loving and living this right now…
Image from here
I made a conscious choice this year to not make any resolutions for 2013. With a long time love affair with making lists for everything (which is a very serve and limit tendency), I have a habit of leaping into making a list of resolutions for the new year with such gusto that before I know it I have at least 23 great big, lofty ideals on a piece of paper. And once the initial excitement of a fresh start wears off and the boundless enthusiasm for all the things I want to do wanes as life kicks in and my ego starts to attack me – suddenly I am left with a great big list of 23 things that are now causing me guilt, stress and pressure rather than nudging me towards joyful change.
I made a choice that guilt, stress and pressure are NOT the feelings I want to experience coming into a new year!
So this year I’m doing it differently. I took my time (its the end of February and I’ve only just settled on them now!), mulled things over and decided on some words, or I guess you could call them themes or intentions, for the year. And given my overachieving tendency, I was careful to limit my very enthusiastic self to only 3.
So for 2013 my words are:
It feels so good even just typing them. Simple, easy and so much more achievable than a massive list of things to tick off. These words will set the tone for my year of how I want to feel and live. They will guide me in how I would like to treat myself and others while also offering me a way to gently bring myself back to my intentions when I start to wander off track.
So what do they mean to me?
Yielding to me means more than just surrendering. It feels like a more empowered and elegant way to surrender. I am a person who in the past has achieved so many things by sheer willpower and grunt force. Sure it gets the job done, the goal achieved or the person to do what you’d like, but its not sustainable. There is a cost to such pushing and forcing. You exhaust yourself – from burning the candle at both ends physically, the emotional guilt of pushing someone to do what is best for your end goal or through the mental drain of fighting life to get what you want. Want is the key word there. Yielding will allow me to step back from what I think I want and let life come in with what I need. Yielding will allow me to stop wasting energy forcing things that don’t want to be forced and instead channel that conserved energy into healing, learning, growing and love. Yielding allows life to happen and lets me spend more time on nurturing myself.
I have been so damn busy throughout my adult life achieving goals and “getting shit done” that I always seem to forget that the body carrying me through this life is not a robot that can just be thrashed. It is a living organism that needs to be cared for, kept in balance and allowed rest. Even after leaving the graphic design world I still managed to create massive adrenal fatigue in my body through pushing myself to my limits running businesses and trying to complete a BFA. And then even when I finally slowed down and listened to my body through yoga and letting go of many ideas of who I should be, those driving forces still saw me pushing myself studying, working and burning the candle at both ends. It seems that this is a big lesson for me to learn. 2013 will be about self care, putting my routines first and not letting my diet, yoga and spiritual practices fall away when I get busy. I am learning to listen to my body – feeding it the right fuel, resting when it needs rest, moving it when it needs to be moved (and not getting those 2 confused) and infusing my life with the yoga, meditation and the joyful teachings of A Course In Miracles which all help me function at my best.
Last but not least, this year is also about expanding. Life has plans for me baby and once I get out of my own way by yielding and allow myself to become healthy and clearheaded through nurturing then there is space for growth and expansion. Already things are starting to line up, comfort zones I have clung to are being pulled away and I have a choice to be fearful, causing myself suffering along the way or simply have trust in life and allow myself to be expanded. I know I have a tendency to play small, it’s a tactic to minimize failure or being hurt. But it doesn’t allow for a life fully lived and enjoyed. Expanding is a deep trust in life, choosing love over fear and leaping into life knowing that all growth and change that comes my way will take me into a new level or knowing myself.
So that’s it for 2013!
Miss City Down
What are your words or intentions for 2013?
Do any of these ideas strike a chord in you or illustrate areas in life you’d like to make change?
Are you a flogger of dead horses? Of course not actual horses in real life – that would be quite icky and cruel. But I think most people know the phrase “flogging a dead horse” and get the gist of it.
According to the nifty website The Phrase Finder (I am a secret nerd and lover of quirky phrases) the meaning of this phrase is “Attempting to revive an interest which has died out; engaging in fruitless effort.”
Hmm, fruitless effort – that strikes a chord in me. For I am most definitely a flogger of dead horses. I was in denial for quite a few years, then I kind of got an inkling that this was something I did, so I’d make jokes about how I’m a flogger of dead horses – but then keep right on doing just that, never addressing the issue fully.
