3 Stress-Busting Tips To Help You Have A Peaceful “New Year”

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Note: This is another post based on my strong feeling that September is way more like the start of a new year than January….

Have you noticed your heart rate go on the rise as you think about your schedule after Labour Day? Over the years, I have heard many people refer to the shift from summer to fall as being “stressful” so here are a few tips to help you experience a peaceful “new year” despite the changes and challenges that your fall schedule presents.

Tip #1: Your Fall Schedule Is Not Stressful – Your Thoughts Are

“Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare

Many people talk about stress like it’s a crappy feeling that attacks and takes over their bodies and minds when certain “stressful” things happen to them like traffic jams, snow storms, a visit by the in-laws, etc. Right now, you might be wishing that summer doesn’t end because the fall is going to be “stressful”. There is a collective belief system that we observe things and then that very thing that we are observing creates stress. We are cutting out the middle man, so to speak because right after the observation and before the stress is our perception – the type of lenses we see it through and the thoughts we attach to it. Observation. Perception. Reaction. That’s the pathway to stress or the highway to heaven. When we label certain events and situations as “stressful” it’s like we’ve decided that stuff comes to us with a tag attached saying, “THIS IS STRESSFUL – BE STRESSED NOW.” Here comes the self-empowerment-like quality of this tip: everything, including your fall schedule, is actually NEUTRAL. For anything to be “stressful”, you first need to view it as that and create stressful thoughts about it – there’s the middle man we’ve been cutting out of the deal! Because stress can’t exist without stressful thoughts, experiencing a peaceful event or situation relies on your ability to have an awareness of the thoughts you are creating. With the neutrality of everything, stress and peace are an equal distance away. See if you can catch yourself creating a stressful thought and then shift to a new, peaceful thought. Change your thoughts, change your “new year”!

Tip #2: Stress Cannot Live Where There Is Gratitude

After reading my first tip, you may have been left longing for an example of a peaceful thought so allow me to pretend to be all things to you for a moment and come to your rescue. Saying THANK YOU is a peaceful thought. As my favourite yoga teacher, Emily, says near the end of our class…CHOOSE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE. When challenges come your way that you typically perceive as “stressful”, notice those thoughts and shift into feeling blessed that you have this to deal with this challenge in the first place. This may seem odd at first, but all the things that we freak out about are also evidence that we have/had something or someone in our life so precious that we see it as important enough to get so worked up about. Wow. There’s many things that don’t get my attention in a day, so a list of “stressors” can actually be flipped into a gratitude list….a list that reveals the true abundance in your life. For example, I just bought a loft here in Toronto and moved in quite recently. As many of my friends and acquaintances have said to me over the last few months, moving is “stressful”, but when I stand back and focus on the big-ass blessing it is to own anything never mind real estate in Toronto, it’s hard to see the move as anything but friggin’ outstanding. Here I am having to deal with moving and getting settled into a loft that I own in Toronto…with that focus on abundance sure makes it hard for the I‘m-so-stressed-with-this-move act to continue. What are your examples of flipping stressors into a gratitude list? The mere thought of getting the kids into a normal routine this September got you frazzled? Look at you with kids that have the physical and mental capabilities to be educated! Feeling stressed about your schedule at work now that everyone is going to be back from holidays? Look at your with your job and the money it brings you! And so on…

I’m sure you have heard this gratitude stuff more than just a few times, but hell, it works sisters and brothers. Go ahead and try to CHOOSE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE and be stressed at the same time.

Tip #3: Focus On YOUR Business Only (or Practice Non-Interference)

I had this stress-busting A-HA moment when I heard Oprah interview Byron Katie on her XM Radio show, The Soul Series. Byron said that much of our stressful thoughts and hence, suffering, comes from being involved in other people’s business. Dr. Wayne Dyer speaks of this as well as practicing non-interference which means allowing life to unfold and allowing people to simply live out the situations/events that are edging them further along in their evolution. Keep in mind that you and I and everyone else we know are having this human experience to learn lessons through EXPERIENCE.

Imagine the many stressful thoughts that would fade away by sticking to your own business. As Byron puts it, there are three areas of business – yours, other people’s, and the universe’s. You can change up the last one anyway you want, but it’s that unseen force that plays a powerful part in what transpires in our lives. Think of these three areas of business like potential “stress zones” and by simply focusing only on your business, you are removing two of the three potential “stress zones” in your life. You will be left with the much simpler challenge of creating peaceful thoughts about your own life! Woo-hoo!!! You are most likely going to interact with all kinds of other humans in both professional and personal situations this “new year” so be aware that interference is a form of arguing with what is and trying to influence other souls’ human experience. Consider choosing to allow the humans in your life to make mistakes, feel pain, and be lost. Consider having the faith that what the universe is doing is perfect. Be peaceful this new year by stepping away and letting people and the universe do their thing…besides, I have never found that I feel any better once I’ve started to interfere…have you?

