Friday, 29 April 2016

gratitude

I believe that this is one of the most important qualities that any of us can have. When I was a child I saw a movie called Pollyanna. Pollyanna was always glad about things & always found the special in life. I was so influenced by this movie! By being that way she inadvertently taught grumpy people how to be loving. I became a Pollyanna. I was so glad about so much, & now that I am so much older, I still like to be glad.

Of course, life has it's moments, & I too have felt & experienced trauma. I simply refuse to believe anyone who makes out that life has always been easy for them. And, conversely, I am amazed about some of the things that people complain about in their lives. In these moments, I always think about how much that person has to be grateful for.

Today, I am maxed out with gratitude! A friend has procured me a wee notebook computer for next to nothing. It is gorgeous. I am using it right now. I was so gobsmacked when I found out. And grateful. My older one was getting very, very tired. My new one is so tiny & modern.

And I was having a chai yesterday at the cafe across the road from where I live, balking at going home, where a large messy overgrown garden which was masquerading as a forest, awaited me. As it has awaited me.....for months. The stalks of most of the weeds were so thick that I couldn't pull them out. I was reduced to pruning those darn weeds, as well as pulling out masses of long grass. So overwhelming, so I had been putting everything off, over & over. But, since I learnt about "just do it!", I had been looking at the forest all week, saying my new mantra. And it finally worked....in the strangest way.

So, I was in the aforementioned cafe, when I ran into a new friend. He was a conventional builder & now makes earth houses. He loves the soil. I was smiling & chatting away with him & mentioned how I'd better go home & plant some seedlings I had been given, & was so chuffed to receive, in a couple of garden boxes that I had (mostly) been able to weed. He insisted on helping me....saw my garden dilema, & in 2 hours had pulled out all those weeds from the large forest, to reveal heaps of garden boxes. I was amazed. He then grabbed all the bags of compost that I couldn't lift out of my car (yes, I know....I'm pathetic), quickly dug up some of the boxes & put in the compost.

OMG, and I'm so darned grateful. And I said my usual: "thank you universe". I'm often saying that. It's an affirming of gratitude.

When I went through a very difficult time, some years back, everytime that I fell into making the same old silly mistakes followed by unfavourable repercussions, I would say: "Thank you, universe". I was consciously doing this. The silent part of the thank-you was..."for reminding me to stop doing silly things that are wrong for my life, & for showing me when I do them". It worked. I stopped doing the things that caused problems for me.

We all do that. Make mistakes. I think that mistakes are ok. I've always told my youngest & my grandchildren that in order to have successes, we must also have mistakes, & we learn from our mistakes. Mistakes are not the end of the world! They are part of life. They teach us how to find ways to do & not to do, things.

I truly believe that gratitude makes us happier, more content. And a big thank you to Oprah Winfrey for encouraging millions of people to introduce gratitude into their lives. If you want to have a gratitude journal, at the end of each day, write out the things that happened for which you are grateful Or, even easier, write a certain number of gratitude things: 3,5....whatever. If the day was less than perfect, there is still much to be grateful for. You will be surprised.


Wednesday, 27 April 2016

just do it!

I met up with a friend who had been racing around before & after dawn sorting out an important job for his business. I was impressed with his attitude & how he worked late into the night when needed, took jobs overseas & in his own country, & kept his mind on his job. We talked about how he managed to do it all.

He said that it really helps to have a "just do it!" attitude, & I can really identify with that. In these New Agey times there are sometimes the tendencies to waste too much time psyching oneself up, analysing, visualising, affirming, some people actually even decide if they "want" to do things. As a mum, & a woman who works, I can tell you that most of my life was spent doing what was necessary to do. "Wants" were just a luxury that I didn't have time for. And, I suspect that this is true for most of us. For, in every aspect of life, we all have things to be done that we might not actually want to do, within the scheme of things.

My friend said that it helped to just accept that we just had to do things, & I agree. I have found, myself, that acceptance is major in life. Accepting that we might have made a mistake, said the wrong thing, had bad things happen. And, in the context of this post, accepting that we have to do certain things & sometimes at weird times.

Along with the acceptance, he believes that it pays to be positive about things, & that, if we have to do things, we might as well be cheerful.

