Why Women Get Stressed About Stuff That Men Don’t Even Remember

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

I think we women often get stressed out because we’re always so busy.

Don’t you find it ironic that women seem to be busier now than when we had to churn our own butter?

I’ve always believed that women often get stressed out because we’re always so busy.

Isn’t it ironic that women seem to be busier now than when we had to churn our own butter?

I mean, if you want to see a busy woman, go back to the pioneer times. Women had to sew their own clothes, grow their own food, and make their own candles so they could didn’t walk into a wall at night – it was out of necessity – no girl was setting out candles to make the place look romantic. Nowadays, if we have to make a few phone calls, send a bunch of emails, pick up a few things at COSTCO, and exchange something at the GAP, and try to keep the kids from killing each other over who’s turn it is to play on the iPad, we have reached our limit!

Ahem.

The truth is, women always have been busy and we always will be busy. The reason women are so busy is that our brains are designed to multi-task. Keep in mind that the design of our brain was influenced by our cavewoman lifestyle – our roots. Back in the cavewoman days, while the males were out hunting (their days only had one focus), the female’s days were multi-focused. The ladies were back keeping the home fires burning, supporting each other, gathering nuts and berries, and taking care of the children. With the various tasks that the females were involved in, the skills of both the left and right hemispheres of the brain were used and developed.

It may be thousands of years later, but we still have brains that are designed based on our caveman and cavewoman roots.

Here in the twenty-first century, with many more connections between our right and left hemispheres than a typical male brain, the female brain is hardwired to juggle tasks, emotions, information, and to-do lists.
Females are designed and therefore destined to be busy so let’s accept that rather than wishing we were leading different lives. The fact of the matter is, if we ran off to Italy to live a simple life in Tuscany, we would probably end up owning and operating our own winery while renovating our villa and writing about it all in our blog. Rather than wish we weren’t so busy, let’s own it, damn it, and raise a glass!

As briefly mentioned previously, in cave man days, men spent each day hunting. Their one and only job was to go out and kill some wild animal and bring it home to his family for dinner. I will apologize now if you, the reader, are a vegetarian – this was long before lentils and chickpeas were popular. Due to the roots of being a provider, male brains are goal-oriented. Men are hardwired to hunt and achieve. The male brain seeks reward and pleasure.

An important detail about the caveman lifestyle was that it was solitary. The men didn’t go out and hunt together. No, the men would go out hunting with the incentive to be “that guy” who brought back the biggest and best carcass. Again, if you are vegetarian, please know that this will be over soon. With the male’s extra agenda of being “that guy”, the top achievement for men was and still is independence. They didn’t and still don’t want the help from others. There is a neurological reason why men don’t want to stop and ask for directions.

In cavewoman days, women were, you guessed it, busy. While the men where gone hunting, the women were handling well, everything else. They were part of a community of women supporting each other, caring for children, and doing whatever else to keep the home fires burning. Based on this lifestyle, female brains are community-oriented. Female brains are designed to be social, to nurture and to protect. Women are hardwired for networking, efficiency, and empathy. While the top achievement for a male was and still is independence, the top achievement for females was and still is connection – a sense of belonging.

These differences between the male and female brains are reflected in many ways in our modern world because our psyches haven’t changed despite our dramatically different lifestyles and environments.

A current statistic states that women speak an average of 22,000 words a day and men speak an average of 7,000 words a day.

Independence versus community.

Man cave versus book club…and Pampered Chef parties, coffee dates, lunch dates, girls night out, spa days, clothing swaps, yoga retreats, etc.

In terms of stress, there are two major things to note about the female brain versus the male brain:

1. The female brain remembers stressful and negative experiences more than male brains do. Take heart, this is a neurological reason when women remember what said in argument ten years ago and men have no recollection of the argument even taking place.

2. The female brain views life events, situations, and circumstances as potentially catastrophic. Women tend to make things bigger, uglier, scarier, and far more life-threatening than they really are. While it takes the threat of immediate physical danger for men to reach that high level of agitation.

Same brain, just thousands of years later.

The modern woman to the modern man: “I can’t believe you don’t remember what she said to him! That night was a huge disaster!” The modern man to the modern woman: “Ah, get over it! No one died!”

The female’s knack for catastrophic thinking makes perfect sense when you recognize that we women are hardwired for networking. What we seek out the most is connection and a sense of belonging. Back in our cavewoman days, without the support from the women in the community, our survival and the survival of our children was threatened. Due to the strong reliance on other women for our health and safety, the biggest threat (and therefore the biggest fear) was ostracism.

