Author: Mercedes Déziel-Hupé (page 1 of 17)

Against The Grain For Self-Care

As I mentioned in my post on how to de-stress, I tend to carry stress in my body (like most of us) and I especially feel it in my shoulders and neck. I finally decided, when I returned from my backpacking Eurotrip, to book an appointment with a massage therapist I know (thank goodness for Groupon, too!). I knew that if I wanted dominion over my body for my best health, I needed to start with self-care.

I went for a treatment and I was told I was holding the equivalent tension in my shoulders of someone who works full-time at

Cartoon of anxious girl doing yoga. Source: 365daysyoga.tumblr.com

Source: 365daysyoga.tumblr.com

a desk job (I do), moonlights as a pianist (I can’t play an instrument to save my life, unless it’s a triangle) and never stretches (I practice yoga, b*tches).

Ouch!

I mean, I knew I was sore and tense, but I didn’t expect it was that bad. Unfortunately, your body stops giving you a pain signal if you’ve ignored it for too long. My left shoulder was on fire (figuratively) and I couldn’t tell (I’m right-handed). That’s when the risk of injury skyrockets. Cops say that routine is what puts their life in danger because it dulls your senses. That’s what your body does with pain; it stops telling you if you don’t pay attention. I responded well to treatment but I know I’m in for a couple more. I’ll welcome them as an exercise in acceptance and welcoming care and abundance.

The challenge was when I was told to ditch the purse. Wait… I need to what? I’ve carried a purse since I was 12.

As women, we’re socialized to think we need a purse. We assort it to suit our outfit, we stuff it to the brim with a micro-pharmacy of pills, lotions and potions wherever we go. Sometimes, we squeeze in our lunches or workout gear.

We accept that this is part of being a (feminine) woman (although, that very definition is opening a can of worms). I like to look good just as much as the next gal, because it makes me feel good too. I like compliments, I like to know I’m well put-together, but I try to marry comfort, practicality and style. And as stylish as purses can be, they’re not always practical (or comfortable, when they’re full). I could go on a crusade against high heels and their impact on our hips and backs, but I digress. The point I’m making is not that we should or shouldn’t wear heels and carry purses, it’s that we don’t question it, we don’t even think about it.

Our clothing is also not often made to favour practicality. Beyond our dresses and skirts, many of our pants don’t even have pockets large enough to fit a wallet. Forget your keys and phone; you’ll look like you’re happy to see us or had some plastic surgery go horribly wrong. “What’s that sticking out of your hip…?” Our wallets are often designed to be as big as clutches and we believe we need to carry makeup with us for touch-ups. Gosh, heaven forbid you should have forehead shine.

While travelling, I was thinking how freeing it would be to never carry a purse. Was I preparing for something I knew would be necessary or was I just being rebellious? Maybe I was just craving simplicity.

Just as with anything new, I doubted the feasibility. My anxieties went to the only things that I feel naked without (after my wallet, keys and phone, of course!); what about my book, water, deodorant and toothbrush? Then, I started to wonder about my change of clothes for biking and carrying my lunch to work.

The thing is, there’s a solution for every problem. The trick is asking how to do that challenging thing you’ve decided was happening, in this case, live without a purse. Your brain will think up solutions from this problem-solving stand point. When I told Scott, he basically said: “I’ve lived my whole life without a purse. You can do it too! When I need a bag, I take a backpack, but I rarely need one.”

I decided I was going to commit a fashion faux pas by giving in to the hipster movement of… fanny packs. You read that correctly. Well, if I was going to wear one, it was going to rock my socks off, so I picked a fairly traded Guatemalan belt from a local, socially-responsible store.

Leather fanny pack from Guatemala

I love my new leather fanny pack from Guatemala!

That solved my wallet, phone and keys problem, for whenever I didn’t have pockets. It leaves my back and shoulders free and I basically wear extra pockets in the form of a belt.

I can walk and bike like that too! Yesss!

As for my lunch, clothes, books, water… I either go with a backpack (best medium-sized solution) or with a simple lunch bag, resting in my handy bike basket.

I also decided to leave spares of things at work. Shoes, toothbrush, deodorant, water bottle. It’s just easier!

Opting to trade the purse for a Guatemalan belt or simply use my pockets has already relieved my back after a few weeks. It’s a small way, in which I’m making an intentional decision about my well-being. It raises eyebrows and I’m sure not everyone likes my look, but I think being different is cool. And if a girl as awesome as Rachel Brathen can rock one, so can I!

Dr Who loves bowties!

Dr Who loves bow ties!

And if someone makes a fashion police comment, I can always say I didn’t want to be a camel when I grew up. It’s a small choice that would make a big difference in my life quality. I spend less time carrying (and worrying) about stuff I don’t need.

