Transforming Our World Through The Arts

letitgo

LETTING GO/RELEASING is a Theme that has been coming up strong for me lately in my life.

Hanging on to old thoughts/patterns/habits/ways of being that no longer serve us cause us to feel TRAPPED, LACKING FREEDOM, DEEPLY WORRIED/ANXIOUS, DEPRESSED, ANGRY, GUILTY, STUCK. It keeps us going in circles in all areas of life: Relationship, Careers, Finances and Health.  It can even manifest itself physically in our body. For me, I again reached a point of depression and anxiety. My anxiety manifests in my bowels (makes sense, when the idea behind it is ‘Letting Go’.)

Letting Go of OLD Thoughts, Feelings, Beliefs and Behaviour Patterns gives us a sense of FREEDOM/POWER/ABILITY TO MOVE FORWARD/INCREASED SELF ESTEEM/BETTER RELATIONSHIPS/PEACE OF MIND/HAPPINESS/ALL AROUND IMPROVEMENT IN LIFE/DECREASE IN ANXIETY AND FEELINGS OF DEPRESSION

Here are 5 things you should know if you are feeling unsettled or stuck and are ready to LET GO of all that ‘stuff’ that is holding you back or weighing you down:

1. Your Mind Will Try to Resist

The concept of detachment can be a tough one for us to grasp. It is part of Buddhist teaching: Nothing is permanent. Change is imminent, and the more we practice detachment, the quicker we can find true happiness. This does not mean that you stop caring. It just means that you accept what is and accept that our thoughts don’t have to control us. We can begin to simply observe our thoughts in a gentle and loving way, sort of from a third person’s point of view.

When you begin to make decisions about letting go of beliefs and behaviour patterns that you’ve come to know for a long time (maybe even your whole life) your ego mind sets into a bit of a ‘panic’ mode. It may start thinking things like:

‘But I Like This, I Want It To be permanent.” My life won’t be the same without it.” I don’t want to lose it, life will be worse without it.” I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared.’ ‘What if I fall?” What if I fail?” What if I can’t?” What if they laugh?” What if I offend someone?” What if it results in conflict?” But it is all I have ever known.” But I can’t, But I can’t, But I can’t.” But it’s who I am.” But what if it doesn’t turn out the way I WANT it to.’

The truth is, we all have a Higher/Wiser self who is guiding us, and we have to train ourselves to listen to our inner voice. The very fact that you find yourself reading this article tells you that you are ready to let go of something that no longer serves you. This is time to Trust and have in your inner compass.

2. You Need to Give Yourself Permission to Let Go

Something inside of you is telling you you are not allowed, because of messages you have received in childhood (It is not okay to be a sexual being, you don’t have the right to use your voice, you should look like this, you can’t do that, it’s not safe, it’s not polite, it’s not enough, you are not enough, you don’t deserve). Give YOURSELF permission. You don’t need anyone else’s. It is your life.

3. You Are Not Your Past

Your past has taught you wonderful lessons so that you can change and grow. You do not have to hold on to those lessons/experiences any more. It is done. Thank them for everything they have taught you and let them go. There is a wonderful future awaiting you.

4. Letting Go is a Process

You don’t just do it ONCE. I have been consciously practicing letting go for a long time now (Years). Often it is the same stuff that comes up. But be gentle with yourself, and know that the very fact that you are aware that you WANT to let go of these things IS a step, and you WILL find changes in your life as you continue through the process.

5. There’s A Lot To Let Go Of

There are so many things to let go of: Negative Thoughts/Beliefs/Behaviour Patterns (Bad Habits), Weight or Feelings around Losing Weight/Body Image, Perfectionism, Toxic Relationships, Angry Feelings, Sad Feelings, Guilt, and the list goes on and on.
Often when I do meditations around letting go, I find they don’t feel long enough to let go of ALL the stuff I need to let go of. But I have learned to TRUST that the first things that come up are the ones that are holding me back the most, so when you do exercises around letting go, make sure you trust what comes and don’t overthink it (Let Go of Overthinking!)

