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.

lovely-and-romantic-heart-coffee-cups-picjumbo-com.jpg

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.

img_20160123_125331_546

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 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. 

Note to self: Begging is not co-creating

Funny how a simple statement like the headline above has to be learned. Last week Friday I discovered all three dogs had cattle ticks deep in their ears. In the past they have had to go under anesthesia to remove ticks from the ear drum. Expensive time consuming, hard on the animal, and disruptive. Situations like these can bring on a mild panic. My regular vet was out of town so I had to make some calls. Finally I found a place that would take all three dogs. Small miracle! As a friend put it, I did a great job of co-creating to make that happen, through a passionate heart. (I love feedback like that.) So far so good.

As the day unfolded, what would normally be a stressful situation was somehow okay. I noticed a small tug when I felt panic rising about what could be an expensive, time consuming aftercare nightmare. This tug I felt made me feel more grounded. More calm. I gave credit to this new feeling to meditating regularly using Headspace. (Thanks Judy!) Meditating is relatively new for me and without the Headspace app, it would not be possible. As a result I am making progress in handling what life throws me. I am continually finding places to improve that will help me feel more grounded in all situations. Life takes practice. Often one small step at a time.

After the vet visit, in my rush to get back home, I realized one dog had no ticks but still had ear problems and I had not discussed it with the vet. The pain would send my dog rocketing across the room in a fright. Through the weekend we were unable to sleep. Monday I took him to the vet again, and we decided to have him neutered while he was under anesthesia for the ear checkup. It was long overdue and would be nice to get that out of the way.

Life can be stressful with a recovering animal. This particular pet goes into freakout mode so easily. I live 42 miles from work (one way). I spend time planning and making sure everything’s hunky dory so I can care for my pets and fit the rest of life in there somehow. I can’t run an errand or grocery shop with a pet in the car it’s too hot here yet. Too much activity wears me out. I needed to be able to care for my dog, Goat Cheese, and have a clear mind for my job. (Cochise is his name, but it’s hard for many to pronounce, so we call him Goat Cheese.) I had already taken most of Friday off for the first dog emergency and I felt bad about having to take more time off. Time to talk to Spirit.

As I was driving to the vet to pick up Goat Cheese after his surgery, I was talking to Spirit asking “Please make sure everything is great….so I don’t freak out. So I can handle it.” But I stopped mid sentence and changed my mind altogether. My plea did not sound right. I thought, hey let’s do it a new way instead. Let’s confirm with Spirit that I will handle anything that comes my way. Small changes can bring big results. My new wording was a complete reversal. Asking for things to be okay is begging and that didn’t feel right to me. By changing my verbiage, I am affirming with with Spirit that I will be able to handle anything, as in “I can do this.” This felt much more positive, light and happy. In fact it felt very freeing! I was filled with confidence and I was happy! You can’t help but be happy when you know you can handle anything. This was a way of positively anticipating feelings of groundlessness or anything contrary to the norm. More growth!

Spiritually minded people know the time of duality is ending and oneness is coming. But right now we are all in the trenches, and life is going to present us with a lot of chaos. No one wants this. We all want a relatively stress free life. But we all know that is not how life is at the moment. Anything that is out of sync, possibly stressful can be upsetting emotionally. We all want to go back to our normal routine for that feeling of safety and security. For me, I hate it when any of my animals is sick or hurt. They are my kids. It is another Achilles Heel. Since I teach others to handle life with grace and ease, I ought to practice what I preach. I realized mid-sentence that begging is not a great way of co-creating. To ask or beg is to be in reactive mode, not in co-creative mode. Now we’re cooking with gas! This changes everything. It empowers, thrills and delights!

Having blogged about this previously, it can’t hurt to remind my readers that putting new habits into practice can be an ongoing process. It takes time to make a new behavior and a new mindset and way of life. No one is perfect, especially me!

“For years I have read about, and really tried integrating this mindfulness into everyday life. But life has a way of making you rushed and crazy sometimes…It’s going to take some time for it to really come home to roost. I’m not yet at the point of 24/7 mindfulness or totally unstressed life. But, coming a little closer to it doesn’t suck!”

I also recently talked about the obvious solution to feeling rushed off your feet here, so why am I still needing to improve when I already know the answer?  Because I am a spiritual being in human body. We need time to really incorporate things we know (intellectually) into our lives until we get it on a whole other level, a soul level. Practice makes perfect, unless you have an a-ha moment. That’s instant!

Learning to handle stressful situations by dumping the idea of being panicked is something I will work on until I get it. It’s all I have talked about to others: Living in the moment, being the author of your life, dropping the worry, not jumping to conclusions, trusting that Spirit has my back, flipping it, and so on. This time I was a little closer. I felt a little better and a little more grounded. Good co-creating means learning to tackle your demons along the way. Tackling these demons can become some of the most freeing moments of your life.

Durango CO Whole Expo!

I’ll be at the Whole Expo in Durango, CO for my first ever in-person shindig Sept 10 and 11 booth D-1 along with Heart of the Mother Healing and Gwendolyn Hill! Please stop by and introduce yourself. I will be doing 3-card tarot readings for half price plus drawing for six prizes as follows:

Win these prizes.png

Below is my postcard that I prefer to give out instead of business cards. I have been a graphic designer for over 30 years and this is my work including my logo. That’s my horse, Scar, on the postcard back.

POSTCARD FRONTPostcard FRONT copy

POSTCARD BACKPostcard BACK copy.jpeg

Hope to see you there!

Do you really want to sweep that under the rug?

So you’ve had a blowout with someone in your life. This someone is very important to you, they may be your spouse, your live-in mate, a really good friend, or someone at work. You have been dealt a blow, and you feel very strongly about it. Perhaps trust has been violated. This is a basic foundation for any relationship. Maybe someone does not believe what you did or did not do. I’ve seen these two things happen to people close to me. They both handled it very differently, in their own way.

Some handle it with great emotions and a lot of drama because they feel slighted. Then they moved on feeling differently toward the person that slighted them. Some handle it by sweeping it under the rug, waiting for just the right moment to say something. “Oh, can’t do it today we are having dinner with friends. I can’t do it tomorrow, my spouse has a job interview and they have to be on their best behavior. Best to not rock the boat. The day after that is Saturday and I have worked hard this week, another argument is not what I want. Better put it off till next week. That feels better.”

brooms-linedup.JPG

Putting it off over and over and over. Not good. Those are just excuses to not get into the fray again. Kinda can’t blame anyone for wanting to avoid high drama. But avoidance is not good for really important things like a violation of trust. Those should be handled at some point, sooner rather than later. Sweeping anything under the rug means sooner or later the rug will be so full of crap that it will lift off the floor. All these little things add up. Sooner or later you have to deal with all that crap. Better to deal with it as soon as it seems prudent, with calmer emotions.

One thing I learned from a long-term relationship is what I call the three day rule. Any time we had a blowout, a disagreement, or not seeing eye-to-eye, letting it sit for three days seems to work wonders. It’s really hard to be angry at anyone or anything for three straight days. Anger takes a shitload of energy and no one on the planet has that much energy in their reserves. What helps is getting back to a normal routine. Routine puts humans in their comfort zone. Three days is also not enough time to have forgotten what was so important that pissed everyone off. Take three days off with the agreement to discuss it on the third day. That puts the responsibility back into the picture. Yes we pissed each other off, and yes we have agreed to discuss it when tempers are dormant and we feel more centered. Great! So far so good.

Finding the right time on the day you revisit this is easy. Pick the time you are both up, freshly awake. If at all possible do it first thing in the morning. Get up earlier than normal if you have to both be at work. If a relationship is at stake, it’s worth the extra effort. Have a cup of coffee so your brain starts percolating and turn off your phones and put them down for the entire meeting.

Discuss timing briefly the day before. “Hey let’s revisit that thing tomorrow morning over coffee. Does that sound like a good time? Let’s set aside an hour where nothing is going to interrupt us and where we are devoted to solving this, because I really want to resolve this thing that’s between us.”  Even practicing your speech to ask your mate/friend when a good time to talk is important so it comes out right. Practice makes perfect and helps your confidence. If it’s a co-worker or other situation, do lunch.

You are sitting over coffee waking up. You both have decided to be here, uninterrupted to patch up this relationship before it gets worse. I would urge you to keep these guidelines in mind any time you have a discussion:

  • Turn off your cell phone, the radio, the tv. All of it. For the entire time you are talking. This should be non-negotiable and doable.
  • Do not bring up the past unless it is the thing that upset you. As in, don’t bring up something from last month, last year, and how you hate how they put a new roll of toilet paper on the thingy the wrong way and how they hate your mother’s hairdo. Yeah, that’s a no no. Keep the discussion moving along and focused.
  • If the other person keeps avoiding the important stuff and can’t say on target, bring them back, gently, as often as necessary. If they say, “Hey did you see that red bike the other day I pointed out? That’s the cool new Red Racer model and I really want to save money for it and…blah blah blah.” There goes the focus and the discussion out the window. Help the other person gently back to the discussion. You might say, “Hey yeah, that bike is great, but I would rather talk about this issue we have. It’s much more important than a bike. We can talk about the bike or even go see it, once we are done. Now back to the issue at hand.”  Do this as often as you have to.
  • Try and keep an even tone to your voice. Certainly don’t raise your voice.
  • You can ask for divine intervention or guidance through the meeting. Nothing wrong with a little backup from friends in a lofty position.
  • Keep yourself protected energetically so you don’t get hooked by high emotional drama. I use the tool called being the space for and have a loving intent for starters.
  • Listen when the other person is talking, and ask them for the same courtesy. This can be hard, but good communication has three points: your mouth and your two ears. Your ears and listening are as important as talking and telling your story. If your friend/spouse/mate is not listening to you and just rambling on, let them know you’d like them to listen to you. It’s important for closure.
  • If that doesn’t work, look up the idea of a talking stick. He who holds the stick speaks, the rest listen. When one person finishes speaking, pass the stick to the next person. It goes round the table till all the talking is done and everyone is satisfied. Let’s hope you don’t have to get to that point.
  • Be open minded, and ready to compromise if you feel it’s right for the situation. But also stand your ground if something very basic and necessary like trust or fidelity is at stake. You know in your heart those very basic tenants that make up any relationship. And you know you should never accept less than is necessary to have a balanced, honest relationship.
  • Expect what you need as a bottom line for your relationship. If you don’t get it, maybe it’s time to move on. (Fidelity, trust, etc. We’re talking the big stuff here.)
  • Choose your battles wisely. Don’t go on and on about something small. Compromise and it’s okay to give in a little for lesser items. But….
  • You should never end a discussion feeling that you have given in too much, just to make peace. It is not worth it. Make sure the compromises are real and attainable.

Going forward, make sure all the rugs in your home have nothing swept under them (figuratively). Shake them out regularly and ‘clean house’ and be confident that later on you won’t trip over an old issue hiding under that rug! Believe me, nothing is better than clearing the air and forging ahead with the confidence that nothing is going unsaid, or lurking in the shadows. Be confident you are on solid ground. Live in the light and shake out those rugs!

That damned coconut tree

Over the years I learned to handle drama and chaos as best I can. I teach classes on handling it, because I lived through so much of it and found a way to deal with it. In the years during The Big Change, I was able to piece together a road map for my survival. So far, so good. Life is as good as it can be and I’m a happy camper. But, I didn’t get this way overnight. It took work. It was fun at times, but still took some shifting and tweaking each time I encountered a bit of drama or chaos here and there.

When you are dealing with chaos or drama, think of surfing. Learning to surf the waves, the ups and downs of life, can be hard at first. If you wipe out a lot, it sucks. Then with experience you don’t wipe out so often, you become stronger. Your muscles acclimate to this activity, and you actually have fun even if you are paddling out to sea to catch waves, or coming in after a good afternoon out. Your life will be better learning to handle drama and chaos—the ups and downs. The reality is, no one can totally get rid of drama and chaos from their lives. It will try and seek you out, no matter where you go. Be prepared. Know you can handle it and not get hooked. Be the space for anything playing out before you. Calm your inner vibe, go with the flow, etc. The more you practice, the less hooked you will get. You get the picture.

What I advise people is, if you try and totally avoid drama, it will find you. Let’s say you are sick and tired of all the drama and you want to opt out of it. Yes,  you can learn how to deal with it, but if you want to not be bothered by anyone and never have any more drama, I’m telling you, the Universe will send stuff your way. You can’t run and hide from it. You may need to learn more about how the inner you handles life, so lessons come your way compliments of The Universe. Life in general can be chaotic and dramatic, because, well, human beings are involved.

Tropical Island Beach Coconut Tree Free Wallpaper HD.jpg

Just for fun, let’s say you are on a deserted island all by yourself, happy as can be and you don’t want to be bothered. You are determined to be left alone, not wanting any more drama or chaos. There is a coconut tree on the island. Just you and that tree. For sure the coconut tree will start giving you shit, just to keep you in the game. It will start dropping coconuts on your head. It will move if you want to be in the shade. It will somehow end up being a source of grief for you. That’s how life is. Expect it. And I don’t mean in any sort of fatalistic way at all. I mean in a way that has you happily prepared to deal with whatever life throws you. Because there are ups and downs to all things in life. It’s a rhythm. Yin Yang, good bad, off on, light dark, happy sad. This advice is for people that believe if they live alone, don’t go out much, and don’t bother anyone, they will have this get out of jail free card for drama and chaos. Not so. Things happen. Learn to deal with it in a better way. Learn to surf. You will be better for it. You will have less stress, less angst, and feel freer and happier as you ride out life’s low spots.

When ‘shit happens’ I vow to get better at not getting hooked, at standing aside, at being the space for, and letting the drama play out without me involved as much as possible. It’s an art form. But since I’m human, I don’t always behave the way I’d like to. I never plan on doing badly, but sometimes I get caught up in things despite my best efforts. So when I get hooked, it’s humbling, but I remind myself I have to get better at handling that damned coconut tree. Piña colada anyone?

Compassionate or doormat?

Being compassionate and being ‘the wounded healer’ and wanting to help others is a good thing to do. But be careful you don’t overdo it in terms of being a doormat. You should never come away from an experience in compassion feeling used, spent, foolish, tired, or drained. And certainly you should never feel you have been taken advantage of.

Several years back, a local I knew and liked came knocking on my door in a rainstorm. Let’s call him The Farrier. I knew, as did everyone in town, he was recently on the outs with his boss/landlord. He had been kicked out of the place he had been staying, and lost his job. He was at rock bottom. I could not turn him away in the rain. Looking back, he had it timed just right, how could a person turn someone away in a downpour? Once I realized he needed more than shelter from this storm, I made it clear, this was to be temporary. I offered him three months stay, as long as he helped himself to get ahead in the world, not just lay around sleeping. He needed to earn his keep in working toward his future. I stressed it was more important that he work toward his future, than do chores around my home.

At first things went well. He started gathering firewood in the mountains to sell, and he was a farrier, so he had employable skills. He kept his part of the house clean. His needs were few. But I let things go too far too fast. He wanted to constantly borrow my car—a total no no in my book. He needed money all the time, and ate me out of house and home. After only a week his teenaged son and him were reunited. This really complicated things to say the least. His son did not live at my home, but he visited often and of course I had to drive him back and forth, usually a 60 mile round trip. I already drove 84 miles a day round trip Monday through Friday for work. On weekends I strive to never get in my car at all because I am burnt out from driving to work and back.

A few weeks later, on my birthday  (just after Christmas) the Farrier’s son called me. He  wanted to come live with us. Us? Us who? There is no us. I said no, flat out. I think that was the first time in my life the word no came out of my mouth so quickly and so definitively. I patted myself on the back for that one small victory. A few weeks earlier I had been diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, an extremely painful, nerve condition. I spent most of my time in bed, in the fetal position trying to figure out how I would have the energy, mental or emotional capacity to carry on with my job and my life. My family was far way, and I needed them. I could hardly manage my own life, much less take on another person in need. Instead of feeling cared for and nurtured, I was the caregiver to two very needy users.

They were nice to me to my face, but together they made my house look like a tornado hit it. They listened to music that was extremely rude toward women, and never helped with a thing. I fed their unending hunger, allowed them to do laundry, shower, and socialize at my place as if it were a flop house. Things were totally out of control within one week of these two reuniting. The son didn’t live with me but it sure felt like it! He was out of school and had no plans of returning—a high school dropout.

The factor that really kept me from kicking both of them out was this 15 year-old kid’s mother had kicked him out and given up on parenting him. All he had was his dad, who didn’t have the financial or mental capacity to deal with him. Emotionally speaking his dad was at the level of a 12 year old. He treated his son like a buddy, not offering any discipline. What would happen to him if I kicked his dad out? Where would they stay? What would they live on? His dad had given up on any sort of employment. He was flat broke. He’d be on drugs so fast and I didn’t want that to happen. Yet I hated myself and them for making me feel like the world’s biggest doormat. When I did suggest they clean up, etc. the change was short lived and things reverted back to chaos and drama. How to resolve this?

Before I gave them both the heave-ho, my compassionate side agonized with my rational side. I kept rolling this problem over and over in my head. How could I deal with this successfully, give this guy and his son the platform and foundation they needed for a better Continue reading

Coping patterns

“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. Their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” —Don Miguel Ruiz

For many years after traumatic, chaotic, emotionally and mentally abusive events occur, your body goes through the motions of post-traumatic effects. Your body and you create what I call coping patterns. My brain tells me the daily abuse is over and I am healed, but my body doesn’t care where the attacks come from. All it know is it is time to ride out the storm for a few days if something happens that is not part of a normal day. Even one person, or a group of people in a meeting talking over me loudly ignoring what I have to say, will set off an episode of what I call hunkering down. These are big triggers for me. Your body has a way of remembering how you got through the abuse. It gets tired, slowing you down, making you sleep a lot. Maybe you eat your way to comfort, or drink yourself to sleep. You cocoon. You repair. You sleep.

Your body will hold onto past trauma, this has been scientifically proven. That’s why doing body work such as yoga, Tai Chi, breath work, meditation, and other physical techniques are beneficial. Doing these activities can help your body release old trauma. Also simply recognizing you are having an episode can help bring you out of it and help you cope in a better way.

For me any trauma would have me laying low for three days. I would experience a crushing tired/exhausted feeling near the end of my body’s processing of the perceived trauma. I knew from experience it would take three days for my body to adjust to something my mind was okay with. I call it ‘perceived trauma’ such as a verbal attack or challenge. In my marriage, I was constantly belittled, verbally attacked, torn apart, and mentally and emotionally abused on a daily basis. After a while I did not know up from down. Just getting through a day with no bumps in the road was a small miracle. I kept trying to please my husband and I would work my tail to the bone and still he was unhappy about some part of his life. He took it out on me. He told me, it was always my fault! Almost anything would set him off, and it was usually nothing to be upset at. Nonetheless he would batter me and badger me and make my life miserable. That takes a toll on a person.  Continue reading

The long exhale

The two years of unwinding on all levels after my divorce was a period I refer to as The Long Exhale. Being in a poisonous, dramatic, very chaotic environment for 18 years did some major damage. I recall the first day after my husband was kicked off the property by the police and the divorce was proceeding. I knew there was a huge shitstorm coming my way, because he was a supreme manipulator and a huge drama queen. He hated being challenged or bested and he was the ‘never give up’ kind of guy. I was in for the ride of my life, but I knew divorce was at hand. My life depended on it. The first day back at the property after I had just arrived home from work, I got out of the car, was greeted by my animals and heard myself say out loud “I’m going to be just fine!” I don’t even know what part of me said that! But it was nice to hear. I was a very happy camper to finally be out of that nightmare. I was now the captain of my own ship!

During the time of The Big Change, I dropped so much of my old life by the wayside. Dropped bad habits, old outdated ideas. I got my self confidence back bit by bit. The support came from many places: friends, Buddhist lectures, work and co-workers, taking up a life with horses, etc. Help manifested itself in so many ways. I had much to dump, much to relearn and so much to explore. It was like shedding an old skin that no longer suited me and being totally reborn, from head to toe. But it took a long time for this to happen. This sort of deep change comes slowly. But is well worth it.

The single life suits me very well and I never in my life thought I would be totally content and happy being single. My new life is very different than my old life, and all of it is by my own design. Things I want in my life are there, or coming into being. Things I don’t want have been tossed out, abandoned or given the heave-ho. In order to get to this new life, it took a lot of work, exploring, research and guts that I didn’t know I had. I would never trade this new life for anything else on the planet. But it took a lot of work to get to this point, this new level of living co-creatively.

If you have been through a rough patch, regardless of the length of time you were in it, please give yourself time to heal, adjust, renew, replenish, explore, test, and invent your new life. You have an opportunity to reinvent yourself. This will be a great time of growth. Give yourself and your body a huge break from being perfect or meeting anyone else’s expectations, especially your own. You may need a long exhale too.