Friday, November 25, 2011

Grateful for these Fine American Folks

In Canada, we celebrate our Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October. For more information on this, please visit the Canadian Heritage site or Wikipedia.

A visit to Twitter and it doesn't take long to realize just how BIG the Thanksgiving holiday is for our neighbours to the south.

In honour of American Thanksgiving, I'd like to devote this post to giving thanks:

1. To Twitter, for without this medium, I would not be writing this post.

2. To the following Americans who have, through their friendship, impacted me:

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter - As I once tweeted, Texas got another star when she moved there. Jacqui is gracious, generous and caring. One of her gifts is her ability to paint a picture with words - crafting a story that is personal, instructive and entertaining.

Carol Dunn - I am impressed with the depth of her concern for the well-being of others. I have pleasant memories of our time spent working together. Diffability is my salute to her.

Conrad Hake - I'm not sure if Conrad realizes the impact he had on me when he invited me to be a part of the Loose Bloggers Consortium. Delighted, encouraged, honoured and yes, even uncertain - how could I keep up with such skilled bloggers?

Conrad has the ability to make you act, cry, engage, laugh, think and reflect, and of course, write. Here is a post that caused me to do all that!

Steve Finikiotis - We haven't "spoken" much of late, but the "conversations" we have had have been meaningful to me. On his blog, Touchpoints, Steve enlightens us with his vast experience of working with cultures from distant shores.

Beth Havey - In Twitter-time, Beth is new to me. I hope I'm correct in saying that we're part of the "Mutual Admiration Society"! :) I am always learning something new on her blog, Boomer Highway.

Kayt Hoch - Although Kayt is no longer visible on Twitter, she is not forgotten. She unearthed the poets within the Twitter community with her daily poetry prompts that made it safe to take poetic risks and make them public. To read more of her positive influence: Playing with the Big Kids and Poetry Pollination.

G. L. Hoffman - He no longer has a Twitter account, but you can find out more about his adVentures on his blog, What Would Dad Say. His invite to write a guest post provided me with a powerful reminder. You can read about that on  Reverberational Effect.

I am also grateful for his generosity in sharing resources. You do know what I mean, right G.L.?

Rob Longert - We've shared a few tweets and a couple of emails. Rob's interest in getting and staying healthy is generously shared on his blog called Fit City.

I am grateful for his meaningful testimonial on LinkedIn.

Dorlee M. - Considerate. Courageous. Curious. Unselfish. Her tweets and blog are a reflection of her spirit.

Casper McFadden - This friendly and multi-talented ghost is quick to make an appearance when support is needed.

If you're so lucky to have this ghost in your court | @CasperMcFadden is one terrific good sport | Level-headed and oh, so smart! | This one's got a great big heart!

Rose Pena - I was inspired to write a post entitled Forgifting Yourself after Rose shared her family history with me. Thank you.

Zebra Finch - Despite on-going health challenges, Zebra Finch is a relentless advocate for those who don't have a voice. A generous nature - a big heart!

These are people with whom I've had the pleasure of speaking, sharing, learning, laughing, crying, caring. I may not regularly communicate with them, but I want them to know that they occupy real estate on my heart.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thank you for your friendship.

May your table be filled with food, your heart full of love, and your home a safe haven where good memories are made. Happy Thanksgiving!

Appreciation to Cecile Graat for the image.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Your Toe-Tappin', Time-Keepin' Heart

Image: Christian Ferrari
Blue Rodeo has been a favourite of mine ever since I first heard them in the eighties. I love them -  as a friend of ours would say - enthusiastically, unequivocally and wholeheartedly!

We had the pleasure of attending one of their yearly under-the-stars concerts in Malkin Bowl. Even the moon made a spectacular attendance on that warm September night in Stanley Park.

The playlist included all those Blue Rodeo tunes that have created a decades and generations long fan base. The songs are singable, danceable, memorable and memory-tickling; just hearing a song such as Five Days in May instantly transports me back to another time when I had fewer miles under my feet.

As I watched, sang, danced and swayed to all those Blue Rodeo favourites, I caught myself doing something that I don't usually do when I attend a concert.

I was looking for entrainment, which is what occurs when organisms synchronize their rhythms to the rhythms that are produced by another organism. At times, Jim Cuddy, Greg Keelor and Colin Cripps may have started out tapping opposite feet or either swaying left or right in time to the music. However, a few bars in, and their movements became synchronized, almost as if there had been a choreographer hiding off to the side, whispering get-it-together instructions.

Evidence of entrainment was found within the audience. You could see it occur during the songs, as row upon row of fans sang and swayed in time with the music, and with one another. Also, you could hear it at end of each song, when the applause changed from a disparate sound of clapping to a more unified and rhythmical sound.

Image: Doug Brown
During the seventeenth century, Christian Huygens, a Dutch scientist, made an important discovery about synchronization. He noticed that when set in motion, the pendulums of two clocks, suspended from a beam, would eventually synchronize and be heard at the same time. Even when the clocks were stopped and started again, they would soon resume the same rhythm.

