Learning To Swim

Hello Lovelies!

Today, I want to just share with you a poem about where I have been hiding out for the last little while, and where I might be for awhile longer yet. Mental illness has it’s ways of always reeling us back in, and it has its ways of forcing us to go down all different kinds of paths. It has an interesting way at making us examine death, and it has an interesting way of making us see life. I resent my mental illness for so, so many reasons, but I have to give it some credit where credit is due. I have learned a lot about myself as a person- my needs, desires, fears, strengths. I have learned lots of coping tools, but I have also learned that as time goes on, sometimes those things change and we need to evolve our treatment plan with it. So that’s where I am at right now, on the verge of evolving my plans to meet the needs of my mental wellbeing- and getting myself BACK. Back on track to enjoy every little moment in life, loving my job, loving my hobbies and even my chores, spending time with the people I love and planning for all the exciting things the future has to offer. I know that thanks to my amazing support network and the spark that I still have inside me, I will get to that place soon. I have lots of things that still bring me comfort, so I will just be focusing lots of energy on to those things and starting a new treatment plan that *hopefully* works out my faulty wiring a bit better than it has been for the past while.

I thought, what better way to express all of this than through metaphor, on the INTERNET! So my dear readers, here is a little tale of making changes, making choices, and facing the darkness. Enjoy, and take care of yourselves! ❤ 

Learning to Swim

I am removed, far on a hillside. It’s raining a little over here, but it hasn’t started to down pour entirely just yet. But you know how you can tell? by the smell of the earth and the way that the wind picks up, you can tell that a flood will be coming soon. You have all the time in the world to prepare, because you know.

I once built a raft, and it kept me afloat the way i needed…it worked….so i pull it out of an old, dark, musty shed and get to work dusting it off. I work on my raft for hours…days….weeks….and still it rains, harder now. I work on it for months, but not under any kind of cover so the pieces of wood i’m using are getting wetter and heavier, and the rope becomes saturated in mud and hard to work with. I will have to discard this raft, I will have to start again.

I never imagined I would have to start again so close to the flood. It could happen any day now. I look around wildly for a sign of something to keep me floating above the swirling fifty fucking shades of blue, and to no avail my head hangs heavy and I am stuck looking at my shoes. The smallest feet, that have already walked so many different roads in one young life, often leading me back to where I stand. They slowly begin to sink as the earth gives way and the first of the flood releases.

PANIC. Anything will do, just not this again. In a split second I am running, running down my hillside, the place that sheltered and held me so comfortably dreary for so long. Looking over my shoulder, I see it dip, see it melt, see it crumble, and see it flatten- see the earth take it back, see it give way to the flood. Comfort level: zero. But I know fear is not an option anymore either. I know I need to continue. 

The rain has picked up as I reach an eventual a fork in the road I have been treading. No signs indicate which leads to where, or why I might choose either one, but it appears it is one or the other. I look closely and see that one of these roads, to my left, is flooded all the way through. The water is rushing quickly along, no will to be stopped, and even the thought of travelling down that road is exhausting to me. I think of myself flailing through gasping for air at times, losing all strength at others. It is an overwhelming sense of chaos, and it feels reminiscent of floods I have treaded before. I’m so tired.

I glance to my right, and the road is entirely dark. I feel a warmth emanating from somewhere within it, pulsing and swelling…and it creates a pull unlike the other path. It tells me that this path is where I can finally rest. I don’t have to fight anymore, I don’t have to make rafts or tread water until my limbs give out on me one by one. But there is something else about this path I notice immediately. I feel this sudden awareness that it is a path that no one else has ever come back from, it is deeply hidden away behind the trees, and perhaps that is for a good reason. Perhaps if I were to tread this path, it might just save me….but what if it remains dark forever? Surely I can reason that floods come to an end, but what about THAT kind of darkness?

I shiver. I am cold, and I am tired, and the water is beginning to rise on all sides. I take several steps towards the dark path, and feel the warmth envelope me. I can’t see what’s on the other side here, but I am not afraid of it. What I am afraid of more than anything is fighting against the currant in yet another round. My stomach twists, but my mind tightens it’s grip on me and wills me towards the pulse of this path, the comfort in that.

But then it happens. A beam of sunlight! My head lifts to the patches of sky above the trees, and I see it breaking the clouds. I feel it warm my cheek, and suddenly a warm breeze smelling of pine and sunshine and salt and greenery grips me. It turns me around and forces me to look at the flooded road to my left. The breeze lasts but a second, yet somehow it manages to remind me of something I feel like my mind has forgotten…everything on the other side of this flooded road. “there is something, it is anything you want it to be”, the breeze sounds as if it is whispering to me. I now take some steps towards the flooded path.

The water still rages, and I am still tired. I can see that there is long way to go, but I have to make a decision, and quick. I realize I want a shot at smelling the warmth of the earth again over the sodden trails I’ve been following for so long. The dark path behind me seems to get smaller, hiding itself further away behind the trees. But I still know where it lives, and I know that it is there. A sudden pang of realization tells me that all those other times I’ve been stuck in the flood, I found a way to just float above it. This time, I realized….this time would have to be different, or else I might find my way back here, I might choose to take the road to my right. I glance at the darkness behind me out of the corner of my eye.

“I see you, but this time I believe I’m going to have to learn how to swim.”

On Insecurities, OCD and Hurting over the Things You Love

Hello Lovelies!

How are you today? I hope you are feeling inspired.

I am sorry that I have been rather MIA over the last little while! I don’t really have any specific reasons as to why aside from life being busy and I haven’t felt very inspired in terms of writing. Life has been good; mostly just settling into the ebb and flow of the New Year and new elements of my life (such as living in the city with my girlfriend, etc).

