and familiar ways, presumably so that I might start addressing those old patterns and emotional residues to allow for more progress and growth in the now.

This does, of course, mean some pretty gnarly pitfalls as I struggle to, first, recognize when one of these ‘opportunities for growth’ is presenting itself, and, secondly, to figure out how to break an old un-serving pattern, then, thirdly, to establish a new and healthy way to handle the situation. Whew! It’s a lot of work, but it tells me that I have chosen some very appropriate experiments for my Self this year. So, let’s check in on my progress, shall we?

Experiment #1: Formally observe the Wheel of the Year. Write blog posts on each. Make videos on each.

Well, I’ve done everything here except make videos. And I’m okay with that. I’m already feeling a closer connection with Mama Nature as a result, and am so glad I’m doing this.

Experiment #2: Try something new. Choose (minimum) 6 new things to try this year.

IMG_4233While I have not as yet been sticking to the list of activities I planned for this experiment – SUP Yoga, solo camping trip, meetup group, aerial dance, sewing from pattern, hang gliding – I have been trying new things … and having a blast! I didn’t get to take an SUP Yoga class, but I did get to do some Stand-Up Paddling, which I’d never done before. It was great fun, and I hope to do more of it again in the future. I also went rock climbing for the first time. I’ve wanted to do this for ages, and finally some friends invited me to be their guests at the rock gym. It was so much fun. I absolutely loved it. And I felt doubly proud of myself for conquering my fear of heights as I conquered the wall. I’ve done some online dating this year. It may not seem as daring as some of the other items on the list, but, for me, it takes a great deal of courage to do it. I’ve put up profiles before, and fielded a few emails, but I’ve never actually let myself go through with any dates … until now. No real luck in finding my Prince Charming, yet, but it’s still something new that takes me [way] out of my comfort zone, so I’m counting it. I am still planning a solo camping trip, and hope to attend a meetup soon. (I had planned to go to one recently, but a terrible headache squashed those plans.) We’ll see what else I can get into by year’s end.

Experiment #3: Start a YouTube channel. Make regular monthly posts.

This experiment has been a bust … so far, at least. We’ll see if I get any traction on it this year. If not, I’ll add it to next year’s list.

Experiment #4: Save some money.

Well, I am managing to do this, but I am also, then, spending that saved money, so it’s been kind of a wash so far. I’m not spending terribly frivolously, a lot of it is my trying to pay down my quarterly taxes and my debt, but I do have a habit of spending mindlessly at times. The entire experiment is forcing me to take a strong look at my relationship with finances, and to seek out and implement new strategies that will work for me. So, progress is happening.

Experiment #5: Volunteer!

Once again, I’m sad to report that I’ve had an epic fail in the volunteering department. I still have a few months left, though, to get organized enough to make this happen on the regular for next year.

Experiment #6: Take a proper vacation.

Done! My trip to Belize took care of this one! You can read about it HERE.

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Experiment #7: Go fully raw LFHC vegan for one month, beginning with a 3-day stint on Banana Island.

I’ve not done a straight month, but I’ve been pretty consistently mostly raw low fat vegan for the better part of this year. I’m no longer interested in Banana Island, so that’s not a priority. I have learned that I feel about a million times better when I’m eating low fat raw vegan, but I do occasionally give into emotional/nostalgic cravings. I’m okay with that right now, but I feel like I’m on the road to more and more raw every day. And I think this might have been one of the best goals I have ever set for myself. Yay!

Experiment #8: One month of super productivity.

Well, this was kind of a badly constructed resolution. I didn’t make it very quantifiable, did I? Being a classic Tortoise – slow and steady wins the race! – I will never be as super-productive as those Hares out there who spend every waking hour making things and/or making things happen. That said, though, I’ve been much more productive this year than I have been in many long years. I’ve been trying to create more clarity about what I want my life to look like, and how I want to spend my time, and the clearer that vision gets, the easier it is to set to work making it happen. I still have a lot of work ahead to hone my vision, my desires, and my self-motivational style, but the cogs are turning and things are happening, and that’s a good start.

Experiment #9: Be creative. Have at least 6 finished products by year’s end.

This resolution has been signed, sealed and delivered! I’ve been doing embroidery projects (tea towels, handkerchiefs), made a spirit house for my recently departed four-legged nephew, and making bath salts. I’ve made lavender sachets, a pinecone garland, and dehydrated some citrus slices to be used in a gratitude garland, and, possibly, some homemade tea blends. I made costume accessories for a short film. I’ve made a Bride’s Cross, a pine straw besom, and an altar cloth. And I’ve got several more projects in the works. So, yeah, creativity? I’m on it!

