Posts filed under Uncategorized

Calling Europe Over the Holidays and Other Holiday Traditions

I love this time of year. I celebrate Christmas and as with any holiday we may be celebrating, there is nothing better than traditions. Here is what creates meaning for me:

1. Holiday baking party with friends. As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with part Italian heritage, I obviously love food! It is no exaggeration when I say that an entire phone conversation with my mom or my nana can be about food--how we prepared it, what ingredients we used and how much we enjoyed it. Aside from cooking I also adore baking. My version of baking that is (think healthier versions, whole food ingredients and organic ingredients). For the past five years I host a party where I get together with some baking enthusiasts and we whisk stuff, blend more stuff and lick spoons for a couple of fun-filled hours. Note: not all recipes turn out, like the time we created a glass casserole dish full of fruit soup with a soggy oatmeal bottom (our unfortunate version of berry cobbler). C'est la vie.

2. Watching the Main Four. Elf with Will Farrell. A Christmas Carol with Alistair Simms (the scary black and white version that makes me bawl every time--"Forgive me, Fran, forgive me!"). A Christmas Story (you'll shoot your eye out, kid!). It's a Wonderful Life (I've probably watched this a total of ...lets see... 100 times).

3. Talking to relatives overseas. Anyone who has called overseas on the holidays is well aware how similar it is to a Saturday Night Live skit. Scene: Italian Nana with a tiny address book falling apart at the seams rifles through the pages for forty-five minutes trying to find the five hundred digit phone number to dial. Then she argues with you for another twenty-minutes over the country code versus the area code. Once you actually dial the number, it is busy and you don't get through for another hour. Then comes the minute possibility that no one in the small Italian or Croatian town is home or they have most likely gone to bed--at 8:00pm. If we do get to speak to someone this is my dilemma: I don't speak Italian well enough to hold a conversation and my relatives in Italy and Croatia don't speak English well enough to understand me, so I basically get on the phone when it's my turn and say, "Buon Natale" "Come Stai?" "Grazie" and other words like that, hoping they are in the right order and sprinkled into the conversation at the right time. My nana used to translate for me, but she's not at the point where that will happen anymore, so I'll have to think of something else now. On the bright side, I'm Facebook friends with my Italian cousin and he can say a few English phrases, so maybe he can still pass on my holiday cheer from me to them!

4. Wishing that everyone was in one place. I am well aware that I made the decision to move across the country away from the friends I grew up with and my parents, but it still sucks when the reality of the holidays kicks in. My family is very spread out across Canada and Europe. A lot of my time over the holidays is spent on the phone. My vision is to one day hold an epic party with everyone altogether in one room. This may be an impossible fantasy but one can dream!

5. Being present to the magic of the season. I feel more joy during this time of year. It doesn't have anything to do with my circumstances; it is a feeling that takes over and moves me out of any sad, frustrating or challenging times. I've had horrible and wonderful holidays and everything in between. The one constant is the feeling of magic. Tap into that feeling and rise above your life circumstances--connect with the energy of joy. Need help with that? Sign up for my newsletter below for inspiration, encouragement and tips!

I would love to hear about your family traditions. Comment below and share your top 3 faves.
 

Posted on December 7, 2016 and filed under Uncategorized, entertainment.

People Pleaser Tips: How to Stand Up for Yourself PP Style

Are you a People Pleaser?

I sure am...er...I mean...was. At this point in my life I definitely wouldn't call myself one of the The Bold and The Beautiful, but I can hold my own in most daily interactions. Except if you put me on Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen. I'd be the first one sobbing in a post elimination interview: "Where did I go wrong?! Where?!"

Here are the ins and outs of the People Pleaser lifestyle and some pointers on how to steer yourself in the direction of your inner female warrior instead.
 

Behaviour

  • You swallow that lump in your throat called anger/annoyance/hurt because you don’t want to upset anyone by being upset.

Welcome to my teens and most of my twenties. On my deathbed I'll probably gasp out a final message: "It's rush hour. Tell them I'll hang on."
 

Scenario

  • I’m standing in a really long line-up and someone boldly steps in front of me.

People Pleaser response: Rolling of the eyes. And of course you don't let the unscrupulous person see this—that would be rude!

Non-People Pleaser response: “I was in front of you. The line is back there."
 

Scenario number two

  • A friend says they’ll call me back and then doesn’t. Then they do it again. And again. And again.

People Pleaser response: A programmed parrot: "No problem. No problem. No problem."

Non-People Pleaser response: "WTF is wrong with you?"

Non-People Pleaser response--less hostile: "Why aren't you calling me back?"
 

People Pleaser Life Consequences

What are the consequences of this type of parroting and swallowing behaviour? Inappropriate emotional outbursts.

The resentment starts a slow burn in the abdomen, like a cat growl working its way up from the low belly and climbing into the throat--but you don’t let it out. You swallow it. You continue to do this—until one day, out of the blue, you're ranting and raving to a friend like someone who stopped taking their very strong medication. You let them have it with both barrels in a voice like a frustrated Fran Drescher.

After a couple of decades I began to realize that these outbursts are not optimal for my life or my blood pressure. I set out to try and release the pressure little by little, in the moment. This is like opening the nozzle of an air mattress instead of violently stabbing it with a butcher knife.
 

People Pleaser tips

I use these strategies to stand up for myself instead of exploding like a hand grenade all over my unsuspecting friends and family. When something happens that doesn't sit right with you--stop and acknowledge the feeling. This is the do or die moment, the speak or swallow opportunity.

  1. Take a deep breath
  2. Imagine that you are the other person-would you want to know when a friend is upset about something?
  3. Use the format: I feel______ when you_________. Example: I feel frustrated when you tell me that you’re going to call and then you don’t. I wait for your call when I could be doing something else and I feel like my time is not being respected.
  4. Say nothing else—don’t start babbling nonsense like an excited baby in order to soften the blow or muffle your message. Let them speak. Give them a chance to respond.
     

Insider tip

  • They may not say: “Wow I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize I was doing that! I’ll make sure I do what I say I’m going to do from now on.” They might say: “Screw you. You always make a big deal of everything! What a drama queen.” Granted, if they say that to you I’d want to check your friend-choosing skills because that is a much bigger mess. Future blog post?

Life is not a Growing Pains episode and people don’t really sit around having heart to heart talks that resolve in twenty-two minutes. When a friend or family member responds in a hurtful or reactionary manner that is about them, not you. The best thing to do is pull back and check yourself. Don’t jump in and get defensive. This may lead to a Maury Povich episode with lots of hair pulling.

The best advice I’ve heard on how to deal with conflict or upset is to get curious. Get curious about what someone is thinking/feeling or experiencing. This takes the personal twinge out of it.
 

Another insider tip

Try saying this in response to a doozy of a statement from someone (even if it’s the most insulting thing you’ve ever heard): “Oh, interesting."

It will diffuse the situation and cause an uncomfortable silence. Stay with it. You're coming from a place of—“that’s interesting that you said that. That’s interesting that you think that. Hmm….interesting."

I find these simple strategies to be as non-threatening as possible with pleasing results—for you. So, remember to acknowledge what you're feeling and then try telling someone else about it. You may give them the courage to speak their own truth and then you’ll have the makings of an honest and mutually pleasing relationship.

