Reality Show This!

While flipping through channels the other day, a scene popped up of a very drunk, unhappy woman in the back of what appeared to be a limousine mouthing off about another person. What she was saying was very bleeped and very hurtful, and she was obviously being baited by an off-screen person. As soon as Bob and I realized it was one of those “reality shows,” we were out of there. However, those few seconds that were witnessed gives me pause for thought.

We all have that voyeuristic impulse, a certain curiosity to know how others live. Perhaps we want to compare our own experiences with theirs and seek other ways of dealing with similar issues. Maybe we are just plain nosy. 🙂 My feeling is that reality shows hone in on our innate curiosity and then manipulate us in a negative way for their ratings. I don’t watch them because the impression I have is that they aren’t much different than a drawn out Jerry Springer show. Maybe I’m wrong, but the snippets I get from glancing at magazines in the grocery aisles or headlines from “news” sources back this up.

What happens when we watch such behavior on a regular basis? Are we somehow led to believe that our lives should be just as dramatic? I mean, aren’t these real people having real experiences while our own lives, with the day-to-day responsibilities, are just boring and dull in comparison? I disagree. These are manufactured realities whose main goal is high ratings, no matter who gets hurt.

I guess these shows don’t appeal to me because I am happy and content to live in as peaceful and loving an environment as possible. Life really is just as exciting without all the hate-drama, and it feels better too. Much like Dr. Andrew Weil advocated having a “news fast,” I have found that having a “toxic behavior fast” has done me a world of good. No one has to play the victim role, and no one has to surround themselves with drama to feel relevant in my world, and I like it that way.

Call It What It Is…Family

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” ~ Richard Bach

Have you ever met someone who was never a stranger? Have you felt a kind of connection with another like you’re picking up a conversation that started before? The people who, though not related by blood, and even if they aren’t in your life on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, can resume that conversation the moment you find each other again should also be considered your family.

I have “soul-family members,” as I have started calling them, scattered across the globe. I have been so blessed with many of both blood-family and soul-family members that when difficulties occur, someone is always around to lift me back up and remind me of the values I try to live by.

I think that our family is our school in a very big way. We are both teachers and students and how we grow in our interactions with each other determine our grades and indeed, our graduations. So when I notice similar problems coming up in my life, it alerts me to the fact that I’m not learning a lesson very well and would I please try again? In this way, even if the family members are of a difficult nature, it could be that they are merely teaching us the lesson we need to learn.

Of course, I could be way off base here, but this is just the beginning of my thesis and I wanted to write it down. In any case, I have noticed that when I solve a dilemma from my “higher self,” I find that I have a greater sense of peace, even if the outcome was not resolved in the way my “ego-self” would have liked to deal with it, and I have my entire family to thank for that. 🙂

Love Thyself!

Most of us have either seen or heard about Jessica’s Daily Affirmations, the video clip gone viral of a little girl affirming to herself in the mirror that she likes everything and she can do “anything good.” If you haven’t seen it, it is almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face and perhaps even create a little nostalgia or longing to have such a positive outlook. Here is a link – Jessica’s Daily Affirmation

We are all born with infinite possibilities. It seems there are a lucky few who actually retain that inner knowledge to adulthood. Most of us start losing sight of how great and wonderful we truly are with each successive “no” and “you can’t do that” that we hear growing up. Eventually we may have children of our own and if we haven’t regained that inner love or understanding, we tend to perpetuate the same cycle because it is what we know. We may even continue to tell ourselves, “no, I can’t.”

I regret that I didn’t remember the joy of my inner child’s unlimited spirit when I was raising my own children. At 19 and 15 years old now, I can only offer my apologies for the times I said, “no, you can’t” out of reflex when I really should have just listened and been supportive. I’m sorry Nikole. I’m sorry Michael. The truth really is that you can do anything good, or even better.

The miraculous part is that we can overcome the layers of negativity that may have grown and developed into our psyches over the years. It’s a journey to self-love that has no map as we each are on a different path, but is so worth the effort to travel. I think a good starting point is a daily affirmation like Jessica’s.

Here’s mine for today: I love my world! I love the gray skies this morning! I love my necklace! I love my gray hairs! I love my wrinkles! I can do anything! I love everything! I love my life! I love myself!  🙂

What do you love? Can you yell it out in front of the mirror? Maybe even kick it back with some dance moves? It’s gotta be a happier way to start the day than focusing on what you don’t like, right?

Pumpkin is in the Air!

