Author Archive for Seantel Fetner

Change

A new chapter in life usually starts with something uncomfortable. Loss, gain, and stagnancy can all result in discomfort. Really the most uncomfortable part of it all is uncertainty. We want predictable. We want routine. Even adventure and spontaneity hold elements of predictability. It is the point in our lives when we learn to embrace uncertainty, that some of our most beautiful chapters are written. Often disguised as loss or stagnancy, those chapters have yet to be titled. It is then that the beauty of change occurs.

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael graced the Gulf Coast with its presence. Life as we knew it was gone that very day. We spent the morning as usual with the added element of prepping the yard and pets, and by evening time we were in a state of emergency defending our property from looters and eating food off the grill as fast as it defrosted. Many people lost homes, vehicles, businesses, jobs, and loved ones. Although my family was rather fortunate, our lives are very different than they were before the storm. It was two days before we were able to chainsaw our way to the main street. On the third day, we verified the safety of my sister, step-children, and mother in law. On day five I drove two and a half hours out of town to get phone service and verify that I still had a job, despite our office building being destroyed. On day 10 we got phone service. Day 14 we got water and were able to take cold showers. Day 22 of Florida heat and humidity, we got power. That felt like progress, but it is far from over. The county’s schools started back after Thanksgiving. Despite the hardships, we were blessed in so many ways during the aftermath and to describe each silver lining would be a book, not a blog post (and I hear those who were not affected by the storm are tired of hearing about it). Plus, it would take away from my point, so I digress. We experienced a disaster, everything is still changing for us, and 10 months later, I have sunk into stagnation.

Being at home has given me the opportunity to bond with my now six-month old baby and my 10 year old (who turned 10 on 10/10, the day Michael hit), and to grow closer to my husband and step-children. Despite these perks, I seem to be at a stand-still in a lot of ways. I am still working from home because there is no office space available, I rarely interact with adults, and have had no changes in home repair after our roof was complete last December. Noticing that I was feeling somewhat stuck, my awesome husband decided to help me take the first step down a path I’ve had in mind since I was 13 years old. He bought me a camera. Not just any camera, but a DSLR that I can use shoot portraits part-time. And so it begins!

The storm didn’t cause this to happen, but it was a change agent that eventually started me down this path. I didn’t recognize the potential such a catalyst could have in our lives. I didn’t see it as an opportunity, at first. But now, I look back and am able to recognize that these changes were our opportunities. I will not resist change, but embrace it and use this to take me off autopilot. I am ready for this journey! We might all benefit from occasionally taking a closer look at our own situations to recognize the potential for growth. Seven things we dealt with in the aftermath that we could all do to elicit change in our own situations.

  • More sleep – studies show that increasing the amount of sleep we get provides physical and mental benefits. When we do this, we have more energy to put towards things that can change our lives for the better. Oh, you get a full 8 hours each night? *ehem, nerd*… Believe it or not, during the hurricane, the people effected reverted to bed time at dark and rising with the sun. That sleep cycle was so refreshing.
  • More water – yes, I know. This is obvious… but is it though? Log your water for a week. You may be getting way less water than you think you are. I continue to struggle with this and honestly, I don’t even know why because I love water. We got cases and cases of water delivered to our door steps after the hurricane, and I truly appreciate that!
  • Meditation – I’m sure everyone’s heard the saying that “if you’re too busy for meditation, you need it more. This can be achieved through fresh air and introspection. Spend some time in a meadow, on a beach, or just seated in the natural light of your favorite room in the house. I’ve said before that sometimes we just need grounding. Take a look at grounding using 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown.
  • Social media black-out period – seriously, this should go without saying that sometimes social media weighs heavy on our mood. There are a lot of individuals stirring up drama for other people. Give yourself the gift of a social media black-out. A week, a month, or even a year. The rejuvenating benefits are definitely worth it. This is one of my favorite things about being on a cruise and was certainly my favorite part about being thrown into a state of emergency.
  • Affirmations – speak nicely to yourself. Whether you tell yourself that you can or you can’t, you’re right. Our whole community came together and created #850strong because affirmations are effective. I have recently started a gratitude journal to keep my negative thoughts at bay. I really don’t want to be in my own way when it comes to my photography business, or anything else for that matter.
  • Exercise – get your endorphins up! Slow yoga challenging each muscle group separately allows you to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. Fast yoga gets your heart going (duh, it’s fast). Maybe you just need an extra walk in the morning or add on an extra class. Of course, not just once… it needs to become a habit. Work at it. Whatever level you’re on, level up! (Is level zero a thing?)
  • Adventure – Our whole area code was an adventure after Michael struck. Try something new! A new hiking trail or lake. Maybe go to a festival or art exhibit. Be spontaneous! This is one of my favorites. I love a good adventure! With my photography, I’ve found myself exploring my town more than I used to. It’s refreshing!

Potential is often hidden beneath something more often seen as inconvenient and uncomfortable. Whether you’re dealing with change at this moment or feeling a bit in a rut, find your catalyst. Step out of your comfort zone and recognize when life has become stagnant. Change is a good thing! Embrace it!

Visualization Tools for Meditation

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Absorbed in the images before me, I visualize my success. The page before me has on it the curled corners of magazine cutouts, stickers with encouraging phrases, descriptions of my future, and images I’ve printed with inspiring quotes. Today, I focus solely on my professional visions. Establishing a reputation in my field that allows the flexibility I seek. I visualize myself working abroad. Working with my child by my side. Working with individuals seeking similar futures in various fields. Working with vulnerable populations of people who are often barely reaching the lowest tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  I am the change for my clients. I am an inspiration for my peers, clients, and coworkers. I envision my mentors throughout my life showing me the way. Creating a vision that puts me in the mentor position. Dreaming of a life that touches others the way I’ve been influenced throughout my life. Empowering others as I’ve been empowered. It’s difficult at times to visualize these things to the magnitude I have done today. This is the purpose of my vision board. I know many who create their vision board, then do not use it. To use a vision board is to create the images, words, and feelings that you would have to achieve your goals if money were no object. The vision board should resonate with your current purpose. It should be an agent that assists with meditation for a specific or broad set of goals. Today, my vision board is fairly sparse, but it serves its purpose. I look at my vision daily and adjust as my heart desires. Today, my focus is empowering others, doing what I love, and recognizing that the beautiful life I desire is a journey, not an overnight miracle. The work is a daily process and the daily meditation on the topics I’ve included is a part of that journey. As my goals change, so will the images I choose to use for my visual stimulation. For anyone wishing to use visual representation to assist with the meditation process first choose an area of focus.

visualization tool

This can be as specific as career oriented growth as I’ve done, or it can encompass the collage of topics that include spiritual, family, career, school, health, personal growth, financial stability, travel, and social life. The emphasis can overlap or it can be separated, although I find that when narrowing the topic other areas find their ways in.

 

 

Once an area is chosen or the decision is made to mesh them together, answer the following questions:

 

  1. What does your life look like if money and resources are not a barrier in these areas?
  2. What character traits would you like to be known for?
  3. What have you always wanted to do, but have never had the courage to do?
  4. What do you wish you had more time for in your life?

Flow through these question for each topic and you’ll find yourself dreaming bigger than you might ordinarily. These visions of grandeur are an important part of building successes in your life. Building the vision without revisiting it, working for it, or changing it as areas become obsolete in your core is like visualizing the perfect meal and never creating it. Never going through the ingredients list, but never putting in the trip to the store. The perfect homemade loaf of bread did not bake itself. Nor did it gather the ingredients for its own fruition. Visualize. Meditate. Overcome the barriers you come across, and make it happen in your life. If you can think it, you can do it.

Everyday Mindfulness

An array of colored pencils lay before me as I find the exact shade to compliment the last. Doodling, nevertheless, but still strategic. The repetitive back and forth of the pencil on the page. The hushing sound it makes as it dispenses the color to the sheet. I notice the imperfect strokes. Some darker than others. No lines to stay in as I’ve doodled the images myself and I decide whether I pass through them or remain confined by them. I am in control. Liberating.

colored pencils ready to go

Pencils at the ready

I take in a deep breath noticing the taste of my spring water still on my tongue, which oddly has a different flavor than purified water. The thought that water has a taste is interesting. I take in the smell of the wood that encapsulates the sticks of color as I shave the edges off so my pencil is a perfect cone. The shavings spiral around themselves before dropping to the table. I brush the shavings from the page and feel the waxy lines I’ve made on the paper. Color strokes are finer and darker now with the polished tips of my coloring tools.

kid doodle, tangled, Rapunzel, sketch

By my 9 year old, T. Doodling for mindfulness is for everyone.

I notice the indentation the pencil makes on my right ring finger as I scribble organized chaos on the blank space before me. I adjust my posture as I feel my low back stiffen a bit. I hear the sound of the turtle’s tank filters trickling in the background as I switch colors and the pencils tap without order on the wooden table. The sound of glossy wood sticks tapping the polished wood table resonates with my mood nearly as much as the rhythmic scribbling. My mind wanders briefly through topics recently discussed at work. Then again to the trip we have planned. I wonder why we don’t do more nature-centered activities as a family. I notice that the table will need to be wiped clean before I leave my doodling alone.

Copy paper doodle

I refocus and manipulate my canvas realizing that the texture is thicker than the usual media on which my doodles find themselves. Copy paper doodles are seemingly quicker. A temporary reprieve from the daily grind. Today’s images have purpose.

busy, bee, doodle, lily, calla, flower, pollen, buzz

Doodle lily for a busy bee

Created in the essence of mindfulness. Thoughts come and go. They enter; I let them go. My focus at this moment is not to think about any one thing. Just this moment. The crisscrossed position of my legs. My hands’ hurried gestures. The breaths I inhale. Everything that is this moment. I don’t fight the thoughts that come through as I practice my mindfulness activities. They enter willingly and leave just as quickly allowing me to refine my attention to myself and what occurs around me.

colored pencil standing

Last pencil standing

A custom I’ve been practicing over the past month or so. First, settling into my calming, comfortable space. Occupying my anxious mind with simple, repetitive motions. Like the carnal form of a meditation chant. Following what I have come to know as the countdown. I’ve found my five things I can see, although some of them are my own creations. Noted four physical feelings I have throughout the exercise. Three sounds, two odors, and lastly, one thing I can taste, or would like to taste. The countdown to mindfulness has elapsed about 15 minutes of my evening. Something I aim for more frequently than I used to. I attempt to make time to practice mindfulness daily. If I haven’t found a period of time throughout my day to use my countdown, I use a space constructed for such a ritual to ensure I’ve gotten my daily dosage of anti-anxiety mindfulness. It was only recently that I had a realization that any act can become a meditation if only we seek to be mindful of the moment. Find peace within, rather than seeking it out. Namaste.

~ Seantel