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Posts from the ‘happiness’ Category

Who and what runs your life: the matter of responsibility

Who or what really runs your life?

Is it parents, children or spouse?

Is it disease or health problems?

Could it be an addiction or dependence?

Maybe, it is your phone and social media site that keeps you in a tight grip?

Reasons for being not in charge of our own life can be many and various.

We usually think that we are in control of our own life.

We should be.

However, when we look at problems that majority of people share, ask about and try to fix, we can clearly see that this is not the case.

We frequently see ourselves as a victim of circumstances or fate, as a sufferer, a guilty or offended person who has a reason to believe that life and world treat them unfairly.

We frequently start identifying ourselves with the disease or health condition that takes over every single day of our life and our plans, goals and start to depend on that.

We sometimes cannot break free from a controlling parent, and very often that is a controlling mother. There are parents who believe children belong to them as a property and, therefore, are for ever obligated to return the good things parents have done while kids were growing up.

There are extremely many distorted spousal relationships that cause not only mental and physical suffering, but make one’s life unlivable.

Internet is addictive, so are devices which enable using the internet. When somebody claims they have no time for anything, do you really believe that with all household help we get nowadays, with everything getting faster and speedier, chores and duties take much longer than they used to?

Big part of our valuable time is wasted. Thanks to addiction to internet.

Abuse can be hidden, as well, and it can take long time to identify it, however, identifying abuse is much easier than resisting a person who manipulates with you by being kind and nice, but always making you feel guilty about something. You have forgotten to do something, you have not visited them, you have not responded as they expected. That goes on and on.

Every time when somebody points finger at you saying that you are the reason their life is not happy, not fulfilling, not rewarding, that you cause them problems and so on, you must not believe that.

This is, in fact, a matter of responsibility. They want to put the responsibility of their issues on you.

Once you become responsible for what you do, say and how you act, there is nobody to blame. You did what you did and you made that choice even if it seems there weren’t any choices. Blaming life, other people, diseases, health, relatives, friends, enemies, government or money issues is shifting the responsibility to them.

Since day one of your conscious life whether you realize that or not you are the only one responsible for what your life was, is and will be.

That means running your own life and not depending on counselling, doctors, diseases, parents, kids or spouses in a responsible way.

A person who feels like a victim will always blame something or somebody.

The first step towards a better life and resolution of problems is to stop being a victim or feel like one.

It also means to stop identifying oneself with their disease and problem.

Nobody is a disease or a problem.

The second step is taking responsibility in a very serious way.

It is a very important step. It is much easier to rely on somebody else’s advice and later blame them that you failed because the advice was wrong. It is much easier to always complain that the reason your life is miserable is because the root of all evil is somewhere outside you and you cannot do anything about it.

Taking responsibility means becoming aware of you. It means, finally starting to accept you as you are and being fine and satisfied with that.

It is much more difficult to admit: I am the one who got me in this situation. I am the one who made possible this chain of events. I am the one who experiences the sequences of all millions of decisions I made or did not make. I am the one who made these things happen or allowed something or somebody to destroy me. I am the one who made the disease the most important part of my life. I am the reason people behave towards me as they do. I am the cause of all good and bad things in my life.

This is because everything is in us: our past, our today and our future.

Take responsibility

The subconscious mind of every person holds the key and answers to anything we face. Subconsciously, we not only know everything about us, but also other people. We have just lost the key to our subconscious mind and it takes a severe emotional, mental or physical experience to be shaken so deeply that we gain access to this universally engaged subconscious mind.

Why counselling services are so popular nowadays?

It is clear that practically every single person has some kind of problem. Life is not a smooth ride over blossoming fields in a clear sunny day.

If we believe that the answer is somewhere, but unavailable to us, we eagerly turn to counselling and we start taking advice since it is much easier than to take responsibility.

The next step will be taking control of your own life if you already haven’t.

Take responsibility

Next time more, it is a long story. It is an ancient story which many of us can recall in our subconscious mind.

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The family album

I got this album in 1959. An inscription on the first page says that this album was given to me on May 18, on my Angel’s day when I was 1 year old. What a great gift! 60 years have passed, this photo album has been traveling with me, and my mom had preserved and saved it for me while I was away or couldn’t take it with me.

People who are old enough remember how we couldn’t snap a picture as many times a day as we wish.

Photo taking was a big even back then in Latvia. One had to prepare, get dressed and have an appointment made. When one got to the photo studio, there were lights turned on, arrangements made and quite a few pictures taken to get the best result. Photo film was developed and later we got real pictures on a photo paper. Judging by quality, I must say some of these photo papers were excellent.

This year on Mother’s Day, I’m not celebrating, but looking through old pictures and thinking back in time when I was just a small kid in the world which I genuinely and passionately had come to love.

My family album

We lived outside a small town in Latvia, which was Latvian Socialist Republic in 1961. I was 3 years old. I look at this picture and I absolutely do not regret that there are not many hundreds of pictures, but just one. That makes it a treasure. That makes it very special.

