The (Un) Caged Bird

"Let the beauty we love be what we do." – Rumi


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Life Without Cigarettes: Year One

Today,  I celebrate my one year anniversary of being smoke free.   Yesterday one year ago (April 5)  I smoked my last cigarette and swore that was the end.   (If you’re new to my blog and would like to read about how I quit hop on over to my post, “How I Quit Smoking Cold Turkey“. )  I had quit smoking at various points in my life in the past but always failed to make it past the year point, this time however I was mentally armed and that is what has kept me free from cigarettes for the past year.

How has my life changed without cigarettes?  First off, I have had more money in my pocket, I estimated that I’ve saved myself approximately $1050 dollars by not smoking last year, that’s a conservative number and it’s definitely not less than that.  (If I’d finished my taxes already I would have a much more accurate estimate based on my smoking habits from the first four months of last year.  I could have done a nice little estimate from the average.)   Considering I was saving money by not smoking I had extra money to join a gym, buy a pair of tennis shoes and work on improving the health of my body.

I also eat a lot more now and more regularly than I used to.  I’m hypoglycemic and instead of eating I could frequently use smoking cigarettes to give me a stimulant boost to keep my energy up.  I did gain weight by not smoking, in total I’ve gained about fifteen pounds and gone up a size in clothing.   I really struggled with that and had convinced myself that I needed to drop that weight and get back to the size I had been and thus spent almost all of last year berating myself internally for not having accomplished that yet. (Yes, I know I posted all those posts about self-love.  I need them just as much as everyone else.)  Last month as I was contemplating another milestone that I’m about to celebrate the self-love kicked in and I was finally able to appreciate this new shape that my body has settled into.  Now, I know I’m healthy and while I still would like to be physically more fit and active (for the sake of being strong and having the endurance to do activities) I no longer feel the pressure for my body to go back to the way it was.  I’m celebrating this more shapely form I’ve settled into because it represents who I am when I’m making healthy lifestyle choices like getting enough sleep, not drinking, not smoking, eating regularly and being more active.  I know that as I make more changes in my life and as time passes it will continue to change and each new transformation is really just an opportunity to celebrate the change and explore something new.

I’ve been a lot more productive because I channel my anxiety, nervous energy, fear, whatever it is into improving my life.   I’ve managed to make a lot of changes around my house and in my life and its been really rewarding to see the results of my efforts.

I gained faith in my own willpower and earned trust in myself that I could keep my word to myself and follow through with a promise I’d made to myself.   I gained self respect by honoring that commitment to myself and both of these things really helped to build my overall confidence in myself.   When you start out on a journey it’s always scary because it’s uncertain where the road will lead and what sort of dark patches you may have to stroll through and sometimes it’s more pleasant to only remember the rainbows when we’re on the other side.  I can tell you there were dark patches but I never once took a single puff from a cigarette.  It was not for lack of wanting to either, there were many, many days where for my own sanity and that of others I thought maybe I should just go buy a pack but didn’t.  I still wonder if I’ll ever have a cigarette in the future.  Time will tell.

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Self-Love Celebration Month Day 2/7 – 2/12

The second installment from my daily self love posts, day 7 – 12.  Enjoy!

 

Self Love Celebration, Day 7

“When we have the courage to let the walls down – to know and embrace ourselves, despite our human failings, we also open the door to connecting in a more caring, empathetic, intimate way with the ones we love and with all living beings. Our brains are wired for survival, but also for empathy. We have mirror neurons that fire when we see other people’s pain. Let us learn to love ourselves so we can be more open and compassionate to others, and so we can take down the walls that limit who we can be and what we can contribute. The quotes below are intended as inspiration for your inward journey.” – via Psychology Today, The 50 Best Quotes on Self Love

Self Love Celebration Day 8

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh”

Tiny Buddha, the site which hosts the article below, 21 Tips to Release Self-Neglect and Love Yourself in Action is a great website for all sorts of life advice. I’ve been receiving a weekly email from them for a year or so and find an applicable article in every digest. Enjoy. 🙂

Self Love Celebration Day 9

Isn’t loving yourself a selfish thing you say? Nope, healthy self esteem and setting loving boundaries are not conceited, ego driven acts.