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Experiment #10: Write an ebook and sell it online.

Well, I have made several starts on some book ideas, but I think the one that might actually get made this year, is a recipe book that I’m currently developing. It will be mostly low fat raw vegan recipes, with some transitional foods recipes, as well. I figured it was best to start simple, and see how the process works. We’ll see whether or not it will be finished by the end of the year.

Experiment #11: Pay off debts by a minimum 50% by year’s end.

Ironically, I did this already, but then I had some unexpected business expenses (and a few personal expenses) that put me right back where I was when I made this resolution. I have a solid plan in place, though, for paying them down, so I’m feeling, again, like I’m making progress. I’m also remembering why having debt sucks so much. It’s a cyclical downward spiraling situation. Debt begets debt, as the payments and interest rates make a small salary evaporate faster than rain on Southern blacktop. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. (On the Pollyanna side, though, I’m rebuilding my credit now that I have credit again. So, that’s good, I guess.)

Experiment #12: Reduce consumption, and, therefore, cost of living.

This was another instance of a poorly written resolution. I didn’t leave any hints on how to quantify success here. I can say that just trying to educate myself on the subject has been hugely helpful to me. I’m learning so much … about reducing my footprint, but also about myself, and my relationship to stuff and money. I have managed to make some fairly significant cuts in my budget and am continually looking for more opportunities to streamline my living and minimize my consumerism. It’s a challenge as I came of age in the 80’s, which begat in me a strong nostalgic connection to buying shit. But I’m working through these attachments and trying to find new, more fulfilling ways to address those emotional needs.

All in all, I’m still really happy with the resolutions I’ve chosen for myself this year. And I’m feeling pretty good about my progress. I’m learning so much and feel like I’m improving myself in some really positive and healthy ways. Perhaps some of this work is overdue, but personal growth is a good idea any time, in my book.

How about you? Did you set resolutions this year? Are you keeping to them? Are you learning from them? Are they helping you grow? I hope so.

Happy Equinox!
Melanie

Resolution Roundup

Argh!  It’s July, already?!?  So much for regular monthly updates.  Luckily for me, that wasn’t one of my resolutions, so I don’t feel tooooo badly about it.  Still, it’s definitely time for a resolution roundup.  Here’s how I’m doing …

1.  Formally Observe the Wheel of the Year.

I’m happy to report that I’m still on point with this experiment.  I don’t always get to celebrate in the exact ways I would like, but, so far, I’ve celebrated every holiday in some way.  And it’s definitely making a beautiful impact on my life.  My connection with the Natural Order is deepening and I’m feeling much more attuned with my relationship to Spirit.

2.  Try Something New.

Just last month I got to take my very first stab at paddle boarding.  It was great fun!  (I’m also in the process of planning a visit to a SUP yoga class.)  I went to Belize – somewhere I’d never been before.  Since late winter, I’ve been exploring lots of new hiking trails here in Durham.  I’ve got more work to do on this experiment, but I’m feeling good about my progress so far.

3.  Start YouTube channel.

Still stalling on this one.  I’m hopeful, though.

4.  Save $.

I have so far been able to implement – and maintain – a regular contribution to savings.  Woo Hoo!  It’s not a super large contribution at present, but the initial challenge of the goal was to just create the habit.  So, I consider this a win!

5.  Volunteer.

Still need to make this one happen.

6.  Take a proper vacation.

DONE!  A week and a half in Placencia, Belize checked this experiment off the list.  Read about it here!

7.  Go fully raw LFHC vegan for one month.

I’m actually making great progress on this.  I am mostly eating LFHC raw vegan all the time now, with only very occasional exceptions for cooked vegan eats.  I already consider this a win, and I hope I will continue to make this way of eating my everyday lifestyle.  I originally was intending to do a 3-day intro stint on Banana Island, but I no longer feel this is a good option for me, so I’m dropping that piece of the resolution.

8.  Have a month of super-productivity (a la Tynan)

Well, this one is tricky.  I’ve certainly had productive runs during this year, but as yet have not managed to go a month being super productive.  I am still working toward that goal, though.  I am noticing benefits from even the short bursts of productive behavior.  Hopefully I can keep adding to the practice and grow it by year’s end.

9.  Be creative.

I feel like I’ve been quite creative in the kitchen lately.  Since I’ve been eating primarily low fat high raw vegan foods, I’ve had to get creative making seasonal dishes that are delicious, nutritious, filing, and pretty.  It’s a fun challenge.  I’m hoping to start a few more artistic/craftsy projects in the coming months, and will keep you posted on that progress.

