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Archive for the ‘Finding Your Center’ Category

Happiness

Happiness was the topic on a recent Dr. Oz  show.  More specifically, “The Five Signs of Happiness,” aired on March 11, 2014.   The boiled down results of a substantial poll revealed these five indicators that create unhappiness.  For each there is an action to take that can counter the negative response.

1.  Don’t compare yourself to others on social media.   I was quite surprised by this one; but surely it is relevant.  The positive action, is to refrain from social media for one day a week.  Take a day off.

2.  Don’t talk negatively about others.  Counter action:  Do or say something positive for/about another.  Find something to compliment.

3.  Give gratitude.  This simple (and free) action can cut your stress by 30%.  Action: Send yourself an email once everyday, stating something you are grateful for; create a file.  When you are down in the dumps, open the file and read your gratitudes.

4.  Learn to say “No.”  Hard to do, but so important to our health and happiness.  Action: Take time for yourself at least two times a week.

5.  Learn to say “I’m sorry.”  Don’t let bitterness take root in your psyche.  Action: Review your relationships, and, if appropriate, tell someone you are sorry.

Mark Twain said, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Happiness is an attitude, a state of mind, a choice.  Be happy!

Spring 2014

Last Saturday at midnight, time changed in an artificial, man-made way.  On  March 20, time shifts in the natural world.  Thursday is the vernal equinox, heralding the arrival of Spring.

Rebirth, rejuvenation, re-invigoration and revival; time to make way for the rising of the light.   Coming out of Winter,  Spring is the moment when we overcome great difficulties;  when we meet the challenges of renewal head on; it is  the time for birthing new life.

This Holy Season, I invite you to conceive your future, to plant for the harvest that will come in Autumn.  Tend the garden of your dreams.  Feed and nourish it with love and dedication; looking forward to reaping abundant yields at harvest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daylight

As in Daylight Saving Time.  Did you wake up this morning feeling less rested?  Perhaps a little cranky and off-center?

Saturday at midnight was the time to “spring forward,”  setting our clocks ahead one hour.  For all practical purposes, we have moved an hour of light from the beginning of the day to the end of the day.  Light is the principal time cue for regulating our circadian rhythm.  So we are effectively, out-of-sync.

How well we adjust to the effects of this time change depends on our personal health, sleep habits and lifestyle.  The good news is that there are some things we can do to help with the adjustment.

According to WebMD, get as much light exposure as possible during the day.  Use a mask and/or earplugs to help you go to sleep.  Reduce or eliminate alcohol and caffeine near bedtime.  exercise several hours before bedtime.  Relax with a hot bath.  Meditation and soft music can also be beneficial.

All things considered, your circadian rhythms should adjust within a couple of days, preparing you to enjoy the light of evening.

 

Bees

It started with the stunningly small population of Monarch butterflies returning to Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Then came more information on the massive meat recall and shut-down of Rancho Feeding Corporation in Petaluma.  Followed by a KRON4 News report on the hundreds of foods that contain azodicarbonamide or ADA, a chemical found in Yoga mats and tires. (You can check out the list at KRON4.com).

Then a guided tour through the wonders of Whole Foods (an establishment I have eschewed) and it’s gorgeous organic offerings;  coupled with my wish to replace my lawn with natural habitat, all lead me to bees and CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder.  There is real, immediate reason for concern as three of every five bites of food we eat is courtesy of these busy pollinators.

The common thread: pesticides and herbicides.  Regarding bees, scientists are looking at neonicotinoids, a relatively new class of pesticides.  According to The Huffington Post (March 2013) 40-50% of commercial US Hives have been lost due to CCD.   With the magnificent Monarchs, herbicides and habitat destruction, including the use of Roundup to eradicate milkweed which is essential to their survival, growth of GMOs and destruction of native forests in Mexico,  are all considered causal.

I will be planting milkweed in my garden along with bee and butterfly friendly flowers.  Visits to Whole Foods will become more frequent.  I will be more diligent reading labels and  avoiding refined foods, especially bread products (Oroweat and Saralee are on that list containing ADA).

Lastly, I will, to the best of my ability, patronize local organic and sustainable farms, and back legislation directed toward supporting them and protecting our food supplies.  I invite you to join me.

 

 

 

 

 

Centenarian

…a person who lives a hundred years or more.  Attending a Birthday celebration for an amazing woman who turned 100 on Saturday, got me to thinking.

Born before the commercial application of the automobile, air travel, and the refrigerator; before computers, supermarkets, shopping malls, telephones and Social Security. That, in itself, is amazing to me.  Then the moment arrives.  Stepping from the car with little help, to shouts of ‘SURPRISE’, her face lights up and she acts like she didn’t know a thing. (Commenting to her daughter a few days before, she was wondering why she hadn’t received any Birthday cards.).

No cane. no walker, no wheelchair.  Our honored Centenarian  moves slowly through the gathered celebrants, smiling, acknowledging…savoring.  Seven hours later, after stories, food, cake,  the sharing of Birthday wishes from President Obama and the First Lady,  toasts, tears, laughter and pictures galore, she is still going strong.

Aware  that I have a personal relationship with a Centenarian; I wonder how many others experience this rare gift.  The party concludes and I am invited over to play games and continue connecting, but I am too tired.

It is a gorgeous evening in Pismo Beach.  As I rest from the day’s activities, I reflect on something she said to me, ‘I’ll be around to celebrate your 100th Birthday with you’.  Can’t say I would be surprised.

