Making Life Beautiful

by Claire Louise Bjerkan

My dear friend, Claire wrote this beautiful message. I am pleased she has given me permission to share. When I took part in one of her programs she shared her ideas about values – an awakening for me. I hope you enjoy her message as much as I have & re-examine your values – what lights up your life?

This is a really big driving force in my life, one of my sacred values is Beauty and actually many of the women I work with also share this value.

Our core values are those invisible forces that drive our lives.

When I guide women to their beautiful life of joy, radiance and abundance we spend a lot of time looking at values, I mean REALLY looking and not just choosing words from a list that sound good.

So many people believe their values are things like “honesty, integrity, hard work, accountability,” etc BUT I see these more as characteristics of most decent people. After all, who would ever say that they are not honest?

Sacred Core Values go deeper, they are not just characteristics, they are feelings, emotions, forces that help you step into alignment and live in energies of authenticity, joy and well-being.

When you live in these energies, you manifest beautiful matches from the Universe and that is how you create your beautiful life.

The Game of Life is one of Attraction not Chase, but it does take guidance and courage to be consistent with this approach, especially in a world that encourages us to feel never enough and tries to keep us locked in fear.

It also takes courage, belief and trust to step back, relax and just be rather than go go go, which is so often a mask for lack of self worth, belief and trust.

I spent as much time as I could in the garden yesterday, tuning into the earth and recalibrating my energy and I saw this beautiful little plant which had managed to grow through my stone wall.

🤍My home and garden is my Living Vision Board🤍

“Woodruff” A Sacred Herb used to line Christ’s manger.

You see the more you tune into Beauty, the more you attract Beauty.

Do you really know who you are, what you desire and how you want your life to feel like, look and be?

When we don’t we randomly manifest all sorts of things into our lives that consistently match our vibration

If you desire beauty, focus on feeling beauty energetically

If you desire abundance, allow yourself to feel abundant

If you desire love, be that love.

It all starts within us……

MY NEW PROGRAM to guide you to a life that you love is coming soon………..

Love,

Claire. x

A New Habit in 21 Days

Can You Really Form a New Habit in 21 Days?

We have been told repeatedly that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. If this is true, then when we follow a diet for 21 days, we should be right on track to keeping our new eating habits. When we exercise 3-4 times per week for 3 weeks, we have it made in the shade to stay in shape. Obviously, this is not true. Twenty-one days might be a good start, but it is not the way reality works.

paper calendar with months and days in sunbeam
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I believe we can retrain our brain. But it takes ongoing work. There are studies now that suggest different activities take different amounts of time to establish as a habit. One study suggests that exercising 4 times per week for 6 weeks is required to establish an exercise habit. I regularly exercised a minimum of 4 times per week for years, yet that fell away for reasons I haven’t yet figured out – maybe moving to a new city & starting a new job had something to do with the changes – but that sounds like an excuse. I imagine many of us have such experiences. So how long does it really take and what causes us to slip back into old habits, or new not so good habits?

We know we must keep doing things like brushing our teeth – we can’t do it once and expect to have healthy teeth and gums. I look at athletes and am reminded that they continue to train and practice the basic skills. Hockey players keep skating and practice shooting the puck, golfers continue to practice driving and putting, and gymnasts continue to work on basic skills to keep their flexibility and strength. This makes me think that there is more to forming and keeping habits than just doing so for a specific amount of time.

person balancing on balance beam
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Obviously, there is more to forming new habits than maintaining the change we want for 21 days. I think we need to consider motivation, enjoyment, ease, pain vs pleasure, other life activities, and maybe most important (though I’m not sure of this) do we really want the change? What else is going on in our subconscious that might be keeping us from succeeding and continuing the new activity we think we want?

There are lots of strategies to help us form a new practice. Connecting a new practice with something you enjoy can sometimes help: I can only play a game after I have exercised for 20 minutes is an example of one way to try to develop a new habit. Well at least that gets us started, but does the new habit really get formed? How does the habit we want become second nature?

A bit of the science behind training our brains. “Neural pathways, comprised of neurons connected by dendrites, are created in the brain based on our habits and behaviors.” Further in the article, Deann Ware, Ph.D., shared

[W]hen brain cells communicate frequently, the connection between them strengthens and ‘the messages that travel the same pathway in the brain over and over begin to transmit faster and faster’. With enough repetition, these behaviors become automatic. Reading, driving, riding a bike are examples of complicated behaviors that we do automatically because neural pathways have been formed.

(Dr. Deann Ware, Ph.D. https://healthtransformer.co/the-neuroscience-of-behavior-change-bcb567fa83c1)

According to this same article it takes between 3 and 6 months for a new behaviour to become a habit. And just because we have formed new neural pathways doesn’t mean that we have those habits forever. Repetition seems to be the key. So, my understanding, if we quit practicing we form other pathways – you choose.

an artist s illustration of artificial intelligence ai this image depicts how ai can help humans to understand the complexity of biology it was created by artist khyati trehan as part
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To form new neural pathways takes approximately 10,000 repetitions or 3 months of practice. Keeping this in mind, I think we can toss aside all the programs that are 21 days. Though 21 days might be a good start, and if you are successful for 21 days you definitely deserve a reward and I encourage you to celebrate your accomplishment as you have done amazing.  I also wonder if it takes everyone the same amount of time, and can new neural pathways always be formed? So many questions.

Oh, so much for us to think about. There is always room for personal development so remain curious and keep asking questions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8383338

On Guard: Essential Oil

On Guard has become my essential oil of choice, day in and day out. Its robust and invigorating blend is not just an aroma—it’s an experience. With its sophisticated fusion of Wild Orange, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary, doTERRA has mastered the art of comfort and serenity in a bottle. The fiery zest and sweet undertones of this oil cocoon me with a profound sense of warmth, grounding, and undisturbed peace. On Guard isn’t merely an oil—it’s a sensory powerhouse that captivates and soothes with every breath. There are several On Guard products for you to check with numerous uses.

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Uses

  • Skin cleanser – add a few drops to Fractionated Coconut Oil.
  • Cleanses surfaces – add to water in a spray bottle.
  • A few drops in the laundry will boost cleaning and add a fresh scent.
  • A few drops in your diffuser freshens the air, and creates an energized, uplifting home or work atmosphere.
  • Add a few drops to warm water with honey for a flavourful tea or add to your morning smoothie.

On Guard is also reported to support healthy immune and cardiovascular systems.  As with most essential oils remember, research is limited. (https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/on-guard-doterra). As I have said previously, one size does not fit all and like food, wine, and art – you choose what works for you.  I wish I could share the aroma with you via this blog – one day, maybe. More about how this oil can be used beyond the physical.

According to one of my sources, Essential Emotions: Process, Release, & Live Free (12th Edition) (www.essentialemotions.com), On Guard will “shield individuals from harmful threats”.  It is claimed to have protective properties extending beyond the physical level.  On Guard is also reported to be “helpful for strengthening the inner self”.  You can give this oil a try if you need help in setting boundaries, breaking away from unhealthy connections, and in learning to stand up for yourself.

Wrap Up

As you can tell, I am enamored with this oil. I am moved by scents: they lift me up, calm me down, can play with my emotions as I remember past experiences, and sometimes they cause nausea, sneezing, or I just don’t like them. My taste might not be the same as yours, but I suggest you give this one a whiff if you like spicy, warm aromas.

