Category Archives: S.O.L.? School of Life!

Practical life lessons on self-motivation and empowerment, personal growth, aspirations, relationships, creativity and success.

The Greatest Gifts

give_takeWhen we want to gift something to someone special we will put a lot of thought into the giving.  We’ll find the best or the most interesting or the most beautiful gift we can afford.  The more special the person is to us, the more thought and value is put into the gift.  We’ll look everywhere for the perfect way to say “I love you” or “I care” or “You mean a lot to me” or even “I’m sorry.”  That gift might be a thing, an item, a physical object, something for our loved one to possess.  But it might be something less tangible that we give away to someone we love.  A lover will give his heart away.  A brother will sometimes give his kidney away to save his brother.  A mother may be willing to give up her life for her child.  What are you willing to give to show someone how important they are to you?

buddha_giftsMaybe it’s an opportunity, an adventure, a celebration or recognition of some kind that we give away.  Maybe it’s approval or acceptance or a needed change that we give or allow for.  We can give patience, understanding or consideration that is needed to help someone we know or care for to feel better.  Maybe it’s a service we give away or finances that may help.  It could be a simple smile, glance or kind word that gives what is required.  Or it could be time, effort or energy we give to make someone feel we support them.  No matter what we give of ourselves, that is the energy we receive back.  We’re each only as good as the last bit of good we gave.  Our value is determined by the worth of what we’ve shared and spread.  Why do we give?  Often it’s to bring others joy.  But if we give with something expected in return, somehow the gift becomes a loan.  If we give without wanting for ourselves our gift becomes divine, a spiritual release, a signal to the universe that we are ready to receive much greater than we could have hoped or wished for in return.

give_loveI believe the greatest gifts have no monetary value and in fact they could be seen as priceless.  The love, compassion, peace, contentment, joy, faith, health, wellness and prosperity we find within our lives and in the lives of those we love… these are the greatest gifts we can bestow upon the world and what we must be most thankful for.  Forgiveness is a gift with endless returns on investment, too.  It guarantees we are no longer locked into an agreement that someone else’s emotions have power over us and we can let go of the past for the good of all.  Above all gifts we can give, gratitude for all we have – even our pain – and a belief in giving ever greater good is the key to having ever more to feel grateful for and allows us to receive gracefully.

Considering all the effort we’ll put forth to give something amazing to someone we love, don’t we owe it to ourselves to also give ourselves the very best, too?  Don’t you deserve to give yourself the best?  What would you give yourself if you had limitless giving ability?  How generous would you be with yourself?  What about someone you love?  What would you give them if you had endless choice?  That’s the same energy you must give with every smile, look, action, word, request and thank you to feel and be your very best.  Those are the biggest, greatest gifts for they come from the heart and soul.

“Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.”
~John Henry Jowett (1864-1923)
Presbyterian preacher and writer.giving

Isn’t that so inspiring and true?  Be thankful for everything and you’ll never lack anything!!

Give and be well! ~Namaste

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

6 Solutions to Shed Shyness

self-consciousIf you’ve ever felt ill at ease or anxious in a social situation and wished you knew how to feel more comfortable and enjoy the company of others more fully, this blog post is for you. Social anxiety affects more than 22 million Americans, resulting from a fear of being judged, ridiculed, embarrassed or humiliated in public and can lead to depression, isolation and avoidance of social gatherings and correspondence. In our plugged-in world of ever-expanding social media with an emphasis on extroversion and sharing, feeling shy or self-conscious can seem out of the norm. The truth is, about half the population is essentially introverted. Really, can you imagine if everyone was extroverted and outgoing? The world would be a very loud and crazy place! It takes both quiet, careful people and clamorous, carefree people and everyone in between to run this diverse and wonderful planet. There can be no “outies” without “innies” to balance them out. Every yang must have its yin.

self4In my hypnotherapy and life coaching practice I’ve counseled many clients with social anxiety. They often feel ostracized and judged harshly because they feel shy, awkward or insecure in groups. They feel somehow less valuable as individuals because they find socializing a daunting dilemma of what to say or how to behave. They express discomfort at the prospect of casual meetings and wonder if they’re simply not good at relating to others. Being “shy” doesn’t mean you’re not socially oriented. It just means you prefer predictable, meaningful interactions with others, usually within smaller groups or in relaxed settings. Shy people are often the best listeners and caregivers with deep wells of compassion and empathy available. They’re also some of the most thoughtful, considerate, modest and polite members of society. Frequently creative and sensitive people are also a bit self-conscious or concerned with how their expressiveness is perceived. There’s nothing wrong with being shy, in fact there’s something pretty remarkable about being somewhat self-conscious or having humility, as long as your shyness doesn’t prevent you from fully engaging in your life goals and relationships.

social1Human beings are all basically social creatures but that doesn’t mean we all show our need for the company of others in the same way. Some people like big parties with tons of friends and acquaintances buzzing around them. Others like social engagements with select groups of people they can talk with more intimately. You might like to go to sporting events or concerts where many people gather together or you might prefer a smaller gathering with a book club or career group or a dinner party with close friends. Neither preference is better or worse and both have the value you invest in them. Every social situation is different and how we relate to them as individuals is just as distinct. We all want to belong, but the business of gelling with others can feel quite complex. It could be a giant family or class reunion or a small cocktail party you’ve been invited to. Either can feel much like a monumental task if your not feeling socially equipped. Feeling apprehensive in social situations is normal, no matter what type of gathering. However, shutting out people and avoiding associations because of fears or worries need not be the result of such anxiety. Here are six strategies for shedding your shyness, confronting your self-consciousness and coping with social situations in a brave and dignified manner…

what_others_think1. Be mindful of your feelings. Ignoring or denying how you feel won’t help you deal with anxiety. Paying close, purposeful attention to the emotions you experience keeps them in check. Challenging negative thoughts and feelings builds up your courage. When practicing mindfulness, there’s no need to have a goal or need to escape in mind. You simply allow your feelings to be what they are. Allow the sweat to roll, the butterflies to churn and the jitters to shake you from inside. But remain engaged. Finish the task or conversation or game and prove you can survive the experience despite your nerves. This allows you to better manage your emotions, reduces anxiety and neutralizes self-defeating feelings. Even if you feel uncomfortable, simply acknowledge that discomfort and observe your experience of them. See your feelings for what they are with no need to judge, criticize, control or change them. Just watch them without fighting them and press on. Since you have no control over what others are wondering, you’re better off not trying to guess. Assume that others are more concerned about what you think of them than what they’re thinking of you. What they’re thinking is often not what you might perceive and is ultimately none of your business. Being mindful of yourself keeps you in the driver’s seat of your emotions and makes it less likely to be swayed buy others opinions or actions. This gives you the power to feel safe and free expressing yourself in public.

self_walls2. Accept and embrace uncertainty. For socially anxious people the act of submitting to mystery and potential disorder can seem counter-intuitive or even risky, but really, it can help curb self-consciousness. Essentially, the emotion of trust is the main issue those dealing with shy feelings cope with in social situations. But is it trust of others or of themselves in that situation that comes into question? If you’re afraid you’re going to say or doing something that could be criticized or even ridiculed your issue of trust is with yourself and the insecurity of not knowing how you’ll be viewed. There is no certainty of how others will see or react to you. It’s not something you can control. So accepting your limitations over those perceptions and embracing the randomness of how they might respond can become a freeing and adventurous approach to socializing. If you can muster the courage to trust yourself to be the most kind and considerate person you probably already are, you needn’t worry about trusting others. Accept them at their face value and only question inconsistencies that might make you suspect insincerity if you’re unsure how trustworthy they may be. But, there’s no need to be the detective or assume the worst in others because of your own insecurities. Let go of your vigilance and enjoy the uncertainty of the situation you’re in by accepting and trusting that you’re a good and valuable person and can command respect.

party_flowers3. Soak in your surroundings. Fully engage in the social environment you’re in. Notice everything beyond your emotions and intuitions. Observe the laughter and chatter of others without self-consciousness. See them enjoying themselves without comparing or contrasting their experience with your own. Tune in to the music playing, the decorations, the cuisine, the setting at hand. What does the air feel like? Are there beautiful flowers? Do you like the way someone is dressed? Do you find others in that situation attractive, amusing, familiar or even strange? Is there a pet there that maybe you can bond with? Does someone need your help cooking, cleaning or volunteering in some way? Is there a game being played or a subject being discussed that you enjoy or that fascinates you? Take your attention and put it outside yourself so it’s difficult to become self-conscious. Focus on the whole experience, not just your feelings and let go of any self-scrutinizing. This will make you feel more involved with the people around you and will minimize any anxiety. Join in the celebration or rabble rousing of the group. Get lost in the fun and frivolity. If everyone is playing the fool it’s foolish not to play along. Looking outside yourself helps you get into the spirit of social gatherings so you can share your energy freely and enjoy others vivacity.

buddha_love_deserving4. Practice self-compassion. You’re a worthy, valuable human being. No one deserves love more than you. So give it to yourself first! You’re not alone in your feelings of shyness, bashfulness or self-consciousness. Millions of people, probably a few standing right in front of you, share those emotional apprehensions. If you really feel uncomfortable, express that to someone who is compassionate so they can help you to overcome it. Have them introduce you to strangers at the party or gathering. Being introduced takes the pressure off making your own social inroads. Often emotional empathy and sensitivity is a great social asset, but it can become a liability if you forget to give yourself kindness and consideration first. Give yourself the caring you would give someone else in your situation and you’ll start to feel calmer, clearer and easier with how you relate to others.

self-Weird5. Know that all is temporary. When you’re at a social gathering, even a small one, remind yourself that it’s a special moment in time. The time we share with others is precious. The event or celebration you’re participating in will never come again as it is. There’s a unique opportunity awaiting your involvement. You can cherish and savor it or let it pass into oblivion. It’s up to you what occasions you decide to make part of your life. Is it something important you’re willing to miss because of your insecurities or can you put those uncertain feelings on a shelf for a while? What’s the worth of giving up on the possibility of fun, enjoyment and making connections with others? You never know when you might meet someone special, forge a new and rewarding relationship or discover something you really love to do unless you show up and give it the old “college try.” Stay in the moment, breathe and see what happens. Let yourself be weird and wonderful.  Honesty is always more impressive than hiding your truth.  When anxiety strikes, ask yourself, “In ten years, will this matter? Will I regret not giving myself the chance to be in this place with these people?  Is this worth not enjoying myself?” Then you’ll realize the value of your time and the opportunity you’re willing to embrace or relinquish.

self26. Find your purpose in that place and time. If you’re an analytical type and you need to feel useful or even feel a sense of control or power in social situations, question what you might do, what role you might play in the scheme of the occasion. Know yourself and be true to yourself so you can feel free to express yourself. If you like to be the cook, make the meal. If you make great drinks, be the bartender.  Maybe if music is your thing, be the DJ.  If you enjoy organizing, set up the music, lights, tables or decorations. If you like to entertain or be the center of attention, organize the games, tell a story or perform some act. People who are shy socially are often great actors and comedians. All they need is a reason to break out of their shell. Take on a role and give yourself a task so you feel you have a meaningful reason to be in the mix. Every party needs a planner. Taking charge of some job can give you the outward focus so you don’t get caught up in your own self-consciousness. When your job is done you might be more inclined to relax and mingle.

friendship-quoteIf you’ve dealt with social anxiety or self-consciousness for some time and you need help overcoming your fears and worries, try the techniques above and see if you can manage your feelings more efficiently and expose yourself to more social interactions until you feel a greater sense of confidence and security. If you feel you need more help, try hypnotherapy, meditation or life coaching to uncover your subconscious hangups and develop skills to deal with social situations in a healthier, more productive way. If your social anxiety is akin to agoraphobia, a chronic and pervasive fear of social or public ridicule with no means of escape, you may need to consider meeting with a psychotherapist or behavioral counselor for treatment.

self3Living life as a shut-in is no life at all. Give yourself the chance to heal from your apprehensions and the opportunity to meet others and feel blessed by their company. The worst thing you can do about social anxiety is nothing – avoiding the issue – or pitying yourself! You’re an amazing, unique and valuable person. Dare to show someone else your truth and beauty. They might just love you for it. One is the loneliest number, especially when the party has been waiting for you to join it. Build up your confidence.  Allow it to become your focus in social settings.  Ignore your demons.  Answer the call, accept the invitation and do the limbo or risk getting caught in the purgatory of procrastination. Today is your day to engage in your life and most of the goodness, riches and joys you are due will come to you through the hearts, hands, words and smiles of others. If nothing else, getting out and about town is something to do and you may be amused at the clowns you find at the circus.

