Category Archives: Self-care

Becoming Whole

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“Let the flow manifest where it will, not where we will it.” – Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

“Love is my religion.”  – Ziggy Marley

By Vicy L. Wilkinson, MA, BCC

It’s a gorgeous day and I am grateful for being here with the opportunity, time, space, wherewithal, and skills to write & share something open about my experience.  It is my dream to get all this tumbling experience and introspection out of my head so that my stories and studies can better serve others.  My work has shown me how much our stories impact all of us and the world around us.

My experiences in this lifetime so far have yielded a full range and often paradoxical and mind-boggling series of emotions and impressions.  In my mind there exists an unfolding tapestry of moments and memories that contain everything, sometimes all at once.  Irreverently reverent.  Dishonestly true.  Fantastically real.  Unbelievably realistic.  Miniscule and infinite in scope.  Wide open and withdrawn.  Overwhelmingly scattered and targeted like a laser beam. Full of conflicted conviction.  Hysterically funny sadness.  Loving hatred and hateful love.  Optimistic hopelessness; joyous moments full of grief and despair.  Gaining wisdom through loss after loss.  Grasping tightly to learn to let go…

And the more stories I hear from others, the more deeply I understand we all experience this odd dichotomy of seemingly oppositional experiences, often simultaneously.  The more I stay fully present with clients, students, friends, and family, the more I understand that nothing is exclusive or unconditionally independent.  There is no single singularity of experiences that stands alone, isolated, outside the totality of all-that-is in our conscious experiences as human beings.  We can truly laugh and feel joy in times of dark despair.  We can feel hatred towards people we love deeply.

I’ve “known” this all my life through a deeply resonant feeling I first recall feeling when I was five years old and outside running through the woods.  I studied it and questioned it intellectually for years, throwing my mind, body, spirit, into combing through philosophies from cultures, times, masters, and academics around the world – 21st century and backwards to the beginning of our recorded histories of thought.

Today, though, I have returned to the deep resonance of knowing from childhood.  A knowing in my body – in my consciousness itself – in my spirit of the interconnectedness of all people-places-things-ideas-philosophies-understanding…being itself.

Glass ArtOur feelings and experiences are all valid, all ours alone, and universal.
Our ideas are singular and expansive.
Our creations reflect all that’s come before, as a whole.
We exist as part of all else that has ever or will ever or does exist.
Being itself is a continuum – expansive as the universe itself.
Consciousness is a gift!

It is within this knowing that I perceive my own rightness in the world.  And by rightness I mean proper, integral, complete-ness,  not at all my “rightness” (or righteousness) as opposed to wrongness.

Right action:  My right actions are actions that revolve around using my inherent gifts.  Teaching, coaching, questioning, facilitating, creating, growing self and others.

Right motivation:  I am motivated by the need and, indeed, the calling to serve others and facilitate conscious growth, adaptation, and change.

Right livelihood:  Coaching and consulting and teaching are my right livelihood. Writing, speaking, collaborating, listening, learning, and creating are integral pieces to this livelihood whole.

Right intention:  I intend to heal myself and others.  I intend to generate love, kindness, and compassion as a path towards healing & health – towards wholeness.  Healthy wholeness is created by resonating the frequencies of love, kindness, compassion, and gratitude.

Right speech:  To the best of my ability, which is better and better as I continually practice mindfulness, I intend to speak with kindness and passion, with loving intent.  I recognize I use language that is sometimes calming and beautiful, and sometimes raucous and uncouth.  My speech is born of emotion and the goal is that what I speak, reverent or irreverent, comes from a heart full of love, not a soul full of hate.  Sometimes, love says, “I love you.”  Sometimes, love says, “F**K YOU.”  When it comes from love, it is right speech.

Right view/understanding:  As I am able to comprehend my vastness (consciousness) and my limited scope (physical form), I believe the right view from which to pivot is seeing the unlimited capacity for transformation and change we each hold.  We can be born again and again.  We create our worlds daily, hourly, by the minute, in each moment.  We can change, grow, heal, learn, and develop ever-greater understanding and capacities for compassion. We are infinitely finite.

