Finding Gratitude in Politically Turbulent Times

Now, more than ever it is clear that if you are a person who cares about equal rights for all human beings, environmental sustainability, & women’s right to make choices about their bodies without the interference of politicians’ religious agendas you are up against a rigid, bullying (and I think outdated!) mentality.

Michelle Obama’s words “When they go low we go high” really saved me recently.  In the midst of this new political climate I found myself in a heightened fight or flight state, watching news in horror, reactively reading articles & unfollowing people on Facebook, catching the buzz of fear in conversations. When you’re being reactive it’s easy to go low.  

But then I stopped and asked myself, what if I chose to be proactive- to go high?  What would that look like?

  1.  I started checking the websites of activist organizations each morning instead of news.  I have found them to be great sources of encouragement, including info & updates/ current happenings with a more uplifting/ mobilizing message and less fear-mongering than mainstream news.  (ACLU, NextGen, WomensMarch, 100DaysofAction, Stand With Standing Rock just to name a few!)
  2. I am paying more attention & visiting the websites of leaders & celebs who care about the same causes I do- like Gloria Steinem (her website has a wealth of information! (www.gloriasteinem.com), Bernie Sanders, Michael Moore and Leonardo DiCaprio (who is making documentaries traveling around the world & interviewing scientists to greater understand climate change)
  3. All the uplifting news sites out there that are filled with positive, inspiring stories- (check out upliftconnect.com & the good news network)
  4. Getting to march in the women’s movement on Jan. 21st that was the largest protest in WORLD HISTORY.
  5. The steady and growing momentum of the movement which stands for love/ diversity/ inclusion/ equality- seeing men, women, kids, families, the elderly, people from all different countries & walks of life come together to stand for unity & equality.
  6. The mayor of my city, who declared Louisville a compassionate city & held a peaceful protest & resistance to the banning of immigrants which was attended by thousands.
  7. Getting invited & participating in postcard parties w/ friends, writing postcards to my senators- something I never would have done before!
  8. The fact that I can still love family members & coworkers who have different views.  & not think any less of them as people.  Choosing instead to focus on inclusion, what makes us the same- not what divides us.  (Ex:  You might know a Trump supporter and they may be passionate about their views.  Instead of focusing on how different your views are, focus on the fact that you both share the quality of passion.  Acknowledge it, like eating different meals but sitting at the same table.)
  9. The Obama Foundation!   Google it now. It’s informative, uplifting, inspiring, and a place you can go to get filled with hope.
  10. Michelle Obama’s quote, of course which will stay with me forever!

 

Ok- so there you have it!  Thanks for reading.  What have you found to be thankful for in the changing political climate?

10 Things to be Grateful for when you’re a Broke Creative

So you’re broke, eh?  Well, welcome to the club!  This morning fresh out of my yoga routine I watched my inner thoughts churn away:  You need to get a serger!  You need better equipment- a rotary cutter, a sleeve board, a cutting mat, measuring tools.  How are you gonna pay for professional photography?  Pay models?  You need more MONEY…aaaaaaaaaaaagh!

The tool that will serve you best when your thoughts reach this frenzy is to shift back into gratitude.  Do you have enough food to last you till next paycheck?   Do you have a place to stay & a warm bed to sleep in?   Do you have family & friends?  Can you work with what materials you DO have & keep it simple?  Can you Just focus on today? 

Here is a list of 10 things you can be thankful for even if you’re a financially struggling creative:

  1. Mother Nature is always there for you & she inspires!
    • walk/ hike
    • watch the sunset/ sunrise
    • breathe in the cool morning air like Henry David Thoreau
    • play in the snow
    • make a nature mandala (inspiration)
  2. Family & Friends don’t cost a thing- call them, share a meal, hang out.
  3. Time- it’s hugely valuable.  Think about how you’re using it & be thankful cause one day you might not have as much time. Time is freedom.
  4. Your Mind- Take advantage of it & explore deep states of meditation/ yoga, inner peace.
  5. Your health & self-care- Focus on it.  Be lovingly aware of your body/ movement/ breath.  Exercise- do jumping jacks in your room or run up & down stairs.  Give your body good stretching.
  6. Your local library- treat yourself to some free books, music, or movies!
  7. The internet (if you don’t have it use the library)- Soak up thousands of free articles & podcasts- look at this as an opportunity to study/ learn/ gather information.
  8. Free music on Spotify/ Pandora.
  9. Free live music at coffee shops, free or donation only events, volunteer opportunities, & free creative gatherings (drumming/ full moon/ meditation/ artists groups) in your city.  Is it in walking distance?  Could you ride the bus?
  10. Your creativity
    • go to a local park, art gallery, or simply around the block & take pics of random things w/ your phone.  If you don’t have a phone bring a journal & write about what you see.  Or just take it all in.
    • Play dress up w/ the clothes you already have- see how creative you can get.
    • Try a refashioning project- upcycle something old into something new (just type in “DIY” on Pinterest for a wealth of inspiration!)
    •  Make a Spotify playlist with a fun theme
    • Try writing a short story w/ a writing prompt
    • Draw images w/ a pencil & notepad

And there you have it!  All it takes is a little imagination.  And most importantly, go easy on yourself & do what you can TODAY.  What inventive things do you come up with to do when you’re broke?  What do you find to be thankful for?