10.  Write an ebook and sell it online.

I’ve got a partially written book on file.  However, I’m thinking I’m going to scrap it and start all over.  As with many things in my life, I think I’m making it more difficult than it needs to be by starting with a project with a too-large scope.  So, I’m thinking I am going to reconvene with a few smaller undertakings like, perhaps, a recipe book, or some smaller instructional guides as a way of getting my feet wet in this arena.  I’ll let you know what happens!

11.  Pay off debts (50%) by year’s end.

I’m feeling really good about this resolution.  I’ve already managed to pay off about a third of my debts already.  And I’ve made what I think is a pretty solid plan for paying off the rest (save, maybe, my car debt) by year’s end.  It’s astonishing how quickly debt can pile up when I’m not mindful about my spending.  It’s a challenge, but I am up to it!  Financial freedom, here I come … again!

12.  Reduce consumption/cost of living.

This has been an ongoing process all year long, and I’m still working with it.  It’s definitely a worthwhile effort that pays off in more than just financial savings.  I’m still hoping to do a proper write up of some of the things I’m learning and implementing.   It’s an exciting journey!

So, that’s my progress.  Of course, it’s not perfect.  But I’m pretty proud of where I am, nonetheless.  How about you?  Where are you with your resolutions?  What experiments have you been cooking up in your life?  I’d love to hear from you … just drop a line in the comments below.

Until next time … Happy experimenting!

xoxo,

melanie

An Overdue Update

Sorry for the ‘quick and dirty’ version, but I’ll work on my timeliness!

experimentsinbliss

Apologies! I’ve been tardy again with my blog updates. It’s been a mad, mad, mad, mad world over here in Melanie-Land lately. But lots of good is growing, and progress is being made. I have made some new decisions, put some plans in action and am feeling really happy about where I’m heading. In fact, as is my wont, it’s a challenge to temper my impatience, and to enjoy the journey of the process of making these new dreams happen. More on the bigger news later in this post. For now, let’s do a check-in with the annual experiments (resolutions), shall we?

So, I’ve managed to make a dent in the creativity department (Experiment no. 9). A friend asked me to help do the costuming for a short film she’s directing. I was tempted to say no, as I wasn’t sure how much time I had to offer…

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New Year’s Experiments 2015 Update

Wow. It’s already the end of January. This year is already off to a brisk start! Thankfully, some of that locomotive energy has been inspiring me to stay motivated this month. Like many people, I, too, feel like there are never really enough hours in the day to do the things I need to do as well as the things I want to do. And so be it. Because, when you get right down to it, most of those things in the first column really belong in the latter. I mean, I only need to work as much as I do to be able to supply enough income for my wants. So, my timing crisis is my choice, and I’ll not bitch about it here. In fact, despite working with this limited docket of free minutes and hours, I have managed to be quite productive this month. TOOT! TOOT! (That’s my own horn, if you were wondering.)

Sweet progress!

Sweet progress!

I am proud to say that I have made some very admirable progress on my new year’s resolutions … which I have decided to call my new year’s experiments from now on, because that makes them sound more fun and enjoyable.

Here is an update on my progress …

Experiment #1 is off to a fine start. The first holiday of the year, as is depicted on the Wheel of the Year is Imbolc. It’s celebrated on February 1st – 2nd. I just posted an article about the holiday on my personal blog. Go here if you’d like to read it. And I will be celebrating with an informal little ritual at home tomorrow evening. I even made a craft in honour of the holiday!

Experiment #4 has also gotten some quality time this month.  I have not only met my target with my savings plan for this month, but I have exceeded it. Yippee!

Experiment #7 is prepped and ready for take off. Tomorrow I begin my month-long experiment of eating fully raw LFHC (low fat high carb) raw vegan in the 80/10/10 style. I’ve been using the past several weeks to work a transition. I’ve already had more than a handful of fully raw days this year, and, despite my doubts, I am not only enjoying the food, but am experiencing improved health even just from this transitional period. I can’t wait to experience the positive effects of a whole month of this fully raw lifestyle. To be honest, I’m not sure I’m going to stick to the 3-day Banana Island intro, but we’ll see. I haven’t ruled it out yet, but I’m thinking I might prefer to finish with that on the last three days of the month, instead. I’ll keep you posted.

While I haven’t officially embarked on Experiment #8’s month of super-productivity, I can tell you that I am doing a good job of prepping for it so far. I have been reorganizing my house and purging a huge hunk of my belongings. I’ve been putting more time and energy into my work. I’ve been doing a ton of research online. I’m reading several books. And I’m spending less and less time vegging on the couch in front of the telly. Being productive feels good!

