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How Embracing and Loving My “Negative” Emotions Helped Heal My Pain

“Do not fight against pain; do not fight against irritation or jealousy. Embrace them with great tenderness, as though you were embracing a little baby. Your anger is yourself, and you should not be violent toward it. The same thing goes for all your emotions.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

For a long time, heaviness and dark feelings were very familiar to me. In a strange way they were comforting; I felt safe in darkness. The light felt more painful to me, but I also wanted to change because I wanted to free myself from the limitations of staying in the dark.

I first started struggling with depression when I was young. From an early age my mother told me there was something wrong with me, particularly when I dared to express “negative” feelings, like anger. It became a mantra that filled my mind all the time. This one statement pervaded my entire life and dramatically affected the choices I made and didn’t make, well into adulthood.

In my early forties, after much searching, I hit rock bottom. I was lying in bed, wanting to die, my thoughts telling me how wrong I was as a human being, when another thought popped into my mind: “What if depression is a gift?”

Depression had felt like this never-ending darkness that clouded everything in my life. Even at times that I should have seen as positive, the depression prevented me from enjoying them. Depression was an old friend, one I not only tolerated but believed was the whole of who I was.

I found my identity in feeling like a failure, and not moving forward meant that my identity was correct; I was confirming that this was who I was—until I understood that I was meant to be so much more than this depressed woman, sad, sorrowful, constantly grieving and frustrated. There had to be more to life.

Instead of looking at what was wrong with myself, I started looking at the feelings that came up, noticing that my aversion to them was not only perpetuating them, but was affirming that I was not worthy of love, acceptance, or even acknowledgement.

I could no longer fight who I was. I had to start looking at myself as a whole, including the pain and trauma, so I started to imagine that my repressed emotions were small children—and not just any small children, but orphans.

They lived in a large orphanage, where nobody cared for them and the only adults that came in to see them were mean, critical ones who would beat them if they showed anger or leave them to cry if they were sad.

There were many children in there, cowering in their cribs, with no one to hold them or reassure them that they were safe.

Some of my “orphaned children” were shame and embarrassment. I’d felt these feelings many times in my life, and they’d prevented me from sharing my skills or even recognizing that I had any at all.

I also had angry orphaned children who had been made to believe that anger was negative and bad, not positive fuel for creativity and healthy boundaries.

And then there were my sad orphaned children, who had not properly grieved the loss of their father, who’d passed in my late twenties.

These parts of me didn’t need to be alienated; they needed my love, care, and attention.

I’d orphaned these feelings because I didn’t want them to be part of me, but because of this, I lived a half-life for a long time. Rejecting my feelings, ironically, fueled my depression, because you can’t selectively numb your emotions. When you numb any, you numb all.

Instead of embracing these suffering children, I’d created diversions to avoid them.

As a child, I used food to avoid feeling lonely, rejected, and broken. In my teens and early twenties, I was a binge drinker, consuming huge amounts of alcohol four days a week to repress my emotions. As an adult, this meant too much coffee and sugar, or I overworked to avoid feeling anything.

At one point I used “positive thinking” to distract myself from these neglected aspects of myself. This was probably the most powerful distraction, because by thinking I needed to be grateful and happy all of the time, I was automatically rejecting all other emotions.

It was easier to pretend than to make friends with these aspects of myself.

I eventually realized that I couldn’t do this to myself anymore. I no longer wanted to lie or consider a huge part of my nature, my shadow, wrong.

Self-compassion and self-acceptance are so important if we are to be balanced human beings. If we are unable to acknowledge and accept the pain inside of ourselves, how can we ever expect that things will change? How can we be less judgmental of other people if we judge ourselves harshly most of the time?

Embracing pain isn’t easy. It takes courage and commitment to take this transformative path, to begin to reframe depression and other mental health issues as a gift, as an awakening, to help us return to who we really are, which is loving, kind, compassionate, and accepting.

Though the darkness had felt safe, I eventually realized that I was afraid of the light because it illuminated those dark corners where my orphaned emotions live.