“When I talk of self-love, I am NOT advocating that we should stop caring for others, and just focus on ourselves. Being in service and giving back to your community is something I believe is very important. Showing kindness to others and demonstrating our caring for our loved ones is a key to having a fulfilling life. However, maintaining a balance is critical. You cannot keep giving to others if you do not give to yourself, first. It is like pouring water from a vessel: you cannot pour and pour without ever refilling it – eventually, it will run dry. Like that vessel, we, too, need to refill, recharge, and re-energize. ” – Self Love, Is It Selfish?

 

Self Love Celebration Day 10 –

(This one is not PG rated) If you’re going to talk about self love and leave sex out of the picture then you haven’t got a complete picture have you? We live in such a weird, hypocritical society where sex is used to sell almost every product imaginable yet there’s still negativity attached to real people in the flesh getting it on and women especially seem to harbor all of this guilt and embarrassment around being sexual beings.


“The bottom line here is that self-love equals better sex! The better you know yourself on multiple levels, the more you love and appreciate your strengths. The greater you honor yourself right now, the freer you will feel to express yourself in the bedroom, or even venture out to new locations. Experiencing healthy sexuality and enjoying the pleasures of the body involves awareness, authenticity, and presence. Truly releasing to pleasure, whether it is succumbing to orgasm or just gazing into your partner’s eyes, puts us in a vulnerable position beyond rational control.” – Awakening to Sexual Self Love

 

 

Self Love Celebration Day 11

As a person that seems to always walk the road less traveled, I have struggled a lot with approval and still do. Why? Because the road less traveled means that there aren’t many people along the way that you’re going and you aren’t likely to be encouraged. Ironically, the things that I deem the least important in my life receive the most attention and approval and the things that I’m extremely passionate and heartfelt about receive very little. Perspective is king, so I’ve started doing what I want and fulfilling the need for approval by being kind and supportive to myself and the reward for it all lies in the fact that I’m giving that passion an outlet and letting that voice inside me have a chance to speak even if no one seems to listen.

“The key to an authentic emotional life, like the key to an authentic sex life, is to follow your real desires.” – Stop Seeking Approval

 

Self Love Celebration Day 12

Self love is self care. 34 simple ways to begin your self care practice. In our electronic age it can be difficult to remember that we aren’t machines and we’re merely humans. Humans aren’t made to live and work and push the limit every day, all day, week after week. We just aren’t. Self care can feel like a selfish activity but it’s not. If we don’t maintain our cars, wash them, and provide them with fuel they won’t perform as well as if we regularly maintain and care for them. Humans are the same way, we need regular maintenance and self care to really shine and perform regularly.


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Self Love Celebration Month – Days 2/1 – 2/6

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I apologize for jumping ship on my Think Kit posts,  I get really ambitious and think that I have time to do all of this fun stuff and then reality sets in and I realize that I don’t have enough time to accomplish all that I want.  I thought the Think Kit post prompts were brilliant and quite helpful though so I have saved them all and will be using them to write throughout the year (hopefully just the next few months).

February has been coined Self Love Celebration Month by the amazing and wonderful author of Madly in Love With Me, Christine Arylo.  On February 13th, women (Love Ambassadors) around the country will be hosting Self Love parties and a special (free!) Self Love Concert will be hosted in California and accessible via the internet for us all to enjoy.  I really wanted to host my own self love party here in Indianapolis but realized that I don’t have enough resources (time and energy) to do so this year and it would just once again overextend me which is not a loving thing to do to oneself.  So… I decided to celebrate in my own way by posting a post a day on my Facebook page on the topic of Self Love.   I will post my Facebook posts here for you all to enjoy since my Facebook page is private.

Self Love Celebration, Day 1:

As I feel more safe and secure within myself,
my relationships become more safe and secure.
As I trust myself and the choices I make,
my connections become more trustworthy.
The more faithful I am to myself,
the more my world reflects that fidelity.
As I honour myself,
my interactions in the world become honourable.
And I realise that the Universe is an honourable place,
Of which I belong.

~ Sidonie Bouchet © October 25, 2011

www.soletosoulsex.com

Self Love Celebration, Day 2:

“The person in life that you will always be with the most, is yourself. Because even when you are with others, you are still with yourself, too! When you wake up in the morning, you are with yourself, laying in bed at night you are with yourself, walking down the street in the sunlight you are with yourself.What kind of person do you want to walk down the street with? What kind of person do you want to wake up in the morning with? What kind of person do you want to see at the end of the day before you fall asleep? Because that person is yourself, and it’s your responsibility to be that person you want to be with. I know I want to spend my life with a person who knows how to let things go, who’s not full of hate, who’s able to smile and be carefree. So that’s who I have to be.”
― C. JoyBell C.