6. Break It Down Into Small Steps

Trying to let go of everything all at once is overwhelming and is likely to lead to procrastination or self-sabotage, which really slows down the process of change and growth. Instead, pick ONE THING to focus on (likely the first thing that came up, as stated above). This will make the process feel more ‘doable’.

7. Action is Key

Once you have chosen the first thing (or maybe a couple of things), brainstorm some ACTIONS you can do to move forward with this idea, and have a place to record them. For example, if you are wanting to let go of the thought ‘I Am Not Good Enough’, write down all the things you can do to prove to yourself that you ARE good enough (remember, you’re going to be fighting that Ego mind) and then take action on one of them IMMEDIATELY! Make sure you have somewhere to record your accomplishments, no matter how little! A journal beside your bed, or even your ‘notes’ app on your phone will work. It’s the baby steps that get us to where we want to go.

If you want to engage in some Expressive Arts exercises on Letting Go, I am creating a video series of activities. Find them on my YouTube channel, and free yourself!

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Art Is Not Enough!

Source: Art Is Not Enough!

mental health

Art is not enough?

Yesterday I had an epiphany while I was in the midst of a mild breakdown. By mild breakdown, I mean I suddenly felt as if I had hit Rock Bottom (Again!).

The PROCESS of hitting rock bottom had been in place for some time, so I don’t know why I was so surprised when I finally realized I had gotten myself there. And how did I get myself there? My thoughts, plain and simple. But that is irrelevant right now; another topic to be addressed at another time. The point is, as I stood there wallowing in the fact that I had allowed myself to hit Rock Bottom, I realized something. Something very important indeed: I needed help.

I had sunk to that space where without someone throwing down a ladder, it was going to be VERY difficult to get myself back up. And that’s when those words hit me: Art is Not Enough.

Which led me to the realization that that is why I am here. It is part of my purpose in this life. I believe 100% in the Healing Power of the Arts because I have experienced it. But SOMETIMES dancing and creating and art journaling etc. etc. is not enough. That is why we have Art Therapists, Creative Therapists and Expressive Arts Professionals like myself. That is why we have Mentors and Energy Workers and Psychotherapists and  Spiritual Healers of many sorts.People who are there to hold us and guide us when we just can’t figure it out for ourselves, even when the answers are right in front of our faces.

Friends are lovely for support to, but just be aware that they may be as lost as you are, and may just project their stuff on to you when giving advice. A professional has learned to lend an empathic ear and guide you from a place of detachment (meaning they remove their own stuff from the situation), although most of us can at least relate.

So keep doing art, creating, dancing, and doing all of that wonderful stuff to keep yourself in a good frame of mind and to continue healing. But also be mindful of when you just might need that extra support to get you through until you can pick it back up on your own again. There is no shame in seeking help, and there are those of us out there who WANT to help.

Ask. Ask, Ask, Ask. You WILL find the right person or people to support you. You deserve it.

Love and Light,

Monarch Mariposa

 

 

flowers blooming

Today I had the opportunity to learn about choices and stress. It was my 'day off'. The day where I was not OBLIGATED to report to work. And yet I found myself swirling in a stress ball of overwhelm, despite a ton of Social Media support via quotes about taking control of my life and doing things that are fabulous for my health. You see, despite having a day off, I am still building a business and raising two gorgeous children and well, it's Christmas. So there's kind of a lot on my plate, coupled with the fact that part of me just wants to create and have fun and just 'be'. Sigh...what's a Fairie to do? 

Well, I knew one thing-I was not going to waste my day contemplating! Luckily, the night before I had listened to a meditation on decision making and the importance of being still as the key to making clear decisions. 

So i stayed still, and I prayed. Unfortunately I didn't stay still long enough though, and in a slight panic I started to push against the grain rather than going with the flow. Not a nice feeling. I could feel the worry tightening my chest. Negative thoughts bombarded my peace. I needed a wake up call. 

And then I got it. I looked once more at my Social Media, because I have learned to ONLY allow positive things on Social Media, so every time I turn it on I see positive, uplifting messages. And there was the one I needed. It read:

Busy is a choice.
Stress is a choice.
Joy is a choice.

