Many Doors, One Sanctuary: 10 Doors to Active Wellbeing: Doorway # 2

When my kids were quite young (6 and 2) their father and I decided to take them for a short camping trip.  We choose a campground that was on the outskirts of Moncton, NB, involving only a couple of hours of traveling – not too far away for this first expedition.  We bought a tent, gathered our camping gear, packed the two of them, toys and car seats and blankets and food all, into our red Bronco II and headed for the campground.

Our afternoon was full of fun and games.  The children enjoyed the playground and splashed in the pool.  Supper went well, everyone was hungry and everything, even canned Irish Stew, tasted better outdoors.

When it was time for bed we took the children into the tent, wrapped them in their special blankies, and began our evening sleepytime ritual.  Our plan was to get the kids to sleep and sit around the fire for a couple of hours.

That is when my son announced, Okay, let’s go home now.

No, Mike, we are going to sleep here.  But where’s my bed?  

You have your blankets and your pillow, try to go to sleep.  But I need my night light.

Okay, let’s read a story (I get out the flashlight to read the book).  But Mommy, I can’t go to sleep here.

Nobody slept that night.  We were waiting – tent, and camping gear and kids and toys and car seats and blankets and food all, in our red Bronco II, in the parking lot of MacDonalds as the morning staff arrived to open the doors for breakfast at 6am.

Creating Sanctuary…

What is my point?  Well, by now, I think our patience with physical distancing is wearing thin.  Having time off work is old news.  Watching tv and surfing the net is getting boring.  We are well-rested and (at least for some of us) our house is cleaner than it has ever been.  Pets are so well attended to that even they are wondering when we are going to leave.

As this crisis creeps closer to home, we are beginning to become restless.  We need to get outside but are afraid of what waits for us there.  We must get groceries.  Some of us must have medications.  Kids are beginning to whine and fight for recreation.

Even those of us who identify as introverts are becoming a tad bug-eyed…

We want to go back to the way things used to be.

Here is how I see the difference:

It is different when we choose to stay inside.  It is different when we consider our home a retreat from the world, not a fortress against the world.

We feel like we are a boat without a rudder, floating along on an unknown sea, and we are reaching the point where the growing wave in front of the bow begins to break.

When will I be able to go back to work?  How will I pay my bills if this goes on much longer?  Holy crap, what if my company goes under?  Or my investments go down the toilet?  Should I take the kids outside to play?  My mom is in a nursing home alone.  This virus has no cure…

When the going gets tough, the tough get going…

This pandemic is a serious threat.  If we don’t practice physical distancing and adhere to the protocols as outlined by the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, more will die.  This is not a possibility, it is a probability.  It is wise to be deeply concerned and to act like we are contagious and don’t want to spread this virus to anyone else.

Creating a home Sanctuary means providing an oasis of wellbeing for us and our families.  This is a dedicated practice for a peaceful warrior.  We become relentless in our pursuit of peace.  We practice with the 5P’s in mind:  Fearless faith, focus, and fortitude.

It involves active engagement, nurturing the body, mind, spirit.  It involves opening doorway #2 that leads to enhancing our immune systems and mitigating stress through conscious, healthy consumption.  Open the door and discover the good things of life.

I invite you to consider these suggestions as you endeavor to fill your mind and spirit and body with good things:

2. Active Consumption

Media:  Perhaps it is time to limit our consumption of the news?  Remember the saying, If it bleeds, it leads…applies to media.  To back away from social media?  To stop reading about and joining in the discomfort of others?  To stop sharing complaints?  To actively use the wonders of our online connections to others to share what you know will give them a boost?  

Food:  Be strategic.  Shop for groceries once per week to lessen your chances of spreading this contagion.  Make a comprehensive list.  Pick foods that are high in nutrition and give you value for your money.

This is the perfect time to stretch your groceries out by eating less.  Practice the Japanese way of eating called Hara Hachi Bu.  This means eating until you are no longer hungry, not eating until you are full.  There is a world of difference.  In North America, we have been conditioned to eat until we can no longer eat another bite and believe this is beneficial.  All of the longest-lived societies in the world practice some form of calorie restriction.  This is part of the eating practices in what has been described as the SAD diet (Standard American Diet), which applies to all of North America.

