The last three weeks of our positivity posts are upon us.
There have definitely been times – especially in recent days – when it has been a challenge to look up and maintain this positive mindset trend. But when we left the office in March, we vowed to continue “leaving the lights on for the community”.
We have no plans to stop doing that. There are new horizons to gaze upon, with lots of great things in store. We feel it. Together, we feel a sense of hope and excitement.
We will continue to shine a light of hope for you. Please know, everything we do and say – or not – is intended to make things better for others.
With that, let’s return to our countdown…
Day 20: Love Yourself
This is a testy one, or at least, it can be.
I am from a generation, or at least an upbringing, wherein I associated “loving myself” with vanity, pride, arrogance, and selfishness. It’s a tough nut to crack when someone says, “love yourself”, because I do not want to be perceived as any of those things!
I have two adult children. If you are a parent, you look at your children and realize that part of your heart and soul is walking around outside your body. You love them. You want them to feel confident about themselves and deserving of love and laughter and all the good things life has to offer. You want to be the best mom or dad you can be for them.
Well… can you do and say the same thing about yourself? Can you love yourself? Can you feel self-confident and worthy of good things? Don’t you want to be the best person you can be for yourself, for your own sake? Some of us can say yes, some of us figure it out, some of us will struggle with this our whole lives.
Loving yourself, I think, is about understanding yourself, working on your personal, physical, emotional, and spiritual development.
It’s about not trying to be ‘better than’ anyone else than the person you were yesterday. Start small if you need to, by simply taking care of yourself.
(If you are one of the three readers I have of these posts I beg forgiveness for not having this up yesterday. My plans for the day were derailed and I completely forgot about this little insert. It is ironic however, that this should be my theme today, when it appears that the service that we live to provide is in dire threat of extinction. We shall see…)
The one regret I have in life is that I didn’t get to hear Dr. Wayne Dyer speak in person before he passed. I’ve read/am reading many of his books, and I listened to his PBS specials fatihfully.
Too many people today have it backwards. They expect others to be subjected to their whims. They won’t contribute unless there’s something in it for them. The concept of volunteering is lost on some people (cough*my in-laws*cough*) You want me you pay for my time. Or – as I’ve seen too many times in the past few years – people “volunteering” for all the wrong reasons… they sit on committees or boards to pad their resumes, or worse, to make them appear altruistic when it’s merely political posturing and a cheap photo op. Then If I do this for you then you owe me. Anyone with narcissists in their lives has lived the quid-pro-quo relationship and knows of which I speak.
They don’t get it. The rewards of being of service is so much greater than any payment. Even in business, when you take the approach of serving people – helping them resolve a problem – you are not ‘closing a sale’; you are opening a relationship.
Dr. Dyer nails it here. Have a look.
My husband is a fly fisherman.
For those who do not understand fly fishing, take note: One does not ‘dabble’ in fly fishing. One lives fly fishing. To him, the river is church. (For me, it’s Hobby Lobby, but that’s for another post.)
There is a special desk with his special materials to experiment making special flies for special conditions. There is a special rack where he puts his special fly rods each again for a special purpose, and yes, a new, extra special rod will be joining the family in the coming weeks as he has his eyes on some British-made la-tee-dah something and says, “…this may not be a good time but I really would like to…”
And as I look at the equivalent dollar value of scrapbooking supplies atop my own desk, I can’t deny him his joy. “Go ahead…” I shrug. I have zero room to object.
I wanted to put together a list of spots to go fishing in the area, but when I asked Lord Orvis about what some sweet spots might be to go fishing around Olds, I got a very audible “pphhhhtttt!”
OK then. Well, maybe there’s no blue ribbon river fishing around here, but if you just want to take the kids out to drop a line in a body of water to entertain them one afternoon, or you want to practice some casting, you could pop out to Cipperley’s Reservoir south of Olds, or make a day of it at Winchell Lake near Water Valley. (Be sure to get your fishing license before you go!)
Here are a few other spots around Olds and Mountain View County worth a casual trip:
- Dickson Trout Pond
- Dogpound Creek
- Fallen Timber Creek
- Gleniffer Lake
- James River
- Little Red Deer River
Check out the Alberta Fishing Guide for some good fishing spots that are a little further afield: http://www.albertafishingguide.com/
Fishing is fun. I have a handful of memories of sitting in a boat on a Saskatchewan lake with my Dad and brother. Somewhere in my stash of photos is a picture of me next to Dad and that old boat, wearing a grey “bunny hug” and a giant grin on my face as I showed off the very first little jack I ever caught. Now that I’m married to the King Fisher, and he wades in rivers, I’ve acquiesced. It’s his passion.