And that was it. Right then and there I knew that for the rest of the day, if I CHOSE to make it busy, I could not complain about it later. If I CHOSE to stress about everything, I couldn't complain about it later. If I CHOSE Joy, well, that would be awesome! 

From that point on all of my decisions were based on 1. Whether I was creating business for myself, and 2. Whether the task was bringing me joy. And from that point on I accomplished what I needed to in a relaxed state and I had some wonderful and even miraculous interactions while I did it. I met all kinds of nice people, had great conversations, and even had some inspiration for fun, meaningful Christmas gifts and activities. 

So if you're allowing yourself to get caught up in all of the craziness, and you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed, remember those three simple sentences above, and also remember:

1. Take time to be still before you make any decisions.
2. Make your decisions based on what would bring you JOY. What FEELS INSPIRING?
3. TRUST and have faith that you are being guided in the right direction. 
and 
4. TRUST that feeling in your gut, and go with what feels right. Do a body scan/check in. Are you feeling any resistance to the activity you are engaging in or the choice you are making?If so, it is probably a 'no'. There is no point in forcing something to happen because you feel like it HAS to get done. Wait for the moment when you feel INSPIRED to get it done. Otherwise you are just creating a lot of stress and negativity in your life which you will be spreading to the people around you.

You are loved. Everything is okay. Worry does not help you. Take some deep breaths. Things will get done. Might as well get them done in a happy state. 

Sending Loads of Love,
MM  


Body Image. Such a HOT TOPIC, and one I could probably speak about for the rest of my life. I could simply say that EveryBODY is beautiful (and it is) but I know that I for one, upon hearing those words, think,  ‘Here we go again…blah blah blah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tell me again that my body is beautiful..I still don’t believe it’. So what do we do about this?

As one of the 97% of women who find faults with my body daily, I have spent way too much time pointing fingers and playing the ‘blame game’ on Society, and men in particular for my self loathing. And while I don’t dismiss the issues that continue with media and body image, I realize that playing the blame game will get me, personally, nowhere.

Tonight I stood naked in front of the mirror (yep, I did) and thought: ‘We all have visual preferences, including me. That’s okay. I can accept that.’ And while I stood, hating my body for a few minutes, I also thought ‘I think I’ll start loving my body for what it gives me and does for me. If I want to change my body for other peoples’ sake, that would be wrong. If I want to make changes for MY sake, because I KNOW what my best is and I want to feel healthy and strong, that would be okay.’ If I don’t want to make changes, that’s okay too. I am doing the best I can. I am loving life and choosing to love myself’. 

Below I have included a short Art Activity you can do to bring awareness about how you truly feel about your body and what changes (if any) you may wish to make about how you FEEL about your body. This could get emotional. If you feel like it may be too emotional, either don’t do it or have proper support systems in place. I understand the severity of Eating Disorders as well, and would recommend that anyone with an eating disorder not do this activity, period, unless it is somehow directed as part of a recovery program from a health care professional.  

Okay, I’m about to get Vulnerable. These are works I created back in 2014 about how I percieved my body and how I would LOVE to percieve my body. I’m going out on a limb here sharing this with you, but hey-you’re worth it. We all are.

The pages I wrote on are from Leonie Dawson’s Shining Life Workbook 2014 Edition (Just received 2016 virtual copy-SO EXCITED!) I am totally plugging Leonie Dawson right now, but I’m cool with that because she is one of my heroes and has been a huge catalyst in moving my life forward.

For now you can print a PDF from the Internet (google body outline PDF) or simply sketch your own. (Sorry, haven’t built my tech. skills that far yet to create PDFs).

Anyhoo, here goes:

Perception of My Body

Perception of My Body

How I WANT to Perceive my Body

How I WANT to Perceive my Body

So as you can see on the Page Titles, the Process is simple: Colour In, Collage, Fill With Words. THIS IS A VERY SIMPLE EXERCISE THAT ANYONE CAN DO.

Now, if you are looking for Self Improvement in terms of your Physical Condition you can simply stop here and do the exercise above (grab a piece of paper and some colouring tools). If you want to add more detail, get some magazines and start collaging.

