On a rainy weekend, I was so happy, so energized. I did a lot of cleaning and reorganizing – I scrubbed floors, took the porch apart and gave it a mid-summer cleaning, washed curtains and even polished silverware! I was bopping around, enjoying music, enjoying silence, enjoying the immediate gratification of cleaning. I know you’re thinking – wow, she’s out of her mind! Yes I am, and very proud of it, as a matter of fact!
I had been going thru a phase of low energy, lack of interest in these things, in and out of down moods. I am so pleased with myself, because I’ve been accepting myself being that way, knowing it will change, knowing it is valuable in and of itself. I’ve been just being me – it doesn’t sound all that great, but believe me, it is fabulous!
As Elvis Costello sang: “I can’t stand up for falling down”.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about the meaning of cleaning, both for individuals and for couples. (I’ll send you my thoughts about couples’ chores issues in the future!) Some things I’ve been becoming more aware of: there is no right way. We all think we know exactly what works best, but when you are more open minded, there are often better ways. I’ve been working on becoming more flexible in general. A small but to me very meaningful example: for years I changed the light bulbs in an outdoor fixture, (uncomfortable in the cold, for sure) – by removing the part that hung down over the bulbs. One day I realized that I could just reach under it and change the bulbs a lot easier! It was one of many lessons that showed me I always have tended to do things the hard way, and had felt very burdened because of it. It was part of my core identity, or so I thought. The personal work I’ve been doing has helped me to see that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Another thing about cleaning, the immediate gratification I mentioned above. When you’re into it, and enjoying it, it becomes a joyful meditative and energizing experience. All of us have had many times of doing chores just because we “have to”. Whether one is in a couple or not, we have all felt resentments about having to do these things. What I keep learning, again and again, is that when I take good care of myself, and get more in touch with what I really want to do, I get more done in less time and enjoy it a lot more often. Cleaning and reorganizing has a very useful, enjoyable aspect to it when you’re in that frame of mind. It helps you clear some stuff inside and get ready for other activities, sometimes daunting ones.
When your house is clean, your laundry done, when you have that good feeling about yourself, you go into your next challenge feeling more confident, calmer, and a lot more hopeful.
Putting yourself first is one of the more difficult things in our culture. We are taught, often, to think of others first and to think rather poorly of ourselves in general. This is true throughout our lives, and I’m thinking more about the years of maturity. Calling upon an inner sense of trust helps remind us of all that we’ve learned over 50-plus years of life. It helps a lot to say, “wow, I’ve done a lot, I know how to do a lot, I can do many things – and I’m willing to not know everything now”. Not knowing is an uncomfortable place and a highly valuable one. Trusting yourself is the key to finding your way in the world, and in your life. Putting yourself first is a necessity.
I learned a new skill way back in my 30’s. I was totally out of touch with my wants and needs. I had no idea what to do when; this was after spending most of my life in school, finishing grad school at 28. I developed a technique – when I did have unscheduled time, I would sit in my kitchen and review all my choices and try to get in touch with what I actually wanted to do. I would then go and do it and see if that was the right pick. If it turned out to be something I didn’t like, I’d stop and go back, sit down and think again. Over time this turned out to be very helpful. I found that I got things done, and enjoyed the doing of them. I gave myself time to relax too. Of course there are still times I feel overwhelmed, uncertain, resentful, frustrated – being human and all. But I do find that when I’m using that technique, and when I’m putting myself first as often as possible, those times are a lot less frequent.
When you try identifying your real wants and needs, when you give yourself real permission and encouragement to relax and have fun, you’ll get to this wonderful place:
I DON’T GOTTA DO NOTHIN!!!
Ok, it’s officially Spring. Why do so many of us get so frustrated when we know from long experience that it’s often chilly, damp, downright cold during the emergence of spring. We get impatient with the totally normal unfolding of the season. How many times has it actually been cold and rainy on Memorial Day Weekend?!
