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.

What’s Really In Your Bubble Bath?

I used a lot of talcum powder from Johnson & Johnson (marketed as baby powder) on my children.  I used it myself for years.  It was quite shocking to find out that this company knew about the asbestos in their products for a very long time and still kept the product on the market.  Asbestos has been known to cause some forms of cancer.

According to http://www.cancer.org, In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled.  

It becomes even more disturbing when I consider that I sprinkled this on my children, from newborn to toddlers, on a daily basis.

Approximately a decade ago I switched to pure cornstarch powder.  I like it.  However, if you will be using any form of powder on yourself or your children, it is wise to do your own homework.

The skin is the largest organ of the human body.  Wikipedia states that for the average adult human skin measures between 16.1-21.4 square feet.  That’s a lot of square footage to absorb toxins!

Parabens.  Synthetic colors.  Fragrance.  Phthalates.  Triclosan.  Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/ Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) Formaldehyde.  Propylene glycol….these are present in many of the personal care products that we buy.  They are considered toxic to the human body.

The products that we apply to our faces and smear on our bodies go farther than skin deep – these chemicals get absorbed internally, contributing to your “toxic load.”

When you think about decreasing our body’s toxic load what do you think of first?

The foods we eat that are sprayed with pesticides?  Do you choose to eat organic food wherever possible?  That is super!  However, this is only one piece in a giant, confusing jigsaw puzzle.

Have you considered the shampoos and conditioners, the moisturizers, deodorants and antiperspirants, the makeup, and the toothpaste that sits on our shelves and in our bathroom drawers…some of which could survive the next ice age, as being toxic?

How often do you succumb to the latest commercial from a well-known cosmetic or hair care company and buy a bottle of their product because the model looks great and it is on sale at a big box store for $2.99?  How often do you buy personal care products at discount stores, from companies that you haven’t heard of before, but take them home and use them because they cost $1?

How often do you take a bubble bath and soak for an hour in these products?

Man ‘o man, it is like a minefield out there…

I am happy to say that we are slowly living into the spirit of the warrior in this regard.  The modern consumer is wiser than we were decades ago.  We know more about cost-cutting practices and slick marketing programs.  We know about class action lawsuits and coverups.  We know we should educate ourselves.  We know we should be reading every darn label that comes into our home, before a person we love, especially a child, uses it.

Take a trip to your local health food store.  Ask the staff for healthy, non-toxic alternatives and suggestions for decreasing both yours and your family’s toxic load in this area.

Your body will thank you for it.