How many decisions do we make because of tomorrow? That’s a good thing–to plan for the future and to be thinking long-term and not just impulsive. But it can rob us of the beauty of NOW.
As I talked with my daughter about which classes to take in high school she taught me a lesson. She said everyone was telling her to take A and B, but she really wanted to learn about C. And the reason she was supposed to take A and B was in order to get into college D so she could get such and such a job. But she really wanted to learn about C and go to college E. I was proud of her for her maturity and her willingness to think on her own and not follow the herd.
Now she wasn’t contemplating skipping required classes in order to learn how to draw, or planning to major in something that would enable to her to earn minimum wage. I’m not advocating throwing common sense to the wind in order to follow your passion. But we’ve lost the magic of today. Today has its merit. We seem to live every day as a function of what it will turn into.
I need to read to my kids because we love snuggling on the couch and laughing at Ramona, not just because they’ll be better off when school starts up in the fall. We need to garden because sunshine + homegrown food = bliss, not because we might need to know how to survive on our own someday. Serve your spouse because it puts a smile on their face and love in their heart, not because it’ll make your marriage stronger in the future.
Tomorrow is important. Next year is important. But today is how we make sure it is. Today isn’t a dispensable commodity on our way to what matters. Today matters! And tomorrow will be a direct result of how well we live today.
Posted on 07/22/2016
I installed a new package of bees in my backyard hive this spring. You basically dump a box of bees into the hive, insert the queen, and put the lid on. In a week’s time you open it up to make sure that the queen was rescued from her cage and is doing her queenly duties. In one week’s time my bees had made these from scratch:
Each one of these pieces of burr comb is as big as my hand. Now there was also lots of honeycomb that the bees had built in the frames, which is where it belongs. Burr comb is unnecessary, in fact it’s troublesome and must be removed in order to keep the hive neat and workable. So while all of the bees were appropriately busy, some of the bees were unnecessarily busy. Some of the bees were so busy that they didn’t stop to think (do bees think?) that they were building something useless.
Most of the time I’m the bee building the comb on the frame–doing the important and necessary. But often I find myself like the busy bee building the burr comb. Busy for busy’s sake. Doing a lot of stuff, but not accomplishing anything. Constantly compelled to action. Finding myself at the end of the day without a moment’s rest yet not being able to recall what exactly I did.
My new focus is deliberateness. Deliberately acting on things I need and want to do. And deliberately resting instead of frantically running to and fro. I’m much better off deciding to do nothing, than I am inadvertently doing nothing with much needless effort.
“I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” William Ernest Henley.
Posted on 07/20/2016
As promised, I’m back to talk more about sleep (or more accurately, the lack thereof). You might think that lack of quality sleep just makes you tired. Would you be surprised to find out that sleep quality affects your hormones (which in turn affect EVERYTHING, right?), appetite, weight, energy levels, moods and digestion?
I look back to my sleep-deprived and sleep-disrupted years and see a perfect storm. My sleep trouble began when I had a newborn to feed several times each night. My hormones were already in a state of flux due to the circumstances, my body was undergoing huge adjustments, and my life had just taken a big turn. Throw the lack of sleep in there and it only augmented those problems, which in turn affected my sleep, and around and around we go. It has a snowball effect. And that snowball keeps adding in size as it rolls, picking up more and more problems. It’s a chicken and egg dilemma. Am I not sleeping because of XYZ, or am I experiencing XYZ because I’m not sleeping?
Have you experienced this or are you experiencing this now? The first step toward healing your sleep patterns is recognizing how deep they go into every aspect of your life. Rather than overwhelming you to find out that your bad sleep has its fingers in everything, it should encourage you to know that when you improve your sleep quality, the benefits will ripple through all those affected aspects of your life. And that encouragement will give you a little sense of relief and calm. And that is where we begin.