I can clearly visualize all blossoming trees and fields and the old building where we used to live back then. In my memories, I never see my mom and dad that young. I always see them having fun with daily chores and endless duties because we used to treat work as something we value and love, not as a burden. I sit there in the middle. I can recall the dress I am wearing, the stripes were pink and there were kind of illustrations and they also had bright blue and light green. Mom’s dress was sea green-blue. I do not recall the color of dad’s suit. Well, it was 58 years ago. My mom used to wear a lot blue and blue-green outfits which she had sewn herself because her eyes were strong blue color and it went so well with her light hair.

I enlarged this picture after I scanned it (I should have scanned more of these old pictures) and I realized that I have never seen my dad this young. I would imagine mom was very worried before the photo session because she always cared a lot about all small issues and things. I think she was a perfectionist, just as I have been for the most part of my life.

Mom and dad were married for 48 years. Such a short time before the 50-th anniversary! I think my mom was never the same very energetic and tireless, always busy with something person after dad passed away in 2005. No, I cannot imagine how hard that struck her. I think also when somebody has spent practically an entire life with some other person; it is almost as losing a crucially important part of oneself.

I with my mom and dad in 1961

I do not smile, but I look like my daughter in later photos. I love my very smart eyes and very thoughtful look in pictures. People have always asked me to smile when taking pictures, but I am trying to have a kind face with no silly smile on it. That’s how I like it. It’s way better than weird smiles.

I had a very saturated, mentally and physically balanced and good childhood. I spent it all out there, surrounded by nature, flowers, trees, fields, forests, pets and animals. I think I never left that place in my thoughts, in my mind or in my memories. I keep it alive in my paintings.

It was a great life without internet, TV and without internet. I believe, we had some ancient radio. We ate only food we had grown in our own orchard, vegetable and grain fields and vegetable garden. We kept a few cows, and some other creatures. I loved chickens most. Nobody ever told me when we had chicken soup made from chicken which was walking around the yard recently. I wouldn’t have eaten it; that is for sure. We also rarely had any sweets, except jams we made and some home-made pastries or home-made desserts. However, working as much as my parents had to, that was rare and mostly on some special events. I do not recall any birthday parties or similar things. It must be that they were unimportant to me.

I spent most days outdoors. I helped whatever I could, that included gathering flower heads, leaves and roots for herbal tea, and I was weeding long rows of potatoes, sugar beet and other vegetable rows. When I was 5, I was weaving baskets, too.

I never stopped adoring everything that grows, but I also tried to draw multidimensional drawing. I tried to show that table has 4 legs, and that was kind of difficult to reflect in my drawing. I never drew profile or animated things. I tried from the first drawings to implement dimensions, perspective and values, even though, I had no idea how to do that.

We did not have medicine cabinet and any pharmaceutical products. Our medical supplies were all home-made and collected and picked up outdoors or grown in the garden. I do not recall going to the doctor when I was a kid. I don’t think we even had any pharmacy there, maybe in the central part of the town there was one. I never had or knew about allergies and many issues which are so common nowadays.

I developed my own value system very early on. Honesty, respect and trust were extremely important constituents of it. It is still the same, although, it is 58 years after this picture was taken. As I go through more pictures, I might share a few other memories about life in Soviet Latvia more than half a century ago.

Well, I was happy where I was and things like anxiety, fear, depression, feeling of loneliness or being misunderstood, bullied or attacked never crossed my mind. It was a life absolutely perfect in its balance. There was no internet or even phone. That may have been the best part of it all because it is so much nicer to talk to people in person when they visit your place. It was definitely childhood with a capital “C”.

My old family album

That is what I found today in the album I have had for 60 years.

Seasons of life and the forgotten knowledge we all have

If we want to feel like a magician and creator of our life we have to understand how everything is connected in the Universe. Time has a very relative meaning in different space locations or in different situations of life.

Age and aging is a relative thing, too: it literally depends on our attitude towards ourselves, the amount of love we give ourselves, the degree of devotion to life and living because not everybody is even interested in living or being alive: why would they do numerous destructive things to themselves if that is not the case?

Aging is a natural thing, and we can witness the seasonal cycle of life in nature every year. Aging scares many people, but we cannot escape it, therefore, we must find things that keep us young longer: physically, mentally and emotionally.

Just like anything in our life, our aging process reflects our values, personal attitude, fear towards aging or lack of it, or excessive obsession with measures that make one look younger. Outside does not always reflect inside. We can look splendid on the outside, be well dressed, well-behaved, but the inside tells a different story.

Fear, insecurity, feeling sorry or regretful, as well as having feelings, such as envy, grudge, inability to forgive, inability to let things go, inability to adapt to the current situation and habit of residing in the past when one was young, good-looking and full of energy, eats up some people from the inside.

Every person experiences seasons in their life, however, every person in particular can experience mostly spring, summer, fall and winter or have them in a mixed order: some children are very mature, and some adults never grow up.

My life has had a long spring, stormy fall and extra early winter which turns into summer when I am past 50, and this summer never ends. Amazing, right? To have my knowledge, insight and skills I have spent big part of my life studying, learning, researching and exploring, I do it every single day.

