Of snakes and men

On hot days I take my dogs for a walk in the river on my property. In the heat of summer most of the water is diverted for the purpose of local irrigation, growing crops of New Mexico chili, pinto beans, squash and corn. Irrigation for local farmers restricts the river from a five-foot deep rushing torrent to a creek that barely runs at all. It’s fun to take the dogs up the river and back, chasing minnows, crayfish and dragonflies. On the way back to the house, we run up the slope through the small forest of knee high plants with cabbage like leaves and bright white flowers.

On our run back to the house from the river about five weeks ago, I heard a distinctive sound. Your ear never forgets this sound after the first time you hear a rattler. I quickly yelled at the dogs to stay away, get away, and yelled ‘no’ very loudly. They were unaware of the dangerous reptile at their feet. My feet were bare as were my legs. I am no stranger to snakes and have a great respect for them. Their symbolism, independent strength and grace are to be admired. But anything venomous on your property is not a great idea when you have horses (who fear them), and dogs who love to play with reptiles.

I have had rattlesnakes on my property before, but since they were thick as my upper arm and five feet long, I have had to call in neighbors to deal with them. I called my riding friend a few houses down and told him what was going on. He said “You can handle it. Just take a shovel and do it.” I was stupefied. Me? Kill a snake? Oh, no I can’t do that. No, no, no! Every fiber in my being fought the idea. I hemmed and hawed and danced around and could not do it. But I still had a problem on my hands. I needed to act quickly.

I finally saw another neighbor next door. I said “Hey there is a rattler on my property and I am scared of it.” He said “Well just bring it over here and I’ll take care of it.” Huh? Bring it over? Say what? Oh, the sarcasm was there but, I was stunned at such a flippant and uncaring answer. I have been nothing but a good neighbor to this person. He has even said so to may face on many occasions. But for some reason he was playing with me and being downright rude.

In a panic, I called back my riding friend and said “Look I really don’t have the nerve to do this. I like snakes! This is a living thing and I don’t want to kill it, but it can’t stay on my property.” Since soul dog left, none of my dogs would know what to do, and soul dog would have handled it perfectly. Sigh. My riding friend did not come over, and I would never ask outright. I figure if I outlined the situation it was up to him to offer, and not feel obligated at the same time. He insisted that I could do it. He said I had to learn to do this sort of thing, if I was going to live in the Southwest. He continued in a friendly voice and said “Just suck it up and do it. I know you can do it!” I hung up, and did the deed, which made me uncomfortable on many levels. It made me sick to my stomach. I realized after I did it that this was the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life. It took more courage to do it than I imagined I had. By a factor of 10!

I took a walk to blow off steam, and on the way back I saw a snake curled up on the side of the road basking in the late afternoon sun. I went a little closer to take a look and saw it was a bull snake. Harmless and also beneficial in its appetite for eating mice. I wanted to make sure it was not another rattler in my area. There are a lot of mice on my property and I always welcome most snakes to live there to help with that ‘natural balance’ of things.

This was a tale of two snakes and two men. One man and one snake were dangerous, and the other man and the other snake were beneficial. Had my friend not insisted I had the courage to kill the rattlesnake, I would never have found that supreme amount of courage and guts it took for me to kill it. The ‘bad’ neighbor had been shitty to me, and I would rather have had him say “No, I can’t help you” or anything rather than his sarcastic and dishonest reply. My good friend had done me a favor, in terms of giving me courage, that he is probably to this day not aware of how much he helped me.

Courage can come from anywhere, deep inside you, even if you don’t think you have it.

Comments always welcome and encouraged. View this blog entry by itself by clicking on the headline, in order to make a reply at the bottom.

Goodbye Soul Dog

It’s been just over three months that I let my soul dog, Google go forward to his journey off planet. He was 12 years and 8 months old. Not bad for a 72 lb dog. It was so hard to do, but I feel I had a very complete experience with him. I waited for a sign from him that it was time. Believe me, your animal will let you know when it is time.

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On his last day on the planet, I invited close friends to sit and visit with him out in the yard and the sunshine. All his dog friends were there and people came by to say goodbye. It was one of the very rare sunny days we had in a cloudy and cold early Spring. When it was time to go, we had to plan how to get him into the truck to get to the vet because of his severe arthritis and inability to move much. We decided to place his jumbo sized memory foam bed into the back of the pickup truck. Then three of us lifted him as gently as possible onto it. Then I got into the back of the truck with him and lay down behind him, hugging him and talking to him. I told him to look at the gorgeous sky of blue with tons of white fluffy clouds, and that he was a New Mexico dog for his whole life, and not to forget that. I saw him sniffing the air and still being curious about life.

The experience at the vet was very special. I stayed in the back of the truck with my dog hugging him. We agreed it was best to have it happen outside. Google was an outside dog and going inside the vet’s office would make him unnecessarily uncomfortable. My veterinarian is a member of the Jemez tribe. He said, “I am going to talk to Google. This is my Indian prayer.” He said a very special prayer speaking to my dog, in his tribe’s native language, before Google Doggen passed. This was so different than having someone pray over my dog. Then my vet interpreted the prayer and told me what he said. After everyone went back inside, I spent more time with his body, it was so hard to let go. I wanted a few more minutes to nuzzle his neck and dig my nose into his soft fur, like I had done so many times while he was alive.

At the crematorium I had several items picked out to go with him from home. I had a Mexican falsa blanket to wrap him in, some locally grown sage, incense sticks, and the most important item, his favorite old, deflated basketball. Hey if a dog spends his whole life chasing a basketball, he should get to have it in the end! I told the staff to ‘wrap him up like a burrito’ with all the items. Google deserved the best sendoff I could give him. I picked out a great urn, had it engraved, and also selected some jewelry where you can have some of the ashes inserted. One of those necklaces is hanging on the rear view mirror of my car, so he always rides along with me.

When you give it your all, for every part of the process, it helps with grief and loss. Don’t hide from any part of it. Be with your pet until the end. When you are fully present for the entire journey, it helps with grief and loss. Part of that experience was having him cremated and making a shrine in my home on a bookcase. Every week I buy fresh flowers at the grocery store. I have his old collar wrapped around his urn. It is a way to honor his memory, and still have him near me. It is hard to believe I can’t go out and find him in his usual spot under the porch, or pet him.

The Shamanic experience is about ‘soul retrieval’ for parts of your life you lost along the way—when your heart feels broken. What I did with Google Doggen was so complete that there is no part of my soul that needs retrieving. That is the best way to describe it. Yes, I miss him, but I feel so complete in his full experience here on earth, and with me, that I don’t have a heavy heart when I think of him. It’s finished. The feeling in my heart is light and free.

Sweet Dreams Google Doggen

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Messages via forgotten lyrics

The other day I was feeling out of sorts, at odds with the world and myself. Think square peg in a round hole. A general malaise of having no focused life’s purpose in serving others yet, despite many attempts at different ways to serve. I have a very strong feeling to be of service. My chosen lifestyle in the country makes it hard to find the energy and time to commit to a business of my own where I can serve others. I am constantly on the go and already over extended. But it’s the life I love! So when exactly was I expecting this total life change to occur out of thin air?

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Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations. But I can feel something is out there, down the road a bit. Something bigger. Something better. My way to be of service will materialize at some point. But it feels so overdue. That’s a hard feeling to resolve when it’s a gray day outside and you are in the day-to-day trenches. I guess I felt like Charlie Brown with a little rain cloud following me around.

Haven’t you heard it before? All you have to do is follow your passion. I have taken it to heart seriously. Which passion do I choose? My efforts to serve have, over the years, included landscape and rodeo photography, reiki, psychic readings, teaching classes on dumping drama, using intuition, and reading and teaching Tarot to others. Other interests I am working on include crystal energy, numerology, astrology and animal communication. I am passionate about all of them. There isn’t one interest I would drop. They are all important to my Earth School education. I feel I am like a sponge soaking up information left and right and I don’t want to stop.

But that feeling of not being out there in service persists. Perhaps I should trust in Source a little more? Maybe even though I’m pushing 60, I am not meant to blossom in a public way yet or at all? Maybe I don’t need to follow the popular path of making a business out of it and striking out on my own? Maybe I already serve in others ways I am not aware of? Maybe I’ll run into this way to be of service when it is meant to happen and not before then? I have a habit of living too much in my head, but I love the questions I have and the answers that often follow later. Like little puzzles that get solved over time. I also balance the over-think mindset with tons of feelings. Think Empath. I experience it all. So I feel very balanced, but man there is a lot to process regarding thinking and feeling.

As I was having my day-long pity party I thought about ways to get out of a funk. Smile. Get active. Dance. Jump around. Sing a song. So I started singing an old song:

To everything turn turn turn
There is a season turn turn turn
And a …(forgot lyrics)..heaven.

What’s with that? I know those lyrics. Why does that part escape me? Still trying to conjure them up I kept singing out loud. I figured that way it would come out of my mouth without having to think about it. Sure enough on the third time, it was a charm.

To everything turn turn, turn
There is a season turn turn turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven.

A-ha! Lightbulb time! Take a gander at the words I had to work at recalling. This made them stand out to me. What an obvious way for my inner voice/ intuition/Spirit to tell me to be patient, and that the time will come. I had this ‘message via forgotten lyrics’ happen one other time years and years ago. So it’s not a well used catalyst for communicating messages, but very effective. It is very conducive to an a-ha moment, which sticks with a person.

Feel free to share ways you have received messages. This blog is meant as a forum for discussion and commentary. Comments are welcome and encouraged. 

My 96 year-old inspiration.

The other day I was out running errands on my lunch hour. I had taken extra time that morning to dress a bit nicer than my usual blue jeans, cowboy boots and tee shirt. My ensemble included a long gray fleece skirt, a dusty blue shirt with lace detail yolk, a very long fluffy blue and white scarf with dangles I wound around my neck, a long silver daisy chain necklace, tiny blue lapis earrings, and an older soft jean jacket. Nothing stunning, but for me a nice change. Classy yet comfortable. Sometimes dressing up a bit makes your mood lighter, and you feel more confident.

I was pushing my shopping cart forward in the aisles, thinking the carts were a bit large for the aisle space. Not a big complaint but as a result I was very careful when passing other folks who were getting their shopping done. One such person was a sweet looking lady, very petite. I doubt she tipped the scales at 90 pounds she was so small. Under a black Tam o’ shanter hat a lovely bunch of wavy, black and dark blue hair came spilling out. The blue looked like the color you add on with foam spray. Nice touch. Her features were very fine and set amongst a lifetime of delicate wrinkles. If anything they added to her charm. There is no shame in aging I say. I thought to compliment her on her looks but decided to stop and let her decide which frozen item to get out of the case. I hate to rush folks, especially the elderly, or young mothers with children in tow.

After I moved on a voice behind me said, “My, your skirt perfectly matches your lovely gray hair.” I was astonished to see it was this sweet lady I had just been silently admiring. We struck up a conversation on the topic of gray hair. She lamented, “I haven’t got any gray hair yet and I’m 96!” Well folks, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I knew she was possibly an octogenarian, but to be out shopping and on her own, clearly able to fend for herself at that age really impressed me. To have all your faculties, focus, and beautiful style at almost 100 years old was impressive to say the least. I would also say she is an inspiration. Something for me to shoot for as I gracefully age (ahem).

On the topic of aging gracefully, as little as four years ago I had dark brown hair that I started dying blonde. It was a fun few years and it took years off my looks. But the upkeep and expense of dying long hair was getting to be too much. I’m a person that needs really easy, low maintenance habits. I held my breath and took the plunge and decided to accept my hair and features as nature intended. (I wear little to no makeup.) Still, when I see pictures of myself, especially on today’s video chat, I am wondering, who is that lady with the gray hair? Oh, that’s ME! Kind of makes me laugh. It takes some getting used to but I am really beginning to like exactly who I am. I will continue to be inspired by the sweet little old lady I met in the frozen foods aisle. If I have half her charm and style at 96, I’ll be doing just fine.

What have you seen recently that has inspired you? Comments are welcomed and encouraged. 

Morning prayer…answered in a nano-second

In the morning when I get in my car, I start my hour long journey to my job with a simple morning prayer. I got most of this from a friend, and modified it to suit myself. Here it is:

Angels of Love, Angels of Light, Angels of Mercy
All associated guides, my light worker team celestial crew and peeps,
Come be with me now that I may receive all the messages you are sending me. 
Please know I am in deepest gratitude for all you do to assist,
And I ask that you keep me in your every loving and protective care, 
So be it, it is so!

Then I have a dialogue with them regarding anything that I need help with, or am thankful for. It’s a nice conversation, and a very empowering and authentic way to start your day.

As I ended my prayer, my eyes were on my rear view mirror. Someone in a black sedan was almost IN my lane on top of me! Holy crap! A second later they swerved back into their lane at high speed. And I mean, their front end would have hit my rear drivers-side door they were so close. She must have been at least 90 because in mere seconds she was a dot on the horizon. She kept on going as if nothing happened. Never glanced my way, shrugged or made any sign that she almost killed both of us on a sunny Monday morning.

As the car passed me I wanted to see what person almost took me out of this life. It was a young woman, pushing her glasses back up on her nose. It’s an automatic reflex when you wear glasses that don’t fit well. Her car was packed to the rafters in the back seat, and she gave me no notice whatsoever. As if my life and hers meant nothing.

You would think my first feeling and reaction was anger. However, now that I have a more heart-centered feel for the world after my soul dog died a few weeks ago, the first thing out of my mouth was….

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

It was not lost on me that I had just asked my guides for protection. Trusted them. And went about my day. They were there for me and I am appreciative. I have never seen such a quick demonstration of protection or prayer answering in my life. It wasn’t lost on me, I am divinely protected! And I am humbled and gracious for the support.

Don’t forget to thank Spirit, your guides, your homies-in-spirit, your peeps, your light worker team. They are always there waiting for instruction. They offer no judgment, only support. Thank them. Talk to them. Plan great things with them. Do great things with them. Include them in all you do. Ask for specific help, things, support, ideas. Get granular, then step back and let them do their thing to assist. Believe me, they are ever present.

Love long and prosper.

The wonderfully irritating way the Universe helps you change.

One way the Universe helps me change is wonderful, and it’s also very irritating! Sure enough, when you want to stop drinking caffeine, or stay clear away from carbs and you swear them off, the coffee and bagels of the world will follow you everywhere and it won’t stop until you are immune.

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Why does this happen? It’s my opinion that you are not necessarily being tested because the Universe does not pass judgment. It’s more like you are given chances to succeed at whatever you wanted to change. The Universe gives you many chances to try out your new whatever-it-is. And believe me the Universe knows the nano-second you make the choice. The good news is, this way you have a lot of different opportunities to succeed. If you don’t succeed every time, you might learn something from those trials. Maybe you will learn you are not ready and you need to give it a rest for awhile, and then get back at it. Maybe you will have insights from those trials. Be open minded.

Sometimes you can make a change lickety split, in the blink of an eye you just decide you are ready. I was able to do that the other day when I had a change of heart. Most of the time that doesn’t happen, it depends. When people say it just happened overnight, my belief is it really took years to cultivate that new way of being. With trying to eat a healthy diet it took me till the age of 59 to Grok the idea and totally incorporate it into my routine in a way that seemed totally natural. It probably felt natural because I had worked on this for most of my adult life.

When I started bringing salad to work every day, I was tempted with cookies and chocolates, birthday cake, bagels, banana bread, bars, candies and you name it. But by that time I was really so happy with the way I felt after eating healthy for months that those foods did not tempt me. Really it’s not an immunity as much as you realize the plus side of your goal. If it’s eating healthier food, you will learn over time what fuels your body. This is an important distinction to whatever you think you need to be eating. Trial and error will tell you what you need to feel your best.

If you want to have less contact with certain people, like needy, draining, or dramatic types, for sure you will be surrounded by that sort of person as soon as you make the decision. It happens so you can practice your desired skills. You’ll get good at extricating yourself politely but firmly if you really want to achieve your goal. You can do it without hurting anyone’s feelings, and you will take pride in your progress. Believe me it’s not mean hearted to cut down on the dramatic, needy or energetic vampires of the world.

I did the same thing with recreational drinking. I absolutely adore a glass of good red wine, and about once a month, a shot of Patron Tequila. Since I take heavy nerve meds that don’t go well with alcohol, I eventually stopped drinking altogether. For years I felt the energetic pull from the Universe to stop. It got to the point where I would experiment with it to see if I needed it for relaxing or partying. I got down to one glass of wine a night, and I realized even that did not make me happy at all and I still felt like crap the next day. I realized there was no benefit whatsoever. Sure enough the day after I swore I would not drink again, well meaning friends came over with alcohol and would not believe I was not going to have any. I had to make myself clear by saying this handy phrase:

“Thank you for thinking of me, but it is not in my best interest.” 

In fact staying sober during a party was very enlightening and fun!

Whatever you are trying to change, modify or kick, know in your heart that you will very soon get opportunities to try your new way of living. The Universe seems to know this the instant your mind is made up. Another apt phrase is to keep in mind is, “If you ask for patience, your patience will be tested!”

Comments are welcome and encouraged! 

A catalyst for change, from the heart.

There’s a fun song by Ray Charles called Smack Dab in the Middle. Have a listen, it’s a fun song. My question to you is, are you smack dab in the middle of your world? If not, why not? I know it sounds selfish and self-centered to make you be first. But isn’t that the best way to be able to assist others? I think I have written about this before here. The message is, you can only truly be of service once your own house is in order. Caring for myself first, I knew on an intellectual/informative level. Think Head. But the idea had not quite come home to roost. Think Heart. This post explains how I made the change from head to heart.

If you are the caretaker for others, be they human or animal, you have to be and think and do for yourself first. You can’t keep giving and giving without you at the center. Otherwise your well will run dry and when you try and ‘fix’ what is wrong you’ll be out of energy. You might not even realize what is wrong. That’s where I have often found myself of late. But I have felt so very connected to Spirit these past years, how could this be? (Chuckling to myself.)

The almighty Universe has a way of sending lessons when you need them, in the most unlikely of forms. Usually one after the other in quick succession to get your attention. I call that the 2×4 over the head. You’d think by now I’d be wearing a cosmic helmet! The last lesson to me came by way of my horse, Silver.

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In the middle of a rare sleet storm at 10:32pm my horse Silver went sick. I was surprised when my vet returned my call about a minute after I left a voicemail message. Off we went arriving in town around midnight. We left Silver in good hands. Silver went for two visits over a 10 day period until we figured out what it was. At first we thought it was colic, which can kill a horse. Turned out he has ulcers. At least ulcers are treatable and not fatal. So relieved, but that 10 days was hard on my nerves. It felt like I was walking on pins and needles, the feeling in my core was panic. Yeah, that’s not good. What’s up with that? Where did my calm demeanor go. You know, the one that comes forward when I give other people advice? (Oh the irony!)

Worries that compounded my situation were many. My elderly dog, Google, is my soul dog. His attitude is stellar but he’s near the end of his time on the planet, that is clear. My elderly mother is on my mind. I live 1200 miles away from her and I miss her. A family member who is dear to me has been diagnosed with cancer. The family is still reeling from the news. At my job, I work with good folk, but I have to be there in mind and body. All these things plus Silver’s problem added up to feeling totally overwhelmed and a little wobbly. Pema Chödrön would say it is good to get used to that feeling of groundlessness. Oh that’s hard to do. It takes practice. I know I should not let things I have no control over worry me a la Byron Kaite. But it’s hard to drop all that other stuff, especially if those involved are close to your heart.

During this ten day ordeal before we got the diagnosis on Silver, my friend Ren and I were texting. I told her I felt overwhelmed, drained, and in a panic. This is not my usual ‘from love’ space. It was a ‘from fear’ space, and she and her son could see this. She asked me a question. A real life changing question. She said…

“Got a hard question for you: Is Patty or are Patty’s Animals #1 in your world?”

In the past the answer has always been, my animals come first. I would brag to people my animals are fed in the morning before I eat. I pop out of bed like toast, rush to get outside to feed. I am out in my chore boots, PJ’s, bathrobe and coat before the sun is up, complete with headlamp so I can see the hay bales in the dark. I look like a walking rummage sale.

Is it necessary to eclipse my own life to care for others? Is this level of care really necessary? Well knock me over with a feather! By answering the question, I could see past events of my life with deep clarity. On the spot I was able to rethink my core actions and act from that new center of self-love. Wow. Powerful stuff. I had been putting everyone else first, and that had been so hard wired in me. There is nothing wrong with caring for your critters or other folk, but to not put yourself first means you can drain yourself unnecessarily. Your world will seem off center, like seeing from the perspective of being picked up by the tornado. If you come from center, you can be the calm eye of the storm. I knew my friends’ words rang true and it was a great catalyst for change. It was a large pivot point for living the rest of my life from.

There is a better way to live and still care for everyone. As nurturers, women are taught to give and do and make and cook and bring and organize and tutor and orchestrate and comfort and direct and teach and you name it. I needed to unlearn a lot of old programming in how to approach this role.  Ren told me when she made this change to loving the self first, she didn’t love her kids any less. In fact she loved them more, because she loved herself more. Folks this is a golden nugget of information, founded in love. I could work with this! I could still work with Spirit, love and care for myself, and then tackle what the rest of the world brought to my door. Wise words indeed! I am much indebted to Ren for this awakening in me.

I instantly was able to re-arrange my day on the fly, taking care of what I needed, before caring for others. It was a small change, that made a big difference, and no one was left wanting as a result. In fact everything felt better, more right, and more natural. So simple, yet so powerful. Now this lesson had come home to roost in my heart.

Before you go out into the world assisting others, keep this in mind. What base are you operating from? A base of self-love first, caring for yourself first? Are you really truly coming from love, or are you coming from a sense of guilt or a sense of duty? It’s a hard question to ask. But for me, it changed my life in an instant. You can do this too.

Comments always welcomed and encouraged. 

 

 

When is a good time for a change? Coffee time!

I used to have coffee almost every morning before work with a neighbor. Jokingly I would tell my buddy that I was there for coffee and conversation, but I really didn’t care much for the coffee. Companionship is something most single, older people desire. My platonic buddy and I have known each other at this writing for three years. We go riding on weekends weather permitting, and Saturday night we have spaghetti and watch silly TV shows together. Over the past year I had gotten into the habit of having coffee in the morning with him on my way to work. He used to be next door but he moved four houses down. Since our pups are litter mates, it started out innocently enough as me bringing my pup to play with his all day. Then I’d return to pick up my pup in the evening. It seemed easy enough since he moved so close.

One day we were having morning coffee and I was showing him pictures of a few items on my phone that I had purchased. I thought he’d be interested in them because earlier he had expressed an interest in similar items and he does not have the internet to look things up. As I was telling him about my purchases and talking about the lapis lazuli and coffee jasper I had purchased, he went through a curtain that is between the living room and the kitchen. I assumed he was getting another cup of coffee, so I kept describing the items and was telling him I was excited to be getting these in the mail soon. I ended my sentence by saying…

“…are you even there? No? Ahh I didn’t think so. Oh my.” Sigh.

My friend had gotten up while I was talking mid sentence, went to the bathroom and was gone for a good long time. When he retuned he sat down and just kept staring at the floor, or his coffee cup. He didn’t ask what I had been talking about. In fact it was if I was not even in the room. Sometimes I would end a sentence with a question and he’d just smile at me or stare at the wall as if he were oblivious. It was clear he had not been paying attention, or could not hear me, or both. A clear sign of not caring. Even though my friend’s normal nature is to be reserved and quiet, I felt this was rude behavior. I’d never do anything like that to him. So I excused myself and left for work saying I had to get there early. My feelings were hurt.

Since this was about the 20th time he had done the same thing over the past year. I wanted to make sure I was not at fault. Was I welcome? When it was time for me to leave he would say ‘do you have to?’ which showed me he wanted my company. Was I dominating the conversation? The next day I said almost nothing, letting him have the floor. You could have heard a pin drop the entire time. Over time I had dismissed all those other times I felt ignored. Was I nothing better than a babysitter? Over time I made hundreds of excuses for his lack of caring. But this was not working for me. Casper Milk Toast would have better manners. And in a way I felt I was being used to keep him company…while he was ignoring me!? That’s not good.

Conversations should not be one way. Otherwise you are just playing handball with the drapes. Our conversations had been mostly one way for a long time. My buddy is not the talkative type and can be reserved, and often very needy. But  wanted someone to talk with, not to.  This whole thing made me reflect on the status quo. Is it time for a change on some level? My intuition had been nudging me for some time, trying to tell me that I was spending way too much time there. Between going for coffee, picking up the dog after work, our riding and our Saturday TV night, I think my stop at his home were in the range of between 12 and 18 a week. I have a hectic enough schedule and wouldn’t it be nice to cut that down?

The energy of the current relationship felt wrong. I believe everything is energy and this felt like being mired down in the mud, not being in flow. Time for a change. Doesn’t have to be drastic either, let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. Immediately after making this decision the energy seemed to be feeling better already. That’s my gut telling me yes, I made the right choice. That night I had a vivid dream of driving onto the wrong pathway. I had taken a wrong turn. I turned the car back around and it was easy to get back on the right path. This is a clear sign to me. Very clear, that I am making the right decision.

Rearranging my schedule to put me more in the center of my own life, taking care of my needs first was key. This would be new on an everyday level and on a life level. I had never thought of me first. I cut my visits back to weekends. Riding was the core of our friendship and that’s the only time I can do it. We’d keep our Saturday evening with spaghetti and fun TV time because we laugh the whole time. Laughter is good medicine. With my extra time, I could do more with my animals and my meditation. This would mean having a leisurely time getting out the door and enjoying the special energy of early mornings, which I love so much. Ah, yes, this was working for me! And it worked for my friend too. He needs to get out and meet other people, and maybe even hook up with a special someone. If I keep going over all the time, he’ll feel no impetus to change things, and that someone special would think he was already taken.

Putting myself first and making healthier habits was new to me. Brand new. But I am a firm believer in being the author of my own life. Check the energy to see if it all feels right. It was hard to make these changes, but part of the old me that felt loyal to a fault was gone. The thought it was okay to take time for myself was new and refreshing. This felt better on a whole new level.

Humans are hard wired to follow habitual routines. So that’s good news in developing a new habit. Just stick with it for between 10 and 15 days and you have a new habit. 🙂 Trust your gut when you have a feeling that you want to do that old thing, but you know you shouldn’t. Resist for a few moments, recognize that you want to change, and do your new thing. I found the resisting part to be the hardest. So I substituted a small activity like pouring a cup of tea or even kicking the ball for the dogs. It only took seconds of changing my activity to get past the urge to do the old thing. If you want to change, it won’t take long. Keep in mind that old habit will not want to die out those first few times you try and change your routine. Stick with it! Believe me, meditation practice will help you with tasks like these even though it doesn’t seem logical.

It’s healthy to make such assessments and change in your life. You don’t need an incident to wake you up. Check the energy. How does it feel? You can make small changes that make big differences any time you feel the need. Make sure you are spending time doing what is good for you, your growth, and then consider others. In a way I was enabling my friend to not get out and experience more of life, and meet new friends. This feels better all the way around. Why didn’t I do this a year ago? Let’s not go there, lol.

Comments always welcome and encouraged. You will have to view this blog entry by itself by clicking on the headline, in order to make a reply at the bottom. 

 

 

 

 

Flow is the answer

This is more a reminder to me as it is to anyone else out there. I was under some pressure lately and found myself learning a few new things to make my situation much better. It started with something that really upset me on Sunday. I recall thinking I had ‘the whole rest of the week to get through’ and how was I going to manage? I was feeling so tired and down. This is not like me. I’m usually feeling that flow of life.

Well, how silly of me. How was it I already forgot that living in the moment mantra of mine? How did I so easily get sucked back into the ‘waking world’ and pulled away from my Spiritual self? Why was I assigning a bad flavor and a tired feeling to this block of time, a whole week, that had not even occurred yet? When I heard myself utter that phrase about having to get through the next week and it seemed like such a burden, I realized I had it all wrong. The answer was, and always will be, to live in each moment. It’s not a saying, it’s something you actually experience, on purpose. It’s something you can do.

I found my first real mindful moment was when I was doing dishes. When you live in the moment, as in doing dishes slowly and mindfully, time does not exist. You might find the same thing happen if you sweep the floor. Lovely meditation! That was when I had my first epiphany of slowing down and living in the moment. When I live in the moment—each moment—I feel happy and contented. I can always have this feeling if I keep it in mind. But when pressure looms, or things go off track, that’s when it is most needed, and easiest to forget. The learning and realization comes in just after the down period of life’s ups and downs where you have some hindsight. But that doesn’t help in the moment.

Like many, I have the responsibility five days out of seven to go to work. Being single puts the pressure on for me to provide for myself and my animals. Some days I feel tired and it’s only Monday, and I wonder how I’ll get through the week. But I know that’s an illusion. If I buy into that mindset, I have just ruined my whole week. That’s bullshit. Don’t do that to yourself. It’s bad juju and negative energy. Same with having a bad day. Don’t say you are having a bad day. Maybe say, you are having a bad moment. Whatever it is that feels bad, make it small! Make that change and lighten up. You have the power to make the rest of your day great. With a little reminder there is no problem because living moment to moment is the answer to dropping all that fake stress. It’s gone, poof! My reminder will be one word. Flow. (Thanks Kristin for that insight!)

So, a note to self is in order. Take each moment of each day and don’t worry about the next. It will take care of itself. Remember to be IN each moment fully and don’t worry about what comes next. Wash that one dish mindfully. Really BE there. Get into the task at hand. Work on what is in front of you. Feel the flow, don’t fight the day. Don’t worry about the next thing. I know there will be times in the future where I will forget and be all caught up in the illusion of stress and worry and feeling rushed. I’m human just like you. Let’s all remind each other to live in the moment and stop stressing about the next moment, hour, day, or week. Just let it go and be in flow. Okay? Okay!

 

When Things Get Tough: What’s Your Self Care Plan?

In previous posts I have talked about creating good habits, modifying your life as you go, and getting a good self-care plan going. Well now I have one to share. The past six weeks have been difficult but not impossible. I was handling everything okay until one thing sent me over the top. Only then did I realized I needed to take a good, serious look at my self-care routine. Remember no one is bulletproof. Realizing you have to slow your roll actually leads to growth (thanks Al!). If you find this happens more frequently for you than for others, don’t sweat it. You are learning what you need to do to be a Spiritual Being living in the waking world. Constantly modifying your life or your routine is good for you and good for everyone around you. 

The items in this blog post are the things I need to do when I feel super stressed and ready to pop. For me these items are key areas to be given attention. I hope this works for you as well. 

First a note on establishing new habits because that’s the basis of making change in your life stick. Hint: It’s a built-in part of being human. The urge to do things habitually is very strong in humans. In fact I would venture to say it is hard wired in us. Use this urge to your advantage. New things can be incorporated in your life without much thought. With all my animals to care for, my long commute, my full time job, almost anything extra can seem impossible. I make things habitual so they seamlessly fit into my life. Have a routine down. Change it when it does not work. Modify your world to suit you. 

  1. What’s Your Energetic WEATHER REPORT Today? First thing in the morning take note what you feel like energetically. Storms on the horizon? Grumpy with a chance of rain? Giddy with clear skies? Moderate your energy when needed. Even being upbeat and happy to the point where you can’t focus is not good. Plan your day accordingly. Don’t fight the day, find the flow. 
  2. Rely on Your Friends and ask for help when you need it. Throughout this post are tidbits of wisdom I have received from friends. No one lives life alone. We are all in this together. Ask for help when you need it. I tend to forget this until someone bangs me on the head with a 2×4. 
  3. Schedule Daily Relaxation Time as if it were a matter of life or death. R&R is mandatory. It is not extra or to be considered splurging. Relaxation is of paramount importance especially with a grueling schedule. If you have reached rock bottom, or close to it, you must make time for it now. It’s the quickest way to destress. You need your sanity for functioning normally. Do your de-stressing by yourself, not with a bunch of friends. No alcohol either, that will only drain you. As much as I love a glass of wine or a good dark beer, I have found alcohol to be a total energy drain. It’s not something that makes me feel better. If you are at a low point and you need TLC, alcohol has no place. If you are feeling fine, go for it but take it easy.
    Find a relaxing activity: I Read a lot of books and take a lot of hot baths. The baths relax me and reading gets me that entertainment and escapism I need and look forward to. Schedule it into your week, seriously. For me Monday evening is always bath and reading night. My brother watches Antiques Road Show (very low stress and very entertaining), while lounging in his jammies every Monday night. It’s a great way to treat yourself after the first working day of the week. Maybe you like doing puzzles or walking or Tai Chi  or Yoga. Whatever floats your boat and your mood!
    Don’t forget about the restorative powers of water. Recently I was urged by a friend to take a shower or bath when I was exhausted and dead to the world. I started out totally exhausted, but when I was done, I felt so energized. I was amazed.
  4. Find Time to Meditate. Meditate on top of doing other relaxing activities as outlined above. Meditation helps you get to know the real you at your core, and helps you throughout your day in ways you may not be aware of.  I use an application on my computer and phone called Headspace for meditating. A friend turned me on to it. The interface is great, easy,  and intuitive. You can choose the length of time to meditate, and the subject. It is free for a while and then the yearly cost is $79. Well worth it for peace of mind. You can do it before work, or with the phone app, at lunch or during a break. Find something relaxing that you enjoy. I meditate for only 10 minutes a day. Better than not doing it at all!
  5. Get Enough Sleep. The one most important thing to good health is getting enough sleep. If you must have meds, try an anti-anxiety which works for the first few hours to relax you, not a ‘sleeping pill’. Those will only knock you out and you won’t feel well rested at all. In fact, the next day you will feel worse. Naturally consult your doctor. I’m not one and I don’t play one on TV. (That’s an old Marcus Welby joke.) Find drinks like warm milk (or warm coconut milk) just before bed. There is a great paleo drink for insomnia on the internet that went viral.
  6. Keep Electronics Usage to a Minimum Plan two or three evenings per week without these. Turn them off totally and as Bugs Bunny would say “Really and for true!”
    Get the TV out of your bedroom and watch a lot less than you do now. Much of it is mindless activity that does not refresh you. Trust me on this one. I thought I had to have my TV in the bedroom. The day I moved it to my living room I slept so well! I was able to relax instead of binge watching useless, crappy TV. That’s just mindless and not even entertaining. All it did was suck the life juices out of me.
    Stop watching shows or movies that make you uncomfortable or give you bad vibes, even if they are high quality shows. Example: I was watching two different masterpiece theater shows on PBS on Sunday. The running thread through both of them were that women were second class citizens and/or being abused in some way. This show generated a lot of negative, uneasy energy in me. Even if it is ‘historical, has good costumes and actors, and lots of horses, the energy created by the storyline still comes out of the screen, and your body will resonate with that negativity. If it makes you uneasy, you don’t need it. Listen to your body, it knows what you need.
    Watch TV shows you pick on Netflix, don’t just mindlessly surf.
    Phone (if you have to keep it on for emergencies, spouse/kids, at least turn off noisy notifications for chat & email and keep the phone on buzz.) I tell my friends not to call after 8pm. They know I go to sleep early.
    Internet/Computer/Social media Wasting time in front of the computer or your smartphone sucks your good energy out and drains you. Unless you are vigilant about what you are doing online, and few of us are. Keep as free of electronic devices—as tempting and handy as they are—as much as you can once you are home. Home is for nesting and relaxing. If you like to read quality blogs, do so. I can’t because I’ve been in front of a computer all day and I can’t possibly do any more at night.
  7. Practice GOOD Nutrition Don’t eat from stress, this can be a lifelong project, depending on who you are. I eat lots of pasta when I am stressing. I eat Chocolate for a diversion at work. For me food has been a lifelong struggle to get right. Slowly but surely, I’m finally changing my habits from bad to good. I tried being vegetarian and vegan years ago. Didn’t work. Don’t go cold turkey. Try one new thing every week. Don’t beat yourself up. I’m not a vegetarian but many of my meals are.
    Keep it simple and Start Small. On Sunday I roast a whole chicken in the oven and fill the oven with sweet potatoes, acorn and butternut squash. This feeds me for a long time and is easier than pie! 🙂 Slowly incorporate good habits. Use a crockpot once a week for quick meals that are easy, hearty, and filling. I started making morning shakes with a bullet blender. It was $40, not $140 like some are. So it was not a big investment of money and it takes up almost no space.
    If you are urban, find a few good, healthy restaurants with simple atmosphere and go a few times a week if you are too stressed to cook. Keep it simple to keep the bill down, but enjoy and take advantage of someone else cooking for you and doing those dishes! I love Indian or Thai restaurants. Since I live far from town, it’s a treat for me.
  8. Be a Staunch Guardian of Your Free Time If someone invites themselves over, have your canned response ready: “I can’t today, Church of Patty!” That’s my phrase for telling people I want to be alone. Most of my friends are familiar with what Church of Patty means. It means I need or want to be left alone and I will not go anywhere in my car. Or I say, “I would love to but I really don’t have time today. Maybe you can have me over to your home some day soon?” Which puts them in the hot seat and takes you off the hook.  
  9. Learn to Say ‘No’ Confidently and Politely Don’t be tricked into doing something you don’t want to do. This goes with the previous topic of being protective of your free time. Don’t get duped into doing favors for people if you don’t want to. Learn to respond to people who (sometimes unknowingly) manipulate you into doing something for them. Some people do not mean to trick you, but they operate that way. It may not be malicious on their part. The following is a classic exchange:

    The Wrong Way
    Friend: “What are you doing Saturday?”
    You: “Oh nothing much. The usual.”
    Friend: “Great! You can come help with my rummage sale! Be at my place at 7am with tape and markers and don’t forget to bring some coffee and your lunch. I need you to stay till 9pm and help me put all the stuff that didn’t sell in the garage. I have a bad back and I really, really need you. This will be an all day thing and it will be so fun! I am so excited!”
    You: [That Deputy Dog look of, oh no what have I gotten myself into!]

    The Right Way
    Friend: “What are you doing Saturday?”
    You: “Oh I have a full schedule, why do you ask?” (said as politely as possible.)
    Friend: “I have a rummage sale and I really need your help. I am really counting on you.”
    You: “Let me see, I can possibly stop by between noon and two. I am not certain so I’ll have to check. Let me get back to you on that. The rest of my weekend is spoken for.”
    Friend: “Great! Let me know! I really appreciate any help.”
    You: That great feeling of satisfaction that you weren’t roped into doing something unexpected, even if it was for a good friend or a good cause. You have the free time you need, and if you want, you can help out a bit—but on your terms. Your life is yours to run. You feel great!

  10. Learn to Answer Quickly with Confidence in a way that tells the other party your time is valuable. There are many creative and friendly ways to say no. I learned these in a class on handling conflict years ago. Learn where the verbal traps are and have an answer ready. Practice. And I mean in front of the mirror or with a good friend. You will enjoy getting better at polite, to the point replies.
  11. Avoid Busy Bodies Like the Plague. Don’t listen to people who make everything into a drama, or look to stir the pot. Even if their cause sounds good. Think about whether or not they are interfering in another person’s life. Stop listening to them, or change the subject. Often these people are not mean, but they love to get things going. Either cut them out of your life as much as possible, or learn to shut them down when the gossip mill gets going. If you are good at it you can be polite but firm and say “Hey this sounds like gossip and I don’t participate in that. Too much negativity for me! Say, I’ve been dying for your recipe for Chai tea. I’d love it!” Be up front if you have to and change the subject instantly. Boom, you are out of it.
  12. Communicate Clearly. Or as Mom would say, make your wishes known! Don’t mumble. Do speak clearly, and get to the point. Don’t assume. Don’t complain. It’s the worst thing you can do to lower your vibe and your energy. And it only makes you feel worse when you are done. Having clear communication is important to not feeling or being stressed out. Know your mind. Let others know where they stand with you.
  13. Look for the GOOD in Every Situation Look for ‘flipping it’ in every situation. I forget to do this too! My class offers many tools to help live life in the moment.
  14. Urgency is Overrated. Yes. It is. Really. A friend said this to me and when she did, my whole life flashed before my eyes, like that time warp in the  movie Ratatouille when the evil food critic takes a bite of the dish and is instantly transported to his childhood. I realized almost every single aspect of my life I was treating with great urgency. Especially if it had to do with everyone except me! I was living a life of urgency supporting others. I was the last person/thing on my list of priorities. The first rule of giving care to others is, the caregiver (you) needs care first and foremost.

*** Aids for a better life ***

Use a wall calendar specially for anything that does not happen every day. This is great for kids sports schedules. I have a calendar for horse and dog care in the kitchen. When is the farrier coming? When did the dogs get their last heartworm meds? Senior animals and people need special care. It helps to have a calendar in front of you in the kitchen. I could not function without mine.

Use an electronic calendar to schedule your private time, just like it is any other engagement. That way you get your time to relax and unwind. Time to relax is absolutely imperative. Trust me, this is really a great idea.

Have dry erase markers near mirrors, especially in the bathroom for quick, late night notes. You’ll sleep better this way.

Feel free to share any self-care routines you have, that work for you.