Thursday 25 April 2013

W is for Wellness

It's week twenty-three of Alphabe-Thursday!

W is for Wellness...

Wellness is the balancing of mind, body and spirit. Our overall health and happiness comes from the merging of these three essential parts of us. By choosing a balanced existence we can ensure a more joyful life. If we ignore one or more part, it means we're 'running on empty'. That's usually when illness arrives.

The one part most often ignored is the spirit. Our body and mind are tangible - we live with them every single day. We all know our body needs food and water to survive. We're told from a young age to care for our bodies through healthy eating and exercise. We know that to prolong our lives we must look after our bodies first and foremost.

Likewise, the mind is something we interact with from day one. We might not be able to touch our mind, but we're certainly aware of our thoughts; they never leave us! We feed our mind by learning new skills or reading books. It is our mental intelligence, our sense of reasoning and our accumulation of memories that provides us with a foundation to build our lives upon. 

For a lot of people the body and mind are enough. They learn everything they need to know to survive and they make sure their body keeps them alive for as long as possible.

But for some of us, we need a little more. To feel completely well we also need to nourish our spirits. How we go about this, of course, depends on our individual understanding of 'spirit'. For me, my spirit is my soul - the immortal essence of me. To nourish my soul I meditate, chant mantras, use affirmations and connect to Reiki energy. I continually seek deeper spiritual growth through experience of the mysteries of life. Giving time to my soul, just like the time I devote to keeping my body healthy and my mind active, is essential to my well-being.

“Body and mind, and spirit, all combine,
To make the Creature, human and divine.”
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox ~

How do you promote wellness in your life?

Thursday 18 April 2013

V is for Values

It's week twenty-two of Alphabe-Thursday!

V is for Values...

I once came across an exercise that asked me to list my core values, and as I'm dedicated to really knowing myself, I quickly set about creating my list. It proved to be a wonderful experience for me because I learnt so much about my priorities in life.

Values are like the guideposts of our lives. Once we know what we value above all else we are able to make decisions and create the life that feels right for us. Knowing my values gave me a clarity I'd never had before - from my list I was able to acknowledge what drives me and why I am who I am. It was fascinating!

Making a core values list can set us on our true path. It can bring us powerful insights and the motivation to go out there and achieve our goals. Knowing what matters most to us means we can make the best of the lives we're living and use our time productively. We can choose careers, relationships, lifestyles etc that fit in with our priorities.

Exercises like the one I discovered ask us to make a long list of any value that speaks to us. Then we need to narrow the list down to those values that mean the most. This can be a time-consuming exercise, but it's very rewarding. When we put our values in order we can instantly see a blueprint of our personality traits and our desires in life. For example - someone who values success the most might be career-driven, while someone who put intimacy at the top might give most of their attention to their relationships with others.

I managed to narrow my own list to ten top values. They are -

Making a difference
Personal Development
Inner Harmony

Whenever I feel lost or unsure of myself, I bring my values to mind so I can make sure I'm living from a place of love and joy first and foremost. I make sure my values are being met through my work, my relationships, and my life in general. If one of my values no longer fits me then I can consciously change it for another. My values allow me to always live from my truth.

What are your values?

Thursday 11 April 2013

U is for Unique

It's week twenty-one of Alphabe-Thursday!

U is for Unique...

I recently discovered this wonderful quote -

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken" ~ Oscar Wilde ~

I instantly fell in love with that! I think it will become one of my mottos. I sometimes fall into the trap of comparing myself to others or trying to be someone I'm expected to be rather than who I am. But the truth is we are all unique. We each view the world from our own perspective and we all have our own special talents and skills. We do not need to be anyone, or anything, other than who we are.

There is a lot of pressure on us in this modern society. We are inundated with media images that show us the so-called 'right' way to live our lives. We're expected to constantly better ourselves by searching for more and continually changing our life in the pursuit of unlimited achievement. We're not expected to be happy with our lot, to want to slow things down and focus on what we already have. 

There is so much hatred in the world for people who are different. People who walk to the beat of their own drum. People who don't fit into the mould of who we as human beings are 'supposed' to be. But if we were all the same, with the exact same thoughts and feelings and reactions and experiences, we would be nothing more than machines. We'd be a race of human robots!

Our uniqueness is what makes us beautiful. We are all made of the same stuff, the same life, the same energy, and yet it is our specialness that makes us come alive. We are like snowflakes - they're all made of frozen water, but each flake has its own design, its own unique molecular structure.

I've experienced firsthand that trying to be someone other than who I am is a complete waste of energy. It causes sorrow and confusion. But most of all it disconnects me from my heart and from my truth. When I remind myself that my life is a blessing and that I am fine just as I am, the world becomes a much brighter place to be. 

Be yourself. Be who you are. Be your perfections and your imperfections. Embrace your gifts and accept your flaws. You are unique. And that's what makes you magnificent. There is no one on the planet like you. So be yourself. Be the star of your own life. And allow others the space to do the same.

Book Review: The Paler Shade of Autumn by Jacquie Underdown

'Autumn Leone travels to India to find answers about her unique ability to see into other’s minds. But instead of answers she finds love. It takes one night of passion to fall for Jet Stark, whom fate had sent her half way around the world to meet. But, too soon, Autumn is to fly back to Australia and out of his life.

When Autumn bumps into Jet back in Australia after five long years apart, it’s difficult to dispute fate’s intention in crossing their paths not only once, but twice. Autumn knows it is a risk to fall for an old fling, especially because Jet now happens to be rich, her new boss, and involved with another woman.

