My Love For You is a Strange Love

My love for you is a strange love

The kind that captures me like a butterfly who lives in my garden.

I not only feel blessed to be in it’s presence but feel the need to capture it and have it be near me always.

I know that I cannot expect for this beautiful creature to stay because I will ruin it’s beauty and it will suffer.

This way, the love will be no more.

This creature, this butterfly, this love comes and goes as it pleases but when it comes back to me, I welcome it peacefully because I know that it has all of the freedom to go somewhere else.

I am beautiful and special.

There must be something about me, my nature, that let this butterfly feel like it was ok to land, and brought it here in the first place.

This love brings together the excitement of uncertainty and astounding pleasure of the eyes, heart, and soul that I only get to feel at the deepest moments of connecting with the wild.

For us to choose to be with each other for each moment in time is nothing less than natural instinct and intuition.

You are always welcome in my garden. I will always make you feel safe and free so that I can enjoy your beauty and presence and allow myself to accept that I am also a beautiful part of nature and that nature always works in harmony to thrive and continue.

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Writing as a Form of Therapy

Recently JAMA published a trial of a “get it off your chest” writing exercise. Seventy-one patients with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis were randomized to write about the most stressful experience they had ever had or about their plans for the day for three separate 20 minute periods over a few days.  The study apparently showed a significant improvement in standard measures of disease severity in both conditions four months later (Greenhalgh).

What happens when you have nobody to confide in? What happens when you cannot express in words what you are feeling or thinking because you are too ashamed or afraid of judgement? Maybe you just don’t know what you are feeling. What can you possibly do?

For this, some people have something like a professional psychiatrist/psychologist to confide in and listen to their fears, ambitions, wants and insecurities. At what cost? Some psychiatrists can cost up to $1,000 per hour and most of the time people feel better just by talking and getting out their frustrations.

What are Friends For?

Our friends are usually there for us when we need someone to talk to, if we are lucky enough to have a few good friends, but it may not be healthy if we are always calling or texting them to vent. This can be the ruiner of most relationships and friendships because one side is getting emotional comfort while the other is getting drained. Sometimes the other side may not tell you but instead, slowly disconnect because it feels exhausting to be around.

So what can we do if we can’t afford to go to a psychologist and do not want to be a leech off of our friend’s good energy?

How can Writing Help?

Since getting out our thoughts usually helps us feel instantly better and process our emotions before we react, I would say that writing is a pretty valuable resource. If we start with phrases like “ I feel ____ when _____ happens” we don’t blame and try to push off the problem on another entity, which will not solve the problem.

If we get into a fight or are dealing with past traumas, we can write about what we feel and we are able to really slow down process, and organize information instead of just reacting to it or taking the bits and pieces that heat us up.  When we write, we have a little voice in our head that reads back to us and we can almost hear ourselves speaking in our mind which opens up a view of our thought process and the reality of the situation.  If you don’t like what you see or what you hear, you can write down that you don’t like it.  Some people think this is the closest thing to getting to know that little voice inside your head or what some people would call the higher consciousness.

Most of the time we know what we need to do in order to solve our problems, but we mentally try to avoid it. Not all of us, but a lot of us. It is very easy to mentally avoid our problems because all we have to do is think about something else. We can also think about our problems so much, we are not able to function and move on with the actions needed to solve them. When we write, we look straight at the words as we watch them unravel and we face it as a reflection of our true selves in structure, instead of fleeting thoughts that repeat themselves. Writing can be a way to regain control of your power and influence the way you think by tapping into the part of your brain that knows what’s good for you and really getting down to business on what needs to be done. One may be surprised to find they are able to write down the steps they need to take to solve a major problem or to feel better and become motivated.

Writing can be a way to regain control of your power and influence the way you think by tapping into the part of your brain that knows what’s good for you and really getting down to business on what needs to be done. One may be surprised to find they are able to write down the steps they need to take to solve a major problem or to feel better and become motivated.

Is it the Cure all for Everything?

Scientists have not been able to produce solid evidence that a cure all for everything exists in one single action. Writing may not help you understand things that you have no prior knowledge about, but in the case where there is a lesson to be learned and you keep making the same mistake over and over again, writing down an action plan for yourself or a pep talk may just be what you need to take action. After all, most of us are not as influenced by others as we are ourselves.

Matthew McConaughey, in accepting his award for best actor, gave a speech that introduced the relationship he had with himself to get him where he is today.

“….And to my hero. That’s who I chase. Now when I was 15 years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say “who’s your hero?” And I said, “I don’t know, I gotta think about that. Give me a couple of weeks.” I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says “who’s your hero?” I said, “I thought about it. You know who it is? It’s me in 10 years.” So I turned 25. Ten years later, that same person comes to me and says, “So, are you a hero?” And I was like, “not even close. No, no, no.” She said, “Why?” I said, “Because my hero’s me at 35.” So you see every day, every week, every month and every year of my life, my hero’s always 10 years away. I’m never gonna be my hero. I’m not gonna attain that. I know I’m not, and that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.”

Turning the Negatives into Positives

WRITING PRACTICE

The first thing to do when you find everything you have just put down on paper to be negative? Turn it into a positive, literally. If it is a negative sentence, take out the word bad, and insert the word good. If you don’t have anything good to say then make something up that you don’t believe..within reason of course. Something good and something obtainable or something that you are struggling with such as, “I am good at remembering things.”  If you write it down, you may consciously begin to think about remembering things and therefore pay more attention to taking action to remember things when you leave or writing lists to make sure you don’t forget.”

There is no bad writing unless it is used to hurt you or someone else or used to deceive an innocent population. If anyone can think of other ways in which writing can be bad that I have not mentioned, feel free to comment.

References 

Greenhalgh T. Writing as therapy : Effects on immune mediated illness need substantiation in independent studies . BMJ : British Medical Journal. 1999;319(7205):270-271.

Believe the One Reason You Should – Via Original Peice Mag

Today’s inspirational is: ‘Forget all the reasons why it won’t work and believe the one reason why it will.’ What that means is instead of finding all the different reasons why something won’t work out or seeing only negatives, find the one thing that will make it possible. Don’t dwell on the negatives when you […]

via Believe the One Reason You Should — Original Piece Mag

10 Ways to Beat the Expat Blues. Yes, They are Real.

Wait, how can someone have the blues when they get the opportunity to live abroad? That seems a little absurd, right?

It turns out that many people are on an emotional rollercoaster within the first two weeks of living in a new country.  The good things is there is a lot of support out there to get you through the rough patches because, let’s face it, there are some rough patches.   Here are some tips I have found useful from talking to other expats and from going through  the expat challenge myself.

Moving to a new country can conjure up feelings such as:

Self-Pity 

 You had to start all over again and you have a huge hurdle to jump over before you can integrate into the community.
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Frustration 

Because you don’t know the language. It can be really hard to figure out who your next tribe is going to be when you cannot even strike up a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop.

Feeling of Underachievement

The standards are different, with language barriers to break and not having a network.

Loneliness and Isolation 

Not having your usual group of pals around, familiar places where people know who you are,  or being away from your loved ones for long periods of time can create a dark place of isolation and antisocial tendencies for some of us.

Loss of Identityscreen-shot-2017-03-30-at-12-08-12-pm1-e1490868690778.png

Some people have to sell or give away almost everything they have in order to make the big move across the globe. Your friends are far away, you can’t find your favourite ice cream, the landscape is different, the Mexican food you have learned to integrate into your diet is horrible in your new country or worse, non-existent!..All of us go through some form of this. Maybe that last one was a little more specific to me.

Don’t Worry. Be Happy. 

As it turns out, these are all completely normal. They are especially normal if you move to a place without a strong support group or a job already lined up (trailing spouses, fresh students, etc.) It can even happen if you do have a great job because you are changing literally everything in your life! Don’t underestimate that, ever. You have the right to feel overwhelmed and a little funky at first.

What can you do?

Some people take it really hard when moving.  Whether it is for a job, fun, or a relationship, culture shock is a real thing. The trick is to embrace the opportunity.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” -Lao Tz

Stop Playing the Victim

The first thing I knew that I needed to do was to stop feeling sorry for my situation when things got tough. I chose this. Why would I choose something that would cause me so much stress from uncertainty and change? Because before I actually went through on the action, I thought only about all of the good parts of the situation.  I was easily convinced that whatever struggles I would go through were worth the experience I was going to have. Heck, I didn’t even consider most of my fears were rooted in reality.  Opportunities to move abroad and experience different cultures do not come frequently and I am actually accomplishing one of my goals in life. This is something that meant a lot to me and I would regret if I did not go through with it. Also, in my case, I just happened to fall in love with someone who lived on the other side of the world and let’s face it – it’s not amazingly easy to get into America.

Be Yourself, Don’t Try Too Hard to Fit in

It will make you feel hopeless and isolated if you are trying to be like everyone in the place you move to. Be proud of your heritage and who you are. You don’t need to change. People around you most likely have always wanted to go to another country like the one you are from and appreciate the differences that you bring to the table. To most people, a person from another country who carries a different culture is quite refreshing and cool to be around. I embrace my California roots and I do nothing to hide my accent and expressions. People need to see and experience that my country has more to offer than D**** T**** , Hollywood and stressed out white collar workers.  Honestly, I don’t like typing or saying his name.  Moving on.

 Learn the Language

IMG_2131Don’t worry if you don’t know the language right away. More than likely people who do not know your language wish that they did. The grass is always greener on the other side. Be proud of your accent, be proud of where you come from and make an honest effort to learn. People will appreciate that you try and they will not judge you. Think of a time when  someone came to your country not knowing much of the language but they tried. A little goes a long way. Surely you don’t think less of them for trying to learn and for making mistakes, you actually admire them more because they are wise enough to take action to learn. As an added bonus when you sign up for classes you will meet new people who are in the same boat as you! A great place to make friends.

Follow Your Creative Passions

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If you don’t have a job yet, begin a project that you always wanted to but never had the time to do. Learn something new or start that small side business of making urban greeting cards or start your own garden and cooking blog. Whatever it is, now is the time to jump for it because once you get a 9-5 job, if you want one,  you might not have the time. You won’t have to live in regret wondering what would have happened if you only played out that idea that lies in the back of your creative little noggin.

Another thing to remember – the place you moved to may not have someone doing what you do yet. In this case, the market will be open for you to start your venture with confidence. When I came to Luxembourg, within two weeks I started my own Technical, Creative, and Professional Writing Group with over 40 members who joined within 3 weeks and it is still growing. I am so glad that I  jumped in without doubting myself when I saw the opportunity. It has kept me busy and also helps me with my professional career. Which leads me to my next tip.

 Start or Join a Meetup Group

Meetup groups are amazing at helping you meet new like minded people and making connections. If you moved to a place where there are a lot of other expats, you will have the opportunity to grow your network quickly and soon your calendar will be filled with things do like hikes, social nights or clubs to work on skills in your area of interests. If there is not a meetup you would like to see, chances are someone else will share that same interest. Don’t afraid to launch your own. It takes a few moments and you can create your own events. Who knows? You may meet your new best friend or next co-worker. People will see the initiative that you took and respect the self-starter attitude regardless.

IMG_0537Take Care of Yourself

Exercise, eat good food, and get enough sleep. More often than not, big changes can trigger stress eating and increased alcohol consumption (Bressert). Of course not only can the stress induce toxic behaviours to your body but also the increase of social events where alcohol is present and eating out often is likely. If you are trying your best to be social and the only events available are drinking events or include wining and dining with the company, remember to take it easy and stay hydrated. Try to limit yourself to one drink per day if possible and eat well. Also, try to organize social events that include outdoor activities or something athletic. This will improve your overall wellbeing and help you make connections with people who have healthy habits so you have more of a balance and the only friends you have in a new place thing of fun as going clubbing every weekend and never see the light of day outside of the office, maybe that is not going to help you get over your expat slump.

Practice Gratitude 

 Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 11.50.14 AMPractice being grateful for all of the efforts of others to help make you comfortable and feel welcomed. Instead of focusing on the negative, focusing on all of the things that you can be grateful for can help you see with new eyes. You may more clearly appreciate that you get to have this exciting opportunity to live life in a different way than most people. Remember: Your story is not conventional, something special in your life is happening and it is an adventure after all. Let people know how much it means to you to spend time with them and how much you appreciate them being supportive, like your boss, colleagues, and family members who try to keep in touch from home.

Stay in Touch With Your Family and Friends From Home Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 11.48.37 AM

Just because you moved across the world doesn’t mean the friendship has to suffer. You will be surprised at how much it can make you feel better to have a long conversation with a friend who knows you. Make an effort to make calls on a regular weekly or bi-weekly basis. Make plans to visit each other and even write letters. This may even strengthen your friendship and demonstrate that you are friends because you want to be, not because it was convenient for you.

Talk to Your Significant Other 

 Maybe you have mastered controlling your emotions so far in your relationship and looking like an unbreakable goddess or king. If that is you, kudos. Maybe you find yourself about to break you down into a mound full off sobbing self-pity putty and you are ashamed, vulnerable and don’t want to put stress on the relationship.

Here is the deal,  your significant other cannot expect you to be fine during such a big change. He or she is not your psychologist, but you should be able to talk to them about this. They should be plenty aware of what you are going through, otherwise, it can only compromise your relationship. You may act distant or resentful and let it boil inside, and make your actions cold towards him or her without even realizing it. The more they understand how you are feeling the more they can help, because they want to! They really do.

What do you say? Find the time to talk at a private quite and romantic dinner. Let them know that this is a time when you are feeling very vulnerable and that you may be a little more sensitive to their actions for a while. Remember, they are also going through a lot themselves. The last thing you want to do is blame them for how you are feeling. It is not fair to them and not accurate either. Remember, it is the situation and you are dealing with the changes. Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 11.44.55 AM

It is important to establish what you can do to support each other as best as possible during these times. For instance, if your partner does not know what to do to make you happy, he is going to be frustrated and feel like he is failing at the relationship. Men want to do things for you, they are not mind-readers. Just clearing time to talk about your feelings to each other may be all you need at first. Just a simple “How are you feeling today?” when you see each other in the evening can open up endless possibilities for bonding and making each other feel supported. Let your partner know that. Let them know that private date nights are important to you especially right now. Maybe you both can spend some time on the weekends to explore a new area together in your new country. All of these are reasonable things to bring up and may help you transition into a happier person. Learning how to navigate tough conversations is a powerful tool in your relationship. Good Luck.

Do Your Own Thing –

Make your own friends. Don’t let all of your social activities be with your partner. Make friends that you choose, not friends that your partner introduced you too. Join a club or have a girl or guys night out with your partner. This is key to helping you develop your sense of identity in your new place. Join a club or activity that is different than what your partner does. This way you have something to share that he or she is not familiar with. This keeps the excitement going in the relationship also, after all, I’m sure your partner did not want to be with you because you are exactly like them.

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LAST BUT NOT LEAST……

  • Listen to music from home.
  • Watch TV shows or read books from home .
  • Enjoy cooking your favourite foods from home.
  • Try the food of your new place! Enjoy the culture and embrace the newness.
  • Explore, adventure, get out into nature. Nature has the same nurturing properties no matter where you are in the world.

Have other suggestions?
Bressert, S. (2016). Stress and Drinking. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 29, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/stress-and-drinking/

If you Don’t Have Time Now, Will you Ever?

There are many reasons for people not to find time to improve themselves in some sort of way. One of the many things trainers and teachers will hear is that people do not have time to practice or exercise. Be sure that you are giving yourself the time. Nothing is more important than you are. Your friends, your family, and your quality of life are all affected if you do not give yourself the opportunity to thrive physical, mentally, and spiritually.

Even with exercise if you have 20 minutes, help yourself out by going for a walk, moving around or stretching. Meditation is wonderful because you can do it anywhere you want. In the car, in bed, in class…there is no obstruction, only yourself.

You have to be the one who realizes how important it is for yourself and how much you want to grow and evolve your body, mind and spirit. It has to be more than you want to watch that TV show or eat that bag of chips when your not even really hungry. When you have been able to evolve past your physical cravings and reduce overindulging in your senses, then you are able to achieve anything.

Words from Lao Tzu on Taming the Ego

True Words are not necessarily beautiful.
Beautiful words are not necessarily truthful.
One who is achieved does not argue,
and one who argues is not achieved.
One who knows the deepest truth
does not need segmented information.
One who knows vast amounts of information
may not know the truth.

One of deep virtue
is not occupied with amassing material goods,
yet the more he lives for others,
the richer his life becomes.

The more he gives, the more his life abounds.
The subtle way of the universes beneficial, not harmful.
The integral nature of a person
is to extend one’s virtue unconditionally
And to contend with no one.