I have also been really focused on things like my to-do lists, long term/short term goal setting, trip planning and things like that. At a glance, all good things! When your anxiety decides to act up, it completely transforms into OCD. I have to have lists upon lists to feel like I can function at a normal level or have any sense of control over my life. I have to write reminders in my day planner for the most mundane or ridiculous things, as if GOD FORBID I forgot to do the dishes or check the mail, what heinous things would be unearthed???!

I have also been completely consumed with my skin. That sounds like a weird thing to say, but if you know me it makes sense. I’ve dealt with adult acne (due to inflammation from food, stress, hormones, etc) for a number of years now, and I finally reached my quota of how much of it I could take about 6 months ago. I have completely revamped my diet (no gluten, no dairy, less sugar/salty things, less coffee… that’s a hard one!), so that has been a big experiment and a huge time suck recently. But so far- it’s yielded nothing but impressive results! I feel lighter, less tired, have less headaches/stomach issues and my skin is clearing up in the sense of not breaking out. Not even ¼ as much as before! It’s pretty great. My biggest thing I’m dealing with now, is the residual inflammatory hyperpigmentation/scarring. The combo of the right diet, right topical products and some professional treatments has really helped, but nevertheless, after a few years of struggling with this it has embedded itself as an obsession in my brain, and not always in the healthiest sense.

So, as good as life has been in general recently… there have definitely been a few mental illness related moments making me feel rather scatterbrained and not quite myself.

I was having a conversation with a friend the other night about the kinds of insecurities we face in our daily lives, or that society at large faces in general. This got the juices flowing a little bit, in terms of maybe sharing some of my own current insecurities, and what I have learned from them so far.

So no further ado, I present…

MY CURRENT INSECURITIES (AND WHY), WHAT THEY FEEL LIKE AND WHAT THEY HAVE TAUGHT ME (IF ANYTHING) THUS FAR, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER: ← WHAT a title!

INSECURITY #1: MY MUSIC.

You may or may not know this about me, but I used to be QUITE a young, upcoming, blossoming musician. I had a myspace page, ok? And a token eyeliner style that made all the neighbourhood raccoons jealous. Joking aside, it was my thing; it has been for a long time. I used to come home from school and bang out decent song in 20 mins (complete with actual structure, a hook, and creative lyrics – keep in mind, they were age appropriate in my teens aka semi-juvenile, but still relate-able). I loved performing and competing, I loved writing and recording and sharing, and playing with others. When I finished highschool, I went on to study music. I Didn’t complete my program due to mental illness, as well as overall not being entirely sure of what I wanted to be doing at 18 years old (and I still don’t really know). I still sometimes feel guilty that I never persisted and finished what I started. After I returned from that year and settled back in at home, I was the biggest critic I had ever been of my own music. I no longer wrote fearlessly and honestly, and I shied away from sharing and performing a bit more. Any projects I joined up over the years fell through, and I became discouraged. Through all of this, I have never STOPPED, but I definitely haven’t been as committed. Due to that, there are days where I lay my hands on my piano for maybe 5 minutes, and then become ridden with anxiety, sadness and desire for a time where my art came more naturally to me. A time where it was playful and I was unafraid. I didn’t have a context of what I was up against, I didn’t worry about the opinions of others, and I hadn’t yet lived through 10+ years of anxiety and depression. Those were simpler times. Again- despite this, I still try. I have written less music, but what I HAVE written has been some of the best I have ever written.

What this insecurity has taught me: I’m still learning a lot from this one everyday, and overall it’s an insecurity I have a long way to go with. I guess more than anything, I’m learning that it’s OKAY to be vulnerable and insecure about it. For awhile I was feeling like solely because it is something I have spent more than half of my life doing, I should be rather confident in regards to it. So the fact that this was far from the truth has been painful in moments. It has taught me that we really have to trust the timing of our lives, and that reflecting back on the desires of teenage me (Ie; expecting to be a full fledged touring musician by now) is totally unfair and unrealistic to CURRENT, wonderful, amazing me. I have accomplished a lot of great things in my life. Just because it doesn’t look like the one that I imagined for myself 10 years ago….that really means nothing, because i had no idea about what real life looks like 10 years ago. It has taught me that when something holds your heart, it never leaves you even in the shittiest, worst parts of your life. So at the very least, THAT is something. It has taught me that it’s always something I can come back to, and that it is something more important to me than I have acknowledged in the last couple of years. Baby steps.

INSECURITY #2: MY SKIN

All my life, I have adored my skin. I was genetically blessed in my teens to have flawless, relatively pore-less, clear, even, glowing skin with rare breakouts. My mom introduced me to skin care around the age of 12 or 13 (when I started playing with makeup), and it was probably the original Noxema cream from what I can remember. From there, Christmas and birthdays I would typically get some form of skin care and makeup products or gift sets – and I was hooked. So about 12 years later and here I am, saying my skin has become one of my biggest insecurities. How did this happen? Over a decade of regimented skin care, NEVER sleeping in makeup (…okay, once or twice), and religiously researching beauty trends, ingredients and ways to keep my body healthy and somehow I am the one suffering with adult acne? It’s a classic story, really, that affects so many people in their 20’s and 30’s. It fucking sucks. There is no sugar coating this. I have learned a lot of lessons about my health through the last almost 3 years of dealing with adult acne, and as I am on the verge of finally having it under control and healing my scars, I am happy to share those things. That being said, I have to clarify the insecurity part a bit more before I can do that. Listen: I work in the beauty industry. In the SKIN CARE industry. Period. It’s shitty to have awful skin in this job. It has been rare for me to feel ‘professional’ unless I wear a full face of makeup, which I only enjoy doing once in awhile. It starts to feel like to doesn’t matter how perfect my outfit or hair is that day, because it’s not going to be all nicely pulled together when my face is a mess. See, I know this is not entirely true. I inherently know that people shouldn’t treat me any differently, regardless- and if they did, they would be a shitty and judgmental person. But I am only human, and all humans are vain on a spectrum of some kind. I long for the days of the perfect skin I once had, no matter what I ate, no matter how much makeup I wore, no matter what time of the month it was, no matter how stressed I got. And now, when I see people who have a seemingly perfect, clear, smooth base underneath a full face of makeup, I tell myself if I had their skin… I would never take it for granted that way. But of course, that is stupid and immature ‘cause those people can do whatever the eff they want.  