We have a choice: be grumpy, resentful, or change our outlook & be positive, cheerful, pleasant. I used to get resentful, many moons ago, but then I read about Beverley Sills, when I was younger. At the time, she was the main opera singer in the USA. Her two children had been born deaf. She was asked in an interview, if that affected her own happiness. She said that she would never be completely happy (because of her children being deaf & of course that entails so many aspects of life for a child). But that she could at least be cheerful. And she was. Beverley was known as "Bubbles" due to her personality. My children could hear, my own problems were not as bad as my children having some major difficulty in life. I resolved then & there to be cheerful. Sometimes I don't feel like being cheerful, but that soon passes, & when bad things happen, as they do...to us all.....I find that I'm able to do something about it, & I truly believe that it has to do with that resolve to be cheerful.

So there we have it: 3 more tools for getting things done: just do it! accept what you have to do; & be positive about it

Even if life is really bad, & major decisions have to be made, these 3 little hints will help us to do what we have to do to make life better.

"I do what I have to do, willingly & cheerfully". I have used this for about 1/2 of my life, & it has been very helpful.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

how to work towards a goal

sometimes we have a period in our life when there is a goal that we are relentless about achieving, then maybe maintaining it. Other times, we just get flummoxed, overwhelmed, confused, don't know where to start....a myriad of reasons which block us.

Which is so exasperating!

So, to jog my own determination muscles, & memory, plus hand out what has worked for me, here are some of my hints & a few personal anecdotes about going for a goal & achieving it:

1) we need to make time for things. Sometimes it is so difficult. Say, for example, you want to get fit, & you decide that you want to go walking each day. You aim for a ridiculous length of a walk to immediately start with: mistake! Go for a shorter time & build it up, day by day or week by week. If you haven't got the time to block out the time for a walk (or whatever!), you can break it down into maybe 3 10 minute walks per day instead of 1/2 an hour. Look outside the square & see what you actually can fit in & go from there.

2) this is an unusual technique: for fitness, & the ole contrary routine has set in: make a tight fist of 1 hand, & flex your arm: say, "I'm doing this"! as you quickly visualise yourself at your sleekest.

3) train your brain: we need to "let our brain" know (that your goal is) what you are doing. So, first, write it down. Now read it out loud, or silently say the words. Feel it achieved, or happening, depending on what you have written, with excitement, Yep, strangely it works. We are engaging our senses which are so important with goals. We are also telling our reticular activating system (RAS), a small group pf nerves at the back of the brain which filter out information according to what is important to us. This system activates our dreams, & to make our dreams into a goal, we can give this system a helping hand.

4) the words that we use matter too. If we say: "I hope"....that indicates uncertainty. "I want": this is a desire & is still indefinite. "I intend, I am": comments like this which are firm create a more definite attitude, showing that we mean it! Change your words if necessary until you get it right, until it feels right & invokes the right feelings of "I can! I will! I am!"

5) Read what you have written, when you wake up, & before sleep. Quickly visualise it, feel the excitement as you read it & say it. This is for subtle reinforcement.

6) Quickly visualise whatever you need to do, for your goal, done, during the day. For example, I am a writer. When I balk....I quickly "see" that I've just completed writing for the day. And....I then find that I just can't stop myself doing it, it's effortless! You can use this too on waking or as you go to sleep. It's a quick technique & is easy.

7) back to the RAS...we can also provide it with "proof" that something is happening, thereby making this part of the nervous system more active in achieving our goal/dream. I learnt this during a traumatic time in my life when I went to a counsellor who used a particular therapy. I know that a lot of people have a gratitude journal, & in a way, this is similar. This is what she taught me: have a journal, notebook, whatever, where each day you write out proof that your goal is happening. Maybe you are an overwhelmed office worker & you have been given a project which is a bit scary, or hard to fit in: whatever! Do your morning & evening card reading & if it's at work, maybe just before your work day starts & when it's just ended. The write down in your journal the proof that it's happening: for example, a phone call which you made that relates to it, an email, some information that has come your way. Everything, no matter how small. Successes only. Do it every work day. Be diligent. New ideas & ways of doing things will mysteriously come to you. You will be surprised.

