The Importance of Doing Nothing

window-view-1081788_1920Do this, do that, go here, pick up that, cook, clean, eat, wash and keeping running. Don’t you just wish you could have five damn minutes to yourself?

Why not?

We always think we need a day off, or a vacation, to take time to relax and recharge. And end up packing in so many activities we end up more tired than we started. So why not just give yourself a little treat every day.

Five minutes, is all.

Five minutes where you just sit and do absolutely nothing. No thinking, no checking your phone, no making lists or any other damn thing. Just sitting and breathing.

Oh sure, you say, my mind fills up with all the stuff I need to do. So. It will all still be there five minutes from now. Just try it. Put down your phone and sit. Well, set the timer on your phone if you need to, but then set it down. Now close your eyes and breathe. Let all those busy thoughts just scroll through your head like movie credits. Don’t focus on any one of them. Maybe focus on your breathing, in-out, in-out. You may even notice your heart rate slowing down. Ah, peace.

Try doing this at least once a day. Then do it when you are feeling the most stressed. You’ll find that your rapid thoughts will slow down and formulate into action steps. Whatever problem you were struggling with might get resolved.

All because instead of doing something, you did nothing. Feel better now?

Losing My Religion

golden-1321410_1280Uh-oh, she’s going to write about THAT?! Yes. I. Am. It shouldn’t be any more of a heated topic than, say, chili cheese fries. Neither of which are very appetizing.

I was raised in a religion-oriented household. We went to services, gave money and followed the doctrine. I dutifully went to religious education, which was much more about the rules than about God. When I got older, I asked “why can’t I just talk to God?” Then I really learned about not disobeying rules.

There is nothing wrong with rules in general, especially those about keeping us safe. Clean water, speed limits, fences and the like. Because some people wear their underwear too tight so they are pissy and crabby all day, and then shoot a couple of people standing next to them. And let’s face it, some people are just plain dumb.

Anyway, the religious rules I learned didn’t make sense to me. What does not eating meat on Friday have to do with God? I mean really, God made cows, so why shouldn’t we eat them? (Kid logic) So when I was about 15, I decided to learn about ALL the rules. I went to the local library, which thankfully had a vast variety of books on every subject, and buried myself in the religious stacks. I studied Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism and so on. When I finished with that, Pagan, Wiccan, Shamans and more. Worked my way through metaphysical studies. That was a lot books. Do you know what I discovered?

Almost every one of them was a bunch of rules written by (mostly) men in silly outfits that dictated when, where and what to believe in, and very little about a non-human supreme being.

People get all worked up about this. Okay, but why is that any different than say, the NFL? That’s a bunch of rules written by men in silly outfits that dictate when, where and what to believe in. And may I remind you that most of the games are played on Sunday. How many times have you or someone you know says “I pray to God that the [team name] win today!” The same could be said about government, the food industry, every sports franchise, and your job. We’ve turned something that matters into power and control, and have totally forgotten the real purpose which is to have meaning in our life.

Religion is bigger than rules. It is bigger than silly outfits. It is bigger than beef or pork. It is bigger than we can imagine. So how did we f*ck this up so badly?

Power and control are all based in fear, primarily the perceived loss of something from someone else’s doing. We fear being abandoned. We fear being poor or without resources. We fear pain and harm. We fear not being loved. Deeper than that is the fear of abandonment. Abandonment fears come with being human. As soon as we were born, separation from God occurred. And now we make up rules and sh*t to find our way back; before someone else gets there first.

That is not the God I know.

I refer to God-and-all-the-other-names as The Universe. For me, this is a massive energy source larger than we can imagine. There is no specific name, no gender, no race, no color, no language barrier and most of all no destruction and lightning bolts. The (God) Universe that I believe in is absolutely pure and loving of us no matter what we do. I think the Universe is just so damn happy that we agreed to be human in order to learn what physical existence is all about, and certainly has no plans to wipe us out. What would be gained by that? Just because we can act like idiots and shoot each other or wipe out rain forests and other dumb things, doesn’t mean that the Universe is angry.

Yes, you can talk to the Universe directly without some dork in a silly outfit running interference. The Universe is delighted when you start the day with “good morning” and express gratitude for something. The Universe gets really excited if you say “I’m having a rough day, will you help me?” And Oh MY, does the help arrive. In ways that you, with your pea brain, can’t even dream up, especially when you don’t dictate how you want that help.

