Category Archives: Naturally Happy

Naturally Passionate: Make Time To Do What Feeds Your Soul

I have a birthday present to make for my friend, Sylvia, who I will be seeing later.  So, I am going to share one of my passions with you today.

These are the first pieces I ever made.

These are the first pieces I ever made.

I started making jewelry almost 15 years ago.  I had a naval ring at the time and wanted to change the bead on it.  Being too… thrifty to pay $10 bucks for a bead change at the tattoo place, I decided to buy a bead and change my own.  It’s very difficult to buy one small bead.  So, I bought a package.  Since I only needed one for the purpose at hand, I decided to get some beading wire and fasteners to make use of the rest of the package.  I was hooked on making jewelry immediately!

I put this chain together link by link and set each of the beads.

I put this chain together link by link and set each of the beads.

I made pieces for myself that other people really dug.  So, I started making jewelry for friends, coworkers and family members.  The more I made, the more I wanted to make.  My pieces began to get quite interesting and complex.  I started selling my all-original jewelry under the name Chickyrhumba (a nickname my mom had for me when I was little) in 2006.  I had just begun to do quite well and then the economy tanked.  Understandably, original, handmade jewelry wasn’t a priority for people to purchase at that time.  I closed Chickyrhumba in 2012.  The truth is I never enjoyed selling it as much I enjoyed making it.

boothphoto

I took the big tumble down the stairs a few months later, so I didn’t make jewelry for much of 2013.  When finally I started again,   it was just like it was in the beginning.  I LOVED it!  Making jewelry gets me down into my hands and keeps me from over-analyzing anything that may be going on in my life.  I would definitely describe it as a form of meditation.

tweednecklace

It’s such a delightful one because it is so sensory.  I love feeling the smoothness of the stones.  I enjoy looking at all the colors and natural variations in gems.  Bending wire into submission can be like therapy!  I also love getting vintage beads and remaking them into something new.  I guess most satisfying of all is being able to see the fruits of your labor.  Executing something tangible from start to finish that I can give to someone else makes me very happy.

JosieNeck9

I made this for Josie Stevens using vintage beads and Swarovski crystals.

 

Ah done!  Do you think Sylvia will like it?  I hope so.  I know I enjoyed making it.

Sylia's birthstone is peridot.  Amethyst is a healing stone.  Who couldn't use an angel?

Sylvia’s birthstone is peridot. Amethyst is a healing stone. Who couldn’t use an angel?

Do you have any hobbies or passions that you need to make more time for? Leave me a reply in the comments section.  I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

 

Naturally Motivated: Keeping the Faith

Did you see Julie and Julia? The movie about a blogger who records her experiences while cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking in one year? There is a scene where Julie has been writing for quite a while and is, momentarily, elated to see she has finally gotten her first comment; only to open it and read something like:

“Julie, this is your mother. It appears I am the only one who is reading your thing. Why are you doing this?”

Luckily, she didn’t get discouraged. She kept true to her vision, kept cooking and kept writing about it. Eventually, Julie’s audience found her. She completed her project on time and wrote a book about it. That book was adapted into the movie. Voila! The rest is history.

Sometimes, it seems like we are doing everything we can to make a difference in the world but no one is freakin’ listening. Worse yet, maybe the people who are listening are critical of us and tell us that we are wasting our time. If you have an idea for something that you believe can help make people’s lives better, brighter or happier in any way, I’d like to encourage YOU to keep going, regardless of what seems to be happening at this moment. Stay true to your vision and just keep doing the work!

It is very easy to constantly look to other people to see if we are on the right track. I suspect it’s because approval from other people helped us out early in life; when we were learning to do things we had never done before like walk and talk. We would have learned those things anyway from modeling other people but it’s certainly a lot more fun when someone is cheering you on at every step! Most of us find that our cheering committee seems to dwindle a bit, as we get older. ‘Attaboys and ‘attagirls are often replaced with comments about fears, worries or warnings to do things a certain way in order to be safe or respectable. While these comments are probably well meant, they certainly aren’t exactly motivating to the creative individual.

