Gates of Hope

Photography by Terri Pouliot

“Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of hope — not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of self-righteousness … nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of ‘Everything is gonna be all right,’ but a very different, sometimes very lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it might be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle — and we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see.”

–Victoria Safford

FOMO

photography by Terri Pouliot

“Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming. They’d rather show the highlight of what they’ve become.”
― Angela Duckworth

It’s thrown mercilessly in our face, every single day. The ‘glory days’, ‘highlight reels, mountain tops, and the Mount Katahdins (the AT summit in Maine).

Social Media, in all its forms, portrays the successes, real or fake, of those around us. What it fails to display are the messes, the wrong turns, epic fails and embarrassing moments that we all go through.

We begin to feel that we aren’t doing ‘something’ right or we would be enjoying success, adventures, good times or, as Aristotle spoke of; Eudaimonia.

It would appear this phenomena is nothing new since it dates back to the ancient thinkers’ times. But it is my thought that we are becoming more and more anxious about our own personal experience or ‘journey’ to the meaningful life.

It would appear that this widespread ‘feeling’, has a scientifically backed name. FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out. And it is real. Look it up; and you will find countless articles written about the condition.

End result? It leaves us feeling inferior, less than, and anxious.

Learning to focus on the areas of our lives that we are doing ‘okay’, is a step in the right direction in alleviating this condition. In other words; GRATITUDE. There’s that word again.

Is there ANYTHING that GRATITUDE can’t fix?

I am certainly trying to put this trait front and center in my own experience.

I suffered most of my life with FOMO and inferiority issues. I never had a name for it. But these feelings can control every area of life if not harnessed and reined in.

It’s fun to scroll through Instagram, FB and other social media venues to see what our friends and acquaintances are up to. We have to be careful to not allow feelings of missing out to creep in.

Connection

 

“Our world hangs like a magnificent jewel in the vastness of space. Every one of us is a part of that jewel. A facet of that jewel. And in the perspective of infinity, our differences are infinitesimal. We are intimately related. May we never even pretend that we are not.”

-Fred Rogers

 A look back at Rogers’ memorable 2002 Dartmouth commencement address.

Procrastination

PROCRASTINATION

is on my mind this morning….

Why do we put ‘things’ off?

Why are we willing to do ‘anything’ other than the ‘one thing’ we know we should be doing?

I’m not a procrastinator. I’m one of those ‘roll up your shirt sleeves and get it done’ kind of girls.

So, when I find myself avoiding a task I know needs action; I have to delve deeper and find out exactly why I am putting that particular activity on the ‘back burner’.

There are many reasons why  space exists between our intentions and actions.

There are also different types of ‘procrastinators’.

The reality is this: the end result is always the same; procrastination eats away at our most valuable asset, which is time.

We only get so much time. So why are we wasting it?

Procrastinating would seem to be a self-inflicted sort of wound that delays what we feel will result in ‘failure’.

Whenever I am dragging my feet toward action I need to dig deeper and find out what is really going on.

This winter, I found myself begrudgingly heading toward my  basement exercise room. This happened more than once. I found my morning exercise to be postponed well past its usual time.  I had to ask myself , ‘Why?’ What was it about my exercise program that I was not feeling the love?

Sometimes, it can be as simple as we need to change our routine. Maybe we need to give ourselves ‘permission’ to take a rest day. Maybe we need to make some minor adjustments to our meal design. Begin by tweaking a few minor things and see if our ‘procrastination’ lingers.

Have we been performing the routine longer than six weeks?  Are we getting impatient for results?  Do we dislike the activity?  Is our workout area bright and cheerful?  Are we getting enough sleep and recovery time?  Are we drinking enough water?

Getting to the bottom of our delay tactics requires brutal honesty with ourselves.

Get real. Let’s stop kidding ourselves.   As someone once said, “This isn’t a dress rehearsal.”  This is our life.

In my case, I needed to switch my physical design routine. I was getting bored with my current situation. I needed a change of scenery.  The boredom was not with just the exercise, either.   I was feeling antsy and ready for change in several areas of life.  Again, this realization requires us to be brutally honest AF with ourselves.   Deal with the reality then do something to change it.

I think we all postpone things from time to time. Shaming is not motivation. Fear of failure is often the truth behind stalling and needs to be dealt with realistically, if that is the root cause.   Frustration from lack of results may simply mean we need to be more realistic with our goals.  Boredom may require us to be a bit more creative with our physical activity or daily duties.

What are you trying to avoid?

We only get so much time here. I want to help us stop wasting it.

Network

Photography by Terri Pouliot

“You won’t always be a priority to others, and that’s why you have to be a priority to yourself. Learn to respect yourself, take care of yourself, and become your own support system. Your needs matter. Start meeting them. Don’t wait on others to choose you. Choose yourself, today!

-Marc and Angel

This NETWORK of trees I captured on Easter Sunday, spoke to me loud and clear about something I have struggled with lately.

Walking always brings me into my calm.  It helps me sort through thoughts and feelings like nothing else.

I’ve found it necessary to make some tough decisions lately and I don’t know about you; but getting out in nature always helps clarify cloudy issues.

This has been a slow blooming spring and not really much ‘color’ to the landscape yet.  The daffodils and early April blooms haven’t even shown their stuff yet.

photography by Terri Pouliot

Scanning the riverfront along the mighty Cuyahoga River for any signs of spring, left me disappointed at first.  Then I spotted it.  This magnificent tangled network of trees which appeared to be very much still growing! So many questions and if only the trees could talk they would divulge the secret as to how they ended up this way!

My thoughts turned immediately to the struggles I had anguished over this week and what can happen if we don’t learn to prioritize.  What a tangled mess we can become.  We find ourselves growing toward the ‘wrong’ sunlight and someone else’s priorities instead of our own.

Yes.  We won’t always be a priority to others. Sometimes, others won’t ‘choose us’.  And that’s okay.  But what is not okay, is when we don’t make ourselves a priority, or support our own needs.

We matter.   We deserve to take better care of ourselves and become our own support system.  Surrounding ourselves with the essentials to support our goals, dreams and best health is our responsibility.

 

‘Network’ by Terri Pouliot

In Between

Photography by Terri Pouliot

In between.

seasons

months

years

In between.

Waiting….for the real spring to show up

the opportunities to appear

your big break

In between.

Not a place of comfort for most people.  I’ll be the first to come clean and confide it’s not my happy place.

We need to gently remind ourselves during these seasons of in between

this is where the real magic happens!

All winter long,  nature must rest and ‘toughen up’.   Germination is taking place even during the most brutal winter months.

Trust the process.  ‘In between’ can be a place of rest, renewal and preparation.

It is not the time to retreat back to bed with our favorite yoga pants and comforter.

Consistency is the thing.   Keep writing, lifting, painting, creating, eating healthy….whatever it is that you are working toward.

In between is only temporary.

Spring blooms will be soon be strutting their stuff!

 

 

 

Renewal

Photography by Terri Pouliot

“There’s a big difference between empty fatigue and gratifying exhaustion. Know the difference. Life is too short. Invest in the activities (and relationships) you deeply care about. Value what you give your energy to. Focus on what matters and let go of what does not.”

–Marc Cheroff

I love this quote! Pause for a few moments and allow it to resonate deep within.

Redefine this Season of Spring. Go through each room of your spiritual ‘house’ and do some deep cleaning.

Liberate the mind, body and spirit by letting go of the things that are no longer meant to be. How do you know what these things are? If we spend any time at all getting quiet….and then really listening; we will know. Deep in our hearts, we will know.

Photography by Terri Pouliot

I live in a part of the world that fully undergoes four unique seasons. Some months, it may seem like all four of these changeable climates are rolled into one. With the seasons, our bodies and minds should naturally follow suit.

Many complain of feeling drained and tired after having gone through the harsh winter months. That’s when we truly need to re-evaluate our physical activities and the meals we are consuming. Get outdoors and breathe some fresh air. A brisk walk, especially in one of our beautiful parks; always soothes my spirit and energizes me.

The cold, dark winter months often mean dishes heavy on ‘comforting’ carbohydrates and not much in the way of vegetables. Now is the time to make that seasonal shift toward energizing and lighter foods.  Focus on creating meals that provide a wide array of colors and nourishment.  Exchange ’empty’ carbohydrates for satiating, complex carbohydrates. These keep us feeling full and provide energy needed for outdoor activities.

Photography by Terri Pouliot

And then there is the delicate issue of removing people and situations that may no longer be conducive for enjoying a positive and healthy way of living. It does not mean we don’t still love and care about those people or situations; just that it may be time to move on. It’s never an easy process. It can be downright painful.  Exchange activities that are draining for ones that promote feelings of excitement and growth.  No one feels energized while stagnant.

Our lives are a reflection of our interests.   Our physical design is an accessory that reflects our luxurious and delicious way of life.  We enjoy our lives most when we are energized by our surroundings.

Spring is the season of reawakening!

Obstacles

Photography by Terri Pouliot

That darn branch!

A few weekends ago, I wandered about our beautiful Ohio trails to do some hiking and exploring. In between trails, I stopped in awe to view the magnificent arches under the Ohio Turnpike Bridge on Riverview Road.

It was extremely muddy and the best position to avoid the muck was on a patch of gravel opposite the bridge’s underpass.

Unfortunately, there was this darn branch in my view. Dead, ugly gnarled tree and smack dab in the middle of the photo I was trying to capture.