It was time to stop fighting my feelings and give them a new home in my heart. Here’s how I did just that.

Embracing My “Orphaned” Emotions

1. Acknowledge.

The first thing I had to do was to acknowledge that I had been avoiding my pain, and to accept that it was okay that I did this. If I beat myself up for deserting parts of myself for so long I’d just be putting further shame or blame into that orphanage.

I had to accept that sadness, fear, anger, and rage were healthy emotional experiences, sometimes necessary, and that I’d previously rejected these feelings as a way to protect myself until I was ready to face who I truly am.

If you’ve also abandoned your most wounded, fragile parts, decide to break the cycle now. Acknowledge what you did but also why, and have compassion for yourself.

2. Get to know your feelings.

Take the time to get to know these pain feelings, but do so as an unconditional mother would, without judgment, without needing to fix or make the feelings anything other than what they are. When sadness or sorrow comes up, take a quiet moment to witness this child within with loving attention.

3. Accept them as gifts.

Our feelings are not there to make our lives miserable; they’re there to show us what may not be working in our lives, or what needs to change.

When I accepted that depression was a gift, I began judging myself less harshly and embracing the feelings I’d repressed for so long. Essentially, I started accepting all of myself.

I’d gotten comfortable viewing myself as a failure, and I thought my unconventional life confirmed that’s what I was. I was living with my best friend who was in his seventies. I was single, poor in my eyes, and unattractive. I believed that because I didn’t have my life together in my forties—I didn’t have a home of my own, a partner, or a successful career—I wasn’t acceptable or enough as I was.

My depression was a sign that I needed to change how I viewed myself. This enabled me to see not only that I am enough as I am, but others are enough, exactly as they are right now.

Instead of stuffing down your depression, anxiety, shame, loneliness—or whatever emotion you’re tempted to resist—ask yourself: What message is it trying to send to me? What would I do differently in my life if I listened to this emotion instead of suppressing it?

4. Remember it’s not a race.

When I first started owning my shadow I found it challenging to stop my avoidance practices, but I initially tried to rush through this process. I thought I could immediately accept all feelings, whenever they arose, without ever giving in to my old habits.

I eventually realized I had to be kind to myself and to take each new step as mindfully as possible. I also had to understand that I would probably fall back into old habits at times and accept this was all part of the healing process.

It takes regular practice and persistence to welcome those unwanted emotions time and time again. It takes time to internalize that it’s not about getting rid of any feelings, but about welcoming them as part of self-love and personal growth.

5. It’s all about trust.

Becoming aware of our painful emotions is only one step. Until we are able to fully welcome and embrace them, life will trigger us to love them further. Things will happen that evoke all the feelings we want to avoid—challenges in our work, relationships, and other aspects of our lives.

We can turn back and ignore the triggers, or we can trust that whatever shows up is meant to teach us unconditional love. It takes faith and trust to love shame, anger, and fear. We need to trust that this is worthwhile and that we’re capable of re-parenting ourselves in a more wholesome way.

I know that my old ways of avoiding and distracting myself from the pain never worked—that I had to go through it to go beyond it, and that going beyond it does not mean I will never feel sad or despairing again. I will, but I can do so from a place of trust, knowing I will be okay, because I now understand that all of me is lovable, and I am enough exactly as I am right now.

About Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin is the author of When Everyone Shines But You, a mental health blogger, podcaster "Kelly Martin Speaks" and radio producer of the new mental health and music station Peace Within Radio. Kelly is on a mission to help those suffering with depression, anxiety, and PTSD feel good enough exactly as they are. Visit her on Facebook / Twitter.

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The Principles of Active Waiting vs. Feeling-Like-A-Loser, Losing-Your-Mind Kind of Waiting…

I’ve learned a few things about waiting. I can’t say I’m a fan of waiting for what I want but I’ve finally learned to harness the waiting periods in a new way. Some might call it the virtue of patience, but I’ll never admit to being patient.