I am going to recommend one more step in the creative process though: Either on the image you just created or on a separate piece of paper, write, draw or collage:

  1. What you are currently DOING that affects your health either positively or negatively.
  2. What you CAN do to affect your health positively and aim for what you want. (Even if it’s just the teeniest, tiniest little detail like drink one more glass of water each day. Setting an intention and PUTTING IT INTO ACTION, no matter how small is getting your momentum going). P.S. I found a nice little App that reminds me to drink water every hour. Love it!

BUT.. I feel there is a very important piece of the puzzle here: Starting from the INSIDE OUT.

body image 1

I know, I know…easier said than done, right? Well, if you’re stuck, here is an inspirational video most of you have probably seen if you ever use YouTube. Love this video. Love, Love, Love. Relatable, Inspiring and Empowering.

 

Two things in particular stand out for me when I watch this video: 1. Be Nice To Ourselves and 2. Put Good Things Into Our Bodies.  Oh! And of course, “OWN IT”! Can you do it? Can you do those two things? If you need more, here is a post I found on-line:

10 steps to positive body image - Inspirational Quotes Images

The video addresses #6 and #9 from this list, but you see, there is a lot more you can do to change your mindset regarding your body. (Oh, and yes the video specifically addresses women, but I know body image affects men too).

As I read over the list above, it still feels quite generic-oh, I’m supposed to REMIND myself that true beauty is only skin deep. But HOW do I do that when I am feeling absolutely UGLY, when I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, when people are calling me names, when all I see in the media are ‘PERFECT’ Bodies.

The answer, my Darling, is baby steps. You CAN change your mindset and take control of your thoughts. I will be introducing more art and movement activities to help you do just that. Truth is, we are going to have good mindset days and bad mindset days, but never give up. If an ugly thought comes creeping in, hit your STOP button (you can literally have a place on your body that is your STOP button) and immediately say the OPPOSITE of the negative thought. Eg. ‘Ugh, my thighs are so HUGE’. Say “I believe my thighs are just right for my body”, OR “I have thighs! Thank God! Life sure would be different without them.” (Consider this your SAVE button).

As soon as you start to accept it, you can change it in a healthy way IF YOU CHOOSE TO. But if you’re hanging on to pipe dreams of your perfect body in desperation, chances are things are likely to remain the way they are, because really what you are focusing on is what you DON’T want. And what you FOCUS on is what you get. But if you can learn to accept what you have, you can move forward with a positive mindset, and make small positive changes towards what you do want.

So, did I reach my goals of how I wanted to feel about my body? I guess that’s a matter of Perception 😉  I do NOT have a 6 pack, my skin is a little dry still, I’m not toned and my teeth are not perfectly white. But I DO have fitness goals and I HAVE taken small steps over the past year/year and a half to do nice things for my body: Cut down on coffee, drink more water, use coconut oil, reduce sugar intake (refined sugar cut out almost completely), cut down on meat intake, stay active doing things I enjoy etc. In the meantime, I am not obsessing over my body, but I am aware when I slip into unhealthy habits. I do not love myself completely every day (let’s be honest), but I am on a path to self-love; unconditional love, and so can you be.

Sending Loads of Love to EveryBODY!

MM

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Once upon a time in a place much like this one, people wrote messages on pieces of paper and sent them to each other in something called THE MAIL. It brought sheer joy to people when they went to their MAIL BOXES and received one of these messages from a loved one. During special occasions, like Christmas and Birthdays, they would get LOTS of these special messages, and it filled their hearts with Peace and Love. No, the messages didn’t come with moving pictures, animation or even music! But they came from the heart, and that’s what made them so special. (Sigh).

Years ago, before I had children (and just until they became toddlers) I used to make hand made cards for Christmas. It brought me TONS of joy, drinking tea or candy cane hot chocolate, listening to Christmas music and creating under the lights of the Christmas tree.

And then the kids became toddlers, and well that song and dance ended for a while! But alas, they have grown even more, and I find myself longing to INFUSE magic back into the holidays by bringing myself (and my loved ones) joy!