Ok, It's Officially Spring…
Our society is impatient, our culture teaches us to get frustrated. We have these patterns deeply ingrained, they have become automatic reactions. Some of it is natural too – like a progressing pregnancy – you just want it to be over, already!
These patterns interfere with our capacity to enjoy the moments we have in this life, whether it’s spring or another time of year. Our culture teaches us to avoid looking at, accepting, things like decomposing, or aging. Decomposition is natural and necessary for growth and change, in fact for life itself.
We often lack the respect reserved for elders in other societies; our lack of tolerance for decomposing materials is a mirror image of this lack of respect. Those who do composting are more in touch with these aspects of real life; there certainly are many among us who are working to get more in touch with the elements, the deeper realities of being here now.
In order to get more in touch, there are a few things, activities, that can be very helpful. Taking walks in the woods is very helpful. I’m going to be doing these as group activities soon, please let me know if you are interested. Meditation is a huge help too; these are things that slow us down to a more human pace, and help us be in touch with the real aspects of ourselves, our lives. We are trying to become accustomed to a frantic pace, secondary to technology in our world. It is really doable to do both – use the technology and slow it down, internally. We are adapting to the rush of tech; it is here to help us, not make us frantic.
When you are able to slow down, you become a lot more appreciative of what we have, a lot more ready to see the details of spring unfolding, really ready to enjoy the flowers. When we are rushed, frantic, overwhelmed, the irony is that the flowers flash by too, just like everything else we see, and we miss out on the opportunity to deeply access the sources of true joy. Let yourself life and love, taking in the dark and the light, the slow and the quick, this perspective will deepen your love of life.
We are all a little nuts!
Sometimes we are really beautiful nuts (just sayin’ – actually acorns aren’t nuts), sometimes we are more than a little cracked:
See? I bet you know just how this feels! This is what happens to all of us sometimes, we just want it to happen less.
When we don’t take good care of ourselves and either just run out of steam or run into unexpected stresses, we hit the wall and end up feeling pretty much that we’ve come apart. This is just temporary and most of us have learned, oh crap I’ve done it again, I just didn’t think it through, didn’t take into account all the stuff I was trying to do, how much time it would really take.
The major key element is thinking and feeling, deeply, that “I deserve – I need – I want” meaning that it is really seriously ok to relax, have some time to yourself, time to hang out with friends and family, TIME FOR YOU! When we feel we are stealing time, sneaking it, it feels like an addiction. We have an awareness running in the back of the mind, thoughts about other things that need to be done, and a lot of guilt accompanying the whole song, thumping quietly, preventing real enjoyment.
One way to work on this perennial issue is to craft some realistic statements that express the truth of your options. Something like: “I can relax today, I trust that with the rest I get today I’ll be more in the mood to get stuff done tomorrow. I’ve done it this way before and it’s worked out, so it should be fine”. These are my words, a way that works for me; it needs to be your own words, your own truth. Just keep workin’ it, you’ll get it and you’ll love it!
Please tell me what has worked for you, I love finding new ways to share with others that really help – we can work together!
We all have ideas about resolutions, then take to the couch after the holidays! Some people become able to carry out their resolutions too – have you wondered how they do it?
It’s important to recognize both elements of the post-holiday time – we all need down time, couch time, hibernation time. This is an aspect of winter, we are programmed like the bears to take to our caves and eat more. After the holidays, we are ‘peopled out’ too! We’ve had enough social contact and just want to cocoon. There is something else going on too – we want to make fresh starts on certain projects, we want to clean out closets or paint a room, or get into exercising.
The key is to make a plan and act on it, not just think about it! The thinking part is vital, though. As you are lying on your couch, make some notes about what you want to do, make wish lists, pick things that are more doable, given your time and money constraints. It’s kind of like making your list of presents when you were a child – all the things you want, knowing you can’t have everything! But it’s very entertaining to make your list, and check it twice. Here you don’t have to worry about being naughty or nice!