Quotation-Carlos-Castaneda-forget-fearless-self-yourself-ego-fear-awareness-Meetville-Quotes-22554Be well… and be free to party on! ~Namaste.

Oh!  Don’t forget to give yourself permission not to be perfect… sometimes we forget there’s rarely an ideal thing to say or do but being kind and being present is ideal enough.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

The Breadth of Life

broad_grandcanyonIs it the length or breadth of life that matters most? Would you rather lead a life that’s long and inconsequential or a life that’s shorter and full of purpose? These questions are existential in nature, but they’re meant to provoke a deeper evaluation of what it means to be alive, to matter, to make a difference, and indeed, to be happy. I think the best way we can serve the world is to find personal happiness, which means different things to different people. I realized a while back that I needed to please myself to be happy. Not in an egotistical way, but in a way that honors the world and myself. I found out that I didn’t need to please others or help them or serve them in some way to make them like me or to feel a sense of self-worth. I discovered, through much soul-searching, that I needed to enrich, enlighten and heal myself in order to help heal the world, enrich it and enlighten it – through my being a good example – by loving myself fully. I also came to the conclusion that you or I can earn, gain or win anything we want in life – but we have to give up the fight, let go of our defenses and accept what is true now to receive the good of what we’re meant to experience.broad_bucket Some things are just “meant to be” and others are not. Flowing with change requires an open attitude, nothing more. I think when we can accept that life is constant change, when we can adjust without resistance, we can move on to greener pastures more easily and peacefully. Then real learning and growth takes place and the soul become free to express itself as genuine. But first, we have to feel safe and free doing so. We have to feel bold enough to take risks – to live confidently and courageously – and manage our fears and doubts as they come up. Learning to trust in your truth, your special and unique message, can help you live a broad and meaningful life.  Then you can scoop up all the best parts of life and embrace the best parts of you consistently.

broad_angeldevilTo be fully present and purposeful in life, one has to be brave enough to face their demons and faithful enough to embrace their angels. Then a true diversity of experience and knowledge becomes available, as if by magic. Fear and doubt, anger, shame and guilt should never become an immoveable object obstructing one’s path to happiness, to the fulfillment of their dreams. Those emotions are just guides telling us we’re heading in the right or wrong direction. You can see fear as excitement – as a signal that you’re approaching something that means a lot, that is purposeful and a new direction you should head in with courage to overcome the fear and grow from it. I always like the quote, “feel the fear and do it anyway.” broad_fearsThat’s how you become stronger – that’s how you experience the breadth of life. It is a choice and can become a positive habit with practice. Untie any knots that conflict with your ability to move forward with the changes you have faith will make your life happier, healthier, wealthier and more whole.

With the diversity of experiences I’ve had in my one small life, I am coming to realize there is very little I should be afraid of. I’ve faced many things, tried to hide from others, but still my fears and anguish have been brought to the light to be healed. Pain can’t be escaped, it must be faced in order to heal.  I’ve learned discipline of mind and body to cope with those times of doubt and regret, of worry and fright. I’ve also learned that if you don’t restrict yourself in how you think and lead your life, life will find a way to restrict you – mainly from doing harm, intentional or not. Freedom comes from such discipline of mind, body and emotion. It sets the spirit free to experience a greater self and to enlighten and enrich the world. Restricting the limits of your mind will never allow your full potential to blossom.  We want to think big to succeed.  Being broadminded enhances your courage and keeps you open to opportunity.  Actions and habits are different.  We want to have self-discipline over how we act. broad_discipline Restricting how you behave can give you stronger wings so you can fly higher.  Discipline helps to set goals and to achieve them, not to set limits on what’s possible.  It defines your actions and opens the door to greater accomplishment, service, healing and creativity.  As Mark Twain said, “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.  Suffering is the result of resistance; so much better to simply embrace people, things, feelings… as they are. Intolerance is a habit we’ve been taught, but it can be unlearned. Changing habits requires conscious practice.”  Changing your life requires focus, awareness and willingness to rearrange aspects of yourself.  Nothing can be denied or avoided forever – it all comes to the top as life boils away the excess so you can see the essential truth. So, isn’t it better to try, to attempt fulfillment, to face what’s uncomfortable or unknown, to strive for your dreams fruition, to design your destiny? Or is a passive course the only safe way? I think the greatest risk is not taking any risks at all. Courage leads us to our best destination. Fortune favors the bold.

broad_zip_line1I encourage you to find more breadth (and thus more breath) in your life. Try something new to diversify your soul. You never know if you’ll discover a greater part of yourself until you allow new experiences to flow in. If you’ve always been afraid of doing something or going somewhere, find a way to convince yourself that you are safe and free to trust and be that person, living in that moment, experiencing a whole new you. Follow the bliss of your dreams and uncover their hidden meaning – that you are far greater than the sum of your experiences so far. If you always wanted to go zip lining but never had the guts, research it and then make plans to do it. Then follow through so your inner self knows you mean business when facing your apprehensions. See if you enjoy flying by the seat of your pants. It may open up a whole new world of adventure for you and introduce you to a whole new you.

broad_paradiseMaybe you love to travel but have neglected to make that special destination a priority. Save up some money, take time off work, set aside your worries and relinquish your duties to everyone else so you can meet yourself again in that new place. If it’s an educational or career opportunity that you believe would broaden your enjoyment of life, seek out the knowledge and experience you desire until you find it. Make yourself available to others, too. We find our greatest happiness and widest understanding through our relationships – romantic, familial, communal, professional or platonic. Volunteer your time and energy toward a good cause if you want to manifest a greater, more generous part of yourself. broad_attemptGet way out into nature every so often to breathe deeply and see how far the universe stretches to meet your eyes. Take an art class, sing in a choir or join an organization you think would benefit your self-expression. Clean out your closets and donate your old clothes and shoes to charity, “feng shui” your home or start a vegetable or flower garden if you want to revive the feeling in your personal sanctuary. Get involved with more meaningful activities, get help with personal issues or get a pet if you want more love, joy and healing in your life. Learn to laugh at your flaws, allow yourself to be moved to tears when needed, appreciate the miracle of each moment and feel how incredible your life really is. Agree to let life in so you can get the most out of it. There’s a million ways to make your life better if you want to. Change is always available. Just don’t let yourself stay stuck in your habits or you’ll shortchange your dreams and wind up cancelling out broader possibilities.

broad_limitsIf you tend to get caught up in your day-to-day habitual existence you may forget how much variety there is in the world. So many different people, cultures, languages, environments, foods, dance, art, music, spiritual practices, social traditions, scientific endeavors, hopes, desires and dreams exist all around us, everyday. Take inspiration from that and break your shell, knock down your walls and dare to be and feel more of that diversity, especially the uniqueness within yourself. Dare to grow and change into a greater you with broader experience and understanding, for that is what trying new things does – that “risk” emboldens and strengthens you and makes you more patient, tolerant and accepting of all the world’s gifts and wisdom, no matter how strange they may seem to be at first. In the world, or inside yourself, a stranger is indeed just a friend you haven’t met. broad_horizonsLetting go of expectations, releasing experiences of the past and giving up control of what’s outside your sphere of influence can help you bridge the gap between what you know and what makes you uneasy. Becoming the CEO of You, Inc. and only needing the approval of your executive self in all your choices will set you free to make bolder decisions and pave new, broad inroads to success and fulfillment. Only when you cherish the best and most interesting parts of who you are and forgive your frailties can you claim the wide, wonderful world as your oyster.

HKeller_AdventureWe can get lost in our own little world of needs and desires, of obligations and responsibilities, of devices and distractions. We find crutches and excuses, ways of denying our purpose and burying our light. We get pushed and rushed and stressed into doing things we often simply don’t understand our part in or even wind up resenting. But if it doesn’t feel right, intuitively, don’t let yourself be forced into a negative pattern. If you need to slow down and unplug – do it – or life will find a way to slow you down. Certainly the point of life is not to see how fast you can lead it. Every now and again we need to detach and reconvene with our more basic nature. Praying, meditating, listening to melodic music or just taking quiet time for yourself can help. broad_beliefLeaving time to dream and making space to live largely with brave resolve to be your personal best and bless the world with that power is a divine way to live. Teach your fears that they have no power over you, use them as a barometer for identifying exciting new challenges to overcome, nothing more.  Let your fears die as you are reborn stronger and wiser for confronting them. Risk taking a chance on making your life fuller, on making yourself happier. That, in turn, becomes a blessing to the world. Perhaps the greatest responsibility one has in life is the development of one’s self and to share that unique gift with the world for it’s growth. We are each one piece of an enormous puzzle, each resolving the picture of humanity’s beauty and truth. We have so much to offer each other in this journey of life, but we must be willing to give and receive – to share – to experience life broadly and openly, to learn and grow together. We must be willing to give up our fears of being different and diverse. For that is what we each have in common – we are all unique – we all share the fact that we are all different. Being special and unique is what makes us all alike.Broad_Thoreau Embrace your special, precious self and share it with the world. Share and celebrate in the breadth of the world’s diversity and in your own unique experience. Be thankful for all you’ve come to live and know for therein resides your richness and fullness. As you meditate on these ideas and breathe in life’s daily miracles, take in the breadth of life – feel how powerful it is – and feel that its true source of good begins within you. Finding peace and contentment in life isn’t about closing off or leading a small life. It’s about being open and daring yourself to try big things. You never know what good may come or how the road may wind… but that’s half the fun of taking the adventure.  May your horizons be ever broader!