Childhood is innocence and curiosity. Youth has spark and flame that needs to be turned into useful energy. As much as I love spring, I also love the mature beauty of summer and the wisdom of women who have seen it all: the calm wisdom of an orchard which gives us fruits; the deep calm under the transparent September sky.

I can survive winter; I just do not want to stay in it for too long. We are all equipped with abilities which allow adjusting to many conditions, whether internal, or external.

Therefore, we not only create our destiny and life, but we should be actively managing it. Playing with it? Maybe even playing with it.

The less obsessed we are with not getting old and older, the better we’ll be aging. Fear alone is such a strong destructive force. We attract things that take over our mind and subconsciousness.

Whatever we worry about and do not want to happen, definitely will in case we cannot stop thinking about that. It is very difficult to abstract our controllable mind from worries and fears, but we can let the subconsciousness help. Will it? Yes, it will as soon as we will start thinking about things that we enjoy and which bring us closer to a good outcome and away from troubles.

Do you have any idea how many people convince them that they are sick? The illnesses can range from mental to physical and also include physical conditions when no doctor finds anything, but the person just isn’t well. If it did not depend of our deeply hidden mind to a great extent, there weren’t any placebo effect. However, there is a very well observed placebo effect frequently and in many situations, and it can be so powerful that people sometimes speak about miracles.

Theoretically, we know everything. We have the understanding of many things even if we never knew they existed. It is because this knowledge is hidden so deep that our normal state of mind always dominates, and we are trying to trust only decisions we have made consciously, not the ones which we see in a dream or perceive as vague notions.

I believe that having no doubts in ourselves and courageously doing our best is already an achievement. If you had to define yourself only by the amount of self-care and self-love, where would you stand?

I have discovered summer inside my deep hidden mind. It is there, and it takes nothing much to be in it.

It is new path I am taking, and it is quite controversial to everything I have been taught before, but, nevertheless, it feels promising and it already has results.

 

There is no good way to move easy, and bye-bye Whitby!

The only good way is if you have enough courage, money and opportunity to trust the packing and moving somebody else. I am such a person who cannot trust sorting out my art and belongings to another somebody and especially to pack it.

We did that before: only one time the moving was acceptable, but all other times it was a disaster. I could find nothing for many months; the packing was done without any common sense and logical approach. It was simply bad, and it cost a lot.

I decided to pack everything mostly by myself, and so I did. It took me 3 weeks so far, and, unfortunately I am not completely done.

The limiting issue is pain, and when it gets too bad, I have to stop. I have to also stop every time when blood glucose gets low, and it takes a while to be back on track again.

I have been doing this quite slowly and meticulously, however, when I pack things, there is absolutely no problem finding and locating anything.

Well, the move is tomorrow, I am really tired of seeing boxes all over, as well as mess. That is mentally painful!

I will be very much relieved once we are finally out of here. We will have helpers tomorrow, and I am a bit worried about the weather, but it is what it is.

moving house

I have not disappeared from WordPress, I was just totally tied up with packing endless things, paintings are close 1500, all prepared canvasses, papers, drawings, sketches, templates and so on make another pile, not to mention all paints, extremely many brushes, pencils and pastels. I have abnormal amounts of clothes because I am also a fashion designer and I have been sewing since age of 12. Therefore, I have lots of fabrics, lots of books, lots of shoes, many purses, lots of smaller things and my husband has music room with numerous speakers, instruments and other musical and recording stuff.

It could not be easy, and it is not.

moving house

I was not happy in Whitby, Ontario. I arrived with huge hopes and great expectations, and nothing came true. It is a snobbish and ignorant place. Most people who walk or drive by every single day have never been here, not even once within 8 years. They most likely though what possibly could such a gallery offer? I had so many free events, but not much interest from the local community. Well, my immobility might be to blame, too, but that does not justify the cold and ignorance. I don’t really care now; I know that I will be better off in some more human and more engaging neighbourhood. I believe South Ajax will be fine. It is a great location, and I will have a garden.

 

I am taking off to Latvia next week, so, I most likely won’t be blogging much until I am back in Canada, in the middle of September.

moving studio

However, in the light of so much stress and work still ahead, I would love to wish everybody good time until the fall sets in and drop me a line!

Flow of time: where does it take us?

I arrived to Canada in 2004. I did not know what to expect, but I was very impressed by greatness of many things, and everything felt to me huge. I mean everything. Latvia where I came from is a small country, and, therefore, the endless wide roads, the high-rise buildings, the downtown Toronto with its busy streets and, especially, the size of any province was so different from what I was used to.

Well, time flew absurdly fast then, and I got married in October 30th of the same year. It’s very amazing that it is my daughter’s birthday on this day, too, which I hadn’t even realized when we made all arrangements. We stayed in Niagara Falls in a newlywed suite which had number 3010 on the door. Something else, or what?