Right effort:  I am here to use my mind and body and spirit regularly – daily – in support of all that is moving towards positive expansion.  My efforts matter.  I effect change by deciding to use what I have at any moment.  Right effort is making ongoing effort towards expanding loving-kindness through practice and action.

Right concentration:  I am here to consistently redirect and re-determine my focus.  I am here to commit constantly to showing up and being present.  Present to myself and my own needs; present to the people, places, things, other beings around me.  Present to this life and this moment.  With mindfulness and choice, I can control my concentration.

copy-cropped-butterflies3_sm1.jpgAll of this makes up my own personal experience of living what Buddhism calls the 8-fold path.  I practice.  I fall short.  I practice some more.  I excel.  I practice some more. I fall apart.  No matter the outcome, I just keep practicing.

I have come to realize that part of the 8-fold path goes back to those paradoxical – nonsensical, even – points of tension and experience within myself, that conflicted conviction and optimistic hopelessness, and all the rest.

I am made not solely of good and not solely of evil, but I contain within my existence the full capacity for both and for all the gray areas in between.  And I fundamentally believe that we all contain this full spectrum of possibilities.  We choose – again and again – with every thought, every spoken word, every feeling we allow to flourish inside of us, every interaction with others outside in the world, we choose which piece of the spectrum defines us in that moment.

Our lives are made up of these moments, these choices.  We become an amalgam of these moments.  When we reflect on our own moments, and begin to feel more joy, love, gratitude, kindness, openness than we do hate, pain, sadness, guilt, I believe it is then that we truly step into being our best selves, our whole selves.

When there is so much love that no external hate can shake us, we are whole.
When there is so much compassion that we can be gentle on ourselves and others in times of crisis, mistakes, or grief, we are whole.
When there is so much kindness that angry outrage from others does not knock us down or tear us apart, we are whole.

When we are whole, we are one.  Heart to heart, mind to mind, spirit to spirit.

May we all become whole.

Namaste.

 

Curry Spiced Cauliflower “Rice”


Vegan Cauliflower RiceCurry Spiced “Rice”
(grain-free, gluten-free, #whole30 compliant, vegan, made with cauliflower power!)
original recipe by Vicy Wilkinson, MA, BCC

I’m so lucky that part of my job as a transformational life coach involves helping people (myself included) continuously improve their nutrition and ability to take good care of themselves at the most basic levels.  Food is the tastiest of those basic levels of THRIVING!  And I LOVE FOOD SO MUCH!  I’m grateful that many of friends enjoy my becoming-more-and-more-frequent #whole30 resets.  I’ve found that following the guidelines of this program as outlined in the book It Starts With Food every 4-6 months really helps me stay better on track over all, with both health and fitness goals and all the rest of my goals, too.  {As within, so without.  As above, so below.}

At some point during the last year, I cooked dinner for a friend, and ended up serving her a “rice” dish I made with cauliflower that she has asked me about ever since!  “How did you make that?  It was delicious!” she says to me every time I cook for her.  During my weekly food prep for a busy week of seeing clients and changing the world, I finally decided I would try to re-create this dish, and keep up with how I did it so that I could share it with her… and you!

I realized that one of the keys to simple recipes like the one that follows is that having a good spice cabinet.  If you’re still getting by with salt, pepper, oregano, and Mrs. Dash, I highly recommend that you start exploring new worlds by adding a spice or two to your kitchen apothecary each time you visit the grocery store over the next few months.  You’ll be amazed with what you can do with just a couple of ingredients, and the right blend of spices! {Also, even if you’re missing a couple of the less common spices in this recipe, like Garam masala or 5-spice, try it anyway!  It’ll still be good, you’ll just be missing some of the subtle hints created by these antique spice blends.  Pick them up  next time you’re in a spicy mood!  Remember, spice doesn’t necessarily equate to heat.}

Here’s the recipe, along with a few pics I took of the prep work along the way!  Please cook, share, embellish as you wish… and ENJOY!  ♥

Ingredients
*Note:  the full version below is pretty spicy, and is recommended for people who are used to this intensity of spice pallets.  I’m including (in bold) the 1/2 spice version for the unsure or timid!

