If you regularly check in to YOTD, you may have noticed a long hiatus has just occurred. No, I’m not ignoring you! I promise! I just happened to have been on a life changing trip to Nepal. I left for three weeks, two of which I spent volunteering to build a school. I’d been fundraising for over a year and when it finally came time to go, I’ll admit I was nervous. I’d never been to a developing country before in any of my travels. I was bracing myself for some intense culture shock and while some did occur, I ended up spending most of my time just feeling so grateful to be there. I also made a conscious decision to gather lessons from my interactions and observations of the wonderful Nepalese people. Not everyone gets a chance to go to Nepal, so I thought I would share these experiences with you.
1. Be happy and greet people with a smile
If your first instinct as to why this is my first lesson is that I’m a North American saying we should be happy for who we are and where we live, you’re only half right. We are so blessed to live in countries with modern amenities and civil rights movements, that while many would argue are not perfect, EXIST. However, that is not why the lesson of happiness came to me. It came to me because every day, in every circumstance while in Nepal, I saw smiles. I saw warmth. I saw a willingness to help others with no other motivation than the deed itself. Greeted by smiles in a village that has not seen many white people. People of all ages holding their hands infront of them in the Namaste position and welcoming us everywhere we went. I saw fairly large families living all together in small, clay huts that projected nothing but a happiness to be together and to be sharing the day with us. While they don’t have everything, they are happy and grateful for what they do have. Isn’t that the key to happiness?
Upon my return to Canada, I watched a documentary called “Happy” which was narrated by an author I enjoy, Marci Shimoff. Research has found that the people of Kolkata, India are just as happy, if not more happy than many North Americans. I’ve seen it. It amazes me that people who we would consider destitute have a level of happiness that some North Americans never achieve.
2. Always ask for more
Walking the streets of Thamel, the more touristy district of Kathmandu, you will know exactly what I am talking about. The vendors here are AWESOME at this concept. They always ask for more than what they are willing to take for a product. Who knows, maybe they will get more than what they will accept! This is a great thing to do in life, in general. Ask for more than you want, you never know, you just may get it.
3. Walk and bike everywhere
While walking down from the hilly home of the Kopan monastery, my friend Adele and I came across this young, local boy. He was fifteen years old and we asked him for directions to the Boudha Stupa. Instead of just pointing a vague direction, he actually walked with us over an hour to get us there. Not only that, he walked us right into the Stupa compound and began to tell us everything he knew about it. He was our own personal tourguide delivered to us by Karma! Everywhere you turn in Nepal, there are people walking or biking to their next destination. When you ask someone from Nepal how far something is, you need to specify if you mean by foot, bike or car. No wonder you’d be hard pressed to find obesity in this country!
4. Accidents happen, don’t take it personally
We live in a society so ready to place blame. We need insurance to mitigate every little accident that occurs. I’m not suggesting we abolish insurance, but since we have it, why do people get so bent out of shape over the little dings we get in life? While we were traveling in Nepal, one of our drivers happened to be following a rickshaw a little too closely and when it stopped suddenly, the driver bumped it. Turned out the rickshaw had a little piece of metal sticking out further than most do, on its back. So what happened? The rickshaw driver got out, looked at it while a small crowd of Nepali men gathered around. He told the driver to back up and helped to navigate him around his rickshaw. No major damage was done, so the attitude was, “I’m alright, you’re alright, let’s move on with our day.” There was no yelling and screaming, no dramatic arm waving. Obviously the driver didn’t mean to hit his rickshaw and there was minimal damage so why get bent out of shape over it? I doubt this occurrence would have gone over so smoothly in Canada, where we are supposed to be polite beyond all reason. So the next time something is done by accident to you and you aren’t actually hurt, take a breath and deal with it calmly.
