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

 

“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.

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?

 

The Surprising Results Of My First 24-Hour Fast

So basically, I just fasted for 24 hours. Meaning I didn't eat a thing and my ingestion consisted of water and camomile tea. I could have never imagined doing this because I am someone who loves food, thinks about food and talks about food all the time. Plus, there have been times where after around 5 or 6 hours of not eating I would get dizzy and almost faint. So the mere fact that I fasted is a true surprise. However, I am glad I did it. Here's why:

Before I go into the why's, this is what I did:

9am - had my last meal (potatoes with cabbage and mushrooms)

Ignored all hunger feelings throughout the day and drank lots of tea and water instead

9am next day - had my first meal after 24 hours (small salad)

Not eating for a day can lead to many different realisations:

  1. We exaggerate the importance of food and think about it way too much. I have never gone a day without food before, and why would I? Meal time is the best part of the day! However, it also takes a lot of time of our day - now imagine you count in the time you think about food. So not only could we use our time more wisely by doing other stuff, but also by thinking about different things. Based on my calculation of having 3 meals a day of 20 min each, and taking a rough estimate of 1 hour a day needed to prepare those meals or wait in a restaurant for it, we spend about 31 day preparing and eating food. By also not having to think about what I am going to eat, I could set my focus on many other, important things.
  2. The body can handle much more than a day without food. As I decided that I would fast for a day, I thought oh my gosh, my poor body will be hungry all day. I was expecting to spend the day in bed due to a lack of energy and cringing in hunger. Well, I was wrong. My total time being physically hungry was probably 30 minutes, the rest of the time, it was emotional hunger. That means I was just craving food. But once the actual hunger stroke, I recognised the difference. Interestingly, I was only really hungry at around 6pm, 9 hours after my last meal. I felt like I could have gone on for another few days, it was much easier than expected.
  3. I felt a ray of clarity all day. I cannot explain why I felt this. What I felt was like nothing was blocking me and I could see and think clearly. It kind of felt like someone had taken a lot of weight off of my shoulders. Maybe the clarity symbolised the emptiness of my stomach. Or maybe it was the break my organs took, so my mind and soul could take over 100%. So I don't know why I felt that way, but I achieved it without meditating or doing something specifically for clarity - it just came as my stomach emptied more and more.

I can only say it was a great decision to fast for a day and I will do it more often. After reading more online I also found out that it can be very healthy. What I did, is I took the day off for myself and only did what I felt like doing in the moment - and that is a wonderful way to spend a day. It is liberating, de-stressing and fun. If I wanted to sleep, I slept, if I felt like going outside, I went out into the sun. I became so creative that I thought of a number of new ideas, because of the clarity I felt, so I can only recommend a 24 hour fast. 

Have you fasted before? And if yes, what were your feelings?

Have a wonderful day, 

Ula

 

How I Went 3 Months Without Sugar

What started out as a dare ended as a life changing experience. I was always known as the sweet tooth, the person endlessly eating chocolate and begging for dessert after every meal. It was an addiction I was aware, however didn’t manage to get rid of. As I told one of my closest friends about my addiction, she said: “You know what, I dare you not to eat any sugar until your birthday.” On that day in March, that meant exactly 3 sugar-free months.

I always wanted to quit sugar and so i agreed.

Withdrawal period:
The first two weeks were horrible I tell you. I had a whole list of withdrawal symptoms: headaches, nervousness, lack of concentration in school – to the extent that I almost fell asleep in class! At one point I got so desperate that I binge ate fruits just to get some sugar intake. Scientists were not joking when they said sugar is just like a drug (or even worse).

When it got better:
The good news is, once i got over those 2 weeks, my body readjusted and I stopped craving sweets. After years of craving sugar, felt like a miracle. But even more surprising was my sudden energy and uplift in mood. I no longer got nervous after longer periods without sugar, and I felt much lighter and happier. Obviously I was eating healthier – and I still had around 1 fruit a day to satisfy my sweet taste buds, but I could happily decline chocolate or a cup cake even after my friends would try to make me eat one.
Those were 3 of the best months in my life.

My Birthday:
Then came my birthday. I went out for lunch with my family, and decided it’s finally time for dessert. I ate a whole plate of cake and macaroons and felt that sugar rush that I used to have daily. It felt great. However, 2 hours later I came home, with the feeling I had just ran a marathon. I was so exhausted and bloated, known as the sugar crash. So I said I would continue living sugar-free, because that 2 hours of feeling great are just not worth it.

And Now:
I did stay sugar-free for a while after that, but since coming to Europe I’ve fallen back into the trap of sugary stuff. I am in the process of getting back out, I now know that the key is to get through the first 2 weeks and my body will adjust. Because in the end, life feels so much better without sugar.

PS: When I talk about sugar, I mean processed sugar, aka table sugar. I still ate fruits, which although containing fructose, make up for it with their fibre. But more on this in another post.

Guest Post: Finding The Right Balance Between Nutrition And Exercise

With life’s on-the-go attitude, it can be a battle to find the time to exercise and eat properly. After a hard day at work, skipping the gym and stopping at the nearest drive-thru seems well-deserved, especially if you vow to eat only carrots the following day.

This yo-yo diet of eating poorly one day and trying to overcompensate with health the next day is not physically or mentally healthy. Living a happy and healthy life comes from finding the right balance between nutrition, exercise, and enjoying those indulgent moments without the guilt.
Finding The Right Balance Between Nutrition And Exercise

Here are three ways to balance your lifestyle:

1. Use Your Resources

Many companies offer benefits that most employees do not take advantage of. Use your corporate wellness plan provider to keep up with your current state of health and chart a successful future.