Hand-stitched pin-up hand towels. What?!

I’m happy to report that I have already ticked off one of my creativity projects for Experiment #9. I have been teaching my Self to stitch (as in decorative hand needlework) since December. This month, I stitched some hand towels to be given as gifts to some friends. Here’s a photo of the final project. While I’m still just beginning to hone this craft, I’m quite pleased with how they turned out.

I started the outline of an ebook late last year. Thus, Experiment #11. I’ve been steadily working on it this month, and am excited to continue fleshing it out as the year progresses.

I’ve really been having some fun with Experiment #12. While I am proud of my savings efforts for Experiment #4, I feel like my work with Experiment #12 is going to allow me much more freedom to be able to stick with my savings plan. In addition to squirrelingl away my allotted savings for the month, I have been culling my belongings and selling things I no longer need on craigslist. So far, I’ve managed to sell a lamp, a collector’s DVD, a Polaroid camera, and an iPod Nano (3rd generation). I still have tons more available for sale, and even more to post. And speaking of culling … I’ve been whittling my budget, too. To date, I have canceled my ZipCar membership, CompostNow membership, Pandora One subscription, and Hulu Plus subscription. I’m researching ways to live more frugally, but with more meaning and true satisfaction. I’ll be posting about this on my personal blog soon, so check there often for updates.

So, that’s my January. I’m on a roll, and it’s feeling absolutely blissful! I’ve got plans in the works for some more upcoming adventures, so stay tuned.

How is your year going so far? I’d love to hear from you. We can support each other as we build lives full of meaning and fulfillment and bliss!  To borrow a phrase from President Obama:  Yes, we can!

Happy February!

xoxo,

melanie

EXPERIMENTS IN BLISS: GETTING THE MOST OUT OF A NEW YEAR

It’s that time, again, kiddos! Who’s stepping up in 2015?

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imageHere we are again in the doorway of a shiny new year. 2015. Before I start allowing my self to get too comfortable with this new year, I have decided to, once again, take some precautionary measures to ensure that I get the very best out this year. As you know if you’re a regular reader, I have been making a list of resolutions every January for the past several years. And while I am still tweaking my style, I am finding the practice to be a worthy one. For me, at least. The process of ruminating on and organizing intentions for the coming year does several things for me.

First and foremost, it sort of forces me to take inventory of how I spent my time and energy in the past year. It allows me to compare that performance against how I hope to spend my time and energies…

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Experiments in … Holding My Self Accountable vs. Allowing My Self To Falter (aka: A Resolution Round-up)

It’s December! Already! How did we come to the closing of the year so quickly? It feels like I was writing out my resolutions just last week. But, I guess, time flies when you’re having experiments in bliss.

What a wild and wonderful year it’s been! While I must confess that I have lagged on my resolutions in this last quarter of the year, I am exuberantly proud of the personal progress I’ve managed to make in 2014. I have completely restructured my lifestyle and my health continues to improve daily. As a direct result, of course, my quality of life is improving. This process, like so many others in my life, and in Nature, is happening at the Tortoise’s pace. The Aries in me can get impatient at times, but I just keep reminding her that most true and lasting positive change takes time. My true nature seems to be more that of the Tortoise than the Hare, anyway, so this pace, in the big picture, suits me just fine.

So, I think I’m going to just dive right into my resolution round-up. Let’s see how I did, shall we?

January was all about organization. Resolution #1: Organize home and life. Considering the fact that I was getting settled into my new loft and starting to fall into a good flow of client retention at work, I feel like this resolution was met. I will pretty much always believe that there can be more organizational improvements made. That’s the Virgo in me.) But I feel very good about my organizational work this year. Yay! One resolution met!

February saw the advent of the elimination diet. Resolution #2: Treat myself to an elimination diet during the month of February. Then adjust everyday diet accordingly to eat for optimal health and not for emotional reasons. This was perhaps the best and most important gift I gave myself this year. In fact, it’s one of the best things I’ve EVER done for my Self. This elimination diet, which ended up lasting through March, was the beginning of my discovery of the low fat high carb vegan lifestyle. And this lifestyle has been and is still creating so much positive change in my health, and in my life, in general. Hooray! Two resolutions met!