5. Take a nap
In the Dang province, where we spent most of our time volunteering, most of the people there lead simpler lives. They live in smallish houses with their families and many of them tend fields or animals to feed themselves. Often, they get up very early to get work done before the heat of the sun comes into play. While we were there, one thing I noticed was the amazing ability of Nepali people to sleep almost anywhere. Then there was me, who got all of three hours of sleep on a thirty hour flight path! According to research done in the past few years, the Nepali have it right! If you want to know more, visit information on napping and productivity via Inc.com. Sometimes, we could all use a nap.
6. Carpool, there’s always room for one more!
While I’m sure many would agree that the motor vehicle safety practices with regard to passenger numbers in Nepal can be less than desirable, they have the right idea. Nepali people will give everyone they know a ride if they can. Cars, trucks, rickshaws are all stuffed to capacity as they go from destination to destination. If you drive to work, is there someone that you could share a ride with? If you are going on a trip, is there someone headed that way that you could give a lift to? Friendly bit of advice though, Canadian police will definitely stop you if you have some friends hanging off the back of your vehicle. Please, don’t tell him that I put you up to it!
7. Give your children responsibilities and don’t hold on so tight
I have my masters degree in childhood education, I babysat for years and I know a lot of people with kids. Though I won’t generalize to everyone, many North Americans are a little over-protective of their children. They coddle them and some spoil them to within an inch of their lives. More and more, educators are seeing children coming through the system being so incredibly self-entitled that they are almost impossible to discipline. The blame gets passed around from teachers, to schools, to television, to diagnoses of disorders that must explain why the children are behaving the way they are. I saw many children in Nepal. They had chores to do, they were driving cattle, they were taking care of younger siblings. Things that the majority of our population would never dream of letting our children do. Children walking around by themselves with no adult supervision in sight. Sure, there aren’t a lot of gangs and guns running around rural Nepal (now that the civil war is over)…but there are rhinos and wild boar! While I think that we are privileged enough in our culture to have more of the notion of ‘childhood’ available to us, I also think that many of our children are over-coddled. I may be stepping on the toes of parents everywhere, and my sister-in-law’s favourite expression “You don’t know what it’s like to have children.” is ringing in my ears, but I’ve seen it! I’ve seen children with more responsibility to themselves and their families. They still find time to play, they still smile and have fun. So while I don’t expect even myself to make my children work nearly as hard the children of Nepal do in every day life, I will remind myself over and over of what I saw there. I will try to remember that my children are capable, little, human beings and hopefully, I won’t hold on so tight when it is my turn.
Imagine if you were from an Asian cultural background and you had to remove rice from your diet. Sounds nearly impossible, right? That’s what I’m feeling right now. I had been doing very well removing wheat from my diet until I got sick last Friday night. I’ve been battling a combination of bronchial and sinus infections ever since. I have noticed that since I’ve adopted a more hydrated attitude, I do get sick less often and when I do, it is over more quickly. Thank the detox for that! However, when I’m not feeling well, I really notice how I waiver back on to wheat.
On Saturday, I didn’t feel hungry at all. I was coughing, sneezing, boucing from warm to cold and food was the last thing on my mind. Until my husband asked me what I wanted to eat for dinner. The only thing I could think of stomaching was Lipton chicken noodle soup and some saltine crackers. Once I started to eat, I felt so comforted I was able to carry on a conversation with my husband’s best friend and even watch a little tv with them. Before that, I had been lying in bed, hoping to pass out.
Our comfort foods are usually chicken noodle soup when you’re sick and saltine crackers when you are nauseous. When we’re depressed, we turn to cakes and cookies. Hard to avoid wheat in all these things. My ‘detoxed’ brain was saying that I should be drinking some nice, fresh juices to load myself up with nutrients and fight off this sickness. I still think, ‘Why didn’t I do that?’ But even the thought of having them instead of my soup made me queasy. Wheat is so ingrained in our lives, it is hard not to fall back on old habits, especially when in crisis.
I’m not going to beat myself up over this. The little germies that waged war on me all week have done a good enough job already. Craving something comforting when you feel vulnerable to the extreme is only natural. It just made me stop and wonder about how heavily wheat has factored in my life. How emotionally attached I am too it on some levels. It is like the culinary equivalent of a hug from your mother when you aren’t feeling well.
