Hope is a state of mind, the gas that propels us forward, when our world turns black and cold. Life delivers challenges, some tragic and devastating. Humans are built to be resilient. A flicker of hope illuminates each baby step to recovery. Without it, there is only despair. Powerful, positive thoughts can lift us from the bottomless pit to sunny skies. Hope is the key to survival.
Did you ever stop to think what motivates you? Why do respond the way you do? Are you avoiding pain or seeking comfort? Does fear of lack drive your career goals? Do you feel inadequate, therefore must prove yourself? Are competing with a sibling for your parents’ approval and love? Are you looking for love in all the wrong places, turning to food, alcohol or drugs? Scratching the surface, you may find a frightened child who needs a hug.
For almost three decades, my husband and I owned a successful photography studio. During those years, my father-in-law often asked my husband when he was going to get a real job. Our parents were programed and they lovingly passed it on to us.
Our egos tell us that we are deficient. We fear criticism and failure. How do you react? Do you find comfort in art, music or hobbies, that feed your soul? Are you anxious and irritable as you stretch for the gold ring? Do you dream about starting a business or writing a book, but talk yourself out of it?
Ask yourself why you do what you do. If you are happy, you are in alignment with your true self. If not, you are allowing the chatter in your head drive your behavior. Listen to your heart. It will never steer you wrong.
What are your priorities? Make a list. Do the ego driven rungs on your ladder to success rank above better relationships, your loved ones, community service, exercise and well-being? If so, you may want to rethink it. What will be important when you face death? Will you ask to see your bank account or the special people in your life?
Goals keep you growing and moving forward, but happiness requires balance. Life is like a wheel. Every spoke represents an area of your life. When too much energy is spent on one section, the wheel is no longer round and cannot turn.
Be aware! Time is an asset. Spend it wisely.
Are you wound tighter than a drum? One more twist and you will snap? If so, you are not alone. Many people function under constant pressure, which can be self-induced by unrealistic expectations, or caused by external forces, i.e. job, spouse and family. Regardless of the cause, prolonged stress creates mental and physical damage.
The body is equipped with a flight or fight response. When threatened, the adrenal glands release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Heart rate quickens, blood pressure rises, energy supplies increase and substances that repair tissues are more available. Non-essential or detrimental functions to the fight or flight situation are curbed.
Chronic stress keeps the flight or fight reaction turned on, which puts you at an increased risk for many health problems.
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
First step in mitigating stress is to identify what causes your blood to boil. Keep and open mind and kick the “my way or the highway” attitude to the curb. There are many ways to accomplish a task. When receptive, you may learn an approach you like better and adopt as your own.
Loading the dishwasher is a mindless chore, yet stressful to some. Locked into a belief that the dishes must be placed the same way every time, a host can be sent into a tailspin when a guest offers to help. I welcome new ideas. House guests showed me how to accommodate more dishes per load. Take off the blinders and experiment with new ideas. What have you got to lose? The worst scenario is that you prefer your way and revert to it, perhaps teaching the other person something new in the exchange.
A lot of stress in the house can be mitigated with common sense. White couches and rugs in the family room occupied by kids, dogs and cats are a recipe for disaster. Keep common areas cleared of clutter. Limit children’s toys to playrooms, bedrooms and family rooms. Adult hoarding can be kept out of sight in the office, garage and basement. Uncluttered living room, dining room and kitchen are ready for the drop-in guest. No one notices a little dust and you will not die of embarrassment. When you plan to entertain, those rooms are easy to vacuum and dust.
When possible do not place yourself under time pressures. If you have a presentation due, do not procrastinate. Leaving things to the last minute is a recipe for disaster. Allow time for the unforeseen to go wrong and always have a Plan B.
To summarize, relax your expectations, declutter your space and do not procrastinate. Planning and organization go a long way towards sanity. Above all, remember that no one is perfect, including you. Expect the unexpected and roll with the punches. Choose to bend, instead of snapping.
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Devastated by her husband’s infidelity, romance writer, Mysti Wade, loads her personal possessions into a rented trailer and sets off to claim her unseen inheritance with her rescued hound, Zak. Left by her estranged grandmother, the Second Empire Victorian mansion on Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay is thirty years past prime condition. The estate has no money for maintenance and repairs. Stuck, with meager means and no place to go, Mysti stays, despite rumored ghosts. When a drifter, Harry Pearson, shows up during a severe thunderstorm, she agrees to let him live in the carriage house in exchange for work. Soon, the tumbledown, brick fortress, springs back to life with mowed lawns, tended gardens, rebuilt porches and painted trim, but invisible evil shrouds the property. Broke, and heartbroken by her failed marriage, Mysti abandons a romance novel to write a mystery, using reality for inspiration. Oblivious to danger and driven by an unexplainable force, she delves into her grandmother’s accidental death and squandered assets with skeptical eyes. Bodies drop to protect guilty secrets, some buried for generations. Walking a tightrope to stay alive and protect her dog, Mysti Wade exposes deceit, greed and murder. Justice is served!
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ― Confucius.
If happiness came in a pill or a bottle, life would be easy. If there were a perfect place to live, we would all be there. Happiness is a choice. Each has a super-power to create life experiences, but many prefer to blame others and play the victim role.
Life dumps challenges, some horrific, at our feet that are out of our control, but we own the responses. Choices are to curl up in a fetal position or face reality, assess options and problem solve to survive. Get ready to steer your ship. Break the chains of limiting beliefs. Take a deep breath and look at the sky’s vastness. The possibilities are limitless.
The first step to growth, change and abundance in all areas of your life is to be grateful. How often do you hear the expression of gratitude outside of a place of worship? It is more likely to hear whining about the weather, spouse, children, boss, work, money, health and services. There is always something for which to be grateful, regardless of the situation.
Most people plod through life, numb to their surroundings. Like gerbils on a wheel, one runs and runs and runs, on automatic pilot. Get up, go to work, go to bed, repeat, until one day, the house of cards crumbles. Miserable and unfulfilled, the finger points to everyone and everything, except yourself.
Instead of being grateful, it is human nature to feel inadequate and say, “If only,
- I had money
- I had talent
- I were thin
- I had hair
- I were good looking
- I had a better job
- My skin were flawless
- I drove a Ferrari
- My teeth were straight
- I had bigger boobs
Know that you are a spirit having a human experience to grow and learn. Your soul is perfect, created in the image and likeness of God, the Source. Your greatest misgivings are perpetrated by the ego. Many have been programmed by parents, ancestors and former lives.
Trying to protect me from the hurt of disappointment, my mother would drown my dreams by saying, “Get off your high horse. Who do you think you are?” When I told her I was engaged, she said, “You’ll end up barefoot and pregnant and amount to nothing.” These words sound hurtful, but in her own way, she was trying to protect me. I understand her motive now, but the comments made me insecure for most of my life.
Gratitude requires awareness. For example, a musician hears each instrument and the technical components in a composition. To my tin ear, it is a melody with a beat. One of my friends can identify birds by their songs, although she can no longer see them in detail. Focus aids appreciation.
My mother spouted a saying, “A man complains that he has no shoes until he sees a man with no feet.” Things could always be worse. Be appreciative for what you have and you will not feel victimized.
Commandment # 10, “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.” Instead of looking at this from the sin viewpoint, examine the impacts to you. To covet is to envy. Trying to keep up with the Joneses will cause the ego to shout that you to prove your self-worth with a new car, house, boat, grill, furniture, Rollex watch, etc. Excited at first when you acquire the coveted item, soon you yearn for more. Significant debt may suck you further into a hole of despair. For those who can afford the luxuries in life, enjoy, but realize that things are not satisfiers. They cannot replace inner peace and happiness. Work on you and the happiness that you deserve. The extras that money can buy, will be the icing on the cake, as you draw abundance to your new, positive energy. Too many humans think money would solve their problems. That is putting the cart before the horse. Instead, get to know yourself. Find the inner guidance and purpose. Be grateful for today. When abundance flows, play, be appreciative and share. Bill and Melinda Gates have a luxurious lifestyle and also created a foundation to make the world a better place.
You can make a difference, regardless of how much you earn or have in the bank. Many years ago, I learned a lesson from a nervous eighteen-year-old, flying from Houston, Texas to join the Army. His rural high school’s fundraiser was a squirrel hunt. Raised by his Granny, he said, “It don’t cost nothin’ to be nice.” The young man taught me a lesson, that I have never forgotten.
It does not cost anything to smile, hold open a door, shovel a neighbor’s walk or volunteer at your favorite charity. Each of us has something to give. Share your talents and positive energy with others.
A year ago, I slipped on a wet, tile floor, fell on my side and broke my elbow. I was thankful that my sore hip was not broken, which would have been more debilitating. Find a way to be grateful in imperfect situations.
Exercise- Take a walk. Pretend that you are a witness to a crime, who must testify in court. What do you see, hear, smell? Touch a shrub or two. Is the foliage soft, hard, smooth, prickly? What colors do you see? Look at the sky. Is it blue with puffy clouds or grey? Are the clouds moving quickly? When you return home, jot down what you remember. Do this every day for at least five minutes. A walk during your lunch break is good for mind, body and spirit. If the weather is uncooperative, perform the exercise indoors. Caution for those working at home, dust bunnies may appear.
Compile a gratitude list. Start with five items the first day. Try to add five new ones each day. You may be surprised at how blessed you are. It is human nature to focus on the one slighting, mechanical failure or mistake that happened than the kindness, praise, smiles or good fortune received. Has it been your experience that when you obsessed about something negative, more went wrong to ruin your day and evening? When in crisis, it is challenging to have positive thoughts, but worth the effort. Do not wait for the magic genie to pop out of a bottle. Take responsibility for yourself and your happiness.
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” Wayne W. Dyer
On a sliding scale, Earthlings perceive life somewhere between magil and Hellish. What lenses do you use to view the World? Are they scratched and dirty, seeing only what is ugly or clear to view beauty?
Illness, poverty and injustice plague the planet, but love, kindness and service to humanity abound. Many escape unhappiness via drugs and alcohol. Some pop prescribed antidepressants like candy. Masking issues is not a solution. It takes courage to look in the mirror, examine yourself and your choices. Whatever you see, you have created. Running away from problems is not a remedy, because wherever you go, your baggage will be your traveling partner. One cannot expect different outcomes without changing behavior.
Do you drag out of bed every morning, dreading the day ahead? If so, why? Examine your emotions. Are you angry, bored, frightened, anxious, or frustrated, to name a few? Pinpoint what is generating the emotion. If you cannot change the situation, i.e. an annoying coworker, try to perceive the person or situation in a different light. For example, instead of being riled by a braggart, feel compassion for the insecure person who is intimidated by your accomplishments and wants to impress you.
From your self-assessment, you may determine that you need time to exercise, read, take a luxurious bath or pursue hobbies, but you lament that there are not enough hours in the day. You are short on sleep and long on frustration. Record how you use your time for three consecutive days, including phone calls, social media and television. There is at least a half an hour a day that is wasted or could be appropriated. You must prioritize your needs and communicate that to your loved ones. I know a mother of seven who took from 1-2 P.M. to paint, read or nap. She scheduled her time around children’s nap times and school. With more organization and less martyrdom, you will reap mental and physical rewards. Nothing is more energizing than doing what makes your heart sing. Plan to get at least eight hours sleep per night. Minor difficulties are overwhelming when one is too tired to cope.
Perception is the event. Start the day with a positive vibe. Will the ride be smooth like Zamboni cleaned ice? Probably not. You may spill your coffee, be cut off by another driver, deal with a foot stomping teenager or make a mistake at work. Stuff happens. Mindset and reaction determine if they are petty annoyances or day shattering events. Humans focus on the negative and forget the positive, which are subject to your perspective. For example, you may perceive spilling your coffee as negative, but while wiping it up, you find your lost gold earring, which is positive. Look at the big picture when possible, although most of life’s synchronicities are beyond our comprehension. One may never know that a flat tire prevented involvement in an accident.
Ice jail or spectacular display? For a week I pondered the question. Looking from within, I felt trapped by the jagged wall of ice and afraid of water flooding through the roof. I imagined eaves troughs crashing to the ground from the excessive weight and icicles impaling unexpected guests. I shivered from the cold and longed to live where palm trees grow.
A drip caught my eye. I followed its path down the craggy, frozen barricade and contemplated whether it would add its mass to the tip or fall to the ground. Each icicle was unique in size, shape, length, diameter and density. Visions of a magical, crystal palace danced in my mind.
I concluded that the icicles were constant. I was the variable. My perception labeled the icicles threatening or awesome. Most worries never materialize. Time, energy and health are squandered needlessly.
This chapter is about dealing with daily frustrations. Coping with tragedy, loss and grief will be discussed in another chapter. Before playing a concerto, we must learn to play the scale.
Exercise- Make a list of the positive and negative occurrences for three days. Include random acts of kindness, that you may usually take for granted. Which list is longer? With reflection, can you find a silver lining in any of the negative?
Try to change your reaction to minor irritants. Are they a matter of life or death? If not, is the anger, anxiety and stress worth it? Lighten up. Find humor in a situation. Laugh at your clumsiness. Do not sweat the small stuff. Regardless of what happens today, the sun will rise tomorrow. At the end of the day, you will feel better, in mind, body and spirit.
Five Ways to Relieve Stress and Worry
- Identify your fear- Many times stress is fear of the unknown.
- Consider the worst scenario and prepare. Stock the car with supplies when traveling (blanket, first aid kit, non-perishable food like energy bars, water, cell phone) Have emergency kits at home in the event of power outage, snowstorm, tornado or hurricane (battery radio, flashlights, generator with fuel, canned goods, propane, camp stove, bottled water, non-perishable food) Preparation can make the difference between inconvenience and desperation. The same applies to making presentations, taking exams, house maintenance. Be prepared.
- Reflect on the best outcome- Once prepared, focus on the positive. The chance of your worst nightmare coming to fruition is small. If planning a trip, immerse yourself in the adventure. The butterflies in your stomach are excitement. Do not confuse the feeling with fear.
- Be flexible. Go with the flow. Swimming against a rip current is exhausting.
- Trust. The universe has your back. When you encounter obstacles, trust that you are being guided to something better.
Points of light, forever joined, a web of consciousness
Leave the lower frequencies, ascend with love and light.
View the world objectively upon a sheltered bluff
Earth in flux, a beacon be, humanity survives.
Ego’s trapped victim
Gasping for air
Flames scorch the flesh
Screams go unheard
Starved to the bone
Jails one created
Break chains for freedom
Listen to soul
Trust Divine order
God’s master plan
Light, love creation
Perfect and whole.