Inactive waiting is a self-torture. It’s a surer way to get stuck, slip into complaining, and let your creativity get flabby. You put things on hold. You spend a lot of time in One Day, Some Day Town. You see things around you as, “not quite what I’m waiting for.” And then you get into the New-Age sponsored self-down talk, “Why aren’t I manifesting what I want?”

Beloveds! There’s another way.

THE PRINCIPLES OF ACTIVE WAITING

Regard the waiting period as an opportunity. This is major. This is IT. Decompression time, ebb to the flow, calm before the storm. Extra time to get in better shape, clean out your closet, get your finances in order so if more prosperity comes, it’s put to best use. Make room for the love that’s sure to come. I was at a friend’s cluttered apartment and he was saying how much he wanted to have a live-in girlfriend. And I was like, “Dude, where would she put her stuff?” He got his tidy on to make space for the live-in love he was waiting to find. That’s active waiting—happily preparing for what you trust is on its way to you.

Make space in your life for the inevitable arrival of what you want.

Waiting time is a great self-love assignment. Of course the romance will fill a space in your life, and hopefully the career win is going to be fulfilling. But without those future things, you’re still supreme now. You’re good and beautiful today. And when you tap that self assuredness, that dignity and self worth, you’re more likely to manifest what you desire for your future because you’re manifesting it today.

Take comfort in the fact that you’ve done all that you can do. This is a gratifying place to be in. You’ve put in your time, you’ve pulled all the strings you can reach. You’ve lined up your ducks, planted your seeds. Nuthin’ to do now but… wait. You’ve shown up. You’ve met the universe half way. Good job. Focus on today now.

Distract yourself with presence. This is the best kind of Jedi mind trick. You can see what you want on the horizon, and you look at your life today and say, “There is so much right here that I’ve been waiting for.” Both are true.

Love,

Danielle LaPorte

Danielle LaPorte is an invited member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100, a group who, in Oprah Winfrey’s words, “is uniquely connecting the world together with a spiritual energy that matters.” She is author of White Hot Truth: Clarity for keeping it real on your spiritual path—from one seeker to another. The Fire Starter Sessions, and The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul—the book that has been translated into 8 languages, evolved into a yearly day planner system, a top 10 iTunes app, and an international workshop program with licensed facilitators in 15 countries. Named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes, millions of visitors go to DanielleLaPorte.com every month for her daily #Truthbombs and what’s been called “the best place online for kickass spirituality.” A speaker, a poet, a painter, and a former business strategist and Washington-DC think tank exec, Entrepreneur Magazine calls Danielle, “equal parts poet and entrepreneurial badass…edgy, contrarian…loving and inspired.” Her charities of choice are Eve Ensler’s VDay: a global movement to end violence against women and girls, and charity: water, setting out to bring safe drinking water to everyone in the world. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her favourite philosopher, her son. You can find her @daniellelaporte and just about everywhere on social media.

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The post The Principles of Active Waiting vs. Feeling-Like-A-Loser, Losing-Your-Mind Kind of Waiting… appeared first on Positively Positive.

5 Things to Help Spruce up Your Morning Routine

The way you start your day from the moment you wake up sets the precedence for how the rest of your day, and ultimately how the rest of your life, will go. This is because creating a morning routine is a healthy habit that benefits both the body and mind.

Sometimes it is difficult to have a positive attitude first thing in the morning. Especially when you have a hectic day before you. It is easy to slip into a worried mindset when considering your to-do list. For this reason, I have come up with five tips to help you spruce up your morning routine and cut the negativity.

1. Eliminate Negative Thoughts

The first thing you should do in the morning is absolutely eliminate is your negative thoughts.

You should eliminate them from your life entirely, but again, it’s best to nip this in the bud at the start of your day. They’re not going to get you to where you want to go.

Instead, always look for a better feeling thought.

Become a “Vibrational Match” for the Things You Want

Everything on Earth vibrates at a specific frequency, and you must become a “vibrational match” for the things you want.

