Quote and Relaxation Poem

‘Spring’ by Calm Pond

Why, pray tell

O Earth mother

this plague of insects

in my humble rooms?

 

Is it the end of

the dormant winter

the long sleep

everything suddenly alive?

 

And I, too, I suppose

with my desperate scrawl

in the dead of night

am awakening

 

Each year, a new

re birth, a new life:

a coming again.

Hope, at last

 

A quote from T.S. Eliot’s East Coker:

‘I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing:

Wait without love, for love would be love for the wrong thing:

There is yet faith.

But the faith, and the love, and the hope are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:

So the darkness shall be the light

And the stillness the dancing.

 

For the love of poetry, and all the truth and beauty it brings to life,

Your

Calm Pond

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Mindful Monday no. 80 – 3 Ways to Nourish Yourself

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I was reading the latest blog post on Free + Native this morning and was struck by this line:

“…especially in the West, we focus on deprivation and overexertion. From cleanses to vigorous exercise, there is little focus on adding nourishment to our lives. In Ancient times, and still today in certain cultures, women incorporate non-negotiable rituals of self-care.”

I read it over a few times to really let it sink in. “There is little focus on adding nourishment to our lives.” Isn’t this true? Often when we feel overwhelmed and stressed, our tendency is to either work harder so things feel more manageable, or to retreat completely, which often creates more work when we return to our to-do lists and find they’ve only lengthened.

What if instead of adding more work or trying to take away stress all together, we focused on finding ways to nourish ourselves?

I love the word nourish! It reminds me of the way you feel after eating a healthy meal – satisfied, full, and energised. Eating is something we have to do to survive, and perhaps nourishing ourselves in other ways should be treated with the same importance. Read on for three self-nourishing suggestions!

Soak up the sun or bask in the shade. This is a wonderful time of year to take advantage of beautiful weather. Spending time outside can feel like a mini vacation! Grab a book or a newspaper and find a comfortable spot under a tree. Take an umbrella to the beach and slide your toes in to the sand. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths and listen to the sounds that only summer can provide.

Take a long shower. Allow the hot water to run for a little longer than you normally would. You do not have to take a cold plunge in the west coast ocean to reap the healing benefits of water! Use a shampoo that smells good and really spend time working it in to your scalp. You could even close your eyes and pretend you’re under a warm waterfall! Just remember to hold on to something for safety.

Make your bed the most comfortable place in your home. Treat your room like a sanctuary. Wash your sheets and tidy up your space so you feel relaxed as soon as you open the door. Consider trying some sleep rituals or a morning routine to help make a calming environment for you to relax in.

In what ways do you nourish yourself? We’d love to hear from you!

Were you inspired by this post? Please share it with your family and friends!

Cassandra Van Dyck

Foodie Friday – 5 Nuts and Why You Should be Eating Them

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Do you eat nuts?

If not, I’d strongly encourage you to! The health benefits of nuts are endless. They pack protein and most contain unsaturated fats, omega 3 fatty acids, fibre, and vitamin E. Consuming these nutrients helps support brain function, blood sugar levels, and will give you the energy you need to get through your day and help you sleep at night. Unlike lots of other food suggestions, nuts are so easy to eat! If you buy them without shells, they require no preparation to consume and they’re easy to take with you wherever you go. Try eating a handful instead of grabbing a muffin or a coffee and see if you notice a difference in how you feel 2-3 hours after eating them.

If we’ve convinced you to try this healthy snack, read on for some suggestions on which to eat!

Almonds

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Health Benefits: source of Vitamin E, which supports skin health, slows the rate of glucose absorption which helps control blood sugar levels, riboflavin and L-carnitine support positive neurological activity and prevent cognitive decline.

How to eat them: raw, roasted, turned in to mylk, or covered in chocolate!

Cashews

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Health Benefits: low on fibre, but high in vitamins E, K, and B6!

How to eat them: raw, roasted, or if you really want to be adventurous, turned in to ice cream!

Walnuts

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Health Benefits: Rich in antioxidants and a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for brain health!

How to eat them: raw, maple glazed, in a bliss ball!

What are your favourite ways to eat nuts? We’d love to hear from you!

Did you like this article? Please share it!

Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 79 – How to Use Positive Affirmations

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The messages we send ourselves carry a great deal of power, and we are constantly sending ourselves messages, whether we’re aware of it or not.

How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? Are you energized? Is there something you’re looking forward to?

What do you think when you look at yourself in the mirror before leaving the house? Do you smile at your reflection?

How do you react when you can’t find your keys, or when you knock over a full mug of coffee? Are you frustrated with yourself? 

In isolation, reactions to our daily happenings may not seem significant. Trouble occurs when our responses to daily events are negative, and it doesn’t matter if that negativity is directed towards ourselves or to other people. It can all add up and effect the way we see the world.

Have you ever tried saying positive affirmations to yourself?

It may feel funny at first, but it can change the way we see ourselves and the way we feel about our lives.

Saying positive affirmations is not tricky, but there is one key: they must be positive. Do not look in the mirror and say things like, “I am not…” or anything that includes the word “but.” For example, if you are feeling nervous, do not say, “I am not nervous” or “I am nervous but I can be confident.” Instead, try, “I am confident.” The trick is to train our brains to focus on the positive. Positive affirmations can be said any time, but I find they’re most effective first thing in the morning or when I notice I’m feeling insecure, frustrated, or low on energy.

Ready to give it a try? Read on for the how-to!

Stand in front of the mirror and adjust your posture so you feel secure on your feet. Wiggle your toes in to the floor and roll back your shoulders until you feel grounded and safe. Look at your reflection, and really focus on your eyes. If this feels uncomfortable – that’s okay. Just notice the feeling and let it go. Take a deep breath and watch your belly rise in the mirror, and then let it all out – through your throat and out your mouth. Repeat three more times.

Fix your eyes on yourself and say what you need to hear. It can be anything, but try to focus on what you need. This morning, I used the following positive affirmations:

I am calm.

I am kind.

I am capable.

I repeated these phrases until I really felt they were true.

Have you tried using positive affirmations before? What was it like? We’d love to hear from you!

P.S. – If you like this post, please share it!

Cassandra Van Dyck

 

Plant-based remedies for Menopausal symptoms

Dear Readers,

For those in the perimenopausal or menopausal stages life can be a challenge: conditions such as insomnia, weight gain, hot flashes, or memory problems.  I personally have dealt with all of those in the last few years, and it can make life difficult. (Challenging enough if you are a caregiver, right?)

So what do you do?  Well, one of the options is to take plant-based remedies, which are fairly safe.  Two of these that I’ve tried are: Promensil and Estroven.

Here is some info about each one:

Promensil contains red clover isoflovones.  Isoflovones are phytochemicals found only in plants, also a type of phytoestrogen (plant hormone) that resembles human estrogen.

Estroven comes in a variety of “flavours” depending on what your symptoms are. I have tried “Estroven Sleep Cool” which contains Black Cohosh and soy isoflavones.

You can read some  online reviews on Estroven for more information.

I hope this brief article has proved helpful to you in some way.  If you are interested in more articles about perimenopause, menopause, or women’s aging issues such as weight gain or memory problems (to name a few), simply post a comment and I will post more articles on this subject.

In the meantime, sweet dreams everyone!

Calm Pond

Mindful Monday no. 78 – Morning Meditations

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“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aureliu

Most people know the saying and question, “Did someone wake up on the wrong side of the bed?” Though we may be tempted to ask someone that query, it never feels good to hear. What it should tell you is that the way we start our mornings have a heavy impact on the way the rest of our day will go. If you wake up late and have to rush to get ready and eat breakfast before running out the door, you may feel scattered for most of the day.

Have you ever tried meditating in the morning?

Taking 10 minutes to sit and be with your thoughts can have a profound impact on your mental state. There are lots of ways to get your day off to a great start, and practicing meditation is a good one. Practicing meditation can reduce stress, encourage a healthy lifestyle, increase self-awareness, happiness, acceptance, and it can even slow ageing. Kick starting these benefits first thing in the morning could very well change the course of your day.

There are many ways to meditate, and if you’ve never practiced before it might seem hard to get started. Never fear, the internet is here! YouTube provides many free meditation videos that can lead you through a short practice. People respond differently to forms of meditation, so it may take some trial and error to figure out what works for you, but here are some examples to get you started:


Do you practice meditation or have other ways to mindfully start your day? We’d love to hear from you!

Cassandra Van Dyck

Foodie Friday: 3 Ways to Beat Sugar Cravings

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Most of us know that sugary treats are supposed to be just that – treats. Something to be savoured and enjoyed in small quantities during times of celebration. Most of us also know that sweets are rarely consumed with such mindfulness. Enormous amounts of sugar is in everything these days, from our breakfast cereal to our salad dressings. It makes things taste good, which explains why it’s used so often in store-bought foods. Not only is it consumed for celebration, it’s a pick-me-up when we’re feeling down or tired, and something we turn to when we’re stressed.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of articles on the internet and in magazines about the harmful effects of sugar. It’s probably a safe bet that if you’re reading this, it’s not the first time you’ve heard it. “You’ll find a ton of literature that suggests that removing dairy from the diet or meat or consuming those substances are bad for you based your nutritional method of interest.  But never in the history of health will you find any literature that suggests removing sugar from your diet is bad for you.  Nowhere,” says Lacy Phillips.

We could all benefit from reducing the amount of sugar in our diets. It’s easier said than done though, right? Sugar is everywhere! One way to tackle sugar cravings is to have substitutes on hand (or at least in mind) when you get the urge to chow down. Here are some suggestions:

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Eat fruit. Although we’re lucky enough to access it any time of year, we’re getting in to the golden months for fruit! Salmonberries will be popping up on bushes soon, followed by raspberries, huckleberries and blackberries. If you can’t forage them, you can purchase local fruit at your grocery store or a weekend farmer’s market! Fruit is filled with antioxidants, vitamins and fibre. Keeping some on hand and eating it when you’re craving sugar might energize you for a few hours instead of leaving you tired and wired after a big piece of cake.