How What You Do and Say Affects Others: The Butterfly Effect

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”Leo Buscaglia

The Butterfly Effect, Chaos Theory, and Quantum Science have fascinated me for several years.  I believe everyone and everything is connected and whatever we say and do can affect everything and everyone.  Keeping that in mind, we must pay attention to our choice of words and to our actions. 

I have created a couple of stories to help explain what I mean. 

The Stories

Two stories about how what we say and do can affect others.  We are all connected, and our words and actions have a ripple effect.  Small actions can have large effects.  Read more on the Butterfly Effect at https://thedecisionlab.com/reference-guide/economics/the-butterfly-effect

The link below will provide additional information for you on how our actions affect others.

The Bird

Characters in The Bird

JB – the driver who cut off AZ.

AZ – the driver who flipped JB the bird.

CD – the receptionist.

DE – JB’s spouse

man giving a middle finger sign
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JB accidentally cut someone off driving to work – that person AZ) flipped JB the bird. JB was already feeling bad because they’d had a disagreement with their spouse. They knew they hadn’t been paying close enough attention to their driving and they were sorry. But JB couldn’t apologize, the person was gone. Now JB felt bad for two reasons – the disagreement with their spouse and cutting someone off in traffic.  

JB wondered how the other driver felt. Did that person feel bad or just angry, probably calling JB a menace and horrible driver?  Of course, in that instance, JB was a horrible driver, and could have caused an accident.  All because they’d had a disagreement with their spouse. 

Let’s look back and forward on this situation.

AZ was now angry and had been given a fright.  AZ was now a bit distracted as they continued their way to work, which could be dangerous.  Once at their destination AZ angrily shared their experience and anger with others explaining how this idiot cut them off.  AZ had trouble concentrating on their job and spoke harshly to the receptionist. 

The receptionist, CD, unaware of the driving incident, didn’t know what they had done wrong, and concluded AZ didn’t like them for some reason.  CD has been struggling with self-esteem issues and this has been a setback.  They are now telling themselves they are unlikable and can’t do anything right.  With those feelings calls are not being answered in a cheerful manner, and messages weren’t all taken accurately.  As a result of one message not being delivered accurately a callback was missed costing the company money. CD was severely reprimanded; their day had just deteriorated. 

At the end of the day CD went home feeling down, their self-esteem at the lowest it had been.  Their thoughts were toward ending their life. They had these thoughts in the past and managed to work through their concerns, but though this was not the worst thing that had happened, the timing was the last straw. This world was not one they wanted to be in, and they could no longer stand the pain and suffering.

flowers marguerites destroyed dead
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That night CD ended their life.  The obituary read CD left behind a loving mother, father, sister, brother, and grandparents.

AZ, the driver who flipped JB the bird has a long history of not anger issues which have not been resolved. When AZ went home, they were in a foul mood and became verbally abusive with their partner, TC.  This resulted in an argument that turned physical and sending TC to hospital for stitches. 

Now let’s go back to the beginning, the disagreement between JB and DE.  What was that all about?  It turns out that DE had been regularly having coffee with someone and had not shared this.  There had been no infidelity, but they had formed a strong bond and were developing a close relationship.  When JB confronted DE about their suspicions DE initially played it down stating they were friends just having coffee to discuss work, and there was nothing wrong.  However, JB was not convinced this was the full story.  As time went on and the regular coffee meetings continued and though DE didn’t openly share about these, JB discovered through mutual friends, and some sleuthing that DE was not being forthcoming.  On the day of the “cutoff” JB confronted DE with their findings.

An intense argument resulted.  JB felt hurt, angry, disrespected, and lied to.  Unfortunately, the issue was not resolved when JB had to leave for work.  Thus, the distraction. 

To expand on DE’s actions and how JB was affected.  JB had been working on self-improvement for quite some time.  Now they were feeling very down and wondering if all the positive self-talk, learning to love oneself, and thinking positive thoughts was doing any good.

What would have happened if DE had been open about coffee with their friend?  Was it innocent? Was something missing in the relationship between JB and DE?  Were JB’s feelings of betrayal, hurt, anger, disrespect, being unattractive, and unworthy legitimate?

Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels.com

A Smile and a Kind Word

Characters in A Smile and a Kind Word

EW – the shopper

ED – the cashier

At the grocery check-out the cashier was quiet, non-smiling.  Though efficient there was no friendly chatter.  As EW was paying for the groceries, they took an extra second to say, “thank you, and I hope your day gets better.”  At that moment, the cashier finally smiled. 

EW felt good that they had added something positive to the cashier’s day. 

What about the cashier, ED?  ED went on break and was able to smile and chat with co-workers.  When ED had gone into work they were feeling quite down.  ED had overslept because they had stayed up working on a paper for their university course.  They were worried about the paper because they didn’t feel they had a good handle on the subject matter.  Though they had spent hours on the topic they just couldn’t get a good grasp.  So, they were tired, anxious, and feeling low.  ED had consumed several cups of coffee and a couple of doughnuts which had left them feeling wired and nauseated.  Now, coffee break time they realized some healthy food might be a good option.  A bowl of vegetable soup, and a salmon sandwich helped settle the nausea and curbed the coffee jitters.

As ED chatted with co-workers about their paper and where they were stuck.  A co-worker piped up that their partner had taken this same course and had a good understanding of the topic and would be willing to help after work.  In fact, their partner was looking for ways to be of service to others, to do some mentoring and even some tutoring.

ED got the help needed and did well on the paper with a clearer understanding of the topic. 

As ED continued their day, they were pleasant, chatting, and smiling with customers; spreading positive feelings to those with whom they came in contact.

I found another source I am sharing – by Tony Fahkry and am sharing that link here:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonyfahkry/

Conclusion

word kindness against flowers
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Though the positive story doesn’t share as many connections because we don’t know for sure how the pleasantness of ED affected the numerous customers, we can feel quite sure that it had a positive effect that wouldn’t have happened with the sad and sullen ED prior to EW’s kind words.

Whether your actions and words are kind and caring, or harsh and demeaning they will influence others.  That effect will then be shared with others – it could make or break someone’s day and could go as far as stopping someone from ending their life, or making someone realize how much they have for which they can be grateful.

Where the mind goes, the energy flows.  One smile and kind word at a time.  Taking time to choose actions and words carefully, not just for how they make us feel in the moment, but how they will affect others only takes a moment.  Align your actions and words with your values – do you know your values?  You might not be able to bring world peace overnight, but you can bring love, kindness, caring, and calm to those with whom you interact.  One step, one action, one word at a time can change the world. The Butterfly Effect is quite powerful.

Lavender Essential Oil

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Lavender oil is one of the first oils I used. I love the smell and something about the colour – lavender and purple – has always attracted me.  One of my own theories about essential oils is that they are like wines, food, and art – we all have our favourites, there is no right or wrong – use and explore what works for you.  Of course, a bit of guidance is always useful when learning about new oils, foods, wines, or art.

A Bit of Science

Lavender “has been known to have anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, *antinociceptive, antioxidant, and antimicrobial effects. Herbal products like lavender essential oils may offer a solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance, invasive treatments, side effects, or even drug addiction.” (Kajjari S, Joshi RS, Hugar SM, et al. The Effects of Lavender Essential Oil and its Clinical Implications in Dentistry: A Review. Int J Clin Pediatr Dent 2022;15(3):385-388. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9357533/#:~:text=It%20has%20been%20known%20to,%2C%20antioxidant%2C%20and%20antimicrobial%20effects.&text=Herbal%20products%20like%20lavender%20essential%20oils%20may%20offer%20a%20solution,effects%2C%20or%20even%20drug%20addiction.)