What did your mom give you when you were a kid with a cold?
I wonder what mothers feed their sick children in Asian countries…maybe I should try somma that!
About a year ago, I was driving in Montreal and I heard an ad on the radio. It was someone from a tanning salon, enumerating the virtues of using a tanning bed. They said something to the effect of, “Look great! Feel great! Help up your vitamin D during the winter months!” I couldn’t believe it! They were actually touting the ‘health’ benefits of using tanning beds.
The reason that I bring this up today is because I heard on the radio this morning that Quebec has legislated an age limit on the use of tanning beds within the province. I think that is fantastic. If I were less informed about the risks of using tanning beds in regards to cancer risks, I would have thought it was a great idea to get some extra vitamin D. While there is evidence that specific types of tanning beds can help us Canadians up our vitamin D levels, it is my opinion that the risks far outweigh the benefits. If you do decide to use tanning beds to get some vitamin D, make sure you do your research.
“Make sure the tanning salon bed puts out UVB. That’s done with medium-pressure lamps. High-pressure lamps only put out UVA, which will not make any vitamin D. With UVB rays, you won’t get a burn, you won’t even get much of a tan, but you’ll get lots of vitamin D.” – Dr. Holick, (cbc.ca)
Considering that the tanning salon that was advertising on the radio was also talking about the wonderous glow you would have after the sessions, I doubt they were using UVB rays in their beds. It’s a tough time to be a consumer out there, reading between the lines when the lines are so skewed.
Quebec is putting a ban on use of the beds for anyone under the age of eighteen. This follows suit with many other provinces and countries who have already initiated similar age bans. Ontario (yay us!) and British Columbia are planning to do so as well. Studies have shown that the risk of getting skin cancer is significantly increased when people below the age of 25 use tanning beds, so we may be able to decrease the risks in many teens.
“…people who used tanning beds were 67% more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 29% more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma than people who never used them. This risk was highest among people who started to tan before their 25th birthday.” (Webmd.com)
The good ole Nova Scotians are doing even better, their age ban starts at 19 years of age. Unfortunately, there is still the fact that most people have no idea that tanning beds can be bad for them, so many people will flock to the salons as soon as they are of age.
It is unfortunate for us Canadians, and many residents in the United States, that we suffer from a big loss of vitamin D in the winter time. Some people might think that going outside in the winter time with their faces exposed will help them produce some vitamin D. The amount of D your face produces is minute and a recent study shows that even if you were completely uncovered, it wouldn’t matter.
“Above Atlanta Georgia [in latitude], you can’t make vitamin D in your skin in the winter time. We did a study involving Edmonton residents. For six months of the year, they were unable to make vitamin D in their skin. Stand naked outside from the time the sun rises until it sets, freeze every appendage on your body and you will not make vitamin D.” – Dr. Holick, (Cbc.ca)
Thank goodness we’ve disproved another health reason for winter nudists! Hee hee. My vitamin d source of choice is just to use a good supplement. For more information about how much you should be taking in oral form, see my Vitamin D blog entry.
Do you use tanning beds? Have you ever asked about UVA versus UVB bulbs on one of your visits?
- Quebec teens banned from using tanning beds (montreal.ctvnews.ca)
I’ve been doing more reading than writing lately, life has been all over the map. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Now that my detox is over, I admit, I’ve lost some momentum. Forgive me?
I was reading an article summarizing some findings of a study done in the UK about the health of vegetarians versus meat eaters. If you’re interested, the article is located at theatlantic.com , if you’d like to take a look. Basically it tells us that vegetarians have a lower risk of many health issues.
“RESULTS: The self-proclaimed vegetarians had a 32 percent reduced risk of both fatal and non-fatal heart disease, accompanied by lower blood pressures and cholesterol levels, as compared to non-vegetarians. They consumed, on average, more cheese, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and less milk. ” – theatlantic.com
I tried to gain access to the study itself because I had a nagging question, however the journal in which it was published wanted me to pay $40 USD for temporary access. As much as I want to inform myself and all my readers…$40 USD? Ya, I don’t think so.