Be well and live broadly! Namaste.  Yoga silhouette virabhadrasana II warrior pose

“Once I thought helping to fix, heal or save the world would bring me peace. Now I know I must first find peace inside to help fix, heal and save the world.” ~DJ

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Best Friends FURever

dog-cat

If one of your best friends happens to walk on all fours, loves to be pet and licks your face to greet you or even to wake you, you are blessed to know the love of an animal pal.  I grew up with a lot of animals as a kid and I’m lucky enough to have had several amazing pets as an adult.  My mom bred, raised and showed dogs professionally and we always had a few cats and birds around the house.  Sometimes it was like living in a zoo, but I loved it.  If you’ve never lived with or loved an animal, I feel you might be missing out on a whole corner of living a fulfilling life.  I know this fact: pets have greatly contributed to my overall sense of peace and wellness.

tabby1My first pet was a female gray tabby cat named Tabatha, or “Tabby.”  I got her when I was eleven years old and had her until I was twenty-eight.  She was my best friend growing up and made me feel loved even when I didn’t love myself.  She was the runt of her litter but had a big personality. She was very smart, talkative and particular, with big, bright emerald eyes, white “mittens” and “go-go boots.” The only thing bigger than her eyes was her purr or perhaps her raspy, Siamese sounding meow!  She was also a “ham” (see picture, right).  She seemed to completely understand English but preferred to speak “Tabbese.”  She came to college with me my senior year and everybody adored her.  She leaped into my friends hearts and quickly became a fixture there.  They found, as I have known, cats pick you to be their friend – not the other way around.  Though, it can seem at times that you’re actually more a part of their staff.

My best friend and roommate Dan was exposed to the wonder of sharing his space with a “majestic creature” for the first time and he was hooked.  He’s gone on to adopt four rescue cats of his own!  Tabby was our little mascot at school and always had to be in the middle of all the action.  She would sit herself between any shoes that were left lying around and so we nicknamed her the “guardian of the stench.”  My mom joked that Tabby was the first cat in the family to earn her degree.  She had a BA in charm and a minor in cat-titude!

cat-friends2I adopted my sister’s gray and white cat, Tanita, when she moved to Indiana in 1998 and loved her like my own.  She was about twice the size of Tabatha and they never really got along.  Tanita was quite possessive and I think Tabatha became a bit jealous and perhaps had a Napoleonic complex.  But they both loved me plenty.  Tanita wanted lots of attention and loved to aggressively rub her chin on me and drool.  I’d let her sit in my lap and purr for hours, much to Tabby’s dismay.  Tanita was a mature cat when I inherited her and passed away in her sleep just before I moved out of my parents home in 2001.  But Tabz and I had still more adventures to purr-sue together.

One late summer day I realized she had slowed down a lot.  Her paws had become jaundiced.  I didn’t realize she had developed liver disease.  She nearly died at age 12.  I was devastated when the vet said she probably wouldn’t live much longer without major surgical intervention.  Mom and I bit the bullet and decided to give her another lease on life.  She had a blood transfusion, part of her liver removed and a feeding tube put into her stomach for three months.  It was a risky surgery but she pulled through.  Toughest, most resilient cat I ever met!  I would come to realize that she truly had “9 lives.”

I got married soon after moving with her to Jersey City.  My suburban kitty trooper, degree in paw, was ready for the big city!  My ex-partner had two cats and soon we had a combined household of three territorial felines to contend with, all in a railroad style apartment overlooking the Manhattan skyline.  The other two cats were an older black male, Lennox, and a small one-year old black female, Ishi.  Again, I loved them as though they were always mine.  He was quite charismatic and she was a bit skittish, but I doted on them both. The step-siblings got along for the most part.  In fact, one day we walked in on Lennox and Tabby in a “love embrace.”  Apparently they had been having a secret affair!  We realized that Ishi needed a little brother or sister (and we needed to adopt another cat or have another hole put in our heads)!

jackomo-faceIt was Christmas time in 2002.  We went to Garfield, NJ (fitting, yes?) and adopted a new kitten, Jackomo, a very handsome gray short hair tabby, like Tabatha, but without white mittens or boots.  We weren’t looking for a tomcat, but when I met him I knew he was a lover.  But when Tabatha met him she was not impressed.  In fact she thought he was quite the the scamp.  She was right!  He was “up her skirt” night and day as a little guy but he finally chilled out after a few well placed swats.  His first year was spent sleeping on my head at night and chasing Ishi down the length of the apartment.  He completed our set and became my darling boy.  Our four kids were happy and healthy together for four years, enduring another move to Hackensack, NJ.  But nothing can last forever as life is ever so precious, fragile and finite.

Both Tabby and Lennox developed diabetes in 2005.  Lennox had to have insulin shots which I administered.  Both went on a strict diet.  It was challenging but I’d do anything for my babies!  Tabby had gotten so sick by that Spring, I knew I had to consider a humane option to alleviate her suffering.  She had survived the liver disease, several moves and new family dynamics but her tiny body was finally giving up.  She became weak and gaunt.  She went to the vet and we decided she had to be put to sleep.  My little girl deserved only the best and I knew it was time for her to cross the proverbial “rainbow bridge” to peace and harmony.  I didn’t know if I could handle it.  I decided I had to give her a big girl talk. cat-road

I had made the appointment to have her euthanized at the vet’s office on the following Monday.  I sat and pet her on my bed for an hour that Saturday and told her, “Tabby, you know I don’t want to do this, but it’s for your own good.  I can’t watch you suffer for my own selfishness.  If you can find a way to pass at home, before Monday, please do us both the favor.”  She looked up at me with her wise emerald eyes and blinked, then crawled into my lap to sleep for a while.  The next day was Palm Sunday.  It was a bright Spring day in New Jersey.  Tabby kept running to the windows and swatting at them.  I thought she saw a bug or perhaps had some dementia.  Maybe she just wanted to go outside and play?

I decided to treat her to some tuna on the balcony, since she loved fish and lolling in the sun more than almost anything.  She began to lap up the tuna fish water and looked up at me with a smile in her eyes.  I turned away to do some dishes in the kitchen and looked back a moment later and she was gone.  I looked all over the apartment, calling her name.  No answer.  Where could she be?  Then it dawned on me.  I looked over the side of the balcony.  There she was, four stories down, on the pavement!  Lying motionless on the parking lot asphalt!

I flew out of the apartment and down the four flights of stairs like a whirlwind!  I ran to her side and she picked up her head an meowed at me!!  She was alive!!!  I couldn’t believe such a withered animal could endure the fall.  If I had to describe the look on her face, it was disappointment.  I don’t think she wandered and accidentally fell off the balcony.  I think he jumped.  I honestly believe she had taken my request to heart and tried to do herself in to spare us both that dreaded trip to the vet.  I scooped her up and since it was Sunday had no alternative but to rush her to my mom and dad to get checked out.  Mom said she had no broken bones and to take her home and make her comfortable.  Then, in the morning, take her to her appointment.

tabby-sleepingWhen we returned to the apartment she was dazed but still jumped onto the window sill, swatting at the windows to be let out.  She wanted to find a way out.  She fell to the floor so I held her and administered pet acupressure to help her let go.  She looked up at me one more time and meowed a soft “good-bye.”  I was fortunate; my little angel died in my arms, at home, at age 17!  She never made it to the vet’s, having honored my wishes, sparing me the pain of what I couldn’t face.  She had tried to “fly” that day but finally earned her wings in heaven.  The three other cats gathered around to bid their farewells and my ex and I sobbed like two ninnies. ‘Tis always the way when someone so beloved must leave.

jack-ishiWithin a year we moved to Tampa to start over fresh.  New Jersey had become so crowded, the winters too harsh.  I wanted to buy a bigger home for our family, hoping it might grow again.  By now you realize I’m an eccentric cat person.  So be it.  Lennox’s diabetes had become unmanageable by the summer of 2006.  We had to make another terrible veterinary appointment, in a strange new town.  It all happened so fast.  We went in and he got the shot.  He protested.  It was difficult to witness for the first time.  My ex and I were heart broken, all over again.  But after that I was glad Tabby went the way she did, in an oddly dignified manner.  We were down to two cats, Ishi and Jackomo.  The new house seemed somehow too vacant.

Ginger-Dream2Jackomo’s sweet and assertive personality and Ishi’s gentle, sensitive nature helped to fill in our hearts.  But the ex always wanted an all white cat with blue eyes, so our search for new adoptees began.  We wanted to rescue a female in need of a home and heard of a new kitten fitting our description nearby.  It was the spring of 2007 and kittens were multiplying faster than flowers.  We found what we were looking for, a lovely white female we named Dream.  But there was a bonus: in a box of rescue kittens I saw an irresistibly cute orange tabby female that I fell in love with at first sight.  She looked right up at me and ran to my hand to be pet and let out the tiniest, sweetest meow.puss-kitten  I said, “I want THAT one!”  I named her Ginger Puss.  That day we adopted fraternal twin girls.  We had four kids again, a full family, and we made a happy home again, for a time.

By 2012 my ex and I realized we had irreconcilable differences when I discovered an unforgivable infidelity.  It had been a rough few years of unemployment and financial difficulties, critically ill parents and my sister’s passing and a communication breakdown.  We had to part ways.  Sometimes, even when you love someone, you can’t fix what’s broken and you come to know you just can’t build a life together anymore.  In the divorce we decided it was only fair to split up the “kids.”  Jackomo and Ginger Puss had become lovers and practically inseparable, so I took them.  I had to let go of Dream and Ishi, much to my heart’s chagrin.  It kept the house and poured all my love into my little boy and girl.  But the transition was especially rough on Ginger.

She had always been a loveable but sickly, skinny cat with various ailments since she was six months old.  Having put her through a battery of tests that were mainly inconclusive my vet encouraged me to give her lots of love and hope for the best.  The breakup made her anxious and depressed and she lost a lot of weight and began to have fainting spells.  She was put on a new diet and medication which took the edge off, but I knew she was still not well.  I met someone new and we became fast friends and lovers.  The cats seemed relieved that I was happy again and took to my new partner with delight.  Ginger did much better for a while, putting on some weight and having more energy.  She and Jackomo’s love affair blossomed, too, constantly grooming each other and sleeping together.  It made me wish they weren’t neutered so they could have kittens.  Both were showered with love and returned it to us in full.

But Ginger’s underlying health problems came to a head recently when we noticed she was retaining fluid in her abdomen.  The vet confirmed she had a congenital heart defect and would have no more than six months to live.  I found myself devastated all over again.  She’s not even eight years old.  I find myself having to consider how to relieve her suffering again and wishing for miracles.  My “li’l punkin” may soon have to cross that rainbow bridge to meet Tabby, Tanita and Lennox so much sooner than I thought.Rainbowbridge2  I feel grateful for the wonderful years I’ve shared with her but feel cheated that I can’t have more.  It seems so many things keep being stripped away from my life as if to teach me that I’m still whole, even if it feels like my heart is disintegrating.  Perhaps that is the nature of letting people or animals into your heart, fully.  As the old song goes, “You’ve got to give a little, take a little and let your poor heart break a little.  That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.”

I’ve had so much love in my life, much of it the four-legged, furry kind.  Cats have helped to shape my life and my happiness and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Through the ups and downs their love has been a constant and I wouldn’t trade away the pain or moments of grief I endured in their passing if I had to sacrifice the endless joys they’ve given me.  I still have hope that Ginger will somehow recover and I know one day there’ll be room for another sweet kitty cat in my heart.  Jackomo still needs big hugs and kisses and Ginger needs her daddy to stay strong.  Sharing this story of how my cats have helped form my life and spirit is of itself part of my healing process.  I hope it inspires you to pour your love into an animal that needs it.