After letting this blog molder for several months, I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of readership. I’ve noticed something interesting. A lot more people read it than comment on it. When I first launched, I didn’t get stat reports on click-throughs from social media. The only way I knew if people were reading was when they were kind enough to leave me a comment or send me an email. Even though I know now that more people are reading than I had evidence for before; I don’t know what they think about it because they don’t directly engage with me.

Then the other day, I was blessed with an eye-opening email from Jodi:

Hi, loved your last post on veggie scraps. I commented away on that already! lol.

Did I mention I am well on my way to vegetarianism – even dare I say veganism??? Probably since February. And Garry is right there with me, sometimes ahead of me! He feels so good, his glucose numbers are normal (he tests every morning). He’s lost 30 pounds. It’s kind of been a process – but I figure every meal without meat, fish, or dairy saves or helps an animal, the planet & our health. The reason I wanted to mention it to you is because one of your blogs about being a Vegan & the whole thought process of being a snobby Vegan or a militant Vegan really made an impression on me. Also, that it was a process & took you a while to give up cheese. I never forgot that post – so remember that when you write, even if you don’t know it, you are making an impact on some people. I didn’t switch right away but it was stored away in my brain – not word for word but the gist of it! We are probably 98% there.

Wow! I wrote those posts on being a vegetarian, which Jodi so kindly refers to, well over two years ago! Last week, my best friend, who is not a commenter, sent me this text: “You are a really good writer Cindy. Did you ever consider writing a book?” I can’t tell you how moved I was by these wonderful and completely unexpected remarks!

Keep moving toward your dream. Keep doing the work. Keep going even when you feel like nothing you do matters because you may be making an impact on someone right now, who just hasn’t told you… yet!

Many blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Naturally Balanced: Halfway Check-in and Knowing When to Take Five

Fifteen blog posts in fifteen days! That is not bad at all. I am going to call this the half-way mark even though the month has 31 days in it. I figure it is the closest you can get without going over.

Curious thing started to set in the last couple of days: fatigue. Fatigue and injury are probably the only two legitimate reasons to stop or slow down when you are up against a challenge or establishing a new practice. Thankfully, I am only dealing with fatigue.

Fatigue and I are no strangers. I have mentioned in earlier blog entries that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) was a big part of why I became interested in learning about health and wellness. One of the things I have learned how to do; is pay attention to what is going on with my body, mind and spirit, to determine whether when I start feeling resistant, if I merely being lazy or if I am truly fatigued.

When we got let out of work a little early yesterday, my first thought was, “great, I can get started on my writing tonight then instead of tomorrow. My immediate bodily reaction to that thought was dread and a profound heaviness. Now to be clear, I am not tired of writing. I still currently have a lot of ideas jotted down. However the very thought of doing it yesterday just overwhelmed me. I knew then it was time to take a time out and relax for the evening.

Writing is a sedentary activity. So, the idea that it can be exhausting at all in a way sounds ridiculous but that’s actually why it can be exhausting. Sitting, as I wrote about in Naturally Fit: Keep It Moving… So, You CAN Keep It Moving!, for prolonged periods of time is terrible for the body! I have been doing a lot of sitting lately at work and at home. Additionally, I think probably what has been really getting to me is staring at a computer screen every day for hours on end between my job and increased writing practice.

Years ago, I might have been tempted to push through and not lose the extra time. I don’t do that anymore. More importantly, there was no reason to be so aggressive with myself. I was already on track; I didn’t need to get ahead.

I think we are far too willing to sacrifice our health and well-being here in the United States in order to gain approval or money or whatever it is that we think will make us somehow better in that moment. Sometimes, you need to take advantage of moments to rest and recharge yourself. Usually, when you do, you come back to your project or practice with renewed vigor and fresh insight that you wouldn’t have had if you just kept toiling, toiling, toiling… toiling!

