Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Is Your Heart Wrapped-Up Like Baba's Floral Couch?

I won't ever forget Baba and Dido's floral couch...carefully and lovingly wrapped in plastic. This was a prized possession and it needed to be protected.

My grand-parents immigrated to Canada in the 1920's with very few possessions. When they were finally able to save up enough money to purchase big ticket items (a couch being one of them), they did their utmost to ensure that it would last. What better way to protect the couch than to shroud it in a strong sheet of plastic?

But isn't furniture meant to be used? That means enjoying it and taking a risk that it may get stained.

How many of you have taken to wrapping your heart up in an effort to protect it? You may have been hurt before. You may not wish to go through that experience again. Although it may not be wrapped in plastic, it may as well be. Your heart (and you) begin to suffer. The stress of living in this fear-protection-based mode deprives you of the joys of life.

In an effort to keep yourself safe, you are, inadvertently, keeping out the good things that come your way. Fears may prevent you from seizing opportunities.

Imagine if you were shrouded in plastic, just like that floral couch. You would experience constriction and an inability to breathe caused by a lack of oxygen. Not dissimilar from the some of the side-effects of stress.

One of the amazing things that occurs when you begin to practise heart-based stress techniques is that the "plastic" seems to melt away. Some of your long-standing issues, are no longer issues.

Are you ready to strip away the protective plastic sheeting?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just Peachy!

Firm. Well-rounded. Tinged with a rosy blush of colour. They looked like the perfect peaches, so I purchased a pound.

WYSInotalwaysWYG! (What you see is not always what you get!)

One bite of what I thought was going to be a delectable peach certainly proved that statement to be true. These peaches were far from "just peachy"!

People can sometimes be like that, too. A perfect "outside" can mask the pain and stress swirling around "inside".

In an effort to make themselves feel better, their closets may be over-flowing, the make-up drawers bulging, the charge card bills growing and the bank account dwindling. (And, stress increasing.)

In an effort to assuage the "inside" hurt, they spend more and more on beauty products, services and clothing. It may help...for a short while. They look great, but the "outside" doesn't really address the deeper hurt. It may be that they don't feel like they are enough. Or perhaps all the shopping and spa'ing serves as a distraction...one that keeps them from looking at what is really going on beneath the beauty?

Self-care is important for health and well-being. It's fun to go to the spa or to get a few new items for the up-coming season. When one looks good, they generally feel more confident, but that feeling may soon be replaced by those other feelings - the ones that were hidden by the make-up and the fine clothes, that bubble up when the lights (of the make-up mirror) are turned off.

(A good example of the outside not matching the inside is when people have gastric bypass surgery and go on to develop another addiction after losing all the weight.)

Just as in life, there is a balance to beauty.

Did you know that stress ages? It also skews your balance. What might have once been moderate beauty and self-care rituals (spa, clothing, make-up, exercise, etc.) can cross into obsession or addiction.

Stress coaching can help. Learn how to hear and answer the call of your heart. Work from the inside and change the chemical cascade and improve how you feel - emotionally, mentally and physically.

Then, when you look in the mirror, you'll see the sparkle in your eyes, your glowing skin and you'll know that your inside is as peachy as the outside.

Image courtesy of Linda DuBose.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Witching To Ease the Pain

One year, the well on our farm dried up. My dad decided to call in a dowser.

I remember following this man with his forked stick as he walked in ever-increasing circles around our house, divining for water. I was amazed that the twitching of his stick indicated where to find an underground river that kept the house well-supplied with water.

I sometimes feel like I'm a modern-day dowser - not for water but for spotting people who are in pain, especially when they're at work.

Today, I was in a large Canadian-owned store and was surprised to see that the cashier had a stool. I remarked how progressive it was that she was allowed to sit at the till. She quietly confided that it wasn't without a fight. Apparently, her manager is not in agreement with this; but thanks to a note from a surgeon, she was the only cashier who was allowed a stool.

Standing in one position is very hard - not only for the feet, but the knees, hips and back. It is far easier to move or walk than to remain stationary, especially if you have mobility issues.

There is a movement afoot (pun slightly intended!) to increase inclusivity of people with disabilities. However, there is still a perception that cashiers must stand to do their work. I find this out-dated and restrictive.

This past year, a number of news anchors have had their chairs removed. I don't see why they need to stand in order to deliver the news? 

How many people suffer by having to stand in place for hours during their work shift? This takes a toll on the body - it creates stress and pain. It also exacerbates the situation.

What is your opinion? Have you had a similar experience?

For the curious, here is more information on dowsing.

Image courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

From Black and White to a Colourful Symphony of Sound

"I'm always looking for the next note I'm gonna hit and right or wrong, I'm heading for the next song - as in life, " tweeted Chris in a DM (direct message).

So sums up Chris' enthusiasm for the grand adventure that is life. His love of  music has provided him with an incredible propensity for resilience, which he uses in his business, emusicmotion.com, providing customized music for whatever your needs may be.

Chris kindly answered some of my questions:

When did you know you were going to be a musician? Who/what inspired you?

"I became musically aware at a young age. I was only five when Peter, my nine-year-old brother, died from hemophilia. My only memory of him was when he played the piano in the dining room. That memory left and indelible musical mark on my childhood. I remember climbing up on that piano bench and rolling my finger joints over the black keys. I always hit the same keys in the same way, with the same rudimentary results. My dad got the idea that I was interested in music at that tender, young age.