What this insecurity has taught me: WHAT HASN’T IT TAUGHT ME? That might be a shorter list. At the root of it, it has taught me that confidence comes in so many forms, and that a positive, fearless spirit shines brighter than anything else. It has taught me that it’s not gonna kill me (or anyone else…) if I don’t wear makeup. It has taught me that some people will treat you differently in a full face of makeup, but that’s not necessary because of your acne- that’s actually because of the societal standards set on women and what the term “POLISHED” means by those standards. It has helped me learn even further what it means to treat skin conditions from the inside, and also to discover how some big, plant based, clean changes in my diet are benefiting me in so many other ways than ONLY my skin. It has taught me that bodies change, hormones change, and needs change over the years and that’s okay. It has taught me that gentleness is the most important part of treating acne- treat your skin gently, your body’s systems gently, and your heart gently. It has taught me that I am me regardless, and that I am still beautiful. It has taught me that it is only a temporary condition, and CAN be fixed with the right treatment options. It has taught me that life really has a weird sense of humor sometimes (“you will work in the beauty industry while simultaneously looking like a goalie for a dart team…” NO, WHY!!!!?). That’s what it has taught me, among many other things.

So there you have it lovelies!

Believe me, I COULD GO ON. I am only human, and I have had many things- large and small- that I am insecure about in my life. I just thought I would dive into detail about a couple of the big ones for me, just to share that sometimes insecurities are beautiful things because they teach us some of the most important lessons. Also to remind myself of that.

In the mean time, I am still dealing with OCD, and I am still going to obsess over my skin and nit-pick at my musical abilities, all in some warped effort to ‘feel better and gain control’ – but I am working at these things everyday so that I can be a happier, stronger, better person. I’m going back to counselling too, and I have no shame in that. it helped me leaps and bounds before!

As for today, wishing you all the happiness and health in the world! And I hope you have an inspired day.

-Spirit Sister, Nicolle-

Your List of ‘Daily Gratitude’- An Enlightening Exercise

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Hello lovelies!

How are you feeling?? I hope the first couple of weeks of 2017 have left you feeling grateful for the wonderful things and people (and pets!) in your life.

Let’s be honest- it hasn’t been the EASIEST couple of weeks. Not between the inauguration (and I’m from Canada!), new years resolutions maybe not going the way you’ve planned so far, the cold, dark winter days suppressing your vibrant light and making you retire early every night.

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me right now

Given these circumstances, I figured that something we could think about this week would be the things that DO give us that light. The things and people we are most grateful for, and the the things and people that make this life worth fighting for every day, even at the most terrifying, hopeless, dark moments.

I took a bit of time on a day i wasn’t feeling particularly chipper about the planet, and did this. If this is not your first time dropping in to my blog, then you know I am an avid practitioner and advocate of mindfulness, meditation and self care. Well, in these practices of mine that particular day as I tried to re-balance my mind, my heart and my energy, i thought i would also re-focus my energy on to things that made me feel gratitude.

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I’ve done the gratitude journal thing before (journalling small notes every day about things you are grateful for in your life), and I enjoyed it and the result. But I realized sometimes, that was hard to keep up with and ultimately, fairly easy to quit doing altogether during the busy days. There have been a handful of studies that show that a regular practice of gratitude, just like a regular practice of meditation, has exceptional benefits for the brain/body functions, greatly improves our mental health in the long term and helps us find the connection  and self love that we all seek for in our daily lives. So it’s definitely worth it to reflect on gratitude often. But the hard part is finding the way that fits your lifestyle best!

I decided to make a list of an average day in my life, on a work day, and write out a list of all the things i would typically be grateful for in that day. It could be anything! Thoughts and feelings, people, things, actions, opportunities. And you know what happened? By the time i was done i had written quite a bit more than i initially expected! And it wasn’t even a list of all the big things that have happened in my life, just general things that come up in an average day. This emphasized to me just how lucky i am, and how many wonderful moments i can create for myself everyday. It felt really good. shutterstock_307015133

I’ve decided to share my list with you, in hopes that it might inspire you to try it too! I guarantee, your list of daily gratitude will be longer than you initially anticipated too. 🙂

*keep in mind, i don’t do ALL of the things listed here every single day, i mix it up during the week! just compiled an overall list of what an average day could look like for me 🙂 *

SPIRIT SISTER’S LIST OF DAILY GRATITUDE: AN AVERAGE DAY

-Waking up to Megan in our cozy bed, in our home.

-Snoozing my alarm for an extra 15 minutes.

-Turning on the kettle.

-Doing a meditative body scan in my cozy robe to start the day.

-Having time to do even 5-10 minutes of yoga stretches in the morning.