Next time you take a walk through a farmer's field at dusk, listen for the synchronized crkcrkcrk sound - known as stridulation - that is made by crickets. Entrainment in nature.

Brainwaves have been classified into five categories based upon their electrical activity, which is measured in cycles per second (Hertz). Alpha, beta, delta, gamma and theta are identifiable by their frequencies. Your brain will shift through these states, dependent upon the task, much like you shift gears in a car with a manual transmission. Currently, there are a number of programs on the market which aim to entrain the brain, using auditory, and/or visual stimuli that will help the user balance the brain in order to achieve a more desirable state of being.

As I was writing this post, I thought of another example of entrainment. In fact, you may be familiar with it if you share a household with a number of women. The menstrual cycles of women who live in close proximity (think university dorm) have a tendency to synchronize.

When you regularly undress your stress, entrainment occurs with many of your bodily systems. It can be equated to that regular tune-up you get for your car - afterwards, it runs better and more efficiently because all parts are working well together, as intended.

Heart, respiratory system, heart rate variability, blood pressure rhythms. What would it mean to your emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health if you could synchronize these systems? Rather than "outsourcing", you can do some "insourcing" with a unique set of techniques and tools that empower you to live a better life.

In five one-hour sessions, learn how to address the cause of stress, simply by using that great "rhythm-master" - your heart!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Burnt Pot = Another Stress Lesson

I set the rice to boil, while I quickly went to edit a post on my new blog - A Rheumful of Tips. I was so engrossed with what I was doing that I forgot about the rice.

As you can see in the picture, I made quite a mess of the pot.

I could scrub and sweat and scrub some more, all in an effort to get that pot clean.

Instead, I used a trick my mom taught me.

Let denture cleaners do the work!

I'll bet you're wondering how I'm going to tie this in with stress.

Are you vigorously trying to scrub that stress away? In stress transformation, you're allowing, your heart to do the work.

Do you recall those times when you were in-the-flow? When answers came easily to you? When you slept soundly? When you felt a great sense of inner- strength?

Those are times when your heart sent messages of well-being to your brain, rather than releasing chemicals that trigger the stress response - that famous flight, fight or freeze response.

Learn and practise changing the way you think and feel so you change the way you think and feel.

How? Maybe this will help you remember the keys to stress transformation:

  • Awareness - if you don't know that the pot is burnt, you won't clean it. In stress, if you're not aware that you are frequently engaging in negative thinking and feeling, you won't know that you need to change it.
  • Knowledge - use tools and techniques that make it easier to scrub that pot. I can teach you how stress impacts your life and how to transform it using educational technology that shows you in real-time how your heart responds to how you think and feel.
  • Practice - no one wants to burn a pot just to practise cleaning it. Nor does anyone want more stress in order to practise transforming it. However, learning to change the way you think and feel is a skill. Learn the skill and your heart will take care of the rest - just like those denture cleaners did on my burnt pot!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Celebrations = Stress Transformation

I often have trouble hearing, especially if someone is speaking to me from behind. These new hearing aids of mine are performing well. Please read on to discover why.

Behind me, at the Olive Garden in Bellingham, there was a commotion of a celebratory nature. A couple was having lunch in honour of their seventieth (Yes, that is 7 - 0! ) anniversary. The staff, upon learning of this monumental milestone, poured out the compliments with the same amount of attention they provide when they wait on tables. To put the icing on the anniversary cake, the manager, Kara Mech, informed the couple that their meal was on the house, which was a complete and pleasant surprise to them. (If my hearing aids served me right!)

Image: Fleur Suijten
When I turned around to offer my congratulations to the couple, the woman told me that they had married young, and proceeded to describe their double wedding ceremony.

It was a touching moment on so many levels. The length of time that they had been married. The kindness and consideration shown to them by the staff at the Olive Garden. The generosity of the restaurant for picking up their tab.

It was an honour to share, if only from the sidelines, in their celebration.

One of the keys to transforming stress is to mark the important events in your life. Celebrations are more than what they seem. When you know what they can do for you, you may begin to look at them differently.

A stressed person may not have the energy to celebrate. They may feel like there is nothing to celebrate, anyway. Life can seem like it is too much work and effort. "Fun? That's for other people."

So, how do you crack through the ice to defrost that frozen-in-stress person? By starting small. By learning to balance your nervous system with techniques that activate the power of your heart. Things like honouring your values and scheduling time to do the things you love. Amping up your appreciation and forgifting yourself.

Celebration is another way. This doesn't mean that a party is thrown each and every time, with invites to the fĂȘte going to half the neighbourhood. You can do a private happy dance.Give yourself a little pat on the back for completing a small task. Smile. Begin honouring your successes - big or small. Privately, or with friends and family. With co-workers, too, as Dr. Ellen Weber beautifully explains in her post entitled "A Brain on Celebration".

With the right tools and techniques, celebrations make for a happy heart.

Care to share? Have you witnessed or been part of any celebratory milestones? What do you do to celebrate your small successes?