My father used to rock out on his accordion every night. I remember him for that - his fire and exhilaration, whenever he was on that thing - he was like the rock star in the family. He was also a stereo enthusiast and I still remember the day we went to the stereo shop and picked up a turntable with speakers. From then on, I was exposed to everything in his record collection: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, The Doors, Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles...

I also recall listening to Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence over and over again. Perhaps a metaphysical correlation to the fact that my mother is completely deaf? She knows what silence sounds like, and although she has never heard my music, she feels it with her hands and feet. To this day, she tirelessly supports my musical inclinations."

[Chris' mother also senses the joy that Chris exudes whenever he is playing music.

When you engage in activities you love, your "Internal Pharmacy" releases a very different set of chemicals. Positive thoughts and emotions have an impact on how you feel emotionally, mentally and physically. Learning to implement them is a powerful stress undresser.] 

I began piano lessons when I was eight. As a pre-teen, I was a big fan of Captain and Tennille. Watching Daryl Dragon (The Captain) man the helm of that giant stack of keyboards and synthesizers showed me the possibilities of those black and white keys. I remember being glued to the television, in awe of Dragon's musical abilities and versatility.

In 1976, I used the piano and started to decipher my favorite songs, note for note, beginning with Pablo Cruise's Zero to Sixty in Five. Three years of piano lessons gave me the basic theory. With the power of Album Oriented Rock, I discovered a manic love for music. I found myself immersed in the sounds of the keyboardists of that day, such as Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Kerry Livgren of Kansas, Rick Wakeman of Yes, Billy Joel and Jan Hammer (Miami Vice theme).

Jazz violinist, Jean-Luc Ponty, influenced me, as well. His pioneering of Jazz fusion and sound effects led me to explore other modes of musical expression with keyboards and synthesizer.

In the 80's, I became interested in the modernistic, arpeggiated sounds of Michael W. Smith and the soft, introspective colors of Michael Omartian. Ironically, I was head-over-heels in love with the rock group Rush and attended every concert I could. At that time, I was newly-married and had just joined the Service. I could not afford keyboards, so I just found places to play, such as recreational facilities that had pianos. 

I finally managed to hustle my first keyboard sequencer, the Korg 01-W Pro-X Music Workstation - basically, it was a keyboard that could imitate other instruments and record tracks within the keyboard. My first crude recordings were created."

In the late 80's and early 90's, Chris was residing in Washington State, an "inspiring and romantic place, especially during the winter". He took an interest in the New Age Movement and found himself shifting towards a "deeper and more feeling kind of music".

"Then a nightmarish divorce came about, in which I ended up living a nomadic, surreal life between '93 and '98. I consider this time to be the most crucial aspect of my inspiration - desperation in the midst of nowhere, with nothing to hold onto. I traveled across the mainland via car. I'd been driving from Arizona to New Mexico for fourteen hours at night, with what must have been thirteen cups of coffee. All I could see ahead of me was the roadway, illuminated by my headlights. Around five in the morning, I took a winding road into a desert valley.

The highway stretched thirty miles across a colossal bowl of desert terrain. In the twilight hours I could only see gray-scaled shadows of images of the road ahead. Then, the morning sun appeared, peeking over the valley. As it climbed above the horizon, the sunlight poured into the valley, colorizing everything it illuminated. Like a good omen, this was telling me there was hope ahead, in faith in the unknown. I remember being ecstatic for the rest of the day.

Which leads to the present. Somewhere between then and now, the music came gushing out and it's still a ketchup bottle with lots of ketchup left waiting to be shaken."

When and where do you feel most inspired? 

"A sunrise or a sunset is meditative. To paint a picture of them musically is like spreading jam on toast. Mental imagery leads to inspiration; as long as you listen to it."

Chris' senses are finely-attuned to the world around him. He uses what he loves to create his music, which in turn allows him to create more music. Those black and white keys help to inspire and colour the lives of others, in ways of which he may not even be aware.

Helen Keller once said, "The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."

Chris' audiences are fortunate. He takes what he feels in his heart and turns it into a beautiful symphony of sound...something they can feel in their hearts, through their ears.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ten Sneaky Little Health and Well-Being Tricks

1. You know that slowing down to eat allows time for your stomach to signal your brain that you are full. A good way to slow down is to ditch the fork and eat with chopsticks.

2. Long line at the store? Use this time to do some Kegel exercises, stretches and leg lifts. These are a few examples of exercises that aren't overly obvious.

3. You can easily reduce the salt in a recipe when it calls for cheese.

4. Long ago, I realised that a sandwich didn't need butter. Condiments like mustard or mayonnaise over-ride that buttery taste. So, why add extra fat? If you're having toast and jam, leave it to toast and jam.

5. Are you an impulse-shopper? Rather than getting angry at the long line-up. Use the time to reconsider your purchase. Do you really need that bag of chips or litre of ice-cream? Look at the line-up as the universe's way of helping you stick to your budget or diet!

6. A sure-fire way to ensure you get a walk or three in every day is to get a dog. They need to go regardless of whether or not you feel like it.

7. Struggling to fall asleep in the heat? Tuck an ice-pack or three into your pillow-case. You'll cool off surprisingly quickly and soon you'll be dreaming of swimming with the fish!

8. Always carry a healthy snack with you. For me, it's some fruit and a few nuts.

9. Are you getting enough water? If you don't like water, start by increasing the amount you drink by half a cup each day.

10. Red lights. A perfect time to check in on how you are breathing and feeling and make a positive shift. Learn how here.

Related Post: Ten Suggestions for Undressing Your Stress

Image courtesy of Vjeran Lisjak.