-Doing my morning skincare regime.

-Feeding my fish and talking to him like he’s a dog.

-MY DOGS! Even though I don’t get to see them too often.

-Finding the perfect outfit that makes me feel confident.

-Having an extra moment on the bus commute to close my eyes, or let my mind go quiet. Observing the morning commuters and the streets come alive.

-Having (or ‘making’) an extra 5 minutes on my commute to visit Megan at work and get a coffee from her.

-Fresh. AIR.

-Making breakfast at work, and having pleasant convos/catching up with coworkers in the kitchen.

-Our morning meeting that everybody joins; sharing success stories, important information, previous day sales, and exciting updates.

-Working for an ethical, philanthropic, innovative company with positive vibes and incredible products.

-Making a really good sale, providing excellent customer service, or excelling at my job.

-Helping someone else excel at THEIR job

-Making someone laugh or feel recognized.

-Chatting with my friends in the different departments to break up the day.

-Having really yummy leftovers for lunch, and taking a bit of time to read my book.

-Finishing the work day, and knowing I’m on my way home to either relax, see Megan, see a friend/family member, or do something that makes me feel inspired.

-Cooking dinner with Megan, and having endless laughs while we do. Or if we’re lazy, ordering Indian take out and binge watching one of our shows together.

-Having a hot shower or bubble bath.

-Doing DIY facials at home with all my favorite products… and slathering on my favorite delicious smelling body lotions!

-Turning on the kettle, again. Peppermint tea.

-Playing music, writing, making diy projects- any sort of creative expression.

-Turmeric, cause i put that sh*t in everything.

-Music in general- all my favorite artists who have influenced me deeply, and all my favorite Spotify playlists!!!

-Making plans with my family- knowing how loved and supported by them I am, and how much I can return that with ease.

-Making plans with friends- knowing how loved and supported by THEM I am, and how much I can return that with ease.

-Writing lists of things I want to do and see, places I want to go. Keeping my day planner up to date. Planning goals.

-Crossing OFF goals.

-Going to a yoga class, or doing my own practice in the comfort of my home. The feeling of spreading the yoga mat, and stretching and reviving my tired body.

-Having the ability for the first time in a while to actually save money towards the many adventures I have in mind.

-Not wanting to off myself. (Disclaimer: not saying that as a joke, we don’t joke about mental health here, which I hope you know by now!)

-Being gay (but having a straight enough presentation that I have the ‘privileges’ of a straight, white woman. I am grateful to be a voice for the lgbtq+ community for different demographics of people who might not otherwise notice what being gay can look like or mean- especially from visible minorities. I don’t mean this to sound harsh or prejudice as I am neither of those things, it is simply a reality.)

-Essentially, I am grateful for my voice.

-Intimacy and vulnerability, in their many forms.

-Having full mobility of all my extremities, and having more or less ‘good’ health.

-Mental illness, for the lessons it has taught me.

-This blog, for all of the healing is has given and will always give me.

-YOU for reading said blog!!!!!

-Meditating before bed, or having the ability to go to a meditation group/class.

-Cuddling up to the love of my life and falling asleep.

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And there you have it lovelies! That is my ‘average day list of gratitude’. I am going to make these occasionally here and there, and read over previous ones to remind myself of the wonderful moments, things, and people i have around me. I suggest you do the same. Even an average day in your life is probably more incredible than you think!

Thanks for stopping by, and have fun with your list! 🙂

Have an inspired day!

-Spirit Sister, Nicolle

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Welcome, 2017 – Let’s Check In With Ourselves

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Hello Lovelies!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Yayyyy! YAAA! Sorry for the M.I.A over the last couple weeks. Naturally, the holidays kept me very busy, as well as my girlfriend and I were officially moving in together. So it was a busy, but perfect December 🙂 And now it’s January, all the craziness has settled, it’s grey and icy outside, and I am happy to be spending a Sunday morning inside, cozy, writing on the couch once again.

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Welcome to 2017. A new year, and with it whatever that means. Naturally, my first post of the year had to be something reflective. Something about the things I’ve learned over the last 300 some odd days of my life. Looking back, 2016 was filled with plenty of good things, and some not so good things. Plenty of lessons, and plenty of RE-LEARNING old lessons. But at the end of the day, I’m not sure that there’s anything I could write about those things that seemed relevant today. It is the past after all, and as much as they were things that helped me to grow- I’d rather think FORWARD. 

I’m seeing a lot of both the ‘New Years Resolution’ and ‘ANTI New Years Resolution’ posts on my Facebook feed recently. I’m reading a lot about the lessons these people have learned, and seeing their ‘best moments’ of 2016 being revisited in those cute Facebook video slideshow things. These are all great things, but what I wish I got a sense of, is how they are REALLY FEELING standing at the precipice of this new year.

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Social media is bad for that, no? Getting such generalized, edited ideals typed out and retyped and re posted – BUT ONLY at the best angle, or in the perfect number of characters. However, that’s also kind of a cynical look at this. I also like the idea of people sharing their positive ideals for the future, or the things they’ve learned that they believe have made them a better, stronger individual. 100 % this is a good thing. 

I guess, at the end of the day, what it has kind of made me think about is a few things to keep in mind as we move into this new year and start making resolutions for ourselves, and feeling the need to share and feed into our egos a little bit. Cause let’s be honest, we all do that at least a little bit. I do it! You do it! It’s part of our culture, and it’s no ones fault. Nor is it entirely negative. I just think that one of the biggest things we can all practice in this coming year, is a little bit of mindfulness. Mindfulness of ourselves, our choices, our desires…. and mindful of those things in others.