The pets who find homes and loving parents are truly the lucky ones.  I believe those who choose to become pet owners usually realize that they’re actually the lucky party, fortunate to experience the endless love and joy a pet can bring into their hearts.  There’s nothing like a cat to make you feel there is still magic in the world.  Don’t let a vacancy sign hang on your heart too long.  Remember pets are like Jello.  There’s always room for more.  I know there’s another kitten out there who needs me.  Someday my partner and I may even get a dog.  For now, my sweet Ginger Puss and Jackomo will get all the love they can take!  As with all my past feline companions, no matter what, we are best friends fur-ever.  I hope you’re wise and blessed enough to allow a dog or cat to help you find personal happiness and wellness in your life, too.  Pets are, by nature, generous, therapeutic and full of endless patience, forgiveness and love.

cat-friend

Be well! ~Namaste

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

The Road to Wellness (2)

children-road

Wisdom of the Inner Child

When we think of our own personal well-being we might first imagine feeling healthy or have a sense of gratitude for the beauty and strength we possess in our bodies. Feeling well can also mean being happy, contented or at peace within the mind and emotions. Perhaps your career success, financial freedom, intellectual or social stimulation, ability to travel or invest in your passion, purpose or enlightenment defines how well you feel. Our concept of wellness can also simply mean feeling connected to family, friends, community or one’s spiritual nature. It’s all how you look at it and we’re all individuals with differing values, needs and desires when it comes to feeling and being well. But, when you’re seeking out what makes you feel good, the motivations and requirements to be happy, healthy and well, do you ever ask yourself: who’s really running the show? The answer to what drives you down your road to personal wellness and fulfillment may surprise you.

child-insideAll people have within them a loving, trusting and creative part of their personality that can be termed their “inner child.” This is the part of you that seeks love, enjoyment, security, comfort, pleasure and gratification. It can manifest as very healthy and fulfilling behaviors when properly fostered or if ignored and neglected can become extremely self-destructive. The inner child can become a fun-loving, helpful friend or a bratty, selfish and toxic enemy to you and your life and wellness goals. If you notice that your habitual tendencies lead you toward discomfort, dysfunction or even dis-ease, you may have an inner child that needs special care and remedial attention in order to dig your way out of a self-destructive rut.

child-adult-sillouetteWhen examining the holistic sense of wellness and contentment in my clientele or in any individual I’m always led to wonder how healthy and happy their inner child truly is. The subconscious beliefs and needs of one’s inner child will determine the ultimate nature of the adult’s state of body, mind and emotions. If those needs go unfulfilled or the belief system of the subconscious is abusive, destructive or otherwise limiting, the inner child feels threatened and becomes defensive and self-punishing, marring the success and happiness of the adult personality. A poor sense of self or the world, learned early in childhood, will manifest as poor choices later in life and negatively affects all aspects of one’s being: body, mind, heart and spirit and all relationships.

I believe that the missing ingredient for many people looking to be healthier and happier, and more successful or satisfied in their lives is a connection with their psychological inner child, who may have been lost or hidden for protection due to excessive stress, trauma, tragedy, abuse, abandonment, neglect or other toxic relationships or mistreatment in one’s childhood. Your inner child’s sense of safety and security was formed by the age of six and developed into the key aspects of your personality, including your ego, sense of self-worth and social belonging and most of your subconscious beliefs, needs and desires. child-neglectedOnce those psychological and personality patterns of thought, emotion and behavior are established they can be very challenging habits to break. But once they are uncovered and understood they can be changed and made to work for the betterment, needs and goals of the adult self. A happy, secure inner child learns to self-sooth with positive behaviors like exercising, playing freely, eating right, socializing and expressing their emotions through creative outlets. A wary, scarred inner child tends to act out in fearful and potentially harmful ways.

child-adultSo, how happy and healthy is your inner child? For an honest answer let’s first look at what may have shaped your beliefs early on. Because your inner child really wants to feel secure, comfortable and loved it may act out in rebellious ways when it feels its needs have been denied. If before the age of six you experienced a lot of tumult at home your inner child may have trust issues and not feel very safe. As children we know on an intuitive level that we can’t survive on our own, that we are essentially helpless and powerless. Children are simply mirrors of the adults around them. They are also great at adapting to prevailing winds so they don’t get blown away. Hence the phrase, “children are so resilient.” If you get what you need most as a child (love, trust, care and comfort) you’ll feel empowered, that you matter and that you can ask for what you need and the adults responsible for your care will supply it. If not, you feel needy and neglected, unloved and even unlovable. That turns into feelings of hopelessness, despair, distrust and resentment later in life.

childinner1All children are loveable, but if you were abused or ignored in any way early on, you may not have felt loved or cared for as much as you needed. That part of you begins to feel a sense of worthlessness and a lack of fulfillment. To ensure survival the child can develop strong defense mechanisms. See, if you didn’t feel safe and protected then, you began to protect yourself with “walls” of avoidance, aloofness, aggressiveness and victimhood. The child blames him or herself for those slights to feel safe because if they blamed their parents or guardians it would mean they lived in an unsafe world, which is unbearable to the child’s tender psyche. The harmed child then punishes themselves with self-imposed limitations and he or she thinks they deserve the same treatment that put them in that position leading to self-destructive habits and a negative self-image. This is where the feelings of not being “good enough” or worthy of love and care arise, dooming the adult to repeat the pattern of abuse and neglect, whether that treatment was intentional or not.

The protective inner child needs comfort, to be appreciated, to believe he or she is powerful and worth protecting, and to belong and feel safe. If those needs are not met in childhood the psyche looks for ways to fulfill them or deny them in adulthood. This can lead to a chaotic, reckless and desperate set of adult behaviors like addiction, exhibitionism, hedonism, escapism, nihilism, self-loathing, self-isolation, self-deception and co-dependent or abusive relationships. That internal, protective survivor-self, a scared child locked inside you, unable to feel safe, will thrash and lash out until you wind up in its self-defeating thrall.  The warped inner child turns on itself and acts out, trying to silence or destroy itself, blaming itself for not getting the love, power and attention it needed but never received so early on.  The tempestuous inner child must be nurtured, held and loved until it is fully reintegrated into the adult or a lifetime of emotional difficulty and rejection is almost guaranteed.

Let’s take a deeper look at how your inner child operates and what it perceives as truth. Your inner child is under six years old. It takes every message given to it literally like a kindergartener would. Like children believe that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real, the innocent, trusting and gullible inner child also believes any other messages, overt or subtle, that filter in must be true. Really, children under six have no filter for “BS.” The abstract non-sense detecting mind develops later. So if you tell or show a child they are unworthy of love, they believe it and those messages are carried into adulthood.child-healing-JHenson Perception is everything to the inner child. It is the basis for the subconscious mind. The subconscious never says “no.” Like an improvisational child at play it always says, “yes,” even to unintentionally negative programming. The heart’s needs for fulfillment originates in the subconscious mind. It accepts the idealistic, fantastical, mysterious, emotional and imaginative aspects of life as real. It is your “real” self in many ways. The most honest, trusting, open, vulnerable, revealing, receptive and free part of you is derived from your inner child’s beliefs and assumptions. But those beliefs can be damaged or poorly influenced at such a young age, we hardly realize where the programming comes from and that gets our adult selves in trouble when left unchecked.

child-funnyThe adult self is formed by the rational, heady, problem-solving mind, based on familial and societal expectations for acceptable behavior and the fulfillment of adult needs and obligations. It’s the part of you that wants to “fit in” and “be normal,” whereas the inner child is happy to stand out as an individual and be extraordinary, before it learns to shut down and close off if it feels harmed or threatened. Denying or disapproving of your inner child’s needs is a part of your rational, waking consciousness – the part of your psyche that decides what appropriate behaviors fit into your daily tasks and responsibilities, defined by logic and preset goals. The rational mind is critical, concealing, analytical, routine-oriented and “realistic.” It’s like an arrow pointed at a bull’s-eye. It’s not at all shaped like the inner child’s creative understanding, which is more of an amorphous bit of clay. Yet the subconscious inner child’s mind represents a vastly larger part of our entire consciousness than the single-minded rational adult mind. Your inner child is really running the show of your needs and wants, beliefs and habits, and how you reach for fulfillment and wellness.

child-outListening to and tending to your inner child’s needs and heeding his or her warnings is a great approach to solving your self-imposed subconscious limitations and moving beyond bad behaviors that stymie your success and how well you can feel. Learning to play and indulging your inner child’s needs can help you to communicate with your unconscious desires, before they spiral into destructive habits – if they haven’t already. Splurging on your child-like impulses now and again can keep him or her from becoming a rambunctious brat. Fighting those oft hidden desires will only backfire anyway. If you sense your inner kid’s needs are not being fulfilled (his or her biggest fear) and you notice immature behaviors creeping in and disrupting your adult ambitions, you may have to cut loose more often to quell those childish urges. child-paintLook at your children or the children of friends and family under six years old and notice if they seem free and playful or serious and cautious. Do they appear to feel safe expressing themselves or shy about whom to trust with their feelings? How do they move and interact? Are they open and inviting or stiff and reluctant? Observing kid’s behavior shows us a lot about how adults may act if they’re in touch with their inner child’s needs or not.

child-findingAn adult’s choice of profession or vocation, their predominant humor and attitude, and their relationships and posture are also indications of how openly childlike they feel comfortable being. The inner child will stop at nothing until their needs are expressed and fulfilled. People are just grown-up kids and their actions reflect if their inner child’s needs are satisfied or suppressed. They’ll act out, foolishly or carelessly, as children would if discontented. Dealing with your subconscious needs can help you feel whole; it’s a part of you that must be integrated or you’ll suffer the consequences of a shattered ego. Developing a child-like sense of carefree abandon when appropriate can give you a greater sense of resilience and adaptability when stress gets you down. Cherishing the wisdom and wonder of your inner child is an essential part of your overall sense of health, wholeness and wellness.

child-climbing-treeAs a child I had several self-soothing activities to help me cope with the stress that popped up around me. I still go to them when I feel stressed-out or glum these days. I think they’re healthy expressions of my inner child’s needs for creativity and enjoyment. They’re like security blankets when the world feels cold and forbidding. I’d like to share them with you as an inspiration for the recovery and nurturing of your inner child. I splurge on myself with them whenever I need to feel self-love and comfort. And no, none of them involve CAKE! Although, cake is sometimes helpful, too…

 

• I loved to read adventure novels.  Then I’d put the book I was reading down and daydream how the adventure would continue in my own fantasy.
• I always loved writing poems or short stories from my wildest imagination.
• I loved drawing: trees, animals, figures and faces were my favorite subjects.
• Listening to music (especially Broadway showtunes) always made me happy.
• I’d draw fantasy maps with cities, countries, roads, bridges, rail lines, mountains, deserts and rivers, oceans, etc. – all with crazy made-up names. +Hidden treasures!
• I’d sit and watch the weather: clouds, rain, sun and fog – daydreaming away!
• I’d talk to my cats or dogs and pretend they answered me back (didn’t they?)
• I’d explore the woods: climbing trees, picking flowers and eating wild raspberries.
• I loved making special worlds for my action figures to explore and conquer – all in my back yard wonderland.  Ah, simpler times.
• I dreamed of flying into outer space and diving into the ocean to find Atlantis.
• I’d sing and dance like no one was watching.

child-happy-facechild-happy-face2I still do many of these things today, quite proudly. I indulge my inner child’s needs without shame, for his need for expression is worth my time and energy. I’ve parlayed many of the activities listed into fruitful creative endeavors and imaginative works of art, theatre and literature, as well. But I’ve tried never to ignore that part of me that just wants to be loved and comforted as a special, worthy individual. So we all should be treasured as such! Every so often find a way to “make believe,” and pretend you’re a fairy princess or a warrior prince for a day. Ride a roller coaster or ride your bike somewhere new. Explore the woods or your own back yard. Buy some finger paint or buy a fun toy, doll or action figure to engage your inner child. Go “LARP-ing,” take an acting or improv class or initiate a game of hide-and-seek with the kids in your family. Get off the computer or X-Box. Let yourself go out and play! Follow your bliss down the road to wellness.