Do you take care of yourself when you feel weary or do you constantly push yourself beyond the point of exhaustion, even when you don’t have to? Please leave me a reply in the comments section and let me know.

Many Blessings,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Naturally Challenging: One Week Down! Stomping Past Self-sabotage!

Phew, I made it through the first week! I posted a new blog post every day for seven days in a row. That is a new record for me. In fact, I’ve always been pretty pleased with myself if I posted weekly. However, this is not the time to rest on my new laurels (…perhaps a bit of an over-statement but you get the gist.) I still have 23 more posts to go after today.

Procrastination and I may have parted ways last week but that little devil, Self-sabotage, is still lurking around, waiting for a chance to strike. It’s funny because you need almost super human awareness to realize that it is even happening. It can look like procrastination but the difference is that procrastination usually stops you from starting something in the first place. Self-sabotage creeps in when you are going strong on a project. It happens like this:

7am

“I need to sit down and write…. but first let me take a shower,” (even though I took one a mere 10 hours ago.)

8am

“I feel clean! Now I can write… I am just going to check my email first… real quick.”

(Who even knows what happened between 9am and 11am…)

11am

“I know I need to write but let me just reorganize this cabinet right now because it is bothering me.”

All of the sudden the day is over, the post didn’t get written. Then the feelings of humiliation and failure come in and Self-sabotage reigns victorious. If I let that happen, I would have only myself to blame. Where does this self-sabotaging tendency even come from? Why would anyone do it to herself?

I am not a therapist but I suspect it is a way of dealing with insecurity. Putting things off after proving yourself capable of accomplishing them; seems to me, to be a form of self-denial. It is way of not dealing with the new potentially painful thoughts that might come up like:

“Yeah, I am making headway on my goal but does it really matter?”

“Will people care about what I write?”

“I am not making money from this. Should I be doing something else with my time?”

“What if I don’t make my goal? What if I do then what next?”

Usually once I start asking myself questions like these, my accommodating brain will bring up evidence or rather memories that will support these doubts and fears. I use the word “memories” because they are not actual proof of anything. Just because I failed to complete some writing projects in the past, does not mean I will fail this time. Also, remembering doubts and fears other people have projected onto me are not facts, regarding what I am truly capable of accomplishing. They are just opinions. (… And you know that old phrase about opinions!)

I feel pretty confident I am going to make it all the way through this challenge despite the shadow of self-sabotage, attempting to keep step with me today. I made myself a promise that I would do it for myself, no one else. It doesn’t mean that I am not watching the click reports like a hawk at times. In fact, I beam with happiness and gratitude whenever someone takes the time to leave me a comment. (…no pressure!) I just have finally figured out that it is my opinion that matters the most! I don’t need permission or approval from anyone else to do something. Knowing that now makes all the difference!

Does Self-sabotage ever stop you when you are making progress? Please leave me a reply in the comments section. I love hearing from you!

Many blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

Blessings to all,

Cynthia

justdragonfly

Unnatural Necessity: Making the Daily Commute Delightful!

Delightful Commuting? Okay, that may always be a bit of stretch but there are ways to make the daily crawl better. Trust me, I’m an expert! I’ve been driving on average three hours a day, five days a week for two years and 10 months. The first year really sucked but I have learned a few tips and tricks that I will now pass onto you.

Tip #1: Be prepared

Shit happens sometimes. When you have over 30 miles to cover each way like I do, you’re going to be late from time to time. I live on an island. So, when there’s an accident (or two or three) you just sit at a total standstill for a half hour, utterly trapped. However, if you’re already running late when you encounter a mess like that… you’re going to be massively late and you don’t want that to happen. So, make sure you are out the door in enough time to reasonably make it to work.

Tip #2: Get as much as you can done before you leave

This is something I just learned recently. The morning is when you will have the most energy. If you are like me and spend easily half the day at work or going to and from it, you’re going to be tired at night. I usually come home, shower, eat dinner, relax a little and go to sleep. Exercise is not going to happen at night for me. I would also recommend that you do something every day that makes you happy before you leave. So, you’ll have something to smile about on your way to work.