Are you Heartless?

In my mid-twenties, I had a plan for everything: the five-year plan, the five-month plan and the five-day plan. I even planned what to wear the next day. Those around me were included too; my carefully crafted plans involved controlling everyone within grasping distance.

I wrote lists and maps and charts for my next goal, accomplishment or achievement. This feverish pace kept me going, going, going, so that I never, never, never stopped to feel into things. Have you ever felt into a situation? Back then I thought that was a foreign and pretty creepy practice. I would scoff “what is there to feel into about life goals and five-year plans?” It took several unpleasant life lessons to figure out that I was heartless.

The problem with acting heartless-cutting the heart out of planning-is that the heart starts to vie for your attention in very odd ways. You can write out plan after plan and logically bounce your way through life, but sooner or later the heart will stage a revolution. For example, you’re knocking off your lists like a bandit, but you start to feel angry…all the time. Or you feel sad every morning and it takes a lot of donuts and coffee to shake it off. These annoying feelings get more intense and stay for longer. Welcome to the world of the ignored heart.

The ignored heart is quite a nuisance. It will pester you to death and ruin all your well-thought out plans. Just as you’re getting a foot hold on your five-year plan, the heart will throw you off track and before you know it you’ll be in a ditch somewhere wondering what happened.

When I graduated from high school I wanted to work in the travel industry. I imagined myself jetting around the world riding camels and climbing mountains. What I didn’t understand was that in my heart of hearts I really wanted to live the travelling lifestyle not WORK so others could ride camels and climb mountains. I stubbornly continued with my heartless plans and finished the travel and airline program. Mission accomplished-hooray! Yet there I was feeling disappointed, sad and frustrated. If I’d explored what my heart was actually telling me—find a way to travel and get paid for it—my plans would’ve looked very different. Needless to say, my career in travel was short lived.

As I began to let my heart tell me things I was amazed at how intelligent it was. My heart led me back to writing. My writing led me to express myself and help others at the same time. Opportunities continue to unfold for me within this realm and I feel extremely happy. So the next time you want to lead with your head and ignore your heart remember this saying: the heart wants what the heart wants. And believe me it will stop at nothing to get it. But so what? Who really wants to be heartless anyway?

Please comment below on your experiences of living from the heart or of ignoring your heart. I would love to hear from you!

 

From my heart to yours,

Eleanor
 

A Fresh Look at Crazy

Have you ever wondered whether you were going crazy? Not just as an afterthought, but as a cold chill up your spine at 3am? I’d be willing to bet that most of us have had those nights. The reality is that some of us have had to eventually face this worry as a fact of life. Some of us have had to admit that they were, in fact, crazy. So, what does the word crazy mean to you? For me, the definition has evolved over time…The opinions expressed here are based on my nearly fifteen years’ experience as a Child and Youth Care Counselor and holistic practitioner both looking through the lens of clients I’ve had and of course, through the window of truth-the bathroom mirror.

Over the years, I’ve bonded and worked with people with schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and the gamut of personality disorders accompanied by all of the definitions and sub-definitions in the DSMV. I spent time with people with PTSD, ADHD/ADD, Attachment Disorder, Asperger’s, Conduct Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, OCD, Tourette’s and finally, Fear of Mental Illness Labeling (this is what I developed after sifting through bigger and bigger piles of my clients’ diagnoses sheets). I have the utmost respect for psychiatrists, but at times it was like solving a mathematical equation. And math makes me very nervous.

I worked with a client who couldn’t leave their house in the morning because his rituals of chanting/counting took two to three hours to reach the door of his bedroom. This person was altogether lovely and had a passion for theatre and documentaries. Another client used to stand with their nose against the mirror and carry on an intensely animated conversation lasting sometimes an hour. This person was also very polite and mild mannered; playing cards with me and calling me “miss”.

I tried my best to support, counsel and offer non-judgemental space to people who cut, burnt and starved themselves. I tried really hard to help those who wanted to kill themselves; for some this was a weekly/daily/hourly journey. Some chose to cut things short: RIP.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when, but at some point my attitude shifted from worker helping crazy person to person observing other person’s journey. Perhaps I needed a few knocks to the ground as life can administer at times. Maybe I had one too many thoughts like “why did I do that? what's wrong with me”? Maybe I needed to work with the fear of being or becoming like “them”. Whatever it was the real epiphany came when I realized I most certainly could be “them”. In fact, there was nothing stopping life from handing me that dance card with a note that says: you’re up next.

Once I came to terms with the fact that life can turn in an instant-one minute you’re having your morning coffee and the next minute you’re running through the streets in your nightie yelling: “the British are coming! The British are coming!”—I relaxed. I was able to see that I was not chasms away from that person; we actually shared the same thing-the human experience.

I’m not trying to alarm people, I simply want to say that we are not as different as we all think we are. We can all have mental breaks. We can all have periods of time where we are not quite “right in the head”. Or not. The point is that it can happen. With this wonderful piece of wisdom we can remove a lot of the judgement we may have that someone is a “weirdo” or “lunatic” or better yet, that we are somehow a “weirdo” or “lunatic”. We can look at people and ourselves with more compassion. We can give each other a break; we can give ourselves a break. We’re doing the best we can and we are dealing with the cards we were dealt.

And when the time comes for the word “crazy” to escape your lips, you might stop it in its tracks.
 

The Non-Response Response: The Future of Our Texting Selves

I sit in a café talking to a colleague. I ask: “Where should we meet tomorrow for our get-together?” Then he gets up out of his chair and walks away. I stare after him.

Not really.

I’m just trying to make a point. Our communication skills as a human modern species completely sucks. Even cats understand each other better.

Who can relate to this? You send a text message to a friend, lover, roommate, family member, colleague (I’ve recently discovered that it doesn’t matter how much DNA you share) and you’re lucky if they respond the following week. Yes, this could be my specific communication challenged family—I admit we are abhorrent—but I feel this is a more widespread issue.

I thought I’d compare some common scenarios and see how it would look in person and by text. Hold onto your hats this is about to get weird:
 

Relationships: tendency to overshare

Text: I’m heartbroken that I haven’t heard from you lately. I spent the whole day crying yesterday and you don’t even care. Response:

In-person (not making eye contact): I think we should see other people (cough cough). Response: There would need to be some kind of words here or this person needs hospitalization.
 

Work: tendency towards meanness in texts

Text: I can’t believe you forgot about our meeting. Maybe you need to start thinking about your priorities a little more. Response: Maybe you need to back off.

In-person: Hey Barb! We missed you at the meeting yesterday. Hope everything is ok (wide grin). Response: Thanks so much! Everything is fine I just had to visit my ailing relative (or insert mandatory explanation here).
 

Miscellaneous: just I don’t know what’s happening here

Text: Do you still want to meet next week? Response: Text: Hey! Just checking to see if you got my message yesterday. Wanna meet? Response: Text: I guess I can assume you don’t want to? Response:

In-person: Two people sitting across the table from each other “Do you still want to meet next week?” Person staring at you. You go away and come back. Then you say: “Hey! Just checking to see if you still want to meet later?” Person staring at the ground. You leave for lunch then wander by the person’s desk. “I guess I can assume you don’t want to?” Person staring right through you.

