Using found objects changes the world around you and gives you a new perspective on each object you see. It also causes us to notice which objects speak to us and what meaning this has for our mental health. It can be a path to self-discovery: do you focus on clocks, natural items, leaves? What textures, fabrics or colors are you most drawn to?
These ornaments use a spool or cork as the base for a decorative object upon which you can hang a variety of items and pieces that have meaning for you. They can be hung throughout the home.
To begin, start with a color palette (like cream, pearl and pale green) or a theme (French tea or a childhood memory) that speaks to you. Collect small items of meaning that match your theme: feathers, ribbons, jewelry, beans, lace, trim, small porcelain objects, sequins, charms, and so on.
When you have your items, decorate the spool you will be using as a base however you like: try painting it or gluing with text from a favorite book. Wrap with thread of the color and texture you prefer.
Decorate the top with objects as you see fit, like a tiny porcelain teacup for a tea-themed ornament. Using a dremel and a small drill bit, drill holes through the bottom of the spool. Place screws at the front, back, and sides equally apart as you need and screw part way in. To attach to the spool, thread objects with jewelry wire, wrap one end around the object and thread the other end around the screw. Vary the height of objects to create dimension.
When you have finished, wrap the bottom and top of the spool with tulle or a similar fabric; you can also use textured ribbons. To hang, drill a hole through the wool at the top of the spool, all the way through, then thread a piece of wire through this hole and, using pliers, curl each end into a loop. Using another piece of wire, create a handle and wrap each end around the loops.
Hang and enjoy, or give as a gift!
Winter has been blasting much of the south recently. But regardless of how beautiful the fluffy flakes may be, they can quickly become a danger to the roads. And the reality is that most of us will have to go out in this weather at some point. So how to do it safely and without anxiety? Here are a few tips to keep in mind this snowy season:
If you can’t avoid driving in bad weather, wait for the roads to be ploughed or sanded. Leave plenty of time to get where you need to go without feeling rushed. Keep extra sweaters and blankets in your car. Make sure your windshield and windows are clear of snow and ice before you leave.
When driving on an icy road, drive slowly and with plenty of space between you and the rest of traffic. Keep your lights on. Always brake gently and ease the brakes if your wheels lock up. Sticking to low gears maintains traction on hills.
If you do get stuck, do not spin your wheels. Instead, turn them from side to side to clear the snow. You may need to shovel the snow away from the wheels. Pour sand, salt or kitty litter in the path of the wheels to gain traction. Try lightly giving gas to get yourself moving again.
When shoveling, take care to shovel early before the snow has gotten heavier, or melted and refroze. The more powdery it is, the less you risk straining yourself. Back and wrist injuries are common, so take care where you stand and how you shovel. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, it may be better not to pick up the shovel at all.
Stay warm. When temperatures get too low like they did last week, you risk suffering from hypothermia or frostbite. In bitter cold, frostbite can happen quickly. The tip of your nose, eyelids and lips are also at risk, so cover up. Wear a ski mask that covers your lips and nose, don protective goggles, and wear good socks, boots, scarves, hats and other winter wear that keeps your body heat in.
The snow can be fun, but dangerous. Be careful, but enjoy the season!
Each year, winter dawns upon the sleepy autumnal world. When fall’s chill finally touches us, the trees are losing their crimson leaves, the warmth of our breath hangs in the air, and the wind is perfumed with dry leaves and pumpkin and apple. When the world is deep and slow and lovely, then I am excited for winter. I am excited for the sleep and renewal to come.
But come January, when winter has laid her blanket before us and the snow and the chill are no longer new, the excitement has passed. Now, winter feels less like the maiden of regeneration. Rather, she feels like a biting chill that never leaves the bone; like silence and death. Now winter feels grey and dreary and unexciting.
I find myself asking, “Is it spring yet?” too often, and know that I am creating misery for myself. I want to break out my spring closet, shop for spring clothes, put my lawn chair in the backyard and watch the newly green leaves sway lazily on their branches.
But winter is all a matter of perspective. It can be hard when you are tired of trudging through the cold iron of January to seek a silver lining. But each day of cold we endure prepares us for the eventual launch into spring – when the flowers finally push through the ground and the morning birdsongs return. The world needs to prepare itself, and so do we.
This fits in with the mindfulness and radical acceptance skills that the women in our residential treatment program learn as part of their DBT toolkit. Spring will come, but it needs its winter rest. It needs to prepare. It needs to sleep and renew.
We do, too. We cannot live in a state of perpetual summer – we too, need to rest and renew ourselves. Take this time to prepare for spring in your life. Before life gets busy and you want to run outside, what aspects of your life would you like to recharge and renew? Getting your housecleaning in order, setting up good nutrition habits and starting a routine of sleep hygiene can do wonders for your physical and mental health.
