The Art of Releasing What no longer serves you

Hello Beautiful Self!

It is time we dive into another part of mindful living … the art of releasing. I call it an art, because it really is an art. Releasing or letting go is hard for everyone. You are not alone in that. However, we all need to let go of things that no longer serve us. Once we have become aligned with our mindful observations and are aware of what is either no longer serving us, what we have outgrown, or what is flat our holding us back we need to release it. Let it go … say Bye Bye and thanks for all the fish! I have no idea why that Douglas Adams line just popped into my mind, but there you go …. humor for a difficult topic. Release. Let go. Let be.

Sometimes, all we have to do to let go is just let something be. Let it take a natural course away from you. There are relationships and situations in our life where we are the driving force. When that relationship or situation is a cause of negativity, stress, toxic patterns and behaviors or whatever about it is no longer in alignment with your greater good and you are the driving force in keeping that relationship going simply stop feeding it. Stop giving it all the time and energy you have been and let the natural course take place. In many situations it will just fade away from you when you allow yourself to put your energy elsewhere.

Other relationships require more active roles to disengage and release. Relationships where lives are physically, financially, or purposefully combined on a day to day basis are the most difficult to release. The stigma of changing life, career, home, and community can be huge. I have personally experienced both the healing and wounding of leaving a long-term relationship, career, and home that was the “American Dream” on the outside, but in my reality my waking nightmare.

Side note; I was able to post-vaccine connect with longtime friends and heart family this weekend. Through our overview catching up I learned that after 7 years divorced my ex-husband is still bad mouthing me for leaving him. Once, this would have made me withdraw, now I no longer care what he thinks or what mud he slings for he is stuck in the mud and I have blossomed like the water lily rising out of the mud. My life is more aligned with myself and my greater good. I have a happiness I never thought I would have, because I aligned with my mindfulness and did the scary thing. I released what was not only not serving me, but what was suffocating me.

Which brings me to the next point on releasing. Releasing isn’t just about letting go, but aligning with your personal power. Things don’t feel right to us or work in our life when you live out of alignment with who you are. When you do not know yourself or live to please others through expectation, societal demands, yearning for love or whatever your reason is for not living in self alignment or Know Thyself, then you either give away your power or simply ignore the fact that you have power.

Were you aware that you had personal power? You have choices, you have free will, you have hopes, dreams and the ability to be in alignment with yourself. You can serve your needs and be of service to the greater good. This is not mutually exclusive. But first, you have to get really clear on what is and is not working for you. Sometimes it will feel like nothing in your life is working and that is okay. We don’t have to climb to the top of the mountain today. What we do have to do is put one foot forward and be aware that things aren’t serving us.

So where do you start? pick something small. For example, I have an ongoing struggle with soda or pop, whatever you call it. I do great for a long time, then start drinking it again which leads to over drinking it. Going cold turkey doesn’t work for me, so I need to ween myself off it. There is a lovely lavender and honey tea that I like, so I make sure to have that in the house. After my first pop, the next time I get that sugary craving I make the cup of tea and have that instead. By doing this, I am currently down to 1 soda a day from 3. I would love to cut it out all together and I will get there. Small steps. Each step forward build the confidence and momentum to move forward.

Where will you start today? What is your plan if you stumble or struggle in releasing? How can you give yourself creative, loving support that is in alignment with your goals? Drop a comment and let me know.

In Loving Kindness,
Irisa

Mindfulness Begins with Observation

The Little Things? The Little Moments? They aren’t little.

John Kabat-Zinn

Majority of our lives are made up of the small, the mundane, the unnoticeable. Hollywood and the shape of modern American society have set expectations that life is full of large noticeable moments. Imagery of sun glinting off our smiles indicate health and stress free living. I don’t know about you, but when I step out the door I am not taking any moment to pause. I typically am concerned with keeping the toddler from running straight across the street to pet the neighbors dog (cars be damned!) or the overzealous puppies from darting out the door.

Photography, videos and advertisements have taught us what perfection should look like. Social media has brands for all parts of life from hot mess moms to Pinterest moms. When is the last time you saw a mom with messy hair, sleep deprivation and pajama clad wandering the late night market for cold medicine for a kid on social media as the new trend?

I call bullshit. What all of that has done is set us up for unrealistic expectations so someone else can promote their thing (which I don’t fault anyone for promoting their thing). However, that is not an accurate representation of daily life. Life is messy, chaotic, confusing, and emotional. There are productive and focused moments. There are moments where you lose your train of though because the voices of Donald and Goofy float in from another room accompanied by a child’s giggles … this is a moment. A real, live beautiful moment. Did it derail my train of thought, yes. Is it worth hearing his laughter and joy? Absolutely.