Tip #3 Make your nose happy

I am a fan of aromatherapy. I have an arsenal of essential oils that I use daily on me, around me and sometimes in me. I diffuse scent in my car as well as my home. You can too. All it takes is a little diffuser that you can plug into your car’s cigarette lighter socket. I can change the scent in the car to suit my mood (or improve it.) Stuck in traffic, I might go with lavender. If I feel sluggish, I might reach for grapefruit or peppermint. Peppermint, by the way, is really great for motion sickness!

Tip #4 Make your ears happy

I used to listen to news throughout my whole commute. Big mistake! I often felt crabby and irritable or sad by the time I got to work, about all the miserable things being reported that I felt helpless to change. Now, I mostly listen to audiobooks. A long commute is a great time to indulge in your favorite genre, finally “read” the classics you never seem to get to or take time for self-improvement. Of course, there is always music. Just make sure you’re paying attention and not playing a big air guitar or dashboard drum solo!

Tip#5 Stretch when you get out of the car

When you are stuck, seated, in your car for a long time, you tend to want to jump out of the car and run into your destination. Try slowly making your way out of your vehicle. Stretch your legs and rotate your feet before standing. Then stretch your arms overhead, shifting your weight to both sides and stretching up from center. Rotate your shoulders. Twist from side to side. Have you ever noticed your dog or cat doing this when they have been curled up for a while? It’s natural for them. Try it. You’ll like it!

Tip #6 Change up your route from time to time

Familiarity breeds contempt. Taking the same route five days a week, every week, year after year, can feel relentless, repetitive… boring! Change it up sometimes. Every once in a while, I’ll go a little out of my way and drive home along the water. Seeing the water always makes me happy. Instead of stopping for gas when you get home, pull off the parkway where the traffic backs up and get it early. You’ll get a little break and ensure you won’t leave it off until tomorrow because you were too tired when you got home. Also, it’s good for your brain! (More on this in another post.)

I hope you found some of these tips helpful. What do you do to make your commute bearable? Please leave a reply in the comments section. I would love to hear from you!

Blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Naturally Determined: So Long Procrastination!

We’re off to a strong start. Discipline has made it very clear that there will be no interlopers in our relationship this month. Procrastination and Excuses must be kicked to the curb!

“What has procrastination ever done for you that makes you remain so loyal to it?”

– Erin Sands

Awwww, sweet, sweet Procrastination! We’ve spent quite a bit of time together. It’s hard to imagine my life without it. Procrastination has always made it so easy on me. I don’t consider myself among the 20% of people who chronically procrastinate.* I know how to meet a deadline and work hard to avoid letting other people down. However, I have often fallen short on meeting my personal goals and keeping promises to myself.

Procrastination has shown me how to ignore my goals and ambitions by introducing me to The Excuses, who help me to justify my lack of action. (As a side note- I have always found it amusing that procrastinate, is a verb, since it means to put off doing something.)

Procrastination is like that well-meaning friend who would let you get away with murder. You know who I mean.  He or she will tell you things like:

“Ah go ahead have seconds. It’s okay you have been eating SO healthy lately. This one time won’t hurt.” Or “Oh, it’s okay that you spent the whole day binge-watching The Real Housewives, you worked SO hard this week. You needed a break!”

Unlike like that well-meaning friend though, procrastination will always keep you stuck. Procrastination is so easy. Procrastination makes no demands on you. You literally have to do nothing! Procrastination will never force you beyond your comfort zone. Of course, procrastinating will never get you anywhere you dream of going.

So, bound by my commitment to Discipline, I wave goodbye to Procrastination and The Excuses. I remain determined to complete my August adventure of posting a new blog post every day… only 30 more to go!

What is procrastination keeping you from accomplishing? Let me know in the comments section.

