nature

This Tree Is Me

When we moved into our home, 2 of the large trees in our backyard had been significantly trimmed. One of the trees, which I’ve (hopefully correctly) identified as a Linden tree, has been laid bare by the cold of winter. Although I love all the trees in my backyard, this one is currently my favorite (Shhh, don’t tell the others!). It’s got offshoots bursting out of every major branch and it’s trunk. I often think to myself that it looks like a crazy hairstyle on someone’s head.

The leaf-less Linden tree.

As I was meditating in the backyard the other day, I was staring at this lovely naked tree and its many small branches shooting out and that’s when it hit me: this tree is me. That’s Me. That’s what I look like. This tree is a perfect representation of me and my creative expression. I’ve got all these different creative pursuits and expressions bursting out of me everyday. Some of them big, some of them small but all of them take time and effort – they haven’t shown up overnight. I’ve built them up slowly, taking small steps to create this beautiful thing. This sometimes chaotic, sometimes cohesive thing. And some of these pursuits I’ll try for a while and they won’t be a good fit for me for whatever reason and they will fall away. Just like a small branch that a tree tries to grow and then, because of shade or competition, it starts to fall off. That tree has to decide where it is going to put its energy and resources; which branches are the most important. That’s where I’ve currently been in my creative journey: whittling down, prioritizing, and taking small steps in the hopes that I’ll end up with something beautiful and worthwhile.

Refrigerator Reminders

It’s my first post of 2018! Woohoo! How’s your 2018 going? Mine has gotten off to a rocky start. Things always seem to fall apart for us after the holiday rush of Christmas and New Year’s is over. So I decided to revive and revamp some old reminders on my refrigerator. I had put them up sometime last year and then taken them down months later as they seemed like they were no longer needed. Ha! I was incorrect. For me, personally, these reminders are helpful with my daughter who is in the throws of the terrible (or terrific as my mother-in-law likes to say) twos. The first two are to help keep me grounded:

Crayon on Paper. © 2018. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

So often problems with my daughter arise when I haven’t been taking my time to meditate and breathe or because I’m trying to move at my adult pace. Granted, sometimes moving at an adult pace is necessary, but often times it is not and it’s important for me to remember to s l o w   d o w n. For me, I find that something magical happens when I slow down and move at my daughter’s pace. I’m able to see the world from her eyes and be fully present and connected. And really, what’s the rush?

The second two reminders are mostly in regards to my daughter but are also applicable to me:

Crayon on Paper. © 2018. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

I have a strong aversion to mess but life and toddlerhood and art and a myriad of other things can be quite messy! So this is a reminder to myself to allow messes to happen. Throw a tarp down and let the kiddo paint a cardboard box and get covered in paint from head to toe. Let her dig in the mud and pour water in her sandbox. Let her play and be messy. And also, don’t be afraid to get messy yourself – with the kiddo, in your art, in your writing, in your music, in the kitchen, anywhere!

The other reminder is a crucial one. Get outside. Last year, when I had this reminder on fridge and I was having a bad day, it helped me to remember to take the kiddo outside. To a park or just in the backyard. On days when I have very little to give her, going outside always seems to help both of us. I get to recharge (being outside does that to me) and she gets to play happily as she tends to entertain herself very easily outside.

I’m happy and grateful to have these reminders back up on my refrigerator and I can see that they are already helping. What reminders do you have (or want to have) on your fridge? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

Open Letter to An American Teenager

One of my teenage relatives was recently having a rough time of things.

This is what I would say to her (and my high school self).

Dear Teen,

I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear and already know: life isn’t fair. And sometimes, I think, a teen’s life can have extra bits of unfair-ness. First, there is school. Don’t even get me started on school. You can read about why school sucks here, here, and here. Then there is the fact that you’re almost sort-of an adult but not really. You are given tastes of freedom and independence but none of the trust or respect to go with it. “Be an adult. Stop acting childish” but also “Listen to me. Do what I say. You live under my roof, you have no rights.” This is in addition to the pressure and expectations of everyone around you: friends, teachers, parents, relatives, your church, your culture, the media, etc. And as the cherry on top are all of the ‘normal’ things in life that suck: trauma, abuse*, hardship, death, etc. What I’m trying to say here is that, generally, a teen’s life can really suck. And when your life has a tendency to suck, you tend to have a few bad days (or weeks or months or…).

This is for those times. The bad days. First, I’m going to give you some advice my mom gave me (yes, parents do actually know something from time to time): you can’t change anyone but yourself. Another gem from the old lady: what other people think about you is none of your business. And lastly: don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides (this includes the crap people post on Facebook). These three statements have profoundly changed the way I look at myself and the world. 

IMG_20160229_111901

© 2016 Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved. 

Secondly, when I’m having a bad day, I know it’s time to get back to the basics:

  • FOOD :  Am I eating often enough? Am I eating good, healthy foods? How can I prevent hangry moments?
  • WATER : Am I drinking enough water? How can I always have water accessible to me?
  • SLEEP : Am I getting enough sleep? Is it good quality sleep? How can I improve the quality of my sleep?
  • MOVEMENT : Am I moving my body almost everyday? Is it enjoyable? If not, how would I enjoy moving and strengthening my body?
  • OUTDOORS : Am I getting enough time in the sun (and therefore, Vitamin D)? Am I getting enough time in nature? How can I get outside more?
  • MEDITATION : Am I spending enough time alone? Do I make time to deal with my big emotions? Do I make time to get in touch with myself and figure out who I am and what I want? Do I listen to my inner wise voice?
  • SELF-EXPRESSION : Am I making time to express myself in a way that feels true to my soul? Even if I’m not going to share it with another living person, it still needs to be expressed.

What I’ve just listed is essentially radical self care. And contrary to popular belief,  caring for yourself is not selfish. It’s like they say on an airplane: you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else put on theirs. And let me tell you – self care isn’t easy. Change takes time and you will fall off the wagon. Be kind and gentle with yourself and just get back on. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or get creative.

And if all else fails, get some perspective: read a book, make a list of what you’re grateful for, help someone else, give back, focus on what you do have. The world is so much bigger and more beautiful than high school and you are stronger, wiser, braver, and more resilient and powerful than you know. Hang in there – I promise you it will get better.

Oh, and one final thing:

YOU ARE VALUED.

YOU ARE NEEDED.

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

YOU ARE LOVED.

All my love,

Angelle

*If you are currently in an abusive situation, I urge you to seek help. Please call one of the hotlines on this page. You will get through this. You will survive.

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