When I was younger I was so into the flow of things that I got in trouble for being different. I wanted to sit and watch the sun on a leaf instead of being in cheer. That wasn’t the image for girls my age so off to cheer I went. Social Imagery has a powerful impact on perceptions and expectations. These perceptions and expectations can take the place of personal realities and norms if we are not mindful of our truth.

Gorgeous photography, trending news, apps and the like are fascinating. They serve as a distraction from our everyday and give us things to discuss with co-workers and acquaintances which can help with relationship building. However, the distractions can warp our perceptions of ourselves.

Mindfulness assists us in bringing us back to our life and our moments. When we accept that our life will have more small moments than large a relief can wash over us. Carrying a constant expectation that life is going to have a string of major changes/announcements/moments is asking ourselves to constantly be ON. Instead of being ON, be mindful.

Cultivating a practice of mindfulness will increase the likelihood of finding the opportunities that are in front of us as they are instead of looking for opportunities with a preconceived notion of how they should appear. The more we can focus on the moment and see it for what it is the easier our life will be. Removing preconceptions from our lives is a game changer.

Suddenly, we aren’t worried about doing things the way someone else said we should but finding the solution for ourselves that aligns or fits with who we are and how our life flows. Mindfulness matters. Mindfulness brings awareness to ourselves of what is or is not working. By identifying how we are feeling in the moment we identify what isn’t working. Once we acknowledge what isn’t working then we can make the shifts and changes needed for peaceful living.

Simple ways to begin mindful living:

  • Observe how you feel when asked to commit to something. What is the first answer that runs through your mind? What is the answer that left your mouth? Do they match?
  • Observe if you have a default answer to any commitment question. Are you the person that will always say yes or are you the one people ask for a short time and then stop because they know the answer is no? If you have an auto-default on answering, why is that?
  • Observe your physical body when speaking with people or doing tasks. Do some people leave your body feeling tight and sore? Are you relaxed with most interactions? What do you think your body is telling you about your interactions?
  • Observe your mental state when doing tasks or interacting with people. Does a task wear you out or leave you energized? Do you get grumpy and bitchy or remain calm? Is there dread or peace associated with this task?
  • Observe your emotional state when doing tasks or interacting with people. Are you worn out at the thought of having to interact with this person? Does a social event fill you with dread or peace? Do holidays have you buying a bottle of whiskey and making an escape plan before going somewhere? Does this invitation feel like an obligation you must do or fill you with joy?

Pick one place and begin your observations with mindfulness. No judgement just observe. I recommend that you take the time to journal your observations. This will allow you to notice trends and patterns.

Take a breathe. Reflect. Be Mindful and reclaim your life.
Irisa

Birthright: Loving-Kindness

Hello Beautiful!

I have some amazing news for you! You were born knowing loving-kindness. Not only did you know loving kindness, you practiced it without being taught how or told it was the right thing to do. You were born knowing and living loving-kindness.

How can I be so certain? Because it feels so right to live in loving-kindness. Nothing feels more natural. Being kind is easy. It makes us feel open, light and full of hope. Need more evidence? Watch small children. Watch them when someone they love is sad. Watch them with a puppy or kitten.

Earlier this summer we had a small rainstorm. My three year puts on his boots and grabs an umbrella. As I try and stop him he begins to tell me that “kitty needs help”. I let him go outside, as we don’t have a cat. He goes to my truck and tries to coax out a kitten who was sheltering from the rain.

When I asked him what he wanted to do with the kitten, he told me the “kitty needed to come inside out of the rain.” I then had to spend the next half hour calming him down as the kitten ran off in the rain. A three year old saw an animal without a home, getting wet. He then (independently) took action to care for it. That is loving-kindness.

We are taught that acting in loving-kindness is a weakness. We are taught that people will take advantage of us and yes, some individuals will. Are we wrong to live in loving-kindness? No, those other individuals have chosen to walk a more difficult path that does not involve remembering loving-kindness.

Every one of us will have experiences that pull us away from our innate nature of loving-kindness. This is when we need to be mindful of what is happening. We need to feel what we are feeling, that is healthy. However, we choose how we react or respond to the situation that is pulling us away from loving-kindness.

This is when we choose to feed the negative emotions such as hate, anger, jealousy, etc. or we forgive with love so that we can remain connected to our loving-kindness. If we can stay connected to our loving-kindness, then we can live in alignment with the Universe and create a life that we adore.

