Healthy Distractions

Posted by Harriet on

SnowshoeingJan'11 017Often when we’re upset or feeling overwhelmed with any sort of negativity, we fall prey to that which  may make us feel good at the moment.   The pint of ice cream in the freezer (or maybe even quart!), the bottle of booze in the cabinet, the local bar at the corner, the pill bottle in the medicine cabinet  (“just taking one extra to calm down”).

These are quick and easy, convenient and sure to have somewhat of a calming and numbing  effect pretty quickly.   But in the long run they do not serve us well and often create additional problems.

When we feel emotionally crummy, taking a break and removing ourselves from the difficult feelings can give us that necessary distance and perspective.   We can give ourselves a brief respite so that we can then return with more clarity and calmness, better able to deal with the issue at hand.

This is not about avoiding; rather it’s about choosing to step away for a short time period so as to be able to come back in a better state of mind.  We give ourselves some comfort by engaging in something we enjoy.


So what are some healthy distractions? 

Getting outside.  Nature is soothing and serene.   Taking notice of our surroundings brings us to that place of grandeur where we realize we’re a part of something huge and awesome.   Take that beach walk; yes, even in the winter.  The ocean is beautifully calm.

Watching a funny movie.

Laughing.  Laughter is a wonderful release. 

Set Your Intentions for the New Year

Posted by Harriet on

openhouseforbutterflies18Resolutions = failure

Intentions= striving towards

All too often we make new year’s resolutions only to see that it’s February (or maybe even earlier) and we’ve already messed up.  Discouragement sets in and we’re throwing in the towel since we’ve already failed.   Now what?

How about another way of looking at this idea of goal-setting and reflecting on what we want to bring into our lives this new year – the way of Intention.

Intention somehow sounds softer than resolution, gentler, like a leaning in or going towards something.    It’s like a compass pointing you in the direction of……whatever it is you aspire to.   It feels more internal; it’s coming from deep within you.  What do you really want?  Listen to that and start to move towards it in small steps.

Setting your intention{s}:

First and foremost is getting in touch with what you want to see for yourself.  What do you want more of, less of?  What do you want to focus on?  What do you want to change?  Meditate on it, talk it out, journal, and clear out some of those entangled cob webs so you can hear your own voice.

Go for the small doses of what you want.  If you can’t quit your job to follow your dream of becoming an artist, then give yourself some time during the week to engage in your artistic interests.

It’s about bringing into your life the things you value, that which is meaningful to you, what excites you.  Move towards that. 

A Season of Lights, Within Darkness

Posted by Harriet on

IMG_6058‘Tis a season of lights –  Christmas lights, Chanukah lights of the menorah.  Beautiful lights all around.  And yet we’re acutely aware of all the darkness going on around us and the world at large.  Sometimes it seems so hard to take pleasure in this supposedly joyful season while we compassionately feel for the tragedies that are beseiging humankind.

It’s a challenge to feel and revel in the warmth of the light while at the same time remain connected to the pain and suffering that seems so prominent lately.  We certainly don’t want to become apathetic and dismissive and wear blinders just so we can maintain our illusionary bubble of safety.  Nor do we want to live in that hopeless, pessimistic place only seeing the bad around us.

How do we hold the two together, light and darkness, side by side?

By bringing forth our light!  By each one of us exuding our goodness and caring.  And by paying attention, being involved, and giving of ourselves to those in pain.

Sometimes we may feel like we have to dig deep inside ourselves to bring forth our own light.  We all have the capacity and potential to create light.  Believing that helps us access it within ourselves and not succumb to helplessness and despair.

When the darkness comes, that’s exactly the time to go inward and get to our source of light so that we may expose its rays upon others.

We don’t ignore or dismiss the bad by pointing out the good.  

5 Things To Do When A Difficulty Arises

Posted by Harriet on

ballooning7You’re going through a rough time.  How do you cope and manage?  How do you stay afloat right now?

