Posts tagged struggle
Uprooted

It was dark outside. The type of dark that hangs over you, not the peaceful dark that lulls you to sleep with a chorus of crickets. It was a darkness that seeped through the windows, a silence. I lay staring at the ceiling. My brain was white noise; my thoughts were there but I wasn't really participating with them. It had been a painful day.

When I was younger, if I wasn't at school or playing sports, I was traipsing around the woods until the sun went down, sometimes even after the sun was long gone. I'm pretty sure I spent most of my adolescence in the woods. The woods were my solace, my resting place. I would memorize the mushrooms along the paths I took and watch their lifespan from birth to completion. I knew where and when to find the family of deer that frequented the area I visited. I knew which patch of wheat held the most privacy to lay and watch their stalks sway and talk in the wind. I also knew which wheat patches to avoid when the geese began their nesting. I knew which trees were most comfortable to accompany me for my homework, or my favorite tree from whose limbs I could dangle my feet just over the surface of the rippling water and the one that had the most comfortable limbs for napping. I felt at peace in the woods; understood and safe even in the darkness of twilight. I knew which path I wanted to take based on the day, the weather and the sunlight. I memorized each turn, each step I needed to take to get where I was going or to go back home. I knew exactly where every divot, root and hole existed along my path and the trees were my guide.

As I lay staring at the ceiling, the darkness hovering, I placed my thoughts in the limbs of those trees. I replayed the sunset and worked on sending myself to sleep. *pop* *POP* Two deep bursts alerted my ears accompanied by a few slow, deep cracking noises. Then, *crack* .... and flurry of snapping and crackling that seemed to increase in pitch as smaller and smaller branches of the tree snapped in succession. Finally, amongst the highest pitch, a muffled thud as the tree met the earth. The silence broke.

I'd heard the sound of trees falling many times before, as both the homes I'd known were surrounded by woods. I'd walked past, climbed over and through the map of broken limbs of newly fallen trees on many occasions. Occasionally, a tree would fall across one of my usual paths. This was nothing new but I anticipated finding the tree that had fallen. When I came home from school the next day, I set out to do just that.

I began out on my typical route and then headed in the direction I believed to have heard the tree fall. As I walked, sweating from the hot summer day, I thought about how odd it was that a tree should fall with no wind. It must have been an old tree, relenting to it's age and rot, finally giving in. It didn't take me long to come across the tree. I stopped in my tracks.

There it was. My beautiful tree; it's deeply riveted bark splayed with splashes of colorful moss and beautifully textured lichen. It's strong thick trunk now lay across the ground, limbs crippled and shattered, fresh sap oozing from its wounds. The dampness of fresh dirt met my nostrils, so strong I could taste it in my mouth. My tree had been uprooted. It's roots mangled, snarled and broken as it had tried desperately to remain where it had been planted - a place that it's seed had once found as welcoming and nurturing now rejected it. I was angry and hurt. Out of all the trees, why did it have to be this one? I sat down amongst the broken limbs, fresh dirt and sap and cried. I felt like I'd lost a friend, like someone important to me had been ripped away without my permission and I could never change it; things would never go back to being the same. That day the forest and I shared a similarity that I did not yet understand. Our landscapes had both changed.

Fifteen years have passed and I haven't thought about that tree in a very long time. I've moved, gone to college, gotten married, started my own business and, in between the peaks, I've experienced loss, death, betrayal; I've experienced pain and I've caused it. I've been an active participant in this whole "life" experience. Then, today, almost out of the blue I thought about my tree. 

Last week I attended a class on "Native Ferns of North Carolina." I partially went because "Fern" is part of my business name and I was geeking about it but, I mainly went because I wanted to learn how to better care for my ferns and keep them healthy and luscious. I've been learning more about ferns, digging into their care, their growth, the different types of ferns, sporing patterns, personalities and this was a great opportunity to be a bit more hands on.

The speaker was a jovial woman who is passionate about plants and conservation. She made the rather scientific terminology sound appealing and relatable and, as she spoke, I kept having these moments of parallel. "Ferns are pioneers in disturbed habitats," she said. My brain went into max absorption mode as she continued, "fern seeds seek bare earth, such as where a tree has been uprooted." My mind flooded as she began to talk about how ferns are hearty and adaptive, that they hybridize in order to survive and can exist in a variety of habitats, from rainforests to deserts; that fern seeds need fungi and "gross" dirt to nourish their growth and can often be found growing amongst other decaying plants. There it was, plain as day, these fern patterns reflected in our human journeys. 