I agree that religion can be a good thing for people. Some really do like the silly rituals and fish on Fridays. Some like gathering together in a beautiful building. Just remember that the most important thing of all is your direct connection with the Universe, because if someone tells you that’s not allowed then you better be losing your religion.

Pi-Lot-es

pilates-3799327_1920I love Pilates. Once you learn the movements, you can do Mat Work anywhere. Bedroom floor, back yard, hotel room. I consider that it saved my life.

I’m convinced that I developed bursitis in my hips from an often-prescribed medication. I won’t name it, in case Big Pharma starts poking into my life. Let’s just say most cardio docs want you to take it. I can’t prove that it happened, but it coincidentally occurred right after I began taking it. I stopped the prescription quite a few years ago. The constant pain in my muscles and joints was not worth the small risk of not taking it. I had to stop exercising because of the pain.

And then I discovered Pilates. The manager of fitness programs at our rec center suggested I try it. The teacher was phenomenal and taught the Classical version. When I began the lessons, it was hard work. I was still on the drug and didn’t have a lot of muscle strength. I still had pain. Some in-depth research made me stop the meds and within three months, everything changed. Sure, I adapted to the routine, but the biggest gain was no more pain.

I love Pilates.

It’s been eight years since I first laid down on a mat and stuck my legs in the air. (Yep, most movements are like that.) You will hear that Pilates is all about core strength. They are not kidding. I am often amazed how much I now have. Why core strength? You might think it’s all about the abs. That is part of it, but it is so much more. From your neck to your knees, everything is connected and has the most impact on your daily life. Getting up out of a chair takes core strength. Good balance requires core strength. Lifting your arms in the air requires strength in your shoulder girdle. Without it, you might become one of those rounded-shoulder, shuffling elderly that we too often see.

Going to a class is fun. Since you are laying down most of the time, you can’t really see what anyone else is doing so there isn’t much competition. However, it is really impressive when you see someone do the inversions so effortlessly. You can do it by yourself. You can do it with a friend. (Sounds dirty, but it’s not.) You can do it however often you want. I try to do a short routine every night before bed. It helps to “untwist” me, so to speak, from my day. You don’t get all sweaty and cardio so it doesn’t affect your sleep.

A whole lotta Pilates is really good for you in every which way. Anyone up for the “Hundred”?

I Wants It

barbecue-2098020_1920You remember Gollum from “Lord of the Rings”. An emaciated creature who craved an empowered gold ring. A craving so intense that nothing else mattered. I doubt that even a junkie would be that far gone.

Cravings are powerful. I’m sure you’ve experienced them in some form or another. Like OMG, nothing will do but you have to have a bag of chips before you die of starvation! Not likely, unless you are on “Naked and Afraid”, and even then they would rescue you before death.

If you are of average weight and maintain it, cravings are fairly normal. They typically signify unmet needs for fun, excitement or love. Basically, you are bored and food fills a hole. If you struggle with being overweight or are a chronic dieter, then food cravings and overeating signal unmet emotional needs. Overeating often springs from anxiety or depression. I am not a doctor, nor am I providing a diagnosis, but if you struggle with these issues please see a doctor or therapist. Life is too short, and you are missing out on too many good things so make your overall health a priority.

Real physical hunger comes on slowly and your stomach tells you it needs fuel. Emotional hunger swirls in your mind and triggers taste sensations in your mouth. Poor nutrition, blood sugar swings, alcohol and drugs mess with your brain chemicals – especially serotonin – and cause even more cravings. Give your body the proper fuel and in return, it will provide you with energy and feel-good chemicals so you want to get out and enjoy life. Good trade-off, I’m thinking.

Lately, I’ve noticed that I have been overeating. Nothing extreme, but I’m looking a little poochy. Ick. And not for anything in particular as that points to different needs, such as salty-crunchy for anxiety. So I decided I needed to look into my need for food.

Sometimes we overeat for simple reasons: obligation – someone brought cookies to work and you don’t want to hurt their feelings; not wasting – you ordered the food at a restaurant and don’t want to leave a full plate, although a doggie bag is always an option; taste – it’s damn good!; boredom – snacky foods give you something to do; true hunger – eat too fast and eat too much; tired – hoping it sparks energy. These are a few of the reasons we shovel in more than we need.