Drink water. I know… it can seem boring. But did you know that sometimes when you’re craving sugar, you may just be thirsty? Our body’s can send us some confusing messages! If you have a craving, try drinking 1-2 glasses of water before indulging in a donut. The craving may just go away! If your water seems lackluster, add a squeeze of lemon, a few slices of cucumber or some frozen berries for a subtle, sugar-free boost!

Take a nap. Because sugar gives us a temporary energy spike, we often crave it when we’re tired. We might want a cookie but what we really need is a nap! If you’re noticing you’re craving sugar every day around the same time, it might be worth looking at your sleep habits and making some shifts. For example, some people say they get sugar cravings late at night, while watching television or reading a book. It might be their body’s way of signalling them to go to bed! If this is happening to you, try having a glass of water, brushing your teeth, and getting cozy in your sheets instead of opening the fridge.

Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 77 – How to Get to Sleep When You’re Feeling Stressed

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“Sleep is the best meditation.” – Dalai Lama

Ah, sleep! Why is it that so many of us can’t seem to get enough, even though we need it so badly? A good night’s sleep restores our energy and gives us what we need to manage the obstacles that come our way. Unfortunately, when challenges in our life mound, it can make it harder to get the sleep we need. This can start an unhealthy cycle that can be tricky to break!

We’ve written about tips for a good night’s sleep, sleep rituals, and a sleep meditation on the blog before, and all are worth reviewing to build your self-care toolkit to help you get the shut eye you need.

Today we’re offering tips for what to do when you’re under stress and need to get some sleep! Take a look below for some ideas.

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Make a worry script. Sometimes getting your fears out of your mind and on to paper can help settle your mind and body, so you can put them aside and allow yourself to fall asleep.

Eat a banana. Lacy Phillips recommends chowing down on the fruit when you’re having trouble sleeping to fill you up and reap the benefits of its “generous amounts of magnesium, potassium, and tryptophan content.”

Move your body. The racing feelings of stress can settle in your head, chest, and stomach. Sometimes the best way to shake them off is to get moving! You do not have to run a marathon. Try dancing in your living room to a favourite song, or going for a brisk walk around the neighbourhood. Warning: exercise can be energizing! Schedule in movement at least two hours before going to sleep.

Call a friend. Talking to someone you trust to be a good listener can also help you unload your worries so you can lie down with a clear head.

What do you do when you’re having trouble sleeping? We’d love to hear from you!

Cassandra Van Dyck

Getting Through Crisis Situations

When you face a crisis situation, you are really too upset to do proper CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).   Instead, what you need to do is ground yourself first:

Notice 5 things you can see, 5 things you can hear, 5 things you can touch or feel against your skin.

Next, take a few slow, deep breaths.

You can say a coping statement, some phrase that helps you get through tough situations.  Write your coping statement on a 3 X 5 card and keep it with you.  Some examples of coping statements are:

‘This is upsetting, but I can stand what I don’t like.’

‘I can’t change what happened, so I’m not going to let it get to me.’

Or try: ‘I know this is hard, but this too shall pass.’

Finally, say to yourself: The crisis I have to deal with is (fill in the blank). The feelings I’m having are A, B, C. The thoughts I’m having are D, E, F. And the actions I can take to deal with the crisis are G, H, I.

(Adapted from: ‘The Happiness Trap’, by Russ  Harris, 2008.)

As the French say: ‘bon courage!’ (Roughly translated as: ‘May you be courageous’)

Calm Pond

PS You can also try something simple to distract yourself such as reciting the alphabet or some familiar children’s nursery rhyme.

 

How to Help a Suffering Partner

These strategies can really be two-fold, as in the caregiving journey it is common for both partners to experience emotional suffering.
Thank you Eric, for sharing these suggestions on how to be mindful of loving well. They bring the notion of supporting another person back to a more grounded, simple place.
Caregivers, what has helped you be with someone that is suffering, and not become totally consumed by the pain of it? We welcome your sharing.

MakeItUltra™

Written by Eric C., MA., PhD Candidate (USA)

Founder of: MakeItUltra™


“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” ~Dalai Lama

1. Fight the urge to run away or shut down
Let’s face it, it is in our nature to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Seeing a loved one suffer is one of the most heart wrenching experiences. If you feel like running away or giving up, you are not alone. But remember, it is not uncommon for a loved one who is suffering to prefer solitude. If this is the case, make sure not to feel guilty for going about your regular routines. And especially, make sure to continue doing the things that bring you joy. Just be mindful if you begin telling your partner how great things are going.

2. Manage your reactivity 
It is not uncommon to feel angry, frustrated…

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