New Understanding

It’s strange, but I am understanding new things about the world all the time. I now understand why some middle-aged women cut their hair short (or shorter) — it’s the awkwardness of grey hairs growing in. Another one: some people become alcoholics because they are punishing themselves for something, and are actually slowly committing suicide. One more: when we think of aliens, we think of “the greys,” but they aren’t necessarily real. They became well-known after the TV show “The X Files,” which is just a show, not a documentary!

Freakonomics coverI’ve been reading Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner lately. In it, they look at all kinds of trends and statistics to try and figure out why the world is the way it is. No subject is taboo, and they are careful not to confuse morality with causality; just because something ought not to happen, doesn’t mean it doesn’t. As a result, I have a much better understanding of how urban street-life and drug culture work. The authors actually got financial records from a gang in Chicago, and a sociology student hung out with the gang members and made notes on what he learned. The over-arching theme in Freakonomics is incentive — what makes people do the things they do — and it’s becoming terribly interesting to me. (With my introverted nature, I never really thought about this much before.) The incentive to be a drug dealer? To be recognized, to be popular, to get rich — very similar to an aspiring actor: to be one of the very few to make it big.

Sometimes, I get a new flash of understanding by reading/learning something, and other times it comes as a flash of insight — something more akin to intuition. I had a truly startling flash-revelation when I was in Wrigley. One morning, in that state between sleep and wakefulness, an image and a sentence came to mind: “If I get big enough, maybe they will leave me alone.” The really big girl I had met recently was obese because she was trying to keep men from bothering her. She had been abused and the thought that came through to me was crystal clear. It is sad, but I guess that is her coping strategy… I just don’t know if it’s working.

That flash of insight lead to this:

When you hate yourself, you are less healthy (which includes being overweight).

Many people would say I have it backwards: they hate themselves when they are overweight. But I believe it goes the other way. Why? Because the reverse is true:

When I like myself the most, I am naturally thin and healthy.

It is easy, and it doesn’t seem to matter much what I eat. The “work,” if you want to call it that, is in liking myself, because I’m human too, and sometimes I get into a habit of complaining about myself more than appreciating.

The thing is, you can’t fake liking yourself. Remember how Freakonomics is all about incentives? You can’t ask “what’s my incentive to like myself more? To be THIN!” That just reinforces the idea that you are not okay unless you are thin — a message that has saturated the media, although I am happy to see more normal body images popping up all the time.

But this blog post is not about being thin. It’s about understanding things, and how a new perspective changes everything. So let me summarize a few of my latest revelations:

  • When I tell myself “I don’t feel like being grumpy today. I want to be happy!” I am well on the way to being happy.
  • When I focus on what I have to work with, rather than what I am lacking, I become like MacGyver — solving problems, coming up with innovative solutions, and being a hero (at least to myself)!
  • When I am grateful for everything around me, I am overwhelmed with contentment.
  • When I am happy about who I am, health comes easily.
  • If you’re after fame and fortune, choose acting rather than dealing drugs (it’s a lot safer).
  • No matter the hair style, grey hairs happen!

less grumpy people

About Me

So I was reviewing this website, and noticed a couple of things I wanted to change. And then I came across this, my bio:

Teresa Griffith grew up on a farm in central Alberta. After graduating high school, she became a starving student at the University of Alberta, studying physics. She enjoyed it very much, although she didn’t always know it at the time. Upon finishing, she got the excellent and challenging job of Staff Scientist at Science North, an interactive science centre in Sudbury, Ontario. Seven years and one marriage later, for something completely different, she undertook the intensive training to become a Flight Service Specialist at Nav Canada. When given the opportunity to leave her job and do something she loves even more, she took it, and started her own canoe and kayak outfitting company, Flow North Paddling Company. She loves to canoe and kayak, as well as knit, paint, sing, blog, and do all kinds of outdoor activities. She has done several hours of helicopter flight training, purely for the challenge and the thrill of flying. She has recently joined the volunteer fire department in her home town.

Wow, is that me? I sound like a superwoman, but believe me, I am NOT! Although nothing in that is untrue, I don’t feel it is a very good description of me. So, let me try to write a better bio, one that tells you more about the real me.

Teresa grew up on a farm and throughout all her years, she never lost her love of the land. She grew in her abilities to do math and learn science, to write and to paddle, but she still thinks of herself as a teenager. She often doesn’t realize she’s stretching other people’s ideas of what a woman, a blonde, or a thirty-something married person should be doing. She never thought she’d be around this long, and it’s really hard for her to imagine being old.

What is the best description for the “About the Author” page? What do you really want or need to know? Perhaps I should just say

The secret of being a bore is to tell everything. – Voltaire

Like everyone, I am complex. To try and summarize who I am on paper, in a few words, is impossible. I am not my accomplishments nor defined by jobs I’ve had or hobbies I enjoy (the focus of the first bio). I am more than my beliefs and ideas (the second bio). I, like you, am an interesting tapestry of many diverse aspects woven together into a balanced, intricate human being. My thoughts change the way my cells behave. My health changes the way I think. What I eat changes how I feel. How I feel is affected by how I think, and my thought pattern relates to how I was raised. Everything comes together cooperatively to make me who I am, as it does for you.