This obstruction began to irritate me, so I moved into the mire and oozing sludge for a better angle. I kept sinking deeper into the rain-soaked earth, until I was not really comfortable with my stance.

I decided it best to move back toward dry ground and continued shooting.

A couple things came to mind. The dead tree branch sort of grew on me. It was a part of the view. It had more of a right to be there than I did. It had flourished at that very spot at some point in time. It was only a matter of time before it would return organically back to the earth. It’s job was complete.

And what I perceived as an obstacle, wasn’t an obstacle at all. It was a part of the whole picture. It belonged there.  The obstruction actually created a point of interest.

Now, I realize with the aid of Photoshop; I could remove the tree, digitally. But I won’t. I like it. I’ve learned to appreciate it. The branch reminds me that life isn’t always a picture perfect postcard. There will be obstacles and ‘dead’ branches that obscure our view. We have to learn to look beyond, to look past them. If we don’t; we will never see the beauty that life has to offer.

And life is truly beautiful when we choose to go deeper.

Malleable

Photography by Terri Pouliot

Malleable.

According to Merriam Webster, the definition of malleable is the following:

1 : capable of being extended or shaped by beating with a hammer or by the pressure of rollers
2 a : capable of being altered or controlled by outside forces or influences
b : having a capacity for adaptive change

I have worn many ‘hats’ in my lifetime and one of those ‘hats’ was as a Certified Diamontologist and Certified Gemologist when I  enjoyed a career in Jewelry Sales (a career that was a result of following my curiosity and passion).

One precious metal that I have always found fascinating is platinum, due to its strength and malleability. While it may not be the strongest metal known to mankind, make no mistake about its strength! It is not only strong; but durable and pure, To be considered platinum, a piece must contain 95% or more of the metal, making it one of the purest precious metals you can buy.

When platinum is scratched, the platinum gets moved from one place on the piece of jewelry to another, and it develops something called a patina finish. This type of finish will make your jewelry look like an antique. Platinum’s metal can be moved back in place with polishing because it is not actually losing metal like white gold.

How cool is this!

Physically, platinum is heavy, soft, malleable (easy to work—only silver and gold are easier to shape), and ductile (easy to draw into wires) and has a fairly high melting point (~1770°C or 3220°F). Chemically, it’s often described as a noble metal because it is so unreactive. It doesn’t even react with oxygen in air so it doesn’t rust or tarnish. It’s also reasonably resistant to attack from acids.  Unreactive!  Now, this is  awesome!

….Now, I’ve said all this to create one thought for the day.

The ability to be strong, while at the same time, becoming malleable, may sound contradictory, but that’s exactly what Platinum does.

Just think how remarkable this is!

Strong, yet movable!

Like a mighty Oak tree who gets toppled due to its inability to sway with the wind, we, too, should strive to be strong, durable and yet movable.   A Willow tree adapts by moving with the wind rather than resisting!

When we are ‘scratched’ and marred due to outside forces; we must learn to have the rare ability to ‘move’ from one place to another with grace, ease and willingness.

Strength is cool. But when we add the ability to be ‘moved back’ into place with a just bit of ‘polishing’ without losing our ‘metal’ (spirit) is beyond amazing. I like to think of ‘Self-Care’ as polishing.

There will always be outside forces that erode, scratch, and put pressure on us. Learning to ‘go with the flow’ and having the capacity for adaptive change is a survival skill.

Getting strong is admirable. Maintaining strength takes work. Learning to become malleable in the process is practically a super power

Something to think about!

Balance

Ritchie Ledges / Virginia Kendall Ledges in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Balance.

How is it that massive sandstone boulders, such as this one photographed at Ritchie Ledges within the Cuyahoga National Park, can remain balanced with seemingly little to keep it from tumbling?

And yet, as is evident throughout these trails, this rock’s demise will eventually involve a plunge below among the hemlock needles and sand sediment.

Who are we to believe we are such skilled magicians able to juggle work, family, friends and all of life’s distractions without one of them falling?

We cannot.

We are like the rock….it’s just a matter of time.

This is an essential part of health and wellness that is often overlooked.

Balance. So many distractions that pull us away from what is truly important.

Of course we need to work. But we should not neglect the people we care about. They deserve our time and energies.

Learning to decompress during our down time will keep us from falling victim to health issues and other tensions.

I share many effective ways to bring cortisol levels down, raise the ‘bliss’ hormones (oxytocin), and raise energy levels.

Balance is so much more than just moderation. Life harmony contains as many layers as the sandstone rocks shown in this photograph.

Learning to address the whole and not just one portion is needful for stability in life. And not just stability; but a sense of true peace and contentment.

 

Photography by Terri Kern Pouliot