Same brain, just thousands of years later.

With these roots imbedded deep within the female psyche, women today elevate conflicts, disagreements, and other forms of social tension to life-threatening emergency status. Women are essentially hardwired to afflict themselves with perceived danger – viewing something in a way that creates intense feelings which trick the body into thinking it’s facing real danger.

If you are a woman, a good way to tell if you’re caught up in catastrophic thinking is to notice those times when, as you are telling yourself a big story about something small, your eyes widen and get all shifty like one of those soap opera characters having a dramatic flash back. As the story plays out in your mind, you look like you’re remembering that time you were kidnapped and held captive in a cave for several months.

Because women have always had to stay a step ahead in arranging for food, shelter, and care for children, the female brain is also programmed to do more planning than the male brain. Yes, there is a neurological reason why women start talking about Christmas in the middle of the summer and why men don’t start their Christmas shopping until December 24th.

Same brain, just thousands of years later.

Our external circumstances are extremely different now, but women are still demonstrating their hardwiring for planning. Back in the beginning, the female’s fixation on the future was rather primal – those steps ahead were related to survival. Here in the twenty-first century, that primal fixation on the future has evolved into a lot of fretting about what to wear to a dinner party, whether or not the presentation will go well, or if the kids will get to swim practice on time tomorrow. The good ol’ “what ifs” and most, if not all of it is not life-threatening at all. Well, since we’re so busy it’s nice that we get so much of our worrying done ahead of time. Ahem.

A cavewoman would be fixating on the future as she sat around an open fire cooking some dead animal (last time, I promise, vegetarian!) while the modern woman usually does her worrying late at night in bed. We lie there reviewing all of our latest “what ifs” and then scan the ol’ to-do list…for a few hours. And God forbid we remember we have to do something and it isn’t recorded anywhere. We then lie there obsessing over this forgotten task in an attempt to burn into our brain so it’s easily retrieved the next day. At one point around four o’clock in the morning, in a desperate move to get some sleep, we reach over for our smart phone and send ourselves an email. Same brain, just thousands of years later. Now we are emailing ourselves – which is fine, unless we start replying. There’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning to dozens of emails and half of them are from you.

Thankfully, there is a perfectly good neurological explanation for why women worry and make things bigger than they really are. Back in the cavewoman days, the unknown future contained a questionable amount of food and protection and a drama in the community that severed the chain of support would have meant your life was actually in danger. These roots run deep within the psyche.

The way mindfulness can heal this is through challenging all those untrue thoughts that play out in your mind and focus on the facts. Yes, there may very well be a conflict or a disagreement at hand, but odds are you will live to see another day. Manage your hardwiring by seeing things for what they are because stress is believing thoughts that are untrue for yourself. The truth is always lighter that the story.

If you are man, please remember this brain stuff so you can express compassion toward a woman’s tendency to be a drama queen – as you now know, we come by it honestly. Other than that, stay safe.

Try Giving Up All Hope

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Hope gets a great deal of good publicity. At face value, to hope indicates an intrepid spirit who is relentless in their pursuit of happiness. We are taught that it’s the one thing we will always have and to never give it up. It even floats.

It may come with a much shinier facade, but hope is actually just another form of resistance.

If you’re hoping for something new or better then what you are also doing is arguing with some aspect of your reality. Between you and full acceptance of the present moment lies hope.

To have hope is to say “no” to your life in some way.

To have hope makes it sound like you’ve gone and chosen a positive mindset, but it is actually desire drenched in expectation. “This should not be happening so something else better come along to make it far more acceptable.”

Hope is an attachment. “I need this to happen. If it doesn’t happen, that means my life is officially headed toward a downward spiral.”

Hope is like a prayer with a underlying conditional offer. “I hope this happens. (Because I’ll only be happy if it does.”

We humans love hoping for something better, in fact, we appear to be addicted to hope. Count how many times you refer to hope in a day. Then count how many times someone else does. The trick will be to not lose track.

We are constantly wanting our present to be different than it is and it’s doing nothing but adding to our suffering. The essence of stress is arguing with what is.

Hoping is a euphemism for worrying. It sounds better and it gets much better press. Hope is the socially accepted way to fret.

If you are into living with more ease, consider giving up all hope. End all hope. Give up hope for Lent. Let go of hope and choose to be completely at one with yourself, other people, and your circumstances. Love what is and see where that takes you.

Give up all hope and replace it with belief. Believe that the universe knows exactly what it’s doing and that it doesn’t make mistakes. Trust that no matter what happens, you are being lovingly guided along a path that has your very best interests in mind.