Conversation:  This is the perfect time to Facetime with friends.  To meet on Zoom or Skype.  To share your support and encouragement with someone who is sheltering at home alone.  We need each other more than ever.  It always feels good to realize you are needed and you are loved.  This is the perfect time to give to others what you would love to have for yourself.

Reading:  Ebooks are a superb way to enlighten your mind and pass the time in an active, constructive manner.  Check out Audible.  Check out Youtube – many books and magazines are available for free online.

Next post will include thoughts on #3 Active Thought!  🙂

Stay well and keep spreadin’ the love, my friends!

 

Insight from COVID-19 – Transforming Reaction into Response 1.0

We are in the midst of chaotic times, no doubt.  It is truly a call for us all – to wake up to the fact that we live in a global community.

Arguments to the contrary can no longer be entertained.  However, new thoughts, habits, and routines can be inner-trained.

When faced with challenging circumstances, I have trained myself to search for something worthwhile that can be gleaned from the suffering.  With practice these kinds of thoughts become like beachballs in water – they inevitably pop to the surface.

Folks are afraid, and there is good reason.  This contagion is real.  Government protocols are being rewritten because of it.  The lifestyles of the rich and famous and poor and unfamous are changing because of it.

We are at a crossroads.  Will we react?  Or respond?  There is a world of difference.

Here are a few of the things that I am learning from this outbreak.  These include the pragmatic and philosophical, as well as the humorous…humor is Now Therapy.

  1. Appreciation is an Elegant Art.  Appreciate our health care workers, retail clerks, truck drivers, utility workers, and those who maintain our vital communication, and emergency services.   Friends, this realization is changing the water on the beans – without these folks we WILL be in dire circumstances indeed.  Keep in mind that those who are in direct contact with the public (you and I) have to go home to their families.  We can spread the love not the virus.
  2. Appreciate our personal vitality, health, and strength.  If you are healthy it is honorable to help others.  There are those who will not be able to get to the grocery store.  We can always drop off food and meds to those who are even more shut-in than we are, while maintaining a necessary distance.  This is a vital community service.  Contact your local organizers to find out how you can assist.
  3. We can walk outdoors (if we are not under a strict isolation order) while keeping our distance from others and even if we are confined to our home we can do stress-relieving and flexibility enhancing exercises like yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong.  There are hundreds of videos that are free online.
  4. Kindness costs nothing but pays a huge return on our investment.  It is also stress-reducing.  We are all consumers.  We are all contributors.  What are you consuming?  What are you contributing?  It is true kindness to only use what you need and leave the rest for others.  These days, kindness also looks like staying home!
  5. We can ration paper products.  What is this new Toilet Paper Index but a sign of irrational times? This is not gross, folks, it’s a natural bodily function.  In many cases, two small squares of TP is all you need to attend to a #1, ladies.  Gents understand this pragmatic approach and have for eons.  Hippies and hikers have known the benefits of rationing products that decimate our old-growth forests for what seems like forever.  Glad to have y’all on board!
  6. We can get by on about half the amount of food we regularly consume.  The SAD (Standard American Diet – this includes all of North America) is excessive.  We have heard that before.  With people hoarding food, this is the perfect opportunity to practice calorie-restriction.  It won’t hurt you.  Cut your consumption of meat in half or quarter – there are huge benefits for your pocketbook as well as your innards.  You won’t simply survive, but you may find yourself thriving.
  7. Eliminate food waste.  With the requirement for social distancing, you may find yourself a lot more mindful about what food you are buying (getting to the store is a privilege of these who are healthy) and, if you are community-minded you will find yourself naturally limiting your trips to the stores that remain open so we can continue to eat.  You may find yourself using leftovers in creative ways!  Bravo!
  8. Staying at home has its benefits.  We can play more games.  We can write and listen to music and hang out with those that share our home.  Our wardrobe is not a concern.  One change of clothing is all we need.  Minimalists have been saying this for years.  Consider what truly is important – enjoy the benefits of not doing nearly as much laundry too!
  9. You now have time to give your windows the attention they deserve.  I accept my responsibility for cleaning the dog snot off the living room window, and now I have plenty of time to attend to it.  Wash your dishes by hand!  My hands have never been cleaner!  🙂
  10. I have new empathy for my dog and cat and every critter who has ever spent time confined.  I can go outside.  I can move around my home.  I don’t have to hold my bodily functions like my pup does if he or she is crated.  My human litter box is clean.
  11. Feed the need now – pets need more than food.  Pets need petting.  That is the definition of petting – where it originated.  Pets give us so much – this is the perfect time to give them a whole lotta love!  This is a gift that keeps on giving!
  12. There is logic in cat poop.  Sharing negativity and nastiness on social media is like taking the contents of your cat’s litter box and handing it to others.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a piece of it.  Neither does your cat!  Litter box wrangling is a solitary endeavor for the cat (ask him!) and a solitary pursuit for their hooman…scoop it up and dispose of itPlease don’t try to distribute it to your social media community.