Well, we got married in The Small Wedding Chapel in Niagara Falls. My family was in Latvia, so, my fiancé decided not to invite his family also, just to be fair to each other. Very tactful, I’d say. Therefore we headed out to Niagara Falls the day before wedding. The weather was mild and sunny during the day, although, it was the end of October. These pictures were taken by the numerous by-passers who all kept congratulating us, so, it felt wonderful actually.

I cannot believe it’s been 13 years. The flow of time is very different from what it was back then. The best part is that my daughter is 38 today and we celebrate the 13th wedding anniversary. So much fun together (over the internet because she is in Latvia).

Everything worked out quite well. My husband has proved himself to be the best, most loving and most honest person ever and he is still the same excellent man who I met back then. He has had a lot of patience and understanding in the situations when my health really gave up. When we are saying “…in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part” at the wedding, we rarely can be aware of what is ahead in reality. It has not been all that smooth, but, thankfully, we are managing everything.

We got married in Niagara Falls

Signing …

Happy me, well, we tried to take each others pictures first, and then the by-passers helped

This is us 13 years ago

While we are still very young we believe that nothing really changes as we get older, except it is a larger number. We assume we will have the same ideas and the same attitude, and the same capability when executing different things. That is so wrong! I just now have started to understand how my parents felt at older age, and I am very lucky to have my daughter as my best friend because my top energy levels matched time of her being young and very energetic and passionate.

We are a lot smarter. Life teaches us if we are willing to pay attention and to learn the lesson. We find out that some ideas were simply silly and that the world isn’t there to please us and make miraculously our wishes come true without any effort. We have learnt that lots of things require fighting for them and that path can take a lot of turns, too. It’s never as if going from point A to point B. There are always obstacles and problems, and all kinds of disturbances.

The most important things for a family are love, trust and respect. If any of these are missing, marriage is going to have cracks. The most important thing for an individual is the mental and physical health. While I have a lot of brain power, excellent memory and very strong willpower, the physical side is somewhat suffering. Well, I hope the future is friendly and has some better things for me and us.

Being an older white, legal immigrant in Canada is not quite the same as being a refugee. Refugees are treated very well here and receive extreme support. I haven’t received any smallest or tiniest support whatsoever. My only support has come from my husband so far, and I am happy and grateful for that. Other than that, my expectations did not come true: I wasn’t met too friendly wherever I turned to in Canada, and I haven’t made too many friends locally, as well. Realistically, I was already 46 when I relocated to Canada; so, it’s not the same as when one is 16 or even 26. I have turned from a very social person (I worked at publishing houses, high schools and colleges in Latvia, it was work with and among people) to a very isolated person. My lack of health has contributed to that also, a lot actually, but still, I did not expect such ignorance from the local community and people. It has been as if approaching some unbreakable brick wall: there is very little interest about what I do and offer. I suppose one has way better chances if they have classmates, schoolmates, University time friends, childhood friends and obviously relatives in the country they work and live.

Well, I have only my husband.

Cheers to our 13 wonderful years together! I want to thank my husband and God for this great time and I certainly believe that the best times are still ahead of us.

P. S. I have to apologize to fellow bloggers for their kind and numerous comments and likes to previous posts, as well, as thank you to all who keep following my art site https://inesepogagallery.com/ I will approve everything and I will return all likes as soon as get a bit better and all my stuff is sorted out. That won’t be today because it is our wedding anniversary. Thanks to everybody!

Looking for wild things in the wild

Before I fly home, I definitely had to make some mushroom picking trips.

It’s something I miss a lot in Canada and which is plenty in Latvia.

It’s a land which has maintained its ecological integrity. Forests are quite wild and frequently not that much walked or travelled, although, large number of people would enjoy them, pick wild berries and mushrooms there. These natural forests are extra clean compared to highly developed countries.

It might sound like a walk in the park, but it actually isn’t. It’s not that easy to get over the fallen tree trunks and branches, bushes, thick young firs, aspens, birches and bushes. There is no path usually and one goes led by intuition or guess since wild mushrooms do not grow everywhere, but they are friendly neighbors of some particular tree and moss combination, as well as they like some grasses and dislike or never grow near others. King boletes love outskirts of the forest and can be also found near old roads. The orange-capped boletes grow rather in long grasses, but every forest is different and one has to figure out where they might be hiding.

It is a sporting activity that carries a lot of excitement, hence, finding a bunch of king boletes makes one happy and also proud.

The rainfalls and pretty warm weather this September definitely helped mushrooms grow fast and almost in every forest.

I regret I do not know such places in Ontario, but one should most likely drive for many hours in order to find a clean place where wild mushrooms love growing. It was just slightly out-of-town in Latvia, but we made lots of stops. Every ditch that separates road from the forest was full of water, and getting in the forest was a challenge.

I personally enjoy to a huge extent picking mushrooms, I like eating them, as well, but still: nothing compares to overcoming all obstacles and getting a full basket of nice and valuable mushrooms. King boletes belong to the most nutritious wild mushrooms and they are pride of everybody who takes a walk in the forest. It is believed they help conquering even cancer, not to mention that their protein content can exceed the amount of proteins in meat. Dried king boletes contain more protein than meat.

