Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Are you looking for me?

I haven't gone too far. In fact, you may have already visited me on my Auntie Stress site, which is a work in progress.

Now, you'll be able to access both blogs, Auntie Stress Cafe (formerly known as Change of Heart Stress Solutions) and A Rheumful of Tips, as well as learn about some exciting new developments as they unfold.

I'll be looking (out) for you. :)

Auntie Stress

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mirthful Monday - New Definitions - 1

1. ARBITRATOR: A cook that leaves Arby's to work at McDonalds.

2. AVOIDABLE: What a bullfighter tried to do.

3. BERNADETTE: The act of torching a mortgage.

4. BURGLARIZE: What a crook sees with.

5. CONTROL: A short, ugly inmate.

6. COUNTERFEITERS: Workers who put together kitchen cabinets.

7. ECLIPSE: What an English barber does for a living.

8. EYEDROPPER: A clumsy ophthalmologist.

9. HEROES: What a guy in a boat does.

10. LEFTBANK: What the robber did when his bag was full of money.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Eighteen Easy Ways To Be Kind

Kindness - it's in you to share, and research is proving why a liberal sprinkling of kindness is not only good for those who are on receiving end, but is also good for you.

I tuned in on Anderson Live at just the right time last week. Here, psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman and Goldie Hawn explain how kindness affects the brain.

Under stress, or duress, kindness often evaporates. The pressure squeezes and reshapes the person that you are, so that you become unrecognizable to yourself and others. This ability to portray another person is much admired on the stage, but in real life - not so much. The great news is that you can rewrite the script by simply using the power of the heart. A daily, mindful practise produces profound changes. When you understand how powerful an act of kindness is and how it affects not only your brain, but your heart, you will feel compelled to go back for more helpings.

Here is a short list to get you started:
  1. Notify the website owner if you notice that something isn't working on their website.
  2. Stopped at an intersection? Safely move over to the left just enough to allow the car behind you to make a right turn.
  3. Hold the door open for someone.
  4. Scrape off your neighbour's windshield in the morning.
  5. Done with your magazine? Share it with your someone else.
  6. If you notice a tripping hazard, such as a curled over mat, straighten it out.
  7. Inform the management if you see an area where safety or accessibility improvements could be made.
  8. Write a thank you note.
  9. Did the letter carrier accidentally place your neighbours' mail in your letter box? Take it to them, rather than returning it to the post office.
  10. Let someone know if you heard a good thing about them.
  11. Call a friend just because.
  12. Clean up after yourself at work - wash your own dishes and put them away.
  13. If you're able to, offer your seat on the bus to someone who looks like they need it.
  14. When you're on your cell phone, leave the room, or speak quietly.
  15. If someone behind you in the line-up only has one item, and you have a full cart, let them go ahead.
  16. When someone drops something, help them pick it up.
  17. When visiting with a friend, be fully present. (Turn your phone off or to vibrate and let the answering machine get it.)
  18. Transform your stress.
To learn more about stress and how to transform it, please email me.

Please tell us how you sprinkle your day with kindness.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mirthful Monday - One-Liners - Part 1

If you're not familiar with the work of Steven Wright, he's the guy who once said: "I woke up one morning and all of my stuff had been stolen...and replaced by exact duplicates." His mind sees things differently - to our amazement and amusement. 

I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize. 

Borrow money from pessimists - they don't expect it back. 

Half the people you know are below average. 

99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name. 42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot. 

A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.

~Source Unknown

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mirthful Monday - The Man Cold

When you undress your stress, you lessen improve your immunity.

Stress dampens natural killer cell cytotoxic activity. (NK cells affect the immune system and provide protection from viral infections and cancer cells.)

Get the “Auntie-dote” from me, Auntie Stress.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mirthful Monday - Oh, Those Catty Engineers!

Thanks to Laurel for this one.

If you're in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and are looking for a feline addition to your household, Kitty Kare have cats and kittens to spare.

If you're not, do consider a pet from your local animal shelter. Feeling good, courtesy of four legs and fur.

Related post: Heart of Gold Leads to Second-Chance "Tails".

Friday, September 7, 2012

Stress, Seniors and Care Decisions

If you had a chance to view an episode of W-5 entitled "Senior's Moments", you may wish to reconsider sending your loved one, or yourself, into a care home.

Your time may be fractured as you look after an ailing relative, while working, taking care of your family and/or dealing with your own health issues.

How do you cope with the stress of doing it all? By not shifting into over-drive - that panicky, hyperactive go-go-go state that is unsustainable. Access a calmer, more intelligent and systematic way of dealing with each hurdle, of which there can be many. Learn to balance your nervous system and undress your stress so that you can not only feel better, but make better-informed decisions. Decisions that may affect the quality of life one experiences in the twilight years.

Not everyone is able to stay at home because of the nature of their health, nor may they be able to afford at-home care, in which case the next step would be to move into a care home.

Dependent upon the situation, you may wish to consider a medical alert service. This service may help to postpone a move into a care home. 

Below, is a guest post from Rescue Alert of California, providing tips to help you choose the best service for yourself, or for your loved one.

How to Find an Unbiased Medical Alert Review

Those who are trying to find a good medical alert for the first time may feel that the information they are being given by the alert system provider’s sales representative might not be the big, complete picture. They commonly resort to reading up on the alert system reviews they can find online. But as a single online search could turn up hundreds, even thousands of such reviews, how do you sift through all the information? 

Here are a few no-nonsense tips to help you determine not only if the
review is unbiased, but also to know where to proceed from the lead given by a review.

Are the reviews factual or merely opinion? It is a simple matter to determine which is fact and which is opinion—you simply have to read between the lines, so to speak. A factual review will mostly discuss in detail the actual features of the product or service—the underlying technology used by the system, the personnel training, the recorded response time of the personnel to every emergency alert, even professional or industry affiliations and certifications received. If you cannot find these “facts” throughout the text of the review, or if the review relies too much on anecdotes or testimonials without any sufficient supporting evidence to back up the claims, then it is likely that the review is not independent and is being produced by a shill. 

