‘THRIVE’ in Spite of Your Backstory: Don’t just survive!

thrive

Life comes with so many challenges, an expected reality. For many people, like my parents who endured the ravages of WW11 in Holland and Germany, basic survival was a daily goal; surviving starvation, oppression, confinement and the threat of death.

Fast forward to the present, many people are still facing some or all of these and other daily challenges. The opportunity to ‘thrive’ instead of just surviving your backstory is a luxury and a choice. If you have that choice, make the decision that you can do more than just survive your backstory, regardless of whether it’s a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual script. Yes, it will be a bumpy ride, but well worth it. I honour all those that have not only survived their backstory but went on to thrive in their lives, like my parents did!

When I started researching for my book The Whole Person Well-being Equation, I went back to the basics, Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, to get a visual confirmation of the possibility of ‘thriving in spite of just surviving’ my backstory of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual challenges.

maslow

The steps that I took to ‘thrive my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual’ backstory are the bones of my book The Whole Person Well-being Equation and are the holistic protocol (how to guide) that I use to help my clients thrive, not just survive their backstories. You can find additional resources to accompany the book throughout my blog posts.

Wishing you ‘thriving over just surviving your backstory’!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca

REBOOTING YOUR HEALTH : Revive Your Body’s Amazing Abilities

reboot

Holistic health strategies, like lifestyle medicine address the root causes of disease and symptoms. The human body came equipped with efficient innate abilities that when working properly, will not only protect you from pathogens and environmental threats, but also fight disease.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

“Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, Greek Physician (460BC-377BC)

Like a computer, for optimum operation, the body and brain require ongoing undisrupted surveillance and communication to effectively detect and respond to threats. When your computer stops functioning optimally you can do a ‘reboot’ or ‘system restore’. Holistic health strategies help your body to naturally reboot and system restore; allowing your body to return to functioning as intended in God’s pre-programmed factory default settings.

reboot definition:

  • to start up again after closing or shutting down to boot up again waiting for a computer/program to reboot
  • to start (something) anew to refresh (something) by making a new start or creating a new version 
  • to start anew to make a fresh start 
Daily exposure to toxins in the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat and the products we absorb through our skin, hair and nails results in an ongoing circulation of these disrupting forces as our body attempts to detoxify them. Even if your body has efficient detoxification pathways, this ongoing flood of toxins can disrupt normal communication, surveillance and responses while your body is working hard to detox them. This is an even more of a health challenge for little ones and pregnant moms. The human body was not designed to function with an ongoing level of toxic, disrupting body pollution. Think about how a virus affects the normal operation of your computer.  You need to eliminate the virus for the disruptions to stop and normal computer function to resume.  A steady wash of toxins in your body also causes ongoing disruptions and compromised functioning. Ongoing effective detoxification like that provided with the two step detoxification strategy below allows all of the body’s normal productions (internal pharmacy), functions (immunoresponse) and other amazing abilities to work as originally designed.

 

I recommend a two step detoxification process to limit the ongoing internal disruption caused by toxins, a crucial step to ‘reboot’ your body’s natural, amazing abilities:

 

Step #1 – Stop adding to the body’s detoxification load and body pollution. This can be accomplished by ‘greening’ your environments, diet, personal care products, symptom relief options and cleaning products.

Step #2 – Eliminate your present body/mind pollution by promoting the body’s natural detoxification pathways effectiveness using a variety of body detoxification strategies and aids.

Regardless of what your health challenges are, this two step process if the place to start for health recovery and reboot.  Get started today using holistic health strategies which will naturally reboot your body’s naturally functioning and amazing abilities.  You can find more holistic health strategies and expanded detoxification aids and recipes, including botanical spa therapy in my book The Whole Person Well-being Equation. 

Ebook Cover New_1-1

Wishing you restored health and healthy longevity so that you can fully focus on living your life and the pursuit of meaningful goals!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P. Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca

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Art ‘as therapy’: Healing through creative expression

mywisdomfromatree

Exercising our creativity enhances the quality of our lives and nurtures overall well-being.  Creativity is an innate gift that every person has, which for some, may require some mentoring to activate. Creativity takes many forms.  Arts and crafts have long been the go to for art therapy. Any hobby or activity that allows for the creative process can be considered art therapy. Whether you like to paint, draw, craft, sew, woodwork, knit, scrapbook, play music, write, compose, cook or garden; your brain and overall health will reap the rewards of the creative process involved in them.