Or there is always the obligatory, covers all bases Lol.

Really? If we’re not careful people we’re going to start being born without a mouth and sporting thirty fingers so we can type faster. Yes, these are made-up silly scenarios, but I feel a mixture of frustration, sadness and disappointment over our deteriorating social mores.

The one good thing is that this reminds me to always be kind and respond—whether it’s Facebook, email, text or any other kind of interaction not in person. There is a human being on the other end of that piece of hardware. I make a pledge to never be that non-responsive responder. I apologize now if I ever was. I know not what I did. Now go call someone! Or better yet, show up at their door—they’ll probably appreciate it immensely. Or they’ll stare at you through the peephole.
 

How’s that Workin’ for Ya?

When I say “that” I mean my body. This winter I wasn't impressed with myself. My thought patterns over the past few months went something like this:

I didn’t dedicate my life to health and wholeness so I can read about it from my hospital bed. I picture being something more like a Jillian Michaels prototype, but I realize it doesn’t happen overnight...

Apparently, my vision for physical nirvana is not in line with so called reality. A four month string of ass-kicking flus, followed by the onset of pneumonia (I have a whole new respect for breathing now), is worrisome. What am I doing wrong?

I eat vegetables—even the weird ones. I connect with nature regularly. I smile at strangers. I take my vitamins. I eat organic. I never engage in fist fights. I meditate.

What’s the deal? Should I start donating organs?

Any time my confusion scale climbs above 10, I know what I need to do: reflect! Go deep...as deep as the fluid in my lungs.

What I discover is an unrealistic ideal that demands perfect functioning all the time. If I do this, you better perform—like the elephant balancing on the circus ball. Who says anyone has to  listen to me anyway? My body is doing what it does in the capacity that it has, under the present circumstances. In other words, what business is it of mine what my body does or doesn't do?

My job is to accept my body with compassion, openness and occasional mockery. Me and my body go way back, it can take a little friendly ribbing. In all seriousness, the key takeaways for me are (and perhaps you can relate):

  1. Sh*t happens.
    We break a bone, fall down the stairs, stub our toes, pull our back hauling groceries, give ourselves an accidental black eye walking into a doorframe (really? you should be more careful!)-the possibilities are endless. It’s nobody’s fault, you’re not being punished and you don’t have to go into a shame spiral because your body isn't working properly.
     
  2. Sh*t doesn’t happen.
    We try to run a marathon and end up walking then hitching a ride the last 15 miles, we go to the gym but never look like Jillian Michaels or we learn to ski but never get off the bunny hill. So what? Does it help to berate our body for betraying us or would it be more fun to lift a few 2 lbers in the living room and call it a day? The point is we deserve our own support and acceptance more than anyone!
     
  3. As is.
    We’re like the as is section in Ikea-all our dings, scratches, bent frames and mismatched drawers make us the beautiful beings that we are. If we can get to this point of love and acceptance, you can bet that our body will rise to the occasion. Think of a child learning to read—they’ll never become a super famous orator if you say: “Your grammar sucks! You're a train wreck!” But if you say: “I think you’re amazing. Whatever you do, I’ll love you with all my heart”. Just think what might happen then...

My health is improving and aside from the extra effort to take a deep breath, I’m ok. I told my body the other day to take it’s time with whatever it needs to do. I’ll be along for the ride and I promise no more scathing remarks, only a few brilliantly timed cheap shots to keep us on our toes. I wish you and your body a long and loving relationship!
 

Emotional Factory Settings

My life is upside down. If upside down means right side up that is.

In other words, my life is traveling speedily down a road I like to call “awesome”! Just flying down the open road with my hair blowing in the breeze…metaphorically for now, but I’m ready for actual windblown hair at any time! All is right with the world. Now let’s go back a couple of weeks.

My life was upside down. Upside down with no opposite talk, just upside down. I was not driving along the road called awesome, I was careening down the highway to hell (yes, I can hear AC/DC too).

The difference between an upside down life and an upside down life that’s really right side up is this: emotional factory settings.

These are your knee-jerk, spastic, unconscious responses to life that we’ve hopefully managed to meditate, downward dog, transmute and clear away—for the most part. Until we find ourselves under extreme pressure. The pressure could be happy experiences like moving to a seaside hut in Costa Rica with your devoted and sensitive poetry—writing warrior/lover or it could mean finding out your new boss is the person who relentlessly bullied you in high school. Pressure is pressure; both bring out our emotional factory settings.

Our body has slipped into such as state of stress that it must operate on factory settings. There is no extra energy or awareness available to act in a conscious way in every moment. You must know me well enough by now…I would never agree with that!

Of course you can turn things around! So, how do you reset back to your calm, conscious, customized Self?
 

Try these tips:

  1. Prevent emotional explosions. 
    I built up such a powder keg of nervous energy that when someone poked the bear...I was exploding all over the place. And all over the poor unsuspecting person in front of me. The key is to let out the nervous energy. If you feel tense go for a walk, go to the gym, yell into a pillow, hurl rocks into the water, run to a friend’s house or jump up and down. The real point is to release that nervous, pent up energy.
     
  2. Communicate your feelings. 
    This is a tough one for me so I’m not saying this lightly. If you feel an icky feeling in your gut—someone hurt your feelings or you felt cast aside-acknowledge those feelings. Try to name them and write them down or say it out loud. Then if you want to tell the person directly, do that. Maybe it’s just a matter of relaying the event to a friend. Remember to frame it in a way that the person you’re telling is a sounding board, not a gossiping partner. The key here is to release the emotion once it’s acknowledged.
     
  3. Relax yourself.
    Take a bath. Put lavender under your nostrils. Take rescue remedy. Go for a massage. Take a nap. Read a lighthearted book. Pet your animal. Gaze at a body of water or fire. Breathe deep cleansing breaths.
     
  4. Eat regularly. 
    Keep your energy steady in the body so that your blood sugar isn’t all over the place. Going long periods of time without eating only serves to throw your emotions, hormones and general calmness out of whack! Don’t go more than three hours without eating—even if it’s a snack. A handful of nuts, some crackers and humous or a piece of fruit with almond butter will do the trick.

Try these techniques to unplug the emotional factory settings doing you no good whatsoever, so that you can return to your evolved and customized settings—the real YOU!
 

Where’s the Fun in That?

How much fun do you have? If you said, “Eleanor, I always have fun” please empathize with me for the rest of this post. I come from a long line of ancestors with a record that skips like this: “work hard, get things done, roll up your sleeves, don’t be afraid of a little hard work, laziness is a serious offense, rest is not in our vocabulary, and what are you sitting around for don't you know there's work to be done?”
Of course, some of my family members manage to relax a little and get around the background theme song, but it’s in there like a well-worn brain pathway. Recently, I realized that i put forth a lot of energy “working” and not a lot of energy “fun-ing”.

Since, I don’t want to end up looking like an old sea captain with a leather purse for a face, I’m determined to change this! (I picture an old man in a wool sweater working his fingers to the bone every day with not a second of non-work related energy expended). If you can relate lets change that today!
 