7 Ways To Bring Healthy Summer Livin’ With You Into The Fall

Monday, August 30th, 2010

One of my favourite lyrics by the singing duo, The Indigo Girls, is “the summer’s beginning to give up her fight“. That phrase captures the subtle mourning many of us go through in late August as we realize that the sunny, warm days are indeed numbered. Yes, the summer of 2010 is beginning to give up her fight, which has inspired me to share with you some tips to bring healthy summer habits with you into your busier fall lifestyle. Throughout the summer, many people have healthier habits and see them slip away as the pace of the fall schedule quickens and their list of things to do quadruples.

Here are 7 tips to help you keep healthy summer livin’ going well past Labour Day…

#1: Eat Frozen Berries, Eat Your Greens & Embrace Root Vegetables – one of the summer’s greatest gifts is the gift of readily available fresh, local fruits and veggies so be conscious to fill your fridge and freezer with lots of whole foods despite the limitations of the fall and winter seasons. Frozen berries deliver all the same health benefits as the fresh ones so need to say goodbye to the most powerful kind of fruit. Keep buying greens at the grocery store – these are the veggies with the most powerful health benefits – they may not be local or fresh anymore, but they will always be a hundred times healthier for you than any kind of fast food. The fall also is the time to rock out the root vegetables – you can still eat local, fresh parsnips, beets, carrots, radishes, etc. Resist the temptation to allow the fall to transport you into the land of meals with barcodes…it simply doesn’t need to be that way.

#2: Ask Yourself This: “What Exercise Can I See Myself Enjoying & Doing On A Regular Basis?” If you are more active in the summer and it all comes to a grinding halt after Labour Day, this is a big and mighty question to ask yourself. Human beings tend to stick to something they enjoy and the only way exercise can deliver the long list of benefits to your mind and body is if it happens on a regular basis or in other words, is a habit. Find something that you actually enjoy doing and can honestly say you will enjoy making part of your routine. 30 minutes a few times a week can and will help you to feel that calm feeling we tend to long for after the simpler summer days are a thing of the past among another 98 benefits. Email me if you would like me to send you  a list of the 99 reasons to exercise.

#3: Celebrate The Season – we Canadians really get excited about summer (just watch our beer commercials) and we get out there and soak it all in, but we can still do that with fall…heck, with winter too. Much like summer, there are many traditions/rituals/activities that are about to become available – why not get out there and soak it all in? Maybe we can inspire the folks at Moosehead to create a campaign featuring beautiful people in sweaters partying around a bunch of pumpkins…hmmm….

#4: Create Space & Time to Play/Rest/Rejuvenate – one of the belief systems that can set us off balance is that when things get busy, now is not the time to play/rest/rejuvenate. The fall is a time that can lead us to shoving our joys aside for a “quieter time” in the year. Okay, picture me standing on a soap box right now with a megaphone as I say….when you think now is not the time to create space and time for joy is the exact time to be creating space and time for joy. We tend to feel more “alive” in the summer because we involve ourselves in things outside of accomplishing and being productive and that opportunity still exists in the fall – the biggest shift that will help you make that happen is you seeing times of play/rest/relaxation as being just as important as accomplishing and being productive. It’s really never an issue of time, but almost always an issue of priorities. To help you put JOY on top of your to-do list, think of your energy like a bank account and taking part in joy is like making a DEPOSIT into your energy account. Ever had a fall when you felt like it was just one withdrawal after another?

#5: Schedule Social Time With Friends - feeling connected to others is a major part of fostering a healthy, long life and the warmer summer weather tends to inspire us to ramp up our social calendar. When the fall rolls around, it’s like we all make an unspoken collective pact with each other that we probably won’t get together again until the holiday season. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but if this sounds like it applies to you, please read the last tip and apply it to your friendship and making time to connect with others.

#6: Limit Your Weekly Commitments – you might have more energy because so many of the weekly commitments you normally have come to an end when Canada Day draws near. Maintaining your energy in the fall doesn’t mean not going back to the roles you have on teams, committees, clubs, etc., however, saying NO to the things that aren’t working for you and only drains you of energy (remember that energy account of yours) allows you to say YES to the things that do work for you and actually are a source of energy. It’s quite natural to have a busier schedule in the fall, but there is an opportunity to ensure that the commitments you are fulfilling are also fulfilling you.

#7: Get Some Sun Or At Least Take Vitamin D – the sun doesn’t disappear after Labour Day but the time we spend outside seems to. When the sun shines this fall and heck, even winter, get out there for a walk (or just stand there – this has no bearing on movement) and get yourself some vitamin D. Humans make 90 percent of their vitamin D naturally through sun exposure to the skin. In Canada‚ our northern climate means UVB levels in sunlight are too weak 4-6 months of the year to make any vitamin D naturally which brings me to the topic of supplements. Taking 1000 individual units per day is one of the most important vitamins you can take each day. Hundreds of studies now link vitamin D deficiency with significantly higher rates of many forms of cancer‚ as well as heart disease‚ osteoporosis‚ multiple sclerosis and many other conditions and diseases. Sorry to end off on a serious note, but seriously, take get your vitamin D one way or the other.

Yes, my dear, the summer’s beginning to give up her fight, but healthy summer livin’ doesn’t have to be a thing of the past. I hope that these 7 tips have provided information and inspiration to help you live well and laugh lots well past the time when wearing white pants are a big no-no.

