Peace in Chaos

Watch me paint this deer in 2 minutes (time lapse)

You might remember when I shared this painting in April, while it was still fresh on my canvas? This art is a good choice for today’s blog post. Peace and tranquility are part of nature. Does “nature” include human nature? Why not?

Humans are complex beings. As a result, we often overthink things. We can be easily out of balance. Mind, body, and spirit can be skewed too heavily by our thoughts while our bodies and spirits are neglected. When this happens, the stress, worries, and fears that are generated by processing world, community, and personal daily events will dominate us. There is no peace in chaos when we can only see the chaos.

There is no doubt that these are troubled times, but every generation has its share of trouble. Even in extreme chaos, danger, oppression, and war, it is possible to achieve spiritual peace. It helps to study the philosophy, lifestyle habits and beliefs of peaceful people. What traits do such people have in common? What can we observe and attempt to bring into our own lives? How does spiritual peace help us survive hardships and oppression?

Spiritual peace creates strength that is resistant to propaganda, manipulation, steering, and more overt coercion. People who have a peaceful spirit often share these things in common:

  • Spending regular time outdoors
  • Eating nutritious fresh foods
  • Getting regular physical exercise (this can be from daily tasks, not necessarily a planned fitness routine- an active lifestyle may be enough)
  • Sleeping well, playing well, loving well
  • Practicing a personal, intimate faith that one strongly believes in
  • Educating the mind (not just receiving whatever comes through the “news” or social media, but a real focused effort to learn something new, or to study a familiar subject in more depth, learning a new language, contemplating mathematical or scientific concepts, exploring philosophy/sociology/psychology, learning about botany/gardening/homesteading, etc.)

Notice that the first four items on the list are related to the BODY part of the mind/body/spirit equation. Often, if we are dispirited, depressed, anxious, short tempered, or if spiritual peace eludes us in any way, the cause can be traced to something physical. We may be simply overtired. We might be hungry- even if we’ve eaten. When our diets are terrible, we are deficient in the right nutrients to fill us up. We may have a chemical imbalance that can be helped by changing our diets, adding more physical exercise, and better sleeping habits.

These are things that we probably already know, but if you’re like me, you need a reminder to stay focused and on track. The next item on the list refers to spiritual health. It does no good to choose “nothing” or to let ourselves fall into a mindless ritual of religious practice. These things don’t empower us or inspire us. We must dedicate our hearts to an active belief and practice of our personal, deeply connected faith.

Last on the list is the MIND part of the mind/body/spirit equation. The mind drives us, and therefore we must keep it in check. We must make sure that other influences don’t hijack us. The best way to do this, is to take control of our minds by making our own choices about what to fill our brains with. Choose good things, and good things will result.

Learning a new language in the area of literal language (such as a foreign language, sign language, or Braille), or the language of art, music, or numbers, expands our minds while overtaking the “weeds” in our brains. Create new neural pathways by directing your brain toward enlightenment, empowerment, and encouragement. Seek good things and your brain will find them. Not only that, but our minds are capable of modifying our bodies and communicating our desires and habits to our physical self.

Scientists know about neural pathways. Do we know science? Dark powerful entities know science, and their motives for their usage of it are often profit based (profit may be financial, an exchange of power, or something more sinister). What if we were aware of how amazing we are, and took control over our mind, body, spirit?

Psychological warfare only works on a willing victim. If we are not victims, and not willing, this type of abuse doesn’t work on us. Lies have little influence over those who are confident in the truth and in our ability to reason, our skills in logical thinking, and our reliance upon intuition and faith over blind compliance to an authority. Protecting ourselves during these troubled times is about being strong. It is about peace in chaos.

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Embracing LIFE!