My question was this, did the authors of the study take into account that part of this correlation may simply be due to the fact that vegetarians tend to be more conscious of their health overall? Think about it. The vegetarians that I know, most of them anyway, are much more concerned with having a balanced diet. They actually need to make sure they are getting the proteins that they require for their bodies to survive. It’s not like McDonald’s is serving lentils with fries, so if they eat fast food, they’ve often lost the opportunity to feed their need for non-meat proteins.
I completely agree that for the most part, especially in North America, we eat a LOT more meat than we need to. Absolutely. I’m sure the UK also has their fair share of over indulgent carnivores. However, I wonder if they re-did the study with more attention to the type of meat eaters they selected and the type vegetarians they selected, if they would find the same results. For example, what if they screened participants to find meat eaters that ate lots of vegetables and had similar physical activity habits to the vegetarians. Wouldn’t that be more informative? Their group participation size is impressive, certainly, but often I find the quality of study participants more impressive than the quantity.
Just a little food for thought.
Having said all this, I do believe that a diet rich in vegetables and non-animal protein is very healthy. Vegetarian or not, you can reduce your risks of many ailments by upping these enzyme-rich parts of your diet. If you choose your meat from places that don’t use antibiotics or hormones and you don’t overdo it, it’s my opinion that the health disparity shown in this study would shrink dramatically.
I am a big believer in the view that everything happens for a reason. I think there was a reason that my friend brought the book “Wheat Belly” to my attention. A reason as to why I appeared on Rogers Daytime Ottawa the same day as Dr. Beauchamp, who was promoting the Ottawa Health and Wellness Show and her key note speaker, Dr. William Davis. Why the couple I had booked for a wedding meeting the same day as the show canceled and why I was reminded of the show a few hours later via radio announcement. It was all to get me to the presentation by Dr. Davis on his book, “Wheat Belly” and the innumerable reasons why we should not be eating wheat.
Now that my initial year of the detox has come to an end, I was looking for something else to continue my journey. I am happy that I was able to commit to the challenges that I put into place for myself. I am also happy with the changes I feel in my body. I am a little disappointed, however, in the lack of weight loss I was expecting. Although my exercise track record hasn’t been stellar, I still get moving almost every day. Except for the month I went without sugar, it still crops up in my diet occasionally, but no where near the amounts consumed on average by people who are obese. So, why am I still considered obese according to the BMI? Something felt incomplete about my detox…
After having seen Dr. Davis speak, I have a feeling it may be due to my wheat intake and blood sugar levels. Even when I was working out 6 days a week and at my healthiest weight, I still had a little belly. I barely ever had sugar, junk foods of any kind, and still I couldn’t lose that extra bit of pudge around my middle. I did eliminate refined grains in my anti-inflammation month, but I did not read every label to make sure there was no wheat in everything I consumed. Perhaps that was my mistake?
I won’t get in to all the research about wheat and what it does in this particular blog. I would like to finish Dr. Davis book and have a better grasp on the knowledge before I start to share it with the world, via Internet. Sufficed to say that I am going to go wheat free and see where that takes me as far as all this built up fat stores. As I’ve previously mentioned, belly fat is NOT GOOD. I truly believe that I was able to release a lot of toxins with my Year of the Detox and form some better habits, but I need to focus more on my unhealthy weight now. The journey starts tomorrow.
Have you ever gone wheat free or are you currently wheat free? What differences did you notice?
Wow! A whole year of detox, completed! I couldn’t even fathom this moment when I started last year. Twelve months seemed like an eternity, yet here we are. I will be updating the blog with the quantitative measures of my success once I get results back from my doctor. However, as we head in to 2013, I wanted to share what I believe to be the top 12 steps you can take in bettering yourself and your health this coming year. Now that all the Christmas cookies have been eaten and you’ve had your fill of libations for awhile, let’s get back on track. Twelve months of detox has taught me many things, but here are what I feel are the twelve most important things, in no particular order.
