All I See Is Your Courage

When I listen to people talking about their challenging experiences (especially friends who are battling addictions) their voices often seem to convey guilt or shame. They seem to say – sometime with and sometimes without words – that they feel defeated, overwhelmed, or weak. In a word, I guess I hear regret.

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Recently, as I listened to a person talking about their past missteps and stumbles, I was quite overcome by the glaring disconnect. The speaker was candidly retelling the tales of his numerous attempts at quitting and the relapses that had ended the periods of recovery he achieved. The lyrics of his story were accompanied by the unmistakable chords of despair and regret.

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But there he sat, voluntarily fighting to regain his freedom AGAIN. He wasn’t drafted into this war. He enlisted. What courage! Even while his voice and affect conveyed feelings of guilt and regret, all I could see was his courage! I observe scenarios like this almost daily, but the other day it moved me in a deeper way to recognize the courage that these brave souls too often cannot see. I can hear a song that they may not easily hear. I can hear a chorus of hope rising from the clamor of their despair and regret.

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So may I say again that it is my privilege to serve such brave and hopeful people, and I will loudly sing of hope not just too you, but because of you! While you may not feel courageous and when the war has left you weary, your actions, your efforts, your struggle and persistence quietly attest to your bravery. Thank you for your courage, even when you feel defeated. Your courage sends ripples of hope to all around you. You inspire me and others to believe that anything is possible.

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Thank you!

#DFTYA!

 

What Does Your New Habit Smell Like?

If you’re trying to build habits, I have two bits of advice:

1.) Start TINY

Tiny habits are the building blocks of days and years and lifetimes. I never fully appreciated the power of tiny habits until I heard B J Fogg talk and teach on the subject. I wholeheartedly recommend his Tiny Habits method and encourage you to try his free email supported week-long tiny habit experience. It’s quick, easy, educational, and potentially life-changing!

Here are a couple of my favorite B J Fogg’s TED talks that talk more about building tiny habits:

Tiny Surprises for Happiness and Health

BJFogg TED Fremont

Forget Big Change, Start With a Tiny Habit

2.) Activate as many of your senses as you can in order to make a habit “stick.”

B J Fogg knows that emotion can help us habituate behaviors which is one of the reasons that he asks us to briefly, but exuberantly celebrate each time we hit our target behavior. A brief emotional response immediately after the new habit behavior seems to glue it down. He often suggests give yourself a high five or saying something celebratory out loud. Why not do both? Activate your tactile sense with a palm-to-palm smack and something positive that our ears can hear!

My sister’s experience with temporal lobe epileptic seizures (Click here to read post) helps me understand the role that our sense of smell can play in memory. Memory has everything to do with habit-building, so how about adding an olfactory hook to a habit we’re trying to build? It may not fit with every habit, but essential oils can help us layer a smell onto the other sense and emotions that help us hold on to new habits.

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Some of the essential oils that might support memory are rosemary, basil, cypress, peppermint, and sage. I advise everyone I work with to use affirmations as a daily discipline. There’s solid scientific evidence that affirmations can reduce anxiety and boost confidence. Reciting an affirmation as you massage a drop of rosemary oil into you palms could surely turn that affirmation into a power phrase!

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Maybe reviewing your calendar as you rub a tiny bit of peppermint oil on your temples can help your calendar stick in your head! Adding some sage oil to a bath when you recite a familiar prayer or read a favorite poem might turbo-charge that scent as a source of soothing for you. Senses and emotions can really help activate your body-mind connection in your habit-building.

Thanks to B J Fogg, PhD, for his eye-opening research of tiny habits!

Thank YOU for taking good care of you!

#Change4Good

#QuittersWin

 

The Nose Knows

Many years ago, my sister had epileptic seizures for a while. Hers were called temporal lobe seizures and they were usually preceded by an olfactory hallucination, or the sensation of smelling a scent which was not present. The scents she would often “smell,” just before her brain caused her to blackout, would often be a very specific scent. For example, she might not just “smell” a pine scent, but she would “smell” a particular holiday or event. It seems that these scents were just part of a more complete memory that her temporal lobe held.

