BRB - Renovations Underway

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Hello, 
I hope you are all well during the COVID-19 pandemic! We are doing fine here in Pittsburgh. We are sheltering in place and, so far, staying healthy.

I've been doing some work behind the scenes to make positively b.e.e. a better site. Since I work full time and also take on freelance work nights and weekends, this has been a slow-going process for me, but the blog WILL be back! 

Stay safe out there, and we'll see you soon! 







 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures for more info. 


***Disclaimer: The following, as with any article on this website, is not to be construed as medical advice. It is simply my own exploration of a topic with links to additional information. Please consult with a medical professional for this and any health concern.

Hello everyone! I hope your new year is off to a good start!

For this month's post, I'd like to focus on something that affects many people this time of year: Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as S.A.D. I call it the "winter blues."

This syndrome seems common among people I know (including myself). How many memes have I seen on social media about how January is unendingly dreary, long, and awful? Perhaps talking about it will help us disrupt some negativity!


What is seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is type of mood disorder where specific symptoms are worse during the darker months of the year—fall and winter. It is not a standalone disease, but rather a seasonal component of major depression.

Depression may include feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, difficulty focusing or concentrating on anything for longer periods of time, low energy levels or feeling sluggish, losing interest in activities previously found enjoyable, and sleep and appetite issues.

The seasonal component

The winter seasonal component to major depression includes sleeping too much, being overly tired (even with extra sleep), craving more carbs than usual, gaining weight, and going into hibernation mode by withdrawing from people, avoiding social plans, etc.

Apparently there is a summer seasonal version, too! I was actually surprised to find this out, but according to the Mayo Clinic, summer seasonal affective disorder may include anxiety, agitation, insomnia, weight loss and a lack of appetite.

What causes seasonal affective disorder?

There are several theories about why symptoms of major depression get amplified seasonally, especially in winter. 

One of them is that your circadian rhythm gets messed up because of the lack of sunlight. In short, your body's clock doesn't really know what time it is, which can cause a disruption in mood.

Another cause is seratonin and melatonin levels not changing the way they should during specific times of the year. These brain hormones are important to the regulation of mood and sleep. For example, seratonin would naturally drop off during the winter, but a study of people suffering from S.A.D. shows that they don't experience that expected drop, which can contribute to a mood imbalance. And melatonin levels may be negatively impacted by changes in light exposure.

And with reduced sunlight, vitamin D levels can tank, leaving people deficient in this necessary nutrient that regulates not only bone health but also neuromuscular function and mood levels. In some studies, people with low levels of vitamin D have been found to suffer from anxiety or depression. Potentially related, it is said that people farther from the equator are more likely to experience S.A.D. Medical science doesn't fully understand this correlation, given the number of studies out there about it, but there does appear to be one.

What can you do to alleviate depression / seasonal affective disorder?

Seeing a doctor would be the first step in order to get a diagnosis. They will most likely ask a series of questions about things like changes in sleep and eating habits, changes in daily activities, family history, including history of depression, severity of the symptoms, etc. A doctor may also run some blood panels to see what your vitamin D and hormone levels look like.

Treatments may include medication and psychotherapy. Medication would help balance brain hormones, if necessary, and counseling can help with behavioral changes. In addition to these, sufferers may experience some relief with the addition of Vitamin D (if blood tests show it to be low), light boxes or other tools to help with the lack of natural light, and mild exercise, such as walking outdoors in the middle of the day.


Photo by sergey Svechnikov on Unsplash


My own experience with seasonal affective disorder

I definitely am affected by the lack of light—no doubt about it! For instance, here in Pittsburgh, January has been so gloomy that we have literally had NO days of sunshine this month. NONE. Unsurprisingly, my mood has been in the dumps frequently this month. I have a tendency to want to sleep too much, eat more carbs, and hibernate. Lately, there have been whole weeks where I have not left the house, which, I work from home, so my hibernation tendencies are amplified.

I'm starting to feel a bit better, though. I've been making sure my vitamin D levels are in the normal range with the help of my doctor and some supplements. To combat the gloom, my husband has installed brighter light bulbs in the house. We joke around about turning on the sun inside the house, but you can do a lot with natural light spectrum bulbs or lamps.

Another thing that really helps me is citrusy smells! Eating an orange, drinking some orange juice, or running citrus oils like lemon or tangerine in an aromatherapy diffuser instantly lifts my mood. It's like, if happiness had a smell, it'd be lemon or orange, to me. Anyone else feel like this? 

At any rate, I'm coping. 

Conclusion

I hope that you are not affected by the winter blahs, but if you are impacted by seasonal affective disorder, you are not alone! Know that you can do something about it and not be resigned to suffering through it. There is support out there. I hope this article is helpful in getting you started, and I'll drop some more resources below this article.

Until February, my bee-peeps, all the best! 💛🐝





My 2020 Resolution: Going Within and Listening

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures for more info. 


Greetings, all, and Happy Holidays! I hope you have been having a wonderful holiday season. 


Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash
We have had a nice set of holidays here at Chez Bee. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas were simple and lovely. My husband and I took time to cook together (though he treated me by doing most of the cooking on Christmas day; I was sous chef), and I've been rediscovering how much I enjoy baking. 

Since we downsized into this smaller house many years ago, I really haven't been doing that much baking due to our small and, frankly, terrible oven. We have one of those apartment-sized stoves (it came with the place), and we haven't replaced it yet. It doesn't bake evenly, and it doesn't have a light, and I'd just kind of lost my enthusiasm for baking. 

But then I discovered just how good my toaster oven is. Indeed, the manual gives instructions for baking several mainstay items, so I ordered bakeware made for a toaster oven and have been having a wonderful time rediscovering this hobby. I've even branched out to make things I've never made before. On today's agenda: these traditional Hungarian cookies. It feels good to get back into it!

Anyway, those are the life updates, but there's one more thing I want to raise as we go into 2020.

Being on the cusp of a new year, it's typical to make resolutions, such as to lose weight, get a new job, buy a house, etc.

If you've been reading for any length of time, you know that I am a very goal-oriented person, myself. We've talked about how to reach our goals here on positively b.e.e. quite a few times, and usually, the topic is more of a how-to nature, whether it's making action plans or writing mission statements or signing up for classes or changing mindset or what have you.

But this year I am going to take another tack when reaching for goals. 

This year, my resolution is to get to know myself better by going within rather than using external factors. This may sound a little odd, but bear with me.

I've noticed I'm craving more silence. I'm not on social media as much. I'm reading more in my spare time. Sometimes I work on my hand crafts and don't have anything to accompany that task: no TV; no music; no audiobook—nothing.

This has been a bit of an eye-opener. How?

At first, the silence was nearly deafening. I noticed the noise in my head and all the things I tell myself.

Rather than tamp it down, I just let that play out for a bit so I could learn from it.

After learning from my internal speech, I then focused on my breathing and allowed pure intention to take the place of the noise.

This was so enlightening! The level of focus I have had these last few weeks has been amazing!

Anyway, the point of me sharing all of this is to encourage you to try the silent approach if you like when you set your resolutions this year. Turn off the TV, radio, music, whatever. Get off of social media and your news feed.

Do something you enjoy in total silence.

  • Listen to the noise—what are you telling yourself? How can you learn from it?
  • Are you willing to let it go? Is it even yours?
  • B R E A T H E
  • Think about an intention that you can replace the internal monologue with
  • Keep breathing and focus that intent
  • How does that make you feel? What is the outcome?

Grab your journal and write any insights down! For me, a major insight was that half of the stuff replaying in my head wasn't even mine! It was my mind turning over things I'd read, things that upset me from the news or internet arguments, or thinking about scenes from movies or shows I'd watched, and then some of it was my own insecurities or worries. Once I was able to identify all of that, I was able to deal with it and focus.

I'll be curious to hear what your resolutions are and what approaches work for you. Maybe this approach doesn't work for you, but something else does. Drop me a line in the comments below and share what works, what doesn't, and what the outcome is!

In the meantime, I'd like to wish you all a wonderful winter, a Happy New Year, and the all the joy of discovery that awaits. 

Here's to an amazing 2020! 