Big Love,

susan

Shining Light On The Darkness – Part I: Accepting The Ebbs

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

You may have noticed that this blog post included “Part 1″ in its title.  This is a like a mini-series, but different. No C-grade Hollywood actors bringing a true story to life, but you can tune in for a few weeks to explore the topic of living consciously and being peaceful even when the you-know-what hits the fan…when you’re in the darkness…when you’re EBBING day after day and are longing to FLOW once again. Ah, that is the very topic for today: the suffering that can come from wanting things to be different than they are.

Part 1 of my mini-series is about accepting and welcoming the very fact that you are ebbing.

I recently read an article in the September issue of Oprah’s magazine by one of my favourite authors, Martha Beck. Martha talks about our obsession with flowing being the source of much of our angst. We don’t welcome the ebbs into our lives like we do the flows – not by a long shot.  The ebbs are January, the flows are July. I have learned (and re-learned many times) that wanting the present to be anything different than it is can lead to many stressful thoughts that don’t work for us at all. Therefore, if we can be aware enough to simply decide to be okay with the fact that an ebb has landed on our doorstep, we aren’t making the situation suck more than it already does.

Being okay with the ebbs is not easy stuff – it takes consciously reminding ourselves that our soul is having this human experience to EXPERIENCE life in its entirety. When the darkness sets in, we often ask ourselves, “How could this be happening?” but when we are aware of the fact that our soul is here to take it ALL in, we have the opportunity to ask ourselves, “How could this NOT be happening?

Martha also suggests in her article, that ebbs are an offering to REST. When we’re flowing, we’re also going and if you’re anything like me, going like a bat outta hell some days. This summer has been a rather large ebb for me (hence, the inspiration for the mini-series) and I have spent little time being the productive/ambitious person that I am (or sometimes think I need to be) and much more time just BEING. I have spent most of my time thinking, talking, exercising, and simply sitting on the couch with my eyes opened wider than they have ever been before. I have accepted and welcomed my ebb most days (as i said, it takes awareness – big time!), but my ebb has stopped me in my tracks and it has indeed resulted in a powerful rest period which has brought all kinds of gifts – physically, mentally and spiritually. I have learned that it’s okay to rest when the you-know-what hits the fan…the productive, ambitious, social (or insert other things) being that you are will return one day.

Do you have the expectation that life should be all flow and no ebb? If deep down you do have that expectation, could that be part of the suffering you experience when the darkness sets is? Are you making the situation suck more than it already does???

When the next ebb happens, may you peacefully accept and welcome it into your human experience – not with balloons or sparklers, but with the consciousness that YOUR SOUL IS HERE TO TAKE IT ALL IN. With that kind of awareness, you may start saying to yourself, “How could this NOT be happening?” May you catch yourself wanting the ebb to be a flow. May you feel all the human emotions the darkness has to offer. May you rest while the storm passes and the answers come.

Big Love,

susan

Oprah Ain’t The Only Girl Who Can Talk Books…

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

I don’t know if you’re like me, but summer = more reading. I can hardly finish one bloody book between September and June, but the slower pace of July and August provides me with more time to unleash my inner bookworm…that and my inner margarita-lover…but I digress…

I must not be alone in my summer reading frenzy because Oprah always dedicates one of the summer issues of her “O” magazine to highlighting a list of books she loves. Being much like Oprah myself (ahem), I thought I would do something similar…but in a blog post because mama doesn’t have her own magazine….yet. Please note that this is not a list of “must-reads”…I like the word, must just about as much as I like the word, should. The only musts and shoulds in life are contained in the law books – everything else is optional…EVERYTHING…including reading any of the books I or anyone else thinks is the bomb.

With all that said, in celebration of summer, I have created a list of authors and books that have inspired me personally and influenced me as a writer and speaker. So, just in case you’ve ever wondered what books I’ve read along my journey to living more consciously and healthier, here are the greatest hits…

For those spiritual warriors out there:

Choose Them Wisely, Notes From The Universe, Even More Notes From The Universe – Mike Dooley

A Return To Love, The Gift Of Change – Marianne Williamson

The Power Of Intention, Inspiration, Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life, 10 Secrets For Success & Inner Peace, Being In Balance – Dr. Wayne Dyer

Stillness Speaks, The Power Of Now, A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle

Miraculous Living – Rabbi Shoni Labowitz

Conversations With God, Happier Than God, When Everything Changes Change Everything – Neale Donald Walsch

Steering By Starlight – Martha Beck

The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin

If Life Is A Game, These Are The Rules – Cherie Carter-Scott

Loving What Is – Byron Katie

The Law Of Attraction – Michael Losier

In The Meantime – Iyanla Vanzant

Why Is God Laughing? – Deepak Chopra

Wellness Information/Inspiration:

In Defense of Food – Michael Pollan

Fitness Is Religion – Ray Kybartas

Quantum Wellness – Kathy Freston

Skinny Bitch – Rory Freedman & Barnouin

Spent – Dr. Frank Lipman

Please feel free leave a comment and suggest some of your favourite reads that have inspired you along your journey to living well and laughing lots!

Big Love & Happy Reading,

susan