Friday, October 30, 2009

Forecasting ...

"Knife Arthritis". It felt like someone was taking a knife and sliding it back and forth, up and down, right through the middle of my bones.

This would occur, usually, whenever there was a change in barometric pressure. Along with that weather change, would be an emotional change.
  • Fear - Oh, no...is this flare-up going to be prolonged?
  • Worry - How much damage is being doing to my joints with this one?
  • Sadness - It's preventing me from doing what I want to do right now.
Rheumatoid arthritis - I have lived with it for 33 years.

What does it feel like? I've thought of a few things that may help you understand what someone goes through when they have this disease and they are experiencing a flare-up.
  • Tightly wind some elastics around your fingers. Then, put some heavy winter mitts on your hands. Now, open a carton of milk, a jar or unlock the door.
  • Put some marbles in your shoes. Put your shoes on. Go for a walk.
  • Bend your knees. Apply duct tape vertically along the front and back of your knees. Now straighten them.
How was that?

A flare-up means the disease is active and causing inflammation. It also affects the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Oh yeah, and energy. It sucks the life out of you. Everyday living tasks not only hurt, but are also next to impossible to do. (Don't ask me to open a bottle of water, much less a Tupperware container.)

The pain of rheumatoid arthritis varies and can include, but is not limited to, some of the following descriptions: throbbing, aching, sharp pain and dull pain. That is the querulous nature of the disease.

One thing I'm thankful for is that my "inner weather station" seems to be malfunctioning. Since I've learned about stress and work daily on transforming it, my flare-ups are further and fewer between, I am better at pain-management and I have more energy. I don't seem to react to the barometric pressure as I once did, either.

It stands to reason, because the constant activation of the stress response wears out the nervous system and high levels of cortisol, "the stress hormone", is connected to a number of medical conditions, including immune disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and fertility and menstrual problems.

If only I had known about this 33 years ago. I may not have had the pain, damage and surgeries. Like they say, better late than never.

That's why I started this business, to take people through this coaching program so that they can have some control over their "internal pharmacy", giving them more "fair weather" days.

Today's forecast: Note the stress on "today" - I am getting better at living in the moment. So much of my life was about fear and worry - past events and experiences which were dosed with a helping of creativity, magnified and then, projected into the future.

The way you think and feel is important for your "inner climate", which in turn, affects your "outer climate". What is the forecast in your world?

Related posts:
Image courtesy of Emre Nacigil

Please visit the blogs of Ashok, Conrad, David, Grannymar, Helen, Judy, Maria, Maria and Ramana to see what magic they've worked with today's topic, suggested by Conrad - Weather and Emotions.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Two Words Full of Heart

Thank you.

Some people have a great deal of difficulty in uttering these words, others say it with reckless abandon - without feeling or meaning. Then, there's those who are able to imbue those 2 words with care and appreciation.

Throughout our day and over the course of our lifetime, we fluctuate between all of those degrees of thank you. Until...

...you know that those two little words have a heart-full of meaning and a meaning full of heart. Feelings of gratitude and appreciation are good for you. You can actually see a change in your Heart Rate Variability - the way in which your heart speeds up and slows down.

When the rhythm is jagged, it means your system is out of synch. Like a car that needs a tune-up - you don't run as well.

One of the easiest ways to tune yourself up is to apply feelings of gratitude and appreciation. When you use them with in-the-moment techniques, your heart rhythms respond - they smoothen out and pull your other systems into synch.

What does that mean for you? Improved emotional, mental and physical health and well-being.

Isn't that something to be thankful for? I know I am!

Contact me to learn how you can transform your stress, improve your heart rhythms and feel and do better.

Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu

Friday, October 23, 2009

Heroes Take Flight

SupermanBatmanSpidermanFireballXL500RinTinTinLassie. (Repeat quickly, 5 times.)

It seems that, that's about the length of time today's super heroes last, regardless of whether they fly, swim, disarm, or morph.

A quick scan through the tv guide and it's evident that children are sorely missing out on the "When I grow up, I want to be just like _______." (See first sentence.) With the swinging door that is popular culture, today's hero rarely lasts a season. Incidentally, I think those heroes and their powers allowed the imaginations of children to take flight.

Who are the heroes of today - the ones that children look up to and want to emulate? Are they the "bad boys and girls", the crotch-grabbing dancers (When did this become acceptable?), the "Bling Bling" gang leaders or the Reality Show Wannabees?

Or, as my informal survey revealed, are they people such as, "Wayne Gretzky", "Obama", "My dad".

How wonderful if the heroes were those who have direct contact with the kids? An aunt, a teacher, mom or as my niece replied, "Dad." They're the ones who spend the time and model the behaviour that help to shape the next generation.

More often than not, they do not get the big headlines, appear on reality tv or command gigantic salaries - they are the ones who are there, behind the scenes, quietly cheering and gently (sometimes, not so gently) helping the young people take flight and reach new heights.