You and your inner child will be happy you did!

child-embrace-LHay

Be well! ~Namaste

 

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

The Road to Wellness (1)

road1

The Four Pillars

            In a world where so many people are afflicted with illness and unhappiness a reasonable question may arise: what is wellness?  The dictionary defines wellness as either  the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort or an approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases.  But, what does that mean for you?  How do you approach or reach a sense of wellness in your life?  After years of coaching and counseling clients on how to be well, I have another take on what that state of health and well-being should encompass.  4PILLARS2I believe in the practice and application of holistic principles when defining and designing one’s personal wellness plan.  By that I mean looking at the whole being, each aspect of one’s life, when choosing the right road to a life full of health and wellness.  I believe the four pillars that lay a foundation for discovering and maintaining personal wellness are already widely known throughout our culture, but aren’t always clearly addressed or fully integrated into our complicated modern way of living. 

 

            These four crucial aspects have also often been dismissed as New Age jargon and glossed over by quick-fix, results-oriented fitness programs and the malaise of mass-media motivational programming.  I’ve mentioned them before (and will again) and you already know them, but they bear endless repeating: Body, Mind, Heart and Spirit.  bodymindheartspiritThere, see, I knew you were already familiar.  But how do we integrate these pillars into our lives, on our journey to wellness?  How do we best utilize these aspects as tools to find the health and wholeness we’re all looking for?

 

 4pillars1           I completely believe that every part of our lives can be improved by making better choices.  As adults we make all kinds of decisions without even thinking about their repercussions.  We eat a certain meal, watch a TV show or chat with a friend without any real intentions, other than to satisfy our current needs.  We want to fulfill our hunger, our need for entertainment or a desire for companionship.  We attend to so much each day that some things simply take priority and others get left to the wayside.  We wind up ignoring certain things like dirty laundry or dishes, full email inboxes, unopened bills or other aspects of life that may make us feel uncomfortable.  We pick and choose where we put our attention and eventually fulfill our needs and responsibilities, gleefully or begrudgingly.  We choose how we deal with stress and how we avoid it.  We decide how to feel and who to be with every little choice.

 

            When we want to feel and be well I believe we have to look closely at our choices and how they affect the four pillars that lay the basis for wellness.  That examination always leads to a deeper understanding of one’s motivations, challenges and what changes need to be made to realize the desired result.  Defining and designing your own plan for wellness is the aim.  We are all individuals so what I define as my sense of wellness may not be what you see fit for yourself.  I think customizing what works for you will have the best, most comprehensive, long lasting and holistically sound results.  So, let’s take it apart so we can put it back together…

 

 spirittreasure           What are we REALLY talking about when we say we want to be well?  Are we just referring to our health, the wellness of our physical bodies?  I think it goes A LOT deeper and it’s all connected!  I believe fulfillment is what we want, deep down.  We want to feel healthful, look beautiful and live lives that are joyful, hopeful, plentiful, meaningful and purposeful.  In order to have such fulfillment and satisfaction, I’ve come to realize a fact that should come as no surprise to you.  We must first be fully present in our lives; we must be completely mindful.  Isn’t it interesting that some of the most important words in the English language end in “-ful?”  As free thinking, free willed adults, don’t we owe it to ourselves to become fully satisfied?  Think of the benefit to the world if we each fulfilled our potential for good!  Finding your fulfillment takes action and action requires a good plan.  But there are some things we can’t plan for and that’s when we want our sense of wellness to be even more robust.  The we can adapt to change and overcome obstacles.

 

preciouslife1            When we choose to become mindful of our whole selves we come closer to our holistic truth, the sense of Zen I often refer to.  Recently I was forced to pause and take stock of my life and see how I can make my life more whole.  I was reminded to be mindful of the impact my choices make and how even this blog can make big ripples in the world.  Last weekend a hacker infiltrated my Webmaster’s server and almost caused me to lose this forum for sharing my best wellness advice.  Luckily she’s a genius and was able to save my work and move it to a secure server.  I felt grateful but at nearly the same time I lost a dear, old friend in an untimely fashion.  He was only thirty-seven and died of complications due to a suicidal prescription drug overdose.  It was a curve ball that challenged my own sense of awareness, responsibility and my concept of wellness.

 

 lifeticket           I felt guilty that I couldn’t see the warning signs and mourned over a brilliant life tragically cut short.  I know, however, that as adults we are each only responsible for our own actions and have to leave other adults to make their own choices and find their path.  Sometimes that path leads us astray and the “learning curve” isn’t always fair.  Over the past ten years I’ve seen several friends and my own sister pass away well before their time.  In each case I believe they just needed a hand to hold, a compassionate guide, someone to lean on so they could find their way again.  I have to wonder, why are people so ashamed to ask for help yet have so little shame when it comes to exposing intimate details on social media?  It’s a mixed up world, but we’re all here to support each others growth and healing.  My friend was a lot like me, passionate, caring and sensitive, but he couldn’t reach for the support or guidance he needed to come clean and ask for help when he needed it.  ask4helpIt’s strange how death, tragedy and trauma are often the wake-up calls we need to see our lives more clearly.  We realize then how precious life is and how we take each breath and each other for granted.   For better or worse, in times of trouble we come to know that our choices define our happiness, health and overall sense of wellness.

 

thoreau            So that we don’t have to hit rock bottom or witness others suffering to put our lives on track, I recommend a preventative shot in the arm.  Start on your road to wellness now or take an even higher road than the one you’ve been on.  Begin developing your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness today.  Find the recovery, redemption or revolution you need to make your life work.  Seek out success, make a strategy to realize your dreams and find suitable ways to fulfill your four pillars of wellness before discomfort, dysfunction or disease set in. 

           

            If its purely a matter of your physical health and body wellness, why not take up a Zumba or yoga class, get help from a nutritionist or weight loss counselor, consult a personal trainer or find other ways to beat stress, eat right and exercise?  There is no shame in asking for help and its never too late unless you’re six feet under.  There are also great motivational books, MP3’s and videos available, even on Youtube, which can help you with exercise and diet tips.  Both Eastern and Western medicine can help you to feel your best.  An MD or specialist can guide you to better health or an acupuncturist may have some helpful pointers for you.  Or see a life/wellness coach, hypnotherapist, massage therapist or homeopathic practitioner to get help eating, sleeping and moving better.  Find a support group to stop the smoking, drinking or drugging that’s shortchanging your optimal health.  Research different supplements to your diet to give you the energy, focus or assistance you need to be well.  Maybe you need a good detox or healthy fast to wipe away the effects of stress.  bodycare1Check out my “ACV Detox” post for helpful hints.  Take care of your business and vocational needs, your financial well-being, too.  That’s a part of caring for your health, the security and sanctity of your body has much to do with how you handle your affairs.  Work hard, work smart and work out what you need to make your body healthy and well.  Pamper yourself, buy some new beauty products, take up a new activity or just get out and walk around your neighborhood more often.  Simply shaking up your routine can lead you down a rosier path.  Learn how to breathe deeply and relax more.  Unplug, let of distractions, turn off negative news and get the rest your body needs each day.    It’s your choice how you let your body feel, what state you keep it in and what you put it through.  Be mindful of its care and it will repay you with radiant health and wellness.  After all, what do you really have if not your health?

 

            Are your thoughts disordered or self-destructive?  Maybe your mind needs a wellness overhaul.  Your mental state, outlook and attitude are things you can control.  Without a healthy state of mind everything else goes awry.  I’m a big supporter of psychotherapy and counseling advice to set your mind at ease and work through mental issues, which often have an emotional component.  The power of your mind is virtually limitless – you can always find a way to make your life more peaceful, productive or empowered.  Being a practice of journaling, self-hypnosis or meditation to clear and reprogram your mind.   Self-reflection is key to understanding and managing how you mind works and what motivates you.  Take a wide-view of how your life has progressed to this point.  Do you see any patterns?  Are they productive or destructive?  How can you change that pattern or make it work for you?  “An unexamined life is not worth living,” said Socrates.  Dare to look inward and you’ll find solutions abound.  mindnewideasStimulate your intellect with brain games, puzzles and thought-provoking pursuits.  Find out what makes you tick and get motivated.  Sometimes it’s an underlying fear or subconscious self-defeating belief that keeps you down.  Facing those fears and rooting out those negative thoughts will eventually allow you the peace of mind your looking for.  Repeating a mantra or set of affirmations can change your focus when you feel uptight, too.  Ultimately dealing with stress, anxiety or depression in a more positive way will reset your mind’s autopilot.  I find regular exercise to be the best stress buster.  Soothing music, a good book or a creative outlet can help, too.  But you need to discover what helps you beat stress and acquire the tools to make your mind work its best.  A clear and focused mind creates a clear and focused life.

 

            An old French proverb states, “The heart has reasons of which reason knows nothing.”  Indeed the emotions can be confusing and easily misunderstood.  Feelings can be overwhelming when left unattended, but instead of allowing them to be your unchecked enemy, they can be made to work for you.  Knowing your desires and understanding your emotional needs helps the heart to feel secure and open to love and trust.   The heart can be scarred by abuse, neglect and mistreatment.  Taking time to laugh and cry as needed washes away the guilt, shame, fear and pain that the heart can inadvertently hold onto over time.  I find volunteering or helping others less fortunate is a great way to help quell negative emotions.  The nose knows: don’t discount the positive emotional effects of aromatherapy or taking Bach flower essences to feel better.heartimage1Your radiant heart has so much more to feel than angry, sad or lonely.  But we can all get stuck in those low vibrating emotional states from time to time.  If sour emotions become chronicI find a key to making your heart feel lighter is gratitude.  Feeling grateful for your blessings makes the bad feelings go bye-bye.  Socialize and seek out people you can relate to, with common interests and hobbies.  Connecting with others helps your heart to grow.  Remember that fear is the worst emotion to endure and is the root of all other destructive emotions.  Conquering fear may mean facing what scares you, finding incentives or motivations past its barriers or developing better strategies to cope with it.  A good therapist or coach can help you on your road to opening the heart, overcoming its challenges and finding the love and peace it deserves.  Oh, and keep smiling!  It’s the more sincere expression of the heart’s fulfillment. 

