Friday, January 27, 2012

Forgiveness and my very BAD week

It's been a bad week. Why bad? I've rammed full-force into a lot of walls; repetitively faced opposing opinions on complicated issues. I like to win! On some issues my point of view has prevailed and on others I have had to declare defeat. Sometimes it has been messy, I have hurt others' feelings, and I have disappointed.

The hardest hit has been my own selfish ego. I am stubborn, and driven, and sometimes place unreasonable expectations on others and, I grudgingly admit, myself. I have been oblivious to experiencing the same lesson over and over for the past few days until clarity came this morning; in a calming yoga pose.

The solution: forgiveness. However, surprisingly to me, I needed to start with forgiveness of self. Once that process began I was able to move into a space of humility, gratitude, and apology.

I can feel the black cloud lifting.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Advice for my 20-something self

Now that I'm middle-aged, there are 10 things I wish I could've advised my 20-something self.

1. Don't fear failure. Challenging one's self often leads to the most unimaginable successes and opportunities and leads you down some fascinating and enlightening pathways. And when you fail, because if you take risks you will eventually fail, dust yourself off and get back up again. Try to see the humour in your situation and give yourself credit for having had the courage to take the risk.

2. Trust actions, not words. People often say the things you want to hear because it's the easier way out. But, actions represent an individual's true feelings, commitment, and compatibility.

3. The "easier, softer way" is usually the wrong way.

4. Don't even consider cosmetic surgery. Your body is perfect!

5. Take some classes you REALLY WANT to take. Try not to adhere to or believe the labels that society has given you. You are a multi-faceted, unique individual with many talents. Society labels us just to make its job easier.

6. Be prepared for many career changes. Your "dream" job does not exist! Try something, lots of somethings. You just might find your passion!

7. Be kind, empathic, and respectful to the older generations. They do have wisdom and often have interesting perspectives if you just take the time to listen. They ARE your history and have often lived and survived what you are going through.

8. Divorce taught me a lot but if you have doubts do NOT get married.

9. School is never a bad idea.

10. Never say never. Likely you WILL in the future.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lotus Flower

Several months later, this video still resonates with me. I applaud Thom Yorke's courage to allow the world to view his imperfections while witnessing that which makes him feel pure. Music is perhaps his divinity.

So much of ourselves is edited. We act and speak in ways we think we ought. It takes time, thought, and courage to define and express our true essence.

Think of those pure moments when you have felt unedited, connected, generous, and loved. Strive for more of those moments of true acceptance. In doing so, I think, we may just experience the gift of enlightenment.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

TEDxHouston - Brené Brown on Vulnerability

I loved this TED talk by Researcher, Brene Brown, phD Social Work.

Key points (taken directly from her talk):

Wholehearted people have a strong sense of worthiness and are the most content. They exhibit:
- a sense of courage (courage to be imperfect)
- compassion (kind to themselves first, then to others)
- connection (as a result of living authentically)
- vulnerability (eg. a willingness to do something when there's no guarantee; investing in a relationship that may or may not work out)

Our society has a bad habit of numbing vulnerability. We are the most in-debt, obese, medicated and addicted adult cohort in human history. When we attempt to numb the negative emotions (shame, fear, grief, disappointment, anxiety, etc.) we also numb the positive (joy, gratitude, happiness, love, creativity, faith, belonging, etc.).

We need to:
- love with our whole hearts
- practice gratitude
- believe that we're enough
- honour the ordinary (our kids, family, community, nature)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Gifts - to gift or not?

Inspired by comments from

The question is whether to gift or not?

I went through a phase of "Don't buy me any gifts!" AKA: "I don't need anything and I don't want any more crap." I now realise that this reaction was a selfish one. My action was in fact a reaction to my guilt felt from excessive consumerism by myself and society. I was trying to do what I could to make a difference in the world by trying to use less resources.

However, I was really denying those that love me the chance to show their love. We all put some thought into what we gift. By giving gifts, we show our gratitude, value and love.

That's not to say that we can't be creative. Everyone enjoys receiving something that they don't have - cash for the cash-strapped, time from the overcommitted, or babysitting for parents. Bigger is not better. And, we all eat and drink. Tea, wine, coffee or a home-cooked meal (how divine!) would rank high on my gift list.

We can create change in the world by giving thoughtful gifts. It's the emotion behind the gift-giving that is important.

This year, I have been fortunate enough to receive priceless Christmas decorations from my sons. I witnessed their delight and pride as they eagerly awaited our discovery of their home-made items that had consumed their time, creativity, and love. Now THAT is consumption that is meaningful.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More Secrets from Dr. David Sobel

Some interesting statistics he mentioned:
- naps less (but NOT more) than 60 mins. decrease heart attack risk in men by 30-50%
- frequent annual vacations decrease your cardiovascular risk
- pets increase happiness
- people who eat candy (not explained, but likely dark chocolate) have a 27% decrease in relative risk of death
- sex and red wine, not surprisingly, increase happiness (sex - as much as you can get; red wine - 1 glass/day for females and 2 for men)
- emotional well-being and happiness increase as household income increases up to $75K and then stabilizes!! (more money does not equate with more happiness); in fact, money can increase one's tendency to take the small pleasures of daily life for granted
- the ability to savour predicts happiness (more able to savour, more happiness)
- experiences result in more happiness as compared to material goods
- buying gifts for others or giving to charity is associated with greater happiness

You can change your thinking to one of an optimist by:
- remembering the positives of past events
- seeing threats as challenges and problems to be solved
- focusing on the present
- believing that your actions can make a difference
- savouring the small stuff (keep a gratitude journal, write thank you notes)

Good luck and be sure to send me your thank you notes!

The Secrets to Happiness

I confess - It's been 2.5 months since my last blog. Time flies when you're doing things you love to do. Don't wait until tomorrow (it's always today), or retirement, or when you have more money. Live life without regrets.

I just attended a Family Medicine conference in Kauai (I know, rough life). My generous parents babysat our children while my husband and I had ONE WEEK OFF FROM OUR REGULAR LIVES. We did things we used to do pre-children: went for a bike ride, ate breakfast and dinner together, lay in bed, had showers EVERY DAY, slept for 10 hours straight. And, things we've never done: rode around in a convertible Mustang while gazing up at the gorgeous stars, snorkelled (in a swimming pool - hee, hee), ate shaved ice in rainbow colours, ordered drinks AND EXPENSIVE FOOD poolside, bought cruise wear (who does that?!), discovered and enjoyed quaint local cafes (thanks Garmin).

There was also a fabulous lecture by Dr. David Sobel MD, MPH. I will summarize his keynote.

Determinants of happiness are comprised of: 50% genetics (uncontrollable), 10% circumstances and events (uncontrollable) and 40% thoughts and actions (CONTROLLABLE). Forty percent control is a huge chunk of power!

Secrets to being happy are: 1) Sensuality (smell, touch, taste, and having a functioning brain), 2) Optimism, and 3) Altruism.

So, if you're feeling down in the dumps, try improving on any one of the aforementioned areas. For example, do something for someone else, hold someone's hand, don't let your mind wander but enjoy the moment, and always remember it could be worse. Your mood will thank you, you will live a longer life, and each day will feel like a gift rather than a chore.