This is a tree on “Rock Hill”, a rural area in Ireland near Grenagh. Grenagh is a village close to Mallow in Co. Cork. In 2016 I lived there, off a boreen (a narrow road in which two cars can’t pass, and ours barely fit ONE, it was hairy). VERY remote. Even the native Irish couldn’t find us, they’d get lost. We had poor cell phone reception that only came in if we used a signal booster and stood directly under it. We had spotty, slow, and unreliable satellite service for Internet. Often a simple website would spin and time out. We had no rubbish (garbage) service and had to drive our trash bags to the dump site which was several miles away. 

We were completely isolated, with no visible neighbors. Yet, for reasons I can’t fully explain, I never felt alone. Of course I had my family with me, so I wasn’t alone, but many people feel unnerved when in a remote location far from any stores, hospitals, and civilization. That wasn’t how I felt. I was at peace.

Tree on Rock Hill” oil painting while still on my easel

in the house we were renting in Ireland

I’ve lived in very remote areas and very urban. I’ve lived in the inner city of Minneapolis. I’ve lived in villages (Geisfeld, Germany) and in small towns, suburban neighborhoods and apartment communities. I’ve lived in rentals, “fixers” and a hobby farm with a house we built ourselves (partly ordered up, partly with our own two hands). I’ve had times of want and times of plenty.

Some say that home is where the heart is, or where our families are, but I would politely say that this is not true for everyone. Sometimes we are placed where we do not wish to be. Sometimes we lose family members and are temporarily or somewhat permanently without close ties, without any deep sense of family or community. That has been true of my life.

Through it all, my spirit and mind stay housed in the same body. Home is where I am. Home is wherever I go. I feel most at home when I am at peace, close to God. There are times in my life when I have the company of precious loved ones to share this journey, and times when I have not had that blessing. There are times when I feel a strong connection to the place I’m living, and times when I’ve counted down the days to leave.

Embracing LIFE is to seek joy regardless of circumstance. Even an enslaved person has free will, should they choose. Mindfulness is a commodity that cannot be stolen without our consent. Even if deceived, on some level we are responsible for delegating the responsibility of our independent thoughts to others.

Today I am in high spirits. I am ripe with fresh ideas for my art, work, and lifestyle. I was up early and transplanted seedlings that I’ve babied into sturdy lush greens. My garden is really taking off and it’s such a delight to see. I’ve already enjoyed compound butter and infused olive oil and vinegar salad dressing. One of the tomatoes is red and will be ready to pick soon. My strawberries are formed but still green. One day soon my garden will be bursting at the seams with goodness… all from a small patio space.

I’ve blogged several times about the painful sale of our hobby farm when my husband lost his job. One by one, flock by flock, all of our animals were sold or given away to good farming homes, including our beloved sheep that we had raised from lambs and the guinea fowl that we’d hatched as eggs in an incubator and raised into fully grown birds. I could list all of the animals and the losses, but it’s the garden that’s the point of this. We had a very large garden that was plowed down a hill.

The garden was my husband’s deal. It was too much for me. The ground was uneven and the area was buggy. I’m allergic to many insects and the constant threat of it was unnerving. The terrain was steep and rough. He planted the rows in a compact way that made it hard to push through without brushing up against the plants. It was really and truly not my thing. I tended to my roses and other flowers in the landscaped areas near the house. 

My gardening role then was to can the tomatoes, bake the zucchini bread to freeze ahead, and cook/store all of the other garden foods as well. He grew the food and dumped it onto the kitchen counter. From there it was my job to see that the food went from the garden to our stomachs.

But now, many years later, I have a pretty garden of my own. I’m honestly quite hooked on the thrill of seeing my hard work grow into fruition. Every day there is something new to see and learn. I’m astonished at the world that has opened up for me. I didn’t realize how little I knew about food. I’ve discovered bloggers who are teaching me that there are many different ways to eat that I’d never thought of.