1.  Acknowledge the difficulty to yourself.  “This is really hard for me.  I am so stressed.  How will I keep doing this?

2.  Give yourself permission to be human.  There need not be guilt or shame in what you’re feeling.  You can be angry, resentful, overwhelmed, grief-stricken, jealous.  It’s only when you let yourself feel acknowledge the feelings for what they are that they begin to soften and lesson their tight grip around you.

3.  Give yourself some compassion like you would to a friend in need.  You’re doing the best you can in the moment.  Supportive self-talk can be soothing.

4.”Indulge” in some positive respite.  Oftentimes you feel guilty doing something good for yourself when something challenging is going on.  It’s at just those times that you need to allow yourself even a few minutes of self-comfort, pleasure, relaxation, healthy distraction.  It fills up your inner reservoir and helps keep  you going.

5.  One step at a time.  Keep your eyes focused on where you are and don’t look too far ahead.  Some hardships are acute – meaning short in duration; others are chronic, where they’re onging.   Either way, staying focused on the present helps you stay grounded on what you need to do right now, both for the other person/situation and for yourselves.   Each time you get through one thing, you can feel more adept and able to do the next.

Kids Are Too Busy Doing

Posted by Harriet on

busyWe’re all busy Doing.  And we’re all getting stressed, anxious, burned-out and sick from all our doings.  Kids included!

Kids especially!

Warning:  Too much Doing is harmful for our kids.  Side effects include:  anxiety, depression, stomach aches, headaches and other physical symptoms, eating disorders, cutting, addictions, suicide.

Antidote:  Engage in more Being.  Play more; dream more; have down time – unstructured time to maybe even do nothing.  More emphasis on internal qualities like perseverance, compassion, grit;  as opposed to over-excessive focus on achievement and performance as the end-all.

We all need balance.  Balance between work and play; between doing and being; between internal and external.

We need to Be well so we can Do well.  When we keep pushing ourselves to Do well, we are paying a  high price.  That price is ourselves.  We are losing ourselves in the Doing/Busy process.   We are losing our health and well-being.

Kids especially, as they’re growing their young selves into supposedly mature beings.  They’re losing their childhood to the extreme pressures and demands of extraordinariness.  It’s all geared to peak  performance and perfectionism.   Good enough isn’t good enough.  Children are like little pressure cookers ready to explode.

The explosions are happening right before our eyes:  with every child/teen who cuts themselves, with every heroin user, with every suicide.

Kids need to see, feel and experience that life is rich with all facets:  the Doing to get somewhere, to achieve and produce;  And the Being to know one’s self , to connect  with self and others,  to cultivate and exercise one’s inner resources to live through the twists and turns that most assuredly come along the way.

Mind Over Body – Resiliency At Its Best

Posted by Harriet on

resilienceJust saw the movie, The Theory of Everything, about the life of Stephen Hawking.  Talk about resiliency, perseverance, rising above and beyond!    He is a supreme example of overcoming adversity!  Having lived over 50 years with the {most often} fatal and horrifically degenerative disease, ALS,  also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, he is clearly an outlier.  But besides living way beyond the usual life expectancy for this illness, he is an outlier because of his incredible ability to rise above and continue on.  Having lost all physical and bodily functions including his ability to speak and write, he wasn’t giving up on life.  He used technology to speak and write for him so that he could use the one thing he had left – a brilliant working mind.

He never let his limitations, as extreme as they were, further limit him.  While his body was contracting, he – his spirit and mind – was expanding.  They continued {and continue} to evolve.

I don’t know the medical/scientific reasons for living so long with this fatal disease; I’m not sure anybody knows at this point.  But to me this points to the concept of mind over matter, literally.  His mind overtook his body and kept it ticking.  And talk about the idea of Purpose keeping us going.   He had a driving force – contemplating, discovering, creating and teaching new ideas.  His brain churned and churned, and continues today.

Are we pushing through our difficulties and growing ourselves?   Are we utilizing our gifts? 


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