Exercise was the theme for March. Resolution #3: Get moving! Exercise regularly and joyously. Physical exertion has been an ongoing topic of scrutiny for me this entire year. I get plenty of exercise. I walk or bike almost everywhere. My job is physical. I stretch and wiggle all the time. And I occasionally even fit in some formal workouts. So, I have no qualms about claiming the prize on this resolution. Would I like to make some changes and improvements in this arena? Yes. But I’m satisfied with where I am until those changes can be made. (More on this in an upcoming post.) Awesome! Three resolutions met!

April was about cultivating creativity. Resolution #4: Do something creative every week. Make actual artist dates a la The Artist’s Way. Have some kind of finished project to show for your efforts at least once a month. Okay, so this is where my footing starts to get a little slippery on the resolution road. While I have managed to participate in many creative endeavors this year – probably more than I have in the past several years – I have not been as consistent as this resolution dictates. So, we’ll call this one a Room For Improvement.

Meditation was the plan for May. Resolution #5: Cultivate a meditation practice. I was doing some really good work on this resolution for a while. Unfortunately, I eventually let Life seep into my practice and suddenly so many excuses seemed to take precedence. However, spiritually speaking, this is what a meditation practice is. It’s not about perfection, but about practice. It takes time to make it a habit. It involves failures as well as successes. And it’s as much a lesson in how the failures are handled, as it is about how many successes are had. So, I’m considering this one a Room For Improvement, as well.

June was an attempt to separate my personal life from my working life. Resolution #6: Give myself days off of work and don’t work on those days! Seems like such a simple aim. Alas, it continues to prove otherwise for me … often to my detriment. I continue to struggle with my own boundaries about how much I can reasonably work. I’m also a sucker for helping out when I am needed. And while this stems from a good place of wanting to be a helpful and contributing member of the work team, my inability to refuse these requests for help most often leave me overwhelmed, overworked, and with a strained immune system. So, while I was doing okay with this resolution during a few months mid-year, overall I am calling this resolution a fail. Or rather, this is an opportunity for more reflection on my personal needs and how to provide for and protect those needs in my own words and deeds. Let’s do it!

Financial health was the name of the game in July. Resolution #7: Save some money. Well, I did manage to save some money this year. However, I also managed to spend most of it in these last few months. I don’t regret putting the money where I did, but I’m eager to start saving again. This time, I hope I can manage to create a more substantial nest egg. Another growth opportunity. It’s on!

August asked me to indulge my social side. Resolution #8: Be more social. I think my failing with this resolution was that I didn’t designate any specific parameters to be met, so I have no real concrete way of gaging how successful I was at achieving it. That said, I feel like I gave a decent showing out in the world. I even hosted a couple of parties. I’m still fairly hermity, but I managed to get myself outside much more often than I have in years past, so I’m calling this a win. Alright! Another resolution met!

September was about taking care of my Self. Resolution #9: Make room for some kind of Self care every week. Well, while I didn’t get too caught up in documenting how often I was doing things for my Self, I can say that I practice Self care regularly. Whether it be meditation, hydrotherapy, yoga, time in sunshine, cuddles with my best bunny friend, or sundry other delightful treats, I treat my Self often. So, this resolution is one that can be happily checked as accomplished. Heck yeah! Five resolutions met!

October wasn’t about me. It was about others. Resolution #10: Volunteer at least once a month. I am very sad to admit that this resolution got lost in the shuffle of end-of-the-year busyness. It’s a downright fail. I mean, er, another opportunity to work harder in 2015! I’m looking forward to it!

November urged novelty. Resolution #11: Try something new at least once a month. While this is a notion I support, I admit that I wasn’t specific enough in it’s phrasing. I’m sure there were many new things I tried at many times throughout this year, but I did not always take note of them. So, I think I’m going to consider this a faulty resolution. Maybe I will try to tweak it into something more measurable and specific, perhaps, for next year?

December was all about spirit. Resolution #12: Cultivate a spiritual practice and attune to Nature by observing the Wheel of the Year, Esbats and Astors. I’m afraid I didn’t do very well on this one, either. While I was almost always aware of when these events were taking place, I was not good about formally (or informally, if I’m being honest) acknowledging and honoring them. We’ll be seeing this resolution again, dear readers. Be ready.

So that’s it. Five resolutions met. Two resolutions partially met with Room For Improvement. One faulty resolution. And four resolutions unmet leaving opportunities for new growth. It’s not perfect, but it’s decent. And I’m happy with this progress. I’m looking forward to setting some new resolutions for 2015. I suppose I will have to get busy with that really soon. Still, it’s gonna have to wait until another entry.