 

            Have you been neglecting to cherish your spiritual needs?  Perhaps some spiritual guidance is in order when trying to make your life whole.  Whether you have a religious belief that brings you solace or you lean toward a certain spirituality, investing in your connection to what lies beyond and beneath your regular senses can help you feel happy, whole and well.  Maybe you’ve never been exposed to spiritual practice.  Maybe its time to delve into what guides your soul.  I think our “politically correct” culture has made us far too secular in our belief systems.  I’m a huge supporter of scientific truths but having a faith in what is unseen can bring us comfort when we need it most.  faithStAIf your religion makes you feel more trapped than free, perhaps its time to consider renewing your faith elsewhere.  Whether you worship a deity or not, you can still feel that special connection to a power that sustains life and reality as we know it.  You don’t have to call it “God.”  You can call it your “higher self” or the “power and presence” that guides and protects you.  Some call their soul’s protector and provider simply “Creator” or “Divine Father” or “Mother Earth.”  New Age thought often refers to the spirit that sustains us as the power of “I am.”  For what you are is what exists in all things – a benevolent and pervasive truth intrinsic to all that is known.  Travel, seek out your spiritual truth, broaden your horizons.  Discover what your power is, what your spirit is guiding you to do.  Help yourself to the riches within your soul’s purpose and help others find their good, too.  Don’t minimize the power of this pillar; it can be the rock you cling to in times of need.  It can serve you according to your own needs.  I think faith should make you feel a deep sense of love and trust that all is right and all will be well.  Coming to know the “God-self” in you will help you connect to your sense of worth, wonder and wellness in life. 

 

 fulfillment1           We’ve reviewed the four pillars that can make your life whole again when properly integrated and balanced with your life goals.  I hope this overview brings you a sense of enlightenment and encouragement to begin your journey of wellness, based on your individual needs and sense of choice.  In the second half of this two-part post I’ll be introducing some concepts that relate to your subconscious self and developing the use of your “inner-child’s” wisdom to help you find your Zen – the wellness that comes from acknowledging and incorporating your deeper, more basic human needs and desires.  Now I’d like to give you a few more ideas when it comes to defining and designing your road to wellness.  It can seem a bit odd, but consider this: is it possible to be glad of all the misery and suffering you’ve endured in your life?  Really, can you feel grateful for the pain and trials you’ve gone through?  If so, I believe you’re on the right path!  Often we have to see that what we’ve dealt with is ultimately what has made us stronger, smarter and better people. 

 

loveBuddha            Suffering of any kind builds character, even if it seemed unfair or unjust.  It’s a bit of “tough love” but I think seeing your past as a series of lessons to ensure your growth, instead of punishments or misfortunes, makes you more grateful for what you have now and for whom you’ve become, despite it all.  Again, counting your blessings can make you feel enriched.  Also, please be gentle in the process of becoming fully whole and well.  It’s a journey, not a destination.  It’s a process, not really a path to perfection.  bluenewcolorThere is no such thing as perfect, so allow yourself to be imperfect as you learn and grow.  Learning to feel good, be good, give what is good and accept good is the goal here, yes?  All good things flow from a healthy state of mind and body, so work on those aspects first.  Cherish yourself in this progression; love yourself and trust you’re on the right road.  As long as you’re trying, you’re succeeding.   Fulfill yourself with the light of truth that is your Zen.  Then you may be the light in your own life and spread it and share it for the enlightenment of all.

 Be well!  ~Namaste.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Carving Out Your Good

whittling1

            Good things can happen any day.  Or it can go the other way.  Yet we do have an active role in deciding how our days go.  Accepting a passive destiny is no way to ensure you’re leading the life you want.  Taking what you’re given and making something great out of it or learning a valuable lesson from it is the essence of creative adaptability.  It’s the idea of turning lemons into lemonade. You have to remain an active participant in your life and do more than accept what you’re given to reach your goals.  If a sculptor is given a lump of clay and wants to make a great work of art from it, he first needs a creative vision but then he needs to sculpt out what isn’t needed to find the art beneath the clay. sculpting1 Letting go of those things which stand in our way, our fears, inhibitions, self-imposed limitations or negative habits allows us to move forward with our visions, carve out our future good and attain our goals.  Nothing good comes easily or quickly in this world, but whittling away what blocks us from what we want is a way to ensure progress and success over time.

carving2

            Carving out your good takes time and patience, planning and consistency.  But we have to be willing to let go of the scraps of material that don’t serve us.  Finding health and fitness in your body requires you to carve and sculpt out the potential masterpiece underneath what ever you wish to let go of, like excess fat or flabby skin, a bit everyday.  A fit and healthy, sexy body doesn’t come from eating potato chips.  It’s an unrealistic expectation that a diet pill or shot will make you look and feel your best either.  Breaking into a business or career takes special carving to find the niche market or appropriate audience for what you have to sell or share. Similarly, developing a good relationship of any kind takes some creative sculpting to find what works and what doesn’t, to compromise, bridge gaps and reach an accord between you and someone else. I want to share some insights that have helped my clients to release what is wasteful or restrictive in one’s life and embrace what’s good in one’s experience or to make more of it.

1) Set intentions or goals.  Have a long or short-range trajectory of what you want is the most important key to eventually reaching your dream.  It is the forerunner of all plans, strategies and tactics.  But be specific – really go for what you want with gusto.  Envision what would make you satisfied.  Rehearse it!  See and even feel yourself getting what you want more everyday.  Put actions in place that will get you closer to your goal, day by day.  Take those actions consistently as if your life depended on their importance.  Before you know it, you’ll have reached your destination and you’ll feel proud of the journey you took to find what you were looking for.  takeachanceYou’ll also quickly discover what you needed to let go of – what you didn’t need – to get there.  Shed it and be glad of its lesson.  There’s more good on the way, set by your needs, desires and intentions.  Goals are like light through darkness; intentions are steps toward the light.


2) Let intuition guide you.  Your gut instincts are usually right.  Inside each of us there is an inner voice, a guide – the most positive part of ourselves – that always knows what’s right.  It also knows what’s wrong and what we must let go of,  avoid or diminish so that we can reach our higher purpose and do more good in the world.  The voice in your head is your intuition.  Footprints in the sand on beach near San José del Cabo, Mexico at sunriseIf you believe something is coming or you feel funny about a certain person or situation, you may well be correct.  Don’t dismiss that powerful inkling, it’s your sixth sense taking to you.  The more you listen to your intuitive voice, the stronger it gets.  Practice listening to what you know is right and what doesn’t work will also become obvious.  If your gut says, “yes” – go for it!  If the answer is “no,” respect that guidance and honor it by choosing better.  Your intuition wants what’s best for you, so allow it to lead you to carving out more good.

intuitionAE

3) Trust the process.  Nothing worth having comes overnight or without work and commitment.  We impose a lot of limits on ourselves, restrictions to what would make our lives better, because we don’t trust that our efforts will be rewarded.  Well, the result never comes first.  It takes perseverance to reach what we want.  Accepting that everything comes with a process and has an ultimate purpose, helps us get where we want to go.  Setting up systems for success allows you to track your progress and adapt it as needed.  The process is the way goals are met and successes made.  We set up challenges and we knock ’em down in order to move ahead.  Some of the great business people, artists and leaders of the world admit that they had to fail many times in order to find success.  trailRWEIn the process of failure they learned what they needed to do to succeed.  Like Tony Robbins says, “sometimes you’re just a millimeter off from what it takes to reach your goal.”  That’s the worst time to stop going for it.  Letting go of a need for perfection or instant gratification can help also you in the process of finding success.  Also, remember to trust yourself to make the journey, to learn and grow at your own pace.  Be true to you and who knows what you can do?

4) Show fear who’s boss.  Fear can become a paralyzing restriction in attaining your goals and carving out what you want from life.  We have fears for good reasons: to protect, defend or avoid harm.  Fear is part of our evolutionary survival mechanism, but it often doesn’t serve us all that well in modern life.  Fear is the root negative emotion.  It can turn into avoidance, escapism, intimidation, shame, frustration, anxiety, depression, hatred or rage.  fearchangeFear should never be a wall between you and what you want, as long as what you want does no harm.  If you intend something negative, then you should be afraid of your intentions.  Sloughing off fear is cutting away the dross that doesn’t serve your greater goal.  A big fear a lot of folks have is that in sharing or expressing what they want or their truth that they will be judged poorly and that they will reveal what they actually are afraid of.  Or they’re afraid they’ll share what makes them vulnerable or what they least like about themselves and be rejected for it.  Such fears come with being human and wanting to belong.  fearfalseevidenceBut we are each unique individuals and must add our special color and texture to the fabric of humanity for its betterment.  Facing your fears takes away their power, too.  Letting go of fear is essential when carving out what’s good for you and the world.

5) Don’t over-think it.  Over-analyzing is the #1 killer of creativity and mastering what you need to get what you want out of life – your good.  Creativity and criticism cannot operate in the same space at the same time.  One over-rules the other every time they meet.  Thinking about something too much or dwelling and worrying is about as bad as procrastinating in keeping you from what good you deserve.  It also becomes a form of repetitive stress on the central nervous system.  Ruminating too long actually blocks the good will of the universe, which is truly here to support your good efforts.  overthink2Having faith that what’s good for you is really for the good of all is one way of beating the need to over-think.  Take action, whatever small step you can to make your dream a reality and then step away from it.  Go for a walk, eat some pie, pet your cat and then go back to problem solving.  Either you control your thoughts or they control you.  Again, it can’t be over-stated that perfectionism and procrastination are forms of wasteful, worrisome emotion and over-analysis.  If you trust yourself enough to give yourself even 75% credit that what you want or need is actually GOOD for you, just do it!  Get off it, get over it and get going already!

6) Be open to guidance.  Be it an expert or specialist in your field, a trusted friend, a teacher, spiritual leader or yoga instructor, take in whatever advice comes your way with an open mind.  You never know when inspiration will strike or what bit of advice will spur you on to greater things.  Dreams are wonderful guides to the subconscious needs we have.  Listen to what your mind and heart are telling you and you’ll realize many of the answers you need are within.  Let go of judgment and accept everything you’re told as help.  I often say. “I’ll have to consider that” or “I’ll take that under advisement” when I encounter a new idea or bit of wisdom, no matter the source.  We are truly each others reflection and all a part of the same sphere of consciousness.  teacher1So, let go of any thought that you and only you know what’s best and lovingly accept the messages that wind up on your desk.  You never know when a little bird might give you the few inspiring words you needed to find your fuller self.  Some people actually love to help you carve out your good!


7) It’s all temporary and you’re not done growing!  If life was static and we all were exactly who and what we’re meant to be, I think life would be pretty boring and perhaps the world would stop turning.  Sometimes we just have to step out of our own way and accept that we have more to learn and nothing is set in stone.  Everything is temporary.  There is no constant but change.  Being flexible and rolling with the punches is a bedrock behavior for those who wish to find fulfillment.  Ask for what you want and then find ways to get it.  If you reach a dead end, you turn around, dig under or learn to fly over your obstacle.  Be willing to learn and grow everyday.  Try new approaches and be adaptable – be willing to change – and you’ll find what you’re looking for.truetoyourselfDrS  It’s got to be worth something to you, so let go of what ever is holding you back – fear of change, old messages of lack or limitation, whatever makes you feel insecure – and lock onto what will enrich you if you dare to make the journey.  Be willing to grow past what you know, past your ego and even what you think is true and you’ll find everything is relative, temporary and contingent on your willingness to try something new.