October! The month for the end of harvesting, bright autumn colors, and pumpkins! I’m never sorry to see the end of one season, because there is always something to look forward to in the next. For example, pulling out warm-weather clothes from storage is like being reunited with old friends – and sometimes you get to go shopping for “new friends” to join your closet! For those with lawns, you can put away your mower, weed wacker, and edger. Even raking leaves is optional; after all, why mess with Mother Nature’s natural compost pile? And a hot soup is never as satisfying at any time of the year as it is in the fall. In honor of this wonderful season,  I’m going to share one of my favorite fall soup recipes. I love this served with grilled cheese toast on sourdough or wheat bread. Enjoy!

Curried Pumpkin Soup

~ Dice an onion and saute in butter and olive oil in a large pot.

~ Peel and cut a small pumpkin into 1 to 1-1/2 inch pieces. Preheating in the microwave for about 5 minutes (Poke holes in the skin with a fork first!) helps to make this task a lot easier. (Butternut squash works well and is easy to find. I used to get Blue Moon pumpkins when I first started making this soup, but they aren’t common here.)

~ Put pumpkin in pot along with enough vegetable stock to cover.

~ Cut 2 or 3 potatoes into 2 inch pieces and add to pot.

~ Add salt and pepper to taste.

~ Add 3 to 6 T of curry powder, depending on taste and strength of your curry spice. Taste at the end and if it still isn’t strong enough, add more. I love the taste of curry, so I usually add a lot!

~ You can add whatever vegetables you have on hand that you want to put in – celery is a good one to add, but if you only use onions, pumpkin, and potatoes, you will still have a wonderful soup.

~ Cook until all vegetables are very soft.

~ Using a hand immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. If you don’t have a hand blender, puree in batches in a regular blender. If you don’t have a blender, use a potato masher until you have the smoothest possible soup.

What do you love about fall? 🙂

Creative Meditation

It’s hard to avoid the topic of meditation these days. It’s no longer “just for yogis” anymore and has hit mainstream health markets in a big way. The health benefits of meditation are proven and encompass both the mind and body, and, it’s free – Bonus! There are DVDs, CDs, books, classes, internet sites, and so on to instruct one on how to meditate, but I have always struggled with these traditional forms of meditating. My mind seems to be constantly on the move, which may be why my mouth is so active. This would explain why I regularly seem to be inserting one or both of my feet into said mouth after some “witty” thought takes the closest exit and bypasses the brain. Perhaps I’m here to learn how to be apologetic, because I sure have gotten a lot of practice at it. But I digress…

I have had some frustrating attempts at watching my thoughts and letting them go… It all sounds so easy in theory. Perhaps I have a fear of having an “empty” brain. I’ve gotten quite attached to all the clutter up there…after all, you never know when you might need THIS thought, so isn’t it best to hang on to it? Lately it has become easier for me, but I no longer listen to what has worked for others. I have finally tuned in to how my mind wants to meditate and it doesn’t want to be “controlled” or “tamed” as espoused by many methods.

For one thing, I don’t usually have the time to just sit and meditate in a quiet room, which is a common prerequisite for the more traditional practices. I have a homeschooled teenager and a Chihuahua in a small apartment, after all. Peace and solitude can be hard to come by. Besides, if I have time to sit in a quiet room, I want to take advantage of it and read! I don’t take those blessings for granted…

I’ve recently discovered that I have been meditating for years. I’m drawn to activities that nourish my creative spirit, and have come to the realization that they ARE my meditations. Stringing beads and wrapping wire are one of my forms of meditation. The flow of thought that can be witnessed while being focused on the task at hand is a meditation for me. When I am able to cook at my own pace, instead of rushing due to a busy day, I am meditating. Repetitive movements while crocheting or knitting a blanket is a meditation. For me, it’s a conversation that once acknowledged, is calmed. If this doesn’t make sense, then it’s not your method. 😉

Since I have come to realize that meditation has made its way into my life in creative ways, I have incorporated it in other places such as in the shower and even while waiting in long grocery lines. It has certainly reduced my stress levels and I’m no longer anxious about not being able to meditate!

Do you meditate? Have you tried the traditional methods and found that you are one of those round pegs trying to fit in a square hole? Have you, too, found your own method of meditation?

Words are Magic

You have to believe we are magic.
Nothing can stand in our way.
You have to believe we are magic.
Don’t let your aim ever stray.
And if all your hopes survive.
Destiny will arrive.

~ “Magic”

Throughout my childhood, I was very thin, but by the time I hit middle school, I became painfully skinny. This is when my growth spurt really kicked in so not only did clothes not fit well, but they were rarely long enough for my constantly growing arms and legs. Adding to my teenage angst was the fact that I was never very athletic, so the typical activities that tall, thin people are believed to excel at were not open to me. Do you play basketball? Do you run track? No, no, no… However, I was more than capable of reporting on how the weather was “up there.”

The real shift in how I viewed myself, however, came from words. Words that accentuated the idea that I was somehow too different and “less than” because my body type/shape was not the socially accepted norm. By the time my body caught up with my growth spurt, I was no longer seeing my true self. I was still caught on the same tape recording of “I’m too skinny” and other perceived shortcomings.

For me, there was no epiphany or life-changing event where I changed the script in my head from negative-based to positive-based. It was a gradual shift that began with my effort to maintain a positive outlook of the external that developed into becoming aware of and then changing the negative mind-speak to personal positive affirmations. Since becoming more positive, however, the magic that has entered my life as a result is incredibly uplifting.

What you say to yourself and to others has a profound effect, and the words you say to others leaves an imprint on you as well. Take note of how you feel when you genuinely compliment another and see their reaction. Then take note of how you feel when you curse at the driver who pulled in front of you on the way to work. What would happen if the daily experiences that are under your control were more positive? Just as the negative will breed more negative, the practice of being positive will return joy to you in spades.

I’m still working on speaking better words both internally and externally. Being human, I imagine this will be a lifelong practice. That’s fine by me – I’ve got a lot of scripts to rewrite. 🙂

How many times in a day do you have negative-based thoughts? Try rewriting your script into a positive one, and see if you notice the magic happening in your life.

I Love To Laugh!

Most people who know me today would say I’m a positive person. Sure, I have the usual ups and downs and challenges that we all face in our daily lives, but over the past few years, I have learned to rebound fairly quickly and look for the absolute most positive position on any personal circumstance. Sometimes it takes more time to get to my happy place, but I do get there eventually. I call it channeling my Pollyanna. At first, I truly had to use the mantra “fake it ’til you make it,” and indeed still fall back on it from time to time. It has served me well and has helped me maintain a positive outlook on life.

I won’t say that I’ve gotten into a happiness rut, but when the opportunity to ‘up the ante’ presented itself recently by my friend Anne, how could I refuse? Laughing Anne, as she calls herself, is a certified Laughter Yoga Leader and she just started the very first Laughter Club in Idaho – how lucky am I that it is in my very own town? Check out her awesome website (Click here) and have a giggle with her – I dare you to watch her video and NOT laugh!!!

Just what is Laughter Yoga? It was birthed by a doctor in India while he was writing an article titled, “Laughter – The Best Medicine” for a  journal. His research astounded him in such a way, that he was inspired to field test the effects of laughter on himself and others. He convinced 4 others to join him, and now, 15 years later, there are over 6000 laughter clubs in over 60 countries. As of yesterday, there is now at least 1 laughter club in every state here in the USA. Yay! For more information and to see if there is a club near you, check out their official website (Click here). The most basic explanation is that groups of people get together to laugh. The yoga aspect is deep breathing exercises to help counteract the effects of the typical shallow breathing that most of us use throughout our days, so no strenuous poses to master at all. Scientific research has shown that the effects of laughing – whether it be forced or for real – have the same widespread benefits on your health. These benefits border on amazing and a partial list follows:

Positive healing effects on asthma and allergies.
Alleviates depression.
Regulates blood sugar for diabetics.
Improves blood pressure.
Boosts the immune system.
Reduces pain through release of endorphins.
Positive mental attitude.
Relief from stress-related illnesses.
~

So, comfort zones be dashed, I arrived at a corner of the greenbelt that is flanked by 2 fairly busy roads and a pedestrian walk that travels along the river to laugh for no reason whatsoever with 7 other participants. A couple of us were periodically on the look out for vans pulling up with men in white suits, ha-ha, ho-ho! I admit that there were times when it was truly an effort to force laughter, but by the end of the session, not only were there many times that the laughter was not forced at all, but I felt positively jubilant! I felt an extra little bounce in my step, sang along to the radio all the way home, and laughed and laughed all over again as I demonstrated some of the exercises to Bob and my mom (who had just arrived for a visit). My smile was just barely concealed under the surface of my face – ready to jump out at the slightest provocation. What a way to be!

Schedule me in for laughter any day of the week, but you can be sure I’ll be laughing around noon each Tuesday by the Falls! Na-ha-ha-ha-maste!!!

When’s the last time you laughed for an hour? Would you love to try?

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