We are incredibly beautiful, complicated, and unique! :)

me-2014-

A New Way to Use Your Imagination

When recovering from skeletons in the closet — any hurtful experience — it’s important to learn how to help yourself in a gentle, accepting way. Here’s a new way to learn to be kinder to yourself, using your imagination.

Start by getting comfortable, sitting or laying down. Make sure you are truly, perfectly settled. If you are sitting, perhaps place a pillow behind your back to maintain a lumbar curve. If you are laying down, consider putting a pillow or some blankets under your legs to help your lower back to relax. Breathe deeply several times, and imagine that there is soft, calming music playing. Think of the sort of music that massage therapists or spas use: slow, gentle, perhaps slightly rhythmic.

Sit for several breaths, slowly inhaling and exhaling and becoming aware of your body as you breathe. Continue imagining the relaxing music.

Now imagine that you are going to make your own meditation/affirmation CD. Wouldn’t you use a calm, reassuring tone? What would you say to encourage someone? You might start by speaking for the breaths — “breathe in slowly through your nose, breathe out slowly… relax your body from head to toe…”

Now where does your imagination take you? Does a calming scene come to mind? Do you feel like telling your imaginary audience about something to visualize? What would you tell someone to help them feel appreciated or important? What might you say to help them relax? Now say those things in your head, as if you were trying to make a great relaxation CD, knowing that you are actually saying them to yourself.

Talk to yourself in this manner for as long as it feels natural — don’t force it or get elaborate. It is best to let ideas simply float to mind, say them, hear them, and let them float away. You shouldn’t need to use your intellect — get out of your head. Don’t worry about remembering what you said either. Just let the ideas flow. Isn’t it interesting — by picturing making a professional meditation/relaxation product, you are actually learning how to love and accept yourself.

How does that feel? I hope it feels rejuvenating and inspiring. I hope it gives you more hope! But I know that if you’ve been in the habit of judging and not liking yourself, then it may feel very uncomfortable or strange, and as soon as it was over, you may have noticed yourself thinking some negative thoughts; you may have even talked to yourself in a harsh voice, because that is what you are used to. Don’t despair! You can gradually learn to like yourself more, to judge yourself less and to be a good friend to yourself.

Try this method two or three times a week, or even as a daily meditation, and see how your life changes when you begin to speak to yourself in a more loving voice. Using your imagination in this way is a bit like tapping into your own personal soundtrack, but in this case, you direct the music rather than simply listening. I hope you will find this meditation helpful as you learn to support and love yourself more.

~

MLogozar-coverA childhood friend of mine, Michael Logozar, is an amazing pianist, and he’s recorded three beautiful albums, all of which I find to be very lovely and relaxing. If you’d like to try them, I’m sure you’ll agree! (I’m not getting any sort of money for recommending his music — I just had to mention it!)

No New Year’s Resolution Required

Another new year is here!

In keeping with tradition, I like to take a little time to review the past year and make plans for things I’d like to do in the coming year. I do not, however, join in on a few other well-practiced traditions:
- beating myself up over things I’ve eaten over the holidays, weight I’ve gained, or any other thing I’ve done.
- making ridiculous, unrealistic New Year’s resolutions — for me, that would be to stop eating chocolate or cheezies!
- beating myself up over resolutions broken — or shall I say, blasted into smithereens, like a high-speed collision between two satellites in space.

No, I don’t beat myself up over anything. I’ve come a long way!

To beat myself up would be a savage act of violence to a survivor of violence, an act of profound disrespect for the journey I have been on. It would be like peeing on Martin Luther King’s grave or stomping on the tulips that so stalwartly push through the soil in spring.

As I said, I’ve been through a lot. When I first left home, I went through a very difficult stage, adjusting to city life and making ends meet. I went to the food bank at my church a few times. I was shy, but it was really self-discovery. I had good boyfriends and bad, and a marriage “we won’t speak of.” It was bad, but on the flip side — the recovery side — I unlocked creative potential I never knew I had. I wrote upwards of 10 songs. I was a singer in a Christian rock band for 4 years. Then I started writing; the creativity needed an outlet somewhere. I’ve written two books* so far and countless blog posts.

I’ve gone through phases where I didn’t like myself much. I’ve even had, for a short time, suicidal thoughts. I’ve had to work hard, physically and mentally, to shed all that baggage and baloney that was weighing down my spirit, festering in my mind.

Yes, I’ve come a long way. I’m so incredibly happy where I am now. The changes in me were not sudden, yet they’ve been significant. They were gradual, and inevitable. You cannot hide from the Light for long, before it finds you, warms you up, thaws your frozen heart, and lets you know you are loved.

You are loved.

You can do it.

You will make it. If I can make it, so can you.

You don’t have to change.