Toss hope aside and believe that there is always perfection unfolding.

Try being hopeless. Let the yearning, grasping, and reaching fall away.

Breathe deeply. Live in the mystery.

Dreaming is wonderful. Send out your big, beautiful intentions to the universe and then allow life to unfold. Rather than hope for this one, very particular outcome, stay completely open to when and how your thoughts will take shape.

Giving up hope is not giving up. Giving up hope is giving up the need to control. Giving up hope is an act of surrender that comes from an unwavering trust that all is coming – and a commitment to keep your mind and heart open to all the infinite possibilities of what “all” contains.

And then just think how much fun it will be to tell people that you are completely hopeless while wearing a big ol’ grin on your face.

5 Truths About Happiness

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

1. There is a difference between fleeting happiness and long-term happiness. Fleeting happiness is short-lived and almost entirely created by your external circumstances. If you are on a beach in Mexico sipping a margarita on a warm, sunny day, you are probably going to be happy. Other the other hand, being a happy person (experiencing long-term happiness) is almost entirely determined by the lenses through which you view your external circumstances. In his book, The Happiness Advantage, positive psychology expert, Shawn Achor, explains that if he knew everything about your life (and I mean everything), he would only be able to predict ten percent of your long-term happiness. Ninety per cent of your long-term happiness is determined by how your brain processes your external circumstances – your perceptions and thoughts. Choose them wisely.

2. The point of life is happiness. Despite what past generations have believed and taught us, we are not here to suffer. We are not here to do the “right” thing even if it makes us miserable. We are not here to please others. We are not here to do anything, actually. We are not here to accomplish great things, to achieve success, or to save the world. You are here to be things. You are here to be a bright light in this world by being joyful, kind, generous, helpful, compassionate, and yes, happy. If what you do is work hard to be happy, then in your own, unique way, you will accomplish great things, achieve success, and save the world.

3. Happiness often takes practice. Be on the lookout for those times you are tempted to sabotage your happiness because it’s a foreign feeling or you’re entering unfamiliar territory. If you have that “angst thing” nailed down, it may require fierce commitment to consciousness in order to abstain from re-entering your comfort zone and resist returning to your default setting. Practice the art of choosing to be happy. If you have to practice happiness several times a day, so be it. Keep on, keeping’ on. Some folks are pretty much pros at being unhappy so if that’s the case for you, just keep working away at your new craft. Stay the course.

4. Happiness requires trust and gratitude. Another natural reaction to sustained happiness is fear – a fear of this goodness ending or being snatched away. This fear of scarcity is often demonstrated in new mothers as they hover over the crib of their newborn full of terror that this source of happiness is going to stop breathing. Have you ever been so happy that you end up being completely paranoid that it will leave your grasp? These feelings of scarcity can lead to sabotage or just plain old neurosis which can eradicate positive feelings just as much as the goodness ending or being snatched away. Because we have been let down, broken hearted, and left in the dust before, we convince ourselves that with this happiness we will meet that same fate once again. We wait for the proverbial “other shoe to drop” which compromises our positive feelings which can nicely create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ever been so frightened of happiness ending that you ended up co-creating that reality? Release the fear of scarcity and enter a mindset of trust. Trust that all will be well. Have faith that the universe doesn’t make mistakes. The unplanned changes in life are what lead you down paths you simply didn’t know you were supposed to take. And be grateful. When those fears of scarcity arise, choose to be grateful instead. Stress cannot exist where there is gratitude.

5. You have nothing to learn in order to be happy. In fact, at the beginning of your life you were a master of happiness because you hadn’t yet learned to judge, have expectations, and attach your self-worth to possessions, relationships, and achievements. The only reason happiness has become a challenge is because of your beliefs and thought patterns. The key to happiness is to un-learn what has hindered your ability to be that master of happiness you once were. Happiness isn’t a case of learning at all. The question is…what do you need to let go of in order to be happy?

The Required Tension In Your Life (Lean Into The Struggle, Baby…Lean In)

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.” - Swami Vivekananda, Indian Philosopher and Spiritual Leader

With life comes struggle. To know that truth, to be aware of it, and to accept it is where grace lies.

To celebrate struggle is another thing – that takes gratitude.

Knowing that struggle is the required tension in your life is where gratitude lies. The tension pushes you beyond your comfort zone and pulls you aside to show you something you have yet to let go of.

Every living thing on this planet experiences struggle and every living thing on this planet gains its power and strength from struggle.

Every living thing on this planet needs struggle to evolve.

You know what you know and you can do what you do thanks to struggle.