Lessons from Practicing Gratitude

About a year ago I pulled myself out of a toxic relationship, with the help of close friends & family, sobbing & having panic attacks all along the way, and eventually found myself in a a roommate situation- a small loft/ attic-ish space.  It’s tiny and some days I can’t believe I’m utilizing the space for fabric cutting, sewing, & production, but amazingly I’m doing it.

Of course, not without moments of intense frustration & harsh critical inner dialogue:

Why am I 38 and can’t even afford my own apartment?    

Why did I choose Library Science as my degree when libraries are going under & there is no work?

Why do I have to suffer being single at 38 in a city where everyone is married?

And the ‘lack’ would go on & on…until I discovered a tool to transform it.  I started practicing gratitude.  It is changing my life, my thoughts, my moment-to-moment reality. I’ve become such a believer in it that today I’m sharing a few lessons so that you might benefit like I did.

Gratitude requires surrender.  grand-canyon-1513045_960_720

‘Surrender’ simply means to stop fighting.  In your mind, stop fighting the present, the nature of reality, the way things are being revealed to you, what your life looked like today when you woke up, the hand you’re currently dealt.

When first adjusting to my little loft, I fought hard.  In straight denial, kept telling myself get out of here!  get a job!  make more money!  get away from this situation!  Well, 20 resumes & a handful of interviews later nothing had changed.  The universe was trying to communicate a different message but I wasn’t listening.

Finally, I stopped fighting.  I began praying, journaling, meditating, crying more intentionally (Amy Scher, author of “How to Heal Yourself When No One Else Can” calls this ‘graceful begging’) and pretty soon noticed a shift in my thoughts:

Ok, maybe I will be in this tiny loft for a while- but I have the warmth of roommates’ company, it’s quiet up in my loft, & there are nice places to walk to in the neighborhood.  

Ok, maybe the part-time nonprofit job I already have isn’t so bad- I get PTO, paid holidays, & a nice office- not to mention my afternoons FREE! 

Ok, so maybe being single at 38 is a gift- I have lots of free time & there’s momentum to try new things, volunteer, meet people & develop my creative business ideas.

Gratitude happens when you change your perspective.

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When I accepted the situation as it was, I began to see it as something entirely new! Months ago it was: I’m broke, gonna be a sad old maid, can’t even score a full-time job in my degree, why am I even starting a creative business?

Now it’s completely changed to:

There are SO MANY free resources on the internet, so much I can learn, other entrepreneurs to meet!

Time is a resource and I have a LOT of that!

Being single gives extra momentum/ opens possibilities for being a creative entrepreneur- I have FREEDOM!

I love my little loft & conversations/ shared time w/ roommates!

I’m so lucky!  

So, keep aware of your perspective.  Once you start practicing gratitude you might notice a lot of things you bitched about in the past look pretty amazing to you!

Gratitude requires humility.

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Recently I watched “10 Questions for the Dalai Lama’ in which the filmmaker asked His Holiness why when traveling he noticed more smiles on the faces of people living in poverty than the richer class.  The Dalai Lama said the poor people knew contentment because they only had daily necessities to fill.  He said the rich were ‘mentally poor’ because they lived in a state of greed.

I remember when my ego was stuck on getting a salaried 9 to 5 career/ office job that fit my degree.  Throughout the whole time I was frantically applying & interviewing my roommates casually mentioned that a small health food store was hiring.  My ego resisted it hard…at first.

Then, I humbled myself.  And it turns out, working in a health food store is just what I need.  Amazingly, I watched the thoughts shift AGAIN:

ego:  “Ugh, a grocery clerk…the pay is too low, it’s not a respectable career job, you have to punch in, no office, no way.”

humble self:  “Wow, finally, a chance to meet people and not be behind a desk all day. Standing/ moving at work is healthy & strengthening for the body.  You get a discount on food. You get to help people & connect with them.  There are opportunities for growth, management, good pay & travel. Did I mention, you get to meet people?”  

So, next time you’re cringing at the thought of something, ask if it’s really you or your ego(?) Remember that there’s a lot more to the story  of cultivating happiness than ‘acquiring more’, and when you humble yourself that’s when all the doors start to open- the creativity, the joy, the gratitude.