1. Drink more water
Sure, sure. Everyone always says to me, I drink so much water. I thought I did, too. Until I kept better track of it and found out I was embellishing a tiny bit. Apart from the air we breathe, there is nothing more important to our survival than water. The more, the better! Most of us are walking around dehydrated like crazy! Dehydration can cause some scary things…trust me. If you make only one change in your life this year, let drinking more water be it.
2. Move your body
I am, by nature, a very sedentary person. I find no issues sitting and watching movies all day. After making movement more important in my life, I found it became something I craved. I no longer wanted to sit all day. Even now when I have a ‘veg’ day, I get up and stretch every hour or so. Your body was made to move, especially since you need movement for your lymphatic system to function. Even if it’s walking to the corner store a few times a week, or some yoga for ten minutes in the morning. Every little bit helps!
3. Eat more raw food
I find this especially hard to do in a Canadian winter. My body wants foods that will warm me from the inside out. Now that I’ve incorporated more raw foods into my diet as a whole, I really feel a difference when I go more than a day or two without having any. Your body needs enzymes that are found mostly in raw foods because it can only produce some of them itself. Do yourself a favour and have a salad before your hearty beef stew, even if it’s a cold night.
4. Find out what your vitamin/mineral deficiencies are and take supplements
The reason I don’t blanket statement this suggestion by telling you to take a multivitamin is because, depending on your personal factors, you may only be lacking a few things from your diet. Go, see your doctor and ask them to run some blood tests to see where you are low in or high in for that matter. Once you have a clearer picture of your health, then you can start taking the right supplements. You may be suffering from a deficiency that you aren’t even aware of. Catch it now and turn your health around!
5. Learn the different names for ‘sugar’ and read those labels
Sounds so simple, so hard to do! As I discovered during my detox, sugar is lurking in many different places under many different names. If you learn them and check your labels, you have won half the battle. The other half is your will power and only you can choose victory. Educate yourself about the products you are buying and you will be a smarter, healthier consumer!
6. Buy organic…REAL organic
Yes, it is more expensive but it is so worth it. This past summer, we bought organic berries and the taste alone was worth the extra bit of money. Just watch out for ‘greenwashing’. As buying organic becomes more and more popular, companies are finding ways to dupe consumers into spending more money on products that appear more natural. Using the colour green or having the word ‘organic’ in the name are just some of the ways that shoppers are being tricked. Check the labels, find out if they are truly living up to their image.
7. Clean with vinegar
Yes, there are hundreds of different cleaners out there. Many make claims of being environmentally friendly, but I have yet to find a single product as environmentally friendly and versatile as good, ol’ vinegar. Not only that, but it is incredibly cheap as well! Save your cleaning product money and buy more organic foods!
8. Chew your food MORE
Yes, we all chew our food to some degree but many of us hoover down our meals without enough breakdown. Your mouth is a vital part of your digestive process. Give your saliva time to help with the breakdown and your whole gastrointestinal tract will thank you for it!
9. Take an omega supplement
I know I said to get tested for what supplements you are lacking in before setting up your vitamin regime, but this is one of the ‘gimmies’. Omegas are powerful anti-inflammatory supplements and rather than tell you all the foods you should be avoiding in order to cut down your inflammation, I would rather you add this to your regime. Especially if you don’t eat a lot of fish!
10. Stay away from products with added ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfumes’
I could write hundreds of tips for what to avoid when putting things on your body, but if I tell you just one, stay away from scented products. Unless the label clearly states that they’ve used no added fragrance or only fragrances from essential oils, there could be many different chemicals lurking under that name.
11. Try juicing
Juicing isn’t for everyone and it is hard to do in the colder months, but there is no better way to get those nutrients in such a bio-available format. If juicing seems like a huge effort, at least try to buy your juices from the refrigerated section of the store. They are less likely to have added sugars and preservatives. Also, the enzyme content will be higher.
