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Balancing Your Life

After watching the Olympics for several days, it has occurred to me how important BALANCE is to each and everything I watched. If one is just an inch off-balance, one way or another, that person will go down – no matter how good they are, how much they have practiced, or the long hours and many dollars they have spent to get to the Olympics. A speed skater, a boarder, ice skating, skiing, etc. – all require the magic of Balance in order to reach the podium.

I have a mobile in my room. I was watching it for some time. It has seagulls with wires connecting it together. The slightest whiff of moving air will cause it to circle. I noticed that, out of all the seagulls on the mobile, one small section was not moving properly. After studying it for a few minutes, I could see that one seagull had the tip of its wing over that of another. So I reached up and tweaked it a little. The mobile immediately swung back into perfect balance and moved like it should.

The thought occurred to me: How nice it would be if we all lived our lives while paying attention to Balance: Work, play eat, sleep, etc. How we spend each golden hour of our lives each and every day plays a part, just like the wing tip.

We all know what we have to do each and every day. We have to work at whatever we do to earn the money to meet our commitments and take care of our loved ones. But if we are not very careful, we can easily get out of Balance in our lives.

Perhaps you are thirsty so you reach for a can of cold pop instead of water. You are in a big hurry and are hungry. You look on your phone for a listing of fast food outlets nearby in lieu of a health foods store with ready-to-eat items. A child wants you to read him/her a story after a long, exhausting workday, so that moment passes by as you collapse into a chair. Your body is tired and aching from sitting or standing at work all day or night, so you pop a pain pill and settle down to watch some television before bed or sit at a computer, playing games to relax your mind. No thought of yoga stretches or deep breathing enter your mind.

Perhaps you are far too busy and with too many commitments to take that five minutes  for yourself or look for a yoga/Pilates/exercise class that would improve your health. You are shopping for groceries and grab the quickest and easiest meals instead of shopping carefully for items that are healthy for you or your family.

As I said, if just an inch off-balance in Olympic sports, it won’t work – the medal goes to someone else. However, if your life is Out of Balance, you do not feel well. You take a pill for your symptoms and keep going. You miss that beautiful sunset or perfect flower without noticing. Your mind is so busy on more important matters, like making a living, picking up the children on time, wondering where you are going to get the extra money needed to repair the car, how you can clean the house before guests arrive, and a million other things that bombard you from every angle. You are driven by outside forces that consume your time before you crawl into bed for a fitful night’s sleep because you are so over-stressed.

Your life is shortened by the stress caused because of your attention to the extraneous matters/forces. You do not take that five minutes of calmness before you start your day, breathing deeply and thinking/reading beautiful thoughts. When you get the chance to stop for a moment, you check your phone for messages or play a game instead of looking around you, pausing to see that item of Beauty just waiting for your attention. Your mind is crowded indeed. But if you choose to slow down just a bit, you would hear the laugh of a child as you read a story or see the smile return to a checker’s face who has just gotten a rude customer and needs your smile and “Good day!” to refocus his/her attention.

My point? Balance is not a dream – it is a choice. Every moment of your life contains one. You can make a difference to yourself and others. At risk is your health, the livingness you do or do not feel, and to the joy you could spread to others. The thought you put into every act/choice will change your reality.

You just have to ask yourself some questions: What is really important to you? How could you respond differently if you were not harried, tired, and grumpy? What would help change that? What class could you take such as Anger or Stress Management, Yoga, exercise, or something else? Could you stop what you are doing as you sit for hours at a time in order to move about for five minutes, as recommended? Could you take a deep breath and stretch a bit? Could you focus on something else  instead of whatever is making you crazy?

Life is so fleeting. It is our choices each day that will help the time to pass quickly and easily or drag by as we do a job that is eating us alive. There are always alternatives. You just have to look for them. Are you willing?

God’s blessings upon your journey!