Hope these lessons help you in developing a gratitude practice.  Now I’m off to go make some scarves!

 

 

Mantra Playlist: Gratitude

Good morning & happy friday!  I just created a playlist of 20 songs ALL about gratitude/ being thankful.  I will be sending this out to everyone who signed up for Mantra Made’s newsletter very soon so if you haven’t done that yet & would like to be included go ahead & get yourself on the list! 

Subscribing gets you the following:

  • Special discounts
  • Free shipping
  • seasonal mantra playlists each with a unique theme
  • early access to new products
  • chance to enter giveaways
  • updates/ news about Mantra Made Clothing

The Gratitude Fashion Challenge

With fast fashion constantly showing us the latest thing and stores/ websites urging us to buy impulsively it can be easy to take the clothes in our closet for granted.  But do you ever take a minute to appreciate the clothes you already own?

Here’s a fun challenge that will inspire gratitude for your existing wardrobe AND help you explore your personal style (not to mention save some $!):

This month go through your closet & pick out 5 things that you are really thankful for. Ask yourself the following:

  • What is the meaning behind this piece? Is there a memory associated with it?
  • Does it bring me joy?
  • Is it cozy/ comfortable?  Does the fabric feel good?
  • Where did it come from?

Put these 5 items in the front section of your closet or out in the open where you can see them. This will help reinforce your personal style & connect you to the life behind the clothes that express how you are uniquely YOU- definitely something to be grateful for!

Here are my five:

  • An authentic 1970s Burberry trench coat that I found on Etsy & did some tailoring on myself to adjust the length.  I love 70s music & the HBO series Vinyl (despite critics’ horrible reviews!) This trench coat feels like a part of me now.

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  • A green 100% wool fair trade coat that my mom bought me.  It was handknit in Nepal & purchased at Just Creations, a Louisville shop that sells only fair trade/ ethically produced items.  I love that it’s green (one of my favorite colors!) & has a hood.  It’s survived many winters & is always my go-to coat when I need to stay warm!wp_20170107_15_12_47_pro
  • Black vintage cowboy boots I found at a local record store/ thrift shop next door to a dive bar I used to play music at w/ friends.  Wearing them reminds me of the Old Louisville neighborhood & those open mic nights back in the day- unpolished, a bit wild, fun & gritty.  When I put Dr. Scholls inserts in them I was even more amazed at how comfortable they were!

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  • Suede statement coat in 70s colors!  What can I say…I tried it on in a local vintage shop & two strangers commented, “That’s so YOU. You HAVE to get that!”  It was kind of a fashion risk but I guess that’s why they call it a statement piece…and now people always seem to respond positively to it when I wear it out.  Those are the moments I love- and couldn’t have planned it!

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  • A Ralph Lauren cardigan in the softest EVER natural fiber blend (cashmere, angora, & merino wool) recently given to me by my sweet neighbor who has become a good friend. It’s so warm & cozy and I literally wore it for four days in a row after she gave it to me.  It reminds me of friendship & I am filled with gratitude when I wear it.wp_20170107_15_22_00_pro

 

Ok, now your turn!  Although I kept to a winter theme you don’t have to- just have fun & see what you discover.

What Are You Grateful For?

Good morning!  Today I’m enjoying the first snow here in Kentucky & diving a bit deeper into the gratitude mantra.  The goal is to make it a habit to capture 5 things you’re thankful for at the end of each day using a gratitude journal app on your phone (or paper journal)  What’s cool is that usually more than 5 things come up!

Here is a snapshot of the last couple months:

  • Gave myself some nice stretching/ yoga today
  • My roommate’s generosity helping me untangle a massive mess of yarn into a ball
  • Beautiful nature walk at Perrin Park, the geese flying overhead!
  • For a work event I was manning the registration booth at 7:00 AM, the caterer brought me breakfast (I was starving!), really kind of him.
  • The shower I took last night/ clean feeling
  • A feeling of productivity, being happily busy
  • Hot spiced milk I’m about to drink
  • The blog post I wrote, how the words flowed out of me
  • Awesome drum circle last night
  • The little steps I’m taking each day w/ my sewing, less is more approach
  • The time I took to clean out my closet/ simplify/ declutter
  • Morning walks in quiet peaceful air
  • Time off work and still paid!

What has been your experience w/ gratitude?  Do you keep a journal?  What has the practice taught you/ done for you?  And MOST IMPORTANTLY, what are you grateful for TODAY?   I’d love to hear! 🙂

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Here’s a new upcycled scarf, comes w/ a teeny mantra tag ‘gratitude.’ Email me if interested: tara_kimes@yahoo.com