Mind Food?

 

"I can't do this."

"Oh no. What will he think of me?! I probably just made a fool of myself."

"I am such a failure."

"This is impossible."

How often have you thought yourself this small?

I must admit, I have thought like this so often, I can't even count the occurrences anymore. We have all fed ourselves with these thoughts and words. And that's okay.

I call this negative mind food.

You should realise though, that on the long run, with these kinds of thoughts, this can have negative consequences. Because just as "you are what you eat", you are what you think. If someone eats fast food, sugars and bad fats for 10 years, of course they will eventually fall sick. Similarly, if you keep feeding your mind with negative mind food, you get smaller and smaller, and lose confidence in yourself. You think yourself towards failure.   And eventually, your dreams may seem too big for you to want go after and the only visible option may be to give up.

Wouldn't it be nice, to feed the mind with positive, stimulating and nutritional food?

Of course! And it is super simple.

If you are ready to change, ready to improve your life, then I ask you to go on a diet.

No, this doesn't mean you have to stop eating cake. This means that you change your mental input, thoughts and words you use on a daily basis.

 


 

Sounds complicated? Here are 5 simple steps to switch to a more positive attitude:

1 - It's a decision. First, you have to want to change. Once you have decided to change, go to step 2.

 

2 - Use supporting material. I love to write myself positive post it notes about how I am awesome and achieve my dreams. I use lipstick to write positive affirmations on my mirror and have reminders on my phone which beeps three times a day telling me that I CAN do it and that I AM beautiful.

 

3 - Make a vision board. I'm sure you have heard of this before. A vision board is a tool for mapping out your dreams and things you want. You can use images, words or drawings to make a poster of your future.

 

4 - Don't put other people on a pedestal, know that they are on the same journey as you and that they, too need some positive mind food. We compare ourselves to others way too much and become demotivated, because we like to think that they have it, they are happy, they are lucky, while they may have the same difficulties and challenges in life as us. Don't let others be a reason to put yourself down.

 

5- Eliminate words like "can't", "impossible" or "failure" from your vocabulary. Just as you would eliminate sugar to be more healthy, you eliminate this and create a more positive mind food environment. Instead use "can", "possible", "success".

 

A daily mantra I have made for myself was "Ula you were wonderful yesterday, let's be more wonderful today". Maybe a similar one would suit you?

Remember, with every positive thought, you become a little bigger.

The question lies in whether you want to push yourself down, or rise up.

So I ask you today, what mind food do you want to think?

Go Where You Feel The Most Alive

I've always had a streak of following my heart and making decisions based on instincts and just a "knowing". Hence over time, I have invited a lot of straight up, sometimes almost patronizing questions on whether I really know that the decisions I make are "right". Then, it is the dealing with narcissists, realists and people who have been hard done by Life, people who give layman, egoistical comments without giving much thought to what they are really saying, and most times, thinking that they actually know better when it is not the case at all. 


So here's what a lot of people don't know.

Other than going where my heart calls for, and knowing that ultimately the decisions I make will always be for my highest learning at the end of the day,  I go where I feel most alive. 

I do things which some people think makes me look weak and stupid but what they don't know is the history behind me making the choices I made or continue to choose to make. What they don't know is the courage and strength needed to make the choice between taking the risk and knowing you might look like a fool, and doing what others "think" is appropriate. 

I go where I feel most connected inside of me, whether with love, inspiration, or where I feel most connected to this amazing Source we all come from. Some call it God. Some call it the Higher Power.

I have another name for it and it's called Love.

 

I go where Love calls me. 

That's where I make my decisions.

That's where I feel most alive.

 

Do Right By You

 The constant going for what inspires and connects me within, even though it might be against what people around me think I should or should not do, is always one of the best decisions I make in my life. Over and over again.

I always end up where I am supposed to be, making every single experience I went through, good or bad, prior to the ultimate "arriving at my destination" absolutely worth it, because no matter how far I strayed, I've always come home.

Time has proven to me over and over again that there is no need to justify myself, no need to prove my worth to others. The rewards I always reap is far beyond any worldly concept I know or can ever explain in words, and it is here, where I encourage everyone to do the same. 

Do a "you", and don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

 

Sometimes, listening too much to the well meaning advices of others not only messes up with what we should be doing, but impedes us in our progress. We get confused instead of inspired when we look too much outside of us. Even worse, we make decisions based on the opinions of others which might be less than accurate for the actual situation at hand.