Yes, I agree.  Some choices have to be curtailed for a while.  It isn’t fun.  There is a whole world of adjustment happening – financial strain and frustration and fear is real.  We still have many choices available to us – ones that don’t cost anything – like learning to transform knee-jerk reaction into clear-eyed response.

This virus outbreak may be historical, but it is only hysterical if we let it be.

Stay healthy, my friends.

Living In The Gap: Embracing Emotional Maturity

How does a person go from confusion to clarity? From restlessness and distraction to serenity? From conflict to peace? From noise to silence? From angst to joy? From entitlement to gratitude? From selfishness to service?

This transformation is the result of embracing learning and change.

I think that explaining the changes that happen when a person reaches emotional maturity is not as effective giving the person a means to obtain it.

 

Emotional maturity, for me, is what I term as living in The Gap (a state of inner space, not the store!). Viktor Frankl called it the space between stimulus and response.

The Gap is that split second between when something happens and our reaction to it.

 

  • Our senses to register it as having happened (stimulus)
  • They send signals to our brain
  • We sift through our mental database for a similar experience and choose the best possible reference. We remember what we did before, or what we have been taught, or what we saw someone else do in a similar situation (even someone on TV).
  • We to apply to this situation (response)

When we act from memory, when we remember a similar experience and act from it, we call this reacting.

Athletes work on their reaction time, repeating the same action until it becomes what we call Second Nature. Doctors and pilots and musicians and parents and factory workers and dancers, like Tom Cruise in the movie, Cocktail, practice their moves until they become so smooth, so easy, it is like they always knew how to do this thing.

But they didn’t. Even with natural ability, they still had to learn the moves. And it took years, even decades, to master this skill.

Living in The Gap gives us access to First Nature. This is who we are before we become domesticated, shaped, molded, and folded into a predictable version that is acceptable to mainstream society.

The original Big Sky country, First Nature is a space where the wildest, most courageous, curious, creative, and passionate hearts roam free. It is a space of calm, and quiet. Time becomes null in this void. It is Sanctuary.

It is where the most honorable and compassionate part of us, the part I call our Constant Traveler, awaits.

We must come to our Constant Traveler’s space. I learned that attempting to draw her “out here,” into the world, breaks the connection.

I spent decades catching only flashes of her…being with her just long enough to know it was possible but never being able to stay for more than an hour or two. I spent years yearning for the delight of this place that I knew existed but in which I couldn’t live…until Viktor Frankl taught me through his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, about the space between stimulus and response.

I began to extend the time in between when something happened and my reaction to it. It was hard. It hurt. I had to bite my tongue, as my Irish grandmother would have described it, and wrestle with my feelings over what I believed to be an injustice.

But I wanted it more than anything. I had to desire peace more than I desired defense.

I studied the work of psychologists Carl Rogers and William Glasser, and teachers like Jiddu Krishnamurti, Wayne Dyer, and Alan Watts, as well as other great thinkers and teachers. Gradually The Gap began to expand.

The Gap is the space where I learned how to shut my mouth and listen.

Emotionally mature people value The Gap above all else. They use time wisely. They take the time they need to consider an appropriate response and do not let the drama of a situation drag them from this sanctuary.