Change if you want to, not because you hate yourself. You know, even if you are in exactly the same place a year from now, you won’t be a failure. You are precious, and you are on the perfect journey.
Do some things differently in 2014, if you’d like, but do it because you’d like to see where it takes you. Do something new to have a new experience, but while you are learning, changing or just living, be easy on yourself. We are always changing — nothing stays the same — so why not think about what kind of person you’d like to become… what direction is your change going in? I find this more helpful than making resolutions!

New Year’s is a great time to reflect and review, but never let yourself get lost in the past. (Chapter 28 in Love Your Skeletons talks about this more.)

Let 2014 be the year you appreciate yourself more, forgive yourself more, and love yourself more.

You are only limited by

Related posts:
Starting Over…
Lifelong Growth
What Does the Future Hold?

*My first book is the one associated with this blog, Love Your Skeletons and my second book is York Boat Captain: 18 Life-Changing Days on the Peace River.

Lifelong Growth

If people knew how hard I had to work to achieve my mastery, they would not think it so wonderful.” – Michealangelo

Are you surprised to see that the famous artist, Michealangelo, had to work hard? We tend to think of him as a genius, prodigy or virtuoso — child wonder — whose talent is miraculous and utterly natural. While he may have had talent, clearly this didn’t mean everything came easily to him.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour principle. He says, and I agree, that it takes about 10,000 hours of doing something to become a master at it. Whether it is golf, writing, art or music, whatever it is — it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become truly accomplished at it.

And yet, many of us have fallen into the trap of wanting things fast, and if we aren’t careful, this attitude can lead to frustration. When we forget that growth and mastery take time, we may feel that we aren’t accomplishing what we want, or we may become blind to the progress we’ve already made. Whether we want to learn something, grow or overcome something from our past, it going to take practice and time.

Don’t be discouraged! 10,000 hours is a lot of time! If you “work on” your issue — read a book, do some journaling, whatever — for one hour a day, you’ll reach 10,000 hours in about 27 and a half years. So, now you can see why I gave this post the title “lifelong growth!” When you are feeling frustrated with yourself, remember that things take time. Have you been at it 27 years? No? Then be easy on yourself! Of course, you can spend more than one hour a day — ballet dancers practice for many hours a day for many years to become masters at their craft — but beware tackling your problems (especially overcoming painful events of the past) with too much gusto. The 10,000 hour rule applies to practice, and personal growth takes straight-up time as well. So please, in whatever you are working on, be patient with yourself and think of personal growth as a lifelong adventure rather than an accomplishment.

Evil is Not Always Evil

Good and evil — it seems, universally, that there is an unending struggle between the two. At times, good seems to win, and at other times, evil appears to have the upper hand.

Some say evil began with Adam and Eve, when they ate of the wrong tree back in the garden. Some say it really came to a head with Hitler and the Nazis. And some have much more radical ideas.

Ernest Holmes, philosopher and teacher, enlightened man and author of the religion-transcendent book The Science of Mind, said that evil is not a thing unto itself; it is a misuse of that which is good. God is good, and God is in everything, yet sometimes in our ignorance, we misuse the good within us, and this appears as evil (or any sort of non-good).

So it would seem that evil is not always evil.

Another way to think of it is this — energy can be changed, transformed, but never destroyed. Likewise, we do not have the power to truly destroy. What we burn, might also be seen as sweet incense. What we kill, returns to Source. What we injure, often comes back stronger.

Have you seen the video on the internet of the young woman who spoke to the UN Council about the importance of education for children? Her name is Malala Yousafzai and she isn’t your average leader. She was shot in the head by a Taliban man while demonstrating the need for better education for children, and in particular, for girls. Now look at the incredible impact she is having on the world! Although there may appear to be great “evil” in the Taliban, their power really is limited. Out of an act that was a gargantuan misuse of good comes a landslide of goodness!

So again, evil is not always evil. Sometimes, evil brings out good.

May I share with you another way I know this? My ex-husband was a pretty unpleasant guy — some might say there was evil in him. He was abusive, controlling, belittling, and had violent mood swings. We were together for over two years before I was able to leave him. It was an incredibly difficult time for me.

But if you only knew the good that came out of that “evil” — I have been so blessed since I left him! I am now an unstoppable optimist. I am grateful every day for my peaceful surroundings. I have the most amazing friends and support system, including an amazing, loving husband. I love and connect with animals in a special way. I have found incredible peace and even enlightenment, and it’s very unlikely I would have ever risen above if it weren’t for the “evil” I lived with day-to-day. I am living in the amazing rebound effect of good-for-evil.

Knowing that good can come from evil can help you forgive yourself for any “evil” you may have done. We have all done things that were unkind or hurtful. We have all made mistakes. But that does not make us evil — it simply means we were misusing the potential for good.

We, in our misuse of good, put a heavy, dark filter over the light that is within, that is everywhere… so it seems dark, it seems evil, but the light is still there. Some people are so used to living in the dark, the light seems foreign, unbearable. But the light is always there! Goodness can and does come from bad things that happen, and, like you, many victims of violence become powerful advocates and lightworkers.

Life is worth living. Life is full of good. Life loves you, just so you can love life.