There are so many ways that we can use to make our life better, & to reveal our own uniqueness. Hopes, dreams, goals, we can make them a reality.

Friday, 22 April 2016

rituals





I have breakfast once a week at a friends’. Well, actually, I usually have breakfast out twice a week, both times after teaching a yoga class in friends’ homes, two different homes. I also have dinner once a week at yet another home of friends, after teaching them a yoga class. And I totally enjoy it. Time to have a chat with close friends, time for laughter. Even just toast & coffee tastes better when we have good company. They are some of my rituals.



A friend was telling me how her husband likes to pause in his busy lawyer life, trot upstairs from his large downstairs office & brew fresh coffee, at roughly the same time every day, & also make fresh leaf tea at other times. I was so impressed. Rituals for him to pause, take a breather, reduce stress.



Rituals create lovely times, too. As a child, I loved racing home after school to have afternoon tea with Nanna. Always a slice of cake or some biscuits. Plus, there was a long period where it was just her & I. They were treasured moments for me. When it was sunny, the whole family would have breakfast outside on a verandah, overlooking the sea. It was wonderful. Sunday roast lunch. Dinner at the same time every night, & dishes after. Bath & kisses before bed. Lovely warm memories.



Memories help form our personality, & help us “train”, unobtrusively, our children to be happy, & for them to know, when they leave home, how to make life nice.



These days we so often look to the latest superfoods & gym exercise to be healthy. And we often overlook how our health can soar when we have little rituals in place that make our life lovelier. For, when we are less stressed, when we have “times” that we pause, take a breather, & quite literally, switch gears, we can so easily sip out of stress mode, into a quieter, happier vibration.



Looking at ways to have small rituals, which are not stressful to put into place, is on my mind lately. I often work early mornings, so I’m up & about before dawn. And I often work evenings. I have the ritual of the early morning teaching sorted: everything is laid out the night before, including any library books to drop off after class & I make sure that any chores to do like shopping, on the way home, are written in my diary. How I also changed the early morning into more of a calming ritual is that I get up that little bit earlier, have a coffee as I shower & get ready….&, most importantly: I don’t rush!! This has changed frantic mornings into nicer ones, just by The Ancient Art Of Ritual.



The evening return to home has not been so easy. The temptation to blob, comatose, after a long day, in front of the tv, is strong!! As often as possible I try to slip into ritual mode, moving in a fairly relaxed way, getting ready for the following morning & for bed. It works. It’s boring, but it works.



Making the transition from working to home seems to require something that signals our brains to switch gears. Doing something that breaks the work mode….kicking off your shoes, hanging up your jacket, having a shower, going for a walk, a run, doing yoga sun salutes, playing with the kids. Whatever.



I have a ritual where I meet up with a dear friend most Monday & Friday afternoons, when she has finished work, for a coffee. I so enjoy it. Another ritual, which I have done for many years, except for a few years where I couldn’t see sunrise where I lived, (so I visualised it instead) is early morning red sun gazing (about 10-15 seconds) leading into meditation. Which of course I can’t do when I am watching the sun come up as I am lined up in traffic on my way to take a class, in which case I just do a sun mantra, like an invocation, & make sure that I am present in the beauty of the moment. Sometimes, when I am really tired I do sleep in & miss sunrise altogether, which does irk. I also do some yoga poses & breathing in the mornings, which go by-the-by if I’m working…or get up late. I still haven’t sorted that one out. I know women whose ritual is to go walking first thing each day, or go to the gym regularly, or read uplifting things each morning or evening. Another friend puts out a crystal spread each week that is relevant to what's happening, cosmic-wise.



One of my friends does a Jin Shin Jyitsu 10 second routine each morning to balance herself. To me, that’s so lovely. Another friend has, for many years, done a quick chakra balance using colour & the chakra points where they touch the body, every day. She looks full of light! She also puts out a crystal spread each week that is relevant to what's happening, cosmic-wise.


Another ritual, which I have had for years, is to go to a friend’s meditation & crystals evening, about twice a month. I don’t “need” to go anywhere for meditation, but I love that evening as it’s my time to just let go on another level, & to delve even deeper into my psyche. A ritual, as you can see, can be 1 of many things.