How often it is that we find ourselves uprooted, painfully removing portions of our life which no longer fit. Sometimes we realize what's bogging us down and impeding our growth and sometimes we don't. They can be habits, people, places, emotions, memories, experiences. Whether we decide to remove these hinderances or whether they are removed for us, once they are gone, the soil of our lives is ready for new growth. In our growth, we may make decisions that don't make sense to anyone but ourselves, like a tree falling without wind or age. We may walk away from people, friendships or jobs which will instigate people to view us differently. Most importantly, we will begin to view ourselves differently. Just like the roots and branches of my tree, this removal can be painful and disrupting but it's part of expanding and becoming the stronger, better versions of ourselves.

I skipped an important part of the story about my tree. You see, my relationship with that tree didn't end when I found it broken. I spent time with it as it decomposed, breaking down into the soil and giving room for life. I watched birds carry it's leaves and small twigs to make their nests. I watched mushrooms and fungus take root and thrive, weaving themselves through the deep rivets of the bark creating beautiful patterns and homes for little bugs and creatures. I even watched as a tiny forest of ferns made a home in the fresh, open earth where my tree's roots used to live. Until the day I uprooted and moved from that house, I watched the tree that had once supported me, held me safe as I slept, given me a new perspective to see beauty, and been my confidante transform from it's pain and become breathtakingly beautiful in a way I could never have seen if it hadn't have fallen first.

We have the strength to adapt to our situations and surroundings, to survive and fight to live. We can create growth in our landscapes - whether they are deserts or forests. We can take a dark, gross situation - all covered in fungi and death - and cultivate flourishing beauty. Whether we made the decision for removal or not, we have the opportunity to create new growth, sustain our surroundings and create something that is beautiful. This growth is painful but it will be peaceful as we begin to recognize our true potential - our most beautiful selves.

10 Ways to Keep Those Winter Blues Away
SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder | Self care tips | how-to self care ritual | winter blues | winston-salem, NC | Christmas Gifts | Holiday Stress | Holiday Plans | keeping moms sane

*shivers* Cold winds are blowing and the temperature is dropping steadily here in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It's a Southerner's worst nightmare (aside from a shortage of flakey, buttery biscuits.) We watch in sadness as our colorful fall foliage is floating down en-mass to the ground beneath the trees and our mornings are greeted with darkness and frost. For some of us, the sadness becomes an actual condition, most commonly know as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

SAD affects us all in different ways - all 10,000,000 (yes, MILLION) of us Americans who suffer from it. We can struggle against our internal will to hibernate, which, without proper sleep and hibernation we can certainly gain similar attributes to a bear - overeating, lethargy, oversleeping, an angry or grumpy demeanor. Likewise, we can lose our appetite, lose our energy, feel physically burdened and weighted down, experienced heightened anxiety and stress and even struggle with suicidal thoughts in some cases.

So, in order to help yourself (and not be a bear and devour your family during the holidays!), you kind of need to know what causes Seasonal Affective Disorder. We researched to try and find the best explanation so that we could, in turn, help you. Psychology.com breaks the "WHY" down the best :

"One theory is that it is related to the amount of melatonin in the body, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland. Darkness increases the body's production of melatonin, which regulates sleep. As the winter days get shorter and darker, melatonin production in the body increases and people tend to feel sleepier and more lethargic. Another theory is that people with SAD may have trouble regulating their levels of serotonin, which is a major neurotransmitter involved in mood. Finally, research has suggested that people with SAD also may produce less Vitamin D, which is believed to play a role in serotonin activity. Vitamin D insufficiency may be associated with clinically significant depression symptoms."

 All in all, SAD is not a good place to exist, nor is it healthy. We know what it's like to feel miserable and we wouldn't wish misery on anyone. As such, we've compiled a "how-to" list of sorts to help you with your SADness.

10 Ways to Keep Those Winter Blues Away

  • Bright Light Therapy
  • Increasing Circulation through massage or skin brushing
  • Mood and Immune boosting essential oils
  • Plan enjoyable, mood boosting activities
  • Drinking water
  • Committing yourself to a simple self-care routine
  • Surround yourself with green or vibrant plants
  • Talk to someone (even if it's just a short phone call to say "hi")
  • Wear warm fun socks
  • Plan physical activities
Embodying Love

Embody Love Movement was founded out of the inspiration from a group of a few young women who, together, found a passion for inspiring and empowering other girls and women to recognize their value and their potential. Their mission is to empower girls and women to celebrate their inner beauty, commit to kindness, and contribute to meaningful change in the world.

