Thursday, December 27, 2012

" Resolution ... "

Nothing but an empty page
Breathing in an open space
Captured by your moment's grace again
There's so much I left behind
Even more that waits in time
Everything's so undefined
I'm standing on the edge of my fear
And I see it clear

Living life without a plan
Finding solace where I stand
And learning how to love again
And all I want is something real
That I can feel

Here's my resolution
I'm letting go
All I need to learn is along this road
And I just want to be the best man I can be
Breathe, it's my resolution

~ Nick Lachey ~ Resolution ~

As 2012 is coming to an end, this is usually the time most of year we reflect.  What did we resolve to do, to accomplish ... and were they met?

Resolutions ... a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit.  What sets apart a new year’s resolution from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of new beginnings.

The most popular new year’s resolutions range from drinking less alcohol and eating healthy food, to saving money, managing stress and volunteering to help others.  Sounds familiar right?  Yes, it's deja vu ... most self promises are the same as last year, and maybe even the year before.  So why do we fail?  Well one of the main reasons resolutions are so hard to change is that we come up against rock hard habits.  These patterns of behaviour have been built up over many  years.  

Yet it is natural to assume that we should consciously be able to make changes but we neglect to understand how habits work.  Habits live mainly in the unconscious mind.  These are things we do on autopilot without being consciously willed.  Good for habits that keep us safe, tough when we are trying to change bad ones.

Research has shown once we identify what trigger’s our habit, it is possible to make a change.  But one of the usual mistakes made is to suppress the habit.  This tends to backfire and unconsciously it comes back stronger.  

Instead try to replace the bad habit with a better one ...

First, start with a plan - link a specific situation with a specific action.  If you successfully repeat the new response in the same situation, your replacement habit gains strength.  One of the best ways of boosting motivation is to accentuate all the negative aspects of your old habit and all the positive aspects of your new habit.

Next, start with minor bad habits.  For big changes, think small.  Baby steps are likely to work better.  We are usually tempted to bite off more than we can chew.  Yet once we tackle the manageable, we can layer another good habit on top, and then another.

Ultimately the desire to change will motivate you to change.  If you find yourself revisiting the same resolutions perhaps they are unrealistic.  And if you aren’t motivated to make or keep them, don’t force it.  The best time to set a new goals is when you are physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally ready.  The key is to set your goals when you are ready to meet them and not someone else ...

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” 
~ George Santayana

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

" Fragile ... "

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow's rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime's argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are
How fragile we are how fragile we are

~ Sting ~ Fragile ~

The fragility of human life.  People pass away every day, but unless we personally lose someone, we may not think about it often ...

Today, I am thinking about an old friend who has lost someone special, someone she loved.  And although her and I have lost touch, she always has and always will hold a very special place in my heart.  She is in my prayers as I am sending her strength, love and light ... may her beloved rest in peace.  

Life, how fleeting it truly is.  Most of us just go through the motions ... the motions of day to day life.  I was one of those people who worked hard to achieve success, acquire wealth and try to fill the aching void in my heart.  I gave very little thought to what is beyond this life.  But that one day came when it hit me and hit me hard ... life is just so unpredictable, life is just so fragile.  Now, I am one of those people who does think about how precious life is.  I think about it daily.  After my cancer diagnosis, I am grateful for each and every day.  I know all to well that in an instant it can all be taken away.  

I know that no material possession will cheat death.  The cycle of life, just happens ... even if you are a bystander you are still in the middle of it.  And sometimes you aren’t fully awake, unable to experience the event unfolding in front of your eyes.  You think it just can’t be happening, it just can’t be real.  And then the healing process begins, you eventually ease back into the regular pattern of life.  The cycle of life.  Yet, there will always be a part of you that aches for their absence.  You never get over it, you just learn to live with it.  

I often think that if we were more expressive, we wouldn’t miss those opportunities to tell our loved ones how precious they truly are to us.  We wouldn’t feel the need to say “ I never got a chance to say goodbye or tell them I loved them”.  

Expressions of love are nothing to be fearful of, they are simply necessary ...

Whatever you need to do to show your love today, please do it.  Because the flowers, messages and tributes written would make any heart melt at a funeral, but the person who would have appreciated them most cannot read them.  Have those tributes be reinforcements of what they already knew.  So if you need to make an apology, do it before the eulogy ... time is too precious for us to take the ones we love for granted.

Monday, December 17, 2012

" The Enemy Within ... "

Things crawl in the darkness
That imagination spins
Needles at your nerve ends
Crawl like spiders on your skin

Pounding in your temples
And a surge of adrenaline
Every muscle tense to fence the enemy within

I'm not giving in to security under pressure
I'm not missing out on the promise of adventure
I'm not giving up on implausible dreams
Experience to extremes
Experience to extremes...

Suspicious looking stranger
Flashes you a dangerous grin
Shadows across your window...
Was it only trees in the wind?

~ Rush ~ The Enemy Within ~

It happened again last week ... that awful feeling when you hear there has been a “mass shooting”.  By now, most have heard about the precious children and adults killed in Newton, Connecticut.  With every angle discussed, dissected and reviewed, over and over again.  By now, most have heard about the precious children stabbed in China.

So what does this all mean?  Can we predict it?  Is it a dark part of human nature?  And how do we make sense of such senseless acts? 

Currently there is a great deal of discussion again on gun control.  But perhaps we need to look at if our pop culture glorifies violence ... we need to address issues of anger and mental illness.  And maybe instead of lack of gun control maybe lack of parental control.

There is a reason why violence seems to be escalating and our efforts to end violence isn’t working.  The root cause may be how we are raising our future generation.  With challenging times creating pain, are we providing our children what they need to cope?

Pain is triggered by challenges.  And this pain brings forth the defences people have built to hold their feelings at bay.  But just like a nations’s defenses are so often violent, so are also our individual defences.  And the greater challenges are, the longer they continue until triggered and they erupt.  

Depending on upbringing, there may be no capacity to feel feelings and know what to do with them in a healthy way.  The defense against early pain and often early powerlessness is fueled by holding, exerting, or forcing power over and against other people.  This is a form of violence.

And punishment for violence doesn’t work.  Laws outlawing violence and then punishing it don’t work ... take gun control.  Although it may prevent guns from being used for violence, will it end it?  Probably not.  People who are defending against their pain with striking out will just find another way to do it.  

So what can we do?  Well at any age we can start by discerning which feelings we simply need to feel, which feelings we need to safely explore back into our childhood for healing, and which feelings we need to allow to lead us safely into action.  And if we don’t have these capacities ... we need to seek help.  

Look within ourselves to find what defenses 
we have created to defend us against our own feelings ...

In addition to building the capacity to feel, we can honestly discover what is in the violent currents of defense within us and heal those currents themselves. 

Realizing not only do we create our own individual outer lives from our inner life, but we also co-create our outer communal life from our inner lives.  It all comes from within.  We have a choice to create something more healthy, more grounded, more real, more pure, more truth, more peaceful ... from the inside out.

We need to begin to change the fabric of our own individual lives before we can change the fabric of our culture ... 

We have to start by doing the work and not be afraid of our feelings, especially the deep and intense ones.  Most of us are afraid to look within where we have buried those violent currents and the potential to act on the.  Most of us are afraid to ask for help.  We must invest our time, energy, money, mental and emotional resources to work on our inner life if we want to see a real change in ending violence ...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

" Holiday ... "

Everybody spread the word
We're gonna have a celebration
All across the world
In every nation
It's time for the good times
Forget about the bad times, oh yeah
One day to come together
To release the pressure
We need a holiday

You can turn this world around
And bring back all of those happy days
Put your troubles down
It's time to celebrate
Let love shine
And we will find
A way to come together
And make things better
We need a holiday

Holiday Celebrate
Holiday Celebrate

~ Madonna ~ Holiday ~

Holidays ... magical traditions to be savored.  At least that is what we are force fed by mass media.  Plus thanks to this season’s high expectations, holiday stress has become an acceptable tradition too.

So what brings this on? ... Well most of us tend to over commit instead of enjoying the moment.  As well, we may overload ourselves with inherited traditions that no longer fit our lives.  Because really ... do you really have only home-made baking, can't you just start your own traditions?

The spirit of the holidays is gratitude and giving ...

Of course it is so satisfying to support those we love and do something positive for our community.  Yet the conflict arises when we continually agree to things that please everyone but ourselves ... when we commit to task for which we have no time or desire.

The secret to cutting holiday stress is just saying no ...

When we continually agree to every demand that comes our way, we lose the joy in the effort.  We lose the entire reason for doing.  But when we know our priorities, we can turn down the less important things and focus on what matters most to us.  