Here are a few more inspiring thoughts that may also help you carve out your good and let go of what no longer serves you:

“Everyday, just find two things: something that inspires you to do more good and something that you feel immense gratitude for, and you’ll begin to live your own miracle.”

“If you don’t want to open the front door to see what good may come, afraid of the bad air that may accompany it, at least crack open a window and take a breath of the prevailing winds.  Some good may blow in!”

“Swim as though there are no life preservers.”

“If you never show and share your true self and never strive for what you want, how will anyone know you or learn to love you?  How will you ever help, heal, enrich or enlighten the world or yourself?”

“Everyday I am challenged and enriched as much as I allow myself to be.” trynewthings

 

 

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Distractica

OMG_smaller

            This post is one of my social commentary logs.  I’m compelled to write about how advancing technology, communication and social trends of the new millennium have reshaped how we relate to each other and ourselves.  I’m calling this “Distractica” to draw attention to the distracting quality of how many of us lead our lives within the new paradigm of instantaneous gratification and expression.  It’s a brave new world of communication and connectivity we live in, which is a natural evolution of our technological advancement. But our ability to “reach out and touch someone” has become so rapidly far-reaching, it comes with certain social pitfalls, complications and repercussions.  I have to wonder, how will our advancement in technology and communication impact our sense of personal wellness?

distractions2

            In my opinion, the consequences of our lightning-speed capacity for sharing include increased distractedness, dependency on and overuse of technology, also its potential misuse, a disconnection from present time/space/people in the room and mismanaged time and energy.  With the availability of ubiquitous mobile smart phones and tablets we have access to more information and more people than ever, at any given time.  We hear more buzzes, beeps and bytes than ever before.  We’ve become subject to various electronic alerts, updates and cyber-interruptions, 24/7.  I think most people can agree this has lead to shortened attention spans, greater impatience, social ineptitude and generally more of a self-centered attitude in a world already plagued by media-ADD and an entitlement mentality.  We have so many more ways of seeing and hearing each other than ever, yet does this trend promote more understanding or more confusion?  Are our new toys making us more distanced, isolated, callused and cold – or do the old rules of how we deal with each other no longer apply?  The miraculous if harried cycle of sound bites we endure while digesting daily media has no precedence.  There are more memes and ringtones making us repost and turn our heads than ever.  Commercial advertising has gone absurd just to catch our attention.  The computer, TV or cell goes on and we tune out.  And the peace that can be found by turning them off is rarely even considered. 

tunedout1

            The new tools of communication and information sharing we’ve acquired are so sparkly and fresh to the human experience; we haven’t had the chance to adopt effective rules of polite engagement and social etiquette to cope with its breakneck advancement.  Is there any turning back or must we evolve a new set of manners and behaviors when it comes to using these new tools?  Progress dictates that some older modes of operation are discarded and while new practices are implemented.  But all changes, even positive ones, come with consequences.  If our new technologies and corresponding behaviors represent the changes progress dictates, are we really improving life?  Or are we simply adjusting to the new variables of a more closely knit world? Are the social ills of becoming more connected simply our society’s growing pains?

tunedout2

            What’s the worth of our new technological and social progression and do its benefits outweigh its costs? Distracted workers, drivers, teachers and students trying to “multitask” (not a likely ability considering our selective binocular vision – probably made up by corporations to increase productivity) and trying to keep up with the pressure of responding to endless social media bonds, distracting games and on-the-go entertainment are making our work places less productive, our roads less safe and our education more disjointed than ever.  We may be instant messaging someone in Rangoon but we’ve forgotten who’s in the room.  Our need to be valued, to update so many aspects of our lives in real time and respond quickly to others may be masking a more profound need to earn love and respect from those we cherish and admire.  I’m afraid our incredibly fantastic new tools are becoming fad toys, social status symbols, ego boosters and ways of avoiding direct communication, rejection and responsibility.  They’re also becoming an unprecedented din that desensitizes us to our environments and each other.

phones1

            I want to use the example of our society’s response to the first phonograph technology to illustrate my point.  When preliminary phones went into use and people could suddenly communicate across great distances it was an amazing convenience and made possible whole new social connections and coordination.  But it was just a tool, a way of making information flow faster and easier.  Much like the incandescent bulb made life more convenient because we didn’t have to fuss with candles and kerosene anymore, telephones and later cellular phones made it easier to talk with loved ones, network and spread knowledge.  A “car phone” was just that when it came out – a phone for the car, to be used in case of emergencies – a really great tool when needed.  But it also became a toy, a distraction, and lots of people have died while using it, especially when it became a truly mobile device and keystrokes got involved.  These examples are all tools, which humanity can use or misuse to their success or folly.  But when we’re misusing technology, are we just “playing around” with it?  When does it all become too much distraction?  When do we kill the noise?

            When I was a teenager we didn’t have call waiting or voice mail yet.  If we called each other and the other phone line was busy, we had to call back later or leave an answering machine message.  This seemed inconvenient even though it was the highest tech of the time and much better than what generations past had to deal with.  I remember my friends and I would actually call the operator and ask him or her to perform an “emergency breakthrough” to communicate to our chatty pals that we were trying to reach them.  It was almost like an operator assisted call waiting with the feel of a collect call.  We did it all the time until the phone company figured out that our social calls were not real emergencies and discontinued the service.  We abused the tool and it was taken away.  I don’t see how our over-reliance on smart phones is going to get any better though or that we’ll have to give up our abused and taken-for-granted conveniences anytime soon.  I wonder, what will the consequences of inflating Facebook and Twitter egos, dizzying text message communications and mindless Youtube entertainment finally be on our psyches, cultural development and social compact be?  If we don’t take time off the veritable Merry-Go-Round of media distractions, where will we wind up going – in circles?  If our world is becoming more complicated, aren’t we the ones who can make it simpler again?  Do we need a mega EM pulse to accidentally (or purposely) shut everything off to show us we can all live without so many technological crutches and maybe make more real connections to actual live human beings?  I doubt, however, that the sacrifice would make people LOL.  BTW, isn’t there something a bit weird about saying “LOL” in spoken conversation, as opposed to actually laughing aloud?  Hmmm…

Computer Logos Reflected in Eyeball - Apr 2009

            Now, please, don’t get me wrong… I love technology.  It’s a beautiful thing!  When it’s well used with respect for others.  It’s a phenomenal tool, hopefully to be used with the best intentions.  However, I think we need some rules, some parameters for using technology with sense and dignity.  Youtubing videos of one’s drunken escapades, texting pictures of one’s nether regions – while driving, arguing about a misunderstanding with someone through instant messages, irritating the world with obnoxious ringtones, keeping your eyes on your i-phone while walking down the street oblivious to traffic, “sexting” at work, Skyping video games all day (though at least its interactive), posting status updates of your hilarious cat (mine are just as cute) and tweeting your every other move may not be the most dignified social media behavior (or regular behavior) in my book.  In fact, #RIDIC!  Its also a wonder anyone under twenty years old can even spell with our newly (sadly) accepted, abbreviated, texting lingo.  OMG!

 distractdrive1

           Like every other tool, this new technology does need some rules to make the playing field fair and just for all and stigmas attached to breaking them.  But, who sets them and how when the paradigm shift was never given any order?  How do we leash and curb a pack of wild dogs?  How do we make up etiquette for something that has been given no such regard and allowed to ramble aimlessly with wanton disregard for any sense of decorum?  Or is this apparent misuse of technology just a sign of the times – that we’ve lost most other forms of social responsibility, too?  That we’ve become essentially socially unaccountable – anonymous and untouchable – even though we see and hear from each other more than ever?

            I don’t propose to have all the answers – I’m but a philosopher looking at the issues we all face and sharing my opinions with you.  But I think its important to at least address the new trend and see it for what it is – misuse of one’s energy and attention, sometimes to the point of abuse.  If we trend this way too long I foresee a bit of an attention deficit disaster on the horizon.  What if we continue to disrespect this tool and keep defiling each others integrity, privacy and values?  The rude person who talks loudly about the underwear they just bought on their cell during a movie or while out to dinner should understand that they are disturbing another person’s right to have a peaceful night out.  I don’t need to know the intimate details of that person’s life, but they seem to feel it should be broadcast.  It screams of self-importance and indignity.  I wish they’d hang up on their distractions and find some higher purpose or consciousness.  Not everything is meant to be entertaining or amusing, yes?  I just don’t think we’re meant to have so much information and so many diversions available to us at all times, in all places, without some common sense of how and when to use it properly. When a member of our society ignores their screaming child to text or make a comment on Facebook or Youtube, what does that say about our society’s priorities?  Its values?  Its future?Idiocracy_PosterB

            The hand-held revolution is becoming an excuse for a bad behavior free-for-all and parents, teachers, civic leaders, the media and storytellers ought to take some responsibility and help young people realize the error of making life-long “e-choices” they may one day regret.  Once you post it – its there for eternity!  If we don’t wise up and use these tools with care and constraint, we’re going to have a confused and discombobulated generation who think amusement is more important than achievement and we’ll wind up with a society and economy like the movie Idiocracy.  I make no apologies for my opinion – I think its all going way to fast, we haven’t caught up or adapted all that well and we aren’t really learning or teaching better ways to implement our technology to promote better social skills and information sharing that makes sense and isn’t just a colossal distraction from making this world a better place for all.  Kids are already distracted enough just being kids and having access to instant everything only makes them more spoiled, entitled and confounded.  The choices are only going to get tougher, too.  But, what do we decide to do about it?  Ignoring this or being distracted by its lure won’t make it go away.  Through the cacophony, can you hear me now?  LOL!

 unplug

           I have some advice for those who think technology has its place but that it shouldn’t dictate how we spend our time and energy.  How we form relationships is vital to how well we live, so we must understand that it can be challenging not to get caught up in keeping up with the maelstrom of potential connectivity when you really do want to stay in touch.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be friends with the world or anything wrong with wanting to limit our exposure to a sometimes inundating onslaught of modern sociability.  My best suggestion – every so often just unplug!  Take an hour or two everyday or a couple times each week to just turn your mobile devices off.  Set aside some down time to take a walk in nature, read an old fashioned book, meditate on your place in the universe or meet with friends for coffee – but without performing your habitual online check-ins.  Ignore those pushy alerts by setting your phone to “alarm only” and keep a healthy distance from the frantic pace of friendly Facebook posts.  If your kids are out of control with their online life, limit their time on their devices or at least check in with them now and then and ask how their “real” life is going.  We all need down time – true rest and relaxation – but surfing the internet and scrolling through social media sites and even watching TV don’t constitute true down time.  Such activities are actually too stimulating for the mind to rest and regenerate.  Dare to go “off the grid” and notice if you rush a bit less or have less general anxiety or if you happen to notice oncoming traffic.  And don’t feel guilty about tuning out!  Your true friends will understand and your thumbs will thank you for the rest.  And remember, a hand-held device can never replace holding someone’s hand.