Here we go, let the fun-ing begin: 

  1. Schedule in some fun. 
    As ridiculous as this sounds, according to an astrology reading I had, not only do I work hard, but I also approach fun with the same hard work ethic. In other words, I sit down and say—Ok, some fun needs to go on this week. How do I strategically insert the necessary amount of units? So I am gently reminding myself that I can just say—I’m taking the afternoon off to hit the streets of downtown—either walk the Lake boardwalk or go for a hike through a beautiful park or meet up with a friend for lunch. Check.
     
  2. Put a boundary around work times. 
    This is a similar thing but with more specific instructions. For example, I don’t work weekends. I only work until 6:30 pm at night as a general rule, except for evening meetings. I limit the amount of evening meetings. Being self-employed can turn into one long work day—from January to December—if you’re not careful.
     
  3. What do I love? 
    Beaches & flip flops, cooking classes, cute furry animals, the forest, documentary films, good conversation over wine & snacks. Now I have some tangible things to work with. I can take a vacation where I wear flip flops...look up the latest cooking class online...arrange a night out with friends...go to the hot docs fest! What’s on your list?
     
  4. Meditation. 
    Joy comes in all shapes and sizes. Fun can simply be the time I give myself to go within and re-calibrate my frazzled nerves. I make time for this ever day. This also opens up the ideas on how to have more fun!
     
  5. Spontaneity.
    This one is tough for me and not natural. It takes practice for me to say yes to things that pop up. I promised myself this year that I will say yes to all invitations that come across my radar. Like the Jim Carey movie! I’ll let you know how it works out.

I hope you enjoyed my list of ways to insert more fun into life. Think about how this sits with you and make your own list or use the suggestions I have here. Excuse me it’s three o-clock: fun time!
 

Inspiration Station: How to Change the World from your Own Backyard

I binge watched Orange is the New Black on Netflix and now I’m perturbed that I have to wait until who knows when for the next season; I admit it. I have unhealthy attachments to my iPhone, Facebook page and emails—full confession.

However, I’m a little bit uncomfortable about ignoring the giant catastrophe that is our planetary reality at the moment. Plastic bottles choke our oceans. Football-sized sections of Rainforest get mowed down every second. Climate change(s). At this point I’m poised for the day when I say oops where’s my electricity? Gone forever (voice in my head).

Which is why my ears perk up when I hear about people making change. I don’t mean those who sit in a boardroom and discuss policies lined up for 2099. I mean the people who take inspired and enlightened action: now.
 

Where does it start? With the Basics.

Allow me to present Back to Basics Social Developments—a not for profit organization with a focus on youth programs that benefit the whole community. In 2009 Executive Director, Andrew Miller and Director of Arts & Music, Shane Dennis manifested their collective vision for change and voila: the Unity Café in Barrie was born.

Part hip hop chic, part farmers with style, Unity boasts a recording studio, bustling café and community kitchen. This uplifting project weaves together a sustainable food and housing system (use of urban, rural and vertical farming) with educational programs on organic cooking, art, and music—all youth and activist friendly. The melding of artistic energy (Dennis) and a love of the land (Miller), seems to be the ultimate synergistic partnership.

So much so that the concept morphed into The Global Unity project; a free franchise business model that uses the principles of sustainable living and equal accessibility to resources. In 2013, The Georgina Island First Nations community developed a store and community gardens based on this model.

And that, folks, is just the tip of the melting iceberg.
 

Where does it grow from here? It’s planetary.

In true activist form, Miller doesn’t rest on his laurels; he’s taking the Unity vision up a notch as Director of New Earth Urban. This enthusiastic, self-proclaimed Executive Tree Hugger (why can’t I think of cool titles like that?) is on a mission. Please note: this is not mission impossible or “drinking the Kool-Aid” (google it).

New Earth is an international organization committed to improving the planet using an entirely new paradigm. The proven sustainable systems and models nurtured at The Global Unity project, will now translate into the New Earth projects.

Let’s face it—our current economic and environmental system is badly broken and a whole new outlook on life is needed. This is where you come in! Here’s what it means to be an activist in today’s world according to Back to Basics Social Developments:

  • Are you like Miller? “I wanted to stop doing things as [just] an individual”
  • Act local, think global; “localize principles while sharing knowledge globally”
  • Focus on sustainability in a peaceful and loving way
  • Inspire others: “Youth have found enough inspiration by this work to completely change their lives, even finding inspiration from being suicidal”, explained Miller when I asked how these projects impact those they serve

So, if this sounds like you, grab a towel and “don’t panic” (hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy reference).

Bring your skills to the virtual table; register here as a New Earth contributor or contact Andrew Miller for the Toronto, Canada area here: back2basics09@gmail.com.

Projects in the works include locations in Southern Ontario starting this summer, but the reach is global. Special thanks to Canadian Organic Grower's Toronto 2014 Conference for highlighting all the wonderful things people are doing to change the world!!

Eleanor Healy

 

Take the Fear Out of Self-Love

I’m not one to reinvent the wheel, so let us stick with the timeless February theme: LOVE. Love takes many forms, but it all stems from how you feel about yourself. Last year gave me plenty of insight into how I treated myself. Frankly, it was a shocker.

You know those strange little behaviours that form the basis of your unique personality? Well, some of them may be outright self-bullying until you take a look at them boldly. Here is an excerpt from Chapter three of my book “What Would Little Red Riding Hood Do? 7 Ways to Face Your Wolf and Live Happily Ever After” in which I explore my fear of facing myself:

“I wasn’t willing to look at myself. I wasn’t willing to look in the mirror and ask what’s wrong. Why are you feeling like this? Why do you have so much anxiety? Why is there so much pain? I didn’t want to ask any of that, so I put on my running shoes and ran.

This frantic hamster wheel motion went on for many years, taking me from one place to another with my suitcase and boxes. I was worn out, exhausted and constantly in a state of anxiety. It felt as if something was chasing me; I now know it was my awareness.

I encourage you to look at yourself in whatever form it may take (the mirror, on paper, with a trusted friend/advisor). Instead of running or jumping or diving into the sand…let’s face ourselves and you'll see that it’s not so bad. You might even like it. In fact you will love it, because deep down there is a part of you that really loves YOU for YOU!”

Here’s to looking full on at oneself in the name of self-love. Happy Valentine’s Day!
 

Take a look at some changes I made last year—you may want to try some of these:

  1. I no longer buy things that make me say: “that's good enough for now”, “not too bad” or “I’ll just ignore the fact that I don’t really like it” (don’t ask me it was just an unconscious habit); I do buy things that make me say: “fantastic”, “holy sh*t that’s awesome”, “I love this for life”. Translation: does NOT mean more expensive.
     
  2. I surround myself with pleasant and beautiful things: aka fresh flowers, new pictures on the wall, and happytastic photos of myself; I got rid of and I’m in the process of exchanging/replacing and burning all items connected to past relationships, hand me downs and anything heavily laden with emotional baggage.
     
  3. I take part in gratitude practices and focus on things/situations/people that make me feel happy (ex. 100happydays.com).
     
  4. I take time to pamper myself: I went for a full body Dead Sea scrub. That was amazing. Not to mention being introduced to disposable underwear—strange concept, but interesting.
     