I’ll still do the things I’m familiar with, like canning tomatoes and making refrigerator pickles from cucumbers. My husband has his own gardening space too, so there will be zucchini bread-making again in my near future, just like the old days. We haven’t abandoned the things we used to enjoy. But I’m delighted to try new ideas. My tastes have changed over the years and I’m especially intrigued by the nutrition found in herbs. My husband actually thought parsley was “just for decoration” and was surprised when I showed him the many health benefits of adding parsley to our diets.

Embracing life is about feeding ourselves good food… not just literally, physically, but also good mental and spiritual food. I’ve been studying new things and expanding my ideas about philosophy. I’ve been learning more about science and botany. I’ve been learning more about chemistry and health. I’m pushing myself to see beyond what I’ve always known.

Last night I was in a foul mood. Everything was getting under my skin, especially the dark, somber, dystopia of “current year” (a trendy phrase I despise, but it suits). As I fell asleep, my mind was full of angry thoughts and pessimistic emotions. I woke up several times. My broken, disrupted sleep ended when I woke up with a splitting headache.

But I walked into the kitchen, poured myself a cup of tea, and opened the patio curtains. A tiny hummingbird flitted away and my garden plants seemed to greet me. It was a splendid morning, if I chose to see it that way. It was up to me. Would I allow the world’s perception of my future to control my thinking (mind), my health (body), and my emotions (spirit)? Or would I see the truth plainly in front of me?

Today I have chosen to embrace life. Every day I must choose anew. It doesn’t matter where I am, where I live, or who is with me. It doesn’t matter if I am in lack or plenty. It doesn’t matter if I’m in pain or full health. The choice is always mine to make.

I will have a good day today because I choose it. I will experience joy, regardless of my circumstances. Whatever pain or grief I have, I shall set it aside into the private healing space of my mind and spirit. I will see beauty and let the sun shine into my heart. Will you join me in embracing life? The choice is yours. Every day we are blessed to be here, we have an opportunity to choose joy.

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New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

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Are you Weary?

Watch me paint “Sheltering Tree” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

A sheltering tree is a place we can go when we need rest. When we are weary, a literal tree is a good source for peace; visiting a real place in nature is restorative. But, what I’m talking about here is a metaphorical sheltering tree, a spiritual place we can visit even when we are in the middle of a busy day indoors.

Good sleep, nutrition, exercise, sunlight, healthy relationships, reading, optimism, and faith are just some of the many helpful ways to maintain a balance in energy levels to avoid becoming weary. Yet, we can’t always prevent spiritual exhaustion and physical fatigue. At these times, we must rely on our mind to provide shelter to our body and spirit.

Do you let your thoughts tumble into your brain at random, based solely on the circumstance of the moment? On an average day, this may be a habit that doesn’t affect you much. But when you are weary, your thoughts may quickly induce frustration, disappointment, melancholy, and even lead to depression and despondency. When we are in a weakened physical and spiritual state, our minds can conjure up negative thoughts that spiral downward.

Take control over your mind by rejecting random thoughts. Think with intention. Direct the flow of thoughts that fill your mind by choosing what to focus on. Imagine your mind as a television screen. Don’t tune in to whatever happens to be on, and don’t flip through the channels. Choose your show and go directly to it, allowing nothing else to display in your mind. Focus on “sheltering” thoughts, patterns of thinking that restore your spirit and strengthen your health.

Sheltering Thoughts

The last one is significant. “Some of what makes me weary is NOT REAL.” When we instruct our mind to analyze the situation, we may realize that our weariness comes from being overwhelmed by issues that are exploited, manipulated, manufactured, propagandized, or steered to produce exactly this result: weariness. When we are weary, we may give up and submit to the thoughts and actions that others want us to have. 

Attempting to control others by wearing them down is an abusive relationship, whether our abuser is a person we know, or a vast coordinated agenda by people who’ve never met us (world government/media/edu/establishment/etc. entities). Whether our oppressors know us personally or not, people who control others don’t care about us as individuals. They care about our compliance. This is an unhealthy relationship that we must instruct our mind to reject.