12. Write affirmations
Affirmations are a great way to attract the things you want into your life. Whether it’s a state of being or a physical thing, affirmations are a very effective way to reach those goals.
As you head into a new year, turn over to a new chapter in your life. One in which you are healthy and happy. Not only will you be benefiting yourself, but all those around you.
Do you have any suggestions for 2013 that will help people better there lives? Have you tried them? Are you planning on trying them this year?
Happy New Year everyone!
Affirmations are a way to attract something that you want in your life, a manifestation if you will. This manifestation doesn’t have to be of something concrete, it can be for an emotional state, an encounter, anything that you desire. Several years ago, I went through a depression. My life wasn’t where I thought it should be at that time, I was overstressed and overworked. We’ve all been there, but this time was different. I had a little ‘break’. During this time, I was living at home and my mom gave me a set of CDs by Bill Nasby called ‘ The Path to Deliberate Creation‘. At first, I didn’t want to listen to it. Eventually, I gave in because I didn’t want to fight about it either. Bill’s voice and years of experience chipped away at the shell of depression I was encased in. I began to realize that my inaction and marination in a low vibration wasn’t going to do me any good. Crawling out of there was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. Anyone who has ever suffered from a depression knows what I am talking about. I don’t care how long it was, the feeling of crawling out into the light is fantastic.
One of the things I used to deliberately create my new reality, as suggested by Bill Nasby, was to write affirmations. Now, as I understand it and from my experience, it is extremely important to actually write your affirmations. You see, there’s this little part of your brain that lives solely to smack down new ideas. Some call it ‘ego’, others liken it to a little demon in the brain that squashes anything that your internalized habits say is wrong. For example, if you are overweight and have been for some time, your ego has created that identity for you. When you are trying to lose weight and you simply say aloud, “I am skinny.”, your little ego demon replies, “No, you’re fat.” Simple as that. By writing your affirmations, you bypass the home of that little, dream-squasher and enter the information you want to internalize through a different, cerebral route. Some people might disagree with me on this, but my experience has been that written affirmations are much more powerful than spoken ones.
Now that you know that you need to write your affirmations, what are you going to put down on paper? Here are some tips to help you write more powerful affirmations.
1. Always write in the positive state.
So, if your health is something that bothers you and you’d like to affirm yourself into a better state of health, you will not write “I am never sick.” Saying that focuses on the state of being sick. You would instead say, “I am always in perfect health.”
2. Always write in the present.
Do not affirm that you “will be” or “will have” something. That is affirming a state of not having what you desire yet. You wish to affirm in the present so that you live like you already have what you want. Never “I will be rich”, but rather, “I am rich.” The more you write it, the more you will believe it and draw wealth to yourself. This is not to say that you should go out and live a lifestyle you cannot afford so that you ‘believe’ you are wealthy, but eventually you may see a turnaround in your financial state, or whatever else you were affirming.
3. If you can, attach an emotion to your affirmation.
For example, if one of your goals or intentions in the upcoming year is to tone up your body, do not simply write, “I have a toned body.” Put a little OOMPH into it! ” I absolutely love my toned body and everything contributes to this perfect result.” Doesn’t that sound much more inspiring!?! Writing with an emotional or joyful intention is much more powerful.
4. Write your affirmations in a comfortable language for you.
If flowery words with lots of syllables has never been your style, then don’t use them! If you’re more like me and crave fantastically constructed sentences that coat your mind with their honeyed sweetness, then use them! Remember, these affirmations are for you and you alone. No one else ever has to read them, so don’t write to impress. If you are always searching for words to make more impressive affirmations then it becomes a chore. One you are unlikely to continue.