Seagull Mobile

Hibiscus and Geranium

Dillon Reservoir Sunset

Hardy Hibiscus

Front Range Sunset

Zucchini Flower & Honey Bee

 

Tail of the Elephant

There is a tale about three blind men who are holding onto different parts of an elephant. One is holding a leg, saying: “This elephant is like the trunk of a tree.” Another is holding onto the tail, stating: “This elephant is like a snake.” Another is holding onto the trunk, who says: “No, it is like a really thick rope.” Thinking about it, they are all correct in their descriptions. But does it really describe an elephant? Nope.

You see, when one is looking at a situation, probably negative, one only sees it from a personal take on the facts. Other people could see it far differently.

We get so addicted to our own point of view, however, that we think that is all there is. In fact, we do not look outside of our own perceptions to answer a question, respond to a situation (either positive or negative), formulate a plan of action, or even decide to withdraw from the world at large, experiencing depression, angst, or fear.

If one were to suggest that there are other alternatives, most of us do not listen unless it already supports our point of view. The rest just falls away.

If one knows  someone who has had such pain in his/her life/heart that withdrawal has become the only answer, how do you show your compassion to that person? As she/he clings madly to the problem, do you get angry? Do you yell at him/her, trying to get through the wall that was placed there on purpose for defense/protection? If you can make no sense of the situation, which keeps deteriorating like a sinking ship, what are you to do if you care about that person? Stand by and watch it go down? That is painful, indeed, to watch.

Try to not forget that personal choice rules here. You cannot save someone who does not really want to be saved. Complaints and suffering aside, the one who is sinking may not want to go quietly, but positive action, no matter how small or doable, is not considered an option by that person because it has already been discarded.

You can always care very much. You can pray. You can try to structure another possibility if you remember the point of reference that person is using. Remember the elephant? Which part does he/she have hold of?

This process is also true in an argument. People tend to defend their own ideas, no matter how strange, and keep holding on to their own version of the elephant, be it leg, tail, or trunk. It is hard to discuss your idea/resolution if you cannot see what idea they are attached to. You have to enter their thought processes, use active listening techniques, recognizing the anger (which is a tool to make the anger dissipate), and keep feeding back to that person what you are hearing. One cannot argue reasonably with an angry person. The anger must first be drawn off in order to have any reasoning heard. Most anger is caused because that person feels like he/she is not being heard, which is why active listening techniques work so well.

How about you? Have you looked at your world lately? Do you have things that make you feel very uncomfortable? Is there an “unreasonable” person — be it a boss, supervisor, coworker, teenager, child — in your life that is “making you crazy?” Join the rest of the world as there will always be someone to “drive you up a wall!” The question is, what part of the elephant are you holding on to? Try to remember that you can decide to go crazy or not as that truly is a decision within your personal power to control. You can even opt out of it entirely by using silence — one of the most ignored, and most successful, tools in the world. It will stop the acceleration.

Sometimes, especially with children, we have to be the needed guide to the “little person,” who thinks whatever action we require is unwelcome and unwanted.  If we renege on our duty/responsibility as parents or teachers, the world will be a sadder place for it. That child will grow up without the tools to live his/her life and make better choices. There are so many children we see in stores these days who absolutely are not taught the word “NO means NO!” How many tantrums have you seen lately? It takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to try to keep doing what you know you need to do, often with little gratis afforded your efforts.  Try to remember the elephant because you are teaching the point of view that is needed to get the child to see the bigger picture and not just about how it is he/she is thinking/attached to.

Have you heard the words, “Team Building?” It is a buzz word to get things done as efficiently as possible. How does one begin? Simple: Teach the elephant idea as each one is holding a part of the overall product in his/her expertise. Each one has to learn what his/her part is and how it relates to the whole. Then you make sure each one does his/her part. There is always a before and after part to each person’s particular piece. It must start somewhere and end someplace else. It is like hooking the pieces of a train together so it can begin to move.  Usually, the whole train gets to moving forward, gathering speed as each learns and does what is needed. If one gets uncoupled, the whole train suffers from lack of forward motion and confusion. Then you have to figure out who got uncoupled, which is fairly obvious. The fix becomes clear much more easily.

I worked in the Government for many years. I used this concept successfully on so many needs that it was honed to simplicity itself. I worked with individual field offices, reporting requirements, travel, major household moves, regulations, timekeeping, performance appraisals, etc. This idea works, plain and simple.