I have some rituals which aren’t the best, like early morning coffee. And you will too. You will have some good rituals & some not so perfect. However, I personally don’t feel that rituals are about perfection, they are about what feels good for you. They are also about our wellbeing, & it’s just as important for us to be able to switch from one mode to the other, just by The Ancient art of Ritual.



If you look at your life, you will see some things that signal a little ritual, & you might see where some are needed. For me, a ritual is to move from one mode to the next…usually, I admit, from frantic to relaxed. We do it with young children: the ritual of bath, teeth, bedtimes stories, these wee rituals are so important for children.



I’m looking at ritual, & serenity, as ways to uplift my life.  I recommend doing both, as they seem to go hand in hand.


serenity



Recently I stayed the night at a small farm. At my daughters’, actually. I had been incredibly stressed, & just needed to "get away". As I drove in through the farm gates, between rows of trees, past 4 ponies, I could feel the stress slipping away. Scenarios like this immediately put my mind into slow-motion mode. You know, those moments when time & space slow down, when you can see the leaves on the trees slowly rustle, when the sun creates shafts of light between the trees, when you can see the looks in the ponies’ eyes (4 ponies, & each looks sneakily naughty) as you drive slowly past.


When I got out of the car, time was still. I could feel a soft breeze, the air was fresh, clean, & I had time to gaze at bumble bees doing their thing amongst tall pink flowers.


Little moments in eternity.


The next morning, I awoke to the paradox of stillness, & busyness. No sound of cars. No anxiety. And yet, things were happening. The trees were still gently moving creating a sound that I love so much: the rustle of leaves. I could hear the chickens & other birds. I knew that nature was up & all the insects, all the farm animals, had started their day. I soaked up the moment.


When I finally, reluctantly, left, back to a highway, cars, etc, I started reflecting on serenity. Something so lacking in so many lives. Our lives now are so busy, sometimes I feel that we almost have to diary moments for serenity. I meditate often, which does indeed create serenity, but in recent years, I came to realise that it wasn’t enough, our lifestyles are vastly improved when we have it included in our lives.


I moved house a few months ago. I desperately wanted to wake in silence, to have trees around, birds, flowers. To be able to sleep with windows open & not worry about burglars. To watch the sun rise, to be able to see the moon & sky at nights. My whole psyche was aching for it. I finally found somewhere to live that had all that I wanted. It’s not perfect, but it is perfect for now, to give me serenity space.


I am looking at other ways to reintroduce more serenity into my life. I know that walking to & from places creates maybe not serenity, but definitely happiness, & that I want to simplify my life so that I can fit this in. I know that eating nice, simple, clean food, helps our body/mind complex be more in harmony, as do regular sleep patterns & being with friends & family. But actually, I am also looking past all this, to the type of other things that I had been craving. Sitting outside in the sun…yes, yes, I know that we are not supposed to, but I miss it, & there is always late afternoon & early morning when the sun is not so lethal. Meditating under the stars. Walking through the bush. Walking along the seashore. Doing nothing & being in that moment. All of these are pushed to the side when we are always busy.

I realise that for me, serenity has to do with being in nature. That might not be your thing. But some things in life, will be just right for you to have serenity. It is so worth including it in our lives. What in your life already gives you serenity? What is missing that you know brings you deep peace? Can you include it again in your life?  Serenity is worth it, sometimes our lives are just so frantic that we just have to accept that, for now, that franticness is just the way that things are. My 3 children, whether they knew it or not, always had opportunity for quiet time, to pause. They all had a period in their lives, & I so wish that it had been longer periods, where they ran with the wind, played outside till it was dark, played in the rain, laughed in the ocean, climbed trees. It was easy after all that happy activity for them to slip into a more serene mode when it was quiet time. Sometimes that’s all we need too: activity followed by a pause, a moment in time.

 

Friday, 15 April 2016

the year of getting fit...again

I made a big decision at the end of last year: I decided to get fit again. After many years of severe anaemia, I had been left quite exhausted & had very little muscle tone. (This actually is an understatement). And I have just realised that ¼ of 2016 has passed. Panic!! I have wasted 3 months. All because I forgot what it was I had in mind! (ggggrrr).

