"Love is in the air, every time I look around"... literally. February has been the season for hearts, kisses and showering your loved ones with gratitude. For some, this season is wonderful; an excuse to say "I love you" one more time; a reminder of the love you do have, in your life. For others, this month is torture; maybe you're sad you're not currently with anyone; maybe you're bitter about a past-relationship; maybe you aren't happy in your current situation. Similarly to the theme of the month, this post is on love; but before you start to roll your eyes and exit out of here, hear me out on this: This post will describe the essentials of My Q-Life; the building blocks, or pieces, of my heart (and yours) that nourish, empower and inspire us, on a daily basis. Just like Primary Foods, these are the pieces that I believe to be critical in being happy & healthy; feeling nourished and supported in every aspect of your being.
When thinking about Primary Foods, I came to the realization that those were a bit broad. Creating a life of health and happiness is made up of more than four characteristics (in my mind), and to find true alignment, we need to make sure we are cultivating the ground for ourselves to grow. I decided to create my own list of "essentials"; a guide, if you will, of the requirements for a happy and healthy life.
My Q-Life Founding Principles:
1. Healthy Food
This one is pretty self-explanatory; in order to be healthy, we need to make sure we're fueling our bodies properly, with the right foods. Remember, kale isn't the only healthy food out there, but greens are important! Fill yourself with healthy proteins, carbs and fats. Each is your friend; don't deprive yourself of one, for they each serve a great purpose.
Take the time to enjoy the food you're eating; don't rush through eating it. That causes issues of its own. Eat when you're hungry; stop when you're full. Listen to your body. At the point I am now, I know, even before eating something, if it's going to make me feel good or not great. Enjoy the junk food, on occasion. But make sure the majority of your meals and snacks include good, wholesome ingredients. Eating healthy doesn't need to be difficult.
Have you checked out my Self-Care Guide yet? Meditating is one of those 'things I should really do more often' items, always on our bucket list, right? Seriously. Make time to meditate. Schedule it in your phone; just 10-15 minutes is all you need. Give yourself some quiet time; your mind needs to slow down. When our minds slow down, stress automatically begins to reduce. The stress may not go away, per say, but our response to that stress does, and that's something we can control.
So often, the idea of meditating seems easy, until we try to do it; that's why so many of us don't get it done. It's seriously HARD to sit, in silence; I know this! When we take the time to just be, breathe and relax, that's when our bodies start to open up. We can see things clearer, and our bodies become lighter.
Your BFF. Your significant other. Your parents. Your siblings. Your co-workers. Your 'weekend hangout crew'. Relationships come in all kinds, shapes and sizes, and each one is so important in being healthy and happy. We all need relationships, of some kind, to grow.
My good friend, Holly, sent me a video by Will Smith, the other day, where Will asked whether your friends were, "feeding your flames, or dousing your fire". This really got me to thinking. Relationships are important, but GOOD relationships are crucial. Look at the last five text messages, in your phone. Who are they from? Do those individuals build you up? Do they inspire you, and help you want to become better? If they do, good; that's how it should be! If they don't, take this time to re-evaluate your friendships. Relationships give us a sense of belonging; they remind us that we're never alone.
*Don't use this as an excuse to wallow about NOT being in a romantic relationship, either. I know, I've been there; but honestly, being single is a great time to find yourself, and work to create better relationships with others... in the non-romantic way!
Art. Love. Gratitude. Writing. Music. Inspiration. The list is endless. When we create something, we give our brain and our body the opportunity to grow, learn and develop. You don't need to be 'artsy' to create something; we're all artists. Life is our canvas, and it's up to us to create something that will beautify ourselves, and beautify the world.
Before I go on, I want you to take all judgements and throw them out the window. Sex isn't bad. Sex isn't sinful. It isn't something to be ashamed of. It isn't something we should be hard-up for (LOL... I had to), but it's also not something we should go into lightly, either. Sex is natural. It's something our bodies are hardwired to want; something we desire. In a relationship, it's one of the best ways to connect with your partner. Sex, in my opinion, is so much better when you're in love; however, I realize that often, love has nothing to do with it; and that's okay, too.
Maybe you're not in a relationship, right now. Maybe casual sex is something you're doing. That's okay... if you're okay. Speaking as a woman, it's incredibly hard to have sex with someone and not grow attached. So pay attention to your feelings, and only give your body to someone if it feels right.
Maybe sex isn't happening - in a relationship, or out of one. And in this case, I'd recommend you to take a look at your own sexuality, over your sex (for the current time). Do you love your body? Do you touch your body? Being sexual, with ourselves, is incredibly taboo, however, it's a great way we can focus on better loving ourselves, relationship or not. Never be ashamed to touch your body; for touching your body opens up a sexual door to pleasure, discovery and self-love.
My last post really explains this, in detail. Happiness is an inside job, and before we can love others, we need to work on loving ourselves. I find this especially important when it comes to romantic relationships. Do you love yourself? Can you enjoy the time you have, alone? It's incredibly difficult to love someone else, and give them what they need, when you don't have the same love for yourself. Maybe you're TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF, and struggling with not being in a relationship. That's where having a good sense of self comes in, as well. Be confident with yourself, and your singleness. You don't need someone else to prove anything, or to be someone. Honestly, when we're alone is when our sense of self shines most.
Self-care falls under this category, too. When you legitimately care for yourself, you'll TAKE care of yourself. View it as a garden; your brain and your heart cannot (and will not) grow, or bloom, without taking proper care to make sure the seeds are first planted, then watered and monitored, daily. Do you feel like a good person? Are you proud of the decisions you make - the things you stand up for? Are you a parent? Do you feel like a positive role-model for your child? This all falls under having a positive sense of self. Without ourselves, we don't have anything; remember that.