What areas could you use this elephant idea in? Do you see the elephant, or are you personally hanging onto a leg, tail, or trunk? You will have to learn to shift your paradigm to see the elephant. Are you willing? You life would become so much simpler if you would “get out of your box” and look at the overall picture. Once you know the principle and can use it, you whole life could change because interactions would become easier. You could use it with anyone in your environment. Is it worth your effort? YES!

God’s blessings upon your journey!

 

Elephant

Elephant

Elephant, Tail, Legs and Trunk

Elephant, Tail, Legs and Trunk

Anger Management

A quote I live by every day: “Life is too serious to be taken seriously.”

I have had at least one person ask me what that means. I just responded, “Lighten up.”

When I was young, my temper would often get the best of me. Then I would dwell on the situation, only making myself more upset by the minute. Often it would take me days to get over some small incident.

Even if someone actually means to do something ornery to you, is a grudge the best way to handle it?

If someone cuts you off in traffic, do you react with anger? Are you still upset at your desk hours later? I figure that  person who cut me off, nearly taking my fender with him, did not actually do it to me — it is a habitual way to drive which is a poor paymaster, eventually causing that person to damage his own vehicle and probably somebody else’s. I bless him on his way.

As I have aged, I grant others the ability to misbehave and make mistakes, knowing that they are doing the best they can at that moment. I do not take it personally. It saves me a lot of wear and tear on my heart and mind because I just do not want to get angry about the situation. When I get angry, I am leaving my center of peace and tranquillity and exchanging it for something that will not be worth the agony it causes. I have to choose to ACT and not REACT. If I have to state something clearly so that a situation is resolved, I do not have to yell or cuss to get my point across. Yet there is no doubt in anyone’s mind what I am communicating.

I took an Anger Management class many years ago. I learned that ACTIVE LISTENING is the key. You repeat back to the person who is yelling at you exactly what you heard. You keep it up. Soon, the volume decreases. People yell because they think you did not hear them. When you repeat what they say, they lose steam. The Anger flows away. You cannot rationalize with an angry person. He/she is not listening to you. You cannot discuss the issues if one person is yelling and not listening. You can even, eventually, agree to disagree and then set another time to actually discuss the issues if it is necessary. I personally had to deal with a very angry 300 pound man who was borderline getting physically violent. The active listening calmed him down until I could ask him to leave. So I know it works.

Anger, in some people, causes them to withdraw as a reaction. They crawl up into a little shell, which only increases the anger expression of whoever is perpetrating the situation. Obviously, that person does not know you are listening to them.  Some people just try to get away from whatever is happening and just run away from the scene as fast as they can. Resolution never occurs.

Bullies love it. We admit that. They like to feel powerful and power-filled. They usually find someone to pick on that is smaller than they are.  They win by intimidation. Some supervisors do that same thing. You cannot interact with them because they know they have POWER. But being quiet like a mouse does not work either as a response. They usually only get worse. Try Active Listening techniques. Perhaps it will help calm the situation.

When someone is angry, it raises their blood pressure, the adrenalin “fight or flight” response, and the wear and tear on the body. It is like a light that goes shooting out at the person or situation. When it is over, one feels empty and drained. If the anger is not expressed properly, however, it turns inward and becomes depression. That is a bad beast to have to deal with.

You can pound on pillows, write a hate letter and shred it, perform physical exercise, imagining that you are stomping out the problem/situation/person. There are lots of ways to exorcise the bad feelings without putting one’s fist through a wall, person, or thing.

I have had three accidents in my life which have impacted my body functioning and hampered how I can do many tasks. I have had to deal with anger over the losses to my healthy body. Life is not fair, and it will never be so. I had to work my way through the anger responses so I could deal with the pain and the situation. That is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary because I choose to be a pleasant person with a smile on my face. Most people will never know what I have gone through and what is happening to my body at any moment. I do not let the pain or the anger control me and dictate what my interaction level will be with others. I choose to overcome it and share the best that is in me with my world.

