Monday, October 13, 2014

5 Ways To Find Peace And Presence While Life Wants Your Attention

When I was 24 and studying graphic design while I was co-directing a theatre, I found myself in a struggle to meet my goals and expectations. I was only happy when I saw positive results, but the time it took to get there was mostly not very enjoyable. But I had no clue what to change, or what exactly it even was that made me so unhappy.

On the Vanillery Garden facebook page Madison asked an interesting question on the same topic that affects all of us, hence I decided to turn into a blog post with her permission:

Hi Natalie!
I wanted to ask you a question, you seem to have turned a lot of your life around in the areas of emotion, and it is so inspiring… Especially to a stressed out student like myself. I was wondering if you had any helpful advice or places I could read to get more on track to feeling content and at peace, and simply feeling in the moment. Thanks so much for your time! Have a wonderful day.

First of all, thank you Madison for reaching out! This is a very valid question and I am glad you were able to see that something is out of place quite clearly. Compared with me…I was the over-achiever, not listening to my body and mind when I got sick. I was pushing myself way to hard. There was the silent voice in my head that was asking "Is this how it is supposed to be?", but I shushed it and went on. I needed to study, I needed to do my assignments, I needed to meet my deadlines. Do I need to tell you that I hit a major wall around there? I had a breakdown, the kind of breakdown that you do not wish anyone should ever experience. I traded mental and physical health for good grades and happy visitors of the theatre. I jumped my own ship as I was trying to be perfect.

So here we go with my 5 ways to find peace and presence while life wants your attention.

1) Forget perfection. It will kill you.

And if it doesn´t kill you, it kills your joy. It takes away your spark. It will make you think that you have to get everything perfectly right on every level and every matter on the planet. This is the best way to run yourself dry and deprive yourself of the moment. You then live either in the future, where things are messy if you don´t manage to be perfect now or you try to avoid something painful/shameful from your past. But truth to be told: It does not exist. So instead of chasing an illusion you might as well:

2) Get your priorities straight.

We all have to set a focus. You cannot do everything perfectly, heck, I suggest you straight up let some things just merely pass by, get through it somehow, and put your focus onto what really matters to you. Weed out as much of the distraction as you can. If I would be able to tell something to myself as a 24-year-old, I would make myself get some rest. Sleep, relax, il dolce farniente (the sweet "doing-nothing"). Take good care of yourself. Eat well. Eat at a set time. Every day. Drink lots. Exercise.
Oh and while we are talking about exercise:

3) Develop a practice. Take your time.

Get your hands on meditation. Or pranayama exercises. But find time and moments in the day where you sit without distraction. In silence. Especially in the morning, it is so important to sit and center yourself, so that the events of the day don´t throw you off. It doesn´t have to be a fancy thing.
The sweetness lies in the repetition. Your ability to fully relax and focus will become easier and easier. Becoming still lets you drop out of the mind and be present with whatever is in front of you. A candle or a flower always help.

4) Have devotion. Focus.

This goes along with number 3. A practice without devotion is like a flower without the scent. It´s not juicy. Whatever you do, have devotion. Add your heart to it. Be there. To admit, I am the girl with at least 12 tabs open in my browser. Even right now. I will spread myself too thin, being unable to wait. Waiting means wasting time and I don´t have time, so let´s just freak out and overcompensate by doing more than my brain and body can possibly handle. And then break down because I don´t accomplish anything. My heart is not present in that moment. Where is my attention? Where is my focus? Bring it back to one thing and give it your everything. Remember number 2 also: Prioritise the things that you want to be in your life. Respect your decisions.

5) Have confidence in your gut feeling. Trust yourself.

As I have said just above: You have to respect what you want in your life. If there is a need for presence and peace, set an intention for it, every day. Trust the many ways this will unfold for you. You will then suddenly learn what activities and which people are right for you. Trust that what your gut tells you to do. Or not to do. Keep this in focus. Write it down. Hang it somewhere you can see it. My list currently involves: Get 8 hours of sleep. Let go of helper syndrome. Reduce sugar intake. Move my body daily. Allow myself to be slow. Ask for help. Honestly, speed is a big trigger for me. I am somebody who has the ability to thrive while being slow. Taking it easy. Relax into situations. But this gem hardly shows up because I have that idea that I need to be faster. This is where my gut steps in and says "No, girl, we don´t work this way." If I don´t listen, I get gastritis. So literally, I HAVE to listen to my body. It knows the way. Yours does too.

The bottom line is that presence is often less a function of age as it is about a certain wisdom and willingness to take responsibility that you have for your life and to set the right priorities. Set a focus on peace. Be present with what is, may it be pleasant or not, but respect the present moment for that miracle that pulls you into a peaceful mind. It is only possible right now.





5 things I am grateful for today:

With love from me to you,
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Mindful Wallpapers

I know, I know, I know. I´m so guilty. You got me. I deeply apologize for being away from this blog for so long. As you may have guessed from my prior posts: I am on a healing journey. The past months have been amazing. Probably not that kind of amazing where you go to Disneyland and get to meet everyone of your favorite characters. Actually quite the opposite. I met all the facets of me that I did not want others to see. Anger, anxiety, depression, fear, frustration, grief, envy, you name it. I wasn´t even able to bear their existence myself. Personally I am BLESSED to be guided through my transition into becoming whole by the wonderful Veronica Krestow. She is an incredible source of presence and wisdom. Do not ask where I would be without her. Stepping into self-nourishment and reaching out for help has been the greatest learning and blessing in 2014.

I can now dive so much deeper into my creative process. Self-sufficiency is great. I have been drawing, painting, sending commissions all over the world, opening up my society6 shop again and so much more. (Right now there´s a happy Ganesha waiting to carry you through autumn and winter in glorious orange colors.) I am becoming WHOLE, learning to accept and welcome every single facet as it shows up. This is something I will dive deeper into in the upcoming blogposts.

To celebrate the returning, I wanted to give new wallpapers to you. If you are following me on instagram and facebook, you know that I have requested quotes to be sent in that I would use for these wallpapers. Community inspiration! Thank you to everyone who participated!

To download the wallpapers, right-click onto the image and select "save target as…"

5 things I am grateful for today:
  • Receiving the most wonderful lunch, that nourished my senses, body and heart!
  • I gifted myself with a Cora Flora album. So wonderful music for healing and creating.
  • Chasing the cats and playing with them in the sunset. Golden light!
  • Getting back into calligraphy and being completely obsessed with it.
  • Going to bed early, sticking to my yoga practise and re-watching Camp Dakota.

Have a wonderful and blissful day!

Sending you love and light,
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Being Hold Back By The Past (The Distrusting Child In Me)

As a child I have been physically and emotionally abused during kindergarten and elementary school. I have wrote about this more or less often on this blog, more or less openly. While I am going through a major shift and healing process right now, there are old wounds that have been sitting with me for well over 20 years. Everything is calling me to cleanse my soul and heal my heart from what I carry with me.

I don´t really understand what brings kids to beat others up and then laugh at them. I had to run home every day from school, it was only a couple of houses and I prayed that my parents would open the door before they got me. (We had an electric door opener, so my parents never really saw what was happening.) At times when they did not get me, they would pour hot chocolate or whatever remained of their school lunch drinks against our house. They would suddenly knock hard on my window at home and then run for it, just to give me a shock.

And still I would try to SOMEHOW please them. I hate war, I did not understand what was going on and I dearly wanted a friend, somebody I could talk to and rely on. Somebody I could trust and share my feelings with. I hand painted a memory card game and brought it to school for everyone to play with. Which they did, except they used it as dog poo while playing house.

At some point, when this whole thing continued in high school, I shut down. I did not even care anymore that I was the last one to get voted into a group when playing volleyball. I had no understanding as to why this all happened. Maybe it was because I was not cool enough, pretty enough, good enough, whatever… Just not good enough. No matter how hard I tried, I was never good enough to even reach the level of merely being accepted. I decided it was best not to trust anybody and keep an eye on those who were really dangerous, so I could avoid them.

Not trusting others because of something that has happened in the past is keeping me from experiencing joyful moments in the present. The ever so present memory of my childhood (or the story that I have of it in my head) is then projecting itself into the future, generating fear and the thought of not wanting to go through this again. The mind/ego then comes up with the most brilliant solution of them all: How about you keep everyone out of your life? Whether it´s consciously or not does not really make a difference. The result is the same: I get to stay pretty much alone.

Not that I don´t have ANY friends. No man is an island. I have wonderful people around me who will jump up in the middle of the night to help me any time. It´s more about random strangers in the street or new people that I get to meet. In my mind everyone has the potential to be a threat to me. Especially in public transport or when I am running errands. Crowded places. As we know, our thoughts become things, and so I see things that are frightening to me. My focus is on danger, not on beauty. Of all people in a supermarket, I get to be next to those who quarrel, who fight, who are mean to each other and who harass and embarrass others. This fuels my fear and so the vicious circle goes on and on. It is very hard for me to step out of it.

I really don´t want this to go on anymore. I don´t want to be the one who keeps telling the same stories to myself over and over again. "I can´t have close relationships with others because I have been abused by others in my childhood." Why am I holding on to this story of my past? Is this my identity? In the end the only one who gets hurt is me. I am the one who is stuck, repeating the memory without being able to fully experience the present moment.

This is what I am currently working on, trying to free myself of these stories, trying to forgive those who have hurt me, but also keeping an eye on my limits. The way I have learnt to deal with this topic was "Don´t be so sensitive! It´s the past, this is long gone! Come on, get over yourself, duh." Pushing everything down, stuffing emotions somewhere down my guts, so I don´t have to deal with it anymore. That did not work all too well, on the contrary.