Happy New Year, lovelies! 2014 has been a wild and wonderful ride. Thanks for sharing it with me! If you’d like to share how you did on your resolutions this year, I’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below (or message me directly if you tend toward a more private nature). May 2015 bring you health, wealth, bliss and love!

xoxo,
melanie

August/September/October: Playing Catchup!!

Hello gentle readers! Many apologies for the extended absence. So much has been happening in my world, and I have been working very hard to remain unburied by it all. Sadly, that didn’t translate into my prioritizing the blog updates. Sometimes you just have to remove yourself and take care of your Self before you can jump back into the game, you know?

Anyway, here I am, and I’m going to jump straight in with my resolution progress reports for these three months past.

At my last writing, I was working with July’s resolution of “Saving Some Money.” It was going decently until I used my money to pay off all my debt, including an old forgotten debt that was marring my credit report. So, I’m back at Square 1. Actually, it’s more like Square 2, as I have a plan already in place for saving money every month. So, I’m on my way. And, as is one of my favorite personal mottoes: Slow and steady wins the race!

August’s resolution was to Be More Social. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t thinking about my resolutions during this month at all. However, I managed to keep this resolution nonetheless! I managed to make several dinner dates with friends as well as general social meetings with friends I don’t get to see in the course of my everyday life. And these meet-ups have continued through to the present, and will, hopefully, continue indefinitely. So, good on me!

In the month of September I was to Make Room For Some Kind of Self Care Every Week. Did I do it? Yes, actually. Once again, without actually paying any attention to my resolutions, I was subconsciously fulfilling them. (Yeah!) I have a standing weekly appointment with my acupuncturist. We do any combination of acupuncture, tui na massage therapy, and/or cupping every Tuesday. So, my resolution is covered. On top of that, however, I’ve also been trying to get more regular massage sessions as well as the odd facial service here and there. I’ve also been working in more yoga classes where I can be a student and practice rather than just teach. It’s wonderful. I’ve discovered two really wonderful studios in town – one where I have been practicing and already feel a kindred connection with the community of practitioners, and another where I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to attend some classes. I actually spent much of September on the treadmill and in my bedroom doing some muscular endurance, cardio, and flexibility training. Woot! However, as my body has been shifting these last several months, and continual working on concrete floors, walking on concrete sidewalks, and living at home with concrete floors, some of my old postural injuries have started reappearing. I consider this good progress – which may be strange for some folks to understand – but I am also taking things much easier right now as I try to work through these injuries in a holistic and safe way. All in all, a resolution met.

October’s resolution is to Volunteer At Least Once a Month. While I am very excited about this resolution, I am feeling like it’s not going to be met this month. I’m not even sure if it will be met this year, if I’m being really realistic with my Self. However! Regardless of what happens with this beautiful resolution this year, I will be recycling into 2015’s list. So, get ready for some good giving back soon. And even if I’m not able to actively do much volunteering right now, I am donating services to deserving organizations in the area, so I guess this might be a half-fulfilled resolution with a promise of more to come.

So, that’s got us up to date for now. How about you? Have you managed to keep any resolutions? Or have you evolved any resolutions to work in a better or more authentic way for you as you’ve grown this year? I’d love to hear your stories and experiences.

I’m hoping to carve out more time for writing in the last phase of this year, so keep checking back here and on my personal blog (Experiments In Bliss) for more news.

Have a beautiful Autumn, a happy Halloween, a powerful Samhain, and gorgeous Life of living your Light!

xoxo,
melanie

March: Get Moving!

So, February is out and we’re making way for the madness of March.  It’s time for an update on my resolution progress.  (By the way, I actually wrote most of this at the end of February, but didn’t get to finish it until now.  Oh well, such is life.)

This month’s resolution was to go on an elimination diet for the whole month.  And did I?  Well, I actually started on the second of February, but, yes, I’ve maintained the diet since I began it. 

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Fair Warning:  Talk about “lady things” and bodily functions is about to commence.  Gird your eyes if you’re the dainty type.

I allowed myself to start on the second because I started my period on the first.  I have, as long as I can remember, had a history of pretty horrific menstrual symptoms.  I nearly always get extremely moody and achy the week before I begin bleeding.  Then the first day or two I am often accosted by some gnarly cramps.  The cramping has gotten worse over the past few years leaving me doubled over with pain on more occasions that I’d like to recall.  The cramping is usually accompanied by nausea, headaches and achy, achy joints.  It is not a pleasant situation.  And it is the only time I am ever driven to take OTC pain relieving medication.  (Yuck.)  So, on that first night of February, when I was due to set out on my new food journey, and I was feeling like the worst kind of crap, I decided to take the night to wallow in my long-practiced food follies.  It was a last chance to highlight all the ways I use food badly – treating myself for feeling badly by eating comfort foods, stuffing sour feelings with sweet treats, eating mindlessly in front of the telly after work – as well as a chance to say goodbye to some of my most beloved food friends:  pepperoni pizza (at least it was gluten free and organic), gelato (there were bananas in it!), and sweet potato chips (vegetable chips, that’s healthy, right?).  It was delicious.  And I felt HORRIBLY afterwards.  Turns out it was an excellent motivational boost to starting the elimination diet. 

