Friday, July 29, 2011

Google and Stress - Conversation Killers?

A gambit is a remark that is a conversation opener. One of the best ways to open a conversation is with a question.

"How are you?"

"What's new?"

"How, When, Where, Why do you...."  We use them all the time.

I love Google for the ease of finding answers. On Twitter, I've often thought about asking a question to help get the conversational ball rolling, but then I think, "Ah, it's just as easy to Google the answer."

Has Google stabbed a hole in the heart of the opening gambit? How often do you turn to Google for answers instead of asking a colleague, neighbour, friend or stranger?

I can't help but wonder if this has contributed to the discord that people feel. Many times I visit blogs where people express a discomfort in communicating. Like everything else, communication requires practise. That means it needs to be done, and often.

For some people, a question moves the focus onto the other person and unrolls the carpet of communication. This makes it an ideal tool for someone who suffers from shyness and wants to engage.

Would it change things for you if you looked at shyness as a way you use to protect yourself from further hurt? Perhaps a past social situation may have caused you embarrassment, or had some other strong negative consequence.

The amygdala, which remembers strong negative feelings, triggers the stress response when it senses a situation that is "close enough" to the original one. Without stress techniques in place, feelings of flight, fight or freeze take over. Rather than being in, and even enjoying the moment, the focus is on the ensuing feelings of shyness.

Becoming aware that this is happening and then implementing stress techniques does make a difference. You activate a different part of the brain, one that is not designed for flight, fight or freeze!

I worked with a grade four student who seemed as if she were shrinking into herself. Once she knew what to do, and practised it, the transformation was beautiful! By the end of the school year, her teacher remarked upon the change - she was volunteering answers and speaking up in class! Her grades improved, as well. She was claiming her space! 

What a joy! And she didn't need to go to Google, only to her heart!

If you would like to find out how to help your child overcome shyness and enhance performance, please email for further information.

Image courtesy of Ilker.

Friday, July 22, 2011


You need your lip balm. You must have it. Your lips are so dry. How will you ever survive without it?

If you feel as if your lack of lip gloss is making you balmy, there is a reason for this.

Did you know that you can get addicted to lip balm? Although it's not so much about the lip balm. It's the process or the behaviour. The feeling that if you don't have it, your oh-so-dry lips will crack and your world will crumble, or at least appear to do so.

Being addicted to lip balm is not the worst thing that can happen ... lip balm-makers will tell you that! Your lips are soothed, (try saying that word!) as are you.

When do you feel a need to put on lip gloss? Notice whether you are feeling out of sorts. Do you immediately feel a sense of "Ahhhh!", not only on your lips, but in your sense of well-being?

Many people have little, relatively harmless habits that they do to assuage themselves.

It's somewhat like The Tell that is spoken about in poker.

What is your Tell? Things like smacking your lips, circling your thumbs together when you are nervous or vigorously chewing gum. When do you do them? Ask your family and friends if they have noticed any habits. I'm sure they'll gladly tell you.

Image courtesy of Alicia Solario.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mirthful Monday - Punny Stuff # 2

A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.

Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.

Practice safe eating - always use condiments.

Shotgun wedding - A case of wife or death.

A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy.

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.


Thanks to Connie, a pun master in her own right, for sending me these puns.

Thanks to for this image.

Friday, July 15, 2011

You're Booked!

I was sharing a theory with my friend about how people are like books.

Some are like encyclopedias. Their lives are an A to Z of life experiences, filling many volumes with information, knowledge and skills.

Others cover a wide range of topics and interests. D.I.Y., drama, fiction, humour, horror, non-fiction, reference - it's all there, awaiting discovery.

It takes many types of books to fill a bookstore, just as there are many types of people that make up a community.

My friend started to laugh and asked about the book that is blank. Perhaps that blank book is like a journal, remaining in pristine conditions until the pages disintegrate from neglect. Or is that journal eagerly pulled off the shelf and filled with inspiration, colouring the world with hopes, dreams and vitality?

If you were a book, which type of book would you be? How many rewrites have you undergone?

Fortunately, it's never too late to issue a newer edition and change the contents and the direction of the Book of You.

Image courtesy of Judith P. Abrahamsem.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mirthful Monday - Backhanded Compliment

The ten year old I work with often comes out with comments that make me laugh. Last week was no different.

We were practising stress techniques while doing a cooking lesson. (A perfect way to practise the stress concepts is to do them in conjunction with a fun activity that is of interest to the child.) I mentioned that I would love to do a cooking show.