But a connection like theirs proves impossible to sever...'

I read Jacquie Underdown's romance novel The Paler Shade of Autumn as part of the AWW2013 Challenge. Jacquie and I connected online because we have similiar interests in spiritual matters, and Jacquie thought I might like her novel as it deals with the spiritual life so she offered me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Jacquie was right - I did like her novel! The Paler Shade of Autumn is a romance first and foremost, but in the story Autumn and Jet's spiritual beliefs are just as important as their all-consuming love. This was refreshing to me because I haven't read any other romance novels that deal with the spiritual life. I enjoyed the combination of a typical romance-genre relationship with the deeper there-is-more-to-life-than-just-the-material-world outlook of the main characters.

This novel's message of humanity's need for compassion, connection and togetherness will resonate with those travellers and seekers amongst us who have explored the world and come home forever changed by the experience. Autumn and Jet both share a desire to help others. They meet in India where Jet works in an orphanage and it is his compassion and sensitivity that attracts Autumn to him. He is the quintessential man - a handsome, down-to-earth, tanned Aussie who wants to change the world. No wonder Autumn falls for him! But it's not just about lust for these two. There is a connection that runs deeper than anything they've experienced before - a connection that comes from the soul.

I loved the spiritual elements in this novel. It was a unique way to build a relationship between the main characters. Autumn's gift to see into people's minds might seem supernatural to some readers, but to me it made perfect sense. I am a believer in the soul and its power to transcend the physical world we inhabit on a daily basis. I am a strong believer in our spiritual essence, the synchronistic nature of life, and how destiny plays a part in our lives, so reading a story that includes these ideas was really wonderful.

That's not to say that this book will only appeal to readers who are interested in spirituality. The Paler Shade of Autumn is a romance at its heart and will definitely tick all the boxes for those readers who enjoy the romance genre. There is passion and lust, a blossoming relationship, and obstacles to overcome, so romance-lovers will feel right at home reading this novel. 


Thursday 4 April 2013

T is for Touch

It's week twenty of Alphabe-Thursday!

T is for Touch...

Touch is vital for our wellbeing because it helps us to feel cared for and cherished. When someone reaches out to hug you it always feels wonderful, doesn't it? That closeness between people is so important for our happiness.

Touch is the first of our senses to be developed. We're touching while we're still in the womb. And after we're born touch is the first thing we feel in this world. The soothing touch of our parents makes us feel safe and comforted.The amount that we are hugged and showered with affection during those critical early years of life can have a profound affect on us as adults. If we know what tenderness and caring feels like from our very first days, we are more likely to grow up into confident, compassionate adults. Without affection and connection with others we lose our ability to relate or feel comfortable around people. We might become hostile towards others or even depressed.

The benefits of touch work on an emotional, physical, psychological, and even cognitive level. Caring touch stimulates brain growth by releasing endorphins. The simple act of hugging can calm us when we're feeling anxious or soothe us when we're upset. Someone reaching out to place their hand on our shoulder when they know we need to feel comforted or acknowledged in some way is a beautiful gift. It helps us to know we're not alone and that people care about us. Touch can bring people together, forge bonds, and help us to feel accepted and loved. A warm embrace can change our lives for the better.

Sending you a big 'virtual' hug today.... :-)

"You can't wrap love in a box, but you can wrap a person in a hug"  ~ Author Unknown 

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Book Review: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

'Humbert Humbert - scholar, aesthete and romantic - has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady's gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust.'

I read Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita as part of the Eclectic Reader Challenge, which called for a book that was 'made into a movie.'

This book was hard to read for a variety of reasons. Humbert's obsession with Lolita was disturbing to say the least and I detested his use of blackmail to keep her by his side (he essentially kidnaps her and imprisons her for his sexual pleasure). Lolita may be precocious and flirtatious, but she is still an innocent child in many respects and this made his relationship with her utterly disgusting. 

Humbert talks a lot about loving the 'down' of a young girl - her soft body hair not yet affected by the hormones of puberty. He is in love with the girl-child, the 'nymphet' and Lolita is the embodiment of his desire for innocent flesh. Their love affair is nothing more than a way for him to indulge his fantasies. I felt sorry for Lolita who clearly falls victim to his deviance. 

That being said, Lolita has her own issues and uses Humbert's insanity and naivety against him. She is no wallflower, at least not by the end of the novel. She might enter the relationship out of curiosity and playfulness, but it clearly becomes a trap for her quite quickly.  

I found myself disliking Humbert and his narration the further I got in the story. The novel is broken up into two parts and I had a tough time getting through the second part. By this time I'd lost interest in Humbert's crazy, meandering, laborious narrative. The book has been called a masterpiece of dark comedy, but I struggled to find the humour (even dark humour) in this story. Humbert is clearly deluded, a self-absorbed lunatic, and completely messed up. I didn't see him as funny or heart-breaking at all.  

The book's description says it is full of 'ingenious word play', but to me Nabokov's use of language was at times irritating and far too complicated. Interspersing the narrative with French phrases and the over-the-top use of a large vocabulary was not, in my opinion, a genius way of writing. It interrupted the flow and took me out of the story too often for my liking. The 'genius' of this might actually be that Nabokov wrote the novel this way to show just how pompous Humbert is. I came to hate Humbert intensely, so if indeed that was Nabokov's intention his controversial novel 'Lolita' is certainly a success!