Fight against weariness that comes from outside sources who wish to control you. However, if you have analyzed your situation and you’ve determined that source of your weariness is not imposed upon you by an “enemy”, but is instead an issue of authentic circumstance, your response may be different. Choosing to fight against weariness in this case may do more harm than good.

If you’re weary because you are grieving a loss, it’s healthy to let yourself feel the fatigue, the heaviness, and the sad weight upon your body and spirit. Grief can be from the death of someone we love, or may be a similar type of loss that we may not be completely cognizant of. When life changes, either yours or theirs, you may miss someone more deeply than you expected due to estrangement, a life change such as being busy with a new job or a new baby, moving far away, distanced by poor health, or when adult children leave the nest. Change can hit us hard, and that process is completely natural.

Be mindful of any other types of changes. Some change may not directly involve relationships with people, but may instead be about how you spend your days. Have you changed the type of work you do? We don’t necessarily have to change jobs or careers to feel the impact of a change in how we work or how we spend our time. If our schedule has changed, we may initially experience an artificial boost of energy as we adjust to the new ways. When we settle in, we may “crash”, and then feel weary. This is normal.

Some types of weariness are completely natural and are a normal process of adjusting to life’s changes. It does not mean that we are doing the wrong thing, that something bad has happened to us, or that we have regrets. It could mean that, so it’s important to ponder our situation. But our weariness could easily be part of the process toward a healthy adjustment to change, and all we need is time.

Giving ourselves time means that we are patient and don’t rush the process when our feelings become uncomfortable. It’s common advice to warn each other not to respond in a knee-jerk way when we are upset. Wait, sleep on it. See how we feel in the morning. This is wise advice for avoiding acting on rash decisions that we later regret. But it’s also sound advice for our thoughts, not just our actions.

Recognize when your thoughts don’t flow in a logical, rational, calm manner that is loving and kind to yourself. Notice when your thoughts are jumping and overlapping in a knee-jerk way that you may later regret. Loose, unproductive, illogical thoughts can lead to a downward spiral of unhealthy attitudes that prolong a “bad day” into something more permanent. 

When you sense that your mind is running amuck in an unproductive, unhealthy, destructive manner, reign yourself in with the image of my tree painting from the video at the top of this blog post. Let your mind rest in the peaceful shade of the Sheltering Tree. When we are mindful, we restore our bodies and spirits. Healing begins with our thoughts.

While the world condemns us, we must love ourselves and each other. We cannot love our neighbors “as ourselves” if we do not love ourselves. It is our responsibility then to love ourselves and pull ourselves back up out of the pit when we are weary. Humanity needs each and every one of us to be strong. If you are weary, go to the sheltering tree and stay awhile. Give yourself time. But not too much time… we need you.

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Do We Want Peace?

Watch me paint “Dove of Peace” in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

Surely most of the world’s people want peace. So why don’t we have it? Who is acting against our wishes? What is our response to these actions against our will?

These are big questions, and the answers appear to be unsolvable. They were unsolvable in ancient days, and unsolvable now. We may want world peace, but those in power do not listen. However, if we want spiritual peace, we as individuals will have it. No one can stop us from this choice.

Inner Peace

Inner peace is often described as being calm even if situations are stressful. Others describe inner peace as being strong in the face of chaos and crisis, rather than crumbling to stress and anxiety. I think of it as a combination of “calm” and “strong”. Spiritual peace is quiet strength.

Quiet strength can make the difference between surviving or not. It can make the difference between saving others or not. It can make the difference between a prosperous, happy life or not. The dangers of panic, anxiety, and fear are often greater than we realize. The absence of inner peace can make us sick, can cause us to make rash unfortunate decisions that harm ourselves or others, and can create favorable conditions for accidents. Whereas, the presence of inner peace protects us from these dangers.