After years of sleep deprivation and my constant refrain of “I’m so tired,” my husband said to me one night as I was already dreading the nighttime, “So what? Just tell yourself that it’s not that big of a deal to be tired.” Luckily I was in a good mood and that didn’t provoke me and after we discussed it I came to realize that the worst part of it all was the anticipation and then the regret and worry about not getting enough sleep. I wish my problems ended then and there, but it was a process. One step at a time. And this is your first step: tell yourself a zillion times every day that yes, you’re tired, yes you don’t sleep well, and so what? Who cares? Big deal!
Work on that. And we’ll move on in a few days.
Posted on 04/18/2016
The most common issue (by far!) we see with our clients and fans that come to mindplusme for help is trouble sleeping. We focus on children and teens, but also realize that most adults have trouble sleeping as well.
As if it wasn’t hard enough aging, our sleep quality can be affected as we hit middle age, and for women, with menopause. It’s ironic that just as we get to where we don’t have babies to wake us up during the night, we are finding other reasons to be awake at night. How frustrating.
I could probably win an award for number of times I used to wake up during any given night. And I’ve not done too shabby in the not-being-able-to-go-back-to-sleep category either. Not to brag or anything, but I used to be the world’s worst sleeper. USED TO BE.
As I’ve talked to so many women who struggle with poor sleep quality, I decided to focus on this for a little while. When you aren’t sleeping well, the rest of your life isn’t optimal either. And when you’re not doing well, it is affecting the people around you significantly.
I sleep all the way through the night most nights. And I really want to help you improve your sleep too. Stay tuned in the coming days and weeks for more information and things you can do to sleep better.
Posted on 04/12/2016
Here’s your online quiz for the day:
If you answered yes to any of those questions, there is an easy, FREE, and quick remedy for any and all of the above. We have all tried some wacky things in the past—no carbs, expensive supplements, disgusting protein shakes, extreme exercise, maybe even therapy to improve our physical or emotional health. And are we different after any of it? Not much.
If you are willing to take 5 minutes a day to try something new, I guarantee it will CHANGE YOUR BRAIN and IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH! Those are exact quotes from two recent scientific studies conducted on meditation.
As a society we’re willing to punish our bodies for an hour at a time or deprive our bodies for weeks at a time, but for some reason, a few minutes a day to meditate is usually not something the average person will commit to. Even though it only takes a few minutes, it feels really good, and has a way higher (and guaranteed!) success rate. No self-control required. The mentality behind that is probably fodder for another scientific study.
Are you willing to try something new-to-you, but proven over millenia through human experience, and more recently through scientific data? Do you have 5 minutes a day that you can set aside?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, then let’s talk meditation. Stay with me here. A New York Times blog post cited a study published in Biological Psychiatry which found that meditation actually changes the physiology of our brains. Brain scans showed “more activity, or communication, among the portions of their brains that process stress-related reactions and other areas related to focus and calm,” wrote Gretchen Reynolds. And four months later , even though few were still meditating, the group had “much lower levels in their blood of a marker of unhealthy inflammation” than the control group who simply relaxed. So, yes, meditation has to be a little bit more than just sprawling in front of the TV. It’s more than relaxation.
In the April 2016 issue of Cooking Light Karen Asp writes, “just like when you exercise, physiological changes take place in your body when you meditate. Studies show that…meditation can increase density in the area of your brain responsible for executive function, which helps regulate emotions, holds information, and allows you to perform at your highest level. And the amygdala, the part of your brain that acts like a stress button, shrinks.”
“Meditation changes the way the brain responds to stressful situations,” says Beth Darnall, PhD, clinical associate professor at Stanford University.
They assure us that “how long you meditate may not be as important as how frequently you meditate—daily, ideally.”
Don’t you love when something you totally believe in is proven right? When the masses seem to finally recognize what you’ve known all along? This is my moment like that.
For help with the basics to get started, visit www.mindplusme.com, scroll down and click on HOW TO USE.