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While I’m not a neurologist or a brain surgeon, I tend to envision the temporal lobe as a sort file card holder, holding memories of our past. Each card might hold the memories associated with a certain event.

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It turns out that our sense of smell can have very strong connections to our memories. For this reason, odors can be triggers for memories – pleasant or unpleasant.

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The phantom smells my sister experienced just prior to her seizures helped me understand some of the power of smell and its connection to memory. Why not make some memories – positive memories? Let’s add a some winning cards into our “deck” of memories in a deliberate way! I’ve taught people to build a scent event in order to reduce anxiety, stress, and cravings. Here’s an example:

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Fill a large bathtub with very warm that can envelop your body and give the tub a fragrance that’s pleasant and soothing. (I used to pass out lavender blossoms in class, but find a fragrance that works for you.) Add candlelight to ‘soften’ the visual input, play some quiet soothing music, sip a cup of hot tea, and recite a familiar prayer or read a favorite poem. Verbally reinforce how calm you feel as your senses are filled up with the smell and feel of the sanctuary you’ve created. The scents can be help make that event stick in your memory better.

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At times when you don’t have enough time for the full blown “Calgon Take me Away” experience, you will find that just a drop of lavender oil massaged into your palm or onto your wrist might almost transport you back to your serenity tub! Give it a try and tweak it until it works for you. It really will!

Thank you for taking good care of you. Have a beaYOUtiful day!

 

 

There is a Crack in Everything

This morning a curious quote came to mind after I had spent a couple moments observing the bleeding hearts* in my garden. It’s actually a line from Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.”

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“There is a crack in everything.

           That’s how the light gets in.”

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So I am not sure if or how these two things are related, but as I thought about what to share today, I became aware of bleeding hearts and that line from a song.

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Maybe their connection will be clear to you. But either way, please ponder upon the quote and enjoy the photos from one of my dew-kissed gardens today.

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Thanks for taking good care of you!

*Lamprocapnos spectabilis is a species of flowering plant in the poppy family Papaveraceae, native to Siberia, northern China, Korea and Japan.

Fighting Mad?

(Trigger warning: abusive relationships)

It remains a mystery why – under certain circumstances – we allow harm to come to ourselves. I think everyone does it in one way or another. Even getting complacent about clicking the seatbelt when ‘it’s just a short trip’ invites unnecessary risk of harm.

Certainly when addiction is concerned it is more than the risk of harm. There is a certain amount of harm that comes with every dose or use and depending upon the substance, a single use can be lethal. Imagine how indignant we would feel, how wrong we would deem it, if some other person was causing us harm! Most people I talk with have pretty clear definitions of acceptable and unacceptable behavior when it comes to what behavior they will tolerate from others. We dismiss people and terminate relationships when people mistreat us. Meanwhile we tolerate patently self-destructive behavior.

It is at least curious why we are reluctant to defend ourselves from our own actions. Over the years very productive, beneficial conversations have occurred when we have discussed an addiction in terms of an abusive relationship. Addiction, like some interpersonal relationships is a very complex mixture of perceived benefits and various kinds of costs.

I think our freedom may be easier to grasp and hold when we can be brutally honest about the perceived benefits of such a relationship. Staying with a mate may seem to be preferable to being alone, even if the mate is hurting us. But in that sort of relationship (with a person or a substance) we have all heard about things escalating until something tragic happens.

If this topic is relevant for you, let’s try to be brutally honest about the behavior that harms us and be deeply compassionate to self as we look for answers. You deserve to be free.

 

Hope

Hope is a choice and often it is a choice that may not seem sensible in the face of facts. But when we choose hope, things change. Open doors appear where only walls had been. It may not be that the facts or circumstances have changed so much as our perspective has. Possibilities exist which wouldn’t if we used only our logic to see.