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Mindfulness is a practice of constantly checking in with ourselves throughout every moment of every day. Looking internally and acknowledging our emotions, reactions, beliefs, desires, etc. This amplifies our true voice inside, and let’s us learn how to speak with more honesty and truth. It is a difficult practice- there have been times in my life where it has come with more ease, and times like now for example, where it is a constant struggle. But naturally, it’s through struggles like these that we eventually find ease again, don’t we?!

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ANYWAY, I DIGRESS. Moving in to this new year, why don’t we all try to be more mindful of ourselves, who we REALLY are, and what we REALLY want? Why don’t we ask more inquisitive questions when listening to others, and try to understand their side of things instead of thinking of what we want to say next? Why don’t we see a new year as only an opportunity for more learning and growth, and remember that a year is only a man made concept? Let’s remember that we’re allowed to be quietly (AND loudly) proud of every tiny thing we accomplish this year, and that the culture of comparison isn’t actually in control of the things we feel we need in our lives. 

Here are some things I’ve been meditating on these first couple of days of 2017!

  1. If 2016 taught us (or me anyway) anything, it’s that just because that year is over and done with, doesn’t mean we now know EVERYTHING. It doesn’t mean we have all the answers because it’s a fresh start. It doesn’t mean that 365 more days made us wise enough that every thought, idea and feeling we have is greater than that of our neighbour.. It’s easy to feel this way. It’s easy to feel like our lives changed, whether for better or worse, and so therefor we are miles ahead. “NOTHING CAN STOP ME NOW, THIS IS MY YEAR. I AM WISE BEYOND MY YEARS NOW FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS…..”. That’s cool- i mean, if a year goes by without any lessons learned, hardships over come or exciting changes made then what kind of year was it really? But if there’s anything we should be mindful of, it’s that yes we should take those lessons to heart, and YES we should celebrate those changes…. But we should not stand on the precipice of a new year, barely knowing if we have the right equipment to plunge ahead with such narrow vision. We should see this as another opportunity to continue learning and be open minded. A new year should be exciting not only as a chance to ‘prove your worth’ – as you are here, you ARE worthy of whatever it is you seek. It should be exciting because it’s a chance to learn and grow and admit that we don’t have all the answers.
  2. Be gentle with our resolutions and goals for the new year. One of the things i know I often forget is how much time we actually have. Time does fly, but there’s never any need to put unnecessary pressure or timelines on ourselves. A year is a man made concept. I believe comparing things we’ve done year to year CAN be a helpful tool to measure growth, but often people don’t see it that way. I feel in our society today, we are often looking back at how many things we didn’t get around to yet, or the shitty things that happened- thinking this will drive more success/improvement in the coming year. What if this year, we move forward knowing that the concept of a year is ample time, and that we will achieve all the things that we are meant to in this time frame to be the person we need to be at this time? That being said, I think we should always keep this in mind when addressing others as well. We all have different limits, goals, and habits. We all learn differently. If no one is getting hurt, we should keep our judgements of other peoples progress to ourselves.
  3. Don’t use social media as a platform on which to base your desire for change; Use it responsibly. It’s so easy now days to log on to platforms like Instagram or Facebook simply as a means to ‘see what friends are up to’, and come out of it feeling like you haven’t accomplished anything. So and so is traveling the world, and I haven’t. So and so just got their dream job, and I haven’t. So and so just got engaged, and i’m single. So and so has such a nice body, I’m so far behind. Etc. Etc. Etc. It’s all bullshit my friends. I use social media, and I enjoy it as much as the next person… but the key is to not use it irresponsibly. We have to know our limits for gambling and drinking, we have to know the rules of the road to be able to drive. To use social media responsibly, I believe we need to tune into ourselves before we start scrolling away, and remember that the majority of what you will see posted today will be the best moments of everyones lives. Rarely are people posting about the unfortunate events of what it’s like to be them and be on their journey. Maybe sometimes. But I’d say 98% of the time, we post our best selves. And that’s okay! But we have to remember that. If you’re feeling down on yourself and your life, it’s probably not wise to ‘get behind the wheel’ of scrolling social media. The ideals it creates in your mind are completely fabricated, and not true to who you are. Much like the way marketing in ads can affect us to want things we don’t need. I think as long as we remember this, the comparing culture of social media will begin to affect us less in our search for the ‘perfect new year’.
proud to be starting this year by this woman's side! <3

proud to be starting this year by this woman’s side! ❤

So lovely readers, that is my two sense on my beginnings of forging ahead in to the new year. I have a handful of things in mind that I want to work on this year, things I want to save for, etc. etc. I’ve just realized that I need to take a different approach, and have a little bit more trust in both myself and the universe that the timing is always perfect, and I have everything I need. I want to practice more gratitude, and more silence. More spending time inward, and less forcing energy I don’t have outward, just to keep up appearances. Your journey might look very different, and if so that is a beautiful thing. I’d love to hear all about what thoughts you have on the upcoming year!

Thanks for reading friends! Happy new year to you. I know it’s going to be a good one for all of us, no matter what we are dreaming up!

Have an inspired day,

-Spirit Sister, Nicolle –

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Cya Later Cipralex – Entry # 3 – 1/2 Way to Wherever

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Hello Lovelies!

How are you feeling today? I hope you’re feeling light, despite the stressful tone of the season.

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So, i kind of took a week and a bit off from posting, just cause y’know, LIFE STUFF. But i’m still here, and I never left. Anyway, i figured my last few posts have been on a variety of subjects, but i haven’t done an update to recently on my journey going off meds. So i figured i’d describe what it’s been like over the last few weeks.

