Books, Memory, Photographs, Quotes, Time

Memory

Arboretum

“The places we have known do not belong only to the world of space on which we map them for our own convenience. They were a only a thin slice, held between the contiguous impressions that composed our life at that time; the memory of a particular image is but regret for a particular moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years.”

From Swann’s Way

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Inspiration, Photographs, Quotes, Writing

Reminder

baldeaglestatepark

“When we feel cut adrift, it is often because our unacknowledged wishes are crying for our attention and we are turning a deaf ear. At such times we need to take pen to the page and listen to the voices within us that want further expression in our lives. We must make our unconscious conscious. We must allow these voices to help us grid our growth or we will grow helter-skelter and not in directions that give us the soul satisfaction that we crave.”

~Julia Cameron, from The Sound of Paper

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Body

Should You Count Acne Among Your Blessings?

My six-word memoir might read something like this: Acne-ridden girl grows into acne-ridden woman.

But really. I’ve been battling breakouts since the millisecond I hit puberty. At the solidly adult age of 25, it’s safe to say that this is not simply a case of stubborn teenage hormones.

For most of my life, looking in the mirror has meant seeing all of my blemishes — the old, the new, the fading dark spots, the suspicious red or lumpy patches that will soon give birth to pimples. I understand now how much of my self-esteem has been tied to the condition of my skin.

My face is still not exactly clear, but my attitude has sure come a long way. Were it not for my obsession with trying to understand what was causing my lifelong plague of acne, I never would have discovered the Paleo lifestyle. Indeed, “going Paleo” changed everything. Over several years of (mostly) cutting out grains and processed foods from my diet, my acne has lessened, my brain fog has lifted, my pants size has dropped (slightly), and most importantly, my confidence has slowly been climbing.

If it weren’t for so many despairing years wondering how to get rid of acne, I wouldn’t have come to understand firsthand just how much food affects, well, everything! For anyone wanting to read up on the Paleo or Primal philosophies, I recommend Mark Sisson’s book The Primal Blueprint, Loren Cordain’s The Dietary Cure for Acne, or William Davis’s Wheat Belly (definitely one of the greatest titles ever).

My goal in writing this post is not to market the Paleo life, but rather to say this: A major turning point for me was realizing that having acne can actually be a blessing.

Acne is a symptom. A very complex, frustrating, and mysterious symptom. I’m not about to attempt to go into the science of insulin resistance and hormones and vitamins. But we understand more and more the connection between diet and skin conditions. If you use your acne as a signpost indicating deeper problems, begin to investigate your eating and other lifestyle habits, and start to understand what your body is trying to tell you via the state of your skin, you just may save your body much suffering later on.

My acne was and still is trying to tell me things: Eat less sugar, get moving, eat vegetables, cut the wheat, lay off the harsh face wash chemicals, and please for the love of God try to CALM DOWN.

I’m still learning to listen, and I still get breakouts. I break out because I still eat sugary yogurt, occasionally indulge in pizza or whatever else tickles my fancy, and I generally feel pretty stressed. But my skin has improved drastically over the last couple of years. Several people have remarked how nice my skin looks and even described it as glowing or radiant.

For an acne sufferer, these compliments are enough to elicit tears of joy.

You also start to learn that people don’t notice acne as much as you might think.

If you’re struggling with stubborn acne, examine what you eat. Check out the books I’ve suggested. Chances are, you have other irritating physical symptoms that may come from a poor diet — IBS, fatigue, mood swings, being overweight or underweight, or whatever else. Get to understand what makes you feel bad, and what makes you feel good. Adjust your lifestyle accordingly.

I still hate my acne. But when it flares up, I take it as a reminder to examine how I am treating my body — particularly, what I am consuming. The more we practice tuning in to what feels good and what feels right for our bodies, the more beautiful we will look, and most importantly, the more beautiful we will feel.

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Mind

Choices

Yesterday I had a powerful realization. It was one of those moments when a thought flutters down and settles into place and everything makes sense. Sometimes it feels like we learn and relearn the same lessons over and over. Where have all those magic moments of peace gone – the moments when everything felt right in the world? They come and go.

My magic moment yesterday was about having choices. The idea that everything in my life I have chosen. My job, my commute, my friends, the place I’m living, the outfits I’m wearing, the length of my hair, and the giant piece of cake I ate a few hours ago. It sounds silly, but I’m not sure that I have ever felt with such raw certainty that I am in fact steering my own life.

The past several months have been tough. I’ve had a bad bout of anxiety and I’m on the cusp of making several big changes. Being in an anxious state can really dull any real sense of power or control over your life. Also, I believe the more rigid your daily routine is, the harder it is to remember that you have the ability to choose. I could take a different route to work. I could have scrambled eggs for breakfast for a change.

I could even CHOOSE to relax, instead of worry! It sure is hard to relax. But I am choosing to try. I just read Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life – a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. While I could write a whole book about my reactions to her book (heh), I think the part that stuck with me most is an exercise called “Letting Go.” When I read it, holding the book in my hands, dead tired after a long day, I realized how freaking tense my body and mind were, while believing that I had been relaxing before bed.

While it’s not as simple as deciding: I choose to banish my anxiety forever! Be gone, cursed feelings of doom and paranoia! maybe it can be as simple as focusing on smaller decisions, such as: I choose to relax my muscles and mind tonight, and sink into bed and let go.

Here’s an excerpt from the exercise. Maybe it will help you relax, too! I’ll let you choose whether or not to read Louise Hay’s book. 🙂

“As you read this, take a deep breath and, as you exhale, allow all the tension to leave your body. Let your scalp and your forehead and your face relax. Your head does not need to be tense in order for you to read. Let your tongue and your throat and your shoulders relax. You can hold a book with relaxed arms and hands. Do that now. Let your back and your abdomen and your pelvis relax. Let your breathing be at peace as you relax your legs and feet.

Is there a big change in your body since you began the previous paragraph? Notice how much you hold on. If you are doing it with your body, you are doing it with your mind.”

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