My experiences since beginning the diet have been, well, varied.  The first few weeks really sucked.  Let’s [appropriately] lose the subterfuge of the sugar coating, shall we?  It’s been hard navigating this new way of eating.  It’s been a challenge to come up with new recipes that are easy, delicious and portable – a must for me as I work long shifts and can’t just pop home to make my lunch or dinner.  I have finally managed to amass a few standbys and staples that I know I like and can whip up on a moment’s notice should the need arise.  I am slowly training myself to stock my pantry, fridge and freezer with the basics to make these dishes on the fly.  Although, truthfully, part of eating so close to the Natural Way means focusing more on a slower, more mindful relationship with food, and moving away from that sense of immediacy and convenience that seems to reign supreme in these unhealthy modern times.  But, realistically speaking, as I’m still adapting, convenience is a big help for me right now. 

From a physical perspective, I have been experiencing a whole host of healing symptoms.  As I’m rounding up week five, I am able to notice some patterns emerging.  (Bodies are so fascinating!)  Of course, when in the throes of symptomatic detoxification and cleansing, I was completely blind to any sort of organization in what was happening.  I have experienced the following symptoms, in varying degrees of intensity, during the month of February:

Skin breakouts/blemishes

General itchy skin rashes – usually on my wrists and ankles

Category 3 rosacea flare up (a first for me)

General skin inflammation (mild) 

Flatulence

Bloating

Mild diarrhea

Mild constipation

Stool of differing colors

Flaky skin and scalp

Insomnia

Fatigue

Achy joints

Hay fever type symptoms

Headaches

Mild nausea

Mood swings

Fuzzy brain / inability to focus

An excessive earwax situation

At present, most of the symptoms, though not gone, are greatly diminished.  When I started my period recently, there was only very mild cramping.  I didn’t even need any pain relievers.  Hooray!  My menstrual cycle has also regulated itself back to my natural rhythm of bleeding with the new moon. 

I’ve noticed a kind of clarity emerging in my mental, emotional and spiritual states, as well.  I’m not quite sure how to describe this accurately other than saying it’s like a veil is being lifted from my brain and from my heart.  It’s happening slowly and non-dramatically, which is, to my mind, how it should be. 

 

I drew a rune about halfway through the month.  It was the Elder Futhark (or Viking) rune of Laguz.  Here is the description of that rune from The Book of Runes by Ralph Blum:    

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Laguz

Unseen powers are active here, creative and fertile powers of Nature.  The attributes of this Rune are water, fluidity, the ebb and flow of tides and emotions, of careers and relationships.  Laguz fulfills our need to immerse ourselves in the experience of living without having to evaluate  or understand.  It speaks to the desire for comfort and the satisfaction of emotional needs, to the lunar side or our nature.  For while the sun strives for differentiation, the moon draws us toward unity and merging.

 

This Rune often signals a time for cleansing:  for revaluing, reorganizing, realigning.  A Rune of deep knowing, Laguz may call you to study spiritual matters in readiness for self-transformation.  Success now lies in contacting your intuitive knowing, in attuning to your own rhythms.  A Rune of the self relating rightly to the Self, Laguz signifies what alchemists called the conjunctio, or sacred marriage.  In fairy tales, it is the end where the hero and heroin live happily ever after. 

 

Seems appropriate.  I do feel like I am opening myself more to the great wide world, seeking union where, in the past, I’ve often sought solitude.  And all that ‘revaluing, reorganizing, realigning’ I started in January is still gathering momentum as the pace of the year begins to quicken … as it always, and inexplicably, does. 

So, the point of this post is to provide an update on my progress.  And I feel I’m making good progress.  In fact, I feel there is still much more progress to be made where this diet is concerned.  I feel like I’ve only just begun to really heal my gut.  And I’m actually, strangely, enjoying this experiment so much that I am choosing to continue the elimination diet through March.  I’ll keep you posted on how things continue to unfold. 

Now that February’s been summed up, let’s move on to March.  March’s resolution is: Get moving!  Exercise Regularly and Joyously.