I have been vegetarian, vegan & mostly vegetarian, over more than 40 years. But it seems to be true, for me at least, that the blood typing diet, does work. I am an O negative blood type. We are the blood donors of the world, as many people are O types, & when I had to have emergency blood transfusions, I was so grateful that there are so many generous O types around.

We are the meat eaters of the blood types. Perhaps because “we” have been around longer. Perhaps we might be less evolved, having to chew meat? It is clear that my vegetarianism & O- blood type are a bit at odds (another understatement.) It seems to me, too, that we O types need less starchy foods, & I do know a few of us Oers who pile on the pounds when we emphasise starch over protein.

(I am a yoga teacher, & I can tell you that in “the yoga world”, it is politically incorrect…or should we say, ethically incorrect, for a yoga teacher to eat flesh. Which, of course, is a very judgemental attitude & it’s also very unyogic to have judgements)

So the first step in fitness for me, is to eat more protein & minimise starches such as bread, rice, etc. Which, of course, is totally at odds, with the dhal, rice, rotis, porridges & legumes, of my (mainly) vegetarian diet. So, I am using a protein powder to up the daily protein grams & so, hopefully, I won’t have to have much meat. And I am emphasising the hunter-gatherer foods. You know….the foods that we would hunt for & also the food that we would find as we foraged. So that means more bits & bobs of seasonal vegetables, eggs, fruits, seeds, a few nuts (I don’t do so well with nuts, so it will only be a few).

Plus I cannot see how a hunter-gatherer of aeons ago, would have been chowing down avocados with eggs for breakfast, wild salmon with an artful exotic salad for lunch, & organic meat with more exotic vegetables & somewhere there would be food baked with coconut, nut or seed, flour, some cacao, ……this just doesn’t make sense to me. I suspect that often there would not have been so much ready nor exotic food, & that proteins such as fish or meat, were eaten only when they were available. So to my mind, the food would have been simple. Which suits me.

And I also feel that our DNA matters too. For example, if you have Polynesian DNA, it is highly likely that you would thrive on kaimoana (seafood including shellfish), if you are from the hotter Pacific Islands, you would also suit coconut. If you are from strong Irish stock, you could do well with adding potatoes & seaweeds. If Jewish, you would avoid shellfish & pork. From the Mediterranean: the Mediterranean diet. And so on.

So, it might be an interesting idea to look at one’s own DNA mixture regarding diet. As we Kiwis are a hodge podge of nationalities, you could have several DNA types to try for yourself!

So, my first step in fitness is change of diet. Knowing me, I shall regress from time to time, but I’m ok with that. And I am quite sure that I shall be “feeding” my muscles with this change of diet, & that in itself will go a long way towards fitness.

There is a very old book (I love old books) called “Diet Does It”, which advocated eating a healthy diet to be healthy, slender & youthful, & I do feel that if we are eating the diet that suits us, that our health & fitness levels will just bump up quite easily.

So, if you would like to join me: let’s look at creating our own personal Diet Does It. Maybe look at your blood type….all the info about it is on the web, & ask around about your family lineage. I know what most of mine is, so I am working with that.

Keep it simple. And do-able. Make small adjustments (5%) until you find what suits you. Your health will grow in leaps & bounds. Have a small group of foods that suit you & that you can always keep on hand, maybe 5 or 6. And make a wee list of the recommended foods, maybe 5 or 6, that don’t appeal, & just don’t keep them at home. Make it easy. I’m going to add berries, salads & allow root vegetables to my list as I rather fancy that an original O type would have been eating berries & raw vege as they hunter-gathered, & would possibly have been tossing roots onto the fire as they cooked their fish or meat. 

And because New Zealand has the most amazing dairy, I shall continue using a bit of Lewis’s Full Cream organic milk (I’m quite sure that my blood type ancestors were not homogenising milk), to fit in with my english/scottish DNA. And, to suit my bit of Maori DNA, I shall be emphasising a bit of fish rather than meat, as the “meat” in this country was originally seafood, a wee bat, & birds, so maybe a wee bit of organic chicken too.

I’m not sure what extra to eat for my Scottish roots. (porridge?…which I’m cutting out) But I shall find out. And I know what to avoid for my Jewish DNA.