Many Blessings to All,

Cynthia

* Psychology Today, Procrastination Ten Things to Know, Hara Estroff Marano, 2003

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Naturally Disciplined

Discipline. (Sigh!) Discipline and I have a very, well, undisciplined relationship.  It’s not Discipline’s fault at all!  I take full responsibility.  Discipline is not the one with commitment issues.  It’s all me.

I am conflicted.  I love the idea of daily practices and rituals and see the value in them.  Yet, I also detest the idea of living the same day over and over.  Afterall, what’s natural about practicing, rigidly going through the same steps repeatedly? NOTHING!  Plants don’t need discipline to grow.  The wind doesn’t need discipline to blow.  The rain doesn’t do reps!

Alas, I am not a plant, rain or the wind (…but how cool would that be?)  Growing as a human is more than just physical; we strive to accomplish goals and achieve our passions.  These feats require discipline,  I have accomplished goals in my life, throughout my on again/off again relationship with discipline but I know I can do more.  In fact, I want to do more.

So Discipline… I’m ready to committ finally!  Let’s start with writing, an area I have been particularly lax in lately.  Every day for the month of August, my intention is to put up a new blog post.  This should be interesting, depending on what else is going on.  Some posts might be quite short.  Some may be a trifle too long.  Some might suck!  Maybe some will be helpful and enjoyable.  I hope so.  Time will tell…

Please join Discipline and me for our August adventure.  Check up on us often and see how we are doing.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Naturally Beneficial: Behold The Mighty Dandelion!

Today, winter turns into spring but it’s snowing… So, it seems like a good time for you and me to discuss dandelions. That’s right, dandelions. Before you decide to kill them again this year, I implore you, let them live. Let them live!

I don’t know who convinced the American public- at-large that we all need lawns that look like pristine, lush, green carpets – probably some brilliant but evil marketing genius at a chemical company – but that person should have been sho- ahem, given a stern talking-to!

Anyway, however it happened, it’s a damn shame because the dandelion, and other so-called weeds with wonderful health-benefitting properties, went from friend to foe in the space of a generation, when all they ever wanted to do was heal us and the rest of the planet. That’s right! Those lovely, little yellow flowers are really nature’s medicine. Dandelions are meant to nourish us and many other species.

The bees, for example, rely on dandelions for food in the spring before many other flowers are blooming and again in the autumn, after less hearty blossoms have long been spent. Much has been made recently about the declining bee populations and the dire consequences that stem from their loss. You can help the little buggers out by leaving the dandelions alone! I mentioned in an earlier post that you may have noticed your dog or cat eating dandelions. They do this because instinctively they know that dandelions will clean them out and improve their health. Dandelions are a mild diuretic and they are high in vitamins and minerals. *

Guess what? Dandelions will help get you healthy and clean you out too! I can hear you now. “Oh Cynthia! You’re being weird again! There is no way I am picking dandelions from my yard and eating them!” Well, you don’t have to eat them straight from the yard. Bring them in the house and wash them first for Goodness’ Sake!

Early spring dandelion leaves are quite tender and delicious in a raw salad. I have also put them in smoothies. A lovely herbal tea can be made from fresh or dried dandelion leaves. Wildman Steve Brill has several interesting cooked dandelion root recipes on his website. You can even make the flowers into wine! (I gotta try that… one of these days!)

Have I convinced you not to poison or rip out and discard this misunderstood herb yet? Are you impressed by all the health-improving benefits offered by the mighty dandelion? If you still feel weird about picking these beautifully abundant plants, you can always go to Fairway and pay several dollars for a bunch instead of allowing them to grow in your own backyard!

What’s your take on dandelions? Friend or foe? Leave a comment and let me know!

 

*A somewhat decent but by no means complete list of dandelion’s beneficial properties:

  1. Food for animals and insects
  2. Diuretic
  3. Eases indigestion

Good source of:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Biotin
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorous
  • Inositol
  • B Vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin D

Love and Blessings to All,

 

Cynthia

 

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justdragonfly

Ah Spring…I Can Dream About You… If I Can’t Behold You Tonight

One more article, newscast, blog post or Facebook comment complaining about snow or record cold and you’ll barf, right?  So, I will spare you.  (You’re welcome!)  Let us focus on what we do want, Spring!