  1. 1 head of cauliflower
  2. ½ tsp. 5-spice powder (commonly found in Asian food sections of most grocery stores; consists of fennel seed, star anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon) (¼ tsp. 5-spice powder)
  3. ½ tsp. Garam masala (another spice blend; usually consists of black and white peppercorns, cloves, cassia bark, nutmeg and mace, black and green cardamom pods, Bay leaf, Caraway) (¼ tsp. Garam masala)
  4. 1 tsp. turmeric (½ tsp. turmeric)
  5. 1 tsp. cumin  (½ tsp. cumin)
  6. 1 tsp. curry powder [I used hot, yellow curry powder in this version; use whatever youRaw Fresh Ginger have on hand!]  (½ tsp. mild curry powder)
  7. 1 tsp. cinnamon  (½ tsp. cinnamon)
  8. ¼ c. ish fresh minced ginger (*see photo ~ this is a ¼ c. measuring cup, before I minced it)
  9. 1 large or 2-3 small cloves fresh minced or crushed garlic (½ large clove or 1-2 small cloves garlic)
  10. ¼ c. raisins
  11. Big handful of nuts*
  12. 3-4 Tbsp. coconut oil
  13. Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast

 

Instructions

  1. Wash cauliflower, and then cut it into large chunks.Spice pallet for Curry Spiced Rice
  2. Add all pieces of cauliflower to your food processor and “pulse” in 20-30 second bursts until cauliflower is a nice “rice-like” texture, with maybe a few larger chunks. {This will probably only take 3-4 bursts – you don’t want cauliflower dust! J}
  3. Set aside until you prepare your curry paste.
  4. Add 3-4 Tbsp. coconut oil into a large saucepan, and heat to medium for a few minutes.
  5. Stir in your “wet” curry ingredients: garlic and gingerWet Curry Paste Ingredients
  6. Reduce heat to low and stir in all the “dry” curry ingredients: turmeric, cumin, curry powder, 5-spice, Garam masala, and cinnamon.
  7. Now add your cauliflower and stir until the curry paste coats everything fully.
  8. After it’s all mixed up nicely, turn up the heat to about medium and stir frequently for about 10 minutes to soften the cauliflower.
  9. Reduce heat to low and add your nuts and raisins.Cauliflower Rice ~ Spice Coated
  10. Cover and let simmer on low (lowest possible setting on your stovetop) for 15-20 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and sprinkle with Bragg’s nutritional yeast (because it’s good for you) & stir or “toss” before serving.
  12. ENJOY! {Garnish with curly parsley, if you want to get real fancy with it.}

*I used pecans in this batch; sometimes I use cashews; I suggest you use whatever tree nuts you have on hand.  I’m pretty sure I used pistachios in the first batch I ever made that my friend raves about so much.  NOTE:  to maintain #whole30 compliance, nuts must be raw tree nuts, no peanuts and no nuts roasted in any non-compliant oil.

Serving suggestions:  Pair your tasty spicy rice with baked or roasted chicken, and a simple roasted veggie.  (I like roasted purple cabbage and a simple chicken breast, for example.)   Better yet, stick with the Indian theme and make Tandoori Chicken or Tikka Masala to go with it… but be prepared to spend some extra time in the kitchen for these delights!

May we all eat well & be healthy and happy! Namaste. 

Joy Jar: Remember the Positive Experiences

Joy Jar ~ Savor the Positive For the past several years, I’ve seen a post floating around the Internet that instructs people to place a large empty jar somewhere visible in their home, and every time something really good or happy or positively surprising happens, write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. Then, at the end of a whole year of doing this, you’ve got a whole jar stuffed with happy memories that you can read and savor.