A hawk’s struggle for food is how the hawk can spot and follow a mouse scurrying hundreds of feet below on the ground. You don’t get “hawk eye” from hittin’ a drive thru.

A mouse’s struggle to stay alive is the very thing that develops its speed and agility. Running for your life can transform you into quite an athlete.

Just like the struggle between the hawk and mouse, your struggles are pieces of tension that you need to push and pull you into deciding, declaring, and experiencing you who you are.

Longing for something helps you develop patience.
Being pressured to do something helps you develop authenticity.
Being bullied helps you establish boundaries.
Facing uncertainty helps you strengthen faith.
Experiencing change helps you develop adaptability and flexibility.
Managing imperfection helps you foster compassion.
Your imperfection helps you develop vulnerability.
A loss helps you develop resiliency.
Falling short helps you develop perseverance.

When struggle comes along, see it as good news because you never have nor will you ever have to sit there racking your brain trying to come up with a way to expand your consciousness – to open your heart and mind a little wider than they were before. “Man, I gotta come up with a way to evolve!” Has said no one ever.

When the tension sets in, just imagine the light you will shine by bowing your head and whispering “thank you.”

Lean into the struggle. Stay there. Push through. Pull yourself up higher. And get stronger.

Resistance Is Futile…and at the core of anything you are stressed out about.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

When the resistance is gone, so are the demons.” – Pema Chödrön, nun/author/Buddhist teacher

The last time I published a blog was last June. As a writer, that blog-post-per-capita figure is somewhat alarming.

The fact that I didn’t post a blog in the summer is not a big deal to me because I spent most of my waking hours in July and August finishing my first book. While plowing through revisions and formatting to make an early September publishing deadline, mama wasn’t exactly looking for other opportunities to express herself. By mid-August it was starting to feel like I was competing on a writer’s version of “The Amazing Race.” And you know what, I did it! I won! I had my brand new book in hand to sell at my first speaking engagement of the fall season! What a triumphant feat! What a glorious feeling!

What a way to drain my battery right before heading into a busy fall of speaking engagements.

It was more of a bottoming-out than a drain. I kind of hit the proverbial wall.

In early September I started to feel…not myself. I woke up most mornings terribly anxious. I couldn’t come up with an original idea for the stage or the page. I wasn’t excited about going back on tour. It was a deadly combination of not being able to and not wanting to continue doing the hard work that comes along with running your own business.

Week after week, I continued to feel “stuck” due to my malaise and anxiety. I desperately wanted to be the “go-getter” I normally am, but no dice. I tried to push my way out of the fog, but no clarity would come. I sat on the phone with my mother in disbelief. I fought against the reality that I went from publishing a book to finding it hard to read a book.

By mid-October I was so sick of feeling “stuck” that I started to think about quitting. I was traveling to a speaking engagement in Kingston all the while re-framing it into the first show of my farewell tour. As irony would have it, the show in Kingston was a great one and I had a blast on stage. Oh, Murphy. You and your crazy law.

When I got back from Kingston, my wee bit of success and enjoyment inspired me to change my mind about what I was going through. I chose to embrace the fact that I was “stuck”. I allowed myself to feel creatively uninspired and entrepreneurially static. I committed to doing my very best on stage and nothing else. I began to work with the fact that I was pausing (for whatever reason) and put my ambition on pause. I stopped resisting.

I decided to rest instead.

Yep, if I wasn’t getting ready for or doing a show, then I was at yoga class, out on the curling ice, hanging with my friends, or chilling out at home. I went with the flow of my path rather than against the grain. It felt so good.

This past fall, I was once again shown the power of surrender. The peace that is created when you put down your weapons and end the battle. The battle is often seen to be you against the world, but it is and always will be you against yourself.

Surrender takes place when you stop asking, “How is this happening?”, or “Why me?”, and you finally ask, “What will I make of it?”

Surrender can often be the shift in consciousness that brings you the ease you are dreaming of. Next time you are entrenched in the battle, wave the white flag and trust the path. Decide to live in the mystery during those times when you wish your life came with background music so you could understand what the hell is going on.

After a few weeks of viewing my “stillness” as my friend rather than my enemy, my spirits began to lift. In late November, I spoke at a women’s event that ended up to be one of the best performances of my life. More importantly, Stella got her groove back. My spark had returned. I was inspired to move forward with my work again.

I continued resting through the holiday season into the new year. A couple weeks ago, I returned to my work feeling myself again with all kinds of projects underway. I am more committed to being the messenger than ever before.