PICK ONE THING! Set your goal, write about why you have chosen it, why it’s important to you. This will help you get and STAY motivated – which is the biggest issue for most of us. Paint the picture of what it is you want to achieve, then get more specific about exactly what it is, define it. You may find that as you do this, it changes! This is a good thing – it helps you figure out what you really want. A lot of times plans don’t work out because we have not spent the time REALLY looking at what we want for ourselves. Our emotions are the fuel for motivation.
Once you have chosen your goal carefully, break it down into small steps – make it doable! This includes deciding what objects you need, and figuring costs and time as well. Plan out over several weeks taking the small steps needed to accomplish your goal. BE REALISTIC! Projects always take longer than we think, often because we don’t anticipate all the steps and other things come along to interfere. If we’re not realistic, we can become very disappointed in the pace for achieving our goals, then we get discouraged and fall off track. THEN we feel lousy about ourselves. The object here is to ensure achievement, which is great by itself, and even better when you think about what you have been able to accomplish.
A good example is cleaning out all your kitchen cabinets. Many of us put it off for YEARS because it can be so overwhelming. When you are considering this option, think about WHY it might be important; if you are cooking a lot, or want to cook more, those can be great motivators. Having cleaner, better organized cabinets will mean cooking will be more fun, you won’t be confronted with dirt or mess, you’ll know exactly where everything is, and will have what you need! Then you can put on the music you like and cook to your heart’s content!
Take a good look at your cabinets. Make a list of what you will need, like boxes and trash bags for the cleaning out phases, new liner, extra sponges or cleaning agents. If you have too many glasses, plates, pans, etc, designate a box for Goodwill. Go shopping first, so you have everything you’ll need. Pick good music for the day or evening you’re going to start.
Decide how much time to devote! This is mega! Do one shelf at a time. If you spend an entire weekend you will be exhausted and then you’ll put it off for another decade. Do one shelf a day, figure two weeks. As you do it, you’ll feel good about what you’re accomplishing, and you’ll see things you never saw before! You’ll have good thoughts about re-organizing, putting things within reach that you use the most.
Give yourself some valuable rewards, like taking a hot bath after each shelf, or a new hairdo after week one. Think it out ahead of time and plan your rewards, to help you keep on truckin’! You’ll probably be excited about it in the beginning but will be getting sick of it towards the middle and near the end – expect this and help yourself succeed! You will feel awesome about completing this task and more importantly, about yourself. Let yourself feel the pride that will come of your success.
Each time you make a plan and succeed, you will feel a great confidence boost. This really helps you feel more positive in general, gives you an upbeat mood a lot more often. Feeling happier gives you more energy and keeps the ball rolling. It’s great to enjoy life –
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU, I HOPE 2012 IS GREAT FOR YOU!!!
Dr. Victoria Handfield, 2012
I hope it’s not a lot, hope you’re having a blast, enjoying the prep, enjoying the good times already!
If I’m not speaking to you, take a look at this pic and see that nature has holiday colors, big time. It may be that holiday traditions originated using these colors for simple reasons – they were already there!
Take some deep breaths and vow to relax some and open yourself up to all the joys of this season!
There isn’t a whole lot of time left, so pare your list down drastically. Tell people if you haven’t the time or the patience for shopping for gifts for them – tell them you will take them out for lunch or dinner after the holidays. Tell them you love them and will get tickets for a concert so you can spend some serious quality time together. Don’t drive yourself into a panic attack, worrying about whether it’s just the perfect gift for any particular person. Trust that you will either find just the right thing or you’ll do something great together later on.
There are no rules, there are no requirements, only those we inflict on ourselves – we are our own worst critics and we can stop doing this to ourselves. When we choose to enjoy, expand and allow ourselves to love life – life loves us right back!
A study recently showed that a large percentage of heart attack survivors did not take the medication prescribed for them, even if it was free! This shocked the doctors involved and “the study did not examine why people didn’t take their medications”. Some do forget, and some worry about side effects but that’s not the whole story.