This past year, I finally thought to do it!  My this year’s self is very grateful to my last year’s self for starting this tradition in my home.  Why?  Going through my “Jar of Joy” yesterday was so enlightening and inspiring to me! This past year has been one of the most difficult ones of my entire life due to a tragic and sudden loss – to a violent suicide – of a close friend of almost 30 years.  And that loss came on the heels of a solid year of grieving other lost family members and friends, so there was a period during last year that I was lost in a sea of grief, and every day was a struggle to keep “practicing what I preach” and learning to grieve but keep GOING and keep GROWING at the same time, while not giving in to wanting to just give up.

This Joy Jar showed me that even when I think there is too much darkness for any light to get through, that is not really true… The light is ALWAYS there, we just have to look for it AND we have to write it down so that it doesn’t get lost in the dark.

Build a Positive Life with Happy MemoriesI found fabulous little nuggets like:
Got a kayak today and I am SO GRATEFUL to my friend S. for giving it to me!  
It is cold and pouring down rain outside, but reading about that moment revived it in me and I was filled with so much gratitude and EXCITEMENT, just by remembering that fabulous gift.

Another one was:
E. and I successfully rowed across the lake and back, including a moving turn, without stopping in our new favorite scull, Dark Matter.  YAY!  
If you’ve been keeping up with us, you know by now that I am a rower, and that I started indoor rowing and eventually began translating those skills to the water by learning to scull.  It’s a life-long learning curve, so getting to the point that we can navigate our tiny domain without stopping AND successfully turn that crazy long boat without stopping is incredible!  (One day, we’ll row in a bigger shell and have coxswain to tell us what to do, maybe, but until that day, we row doubles.  And it’s hard! But SO FUN!)

And then there was this sweet one:
I had a great first real date with I. today, and the goodnight kiss was sweet.  
I mean, do I have to say anything about this?  A first kiss, even if it goes nowhere in the long term, is a sweet happy memory.  <3

This was exciting too:
Complete Life Coaching got a call from a NASDAQ-traded company today to ask if we’d considering giving a talk on dealing with high stress in the workplace!  (My comment on that little slip of paper was:  Wow!  We’re both excited!)
Sometimes, memories are exciting enough to give us a whole new *spark* when we think about them!  And a lot of the times, that spark will inspire us to keep moving towards our goals, even the giant daunting REALLY big picture ones!

As I went through the jar, I found evidence of progress made on many of my goals, and I discovered how I was able to keep up with many of my best practices for self-care, self-love, and self-discovery even when I thought I had basically thrown in the towel.  I learned that there’s a part of me that pays attention to the positive, even when I seem overwhelmed by the negative. I also learned that it’s so wonderful to have and acknowledge all my support during crisis, and on the good days!

There were so many magical little memories from last year that I’d lost completely, but this jar saved them for me.  Now, I am able to savor them!  Please try this simple technique, and I promise your next year’s self will thank you!

STOP Your Runaway Thoughts & Take Control of Your Mind

Tame Your Mind, Improve Your Lifeby Vicy L. Wilkinson, MA Philosophy, BCC, Certified Transformational Coach

It’s nighttime, you’re trying to relax and go to sleep, and your brain suddenly bombards you with thoughts about what you woulda’ coulda’ shoulda’ said during that argument yesterday or great ideas that will turn your whole life around AND save the world or the twenty- seven tasks you didn’t complete because you were trying to help the kids with a school project… or a million other things that our minds can come up with when we’re lying in bed and trying to relax and fall asleep.

In the world of transformational coaching, we call all this thinking, which has a tendency to turn dark, negative, and brooding, rumination or having ruminating thoughts.  Another term for this thinking-excessively with little control is “monkey mind” or “monkey chatter.”  In the Shambhala Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this sort of mental chatter is compared to having an untamed horse for a mind.  No matter how you look at it, rumination can get out of control and cause a lot of difficulty in life such as insomnia, anxiety, short temper, forgetfulness.  If left to fester and expand, rumination can lead down a slippery slope of temporary negativity into low mood, poor resilience, chronic stress, and even depression.