 

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Get moving!

Well, I’m pleased to report that I’ve already been working on that one.  I’m still doing my Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis mat workouts with my friend.  Now, full disclosure, I have let myself cancel on a couple occasions, but those were few, and I’m recommitting to a more ‘no excuses’ regimen this month.  I’ve also started to do cardio again.  I had let that drop off during and after the move, and just kind of kept it on the back burner until a couple weeks ago.  Now I’m doing rebounder cardio following my Tracy Anderson workouts and it’s going beautifully. 

The floors in my new place are concrete, so they are not very joint friendly for doing dance aerobics like I was doing previously.  So, I decided to break out the rebounder to solve that problem.  The rebounder (mini trampoline) is a great way to get in cardio work without jarring your joints, and – BONUS – it’s great for getting your lymph system moving.  This is extra important during any kind of detoxification program, as the lymph system is the body’s way of eliminating wastes on the cellular level.  The shifts in gravity experienced on a rebounder help the lymph from getting stagnant and pooling in certain areas as can easily happen in our modern arse-sitting lifestyles.  I hope to eventually replace the rebounder I scored from Freecycle with a nice Bellicon one.  For those of you who are interested in rebounding, Bellicon is one of the best brands available.  They use bungee bands rather than metal springs, so they don’t have that creaky squeaky sound effect thing happening when you’re using them.  This is a bonus for those of us who live in dwellings with paper-thin walls.

I’m also hoping to start actually taking some yoga classes in addition to the ones I’m teaching.  Scheduling isn’t always on my side in that regard, so we’ll see how that works. 

Then there’s the fact that I’m still a staunch pedestrian who walks everywhere.  It’s built-in physical fitness.  Walking to work is about a thirty minute brisk walk, then another for the return trip.  Brilliant!  Reason no. 43 why I love not having a car!

I’m liking my prospects with this month’s resolution, really. 

How are your resolutions and goals for the year progressing?  Are they still working for you?  Are you still working for them?  Any changes?  Insights?  Additions/subtractions?  Leave a comment if you’d like to share your own experiences with resolutions, nutrition, health or fitness, or anything, really. 

Big love to all of you!

xoxo,

Melanie

February: Elimination Diet

February’s Resolution has me treating myself to an elimination diet during the entire month.  An elimination diet is one in which common allergy-triggering foods are eliminated from the diet for a set period of time – in my case, a month – and then slowly added back into the diet, one at a time, to monitor any reactions or symptoms that might follow the reintroduction.  Exciting stuff, yeah?  So, the good thing is that most of the foods that are common allergy triggers are things I already don’t eat much of or at all.  The less good thing is that I am really going to miss honey, dairy, and nightshades, and I am going to have to be vigilant in preparing my food ahead of time so that I always have something within arm’s reach available should hunger strike or should my schedule get hectic.  (Which, of course, it will.)

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These are the foods I’ll be eliminating this month:

Sugars – all except for fruit

Alcohol

Coffee/caffeine

Dairy

Grains

Legumes

Nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant)

Potatoes (white)

Garlic/onions

Soy

So, what will I be eating?  Well, I’ll be eating fruits, vegetables, nuts (except peanuts), most natural fats, eggs and meat.  Plenty of things I love on that list.  I will, of course, need to stick with my organization momentum from January to research some good recipes, and to make them in advance, so I can have meals and snacks at hand during the busier bits of the month.

Aside from wanting to be as healthy as I can be, this diet is an opportunity for me to learn more about my body and how different foods and ways of eating affect my body physically, mentally and emotionally.  My friend, Katy, even turned me on to an app that is helping me track how I’m affected by my lifestyle choices.  It’s called mySymtpoms food and symptom tracker.  I’m still acclimating myself to using it, but so far, I’m really happy with it.

This resolution is also going to be a wonderful experiment in will power.  Will power has never been my forte.  In fact, when it comes to food, at least, I’m a bit of a hedonist.  I can talk myself into justifying eating something better than any spin doctor in Washington, DC can talk the public into forgiving a crooked politician’s transgressions.  It’s time for that kind of nonsense to stop.  You hear that little devil on my shoulder?  You’re going down, mister!

I digress …

So, I’m doing this!  I invite you to join me if you feel the desire to do so.  If not, I ask you to send your support from wherever you are to help bolster my resolve, especially during those low moments when all I want is a pint of ice cream and a glass of bourbon.  Have you ever done an elimination diet?  What were your experiences? Leave a comment … inquiring minds want to know.

Happy February, dearies!

xoxo,

Melanie