  5. I find ways to purge negative emotions/feelings/vibes through yoga, walking and journaling.
     

All of the above brings me more joy, confidence, adventurous tendencies and spontaneous bursts of happiness! How will you bring more self-love into your life today?
 

How do You Create True Change? Go LUSH!

Are you eager to make some changes in your life this coming year? Maybe you want to exercise and initiate more while smoking and complaining less. Whatever the change is, there is a way to do it, but how do you ensure that you’ll make True Change?

True Change in my experience is LUSH-lasting, universal, simple and honorable. In other words, if you whip up a quick band-aid solution for your eating habits that includes a complex chart of rewards and schedules, you'll be back to your old ways faster than you can say donut. Why? Because you haven't honored yourself with a simple, loving vision taken from universal principles. You need to keep your vision for change big enough to include age old wisdom in an individually wrapped package just for you.

So, if you’re looking for ways to expand and improve your quality of life, while respecting yourself as an already wonderful being, go for True Change.
 

Here are the four pillars in more detail:

  1. Lasting.
    The changes stand the test of time, moving with ease from one year to the next and flowing from generation to generation. Your specific change starts with you, but can spill out into the community like fresh spring water, cleansing all who dip into it. An example would be the civil rights movement; the world today is building on the principles started during the sixties to include recognition for more and more ideas and groups of people. How can you create lasting change that benefits you and your community?

  2. Universal.
    The changes can be applied anywhere, anytime and to anyone. You will design the change for your own particular situation, but True Change can mold and fit any example. The key principles here include flexibility and openness. The change starts with yourself, but can also be adapted for your neighbor, best friend or relative. Everyone can benefit and no one is excluded. For example, if you change your attitude to notice more things to be grateful for, anyone can make this change and incorporate the specific items/situations/people that they are grateful for. Every one of us can make this change. This pillar also speaks to the ripple effect. As you change your attitude to be more grateful, then all those around you will benefit from your spread of love. In the end, this can spread all around the world, making it a universal change.
     
  3. Simple. 
    You don’t need charts, graphs, systems or steps. You don’t need levels, grading, signposts or assessments. All you need is willingness, intent and desire. In other words, if you have the desire to change something, then intend to change it and go along for the ride. It is no harder than that. Anyone who tells you that you have to go through a rigorous preparation or complete stages to be successful is simply missing the point. Of course, there are things you choose to do in life that have all the elements mentioned above—I’m just pointing out that they are not necessary, they are a choice. If you want True Change, you can make it as simple as smiling more every day. I can’t think of anything more profound than that.
     
  4. Honourable.
    Make sure you hold up your desired change against the background of personal integrity and honour. Is this change coming from a loving point of view or a critical point of view? Are you trying to change something that is inherently part of you? For example, do you want to change your habit of daydreaming that you’re a big Hollywood star because you feel it's foolish? There is nothing foolish about living a healthy internal world of dreaming and musing and play. Dream until you’re 95 about it! Honor your daydreams or any other habit you’d like to label as silly, impractical or a waste of time. Don’t change yourself into misery.

I hope you use these four pillars of True Change to go out there and expand, live and create a better world for you and everybody! I’d love to hear about your aspirations for True Change. Comment below!

Happy New Year—the Best is Yet to Come!
 

photo credit: Leon Civale

Posted on February 5, 2015 and filed under Uncategorized.

Groundhog Day Syndrome: Five Ways to Stop Repeating Yourself

GroundHogDay.jpg

I’d like to show you how to stop repeating the same patterns every year, so that you can create new experiences for yourself. Otherwise, you might blow your paper trumpet on December 31st, hug and kiss everyone, and then go back to all the crappy situations you promised yourself you’d get out of. Do you want to live on repeat like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day (without the touching lesson and romantic story)? I didn't think so. As a writer, I’m a big fan of writing things down. Ideas fill my notebooks, diaries and journals-as well as scrap pieces of paper and the backs of used envelopes. Even with the advent of iPhone apps I still prefer to take pen to paper. It’s more satisfying and makes things more real. This blog originally took shape in my lined paper booklet—but since you can't logistically come over and read it, I’ve transferred it here.

My favourite scribblings tend to end up in a “this is what I’ve learned” list-perfect for this time of year!
 

Here is my best prevention method for Groundhog Day syndrome:

  1. Take a blank writing canvas of any kind
    paper, computer, chalkboard, sand—whatever tickles your fancy. The sand medium helps with serious attachment issues. I’m very attached to my words, but have at it if this speaks to you.

  2. Design a heading like:
    What I learned in 2013.

  3. Write down the big situations or topics that come to mind.
    These are major themes, such as—money, relationships, work, etc. Keep these as headings on the page with a lot of space in between them.

  4. For each topic/theme ask yourself:
    In 2013 what was my experience with money (or whatever topic it is)? Did something different happen this year or is it the same experience I had in 2012? This will start to show you the sneaky repeat patterns.

  5. For each theme that has repeated for two years write underneath this topic an extra question
    Why does this situation continue to come up? Notice I did NOT say “Why does this always happen to me?” That takes you straight down the victim track where you’ll spin around in circles. You made the best choices you could. So, what is this situation teaching you? Sit with your eyes closed for two minutes and you may receive an answer or it may come to you in a few days. The point is that you’ve started the dialogue with yourSELF. You’re ahead of the game because you’re willing to listen. You’re willing to open up to your True Self guidance and Ask For Help.

This simple practice brought me out of a pattern of dysfunctional relationships, warped money behaviours and negative thinking. No small feat. So, try these steps to start fresh and have a Truly Happy New Year!
 

Posted on January 29, 2015 and filed under Uncategorized.

Stuck at the Kids Table

Do you remember sitting at a rickety fold-out table, with the other outcasts, also known as children, at holiday meal time? I’m talking about the kids table. I always felt that being forced to sit with other ostracized children was not my idea of holiday like behaviour. But who has a say when you’re eight?

Which brings me to my point: always sitting at the kids table. This is of course, a metaphorical, not literal situation and addresses my past feelings of being a child in adult form.

From the age of eighteen, I felt very uncomfortable and unprepared to live my life as an adult. I felt like a fraud. I’d somehow grown up physically, but I was completely unequipped and unprepared psychologically. Maybe you can relate…

As you know when you feel insecure inside, you somehow want to prove that you don’t. So, I set out to prove that I wasn’t a helpless little girl. My inner warrior went full tilt and I kicked things into turbo gear. Oh yeah, I’ll show you! I’m not some incapable female… I’ll just go to Africa all by myself. That did not end well by the way. It was a “learning experience” (the phrase used for complete disasters).

The first problem with rebellion is that it’s painfully unsustainable. The second problem with rebellion is that you waste a lot of time rebelling against an idea of yourself. In other words, you are trying to prove yourself, to yourself.

There I was recreating situations in which I would be taken care of, while simultaneously rebelling against being taken care of. I was gallivanting off to different corners of the earth to disprove my self-imposed identity and secretly wishing I didn’t have to. Can you see the turmoil and conflict this situation creates?
 