Of course, rumination doesn’t just happen when you’re trying to relax and go to sleep; many of us are plagued with ruminating thoughts during our wide awake time as well.  For example, how long have you obsessed in your mind over a stressful conversation that happened hours ago?  Or what kinds of thoughts take up space in your mind when you’re getting dressed in the morning and a certain pair of pants don’t fit right?

No matter when rumination gets in your way, though, there are proven techniques to help you regain control over your mind and discover your calm, peaceful center so that you can quiet that monkey chatter and choose a better direction for your powerful thoughts!

One easy way to put the brakes on rumination is very simple:  stop “just thinking” by taking specific action.  That action can be as simple as sitting down for 5 minutes and writing down what your mind is saying.  Just dump it all right out on paper.  It’s amazing how this simple act diminishes the hold negative thoughts have over us.  If it’s at night and you’ve already gone to bed, do yourself a favor by sitting back up, turning that lamp on again, and taking up pen and paper. When we write down all the stuff our brain is screaming to us, it helps externalize our experience and in this simple act, many people find immediate peace.

Sometimes our brain is just trying to help us remember important things; when we write those things down, we can refer to them later when we CHOOSE to do so, and our brain can stop reminding us and let us focus on relaxing.  This is especially helpful when your brain gets stuck in a loop about the minutiae of daily life:  schedules, tasks, 17 things you must remember before walking out the door Monday morning…whatever it is, write it down – just “brain dump” it out there onto the paper.

Another great thing about writing it down is that for many of us, our mind likes to pour out creative ideas or solutions to problems we had a month ago at random times.  If we take a few minutes to capture some notes about those ideas and solutions on paper, our brain can relax and move on.  Writing things down gives us a logical sense of closure.   It’s essentially clearing the cache in your mind like you do in your web browser.

If you find that writing is extremely difficult for you for whatever reason, I recommend keeping a voice recorder or using an app on your phone to just talk it out: literally speak your list or rambling thoughts into the recorder.  (Sometimes this works especially well for extroverts who don’t enjoy writing, but do enjoy talking!)  The outcome is similar as with writing it down because you have externalized the thoughts.

After you’ve taken the time to empty out some of the chatter, your mind can begin to relax and you can further help slow down any future rumination by taking advantage of that moment of spaciousness in your mind.  After writing or voice recording, take 2-5 minutes to focus on your breathing and calm both your mind and your body all at once.  If you take a really deep breath in and count to four – 1, 2, 3, 4 – slowly in your mind, then hold your breath for an equal 4-count, and then slowly exhale to a count of eight – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – you will notice instant feedback from your body.  Repeat this breath at least 5 times and you will help relax your entire nervous system, which naturally shuts down all that spinning monkey chatter.

If you find you still have some chatter after doing this breath work, you may want to take a step further in your writing or voice recording process by making notes about some potential solutions or ideas if your mind is still focused on some sort of dilemma.  Some of us need to not just write the thoughts down, but also to do some creative problem solving in order to gain that sense of closure that helps us rest.  You can alternate between breathing carefully as described above and writing to maximize your level of control.  With practice, it all gets a lot easier and you can begin to slow the rumination periods over time.   Bonus tip for problem solving in your sleep:  Ask yourself a specific question about the problem and then go to sleep.  Write for five to ten minutes first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed, and see what kinds of answers your awesome self has come up with overnight, like magic.

Experiment with these tools and make them your own.  Once you find out what works best for you on those nights your brain tries to hijack your calm and your sleep, keep whatever you need beside the bed and keep those ruminating thoughts from robbing you of well-deserved, and much needed rest, relaxation, and precious sleep.

Take care of you.  If you need more help, give us a call.  We’re glad you’re here.  Namaste.