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The Safe Haven: Where Social Anxiety Cannot Reach Us

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Away from the civilized society, away from the sounds of the bustling city streets, and cars honking continuously, away from the mass crowds of human souls; this is where those like us with anxiety retreat. We retreat into our own habitat, into our homes, locked away, or out into nature where no one can reach us, and where all of our anxieties have disappeared for the time being. It is something that we have been known to do.

It is hard to determine what actually causes anxiety because for each person it is different. It can be caused by traumatic childhood memories, or it could be just a part of their personality. Mine is more along the lines of being part of my personality, and also part of what I had gone through while growing up in a town that looked down on me. And to this day, my anxiety can get pretty rough, but there are days where I can handle it very well, then there are days where I cannot handle it.

For those who do not live with social anxiety (which is what I have), here is an example of a situation in my everyday life: I am at a function (book reading, work, or even a get-together with co-workers, etc.) and on the outside, I seem happy and cheery, however, my voice slightly shakes just as my hands, and my mind is racing a thousand miles an hour, trying to look for an exit. Sometimes those around me, who know about this, will check on me and will say something to calm my anxiety or just make me laugh. And I am grateful for when they do that. However, there are times where I cannot handle it and there are times where even someone with good intentions will be unable to calm me down. Another example: At work, the phones are constantly ringing, and I talk to a lot of people throughout the day. While on the outside I seem okay, and somewhat normal, on the inside my heart is racing, and the thought of answering the phone makes my chest tighten.

On the days where I or anyone else out there that also lives with anxiety gets to the point of being unable to handle our anxiety, we retreat. In the first paragraph, I had described that we retreat to our homes or into nature, and that is very much true. Like everything else in life, everyone is different, and how and where we retreat will be completely different. One person will retreat into nature and just go camping for a few days, another will just stay inside on a weekend and not talk to anyone.

I have done both of these, however, for the most part, I end up staying at home, where I can stay in bed or chill out in a different part of the house with a puzzle, a book, movie, or music. I will wear my pajamas, dance like a fool, or just focus on a puzzle for hours, enjoying the silence, enjoying the fact that my anxiety has been put to sleep, at least until I venture outside and be surrounded by a lot of people. Throughout the years I have learned to manage my anxiety, and sometimes it does get the best of me, however, I have learned to embrace the chaotic part of my mind that makes me want to turn on my heels and run for the hills, thus making my life with social anxiety somewhat easier.

Do you have social anxiety? Do you have a different type of anxiety? If so, how do you cope with it? How do you retreat?

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It Starts With Us: Parents Talking to Their Children to Stop Bullying

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“You’re not thin enough”, “You look weird”, “Why are you even here? You should die”, these phrases are just a few of the phrases that are being thrown around in the schoolyards, in the classrooms, and I kid you not, at work as well. And believe it or not, there are even some worse phrases that will not be mentioned in this post. Why? Because they are horrifying and should never be said to another human being, or any being for that matter.

Now, I am not a parent, well, I am a fur-mama, but I do not have any human children at the moment. However, I do have nieces and nephews, and they are the light of my world, and right now they are very young, very impressionable, and can sense when things are not right. And I know that they are the perfect target for bullying. Hell, every child, teenager, and adult is a perfect target for being bullied. I know this. I’ve lived through most of my life of being bullied. Bullied by classmates, by teachers (yes, that does happen), and even bullied by co-workers, and it is not something I would want another person to endure.

Recently, I found out that a friend of mine’s son was bullied. Bullied to the point that he was sent to the hospital with a broken nose, several broken ribs, and bruises all up and down his body. Do you know how angry this made his father feel? How his mother felt? Hell, when I heard what happened I got so mad to the point that I nearly broke a counter. Yes, I got that mad. But where does this anger get placed? On the school system? Absolutely, the school is responsible for the children while they are at school, and under their supervision. On the children themselves? Of course, they are supposed to know what is right from wrong. On ourselves? Yes, a million times yes it is, the anger should weigh heavily on us adults. Why should we be angry with ourselves? Because we are the adults here, we are supposed to show our children how to behave, how to treat one another and to show them that they are not supposed to bully and assault others. As the adults we are supposed to set an example for them, to show them that two beings can be in the same room without violating the other. We are not supposed to set a bad example to them about how to start a fight, how to mistreat a girl or a boy. We are the adults here, it is our job.