Go have fun, honey. I’ll be here scrapbooking.
Day 17: Pray.
Before I go on to my original script, you need to know that I scheduled out topic ideas for all these posts back in late March. I had only the odd ‘tweak’ as time pressed on and circumstances changed that warranted dropping a weaker or less relevant topic for another that would resonate more clearly at that time.
This is not one of those posts.
This call to prayer has been on the calendar, on this date, from the start.
I believe the fact that so many of these pre-planned writings have synchronized with outside events over the past 70-odd days is not coincidence. I believe in God (Universe, Holy Spirit, Divine Intelligence whatever name you prefer). I believe that He influenced this schedule. He provides the content I write. He aids in my finding the perfect sources, readings, videos and songs as this all takes shape.
I believe God blessed me with powerful creative gifts, and that all things I write or draw or design or build are guided by His hand. They are not fully mine – I am simply a conduit for creation.
Secondly, I’d initially assigned this post today as a call to pray or meditate. I would be covering those who believe in a higher power by suggesting prayer, as well as those who are gnostic or atheist or otherwise not keen on the thought there just might be something bigger than us ‘out there’.
But this is 2020. The world is upside down, inside out, and openly on fire right now. What was strong is being made weak. What was silent is now screaming. There is great pain being felt all around us. Calling people to bend their knee to pray to God for healing, guidance and revelation of truth is more than appropriate.
Finally, in my original plan to say “pray or meditate” I felt it would be the “safe” thing to do. I wouldn’t risk offending anyone.
I’m not going to hide my faith – if you don’t share it that’s fine and I respect your freedom to choose otherwise. However, I regret to inform you today, that if you are “offended” that a person blogging on an independent, non-partisan, non-denominational organization’s social enterprise website should ask people to pray, I have only three words for you:
I. Don’t. Care.
We aren’t doing a very good job of loving one another on this planet at the moment. This is a broken time in our history. Perhaps sending up a request for a little Divine Intervention is needed.
No. Not perhaps. It is desperately needed.
Now for what I’d originally planned for this post.
You might be asking if there’s a difference between prayer and meditation. I’m not an expert, but I’ll share some observations I have.
I saw a comment on social media not too long ago where someone said that meditation is selfish, with a focus on oneself and their own existence, and not something that a ‘true’ Christian should practice. I think that person is probably very angry about life in general.
Others take a more moderate approach, that the breathing aspect of meditation calms their body so they can turn their thoughts over to God and pray without distraction.
Another wrote that through meditation, if only for a few minutes a day, we become aware that our existence needs no outside validation or justification.
For non-believers, it’s reassurance that you and your life are OK just as you are. “I THINK THEREFORE I AM.”
For those of us with faith in a higher power, we hear what Moses heard from the burning bush: “I AM THAT I AM”.
Meditation is proven to reduce stress and control anxiety, among many other health benefits. And researchers include prayer as a form of meditation.
Perhaps the biggest difference is while meditation is more passive (just breathe and be), prayer has a sense of action to it. That said, prayer needs to be an act of faith, without expectation of results.
So for your own well-being, whether it takes the form of prayer or meditation, it’s worth spending a few minutes a day in quiet repose.
As for me, my most simplistic interpretation of prayer and meditation as I practice both is this:
- Prayer is asking God the question you have for Him.
- Meditation is shutting your cake hole so you can listen for an answer.
Maybe the answer shows up in meditation, maybe not. Maybe it comes while you’re washing dishes. Or mowing the grass. Or a song on the radio brings it to your awareness. Or a nonchalant comment in a casual conversation flicks on a lightbulb. The mind was quieted so you could hear when you were ready to receive the answer.
Have a blessed and peaceful day.
Day 16: Smile.
Psychologists find smiling really can make people happier.
Well. THAT headline caught my attention. Turned out to be a news release about a scientific study released last year. Let me sum it up for you:
Your mind and body are connected. Smile. You will trick your brain into feeling happier.
Not only that, people will treat you differently. You’re seen as attractive, reliable, relaxed, and sincere. It activates the orbitofrontal cortex (say that five times fast!), the region of the brain processing sensory rewards.
Your brain is like a puppy who gets her treat when she shakes a paw. “Oh goodie! A smile! I gets da treat now!”
Well, maybe not quite that simplistic, but you get the idea. And it makes sense; when was the last time a scowling, sneering, snarling old hag made your feel good to be sharing space with her?
Smiling also has physical health benefits like lowering your blood pressure and raising your immune system. In all this talk of viruses and contagion and the mask/no mask debate, one thing that is highly infectious and needs to be spread around is smiling.