Posted on 03/17/2016
I keep track of our metrics as far as which meditations sell when, where, and how many, etc. By far, Time to Sleep for Children is our most popular. No surprise really. Here’s the fantastic surprise: on Valentine’s Day our downloads of Time to Sleep were about double the average number. The spike was quite dramatic from the day before and then dropped off dramatically the next day. There were lots of you not taking any chances with your kids not going to sleep on time on Valentine’s Day.
You sneaky parents, you! I applaud you. I am so happy to see that! Thank you for taking time for yourselves as a couple. As much as we love our children, helping them be strong and good, the foundation of their strength is definitely the marriage. Thanks for strengthening your marriage. Thanks for taking time to focus on your sweetie. It benefits your children, your families, and society as a whole.
Posted on 02/29/2016
Because I preach meditation, emotional health, and skills for an abundant life, I must be that girl that has it all together. A scheduled daily meditation delivers me above the clouds of life and allows me to float along without a care in the world. My reactions to my children and outside circumstances are always measured and controlled. My solutions to problems are proactive and effective. Well, if you think so, thank you for your confidence, but I don’t know that girl either.
I didn’t start meditating because it’s a perfect part of a perfect life. I started meditating because it was a lifeline in my sea of depression and anxiety. This is a story of someone you know, whether you know me or not. Because when I finally decided to break my silence and shed my shame over depression, I discovered that I, unfortunately, am far from alone. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you know someone who does.
I have been clinically depressed for most of my life. With the exception of my childhood years, it has hung over my head. During my teenage years I didn’t know that it was there. It was my normal, and I figured everyone was also miserable, they just hid it better than I did. When I found myself dreaming of suicide, I knew it wasn’t normal. But I didn’t know what to do about it. Not until I was in college and my mom suggested I might be depressed and should see a counselor did I get help.
I remember walking home from campus after being in counseling and on medication for a little while and looking up at the mountains and feeling a random spark of happiness. It surprised me so much that I stopped and had to remember what it was. That was my first inclination into how dark my existence had been. After a year of meds, and counseling they sent me on my way and I was “cured.”
I wish that were the end of my story and the beginning of my happily ever after. But as I had children I experienced post-partum depression with each one. Pretty normal stuff, right? I think the busy-ness and tiredness and distraction that comes with having 6 babies in 11 years masked the underlying depression enough that any negative feelings were ascribed to being exhausted. And the hormonal ups and downs inherent in child-bearing definitely kept me up enough to endure the downs.
About five years ago I was broad-sided by an almost overnight reversal of the tenuous stability I had achieved. When I talked to my doctor (who immediately put me on anti-depressants) my first question was to find out how soon I could get off. He basically said I have a life sentence. Because I am a repeat-offender I don’t get off. I bucked at this for awhile, in denial, trying new home remedies and natural supplements, only to discover that for my own safety, and for the security of my family, I have to take the drugs.
For several years I maintained a very acceptable level of existence. My life is good, I have a wonderful husband and family. Life is (my level of) happy. But last year my life got HAPPY. I didn’t have to pull myself out of bed with positive affirmations. I didn’t have to force a smile. I joked around with my kids without trying. I was motivated. I realized that this was living. I was doing pretty good before, but this was what life was about. I knew I was doing really well because I felt the difference. But I didn’t know how well I was doing until I wasn’t anymore. I literally woke up one day and felt that familiar dark cloud over me again. I was devastated. Since I didn’t know what made things better, I didn’t know why it went bad again. And so I panicked. I panicked because I didn’t know if I had the strength to fight again.
Depression takes a huge amount of energy. I am a strong person because I have to hold myself up, hold my life up each day in order just to get to the end of it. I have to show up and do my job in life, walking the tightrope of day-to-day all while balancing the ever-present burden of my illness. And no one can help carry that burden, though I have many people that care enough to try. You can smile and tell me you know how I feel. But unless you fall asleep at night wishing you wouldn’t wake up, I resent it. Unless you also regularly put on your smile and your best behavior to hide the monster within from those you love most, and have been given the blessing to care for, you don’t know how I feel. It’s not because I’m selfish with my mental illness, because I’d give it away in an instant if I could, but I don’t hate anyone that much. If you’ve had a few down days now and again, I’m sorry. But it’s not the same thing. And if you DO know how I feel, I’m really sorry.