Listen, thank these people for their advice and with a note to consider. We can do that without being rude or ignorant. But it is our job to always make our own judgements and do what you ultimately feel is best. 

At the end of the day, no one truly knows what's best for you, and if you don't stand up for you, no one else would. 

 

 

Mind Your Own Business. Leave Others To Theirs.

In Life,  I have constantly learn over and over again that no one knows me better than I do, and the truth is, everyone is only serving their own interests. It is true, there are those of us who are philantrophic, but we are merely conducting ourselves in ways that actually make us feel good in the process. Therefore, whatever we partake in is merely a way of serving our very own interests.

Now that is not a bad thing. In fact, it will serve us well to then begin to realize that it is our business to take care of our own interests, and to be honest with ourselves where our true interests lie. At the same time, we can then begin to be aware that everyone else is only taking care of theirs, consciously or unconsciously so.

Knowing this then enables us to consciously make the decision to be kind in helping instead of hindering others in their own journey, knowing when to leave others to their own business. We can then begin to separate our own selfish interests to becoming really genuine in assisting others where we can. 

 

 

Know When To Give The Boot

On this note, it is also important that we segregate the interests and therefore the calling of others to your very own, where you take heed to your own rhythm and the pull of your heart instead of tending towards the whims and needs of others.

Influences of the society, from well meaning people including your family and friends can be helpful, but not when it overtakes your life and you lean heavily upon them when making decisions that matters. Furthermore, they can only help or assist you to the point of what they can perceive and understand from their own experience, and sometimes, the perceptions and viewpoints of others might not necessarily be an accurate one. 

So when your brain gets too muddy, and you find yourself needing to answer to one too many people and having to deal with peer or family pressures, that's the best time to give the world a wave goodbye for abit, and start having more "me" time. 

 

The Constant Factors

Time and time again has taught me some main factors in how I personally make my own decisions and to helping me stay in an inspired place, hence making these constant factors almost timeless. They never change, and in fact when practiced and applied, gets stronger with time.

 

The Principle of the Heart
Do what you do. Follow the deepest knowing and the inner guidance and pull of your heart. You will know when a decision or something is right by you when you experience a feeling of expansion within the heart. A feeling of contraction is a signal that something is off.

 

Love, Kindness and Truth

Wear your heart on your sleeve. Express yourself, and what is true in your heart about another, about anything and everything. Do it, even at the risk of looking stupid. Do it, but be kind.  Any response made out of an egoic reaction disconnects you from within, and ultimately to love, inspiration and the best decisions. Fall in love with Life and everything in it over and over again, because that feeling of expansion is always worth it at the end of the day. No regrets.

 

Never Fear

Never fear what others think.  In fact, it is the last thing you ought to consider. If you were to have your last breath now, it would be the things you wish you have done that you did, not the "what if-s", not the “should have-s”. Reduce the what if-s and should have-s in your life as much as you can.

Just. Do. It.

 

What have you not said to another which you wish you had? What have you not done which you wish you did? What have you been putting off?

Take that risk. Jump. Trust you will learn to fly in the process. You will be amazed at how alive you feel, how it is actually all doggone worth it. 

At the end of it all, what others think and Fear itself is not only irrelevant but futile, because you only have one person to answer to, and that is You.

 

If there is ever a time where you should go where you feel the most alive, it is now

 

Personal Reflection

Over the last few months, I’ve been going through a time of reflection and self-discovery. In December I got to a point where I realised that I didn’t recognise who I’d become. I had drifted very far away from what I believe in and as a result of being in a difficult relationship as well as some very silly decision-making on my part, I had made compromises that I had never intended to make.

I’m just going to outline briefly what happened to prompt my desire for reflection so that I can then go on to explain how I’ve managed to get myself back on track. Up until November, I had been in a relationship that was preventing personal growth for both parties involved, as the situation was rather complicated. Distraught at its ending, I spent the next few weeks making many mistakes and lashing out at everyone around me. When I returned home for my Christmas holidays I started to realise that I had let a very ugly side of my personality come to the forefront and that I needed to change sooner rather than later – not only for my own good, but also for that of my friends and family.

The month I spent at home meant that I had plenty of time for healing and meditation. I got to a point where I felt ready to go back to school and to make amends with the friends that I had alienated prior to the holidays.

I’m not sure what caused it, but a few days after I got back to school, I went back to the person I was before the holidays. All I could think about was me and my worries and my fears and my problems. The difference this time though was that I could see what was happening. I recognised that I was obviously in need of more time to heal, but that I also needed to get a better grip on myself – especially on my words and actions.

This recognition led me to sit down one Sunday afternoon with a piece of paper and pen to write down several things. I started with what was bothering me, so that I could analyse what exactly I needed to work on. I settled on school stress, the ending of that relationship, myself (my body-image as well as my personality) and my relationship with God.

Now people have written entire books on such topics so I’m going to try and keep it brief. But after working out the four main things that I was struggling with, I then made four mind maps – one for each topic. On each mind map I wrote down why they were bothering me, the factors involved and the problems they were causing. After that, I made four new mind maps. This time they detailed my action plan. I wrote down what I wanted to do to change the way I reacted to the emotions I felt as well as any events or interactions with other people that I faced. This included making sure that I took ten minutes each night to reflect on the day that had passed and to positively assess how I could have perhaps reacted better in a situation. Often I don’t even realise that what I’ve said or done was wrong or inconsiderate because I don’t think about it afterwards. My action plan also included journaling as part of those ten minutes. I find it quite hard to journal routinely due to my busy schedule, but whenever I do, I feel calmer afterwards, because I’ve had a chance to express myself freely.

 

I have quite a few other things on my action plan that I’m trying to incorporate into my daily life, many of which focus on self-love and a positive attitude, such as spending more time outside, drinking tea and calling my amazing Godmother who is also my counsellor. Obviously they also focus on being more considerate of other people, but one of my realisations was that part of the reason for

my irrational reactions was that I was struggling with myself. I was trying to blame others for the failure of my relationship, my self-consciousness, my falling grades, my disappearing relationship with God and my lack of self-control. I was unwilling to accept that I needed to work on myself before those problems could be fixed.

While I regret quite a bit of the last few months, I’m also grateful for the lessons they taught me (one of which was to be grateful for what I’d learned).





One of the first things I learnt is that I shouldn’t blame others for what happened. Trying to demonise someone for breaking my heart just made me feel worse. Trying to accuse others of influencing my own bad decisions created resentment and hurt my friendships. I had to recognise that we’re all human and by trying to put myself in their shoes, I was able to see their point of view. Everyone makes mistakes, but blaming others for my own was not the solution, because it prevented me from seeing the real cause which in turn meant that I couldn’t solve the problem. Instead I learnt that I was the root of most of the problems, but that I could change that. I can develop myself and I can grow to become a better person. We’re not rooted to who we are at a certain point, we are always able to change. Contradictory to what I just said, I also learnt that I was not solely to blame. There are always factors in life that we simply cannot influence. Similarly, even if we are to blame for something, we shouldn’t hold on to that feeling of guilt forever, because it will stop us moving forward. Personally, I found that recognising and accepting the blame, attempting to make amends and deciding to move forward and not make that mistake again is the way to go.

 

In terms of my terrible attitude, I learnt that sometimes when someone is being rude or inconsiderate it’s not simply because they feel like it – often they’re going through something difficult and don’t know how else to cope with it. However, I also came to terms with my attitude not being acceptable. I can’t use heartbreak and stress as an excuse to be horrible to someone else.

By looking at how I ended up in situations where I made mistakes, I realised that I needed to work on my self-control, which is something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve made firm rules concerning alcohol and procrastination and I’m proud to say that I’ve stuck to them so far.

But one of the most important things I’ve learnt is that it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to say no to something that might make you seem cool or that you think might make the person you care about stay if it’s not in line with what you believe in and if it has the power to hurt you. Because I’m easily swayed to a certain point of view, especially if I’ve had an alcoholic drink, I know that it’s important to surround myself with friends who support my values and who will support me in making the right decisions. And it’s equally important that I support them too.

I’ve learnt many other things from the last few months, but I hope I’ve outlined the ones most relevant to others. I’m still far from perfect and I still have moments when I’m down in the dumps and I feel like hating myself and the world. But those moments are far fewer now than they were four months ago and I know that they will become fewer still. I doubt that I will ever not have moments where I feel down, because that’s not the way life works. But I know that by working on myself and learning from my mistakes, I’m getting back on the right track for me.

Written by Ilona Clayton

What Being A Kick Ass High Value Woman Really Means

 

Most of us women want to be successful in love, and many of us seek to find out what really works in our love lives and relationships.

But after listening to dating coach Matthew Hussey's video on “What It Really Means Being A High Value Woman”, I then had an ephihany that literally knocked me off my sleepy pedestal and moved me to write an entirely new article for this week's blog at 1 AM in the morning even after having completed an article which I was preparing for days. 

 

Being a high value woman is more than just being attractive to men, and being successful in her love life.

It is about being powerful women who are able to share, teach and more importantly, be, the feminine qualities of compassion, empathy, love and joy to the world, to people around them, uplifting, inspiring others. It is about being the best of what we can be as human beings, imparting values of honesty, integrity, courage, strength, and truth.

A woman of a high value knows that it's not so much about trying to impress and prove herself to those who just don't see her worth -  it's about constantly trying to better herself.

She knows that only those who can truly see her worth and who shares the same values are the ones worth keeping around . . .

 

The Wrong Way Round

Sometimes, we get too caught up trying to impress others, or we try way too hard. We think too hard about what we should or shouldn't say, because someone told us that maybe we should do otherwise. We are careful about being "too" sensitive, and sometimes our upbringing also affect us as women in a way.

For example, when I was younger, I was told that it was better not to be“too strong” as a woman because there is no need for that since my husband should be the one who is the breadwinner and handle all the affairs of the family. I then somehow developed the thinking that I shouldn't be too “successful,” because that would make me too “strong” and hence unattractive compared to traditional gentle, soft women.

Then it was when my father passed on, leaving us in a financial pit-hole when I realized the conflict and in-discrepancy that comes with that thinking,.. because not being independent could set us women up for a hell lot of crap too....

I also somehow gotten the idea that I should keep all my opinions to myself, and to be “nice”. I kept my mouth shut even though I didn't agree with many things and intuitively knew they were not quite right.

I “put up” with things, seethed quietly, thinking that's what make me a “nice” person, when reality was, never mind I wasn't being honest with myself and others, I completely tarnished my inner space and screwed up my emotional health with all the things I wished I have said.

 

Embracing Our Sensitivity 

A lot of us women (and men as well actually) are known to be "sensitive". Many of us have been told that we are "too" sensitive, as to me, but it wasn't only until recently when I began to realise that my sensitivity was and has always been one of my greatest asset.

I intuitively "knew" things before I could reason it out rationally. I made certain decisions which was one of the best I have ever made in my life, one of which have saved my life, even when back then, it didn't logically made sense. 

Sensitivity is something that can only be developed from within. It is stronger in some and less in others, but women are generally a lot more in-tune to the energies of the environment and emotions of others where we can just pick up on things. Hence, we are known to be a lot more "sensitive".

But that's okay.

That's why we are of the female gender, where we are wired biologically to have our menstrual cycles every month, where a lot of us will know intuitively when we are about to have our periods. It is the ability to be in-tune from within, when we know what we know, even without us knowing why or how.

It is truly an amazing trait to have, our sensitivity, hence, being a high value woman means owning it,.. and using it for the greatest good :-

Choosing to emphatize and be in tune to others' feelings.

Choosing to be bigger than our egos rather than giving in to it.

Choosing to understand rather than retaliate and be spiteful, and choosing love over anger and hatred.

 

A High Value Woman 

Inner Strength

But, here is where being a woman of a value kicks into high gear.

When we opt to have a balance of of the masculine qualities of honesty, loyalty, strength and at the same time, we engage in the playful feminine qualitities of being loving, fun, carefree and joyful.

We have 2 aspects that goes with the quality of strength.

We are strong in the sense we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable as a feminine woman, allowing our man to be a man. Then there is the strength that comes with being able to independent and resolve things by ourselves.

We are sensitive, have compassion and empathy for others. Yet, we respect and honor ourselves enough to speak up for ourselves, taking action and making decisions that make our boundaries absolutely, clear.

 

A Kick Ass High Value Woman 

Courage - A True Warrior

Then here is another aspect that what makes a high value woman a real kick ass one.

A quality that all true warriors possess. Courage.

And I don't mean the simple, blasé one - I mean, real, inner courage.

The kind that comes with the strength to have the honesty and capacity to deal with the truth. The courage to be honest with ourselves about the darker aspects of ourselves, and to own and take responsibility for it. The courage to be truthful in all situations, to ourselves and also to others. The strength to love fearlessly, fiercely and loyally and be kind to ourselves and to others as well.

A balance of both masculine and feminine qualities.

 

The Courage to Trust And Forgive Herself

A high value woman is always constantly learning to follow her instincts, intuition and trusting in herself. She will be unafraid to take the lead, and walk the path by herself if she needs to. 

It is also having compassion for herself, picking herself up after she made a mistake, courageously and gracefully owning and loving herself for it despite what anybody else might think.

 

The Attractive, Kick Ass High Value Woman

She is the one who learns, and continues learning how to balance all feminine and masculine qualities. 

She knows exactly where she stands as a beautiful, feminine woman of Light; having all the qualities of love, gentleness, kindness, grace, compassion, empathy and understanding. Yet, she is never too soft and gentle to the point of being taken advantage of, and embodies the strong qualities of honesty, integrity, courage and truth. 

That's what makes her attractive.

That's what being a high value woman really is all about.

A woman who seeks to achieve high values in her life, not only for herself, or for the lucky one who has won a permanent place in her heart, but for every soul, who has the opportunity to cross paths with her.

It is about contributing the best version of herself to everyone around her, and constantly becoming better and better, not for any other reason than just "because"...

 

Jassica Nia

www.jassicania.com

 

How Seeing My Deceased Father Again Healed Me

 

I had a dream about my father who has long passed away close to 16 years ago. In fact, uncannily so, I had this dream 4 days to the anniversary date of his death on 19th February 2001. The dream was so vivid that I was compelled to write it down the moment I woke up.

More to the point, the dream was incredibly healing.

See, I never dream about my father. Ever. Not once since he passed on. In fact, my sisters would think that I must be an incredibly uncaring daughter who didn't love our father enough to not even have one single dream about him.

 

Well, truth was, I had unresolved issues with my father.

It wasn't something I was conscious about. It was just something that over the years, I swallowed it in and kept it in, piling layers and layers over the first initial wounds. I don't even remember the actual reasons why I wasn't too comfortable about my father, why when the mere topic about my father came up, I just brushed it away and shrugged it off, going about with my life like as though everything is okay.

Everything is okay. Except that I became just another wounded daughter who had issues with her dead father, and that with every other love relationship that comes into my Life, it is akin to slapping my face with what is missing in me, in relation to my long gone father.

 

The Negative Repercussions

In my case, I didn't know that the reluctance for me to go back to my own hometown, the disdain I had for it, the occasional feeling, albeit intense feeling of feeling unloved and uncared for in my love relationships,... was partly due to the fact that there was this whole gap between me and dad. The feeling like something was missing, the feeling of abandonment when he died and left us, the feeling of resentment when I was told by my mum that I had to become the 'father' of the family, the responsibility and burden I felt because I was told that I had to take over and become the father.

While I could obviously have chosen to ignore and think otherwise back then, the fact remains was that I was too young to even understand it all. That, no it isn't my responsibility nor was it my burden. Things were exactly as they were. That daddy had to go not because he didn't love me, but because that was his own journey to take.

 

My dream really opened my eyes to how one small snippet of an inaccurate perception of a situation could have a huge chain reaction on how we all then go on to live our lives. How one feeling of abandonment, resentment and betrayal could have chain effects on how we respond to all our other relationships and to Life as a whole. How it could lead to the unhealthy seeking of love, acceptance, and understanding from outside of us, without realizing that it is what is within us which needs to be healed.

Being healed sounds almost cliché, but it is a real truth.

What we are often looking for on the outside in the physical world of form, actually has a Source from which it comes from, which is inside of us. When this place inside of us is not healed, not properly dealt with, it tends to show up in our lives in the form of less than comfortable feelings and situations, like relationships that are not what we wish it can be, situations which we prefer not to be in.

 

 

The Healing

This dream brought me to a point of complete acceptance, and a feeling of “completion” with my father. I was able to call him “Father” in mandarin, one singular word of “Ba”, a word I never uttered in the last 16 years of my life. When I woke up, I knew that whatever unresolved with my pops was finally resolved. The sense of unease I have with my hometown now is gone, and I now feel a sense of love and acceptance towards it.

 

I felt love, and loved by my father, complete fulfilling love inside of me filling me like golden warm elixir, peace of God.

I felt like home, like as though a gap within me has finally been filled, and I am held in this incredibly warm embrace of peace, comfort and security,

For the first time in ages,.. I felt proud to be called his daughter.

For the first time, I finally realized that home is no other place than what is already there inside of me.

 

Everything which haven't worked in my relationships, all the pain, hurt and anger pales in comparison to this feeling. The need to be pursuing for love outside of me and for people to understand me suddenly falters away. It didn't even matter anymore if people didn't feel the same way towards me as I do them, and I suddenly seemed to be able to see what was toxic and not working in my life and felt completely at ease at letting it all go.

I suddenly saw that the love that I was looking for, the place of security and comfort which I used to think is outside of me, is all already there inside of me, and we can all access it, each and every one of us, if only we all know how to unlock the pent up valves within each of us that carries all our past pain and baggage.

 

 

The Home Run

Your relationships with others in your life are greatly affected by your relationship with the ones who brought you into this world, - your parents.

It wasn't until this dream when this saying finally hit home. When after 10 long years of my spiritual journey, I finally, understood..

I am not saying to everyone that we should all try to heal our unresolved issues with our parents, but who knows, maybe it is worth a try.

One of the one ways to start is to understand that everyone is only behaving in ways that they know how to and they can only love in a way they know how. More often than not, it is a wiring in their brains, a conditioning they have had throughout all their lives causing them to have a narrow view/perspective of Life, a mental condition/illness, even genetic influence.

So if we really want to start pointing fingers, we will have to start going through the ancestral lines and if we are not behaving out of a solid conscious choice, who is there to forgive?

Maybe one day, we'd realize that forgiveness is not necessary, and only a mere understanding is required.

 

 

Making Peace

Sometimes we don't understand why certain things happen, but what is true is the only one way we can deal with reality is to begin to make peace with the fact that we don't know why things are as they are, and why people behave in ways that hurt us. The only way to become at peace, is to stop fighting reality, and be okay with whatever that arises in yours. Again that never means tolerating abuse in any way shape or form. Put up a hand, walk away if you have to. Do something about it where you can. But in situations where we really don't seem to have a choice, it is often a wiser thing to do to acknowledge and make peace with What-Is, than fighting with it in your head and tarnish your inner space.

Life happens in the funniest of ways, in ways least unexpected. I certainly did not expect that healing would happen this way, in that I could be resolving a long standing issue I had with my father who has long gone through a dream.. but prior to this, neither did I realized how wonderfully healing it could be.

 

Jassica Nia

www.jassicania.com

 

 

“Take a break? No way!”

A year ago my eyes wouldn’t stop twitching, I suffered from some awful headaches and I kept misplacing things. I didn’t realise it at the time, but as a result of moving out of home in Malaysia and into a completely different environment I was stressed out. I was in denial about the fact that I was struggling to adapt and that I really missed home. My solution was to power through all of my homework (and set myself extra work as well) without giving myself a break and this resulted in me feeling like I was totally falling apart within two months of starting at my new school in England.

Luckily, our mid-term break happened just when I needed it and I was able to spend a few days without thinking about school from dawn to dusk. Simultaneously it meant that I had time to assess my mental health and try and figure out why I was in the state that I was in. During a call with my parents I described my twitching eyes and found out that apparently my dad had had the same problem when he was in his last years of high school! He said the cause was stress and that I needed to take a few days off and not do any work. Initially I refused, because I knew that even though it was the holidays, I’d been set a good amount of work to do and I was worried that if I didn’t start it early, I wouldn’t get it done in time for school.

But when I sat down to actually start on some of the work, the twitching bugged me incessantly and so I gave up after half an hour and told myself that I would listen to my dad and give myself a few days off. I spent the next few days watching films and reading non-academic books as well as reflecting on the last couple of months during which change had hit me like a whirlwind. The guilt of not doing work stayed with me, but I could feel my body recovering and eventually the twitching stopped. By the end of the break I realised that while my report card might thank me for the hard work I was putting in, my body was warning me that my work ethic had become unsustainable. Furthermore, I became aware of the fact that I hadn’t really made an effort to make friends at my new school and part of the reason that I refused to stop working was because I felt a little bit lonely and homesick.

So when I got back to school I made a few resolutions: I was going to let myself take breaks occasionally and I was going to make an effort to make friends. In the following months I managed to find a balance between work and play and since then I haven’t had any problems with twitching eyes or headaches and while I occasionally misplace things, I can normally find them again. The lesson I learnt was that it was okay to take time to adapt and that I needed to allow myself time to actually settle into a place before telling myself to “go, go, go” in terms of my studies. We live in a world that never stops moving and sometimes it feels like we need to run ourselves ragged in order to keep up. But even the best athletes need to allow their bodies time to recover and if you feel like you’re totally overwhelmed, it might be good to take a step back to breathe and prepare yourself before going back into the fast track. I promise that not only is it okay to take a break from time to time, it’s good for you and your mental health.