Laughter is the world's best medicine. It relaxes the body, strengthens the immune system, releases endorphins and burns calories. It's literally the wonder drug! When was the last time you laughed? Truly, whole-heartily, deep-bellied laughed? When you think of situations, or friends that allow you to laugh the most, what/who do you think of? Can you spend more time in those situations, and around those people? There absolutely is a place for seriousness, in life, however, the majority of situations can benefit more from laughter, and optimism.
This one's pretty self-explanatory, also. We know exercise burns calories, it releases endorphins (similar to laughter) and allows us to tone up. I want you to recognize, though, that exercise comes in many different forms - there's not one way to move, nor should there be. Are you tired of running? Stop! Are you sore from overdoing it, at the gym? Stop! Switch things up. Trust me, your body and your mind will thank you.
Something I always recommend, to my members, is to find a form of exercise that they enjoy; because when you enjoy something, you're more likely to do it, often. Exercise shouldn't always be something you dread. I realize, sometimes, this is the case, but always listen to yourself. Push back when you're feeling tired; push forward when you feel you can. Start where you are, when it comes to moving. Even if that's just 10-15 minutes, a day. A walk around the block, a hike in your favorite park, popping in a fitness DVD, dancing in your kitchen... the opportunities are endless! Just get out and move!
"Home is where the heart is." Sound familiar? This is true, but there's also something incredibly important about having a safe space to come back to, to fall asleep in, at the end of the day. "Home" is important.
I had a college professor once tell our class that it was interesting to listen to people talk about "home", depending on the age they were. In high school, obviously, your house is your house. When moving away to college, "home" is still, usually, your parents' house; the place you'd go on the weekends and for summer vacation. As you get older, and begin to find your own place, spend more time at your own place, that's when things begin to change. Maybe your "home" changes; your comfort level begins to develop at a new location.
My definition of home is anywhere I can walk around naked (honestly). I can pee with the door open. I can lay on the floor. I can take my bra off, at the end of the day, sit in my chair, and snuggle with my kitty. It's a safe space; a quiet place. It's the place I feel comfortable coming back to; it's clean. You need "home"; you need a place to feel safe.
It takes some time to find "home", after moving out of the house you spent your childhood in. I've finally reached a point where I call my house "home", but let me tell you, there's no more comforting feeling I get than driving down that gravel road, into my parents' driveway. That will always be "home". Home is a place you can come back to; it's always a place you're welcome.
Love can carry so many definitions, and this description is very similar. Love for yourself, love for another, love for your pets, love for your family, love for your neighbors. I've shared this quote (to the right), on Valentine's Day, for the past couple of years now...
So often, especially this time of year, we're too focused on being IN love. That's not it, at all! Relationship or no relationship, love should never be about DOING more than BEING. I want you to think about what the qualities of BEING love would look like? And to reiterate, not being IN love - BEING LOVE. How would you act? How would you present yourself? Focus on being love; giving yourself love, first, with the thoughts you create, the words you say, the actions you show, so that you can then go love others.
I mentioned earlier not necessarily loving the four original Primary Foods, just because of their broadness, but also because of the "career" element. See, as an individual who has suffered, a lot, with finding alignment in career, I don't necessarily believe that that factor fits everyone; or be a depiction of a happy & healthy life, or not. Sometimes, we won't have a job where we're making enough money. Sometimes, we're working, but not feeling great about it. Sometimes, we find ourselves without a job, living back with our parents, or digging into Indeed.com, daily.
I wanted to change things a little. Instead of using "career" as one of my essentials, I'm using "Purpose", because that feels so much better, in my soul. Purpose is something we're all searching for; something we all are wanting. A reason to wake up in the morning; something that excites us; something that drives us to push forward. For some of us, maybe that IS a career. Maybe we're proud of the work we do, in the job we're at. For others, maybe we're a parent, or a stay-at-home-parent, and that brings us purpose. Maybe we volunteer, or snuggle with our pet, or visit our parents, or grandparents, weekly. Purpose can be whatever brings you joy - whatever fills your cup up. Whatever it is, you need it; you need to have purpose.
I struggled with finding my purpose for a very long time; some days, I still struggle. My hope is that you never give up searching; that you never feel discouraged to the point where you give up. Look at your interests, your goals, your loves; where do you spend the most time, physically and mentally? Use those as a road map - allowing you to get closer to your purpose.
These are my Primary Foods ("Essentials"); the focal points needing attention, daily, in order to live the best life we can. Each essential makes up part of the heart - flowing in a collage of color, similar to our own self. This reminds us that not one is more important than the other, and that each essential relies on another, in order to flow accordingly. When one is missing, or lacking in color, that's when we find ourselves struggling - in mind, in body and/or spirit.
Do you remember in your high school English class, when you first learned about properly writing papers? Do you remember creating a thesis statement?
When thinking of these essentials, I want you to think about it in terms of being your "thesis" - a short statement, summarizing the main points; needing to be explained by means of examples and evidence, later on.
These essentials are all part of our heart; they're explained, briefly, however, in order to explain yourself, and your story, you need to take each one of those essentials and make it your own; creating the color and the collage. Let these Founding Principles summarize the way in which you live, and let the actions you take, and the pictures you paint, be your evidence.
From here on out, every weekly post will cover one of the 11 Essentials. It's my hope that we can start to bring more color to each essential of our heart... one piece at a time.