Studies have shown that art can reduce depression and anxiety, and improve cognitive functions by producing both new neural pathways and thicker, stronger dendrites. Exercising our creativity can ensure that we are less likely to develop cognitive impairment and memory problems as we age. Immersing ourselves in the creative process of art gives us a temporary time out from the body and mind’s focus on life’s stressors, ‘the unexpected’, past trauma and grief. Engaging in some form of ‘art as therapy’ regularly allows us to escape from our feelings of stress and pain; providing our body and minds the time and space we need to promote healing.

For me, other than creating decorative comforts for my own home, art had always been about producing a product to generate income. My family heritage of producing handwork for money has been a strong and compulsive influence throughout my life. In the past I spent many hours producing hand painted folk art pieces and marketing them at shows. These are a few of my handcrafted works. I recently crossed paths with the jug in the first image at an antiques shop.  When I first saw it, it looked familiar, and I wondered where I had seen it before.  Then I realized that it was one of my artistic reproductions which I had painted decades earlier.

birds jug farm animal lampRooster jug

I left the above type of income producing ‘handwork’ behind decades ago when it was no longer a good fit in my life, and went on to study nutrition and natural health to improve my health. My career focus then changed to helping people to improve their health like I had through changes in diet, lifestyle and adding natural strategies.

Recently, after experiencing the loss of a friend to suicide and being thrown back into the grief process while still grieving the passing of my mother, I felt a strong need to return to the creative process to distract my mind’s focus. Accessing the ‘creative side of my brain’ had always helped me in times of stress in the past, and we all know that life’s stressors can add up at times and feel overwhelming. Over the years I had read a lot about how art was therapeutic so I made the decision that I would start painting ‘for therapy’. What I didn’t expect was the huge block I had getting started. In the past the motivation for painting, other than my home décor items, had always been to produce a product to generate income. My mindset had difficulty with the concept of painting for therapy, although I understood the health benefits. My psyche and perfectionist tendencies, influenced by my family heritage, was stuck in my old pattern of ‘produce for income’.  It took me quite some time spent meditating and praying to start letting go of my old mind set, and allow myself to spend time painting without focusing and seeing the end product as a marketable commodity. This was not an easy transition for me. I am still meditating and praying regularly to help reprogram my brain’s previous default setting about producing art solely as an income source.

In the interim, I have put my paint brushes to canvas.  Many years ago I had purchased a poster plaque at a thrift store (image below) with an inspirational message I liked and planned to someday reproduce.  I loved the ‘Advice from a Tree’ message but did not like the artistic presentation.  From an internet search I found that there were many longer versions of the poem, originally written by Ilan Shamir, which I felt tied into my ‘balanced lifestyle’ quest; and would more easily prompt me to make the ‘art as therapy’ transition that my brain needed. When I purchased the thrift store plaque below, the border, now dark brown, was a bright emerald green.

advice from a tree 2

My artistic interpretation of the ‘Advice from a Tree’ poster would be a better fit for my décor and draw more of the ‘wisdoms’ from the alternate versions of the poem I found on the internet. It would also reflect the beautiful tree view that I see daily through my living room window.

mytreeview

The real relevance of my art work version is the creative ‘therapeutic’ process and finished product ‘therapeutic’ messages. The creative process would provide me with the therapy that I needed while making the piece and the end product would provide me with ongoing visual prompts to help me in my quest to maintain a balanced lifestyle, be grateful and mindful.

The image below is my finished version which I decided to title as ‘Wisdom from a Tree’. It is a better decorative compliment to my family room and the messages and reminders of the creative process provide me with comfort, calm, motivation and inspiration. I am grateful for the healing it has brought me.

mywisdomfromatree

A ‘Wisdom from a Tree’ art therapy mindfulness workshop can help you in your quest to manage life’s stressors, process painful emotions like grief and feel more mindful, grateful and grounded. Join me for a therapeutic two day workshop to create your personal ‘Wisdom from a Tree’ unique artwork. I can lead you through the steps that I used to create my version and you can customize your creations by selecting your favourite ‘Advice from a Tree’ poem messages and other creative embellishments. This two day art therapy mindfulness workshop is suitable for beginners as well as providing advanced artists opportunity to further their creative expression. For more information visit my workshops and retreats page and scroll down to Holistic Menu item #12.