Can you see good that has come out of your difficult times, where “evil” seemed to surround you? If not yet, then it’s coming! Sometimes, a large lump of good comes from an ongoing “evil” — remember Malala? And we don’t even know the other small bits of good that are emerging, all over the world, in areas where evil wants or seems to reign. Have faith that the Universe is good — that perspective will get you through anything, and will bring you amazing resiliency, deep and joyous blessings and unbounded support.

The Legacy of Children

Can I take some time to share something that’s on my mind? I don’t usually share such deeply personal things, but today, my thoughts have crystallized in a new way, so I would like to try to express them.

I am 39 and have no children. I don’t think about having children much, but sometimes I wonder if those around me, like my sister with two kids, think I have a golden life. I don’t have to plan my schedule around nap times, or run my life by the extracurricular activities of my pre-teens. I have an incredible husband and the loveliest cat, and they put few demands on me and my time. I am insulated from the craziness of today’s world, in many ways, because of where I live and because I have no kids. I am happily child-free, but it isn’t quite as simple as that (it never is).

Sometimes I think about what my legacy will be. What will I leave behind when I am gone? A mortgage only partially paid off. An old car which I love but has little value beyond its value to me. A grieving husband, if he doesn’t go first. Boxes of momentos.

It is thoughts like these that drive me to write. I have finished two books*, and they, in large part, are my legacy. Writing and publishing books may not compare with the hard work of childrearing, but it’s my work (and my joy) to do it. If you have children, your legacy is obvious.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Raising children today looks like a huge challenge; that’s why I hesitated to do it earlier. That, and the timing of events in my life just hasn’t been conducive to conception. I would have liked, perhaps, to have had a little one or two in my late twenties or early thirties, but those were crazy times. I had just left my abusive husband. I was a wreck for a while, and after that, I simply needed to be alone. I healed from the experience, but since I was wasn’t in a long-term relationship in those prime kid-having years, I feel it wasn’t meant to be. Make no mistake — I am completely at peace with my childlessness.

I write this to share my perspective. While my life is simpler, I sometimes feel like I carry the burden of being a producer — I must make a difference in the world in a way other than bringing a new life into it. I must leave the world a better place — cleaner, sustainable, more beautiful and more kind — for everyone, not just for my children and their children. My perspective is wider, because it can be; a mom with one in diapers is focused on different things than I. I think about the essence of the planet… the spirit of a river…

Me and JSometimes I feel like I can’t relate to my friends with small children, and I think that they don’t relate to me. I can feel some people wondering if I have tried to have kids and can’t. It makes them feel awkward around me — some of them feel sorry for me. Please, don’t. There is nothing to feel sorry for, or about! I made the wise decision not to bring little people into an abusive family situation (my first marriage), and it was absolutely one of the best decisions I have ever made. Now that I feel vaguely ready to have kids, I’m a touch too old, but that is certainly nothing to feel sorry about. Please direct your sympathy elsewhere — there are a thousand better uses for it, including towards your own children! They are your legacy, and they need your unconditional love and acceptance, 24/7.

I am blessed to have little people in my life — in friends and family, and friends that are like family — and I am supremely blessed to have found a husband who is loving, accepting, and appreciative of me. What more could I ask for? Nothing. Nothing at all. :)

*For those who don’t know: My first book is the one associated with this blog, Love Your Skeletons and my second book, just released, is York Boat Captain: 18 Life-Changing Days on the Peace River.

All Headed in the Same Direction

Do you ever see the same person over and over again as you go about your life? It’s strange, isn’t it? Do you ever wonder why you keep bumping into the same person? Or, do you ever go through periods of time where you don’t see anyone around at all?

I often spend time alone — as an introvert, I don’t mind it at all, and I often get my best ideas as a writer when I’m alone. I live in the Northwest Territories, one of Canada’s northernmost regions. The NWT is a big, barely-populated area. To give you an idea of how thin the population density is, consider this:

  • The population of the whole territory is about 41,500 people.
  • Everyone is spread over an area 1.34 million square km (~457,000 sq mi).
  • That’s a little bigger than Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas combined, or in Europe, it would be France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands all together.
  • According to Wikipedia, the population density of the NWT is 0.04 people/square km, which really means there are 25 square km for each person (9.6 sq mi).
  • In most places, the population density is expressed as people per square kilometre, such as
    - Washington state at 40 people/km2
    - Illinois at 90 people/km2
    - Italy at 198 people/km2.

So, hopefully you can understand how, as I drove 470 km (~290 miles) across the NWT yesterday, I hardly saw any vehicles. I met some oncoming trucks, but only saw one vehicle going the same way as me. After driving that way for several hours, I arrived at the Liard River ferry crossing. (Since it is so expensive to build bridges in most places — the Deh Cho Bridge is a recent exception — the government operates ferries to take vehicles of all shapes and sizes across.) As I approached, I was surprised to see a line up of six pick-up trucks in front of me. Where did they come from?

Well, it seems all that time I was driving, the highway wasn’t abandoned. There were people in front of me, just around the corner beyond my view the whole time. I thought I was alone on the road, but it turns out we were all headed in the same direction, spread out a little so we couldn’t see each other.