Think of yourself as a radio station. If you want to listen to jazz, you have to tune your dial to a jazz station, not a heavy metal one. Likewise, tuning your thoughts and feelings to a positive frequency will bring you positive things.

2. Don’t Think About What Could Go Wrong

Do not immediately think about what could go wrong with the things you have to do for the day.

Don’t dread having to find a parking space or think about being late to your appointment.

Instead, I want you to close your eyes for a few moments every morning. Visualize your day going exactly the way you want it to go.

You’re going to find a parking spot. You’re going to make your appointment. Your meeting is going to go well. You are going to make that sale and you are going to finish that project.

Every single thing is going to go exactly the way you want it to.

This is what I call “intending the day.”

3. Start Your Day With a Purpose

The third thing you shouldn’t do in your morning routine is start without a purpose.

What is your bigger purpose?

Know why you get out of bed in the first place.

So after visualizing your day, visualize your bigger, long-term goals coming true. And take a few moments to say your affirmations, too.

Describe Your Goals in a Completed State

Try statements that describe your goals in their already completed state. Things like, “I am celebrating feeling light and alive at my perfect body weight of 135.”

I keep each of my goals and affirmations handwritten on a 3×5 index card. I read them after I wake up in the morning and before I go to sleep at night. Doing this consistently will activate your subconscious mind’s power to fulfill the achievement of your goals.

Your subconscious will look out for anything — people, opportunities, activities, and events — that can help you achieve your goal.

4. Remember to be Grateful

Next, remember to be grateful.

It’s easy to get up, jump right into working on getting things done, and take for granted the things that brought you to this moment. Take a few minutes to write down what you’re grateful for, that’s what I do every day.

I promise you that this simple technique will work miracles in your life.

A state of appreciation and gratitude puts you in one of the highest emotional states possible.

Remember, the Law of Attraction states like energy attracts like energy.

Our thoughts are made up of energy. If you think that way, you’ll attract more abundance, which will give you more to be thankful for.

5. If You Get Inspiration, Act Immediately

The fifth and final thing you should not do in your morning routine is ignoring your inspired actions.

If you get an inspiration to do something…

Act on it immediately.

As opposed to “obvious actions,” like changing your diet if you want to lose weight, “inspired actions” are more intuitive. Like a hunch or gut feeling.

You know, those random thoughts you have? Things like “I don’t know why, but I have this urge to call my college roommate” or “I have a strong feeling that I should attend that event tonight.

You may be presented with an opportunity you would never have imagined by taking that action.

Listen to Your Gut

Most of the time you won’t see the whole plan, but if you get an inspiration, act on it!

Don’t put it off or let it go. Pick up the phone and make the call, go down to the coffee shop, or go to the event that you thought of.

I remember being at a conference in Connecticut with my wife. I felt attracted to go to a session on doubling your income. My wife questioned my decision because service, not money, had always been my primary motivator in life.

I told her I didn’t know why, but I felt compelled to go it. When I arrived at the session, I sat down next to a woman and introduced myself. It turned out she was a veterinarian, and she had just discovered a cure for feline leukemia.

My cat had recently been diagnosed with feline leukemia. Because I had followed my inspiration to go that session, my cat went on to live many more years.

See a Positive Difference in Your Day and Your Life

I’m going to leave you with a homework assignment. Eliminate at least one of these five things from your morning routine and replace them with their opposite. Positive thoughts are greater than negative thoughts.

Remember to visualize your day going well instead of badly. Focus on your larger purpose and your long term goals. Take a few moments to focus on what you are grateful for. Act on your inspirations.

If you do, I guarantee you’re going to see a dramatic, positive difference in how the rest of your day, and your life, plays out.

As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre—and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of over 100 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul® franchise, Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success. Jack is America’s #1 Success Coach and wrote the life-changing book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and Jack speaks around the world on this subject. Check out his newest book The 30-Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of Your Own Home. Follow Jack at www.jackcanfield.com and sign up for his free resources today!

Image courtesy of Trent Szmolnik.

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