Self Love Celebration, Day 3:

Affirmation:

I Love me as I am.

I Love the dark side of me.

I Love the unlovable parts of me.

via one of my favorite blogs, The Daily Love.   You can read the entire post from that day, Loving Yourself When You Don’t Want To.  Great tips and reminders there that in our moments of our darkness or perceived failures is when we need to love ourselves the most, not just the parts where loving ourselves comes easy.

Self Love Celebration, Day 4:

Christine Arylo, author of Madly in Love with Me has a free self love kit. Visit the link  and you can download yours! I don’t care what gender, sexuality, age, religion, or political orientation you are we all deserve and need to love ourselves. You are the only one who lives in your head and heart!

One especially difficult day I did a google search on how to build self esteem and discovered Christine’s amazing free guide on self love. Her self love kit is what started this journey for me last year and it was the perfect little seed to start growing my self love tree.  Download your, Free Self Love Kit and get started! 

Self Love Celebration, Day 5:

Today, I’m excited to tell you about the free Self Love Concert taking place on 2/13/13 that you can tune into via the web. Throw a party and invite your loved ones or celebrate with a party for one. The concert will address the topics of taking good care of yourself, stopping the negative self talk and comparison, loving your body like a temple, and how to attract in loving relationships. Imagine if we taught the young generations this principles as children, don’t you think we’d have a profoundly different world?

Register for the Free Self Love Concert!  2/13/13

Self Love Celebration, Day 6:

Be your ideal best friend or partner to yourself. Having a rotten day and everywhere you turn there’s nothing but criticism? Feeling alone because there’s no one to turn to? Be there for you. If you’re upset, listen to yourself. Be patient and allow yourself to express the emotion that you feel and provide encouragement and support to yourself as you would to the people you love the most. Don’t berate yourself for being upset or tell yourself it’s unwarranted and uncalled for. You wouldn’t want your loved one to treat you that way would you? No, you would want a kind compassionate ear to listen, encouraging words of support and guidance, the knowledge that you were in the company of someone who gave you unconditional love and support in your failures and triumphs, and for your feelings and thoughts to be acknowledged and seen as valid and worthy of being heard. Love yourself enough to be that person to yourself and show yourself you are worth your time.

I hope that you have found these tips to be helpful.  Love to all. 🙂


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Book Review: Amazing Adventures of a Nobody

Photo of Book Cover

amazing adventures of a nobody: a life-changing journey across America relying on the kindness of strangers

by leon logothetis

I discovered that this book existed a month or two ago when I read about it on the author’s twitter profile.  I immediately had to request it from the library and began to read the book in all of my free moments.  My review is going to be a bit of talking about the story and my personal experience in reading the book.  First, I had a few commonalities with the author and I discovered this in the introduction.  We both spent days in childhood on Greek islands (not the same one), we both work (past tense for him, worked)  in our family business, and have both been on personal journeys to find more fulfillment in life and a sense of purpose.  (His a literal journey, mine an internal journey.) These commonalities made me instantly feel a kinship with the author and made the story hit closer to home.   I commend Leon for having the courage to make this journey.

The title is pretty self-explanatory but I’ll expand.  This book is a series of tales and adventures that take us through Leon’s journey from New York City to the Los Angeles sign equipped with nothing but a five dollar a day allowance.  He didn’t have a cellphone, a car, or a credit card.  The journey forced him to connect with people and rely on the kindness and generosity of “strangers.”  This is a book about human connection and how the journey to find oneself  really and ultimately ends in the discovery that who we are is intrinsically connected to everyone else.   This book brings to light some issues that I think are very prominent in American society and tells them in a very organic and unintentional way which is the beauty of this book.  There wasn’t a political agenda or personal agenda to seek out certain people.  He was at the mercy of whoever came his way for help and for conversation.

One of my favorite passages that sets an example of the fast paced disconnection of our society happened in a conversation Logo had with Gene Adams, “And all along the way, we have connected less and less; talked less and less. Now, we don’t talk at all. We don’t see the point. Now, the journeys are just about speed – getting someplace as fast as possible.  Efficiency is the enemy of connection.”  Gene was referring to the evolution of transportation and travel.  In days past, people conversed during travel and they had more time to get to know one another. The majority of people I know nowadays are grateful when they sit next to someone on the bus or plane and their fellow passenger doesn’t talk to him. This conversation was a refreshing reminder that things have not always been this way.