The same is true in life. Sometimes, when we’re going through a tough time, we feel alone, but we aren’t — we’re just all going in the same direction, spread out along the way. We all go through similar challenges and stages in life, but we just don’t do it at the same time. There are people with us on the journey, but we don’t always see them. There are people thinking of us and wishing us well, they just don’t come along for every step. Rest assured there are people with you on your journey — you are not alone!

During those times that we feel alone, we get to know ourselves better, and we grow stronger individually. We also learn to believe in ourselves and trust that everything will work out for the best. We learn faith — literally, believing in something we can’t see — when we realize we aren’t alone even though it seems that way.

And if you keep seeing the same person over and over again on the subway, maybe he/she is on the same journey as you — not just on the same subway! Why not smile and say hi?

Johnny Berens Ferry
One of the ferries in the NWT — the Johnny Berens Ferry. This a small one — see how the truck takes up most of it? :)

The Power of Food

I was mildly depressed for a while this morning. This isn’t like me; I am usually pretty happy, so I was a bit confused about why I was in such a low mood. Here are some things I was thinking/feeling:

  • I wanted to have coffee. I have been “off coffee” for quite a while, because I don’t like how jittery it makes me feel. Now, of all mornings, I was wanting some…
  • I wanted to watch a “comfort show” on TV. I have a show — okay, I’ll admit, it’s Star Trek: The Next Generation — that I like to watch, just to kill time and “to keep me company.” What was odd today is that I never want to watch anything so early in the day. Usually, the Star Trek bug hits in mid-afternoon.
  • I kept thinking about events of yesterday. Yesterday was a good day overall, but there were a few things that I would have liked to go differently. I was rehashing those things and starting to feel really cruddy.
  • In general, I was dissatisfied and discontent. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t feel like knitting or reading anything, which are often things I do in the morning when I’m not too busy. On the whole, I felt like “self-medicating” in some way — I wanted to distract myself with TV, get zipped up with coffee and forget yesterday. I might have even been tempted by booze if there was some around!

Suddenly, I realized what was going on: I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten much for breakfast (unusual for me) and my blood sugar was low. All I’d had was a half a grapefruit and a cup of green tea, which is an okay start to breakfast, but not breakfast, at least not for me. That’s all it was — I wasn’t suffering from depression, there wasn’t anything “wrong with my life,” and I didn’t need anything to “cope.” All I needed was some healthy food and my mood improved greatly.

I share this story in case you ever feel the same! Please, take care of yourself and eat good, healthy food — whatever that means for you, I’m not going to give specifics and say you should never eat this and always eat that. I find I feel the best when I stick to less-processed food, but you eat whatever makes you feel good.

Why Food is so Important

Why does food make such a big difference in our moods? It’s because of how our bodies work. We need energy, in the form of sugar, to think and for our muscles to work. When we don’t have enough sugar in our blood stream, our body releases chemicals, such as the hormone adrenaline, that help to free up stored sugar, but those chemicals don’t make us feel very good. In a way, they are a warning sign for us to go and eat. Adrenaline is meant to give us a boost of superhuman strength for stressful situations, and when we aren’t active, such as when we’re just sitting at a desk, all that energy doesn’t have an outlet. Being active by getting more exercise or playing sports helps (in so many ways), but the root cause is what we are feeding our bodies.

I have a naturopath friend who uses the 100-year rule. She simply asks herself “did they eat this 100 years ago?” If not, then she doesn’t eat it. Fruit roll-ups? Nope. Granola bars? Nope. Oatmeal? Yes. Eggs? Yes. This helps her eliminate a lot of processed foods (granola bars are some of the worst). Another tip is to glance at the ingredients. If most of them are chemicals too long to pronounce, don’t buy it — if you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it!

Our bodies are incredible — we can eat almost nothing and go all day. In an emergency, we can survive for days on just water. Be kind to yourself and eat healthy foods, starting with a good breakfast — and as your day unfolds, don’t let yourself to get too hungry/grumpy. If you don’t feel like being kind to yourself, then take a little time to look inside yourself and see if you know why. Are you punishing yourself for something you did? Are you judging yourself harshly? Are you mad about something? Harboring unforgiveness? You may want to re-read chapters 13 – 20 (in Love Your Skeletons) and refocus on gratitude, self-acceptance, and positive things.

The Best Things About Going for a Walk

I love to go for walks. It feels good to get my body moving — legs and arms swinging — and I like the sun on my face and the breeze in my hair. I wanted to share a few tips to get the most out of a walk!

summer sky mackenzie riverStart with gratitude. Look up at the sky. Appreciate the fresh air, sunshine, noisy neighbourhood dogs, whatever!

Go at any time of day. Some people swear by the early-morning walks, but I say go for a walk whenever you have time. Sometimes, a walk after supper is perfect. Maybe a walk at lunch from your workplace is the way to go.

Keep it short. We’re all busy people! You can get a huge benefit from even a short walk, and if your walk makes you late for other things, that only adds to your stress.