We all falter and step away from loving-kindness. The key is to forgive. Forgive yourself for being human, don’t punish yourself. Forgive the situation with love. Forgive the people. Replace those hard emotions with love. Do it for yourself. Do it so you can be in alignment with your greater good. Be the best version of yourself that you can be.

The following is a mantra that you can do a few times a day. This will remind you of what you already know. The exercise will build both your awareness of loving-kindness and your confidence in your ability to live in loving-kindness.

Exercise: Take a long, slow, deep breathe in your nose and then a long, slow, exhale out of your nose. Repeat the following: I know and understand loving-kindness.

If each of us would take the steps to be the best version of who they are. Together we can change the world. Start with yourself and like ripples on a pond, the world will be a better place.

With loving-kindness,
Irisa

Turn Problems Into Hope

Thoughts matter. What was the first thought you had today? Did you stress over money? Rejoice in the fact you were alive? Weep that another day had begun? Feel gratitude for your family?

I woke up with the most amazing feeling of love. I couldn’t wait to get up and share my love with the world. To share my love with everyone I know. To share my love with you. This was incredible and a long journey to get here.

Normally, I am a giant ball of stress. I make the mistake many do and try and carry the stress for my family so they can enjoy life more. How dumb is that? How can my family enjoy me if I am a giant ball of stress? I certainly am not a joy to be around when I feel this way. I am short tempered and focused on problems not fun.

It is so difficult to shift from worry, stress, anxiety, and problems to love, peace, gratitude and abundance. If you are like me you have heard live in love, practice loving kindness, only positive parenting and probably felt this was unattainable or worse yet that there was something wrong with you because you could not do this.

It is so hard to keep your cool when you are worried about how to pay the mortgage or if you have a job. Stress makes you short-sighted and short-tempered. If getting angry is second nature, then you know feeling awful for that anger follows and suddenly you are in a loop.

Emotions happen for a reason. Breathe. You are human. Stop and forgive yourself. Now breathe again. Do you want to turn life in a different direction? Do you want to find a way to live the life you dream of? Have a life you adore?

I swear it can happen. Even if you don’t know how you are going to put food on the table this week, it can happen. Each one of us has blocks to manifesting a life of abundance. Right now, if you cannot imagine your mind focusing on anything but your problems then we start with the problem acknowledgement exercise.

Problem Acknowledgement Exercise
Get a pen and paper. The back of an envelope, your journal, a napkin, anything will work. List all of the things stressing you out. No matter how big or small. No matter how personal. Especially if that voice says: this really shouldn’t bother me, absolutely list it.

Okay, you have your list. Acknowledge that is an achievement. How do you feel? Feeling overwhelmed? Feeling better for putting it all in one place? Feeling nauseous? Feeling angry? Whatever you are feeling is what you are feeling in this moment, it is not what you have to feel forever.

Take a deep breathe in your nose and a slow exhale through your mouth. Every time you feel resistance or want to give up. Breathe. Breathe until you find your resolve to move forward. You can do this!

Take a look at each item on your list. Look without honesty and judgement. How this happens only matters from the perspective of not repeating mistakes. Blame, criticism and negative-self talk will do nothing to assist you in changing things.

Focus with a clear mind, breathe if you become emotional. Breathe until you are calm and clear minded. See without judgement. If judgement begins, then breathe. Breathe until you are once again clear minded.

Is this something that is an actual problem for you or something someone in your life has told you is a problem for you. Notice I say for you? That is because we often take other peoples issues and make them our own. No matter how much you love someone and want to help them there is a huge difference between help and ownership.

Example one: Work is cutting your hours. Yes, this is an actual problem for you.

Example two: your cousin can’t pay their rent because they partied all month and didn’t save a dime. No, this is not your problem (unless they live with you and are paying the rent).

No matter how much you love this person if you are going to hurt yourself by financially, emotionally or physically helping them. Then you need to take a step back and say at this moment I cannot help them without hurting myself, so they must solve their own problem. This does not make you a bad person.

“No one was put on this earth to solve problems for everyone they meet, know or love. How do I know this? Because if that was your purpose, trust that the Universe would have given you all the resources to do so and live a life you adore.”

— Irisa MacKenzie

Once you have gone through the list and crossed off what really is a problem for you take a moment to be proud of yourself for doing something very difficult. Also, do you any items that you feel guilty for putting down or that the inner voice is saying isn’t a problem? Pull them aside and we will deal with them seperately.

Now, look at what you have left on your list and prioritize what needs to be handled. Start at the top and brainstorm solutions. In example one: Work is cutting your hours. Possible solutions: second job, new job, unemployment, roommate, evaluate finances and see if you can really survive on less, etc.