So for any of you who are looking to CREATE some MEANING this season, here is a simple tutorial on how you can use a stamping technique to make beautiful cards for your loved ones this season.

P.S. This is one simple technique, but I’ve done things in the past such as cut simple pictures out of magazines or old Christmas cards, added a simple text and SHAZAM! Clean and simple. I have also done mixed media like using watercolour and decorative paper when I had more time-whatever toots your horn!

For now, a simple print making technique. Enjoy!

You Will Need:

  1. Cardstock or Heavy Paper (I forgot my Image!) Keep it flat and simple for printmaking.
  2. Acrylic Paint in your favourite holiday colours. You don’t have to get fancy; these are from the dollar store.

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3. Evergreen Leaves/Needles. I used Cedar. It works well because of the contrast of positive/negative space. You could try pine if you’re brave, or any other leaf that suits the holiday. (Note cardstock I found at Staples)

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4. Several pieces of wax paper cut into sizes to fit your leaves/needles. (If you find a  more environmentally friendly way to do this let me know, but the wax paper helps it to keep from smudging). Re-use as much as possible.

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5. A palette of some sort (plastic, tile, paper, anything flat to put your paint). I have old floor tiles I use.

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6. A roller or paintbrush to roll out your paint, and embellishments (glitter, markers, stickers, stamps etc.) BUT REMEMBER, LESS IS MORE! (See image above)

To Create:

Step 1. Squirt small amount of paint on your palette

(About the size of a quarter). **NOTE: Do NOT put them close together like I did…the other colours get on the wax paper when you are trying to press your leaf into just one colour. I did the learning for you. You’re welcome.20151123_135005

Step 2. Roll your paint out to the size of your leaf or use a paint brush to spread it.

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Step 3. Set your leaf onto your paint.

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Step 4. Cover your leaf with a piece of wax paper and press gently or roll with roller.

Make sure you get the corners and edges. The wax paper will pick up the excess paint, this reducing risk of smudging.

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Step 5. Gently pull off paper and set your leaf onto your cardstock where you want your print to go.

(Find a small piece sticking up to grab and YES-you will get paint on your fingers!)

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Step 6. Cover your leaf with a clean piece of wax paper and gently press down, again remembering the corners and edges.

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Step 7. Pull off the wax paper and leaf, and Voila! There’s your print.

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Now, repeat the process, playing with colours and overlapping, but remember just to put a few on your card-you don’t want it to look cluttered. It loses its magic then!

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BELOW: CLUTTERED

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Also note: Here is where you add your Wording and Embellishments. I would use red glitter to add a few berries to the first image (Not the cluttered one), but my glitter is still in my classroom at school. 

For lettering, I tried stamp plus paint. I will NOT be using that technique unless I find a better way to do it (it showed up too uneven- blobby in some places, barely visible in others.) In the past I just used fancy gold pens or markers and handwriting. They might not have been perfect, but everyone loved them (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention how EVERYONE complained when I stopped sending these babies).

So there you have it. Have some fun making your own cards this year. And I expect to see some in the mail 😉

Love and Light,

Monarch Mariposa

The full moon in November has just passed and with it have come a lot of strong energies to help us release and let go of things that no longer serve us in our lives. If you are anything like me, you find yourself time and time again feeling bogged or weighed down; feeling that heaviness on your shoulders and the back of your neck, or maybe somewhere else in your body. A great indication that you are holding on to stuff that is having a negative impact on your well-being.

let go

“Letting Go” can be much easier said than done, but don’t lose hope. In this video I have included some steps to get you started using a fun/simple Art Journaling activity. Believe me, it takes no artistic skill to do this exercise, nor does it take any fancy shmancy art tools. What is DOES take is willingness. Willingness to become AWARE of what you are holding on to (or a willingness to bring that knowledge to your awareness), and a Willingness to release those things that are holding you down. Ready? Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Grab Some Materials

Option 1:

  • Art Journal
  • Watercolour Markers or Paints
  • A round object to trace that will fit into your art journal
  • water
  • wide paint brush (or watercolour brushes)
  • paper towel
  • Something to write with after the water colour has dried

Option 2:

Grab ANY materials! Don’t have an art journal? Use a piece of paper. In one of my samples I do use watercolour markers, but if all you have is a pencil, DON’T LET THAT STOP YOU! Grab what you have (pens, markers, crayons, pencil crayons, whatever) and do what you can, because it’s time to LET GO..