The Embody Love Catalysts are a group of young women who have radically embraced their bodies and, therefore, themselves.  In 2011, the catalysts were the initial recipients of a workshop that included media literacy education, yoga, and self-acceptance exercises.  Each of them felt a personal transformation, and together, they dreamed up ways to share the experience with other girls and women. In collaboration with Dr. Melody Moore, they developed Embody Love Movement’s founding programs: the Inner Beauty Shop and the Mentorship Program for younger girls struggling with eating disorders, self-esteem issues, and depression. Through giving back in service of others, the Catalysts have found a greater purpose in their journey to self-love and self-acceptance.  They have brought the Embody Love Movement to schools, camps, and organizations in Dallas and on their college campuses.

Jasper & Fern's founder, Alyson, knows these struggles all too well. She has fought with self-esteem issues her whole life, struggled with bulimia during most of her adolescence and still battles depression. When Kristen Williams, owner of K10 Yoga, approached Alyson about bringing the Embody Love Movement to North Carolina, it was kismet. Built on love, support, grace and compassion Jasper & Fern, K10 Yoga and Embody Love are the perfect fit.

Want to make an impact? You can!
Embody Love Facilitator Training is coming to Winston the end of September!!

This workshop is going to be powerful. It’s not going to be something you can attend and simply absorb information. It’s going to move you. It’s going to grow your heart and it’s going to give you the skill set to make a deep impact on your loved ones and your community.
— Alyson, owner of Jasper & Fern



Give the gift of self love to yourself and other women and girls in the community. Become a facilitator for the Embody Love Movement! Celebrate inner beauty, commit to kindness, contribute to meaningful change in the world.

Note: You do not have to be a yoga teacher to complete this training and share this work. Email Kristen Williams for details and to register! K10yogas@gmail.com

Want to be updated on this event and other events offered at Jasper & Fern? Subscribe to our newsletter and join our online community.

Sundays
"Today, part of my self care was opening a book that took me three years to crack the cover and has taken me two years to get to the midway point. This book is both thrilling and unnerving. It's the source of both joyful and disquieting self-examination. In the oddest of ways perhaps..." | Self-Care Blog | Mental Illness | Struggling with Bi-Polar | An honest look at Mental Illness | Running a business with Mental Illness | Mental Disease, A Blessing and An Obstacle | Self-Care with Manic-Depression | Jasper & Fern, Winston-Salem, NC 27101 | The Beauty of Being Yourself | Creativity and Mania | Balancing Life | Winston-Salem Entrepreneur | Woman Entrepreneurs | Self Care Rituals | Self Acceptance Journey | Women's Portraits

I do my best to keep the practice of not working on Sundays. There's a reason the seventh day was made for rest, after all. For the past few months, I've been making time on Sundays for refilling my body and soul; I am making efforts to get in a better routine of self care. That means anything from spending time with family, napping, cuddling with my puppies, napping, making good conversation with my husband without distractions, walking, napping (I like naps), taking a hot bath, creating and (another favorite) sitting in silence surrounded by nature. I'm stepping outside of my habits today to share part of my self-care journey with you while it is fresh on my heart and I have the words to say what I mean.

Today, part of my self care was opening a book that took me three years to crack the cover and has taken me two years to get to the midway point. This book is both thrilling and unnerving. It's the source of both joyful and disquieting self-examination. In the oddest of ways perhaps, it is a source of self care.

You see, the woman who wrote this book, as an autobiography and memoir of her own struggle with bi-polar disorder, seems like she wrote MY biography. Her experiences, her actions, her struggles - they resonate with me on a deep level. For so long I've felt alone in my bi-polar. I've felt alone in the darkness of my depression. I've felt alone in the joys of my mania, never sure which loneliness is worse - not having someone who understands the depth of the pain in the darkness or the emptiness of seeing the most beautiful moments and experiencing the highest levels of joy and having no one to share that experience with. Now, don't get me wrong, I have wonderful people in my life whom I am incredibly thankful for that love me and share space with me and share deep relationships with me but, the pain of being alone in my experiences with my bi-polar... that is a loneliness I struggle with.

That's where Kay comes in. I've never met her but I feel like I've known her my whole life. I feel like she's me - the me that knows every nook and cranny of who I am, the me that gets my existence. The Me that can relate and explain to me in my struggles what's going on, where I need to be careful and how to take care of myself. On many levels, reading this book allows me the opportunity and perspective to care for myself. It reinforces my confidence that I am not alone; it helps me watch for signs no one else may see but I may notice and helps me know how to care for myself during these times. It helps me accept me for me - especially when I'm struggling.

Through my own journey, I've come to learn that self-care can come in many forms. Accepting and learning about You is a big part of that care. Setting aside time for your mind, body and heart to recover is an integral part of that routine as well. So, after turning a few pages while cuddled with my pups and giving myself the opportunity for introspection, I'm going to take a nap and continue this #selfcaresunday routine.