Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day.

Also known as, How to De-clutter Your Mind and Your Life.

I was talking with a really good friend of mine the other day when I noticed an odd look on her face. She looked almost war-worn. Like some fight had been raging on in her mind until it finally broke free of it’s mental constraints, leaked into her eyes and etched a thin lipped smile across her mouth. She continued on with her story as flamboyant as ever, but it didn’t hold the same appeal to me, because I knew the truth; something was horribly wrong.

For the sake of the story I will give her a name, but for her sake it will not be her true name; I will call her, Amber.

“Amber,” I said, “What’s wrong?”
“Sweetie, I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Please, it is written on your face. What gives?”

And that is when she broke down, confessing to me all of her woes. I resolved that moment to take matters into my own hands and to put the resolution into hers: a simple list.

“Look at me.” I said. “Tell me, in one word answers, general, but not vague, what has been bothering you.”
And she did.
This is what we came up with (in no particular order).

1. Health

2. Money

3. Relationship

4. Discipline Skills

5. Cleaning

6. Anxiety

7. Depression

8. Weight

After that we sat down for a good hour discussing smaller, more specific things that fell into each category and how to resolve those issues.

For Health some of the ideas were: Take at least a multivitamin a day, drink more water, drink less soda, healthier snack options, and so on.

For Money some things we came up with were: Coupons, Less junk food, buy less purses and shoes, price shopping/sales, set aside fun money-money for food-money for clothes, and so on.

We just kept breaking things down until each item on the list had at least three resolutions to it.

Amber took a step back and looked at the list and automatically I could see tears welling up in her eyes.

“I felt overwhelmed as it is and now this! Look at all of those things to do! I will never be able to finish all of them. There are just too many!”

“Amber, the purpose of this list was not to stress you out. Look at this. This list, these words are the answers to all of your problems. You can’t tackle it all at once. So, stop looking at it as if you have to! Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Think of the Great Wall of China. Think of how vast that structure is. They didn’t accomplish all of that in one day, one week or ever one year. They built it brick by brick, one piece at a time. That is how you will solve your problems. One piece of this list, one suggestion at a time. Don’t think about the future. Just focus on this moment and what you are doing now to solve things.”

After that we put the list aside and watched a little TV to relax. When her Fiancée came back from his walk she smiled at me and went out on the porch to greet him. What I didn’t know at the time was that she was giving him the list. That night they cuddled and smiled all night. It was the greatest thanks I could have ever gotten.

To sum things up here is a summarized explanation of how to de-clutter your life and your mind.

Things you will need: A pen or pencil and paper (or a computer, or laptop)

To start off make a numbered list of what is bothering you (in general terms), leaving some space between each one.
Next, Look at the first item on your list and come up with at least three resolutions to solve this issue.

Ex) Overweight: Drink more water and less soda/juice, walk around neighborhood for at least half an hour (add ankle weights later), and snack on apples or other fresh fruit instead of chips.

Continue doing the same action for each number on the list.
After that hang up your list and pick one resolution (doesn’t matter if it is from the beginning, middle or end) and tackle it.

Ex) “This week I am going to skip soda and juice and drink water instead”

And that is it! Don’t be upset if results don’t come your way right away. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither were you. Stay positive, stay active and always, ALWAYS remember, the only thing stopping you…is you.

-Bodhi

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The Story of Ugly the Cat

Note: I did not write this and the author is unknown, but it will really get you thinking.

“Everyone in the apartment complex I lived in knew who Ugly was. Ugly was the resident tomcat.

Ugly loved three things in this world: fighting, eating garbage, and shall we say, love. The combination of these things combined with a life spent outside had their effect on Ugly.

To start with, he had only one eye, and where the other should have been was a gaping hole. He was also missing his ear on the same side, his left foot has appeared to have been badly broken at one time, and had healed at an unnatural angle, making him look like he was always turning the corner. His tail has long since been lost, leaving only the smallest stub, which he would constantly jerk and twitch. Ugly would have been a dark gray tabby striped-type, except for the sores covering his head, neck, even his shoulders with thick, yellowing scabs.

Every time someone saw Ugly there was the same reaction. “That’s one UGLY cat!!”