Go through each issue in front of you and brainstorm. If you do not know what to do about something try to google solutions, speak with a trusted friend or family member, meditate. Write down possible solutions, no matter how crazy they seem. Sometimes the craziest ideas hold nuggets of truth, ideas or wisdom. Only you can find the solution that works best for your life. Trust yourself!

Having a plan or part of a plan doesn’t make the problems go away, but it does give you focus and hope. Changing focus from worry to solution is a step to clearing the blocks from having a life you adore. Hope is the seed needed to find our way back to love.

Take another breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Look at the list that makes you feel uncomfortable. Are the items there something that others tell you how you should feel? Is it something you secretly desire? Be totally honest with how you feel and why. This may take some time and soul searching and that is okay. Simply acknowledging that you have these feelings about these things is the first step to doing something.

That something may be resolving an issue with another individual through communication. You may need to set clearer boundaries in your life which can be difficult and often brings feelings of guilt at first. Personally, I am still working on not feeling guilty for setting boundaries. I can tell you that it gets easier if you continue to practice this.

It may even be that what is bothering you is something someone else is telling you about yourself. This takes some self evaluation to see if it is meant with love and something you do need to focus on or if they are projecting their expectations for you onto you and those expectations are not in alignment with what you want for yourself nor do they resonate with your soul. Only you can determine this truth, but do it with total honesty that resonates from your soul. Work through any resistance until you are certain you are seeing this clearly.

Congrats on taking the first steps to making changes to create the life you adore! Does this mean you are going to start being one with loving kindness or embrace positive parenting and never get frustrated with the kids again? No. What this does mean is that you are beginning the work to creating a life that you adore.

While I cannot offer you a magic solution that fixes everything in an instant. I can offer you truths I have learned along my journey. May this wisdom reach those who need it and may the Universe continue to guide us in this amazing journey of Know Thyself to create a life we adore!

Have a wonderful day!
Irisa MacKenzie

Life Lived Between Light & Dark

The years ebb and flow as the tides dance to the moon. Our personal phases cycle as does the moon. We have moments in our life that are so bright we forget we ever knew the darkness. Other phases are the darkest night. These are the phases that lay us bare; open and vulnerable in ways we are never comfortable experiencing. These are the moments where we have our greatest growth and potential laid before us. Opportunities to grow and heal. However, most of our life is lived between the light and darkness. The light and dark illuminating each other for our fullest growth.

I have had many roles throughout my life. There are periods of time that I feel more like a role than the individual behind that role. I feel as though to keep with the forward momentum that I must succumb to certain tasks and behaviors. Is this a bad thing, no. Am I tired of certain routines and duties, yes. After two years of dealing with illness and injury, the legal system, the school system, constant restructuring of a household I feel as if I have been caught in a tidal storm, constantly buffeted on rough waters.

Slowly the storm has been receding and I begin to evaluate what is life, what needs to change and where to proceed forward. This evaluation began before the Winter holiday season. As I came to conclusions I had deep conversations with my partner, myself and family. Together we have been revamping certain things in our life and communicating better on our needs.

The communication has led to several changes in our life. Homeschooling our oldest child has happened. She couldn’t be happier! The adjustment has been a challenge for all of us but we are moving along, learning and growing. A combination of online school quality, homeschool flexibility and local homeschool resources are beginning to blend together into a world that is fostering natural exploration and love of learning.

After a length of illness, surgery and recovery our family is coming into its new normal. Two individuals with chronic pain conditions that manage a home and family with three kids, dogs and assorted pets are learning how to support each other in this new normal. We haven’t given up hope of improving our conditions but we do know that we must live in this current reality while we explore alternatives to improving our health.

For myself, that means committing to the gym for a combination of weight training, flexibility training (I love yoga) and cardio health to stave off the progression of arthritis and fibromyalgia. Routines and training are so very difficult for me to establish let alone maintain with the ever evolving needs of three children under eight.

Plus, I am spending time working on taking some of my passions from hobbies to a freelance career. Adding me time in to focus on that is important to me but a challenge. Due to the age of my children and the schedule my partner has worked for most of their small years I have had to put my needs on the back burner to have enough spoons to be there for my kids. Now, I can begin to shift my focus from solely their needs to a more balanced approach between their needs and mine.

Putting myself first has never been easy for me. Neither has drawing boundaries. Now, I am in a place where I need to do so for a multitude of reasons. Fortunately, my children and partner give me strength; as do members of my tribe.

Everything in life has cycles and patterns. People are no different. Embrace who you are, go with or define your flow but no matter what KNOW THYSELF.

Sassy Viking Mama

Adult Adventures in Ear Tubes

I could not help but laugh when the ENT suggested I get ear tubes for my recurring ear problems. A 45 year old woman getting what is commonly thought of as a kids procedure; yes, that about explains my life. However, since the tinnitus and deafness are competing for what is going to make me go insane, I gladly agreed to the procedure.

My 7 year old had hers done a few months prior so I thought I understood the procedure. Oh No. I was sorely mistaken. My daughter got the better end of this deal. When she had hers done they gave her nice relaxing drugs and put her to sleep. Adults do not get the same treatment.

Ear tubes in adults are a quick, in office procedure with local anesthetic. I am sure that works fine for most individuals. However, I am one of those people that are incredibly difficult to numb. When I tell you I need a very high dose to get numb I am not kidding. Max that stuff out or I will feel everything!

Sadly, I felt all of this. It was not the worse experience of my life but it certainly was not pleasant. Now, I had ruptured my ear drum earlier this summer. If I had not done that, this procedure would have freaked me out a lot more.

The procedure itself is very simple. A tiny slit in your inner ear and insert the tubes; which are teeny tiny. The popping, pressure and pain from it was not fun. It also hurt a lot more for the rest of the night than I had anticipated. Unexpected side effects were my sinus’ draining and my jaw hurting (probably from stress clenching).

Three days later I am glad I got the procedure but disappointed that I still have random to low level tinnitus. I had been hoping that it would be completely gone. We had performed hearing tests earlier in the year and I knew to expect a drop in my hearing; however, I am still adjusting to that. Although, I am grateful to not be completely deaf as I have spent a good part of this year due to my ear problems, especially in my right ear.

My hearing has always been better than my eyesight and something I have always highly relied upon. It is an adjustment to not have that sense be as strong as it was in my youth. As we age, we change and hopefully have the grace to adapt and accept the changes with grace.

The one good thing to come from this experience is that I better understand my partner’s difficulties. He is deaf in one ear and having experienced this for any length of time has been eye opening. I never understood how dramatic even a slight hearing loss was when in a room of conversation. It can be very confusing as the sounds sometimes all rush together and your mind tries to make sense of it all. Now, that is if you hear anything at all. At my worst people would be talking across the table and I didn’t know except for the fact I saw their mouths moving.

Adventures in living,

Irisa

Recovering Human

Fear, anxiety, depression. They are very real issues that prevent so many of us from living. These issues prevent us from being our authentic selves. Questions that go round and round in our minds.

How do you love when you were raised that love is a lie?

How do you parent when the parents you had were cruel?

How do you form healthy relationships when all you have known are toxic ones?

How do you love when you don’t understand what love is?

How do you have friendships when you feel you are worthless and nothing to give?

How do you create when the fear is choking you?

To these questions (and more) I say:

I find and embrace the warrior within. The warrior within is the part of me that hasn’t been broken. It is the part of me that wants to eradicate the fear, anxiety and depression. As long as one cell within my body wants to fight, then I have a warrior within that can shine through.

I will use the warrior within to create.

I will use the warrior within to break through my fear.

I will use the warrior within to turn the internal screaming into art and beauty.

I will use my pain, fear and insecurity to create; to be productive; to succeeed. I will dream of love and trust and live my life as though the dreams are real. I will make that type of love real. I will accept that I am loved. I will not let the people in my past destroy the love I have now. Because if I do, I will never feel his arms around me. I will miss the small smiles, tiny hands, big hearts as they show me who they are.

I do not need or want anxiety in my life. I will fight each day to silence your voice. The cruelty you share and play in my mind. The fears you plant in my Soul. The lies you whisper in my ear. I no longer give you harbor in my body, mind or spirit. I will not respond to your call.

I will only listen and answer to love and creativity. I cannot do this any other way because I will drown in your siren’s call if I do not find the warrior strength within. Those that believe in me deserve the best of me.

Now, when the anxiety and fear are in control, I am not the best of me. I am raw. I am honest. I am strong. I am weak. I am broken. I am whole. At this moment I am a contradiction of healing and healed. I am a recovering human.

Recovering from the faults of humanity. Recovering from lies and deceit. Recovering from the weakness of others and the weakness within. Recovering from choices and consequences. I am human who will use her ability to love and create to fill her cracks with gold. To create a new standard of beauty and wholeness. To be real and authentic without apology. I am a recovering human.

I embrace my role as a recovering human and begin the journey of uncovering, discovering and sharing my authentic self.

Irisa MacKenzie