*(Definition -Antinociception: the action or process of blocking the detection of a painful or injurious stimulus by sensory neurons).

My Take on Lavender

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I first heard of lavender as an aid to sleep and would sprinkle it on my pillow. I have since learned that it is reported to be calming and reduces anxiety.  It can also be used to help relieve headaches, hmm – maybe the headaches are a result of stress and worry.  I have not tried it for relief of cough or colds but will give it a go the next time I experience a cold or cough, anything that might make me feel better. I have often used Eucalyptus oil for congestion associated with a cold.  Lavender has also been reported to relieve joint and muscle pain related to sprains, strains, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Lavender has been reported to reduce anxiety, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant (inhibits oxidation) antimicrobial (kill or slow spread of microorganisms) and block the detection of pain.  Could such a product be a solution to such things as antibiotic resistance, some invasive treatments, side effects of medicines and treatments, and even drug addiction?

Lavender and Emotions

Emotions are part of our life all the time.  We feel happy, sad, so-so, angry, excited, and the list goes  on.  Emotions are normal, not good, not bad, they just are.  However, we can learn to respond to our emotions rather than react without thought.  That short moment between stimulus and response provides us with the opportunity to choose our response.  Nice, you say, but get to the point.  Lavender can calm the mind, especially insecurities when you choose to take a risk and express your true thoughts and feelings.  Do remember the power of your words and actions on others – everything is connected.  If lavender helps with expression I wonder if it would benefit the opening of the throat chakra – something more for me to investigate.

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Emotional honesty is encouraged by lavender.  As you learn about your emotions and hopefully strive to become more Emotionally Intelligent, lavender might be helpful in learning about your true emotions, labeling them, and choosing the best way to respond.  Address your emotions as an aid to becoming self-aware and have peace of mind.

Much of this information is from DoTerra https://www.doterra.com/CA/en/shop and a new book I purchased Essential Emotions: Process, Release & Live Free 12th Edition www.essentialemotions.com

You can check out more on my website at: my.doterra.com/elainerose1

To order lavender essential oil directly go to: https://doterra.me/yiK1ei

Rose Essential Oil

The beautiful rose. I am drawn to the rose for several reasons. I was born in June and the flower of June is the rose.  June is also my middle name.  And my chosen last name, that of my husband.

I believe the essential oils we choose need to be scents that make us feel good, calm us, inspire us, help us feel better when we are ill, and I encourage you to keep that in mind as you choose oils for their many purposes. As I begin to incorporate essential oils into coaching, I will be providing information on various oils and their uses. Rose is the first.

Some Uses

A few drops of rose oil on your wrists or other pulse points makes a beautiful personal fragrance.  Add a few drops to a carrier oil for massage.  You can also experiment combining with other oils to create your own signature fragrance. Add a couple drops to your moisturizer or make your own with a carrier oil to help balance skin moisture levels and enhance the healthy appearance of your skin.  A few drops (3 – 4) can be added to a diffuser to give a calming effect to your home. “Just inhaling the unmistakable scent of rose oil is said by many to be relaxing.” (Faith in Nature)

Faith in Nature web site also tells us that rose oil may benefit regeneration of cell tissue which would be beneficial for aging skin.  This site also refers to the calming effects of rose oil and its antibacterial and antiseptic qualities.  

Another site stated that in a 2015 study, children who inhaled rose oil reported a significant decrease in their pain levels.  Researchers believe the rose oil stimulated the release of endorphins.  This site also reports that in a 2013 study, patients with menstrual pain received abdominal massages to relieve their pain – one group massaged with rose oil (in a carrier oil) reported less cramping pain than the almond oil alone group.

A Bit of History and Scientific Info

Rose is often called the “Queen of Oils”.  We all know the beautiful flower and aroma of the rose, but did you know in medieval Europe “rose juice” was used medicinally as a cure all.

There are numerous uses for rose oil. Cosmetically rose oil is said to be good for all skin types, especially sensitive and aging skin. It reportedly aids in soothing inflammation and treating eczema and herpes. Of course, the fragrance is a popular perfume and can be combined with other oils. I combine it with neroli in a roll-on in a sweet almond or coconut carrier oil.

Rose oil has also been reported to aid with menstrual discomfort and post-partum depression.  There are also reports of rose oil toning the digestive system, stimulating, and strengthening the liver, stimulating bile secretion, and relieving liver congestion. May be beneficial in relieving nausea, vomiting, and heart palpitations.

The sensual nature of the rose encourages us to be loving, caring, and compassionate to ourselves and others.  The rose is also reported to reduce stress and tension – a hug when we need one, it is calming when anxious.  (N. Purchon & L. Cantele, 2014).

Some scientific research has been conducted, though much more is suggested and recommended.  Mohebitabar, et al. (2017) present numerous findings.  In the study “physiological and psychological relaxation, analgesic and anti-anxiety effects” were observed.  

Persian medicine has also alleged rose oil to have anti-inflammatory, anti-infective, and wound healing properties.  It has also been used for headaches, hemorrhoids, GI inflammation and muscle pain (Shirazi, 2008, Sina, 2005, in Mohebitar, et al.).  Note that there have been no human studies related to these alleged properties.

Mohebitar, et al, (2017) also report some pharmacological studies that have suggested effects on the central nervous system – hypnotic, anti-convulsant, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, and analgesic activities plus lessening of morphine withdrawal signs. (Mohebitar, et al.).  Reportedly it is suggested that rose oil has wide-spectrum antibacterial and antifungal properties against some pathogens.  Refer to the article by Mohebitar, et al for more detailed information.

Areas of investigation in human studies have suggested analgesic and anti-depressant properties with no reported side effects (Mohebitar, et al).

Resources

Faith in Nature. https://www.faithinnature.co.uk/blogs/notes-on-nature/what-are-the-benefits-of-rose-oil#:~:text=Throughout%20history%2C%20rose%20oil%20has,it%20for%20this%20purpose%20today.&text=Rose%20oil%20is%20known%20to,skin%20healthy%2C%20lubricated%20and%20elastic.

Mohebitabar, S., Shirazi, M., Bioos, S., Rahimi, R., Malekshahi, F., & Nejatbakhsh, F. (2017). Therapeutic Efficacy of Rose Oil: A Comprehensive Review of Clinical Evidence.In Avicenna Journal of Phytomed. 2017 May-Jun; 7(3): 206-213.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5511972/#:~:text=Anti%2Ddepressant%2C%20psychological%20relaxation%2C,properties%20reported%20for%20rose%20oil.

Purchon, N. & Cantele, L. (2014).  The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for  Everyday Wellness. Toronto, Ontario. Robert Rose Inc.

The Benefits of Rose Oil and How to Use it.  https://www.healthline.com/health/rose-oil#2

Managing Your Mental Health: An Insider’s Perspective

How can we manage our mental health if we don’t talk about it?  The media has been encouraging us to talk about mental health and reminding us that “it is ok to not be ok.”  But is that the reality?  How well do any of us understand what it is like to live with any disease or disorder?  I don’t think we really understand until we have had the experience.  Nonetheless, we can do our best to learn and to have empathy.  One of the ways to learn is to share stories, facts, and read scientific literature.  With that in mind I am sharing a small part of my story.