When we smile, others tend to smile back. Unless of course you’re back in the same room with that snarling old hag and “what did I ever do to deserve this?” preoccupies your thoughts.
I hope that made you smile.
And of course, I can’t write about the power of a smile without sharing the sweet, soothing, sultry crooning of Nat King Cole… *swoon*
(Please put images of Joaquin Phoenix from your mind and appreciate the lyrics. There are already enough Jokers tearing up the streets, we don’t need to give them any more intentional vibration. To that end, get off Twitter.)
Day 15: Don’t Complain.
This is your 24-hour challenge… see if you can go an entire day without complaining.
Not about the weather. Not about your mother-in-law. Not about your boss. Not about the noisy neighbour. Not about your spouse’s burnt dinner. Not about anything in the news – in fact, this is a lot easier to do when you turn OFF the news. Not about politics of any nature (deep inhale…24 hours, we can do this…and exhale…)
Not spoken. Not written down. Not in an email or a text. Not posted on social media. Not even shared on social media.
No. Complaints. Period.
Run a competition in your family – who can last the longest without complaining?
Or make it a financial challenge: When someone complains in anyway, put a loonie in a jar. Count up how many loonies are in the jar the next day. Not many? GREAT! You’re the kind of upbeat person other people like to be around. Can you buy dinner for eight tonight with the change in there? Better see a specialist to have your attitude adjusted.
Now extend it another day. Then by a week. Count your loonies. Can you make it a full month? (Some people could probably finance their kids’ college education doing this…)
Do some good with this one. Try adding a loonie to the jar when you complain and at the end of the month, donate the money to a charity. At least your complaining ended up benefiting someone with bigger problems going on.
Day 14: Change Your “What Ifs”
On the Zoom Café call on Monday morning, the discussion turned once again to the fear through which many people are still held captive.
We have been saying this for 75 days… What you fear, draws near. What you focus upon, expands.
So we continue to encourage you to shift your internal and external conversations to positively – or at least neutrally – framed points of reference.
The disastrous “what if” scenario you might envision is called “catastrophic thinking” or “catastrophizing”. It’s a learned protective mechanism: If I imagine the worst, and it doesn’t happen, then I can feel relief.
We suggest you skip the middleman, and simply choose a better feeling thought.
Why not start with an emotion closer to relief? How about gratitude? When you look around us right now, compared to what’s going on elsewhere, we can certainly say there is much for which to be grateful.
That’s not to say that the concerns some of us have aren’t legitimate. What we ask is that you look at how you frame them and how you decide to move forward with your life. Find calm and rational friends who will give you space to air your concerns then balance you with reason, logic, and supportive suggestions. And actively listen to their feedback! If your response is to immediately discount or discredit them or brush their input away, you will soon find you no longer have that supportive sounding board, and the echoes of your own inner dialogue will suck you deeper and deeper into the well of hopelessness. (Re-read Day 34 on Cognitive Dissonance.)
Is your “what if” rational? Or is it an emotion that’s been triggered by something else? If it’s an emotional trigger, that indicates an unhealed wound, and you need to do some work to unearth the source and heal it. If it is a rational “what if”, how can you move to a neutral or positive frame of reference?
(I’ve done enough reading, built relationships with lots of people well-versed in emotional trauma, and spent enough time on therapists’ couches to say “yes, I recognize the difference when I experience my own ‘what if’ ” and thus can speak from my own experience.)
As you move from catastrophizing “what if?” language to neutral acceptance of “what is”, you can most assuredly see more options. And in moving toward those, you can then start recognizing even more potential for “what could be”.
If you view the world through the lens of dramatic and worst-case scenarios of “what if”-ism, you can quite honestly be blinding yourself to all the areas for growth, renewal and opportunity that lies within the same situation.
Recommended reading: “A Little Peace of Mind” by Nicola Bird has an entire chapter devoted to “what-iffing”. Already added to my wish list. 🙂
Day 13: Rise Up.
Don’t let the ugliness in others kill the beauty in you.
This post is not about rising up in protest or rising up in anger. (Like many others, I’m in a personal space of learning right now.)
This is about our own personal journey of transcendence into a place from which we can better serve humanity. It’s about rising up above our difficulties and returning to a state of contentment.
In my home office I have a little laminated poster that illustrates where emotions reside in the body. It looks something like this:
I want to emphasize that I am not an expert on this – I’m sharing what I have at my fingertips because these are the tools that have helped me to overcome a life of depression, to work through feelings of resentment and anger, and to focus on being a better person, for myself and others.