Target

I didn’t shop at Target during the Holidays.  Imagine my shock when I checked my bank account Monday morning and discovered debits of $935.00 for online purchases that I did not make.

I am at the Bank when it opens.  This is a familiar procedure for me.  It is the third time in ten years that I have gone through the process of closing accounts, disabling cards and starting over.  IBM lost Health Net Data a few years ago; that was a big breach.  The trunk of my car was pried open and my purse stolen while I was hiking at a local park.  And now this.  Add a trip to Social Security to authorize a change in my Direct Deposit, put a ‘hawk alert’ on my credit file, and I spend 15 hours dealing with the mess.

I have changed many things.  I don’t take anything but my driver’s license, AAA card and a little cash with me when I go to parks.  I use my ATM only at selected businesses.  I do buy online, but again, selectively.  I made six online purchases in December using my debit card.  This  is the time period when it is believed my card information was stolen.

A few years ago, I followed excellent advice from Bank of the West.  I started monitoring my bank accounts daily.

So, more changes are in order.  I am going back to writing checks and paying cash.  I won’t use my debit card for online purchases anymore.  It is  inconvenient; but obviously,  much safer.

It is President’s Day.  If you plan on going shopping, beware.   You might consider using a credit not a debit card, or ‘just pay cash’.

Water

The deepening drought brings our relationship with water into sharp focus.  All life is dependent on water.  Like the air we breathe, it is easy to take for granted.

Water has a spiritual element, it cleanses, purifies, and washes awayHoly Waters and Sacred Waters are central to many belief systems and ritual practices.  Although objectified by modern society, water still represents emotion, feeling, spirituality, the primordial unconscious and the womb.

I invite you to bring the value of water, both  sacred and mundane, to the forefront of your conscious mind.

Contact www.scwa.ca.gov for drought updates and water-wise conservation guidelines.

Monday

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Chatterbox

Chatterbox is the name I have given to my negative inner critic.  The badgering voice does its best to disrupt my inner peace and magnify to gigantic proportions my short-comings, failures, inadequacies, fears and doubts regardless of their veracity.

Psychologists call our inner voice ‘self-talk’.  The critical inner voice is not conscience.  It is the saboteur, the negative and well-defended part of ourselves that is opposed to personal growth and healthy maturation.

Twenty-five years ago I began the work of mastering my chatterbox.  My out-of-control, running amok, negative inner voice kept me ruminating on the past and fearing the future.  No present, no peace.

I launched an inner personal campaign to change my thinking style.  ‘I can’t’,  ‘I should’, ‘I have to’, ‘I shouldn’t’ were traded for ‘I can’, ‘I choose to’, ‘I want to’.  Like boundary setting for two and three-year-old children, every time I caught my chatterbox using negative words, I changed them to positive.

I used mantras, repeated over and over to derail this powerful locomotive of negative thinking.   One of my favorites, which I still use, is “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want….”  Initially these efforts were not enough.  I got a pair of headsets, plugged them into my bedside boombox and listened to Kitaro’s “Silk Road” for weeks and weeks.

Today my inner life is changed.  Although my chatterbox is still with me and gets really turned up by any emotionally charged situation,  it is no longer dominant, no longer able to rob me of present moments.  This is really hard work, but diligent effort pays off.

I have inner peace to a degree I never imagined possible.  I can actually be still and meditate without the obnoxious intrusion of the chatterbox. 

 

 

Miserable

Until recently I had a copy of The 7  Habits of Highly Effective People.  Now sitting on my desk is The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People, an article by Cloe Madanes in Psychotherapy Networker.  I read it as satire, a well-done spoof.  But then again….

1.Be afraid, be very afraid, of economic loss.  The author points out the advantages and strategies that will contribute handsomely to your misery.

2.Practice sustained boredom.   Not as easy as it may sound.  But using the techniques outlined in this section should have very positive results.

3.Give yourself a negative identity.  Whatever negative identity you choose, play the part to its fullest.

4.Pick fights.  Be unpredictable.  Throw tantrums out of the blue.  Make mountains of mole hills and then deny your responsibility by claiming the other party is misunderstanding your intentions.  Express how hurt you are.

5.Attribute bad intentions.  Believe that no one wishes you well, that no one likes you or your opinions.  Hold grudges.

6.Whatever you do, do it only for personal gain.  Resist the temptation to help others.

7.Avoid gratitude. There is nothing in life to be thankful for.  Remind people of this constantly.

8.Always be alert and in a state of anxiety.  Nothing will ever work out for you. Cultivate pessimism.

9.Blame your parents. Your unremitting misery is someone else’s fault.

10.Don’t enjoy life’s pleasures.  Constantly remind yourself the world is a horrible place full of suffering. You don’t deserve pleasure.

11.Ruminate. Maintain a state of constant worry.  Focus on your personality defects and personal problems.  Give free reign to negative thinking and feeling.

12.Glorify or vilify the past.  If you had a wonderful moment as a child it is gone forever.  Or, your whole life has been a terrible ordeal.

13.Find a romantic partner to reform. Be selective.  Choose someone with real behavioral defects.  Perfect scenario for living as a miserable martyr.

14.Be critical.  Be critical of everything.  Get creative about what, when, where and who to criticize.  Offer these opinions to all you meet.

This article can be read in its entirety at:

http://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/magazine/currentissue/item/2324-the-14-habits-of-highly-miserable-people.

Update: Rain.  Mendocino County has officially declared a drought.  Sonoma and Marin Counties are asking for voluntary reductions in water usage.