💛🐝






 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Happy Halloween!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures for more info. 



Hello everyone! I can't believe October is just about over! 

Things have been really hopping over here at Chez Bee.  I finished my course, and then started another. Workflow has been steady, and I joined a gym! 

So now it's Halloween, and my biggest challenge today is not to eat all the candy before the kiddos show up tonight in all their Halloween finery. 

If you know me at all, you know that Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday! 🎃👻🕷




Why?

Well... 
Young Bee as Princess Leia


Costumes are fun! My mom made my costumes when I was a kid, and there were some great ones! I still love getting into a costume for Halloween if I have an event to go to. At the very least, I don a witch's hat and cloak and pet my talking raven when I answer the door to trick-or-treaters, and this year I'm wearing fuzzy, sparkly ghost socks. I really enjoy seeing the creativity and imagination of kids who dress up. They're just so cute!

I may be about to express an unpopular opinion here, but I don't mind older kids trick-or-treating. They grow up so fast and this world can be so hard; if they want to hold on to this one piece of their childhood for another year or two, I have no beef with that, and there is plenty of candy to go around.

And I guess my second potentially unpopular opinion is that I love candy corn!


And then there are all the decorations! I love seeing what people do to their yards, porches, and doors during the Halloween season. Some people give a nod with fake cobwebs and spiders or a skeleton hanging around. Many carve jack o'lanterns. And then some go all out, turning their entire property into a haunted attraction! I've been seeing some posts on Nextdoor about local "haunted" houses, and I make sure I drive around to see them.

Fred and I often do our porch up with a whole Halloween tableau, but with my schedule and the weather this year, we're only going to have a few lights up and a small pumpkin-and-ravens display if I can get it together by the time trick-or-treat starts.

I loved this pumpkin costume!

Also, there's something about autumn air that invigorates me. It is crisp and cool, and there's a crunch of leaves underfoot, amplified by dozens of little feet as they make their way around the neighborhood. Though this year it looks like we're going to get rain. You win some, you lose some!

I'm a huge fan of monster movies, too, and this time of year, they're readily available. I primarily love the classics, like Lon Chaney's The Wolf Man, or Bela Lugosi's time-honored Dracula. The House on Haunted Hill is creepy (Vincent Price was amazing!) as is The Fog, and of course, who doesn't like a good Swamp Thing film on a Saturday afternoon? And I make sure to watch Something Wicked This Way Comes at least once a year! I've been in my element because one of the local movie channels has been airing nonstop monster movies all week!

So anyway, those are some of my thoughts on Halloween and why it's a cool holiday! I think it's important to have some fun and enjoy all of the spooky delights this time of year. As you encounter trick-or-treaters, try to see things through their eyes. I bet you smile! 

What are some of your favorite Halloween traditions or memories? Drop me a comment and share! 

In the meantime, I made you a Halloween playlist  for today and tonight. Enjoy!


Have fun, and be safe!





 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

An Uplifting Back-to-School Story: Christian and Connor and a Viral Act of Kindness

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures for more info. 





Hello everyone!  I hope you are doing well!

For today’s post, I thought it would be cool to do something related to going back to school. September is when students typically resume classes here in the States, and I’ve also been “back to school” in the form of some professional training I’ve undertaken. (The irony of my timing on that was not lost on me, but I promise, I didn't plan it that way. It's also why I now need more time between posts.)

Over the last several weeks, I’ve enjoyed all the pictures my friends have posted of their kids on the first day of school or heading to college, or pictures of how they're settling in. Some of those kids I have watched grow up, as proven by their parents posting side-by-side photos of the first first-day-of-school pic next to the current one. How has time flown so fast that kids I once knew as babies are now seniors in high school or even starting college?

Thank you for all of you who share their photos—it’s so fun to see your kids grow up.

I used to really love school when I was a kid. For one thing, I’d geek out about all the new school supplies, like pens and notebooks and Trapper Keepers—man, am I dating myself? Apparently they still make them, though—and for another, it was always great to see my friends again after a summer off.

But not everyone has a good time in school. Some may find it overwhelming, especially if they have any kind of sensory issues.

So I wanted to share this uplifting story about what one little boy did for another overwhelmed little boy on their first day of school. Check out this short video:




On the first day of school, Connor Crites started crying as he stood outside waiting to go into the building...until another little boy, Christian Moore, grabbed his hand and consoled him. Christian continued to hold Connor’s hand until the bell rang, then walked with him into the school.

Christian's mother posted a photo of the exchange on Facebook, and Connor's mom saw the post and responded “Tell your son I said thank you so very much! That little boy he helped is my son and is autistic.”

The story went viral, and the mothers were interviewed. Some things the two moms said really stood out:

“It doesn’t matter, you know, color. It doesn’t matter gender. It doesn’t matter disability. It doesn’t matter anything, just be kind, open your heart, and that’s what we need in this world.”
“One act of kindness can change someone’s life.”
“It can change the world; that’s all it takes.”



Amen to that, ladies!


I hope you enjoyed this story fitting the back-to-school theme. I love highlighting stories where kindness saves the day! It could have gone so differently: imagine if you were Connor and grew up with awful memories of your first day of school instead of the beautiful memory he will now get to cherish for the rest of his life! Same goes for Christian: he did good! I hope school continues to go well for both of them, especially knowing they have each other.

I hope your kids, if you have any, have settled back into their school routines happily. And if you’re like me and are also getting back into homework and classwork, much power to you! Because man... I'd forgotten how hard homework is! How did I do this every day before? 🤣 

Take care!


Have you heard any good news, lately? Drop a comment below or on the Facebook page!


Other sources for this story:



 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Positively b.e.e. is 2!

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It's an exciting time over here at positively b.e.e. Want to know why? 





That's right: it's positively b.e.e.'s 2nd birthday!

Two years ago today, I was FED UP with my social media feed, the news cycle, and people's negative attitudes about the world. Life is short, and I was just not down with living it mired in negativity any more.

So I started this blog as a way to try to disrupt those negative patterns. I wanted to give people a safe space where they could read something uplifting, learn something new, and engage with generally positive (but not 'fakey-sunshiney') content.

Many folks over the last two years have reached out in private or with a comment and told me what a post did for them, or how something I said helped them reframe a situation in their lives. That's very gratifying. I'm so glad I've been able to help people, and I love the interaction I have with my readers.

But I have a secret to share, too:

I might have been helping myself, too.

Yup. I'll be honest: I'm JUST AS MUCH IN NEED OF A PICK-ME-UP as anybody else out there.

So for positively b.e.e.'s birthday, I would like to ask you all for a gift. 🎁

No, really.

Not an ACTUAL, physical gift, but something meaningful all the same:

Please help me celebrate by telling me something good!


That's it! So simple, right?

TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD!



(I'm really only linking to Rufus and Chaka Khan because the song is called "Tell Me Something Good," and it's got a good bass line, LOL!)

I want to hear all about the good things in your lives, good things for the people you care about, or good things going on in the world. Any good things are much appreciated!

I'm letting you guys do MY job for a day! 😁

Drop me a comment below, on the Facebook page, or subscribers can shoot me an email, and tell me something good, okay?

I'll be waiting ...



In the meantime, thank you SO much for reading positively b.e.e. every time I make a post and for sharing your thoughts with me! You guys make my day all the time! Mwah! 💛🐝







 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Arise! A Retreat by Mystic Studios

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures for more info. 

Hi everyone! I hope you are all well. Before I start today's post, I'd like to mention a tiny bit of housekeeping.

Housekeeping

As you have probably seen in various emails and social media posts, I have been experimenting with a new posting schedule both here and on Facebook, which is why there hasn’t been a new post here for a couple of weeks. I plan on posting in both places regularly, as well as continuing to send emails to my mailing list, so you will always have plenty of opportunities to get regular content from me.

Also, we held our first-ever gratitude challenge on the Facebook page, and it went really well! If you didn't see it, we did a five-day gratitude challenge, where we named three things each day that we were grateful for. People's answers were so creative and touching! I got a lot of great feedback from readers, so be prepared for another challenge next month! 🐝

Let me tell you about the retreat I just went on!

I'd love to tell you about a retreat I went on recently. It was my way of taking care of myself after a period of extended stress, because I see retreats not as vacations but as one tool in the self-care toolkit.

I love the word “retreat,” because (for me) it means to take a step back and assess, learn something about myself, and grow as a person. This retreat checked all of those boxes, and I loved it!

The Arise! retreat was offered on Saturday–Sunday, August 3–4 by Kim Chestney, and it was a full-day retreat with an optional overnight component that was chock-full of intuition work, soul flow, meditation, creativity, and healing!

Group photo with all participants at Arise! 2019. Photo by Nicky Dunlap.
It was held at the Zen Center of Pittsburgh, which is situated on fourteen acres of gorgeous woodland about twenty-five miles northwest of downtown Pittsburgh in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. The Zen Center is a Soto Zen Buddhist temple and education center, and its caretakers are Kotoku and Colleen Crivello, who live and practice there. Kotoku is a priest in this Japanese tradition of Buddhism, and the Center offers Sunday services and Zazen training to visitors.

So after eating breakfast with my husband, I kissed him goodbye and jumped in my little bee car to head up there. I rolled down my windows as soon as I’d left the highway and started tootling over the rolling hills of the countryside. It's a very pleasant drive!

Arrival and Setting

Upon arriving at the Zen Center and parking my car, the first thing I noticed was the amazing smell: fresh, clean air sprinkled with the scent of sweet grass. I took in a deep breath and sighed in relief.
Beautiful View at Deep Spring Zen Center of Pittsburgh
Beautiful grounds at the Zen Center Pittsburgh.

When I entered the building, I was greeted and shown my room, as I was staying for the full overnight experience. I had a room with a single twin bed and a large window overlooking a beautiful view, and was initially confused: someone’s things were already in it! I was informed that the priest uses that room as his robing room and stores his books and ceremonial items there. It was kind of him to give me his space for the night, and Colleen kindly gave me a little tour, telling me the meaning of the items in the room.
My accommodations at the Zen Center during the Arise retreat
My accommodations at Zen Center Pittsburgh.

Activities

After everyone settled into their rooms, we all headed downstairs to the common area, and the event began! We were each given a small “goody bag,” which contained tools we would use throughout the day (such as a pencil, small notebook, and other items). After a quick tour of the house and grounds, we went into the Zendo and started with a thoughtful exercise: each of our bags had a card with a quote on it. As we introduced ourselves, we shared what the meaningful word in that quote was; for instance: joy, intention, gratitude, etc. Mine was “reverence.” It was a great ice breaker!

The Zendo at the Zen Center, Deep Spring Temple
The Zendo. Photo by Mystic Studios.
We were then led on an intuitive soul flow yoga meditation by Nicky Dunlap. I appreciated that it was doable by literally anyone: you could sit on the floor or in a chair and be of any ability whatsoever. The movements were gentle and the meditations for each movement were thoughtful and meaningful. Although I had started the day kind of tired, in pain, and stressed out, after Nicky’s soul flow session, I came away feeling refreshed, peaceful, and ready for the rest of the day.

Kotoku then gave a short talk on the basics of Buddhist meditation, discussing the Eightfold Path. Inside our goody bags was a handout entitled Metta Sutra: Buddha’s Teaching of Loving Kindness.

Kim then started us on some intuition exercises, and what I really like about Kim’s approach is that she considers intuition development work not to be some spooky, psychic ability, but rather a cognitive function that we were all born with and simply have to learn to access and trust it. I really enjoyed watching people who were introduced to this concept for the first time have their first “aha” moments when they realized they could trust not only themselves, but the others in the room, too. There was a great sense of camaraderie immediately among people who had never met before.

A group working together and having fun! Photo by Mystic Studios.
After a break, we had some unstructured time with optional creative activities, and I really appreciate the thoughtfulness that went into those activities. You weren't required to do them, and could opt instead to walk the grounds, go off by yourself, or do whatever you wanted to do, but if you wanted to participate in the activities, several stations were set up on the back porch of the house.

One station featured DIY Aromatherapy with Lindsey Bradley, where she gave us instructions for a couple of different aromatherapy blends. I made one with clary sage, lavender, frankincense, bergamot, and a teensy bit of patchouli.

Lindsey Bradley's DIY aromatherapy.
Meanwhile, Nicky passed around a basket full of writing prompts to get our creative journaling juices flowing. I saw several people grab their journals and go write for a while.

Basket of journaling prompts.
Two other activities were really neat: in one, we wrote wishes on tags to be tied to a Wishing Tree. Nature would eventually take those wishes onto the wind and out into the world. And in the other activity, we wrote things we wanted to let go of on slips paper and put them into a bucket. They would be later burned and released.

Wish tree activity at Arise! Photo by Nicky Dunlap.
After a delicious dinner of healthy fare, we did a walking meditation with Kotoku. He taught us how to modulate our breathing with each step, then led us around the grounds in a single file, ringing a bell at regular intervals.

Walking meditation in single file. Photo by Nicky Dunlap.
At first, I found it difficult not to want to look around at everything on the grounds, but then I got into a groove with it and realized, this really is the ideal meditation for me, as I’m not very good at sitting still! :) The meditation was punctuated by two dogs playing, weaving in and out and around us as we walked, which was, to me, a nudge to be in a state of unfettered joy more often.

The final creative endeavor in this part of the day was the nature mandala. We all gathered items from the grounds—leaves, flowers, sticks, stones, etc.–and created a design with them. Mother Nature will take that away when she’s ready, too. It’s a great lesson in impermanent beauty, and people seemed to have fun collecting items and adding to the pattern.

Making a nature mandala with found objects. Photo by Nicky Dunlap.
Kim then led us in some more group intuition development exercises, and then we each received an intuition attunement. At that time, Kim cleared every person’s energy field and gave them a gift. It was moving to see people release everything they were holding in during that time. We laughed; we cried! It was a beautiful ceremony.

Kim Chestney doing an intuition attunement. Photo by Nicky Dunlap.
Afterwards, we socialized in the Zendo while nibbling on Nicky’s amazing vegan cookies.

Just look at those cookies! Photo by Nicky Dunlap.
After dark, we headed out to the fire pit and burned the slips of paper on which we’d written the things we want to let go of. While watching them go up in smoke, we sang a group rendition of The Beatles’ Let It Be. So fitting! And I was so impressed by some of my new friends singing harmony!

Bucket of things people wanted to release in the fire ceremony.
Ceremony at the fire pit. Photo by Nicky Dunlap.

It was such a fun and healing day! After hanging out by the fire, people who were not staying overnight gave a round of hugs and headed on home.

Those who were staying over observed silent hours from 10:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. the next morning. “Silent hours” means only functional, necessary speech, no chit chat. I had come prepared to do some reading, and chose to start the mystic, St. Teresa of Avila’s book The Interior Castle, written in 1577 and still considered to be a seminal work about spiritual development.

The next morning, silent hours ended with Kotoku ringing a bell throughout the house to wake us at 7:00 a.m. I awoke to the most amazing sunrise that cast the coolest pattern on the wall above me because of a lace valance in the window.

Lace pattern at sunrise.

This is what greeted me when I looked out the window. Photo by Nicky Dunlap.

We had a sunrise Qi Gong session led by Gurney Bolster, which was the perfect way to get that flow going first thing in the morning. The grass and air were cool and dewy; it the perfect summer morning!

Sunrise QiGong with Gurney Bolster. Photo by Mystic Studios.
After a light breakfast, we were given an orientation about Sunday services in the Zendo, with a talk led by Craig, one of the members of the Zen Center’s board. We were welcome to stay for the Zazen meditation should we wish, and I know several people did.

I did not participate in the Zazen meditation because I had decided to go to Mass and light a candle for the victims of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, so I gave our teachers hugs and our hosts a heartfelt thank you for their hospitality and got on the road to find a local church.

Side note: if you’re Catholic and in the Cranberry area, definitely check out St. Ferdinand. There is beautiful artwork inside the church, and the music was VERY well done, too! They had both an organist and a pianist as well as a beautiful singer performing her duties as the cantor! I ended up crying through much of the Mass; the music and message that day really touched me, and in combination with all the beauty of the Arise! retreat, I think I released and surrendered the pain I'd been carrying, both personally and from the news of the shootings. Our world is so complicated, and I’m so grateful I could spend a weekend surrounded by love, creativity, friendship, and beauty.