So I meditate, exercise, eat right, sleep enough, positive affirmation the heck out of myself, worship the sun, take my meds, etc. etc. etc. And for now, I’m good. But tomorrow is unknown. It may be a pleasant surprise. Or I may wake up facing a monster that I hate, yet know better than anyone or anything. So be kind. Be gentle with your judgments. When you see the angry checker at the store, the rude teenager in your life, the inconsiderate spouse who checks out too often, the unfair teacher, or the friend who said something they didn’t mean, look closer. What you see might be all they have left after surviving one more day. And that is what they have to offer, and for them, that day, it’s enough.
Posted on 02/23/2016
This is a great little article (http://www.buzzfeed.com/h2/fbmi/aetna/ask-an-expert-how-can-mindfulness-help-you-be-a-better-paren?utm_term=.tyL9ElmMxa#.icKDQdRq7a) on the power and peace of mindfulness, which is a trendy name for a way to practice age-old meditation. Read for tips on
1. How to “fit it into your schedule” (hint: it’s not about fitting it in at all) and
2. How to give your child the gift of mindfulness for a few minutes RIGHT NOW.
Then, let us at MindPlusMe help you learn how to make meditation a consistent part of your, and your children’s daily routine.
Posted on 02/01/2016
I recently read an article on how to stay healthy through the winter months by avoiding personal contact with other people. It rated common ways we greet or meet others by how many germs are transmitted. Hugs and kisses were the worst. Handshakes were in the middle, and the oh-so-intimate fist bump was, in their opinion, your best option for winter socializing.
I get it. I’m a religious hand-washer, especially after coming in contact with people in public places and before eating, I get it. The other night I was at an event where hors d’oeuvres were served, and I very anxiously tried to eat them all with one toothpick to avoid using my hands with which I had just shaken everyone else’s. Good for some things, not so good for sandwiches. But even as germ-conscious as I am, this advice really bothered me.
Our society suffers disproportionately from mental health problems. It’s been proven that physical contact is healthy and healing for not only our souls, but our bodies too. It alarmed me that we are being advised to avoid each other, especially at a season when so many suffer just a little bit more from loneliness, sadness, and depression. Now is the time to increase your hugs and kisses, not withhold them.
So, unless you know you’re sick, please hug your friends, family, and anyone that welcomes it. Fist bumps just don’t carry the same message. I’ll take a cold for happiness or love or security, if that’s what frequent hugs mean (and I do think they’re that powerful). Just don’t be offended if I go wash up afterward.
Posted on 12/02/2015
I don’t get paid to do what I do. I don’t get annual performance reviews where someone tells me I’m on track and they appreciate my contributions. I don’t win any prizes or awards for this volunteer work. In fact, most of the time my work goes completely unnoticed. I work so hard and no one notices. Sometimes I feel invisible.
And even worse, sometimes I get complaints. I get told I’m not doing it right. I even get yelled at periodically for doing what I thought was my best. It stinks. It hurts. And my answer to this is to sit and do nothing.
In quiet moments I get the recognition and the encouragement that help me get up and do it again tomorrow. When I’m constantly rushing I miss those little messages from heaven, from my own intuition, that are the confirmation that this job is important and that I’m pretty good at it. When I’m still, I know deep down that my best is good enough. In fact, what I have to give is good enough, because a lot of times I don’t do my best.
Motherhood is hard, but I complicate things when I’m looking for outside recognition. Recognition has to come up from within, from the spiritual part of me that knows why I’m here. A virtual little pat on the back and thumbs up.
I miss it if I’m not careful because it’s subtle and personal. And if I’m paying attention to how everyone else says I should be doing my job, or I’m trying hard to get too much done, I miss it. I need to focus on what matters. And when I do, I feel like I’m doing all right. Somehow I just know.
Posted on 11/06/2015