The next time the universe changes the tempo of my life or presents any other change in my circumstances, my intention is to play along. I so clearly see that the essence of suffering is arguing with what is.

For whatever reason, I was stopped in my tracks this fall and I was shown the suffering I cause for myself when I want my circumstances to be different than they are. The very essence of stress is arguing with what is – when you push something away – when you say “no” to what life is presenting to you.

When you let go of what you think your life is supposed to be and allow the path to unfold, the peace that is created within sets the stage for the next miracle.

 

 

 

Positive Thinking Vs. Unconditional Love

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

I strive to crank out positive thinking and positive energy as much as the next person. Everything happens for a reason. Here we grow again! I will survive.

What if while you’re exclaiming one of those cheerful sentiments, you’re absolutely furious with yourself for even having to deal with such a matter in the first place? What if you think you should know better by now? What if you think things would be better if you had just tried harder? What if you’re judging yourself up, down, and side-ways?

Let’s set positive thinking aside today and shift the focus to being easier on ourselves and each other. No matter what. Compassion.

Positive thinking is a set of words. Love is a feeling. Love is a state of consciousness.

In the face of challenges, expressing unconditional love for yourself and others is the ultimate form of positive energy.

Two questions arise out of that statement. What gets in the way of unconditional love? How do we feel it and express it more often? 

Answer #1: What prevents us from expressing unconditional love is the part of ourselves that buys into the illusions of the physical world. In short, the good ol’ ego.

Our ego isn’t the real us, but it is part of us. Our ego is the busy part of us that is entrenched in our physical world’s collective belief system (the “dream” as its been called) that to feel good about oneself and others, “good” things must be happening. Acceptance and love hinges on what we do and what we have. Therefore, let’s get crackin’! We alone aren’t enough. If we’re going to be accepted and loved, we need to host another dinner party soon, damn it.

Lord knows that the voice of the ego can even pop into the heads of the most positive people at any point. When you get out of bed in the morning, it might be standing there at the foot of your bed with its arms crossed looking completely unimpressed. “Well, look who’s finally up.” You have a shower…you get dressed…and then you might hear another editorial comment come you way….”If you were 15 pounds thinner and got some new clothes, you would turn some heads again…and hey, it’s about your hair….you need new highlights if anyone is going to think you’re attractive and interesting…just saying.“ As you get into your car, you might hear that voice again… “You still driving this piece of crap? At this point in your life you really should have a much nicer car.” As you go about your busy day your ego chimes in once and while…“I can’t believe you forgot to copy yourself on that email…when will you ever get your act together?“I know you don’t want to, but you have to go out for lunch. Everybody else is going! It won’t be a good look if you don’t go.”I can’t believe you made that lame joke to your boss just now – why do you always mess up when it counts?” “You’re leaving? To go to yoga? Hey, doing those weird poses isn’t going to get you ahead in life!

Being hard on yourself. Doing stuff only because you think you should. People pleasing. Trying to measure up. Thinking you don’t have enough. Not feeling that you are enough just the way you are.

Let’s be honest, even if you’re a positive thinker, negative self-talk makes you bitchy.

Expressing love isn’t about eradicating our ego. To have an ego is a natural part of the human experience and to push it away makes it stronger and to judge it isn’t an act of unconditional love. Our job is to  love all parts of us (yes, even the ego) and then be discerning about what voice to believe.

Which brings us to answer of the second question…

Answer #2: To feel and express unconditional love is a constant act of consciousness. Remember who you really are.

Our true nature is love. When we come into this world we’re present, excited, and playful beings. Even when a baby is screaming it’s head off, it’s a primal reaction (rather than emotional). No one ever looks at a crying baby and says, “That baby is being so bitchy today!” Babies captivate practically everyone on the planet, but have you ever wondered why? Yes, they’re cute, but that’s not entirely it Have you ever wondered why almost everyone on the planet loves being around babies? It’s the same reason people love having pets – they don’t give you attitude! It goes a bit more beyond that, but that sums it up – we just can’t get enough of  the peaceful and joyful state that exists without any judgements, expectations, or attachments.

You might be skeptical right now. You might be thinking, “Of course it’s easy for babies to be joyful and peaceful because they don’t have to go to work! I’d be joyful and peaceful if I didn’t have any responsibilities and my day consisted of eating, pooping, and drooling!” Yes, it does come easy to babies as much time hasn’t passed since their birth and so the illusions of society haven’t gotten at them and the  voice of their ego hasn’t led them away from their true nature yet.