5. Write your affirmations every day for at least 30 days.
There’s no hard and fast rule about when you write your affirmations. Some suggest that your mind is most receptive to them upon waking up and right before bed, but you will have to play around with this and find what works best for you. However, you definitely need longevity to the process. Writing affirmations for a few days and then stopping will not help you to manifest anything. Make your affirmations a part of your daily routine. I like to write my affirmations at night, right before bed, repeating each one three times. If you are just starting to write affirmations, I would limit the number to about three affirmations per day with no more than twelve words a piece. If you feel comfortable upping the number of affirmations or words, do so at your own pace.
6. Print your affirmations rather than using cursive.
A lot of people find that their writing style is not legible. Printing however, is another story. It may take you longer to do, but think about how you first learned to write. You printed! You learned to print in a time when your little, ‘ego demon’ probably didn’t exist. I find printing to be a much more effective means of internalizing affirmations.
7. Speak your affirmations aloud as you print them.
I’ve never seen this suggestion in any of the ‘self-help’ books, but I really find it amps up the power of the affirmations. My mind tends to wander when left to its own devices. Anyone who has played an instrument knows, that when you are rehashing the tune that you have played over and over, your fingers just take over. Your mind can wander and most importantly, your little ‘ego demon’ has a chance to get his idea-squashing racket out for a game. Say your affirmation aloud as you write, this will help you focus all your attention onto it and not on what you are going to wear tomorrow to work. Even you just say it under your breath, you will hep to hone your mind.
Writing affirmations is a fantastic way to help you manifest your goals and desires. It helped me crawl out of a depression and, by the end of that year, I met my future husband. That’s quite a turnaround, if I do say so myself. So, if you want to give your New Year’s resolutions some added spark, start working on your affirmations. I’d love to see some affirmations you are thinking of using in the comment box below. Please share!
As part of my emotional and stress detox, I’ve been ending my days by writing in my journal five things that happened that day that I am grateful for. It is by no means a new concept, but I actually wonder why more people don’t do it. My husband and I have been expressing gratitude for having each other in our lives, every night for over four years now. It is a great way to reconnect at the end of the day and remind ourselves that, no matter what, our relationship is the most important thing in the world to us. Now, I extend that outlook on my entire day. Ya, crap happens. Ya, it will happen almost every day. But if you go to bed thinking about that, it will just surround your whole mind and energy in that blackness. How can you expect to have a sound sleep and wake up the next day with a good feeling? You really can’t.
I know, it’s hard. We get so caught up in the drama of our lives! It’s so easy to focus on the crap. But does that mean that it is okay to focus on it? Absolutely not. Since I’ve been doing the gratefulness exercise, I notice a lot more of the resistance the people around me are having to it. Even when my day isn’t going so well, if someone asks me how I am, I’ve chosen to answer, ‘Great!’. A lot of people start answering my statement with myriads of their own problems. Almost as if they are trying to douse the light of my happiness. I’m not perfect either, I still give in to those lower vibrations occasionally, but I feel it happening less and less.
I’ll tell you a story, that happened to me only a few days ago. I’ve had to take a part time position in retail at the mall this Christmas season. The moods of people vary greatly during this time of year. From the overjoyed and bubbly, to the overwhelmed and snippy. An older man came up to our cart and when the other woman working approached him, asking if she could help him.
“I don’t want nothing!” He scowled. Obvious grammatical error aside, the waves of negativity were just rolling off of him. I don’t know what possessed me, but I turned to him and replied,
“Oh, just here for the free smiles, eh?” and flashed him the biggest smile he’d probably seen in years.
“No, no. I don’t even want those neither. I don’t want anything from anybody. I’ve seen real people and they aren’t worth it. When you get to be my age, you won’t be smiling anymore! I guarantee you!” Though I was completely taken aback by the negativity, my years of improvisational skills didn’t fail me now.
“Well, my grandmother smiled right up until the day she died and I will be, too.” I said, matter of factly.
“Oh ya.” He said, sensing the challenge. “Did your grandmother live through a war?”
“Yes sir, she actually went to work in an artillery factory.” I replied.
“Well, I had those things come at me in the war!” By this point, he was much less belligerent but still trying to make his point.