Beautiful St. Ferdinand Church in Cranberry, PA.

Thank Yous

I would like to thank everyone involved—especially Kim, Nicky, Lindsey, and Jon–for their hard work in putting such a beautiful retreat together. Everything was perfect, right down to the tiniest of details. For instance, Nicky did such a gorgeous job with the flower arrangements and her delicious, homemade vegan and gluten-free cookies, and Lindsey laid out our lovely evening meal and coordinated getting us settled into our rooms. Jon was the man behind the scenes making sure everything just flowed. And finally, I would like to thank Kim for her wisdom, teaching, and thoughtfulness. Her events are always full of love, inclusiveness, and light, and if you can ever get to one, I highly recommend it!

What I Learned

I came away from the retreat refreshed, renewed, and ready for whatever may be. Through the reflection I did over the weekend, I learned:

...to embody tranquility even when my fight-or-flight response wants to do otherwise.

...that any struggle I’m feeling is just a blip in the greater scheme of things.

...that there can be peace within and without.

...that resistance is futile (points to the Trekkies out there) and releasing it brings opportunities for growth.

...that creativity is possible in ways you've never imagined before, and if you open yourself up and tap into it, that well need never run dry!

If you're touched by anything I've written about here, then maybe a retreat would be good for you, too! If you want to find out about more of Kim’s events and retreats, be sure to find her and the other presenters/coordinators at the links below and sign up for their mailing lists.

Links

Kim Chestney / Mystic Studios (Author and Founder of IntuitionLab)
Nicky Dunlap / Tranquil Fern (Photographer and Teacher)
(Side note: seriously, you need to go to something that Nicky brings cookies to. She's an amazing vegan and gluten-free baker!)
Lindsey Bradley / Lizzie B. (Aromatherapy and Wellness Educator)
Gurney Bolster / Tai Chi for Health (Tai Chi and QiGong instructor)
The Zen Center of Pittsburgh (Soto Zen Temple and Education Center)






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My Summer Playlist

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures for more info. 


Hi all! I don't know about you, but I am feeling summertime right now. It's nice and hot here in Pittsburgh, and despite some rain, we have had several really nice, sunny days in a row. I've been spending more time outdoors, whether tending my tiny container garden on my front porch or taking walks in the park, and enjoying it immensely! 

I thought we'd do things a little bit differently today. As you may know, sound and music are some of my favorite ways to lift my mood, raise my vibrations, and keep myself in a positive frame of mind. When I was a teen and in my early twenties, I used to spend hours making mixtapes of my favorite songs for summer and then also songs from summer to take with me back to college.

These days, things are a little different—music is available at the click of a mouse or the swipe of a thumb over an app on your phone. But that doesn't mean I can't still have my "mixtape" fun. I made myself a little Spotify playlist of summer fun songs, and now I can share it with you!

There are several genres of music here, so there should be a little something for everyone. Enjoy the music and have a wonderful weekend!  🌞 🎵 📻 🐝 


Full Spotify playlist can be found HERE.

Track Listing:

  1. Surfin' USA – The Beach Boys
  2. ABC – The Jackson 5
  3. Beatnik Beach – The Go-Go's
  4. The Summer Sun – Chris Stamey (feat. Yo La Tengo)
  5. Here Comes the Summer – The Undertones
  6. Rockaway Beach – The Ramones
  7. Summer Fun – The Barracudas
  8. Rock Lobster - The B-52's
  9. Having an Average Weekend – Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
  10. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves
  11. Vacation – The Go-Go's
  12. Life is a Highway - Tom Cochrane
  13. Summer of '69 – Bryan Adams
  14. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
  15. Summer Breeze – Seals and Crofts
  16. Red Red Wine – UB40
  17. Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars
  18. Happy – Pharrell Williams
  19. Miami – Will Smith
  20. Rock Your Body – Justin Timberlake




 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Seeing Life through the Eyes of a Child

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When I stand at one of my kitchen counters, I am able to look out a big picture window into my front yard, which is situated on a "cozy" city street. But it’s a quiet street with lovely neighbors, and I get much peace watching birds and squirrels and sometimes rabbits and even the occasional deer as I assemble a sandwich or a brew a cup of tea. 