Don’t push yourself. Sometimes, you will feel like taking on the world, walking fast and energetically. Other days, you might feel more like sauntering along. Whichever way it is, go with it.

Don’t let the weather stop you. Sometimes, it’s fun braving the cold or rain to see what you’re really made of! If it’s cruddy, you can always cut your walk short, but I often find I enjoy my walks in mediocre weather just as much as the fair-weather ones! You’ll notice different things and see the world around you with new eyes.

Like aps? There are lots of free aps for tracking your walks, to see how far you went or what route you took. Just don’t be glued to your phone — put it in your pocket and forget about it. Simply search “walking” and see what you can find.

Be safe. Depending on where you are walking, you might need to take some measures to be safe. For some, it might mean taking a friend with you. For me, sometimes it means taking a can of bear spray and knowing what to do if I encounter a bear when I go walking on a forest trail!

Go often. Don’t save going for a walk for a special occasion. Go as often as you can! Take your kids or dog, if you have them — they will benefit from the fresh air, too.

Acknowledge the people you meet. Be prepared to smile and nod, or say hello, to the people you make eye contact with along the way. Even in big cities, there are micro-communities of walkers and if you start doing it regularly, you will start recognizing people and your world will become a friendlier place.

Stay in the moment. As you walk, try not to let your mind wander away from where you are right now. It’s easy to start thinking about things you need to do, or phone calls you need to make, but you will get the most out of your walk if you can stay in the present moment as much as possible. As you practice, you will find yourself doing it more and more, so keep at it!

Vibration and Resonance

I know sometimes I talk about vibration on this blog, and since it is a foreign concept to some of you, I enjoy finding new ways to explain what I mean. Here is one that relates to sound waves.

Have you ever seen a tuning fork? It is a piece of metal of a particular size, so that when it is made to vibrate (usually by whacking it on a table or with something hard), it makes a particular note. They are used to tune instruments — once the sound is produced, the instrument can be tuned to it — or to find the right note to start a song (for groups singing acapella).

Now, there is a principle in physics called resonance. Resonance happens when there are several tuning forks, all the same, and just one is struck. This causes the others to start vibrating at the same frequency, just because they are nearby and they are tuned the same. A tuning fork that is tuned for a different note will not start vibrating.

Check out this cute video by a high school student. :)

The same thing happens all the time in our lives. For example, when I think thoughts and put out intentions for how my life will be (whether conscious or unconscious), I am vibrating, sort of like the first tuning fork. As I go about my life, I encounter people of all different notes. When I come across some that are tuned the same as me, we have interesting, valuable, intense interactions — we resonate. The type of interaction depends on what note we are all vibrating in resonance to — if it is one of happiness, then we will have fantastic, happy times to together. If it is one of anger, we will probably get into a fight. If it is one of depression, we will act out that play together.

If I encounter people vibrating at a different frequency, we won’t interact much. If our frequencies are very far apart, we won’t even meet. That is how the Law of Attraction works, too — when the vibe is too far apart, the two things can’t be attracted to each other. For example, if you want to meet a “good man,” but you keep thinking about how your slimeball ex-boyfriends treated you, you won’t attract a man to treat you good — you’ll keep attracting slime balls (although they may be wearing better clothes)!

So I hope that analogy helps you think about what vibe you are putting out and what kind of resonance you will see in your life.

The Lord’s Prayer, Unscrambled

I recently listened to a podcast where the speaker, Patrick Cameron, read aloud a different version of The Lord’s Prayer. Pretty much everyone knows it like this:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
Forever and ever,
Amen.

Patrick read a more direct translation, from Aramaic to English, instead of Aramaic to Greek to Latin to Old English to modern English.

O Cosmic Birther of all radiance and vibration,
Soften the ground of our being and carve out a space within us
where your presence can abide.
Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of your mission.
Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desires.
Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and to flourish.
Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes.
Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose,
But illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.
For you are the ground and the fruitful vision,
The birther, power and fulfillment,
As all is gathered and is made whole once again.

Phenomenal. I love it! It is amazing to read and re-read, pausing and absorbing all the nuances.

It’s surprising to me that there seem to be quite a few lines that don’t directly translate across. If you’re like me and want to see them compared, let’s have a look. I will try to group them, but it isn’t easy, because they are so different.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
O Cosmic Birther of all radiance and vibration,
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Soften the ground of our being and carve out a space within us where your presence can abide.
Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of your mission.
Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desires.
Give us this day our daily bread, Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and to flourish.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes.
Lead us not into temptation, Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose,
But deliver us from evil. But illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power and the glory,
Forever and ever, Amen.
For you are the ground and the fruitful vision,
the birther, power and fulfillment,
as all is gathered and is made whole once again.

I find on the whole, the version on the left is more passive-sounding. Thy will be done… Give us… Lead us… The version on the right is more active-sounding. …so that we may be empowered… Let each of our actions bear fruit… Endow us… And I wonder how “illuminate the opportunities of the present moment” became “deliver us from evil.” There doesn’t seem to be any correlation there at all! It almost seems like as the prayer was translated, somewhere along the way, someone decided to remind everyone of evil and distract them from the beauty of the present moment.

I love the last line: As all is gathered and is made whole once again. Isn’t that wonderful to think about. All is gathered up — all your frazzled ends, all the ties flapping in the wind, all the frayed edges… everything scooped up in a gigantic, cosmic embrace — and is made whole again — at peace, at one, healed… whole.

~

I can see that memorizing the unscrambled, less-translated version would be harder, but then again, memorizing something can make us recite it so automatically, it is completely without thought. Our lips move while we think about something altogether different. I wonder how our lives might change if we read and thought about the unscrambled version every day? I think I might give it a try… I’ll let you know how the experiment turns out. :)

Two Ways to Embrace Life

In Love Your Skeletons, I talk about how we are made up of body, mind and spirit, and in this post, I talk about how we often feel like we have a dual nature — sort of bipolar — between physical and spiritual. Let’s look at the body and spirit aspects of ourselves — we “do the looking” with our mind — to see how we can live a happier, more unified life.

I think sometimes people think that in order to be truly enlightened, one needs to deny the body and become some sort of extreme yogi, nun or guru. Well, I have a different idea.

If you have the courage, passion, and make the conscious decision to live fully in the physical world

soaking in every moment, thrilled in every pleasure, basking in every joy, feeling every pain fully, not withdrawing from uncomfortable things, breathing deeply, seeing deeply, hearing deeply

then without really trying, the spiritual world is opened to you as well. You will see the miraculous every day, connect to your higher self, touch a deeper wisdom, hear and talk to angels… feel the presence of God.

On the other hand, if you have the courage, patience and make the conscious decision to live more closely to the spiritual world

look for angels and faeries, pray without ceasing, use mantras, deny the physical desires and seek the spiritual enlightenment instead, and listen constantly for the still, small voice within

then without really trying, the physical world is opened to you as well. Things go smoothly. You will not be concerned with how your needs are met. What you want or need will simply show up with perfect timing. You will experience all of life’s sweetest joys and lovely pleasures. Your senses will be highly tuned and your physical world will be sweet.

If, however, you neither embrace the physical aspects fully — you numb yourself with mood-altering substances like drugs, alcohol or food, or distract yourself constantly with TV, movies or games — nor commune with the spiritual — you believe in science so fully, you refuse to acknowledge there is more to life, or you allow your ego to run your life — you will live in a shadowy netherworld of the mind, not living fully, not experiencing all that life has to offer. You will embody mediocrity. Your life will be painted in shades of grey, or beige, or taupe.

Yet we are all living in the shades of grey! None of us has it all figured out, doing everything we mean to do perfectly and consistently. But being aware of where you are, why you are doing what you are doing, and how your thoughts are affecting your life is amazing, so go ahead and celebrate the beiges, greys and taupes!

You don’t have be a spiritual guru. You don’t have to give up all life’s pleasures. You can choose instead to embrace, rather than fight, your physical nature. You will naturally remember your spiritual side.

Or perhaps the idea of being a guru — a highly tuned spiritual being — excites you! Then do that, and do it fully! Before too long, you will also be at peace with your physicality as well.

So, let this be a gentle shake, a friendly nudge, to get out of mediocrity and the world inside your head and live your life!

Now is the time and we are the ones. - Ernest Holmes

Controversial Love Drugs

Many love songs croon “I can’t live without you” and “you’re everything to me.” Love can sure be overwhelming! When we are newly in love, we think about our sweetheart all the time, imagining the next time we will be with them and reliving the best moments. We can get kind of obsessive, and as long as we aren’t stalking someone who doesn’t like us back, it’s all good. That obsessiveness normally fades over time and we develop a nice, balanced relationship. When we spend a lot of time with someone, we get used to having them around, but lately I’ve noticed it is more than that.

I’ve been learning a lot about the human energy field; we each emit an energy field that extends out a little ways from our bodies. When we are close to someone — physically and/or emotionally — our energy fields overlap and interact. When you spend a lot of time around someone, your body literally becomes accustomed to that other person’s energy field, and when you are then apart, you can feel their absence.

I know, a large part of “missing someone” is psychological. We want to see their smile, feel supported by them or be an encourager to them. There is, however, evidence that there is an energetic reason for “missing someone” and I have experienced this phenomena myself. It is very noticeable for me when I spend a lot of time with one person, visiting them, and then go back home again. My energy field feels different because it hasn’t touched that person’s in a while. The effect seems to wear off in a week or so, and my energy adapts to my new location and the people around me there. I don’t think it really matters what emotions I have for the people involved — love, admiration or just toleration — the energy fields will interact no matter what.

I say all this in order to discuss the new “love drugs” that are being studied. There are two in question: one is intended to boost the feelings of being in love for couples who have lost the spark, and one is to help people stop feeling in love. The love-booster does not seem overly strange to me. I can see why someone might manufacture the chemicals that make one feel in love — it is such a high! I can see why couples that logically want to stay together would want to renew their amorous feelings. The drug that is designed to kill feelings of love did surprise me a bit.