It is a wonderful food and can be prepared in very many ways: Latvians make mushroom sauces, soups of mushrooms; we dehydrate and dry them and use afterwards either as powder or spice; dried mushrooms can be added to broth, soup and any other dish. We pickle them and prepare delicious salads. Wild mushrooms can be prepared with salt for winter and then eaten any way one likes. They go into pies, and it is not only a snack, but a very delicious main course on many Latvian dinner tables.

Enjoy the pictures! Well, some picture-taking was very tricky since I had the basket on one arm, it was heavy, not less than 4 kg, I balanced myself on some small dry patch and here and there it was almost impossible to place the phone so that it would take a picture.

Golden chanterelle

The poisonous beauties: fly agarics or fly amanitas

The bright red poisonous mushrooms frequently signal that king boletes are not far

Small king bolete getting out of moss after rain

To get the close-up, I pushed moss down, a bit  larger king bolete

Orange cap aspen boletes, so lovely!

This family of orange cap aspen boletes was hiding in long grasses

Full basket of orange cap and king boletes

Absolutely delicious and extraordinary beautiful

They were so firm and so fresh

I took like 100 pictures, I couldn’t resist because I rarely have such an opportunity

I will catch up with my blog friends once I am back home. My trip will take some time and, unfortunately, there is large time zone difference, and that will require adjustment from my side.

 

Think pink: how to return to life after a long treatment

A few suggestions which work for me

If you just took the last pill, are still struggling with the treatment medications, are just getting in or out of a long treatment, I know where you are coming from.

The treatment of my current health issues lasted for 1349 days so far. It hasn’t ended yet, but I am getting back to life and back to normal everything. 1349 is just a number. It is just a number that has resulted from many months, weeks, days, hours and minutes spent trying to feel better. Did you know that every minute in pain lasts longer than an hour doing pleasant things?

I have tried everything. I am not saying that my personal experience is going to work for everybody, but some parts might.

The inevitable side effects

Many people go through very long treatments and use medications that also destroy them along with a cure. Side effects manifest on our body and on our mind in many very different ways. The cure of bad issues and severe conditions always comes with undesirable effects. Always, that is the nature of chemicals which can be extremely harsh at times.

I just downloaded some beautiful pictures of flowers and could not resist sharing them. I attached them below text.

Looking at, thinking of and seeing beauty in nature helps me relax and makes me forget pain and bad feelings. Does the beauty have the same effect on you?

If it does, you should put yourself together as much as you can and get out there and look at flowers, trees, listen to bird songs and watch wild animals like squirrels or rabbits, chipmunks or similar creatures. Watching undisturbed flow of a very simple life supports the weak, recovering body and certainly gives more strength.

The first suggestion is: do not put pressure on yourself. Just don’t do that. Treatments are always accompanied by strict schedules, doctor’s appointments, nurse visits, meal times and sleep hours. Everything is scheduled. When we start feeling better and when it seems we are strong enough to do absolutely anything and embrace the globe, we should take things easy. Especially at this moment. We should move step by step, not rushing, not exhausting ourselves even more.

With recovery and as the undesirable effects wear off, we are experiencing unusual additional energy. Small bit of willingness to open our eyes. A desire to breathe very deeply. An intention to walk without concerns about getting dizzy and shaky. Wow! That is success!

That is the hugest success we can only imagine. We never think it is such a pleasure to simply walk without pain. Well, it is. I know how it feels to suddenly wake up after long months of being in a subdued mood, blundering around half-asleep, having no willpower to even want something. Recovery after a long treatment is similar to being reborn.

Colors regain brightness. Sounds become clear. Light is blinding. Sun is so intense. Yes, we probably have to wear sunglasses.

The other suggestion is as follows. Many medications require specific approach: staying out of sunlight, not consuming some particular foods or drinks and so on. We cannot forget about these warnings after the last dose of medication because its activity may continue way beyond this point. Being cautious is a good habit when starting or discontinuing medications. Alcohol does not work with any medication: it either inhibits the positive side or enhances it. I believe staying away from alcoholic drinks is a basic when recovering or while using meds.

The most often observed side effect must be nausea and feeling sick. It is unfortunately that our body wants to alert us, and we know we are wrong and the body is right, but we have to continue with meds. I had extreme episodes of nausea. To the point when I could not even think clearly. Nausea did not allow sleeping or resting either. I somehow found aloe vera juice. The stuff that worked for me was with pomegranate flavour. I am extremely sensitive to any substance, and regular anti-nausea pills never did what they were expected to, but with aloe vera juice I achieved a state when I was feeling practically normal. I took it after quite a lot of water on empty stomach and then as prescribed: 4 full large spoons.

The third suggestion is moderation. Moderation in everything. No extreme foods or entertainments, no extreme physical loads or exercises. Living around the neutral zero isn’t that bad at all. Overdoing with physical exercises can through you back, so can eating out too much or having too many drinks.