I have had depression for over 60 years.  I didn’t get a diagnosis till I was in my late teens, following the birth of my second child.  I have always continued to function, though sometimes with great difficulty, and while in the work force, I never missed a day of work.  To be honest, I deserve an Oscar.  For many years I have been successfully treated with anti-depressants.  Over the last couple of years, I have been weaning myself off the antidepressants, with some guidance from my family doctor.  I don’t want to get off my anti-depressants but to get off as many of my prescribed medications as possible. It is a slow process and sometimes I have had a backslide. But that isn’t the purpose of what I am about to share.

Though I am officially a senior citizen I am not old and believe I have many more fulfilling years to live.  With that in mind I am on a journey to improve my health and my life.  With a background in nursing, I am aware of the basic behaviours and lifestyle choices we need to have a healthy, vibrant life.  I am an avid reader with a wide range of interests and like to keep up with the latest information. 

I wanted to refresh my memory and explore any new options about what is recommended for personal care of my mental health. The National Institute of Mental Health provides these self-care guidelines:

  1. Get regular exercise.
  2. Eat healthy, regular meals, and stay hydrated.
  3. Make sleep a priority.
  4. Try a relaxing activity.
  5. Set goals and priorities.
  6. Practice gratitude.
  7. Focus on positivity.
  8. Stay connected.

These eight basic tips are the basics of all self-care.  Remember, self-care is not selfish. They are not just for mental well-being; they are for overall well-being.  Our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health cannot be placed in silos.  What is happening in one area has an influence on all other areas.  Just as each being on earth is connected, each area of our individual health is connected.  You can’t have one without the other.  These tips are a good start to overall good health.

 There are several Toolkits available from https://www.nih.gov/health-information/your-healthiest-self-wellness-toolkits. I recommend you look because health is important to having a beautiful, joyful life.

As I go through a period of struggle with my mental health, I reflect on the eight self-care guidelines I shared above.

  1. Regular exercise: This is good but not always possible.  I have some physical issues that have left me severely fatigued. Over time I learned to very slowly increase my activity so that I can do 30 minutes most days. I had been in the habit of extended periods in the gym giving it my all only to find that my physical health was deteriorating.  Eventually I found the reason – autoimmune diseases.  It took me years to figure out how slow I had to go to be able to build up my strength and endurance.  I could not comprehend doing only 5 minutes of exercise to start and work up slowly.  I could not grasp eliminating a second day, just because my body hurt, and I felt exhausted.    I couldn’t comprehend that pushing through was not the way to go.  But after getting downright ill with infections, and fatigue and pain so bad I could barely move I started to see the picture. I didn’t like it and I did not adjust well.  These physical limitations played havoc with my fragile mental health.  Though I have learned how to pace myself better, I still need to be incredibly careful as something like Christmas or putting on a dinner party can take all my energy and leave me fatigued and in severe pain for days. But I am figuring it out. I am learning to be gentle with myself and to rest when necessary, and to ask for help, or order food and skip cooking.  I don’t like not being able to do everything I once did. But if I want to do some of what I once did I have to put limits on my choices.  I often need to take 2 or 3 days to do what I once did in 1 day.
  2. Eat regular healthy meals and stay well hydrated. I have always been a fussy eater, but I know what is healthy and I learned the importance of hydration many years ago.  Despite having a better than basic understanding of a healthy diet I have found that I must remain diligent at reading labels – packaged foods have become so over processed with salt, sugar, and other preservatives it is hard to stay on top. Once again though, I have learned to be gentle with myself and make adjustments one at a time and not rush.  Did you know it can be easier to add one additional good thing to your healthy meal routine than to eliminate something? Add the good thing and have less of the not so healthy item seems to work for me.  Small, consistent changes can lead to long-lasting improvements. When you are struggling, remember it is ok to just do your best, eat what appeals to you.  You can get back to the healthy stuff when you get back on track.  You might not feel much like cooking if you haven’t slept in days and are exhausted and crying – order in – aren’t we fortunate that food can be delivered.  Or popcorn is always good.
  3. Make sleep a priority. Just try this when you wake up in a panic every hour.  A night or two of not being able to sleep because of anxiety and panic can tip you over the top into a spiral of weeping, sadness, and depression.  Keep sleep a priority but know that sometimes our bodies sabotage us. When that happens, call for help and do what you need to do to get turned around and bring the downward spiral to a stop.  If you are having anxiety and panic when you try to sleep, do whatever you have to do to let your body rest.  Then when it is ready, you will sleep.  This might be a set-back for you on your journey to mental wellbeing, but you will get back on track.  I can’t say this enough “Be gentle with yourself.”  And remember, you don’t have to do everything alone – get support.
  4. Try a relaxing activity.  You can meditate, paint, garden, do yoga, read, or even watch tv – you know what you find relaxing.  Make time to do this daily.  If you find yourself in a flare this becomes even more important.  You might have to do the activity or activities for shorter periods but then do more of them. I don’t know about you but when I am going through bouts of anxiety, panic, and depression I can’t concentrate for more than a few minutes.  I can only read a few pages, when watching tv I need to watch something I can rewind to catch what I missed when my brain wandered.  During meetings I speak up and let others know that I’m having trouble concentrating and ask them to be patient with me – you don’t need to go into detail as it isn’t always appropriate to do so.
  5. Set goals and priorities. I encourage goals and priorities to be set in alignment with values.  This has been my practice for several years and I find by doing so my life is aligned with what is important to me.  We can set long-range goals, goals for the year, the month, the week, and the day.  When life is challenging, we can set goals for the next three minutes or the next hour.  Examples: I will drink one eight-ounce glass of water every hour while awake. I will get up and move for two minutes every hour while awake.  Be gentle with yourself when you are being challenged; set yourself up for success. And when you succeed, celebrate.  Today I had two small scoops of ice cream and will stay within my calorie goal.  And if you or I should not succeed at reaching a goal today, that is ok, we did not fail, tomorrow is a fresh start.  We can start over as many times as we need to.  We can also re-examine our goals and priorities.  If you are having trouble achieving what you have set up for yourself, maybe those goals aren’t for you, re-examine what you genuinely want and need to be doing.
  6. Practice Gratitude.  Though it is 40 below be grateful your car started or that you can stay inside beside a fire in the fireplace. Be grateful for food to eat, clean water to drink, your loving family – we all have much for which to be grateful.  Write down three to five things for which you are grateful. Example: today I am grateful that I was able to talk to my doctor and they helped me choose my next steps to getting through this difficult period.
  7. Focus on Positivity.  This is similar to gratitude.  But you might need to work on this a bit more.  Not everyone is a glass half full type of person. How can you reframe your negative thoughts?  A good starting place might be how you talk to yourself.  Example: “I’m such a loser, I don’t know how my partner puts up with my depression.” Change that to “I am so glad I have someone who loves me even when times are tough. Afterall, we both know this will pass and I will be happy and smiling again soon.”
  8. Stay connected.  Humans are social beings; we aren’t meant to do everything on our own.  Some of us are homebodies and don’t relish the thought of big parties, even so we need to have other people in our lives with whom to share our lives.  Whether this is in person, over the phone, or with the use of social media, find a few people with whom you connect regularly.  It can be hard to reach out when you are down.  If you are like me trying to talk leads to tears.  However, I attended two positive online meetings today where I turned my camera off, and just put a quick note in the chat that I was having a rough day, but wanted to listen in.  I got great well wishes with love and hugs sent to me.  I truly value those relationships. If there is someone else in your home with you, ask for a hug or to have them just sit with you and watch a show or listen to a song. Just be with someone for a brief period – let their positive energy flow into you.

