The Simple Art of Appreciation
Let’s get a bit silly and sentimental today.
Have you ever mused about the simple beauty of an avocado, or its deliciousness and versatility? Opening an avocado, much as Forrest Gump’s proverbial box of chocolates, is always a surprise; you never know what you’re gonna get. Within its dark green, purple black, thick, course and woody skin (if you’re opening a California Hass) or spotted bright green, smooth skin (if you’re opening a large Florida avocado), you can find the biggest or smallest pit; flesh that’s soft and creamy or firm and a bit stringy; color shades from unspoiled greenish yellow to brownish and bruised; and tastes that vary from subtle to rich...
There’s more than one way to open and cut an avocado. You can halve it widthwise or lengthwise and “twist” it open or squeeze out the flesh (recommended when making guacamole); you can peel it or scoop it out; you can slice it or dice it.
The avocado is one of the most adaptable of fruits. It can be used for soups, salads, dips, fillings, spreads, etc; or simply as garnish. You can also make flavorful avocado ice cream and smoothies (especially when combined with banana). In addition, there are many vegan recipes that use avocados as a substitute for non-vegan ingredients, such as avocado chocolate pudding.
Avocados have become an important part of my daily breakfast ritual. When things seem the darkest (such as when you’re dealing with an unknown chronic health issue that you can’t seem to figure out and resolve, or when a hurricane is about to hit the area where you and many of your family members and friends live), it often helps to focus on and appreciate the simple pleasures of life. For instance, having avocado toast with olive oil and coconut aminos in the morning, as you marvel at the fact that you get to enjoy such a wonderful treat in the comfort and safety of your home...
May many of your avocados be deliciously unspoiled, and may all of your avocados be special!
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 09/28/22
Photo by Tangerine Newt on Unsplash
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How do we keep ourselves from living our best lives?
Most of us are familiar with the terms fear of success or fear of failure; but do we really understand what these concepts mean, or do they feel mostly like abstractions that we can’t quite define or recognize within ourselves?
I’d guess that most of us, when making decisions and choices, are hardly ever conscious of the fact that we might be sabotaging ourselves due to our response to these fears and other limiting core beliefs. And yet, we tend to self-sabotage on a regular basis through many of our habits or patterns of thought, emotion and action.
If these patterns were easy to recognize and change, we’d already be ahead of this game. But such things are rarely obvious or easy to spot and address. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do it or that we shouldn’t be continuously working on it, anyway.
We are certainly able to come up with convincingly valid reasons for hitting the brakes or checking out of life. Have you ever made a decision about changing something in your life that would bring positive results and forward-movement, only to find yourself grabbing onto the first available excuse (other people, life circumstances, etc) to interrupt the process? Don’t get me wrong, some of the causes for interruptions and change of course can be challenging, difficult obstacles to be surpassed. Life sometimes demands that we slow down or stop for justifiable reasons, such as the loss of loved ones and the consequent grieving process, or the management of a serious health issue, etc. It can be scary to get up and continue to move forward, especially after we take a fall or feel that life knocked us down; and that’s a particularly hard process for highly sensitive empaths. However, for many of us, that can also be reason enough to stop progress all together. Of course, I’m not referring to the normal (and quite necessary) rest and relaxation pauses and stops, along with play time, that all of us should take to be able to recharge; I’m talking about giving up.
More often than not, the most valid excuses mask our deepest fears, which is a fact that we can’t get away with ignoring forever. If we dig deeply enough, we are bound to recognize that life constantly scares us (especially in these intense healing and transformational times) and we don’t need much of an excuse to want to stop on our tracks or even go on reverse, if at all possible. The problem is that we’re not built to continuously hide or retract; sooner or later, our mind, body and spirit start paying the price for staying out of the stream of life for too long.
How long is too long? There’s no easy answer, but we know what happens when we choose to hide and avoid for unhealthily long periods; we’ve all been there and dealt with the consequences. We ‘re quite aware that, at a certain point, the Universe starts nudging us forward; if we continue ignoring the nudges, they eventually become full-out, impossible-to-ignore slaps on the back of the head or kicks in the heinie… So, rather than waiting for that to start happening again, it’s best if we take some time to consider in which areas of our lives we have slowed down too much or stopped the flow. Awareness is half the way; even the process of acknowledging stagnated areas and the need to start moving forward again can open the door for the next phase of the journey to begin.
These uncertain times call for taking a leap of faith as we continue to move forward, trusting that the path will reveal itself as we take the next step.
What’s one small step you can take to move towards your goals and dreams today?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 08/04/22
Image by Ana Pilar from Pixabay
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CAN'T FOLLOW YOUR BLISS YET? Start By Leaving Your Misery Behind!
10 tips for the functional whiner
What’s in the way of following our bliss?
Surely, it’s easy to come up with a long answer to this question, as we can list countless reasons why we find ourselves incapable of making positive choices in life and being happy. But the truth is that most humans get a kick out of being miserable. No point in denying this simple fact; scientific studies prove that our brain is wired for negativity (please see What Is the Negativity Bias? Article under References).
Research also shows that our default tendency is to say “no” and protect ourselves from change. According to an article from Psychology Today (The Power of No; please see under References), “the human brain is hardwired to respond to No more quickly, more intensely, and more persistently than to a positive signal. No is stronger than Yes.”