Some ways to reduce your holiday stress include:
  • Decide on which events you want to attend ahead of time
  • Draw names for a gift exchange or buy one gift for the household
  • Pool your money and invest in a professionally done family portrait with prints for everyone
  • Rather than gift exchange, enjoy a holiday get away with the family
  • Rather than gift exchange, donate to a charity 
  • Have a potluck Christmas dinner to lighten the cooking load

Really, the list can continue ... when you put your mind to it, you can come up with many ways to lighten the load.  And chances are your ideas will be a relief for everyone, allowing them to meet realistic expectations and turn the holidays back to Christmas from Stress-mas ... and who knows, you may start up a new tradition in the process.

Monday, December 10, 2012

" The Age Of Worry ... "

Close your eyes and clone yourself
Build your heart an army ...

Know your fight is not with them
Yours is with your time here
Dream your dreams but don't pretend
Make friends with what you are

Give your heart then change your mind
You're allowed to do it
'Cause God knows it's been done to you
And somehow you got through it

Alive in the age of worry
Rage in the age of worry
Sing out in the age of worry ...
Act your age in the age of worry
And say, "Worry, get out of here!"

~ John Mayer ~ The Age Of Worry ~

We all worry but some of us more than others ... and sometimes to the point where it becomes a problem in itself.  Spoiling your life with worry.  

So what is worrying?  Worry is spending a lot of time thinking about bad things and being preoccupied with negative possibilities.  Gloomy thoughts about what might happen in the future, about what is happening in the present, and about what is already in the past.    

Future Fears ... concerning yourself with things that may or may not happen such as accidents or illnesses or what happens next.

Present Fears ... feeling anxious about a situation you are powerless to change but also about situations you can do something about.  

Past Fears ... once it has already happened there is often nothing you can do to alter it.  Yet continuing to worry about what you could have done differently.

Our bodies chemically react to the fear 
that worrying can create ... 

Fear affects our digestive system ... worry releases adrenalin so a rush of it can cause stomach aches, head aches and make you feel ill.

Fear affects our sleep ... we usually feel worse at night.  We have no distractions, we become anxious and it is much easier for our thoughts to get out of perspective at night.  

The more you worry, 
the bigger your worries become ...

So why worry?  Well, for me, my worrying is connected to my lack of confidence.  Fear.  And that is hard for me to admit but it is easier for me to worry about something than to do something about it.  Sometimes it is easier for me to just dwell.  The more problems I think I have, the less able I feel I can cope with them.  This increases my sense of helplessness, reduces my confidence and makes me more vulnerable to my fears.  

Also I think subconsciously if I “worry enough” I can prevent bad things from happening.  But the fact is that excessive worrying taxes my mind and body into overdrive as I constantly focus on “what might happen”.

Believe that you are capable 
of taking action or handling a bad situation ...

Yes easier said than done, for me.  But I am learning. 
  • Learning to talk it over with others helps me to consider a possible course of action not formulated on my own.  
  • Learning to face whatever I know about the situation and what I can do about it. 
  • Learning to blog/write down what is troubling me 
  • Learning to consider action about a situation I feel anxious about and that is preoccupying my thoughts 
  • Learning to focus on shifting negative thoughts with positive ones by seeing worries as physical objects that can be discarded (thru meditation)
  • Learning that exercise can change the focus from my mind to my body, resulting in less tension, better moods & overall sense of well being

I have to tell myself that trying to predict your fate and future is futile so quit trying.  Life is a flux, it keeps moving and worrying is the mind’s means of pretending as if it’s in control.  I do what I can and and leave the rest to destiny.  Because when I deeply realize that life is not controllable I understand truth is to live in surrender to what is.  

Worrying is like riding a rocking horse, it doesn't get you anywhere

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"Shake ... "

... Shake it like a bowl of soup
And make your body loop de loop 
Put your hands on your hips 
And kinda let your backbone slip 
Move your body like a whip 
And just shake! 

And if you wanna really roll 
You got to do the thing with soul 
Shake the shake with all your might 
Oh, if you do it, do it right 
Just make your body loose and light 
And kinda shake ...

Shake! ...

~ Sam Cooke ~ Shake ~

You’ve probably heard someone say “just shake it off”.  I have plenty of times.  And today had an experience where I literally did.  