I was putting the kettle on when something caught my attention from out of the corner of my eye:
Photo by Daniel Hansen on Unsplash

A single, solitary bubble floated in my field of vision. It dodged and weaved around porch furniture and bushes, buffeted by a light breeze before it swerved in toward the window to hover directly in front of my eyes for a millisecond before making its way down the sidewalk and into a neighbor’s yard. I guess the kids next door were playing with bubbles and one made its way over to my house.

Do you know what I did next?

I threw my head back and laughed like no one was looking!

Okay, no one WAS looking, because I was home alone, but that’s not the point!

Immediately I was reminded of just how much I loved bubbles as a kid. I couldn’t get enough of them! My Dad and I used to go out in the yard and blow bubbles together, getting more interesting wands and bubble contraptions as summers went on. Some nights we’d be covered in soap remnants after a good evening of blowing bubbles. Those were such fun times!

I think as adults, sometimes we forget the simplicity of those childhood joys. We forget to look upon the world with bright eyes, joyful abandon, and a sense of play or even mild mischief.

It's summertime now, and I can't help but remember how summers used to be so carefree: Riding our bikes and swimming all day.  Playing with our dolls or action figures. Sleeping with stuffed animals. Blowing bubbles and watching them float away on the breeze. Getting into epic Nerf battles. Making mud pies and sand castles. Holding pretend tea parties with our dogs or cats and guinea pigs who patiently put up with being our “guests.”

Those days go by so quickly, and it seems the older we get, the years go by quickly, too. In some ways, time seems to test the limits of physics. Doesn't it seem like years speed up the older we get?

But this piece isn’t meant to be some introspective yearning for the days of yore, because we haven’t lost EVERYTHING from our childhoods. We can always carry our inner child with us...WITHIN us, helping shape and mold the people we are...the people we choose to be.

Are you jaded? Cynical? Unhappy? Unfulfilled? Stressed out? Busy? Did you forget to smile today?

Shed all of that. It does not serve you.

If you’re any of those things above lately, try changing the lens through which you view life.

When was the last time you giggled like a little kid on a merry-go-round? When was the last time you looked at something with a sense of childlike wonder?

Open your eyes and see how truly blessed you are to be here, right now. Part of being a child is to see things for the first time and have a sense of wonder and curiosity about them. Look at your spouse, your kids, your cat, your neighbor, your friends, and SEE them again. Go through your childhood mementos and SEE them, too. Don’t be Calvin, looking at Hobbes in his attic over the years and only seeing a stuffed animal. Calvin and Hobbes had a special kind of magic; we can find that magic again.

I know we all have our daily responsibilities and stressors, but remember to stop and take a breath and live like kids do: unfettered. Unconcerned with all the bigger life stuff. Find the magic again, even if only for a few moments every day. Here are some tips to help with that:
  • Dance like you’re in your favorite fairy princess costume and the fairy godmother just waved her magic wand over you. 
  • Laugh at bad “dad jokes” with the abandon of a 5-year-old. 
  • Have a tea party with your kids or grandkids.
  • Get on that merry-go-round or swing next time you take the kids to the park. 
  • Go on a rollercoaster and scream your fool head off. Then go do it again. And again, til you’ve laughed and screamed so hard you tucker yourself out and sleep the best sleep ever.

Who cares if it's silly? Silly is fun!

Find your inner child and meet them again. Welcome them back into your life. If childhood wasn't so great, offer healing to yourself and allow yourself to honor your inner child now. (I'll drop a resource or two below.)

Try to see things from a child's perspective once in a while, and let me know how that goes. I think you'll find there's a different quality of joy in your life.

BRB... gotta go buy some bubbles.

xo! 🐝











 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

BRB - Renovations Underway

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See  Disclosures  for more info.  Hello,  I h...