Of course, knowing when to say “no” is an important survival skill. The problem is when we get stuck on the “no.” Since change is the fiber of life (and one of the only constants in our lives), that means we tend to spend a lot of our time and energy resisting change by trying to avoid or control it, which is a sure recipe for misery. As misery loves company, we often contribute to making others around us miserable by resisting the changes they might be ready to make, trying to hold them back or resenting them when and if they do manage to change their lives. In turn, they do the same for us.
Another reason that prevents us from finding our bliss and keeps us stuck in misery is not being able to let go of the past. Past trauma can lead to PTSD and other serious issues that often need to be addressed with professional help. However, there’s always a choice to be made: Seeing ourselves as victims and refusing to let the past go, or acknowledging, accepting and working to heal from past suffering, remembering that our past experiences helped shape who we are.
So what’s the solution?
6 Rules for Leaving Your Misery Behind:
- Being willing to use “no,” while at the same time going with the flow. Developing and maintaining healthy boundaries is vital for allowing ourselves the space to seek self-fulfillment and live well. On the other hand, misery ensues when we keep saying “no” to the flow of life. The trick is to tap into our inner and higher guidance to find a balance between “no” and “yes.”
- Accepting change as a fact of life without trying to control it. Remember Ben Franklyn’s ol’ adage, “nothing is certain, except death and taxes”? The word “change” should be added to that saying. No point in digging our heels; it’s gonna happen...
- Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. Life is full of discomfort. Trying to constantly avoid it doesn’t serve us well; it just makes us afraid and keeps us stuck.
- Reconciling with the past with the help of some core work. We can use tools we’ve familiar with (such as forgiveness) and learn new tools or get professional help.
- Sharing our story with the right audience as part of our healing process, and as a means to help inspire and guide others through their own challenges.
- Consciously choosing to leave misery behind! It does take a conscious choice or decision on our part. Less misery means more room for bliss!
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/26/22
Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash
What Is the Negativity Bias?
The Power of No
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...Or How to Become One
Hi, my name is Gisele... and I’m a functional whiner.
What’s a functional whiner, you may ask? It’s someone who uses whining as a tool for venting, but still manages to roll up their sleeves and do what needs to be done.
Some people are brought up to believe that they should be strong, they should toughen up, and they shouldn’t complain about stuff. Those with that kind of upbringing end up by internalizing their feelings and emotions, and often blow up in anger or get sick a lot.
On the other end of the spectrum, others grow up being enabled to whine about everything and everyone, and regard themselves as constant victims. They can’t seem to complete anything they start or achieve much in life.
Ideally, we should work towards finding a balance between practicing resilience when faced with life’s challenges and allowing ourselves to express what we feel during our weak moments. That includes being able to whine a bit.
Whining can help unclutter the brain and clear the space for imagination and innovation, including finding creative solutions for life’s problems.
One of my main mottos is: “It ain’t worth doing if you can’t whine about it.” However, I live by important whining rules that help create that balance between safely expressing myself and still being able to achieve my goals. Hence, the Functional Whiner.
The Functional Whiner Rules for Proper Whining Etiquette:
1) Choose the right ears to whine to. Try not to whine to the same person all the time; even if that person is someone whom you really can count on, such as your spouse or partner, another family member or your best friend. Spread the “joy” around! Sometimes, your journal can be your ears.
I also suggest trying the morning pages exercise mentioned by Julia Cameron on her book The Artist’s Way. This exercise, also known as brain drain or mind dump, is an effective tool for uncluttering the brain and sparking creativity.
2) Limit your allowed “whine” time. After all, you have to leave room on your schedule for the rest of... you know, life. If left unchecked, whining can surround you with an aura of negativity, consume you, and take over your life.
3) Whine... but always follow a whining session with a positive action step. In other words: Whine about what you have to do... and then do it, anyway. That’s called whining with a purpose!
4) Don’t whine-shame yourself (or others) and don’t accept whine-shaming. You gotta do what you gotta do to get yourself motivated and ready for action. If whining is one of your tools of choice, own it! As long as you use it well and don’t abuse the privilege, whining can actually help you move forward. But remember, if you dish it out, you also have to be able to take it.
5) Don’t over-whine; especially if you’ve already worn out all your available ears, and even your journal would refuse to open its pages to your woes, if it had a choice. At a certain point, it will be time for less whining and more action.
6) Don’t get caught up on the blame game during your whining session. Although you can certainly mention the perceived or real injustices and offenses from others in passing during your whining session, this exercise isn’t supposed to be about anything or anyone else but yourself and your own need to express your take on the unfairness of life. The main purpose here is to let it all go and move on after you’re done whining; so it wouldn’t help to get stuck in the blaming and finger-pointing part, right?
7) Select-whine (or Serenity-whine). As the Serenity Prayer goes, everyone has to learn to accept things they can’t change, build the courage to change what they can, and understand how to tell the difference. Obviously, it’s best to whine about things you can change, as you can use whining as a spring board to take some positive action steps about the things you do have control over.
8) Use whining as a tool, not an excuse. Venting off helps. Doing it to the point that you see yourself as the eternal victim and get paralyzed or lost in the whining phase, doesn’t.
9) Hire a professional you can whine to. The most attentive and helpful ears are usually the ones you pay for! You’re much more likely to receive useful advice, effective tools and guidance about your next positive steps from qualified professionals.
10) Whine not? Ideally, try to build up to the point where whining isn’t needed any longer. Even when properly used as a helpful tool, whining still takes a lot of time and energy that could be better used somewhere else...
Until then, whine away! Just start doing it more functionally and join the Functional Whiner club!
FYI, I still use whining as a tool... Something else to continue working on... ;)
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/14/22
Photo by Gundula Vogel on Pixabay
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