Essentially, it is where the subject learns to be the observer by positioning you, as A Course In Miracles describes it, above the battleground.

This is how life has changed for me. I am no nobody’s guru, but I do enjoy living in The Gap.

Try it on and see if it fits you.

Always Arriving

In a recent interview, modern thought leader and author Brendon Burchard described a meeting with Oprah.  Before anything else was discussed, she asked, What is the intention of this meeting?  

As Brendon explains it, Oprah is always seeking clarity – clarity of purpose and of time expenditures.  Well aware that there are only 24 hrs (or 1440 minutes) available in each day, she demonstrates that she values her precious time by seeking clarity in every interaction.

As Brendon teaches, every high performer knows that if they take care of the pennies, the dollars will look after themselves.  By clarifying their Whys, they can clearly map their Hows.

Why then do so many of us get bogged down?  Why is the “devil in the details” more apt for some of us than it is for these high performers?  Why does attention to detail bog us down instead of freeing us to do our best work?

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions?  Or perhaps we are afraid to ask any questions at all?

Question Everything – this can be an open-minded, freeing way to live, or it can also be the means to close us off from the very things we are seeking.  The nature of your questions matter more than you may be aware…

Why am I so dumb?
Why can’t I stop eating junk?
Why can’t I be like my brother?
Why are people so hateful to one another?
Why does everything have to happen to me?
Why can’t I overcome this?
Is there anyone out there who loves me?
What if I never feel like I’m enough???

Is this line of questioning coming from a place of abundant curiosity, or lack of hope?  Haven’t you already decided before you asked the question?

And what happens when we are so afraid to speak up or so afraid of not being able to handle the answers, that we never ask the questions?

Truly, there is a devil in the details here, and it is fear.  Question the source of the questions.

Another reason we are afraid to seek clarity is that in order to do so we must admit that we don’t know what it is.  If we are afraid to ask questions because we may look dumb or incompetent, we become that which we fear.  We cannot feel competent and confident in our ability because we have chosen to pretend that we are something we are not….something limited.

How can you discover that which has the potential to fill you if you pretend that you are already full? 

You have chosen from meager offerings (the limited options you see before you – the ones you have already lived) and out of fear of being exposed as a poser you have fortified your position with mute defense.

You can’t unfold a flower with your hands…

Inspiration is the result of surrender to the natural flow of events. Fear of being discovered as not knowing blocks knowing.

Open yourself to what is possible.  You always have that choice.  Learn from the examples of the highest performers among us.  No matter what their age, level of success or intelligence or station in life, they seek clarity in all things.

An elegant mind does not accept detours, because it is always arriving.  It does not attempt to make the road shorter, but travels in such a manner that every action leaves the land more fertile and the landscape more beautiful.

Seeking clarity is a lifetime pursuit because each situation is always new.  You and I have never lived this day…in this way…before.

With this in mind, we are always arriving.

Plan Now to Optimize 100!

What is there to look forward to as one ages?  I have a plan. It even has a name – Optimize 100!

Femme Fierce!

I believe that keeping as fit as possible and maintaining optimum body weight at any age will pay dividends as one begins to wind down. Our ability to remain fit and active will be prolonged due to good management. This also means choosing sports and activities that minimize the chances of injury.

Regardless of how hard we train, there will be a point where we cannot hike as fast, or cycle as fast, or kayak or run or play badminton as well as we used to. Why not plan to work as hard as is necessary to maintain muscle mass and vitality for as long as possible?

Folks, let’s sit down…and lay down…when we have no other option!

If I am blessed to wake up on my 100th birthday relatively mobile and remembering who I am, I will consider it a plan well executed!

I will be 60 this July and still enjoy a high degree of agility and athleticism. I achieved a Black Belt in Taekwondo at age 42 and still enjoy active sports. We have just taken up squash. What a fast-paced, interesting game!  I am not very good at the moment…but that will change!

My husband is my training buddy.  This helps a lot.  If you don’t have a life partner who feels the same way you do about exercise, you can always find a training buddy at an athletic group.  I suggest joining a gym, or a hiking, cycling, or running group, etc. and get to know folks.