Today, let’s dare to hope and see what becomes possible. Yes, what we hope for may not manifest, especially if we are hoping to win the lottery or if we’re hoping for some other very narrow or specific thing. But the universe (or it’s architect?) will deliver something good into our path if we are walking in hopefulness.

And of course, the only way you can know if I’m right or not will be to walk in hopefulness and see! I hope you have a beaYOUtiful day!

The Universal Law of the Funnel

The things I THINK
determine how I FEEL
which influences how I ACT
what I will or won’t DO
and ultimately determine who I am.

The order is easy to remember; it starts with a 5 letter word, followed by a 4 letter word, a 3 letter word, a 2 letter word and a 1 letter word. If we write them, centered in a column, the shape of the words even suggests the shape of a funnel.

T   H   I   N   K
F   E   E   L
A   C   T
D   O
I

AND, whatever you put in the top – just like a funnel – will come out at the bottom!

So here’s the million dollar question: what are you putting in your funnel?

The Law of the Funnel has always been true and other people have observed and described it with other words…

I am what I think about all day. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man’s life is the sum of what his thoughts make him – Marcus Aurelius

As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is. -King Solomon

So if we can agree that the Law of the Funnel is real, then let’s try to think about what we’re thinking about (brain cramp alert!) And let’s put good stuff in our funnel!

Of Mornings, Dew, and All Things New

This weekend I had an opportunity to hear an extraordinary organist (Dr. Robin Dinda) perform an improvisation on “Morning Has Broken,” and the tune – while always a favorite – has been dancing, or perhaps tiptoeing, through my head. This morning as I drove a familiar route I was wooed into the woods to snap a few photos that seem to fit the theme of the song waltzing through my mind. They aren’t spectacular photos, but maybe they will conjure up the feeling of excitement that I felt as I recorded them this morning.

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I hope as your week begins, you will find inspiration and energy from this most magical of seasons. Mondays matter when it comes to making changes and when it comes to building new habits, so seize the day. Breathe in the magic, mystery, or miracle of tiny green growing things glistening with dew. Think about the hope that the season holds for you.

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Take time to be still and feel that power which transforms a world before our eyes. And whether you prefer a Skinner pipe organ or a version sung by Cat Stevens, the morning has broken forth with great vigor!

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Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world
Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass
Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise ev’ry morning
God’s recreation of the new day
Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world
Songwriters: Eleanor Farjeon / Yusuf Islam
Morning Has Broken lyrics © BMG Rights Management US, LLC

Dr. Robin Dinda has a Youtube channel with plenty of brilliant music.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdzClj70LXgjAy0Xbg47slQ

Sticky Notes For the Win

It may be true that the inventor of what we now call the Post-It note actually failed at their attempt to make a tough, permanent adhesive. The not-so-tough, temporary adhesive they ended up with gave birth to the repositionable note. I’ve long been a fan of the colored rectangles that allow me to jot a message in one place and take it with me to another place. The value of putting a message where you need it to be really can’t be overstated.

SO… since the week is just beginning, let’s take the sticky-note triple threat double dog dare!

1.) Find a short affirmation that’s meaningful to you.

(Don’t have an affirmation? Borrow mine: “I deserve to be free”)

2.) Write it on three sticky-notes and place them in places where you will see them throughout your day. No matter how hectic or even chaotic my life may have ever been, I never misplaced my refrigerator, so put one on the fridge door. Consider the bathroom mirror as another place for your reminder, and perhaps in the car or by the coat hook.

3.) Say the affirmation (preferably aloud) each time you notice the sticky reminders. Reposition them as needed and before you know it, that affirmation (or a tiny habit of taking three slow, deep breaths?) will have stuck!

Don’t underestimate the lasting power of a few sticky notes. I hereby #DoubleDogDare you to give this a try.

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Start today and by the end of the week, you’ll have learned a new trick!

You’re awesome and you’re welcome!

#DoubleDogDare

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