Be aware if the review you are reading tries to manipulate your emotions too much; be conscious of certain buzz words that tend to push your emotional buttons. A good alert system can stand on its own list of features.

Is the information being provided to you updated? Most alarm system providers use telemarketers or sales representatives who aggressively try to sell the product or service. If you encounter one, do not immediately whip out your credit card or money—check to see if the alarm provider’s website has updated information. 

The industry of personal emergency systems is largely unregulated, but occasionally, certain cities or states release or promulgate a new rule or ordinance concerning the dispensation of such personal alarm systems. The review may not contain the new ordinance, or may even intentionally omit it to the alarm provider’s advantage. 

The point is, whether you are reading a review or reading the contents of the alarm provider’s website, make sure you are dealing with updated information.

Does the review recommend several personal alarm providers, or only one?
One obvious red flag that indicates a review may be totally biased is if it mentions or exhaustively discusses the features of only a single company. Any reviewer worth their salt should go to great lengths to keep it fair and independent, which means they should try to at least discuss the leading alarm providers, if not all (even the smaller players). 

A review that provides an easy-to-understand graph or chart where the features of several different alarm providers are indicated side by side is best—you can easily see which alarm provider can best address your specific needs.

Does the review site have a disclaimer or a disclosure? A good, independent review site will disclose their source of information. They will also say if they have any business affiliation with the company they are reviewing. Such information disclosure may not affect the site that is being reviewed (after all, if the alarm provider is good, it will still have a good review whether or not the reviewer is affiliated with it or not), but knowing if a business relationship exists between the reviewer and the company being reviewed can help you determine the extent of trust you can invest in the review.

Does the reviewer have a clear, easy-to-understand rating system? A rating system is not an absolute necessity, but it helps in giving you an “at a glance” idea of where the alarm provider stands in the scheme of things. Also, a rating system also indicates that the reviewer cares about its reader’s convenience.

There are many good medical alert reviews online, but you have to take them with a grain of salt and with your own wits intact—use your own sense of critical thinking in order to determine the best course of action for your own advantage.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Get Well Soon

It arrived in the mail; so rare in this age of email, Twitter and Facebook.

It had the heft and shape of a card, which it indeed was.

Cheerfully written across the front were the words "Get well soon!"

"Hmmmm," I thought. "Am I sick? Why am I receiving this card?"

I was enlightened when I read the carefully scribed personal note. This card was wishing me well after I broke my arm in a car accident, several weeks before. At that point, I think the cast had been on for four weeks.

It's interesting how I had we forget when we can heal from some injuries. Think about a paper cut. At the time, that little slice into your skin can be quite painful. But, soon healing occurs and you've forgotten all about it.

Yet with other injuries, whether they be physical or emotional, we hold on to the hurt, reluctant to relinquish that familiar, yet not so pleasant pain. Partly responsible, is a small gland called the amygdala - it registers and recalls situations that deeply hurt. When it finds one that looks close enough to the original offending scenario, the stress response kicks in, ready to save the day, ready to save you.

But how efficient is this when the scenario may not necessitate the big guns? 

One way to work around this is to pause long enough to realistically evaluate the situation. Recruit the power of your heart to change the chemical cascade so that you aren't soaking in those stress hormones - the ones that can disturb your sleep, make you cranky, disrupt your energy flow and make you give bliss a miss.

Back to the accident and my broken arm . . . I started stress techniques the minute I got out of my vehicle. Not only did it help with the pain, but it also helped to diffuse the memory of that event.

You see, I did get well. Soon, too.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mirthful Monday - A Party, a Scientist and a Surgeon

What happens when a rocket scientist and a brain surgeon attend the same party?

Thanks for sharing the laughter, Kathrin.

Friday, August 24, 2012

How To Ignite Your Creativity - Twelve Tips

Image courtesy of Dimitri Castrique.

  1. Read the newspaper, blogs and magazines. An article you read may very well be the prompt you need to get you started on a topic. This one was prompted by a tweet from Christian JohannsenThe Joys and Health Benefits of Pet Ownership.
  2. Spend some time reading the works of someone whose style you admire. In addition to published authors, check out the tweets and blogs of the people you know. Here are three people whose works inspire me: Kathrin Hardie, Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter and Beth Havey.
  3. Listen to CBC radio. My April newsletter was inspired by CBC's DNTO (Definitely Not the Opera).
  4. Find some artistic challenges on blogs, Twitter or Facebook. Several years ago, Kayt Hoch offered up a daily poetry prompt. Although I didn't "play" daily, it helped spark a new direction for my writing. Here's one that @Accrete recently shared with me: Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt.
  5. Location. Location. Location. Move away from your usual environment. Different sights, sounds and scents will send you down new creative pathways. Many a blog post has been written in various coffee shops in the Lower Mainland.
  6. Go and do something totally unrelated to the project which you're struggling to start or complete. Even for five minutes. Play. Wash the dishes. Dance.
  7. Let Mother Nature wrap you up in her arms. Do some Forest Bathing. Leave technology behind. I know you can do it.
  8. Listen carefully whenever anyone pays you a compliment about your creative abilities. Suspend judgement. Quiet the inner critic. Don't question why someone is praising you. Just believe it.
  9. Travel. The same principles apply as in Tip #5, whether it be to a land far away or within your city. A week in Hawaii resulted in several posts: Hawaii 5 Ohhh! - Part 2.
  10. If you're writing, speak it aloud as you write. I'm doing that now. It helps to hear how the words sound outside of your head.
  11. Change your medium. Pick up a pen and fire up those nerves (and your creative genius). Here is an interesting article about this topic: Sign your name across your brain.
  12. Undress your stress. Don't let the flame of inspiration fizzle out faster than that last match on a camping trip. If you are constantly focused on the things that stress you, you may not be aware of myriad of sources of inspiration that permeate your world.