To be honest… from a surface perspective, not THAT much has changed. If you are just tuning in- HI! You should reference my other posts in regards to this HERE and HERE, cause to be honest I don’t much feel up to explaining this whole decision making process and experience up until this point over again in it’s entirety. Long story short, I have been on an anti depressant and anti anxiety medication called Cipralex for about 4 years, and almost 3 months ago now I made the decision to start easing off of it.

So almost 3 months in now, and i’m still at half a pill. Which I was at the last time I posted about this. As I mentioned in that post, I’m in no hurry. I have nothing but time, so the best thing I feel I can do is take advantage of that.

In this life, I feel that we are trained and conditioned for desiring instant results and instant gratification for all things. For how we look, for our passions, our achievements, our work, our relationships, our day to day mundane lives. And to be honest, (maybe THAT should have been the title of this post, ‘to be honest….’) I’m not into it. My brain is 100% conditioned to feel that way a lot of the time, just like any one else. Especially dealing with any form of anxiety, you attribute a lack of instant results or gratification to failure. Sound familiar? Guess what? IT’S NOT TRUE.

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And when it comes to your medication, and easing off of it? You have to take a very large step back and face what you are truly dealing with, and the reality of it being that there is NO instant gratification coming to this party. It never even got the invite. I have, on a separate occasion, tried going off my meds and I did it in such a stupid way that I don’t care to admit the details. I wanted, and begged for and expected those instant results- “Hey! Look, Ma! I’m me again, sans the prescription!”. Well, what do you think happened to that reverie?

I digress. This time around, I made a promise to myself to take things slow. Even then, what do you think I did? I didn’t listen to my body right away. I didn’t ‘read the room’- the room being life, and life being crazy and topsy turvy and full of changes. So i might have taken it slower than I have before, but I still initially listened more to that hopeful voice in the back of my head, the one that holds the highest expectations over everything I do. The one that dresses up as the angel on your shoulder, but it’s the one that ultimately leads you to your mental health and anxiety demise. Soooo I got a little f*cked for awhile. And now i’ve learned, AGAIN, the importance of taking this slow. The importance of listening to your body, of ‘reading the room’, and of pacing yourself. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible to pace yourself ENOUGH.

So I had to go back up from 1/4 of a pill to a 1/2. Big deal! Guess what happened? I have just about stabilized again. I feel about as normal and stable on 5 mgs as I did on 1 full 10 mg pill. So on the small scale of 3 months, I have taken a small step back. But on the big scale of being on medication for 4 years? Of at one point having to take 20 mgs to function? I have taken a couple of leaps and bounds forward.

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I still have my blue days here and there, working out the kinks on these 5 mgs. Allowing my body to settle in, and quit it’s kicking and screaming. But overall, I feel like me and I am not obsessing over the details of my medication right now. I am just letting life play out and do it’s thing. I’m focusing on more important things like moving in with my girlfriend, planning out the holidays, writing, taking care of myself. So that’s pretty cool.

At the end of the day, I don’t want to be shut off from life. Cipralex has never done that to me, but mental illness has. I want to allow myself to feel as vulnerable as i need to to make sense of this world, but without letting myself spiral down to that place where nothing about yourself, your thoughts or feelings are forgiven. So for now, I take my time and I allow my body to settle in for a long winter. I’m gonna use this time to focus on the good stuff happening, as there is plenty. And I’m gonna use this time to reinvent what it means to be vulnerable and awake in the most healthy way, whatever that means to me.

So that is my update for you, lovely readers! I hope if anything it brings some sliver of hope into your day if you are dealing with something similar. Regardless, I hope you have an amazing day, and never forget that you are strong, and oh so very capable of anything.

Have an inspired day!

-Spirit Sister, Nicolle-

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3 DIY Treatments for Winter Self Care!

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Hello Lovelies!
How are you feeling today? I hope you are feeling ready for a relaxing day of self care!
One of the things I have had to remind myself over the last little while, is that making a conscious effort to find moments for self care is one of the most important things we can do. For mental health, our physical and emotional well-being…for all of it! I know in this day and age, many people think the idea of self care is ‘selfish’. It’s taking away from time they could be spending being ‘productive’, be it in work, studies, socializing, etc. To be honest, I wholeheartedly believe and KNOW that the opposite is true. 
If you had a moment to read one of my last posts on my Favorite Self Care Routines, then you know exactly why I believe this!

In short, as the old adage goes: How can you drink from an empty cup? 

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How can you do your best at work or school, how can you be your most present with your loved ones, if you can’t even respect the idea of taking time to take care of yourself? Other people can only do so much for us in regards to our care. At the end of the day, WE are responsible. So self care is not selfish, in my opinion, it is 100% necessary! It allows us to relax, to get in touch with ourselves and our needs and desires, and replenish our souls. It’s like a reboot for our minds, bodies and hearts. And in this busy time of our lives, there are few things more important. 
As a past makeup artist, and someone who has previously and is currently working in the natural skin care industry, one of my favorite self care routines is OF COURSE having diy spa days!! 
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This inspired me to do a post today, because it got me thinking of some ways that everyone can do something for their self care routines, that also gets your creative juices flowing, is natural and healthy for the body, and is cheap; as most of the ingredients are ones that you either have at home, or can find at reasonable costs in bulk, and will last you a long time.
However, I didn’t want to do just ANY DIY’s – we are moving into the colder season in the year now, and that seasonal change affects skin in many ways. Some people may find they have more breakouts as a result, or dry patches and chapped lips, or maybe just all over tightness and dehydration. Perhaps lack of plumpness/firmness.