Well hmm, I think those are my reasons.

I’ve b*itched about my work plenty, but it is a long day from waking to coming home. I have plenty of responsibility that goes from all-out-balls-to-the-wall to sitting and waiting. Anyone that does accounting work understands those cycles. During the boring times, I eat. During the stressful times, I work through lunch, go home tired, eat to refuel and have a drink to unwind. The perfect combination to build tummy fat. Because of all that, I have set aside some activities that I would normally enjoy doing – like I don’t have the time and energy for them. I know, practice what you preach. Eating has become the new enjoyment. Therein lies the problem.

Using food as a replacement for getting your needs met is a bad idea, but instead of focusing on food as the enemy search for the root. Give yourself permission to have fun. Schedule some free time in your day, just for you, to do something you love. Practice self-care. Give your relationships some attention. Hug your friends. Get out in nature and soak up a little sun. Maybe do some energy work. The third chakra – Solar Plexus – is at the navel. It governs personal power, so it may be said that a little tummy fat protects your power. Maybe your personal boundaries need a little work. The second chakra – Sacral – is directly below and governs pleasure, emotions and addictions. A definite connection. If you sit at a desk all day, like me, then the two probably get squished into one muddled energetic glob.

Hmm. Addictions ending up in the stomach. Better get up and stretch, but not for another cookie.

I wants it. . .

 

Finders Keepers

person-3382248_1920Have you noticed that when you get older, it seems to be more challenging to make friends? Unless you are of the sort who has retained some forever, who didn’t die, or move away, or have challenges getting out.

I tend to be the type that prefers a very small social circle, and really, just happiest have a best-friend partner. I have the most fun when it is just Tom and me. Yet, I miss my dearest friend Pat, but not enough to relocate to Phoenix to see her regularly. Other people I know have busy lives, like me, so it doesn’t seem like there are many opportunities for socializing.

Some people just aren’t interested, no biggie. Then there are those nutty alone people (AKA crazy cat lady types) who can’t seem to shut up if you start a conversation with them and seem blissfully unaware that you might actually have a busy life and things to get done. And really, not too sure you want to get involved with them anyway, I’ve discovered, as they are usually very needy and cheap too.

Internet friends are great, too, and you can have good conversations, but you likely will never get to meet them.

Lately though, my mind has been drifting to some long-lost friends. I located one of them and we chatted for bit on the phone, but that’s all it has been so far. She was more buddies with my ex-husband. Her former partner was more my buddy. I have been doing some searching on the internet, pretty easy these days, and I think I may have located her. I need to make some time to try the phone number I unearthed. She might not want to talk to me. My ex wasn’t very nice to her and we lost touch. I wish I would have kept her friendship and ditched him sooner. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

It’s good to have a friend, or two, or twenty. Whether it is for fun times, or emotional sharing and support, companionship during activities – any or all of it is a basic human need. We are, by design, social creatures. We need contact in the form of voice and touch. The wiring in our brain functions better with human contact. Our health is better and we live longer.

When you find a good friend, who lifts your spirit and warms your heart, hold on to them even if your only contact is a phone call. Life is better when shared.

A Happy Space

I’m taking a week off from work. I have a lot of vacation time built up and I want to use some of it up before I retire in January. Plus, it’s great to get away from the stressful hustle. I chose to be home-bound for the rest and relaxation, and it is a sigh of relief. We’re hosting a neighborhood gathering tomorrow evening, and having a party Saturday afternoon with some friends. There is always a lot of prep for events, but I have plenty of time for it.

IMG_20190614_181516011 (2)I have several of these weeks throughout the summer. I am using them as practice for retirement. I knew that I needed some time away and I anticipated that it would be enjoyable, but certainly not at the level I am experiencing.

I am discovering an absolute true feeling of contentment.

IMG_20190614_181523173 (1)There are books, and articles, and videos, and podcasts, and so on, that speak of being happy. Do this, don’t do that, the list is goes on. Much of it is true, but it all comes back to how you feel inside. It is different for everyone. Sometimes the happiness is fleeting or short-lived. Such as that which comes from a thing, place or person. We all want the kind that stays with us for ever and ever. But what does it really mean?