During a work meeting, I met an individual for the first time.  So naturally I introduced myself and immediately felt the cold vibe on the other side of the hand shake.  Nonetheless, I didn’t read into it cause it usually has nothing to do with you and everything with them.  Next came a compliment from one of my team members about my years of experience with reference to former employer.  I smiled only to hear from the newly met fellow “whatever, that means nothing to me, I am from company X, a competitor”.

Huh?  I sat there a bit dumbfounded.  Did this guy just openly “judge” me in the first 5 minutes of meeting me?  Could he be so obviously rude?  And how are we going to proceed with the meeting on that note?  Well, the meeting did continue and needless to say, his attitude got worse and worse ... he had basically antagonized the rest of the attendees.  Funny how some people can just dig themselves a hole.  Yeah sure, we’ll get right on your next request buddy, no problem!

After the dust settled, there was some discussion among the rest of us on what had transpired.  But instead of dwelling on it, I realized that this was simply projection on his part.  This was personal, for him!  Something must be pret-ty off for him to behave in this manner.  Still unacceptable but provides some insight.

Projection is a defense mechanism that involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people.  Projection works by allowing the expression of the desire or impulse, but in a way that the ego cannot recognize, therefore reducing anxiety.  Yup sure does sound like Mr. Not-So-Nice-Guy doesn’t it?

Don't dwell or linger on what went wrong ...

Regardless I made the choice to shake it off.  Sure sharing the story is one thing but using it to feed my own insecurities I choose NOT to do.  That is what I use to do.  Didn’t work then, and won’t work now.  Instead I focused on where the joy was.

No matter what happens today, 
shake it off and stay focused on where joy is found ...

And even if your day goes from bad to worse and you still can't "shake it off", remember the next best thing you can do is start over, ANYTIME.  You can reboot your day whenever you what, where ever you want because it is up to you.  Your life is what you make of it so decide to make it the best of it.

Now Shake! Shake! Shake! Shake! ...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Superstitious ... "

Very superstitious, writings on the wall, 
Very superstitious, ladders bout' to fall, 
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin' glass 
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past

When you believe in things that you don't understand, 
Then you suffer, 
Superstition ain't the way 

Very superstitious, wash your face and hands, 
Rid me of the problem, do all that you can, 
Keep me in a daydream, keep me goin' strong, 
You don't wanna save me, sad is my song 

When you believe in things that you don't understand, 
Then you suffer, Superstition ain't the way, no, no, no

~ Stevie Wonder ~ Superstitious ~

Are you superstitious?  Or do you think it is all hogwash and laugh at others that are?  Well according to the dictionary, superstition is an “irrational belief arising from ignorance or fear”.  Hmmm, doesn’t sound to healthy does it?

People may not admit it but there are superstitions in many aspects of their lives ... even without knowing their origins.  Think about it ... do you carry a lucky rabbits foot, gem or coin or knock on wood so that you don’t “jinx” the outcome of a statement?  

knock on wood: 
ancient pagans did invoke the benevolent acts of tree spirits ...

And sometimes it seems logical but most of the time it is outrageous, especially when it can control your life ... evil omens if a black cat crosses your path, opening an umbrella inside, finding four leaf closer, the number seven is lucky, the number thirteen is unlucky and deaths come in threes.

So where do all these superstitions come from?  Well anywhere really.  I have read that most are from ancient pagan religions but I can tell you that we were surrounded by superstitions growing up.  Not so much living in Canada but in India, there are many myths that rule how things may or may not work out.  And I wouldn’t say it had much to do with “religion”, rather “synchronicity”.  It was more the power in believing in “something”, supported by an ancient folklore.  

“meaningful coincidence” versus “superstitious luck”

Many superstitious practices are due to the false interpretations of natural events.  And curiosity regarding things that are hidden or are still in the future plays a considerable part.  Yet believe it or not, stress supports this practice.  When we feel very desperate to find reasons for misfortunes, it can help to hide mistakes by blaming luck and believing it can only be controlled by the Divine.  
New studies have revealed that stress makes people not only believe in rituals but also in conspiracy theories and as a result, they are more likely to “see” things that actually do not exist.  When you feel little control in your life, you may desire to impose order and structure with the use of superstition.  Worrying and ambiguity in your life feeds this behaviour.

Truly it is for you to decide if superstitious acts, rituals words and objects are for you ... how it makes you feel personally and what it does for you.  Perhaps this “magical thinking” gives you a sense of control, purpose and helps you cope ... 
... regardless I’ll cross my fingers just in case!