This is actually turning out to be quite fun.


Friday, 1 April 2016

On a roll with Helen Mirren

So, my new routine has been Helen-ised. Sort of. I have been so busy, not getting enough sleep, & of course this has been aided by the mosquito plague that seems to be happening. Who can sleep hearing that awful zooming sound that they make going in for the kill? I am a pacifist by nature…..however, I must confess that I absolutely do not include kamikaze mozzies in my “no kill” credo. And I do not approve of flyspray & chemicals. Alas, as I write I am doing the toxic flyspray routine in my bedroom.

And with not enough sleep, & being busy, busy, busy…my own exercise routine has lapsed. Mine is yoga sun salutes & a few poses. Some arm waving in the evening with a weird dumbbell that rattles, an exercycle that my wee legs have a hard time with (can’t reach the pedals properly!), & a plastic tubing thing for waving my legs around with. The exercycle is a loan, the tubing & dumbbell are op shop finds. The idea is to be relaxed & do them whilst I watch telly. Of course, this means that I am now watching some tv………..Plus of course, I do the odd walk each day (in theory).

But, as Helen does do exercise, & does not, I am thinking that perhaps this wee lapse is ok. She recommends starting, & it sounds as though she has simplified her xbx exercises, by doing, say, 3 sit-ups to start, the next week, do 4, increasing by 1 each week. A highly intelligent way to unstress exercise. I am thinking that this creates such tremendous guilt at only having a few exercises to do, that you actually end up doing it.

So, I shall go back to less sun salutes & build them up again…..slowly. And recommence the arm waving & stuff in front of telly, just a few times a week.

Helen says that as you get older, you need to wear less make-up, especially around the eyes. I know what she means – it can look really weird seeing someone past the first flush of youth, flouncing around with tons of make-up & eyeshadow. We need to look like ourselves, only better, which means maintenance, & staying current.

I recently went to the Body Shop (I do not like nor approve of testing on animals nor of using products that might have animal bits in them, like collagen) & told a gorgeous young woman that I wanted some youthful make-up. I said that I just wanted to look great (for me!), not “great for my age” (one of my pet dislikes). I was adamant that I did not want old-lady makeup. She sold me creamy foundation to look “dewy”, told me to keep away from powder as it looks “old”, told me I didn’t need blusher as I had cheek colour & definitive cheek bones, She said to use bronzer rather than blusher, if I wanted to go that route. And my new lipstick is a creamy, lighter, slightly softer, version of the fuchsia shade which looks so flattering on me. The new me looks younger & better. I still have wrinkles & sun spots, but I still look better. And I still wear a thin line of black eyeliner above & below my eyes. My eyes would disappear if I didn’t.

In comparison, last year I bought a full set of make-up, with blusher & powder, eyeshadows etc. All colour co-ordinated. Whenever I put it on, I felt a bit depressed. And it was because it made me look “old”, just by virtue of being old fashioned. I felt “old” too, wearing it. I bet I then acted “old”. I simply could not keep wearing it.

For our hair, Helen recommends “being bold with your cut. Really look at what young people are doing, & copy them. Don’t copy what old people are doing”. I agree. As we know, I am a hair clutz, but I sneak around hairdressers looking for younger people to do the deed with my hair. With an older person, I have had amazing cuts that just look tragic a few days after. And it always gets cut too short!! With a younger person, I have learnt that I get a better, slightly longer, & more manageable, more current, cut.

The last time that I bought clothes, a lovely young woman ran around the shop getting trendy flattering clothes for me. I bought them, because they made me look nice, And current. Last year, a stylist tried to glamorise me with floaty clothes & chunky necklaces. Both are 2 of my pet clothing dislikes, & I got quite upset. To me, they are the sort of things that “old” people wear. And floaty is just not my thing.

I so agree with Helen to be bold, look carefully at what younger people are wearing, their make-up, their hair, & step into a more youthful way of life. Helen says that she is not gorgeous, she never was, that she is just ok looking, & keen to stay that way. I like that philosophy.



What I do with my life

This is not a fripperies post. It's about a passion, a lifestyle, of mine.  I learn Maori healing, and ancient teachings, and have bee...