It’s a heavy work for the body to return to normal daily routine without strong pills, injections, i/v pumps or i/v lines. While it is such a relief to get off meds, there is an in-between period. It is better to get back to life slowly than destroy everything that was achieved through so much suffering.

Meanwhile, the last suggestion is think pink! Soft and dreamy colors in the environment work their magic. Pictures drawings and paintings of beautiful things in calm colors do the same: relax the tension, make our mind happy and that’s when we are really back on track.

Think pink: create happiness

Think pink: troubles go away

Think pink: send and receive love

Think pink: beauty has so many faces

Think pink: recovery is just a step away

Think pink: no other color speaks so loudly about feeling good

Think pink: this is how we win

Think pink: it is a good color to make face and soul look fresh

Dream vacation … is not happening, how to get over the disappointment

Dream vacation is something I wish you, me, and everybody.

Every human being needs a vacation here and there: from routine, from work, from health problems, from pain and from people who get on our nerves. While I lived in Europe, I practically never had a vacation. Theoretically, every teacher had a very long summer vacation over there, but what do you do for 3 months without any money? That was reality. Salaries were so miserably small that after receiving the vacation pay, usually for almost 3 months at once and paying off debts that one had accumulated over the winter months, there was nothing left. So, the situation is like this: I have now fairly good weather, all kinds of free time and zero money for 3 months or a bit longer until the first salary rolls in. What do you do because you still want to eat and need some basics to survive?

I loved to pick mushrooms, gardening and since early childhood I have been sewing and designing outfits. I was getting up at 5 am, quickly run around the forest to get enough mushrooms for selling on the Riga Central Farmer’s Market, tried to sell them as fast as possible because there was only 1 train going back to where I lived. During these a few hours I also needed to shop for things I was out and then I had to literally run head over heels to catch the train.

If I had some sewing order I would do sewing. If I had somebody interested in private classes, I’d teach also during all summer. I could also do some gardening afterwards to put more food on my table. That was having a vacation, but still working harder than even during the work months.

Once I relocated to Canada I learned that everybody goes on vacation: one time in winter and for 2 weeks in summer. Nice! I mean, 2 weeks is a very short time period to do something meaningful, but still: one probably can catch the breath. Luckily, my husband loves traveling. We tried camping, too, but I find it sometimes scary and sometimes too time-consuming because the sun goes down very fast and after that it is really boring. Darkness. Silence. For night owls like me, that is tough. Sleep runs away, it feels that all insects are straight after me and I also hear some strange steps behind the wall of tent. Not to mention sudden rain, getting lost, not being able to find a decent campground and so on. We usually got products and all camping gear and ended up sleeping over in a motel until we finally gave up the idea about camping without a camper that provides a safe shelter.

Dream vacations happen rarely. There is always something: no time, no money or no health. The last 4 years have been troublesome for me. I would so much love to take a vacation from all pains and health issues. I feel like I totally deserve that.

So, how do you get not upset about some could-be-way-better vacation? How do you get over disappointment that it is not possible again to just leave everything behind and go away for a dream vacation? By making expectations more realistic and down to the Earth. By simply living through the summer and experiencing the best of everything available.

It is a good start not to scroll through social media sites where people share their real or polished up vacations, resorts, beaches, fancy foods, fantastic outfits, extremely exciting foreign cities and far-away lands, best summer destinations what money can get and so on. Keep it simple and enjoy what is within reach.

You might have a very pleasant vacation just a year later.

Secondly, there is something happening locally, too: fairs, food fests, music festivals. If you are a fan of crowds, that is a place to be. What if you are not happy being among lots of people and would rather be on your own? In that case, you could take longer walks, see exhibitions, go to the theatre or some smaller scale musical or art event.

Gardening is the best pass-time for any age, any health condition and any marital status. It comes with an added bonus in a form of freshest veggies possible.

Thirdly, there are plenty of people who are restricted by their health. It can be very tricky to get away when somebody is after surgery or on strong medications. It can be not in your best interest to take a long trip when there are certain life-threatening conditions that require ongoing medical attention.

So, what do you do? Get all crying and in tears because you know you won’t get away? Become angry and nasty because “everybody goes on vacation, only I cannot”? Send sad messages to friends or relatives painting yourself in black mood and feeling like a victim of circumstances? We can certainly do all of the above, and it won’t make us feel one small bit better.

I know that these who wait long enough receive what they are longing for. It might be not the next week or next month, but it will happen. It is true that vacation feels very different at the age of 30 and at the age of 60 or 80. Do you want to wait? Do you feel like it is worth waiting? No, it’s not worth killing oneself about what could have happened, but didn’t because of … all kinds of things. It is not worth trying to figure out why everybody is so lucky and happy and you are not. That is life. Life gives us vacations when it wants, not when we require. With the best case scenario, desires match opportunities.

Well, I always hope that the next year will be better than the previous one. I am going, though, to see my mom, my daughter, my sister and my grandchildren, as well as friends at the end of August. The weather is not going to be splendid in Latvia around that time, it never is, but the best part is meeting people who I love at least once a year. If you have somebody who you haven’t seen for ages, maybe it is a good time to go and pay a visit?