When you’re a busy adult, exuding that same joyful and peaceful state is an act of awareness. Can you have your job and your responsibilities and face all the challenges that come at you in your adult life, and see the ego for what it is and know that despite the illusions of the physical world, we are here to express love for ourselves by being mindful that everything that unfolds is an opportunity to remember who we really are.

We’re not here to be positive. Being positive is like a bonus round on a game-show. Our one purpose is to express love in this physical realm in the midst of all the worldly dramas. We’re here to observe and take part in events and situations that give us and others opportunities to remember who we really are! With that known, we see the perfection in everything. Trusting that perfection, knowing that we come from love, being exactly who we really are and expressing love unconditionally are the only true obligations we have to fulfill in this life.

Positive thinking is wonderful, but when challenges come our way, I’m more interested in how we feel about ourselves and others. Can we choose compassion each time? Can we reclaim our true nature and seize the moment to express unconditional love? If you have an upbeat slogan or cheerful sentiment to go along with that, all the better.

Big Unconditional Love,

susan

Accepting The Flux Of Life

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

I recently walked along the shores of Lake Huron with my mother. We were on a beach just north of the little town of Kincardine where her parents owned a cottage and she enjoyed many summers throughout her youth. Like other times before, we walked to the familiar point on the beach only to find that my mom’s old family cottage was no longer there.

The ol’ disappearing act strikes again. Something or someone exiting stage left.

Ah, the flux of life.

As my mom and I walked back to the car, she was graceful as she flowed with the flux. Indeed there was sadness, but I could sense her flowing nonetheless. I saw the peacefulness that comes when one doesn’t attach to stuff always existing like old family cottages waiting for you to come look at it every few years.

No attachment to external circumstances because flux happens.

Look back on your life so far and it’s one shocking beach walk after another. The conditions of our lives in constant flux.

Ships coming in (at last!) and being lost at sea…without a paddle.

You were thin and then you weren’t and now you’re somewhere in between. Or the other way around.

You had lots of money. And then you didn’t.

Friends came. They stayed for as long as they are supposed to. Some friends left…some are still around…for now, anyway.

You were overwhelmed and scared. And then you could do it with your eyes shut. (flux can be positive too, by the way)

You owned a home. And then you were back to renting.

You had great hair and then your hair stylist moved far away and you’ve never quite gotten your lid back to looking that good.

You were in love. You were alone. You were in love again. (And so on…)

You were in charge. And then you were de-throned.

You had a booming business or career. And then you didn’t. And then you reinvented yourself.

You were hip, you were cool, you were happenin’. And then one day you found yourself watching Much Music and couldn’t identify one band or artist that was on the screen. And you feel really old at the mall now.

Oh, you want more flux? Night to Day. Winter to Summer. New Moon to Full Moon. High Tide to Low Tide. Flux is the nature of things.

With all this flux around us, it’s interesting how we think we can or should be able to avoid it. Flux just isn’t something that happens to me.

Show me a life with lovers, level of wealth, number of friends, worldly possessions, and professional endeavours that haven’t changed and I’ll show you a woman in North America who hasn’t heard of the book, “Fifty Shades Of Grey“.

And yet our suffering stems from the illusion that something or someone in our lives can or should possess staying power.

Staying power is a myth. Security is a myth. What outside of us is truly secure in this life? Tell me that one and I’ll send you a free copy of “Fifty Shades Of Grey“.

Our reaction to flux often reminds me of the reaction Canadians have at the glimpse of the first snow fall of the winter. Even though we are aware that winter is a reality about our climate, when we see those first few flakes falling to the ground, it catches us off guard each time. “Oh my God, it’s snowing! Come over here to the window, check it out!!!!” Cue the mad scramble for snow shovels, snow blowers, snow tires, and non-freezing windshield wiper fluid.

Let’s not be like Canadians and their annual tizzy about winter. Rather than asking ourselves, Will flux happen?  The question to ask ourselves is, When will flux happen?

The shock of and resistance to flux is stressing us out. Let’s end the war against flux. Let’s embrace that it’s lurking out there to stir things up when it’s necessary and bring on the peace.

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the flux of life.

(Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Loved that theme song.)

Big Love,

susan

 

 

 

 

5 Ways To Lighten Up About Other People

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

In-laws that make you want to scream. Colleagues that make you want to leave. Friends that don’t share. Neighbours that just don’t care. Parents that don’t get it. And lovers that always sweat it.

We want them to be different. We wish they would do things the way we would. We get fired up. We get let down.

Working with, living with, and co-existing with other human beings can be one of the aspects of life that challenges our peaceful state of mind the most.

Challenging yes. But suffering is optional.

Very optional.