In my experience, people are reluctant to take medication because they equate it with dependency. Americans value a sense of independence so highly, without thinking it through – they want to be independent of medications. Also, many people equate mediations with “drugs”. I have frequently tried to point out the difference without success. Another factor not mentioned in the article I saw (AP, Marilynn Marchione, week of 11/14/11) is that many are fearful of addiction and don’t understand the physical mechanisms involved. One more factor is the high level of distrust of pharmaceutical companies, which is well-founded now; the distrust used to be left over from grandparents’ experiences with doctors trained before there were many good medications (snake oil days), but now we have many good reasons to be distrustful which I won’t go into. These factors are highly interwoven and largely subconscious.
Independence is highly valued for good reasons. However, we also need to be dependent in some ways. Many people understand this when it comes to family relationships, (healthier ones that is) but don’t get it when it has to do with medications.
This is another aspect of the importance of balance, not only in our emotional lives, our physical lives too. One thing I have found helpful for people to recall is that we didn’t have these medication choices in the past. It is vital to become highly informed about our medication choices and this is often helpful when it comes to making a good decision. We are very fortunate to be living in a time when we have so many choices, even though it is often overwhelming.
Try to think more positively about yourself, remind yourself that you deserve to treat your body well. I recommend putting premium gas in your tank!
Creating a Balanced Life with Less Money Pressures
by Vicki Handfield
Spend and Save Wisely
We have all spent too much money at times, some more than others. It is important, in any economy to spend wisely, and save money for a rainy day, when possible. But during recessions, it's critical.
Our Get Healthy, Get Happy strategies are interactive. When money pressures get to you, exercise, better eating habits and improved ‘self-care’ skills can help you reduce unnecessary spending, impulse buying in particular.
Emotionally Driven Spending
Often, spending choices are emotionally-driven. One can make rational choices if one waits and thinks. That is the key to making healthier spending choices. This is something that most people know, but don’t always use.
Healthy Food can be Delicious Food!
by Vicki Handfield
Forget About Dieting!
Forget about dieting! Making your eating habits healthier is more effective and more fun. Dieting is usually about deprivation, or giving up foods you like. Foods are addictive, especially sweets, fats, salty foods — all the foods we are taught are not good for us.
Moderation and Balance
But, ALL FOODS CAN BE EATEN IN MODERATION. Like many other issues regarding establishing or improving healthy habits, it is vital to be working to create BALANCE. But don’t expect perfect balance – it’s always a work in progress.
Delicious Healthy Foods?
One of the keys to better eating habits is "importing" delicious healthy foods. It is a lot easier to eat less of something you love if you are also eating something you enjoy. In time, you will come to love the newer foods almost as much. Using seasonings you like helps a lot too.
You can feel calmer, confident and
powerful when you voice your opinions.
by Vicki Handfield
Many people are lacking assertiveness skills for fear of not pleasing others and not being liked. A simple example to demonstrate this is not being able to let a waiter or waitress know that the food is not done correctly or to your specifications. Since most servers or managers want you to be happy, they would prefer to know if there is a problem so they can resolve it.
When the problem is resolved it results in you, the customer, leaving happy and telling others about the great service. It is possible to resolve problems in a friendly, civil manner, then you both win. That is really one of the main points of the Get Healthy, Get Happy, Assertive Program! You will feel more confident, calmer and more powerful if you are able to voice your opinions, needs or problems in a straight-forward, clear manner.
Good Sleep is Vital
by Vicki Handfield.
Medical providers are now recognizing something I have seen for almost 30 years; good sleep is vital to having a good life!
Many people have trouble getting a good full relaxing, restful night's sleep and this adds to life disruption, stress, aggravation, frustration, etc. Someone told me once they were "FINE", meaning Frustrated, Irritable, Neurotic and Emotional! I thought this was the perfect description of modern life; but, we can overcome many of the everyday problems with good, healthy choices.