    Tips #1 to #11 may not count for as much when the *IBSC is working overtime. You're too tired, too angry, too frustrated, too depressed, too everything to be creatively productive.

    The common denominator will all these tips and stress undressing is how you feel. When you feel better, creativity soars.

    Here are Ten Suggestions for Undressing Your Stress. Remember that unless you implement them, they're not going to do you much good. Auntie Stress is here to help. Please email me for further information.

    *ISBC - A client once told me that when she is stressed, she knows that the Itty Bitty Sh**** Committee is working full out.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mirthful Monday - Lexiphiles - Part 3

When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.

He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.

When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye.

Acupuncture: a jab well done.

~ Source Unknown

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hawaii 5 Ohhh! - Part 2

5 Things to Take With You On Vacation
  1. Personal travel mugs and travel cutlery. It's a small way to reduce your ecological footprint, especially if you're going to enjoy the epicurean delights that are on offer at the markets.
  2. A Swiss Army Knife. It comes in handy when you make those market purchases, or gather some fruit that practically falls into your hands.
  3. A few clothes pins to keep those towels and suits in place when they're drying on the lanai.
  4. flashlight. I was glad I had mine when the power went out one night.
  5. Extra layers for the plane. 
Waipio Valley
5 Highlights
  1. A session of Watsu®-Waterdance®, beautifully integrated with Trager Approach® Principles from Sarah Lynn Joy. Please see #318 - An Unexpected Journey to Joy. Whether you have a chronic condition or hurt because unlike mine, your husband didn't forbid you from doing any of those energetic activities from Part 1. The place to go to feel better is Deep Wave Healing.
  2. Volcanoes National Park - their Visitor Centers, plus points of interest make the $10.00 admission price a good bargain.
  3. Ahalanui Park - a swim in this spring and ocean-fed geothermal pool makes for a refreshing break. Unfortunately, we ran out of time or I would have explored the Kapoho Tidal pools.
  4. Macadamia Nut Mahi Mahi. The best we had was at The Fish Hopper in Kona.
  5. Snorkelling - always a plus for me!
Ahalanui Park

5 Reasons a Change of Scene is Good for Me
  1. I learn about new things, like VOG, or volcanic smog. Vog is carried from Kilauea in south-westerly direction by the trade winds. It is seen and smelt along the Kona coast.
  2. Travel provides great blog fodder. Happy Jetting with West Jet, An Unexpected Journey to Joy, Merry at the Marriott King Kamehameha Hotel, plus several other posts in the making.
  3. It deepens my ability to go with the flow and expect the unexpected.
  4. I love to travel, but travel also allows you to appreciate the positive qualities of home.
  5. It gave me an opportunity to observe how my anxiety began to rise and how knowledge, coupled with techniques turned things around for me.

    As we headed south from Kona, we soon left the land-before-time tropical scenery behind, and entered a large area that looked as if someone had fun with black spray foam. Lava, as far as the eye could see, with only hints of new growth reaching for the sky.

    As we drove, I noticed that in addition to getting edgy, I was also becoming car sick. There's a reason why I don't ride roller-coasters and this road could have qualified as one, albeit one for toddlers.

    It wasn't until I had gained more information from the Visitor's Centers at Volcanoes National Park that I realized a big part of my unease was caused by the fear of what might be. My imagination was working overtime; I was anticipating a major eruption, any minute. I now know that those volcanoes are very well monitored and that there are things one can do, should Madame Pele, Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, become enraged.

    Once again, education and preparation makes a difference.

    How have you benefitted from a change of scenery?

Flight home. Aloha!
Related posts:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hawaii 5 Ohhh! - Part 1

The Big Island of Hawaii is so diverse; in weather, topography, people and activities. You'll even see signs for Nene and Donkey Crossings on your travels around the island.

I'll hope you'll enjoy my impressions of the-week-that-wasn't-quite-long-enough on The Big Island.

5 Things I Would Have Loved to Do
  1. Balanced and dipped on a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP), or in Hawaiian, Hoe he'e nalu.
  2. Zoomed along on a Zip-line. 
  3. Rented a scooter
  4. Parasailed
  5. Paddled an outrigger canoe.
It's a case of the spirit being willing, but the flesh weak, however. In more practical terms, it was hubby declaring that he doesn't want to see me go the Emergency Department. Again.

Realistically speaking, I know that these activities are verboten with hip replacements, fusions and weak joints; the legacy of rheumatoid arthritis. A girl can dream, can't she?

Why is it so hard to get a picture of me with my eyes open? East coast of Hawaii with a small tidal pool to the left.

5 Must-Sees and Dos
  1. A walk under the canopy of tropical trees. Make sure you also look down, as well as up. There's a bounty of succulent fruits, including my favourite - Liliko'i (Passion fruit). 
  2. Volcanoes National Park.
  3. Markets abound in Hawaii - stop in for fresh produce and unique made-in-Hawaii goods. The local papers and guidebooks list days and locations.
  4. Spend some time driving around the entire island; just make sure you stop at points of interest along the way.
  5. A water excursion of some sort - sail, jet-ski, zodiac, outrigger canoe. There's a number of providers offering these services.
We saw these along the side of the road. Does anyone know what they are?

Not exactly what comes to mind when you think of Hawaii, but these market-purchased tomatoes werequite possiblythe best I've ever eaten.
Just one of the many facts you'll learn at the Visitor's Center in Volcanoes National Park.

5 Products/Services I Love
  1. Positive Drive Fins - I saw these on some of the swimmers. I'm thinking about ordering a pair.
  2. Kona Bay Books (and Cd's and DVD's). I can't go by a bookstore without making a detour. This was one detour will worth taking!
  3. An Unexpected Journey to Joy, thanks to Deep Wave Healing by Sarah Lynn Joy at Kalani.
  4. Kona Brother's Coffee - not acidic, like a number of different cups I sampled. 
  5. Kona Natural Soap Company - each morning, it's a bit of Aloha in the shower.
The sense of smell is a powerful memory trigger. It is connected to the Limbic System of the brain, which affects emotion. If you wish to relive your wonderful vacation, I suggest bringing some scentful things—like Kona Brother's Coffee and Kona Natural Soap—home with you. Your sense of smell triggers those pleasant memories. Revisiting them is a powerful stress undresser when you augment it with heart power.

Pool at Kalani. The Watsu Pool, where Sarah Lynn Joy does Deep Wave Healing is beside this one.
To be continued. Aloha!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mirthful Monday - Lexiphiles - Part 2

Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I'll show you A-flat miner.

You are stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

Local Area Network in Australia : The LAN down under.

A boiled egg is hard to beat.

When you've seen one shopping centre you've seen a mall.

Police were called to a day care where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

Did you hear about the fellow whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.

If you take a laptop computer for a run you could jog your memory.

A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.

~ Source Unknown

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mirthful Monday - Lexiphiles - Part 1

To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles , U.C.L.A.

The professor discovered that her theory of earthquakes was on shaky ground.

The batteries were given out free of charge.

A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.

A will is a dead giveaway.

If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

~ Source Unknown

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hearing and Stress, Stress and Hearing

Image courtesy of Jean Scheijen. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/vierdrie

Hearing loss and stress have a number of similarities.

To discover what they are, I invite you to read my guest post, Hear! Hear!, which was published on the blog of Gloveman Supplies, Ltd.

Friday, July 20, 2012

More Like a Cabbage Than an Onion

When you are learning, changing and growing, the process is often compared to peeling away the layers of an onion. You may think you're done when you get through one layer, but there it is, another layer, lying in wait, ready to be peeled back.

I remember once asking a workshop leader whether I'd be "done", once I healed from an event. The answer was swift. "Not if you're lucky." Life is a process, living it means that we continue to learn, change and grow.

However, I think that a cabbage better describes this process. The layers in an onion are concentric and evenly spaced; they're easily peeled off, too.

Personal growth, can be easy, at times.Yet, other layers can be messy and difficult to peel back. You don't know what you'll find until you get there. The layers are uneven, just like the cabbage.

Perhaps, the personal growth comparison to the onion has more to do with the tears than the layers?

What do you think? Onion or cabbage?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mirthful Monday - Pinterest

Sometimes, when you're alone and life is making you lonely, you have to stop what you're doing and just belt it out.

Here are three of my favourite singing scenes, which I've added to a Pinterest board called "Sing It!".

So, go ahead, take a break, turn up the speakers, pick up the microphone and sing it! You know you wanna! ;)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mirthful Monday - Why, Why, Why?

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting weak?

Why do banks charge a fee due to insufficient funds when they already know you're broke?

Why is it that when someone tells you that there are one billion stars in the universe, you believe them but, if they tell you there is wet paint, you have to touch it to check?

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why did Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose cruel idea was it to put an "s" in the word "lisp"?

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Why is it that, no matter what colour bubble bath you use, the bubbles are always white?

Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

Why do people run over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the first end you try?

How do those dead bugs get into enclosed light fixtures?

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

~ Source Unknown

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Change of Heart

Life. A matter of perception. Stress transformation allows you to view the world a little differently, often with big results.

Here are some examples:
  1. Initial Impression - A colleague who is making more errors than usual.
    Change of Heart - You learn that they are dealing with a terminally ill family member.
  2. Initial Impression - You are stuck in traffic going over the bridge. You're worried that you will be late.
    Change of Heart - As you inch your way over the bridge, you later discover that the reason for the slow progress is a serious medical emergency.
  3. Initial Impression - (Here is one of a personal nature.) It is my policy to follow-up with the parents after I've finished working with their child. This particular time, I didn't get a return call. I started to worry (worry = stress), thinking that they weren't happy with what I did. Self-doubt began to incubate. Change of Heart - Two weeks later, I received a call, saying a) that they had been out of town and b) that my young client was doing exceptionally well. (I have since learned to step off the treadmill of worry, in circumstances such as this one.)
A change in perception can make a difference to you (and to those around you). It gives you an opportunity to offer up the gift of compassion, which is a powerful stress undresser.

When has a change of heart benefitted you?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Forest Bathing

Often, a foreign language will have a term that succinctly and exquisitely describes a thought, a feeling or an experience. For example, I wrote about Shibumi, a Japanese word which describes the sophistication of simple things.

A new Japanese word was presented, all thanks to wait in the doctor's office, and a flutter through the June issue of the Oprah magazine.

Shinrin-yoku or "forest bathing" is the Japanese practice of spending time in the forest. 

According to this study from Tokyo's Nippon Medical School, participants showed an increase in disease-fighting white blood cells.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your walk in the woods:
  1. Leave your music behind. Instead, choose to listen to the symphony of sounds - the drumming of an industrious woodpecker; the hoohoooohooooo of an owl, up too early; the shhhshshsh of rain as it sluices through the leaves; the distant whistle of a train.
  2. Take note of Mother Nature's palette. How many shades of green do you notice? Brown? Blue? What has changed since your last visit? 
  3. How do you feel? Is there a lot of head-chatter? (This was something I noticed about myself. I was undoing the benefits of the walk, worrying about this, that and everything else. Fortunately, I learned how to stop the worry by activating the power of my heart. Now, I replace those unproductive thoughts by changing my heart rate variability.)
  4. Speed up. Slow down. Amble. Saunter. Stroll. Stride. Enjoy!
"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." ~ John Muir

When was the last time you had the pleasure of being out in nature? What insights have you had while forest bathing?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tending to the Garden

"When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden." ~ Minnie Aumonier

To help make your yard and garden more beautiful, whilst saving wear and tear on your hands, there's the Fiskars® line of products. Thanks to their generosity, I am able to offer a giveaway on A Rheumful of Tips

Even if you don't have a need, this Bypass Pruner makes a great gift for the gardener in your life.

PowerGear® Large Bypass Pruner

Act quickly. Entries must be received by midnight, PDT, on Monday, June 4th, 2012.

To enter, please visit Love and a Bypass Pruner.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fade Your Fear and Get in the Swim!

It's a fact that fear triggers the stress response. It's also a fact that you can learn to face your fear and finally follow your heart's desire.

I was fortunate to be able to contribute a guest post for the engaging, encouraging and enthusiastic Christian Johannsen of Foot Solutions - Vancouver.

I invite you to visit Christian's blog to read Triathlon: Is Stress Stopping You?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gabriel's Hounds

Image courtesy of Dave Dyet.

For Christmas, my friend gave me one of those daily desktop calendars on Forgotten English.

March 29th, 2012 - Gabriel's Hounds. They're described as phantom hounds - jet black and breathing flames . . . frequent bleak and dreary moors on tempestuous night. ~ Elizabeth Wright's Rustic Speech and Folk-Lore, 1914.

Has stress caused you to have your own version of Gabriel's Hounds? Do the real or imaginary hounds of horror instill fear in your heart as you runrunrun, yet get no where?

Stress is insidious. It is often over-looked - at first. Over time, your nervous system is re-educated. It activates on a more frequent basis, responding to threats, real or imaginary. Worries grow, anxiety expands, frustration mounts and anger explodes. These are just some of the many emotional signs and symptoms of a system that has gone awry.

Mentally, physically and spiritually, stress exacts a toll - one that is costly, not only to you, but your family, friends and employers.

What do you do?
  1. Learn how stress is impacting you on all levels.
  2. Develop an awareness of how you feel when you think and feel a certain way.
  3. Find out how, simply by changing the quality of your heart rhythms, is the easiest way to undress your stress.
  4. Monitor how you are breathing.
  5. Ensure that you do something you love on a daily basis, even if only for five minutes. 
  6. Express heart-felt feelings of gratitude.
  7. Forgive.
  8. Exercise your "stress muscles".
  9. Revel in celebration.
  10. To quell your Hounds of Gabriel, take a short, targeted, five-hour coaching program to learn how to live a better life!
Image courtesy of John Nyberg.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Close the Splitter for More Flow

I had an epiphany. I was depleting precious natural resources, worrying about someone's health and well-being.

I was allowing a lot of precious energy to be siphoned off to by someone who doesn't value health as much as I do.

I was in over-care. A condition that is not restorative, nor helpful. It is draining because it causes an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system. True feelings of care are regenerative; there is room for you and for the other person.

Many people in the helping professions suffer from over-care. However, it isn't just contained at work. You can see it in action on volunteer committees and with family and friends. It can lead to burn-out, unless a more balanced approach is taken.

This is an old behaviour I am learning to recognize and release, thanks to the ongoing work I do with heart work which is really mind and body work.

Much like what happens when the splitter is closed on the tap, flow (energy) increases.

To learn how to do this for yourself, please email me for information.

Do you recognize a time when you were in over-care? Can you think of any current situations which can be improved by closing the splitter?

Related posts:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day

Image courtesy of Adrian.
There is no doubt about it, your mom has a big influence on who you are and who you become. Mom and dad, and stress can affect whether you become, at all.

As you grow, the lessons learned apron-side, span the generations; an invisible heirloom, often passed on from mothers to daughters to grand-daughters, much like this story that made the email rounds several years ago:

The new bride decides to make her mother's famous brisket recipe to impress her husband. While passing through the kitchen, her husband noticed that she cut off the ends of the brisket. Wisely, he kept quiet until after the meal, when he asked why she cut off the best part of the meat. 

She replied, "Oh, that's the way my mother always does it." 

The following week, she went to her grandmother's house, where she watched her grandmother cut off the ends of the brisket.

"Why do you do that, grandma?" she asked.

"That's the only way the meat will fit into the pan," replied the grandmother. 

Nature and nurture. Nurture and nature. A time-old question, one which is not cleanly, nor easily dissected. In my opinion, both matter, but the degree is dependent upon a number of variables.

A recent chat with someone on Twitter revealed a fear of swimming. This person was not afraid of the water because of a bad experience, but rather because of a transferred fear from the mother, who had a bad experience in the water.

Lessons abound. You're always learning; the question is whether the lesson is the one that you wish to learn.

On Mother's Day, you pay homage to mothers, present and past. Mothers by blood and mothers who, although unrelated, grandly and gladly fulfill that role.

This post is to honour my mother who passed away from ovarian cancer.
Thank you for these and many other positive lessons:

  1. Never leave home without a dime in your shoe. (Yes, you can tell how long ago I learned that lesson!)
  2. Eye contact is important.
  3. When preparing a meal, double the recipe. You'll save time and energy.
  4. There's always room at the table for more guests.
  5. Manners matter.
  6. Allow yourself time to arrive at your destination - it's impolite to keep others waiting.
  7. Do your chores. It was preparation for that thing called life. (Oh boy!, did I hate some of those chores!)
  8. Chewing gum in public doesn't look good.
  9. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Long before it was fashionable to be green.
  10. Forgive freely.
As was to be expected, I did pick up some lessons that she likely didn't intend to pass on to me. Awareness helps with those.

I am also thankful for the lessons she didn't pass on to me; the weighty ones such as her horrific early experiences in Holland during World War 2. She taught me to be open-minded, that people were people, regardless of ethnicity.  

As she was dying she also took the time to explain that our alcoholic father, who had died the year before, was proud of us; even if he could never say it, much less show it. Thank you, Mom, for your strength, your courage, your generosity.

What are some of the positive lessons you've learned from your mother?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Engine Warning Light

Image courtesy of MimiLiz.
You are driving your car. Your engine warning light just came on.

What do you do?

A) Ignore it, maybe it'll go away.

B) Put it on your To Do List for later.

C) Stop at the nearest service station and get it looked at immediately.

Some of you may take better care of your vehicle than you do of yourself - the “car” you have for life, the one you can't trade in for a newer model.

Perhaps, the engine light isn't consistently on, leading to a false sense of security. "There's no problem," you say to yourself, "It's not the engine, it's just the light that is malfunctioning".

Or you may treat your car like you do your body; ignoring that engine warning light and continuing to drive until the engine burns out. (At least a car's engine can be replaced.)

You may luck out and replace some of your parts, as I have, but others are irreplaceable. Bear in mind that the new parts don't always work as well as the original, plus they wear out, too!

Stress is implicated in a number of serious medical condition. Rather than being an acute, immediate response to danger, as was intended, the stress response becomes chronic; activating on a frequent and regular basis, resetting the nervous system and darkly colouring all aspects of life. It is often overlooked as one of the contributing factors to diseases, often because the illness may take some time to develop.

When your "engine light" comes on, don't wait until you get to the spa, the gym, a vacation or retirement to look after it. Regardless of the condition you are in, you can start now. It is never too late to learn to balance your autonomic nervous system with techniques that can be done anywhere/anytime.

You are breathing, thinking and feeling, anyway. Why not learn to make it count? As you undress your stress, you enhance your performance.

Get into STP - Stress Transformation Program.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Puzzle Perfect?

Image courtesy of Andronicus Riyono.
Have you ever experienced the frustration of working on a jigsaw puzzle, only to discover a piece missing or damaged?

Imagine the world as a giant jigsaw puzzle, and human-beings representing the individual pieces of that puzzle. There’s a catch, though. What if the formation of the puzzle pieces were dependent upon how healthy you were emotionally, mentally and physically? The individuals who looked after themselves would be the puzzle pieces that were well-formed. Those who had work to do in the aforementioned areas would be represented by puzzle pieces that had rough edges and didn’t quite "fit" or were missing altogether.

If you want a healthy, whole planet you need to start with yourself. What do you need to do in order to make your "puzzle piece" (you) fit well or even be in the jigsaw puzzle that is your world?

Think globally, act locally. 
This also applies to healing yourself, your family, your community and so on. Or, as I like to call it, TOTOM - "Theory of the oxygen mask". You've heard the pre-flight instructions, “In the unlikely event of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on before you attend to your children.” 

If you are feeling breathless, weak or tired there is a good chance that you are running out of oxygen, which is no big surprise since one of the physiological changes that occurs during stress is that you begin to chest breathe. Prolonged bouts of chest breathing do not draw in as much oxygen as when you breathe diaphragmatically.

What can you do? 
Eat right, get exercise, ensure you get adequate rest, make time for fun. Things you've heard before and you know. 

Knowledge and Application
These are two very different things. What is getting in the way of the application of your knowledge? An often over-looked factor is stress. Not only does it affect you with very real physiological changes which contribute to a number of illnesses (diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, immune and hormonal dysfunction), it also accelerates aging, diminishes your problem-solving skills, dampens your creativity, and inhibits your ability to relate well to others. In other words, it limits your capacity for joy and could result in either a damaged or missing puzzle piece (you). 

Before reading on . . .
Stop for thirty seconds. How would your life be different if you felt more joyful? What would that mean to you and your friends and family members?

Stress is an inside job.
It is your interpretation of external events that produces internal distortion or strain.

It is your perception of the events and interactions that causes your body to go through fourteen hundred chemical changes. It’s your reaction that
triggers a very real and measurable physiological change in your body that produce side-effects, some of which can last as long as thirteen hours after the stressful event.

Many traditional approaches to stress management rely on "getting away". Remember that some of those stress hormones stay in your body for up to thirteen hours and are cumulative. While you await your appointment, class or vacation to help you de-stress, your body is still responding long after that stressful event.

Other techniques that can be effective are self-monitoring, deep breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, meditation, self-hypnosis, imagery, visualization, affirmations and stress coaching.

Balance your nervous system regardless where you are.
In rush hour traffic, while the kids are arguing or during a sales call. So, until you have time to have a hot bath or go to the spa or for a run, do something good for yourself by learning to activate the power of your heart. In so-doing, you heal yourself and your world...one heartbeat at a time, by acting locally, working from the inside (of your body) out! 

Effect a change globally and complete the jigsaw puzzle that is our world.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's Gadget Tuesday . . .

You are cordially invited to visit A Rheumful of Tips, where you have the opportunity to participate in a four-part giveaway, courtesy of Starfrit. At the end of the series, one person will walk away with four kitchen gadgets. Be sure to leave a comment on all four posts for four entries.
On Gadget Tuesday Giveaway: A Gripping Tale—er —Tool, you're asked how you like dem tomatoes, or is it tomahtoes?

For those who don't know, A Rheumful of Tips is my year-long daily blogging project where I offer up tips, strategies and occasionally, guests and giveaways, all to help you move through life with rheumatoid arthritis. (Just to be clear, the guests aren't given away! ;) ) Only one-hundred and forty-seven days left to go!

Here's a little secret: There's another great giveaway on Thursday, the 26th of April.

I hope to see you over there!

Friday, April 20, 2012

In the End

Image courtesy of Carsten Schlipf.
One thing I wish I had asked mom, before she passed away from ovarian cancer, was what she felt mattered most in her life. I can guess, but it would only be that...a guess.

Upon your deathbed, which I hope is many years hence, what will matter most to you?
  • How many followers you had on Twitter or Friends on Facebook?
  • That your eyebrows were always plucked and your finger nails manicured?
  • You helped someone "Just because."
  • You did your best.
  • You learned, changed and grew.
One of the many things I love about teaching people how to undress their stress is that once they know and practise the techniques, they begin to live a life that is more in tune with who they are, not who they've become because of stress.

There is a quote of Maya Angelou's that I think needs to come with a caveat, although I understand what she means when she says, "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them." Stress can and does make people act poorly. When they don't have the skills, when their resilience has been erased, when they are feeling badly, they are not performing well. 

The resolution lies within another quote from Maya Angelou. "I've learned that whenever I decide to do something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision." When you learn to transform your stress through the power of your heart, not only do you make the right decisions, but you also make the decision to act "right".

Finally, to keep things in perspective, here is a link to an article published in The Guardian: The top five regrets of the dying.

Friday, April 13, 2012

President's Precedence Setting

Image courtesy of BSK.
As a leader, you know that your bottom-line can be impacted by stress. When you or your workforce has not be equipped with skills to treat stress when it's occurring, the by-products can include:
  • higher levels of absenteeism
  • dampened creativity
  • low morale
  • lack of presenteeism
  • poor productivity
  • higher safety violations, including violence in the workplace.
Part of your role as a leader is to inspire and encourage, thus bringing out the best in your team. What about bringing out the best in yourself?

I was interviewed for this article which appeared in The Globe and Mail on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012: Boss can break the chain which leads to stress.

As the person in charge, it is important to set a precedent for the type of workplace you wish to develop. The best place to start is with your heart; the place where stress undressing occurs.

The quality of your heart rhythms, smooth or jagged, determine which chemicals the brain produces. When you learn that you can improve those signals with techniques that are do-able in the moment, right when stress is occurring, you are equipped with skills that allow you to undress your stress and enhance your performance.

Could your business or workplace benefit from a visit from Auntie Stress? Please contact me to discuss your Auntie-dote for stress.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hiding in the No Changing Room

Image courtesy of Jane Cleary.
"She was afraid to come out of the locker," is a line from Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini.

You may not be hiding in the locker because of your outfit, but how about because of  some other fear or uncertainty?

In the beginning of the year, I was given some very good advice, which I didn't act upon until recently. Part of me thought I was on the right track. Another part was afraid that by implementing the suggestion, it would negatively affect the outcome. Not so.

Sometimes, we fight against good advice, defending a position which no longer serves who we are or where we want to be.

Your thoughts?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Undressing My Stress - An Ongoing Practice

Image courtesy of Robert Horvath.
If you're wondering whether I practise what I preach, the answer is a resounding "Yes!"

You can read about how and why on a guest post I wrote for Gloveman Supplies, Ltd. in the U.K. To see the article, please click: Health: What's Your Game Like . . . .

Friday, March 23, 2012

There You Are

Wherever you go – there you are. 

Emotionally, mentally and physically. It's all connected. Your body isn't typically dammed. 

Your body is a system. What goes on “upstairs” affects “downstairs” and “indoors” and “outdoors.”

Undress your stress and make the most of this system.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Walkin' the Line

Image courtesy of MattHains.
Given last week's post, you might think that this is about a Johnny Cash song. It's not, so don't rush away.

Recently, I spotted a tweet on Twitter that had something to do with tuning in to your inner world. It's been my experience, and that of the people with whom I work, that there is a fine line between being in your head too much and not being there enough.

Fact: In order to transform your stress, it is important to be aware of how and when you are thinking those stress-filled thoughts.

"Which thoughts?" you ask.

Endless, looping thoughts like the ones the "What ifs . . .?", or the "I can't get anything right's . . ." Perhaps, the "Poor me's . . ." or the "I'm so p***** off at the world!" thoughts are the ones you recycle more frequently.

Some people are exceptionally skilled at turning inwards and always focusing on one's negative issues. The sad thing is that the more focus is paid to them, the faster they grow, resembling those plants in the Little Shop of Horrors. The focus is on what's wrong rather than on getting involved in doing the things one enjoys doing - even if for only five minutes at a time.

When you go through a stress coaching program, you become aware of how much time you spend soaking in negative thoughts and emotions. You may be surprised. I certainly was. You also learn about what stress is, and more importantly, what to do instead. This is crucial because knowledge-gathering isn't a problem in today's highly connected world. It's going the next step and the one after that - it's the what to do and the practise of doing it.

Some of my clients are at the other end of the line. They are heavily engrossed in volunteer work, consumed by family commitments or are valiantly trying to stay afloat in their careers. They rarely, if ever, give a thought to their own well-being - until it begins to break down. These are the people who would benefit from spending more time looking inwards. Ensuring that in addition to doing for others, they also do for themselves. Carving out time to make sure they honour their heartspeak. Not only is it restorative; it also helps them to re-balance their nervous system, which will allow them to go on serving others, for longer and for better.

Two extremes, with points in between. Have you noticed that the route to get there is the same?

I recently watched The Way. One of the lines was, "You don't choose a life. You live a life." Why not choose to live a life and start doing some of the things that bring you joy?

"But nothing brings me joy." That's where coaching can help. You learn to balance the nervous system. By quietening down that head-talk (I can't. I don't know . . . .) and allow the heart, which sends signals to the brain, to speak for you.

How are you walkin' the line? Are you balanced in the middle or do you end up tipping way over to one side, like I did - until I practise differently? (Present tense intended - it is an on-going process.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Country and Western Song

Image courtesy of Jean Scheijen.
You know the joke - if your wife (or husband) left you, the truck won't (don't :) ) start, the beer glass is empty and the dog ran away, you have the makings of a good country and western song.

You also have a recipe for stress, unless you have techniques that allow you to move through the sad songs of life.

From time-to-time, everyone has set-backs, things that go wrong, problems which aren't easy to resolve and disharmonious relationships.

Some people are able to quickly bounce back from these set-backs, while others get stuck, like a stylus in the scratch in a record - replaying the same refrain, spinning round, but not making any pleasant sounds. Until . . .

. . . they learn and do things differently.

Soaking in negative thoughts and emotions leads to more negative thoughts and emotions. Just like you have to get up and lift the stylus out of the scratch, you need to do something to move out of those feelings that drain, depress or enrage you.

Here are some suggestions:
  1. Get up and do something physical.
  2. Pull out your photo album and reminisce. 
  3. Scan some of those old photos and send them to the people who are the subjects in those pictures. (I recently did this. What a laugh we had!)
  4. Change how you're breathing.
  5. Go do something you love, if even for a few minutes.
  6. Get out of your head and into your heart. This is where you begin to transform your stress and feel better - emotionally, mentally and physically.
When you recognize how much time you spend worrying, breath-holding or fuming, and then know what to do to help you balance your nervous system, you realize that you can increase your resilience and enhance your performance. 

Now, that's a record worth replaying, wouldn't you agree?

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Dirty Business

Glenn Pebley
Irritable Bowels.

Diarrhea, constipation, cramping and bloating may be as regularly a part of your day as the stress you experience. Did you know that stress impacts your process of elimination?

There is a relationship between your gut and stress. Nerves feed from your heart directly into your intestines. They also feed from your heart to your brain. Think of it as a communication highway that regulates which chemicals are secreted and how much.

The brain in your gut, otherwise known as the enteric nervous system, sends and receives impulses, records experiences and responds to emotions. How often have you had a gut reaction, got butterflies or felt like you were kicked in the guts? The language you use is reflective of how you feel and how you feel impacts how you feel. (No, this is not a typo - the way you think and feel affects how you think and feel. If you soak in negative emotions such as frustration, sadness or worry, your body assumes there's a threat and prepares by eliciting the stress response.)

If you are constantly plagued with loose bowels or are constipated or fluctuate between the two,  amongst other health concerns, consider learning stress techniques to help regulate your system.

Be your own lab rat. Learn and practise some stress techniques that help you change your perception, while balancing your nervous system. Treat the cause of your stress and not just the symptoms. Then, see what happens, or doesn't happen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mirthful Monday - Another Year, Another Mystery

The anonymously-sent Valentine's Day gift basket came enclosed with a card that read, "I hope the wind is at your back, keeping you on track. That you never lack for love . . . "

For the second year running, I've been the lucky recipient of a gift basket. The gift-giver is like a well-hidden ghost whose presence is felt, but never seen.

Unfortunately, I'm not as skilled as the detectives in those British mysteries I like so much. I know that the contact is through my business, Auntie Stress. I also suspect that the person resides outside of Canada. Even though the trail runs cold, my heart runs warm.

So, from the bottom of my heart - thank you, whoever you are. :)

Do you like surprises?

"Here's the thing about surprises. Ask around and you'll find that some people dislike them...." for more go to A Twitterin' Surprise.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Survival - Then and Now

Step into that time machine and zoom back, back, back, to the time when prehistoric man walked the earth. They knew how to throw a party! If dinner didn't catch them, and they were lucky enough to catch it, they'd drag it home to the roaring campfire, where it was roasted and served up (maybe) with some greens. Oh, what a party that was! Eating! Dancing! Singing! Sleeping!

Image: Lost Viking
You inherited your autonomic nervous system (ANS) from those people. When you are stressed, it obliges by dousing your system with fourteen-hundred chemicals that prepare you for flight or fight.

The ANS is a terrific survival mechanism - if used, appropriately.

If you're constantly soaking in negative emotions, the ANS will respond by opening the "taps" and flooding your system with chemicals that aren't meant to be regularly flowing - they're meant for those times when you are truly under threat.

During stress, a number of physiological changes occur, which include:
  • increased heart rate
  • respiration speeds up
  • increased blood pressure
  • dilated pupils
  • slowed digestion
  • muscles tense
  • blood sugar and fats are increased for extra energy
  • hearing becomes more acute
  • thoughts race
  • blood clots more readily
Do you see how those physiological changes would benefit our beast-stalking, fire-dancing fore-bears? 

Rush-hour traffic, long line-ups at the bank or something you read in the newspaper? Logically we know that it doesn't compare to any true life and death situations that we may encounter. Regardless, the flight or fight response kicks in, unless you know how to turn off the taps and transform that stress response.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stress will become one of the greatest burdens of ill-health in developing nations in the 21st century. I think it already is, don't you?

Part of why stress has become such an epidemic is because, as many of my clients have stated, "I didn't know what to do."

In a coaching program you learn what stress is, but more importantly how to transform it with techniques that treat the cause of your stress. Techniques that use the power of your heart, which sends signals to the brain telling it whether the flight or fight response is needed or not.

You'll learn how to recognize when you are soaking in negative thoughts and emotions. You'll celebrate the positive changes you see.

"...without your passion and dedication I would not of been able to handle the stressful events as well as I did....the ER nurses commented, 'you sure seem calm in the midst of all the chaos you've been through this week.'" I gave them your business card.! ~ M. Thomson, Burnaby, B.C.

Old Stock = Revitalized You!

Act quickly to take advantage of my inventory clear-out!

Enroll in one of the 5 hour telephone stress undressing programs (Investment of $475.00 Canadian) and receive your materials (Value: $340.00) at no cost to you! That's right. You receive your materials for free! (*Shipping extra)

This offer is available on a first come, first served basis. There are only two spots left.

Prehistoric man was intent on surviving. Transform your stress and you'll not only survive, but thrive, as you drive and dance through life.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Memory Lane


Are you taking a stroll down memory lane? Choose the route that is well-lit, not the dark, scary alley.

The brain doesn't differentiate between real or imagined memories. Spend more time recalling the pleasant memories, the ones that put a smile on your face, a skip in your step and joy in your heart.

Learn to diffuse the unpleasant memories with stress techniques - unhooking the strong attachments to them by forging new neural pathways.

Build upon this practise and you change your history, making it easier to stroll down the route that is filled with light.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Attuning Your Antennae to Inspiration

Image courtesy of Craig Hauger.

Do you remember how the antennae on My Favourite Martian's head would rise up and lock in on a signal?

What if your antennae could lock in on inspiration, ensuring that you'll always have a topic for a post?

Inspiration is all around - gifts from the people you speak with, the programs you watch, the tweets you read, the music you hear, the nature you enjoy.

One of the best way to attune your attennae is to undress your stress. Stress is the great distractor - your thoughts get hijacked and your focus shifts to the things that are stressing you. Looping thoughts may keep you awake at night. Too many sleepless, restless nights and you may miss the fluttering wings of inspiration.

Where have you found inspiration? When is it more noticeable?