Why do I want Spring?  Well, aside from the warmer weather, of course, FLOWERS!  I’m jonesing to get my hands in the dirt, man! So, in the meantime,  I dream and plan…a little, but mostly dream.  One choice I have made this year is to direct sow seeds for most of my flowers.  I am also using heirloom seeds.  (Ooooh, two decisions, …hmmm, maybe I am a planner?)

Direct sowing requires faith.  It’s so much easier to go to the nursery  and pluck the healthiest looking plants already in bloom.  So, why bother growing from seed?  You have  to wait weeks for anything to happen.  Then when the seedlings come up; It can be hard to tell at first if it is your flower or a weed.

Direct sowing does have a number of advantages.  Variety is a big one.  You can order way more varieties of a flower if you go for seeds , rather than live plants.  The company I ordered from had 22 different morning glories alone.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have flowers in your garden that are different than same ones you see at every other house on  the block?  Another plus is you know where, how and what your plants were grown in.  You can avoid gmos, pesticides and other chemicals if you wish. Direct sowing is also kinder to the earth because there are no plastic cel paks or pots.  One paper envelope of seeds has the potential to provide 50-250 plants. And this also means it’s A LOT cheaper!

Most importantly, you get to see your little seed turn into a beautiful flower.  It’s a very satisfying reminder in a world of instant gratification that life can be astonishingly beautiful when you put time, nurturing and love into it.

Here’s what I am planting this year.  I picked them all because they are known to do well when sown directly into the ground in Spring.  (No messing with starting seeds indoors for this gal!)

  1. Love-In-A-Mist
  2. Sweet Pea Flora Norton
  3. Sweet Peas Old Spice
  4. Sweet Pea Painted Lady
  5. Morning Glory Sunrise Serenade
  6. Morning Glory Rose Feather
  7. Morning Glory Heavenly Blue
  8. Moon Flower
  9. Zinnia Royal Purple
  10. Bonbon Zinnia
  11. Zinnia Miss Willmont
  12. Pansy Orange Sun
  13. Pansy Swiss Giants
  14. Pansy Historic Florist Mix
  15. Nasturtium Dwarf Jewel Mix
  16. English Daisy Rose Ball
  17. Marigold Petite Mix
  18. Marigold Brigade Mix
  19. Poppy Purple Peony
  20. Poppy Ballerina Double Mix
  21. Cosmos Sensation Mix
  22. Calendula Orange King
  23. Bachelor’s Button Frosted Queen Mix
  24. Bachelor’s Button Blue Boy
  25. Zinnia Button Box
  26. And Several different Hollyhocks (I ordered them separately.  They haven’t arrived yet.)

Have you ever direct sown seeds?  I would love to hear from you.

Love and Blessings to All,

Cynthia

 

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justdragonfly

 

 

Naturally Kind: Baby, it’s cold outside!

I was at the supermarket the other day when I spied what looked like a big stack of small flat cages next to another big stack of what looked like Rice Krispies’ treats.  Naturally curious, I investigated.  The “Rice Krispies’ treats” were actually suet,  a block composed of fat, berries and seeds used to feed birds.  The little “cage” was a feeder to hold the suet.

When I noticed that the Audobon Society was distributing the feeders, I instantly thought of my grandmother.  She had a thing for birds. Nana wasn’t a birder per se, she never traversed the great outdoors counting yellow bellied sapsuckers, but she did keep two bird feeders well-stocked.  She kept a pair of binoculars on her tv.  So, whenever her little feathered guests stopped in for a snack, she could check them out in greater detail.

Given how cold the weather has been,  I thought the birds might need a little help.  So, I bought the suet and its’ holder.  It was only a few dollars for both.    I think Nana would approve.

Love and Blessings to All,

Cynthia

 

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justdragonfly