Art therapy journaling is form of therapy that involves a conversation with yourself. It is not about creating an art product, which may present you with a challenging learning curve from your past artistic production endeavors.  I have been using art therapy, along with many other provided and self care strategies, to process grief while unpacking the emotional backpack of my mother’s passing, and to help manage multiple life stressors, including the suicide of a friend. The picture below is the cover of my art therapy journal. It is pretty simple so do not be intimidated if you think you are not artistic. For some of the pages I transfer outlines from images with transfer paper to get me started, then start colouring inside and outside of the lines. Think of it as an adult colouring book meets self-help/self-talk journal, a winning combination. You can also take clippings from magazines and paste them in to get you inspired and started.

artjournalcover

Whatever you are going through in your life, or feeling, consider some form of art ‘as therapy’ or art journaling therapy to help your body and mind to cope and heal. Take time to retreat from your busy life priorities, connections and obligations and give yourself the quality self care you need. I know my mother looking down from her bird’s eye view above, knows how hard I work and how many health gains I have made using a combination of provided supports and self care strategies to process grief, manage life’s stressors and take care of me. She would say in her loving, gentle way; ‘keep doing what you are doing, I have faith in you!’.

For more supports during your grief journey read my post.

Get started in your quest for greater resilience like that of a well rooted tree by reading Rick and Forrest Hanson’s book Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness.

The Create Your Life Book below is a great guide to get started on art therapy journaling for grief, stress management and healing.

                                                       

I love these Tombow Dual Brush Pens which allow me to sit and colour while relaxing without the mess of water and paint brushes.  It is a great transportable product to accompany your art therapy journal on your travels.

Tombow

Below is the mix media water colour sketchbook that I started with. I added a copy of my dutch birth certificate over the cover before adding my art work.

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Enjoy your healing art therapy experience!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca, elisabethlhines@gmail.com

More help to get started:

The Huffington Post – 10 Art Therapy Techniques https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/art-therapy-techniques_n_6103092?ri18n=true

 

SELF-TALK REPROGRAMMING: How to Change How Your Body & Brain Response ‘for a healthier you’

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Does your brain and body sometimes seem to have a mind of it’s own and you feel like you are in the backseat, in terms of how your body or brain response? I spent years being hijacked by an out of control flight response.  Some people are plagued by an out of control ‘fight’ response. Some of our responses are learned from past experiences and traumas.  In spite of ongoing stress management efforts over the years after years of stress sensitization, there were still triggers.  While a normal emotional response is to be expected in times of challenge and stress, the goal is to eliminate being hijacked mentally or physically. I always envied people over the years who I noticed remained calm in situations that would have initiated a hijack response in me.  I experimented with many strategies to eliminate the ‘hijacks’ and have managed to stay ‘cool, calm and unrocked’ in most situations. You can read about these strategies in my book.

One of my triggers was a fear that if I was ever pulled over by a police man, for speeding or other (roadside check), that I would have a panic attack and not be able to speak.  I had never been pulled over in more than 65 years and yet when I saw a police car, I would take my foot off of the gas pedal, even when not over the speed limit, and have a pang of anxiety, which then sent my mind to my ‘worst case scenario’ response thoughts. I decided I needed to work on that, since there was a likelihood I would at some time be pulled over or stopped for some reason. My mother had recently passed and I could now focus my attention on my needs. So earlier this year I formulated a statement that I repeated every time I saw a police vehicle: “I choose to remain cool, calm and unrocked in the midst of being pulled over by a police officer”.

About six weeks after I started this self-talk regime, I was pulled over by a police officer in Nova Scotia while driving a rental vehicle.  I knew I wasn’t speeding but knew he was pacing me, but unsure for how long. He came to the window and I felt calm, strange!. He asked me if I knew why I had been pulled over and I calmly said no. I felt no familiar ‘hijack’ panic. In the end the reason I was pulled over was that the license plates had expired stickers, a rental agency issue. In the end, I had neutralized that particular ‘hijack’ trigger, reprogramming my brain and body’s response, by repeating my self-talk statement. I recommend that you give it a try.  Work on one trigger at a time, for a period of weeks, repeating at least once daily.

Self-talk statement wording:

“I choose to ___________________________ in the midst of ___________________

                                                                     (conflict, bad news, loss, trauma, disaster).

“I choose to __________________________when (if) __________________________.

For some additional supports to help your ride your wave of emotions as you heal, visit My Green Medicine Cabinet.

Wishing you success in reprogramming your body and mind’s out of control responses.

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner

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