“Well, it’s because of my grandmother that you had something to fight back with.” I smiled. Then, the oddest thing happened. The old man just started laughing and smiling, with the sound of genuine amusement at the edges. He tipped his cane to me, turned and left. The woman I was working with was amazed. She couldn’t believe I got him to leave with a smile, after such a rocky beginning. As many of us do, she started making excuses for the man. Like, how some people have just seen things in their lives that they just can’t get over. Honestly, I don’t fully buy that. Yes, atrocities such as war, rape and abuse are things that can heavily affect someone. Yes, you are allowed to be upset, have rage towards it and be haunted by it. I hope never to be visited by war in my lifetime and I am beyond grateful to all the men and women who stood up for our country and our allies in their time of need. But does that mean you take one experience and allow it to jade your entire outlook on life, for the rest of your days? Really, it’s your choice.
I am reminded of Viktor Frankl. He was a psychologist who was imprisoned in a concentration camp during the war. He wrote about the state of the prisoners in the camp, his observations and the like. His ultimate conclusion was that even in times of great suffering, life still has meaning and even the suffering itself has meaning.
“A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.” – Viktor Frankl
So, Viktor Frankl took this dehumanizing experience and found the good in it, inspiring all those around him. In my opinion, good choice. Cratchit-grade, in fact! Meanwhile, the random old veteran that I’ve met has chosen to focus on the worst part of his life and transpose it onto the entire population. He goes around looking for people to bring down to his level and quash the light around him. In my opinion, a very bad, Scrooge-rated choice.
At the end of my day, one of my gratitudes was: The chance to make an old, war veteran smile and maybe have a better day because of me.
Coming into the Christmas season and the new year, take a real look at where your head is at the end of the day. Do you need to make a shift? I say, join team Cratchit!
It’s Friday night, I’m home. Yes, it’s true that would be the case at 8:30 on most Friday nights of my life. The difference is, tonight I have no plans to go out. None at all. In fact, I’m so tame I’m actually making maple pumpkin butter as we speak. Suddenly it occurred to me that only a few years ago, I’d be showering or doing my hair. Getting ready for the adventures that await in the night. Right now, I’m exhausted! A full day of work, come home, clean and do some headshots for someone and then do some dishes while I make pumpkin butter. I can’t even remember the last time I went dancing with friends! What happened?
I’m not suggesting that I would like to go out every Friday night, but I’m only thirty, I should go out once every couple of months. After this month, I think I will endeavour to go out every three months on a Friday night. Maybe it will keep me young.
This month marks the last month of my Year of the Detox! Wow, I can hardly believe that the year is almost over and that I made it through all the challenges I set for myself. December may be the last month of the detox, but it is the first month that I am focusing on my emotional state, rather than my physical one. The holiday season can be especially stressful, so it is really worth it to take time out and focus a bit on yourself. It may be the season of giving, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself something, right?
The rules for this month are:
1. In bed by 9 p.m., lights out by 10 p.m.
I know, 9 p.m. seems really early and I have already started to have a bit of issues with this one, but I’m going to keep trying.
2. Every night, I will journal five things that I am grateful for.
This will help me focus on the best parts of my day and hopefully remove the negative thoughts of anything that irked me.
3. Write affirmations every night
Affirmations are statements of what we want from life and what we want to be, but written in the current tense. So instead of writing down, “I want to be healthy and weigh XXXlbs.” I write something like, “I AM healthy and I love my lean, toned, XXXlb. body. Everything contributes to this perfect result.”
4. Spend at least twenty minutes doing some form of meditation before bed.
Whether it be straight meditation, chanting or something else, I will devote time to doing that each evening. Meditation has a calming and relaxing effect, so I plan to benefit from this as much as I can.
Obviously, with the holiday season being here, I may not be able to commit to the 9 pm curfew every night, but if I can do it for 90% of the month, I’ll consider it a definite victory.
What nighttime rituals do you have to keep yourself stress detoxed?