With all my love,

Ilona

To find out more about Ilona, go and head over to our Contributors page.

And 2016 is nearing it’s end…already

November and December have always been my favourite time of the year. Christmas lingers, cookie smell everywhere and people are just in a good mood, excited for Christmas, spending time with family and of course, holidays. Yet I love it for yet another reason: To reflect. As the year nears it's end, life calms down, holidays allow me to relax and really think about what I have achieved this year. I tend to get lost in the every day happenings throughout the year and so by the time Christmas and New Years arrive, I have forgotten most of the amazing things that happened since January. Although it may not seem like it, 12 months are quite a time. 

So every December, I take out my notebook where I have written down my goals for the year and find myself having achieved quite a number of them, without necessarily actively having focused on them. I take some time out and every single year, I am surprised at just how much awesome stuff has happened. This makes me feel grateful and even more excited to start out into the New Year, have new goals and start again. They are not really New Year's Resolutions - I find those work out quite badly, such as "oh, I want to lose weight". So I choose to set the intention to experience certain things or learn something new. And I also tell myself that while that list of things I want to achieve can always change, because over the course of 12 months, a lot of stuff happens. Stuff that we expect, and stuff that we certainly do not, and so the goals list is just a list of intentions and nothing more. Then I let go, and let New Year's magic happen. 

If you love this time of the year, too, why not look back at the year and pat yourself on the back for all the great things you have accomplished. How did you develop as a person? What did you learn? Who did you meet? Did something really significant happen? These are all things you should write down and keep, so you can always look back at them - that's the most fun part actually. 

So let's relax, breathe and look back. I'm normally not a fan of going back into the past, but once a year, I make an exception, so that I can be grateful for all that I have learnt, reflect on things I could do better and then leave 2016 behind me to start fresh, in the present, into 2017. 

Do you usually do this? Do you have any other great ideas to end the year with?

Eye Contact Experiment

Last Saturday I experienced something beautiful. I shared eye contact at an eye contact event with 5 different people for up to 20 minutes per person. They were strangers.

We didn't talk, we didn't break the eye contact. I don't know their names or anything about them, I simply shared a moment and my respect with them and then one of us left, with a thank you and goodbye.

It's crazy how we are around people all day, yet are not fully aware of them. We know they are there and we see them, yet we don't SEE them.

The first time I did this exercise was in my dance education, where it was meant as a task to become present in this moment as well as share the moment with someone else, giving and receiving respect. Not wanting to change anything and not judging, but simply accepting. It is an amazing process and sometimes I felt like crying, tears welling up in my eyes and other times I just wanted to hug the person. By looking at a person's eyes and letting them truly look at me, I felt so at peace and calm that the rest of the world and my problems fell away. The only important thing was this moment, my focus and my partner.

While the feeling during the eye contact was beautiful, the presence I felt afterwards was magical. I felt like I was really here and could give anyone I talked to my full attention.

We did it in our dance education because stage presence and being comfortable with an audience of strangers is really important. However, I believe that this is something everyone should do in every day life. Too often we are on our phones halfway listening to others or our thoughts drift away during speeches, classes or even normal conversations. It has come to the point where I can only say that it is just sad.

Presence is something that we can all practice for ourselves and for others. It is a liberating feeling to be in a place or moment and know that you are here physically, mentally and emotionally. At the same time, you give others your attention and genuine interest, which they will be grateful for, too.

You may want to practice this with your friends, or go to an event like I did and see the amazing results from looking into someones eyes and soul bring you.

For some people it may seem scary, after all you're letting a stranger in to see you for who you are. And a lot of us tend to hind behind a veil, pretending to be someone we're not, because we are scared for being judged for our true selves. We want to fit in. Yes, this is a very vulnerable experience, yet I believe that that's what we humans are here for. We are here to trust and be united rather than live in our own little glass ball and be stuck in our own so called reality. Let's take a step forward, love and appreciate ourselves, as well as other fellow humans for who we are.

Have you ever experienced something like this? Feel free to share how you felt.




Body Image DOES Matter

Yes yes, we keep saying that we shouldn't care about body image, that anyone of any size is fine and we should stop body shaming. We should be confident with the way we look and not care about what others think and just accept the way we are. We should ignore the media and just accept and enjoy life. Ha - easier said than done.