It didn't take him long. "I think you're too old to switch jobs like that. Besides, you'd be so busy that you wouldn't have time to work with me."

Compliments. Take 'em when and where you get 'em! :)

Image courtesy of Luca Baroncini.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Act Like a Royal

I seem to have come down with a fever. But don't worry, it's not serious. Perhaps you've heard of it? After all, it has made headlines around the world. It's reigning royal in Canada!

I'm not the only one who has caught this fever, judging by the crowds that line the streets wherever Will and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, make a public appearance.

My interest in Prince William and Catherine has surprised me. I have never much cared for the pomp and ceremony of the monarchy. I may have read the odd headline or caught the end of a broadcast, but that was the extent of my royal watching.

What is different this time around? I think it has to do with the commitment Will and Kate demonstrate, not only to each other, but also to those with whom they're engaging. The way in which Will gently places his hand on Kate's back as they enter a new environment. The hug they give each other after participating in dragon boat racing, as you saw in the above clip. The for-their-ears-only whispers in the core of a Canadian crowd.

Then there is the attention they generously share with the public, many of whom have been waiting for hours, if not days, in the hopes of shaking a hand, saying a few words or offering a gift. Compassionate, caring, genuine and curious are words that are repeatedly told to the media by those fortunate enough to have interacted with Kate or Will.

I think what people are feeling is that Kate and Will are truly living in the moment, fully embracing each situation with open hearts. Despite the huge number of distractions, they are each totally focused on the person with whom they're speaking. That's a skill that seems to come naturally to them.

How about you? Are you living each moment fully? When you are speaking with someone, are you thinking about work, your grocery list or whose turn it is to pick up the kids? Stress can impact your ability to be in-the-moment. It distracts you from putting your full attention on whatever it is you are doing. Feelings get hurt, conversations clipped, communication cut short and accidents too readily accessible.

Undress your stress and act like royalty. The people you engage with will certainly feel regal when you give them your undivided (and unstressed) attention.

For more coverage, check out Will and Kate in Canada.

Musically inspiring - Update 2012/01/12
By reading Your Toe Tappin', Time Keepin' Heart you'll know that I'm a fan of the band Blue Rodeo. When the Jim Cuddy band came to Vancouver, I eagerly bought tickets.

It seems that he was also impacted by Will and Kate. During his stellar performance at the Vogue on January 7th, he talked about the Royal Wedding and how it inspired him to write Everyone Watched the Wedding. (You can listen to it here.)

On another note
Kate and Will may have captured my heart, but they also starred in one of my dreams. I was surprised to get a phone call saying that Kate and Will were coming over for a visit. (All the more reason to make the house guest-ready!) When they arrived, they both sat on the couch, and in unison, sighed. One of them - I'm fuzzy on which one - told me that they both felt very comfortable in my presence and enjoyed the fact that they could relax and be themselves. That's high praise, even if it was in a dream! Time to go - I have a house to clean! :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mirthful Monday - What Are the Chances?

She said, "That drive is so boring, I could pull my eyelashes out!"

He said, "Did you know that the optometrist pulled out my eyelashes last week?"

Once they stopped laughing, this is what was discussed:

Trichiasis is a condition where the eyelash grows the wrong way and irritates the eye, potentially causing scarring or loss of vision. Dogs can also be prone to this condition.

Image courtesy of Vea Avernalis.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Intuition Calling!

Do you find yourself repeatedly thinking of someone or something throughout the day?

I did. For two solid days, thoughts of Megh, my cousin's sweetheart of a Golden Retriever, kept popping into my head. She had fallen down and had trouble walking.

A phone call brought the sad news that Megh had a very aggressive form of bone cancer and had to be put down. (A very similar set of circumstances to our dear Murphy.)

So what is it about these seemingly fleeting thoughts? In a word, intuition.

Pay attention to the frequency of the thought that pops into your head. Someone may be "calling", even though the phone isn't ringing!

Similarly, have you noticed that when you're thinking about someone, they contact you?

Did you know that you can develop this skill? When you quiet the "noise" upstairs (stress), you hear that quiet voice of intuition. Developing your intuition is a process and you can start now. Enroll in a five week program that provides you with the foundation to undress your stress and enhance your performance!

When has your intuition been strongest? Are there times when you didn't pay attention to your intuition? What were the results?

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Image courtesy of Robert Linder.