The book is filled with tales of adventures and colorful characters. I’m not going to tell you about those because I want you to read for yourself but there are some very interesting encounters.  There are also plenty of highlights of acts of kindness and complete strangers placing their trust and at times homes in the hands of Leon.  He is helped by all ages and races.  He is helped by humanity as a whole, not fragmented into racial or socioeconomic sectors.  In our society I think things like race and socioeconomic class are major factors into dividing us as a people.  There are perceptions that those who have more are more worthy or better than those who have less.  I loved how his journey helped show a story of a humanity that highlighted the similarities instead of the differences.  I’ve included some of my favorite passages and excerpts from the book to give you an idea of what the story is about in a nutshell.

p. 132  “Finding human connection in small ways is the only way to solve the bigger problems.  I used to feel each man was an island. How wrong I was. We are not.  In fact we are tethered to each oher with invisible bonds that no man or circumstance can break.  Our ability to function successfully in the world depends on our ability to connect with each other.  We are one.”

p. 230 “There was nothing I could not do, nothing we could not do if we learned to trust each other, nothing we could not change if we learned to ask each other for the strength we did not have alone, nothing that we need fear if we have each other.”

It gets better..

p. 231 “We’ve defined greatness as wealth, fame, power, influence.  But true greatness is simply goodness. There is nothing more powerful, nothing more truly great, than helping a human being in a time of need.  In our small acts we become great to one another. Each of us has the intrinsic potential to be immense.

Those excerpts are just a few gems from this book.  There’s a fantastic paragraph at the end of the book that I so desperately want to share with you but I think it best if you all just pick it up and read it for yourselves.   I laughed and I cried and was ever so grateful that Leon made this journey and wrote this book and that it enabled me to vicariously experience the journey.  After reading the book I was reminded that it’s not the literal destination or the road that’s traveled but the steps along the way that are what shape the journey.  I highly encourage you to read this book and if you do I’d love for you to post your thoughts and experiences in doing so in a comment below.

Enjoy!  Let us walk the path that makes us happy where we’re guided by inspiration and see what wonders we may see and the people we may meet along the way.  We must also remember that there are many definitions of ambition as well and that being kind and good is a worthwhile ambition.


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POETRY/PROSE : The Meaning of Life

What life means to me.  Enjoy.

Life is about learning
learning to live versus living to die
finding what makes you happy
following your heart
and developing your talents
and always, always taking a stand for what you believe in
even if everyones opposed
because if you dont
who will you be when your alone in the dark?

– Written by Me, 2007.


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Lovely Links: Weekly Round Up – Goodness, Inspiration, and Innovation

Quote of the week:

“Oh curious one, do not worry about what may come. You are here to live, to love and to learn every step of the way. You are constantly learning, discovering and becoming anew every moment. You have the full support of your Creator and when you know this all obstacles will fall away and you will join happily the dance of Life! Each moment is precious, no matter what it may contain, savor its flavor and then let it go!” 

– Jackson Kiddard, author & polymath. ( This was in one of The Daily Love e-mails I received.  Still haven’t signed up? Do it! It’s daily nourishment for the spirit.)

The Dutch are serious innovative designers.  I would love to move back there one day.  Just one tiny genius example,  This Heineken WOBO: 2 in 1 brick and beer bottle shows the potential for function and form, reusing and repurposing.

I’m against toxic cosmetics to begin with but the fact  they are often tested on animals is worse.  This graphic performance art demonstration by Lush really drives the point home of animal cruelty in cosmetics testing. I think people need to see things sometimes in a light that allows them to relate by feeling a sense of sameness. Lush Fights Animal Cruelty with Public Human Torture Art Performance.

Just when I was at the point of despair that the world really will be reduced to its state in Wall – E,  I read this awesome story.  Now, I have a desire to stay at the Waldorf-Astoria because of their support of bees. Roof of Waldorf-Astoria is home to bees!

Social media makes me incredibly nervous.  I admit that I just don’t want or need hundreds to thousands of people knowing what I do every day, how I do it, and who I do it with.  I’ve been a serious social media oversharer, undersharer, and am trying to now become a quality content sharer.  Nice points in this article. Selective Truth and Social Media.  Some simple guidelines to help you become a better social media information sharer. –

Confidence lies in you!  You do not need outside validation all the love and support you need has to come from within.