Technically, I believe that, too. However, all these "should" and "should nots" can make me go crazy sometimes! This is a battle I have been fighting since I was a teenager when I started caring about the way I looked. I started caring because everyone else was caring about MY body and made fun of me. Unfortunately, instead of owning up to it, I reacted by body shaming myself and hitting my own fingers whenever I grabbed food, trying to resist the temptation but failing ever so badly. Seven years later and I am talking about positivity and self acceptance, and this is still the biggest challenge I struggle with. Whereas I am much happier with the way I look, there are a couple of days each week where I catch myself staring in the mirror, judging. In fact, it is pretty much every morning if I am being honest already. And I can't stand it. First I tell myself off for having some flab around my tummy, and then I tell myself off for telling myself off and on the cycle goes. As soon as breakfast comes around, I ask myself 10 times what I should eat, instead of what I want to eat. 

So as much as we want body image not to matter, it still matters enormously. Whereas it doesn't really matter what everyone else thinks about you; I feel like most people don't mind that too much, it matters extremely what we think of our own bodies. And this is not something you can wave a magic wand with and hokey pokey you like yourself in the mirror. No, for most people, including me, it has been and still is a life long process. It is a daily struggle, and the media, ads and fitness frenzy are not helping. 

So what's the solution? To be honest, I haven't found a definite one yet. For me, the more I do what I love every day - which is dancing - and stay true to who I am, the more I have the genuine urge to be healthier and eat more consciously. Sweets and carbs are less appealing to me, because I want to feel at the top of my game, and I only feel that way with a balanced diet. So when I wake up with a flat tummy, I automatically feel better about myself. Of course, I don't want that to be the deciding factor for the way I feel, but I am working on it. I do believe that once you truly accept yourself for the way you are, this gets better. 

After all, we are all human beings, made of flesh and bone. We all have a soul, which I am sure we can agree on, is the most important of all. And some people are simply skinny, while others are curvy. Every body is so different, that I don't understand why we have come to the point where we say that a "perfect body" even exists. Then we'd have to kick 90% of the population off the planet. Plus, where would the fun be if everyone looked the same? 

 

So let's just do what feels good. Observe whether your body really needs as much food as you're giving it, whether you crave to do some sports, and how you feel after specific meals. Tailor your lifestyle according to your personal feelings and emotions. If you don't like to have breakfast, then don't. If you like chocolate, then just eat it. I absolutely love chocolate, and when I try to go with out it, there are times I go crazy. Yes, my skin gets clearer and I know the sugar is "bad" for me, but why torment myself? The difference lies in the fact that instead of uncontrollably eating a whole chocolate bar, just to eat a little every so and then, when I truly feel like having it. When we stay true to our inner feelings, and not our brain chemicals (which stimulate addictive behaviour), that piece of chocolate can even have a positive effect on our body. 

Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Life is here to enjoy, to have fun. Occasional challenges are exciting, too, but a daily dose of putting yourself down first thing in the morning is not necessary. Note that I am speaking to myself too here. So I get you - easier said than done. Yet I do believe that if we work on it step by step every day, one day, we will get there. 

I wrote "You are beautiful" on my mirror with my lipstick, and seeing that brings a smile to my face every morning. So that's the first step I took. 

What are you going to do?

 

Your Dream Is There. Just Grab It.

So, and the second day is over. How do I feel? As though my body went through a washing machine over and over, like I was hanging on a rope for hours with my bare hands and as though I just ran a marathon. At this moment, I am too tired to do anything but fall asleep. But even that is proofing difficult with all my bruises and sore spots on my shoulders and hip joints.

Pain and exhausts aside, I feel amazing. Do you know the feeling you get why you have been working for something halft your life, have been told by teachers, friends and adults that you cannot achieve it, but then you do it anyway?Well, that is how I feel after my second day at Dance School. I kind of still can't believe it, but I am actually studying dance. Every day, 6 hours a day, pure dance. It is so empowering to have achieved one of my biggest dreams. I know the soreness will be gone next week - or at leas I hopse so - as my body gets used to the high strain and athletic exertion it must endure. For that, my body, I love you very much. You can do this!

Being in this position now, I know why I never gave up, didn't listen to people's advice telling me to just go to university and give up my dream. It was definitely worth it. And this is just the second day! I have three more years to go, woohoo!!