Finally, there are hundreds of great things that don’t require any extra huge spending.

There are numerous new books which wait to be read.

Sketchbook invites to add something new. Maybe you are in coloring? Fashion designing? Maybe make something new for yourself or your home? Maybe spend much more time with your closest ones? It sometimes feels everything else comes first and our direct family can wait. It should be straight the opposite: we have to make many other things wait in order to give our best part to the family. I hope you have a nice summer!

Can gardening save your life?

I know people who have survived thanks to gardening.

So, are you the lucky one with a garden?

That could pretty much be an answer to many of your health problems and even save your life, because doing gardening will make your life so much more enjoyable and even support you financially and save money.

It just said on the news that one-third of the world’s population was obese.

That is the most recent statistics. When we imagine how many places on the Earth cannot provide people who live there with any food or clean water, it becomes very clear that so-called developed countries are the ones mostly suffering from this disaster. It’s no surprise it comes as a combo of all kinds of cancers and dementia, plus diabetes and cardio-vascular fatalities. Diseases are getting younger. We thought stroke was more likely to happen after 40-50, it’s affecting now people 16 years old and even younger.

This happens due to food production which is very distant from the way we were having food even 50-60 years ago. With every year, more newly discovered chemical combinations, supplements, taste enhancers, coloring and thickening agents, preservatives and so on and so forth, have been replacing natural food. Not to mention 90 types of artificial sweeteners which replace sugar.

When we think dairy, do we imagine pure chemicals in the container with a label organic cream? We don’t. Yet, it isn’t even a cream, but some mix of things that make this substance look and to some extent taste like cream. The whipping cream isn’t a cream, and milk that comes from powder or egg mix that doesn’t have real eggs in it: that’s all processed already. Cheese is the most affected because it’s easy to replace real ingredients with chemicals in cheese. Your breakfast flakes: they are already processed, if they were not you’d have raw grains. Natural and good fats such as organic butter have been replaced with chemically created fats for some 80 years. That refers to any margarine, oils of not organic origin and obviously all pastry includes that: bread, bread type of snacks, etc. since it really needs some fat or it goes stale the next day.

So, what difference does the produce you have grown on your own make?

Huge. If you have ever tried freshly picked cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini or peppers from the backyard, you know how much richer the taste is. At some point, it’s impossible to compare garden produce with fruits and vegetables from the grocery store. Greens and herbs such as green onion, dill, parsley, basil, thyme and sage from the grocery store wilt right away and they never feel really fresh because they soak them in water by spraying all the time at the store.

Farmer’s market is a good place, however, sometimes prices are extremely high (at least in Whitby, Ontario) and the produce does not look that great.

By growing our own vegetables and fruits we know what they contain.

I love that I know exactly how my vegetables are grown: what water I use, what soil, etc. Small gardens can be easily weeded manually; there is no need to use chemicals to conquer weeds. It’s also easier to control any pests in case they would appear with simple household supplies.

It makes an incredible difference for me: I just walk outside and choose whatever I feel like having for meal. Being in fresh air and having so much stuff for eyes to enjoy is definitely an added bonus.

Plus, one does not need any gym to stay in a good shape: thankfully garden work involves all kinds of moves, exercises and tasks.

I know that not everybody can live in a house with a decent size backyard. I live here also because we rent this place. Yet, there are millions of people who only have lawns everywhere: in the front and in the back. If we would start with lots of people growing healthy chemical-free vegetables and fruits not only for themselves, but also for a few other people, we might end the cancer, cardio-vascular, diabetes and obesity epidemic. We might just also have better mental abilities because of that; and some garden work is always useful as opposed to scrolling through screens or snoozing in front of TV.

This is how gardening will make you healthy:

You will get lots of exercise without paying fees for gym or designating specific time for it;

You will be rewarded with crops that are clean and contain many times more nutrients;

Naturally occurring minerals, vitamins and other good substances are only found in FRESH garden produce;

You will avoid harsh chemicals by using in your gardening only natural fertilizers and composted plant food;

You will have something to take care of and you’ll never feel lonely;

You will have peace of mind, place to relax and ability to clean the bad energies when being in contact with the soil;

You will save money on organic herbs, fruit and vegetables which we really need, but which are not in a good shape at grocery stores and very expensive;

Kids find gardening attractive because we can monitor the steady development and growing;

Gardening is suitable for any age or condition: we can always find ways to do things easily;

You don’t have to travel far to be surrounded by the nature;

Garden can become the most inspiring thing for writers, artists, designers and other creative folks;

By doing gardening and consuming only fresh and chemical-free produce you will literally help your body and brain fight diseases and manage easier the existing conditions.

So, gardening might save your life, especially if gardening becomes your passion.

Please enjoy the purple blossoming in my garden!

Chives in bloom

Purple iris

Close-up

Lovely faces of pansies

Isn’t it pretty?