And when the seasons finally change, you will feel as invigorated and renewed as the soft spring leaves.
Self-care benefits our mental health and quality of life, but it can also make our skin younger, smoother and healthier.
Our skin is the largest organ of our body. It protects us from environmental toxins, but it is also through the skin that the body detoxifies itself. A build-up of dead skin can lead to blemishes and acne as the skin attempts but fails to rid itself of toxins. Sloughing off the dead outer layers of skin better allows it to breathe so that we better release toxins from our bodies. It also allows the skin to better absorb the products we use to nourish and hydrate it.
Exfoliation does wonders to shed dead skin and create a softer, smoother skin tone. However, many common exfoliates are far too harsh for our delicate facial skin. It is important not to strip the skin of our facial sebum, which protects the skin from dryness and inflammation.
Fruit enzymes digest dead skin proteins without harsh scrubbing. Their dissolving action is much gentler on sensitive, dry or aging skin. Try this Pineapple and Papaya Mask for a gentle way to improve the quality of your skin. The fruit enzymes will break down dead cells on the surface of the skin while their nutrients stimulate collagen production, reducing the appearance of fine lines.
Pineapple & Papaya Exfoliating Mask
Family love is interesting: we often bond so closely with our family despite differing personalities and ages. We love our family, though we often would not be friends with people who have their traits and personalities. But the differences that make families so interesting can also hinder understanding of emotional struggle.
In our teenage years, we struggle to define ourselves. We want to find out who we are and what we can do in life. These years center on the self, so we can often be selfish with those we love.
As we get older, life begins to center around what we can do for the world. We care for what we have built in life: our homes, our children and our careers. Eventually, we reach the stage in life in which we must accept age and be cared for by others. This life stage poses its own emotional challenges.
For women with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, emotional breakage often begins with a childhood event that determined her avoidances in life. Each subsequent stage of life presents different coping methods. Young women often turn to alcohol and substance addiction, because those are readily available in the college years. Older women may neglect themselves in favor of caring for others, isolate or turn to other forms of addiction.
Each coping strategy perpetuates the lie that keeps women ill. No matter her age or stage of life, it is only by stripping away these lies and exploring her true self that a woman can begin the road to recovery.
Though it is easy to resist our personal truths, we find that when women discover the source of their breakage, the rush of hope and understanding hastens healing. Then the true process of recovery and rebuilding can occur.
With the cool weather of winter here, stay warm by spicing up your cold-weather foods. Add some cinnamon to your apple pie; ginger to soup; black pepper to roasts; and aromatic vanilla to yummy baked goods. Along with adding some warm flavor to your winter dishes, these spices also contain powerful health benefits.
The most popular spice in the United States may be an ally in your battle against weight loss. A preliminary study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry indicates that black pepper may help block the formation of fat cells due to a chemical found in the pepper called piperine, which give it it’s spicy flavor. Pepper is also good for your health -- it contains high levels of manganese, an important antioxidant; vitamin K, which is needed for blood clotting; and iron. Another compound in pepper called piper nigrum may aid in digestion by stimulating the taste buds and prompting the stomach to increase secretion of hydrochloric acid, a digestive aid.
Selecting & Storage…
Whole peppercorns should be free of blemishes and should be dull-looking, not shiny. Pepper loses flavor and aroma through evaporation, so airtight storage in a cool, dark place helps preserve its original spiciness longer.
You could try… grinding pepper over smoked salmon, oysters, barbecues and grills.
Cinnamon comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree and is one of the oldest known spices. With its fragrant, sweet and warm qualities, it’s perfect for winter desserts. It also has promising health benefits, as emerging scientific evidence indicates that small amounts of cinnamon taken daily may be able to lower blood sugar levels in people suffering from diabetes. Another study found that chewing cinnamon gum, or even just smelling the spice itself, could enhance people’s thinking skills, including memory and recognition.
Selecting & Storage…
The tubular cinnamon quills have a sweet, woody aroma but are not easy to grind, so the powdered form is generally recommended for use in cooking. Whole quills will keep for two to three years if not exposed to extreme heat, and powdered cinnamon is best used within six months.
You could try… drizzling flaxseed oil on wholegrain toast and then sprinkle with cinnamon and honey. Or try a warm cup of hot milk simmered with honey and cinnamon sticks.
This tangy and aromatic root is a mixture of several hundred substances, including phenol compounds such as gingerols. These compounds are potent anti-inflammatory agents that have been shown to help relieve the pain of arthritis and muscle discomfort. Ginger also contains shogaol and zingiberene, which have antioxidant capabilities that may help prevent heart disease and cancer. Ginger is also known to help reduce nausea, motion sickness and morning sickness.
Selecting & Storage…
Look for ginger that is plump, firm and clean. Keep ginger in an open container in the cupboard, the same as fresh onions or garlic. Unpeeled ginger can be refrigerated for up to three weeks or up to six months in the freezer. Adding ginger at the start of the cooking process will lend a subtler flavor to the meal, while putting it in near the end delivers a more pungent taste. Grating ginger, rather than slicing or chopping, will release more of the active ingredients.
You could try… using ginger for relief from nausea or stomach pain. Steep one or two 1cm slices of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water or tea.
Vanilla is best known as a flavoring agent in desserts such as ice cream and cakes. This spice has not only been used for flavoring, but has been used for centuries as an antioxidant and cognitive enhancing agent. Vanilla contains chemicals called vanilloids that activate receptors in a similar way to capsaicin (found in cayenne), which is well known to reduce inflammation and improve mental performance. Vanilla has also been used to calm stomach pains, reduce hunger pangs and relieve stress.
Selecting & Storage…
Choose plump vanilla beans with a thin skin to get the most seeds possible. Pods should be dark brown, and pliable enough to wrap around your finger without breaking. For vanilla extract, look for a high alcohol content in unadulterated pure vanilla extract. Beans should be kept in a tightly closed container in a refrigerated area up to six months. Pure vanilla extract has an indefinite shelf life, and actually improves with age. You could try… adding a vanilla bean pod to a mug of hot chocolate or a cup of hot tea results for a delicious experience!
This herbed pork loin is roasted alongside zesty vegetables that beautifully complement its flavors. Try serving with black rice for a stunning color contrast, or with crusty bread or over whole-wheat pasta.
Source: New Sonoma Diet
Last week we used folk art images to build our visual language. I am using the term visual language to describe the process by which we use images to express ourselves. We are communicating our thoughts, emotions, and aspects of ourselves through imagery. In order to do this, we must collect inspiring images that we can use for our language.
This week, search and collect images from nature. Find intricate details, textures, and colors you enjoy. This may require you walking outside and collecting objects, taking photographs, or finding images online.
Inspiration from nature can also come from a micro or macro level. Look at X-Ray plant photography, microscopic images of cells, or scanning electron images (these are black and white). Another idea may be to look at topographical maps or images from space. You may also check out professional artists that use these ideas in their work. The possibilities are endless!
After you’ve collected images that inspire you, put them together! You may decide to use tracing paper to capture and reproduce the details of a microscopic image. Another idea would be to collage these images together.
If you don’t have an idea to start with, reflect on your current state of being before you begin. Use your intuition to create a piece of artwork, adding together colors, textures, and details according to how you see fit.
After you finish, reflect on how this image relates to your current situation. How do the combination of colors, shapes, and lines express some part of you in this moment?
Next week at Brookhaven is opposite action week. This is an important stage of the DBT cycle here and a key to successful recovery from depression, anxiety and other forms of emotional suffering.
Emotional breakage can cause women to seek escape. Women with mental health issues may turn to a variety of coping mechanisms that destroy self-esteem and obstruct recovery. Self-injury, addiction and substance abuse can provide an outlet for emotions that women are unable to cope with.
Coping mechanisms are a type of violence toward the self: it perpetuates the lies, negative thoughts and behaviors that worsen mental health issues and prevent recovery. The DBT cycle at Brookhaven Retreat offers women the tools necessary to manage emotions rather than succumb to these coping behaviors.
During Opposite Action Week, women at Brookhaven Retreat challenge their emotions by acting opposite to them. When practiced over time, opposite action begins to forge new pathways of action and emotion, and women learn to cope with their feelings. Rather than suppress emotions, women try new ways of reacting so that negative reactions change into positive actions that support their recovery.
With practice, women are able to develop awareness and control of their reactions and, ultimately, their lives.
Technology is ever-evolving yet never ceases to amaze. In January, Google revealed technology it is working on that would enable diabetics to monitor their glucose levels via contact lenses.
The smart lens is embedded with a tiny sensor and chips the size of a piece of glitter. The sensor detects glucose levels in tears, and the chip receives this information and relays feedback to the wearer. The sensor takes one reading per second and will possibly warn users about blood glucose issues via tiny lights.
This technological breakthrough is a way of integrating mindfulness of our health in a no-fuss way.
On one hand, the device creates an awareness of our health that has not been possible before, complete with second-by-second feedback that only communicates with us when we need it. On the other hand, the lens could be considered invasive; it is always on our person, and seems like the first step to technology actually becoming a part of us.
New technologies have furthered our understanding of our own health. A comprehensive understanding of body wellness is essential to mental health. Keeping up with nutrition needs, sleep hygiene and the effect of our habits on mental health is essential to recovery.
What do you think of the lens? Do you think it is a beneficial step forward in health care, or an omen of things to come?
Perhaps other helpful ideas will emerge from this type of technology. Or, perhaps the internet will come straight to our eyeballs, next.