Learning to be yourself.  We all feel tempted at times to be something we’re not just to have people like us.  We’re all different and it’s okay.

Duolingo.  Learn a language for free while helping to translate the web. (Limited to three languages right now.)

Why creative geniuses hated school.

Indiana by the numbers. I live in Indiana and the state of our environmental health is extremely poor, so is the state of our people for that matter.  This article simply and concisely conveys a summary of Indiana’s state of being.

Bodies we want, naked Olympians .  That pretty much says it all. 🙂

34 places to swim in the world’s clearest water .  Adding all of these places to my bucket list.  In the meantime, if you can’t go (which I can’t)  these images are lovely places to take a mental vacation to.

I’m too emotional.  I have heard this SO many times.  Which has led me to berate myself endlessly for being “too sensitive”, “too emotional” and “too expressive”.  If you are just “too much” (supposedly), please read this!  We are perfect as we are, let’s embrace it and stop suppressing ourselves and offending our souls.

9 Natural Phenomenon you couldn’t see 100 years ago .  I alternately title this article, 9 reasons that I am grateful to be living now versus 100 years ago so that I can see all of these beautiful and wonderful things.  Nice positive points to living in the now.  Always good to count the blessings and look for the positive.

5 super efficient tiny new york apartments.  Because it’s not always the size that counts but what you do with it! 🙂 Efficiency makes me happy, I can’t help it.  Efficiency generally means simplicity and organization, two things I absolutely adore.

NY’s first self powered building.  More reasons for me to find hope for the future!  This is just incredibly awesome to me, I can’t wait to see the future with steps like this being made.  Living earth friendly and people friendly can and will go hand in hand.

21  Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.  I wish the news consistently covered the good instead of focusing on the awful. Maybe the news does air good stories these days?  I have no idea.  I don’t watch television and haven’t for ages.  Luckily, the net has some great stories of goodness.  This series of images will give you a nice dose of feel good imagery.


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Happiness lies beyond the illusions

Photo Credit – FlickrCC – baejaar

The author Billy Mills wrote about the eight lies of Iktumi in his book, Wokini.  Iktumi, in the Lakota tradition is figure who is a liar or trickster.  The eight lies of Iktumi  prevent happiness and can even ruin a person’s life.  I’m sure we’ve all fallen victim to these invitations to self-deception.  We cannot change the past, but we can change how we look at the present.

1. If only I were rich, then I would be happy.

2. If only I were famous, then I would be happy.

3. If only I could find the right person to marry, then I would be happy.

4. If only I had more friends, then I would be happy.

5. If only I were more attractive, then I would be happy.

6. If only I weren’t physically handicapped in any way, then I would be happy.

7. If only someone close to me hadn’t died, then I could be happy.

8. If only the world were a better place, then I would be happy.

Photo Credit: FlickrCC – donireewalker

How could you change your thoughts so that you are not falling victim to the illusion? It’s very easy to find things to be angry and frustrated about.   There are days when I feel like I hear and see 2% positive and inspiring conversation, and 98% complaining and negative conversation.  One look at your social media stream and it’s probably full of complaining and snarky comments.  It’s no wonder with this type of attitude prevalent in our society that we also have the largest rate of anti-depressant use in the world and that the majority of the people I know use alcohol or other stimulants to “have a good time”.  Our society is focused on the shallow and material, and largely condemns that which has substance.  (We are a capitalistic, so this is not a shocker.)  I personally have lived many, many dark years where I went day to day angry, resentful, depressed, and in a lot of emotional pain because I believed in the illusions that were being sold to me by everyone around me.  I thought that happiness was a place I’d arrive to one day when I’d healed from the scars of my life, found someone to share it with, and/or had reached a point where I didn’t have to be so budget conscious that I stressed over every dollar spent.  I finally hit a point where I was just plain tired of it all and realized that happiness is a choice.  We can choose to be stressed out over the events of our lives or the lack that we see, or we can choose to be happy about all of the wonderful positive things that we have.  It can be a very hard battle and it requires a daily commitment and there are days when you’ll fail, but you have to get back up and keep trying. I’m not saying that you stop trying and cast all ambition aside, but instead to not let whatever it is you desire be the only path to happiness.