The many shades of beauty

Easy to grow, always smiley

 

Burnout syndrome? Chronic fatigue? Turn to the nature

Popular assumption is that burnout is the result of excessive stress. Stress management system of the body is a very complex multi-action trigger and response system that involves both branches of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic, the brain and the HPA axis (the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis), as well as other pathways.

Burnout syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome are quite difficult to diagnose because when somebody experiences frequent headache, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, lack of interest in anything, hormone imbalance and irritable bowel symptoms: these symptoms do not immediately make us think about low cortisol and a suppressed HPA axis which have eventually resulted from stressing oneself to the maximum over long periods of time. Physical and mental exhaustion manifest as similar set of symptoms, therefore, overdoing with inappropriate physical activities, overloading one with duties or studying and learning until complete exhaustion occurs is not a good idea.

Burnout syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome may seem to be very different, but they are quite similar, in fact. The same hormonal abnormalities are present in both conditions, as well as similar complaints about physical symptoms. It could be that the brain has decided to shut down the HPA axis activity in order to prevent us from damaging our body completely. If we did not experience tiredness, sleepiness and exhaustion, we would probably work until our body is permanently damaged and unable to recover. Research suggests that the brain, and the HPA axis may be responsible for the fatigue experienced during burnout and with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Our body loves balance, so that all mechanisms and systems can work in a well-adjusted, well-balanced way. We certainly want to be safe and rich, and have no financial struggles. Many people go for 2 jobs or work even at 3 places. Nobody has cancelled family or kids; that takes our condition to the point when every single day is too short. When we start feeling worse and weaker, we can get done much less, so one wonders how that was possible I studied and worked and still had time to go out and enjoy? This pretty much affects any tasks we have to deal with: whether work or relationship related, and it does not stop there. Burnout causes to lose any motivation and interest in the job or activity which could have been even exciting and good opportunity when we started out.

It is not always work which causes somebody to burn out. It is usually a combination of things. That can be job that has become very difficult to cope with, too demanding boss or too many tasks; sick parent who needs daily care; kids’ education that needs attention, difficult and worsening relationships with spouse or friends who were there to support before, so on and so on. Loss of somebody very meaningful, especially if this person was more or less associated with anything we do. Stressful situations and events just pile up and we seem to have less and less control over them and less and less power to manage everything.

The worst part is that these emotions and feeling completely ill are like a vicious circle: they will not go away until the cause of never-ending stress is eliminated. It is easy to say: quit the job or leave the family, move to another city or town, or place your parent in old folks home. Most often the financial situation and debt are the most stubborn issues. Still, if you reach the point when it is almost impossible to keep doing that job or fighting with duties or people, you will have to quit it. Your health will demand it. In burnout syndrome, mental issues prevail; chronic fatigue manifests more as a physical illness.

Feeling good and healthy makes everything else happen.

My personal recipe before one turns to brain-affecting medications or drugs and alcohol is being in the nature. Being with it, in it and having oneself immersed in the nature. That is why these who have a garden or backyard are better off.

The soil and grasses have huge power: as you touch soil with your hands or stand bare-foot on a fresh, green grass, the bad energy flows out and energetic imbalances return to normal. We have so much electricity in us that sometimes it just needs to be unloaded. Give it to the soil, return into natural circulation. Doing garden work is good in any regard and no gym can ever compare to that. Don’t do this to become the world’s best gardener: do gardening for yourself and as much or as little as you can.

The other thing that makes time and everything else disappear is art. Meditation with pencil or brush. How wonderful is that? Drawing flowers or scenes where everything is included and balanced. Peaceful soul reaches out to the beauty of nature. Be careful, though, if you do art for achieving the status of the best artist ever, but not to relieve your stresses, there won’t be results. I am talking about activities which are completely different from your daily duties. Who cares what your drawing or painting is like? Nobody, as long as you have let stresses go for a while.

If you are an artist or writer who feels completely exhausted and swallowed down by the competitive world, you will have to choose nature for walks, forests for discoveries and gardening for making brain and body more saturated with simplicity.

Simply switching activities can help, too.

The worst way to gain more time is depriving oneself of sleep. Sleep has to be made a big priority. Cannot sleep? Drink chamomile with honey, lemon balm (if you do not have low blood pressure because it lowers blood pressure a lot), literary: smell roses and lavender.

Late night is not the time to resolve anything. Morning always knows better.

Why am I suggesting such simple things for extremely complex conditions? Because I’ve been through this. The last stretch of 4 years was horrible. I have made through it without falling apart completely only because of nature, garden, work in fresh air and art. It is not that easy to paint or draw after a bad fatigue episode when everything hurts. It is not easy to get back to life after being exhausted or depressed. If we don’t do anything, nothing good can happen either. Change is hard work, but we need to find strength within ourselves. Nature is smart, way smarter than we admit. It is very rewarding to find a part of our strength in the nature.

This is what heals me

The fantastic fragrant air raising from apple blooms: it works like a medicine

Lilac beauty and fragrance therapy

The spring blossoming this year was so intense that I could not resist taking a few more pictures.

Enjoy the blooming!

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