All the children were warned not to touch him, the adults threw rocks at him, hosed him down, squirted him when he tried to come in their homes, or shut his paws in the door when he would not leave.

Ugly always had the same reaction. If you turned the hose on him, he would stand there, getting soaked until you gave up and quit. If you threw things at him, he would curl his lanky body around feet in forgiveness. Whenever he spied children, he would come running meowing frantically and bump his head against their hands, begging for their love. If you ever picked him up he would immediately begin suckling on your shirt, earrings, whatever he could find.

One day Ugly shared his love with the neighbors huskies. They did not respond kindly, and Ugly was badly mauled. From my apartment I could hear his screams, and I tried to rush to his aid. By the time I got to where he was laying, it was apparent Ugly’s sad life was almost at an end.

Ugly lay in a wet circle, his back legs and lower back twisted grossly out of shape, a gaping tear in the white strip of fur that ran down his front. As I picked him up and tried to carry him home I could hear him wheezing and gasping, and could feel him struggling. I must be hurting him terribly I thought.

Then I felt a familiar tugging, sucking sensation on my ear – Ugly, in so much pain, suffering and obviously dying was trying to suckle my ear. I pulled him closer to me, and he bumped the palm of my hand with his head, then he turned his one golden eye towards me, and I could hear the distinct sound of purring. Even in the greatest pain, that ugly battled-scarred cat was asking only for a little affection, perhaps some compassion.

At that moment I thought Ugly was the most beautiful, loving creature I had ever seen. Never once did he try to bite or scratch me, or even try to get away from me, or struggle in any way. Ugly just looked up at me completely trusting in me to relieve his pain.

Ugly died in my arms before I could get inside, but I sat and held him for a long time afterwards, thinking about how one scarred, deformed little stray could so alter my opinion about what it means to have true pureness of spirit, to love so totally and truly. Ugly taught me more about giving and compassion than a thousand books, lectures, or talk show specials ever could, and for that I will always be thankful. He had been scarred on the outside, but I was scarred on the inside, and it was time for me to move on and learn to love truly and deeply. To give my total to those I cared for.

Many people want to be richer, more successful, well liked, beautiful, but for me, I will always try to be Ugly.”

/b/ for once you delivered something beautiful to me.

Walk With Me

I want to walk with you. I want to walk with you in the woods. No distractions, surrounded by nature. A place that I know we are both comfortable. I want you to know that I don’t want anything from you. No expectations. Only hopes. The hope to become friends and to gain a deeper understanding of you and a deeper connection with a fellow human being. The hope that may be, just may be, you want to get to know me too. The hope that we can drop our walls and experience each other as any two souls should and could.
I don’t know you, but I want you to know that I love you just as you are and I want to know everything about you, anything you are willing to share.

If everyone shared this view and regarded everyone else in this manner, perhaps we could evolve as a species.

Imagine laying in a field under the stars, shoulder to shoulder, with someone you deeply care for. Imagine that feeling, the closeness, the warmth-physical and emotional, and the vibration of joy your spirit feels with that person. Now imagine sharing that same warmth with everyone you meet. Is it so impossible?

Think about it. This person, this random stranger, has been through so many of the same experiences you have. You could bond on those experiences and share new ones with each other. You could connect and grow based on the things you talk about.

Remember that time when you were *insert age* and you fell off of *insert noun* and you got *insert injury*? Yeah, they remember when something like that happened to them too.
Remember when you were *insert age* and you fell madly in love with *insert name* only to find out that they didn’t feel the same? That too they remember.

Think of all of the knowledge you could gain and the joy you could spread by opening your heart and your life to those around you.

A smile to a stranger on the street has such a profound effect on their day and knowing that you caused someone to smile, even for a minute causes you to have more happiness as well.

Key things to remember:

1) You get what you give. The same rule of Karma applies to human relationships. You give a smile and, generally, you get a smile in return.

2) Always be kind to everyone you meet. You never know what they are going through. (Plato)

3) Show the people you love that you love them. The more you care for them, the more they will care for you.

My letter to Nick Vujicic

“I wanted to thank you for being you and for doing what you do. I lived in the shadows of everyone I considered to be greater than myself. I wallowed in self pity and hatred and for what? I am a healthy 21 year old girl, I have a good facial bone structure and pretty eyes (I had been asked to model at one point). I have a nice body shape and limbs that work perfectly. I excel at art and literature and my singing voice has been compared to women who have sung at the Met and yet I still felt as if I wasn’t good enough.

I have hypothyroidism. Loosely defined it is an under-active thyroid gland. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, eczema, weight gain, poor skin condition (breakouts), sluggishness, memory loss (I began having trouble remembering easy words and speaking was difficult for me due to stuttering), fatigue, muscle weakness, cold intolerance, irritability and depression. I used this diagnosis as a crutch for my self pity. “Everyone feel bad for me and care for me, because I am ill”. Shortly after my diagnosis my best friend became very ill and was hospitalized for quite some time until they finally diagnosed her with Multiple Sclerosis. She remained happy and positive through it all. Here was my best friend of 17 years who was only a week younger than me and she was far more ill than I and she was still upbeat. I wish that had been my turning point, but no, I remained selfish and pitied only myself. Don’t get me wrong, I did feel bad for her, but I was so sucked up in my own “tragedy” that I couldn’t see past my “flaws”. After a few more low points a turning point finally came and I began to do research on how to be happy and how to lead a better life.
One night I was using the StumbleUpon tool bar and stumbled on your movie The Butterfly Circus. I cried. I can’t tell you how much I cried. I showed it to all of my friends and it even got my 26 year old, 200lb, 6’2, trucker, punk attitude brother to cry. A few days after that I was in borders and I ran back to use the restroom. As I was walking back towards the front I saw your smiling face radiating from the cover of a book propped up in one of the center isle tables. My breath caught in my throat. It was a sign, I knew it. I bought your book and started reading it the next day. That first day I cried 4 times and I was only 28 pages in. Since then I have been doing more and more research on how to lead a proper life. How to practice compassion and understanding and how to improve my physical life as well. I get up at 6 a.m. twice a week to practice yoga at ESU with my best friend, Diana, to help support her as the yoga helps her regain the balance that MS took from her. Your story about the unicorn with no wings inspired me to write poetry again. And your words have inspired me to write a blog that I share with my friends that is centered around positivity and physical and emotional health. It is called “Positive Mantra: Explore, Experience and Live”.
I used my “disability” as a crutch and now I am a crutch to those who I love.
Thank you <3″

The Butterfly Circus

Apple Cider Vinegar

I have blackheads.

Bum bum bum!

There, I said it.
I have blackheads. I have them all over my face actually. A sheet of them lays across my nose like a blanket of large, open pores and they are scattered across my face in random spots, mainly focusing their attention on my chin and forehead, but also frequenting such hot spots as the apples of my cheeks and the underside of my jaw. How embarrassing.

I first noticed the offending blemishes when I was may be 9 or 10 and at Camp Hidden Lake for the summer. My hand brushed across my face and I felt bumps. I didn’t know what they were at the time, but I did know that having them there made me feel as if I were different, a freak. “Where did they come from?” and, “Does anyone else have them?” were my first questions to myself. I remember the feelings, but not the exact words. So, bear with me here.

Since then, I have been fighting a constant battle with my skin, a losing battle. I have tried a multitude of products including some heavy hitters; Proactive and Murad. None of which worked for me, though they seemed to work great for others.

Here, I am going to stop the post to give you a little back story. For a couple of years I was lost. I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going with life and I kept feeling like happiness and things would come to me if I just wished hard enough. Well, it wont. To get something done, you have to do it. To be motivated, you have to get up and motivate yourself. No outside force can do it for you. You have to be your own driving force. As soon as I realized this I started my journey to be who I always knew I could be. First step, be skinny. Along the way that goal has changed to being healthier. I realized that being healthier was a better motivator than the shallow idea of being skinny. And, hopefully, one day being fit and fitting into my old jeans will be a product of being healthier.

So, on my journey to being healthier I began eating more natural foods (no fried foods or overly processed foods) and trying more natural remedies for what ailed me. It was then that I stumbled upon apple cider vinegar for clearing blackheads. I can’t recall what website first told me of the remedy, but many sites that I have checked agree with the original idea.