We resistance train regularly. We are avid hikers and regularly hike in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and the Green Mountains in Vermont, USA. We have hiked Mt. Washington and many other mountains along the northern end of the Appalachian Trail, including Mt. Katahdin in Maine. This past October we hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. Our tour guide dubbed us The Speedy Llamas for a reason! We are enthusiastic cyclists (regular 50–60k rides).  We have taken cycling holidays that require a challenging level of fitness and have scheduled a cycling adventure in Tuscany in Oct 2020.

We also eat to optimize longevity. For more information on this subject, I suggest checking out The Blue Zones information.  This stuff is GOLD:

https://www.bluezones.com/

The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100

Every day I wake up on this side of the grass is a beautiful day…

Looking forward to aging is a matter of mindset and preparation.

I live by what I call the 5′P’s – proper planning prevents poor performance.  Preparing for a long, active life means laying the groundwork now. There is no other time!

From my perspective, this means exercising my brain through continuous learning and creative endeavors. My second book, An Elegant Mind’s Handbook is scheduled to be published by DeVorss & Company in 2020.

Gnothi Seauton

It also means challenging the thoughts that threaten to sabotage my joie de vivre. I am very careful in what I declare that I am, but I am happy to say that I am a Contrarian. I question everything, most especially the source of my questions.

I mean, I was wrong once before….

It also means enjoying the moment and having fun! I am glad to act my age!  I plan on enjoying myself every day ‘til the end of my days. I am looking forward to the ride.

There is a woman who I believe to not only be an example of extreme resilience in extreme circumstances but, at age 91, Dr. Edith Eger is also one of the most brilliant examples of healthy aging I have ever found. She is and will continue to be, a shining star for me.

Home – Dr. Edith Eger

Your Prime Motivators

expressyourself

I spend a lot of time saving my own life.  It is easy to fall into a trap and waste a lot of precious time, so I work on it every day.

I have chosen to invest my time into the things that not only save me time and money but also save my energy so I can experience the best that life has to offer me now.

I practice saving precious life-time for the good stuff.

What is the good stuff?  Back in the day, I didn’t have a clue.  For many years I reacted to life.  I wouldn’t have liked to admit it, but I was at the mercy of others.  I took everything to heart and overthought every interaction.  I was always defensive, generally anxious, and easily wounded.  Life was a battleground.  I didn’t live it.  It lived me.

A person can survive this way.  I am living proof.  However, being constantly vigilant… cycling between threat assessment and fight/or flight is no way to thrive.

As loss after loss and wound after wound began to pile up like cordwood, I realized that if I didn’t do something about what was happening, that I would always stay in survivor mode.  I would always be somebody’s victim.

That wasn’t good enough for me. That hateful story sucked. I wanted to be able to tell the story of a life designed to thrive, not merely survive, but I didn’t know how.

I wanted, with all my heart, to know better.  Somehow, deep inside, I knew that thriving truly is the ultimate survival.

Like a drowning person searching for a life preserver, I began looking for answers.  I explored places I wouldn’t normally have looked, listening to people who didn’t think like me or live like me, and in many cases, didn’t look like me.   It was an uncomfortable process that required many years of research and self-inquiry to clarify, but what I found there was worth the price of admission and is truly worth sharing.

Anyone with the ability to think, speak, and act can do this work.

My first step was to establish my prime motivators.  We may not be able to articulate them at this time, but every human being has them.  These are the main drivers of our actions.  They either feed or starve our energy levels.

This meant getting back to the basics and identifying my essential motivational drivers, the reasons why I do what I do when I do it.

As it turns out, my prime motivators are creativity, connection, and community.

What Are Your Prime Motivators?

What gets you so excited about a project that you cannot wait to begin it?
And cannot wait to work on it?
Why do you want to do this thing so badly?
What is the payoff for doing what you do?
What deep urge in you does it satisfy?

Deep down, what truly matters? 

You may find that much of what you value has been instilled by your family or culture. This is your opportunity to clarify what you value as an individual. 

Values are not objectives, they are active, best life practices. 