Everything comes up now, everything wants to be heard, seen, accepted, loved, revealed and healed. I am at war with myself, somewhere between the one who wants to run away and the one who knows that this needs to be dealt with, even if it´s surely not the most pleasant experience. Running from it and wearing a mask has been my special ability so far, but it only lead me to greater outbursts of emotions, more anxiety, panic attacks and some form of depression. I am so done with running, I have grown very tired.

As much as I am afraid of it, I also grow comfortable with looking at my dark self. The more I am at war with myself, the more I am at war with others. I still have yet to develop a healthy way of letting out dark emotions safely, as the ego also tells me that it is bad to get angry. (Even under controlled circumstances. Louise L. Hay suggest hitting a pillow and I won´t even let myself do this simple thing, because I believe I must not be aggressive and "hurt" the pillow… I kinda need to laugh as I write this, but sadly it´s true…) Anger is an emotion I am not really good at handling, since I consider it to be really bad, as I know what it has done to me in the past. 

The aftermath…Sakura decorations.

I am sorry if I cannot give you some sort of "end result" here, as I am a work in progress, but maybe you find something helpful in it nonetheless. For the moment I find it most beneficial to do things that bring me into the present moment. (Like learning John Butler´s "Spring to Come", it´s hard, but not impossible.) I hope to go through this and take with me as much insight as possible, so I can help others to let the past behind and forgive as well, so that we can shine our own lights and bloom into the now.

I hope you have a wonderful week ahead! Tomorrow we will experience a very powerful full moon! Thank your for sharing this journey with me. I know it can be hard at times, mostly because we can feel very lost, but something within me tells me that I am actually not. (Even if that voice can be very soft at times…) Sending you much love and many blessings!

5 things I am grateful for today:
  • Picking the guitar up after well over 6 months. Still somewhat able to play! YAY!
  • Golden sunlight on the floor while I rest there on a underfloor heating. Bliss!
  • Porridge. Something that I can always eat and never get sick of.
  • Vegan matcha ice-cream. (Even if it´s just a spoon or two…must watch over my tummy, still a bit to go in order to recover, but the ice cream is sooo good!)
  • Fresh bunch of tulips on the table. I have never appreciated flowers as much as I do right now. High vibrations for my heart.

Many many hugs to you!
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The License to be Grumpy (I Am A Human Guesthouse)

April is showing off it´s special skills in "crazy weather time". You will probably have seen this already on today´s facebook video that I posted in the morning. I woke up today feeling rather overwhelmed by the weird dreams I had. Normally the feeling goes away after I do some meditation and yoga, but today it would not let go of me. I felt really grumpy.

Basically everything became a trigger to me. I´m not the kind of person to really show my anger, but on the inside, oh boy… did I feel miserable. Everything made me angry. Starting from the weather down to my thoughts and the very fact that I was mad for no specific reason.

Sometimes the ego can get a grip on us in the most unexpected moments. I do not allow myself to be angry and grumpy. But why? Everybody has these days. But oh not me. My subconscious thoughts basically must look like this: "No no, I´m a saint. I am not supposed to get angry. I am on a spiritual path, spiritual people are like Buddha, they sit under a tree and the cannot be offended.
I must never be angry or mad.
And we all know how suppressing feelings works. Fantastic…not. Apart from the fact that somehow I think when being "spiritual" you get to be "better" than everybody else. As if all triggers were supposed to be gone. I´m not allowed to make mistakes and feel bad.

How stupid is that? Why on earth am I not allowed to be human?

It´s hard for me to accept that there are days where things come up for no obvious reason. The feelings just want to be there, taken care of by us like a mother would take care of their crying child. I think it was Leija Turunen´s husband Jordan who said "Feeling is healing."The other thing that comes to mind is Rumi´s poem "The Guesthouse". On some days we have to welcome feelings that are just as valuable as those we consider to be "acceptable". Let´s have compassion for whatever comes up.

The real trouble starts when I identify myself with the feeling rather than taking care of it and listen to it. When I think I need to do something about it. Get rid of the feeling. Must not be angry. Run, run, run. It´s a very old pattern and falling back into it is something that naturally happens while I am in transition. I am still very strict to myself when I don´t feel like I think I should feel.

Rather then running from the feeling, it is a running to the feeling. Be fudging grumpy. 100%. And listen to what it wants to say. In the end, all it wanted was a good nap and some time outside. Not sitting in front of the computer all day. Less work, more play.

Maybe at some point I will start a little google hangout. I feel we have so many new gardeners here, maybe you would be interested in just talking a bit about books, insights and sipping tea?

5 things I am grateful for today:
  • The very patient people around me. Especially today.
  • New canvas and new easel, so I can finally work outside! (Thanks Kathryn for the vocabulary help! Haha!)
  • Suki and Momo crazy time. Cats can be so funny when they go berserk. Always makes me laugh so hard. Little gnomes.
  • Steamed & cooked vegetables seasoned with parsley and dill. Happy tummy!
  • Developing a working daily meditation practise. So incredibly helpful!

Many many hugs to you!
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