When your Identity Doesn’t Fit Anymore

After years of playing identity tennis, I was wrung out. From pure exhaustion I dropped my rebellious cape and began to emerge as my True Self. I started to embrace the positive side of being young at heart. I acknowledged all the good things that go along with being young minded, young spirited and young looking (I’ll milk this one until my friends and family start to get embarrassed for me). I decided that being a little girl was fun but didn’t suit me anymore in its limitations. I couldn’t expand and live my dreams while playing the little girl; I was tired of dress-up time.

The good news is that your True Self is not limited: it has many facets. We can tap into our inner child, our feminine self, our masculine self, our teacher and our parent, just to name a few. I wanted to embrace them all and give them full access to come forward.

So I experimented. I became a Reiki teacher. I got a toolbox. I bought a little black dress. I mentored youth. If I felt that creepy sensation of being a little girl in grown-up clothes, I became still and asked what my inner child was trying to tell me. Most times I was just frightened because of a new experience or I felt vulnerable. So I would nurture my inner child by colouring one of the princesses or I would put heart stickers all over my computer. Afterwards, I felt more like an adult than ever—go figure! Try these steps and exercises-they did me a world of good as a woman-child.
 

Action Steps

Acknowledge your inner child. Colour, draw, splash around in puddles, climb trees (no one has to see you!), build a fort, hang out with your kids or other people’s kids.

Acknowledge your self-sufficient side. When you accomplish something celebrate it! For instance, if you went outside your comfort zone and drove a far distance alone or if you showed up at a new club without a companion…congratulate yourself! Anytime you do something that normally feels like a bit of a challenge, acknowledge it. Each time will get easier and you’ll feel more comfortable doing it. Then you’ll have the CHOICE as to whether you accept another’s help or not.

Honour your rebellious side—let your inner warrior come out and play. Instead of traipsing off to a war torn country for some good old fashioned danger, try some smaller challenges. Join a bootcamp. Try mountain climbing. Take up karate. Do “risky” things in small doses more frequently and you won’t end up like a shaken up bottle of pop.
 

Exercise: Little Girl Persona

  1. Write down all the nicknames people have called you and pick out the most little girlish ones. Circle them.
    How did you feel when someone called you those nicknames? Did you rise to the occasion and act more like a little girl? Or did you become resentful and rebellious?

     
  2. Make up three empowered nicknames for your True Self.
    What would your true nature love to be called? Once you have your favourite one, call yourself by the nickname (in your head) at any point when you feel that a pattern has taken hold of you. Repeat it in your mind as many times as you want throughout the day—“I AM_____ (insert nickname). I allow my true self to direct my thoughts and actions.” Mine is: Truly Me (you’re welcome to use that one)!

     

Adapted from Chapter Two of my soon to be launched book:

“What Would Little Red Riding Hood Do? 7 Ways to Face Your Wolf and Live Happily Ever After”

 

Is it Always Their Fault? How to Update your Behaviour Wardrobe

When you were a kid did you think—when I grow up I’m going to whine and complain about my life and blame everyone else for my own issues? Of course not. This is something you try on, decide it fits and then you wear it. Pretty soon it’s your uniform. Eventually it becomes everything you stand for and you start to cling to it like a 40 year old man wearing his painfully tight, cracked leather high school football jacket every day. You don’t see how weird it looks, but everybody else does. In other words, we get so wrapped up in our drama and story about being hard done by, that we are deaf and blind to everything else. We miss the little whispers that try to nudge us towards the possibilities and to grab opportunities. Take a moment to ask: are you fixated on how everyone makes your life harder instead of figuring out how to make yourself happy?

What does it take to throw away that old school jacket? It takes courage. You decide that you’re going to open your eyes and ears to what you’ve been doing. This is like looking close-up at a rat in daylight—it’s ugly and frightening and it makes you want to run. If you decide not to, you can always wait for other people to step in (not recommended).

Let’s take my life for example. I was about nineteen when my friends sat me down and told me that I was acting like a real pain in the ass. Talk about a WTF moment. Apparently, I was a walking/breathing complaint dressed like negative nelly. They couldn’t take it anymore. I still remember the shock, pain and humiliation that came with this intervention. I’m not going to pretend that I took it well. I was an emotional mess, but eventually I came to terms with what was being offered to me: a chance to live a happier, more authentic life.  Are you ready to chuck that jacket?

Here are some steps you can take today to rid yourself of behaviours and patterns that stand in the way of a relationship with your True Self. To let YOU come through so that you can experience more joy and happiness:
 

This is the starting point:

  1. Make a decision that enough is enough.
    You’re ready to make some changes in your behaviour.
     
  2. Feel the feelings that will come up with this decision.
    Don’t judge them. Allow them to surface and leave your body.
     
  3. Realize that you’ve made every single choice to get you to where you are today.
    Accept this with compassion and love yourself anyway, no matter what.
     

Exercise for Victim Consciousness

Write down two situations where you feel that life was unfair to you. That somehow you ended up there through circumstances beyond your control. With each situation, imagine that you had fully intended to end up there. What would you have done to make sure that you ended up in those situations? Write out the two ways you bravely made choices in your life, whether you recognized them or not—title these your “best choices I made at the time”. Keep the exercise as a reminder of how you can make choices and to show you that you are in charge of your life. If you ever feel that life has plopped you down into the middle of a landmine, go back and re-read what you wrote.
 

Exercise for Chronic Complaining

Write out your top five complaints of all time. Are they about what other people are doing or not doing? Cross out anything that is not directly about you. What can you do today to start improving the complaints that involve only you? Write out three steps you can take to change them and start doing them!

If there are only complaints about other people and their behavior or actions, remember that we can’t change other peoples’ behavior. Re-word the complaints in a way that reflects how you feel but doesn’t blame the other person. Re-name the list of complaints to concerns. Then take your new approach to the streets! Express your concerns to whoever it is in a calm and kind manner; make sure the other party is willing to sit down and listen. For example, the complaint could be “My husband always criticizes me”. You could reword it to say, “When you tell me that I don’t listen, it hurts my feelings, because I feel that I do listen. Can you tell me more about that?” Have this conversation over a coffee in the backyard or on a walk. Material based on the soon to be released book: “What Would Little Red Riding Hood Do? 7 Ways to Face Your Wolf and Live Happily Ever After” Eleanor Healy
 

You Spin me Right Round, Baby Right Round...

Like a record baby….

Do your thoughts spin through your brain like a demented merry-go-round? If you’re anything like me this week, you’ll need a walker just to stand upright.

Examples of my thought process over the last few days:

I better get going on my presentation, it’s next week. What if I charged too much…I doubt people will come anyway…but what if they show up and I don’t have anything good to say? They won’t come back! I’ll damage my reputation. Concentrate. Stop. Find your notes and get started…I don’t even like this topic. What if some know-it-all in the audience asks me questions to put me on the spot?

“So, where’s the scientific proof of any of this? I’ve heard this is all a bunch of bs anyway. Where did you get your information?”

“Sir, I’d be happy to email you some of the references I have at home” (How’d you get such a lumpy head just bad luck being so bald isn’t it??)

At this point my mind completely takes over in various dramatic versions of being confronted and each time I swiftly make mincemeat of the guy. In public. Then I spend a few minutes thinking how cool that would be and then a few more minutes feeling bad about being so mean to someone when I should be calm and focused and zen-like at all times…because of course my life is supposed to set an example for others.