Staying healthy is a work in progress.  There is always more to learn and do.  As I said earlier, each area of our health is connected, when one area is suffering the other areas will be influenced.  Make yourself a priority.  You do not have to do any of this alone.  I am a life and leadership coach who loves to help guide others to a joyous and beautiful life.  I also have several coaches who help guide me to have a joyful, beautiful life and I value their wisdom, compassion, and empathy. 

When I first saw the list of eight self-care tips under the “Caring for Your Mental Health”  (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health) site I was a bit taken aback till I gave it further thought.  My first thought being “this is too general.”  Expanding on each of the eight tips has helped me to understand something clearly at last that will shine again and has helped me recognize the importance of taking each tip and figuring out how that tip can work for me. You can do this too.  Though one size does not fit all, each tip gives you the power to adapt it to suit what you need at various times of your life.  A day of rest, rather than your usual work out, comfort food instead of green, extra sleep, or a day to wallow and feel your pain and hurt so that you can move on tomorrow, or a day to just ignore everything you usually do, knowing you will figure out what you need tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.  Be open and accepting of yourself.  You will figure it out.

What is Next? What 2024 Holds

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What will 2024 hold for you? Will you leave it up to chance and go with the flow, not making any plans, not setting any intentions or will you make resolutions, set a vision, establish goals?

My coach, Claire Bjerkan shared her thoughts on establishing your vision rather than making resolutions. I concur with Claire. I have stayed away from resolutions for many years. And though the start of a new year is an opportune time to make resolutions, set goals and intentions, it does not have to be the only time.  We can set our vision and intentions at any time: our birthday, a new or full moon, the solstices, or equinoxes, or any time you choose.

Throughout the year I evaluate and re-evaluate what is working in my life and what I want to change. In the past I have identified goals for what I wanted to achieve. They have worked well for me. But I have adjusted my thinking the past couple of years. Now I tend to have intentions that I am working toward fulfilling. I might be splitting hairs with my word change, but it works for me.

If you read my blogs and posts you might remember that I am big on identifying values and aligning one’s vision, mission, actions, and intentions with their values. As I was having coffee this morning I was reflecting on my values – family, friends, health, and I got thinking I was missing valuing myself. Valuing health is valuing self, but I don’t think it goes far enough. When we value something, it behooves us to ask “why.” Why is health important? Why are family and friends important? Why would it be important to value oneself?

I was reminded earlier today that there are things to let go. My mom raised me to “do,” to not be lazy. I have worked a full life but have found myself feeling I need to be doing something. I am now wondering if I need to be “doing”. I have encouraged others to spend time being. Now it is time to take my own advice. That doesn’t mean I will stop doing things I enjoy. But I have enough pension to live comfortably and do what I enjoy doing. I can write, speak, paint, garden, embrace my inner witch, exploring essential oils and creating my own concoctions, I can meditate, and learn more about the quantum world. I have a wide variety of interests I enjoy exploring and sometimes I just want to curl up and read or watch tv – it is ok.

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I love coaching and helping others, guiding people to have a joyous, beautiful, healthy life and I remain open to those who seek me out. But I am not a salesperson, and I don’t like marketing – it just feels ungenuine to me – and I don’t think I have ever gotten it quite right. Furthermore, I don’t want to work that hard.

My word for this year is Blossom. I will blossom and as I do, I will share what I learn and do in hope that others will benefit from what I discover.

Wishing everyone a joyous, healthy, happy, and peaceful year.

The Difference Between Selfishness and Self-Care

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Self-care isn’t Selfish, Selfishness isn’t Self-Care

In a world frequently championing #selflessness and #altruism, the concept of self-care can be misconstrued as #selfishness. Ideally, we will recognize there is a fine line separating these two notions and understand the importance of prioritizing oneself without veering into #self-centeredness. In this blog I aim to shed light on the difference between selfishness and self-care, exploring the nuances that distinguish one from the other.

Selfishness:

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Selfishness is often associated with a disregard for others’ needs and an exclusive focus on personal gain. It manifests in actions driven by a sense of #entitlement, with little consideration for the impact on those around us. While selfishness may provide immediate #gratification, it tends to strain relationships and create an environment of #negativity.

Self-Care:

Self-care is a holistic approach to maintaining one’s well-being – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Caring for oneself involves intentional actions aimed at preserving and enhancing one’s health, happiness, and fulfillment. Unlike selfishness, self-care recognizes the #interconnectedness of individuals and acknowledges the importance of a healthy self contributing positively to collective well-being.

Differentiating Factors:

  1. Intentions and Consequences:
    • Selfishness results from a desire to fulfill personal needs without regard for others. The outcome is often negative, leading to strained relationships and resentment.
    • Self-care, in contrast, involves actions founded on a genuine concern for one’s well-being. Recognizing the importance of a balanced and healthy individual contributes positively to relationships and communities. (Without health, the ability to care for others becomes limited.)
  2. Boundaries:
    • Selfishness tends to disregard boundaries, infringing upon others’ rights and needs.
    • Self-care emphasizes the importance of setting healthy boundaries to ensure personal needs are met without infringing upon the rights of others. Recognize that personal needs include a healthy diet, adequate physical activity, good quality, adequate sleep, and social interaction.
  3. Long-Term vs. Short-Term Gratification:
    • Selfish actions are often driven by a desire for immediate satisfaction, without considering the long-term consequences. Remember, regardless of your actions there will be consequences: make those consequences positive.
    • Self-care involves thoughtful, sustainable practices that contribute to long-term well-being, recognizing that fulfillment is an ongoing process. You can’t just do self-care once and expect long-term results.
bowl breakfast calcium cereal

Conclusion:

To conclude, while the line between selfishness and self-care might be fine and seem blurred, the intentions and consequences of our actions play a pivotal role in distinguishing the two. Embracing self-care is not a selfish act but a necessary step toward fostering a healthy, balanced life that benefits both individuals and the collective whole. By understanding and promoting the importance of self-care, we can navigate this delicate balance and cultivate a society that values both personal well-being and the well-being of others.

10 Tips to Reduce Stress

The holiday season is upon us.  Such a joyous time as we indulge in get-togethers with family, friends, and co-workers.  However, it can also be a stressful time as we juggle attending parties, shopping for gifts, and planning, cooking, and hosting events.  On top of that it is the year-end for many organizations, which often means extra work.  What if we could reduce that stress just a wee bit?  I am sharing a few tips and practices for you to use during the holiday season and all year round.  After all, stress doesn’t just come once a year.

Often, we need to start with ourselves and reflect on our actions, behaviours, and feelings as a starting point.  Taking just a few minutes for reflection provides you with the information you need to determine where changes can be made. 

Of key importance to reducing stress is identifying the causes, our frame of mind, and what we want to accomplish.  The purpose of the information being presented is to accomplish a decrease in stress during the holiday season and into the new year.

I am using HeartMathresources for the tips I am sharing with you.

Hope

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If you are reading this, you are demonstrating hope.  You have identified something you want and are taking steps to achieve what you want.  You have hope for change in your future.  Hope is a positive emotion, and we want to have as many positive thoughts and feelings as possible.  Where our mind goes, our energy flows (I don’t know the original author of this, but Tony Robbins did say something similar).  Let your mind go to love, calm, and peace.  

Start the Day Right

“Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed, today.”  Most of us have been told that once or twice in our life.  Some days it is hard to be positive.  I have some chronic health challenges and it is not unusual for me to wake up in pain.  I am always grateful to wake up, and on the days I wake up pain free I am extra grateful.  Unfortunately, that is not how every day starts.  On the good days it is easy to be grateful and have a positive outlook for the day ahead.  On the not so good days I need to take some time to focus on heart feelings.  Heart feelings, as described by HeartMath include gratitude, appreciation, care, kindness, and compassion; you might be able to add more, but those are good starters.  Before you get out of bed identify two or three things for which you are grateful.  Examples: I am alive, I have food available for breakfast, the sun is shining, or we are getting some much-needed rain.  Put a smile on your face, even if just for a few seconds. 

Take a couple of minutes to do some focused breathing:

  • Choose a heart feeling such as kindness, gratitude, love, compassion, calm.
  • As you breathe visualize your breath flowing in and out of your heart and chest area.  Breathe in kindness.  As you exhale, exhale kindness to all around you.
  • Repeat this a few times and throughout the day if negative thoughts enter your mind.

You Choose

Every day we make numerous choices; from what to have for breakfast, to the route we take to work, plus financial and work-related choices too numerous to list.  What we want to remember is these are choices, and we are in control.

When we are stressed, we don’t make good decisions. Think about this – after an argument have you ever thought to yourself “why didn’t I say…?” or even “why didn’t I walk away?”   Learn to take a moment to choose your response rather than react. Between stimulus and response there is a time for a brief pause – a gap, where we can choose what to say or do. Make use of the moment. Did your mom ever tell you to count to 10 before you say something?  I know my mom certainly did as I often blurted out what I thought only to land myself in trouble.  I still need to be diligent to remember to do this.  We can’t take back words.  Once spoken they are out there and can cause hurt, anger, or happiness and deep thought.  Choose wisely.

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Outcomes

What is the outcome you want from a specific situation or event?  Can you get the outcome you want?  Of course, you can. You might have to do a bit of work, though.  How? 

Example: You have a recurring meeting that is often challenging with much disagreement and little accomplishment.  Many of the attendees disagree and don’t seem to be able to reach any sort of consensus. You find yourself becoming increasingly stressed and anxious just thinking about these regular meetings. The outcome you want is to not dread the meeting, not be stressed or anxious.  The solution: take time before the meeting (or other pending stressful situation) to put yourself in a positive frame of mind.  I suggest using Heart-Focused BreathingTM a HeartMathTM Technique.

Focus your attention in the area of your heart.  Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area.  Breathe a little slower and deeper than usual. Find a rhythm that is comfortable for you.

As you continue breathing imagine yourself in the ‘situation’.

Now, radiate love and positive energy into this upcoming event or situation.  This creates a positive energy field.

As the meeting or situation progresses you can practice this again if you feel things are not going well; you can reset the energy field and restore harmony.

In-Between Times

How do you spend your time between events?  What goes on in your head as you drive to work, or waiting in line for whatever, going for a walk, or exercising?  Use this time to consider practicing heart qualities such as kindness, compassion, care, love, or appreciation.

Use the Heart-Focused BreathingTM Technique from the Outcomes section and radiate one or more of the heart qualities to people for whom you care.  This practice will benefit you and those for whom you care.  Remember, where the mind goes the energy flows.

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Quick Self-Assessment

This is something to do a few times during the day.  Stop and consider where you are really at with your thoughts, feelings, and attitudes – your mood.  Where is your energy being directed?  Is your energy being drained or boosted?  What we often consider the normal, little annoyances of routine can be extremely energy-draining.  Frustration, annoyance, and impatience all drain our energy.  What can you do about this?    

  • 1. Identify the drain. 
  • 2. Do Heart-Focused BreathingTM
  • 3. Picture a more positive response to the situation. 

While stuck in traffic I have begun focusing on my breathing and listening to uplifting music.  Afterall, there is nothing I can do about the actual situation. Consider your perceptions; is your glass half full, half empty, or refillable?

Making Important Decisions

We often worry about upcoming decisions or events, frequently without foundation.  Think about what benefits you have received from worry.  Probably none.  So why do we allow ourselves to get into that worry state?  Habit?  The result is usually accumulated stress.  Worry and stress aren’t conducive to creative solutions to our concerns or problems.

The big concern related to constant worry and negative thoughts is the accumulation of stress and its associated outcomes.  Chronic stress over time eats away at our resilience, ability to be creative, and choose appropriate solutions eventually affecting our health mental, emotional, and physical.  But how do we stop these things occurring?  Traffic is out of our control, we won’t get along with everyone, and sometimes our jobs are on the line if we don’t attend those annoying meetings: so, what do we do?  Make Heart-Focused Breathing part of your daily routine.  This will help reset your baseline, help you shift your perception of the events, and over time you will be better able to handle and come back from those stressful situations.  Additionally, our world needs more love, compassion, and kindness and taking this small amount of help will help you develop those qualities.

Make your decisions from a place of calm, love, and kindness when you are in control of your emotions.

Relationships – Getting Along

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all get along?  Think of John Lennon’s Imagine – living life in peace, sharing all the world.  The answer is love.  Learning to love one another is possible.  We don’t have to agree with everyone, we might even choose to not associate with some people, but we can still share love from our hearts.

We can set aside judgment, biases, and different beliefs.  Be open, learn, and listen.  The more you practice love, forgiveness, and kindness the easier it will flow to those around you.  Start with self-love, self-compassion, and self-forgiveness. This might take some time, be gentle with yourself, one small step at a time.  Don’t be ruled by stress and the fear that is so easily spread through the media; learn to think for yourself.  Heed the advice of Stephen Covey “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Your Purpose

What is your purpose in this life?  Many of us ask this question, others just go with the flow.  What were you meant to do that no one else on earth can do?  You might find your purpose or what you want to do changes over time – that is ok, you are living and learning.  Listen to your heart and to your intuition.  Examine your desires, wishes, and values to determine what is most important in your life.  From there you might just find your purpose.

Changes – Together We Can Change the World

We see wars and chaos everywhere.  News and social media are filled with tragedy and fear.  Kindness is free, give it openly.  Gracefully accept kindness from others.  Be kind to yourself.  Learn to love yourself so you can love others.  Learn to forgive yourself so you can forgive others.  Share your wealth.  Make note of all for which you can be grateful each day.

Wrap it all Together!

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Make small changes toward reducing your stress and improving your life.  Gratitude is a great starter – no matter how bad the situation there is something for which to be thankful.  Know your small acts of kindness, compassion, caring, and love can make a huge difference to you and those with whom you interact.  

I encourage you to check out HeartMathResources at Resources | HeartMath Institute for additional information to find ways to reduce your stress all year long.  If you need additional guidance to get your stress under control and find the beautiful life you deserve, give me a shout; I’m always available to chat.

Who Am I?

Do you ever ask yourself “Who am I?” A big question, but what is even more important is your answer.

I am a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a retired RN, and a dog owner. I am a bit of an old hippie at times.  I am a complex being, more than what you see on the outside.  I am a body, a mind, emotions, and feelings.  At times I am strong, at other times I am weak.  At times I think I am crazy, but at other times I think everyone else must be crazy.  I often don’t fit into any group or clique; I am often on the sidelines. What about you?

Where and how can we discover our true self, or as the popular phrase goes our “authentic self”?  Is this something we can do on our own or do we need to involve others?  If we need to involve others, we need to find those we trust.  I’m not about to reveal my deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings to just anyone. 

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I’m no longer considered young, yet I don’t feel old.  Well, most of the time I don’t feel old, but some days I feel ancient.  I wonder what causes those different feelings.  I coach others to improve themselves in a variety of ways.  One thing I tell others is to start by setting small, easily achievable goals.  That way you will ensure your success, have something to celebrate, and boost your self-confidence as you set another goal.  After all, we want to succeed. That brings me to another question: What is success?  That varies from one person to another.  Heck, it can even vary from one day to another in the same person.  I consider myself successful when I wake up – I am alive.  But some days that isn’t enough.  I want more to feel successful.  Is that what defines me?

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What do other people see when they look at me?  What do other people think of me?  Are either of those things any of my business?  I have read that what other people think of you is none of your business.  Maybe I need to take that to heart.  On the other hand, maybe it is important to know the impression you are leaving.  Is it worthwhile to ask if what others are seeing and thinking is the truth of who we are?

As you might be noticing there are more questions here than anything else.  I have always been that way – full of questions.  I taught nursing for several years and always encouraged my students to ask questions.  As a life and leadership coach, I encourage my clients to ask questions.  Be curious, it is how we learn.  In my pursuit of who I am, I do think about what I will leave behind, and what kind of a legacy will I leave.  How will I be remembered?  Will I be remembered?

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Are you the same person at home as at work or at play?  If not, why?  Does it have to do with focus or interests?  Have you established goals for yourself?  What about values; have you given any thought to what matters most to you in this world, in this lifetime? 

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Are you content with who you are and what you have in life?  Or does this ebb and flow?  Some days you are totally content and other days you are floundering wanting more or something different.  If someone were to ask, “What is your purpose in life”, would you be able to answer without hesitation?  Have you even given any thought to your life’s purpose? 

I am sure there are people who do not need to go on a journey of self-discovery, people who are happy and content with the way they are and the life they have.  I think about my grandmother.  She died when I was 14.  She had given birth to 15 children.  Her life could not have been easy.  She arrived in Canada from France and married a Scottish man.  They lived on the prairies in the early 1900s, through two world wars, the Great Depression, the “dirty thirties”, and even the Riel Rebellion.  Yet I never thought to ask her any of these types of questions, they never occurred to me.  I remember seeing my grandma sitting quietly listening to the radio, possibly crocheting, or just sitting.  She seemed content.  I can’t help but wonder if she was just relieved to not have all the family to care for and housework to do.  Have we changed over the years expecting more of ourselves and others?  Has the change been for the better? 

I saw a question that made me curious:

If today were my last day, would I want to do what I am about to do?  If not, why?

Jordan Tarver – https://www.jordantarver.com/self-discovery-questions

A worthwhile question – maybe – what do you think?  What I am about to do is have some food because I am starting to feel nauseated from not eating.  If this were my last day, yes, I would still eat.  But beyond that – I am writing this blog – would I still write this blog?  I think I would, though possibly if I knew this was my last day the blog might be different.  I would add something more important to me though – I would add in time with my family.  I can’t always choose when to spend time with them – they are all adults and have their own lives, but, if possible, I would spend time with them.  If I couldn’t be with them, I would at least talk to them or send them messages of love.  I do that anyway – sometimes I haven’t any news to share but I send a note just telling them that I love them, and they are important to me.  When I think about what I have just written here, I think that might say a lot about who I am and what is important to me.  With that in mind the question “If today were my last day, would I want to do what I am about to do?” is an important one.  Maybe because it makes you think about what is important in your life. 

I have done more self-development courses and programs than I can remember.  Everyone has been of value in one way or another.  The value of some has been in learning what not to do.  Learning what not to do is as important as learning what to do. 

We are surrounded by a beautiful world (yes, I am aware there are wars, hunger, droughts, but there is more than those things) full of beautiful people with beautiful thoughts and ideas, full of love and kindness and if we open our hearts and minds, we will see the beauty.  Don’t be blind to negativity but be open to all that is positive and beautiful and seek it out.  The more you recognize and embrace the love, beauty, and goodness in the world the more you will be rewarded with more of the same.  

If you want to explore who you are give me a shout; I have a wealth of resources we can tap into to discover the best you.

What Vibes Are You Sending Out? What Vibes Are You Receiving?

We aren’t happy all the time. That is life. We have ups and downs, good days and bad days. We have a vast array of emotions, each one legitimate. Our feelings and emotions aren’t always rational, but they are still there. We often know that what we feel isn’t rational and often regret when we react in less than ideal way. But we do it repeatedly, often with the ‘explanation’ or ‘excuse’ that we are just being honest. Maybe so, but we are not enjoying the wonderful life we deserve and we are wasting our precious energy. “But,” you say “it is just the way I feel”. True, but what if you could change the way you respond and in so doing cut down the energy drain and feel better? Below is a link to a HeartMath(TM) article that will help guide you to being in control of your emotional responses.

https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/global-interconnectedness/each-individual-impacts-the-field-environment/?fbclid=IwAR3vS1hvx79ZYYqGI_N9bS5pacJcxLfhMRhmLvAnyBlAt3yrSZB1aEz6YuE

Where is the Scientific Proof?

Though the idea may seem strange to many, and it is hard to show scientific proof, it also doesn’t cost any thing, nor does it have adverse effects, so why not give it a try? I’m happy to go along with the placebo effect if it makes life better.

When you are hurt, grieving, or feeling low do you sometimes just want a hug? Have you experienced a sense of calm relaxation during a massage? What sensations do you experience when you kiss and caress your lover? Touch is important. And what about the energy you feel when certain people come into the room? Seeing some people immediately lifts you up while other immediately bring you down. Why? They are giving off energy.

We are made up of energy. Our brain waves are measured with EEGs, our hearts are evaluated with ECGs, and our muscles are tested with EMGs – these all measure the electricity conduction of the various areas of our bodies.

Check out the following article to learn more.

https://www.heartmath.org/research/research-library/energetics/electricity-of-touch/

Never doubt that even when you say nothing you are communicating with others. Your energy, your vibrations are radiating to others. Make sure yours are positive.

Grounding

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Over the last few years, I have been hearing about “Grounding”.  As is my usual practice I had to read up on this more.  Afterall, if Deepak Chopra was recommending grounding, then there just might be something there.  I tended to think of being grounded as being down to earth, practical, or realistic.  That being said, if we are grounded does that eliminate dreaming, manifestation, spirituality, or even being?

When I read about physical grounding, barefoot on the earth, I was thrilled.  Being barefoot has been natural for me since childhood.  I love the feel of earth, grass, sand, even stones beneath my feet.  They all feel so good and transport me to what feels like a different realm. But as I decided to delve into grounding a bit more here is some of what I found.

Some of the meanings depend on the context, but generally, refer to a state of being emotionally stable, mentally present, and connected to reality. Here are some common interpretations of what it means to be grounded:

woman sitting on wooden planks
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Emotional Stability: Being emotionally grounded means you are in control of your emotions and can remain calm and composed even in challenging or stressful situations. Emotional grounding involves understanding your feelings, acknowledging them, and managing them in a healthy way.

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Connected to Reality: Grounded in reality is having a realistic and accurate perception of the world around you (Is this possible? Is my reality the same as your reality?)  Reality grounding involves recognizing the difference between your thoughts, emotions, and objective facts. People who are grounded in reality are less likely to engage in wishful thinking or denial (is this something you want? I like the idea of dreaming, wishing, hoping, as these are part of the life I want).

Mental Presence: To be mentally grounded is to be fully present in the moment and focused on what is happening right now. Mental grounding means not dwelling on the past or worrying excessively about the future. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can help cultivate mental grounding.