We are like puppets of the memories we have, registered long ago when we were learning how to interact with our world. We learned how to deal with situations by watching those around us. If we did not have good mentors (and most of us had parents and others around us who are capable of making mistakes), we respond with whatever we learned, good or bad.

Most of the therapy that people pay for is so they can react and interact with their world differently than what they learned when they were small. They want to be able to be more functional. That is a good thing. It is never too late to change, using whatever tools you can find that work for you, be it a book, a good friend, etc.

If you find yourself becoming angry at something or someone, can you stop for even a second before you light that flame of destruction? Can you ask yourself why you are ready to rip somebody’s head off? Can you stop and breathe deeply, trying to calm yourself, your blood pressure, and your “fight or flight” response? That is the purpose for counting to 10, slowly.

Do you remember the scene in the Harry Potter movie where Ron was facing his fears, and he turned the spider into a clown, with roller skates on each leg?  Do you know that anger can be dealt with in the same way? I quietly think about a scene from Alice in Wonderland, looking for the Mad Hatter, The Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit with the pocket watch yelling, “I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!” Anything that will add levity to the situation until I can regain my perspective. I don’t have to tell anyone what I am up to…I just do it.

When things gets crazy around me, instead of joining the craziness, I just calmly rise in my air balloon, looking at the situation as a spectator. If I choose to ACT, I can then do so. No hint of REACT is there. (Now, if I had a charging tiger to deal with, I would put my adrenalin to good use. But short of that, in real life, there are not many  dangers out there to react to. It is the imaginary dangers that cause the damage, and most of them never happen. We just worry about it all, nonetheless.)

If have been told that I am a very positive person. I work at it. It is not something that happens by chance. I work on my calm attitudes because I want to be part of the answer, not the problem.

Each morning when I get up, I set my sails so that if some errant wind catches me, I can then adjust my sails so I can keep heading towards my destination, whatever that may be for the day. Lots of people can try to huff and puff, and blow me off course…all to no avail. Circumstances can do the same. I still press on with my hand on the helm, charting my course by my belief system and my faith. with prayers always in my heart.

Life happens. We all make mistakes. We have to continually pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again.

If you find yourself stewing over some situation and not arriving at a peaceful resolution, just know that you have lots of company. The only questions you need to ask yourself are, “Do I want to continue feeling like this? Do I want to change that?” Hanging onto your anger will not solve a thing. It only wears you out from the inside. Is it worth it?

 

Having a Pity Party?

Pity Parties prevail, unfortunately. There are so many reasons to stay in one permanently. Would that do any good? Not likely.

In one of Og Mandino’s lectures, he said, “When I feel sorry for myself, and I don’t want to enter the world…I open the paper to the obituaries to see how many would trade places with me if they only could.”

Now that is definitely something to ponder.

He also said, “Never treat time as if you had an unlimited supply. No one has a contract with life.”

If you were to take a census of your prevailing attitudes, what would you say they were? If they center on a Pity Party, you have to know that direction will lead you nowhere. Are you willing to take a close look at the words you speak, the emotions you feel, and the ways you act? What is your body language saying? Can you look into a mirror and look closely at your eyes and your facial expression? What story are they telling you?

When you are depressed, one of the harder things you can do is to look into your eyes in a mirror and gaze upon your countenance. Why? Your eyes are downcast, for one thing. You are sad, your shoulders sag, and your head hangs down.

Did you know that depression is actually unexpressed anger turned inwards? Note I said, “Unexpressed.” I don’t mean you need to put your fist through a wall or hit something or somebody. There are many constructive ways to work on anger, such as working out, hitting a pillow, writing it all down on a sheet of paper and then shredding it, releasing it.

The point of a Pity Party is that you want to feel better. So, if you stay in one long enough, you should feel better, right? Nope, never going to happen. It perpetuates itself.

The only way to get out of a Pity Party is to change your focus from whatever is driving you crazy. You need to find something else to think about. Hopefully you will find something beautiful to contemplate, look at a rainbow, or listen to music. Many things can lift your spirit, from a good massage or warm bath to a quiet walk in nature. You just have to find something that works for you.

Again, it is in your capable hands to find a different way to express yourself. Are you willing to try that?

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