See? You spin me right round baby right round like a record baby….

Then I spent two hours pretending to be a computer technician by installing and uninstalling all kinds of random programs so that I could read my external hard drive data. It still looks like this:

*^£”}{@:@:}{}{}{

My brain at this point is pumping out hundreds of useless sentences strung together to spell out I’M GOING OUT OF MY MIND LIKE JACK NICHOLSON IN THE SHINING.

At this point, I took a few sips of coconut water, a few deep breaths and took stock of myself. Ok, you’re having one of those days. What you’re going to do is go to yoga and calm down. My mind complained that it was so darn hot in there and I said, yes, it’s hot yoga. It’s hot in there, but you’re still going.

When I finally dragged myself kicking and screaming to yoga class they told me my pass expired but if I bought a package right then and there it would be 25% percent off. Which would’ve been great if I had brought my wallet.

So I went for a walk through the park near my house for 30 minutes and tried to convince myself that the workout value was pretty comparable. Something like walking your way to becoming a triathlete.

Then I wrote this blog and I feel better! I got out my frustrations, put things into perspective, wrote silly things and reflected on some points and here I am. Feeling pretty good about myself again. Jack Nicholson thankfully left.

When the brain starts whipping you round and round that merry-go-round: grab it by the tail and wrestle it down. Sit on top of it and tell it what’s what. There are times to be firm and times to be gentle and compassionate. When you’re having a mind-trip type of day like I was, it’s time for some serious hand to hand combat.

And you could try some of these things also:
Watch some comedy
Take a bath
Pet your dog/cat
Call a friend
Look up future travel destinations/adventures you’d like to go on
And remember that we all have our days…

Five Quick Ways to Rebalance Yourself, Anytime, Anywhere

Sometimes as I go about my day, I suddenly realize, the sidewalk is lifting up to meet my face. In other words, I’m woozy, fuzzy and completely off balance. How does this happen?

A number of ways—maybe I didn’t eat enough breakfast, get enough sleep or stand in the shower long enough…those all need to be looked into. Body care comes first.

If you’re still seeing double and couldn’t care less what anyone says to you, just get me off this whirling merry-go-round, then you’re probably energetically off balance. I don’t mean dizzy. There is a difference. Feeling energetically off balance is like watching yourself in a movie—you’re removed, you’re unclear, you’re unconnected.
 

You may experience any of the following:

  • Bone-weary tired like you’d be happy to sleep for a week as a nap before you sleep for another week
  • People really irritate you
  • You feel overwhelmed with your daily tasks
  • You just want to hide under the covers—go back to number one here
  • Emotional—you want to rip your neighbours head off for waving at you or cry like a baby because someone opened the door for you (yes men go through this too!)

Being energetically off balance is nothing to be scared of—you just need some ways to right yourself-anytime, anywhere. Like straightening a picture. Obviously if you are committed to some deep healing work, you would go to a qualified practitioner to help you through the stages of healing. I’m talking about giving yourself a hand throughout the day so that you can function.

All these can be done without anyone knowing what you’re doing or why. It’s none of their business anyway. If you feel shy—that’s the great thing! All of this is completely private and internal.

  1. Breathe.
    Go into a public washroom somewhere and take 5 huge deep breaths and let them out slowly. Control the breathing-this is not Lamaz class or Rocky pre-training pump up. In slowly and controlled-out slowly and controlled. Look at yourself in the mirror and smile (you can leave that out if there is no mirror or if people are around or if you want someone to cock an eyebrow, go ahead!)
     
  2. This is great at work or in a meeting.
    Put your thumb and pinky finger together on the same hand for both hands, so they are touching. This grounds your energy quickly and brings you back to present. It’s amazingly simple!
     
  3. Drink a large glass of water.
    Energetically this is very helpful. Anytime you’re trying to replenish or clear your energy, you need water. This makes sense as the human body is made up mostly of water. You can even bless your water before you drink. The First Nations people did this all the time-ask the energy of the water to heal and balance you before you drink it. Give thanks. Again this is all internal-no one has to know. To everyone else at the office or at home, you’re standing there drinking a glass of water.
     
  4. Protect yourself energetically.
    This can be done in any denomination—this is not a religious act. If you feel comfortable using the word God or Angels or Spirit or the Universe—whatever you call it ask for protection from other people’s energy fields. There are people who even unbeknownst to them, are sucking all the energy out of you. If you feel completely tired and drained after talking to someone and they bounce away feeling great-guess what, you’ve found yourself an energy sucker. Just visualize a light around you holding you in the highest good for all those involved…you will still give positive love and energy to everyone throughout the day, but any negative energies will go elsewhere. This will keep your energy field up and you’ll feel great no matter whose around you.
     
  5. Sometimes in a tense situation, I start repeating an affirmation or positive thought in my mind over and over with amazing results.
    Either the situation resolves itself or the person walks away or something shifts the energy. Thoughts are energy so if you put a loving thought out into the world, things shift around you. Believe me you’ll be amazed!! Some of my usuals are: “All is well” or “I’m complete and whole as I was created” or “I can’t wait to see the good that comes of this”. You don’t have to feel embarrassed that they sound hokey because only you can hear them! Once they start working for you, you will only have positive feelings about them. They have to be repeated though—usually once is not enough. All the affirmations I’ve used come either from Dr Wayne Dyer or Louise L Hay.

There you have it! Easy and quick ways to privately shift the energy around you to reposition yourself standing tall and walking confidently through your day.
 

How my Cat Barney Taught Me to Meditate

At times in our life, we need to look around and see what or whom is influencing us. We may be surprised…

Recently, I realized that one of my biggest influences in my life is my cat Barney. Before you start rolling your eyes and feeling sorry for the poor girl with no life, hear me out. I’m talking about how Barney models perfect behaviour for self-care and relaxation. Not only that—he is the perfect teacher of meditation.

At the tender age of kittenhood, he was dropped off at a farm in the middle of winter, basically to fight it out in survival of the fittest mode. With great revenge to the inhumane individual who did this to him, he thrives today. So, with his relaxed attitude to life’s ups and downs, he continues to teach me—don’t sweat it lady.

For instance, each time I walk in the door, Barney is either chilling at the window, stretched full length on the couch or sitting casually by his food bowl. He doesn’t get uptight. He doesn’t get bent out of shape. He’s cool.
 

I attribute his gift for flow—living to his regular practice of meditation.

Every 2-3 days, I find Barney either on the couch or in the corner on my bedroom floor, in full meditation pose (cat style). He lays on his back with his paws curled into his chest, his head to one side and his lower body turned to the right. His eyes are partially open (this is the creepy part until I got used to it) and rolled back into his head. His mouth is open part way with his mouth in a strange trance-like grin. He does this for about 20 minutes and then rolls off his back, shakes his head, meows confusedly and walks away. Note: I know the difference between when a cat is sleeping and what Barney is doing—big difference!