“Apple Cider Vinegar – Though most people that use vinegar to treat acne use the apple cider form of vinegar, you can also use plain old regular vinegar. Regardless of which type you use, vinegar can be very helpful when it comes to clearing up acne. It can kill off acne causing bacteria, balance your skin’s pH, and absorb extra oil on your skin.

Starting with clean, dry skin, apply diluted vinegar (eight parts water to one part vinegar) directly to your skin with a cotton ball, and leave it on. If you want, you can also use a stronger vinegar solution (say, 2 or 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar), and apply it directly to problem areas, rinsing it off after ten minutes.” 1

So, now I am trying it for myself. A few days into the treatment and my face does feel better and look a wee bit better and I feel better emotionally because I know that it is natural and I am not rubbing chemicals all over my face.

After more research on different topics I realized that apple cider vinegar is good for damn near whatever ails you.
I was looking up a natural way to clean and deodorize your arm pits and found that washing them with apple cider vinegar and splashing on some baby powder should work (I also throw some essential oils on under there for a nice clean smell).

Have a weight problem? Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 16 oz of water and two tablespoons of honey and, voila! A natural way to detox your body and gradually lose weight.

“No one is really sure how apple cider vinegar works to promote weight loss, but there is no shortage of theories.

It is generally believed that the nutrients, enzymes, and organic acids in apple cider vinegar cause weight reduction by acting as an appetite suppressant, by increasing your body’s metabolic rate, by reducing water retention, and by helping you maintain a feeling of well being.” 2

There is no hard evidence that proves this theory, however. A study done by researchers in Japan is, perhaps, the only evidence of it’s potential.

“The only research I’ve seen suggesting that vinegar may help reduce fat was a study published in the July 8, 2009, issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Japanese researchers reported that they had put laboratory mice on a high-fat diet and fed them acetic acid, the main component of vinegar. Another group of mice on the same high-fat diet received water, not acetic acid. Both groups of mice gained weight but those on the vinegar “diet” put on up to 10 percent less body fat than the others. The researchers said that the acetic acid may turn on genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes. Theoretically, this would result in the production of proteins that can break down fats and therefore suppress body fat accumulation. Additional research will be needed to confirm these results and determine if acetic acid can help humans slow weight gain.” 3

My thoughts are though, what is the harm? As long as you don’t overdo it and use it in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, results are sure to follow.

Taking a step back from myself and viewing this from another’s point of view I realize that I must sound like the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Have a pimple Windex it! Same idea.

Oh well, only time will tell if my experiments work.

-Bodhi

Sources for this post
1) “Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne.” Removing Blackheads Guide. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.removing-blackheads-guide.com/apple-cider-vinegar-for-acne.html&gt;.

2) “Apple Cider Vinegar and Weight Loss.” Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits…The Many Uses and Amazing Health Benefits of ACV. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.apple-cider-vinegar-benefits.com/apple-cider-vinegar-and-weight-loss.html&gt;.

3) Weil, Andrew. “Can You Lose Weight with Apple Cider Vinegar? – Ask Dr. Weil.” DrWeil.com – Official Website of Andrew Weil, M.D. 12 Nov. 2009. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA22860/can-you-lose-weight-with-apple-cider-vinegar.html&gt;.

A beginning

Every story has to have a beginning, right? So here is mine.

My name is Sarah, I am 21 this June and my life needs to change.
My entire life I have been, as I am sure you all have been, fed different data, information and ideas on how to live, who to be and what life is all about.
I was unconsciously taught that to be happy you needed a partner to complete you, you needed material things to fulfill you, and an “image” to get people to like you. I am sure this isn’t what my parents wanted for me, just like I like to assume this isn’t what your parents wanted for you either.
I am here now to document my struggle to break my mind free of these past thoughts and teachings and, hopefully, to inspire even just one person to do the same.
I want to be happy, truly happy. And I want the same for you. So, let’s rise up and fight for ourselves, for our ideas, and our beliefs.

Challenge everything and think for yourself.

That being said, this blog will cover a wide range of things from my desire to be healthier (formally my desire to be “skinny”), to my dream of leading a creative fulfilling life and a million more things in between.

I hope everyone finds what they are looking for and may be more. Also, please feel free to leave me comments and suggestions. I would love to hear from you.

-Bodhi