Yes, there are pep rallies every year in most schools that bring awareness to the subject at hand, but do they really make an impact? No, not really. Growing up I went to several of those rallies, and do you know what still occurred. The bullying still occurred. Don’t get me wrong, I think the rallies are great, but they do not actually do much help when it comes to telling children to stop bullying, to stop assaulting their classmates, or anyone they meet in life.

It all starts at home, with the parents. As parents, we are supposed to set examples, good examples of how to treat others, and it is the way you mistreat others, say unkind and horrible things about another person is what the children are seeing more of. I know this to be true. I know a lady who is in her early 40’s and she treats others like crap, she mistreats them, bullies them, steals their energy, and makes others feel like garbage. And time and time again her children have witnessed this, and time and time again I have to remind her that they are watching her every move, every word that she says, and they are more than likely going to mimic her as they grow up. And that is what happens. Children mimic their parents, they mimic the way we talk to each other, how we treat each other. And if they are seeing that we are mistreating each other, then they are going to assume that it is completely normal, that it is okay to bully and assault each other.

So, parents this on us. We need to be setting a good example for the children, and show them how two human beings can get along, and show them how to treat others. Have a long conversation, or two, or three. It doesn’t matter how many conversations you have with your children, the only thing that does matter is that you talk with them and that you set yourself as a good example. Because if we don’t do anything about this, then more and more boys and girls will end up in hospitals due to broken ribs, led to anorexia or bulimia, or even led to the final blow of a gun from being bullied.

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Into the Mist with Audiobooks: Running With Audible

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It is a misty morning here in Alaska as I run through the streets and trails, and so far there has been a murder of a young school girl, and I’ve been getting to know Magnus fairly well, in fact, I would say we are becoming friends. Magnus is a man of mystery to most people, partly because he is a hermit and not many people want to get to know him, and partly because they care more about town gossip and make up false stories about him.

Although I am in Alaska, where it rains more than most places in the country, the man, and the murder mystery is happening in my head, actually to be more accurate in my headphones. As I continue to run the novel “Raven Black” by Ann Cleeves keeps my adrenaline thumping, making me more excited as I continue going about my path. The thriller novel set in the Shetland Islands in Scotland makes me wish I was solving each case with Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, chatting with Magnus about ravens, and roaming around Scotland taking in all of the sites. The thought of solving a mystery half way across the world through an audiobook delights me, and even as I run I feel as though I am part of it.

Listening to audiobooks while running isn’t quite new, in fact, loads of people have been listening to audiobooks while they were running, lifting weights, or hiking; just to name a few. For me, when I am running I have found out that I cannot listen to music while I run because the music is more of a distraction than a helpful tool, whereas the audiobooks are more of a helpful tool for me. I can concentrate on the narrator, imagine the scenes playing out before me, and can even concentrate on my pace. While I am concentrating on all of that, I have completely forgotten how many miles I have logged.
The best thing about the audiobooks that I pick I can easily access them on my mobile, having already downloaded the app, making it easier to access them before I suit up for my morning jog. Not only that, I don’t have to listen to the same old boring music that seems to haunt the radio stations over and over again. I can listen to a novel for a couple of weeks in a row (if it is a lengthy one) and will never get bored, because the story is captivating, and keeps me up in the morning as I lace up my running shoes.

Many of you already follow my book club, which I am extremely thankful that you have joined, and so it is with great pleasure to let you all know that I will be hosting an audiobook book club for those who are runners, hikers, weight lifters, or any of the like. I think it will be fun to get people into listening to more audiobooks while they are engaging in activity, to make it more fun.

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Simple Life, Simple You: Coconut Chocolate Brownies

As many of you know that I am a foodie, I enjoy a lot of different types of food and enjoy creating new recipes for others to enjoy as well. And as many of you know that I am all about healthier versions of foods, which brings to this post. Recently, I have been working on multiple recipes to share with all of you, and this one is the first one I want to share. This recipe is for everyone, and even for those who are looking for something sweet yet a healthier version of the brownies. So, this morning I whipped up a batch and had my roommates try them out, and they loved them!

Brownie Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut flour
4 tbsp. Gluten free all purpose flour
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (melted)
2 tbsp. Brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp. Cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 organic eggs
1/4 salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Sauce Ingredients:

3 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Directions(brownies):
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all wet ingredients thoroughly, then add the dry ingredients. Once batter has been mixed, fold in the chocolate chips.
Put batter into a small greased pan, place the pan into the oven for 15 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, add the sauce on top, then place it back into the oven for 5 more minutes. Once done, put brownies into the refrigerator for twenty five minutes to cool down and let the sauce settle.

Directions (sauce):
Whisk all ingredients into a caramel like consistency. When it is at the 10 minute mark, drizzle the sauce over the brownies.

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Healing From the Core: Elemental Energy

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When one heals from the very center of their being, the core, their whole body, mind, soul, and heart heals as well. The very core of a person’s body is deep inside, it is not the stomach nor the pancreas, it is something bigger than their soul. It is their energy, it is where a person gets their energy from. That energy is linked to every part of their body, including their personality, a great example for this would be: when you see a friend or relative of yours who you consider down-to-earth, they get their energy from the earth below their feet. Or someone who is like a cloud moves about, sometimes there or they have taken off to unknown places, they are connected to the air that is around them, that is where they get their energy, by standing on top of a mountain or hill, letting the wind gently brush up against them, giving them their energy to thrive for a period of time.

Returning to your element, to heal yourself is vital, because you would not be able to focus on the tasks at hand, nor would you feel healthy and safe. And there are many ways you can get your energy back whether you be outdoors or indoors.

Fire

For those who resonate with the fire, those who are normally hot-headed, fiery, passionate, and just have an all-over connection with the element, you can warm up your house with the fireplace on, or you can participate in hot yoga (not only will it get you moving, you will be able to connect with the heat as you practice). At work, add some photos of warmth, such as your memories of bomb fires; or if you are allowed in your workspace, light a candle.

Water

When it comes to the water element be near a body of water, such as a river, lake, or ocean. Being near the water will help you rejuvenate and bring your energy levels back up. Submersing yourself in a body of water will help you out, even more, go for a swim, and just let the smooth water wash over every inch of you and just let it fill you with delight and peace, when you let that happen you will become healthier once more. At work, you can add a little buddha fountain or whatever your preference in the statue is, that has the trickling of water into the numerous rocks, or you can add water meditation music as you work throughout the day.

Earth

Mother earth, she truly is a beautiful piece of artwork, isn’t she? When it comes to the earth element, it is easier to find your energy more outdoors than indoors, but that doesn’t mean that it will be impossible to incorporate the earthy element into your office or home. Add plants or flowers, add little bamboo pieces around to make you feel grounded and in your natural habitat. When you add these little pieces whether at work or at home, your energy draws from the plants and bamboo, revitalizing and becoming healthier.

Air

When it comes to the air element it is a little bit harder to place objects around your office or home to draw in that energy you are needing. However, it is not impossible. Adding meditation music such as birds chirping, wind chimes playing, or even lighting an incense candle will bring the element of air into your office space if you are unable to open a window (city buildings don’t have a lot of windows that are able to be opened). At home you can also do the same thing, or you can even just open up your window, and let the breeze fly into the house, filling everything with positive energy, bringing your core into a healthier state.

Digging into our core, we will be able to heal once again and be able to boost up our energy levels so that we may thrive and be ready for whatever the Universe throws our way.

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Drenching Yourself in Colors: Telling Society to Back off

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We live in a society where it seems that to be your true self is the worst thing a person can do. That if we were to pursue our passions, we could be considered an outcast, that if we wanted to dress the way we want or do whatever we wish to our hair, we would be ostracized. Why? Why should someone feel as though they are an outcast for following their passions and dreams, why should someone be labeled freak, odd, eccentric, for being true to themselves? Why should society dictate how someone thinks, feels, and looks? In all honesty, it shouldn’t.

For thousands and thousands of years, people have constantly felt ostracized for being themselves, for not fitting into the mold that society has created. It seems as though society just wants every man, woman, and child to be the same lifeless robotic shape with no mind of its own and just rely on the opinion of others. However, once someone has stepped away from the social norms that has been dictated all hell breaks loose. Families disown that member of the family for not being “normal”, society shuns that person just as the family did, labels get placed on an individual, leaving an individual all alone and feeling as though they are worthless and at that point they begin to feel the pressure of fitting into the mold that has been created by society.

Not fitting into the mold that has been placed before us by society is invigorating, breathtaking, and it gives us a chance to feel and be free from the social norms. Who wouldn’t want to be free? Free to make your own decisions, to go off and study whatever you want in college or not even go to college at all and just travel the world, or to dye your hair an outrageous color, have a tattoo or piercing that you’ve always wanted.

Let me tell you, to step away from society and do your own thing is the best thing that you could ever do. Saying “screw you” to society will be the best thing you will ever do in your life, for you will finally be in control of yourself and of your life, for you are no mindless robot, you are a human being with a mind, a heart, and a soul that yearns for freedom to be yourself. Isn’t that what you wanted?

 

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Why I’m a Feminist

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I am a feminist because I want to end unrealistic expectations for both men and women, there should not be some expectation to look like someone else to feel appreciated, to feel loved, to feel like we belong in some sort of “group”, this is not high school where they are focused on cliques, this is the real world that we live in, no two people look alike.

I am a feminist because I am tired of hearing, “Cool story, now go make me a sandwich” or “Real men don’t cry”, because these stereotypes are harmful to everyone around the world. Real men do cry, they have emotions just like the rest of us. And no one is your personal maid or slave, they are not obligated to make you a ‘sandwich’, you can go make it yourself.

I am a feminist because I want to end this horrible rape culture that we live in. Both men and women get raped, it is a proven fact. The problem is that not everyone realizes that men are also the victims to such abuse just like any other woman out there who gets raped and abused, they are terrified just like everyone else who endures physical, emotional, and mental abuse. To say that they don’t, is just down right ignorant.

I am a feminist because I want to end gender roles. In the past, roles to each gender were assigned, for men, they had to play with trucks, play in the dirt, get “manly” jobs, for women, they were told to play with dolls and have an easy bake oven, while dressing up in dresses and looking pretty. Young girls are allowed to play with toy trucks, and young boys are allowed to play with dolls that they find fun. There should be no roles assigned to anyone. If you like something, then by all means, do that hobby or get that outfit, just be you. I know several women who are welders, and they are badasses at their jobs, proving that they can do anything. I know a man who is a manicurist and he is phenomenal at his job, he chose that job because he loves it, he isn’t at a job that doesn’t love.

I am a feminist because I am sick and tired of people judging women based on their clothing, yet they gawk at a woman who wears a mini skirt and tank top, then catcall her. One, women are not objects to stare at, they are hardworking, intelligent, compassionate people, just like you. They are not meant to be stared down and made to feel inferior. Second, you have no say over what a woman wears, she wears what she wants to wear. It is her body, and you have no say over what she wears on her body. If she wants to wear a hijab, don’t you dare try to take it off to offend her. If she wants to wear a mini skirt, then let her wear that mini skirt. She wears articles of clothing because she is drawn to them and likes them. Same goes for men as well, if a man wants to wear a pink shirt, then don’t criticize him for it. If a man wears his pants saggy, let him, it is his body and he can wear whatever he wants just like women can.

I am a feminist because I am sick and tired of people comparing everyone to others and degrading others. Stop with the signs and memes that roam around Pinterest, Google, and other parts of the internet that say, “In a World of Kardashians, be a …..”.  Honestly, I don’t know much about the Kardashians, but to degrade them like that is wrong on many levels, you may not agree with their lifestyle, fashion sense, or moral compass, however you shouldn’t be degrading them and trying to raise another person up. Degrading others to feel better about yourself is just plain wrong and it shouldn’t be happening whatsoever. Comparing one person to another also needs to be put to an end, due to the fact that no two people are alike, it is nearly impossible, even twins are not alike on many levels.

I am a feminist because I believe in equal pay between men and women, based on education and experience, not based on what is between your legs. It shouldn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, it should matter on your education and experience. If a man and a woman both have a bachelor’s degree and also have ten years of experience, then they should get paid equally. Currently, women get paid $.75 to a man who gets paid $1.00.

I am a feminist because my feminine needs are not a luxury. Every woman since the dawn of time has had their premenstrual cycles, and they bleed for 5 to 7 days every 28 days. Tampons, pads, cups, whatever else is used out there, is viewed as a luxury. It is not a luxury. Stop hiking the percentage price to %40 tax.

I am a feminist because I want to protect all of those who are being forced to become child’s brides as 10 years old. I don’t believe in becoming a bride at such a young age. Back in the 1500’s men and women were betrothed at the age of birth, and were made to get married at once they were to be perceived as a man or woman. We live in the 21st century, and things need to change today.

This is just the icing on the cake as to why I am a feminist. This is extremely important to me, and should be important to everyone around the world. Why are you a feminist?