So, every time I see Barney doing this, I think—meditation. I need to meditate more. Then I will sit and meditate or just close my eyes and breathe. I feel more relaxed, I feel less stressed, I feel more connected to my inner self.
He is a constant reminder to go with the flow and go within to balance, centre and refocus myself.
Thanks Barney—I’ll remember this article the next time you scratch my couch to shreds.
 

Add Yourself to the To-Do List

Do you find yourself so caught up in others or helping people that you forget to care for yourself? Do you lose sleep? Forget to eat? Skip meals and go without breaks?

I’ve talked to clients about this and it really is a common spiral that leads you into the realm of breakdown, burn out. I’ve been there. I’ve gone into the obsessive dark side of helping others so much that it was really to my own detriment. I learned this the very hard way.

So, what do you do when you focus too much on others? First, of all I’m not saying that we can’t help people and friends/families-of course being helpful and supportive is what makes the world a wonderful place. Another point—being a parent of course involves doing a lot for your children and making sacrifices. This is needed to raise healthy, happy children, but there needs to be a balance—parent time and/or relationship time. So, overall, there is a limit and we need to see the line in the sand.
 

Take this little quiz to see where you are on the scale:

  1. How many times per week do you skip lunch and/or dinner to run around for people, either at their request, or worse, of your own volition?
  2. How many times per week do you feel resentful of others for not appreciating what you do for them?
  3. How many times per week do you feel exhausted from a chaotic day filled with errands, tasks and jobs that have to do with others and are not in any way supportive of the things you like to do?
  4. How many people do you care for, not including children and spouses/partners?
  5. How often do you find yourself thinking about other people’s problems and dilemmas? Do you lose sleep over them?

If you spend 4-5 days per week on numbers 1-3, then you have definitely left yourself out of the equation.
If you answered the same to number 5 then your time is spent focusing on others to your own detriment.
Number 4 is just to give you an idea of the extent of your responsibilities…that may turn into a burden.
 

What can you do to turn things around?

Here are some things that I do to remind myself that I’m very important and special and without my health, vitality and wellness, there is nothing. I can’t do anything for others unless I have a solid foundation.

  1. Put time into your agenda
    to do some of your favourite silly things that have nothing at all to do with responsibility or obligation (Mine is either: reading an Archie comic, going for a walk in the park beside my house, listening to Hayhouse radio, baking cookies, going to bootcamp)
     
  2. Focus on pampering.
    (Mine are: bath with epsom salt or lavender essential oil, give myself a pedicure & paint my toenails)
     
  3. Take a nap.
    (I love to nap on my days off or in the evening when I get home after a long, stressful day—you can set the alarm if you’re worried about sleeping too long)
     
  4. Stop and assess how you feel.
    (Pick a time in the day-for example at 2pm in the afternoon in the middle of the work day. Go into the bathroom or somewhere private and breathe for a minute and then ask yourself silently, How do I feel? How is my day going? Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Pay attention and do what your body or emotional self is asking for. Maybe it means go outside and sit in the sun for 10 minutes or head to the cafe for a latte/tea)
     
  5. Be easy on yourself.
    (Write down at the end of the day—What did I do really well today? What am I proud of that I’ve done for myself today? Give an example of what you did to make your life easier that day…for example, Did I take the scenic route home? Did I voice my opinion in the board meeting?)
     

Try these suggestions for 2 weeks and see how you feel! Focus on the idea that without you, there is nothing. You are the centre of your own universe. You are the most important person to look after and when you do, others will benefit the most.

If this sounds simplistic, it is. Life is not meant to be a struggle. Let’s all keep this in mind as we go about our day, being helpful and supportive (as a balanced, whole person).

 

Photo credit: Brooklyn Morgan

A Walk in the Park with My Thoughts

Put up your hand if it seems like your thoughts run a 24 hour nightclub in your brain. Join the club…no pun intended. Ok, so here’s what I do: A few blocks from my apartment is a beautiful park called Cedarvale. The trails run along the bottom of a ravine lined with large and small trees alike, winding its way through shrubbery and a field of water reeds taller than the average giant. I find myself in there almost every day losing my way in the trails, buffered from the nearby congested traffic.

During my walks I like to look around and take in my surroundings, but mostly my feet pound out the rhythm of my thoughts. I allow them to play around my ankles and weave in and out of the trees. They become almost like a fluid reminder of my life patterns. Only this time they are leaving for good—I watch them go with a pang—because don’t we all love our stories? Yet, what I love even more lately is to unburden myself and leave space for new supportive thoughts and patterns.
 

What do you find yourself thinking about?

My thoughts go something like this: I need to write my article today. What should I write about? Hmmm…oh I wonder why he always walks with so many dogs? How much does he get paid for that anyway? Wow I can’t really imagine doing that…I have no luck with training dogs, they don’t listen to me…I could write about stress. Boring! Ugh Everybody writes about stress…I never have anything new to say. I don’t know why I bother writing anything anyway…no! Lots of people like my articles. Think positively. Don’t people get sore ankles jogging like that? I don’t know how she does it…I should go back to the gym. I really need to find my yoga class. When I get home I’m going to look up a yoga studio. Don’t forget!!…You get the picture. Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy…where it goes nobody knows.

The point is sometimes you need to let your thoughts wander. Pay attention but don’t judge or control them, just allow and listen with your inner ear. If you judge your thoughts, that’s just adding more thoughts and the mess looks like a pile of hopelessly entangled Christmas lights. When I’m able to calmly allow my thoughts (more and more I can say I can) I’m rewarded with a beautiful, soft gem of a thought whispering among the clamour, but bravely asserting itself. These are the inspirations, the wow-what-a-great-idea thoughts. They only come when you allow things to flow and being in nature is one of the easiest ways to open yourself up to these universal taps on the heart. And the best part is…these whispers soon become louder! The next time you go for a walk—notice your surroundings, both inner and outer. You might be surprised at what comes through. Happy walking!
 

The Love Boat

When you think of love what comes to mind? Moonlight? Sunset? Riding into it? I admit that I’m a fully recovering romantic and will never rid myself of the line from The Princess Bride—“This is true love, you think this happens every day?” I was sure for most of my teenage years that Wesley was going to clone somehow and appear on my doorstep. He must be sidetracked because he hasn’t arrived yet. Because of this obvious disappointment and assault to my idealistic sensibilities, I’ve had to grow up and bite into the sour apple of life—sometimes there are no sunset walks and sometimes there is not even a visible sunset. Those are the times when we realize that the only sun is within us and this is the whole point.

Whatever is within can shine out at all times, whether we’re dancing in the moonlight with the love of our life or not…Let’s look at it this way instead—we are lighthouses shining our light out across the ocean signalling ships that the shore is near-us. As we blink across the expanse of the water, left and right, we cast our light wider and wider until a ship comes within range. A lighthouse doesn’t get bitter and dim down its light because a ship hasn’t arrived. A lighthouse doesn’t angrily shut off its light because its tired of waiting. A lighthouse just shines. Period. Ships passing in the night will always see the lighthouse. It doesn’t have to jump into the ocean and swim frantically towards the boat—how would that help? Lighthouses don’t have to lasso the ship and pull it in—the ship may crash against the rocks. You get the picture right? So, whether you’re a fellow romantic soul or a more down to earth lover, remember that our light shines eternally bright and nothing will stop The Love Boat.