Step 2: Find a Space Where You Can Watch The Video (or just follow the steps here) and Create

Preferably a space where you will not be disturbed/interrupted, but hey, like I said earlier, doing something is better than doing nothing, and I know there are many of you who have pets or children or spouses etc. that just can’t leave you alone, so do your best. However, anything you CAN do to lessen distractions is better. (Eg. turn off phone and email notifications, bolt the door, arrange for soundproof walls, etc. etc.)

Step 3: Get Your Journal Prepped

Always put your date in your journal.  It helps you keep track of your progress (and yes you are making progress, even if it doesn’t feel like it. I was once told we go in a spiral, which means we NEVER end up in exactly the same place we were before. Ahhh…doesn’t that feel good?

Now trace your round object in the middle of your page or spread out between 2 journal pages if you are like me and have a LOT to let go of.  We are working with Full Moon energy here, even if it isn’t a full moon at the moment (there is no bad time to let go of things that are not doing you any good).  At the top, write the words “I Now Release” or “I Am Ready to Let Go” or “Letting Go”…whatever feels good for you. **Be sure to use something that is resistant to water if you are going to use watercolours over top. If you are using water soluble markers or ink, you may want to write this AFTER you have added a watercolour background.

Step 4: Meditate on What to Release/Let Go Of

If you are using water colour, fill in your moon now and your sky around it. Rather than getting caught up in how it looks, use this time to focus on those words” “I Now Release”. Let thoughts come to you as you put paint on the page. Watercolour is the perfect medium for this, as it is less easy to control than other types of paint. It really reminds you to ‘Go With The Flow’. Repeat the words “I Now Release” in your mind and let thoughts and images come up.

If you are not using watercolour, you can imagine yourself holding a big heavy bag of things that you need to let go of. Each time you think “I Release” reach into the bag and see what comes out. REMEMBER NOT TO JUDGE IT. Your higher Self, or Inner Wise Being is telling you this is something you need to let go of. You may find things like jealousy, anger, resentment, unhealthy habits, negative thought patterns like “I don’t deserve” etc.It might not be easy, but keep going.

Step 5: Write It All Down with Gratitude

You can do this as things come up or after; it doesn’t matter. It will still be there. (And more may come up as the days progress). As you write down your thoughts and ideas, become aware of your feelings and level of resistance. Thank whatever it is that has come up, for it has served you somehow on your journey-taught you lessons, made you stronger, brought you to awareness of what you DON’T want etc. Write it however and wherever you want on your page. Take 5 min. or 5 hours…whatever you need.

Step 6: Visualize Yourself Letting Go

You may picture the words you write vanishing into the page and the moon’s energy carrying those things from you. You may also picture yourself standing in the rain and having these things washed away from you (or you can literally go have a shower). You can walk outside and let the breeze or wind carry these things from you, or again, picture that happening. You can picture yourself handing that big bag over to someone you trust: Your Higher Being, God/The Universe/Creator, your Guardian Angel, or a tangible person such as a grandparent, mentor, or some person who supports you. Notice your resistance as you hand it over or are letting it wash away. What are you still trying to hold on to? How do you feel it is still serving you? What are you afraid of? It’s okay. Let it go. Your Higher Self knows. It will all be okay. There are better ways. There is something better for you. Thank what or whoever you gave your ‘stuff’ to, and feel the weight of these burdens lift from your body. You may feel lighter, freer. Or this may take some time. That’s okay. There’s no rush. Just know that you have taken steps in the right direction.

Step 7: Congratulate Yourself/Celebrate

You did it! Congratulations! Just know that all of this is not going to happen over night, and indeed sometimes it is a life long process, but you have put it in your intentions and taken some steps. I am proud of you! Now go do something nice for yourself. Have a bath, go for a walk, dance, drink some nice clean water, and do whatever relaxes you.

Sending So Much Love,

Monarch Mariposa

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