Your values keep you on your path and become the basis for your personal standard of excellence.  What you value determines your motivation.

The key to this exercise is to not measure what you value by whether it is “right” or “wrong” but to determine how each of these values works with your vision for your best life.

If you were to share the things that inspire, energize and give you a sense of a job well done, what would they be?

Consider the list below.  Circle as many as are applicable to you.  Add your own.  This is your longlist.

Take your time and create a shortlist.  Give your shortlist a lot of consideration as if you needed your 3 prime motivators in order to claim a fantastic gift!  This information offers you the gift of clarity, of knowing yourself better.  It is a gift that keeps on giving.

1. What do you value?

Authenticity        Achievement       Autonomy           Adventure         Balance

Courage              Compassion         Challenge           Connection         Community

Contribution       Commitment       Creativity            Curiosity           Citizenship

Competency       Consistency         Dependability     Discipline          Diligence

Determination    Efficiency           Effectiveness       Education        Elegance

Fairness              Fitness                 Faith                  Fame                      Fun

Friendship        Good humor      Growth               Grit                       Happiness

Honesty              Health                Influence            Integrity               Innovation

Ingenuity            Justice                Kindness             Knowledge          Loyalty

Leadership          Learning             Love                   Motivation          Mentorship

Openness            Optimism            Peace                 Popularity            Passion

Perseverance      Positivity            Reliability            Recognition      Religion

Reputation          Respect              Responsibility      Tenacity             Spirit

Security              Service               Spirituality          Self-respect         Stability

Success              Status                Trustworthiness   Wealth                Wisdom

Wellness             Wellbeing

2. Create your longlist. I suggest writing them on a separate piece of paper.  The act of writing them out helps you to get your thoughts in order.  Although many of the values listed above may apply, I suggest keeping this list to 20 items.

3. Create your shortlist:

1._______________________________

2._______________________________

3._______________________________

4._______________________________

5._______________________________

6._______________________________

7._______________________________

8._______________________________

9._______________________________

10.______________________________

4. Check your shortlist and group similar values together. Our values often fall into the following 7 categories.  These may be helpful as you choose your top 3.

Social             Family                Personal Development           Financial

Career            Physical              Spiritual

5. My Prime Motivators:

1.____________________________

2.____________________________

3.____________________________

 

I am a fan of the work of entrepreneur Tom Bilyeu.  His podcasts, Impact Theory and Health Theory are truly worthy of your precious time.  In the recent Mindvalley talk below, Tom offers us a dazzling masterclass on how to invite others to listen, incite them to embrace change, and inspire them to action!  In a masterful demonstration of excellence in motivating others as well as public speaking, Tom cusses a couple of times, but that’s Tom and they fit.

Without a doubt, this man knows what drives him and uses this understanding to his best advantage.  Consider, as you watch this, how Tom’s prime motivators have been the genesis of his off-the-chart success.

Forget The Good And Remember The Bad?

Human beings have a tendency to recognize and remember the threatening things in life because back in the day it could have been life-threatening.

The ancient part of our brain still gets triggered easily. If you consider criticism as being like the situation where Grog from the other tribe of cavemen began talking trash and was threatening to club your lights out…for real

Criticism = Grog’s club

You’d better remember Grog.

And failure as being like you zigging instead of zagging while being chased by a saber-toothed tiger and by your failure to outrun him (like those gazelles on nature shows) and you became his lunch…for real…you can see how this evolved.

Failure = You becoming lunch

You’d better remember that tiger.

We call it negativity bias.

The modern-day threat may not be to your life…it may not even be real in any way…but consider your body as being neutral. It responds to (and stores) the thoughts you give it.

Many of us live in a never-ending loop of threat assessment and fight or flight response. It takes on a life of its own by stealing ours.

This reaction is always a reaction to memories. Memories are recollections of past events…always.

Good thing we are no longer cavemen. We now know about negativity bias, and can act otherwise.

With other-wisdom.

Is the glass half empty?
Or is the glass half full?
But it’s a glass…isn’t a glass refillable?

And more important than any of these

keep in mind that there is more than one damn glass…

Check out this exceptional talk by social psychologist Alison Ledgerwood for further insight: