If you have been following my blog or my Facebook page, you know that I'm on a journey of sorts. I'm not sure what to call it exactly...I think it's a combination of several things. Part of it is spiritual and I am realizing more and more every day how beneficial (at least to me) it is to practice things like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and Buddhist teachings. That's not to say I am going to end up becoming a Buddhist monk anytime in the near future, but these ways of thinking really help me to put everyday frustrations and disappointments into perspective and they become less, well, frustrating and disappointing.
Another aspect of my journey is to be happier. I am not unhappy by any means, but that doesn't mean there's not room for more happiness. One of the best decisions I've made was to download Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project on Audible.com. The book inspired me to change little things in my life and to strive to make the simple, mundane things I do everyday more enjoyable and satisfying. I still have a lot to do in this area but I'm off to a good start.
A third mission of my journey is to love more, hence the birth of my 52 Weeks of More Love project. This one is tricky and I'm trying to figure it out as I go along. I've been trying to not use the word 'hate' as much, especially when it comes to people. Don't get me wrong, I generally like people but everyone has one or two that can really get under their skin, right? Anyhoo, when I catch myself thinking badly of someone I try to turn it into something positive, or at least change my thoughts to something that makes me happy. Again, this is going to take lots of practice. But I do believe that sending positive thoughts into the universe will get positive things sent back to you and vice versa. Same with love....sending more of it out into the universe will get you more back. I've been doing things like helping elderly people at the store (which makes me feel good, is that selfish?), hugging more and telling people that I care about them (instead of trying to hide my feelings which is something tended to do in the past). This is probably the area that is most challenging for me, which is why I decided to make it the focus of this year's challenge. Every week when I make my heart art I am reminded of my committment to love more...which leads me to the fourth facet of my journey - self care.
Self care sounds like an obvious concept...eat healthier, exercise more, schedule regular doctor visits, etc. I am definitely trying to incorporate more of these things into my life. But after reading and listening to all of the 'life improvement' materials I listed above, there seems to be another common theme which is loving yourself. This is a REALLY tough thing to do, at least for me. I always seem to focus on the things I don't like about myself. That is such an unhealthy thing to do! I think my biggest challenge on my journey will be to learn to love myself in spite of all my flaws. I honestly think this is the key to true happiness and contentment, and I am going to go after it. And I am about to take a big step into that area by showing you my latest heart art project...
This is really uncomfortable for me because I always assumed that talking about myself in a positive light would sound conceited and self absorbed. I am definitely one of those people that will downplay a compliment or make jokes about my flaws. But on Valentine's Day, I decided to do something completely different. I sat down with my papers and my paints and my gel medium and I made a Valentine for myself. I forced myself to come up with things I like about me and put them all in a letter that I gave to myself. I also printed out the Self Love Affirmation by Louise Hay, cut it into pieces and collaged it onto my project. That affirmation is really powerful stuff! Although I haven't started yet, I'd like to remember to read it out loud every day.
Here's my Valentine!