I listened to an interview on CBC Radio (the Q show) where the host, Jian Ghomeshi interviewed an ethicist, Brian Earp, about the use of love- and anti-love drugs. The doctor advocated the anti-love drug in particular for people who are trying to leave an abusive relationship and they are “addicted to the other person” and keep going back to the abuser, even though they know how unhealthy the relationship is. If they took the anti-love drug, it would stop their feelings of love (or addiction) for that person and make it easier to end the relationship and start a new life.

In my role as a Victim Support Unit volunteer, I counselled several women who were leaving abusive men, and I’m not sure how much a love-killer drug would help. Overcoming abuse takes time, work, and a support network to help the abused woman grow her self-esteem. The love-drug is such an artificial solution to this problem, and I can easily see the drug being misused in many other situations. The radio host, Jian talked about just taking it to get over a bad break-up, which isn’t so horrible, I suppose, but imagine someone slipping this drug into another’s food in order to manipulate them into a divorce, or the drug being added to an antidepressant to help people be even more “numb” to the world. If I took a little of this drug, would I still love cheezies, sunsets, starry nights, or hiking in the woods? Would I be able to enjoy a nice meal or a good movie with a friend?

I don’t think the love-booster drug is any better. Do we really need to chemically induce every feeling to feel? I think there are some science fiction novels about societies doing that, and it never ends well! Have we become so removed from simple pleasures that we can’t just feel good when we do something we enjoy? Whenever I spend more time being aware of what is going on — what my body is doing, breathing, coming back to the present moment — I am so much more responsive and I am never far away from feeling good. Maybe not ecstatic or elated, but good. Content. Happy.

avocadoOn the other hand, one could argue that food itself is a drug. Have a hot chocolate or mocha and feel the boost it gives you! Enjoy a perfectly-ripe avocado and notice how clear your mind feels afterwards. Eat a big meal of turkey and stuffing and feel the sedative effects. How do donuts make you feel? What about a nice, fresh salad? Steak? Notice any change in the biological feelings in your gut? Besides the obvious fact that food is fuel for your body, every thing you eat is fuel for your mind as well. You can choose to alter your feelings by what you eat. You can alter your feelings by what you think. It all starts with taking ownership of how you feel, and not blaming anyone or anything else. And isn’t it interesting how it can also be explained by energy?!

What do you think of the love-drugs? Would you want to take them to help you through a situation? Do you think there’s a place for them or do you think they should never be approved? I know this is a big topic, so forgive me if I summarized a lot!

One last thing: if you are missing someone, or trying to get over someone, give it time. Try to get yourself in a new environment, with some new friends, and see if you can get your energy field sorted out.

Lighten Up — A Visualization to Reduce Tension

I often like to think about why I feel the way I do. When I start the day in a blah mood, how can I improve it? When I feel tired, what can I do to feel better, and have more energy? Many times, I need to change what I am thinking, but sometimes, just getting a change of scenery or distracting myself from what I was doing, is enough to make me feel better.

Our moods are definitely affected by what we do with our bodies. Sitting in one position, such as sitting at a computer or behind the wheel driving for hours, can make us stagnant. Moving around helps us think and keeps our brains active. Even a short walk, swinging my arms, makes me feel so much more alive.

Isn’t it interesting how when you are tense, it helps to stretch — which is actually putting tension on your muscles. When you feel fit, you also feel like being more active. When you smile, you feel better, and it works in reverse also: if you want to feel better, you can fake a smile. I learned that last one from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, and it really does work.

I’ve noticed that in yoga, sometimes the instructor reminds me to relax my face muscles or soften my facial expression, so I’ve been playing around with that idea. I am working on becoming more aware of neck and face tension, and reminding myself to ease up. There’s a fun little visualization that I’ve been using that I’d like to share with you.

Visualization: Taking off the Tuque

To start off, I should explain for those of you not from Canada what a tuque is (pronounced “too-ke”). It’s a knitted hat, and can range from loose to tight, big to small, thick to thin. I believe it is a French Canadian word, which explains why people from other countries don’t usually know it. :)t

My first teddy bear, posing here with a knitted toque

My first teddy bear, posing here with a knitted toque

Now, imagine that you are wearing four or five tuques (or any type of close-fitting hat), one on top of the other. There are so many layers, they are squeezing your head all around. Gradually, imagine that you are taking them off, one by one, until you feel the tension release. Your head is no longer being squeezed, and you can feel the light of the sun and the gentle, cool breeze on your head.

Whenever you feel a bit tense, stop and imagine that you are taking the hats off — if you feel really pressured, maybe the hat is a tight swimmer’s cap! As you remove the hats, you feel lighter, your face feels brighter, your eyes feel softer and your scalp more relaxed. The top of your head feels warm and alive… and in addition to feeling more relaxed, you may also find you are better able to connect to your intuition. The seventh chakra is on the very top of your head, so this visualization is bound to help release any pent-up energy.

Hope this helps you relieve tension and feel more at-ease!