As I’ve gone through some major life changes in the last few years and now find myself 3/4 the way through my also very life changing yoga teacher training course, it would seem my little habit of flogging dead horses finally needs to be addressed.
I’m not sure if this is something that all people do from time to time in their lives or if there are some very clever people out there who know exactly when to cut something (or someone) loose and move on, never flogging a dead horse or even getting remotely close to it dying to begin with! I have proven time and time again that I am generally not one of these people. But there is a serve and limit to all this.
On the plus side, it means that I’ve got some guts and don’t give up easily. I stick projects out to the end and most often achieve the results I was hoping for. I make goals and reach them. I make to do lists and tick things off the list (very satisfying). I can ride out the hard times and make it to the good times. I don’t get scared if it all goes pear shaped and everyone has a wobbly. I’m incredibly loyal and not just in it for the good times, skipping through meadows surrounded by rainbows! I can stand by and stick it out when there are tears, eruptions and confusion. I love with a big heart and don’t like to let people down.
But… the flip side of all this gutsy enthusiasm is that sometimes (okay, quite often) I don’t know when to quit. When I’m exhausted, broken, tired and should really say “hey lets call it a day” I keep on going. I forgo sleep, self care, meals, fitness, me time – all just to reach a deadline. I’ve stuck it out in jobs, relationships, friendships and even hobbies well past the time I should have upped and left. Flogging dead horses is not nice to do and I’m pretty sure often not very nice to watch for those around me that care.
So it is finally time. I’m taking stock of how many things I have on the go. How many pies I have my fingers in. What is working for me and what is not. What energises me, makes me want to bounce out of bed in the morning and what makes me flat, dull, tired and robotic.
I’m realising that I need to get very clear about what I do and don’t want in my life. I need to set boundaries for myself so that work and study don’t crowd out time for myself and my loved ones. Its a work in progress that’s for sure and fascinating to observe just how much I have managed to keep things going for no other reason than that is just what I do.
Some things to ponder:
Can you identify with this? Are you a flogger of dead horses too?
How can you start to change this pattern and evolve?
Miss City Down x
Image from here
Ever had one of those times in your life when you meet someone great, but the timing is just so, so wrong. You might have amazing moments of connection but you just know deep down that you’re not ready, you still have some things to figure out, or the other person is feeling a bit damaged from a past hurt they haven’t quite gotten over yet, or perhaps one of you is about to move half way around the world?
Well this was me and art school, moments of great potential but the timing was all wrong. I wasn’t ready emotionally or physically and still had lots of things to heal and sort out, still had to find my inner strength, voice and wisdom. And therefore with much pain and heartache, art school and I had to break up.
If you’ve read my blog before and made your way to my “about me” page then you’ll know the basic story of how I got to this point in my life. For those who haven’t, here is the long story short – back in 2008 I left my corporate graphic design job and started out on a journey to live a more authentic life. I did some freelance graphic design work, started up the Kraftbomb monthly craft market, created Stitch’d Ink making unique cross stitch kits and continued baking delicious, vegan cupcakes as my alter ego the NZ Cupcake Queen.
Oh and like that wasn’t enough, this was the time I decided to return to full time study doing a BFA at Whitecliffe College of Art & Design. Phew!
So how did I go from bravely following my dreams of doing a BFA to two and a 1/2 years later deciding to bravely walk away from the very thing I had always wanted? In moments of quiet reflection I have often pondered just that. And the answer seems to always come back to the same thing – art school was part of my journey, not a destination.
When I enrolled I was full of enthusiasm and dreams of making it “big” and finally being a “proper artist”. I had lots of high expectations and goals for myself – trying to get the best grades in all my papers, exploring new mediums and techniques in my practice, plans for exhibitions, wanting to get my name out there and known, learning everything I could about other successful artists – while at the same time running my businesses. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for dreams and goals but sometimes you have to be realistic about how many hours you have in a day and how much energy you have to complete them. And even more importantly you, you need to know yourself well to know the difference between what you truly aspire for with your heart and what your mind/ego wants for you.
I can look back on my time at art school with fondness and a heavy heart. I learnt so much, met some amazing people, both students and tutors, and produced some of the best art I’ve ever made, being pushed out of my comfort zone and into new territory. All things that are great to help grow as an artist and a person. But I also went through excruciating pains in my personal life during the time I was there and even though I have heard time and again how as an artist you can channel your pain into your artworks, I just never managed to do it. My life seemed to be speeding up with a never ending to do list, all the while I seemed to be slowly falling apart, living on red bulls, eating terribly, never getting enough sleep and with a growing list of scary health problems.
Plus I was deeply unhappy. By the beginning of my 3rd year I contemplated not returning, I felt empty, my creative well was drained, my health was an absolute mess. I was an absolute mess. But I continued on because I had made such a big song and dance about going to art school, how great it was going to be, how great I was going to be. I didn’t feel brave enough to say “hey everyone, perhaps this isn’t right for me anymore”. I wanted to save face and avoid the judgement that I assumed would come with me leaving. Plus I didn’t know what else to do if I wasn’t being “City Down at art school”. So I carried on even though I was miserable and my heart wasn’t in it.
But life is a great teacher and something shifted in me that year. A family tragedy that had devastated me the year before reared its ugly head again, but this time I didn’t fall apart. This time I didn’t run, I didn’t become a victim, I didn’t feel sorry for myself. I held my ground, I let myself be brave and experienced every emotion that arose within me, knowing that it couldn’t be painful forever, just the way things can never feel happy forever. Life is ebb and flow. The trick is learning to ride out the waves and not cling to the good stuff and push away the bad.
In my growing inner strength in facing huge challenges things started shifting. I got back into my daily yoga practice, I started to care again about what I put in my mouth. I started to care more about looking after myself, knowing myself and getting rest than about pushing myself to my limits. I started to see that trying to be perfect was killing me. I started to listen to the inner wisdom that was gently saying “stop”.
Eventually I did stop struggling to keep all my balls up in the air. But my mind didn’t – I wrote huge pros and cons lists about staying at art school vs leaving. I agonized over what people would think of me if I left, what I would do if I wasn’t an art student, if this would make me a failure, a quitter, a loser, yet another art school drop out. And then I realised that all this thinking was part of what drove me to do my BFA in the first place. None of it was my true self, my inner wisdom. It was all ego, crazy thoughts and a busy mind. I was driving myself, my friends, boyfriend, and flatmates nuts with my over thinking.
I still remember the day I finally made the decision to leave. It wasn’t a big movie scene of storming out of my studio never to come back or a lightening bolt “aha” moment. It was simple, small, subtle. The second semester of year 3 had started. I was feeling overwhelmed with the workload and my studio practice had ground to a halt. I was sitting in my favourite sunny spot on the roof of the garden shed, eyes closed, feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin on a crisp day. I was still, quiet and knew that it was time.
I didn’t know what I would do next, I didn’t know what the next day, week or month would look like. But I did know that it was time to stop living a lie and be honest with myself. It was hard telling my tutors and head of department that I was leaving. It was even harder telling my class mates and when I attended their end of year exhibition, which I was meant to be a part of, I had moments of sadness that my work wasn’t up on the wall with them.
But the freedom of following my inner wisdom has lead me to such a good place in my life now I am healthier, stronger and know myself so much better. It wan’t all easy post art school, with plenty of uncertainty while I split my time between part time design work and WWOOFing on an organic farm, but I rode out all the uncertain moments and lived the great moments and finally ended up at next leg of my journey.
While I originally planned to return to my BFA after taking a year off, it became clear to me over the summer that this wasn’t in life’s plan for me. So I followed my heart this time and enrolled in my one year yoga teacher training course instead, which I am currently completing. Six months into my studies and I have grown in such huge amounts spiritually and physically. I am being pushed out of my comfort zone on a daily basis but I am evolving so much faster in doing so. I’m open to one day finishing my BFA studies, but for now its not a priority.
I hope that some of my honesty in this blog post helps a few people who might be feeling stuck, confused or lost in their life to not feel so alone. Be still, quiet and listen to the inner wisdom, it knows the right answer even if your mind fights it for a while!