It is how you feel at any moment, where you experience peace, contentment and relaxation. Your blood pressure drops, respiration becomes slower and deeper, worrisome thoughts seem to drift away, your gaze softens, and your senses relax. When I sit outside and look at my flower garden this happens. The colors, the shapes, the sheer beauty of the flowers overwhelm me. I become less aware of street noise and more aware of the tiny bees that roam from flower to flower. The chirp of birds. Perhaps one lands to take drink from the bird bath. Butterflies floating about. Time passes by without a thought.

I can begin to appreciate that the stress and striving brought me to this. That work and effort is important, because it brings safety and security, and purpose in serving. But yet, we must never lose sight of the need to fulfill our own passions and the necessity of self-care. Whether you are working or not, good health or bad, have many responsibilities or not, taking a few moments to find your happy space are as necessary as breathing.

Your soul will hug you if you do.

The Safe Zone

danger-851895_1920Do you ever find yourself feeling and acting overly-cautious about many things? “What am I going to do if the furnace goes out?” “What if I’m late for a deadline?” “What if a hailstorm destroys all my plants?” “What will happen if that car keeps following me too closely?” And then all these thoughts along with many more, generate lists of things to do and tasks to be completed as quickly as possible. Then you get stuck in an endless cycle of worry and doing, never giving yourself a break including the middle of the night panic.

Welcome to my world. Many of you are shaking your head while you are glancing at your to-do list. A whole bunch of you are like “WTF, get over it already”. And a whole lot of in-betweeners are just reading this to see what I’m writing about.

No, this really isn’t the way I like living my life. I’d like to be all Zen and not worry; just handle things if and when they occur. Being hyper-vigilant is not fun and it is exhausting. It is a difficult behavior pattern to break, and yes, it is a behavior pattern.

I recently read an article by Bethany Webster about being hyper-vigilant, over-achieving and anticipating problems. It all comes back to a lack of feeling safe. Bethany teaches about the Mother Wound; how it affects us and ways to heal it. Her website is http://www.motherwound.com. The Mother Wound is real, deeply rooted and particularly worse for women. Even if you had a wonderful mother, there are generational and gender wounds that are passed on. If you had a mother who was emotionally unavailable to you, then you were likely imprinted with the belief of never feeling safe.

Beneath the fear of never feeling safe, lies the core wound of trust. You learn quickly to be self-sufficient, never relying on anyone for support. If you couldn’t trust your mother, why could you trust anyone else? Your child brain can only envision danger ahead so you become highly sensitive and sensitized to your environment, reading others’ emotions with more skill than an NFL quarterback scanning the defense. You create your own “No Fly Zone” by carefully managing your surroundings so you can feel safe, secure and at peace. And raise holy h*ll if anyone moves anything out of place. Because you lack trust, you become an over-achiever and over-responsible because you expect others to fail you. You can do anything and everything and can make the Energizer Bunny give up. But do you ever take time to rest and relax?

Only when everything is done to your satisfaction, at least for the moment, or you are safe in your little nest. But even then “what if the electricity goes out?”

It takes a lot of work to change this behavior pattern. First, you have to face and feel the emotions that create the pattern and most people don’t want to go through this. Trust me, it is worth the pain. You need to feel this in order to accept that your mother wasn’t capable of being a mother. Seek professional help, even if you don’t trust them. That’s the point, right? Secondly, you must learn how to mother yourself. Rest when you are tired. Eat when you are hungry. And for God’s sakes, go pee when you have to go!

Force yourself to stay focused in the moment. Whatever is in the future will happen or not. If you focus on disaster, you might actually create it into being so why not focus on doing something happy and fun. Practice trusting others. Give them a small task to do and stay out of their way. If you are nutty about something, show them what you would like. Say “please, would you do this for me?” Only a total sh*thead would ignore you, and then maybe you need to clear them out of your environment. Talk about anticipating problems.

These days, with technology delivering things at lightning speed, the pressure is on to do everything all at once. Our inner wounds are easily triggered in this intense environment. When you are feeling especially anxious, stop and breathe. Give yourself a moment to assess whether something has to be done, if your anticipated worry will manifest or if you really are just tired and need to go sit in your safe zone.

Like I’m doing. Even if it’s writing this post.

Do You Remember?

pink-rose-in-rain-4205779_1920It is Memorial Day, the annual event to honor those who have passed on, particularly of the military. Memorial services are being held in many locations, some solemn, with flags and a lone bagpiper. Some more joyous and others even more somber. In any event, we are remembering those who have passed.

But what about those who are still living and have passed through your life? Friends, lovers, acquaintances? Spouses, significant others and even children. Memorial Day can be a trip down memory lane, with thoughts of “where are they now?” Such it is with human nature, life is a journey with many paths and many people. Too often, these missing and long gone folks left behind a scar or a bit of sadness. Only a few were able to leave behind the bright, shiny feeling of joy.

Whatever the circumstances, whether there is life or death, remember all of them with gratitude. Some people are with you for a reason, and some are with you for a season. Be thankful you knew them, because they helped you find room in your heart to allow someone else to fill the empty spaces.

Blessings to all on this remembrance day.

MotherFaker

I originally posted this article on October 21, 2017 and decided to re-post it for Mother’s Day.  First, I would like to honor all those really good moms and awesome dads I frequently encounter.  Their obvious love of and devotion to their children restores my faith that parenthood is good.  Many blessings and thanks to you.

Secondly, I would like to extend my compassion to all those who have struggled with mother wounds.  Whether you continue to put yourself in the line of fire, or like me, have cut off all contact, give yourself permission to feel the pain and anger.  There is nothing wrong with you.  Your feelings are real and they matter.

Whether you are a mother, want to be one, have a good relationship with your mother or have soul wounds, the first mother is the one that you are to yourself.  Nurture and love you and let the rest be what it will be.

**************************

Read that title twice, didn’t you?  It might be a Freudian slip. . .

maskA MotherFaker is a mother who gave birth, but only pretended to be a mother.  Many, many of us had one, a mother that just couldn’t quite give us the nurturing and love that we needed.  We grew up scarred because of it, drifting in and out of relationships, marriages, jobs, homes, friendships, whatever it was that we tried to suck a little bit of love out of.  We attracted those people and situations as a mirror of our selves.  Maybe you still struggle with this.  Maybe we will never get over that abandoned and unwanted feeling.

It is possible, if you are willing to do the work.

Everyone says to forgive.  Yes, I know that is a stupid statement and you do not feel like you can ever condone your mother’s actions.  That is not the point of forgiveness.  You only want to neutralize your feelings so you don’t leave this stuck inside of you.  Your mother was not capable of being a mother to you.  It is NOTHING about YOU.  Maybe she had difficult circumstances in her life that caused her to shut down.  Maybe she had a MotherFaker and that was all she knew.  IT WAS NOTHING ABOUT YOU.  You have to find a way to let go of holding onto the energy so you can move on with your life and live the best you possible.  Does it really benefit you to be pissed about this?  Is that ever going to change the situation?  No.  It happened.  Your mother was not capable of love, but YOU ARE.

sad childStart by loving yourself.  Nurture the little girl inside you in all the ways that you did not get.  You will be surprised how much that helps to let go of your pain.  Start simply by asking yourself what you need: am I hungry, tired, thirsty, have to pee?  Honor those needs and then you will be able to ask yourself how you feel.  Whenever you feel crabby and out-of-sorts, start there.  Children of MotherFakers always put Her needs first and denied themselves.  Stop the crazy-making train and tend to you first.  Get into that practice and you will be surprised how your life changes and how differently people treat you.

And then you no longer have to fake being happy.

It’s Five O’clock Somewhere

IMG_20190505_132400079 (1)Alcoholism is a serious and debilitating disease that engulfs the mind, body and spirit. It can contribute to any number of health issues and can result in death. From my research, alcoholism can be a coping mechanism for deep, personal issues. It is a sad waste of a beautiful human life.

There is no doubt that drinking alcohol can be fun. A summer afternoon, an evening cocktail party, wine pairings, all are fun gatherings with friends. A cold beer after yard work. A “topping off” after the completion of a project. All reasons to offer a toast. But anything in excess is unhealthy for your well-being.

When you are super stressed, it is easy to reach for a cocktail to numb your nervous system. It may be helpful for the moment, but you’ll wake up in the middle of the night just as restless and edgy as you started. Instead take a walk, or engage in some other mild form of exercise. Meditate. Read a book. Work a puzzle. The idea behind stress relief is to focus your thoughts on something that relaxes you, which will help you do actions that relax your body.

Treat alcohol as a treat, and just because it’s five o-clock somewhere doesn’t mean it needs to be five o’clock every night.