It depends how you choose to view all the shenanigans.

Here are 5 shifts in consciousness that can help you lighten up about other people:

1. What ever is going on, it’s perfect. Years ago all us souls agreed to put on a human suit and came down to experience all kinds of adventures and learn a whole bunch of lessons. Whether you’re deeply involved, mildly affected, or merely observing, all events and situations are unfolding as a way to edge us souls  further along in our evolution. Because everyone is here on their own little missions, what we see each other do or get mucking around trying to do stuff together are the divine dramas that gives us yet another opportunity to remember who we really are (which is joy) and reclaim that true nature in the midst of all the challenges of being a human. We show up to figure out ways to find our way home. Be that source of light we showed up as. What ever it is about that person or what ever happened that has you all in a tizzy is perfect. For them and you. How do I know this? Because it’s happening.

2. No matter what, it’s not about you. We can save ourselves a great deal of suffering by not taking things personally and see it for what it is – a sacred part of their human experience. As much as we kind of dig thinking that that everything is about us, what humans do and think, exists out of what agenda their soul agreed to before they zipped up their human suit and pursued life down here on earth. It’s never about you, but it is always about them finding their way back home.

3. People are always doing their very best. Yes, despite what we expect of the world and what we think people “should” be doing, thinking, or saying, everyone is doing their best. We are all at different points in our missions so based on the information and the experiences they have gathered thus far, this is all they’ve got. You choose the rest.

4. It’s none of your business. Aside from when people are in danger, coming to the rescue doesn’t serve anyone involved well. What other people doing, thinking, and saying is between them and the universe. If you’ve got advice and know “what’s best”, resist the urge to try and fix someone and something that is already perfect.

5. You are here to love. We’ve been conditioned to think that we’re here to do a hell of a lot more, but to find ways to be a source of light in this world is why we come down here and attempt this human experience in the first place. If we can choose to just love each other without any attachment to any of the outcomes that come from their human experience, that is compassion. Acting as if one outcome is good and another is bad is judgement.

It’s all good, baby.

Big Love,

susan

 

 

Why Meditation Is Everything That It’s Cracked Up To Be

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

My mind has been swirling and my soul has been restless for the past few days. Not sure why, but I seem to be reviewing the past and fretting about the future – or better yet, trying desperately to predict the future. Ah, the life and times of an amateur fortune teller. It’s interesting that the pros only focus on the good stuff while we novices tend to like to sit there and scare the crap out of ourselves.

The swirling and restlessness will dissipate (it always does), but in the meantime, all I can do is catch myself drifting away and then bring my focus back to the present moment. It takes awareness. The same awareness that one requires to avoid flatulating in a yoga class. Can I get an Amen?

Make a shift. Be Here Now.

Stressful thoughts always (yes, always) stem from an attachment to the past or future. Think of something that’s stressing you out right now – I guarantee you that it’s something that has already happened or not yet happened. A woman who attended a workshop that I did a few weeks ago challenged me on that point and after she told me that her stressor was the current construction taking place on her street, I asked her if she was standing on her street amidst the construction right now. She smiled and gave me a thumbs up.

Make a shift. Be Here Now.

When it comes to peeling oneself off the ceiling, returning to the present moment is like jotting down a gratitude list – it’s one of those quick acts of consciousness that can return you to planet earth in an instant which is a fabulous thing when there are other earthlings who are counting on you.

This is why meditation is everything that it’s cracked up to be.

You can meditate anywhere, by the way. If you’re focusing on what’s going on right in front of you, you’re meditating. If you’re walking down the street and that’s where your attention is, you’re meditating. I find chanting and deep breath meditation agonizing and boring. If I need to sit down and write a to-do list, I go and meditate because that list will be done in seconds. I’ve tried meditation CDs – those things are great, because while I’m listening to it, I unload the dishwasher, pay my bills online, and tidy my office. I know, I know…

I like to meditate off the cuff. If I bring my attention back to the part of my life that is right in front of me, I can instantly feel the tension lift, the shoulders drop, and the ground beneath my feet. For how ever long I can stay here, I am connected back to who I really am which is not my thoughts.

Even though it’s effective as all get-out, being present/meditation can be challenging. We humans can so easily drift away in the past or the future. We’re drifters from way back. I’m sure you’ve been talking with someone and thirty seconds into the conversation you are gone – your attention and thoughts are somewhere else. As you are standing there appearing to be having a conversation, you can see their mouth moving…you can hear sounds…but, you’re wondering if you should go ahead with having that dinner party in a couple weeks or hold off until the new sofa arrives.

When you’re in the car, see if you’re in the car. I will often be driving home from somewhere and not one of my thoughts will pertain to the fact that I’m operating a heavy piece of machinery that’s in motion. I’ll pull into my driveway, park my car, sit back, and think to myself, “Now, how the hell did I get here? I hope everyone’s okay!” 

When you’re in the shower in the morning, check and see if you’re in the shower. How many times are you already at that meeting, having that conversation with, sending that email, or doing something on your to-do list? Right now, I want you to consider how many times you have showered with the people you work with. I can always tell when I’ve drifted away in the shower because I’ll suddenly come back to the present moment and realize that I have no idea if I’ve put the conditioner in my hair yet. There’s a true reality check. Some mornings I’m sure my hair get an extra dose of conditioning.

I even find it challenging to be in the present moment when I’m away on vacation. Even though I’m relaxing on the beach or shopping in a big, cosmopolitan city, I’ll start drifting away. Maybe during my next holiday I’ll send postcards that say, “Having a great time! Wish I was here!” Sigh…

It’s certainly a challenge and it does take awareness, but the gifts of meditation (on a CD or off the cuff) are varied and numerous.

It’s rather appropriate that the word, present, has more than one meaning, wouldn’t you agree?

Big Love,

susan

 

The Opportunity Of Crisis

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Well, the latest indicator that I’m getting “older” took place yesterday. I had a root canal. To be accurate, I endured the first part of a three-part root canal procedure. The fun is far from over.

I was experiencing intense pain in my bottom right molars while my recent holiday on Vancouver Island was wrapping up and as luck would have it, I had a dentist appointment scheduled here in Toronto two days after arriving home. Yay. I see the divine timing. The universe never ceases to amaze me. 

After taking an x-ray of my molars, my dentist called over to an endodontist in the area who could take me right away and end the pain quickly. Yay again. I feel gratitude. Such abundance, such access. Me and my first world problems. 

The endodontist who worked on my tooth had a fabulous sense of humour and made the multiple needles and drilling in my mouth quite bearable. We had quite the witty repartee going at one point and while lying in a dental chair on an angle that never seems natural, I actually laughed (out loud) a few times. I wonder how many times laughter has been heard from a room where a root canal is taking place. My guess is that with this man, many times. This man definitely subscribes to the philosophy that work can either be drudgery or fun and he chooses fun. Yay Dr. Zareh Ouzounian. I choose fun too. Might as well laugh…it releases good feeling chemicals into your bloodstream that are normally very expensive and highly illegal which really helps if you’re in pain. 

The procedure that Dr. Ouzounian performed on me yesterday was a pulpectomy which is the removal of infected pulp – the tooth’s cells and tissues. I learned from Dr. Ouzounian that any procedure ending in -tomy refers to the removal of something from the human body. I did a quick brainstorm of “tomys” and I’ll happily take a pulpectomy over a mastectomy, hysterectomy, or lobotomy. Yay pulpectomy. I gain immense perspective. Can I get an amen? 

I walked home and soaked up the mid-July sun. Ah, the heat is on. Yay summer. I feel grateful that I am not trudging through snow with this amount of freezing in my mouth…one frozen part of my body is enough. 

The client that I was supposed to talk to that day (and had to bail on due to impromptu dental surgery) couldn’t have been more understanding about it. Yay Stephanie. I feel more gratitude. Appearing to a client like a lose canon who forgets phone meetings is what they call adding insult to injury…glad to have dodged the double-whamy. 

And I called my mother twice throughout the day because well, when you’re in pain, you want your mommy. She listened. She cared. She sternly told me that if the tooth abscesses, to get my ass back to the endodontist. Cue the Jann Arden song. Yay for my good mother. (Her voice is what keeps me here.) Of course she called this morning to check in on me. Of course she did. I am loved. 

Despite the title of this post, this particular predicament wasn’t what I would classify as a crisis. Let’s reserve that word for life-threatening situations only. This was more of a challenge. With a crisis or a challenge brings all kinds of opportunity. Yesterday I was given opportunities to marvel at the universe, see the gifts, connect with a like-minded soul, and to remember my true nature (which is joy).

Blessings received. Awareness achieved. Perfection believed.

The chinese character that is used for the word, crisis, is the same one used for the word, opportunity.

They are one in the same when you are wide awake and see beyond the drama.

Everything that comes your way is an opportunity to be the real you. Lightness. Laughter. Wonder.

Find your way “home” to JOY by slowing down and seeing how this crisis or challenge is happening for you.

Yay consciousness.

Big Love,

susan