The correlation between where the emotional energy resides and the Eastern philosophies of chakra energy is no coincidence. If we lack trust (root chakra) we experience feelings like sadness, grief and fear. We cannot trust that things will get better. But when we rise up to gratitude, it’s not only right in the center of our emotions (the fulcrum of balance), it is also the place where there is wisdom and power. From there, we continue to rise up further into love and acceptance.
No one perpetually moves up; this is a teeter-totter. There are times when we are angry, and rightfully so. There are times when we feel moments of blissful happiness too. We vacillate between all these emotions as we live day to day. That said, you always have a choice: Do you want to feel better, or do you want to feel bitter?
Avoid getting ‘stuck’ in the lower emotional realms. Be aware when you are there, feel through it all, then choose to rise up to a higher state of being. Sometimes it is easier than others. When it’s tough, that is your signal that you have some old wounds in need of healing before you can rise up to the next level.
It is only from those higher emotional levels that you can do good things for yourself, your family, and the world.
2020 is proving to be one trial by fire after another. Refuse to fall into hopelessness. The phoenix rises from its own ashes, but only after it has burned. So too, we can rise up from all the battles we face, uplifted by the power of love beneath under our wings.
Day 12: Forgive.
“Forgiveness is not forgetting or walking away from accountability or condoning a hurtful act; it’s the process of taking back and healing our lives so we can truly live.” – Brené Brown
Why have we made it so difficult to forgive? Where did we get the notion that forgiveness has anything to do with “making it OK” for people to hurt and abuse us?
It’s never OK. It. Is. Never. OK.
There’s an old saying: “Holding on to the anger you feel toward someone is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Forgiveness doesn’t negate the wrong done to you. But we hurt ourselves by holding on to the injustices done to us. The pain felt is replayed over and over again, in our minds and emotions. We hold that negative energy in our body (see yesterday’s illustration) where it continues to burn a hole in us, manifesting in dis-ease. It fuels feelings of resentment, rage and can create thoughts of vengeance. Rise up above that.
Please understand something else too: Hurt people hurt people. If someone acted in hurtful ways or said hurtful things to you, they do so from their own place of pain. Because someone who is not hurting, has no need to hurt others.
Hurt people lash out, like a cornered animal, when their own wounds are opened up. Traumas from their own past are unleashed. Their egos take the steering wheel of their thoughts, words and deeds. They forget themselves, their values, their love, their relationships, and they want to make someone else hurt so they don’t feel like they’re the only ones. They falsely believe that in making themselves “right” you must be wrong. That’s duality thinking and again, please refer back to yesterday’s diagram.
Need another visual? It’s like the person who did you harm put their big, smelly bag of garbage on your doorstep and said “THERE!! This is what you are!!” And you picked it up and carried it around with you. You spend days, weeks, even years hanging onto that stench, smelling it day in and day out, repelling others with the disgusting stuff that’s oozing out everywhere, burdening yourself with someone else’s filth. All you need to do to rid yourself of it all, is simply take it to the trash bin where it belongs.
Forgiveness is letting that sh** go. Forgiveness releases the tension in your body and mind and gives you a sense of peace. Even if the relationship that was damaged cannot be fixed, you get to close the book, put it on the shelf, and look for something better and more worthy of your time and energy.
I will always consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to listen to and meet Les Brown. He also backs me up here.
You can forgive and be at peace. As another old saying goes, living a happy life is the best revenge.
Day 11: Happy Dance!
(Admit it, you heard the Charlie Brown piano song in your head when you saw this graphic. Right?)
We need to find reasons to feel happy right now. Dancing, or singing or playing music, can have an emotionally cathartic effect on us. So stay off social media this weekend, turn off the news and raise your spirits with some upbeat music and a jig.
Around the globe, nearly everyone has some form of dance that celebrates some aspect of their culture. The aerial splits of the Ukrainian Hopak. The rhythmic Sirtaki (think Zorba the Greek- OPA!). The spritely Irish stepdance. The jubilant Bhangra from India, or the menacing Haka of the Maori.
(Believe me it was fun to research this … you can’t help but feel a little bit happier watching people dance and have fun!)
Dancing is good for you. The physical movement releases endorphins, the rhythm of the music stimulates sensory and pleasure centres in our brains. In a study at the University of Derby, people suffering from depression received salsa lessons and after nine weeks of lessons, found they had fewer negative thoughts.
If you’re shaped like the Pillsbury Dough Boy as I am, then you’re not likely to be doing a “grande jeté” out of the gate. I have the doubled disadvantage in that I have the ambulatory coordination of a newborn giraffe. So I watch clips of real dancers such as this, and hope that after I shed this particular mortal coil I might be reincarnated as Gene Kelly or Mikhail Baryshnikov.
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