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” ~Albert Einstein

“Men have become the tools of their tools.” ~Henry David Thoreau

“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.” ~Aldous Huxley

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” ~Gertrude Stein

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Trade-offs: The Art of Compromise

scale

            Ever notice that to get something you want out of life you often have to give something else up?  Everything begotten in life comes with a price – a sacrifice or compromise of some kind.  If you want a new car or home, you need to spend time, effort, energy and money earned to purchase one.  Nothing is free.  Everything’s a trade-off.  Even “free time” has to be spent in some way.  If you spend your free time napping, you won’t get to read that new book you’ve wanted to crack.  If you would rather watch your favorite soap opera, you may be giving up your exercise time.  The same is true with indulgences.  If you eat dessert before dinner, you may not get to fully enjoy your pot roast.  It works the same with energy and emotion, too.  If you invest yourself in worry and doubt, you can’t feel confident or self-assured.  If your efforts are spent on being a great leader, you really can’t just sit back and be a follower, as well.  If you want to win the marathon you can’t well smoke three packs of cigarettes a day.

marathon-runnersmoke2

You don’t have to go to extremes to see how one thing trades for another.  It’s not just about choice.  It’s about the big trade-offs and how they shape your life.  You go left instead of right and you find a path either way.  Turning left may lead you somewhere you don’t like.  But you can turn around and you can always turn right.  The point is how does the trade work for or against you.  Do you trade your time and energy to create good or do you squander it? It’s always a choice and either way you face the consequences and own the results.

compromise1We have to find work, a trade, business – a way to serve – to trade that service for what we want.  In college we have to narrow our field of study and pick a major.  If you decide to study basket weaving, you can’t also dedicate yourself to attaining a political science degree.  Some people are talented and organized enough to try for both, but most will lose ground one way or the other.  The concept of multi-tasking encourages a tight rope-balancing act of doing many things at once, but it’s an unrealistic endeavor.  You may be able to switch focus many times in a row, but you’re never really paying full attention to more than one task at once.  The same is true for every trade-off in life: you have to give up one thing for another in most cases.  Career versus family, risk versus safety, practicality versus fun – even health versus disease – all choices that involve compromise and won’t allow for contradiction.  Two decisions can’t exist in the same being at the same time.  Sometimes you have to trade what you want for what you actually need.

compromise2

Relationships are all about commitments and compromise.  Negotiating one person’s needs and desires with anothers is an art form, even a science, which requires a give and take to satisfy both parties.   If you have a family you know this is true.  You can’t go on a Vegas party vacation and provide consistent care and stability for those you love without some sacrifice.  If you’re developing a trusting partnership with someone, you can’t lie and cheat on them.  The contradiction creates so much internal stress that the trust you’re fighting for becomes meaningless and you wind up not being true to yourself or them.  If you want to be a team player in business, you probably shouldn’t ignore your team’s needs for your own.  Negotiating compromises in relationships is delicate because no one gets exactly what they want but they come closer to the middle where there is peace, resolution or satisfaction.  Trying to be selfless and selfish at the same time just won’t work.  Energy spent one way means it cannot be spent another.  There’s only so much of you to go around. powerfree           We all want the freedom of choice in life.  Choice denotes power and responsibility.  Too much choice can be tricky.  A need for too much freedom can become chaotic or imprison you in overwhelming liberty, lost in a sea of choices.  It can wind up becoming over-indulgence or abuse and you wind up running out of energy, getting sick, broke or worse.  Similarly, indecision, indifference, lack of discipline and abuse or over-indulgence can mean giving up your freedom, relinquishing your power to choose a different path.  We keep ourselves from being free, from following our dreams and from testing our limits to stay protected from the ramifications our bold choices can and do make.  Self-empowerment and encouragement are paths to wellness and success.  They allow you to make the big choices that shape your life and lead to your personal happiness.   The worst decision is making none.  Without willingness to compromise you can guarantee failure.  The worst failure comes from not trying.  When you try, you’ll find you have to give in at times, to get what you want out of your trial.  This is the course of learning and growth that we must all traverse.  Inaction is the compromise cowards make with themselves.  Action, effort, trial – possible failure – these are the compromises one must make to gain what is sought. 

 riskrewardNone of us need be limited by what we may have to give up.  The only limitation we impose on ourselves is what we are willing to do to get what we want.  But sometimes our emotions get in the way of our ability to compromise and choose what’s greater.  We can stay stuck in one mode of being, stubbornly clinging to what we can predict, ultimately sacrificing our freedom and success for safety.  To end the duality, hypocrisy and contradiction, we have to take the risk of re-programming what we are willing to trade for what we want.  Often it means giving up fear and anger or some vice.  Trade-offs are risks.  But how do we overcome our fears and doubts of the untried or unknown to make life better?  How do we trade those feelings, those limits, for what we really want to experience?

limits2To negotiate the freedom we desire, to keep the power and choice we want, to find fulfillment, to go beyond our negative emotions and preconceived notions, we must be willing to trade.  Below I have written a set of emotions and actions, choices and compromises, which show how to trade what you want for what you don’t.  One the left you’ll see experiences that usually won’t serve you and on the right you’ll see options for what can resolve patterns of self-sacrifice and self-undoing.  A tried and true trick for trading off negatives for positives is to focus your energy on the opposite of what you want to change. 

einstein-quotes1            There’s a metaphysical way to speed up the process of compromising one feeling experience for another that works wonders.  It’s called “finger holding.”  While you meditate on the proposed opposites, try taking ten deep breaths while holding the finger that matches the state of mind or emotions you want to change.  My experience is that this simple meditation and self-acupressure technique should be practiced as often as needed to reset and recharge your energy and redirect your decision making abilities.  I suggest starting with the right and holding the left hand’s fingers working in thumb-to-pinky order.  Then work the right hand’s fingers with your left hand. Keep light to moderate pressure on each hold and after ten breaths or about 30-45 seconds you can let go and move on to the next finger.  The process should take three to five minutes.  Think of it as a sweep, to clear the hands for giving and receiving and cover your bases for emotional self-maintenance.  Especially if it’s an emotional issue , hold the corresponding finger on your left hand with your right.  If it’s more of a mental or intellectual issue, hold your right fingers with your left hand.  Practicing this meditative technique actually changes the way your nerves fire, shifts your energy and focus and clears the way for positive compromise – the trade offs you need and want to become happy, healthy, successful, wise and well.

fingerholding1

Opposites:                                                                              Finger to hold:

Doubt/worry/shame vs. Trust/confidence/pride                         Thumb

Fear/intimidation/anxiety vs. Love/bravery/passion                  Index

Anger/frustration/guilt vs. Calm/patience/forgiveness              Middle

Grief/sadness/depression vs. Joy/happiness/pleasure               Ring

Desire/longing/lack vs. Fulfillment/peace/gratitude                  Little

earth-heart1Remember: love and approve of yourself first and you’ll never be compromised!

Be well & be inspired! ~Namaste

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Want Power Over Your Stress? Under-react!

497001603.jpeg

            Folks are leading more and more complicated lives and having to deal with more stress than ever these days.  Is it the same for you?  Have you flipped, freaked or fallen ill due to stress in the past year?  Even with more conveniences, more tools for communication and a better overall quality of life, we have more on our plates than ever.  Whether it’s work, family, finances, travel, health or any other part of life, we have lots to juggle and never enough time in any given day to keep all the balls in the air without stressing out.  Stress is the number 1 killer in the U.S. and contributes greatly to an increasing prevalence of heart disease, cancer and diabetes among our populace.  We are all becoming more prone to overreaction and anxiety than ever before, it’s literally killing us, but we can fight back.   So, how do we get off the stress conveyer belt and stay healthy without neglecting our responsibilities and aspirations?  I have practiced and instructed others to do one simple mental technique when stress becomes unmanageable: under-react.

nailbiting1earthshatter1

            It takes practice, but when you’re stressing, give yourself a mental cue to stop and take a moment for yourself to process everything that’s going on around and inside you.  Breathe and take your emotional reaction down a few notches by will.  It may seem too easy, but it really works.  Simply taking a deep breath and realizing that you are only one person, everything’s temporary and the world will keep on turning whether you stress out or not can give you enough perspective to relax.  The human condition is evolved for and demands relaxation time to deal with stress, but we often forget to give ourselves a time out.  Not resting and relaxing enough creates a pressure-cooker within the body and mind.  Eating wrong, taking stimulants and other drugs, drinking and not working out makes things even worse.  Whenever we stress out, adrenalin and cortisol surge, finger nails can get bitten, friends and family can get their heads bitten off and our bodies can get very sick.  Then we feel even worse for having our over-reactive stress response and hurting others and ourselves in the process.  It can become a vicious cycle of pain, lowered immunity, self-abuse, social rejection, anxiety and depression – but we can off the not-so-merry-go-round of stress with some simple mental redirection. 

stresscat

            Since we don’t have sabre-toothed tigers or cave bears trying to eat us every other day, we use our adrenalin to battle traffic, worry over bills and tense up when our boss micro-manages.  That automatic, defensive streak is meant to protect us and has been a benefit to our survival until the present.  But allowing that fight-or-flight energy explosion to surge only depletes us, adding to the negative feedback loop initiated by what set us off.  The best thing is to stop the melt-down before it begins.  Working out, eating right, sleeping eight hours, long walks, peaceful music and positive thinking aren’t always enough to combat stress, especially when we have no control and no power to change what effects us.  Often we have to change how we think about stress and better understand our reaction to it in order to manage and alleviate it, which we thankfully have some power over.

sabretooth1

            When something stresses you out, try under-react.  I know it sounds simple, but that’s the point.  Let me elaborate: turn down the volume in your head and dial back your emotional reaction to the most minimal response possible when you feel stress growing inside you.  If heavy traffic gives you “road rage” or having your mail delivered late makes you want to “go postal” ask yourself, why am I losing my cool?  Then give yourself a rating on a scale of 1-10 of how irate you feel.  You have to slow down and catch yourself for this to work.  Once you do, see where you fall on that scale and scale back your reaction.  If you get a 7 to 10 reading, your blood pressure has definitely spiked.  Take at least three deep breaths, exhaling completely with each.  Remember that you are only in control of you.  Regain your composure and sit down if you can.  See if you can calm yourself to a 3 or 4 rating.  Practicing this stress-relieving technique over time works wonders as you see potential “ten+” reactions shrink down to one’s and two’s.  When I encounter a lot of stress or my coaching clients bring up their stress levels, I’ll ask, will this issue matter in ten years time?  Is this a life or death issue?  If the answer is “no,” then it isn’t worth the upheaval.  If it’s a “yes,” then perhaps you ought to feel some pressure to fix what’s stressing you and start making changes in your life to mitigate stress.   

dial1

            One of my clients loves the term “un-bothered,” which I now use to describe the under-reaction technique.  She says it helps her to remember that it’s up to her whether external stressors bother her or not.  The less she is bothered by potential stress the lower degree of negative emotional response she has.  Put another way, the less reactive energy and emotional focus we give to stress the less power it has over us, the less it effects us.  Cancelling some of what might normally irk you gives you emotional power to overcome greater obstacles, too.  When you don’t know how else to dial down your angst, remember to ask yourself, is the issue at hand really such a big deal?  Did you really see the earth shatter under your feet?  Will it actually matter someday?  Try under-reacting the next time you want to freak out and see if you feel better and can handle the stress better for doing so.

relax1

“If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~Maya Angelou

Be well!  ~Namaste.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon