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. 

Strange energies abound—How about you?

The following is mostly word-for-word between myself and a long time friend. It pretty much describes the feeling of being in a holding pattern, being involved, yet not seeming to get anywhere despite lots of work. Not quite stuck, but not going anywhere yet. Experiencing some of the crazy energy patterns at this time of great change. My friends response to me was articulate in a way that is clearer than I could have described it. Plus she hit the nail on the head several times. Read on.

Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 3.13.43 PM.png

Dear Faye,

I have this feeling of not being able to land….and flying round in the air instead. Yup. That’s the stuck feeling I have been in for a while. Stuck is really too harsh a word. It’s more like a holding pattern. I feel like I’m doing everything right, but things are not aligned yet. Much is happening on many fronts, but I don’t feel like I am moving forward exactly. It does not feel wrong by any means. I can’t go back to where I was, and going forward is not quite ‘a go’ even though I know what I need to do. I also feel exhaustion off and on. Mostly on. What’s your take on it? Are you experiencing the same thing?

Dear Patty,

This energy lately has been hard. That’s the only word I have for it. I can see everyone around me stressed all at the same time. Sometimes interactions are coming out sideways.

I know that every moment there is a choice to buy into the negative expiring energy or relax and find the fresh and new. Sometimes I fall back into patterns and “everything sucks, this isn’t fair, etc.” Other times I am able to take a breath and rise above. Either way it’s hard to stay unaffected.

It’s feels like watching that storm happening outside. You know you are inside where it is warm and dry. You know it’s unlikely a tree will fall on your house or a tornado will tear off your roof, but you still can’t really relax until the storm passes.

Interesting thing is that I am noticing more and more people that seem asleep. I don’t know if that means I am becoming more aware or just that energy changes are highlighting things.

The other day I needed to drive downtown. I was passed by a car going too fast who cut me off. You know the situation: I’m following a car going the speed of traffic, who is following another car ahead of you, etc., etc. There really is nowhere to go faster than the crowd, but yet, this person just “needs” to pass you because you’re not going fast enough. We drove together for 20 minutes. I went the speed of traffic. They tried to pass and weave and get ahead. We arrived down town literally side-by-side, but I think we had much different trips.

I’m trying really hard to not be the person in that car who is not recognizing that they have a choice. They are only making it difficult for themselves and less enjoyable for others traveling with them.

I resonated so deeply with her response. She said it better than I could have. I loved to hear her perspective on things since we seem to have parallel experiences in the Jungles of Time and Space. The storm analogy gave me chills and I felt that was true for me. I feel like I am part of a huge worldwide energy storm, witnessing it in action as I sit on the sidelines in wonder and awe. Sometimes I have to get dressed in my mukluks and macintosh and go out and be in that storm. Sometimes I can sit on the sidelines. One thing is true, no one can get out from under what we are experiencing now. We are all in it. Some feel safer than others and some are more affected by it. Some days are great, some days I’m Dorothy in the cyclone.

The story of the driver of the other car is a great reminder to me to slow down my thinking and return to center when I am in a panic. Being in a panic is not being very grounded or spiritually connected. It happens to all of us. It’s a crazy disjointed way to expend energy since you can’t get to where you want to go any faster than the ‘traffic’ around you. I have to remind myself what is going on in the outer world is not always serving the highest good, and to take note of it, and act/or not, accordingly. I hate it when I have relapses of panic or frustration. They seem to happen almost daily with life’s little ups and downs. It feels a little embarrassing to lose my cool or get flustered. Conversely if I see others in a panic, rage, frustrated or doing other similar activities, I like to be the space for them to do what they need to, and send love. 

This is another way meditation helps. As soon as you notice you are off track, gently return to center without judgment. My image is like moving a bubble with a feather. Gently acknowledge you were off track and return to grace. You can do this anytime, not just in meditation. That’s as graceful as it gets. Every time you return to center is a victory. Even if you feel you were the bull in the China shop. Every time you return to center makes it easier to do it next time. And it energetically helps everyone else.

Make some small movement and things that have felt stuck will eventually shift. Give it time. keep forging ahead in little ways each day. There will be periods of rest that seem like stagnation. Nothing is stagnant. Trust me on this. Every day I do get better and better. Some days I feel the weight of many more years of ‘stuff’ to get through. Some days I feel like I am one of the lucky ones to be on earth at this time. Elated, energized and ready to rock!

If you need inspiration, keep in mind it’s not just all about you, or me, or one individual. It’s not even just about your town, the country or the planet. Spirit is always learning from us. I always think of it this way, Spirit is helping us and we are the ones in the trenches. They admire us for being on the front lines. You are a trailblazer right along with the best of them. So keep on keepin on, and be good to your fellow travelers along the way.