You don't need to fly, wear a cape or have super-human strength to make a difference and become an ordinary, everyday hero. In fact, you have everything you need to be that hero - ears to listen, eyes to see (and let them know they are visible) and arms to hug. Simple, isn't it?

Please visit the blogs of Ashok, Conrad, David, Grannymar, Maria, Maria and Ramana to see what magic they've worked with today's topic, as suggested by David - Heroes. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to our newest members - Helen and Judy.

Image courtesy of Ivan Petrov




Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Giving Up the Dead

It's been several years since I've said, "That just kills me." Also included in the pile of discarded phrases, "That makes me sick. - I'm so old."

In the past, I would utter these sorts of statements on a regular basis, without giving any thought to the internal changes that were set in motion by these free-flowing phrases.

Negative thoughts and emotions change your heart rhythms - they become jagged and send signals to the brain, which activates a cascade of 1400 chemical changes. All this, in order to deal with the stress and get you ready for flight or fight.

In this case, the stress is caused by your choice of language. Imagine that! The language you use can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It keeps you stuck and prevents you from reaching your full potential. There is an increase in stress when you use phrases that are non-supportive to your health and well-being. By training yourself to change your self-talk and choose more health-enhancing language you change your heart rhythms - to ones that are smooth.

Heart Rate Variability - the way in which the heart speeds up and slows down - was initially developed in the 60's to predict infant mortality. It is now used as a general predictor of health.

You can have control over your heart rate variability by becoming aware of your thoughts, emotions and language, learning why this is important and what to do about it and getting lots of practice with your target behaviours.

Smooth heart rhythms are good for you - emotionally, mentally and physically. So give up the dead and embrace the language that enhances your life - giving you more of what you want from life.

Photo courtesy of Rob Harry




Friday, October 16, 2009

Collections


Collections - reflections of a life gone by
Memories and objects, of things we hold dear
Some cherished, some discarded, some gone awry
Personal or public, it's all right here

Collections - reflections of a childhood dream
Rocks and dolls, stuffed animals and furry friends
Comfort or curiosity, building steam
Poof! Time is gone, they look through a new lense

Collections - reflections of a life well-spent
Photos and music, friends and family, too
Successes, mistakes, memories set in cement
Clear the dust, a final breath, time to renew

Loose Blog Consortium: Please visit the blogs of Conrad, David, Grannymar, Maria, Maria and Ramana to see what magic they've worked with today's topic, as suggested by Maria - collections/collecting. Ashok will not be joining us this week. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to our newest members - Helen and Judy.

Image courtesy of Margaret Young

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Diffability


Dear Oxford Dictionary,

As you are regularly in the habit of either expunging or adding to your esteemed tomes, I'd like to propose a word that was first brought to my attention by Carol Dunn on Twitter.

As she so eloquently stated, "We are all diffabled in some way." I concur.

Some of my random thoughts about diffability:
  • One person's strength is another's weakness.
  • It's the yin and yang of life.
  • It's what multiple intelligences are all about.
  • It keeps things interesting.
If the Urban Dictionary has recognized it - it's time for you to set the presses!

Sincerely yours,
Marianna Paulson

She's smart and she's artistic
That @Caroldn is also linguistic
For your safety, she deeply cares
Providing tips on managing your affairs

Carol is one smart, creative and caring woman. I am forever grateful to her for generously sharing her artistic and technical abilities. You can see her work of genius at www.AuntieStress.ca

Image courtesy of Jixue Yang



Friday, October 9, 2009

NOW!


"I want it NOW!" Most of us are familiar with the demands and subsequent tantrums of young children when they don't get what they want.

Instant banking. Cell phones. Fast food. Same day delivery. High-speed internet. Are we becoming conditioned to expect things immediately and if we don't get them when we think we should get them, we have our own version of a tantrum?

Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin's book contrasting new marketing with the old, brings up two important points, which I think contribute to our sense of overwhelm and affect our ability to be patient and tolerant when we don't get our way:
  1. Our time is precious and we simply do not want to wait. Force us to wait and we'll go elsewhere.
  2. Our attention spans shorten due to the increasing amount of clutter which surrounds us.
In his 1970 book, Future Shock, Alvin Toffler explains that "technology feeds on itself." Improvements in technology shortens the time between the conception of the idea and the distribution of the finished product. The process is hastened and we've come to expect more from ourselves and also, from our machines.

Toffler discusses the acceleration of change, which shortens the duration of situations and multiplies the number of roles we must play and the number of choices we must make in any given day. He goes on to say, "There is more switching back and forth, less time for extended, peaceful attention to one problem or situation at a time."

This overwhelming sense of too much to do and not enough time in which to do it can be a huge source of stress. Some people are well-equipped to handle this load, but many find that they are succumbing to the constant wear and tear on their nervous system. Our perceptions of the events in which we find ourselves trigger the flight, fight or freeze response. This leads to any number of concerns, including, but not limited to:
  • poor sleep
  • worry
  • frustration
  • anger
  • aches and pains
  • foggy thinking
"In general, the hair-trigger condition created by adrenocortical arousal explains why people are so much more prone to anger if they have already been provoked or slightly irritated by something else. Stress of all sorts creates adrenocortical arousal, lowering the threshold for what provokes anger," explains Daniel Goleman on page 60 in Emotional Intelligence.

Ironically, it is the word "now" that plays a significant role in how we can treat the source of our stress. In each given moment, we have the power to choose whether we will act or react to that particular situation. Becoming aware of the stress process and knowing what to do in order to calm the flight, fight or freeze response is empowering. Resilience is restored and one is able to take a more measured and reasonable approach to the encroaching march of time.

Questions for further thought:
  • Are you addicted to newer, faster, further, better?
  • At what point do you say enough?
  • Have you heard yourself saying, "I want it NOW!" for things that realistically, can wait?
  • How has your life been impacted by the increasing speed of the world?
  • Do you have skills in place to help you cope?
Loose Blog Consortium: Please visit the blogs of Conrad, David, Grannymar, Maria, Maria and Ramana to see what magic they've worked with today's topic - speed. Ashok will not be joining us this week.

Image courtesy of Frédéric Dupont.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fogged-in Parking Spots

"You cheated!" exclaimed a fellow-networker when she saw the prime parking space I had secured.

I simply replied, "Less stress!"

With less stress you notice more of the right things that need noticing. In addition to finding great parking spots, you'll be able to take advantage of those seemingly serendipitous moments.

Imagine that you are driving along a lonely country road on a dark foggy night. You lean forward in your seat, as if by getting closer to the road you'll be better able to see through the fog. Sadly, no matter how hard you change your position or squint your eyes, your vision will not improve until the fog lifts.

It is not uncommon for people to describe themselves as being in a fog when they are stressed. Stress diverts your attention from what matters to what is stressing you. Add in fatigue and other symptoms that are indicative of stress and things like parking spaces go unnoticed.

A tip to help you clear the fog:
  • Become aware of your thoughts and emotions. How often are you worrying, feeling sadness, fear or any other negative emotions?
For now, it is enough to notice your patterns without judgment. Once you recognize when you do certain things, you can learn some techniques to replace those behaviours and find those parking spots. Without cheating.

Related post: Right Place - Right Time

Image courtesy of Maxime Perron Caissy

Friday, October 2, 2009

Restaurant? Mais, Oui!

So many different angles to take on this week's blog topic. Do I write about the plethora of wonderful restaurants available here in the Vancouver area? Another possibility is to talk about the restaurants that we have visited in other parts of the world. I even began a post about the restaurant I would open, if I didn't have *SSWB Syndrome.

All week, I stewed over what to write. As Murphy's time draws near, my heart just isn't into writing...until we went for a walk. My walks with Murphy have always been a source of inspiration for me. As abbreviated as the walks have become, today was no different. A soupçon of an idea began to sauté...

The word "restaurant" comes from the Old French word restorer meaning "to restore". Food is that great restorer; not only of energy, but also of spirit. It serves to unite us during times of celebration. Many family, friend and corporate occasions are fêted with a trip to a restaurant or banquet hall. During times of grief, the preparation of food serves as a distraction. Sharing that food with others not only helps ease the pain but also acts as a balm to soothe the grief.

As wonderful as it is to eat at the tables of chefs of varying degrees of renown, some of my most memorable meals have been at the tables of friends and family. These meals are prepared, not for remuneration, but simply for the sharing of one's table and companionship. The truest sense of table-d'hôte.

Come sit at my table while I serve up a few of my meal memories:
  • Mom was always quick to offer a seat at our table, whether it be to the friends that I brought home from university, neighbours who happened to stop by or the workers who helped during haying season. It was never any problem to put another chair at the table nor to add additional items to the menu to ensure that everyone walked away well-satiated.
  • That "restaurant" gene has been passed on to my sister and brother. Whenever I visit - not often enough - the meals are nutritious and there is usually something new to tempt the palate.
  • A Ukrainian grandmother (Baba) meant that each week, we would have home-made perogies and cabbage rolls (holoptsi). When I reflect back at the perfection that came out of that wood stove, I am sorry that I took that all for granted.
  • Birthday dinners lovingly prepared by Mom, my mother-in-law or my friends. Thank you for taking the time and energy to put your love into meals and celebrating another year of life with me!
  • Whenever we would visit my aunt, we'd have "Kaye's Lunch". It could be the salmon my uncle had caught and canned, slices of cheese from the Dutch store, yesterday's roasted chicken, the last of the garden's gifts and blackberries we picked along the way, served up with some ice-cream. It was a clean-out-the-fridge meal - one we always looked forward to having.
As I finish this post, I notice that my spirit has been restored, simply by stirring up those wonderful memories. Those French were on to something when they coined the word "restaurant"!

*SWB Syndrome: Strong Spirit, Weak Body Syndrome - as in the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. In my case, my joints are weak.

Loose Blog Consortium: Please visit the blogs of Conrad, David, Grannymar, Maria and Ramana to see what is on offer. Thanks to Grannymar for today's topic - Restaurants. Ashok will not be joining us this week.