Miss City Down x
Some things to ponder:
Where in your life are you feeling stuck?
Are you happy in your current situation?
What small or big changes can you make or truths do you need to face to move forward with your life?
Over Easter I made the scary choice to not indulge in my love affair with chocolate and to instead do a Juice Feast! Due to moving into our new (very rural) house and lack of internet at the time I never got to do any extra updates! But I can now and for those who were interested, I DID complete my juice feast!
Time for the gory details? So Day 1 was ok, a bit hungry, a bit tired, a bit mopey over no Easter eggs. Day 2 started out ok and perhaps I got a bit cocky thinking that for a detox, I was having a cruisey time. But by that evening I was in bed with a mind crushingly painful headache that had me whimpering and making bold, miserable statements such as “I’m dying” and “I am never doing a juice fast again”. Then I got diarrhea (yep, detoxing is NOT glamorous) but at least the headache subsided. By 9:30pm I was in bed KO’d.
Day 3 went much better! I was feeling better, less hungry (or perhaps I had simply accepted my 3 meals of juice), looking brighter and healthier and even survived a visit from friends and watching their little girls eat popcorn which when you’re having only juices smells extra delicious!
By Day 4 I was feeling lighter and definitely over the misery of the first two days. I broke my juice fast at lunch time with stewed organic apples with a little organic cinnamon and vanilla powder sprinkled on top. Then dinner was a light meal of delicious kichadee (an ayurvedic dish made from mung dahl and basmati rice, which is great for detoxing and reducing the load on our systems and digestion) made my Mr West.
Would I do it again? Absolutely! A detox is great when you’re starting to feel a little sluggish, run down, tired or have a case of the blahs. It resets your taste buds, gives your digestive system a break and leaves you with a new appreciation of simple, nourishing food. And doing a detox such as a juice feast around the change of seaons in Autumn and Spring is a wonderful thing to do for our bodies.
Its been a busy time for myself and my crafty partner in crime, Karla Jane, promoting our craft market Kraftbomb! We’ve had a couple of TV appearances which a few people have asked to see, so here are the videos of our interview on Good Morning and Kraftbomb’s part in the wonderful new tv series Hearts In Crafts (airing on Saturday nights, TVNZ 7).
Make sure you head over the the Hearts In Crafts Facebook page and show your support so this wonderful series can hopefully have a second season made!
HEARTS IN CRAFTS
Episode one – April 2012 – Watch here (we’re around the 18min mark)
Monday 19 March 2012 – Watch interview here
Yesterday was Day 1 of our Easter Juice Feast and I survived. It was a strange feeling starting it on Good Friday when I’d normally be all excited about having some gluten free hot x buns, warm and delicious out of the oven. But in the West-Down household it was all juice, all day. We started out with a zingy little pineapple, ginger and lemon number, then moved onto a green lemonade (greens, lemon, apple), then lunch was apple, carrot, greens, lemon and finally dinner was greens, apple, lemon, ginger, carrot. The juicer was working hard yesterday and so were we cleaning it multiple times! All our juices have been made from organic fruit and vege and its worth it, they taste amazing!!!
For most of the day I felt pretty peppy and got lots of unpacking done and pottered around the house, although after lunch I did hit my wall and KO for an epic 2 hour nap. And even with that nap I still found myself crawling into bed at 9pm with a pounding headache. Who said that juice fasts were glamourous! Nope detoxing is detoxing and clearly my little body was in dire need of a clean out. By the end of the evening I was a wee bit cranky, achey and tired. I slept for 10 hours and woke up for Day 2 feeling a bit washed out and headachey. Our breakfast juice jump started me again and kept me going till 1pm but I’m not gonna lie – when we visited Mr West’s Grandma and her lunch got delivered the smell got my tummy rumbling! Hence when Mr West stopped by the organic shop afterwards to get more juicing supplies Miss City Down was left in the car so I couldn’t follow him around the store announcing how much I wanted to eat everything! Good call I say. I was happy to get home and have my lunch juice!
So Day 2 is almost over, fingers crossed I’m feeling much more perky and refreshed tomorrow for Day 3!