I’d already adopted that simple approach to travel (only ever travel with carry-on!), so it makes sense to apply it to my every day. I’ve also been reducing my possessions at a pace with which I’m comfortable. My main concern is: “Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Does it make me happy?” Eventually, I’ll get into a groove and I’ll define what simplicity really means to me. If my process means I’m going against the grain to care for myself, spend more time with people I love, doing things that I’m passionate about, then so be it!

Is there anything you have been questioning about your routine or habits? What convention could you shake up to live lighter and happier? How have you managed to simplify an area of your life?

My Word Of The Year: Ritual

On the outside, I look like a normal, office professional with a no-waves lifestyle. I have a quiet life, for the most part. I’ve got a stable relationship, a few close friends and family members, a few hobbies and I’ve held onto the same job for the last (almost) three years.

The truth is, I’m a high-functioning rebel.

I find it incredibly hard to commit to new rules, schedules or habits. I love change – I even crave it often – when I’m instigating it. I don’t like it when others impose it on me.  I don’t like when authority figures try to strong arm me. I especially don’t like feeling as though someone questions my motivations. Sometimes, I even resist my own changes. Sometimes, I’ll abandon an idea or project just because I felt it a threat to my freedom or values. Whether that’s true or not, is all in my perspective.

Needless to say, I’m not one for resolutions… Change, I do, but going to the gym or quitting coffee? Hell would freeze over.

As we’ve past the half-way point of 2015, I feel it’s a good time to re-evaluate how I’ve managed to put self-honouring changes in place. This year, I chose to use one word and not a list of resolutions to be abandoned…

One Word Is All It Takes

It makes sense, it’s challenging to change habits. It’s even harder to change a few of them at a time. However, if we give ourselves one theme, guideline or word, it’s much easier to implement it into our lifestyle.

Naturally, I respond better to themes and cues than I do to complicated rules and lists. Most of us do, really. And who has the time to treat their life as a business analysis and produce forecasts and performance appraisals.

So back to simple. I chose a word. I proceeded to do the word of the year exercise by Christine Kane.  My word, as it turns out, was “Ritual“. The second word I was drawn to was “Love“.

I’ve discovered that for me, this meant a need to ground, center, find beauty, honour the sacred in the every day and honour what is sacred in me.

The word “exercise” begs the question: what does “ritual” mean to me? What forms has this taken?

And that’s the beauty of this particular exercise; it’s not prescriptive and it’s absolutely personal. You get out of it exactly what you need. Your word could be “beauty” or “joy” if what you need most is to re-learn how to enjoy yourself.

Ritual-ish

Risky Yoga Meditation; "It's all fun and games until someone loses an I."

Risky Yoga Meditation

I haven’t really created a daily ritual this year, but I’ve taken the approach of treating a few key activities as a ritual and my mornings as precious.

Writing, yoga or cycling (depending on the season), gardening and reading have been mindful activities for me. My mindset is to be more aware and to practice loving thoughts, feelings and activities.

When I engage, I am fully present. I appreciate the beauty and sacredness of the action. Essentially, I practice bringing more intention to what I do. On a broader level, implementing rituals helps me reconnect with my First Nations and Celtic roots.

I have made the commitment to write every day. Although I may not publish on this blog more than once weekly at the moment, I’m often working on ideas. I treat this place as a sacred space to reflect, exchange and listen to my own intuition. This is what a loving practice feels like for me. You may also love to write, or maybe you love to play board games or cook a nice meal. The key ingredient is to bring love to what you do.

A feather over smudge smoke in a shell.

Smudging Ceremony. Source: Manitobah Mukluks blog

In terms of energy healing, I have decided, as I commit to my reiki practice to also include it in my morning rituals. I’ve been smudging, my home and myself, almost weekly. And monthly, I’ve been practicing the Rite of the Womb.

I have witnessed the power of ritual in my life; it increases my awareness, my gratitude and my self-healing ability.

What I’ve noticed in my life

Creative Flow

I write with ease, I make decisions with less difficulty and my problem-solving ability has improved. I am steadfast with this blog, and it becomes easier and yet, more meaningful to me. I feel inspired daily and have caught myself expressing a “can-do” attitude. I have been blessed with many insights on my life, mySelf, my choices and my surroundings. When we treat life with grace, grace is what we’re given.

Overall Health

This year, I’ve listened to my body more closely. I’ve been less affected by the typical winter bugs. My sleep has been better this year than it has been in years. When I ride my bike, I feel like I’m flying, not like I’m about to have one of my previously famous asthma attacks. I’ve started ditching guilt. I have less and less cravings for unhealthy foods. I’ve begun valueing myself as a being of light, deserving of wellness. I’ve become inclined toward physical activity as a source of life-affirmation, not as a necessary evil or a form of punishment for carrying excess weight and not meeting society’s standards of health and beauty.

If you could pick a word to inspire your actions, what would it be? Do you have any ritual you have found helpful?

 

 

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