The below diy’s are quick, easy and customizable for the whole body to suit your current winter body needs!!

CITRUS LIP SCRUB
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-Vegetable based carrier oil (coconut, olive, jojoba, almond, etc.)
-Raw sugar 
-Lemon juice
Total Time: About 5 minutes!
Process: Combine the above ingredients in a small container with a lid, so you can save and reuse. Apply liberally to clean, dry lips and scrub lightly for a minute or two, or until most of sugar feels dissolved. You can rinse or wipe off the excess, or if you used a food grade vegetable oil such as coconut, you can lick it off too!
Benefits: The citrus enzymes from the lemon are natural exfoliants, much like a ‘peel’, dissolving dead skin and revealing bright, fresh new skin underneath. This in combination with the physical exfoliation and emollient action of the sugar will leave for the smoothest lips, while the hydrating natural oil(s) of your choice re-hydrate the new skin underneath! Follow up with your favorite lip balm.
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WINTER HEALING FACE MASK
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-Mashed Avocado
-Vitamin E 
-Squeeze of lemon
Add-ons:
-Carrier oil (olive, jojoba, etc.) for those who need extra hydration
-Pinch of turmeric and/or cinnamon for acne/inflammation
-Raw Honey for soothing/antibacterial properties

Total time (prep and use):  Approx. 30 mins.

Process: Combine the 3 base ingredients, and then throw in any add-ons that will benefit your specific skin needs. Leave the mask on for 10-20 minutes, and indulge in some much needed relaxation during this time! Rinse off with warm water, pat to dry and then follow up with your toner/serum/moisturizer of choice.
Benefits:  Avocado is rich in omega fatty acids for deep hydration and balancing of the skin. Lemons, as stated in the lip scrub above are natural enzyme exfoliants, and also help to brighten the skin and lighten dark spots/purify blemishes. Vitamin E is antibacterial, protective, and restorative for damaged skin/scarring. The add-ons as noted above have their own benefits that are all best for specific kinds of skin types. What extra boost does your skin need this season??
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COMFORTING, WHIPPED BODY BUTTER

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-coconut oil
-cocoa butter
-carrier oil of choice (olive, jojoba, almond, etc.)
-essential oils if desired (for added benefit boost/fragrance)
Total Time: Approx. 30-40 mins.
Process/Benefits: CLICK HERE for the full spiel on my favorite body butter recipe 🙂
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So there you go lovelies!! I hope this inspires you to have some playful, creative and relaxing self care today. Or maybe also inspires some home made holiday gifts!!
Either way, remember to take care of yourselves this week. No one else is going to do it for you. Whether you take this time to do some DIY winter spa treatments, or you do some exercise, or work on a passion, or take a nap- MAKE TIME. It’s worth it, there is nothing more important. 
Have an inspired day!
-Spirit Sister, Nicolle-
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5 Reasons Why Vulnerability Is Extra Important Right Now.

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Vulnerable 

{vuhl-ner-uh-buhl} – adjective

1.capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body.

2.open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: an argument vulnerable to refutation; He is vulnerable to bribery.

3.(of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend: a vulnerable bridge.

 Hello Lovelies!

How are you feeling today? I hope you feel beautiful, inside and out! 

No but seriously… How ARE you? So much has happened in the world this week, and I think it has been heavy for all of us. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t just take refuge for most of the week, eating comfort foods and meditating and trying to piece things together. And I’m not even American; I’m just a human, who needed to grieve a little for humanity as a whole. My girlfriend felt the same, so we basically cocooned ourselves together and waited out the storm that was the days following the election results.

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At the start of this week, even BEFORE any of that happened, I SOMEHOW strained some muscles in my lower back. I think it was a classic case of doing too much too quickly and filling my days with too much busy-ness, that my body quite literally reached a point where it was yelling at me saying, “DO I NEED TO SPELL THIS OUT FOR YOU??? SLOW DOWN. TAKE F*CKING CARE OF YOURSELF, NOW!!!”. So I essentially couldn’t walk for about a day, and it left me sitting at home thinking about all the ways my body and my soul have rebelled against me the last while. My skin has been breaking out non stop the last couple of years, but it’s been especially bad this past year. My body is developing all kinds of sensitivities in my diet. Then about a month ago, I developed that full body eczema rash I talked about in one of my last posts, and thennnn my back gives out.

My soul too has been struggling in moments, due to the fact that I made the decision to slowly ease off my medication. It has been a tough road that has made me examine a lot of things about what I feel my ideal life looks like for the next while, what kinds of things I want/need to make space for in my life, and things in my heart that are maybe not quite resolved just yet. What i realized is that while being on medication, it was easier. But now taking a smaller dose, certain things come up more often and more of my anxious habits come into play more often as well (such as, obsessing over my skin, having OCD about my space around me, having OCD about my schedule and list making, etc.). I will write a separate post on this sometime soon, as a more detailed update on the status of going of of my meds. But i digress.

So yeah, there’s been a lot to sort out, and many of the answers I think come down to just listening to my body and my heart a little closer again, and actually trusting and acting on what they tell me I need to do. No one knows us better than our true, innermost selves. 

ANYWAY. All this stuff on my brain this week got me thinking about one of the things I have believed most for a long time: That acknowledging, expressing and sharing our vulnerabilities is the most important step to healing and being whole. It is one of the ways we ironically become so much stronger. And in a time where I personally feel so vulnerable in a lot of ways that I haven’t experienced for quite some time, if ever- it is something I have needed to remind myself a lot this last while and I thought perhaps I wasn’t the only one in this boat currently.

So without further ado, here are a few reasons that in my humble opinion, it is so damn important to embrace the very things that make us vulnerable and shy away from our truth:

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TO CREATE BEAUTY 

Today, I witnessed a beautiful Russian ballet performance  of The Nutcracker at a local theatre with my mother. Frankly I realized, a production that beautiful, powerful, inspiring (and also wonderfully  festive and joy fuelled!) could not have taken place without vulnerability. My favorite concert viewing moments in my life could not have taken place without vulnerability. The most worshipped and coveted pieces of art in history couldn’t have taken place without vulnerability. The most important relationships in your life couldn’t exist without it, and I ASSURE YOU that this blog or this very post couldn’t either. Creativity needs vulnerability, because it allows honesty to break through, and that’s what makes creative pursuits SHINE is the honesty and the ability to allow our true selves to speak loudly. This is what draws people to art in it’s many forms- we are all seeking connection, and things in this life we can relate to and express ourselves through. Any kind of creating, and especially sharing of that creating, entails at least a BIT of vulnerability because we are putting our true selves out there for people to judge, and comment on at their leisure, however it best suits them. That’s not easy, but this is one of the many reasons why we do it anyways: connection, strength, recognition, reflection.

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TO DEEPEN EXISTING RELATIONSHIPS AND TO CREATE TRUST IN NEW ONES. 

I am learning time and time again that it is not the easiest thing to make new friends as an adult. You may or may not find this hard to believe, but i have always kind of struggled in the social realm, mainly due to my mental illness and especially anxiety. The greatest thing I have learned about deepening the trust, the love and the understanding of the current relationships in our lives (be this familial, romantic or platonic), is that there is nothing but room to grow in all these areas if only we just open up about our deepest desires, fears, beliefs, etc. It’s not always easy to find the words to describe how these things feel inside, but it’s pretty incredible what happens even when you just TRY to find those words. People that love you will understand exactly what you are trying to say, and they will see you in a new light. You will connect on a new level. When it comes to newer relationships, I feel like being fairly open about all these same aspects of ourselves paints a truer picture of who we are to others, and opens to door for connections and insight. It is also avid practice for ourselves to speak truly; for example, if we’re uncomfortable with something, to voice that. If we are enjoying ourselves, to voice THAT. If we are inspired by someone or by something they said, to share that.

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AS AN ACT OF STRENGTH, COURAGE, RADICAL SOFTNESS AND GROWTH

This is pretty self explanatory- as I stated above, being vulnerable about our innermost beliefs, wants, needs, fears, etc. in day to day life is hard, and I believe it takes active participation, practice and consciousness each day to do this. I struggle with it all the time, but in my closest personal relationships it’s getting much easier. Every time you admit something out loud that is in it’s truest form ENTIRELY YOU- that is an act of strength. If you are crying in front of a street full of people because you are declaring your truth and solidarity to a cause that is ENTIRELY YOU, that is pure strength and courageousness. If you are sharing a secret with someone that you’ve never shared before and you’re terrified, that is pure strength and you will feel so much lighter. All of these actions? They direct us on the path of growth. We learn what we are truly capable of, I feel. This is how the road to change begins in the avenues we are passionate about, be it our personal lives or our communities as whole. Where there is vulnerability, there is ALWAYS strength, and ALWAYS growth.

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TO PLACE A DEEP SENSE OF VALUE ON YOUR LIFE, AND TO APPRECIATE THE GOOD THAT STILL EXISTS. 

What I mean by this, is that shitty things happen everyday, all over the world. We know this, we read about it, we see it, we even sometimes live it. All of the things I have already mentioned above play in to this, and by being vulnerable in these times, we remind ourselves each and every time we come out of a dark place that we found the light again. If we open ourselves up to how things truly effect us, we learn healthy coping skills and we also become so much stronger.  We cried, we grieved, we kicked, we screamed and we got up and found our way out. Stronger. We have to learned to appreciate the times of pain and sadness as much as the days we consider our very best and brightest. Because those are generally the times we learn the most from, and we learn how very strong we are indeed. We will appreciate those best and brightest days that much more, and all the little things that make this life so truly blessed. Covering up how we feel in the dark times does not bring forth a future of lightness. Only acknowledgement and honesty will do this.

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TO CREATE A CULTURE OF HONESTY AND RESPECT

Again, pretty self explanatory. I don’t want to live in a world where people see vulnerability as this ‘weakness’. I want to live in a world where people are honest about their true selves, and respect the true selves of others. I am not oblivious to the fact that this is probably pretty close to being unattainable. But I’d like to try in my own life to be as confident as I can in my honest opinions, beliefs, dreams…and to not be scared of admitting my fears, my ailments, my triggers, or the things that don’t sit well with me. And i want to encourage as many people as I can in my life to do the same. I already know that everyone is exceptional in their own way, and so therefore I want to know all the many ways that make the people around me this way! I want to see a world of fierce, confident, respectful and loving individuals. Embracing our own vulnerabilities? i think that’s only step one. Respecting the vulnerabilities of others without judgement? That is a whole other thing. But it is everything. 

Thank you so much for reading today, lovely people. I hope this train of thought inspired you in the way that it did me to look inwards more often again, and embrace those vulnerabilities that I sometimes see as ‘weakness’. Instead, let’s see them as what actually make us very strong. Let’s see it as the force to be reckoned with that is going to create the change we want to see in our communities and the world. Let’s see it as what will help us create the lives we dream of. Let’s see it as an opportunity to take care of ourselves and others when we know we/they need it. Let’s be f*cking human.

Have an inspired day!

-Spirit Sister-Nicolle-

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