Most people believe that if they are in no pain or discomfort they do not need to visit a physician. However, that is a misnomer, and it is important to go to a doctor for regular check-ups to make sure that your body is in fact healthy and functioning properly.

2. Don’t Diet

The term “dieting” can become misleading because it creates the illusion that at some point the diet will end. But being healthy and maintaining a good weight is not done sustainably through dieting. It is more effectively accomplished through an entire lifestyle change of eating healthier.

The key to eating healthier without losing flavour is adding fruits and vegetables into every meal. The nutrients within fresh fruits and vegetables are crucial to the body’s overall health and adding one serving of vegetables per meal can significantly decrease your risk of various diseases like cancer and cardiovascular problems.

Lastly, eating healthy does not mean your favourite comfort foods and desserts are completely off-limits at all times. However, it does mean exercising moderation and care. Instead of eating out three times a week, cut it down to a couple of times a month. One night of poor eating generally will not affect all your hard work at health. Allowing yourself a reward every now and again might even keep you on track with your diet because depriving yourself entirely can actually lead to more food cravings, making it easier to cave and veer off from healthy eating.

3. Make Exercise Fun

Exercise does not only have to be done at the gym. While plenty of people love the gym and its built-in equipment for a workout, its conventional approach to exercise can leave many people bored. Instead of paying for a membership that rarely gets used, find an activity that you really love.

Get outdoors and plan out different hiking trails to try. Walk on the weekends and see if any friends or family members want to join you. Or go mountain biking. Most hiking trails offer parallel bike trails, and for the more adventurous, a daring ride through the forest can be thrilling.

Find a local yoga studio and bring a friend to keep you accountable. Or take a fun but calorie burning dance class. Non-traditional forms of exercise are usually more fun and become an eagerly anticipated activity and not a dreaded workout.

The point of living a healthy life is to achieve personal happiness and a healthy body. Find what works for you and stick with it.

 

Image Source: www.blackcanyoninn.com

 

My Health Goals 2014

I have decided to go sugar free for at least one month, and I am reducing gluten by a lot.

I’ve not been feeling too great for the past month, and for once I know exactly why. I’ll be completely honest with you, since November, with all the Christmas goodies, I’ve been eating sugar every day, and with it came the gluten, dairy and what not. So it’s no secret that after a while my body got tired of it and showed me signs that it’s enough. These signs were tiredness, bloating, poor facial skin and occasional tummy aches.

After my 30 day challenge in August, I felt amazing, and I learnt a lot of things about food and health. Until about November, I ate relatively healthy, limiting sugar and gluten. However, recently I just gave in to temptation.

I need to limit sugar again, and for the past couple of days I have successfully stopped eating it. In turn, I made chocolate truffles, gluten free blueberry cake and I welcomed many veggies on my plate again. Even after a couple of days I feel so much better, which is keeping me motivated. Also, miraculously, since my 30 day challenge, I haven’t had a cold. (usually I get one every 2-3 months). This shows me that food is both the cure and the cause of diseases or physical complaints.

I am intending to stay on a no sugar, no gluten diet for a long, long time. In a month, I will allow myself to small treats once a week, but first, I want to replenish my body, my gut and skin. At the same time I am dancing 4 times a week, and I am starting yoga, so that’s the exercise and spiritual part to complete the health picture. I am feeling great and motivated to start this year off like this :)

Tell me bout your health goals in January.

It may not look that great, but it's so much better than normal cake!
Blueberry cake: It may not look that great, but it’s so much better than normal cake!

Guest Post:Your guide on how to find an excellent Chiropractor in Brentwood

Here’s a nice guest post I received on Chiropractors in Brentwood :)

Those of you who are aware of how a chiropractor in Brentwood works, would know that the person would use dependable means and techniques of adjusting your spine so that is properly aligned, so you can lead a perfect and normal day to day life. This is primarily what a typical chiropractor would do, and if you are suffering from a sore back, then it is a prime reason to call on a chiropractor near your place. In fact, there is a list of ailments and techniques, which can be used to get rid of back pain, however it is essential that you do hire a professional who can bring these techniques into practice.

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Guest Bloggers Wanted for November

guest bloggers

Hi all!

Since I have been getting many enquiries on guest blog posts I have decided to make November my ‘guest bloggers’ month. I will post one or more posts a week, depending on how many guest posts I get.

Interested in expanding to a wider and different audience? Whether you’re a writer or not, you are welcome to write a guest post. All I want is to spread positivity in this world and on my blog, and so I’d like some posts conveying positivity. These can be in the following categories:

  • Self-Development
  • Happiness
  • Peace
  • Love
  • Inspiration
  • Health
  • Healthy Recipes
  • Inspiring Experiences
  • Any other ideas

If you’re interested in any of these categories, or want to post in one not listed, email me and tell me your ideas. I’ll then give you some more details.

Email me at  journeys@ulawyss.com

I hope to receive many posts helping me to spread positivity!

Fudgy Gluten-Free Brownies Recipe


Yay, I have another recipe to post :D This is definitely the best one I’ve tried so far. These brownies are absolutely fudgy, healthy AND taste amazing! I found a recipe online, however I did not have all the ingredients and so I made it my own with the things I did have. They are super easy to make and only need about 10 minutes preparation.

It’s a dessert you should definitely try!

Oh, and by the way, I have an all new recipe section on my blog now, posting healthy recipes :) Go check it out here!

What you need:

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