Benefits of Spiritual Strength

The first three items on the list (rational thinking, steadiness, and calming to others) increase the likelihood that we and anyone near us will survive a crisis. Spiritual strength makes an impact on minor situations as well. When we handle problems with authority and grace, stress and anxiety don’t have time to take root. Therefore, we head off tension between people that could have lasting effects. We may even reverse the situation from something potentially damaging to an incident that people are proud to recall.

The second three items (confidence, physical health, and better relationships) are reasons for the final benefit on the list: greater prosperity or other rewards. For when we make good decisions, maintain good health, and make solid connections with the people in our lives, our opportunities for success expand exponentially. It all begins with a choice we can all make as individuals: peace.

People of faith find inner peace through spiritual redemption and confidence in a higher power. It may be difficult for a disillusioned person to find this type of calm, but there are still steps one can take that are general tips for healthy living. Even if not fully convinced of the importance of spirituality, putting a desire for peace into action will encourage a strong spirit.

Tips for Establishing Inner Peace

  1. Cut the cord. Shut off the TV. Turn off your phone. Yank the Internet. Do this for 30 minutes. Next time, try it for longer. Aim to cut back on some of these habits permanently. Cull your accounts, platforms and subscriptions. Carve out time in which you go completely unplugged. No screens. No phone. No earbuds. Just you.
  2. Learn how to tell time. The way we measure time is based on societal rules. Learn how to measure time differently, in a way that works for you. I will explain this further in a few minutes.
  3. Eat well, sleep well, play well, love well. Everything is connected. When one of these is off, our emotional self is effected.
  4. Limit the clutter in your physical spaces. Clean out your vehicle, home, outdoors areas, your closet, your desk, your kitchen cupboards. Everything in your path should be as free of distractions as possible. Make your space pleasant to be in.
  5. Work hard. In everything you do, from taking care of yourself to taking care of others, from vocational goals to hobbies… in every action of your day, expend passionate high energy as much as you can. When you are tired or need to pace yourself, slip into a calm state of deliberate action. Do not allow yourself to be “checked out”, but in all ways be mindful of what you are doing. Time and energy are an investment, a priceless treasure that is finite. Never let it slip away unaware.

When you remove something, you must replace it. For example, if you want to curb an Internet addiction, create a new activity that forces you to turn away from the screens. If you don’t fill the space, it will likely cause you to feel restless and antsy. Your commitment will waver.

The second tip on the list is about measuring time. We often allow outside factors to structure our days. Take control of your most precious resource, the one thing that can neither be added to you or subtracted from you- time. Try this little experiment:

 

  1. Time yourself doing routine things. How long are you really “checking your messages”? How long does it really take you to get ready to go somewhere? How long does it really take you to fix your lunch and eat it? How long does your bedtime routine take? Try not to hurry your natural routine. You want an accurate result.
  2. Time yourself again, based on the estimates you found in step one. Use a timer that makes noise when your time is up. The more obnoxious the sound, the better. If you have a timer that ticks down the final minutes, that’s even better.
  3. Next round, use a sand timer (a tea timer, often in an hour glass shape). If you don’t have one, set a timer that has a pleasant soft sound when it ends, perhaps music.
  4. Next, use no timer at all, but make note of how long it took you to do your routine tasks. Did you move faster or slower than you did before the experiment? Did you move at about the same pace? What difference did an awareness of time make?
  5. Finally, choose a day when you can let go of your schedule and hide all clocks from yourself for a two hour period. How does that feel? Are you anxious? If you are serious about learning how to measure time differently, make at least one hour a week without clocks a regular event.

Self-improvement, health improvement, de-cluttering, and all of the other lifestyle tips do help. They help spiritually strong people as well as those who feel that they are standing on ground zero. But, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably guessed that I believe the biggest help is faith in God. When we believe in a higher power who loves us, we have less fear and anxiety. When we believe that when someone says, “God bless you”, we truly will be blessed, we have inner peace.

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