Physical Grounding: This can refer to the physical sensation of being connected to the Earth, such as feeling the support of the ground beneath your feet. Activities like walking barefoot on grass or soil are said to help people feel physically grounded.  This is a grounding to which I relate – I love this.

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Spiritual or Energetic Grounding: In some spiritual or holistic practices, grounding can refer to connecting with the Earth’s energy or centring your own energy. This is often done through visualization or specific exercises to balance one’s energy.  This too, is a grounding to which I relate.  The Earth’s energy and the energy of all those around us influence our life more than we often are aware.

    Stability and Security: In a practical sense, being grounded can also mean having a stable and secure foundation in life. This could include financial stability, a stable home environment, or a strong support system of friends and family.  This version of grounding is something we often strive to achieve.  Though there is nothing wrong with being practical and it serves us well in our daily lives, I like the idea of also being able to be wistful, to have fun, and to be anything but practical at times – the joie de vivre.

    family dressed in white elegant clothes standing in rural landscape in a morning sunlight
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    woman standing on rice field during cloudy day
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    Overall, being grounded implies a state of balance, stability, and mindfulness that helps individuals navigate life’s challenges with a clear and steady mind. I have no problem with this take on being grounded, but I find it is a bit restrictive as stated – balance, stability, and mindfulness can all be positive qualities, but let’s not forget about having fun, exploring life, and choosing to be impractical at times.  Live life to the fullest!

    Never Too Old to Learn

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    Life has been incredibly busy the last little while.  Nonetheless, I continue to learn, after all, we are never too old to learn. We’ve seen lots of people, family, friends, acquaintances, and even met new people.  What more could we want from life?  One thing I would like more of is the ability to be nonjudgmental.  Though I am usually non-judgmental and compassionate, I am human and at times catch myself being just what I don’t want to be – judgmental. 

    Being Non-Judgmental

    Though I pride myself in accepting other people as they are, I recently found myself being a bit smug as I proclaimed I could accept others’ beliefs and behaviours as part of who they are.  Having been around so many people recently I became aware of the need to remind myself that we all see and experience things differently.  I needed to remind myself we all have a variety of reasons for believing, feeling, and behaving as we do.  I do not need to agree with you, your beliefs, or your actions.  But it is important to me that I accept you as you are.  If you are not doing anything that causes harm there is no reason for me to let your beliefs, actions, or behaviours upset me.  I cannot change you.  We are all individuals and we do not fully understand what another person is experiencing.  One of my core values is to be non-judgmental, but I find I need to be mindful of this at times when I do not agree with others. 

    We each create our own reality.  What life and reality are you living at this moment?  Are you living a life of scarcity or abundance; love or hate; kindness or pain; health or unwellness; kind and giving relationships or loneliness?  Remember, where our focus goes our energy flows.  With that in mind, I am reminded to focus on my own high vibrational energy.  We are made of energy.  Our energy field extends beyond our physical body and can influence what others are feeling.  Of course, the energy fields of others will also influence what we are feeling.  What energy are you putting out?

    Our Vibrations

    Because every cell in every biological system on Earth is bathed in an external and internal environment of fluctuating invisible magnetic fields of a wide range of frequencies, these fields can affect virtually every cell and circuit in biological systems.

    Have you ever had someone walk into the room and you get a good ‘vibe’ and notice an immediate change in the ‘feeling’ of the room?  Some people lift the vibrational level to a point where there is a feeling of happiness and joy.  Other people can walk into a room, and you get a bad ‘vibe’, the vibrational level can fall, and the room is filled with sadness, even anger and hostility.  This tells me that if I don’t like the ‘atmosphere’ or ‘vibe’ of the physical space I am in then it is up to me to change my vibration and in turn, this will change the vibration of others.  Will this be easy to do?  Not likely.  Is this worth doing?  By all means. 

    How can we change our vibrational level?  The first thing that must occur is awareness.  We need to be aware of our current vibrational level.  Secondly, ask what kind of vibe you would like to be experiencing.  Next, breathe and focus on the positive vibrational state you would like to experience.  This last step involves picturing the state, feeling the state, and living in the state. 

    Neuroplasticity and Manifesting Your Dreams

    There’s a dynamic process that allows our brain’s structure and function to be modified based on our experiences, learning, and the environment we’re in.

    I’m currently involved in a Manifestation course.  I love it.  I have long believed that if we can think it we can have it or do it.  Nothing is impossible.  I also have a great interest in the brain and neuroplasticity.  This all comes together in my brain as an obvious connection.  I found an article to help me understand this – I encourage you to give it a boo.

    The way I look at this is the same as I look at the Placebo Effect – so long as something is not being overlooked, what can it hurt to try?  Maybe I am being simplistic with this train of thought, but so far it has worked for me. 

    Manifesting My Dreams

    My dreams require me to be healthy.  I value time with my family, and I want to be able to work in my garden and go for walks in our wonderful neighbourhood with my husband and dog; I want to help others through my coaching and writing, and to be able to give to my friends and family – if I am not healthy, I cannot do these things.  If I am not healthy, I will need help and care from my friends and family and feel I would be a burden to them – I do not want that situation.  Thus, my health is my number one priority. 

    My Digital Vision Board

    I read about making a digital vision board so it could be loaded onto phones, and social media – of course I immediately created one.  It was easy, I am going to do more.  These dreams/visions either are or will become a reality.  Note the two dog photos – one is our dog Sadie. We said goodbye to her in October 2022. The other is our dog, Napi who we adopted in November 2022.  We hadn’t realized how much they looked alike till we saw photos of the two of them – I guess there is a look that attracts us – mostly the smiles. This is a very simple vision board, with a few important items for my life. A good start, I think.

    I’m a life-long believer in jotting down my goals.  Though I have creative abilities, drawing is not one of them, so creating a vision board means finding photos or clippings of what I want.  This vision board identifies some of the things that are important to me – the outdoors, my garden, my family (including my dog), essential oils (they help with my health), and a beautiful home. My values and goals are expressed in the pictures on my vision board.

    Compassion

    Compassion begins with self-compassion. Once you can love and accept yourself as you are, you will find it easier to accept others as they are.

    Never Too Old to Learn

    I continue to be curious and learn new things and learn about myself (after all, we are all a work in progress, and I can use more work on not being smug, or judgmental).  I still have work to do to become a better person.  I am thrilled to be learning more about manifesting, essential oils, and neuroplasticity.  There is so much in this world for all of us to learn about – enjoy your curiosity.

    Abundance, Gratitude, and The 12 Universal Laws

    Something to Think About

    We have heard about the importance of gratitude, that all around us is abundance, and about the law of attraction. There are also 12 Universal Laws, one of which is the Law of Attraction. I am sharing the 12 Laws of Attraction with you and some commentary about them. Why would I bother to do this? I want to share the information I learn and that I believe will help you have the life of your dreams. No one size fits all, as a result, I share a wide variety of information. You choose what resonates with you.

    I have been on a spiritual journey for several years.  Currently, I am exploring manifestation.  Part of this exploration includes examining the 12 Universal Laws.  What better way for me to learn and understand these than to share them with others?  One of my exercises on my manifestation journey is to listen to Bob Proctor’s Abundance Meditation.  I am including the link for you. 

    When I heard Bob Proctor say “If you can hold it in your head, you can hold it in your hand” I was thrilled. (Bob Proctor, Abundance Meditation)  I have long believed if you can think it, you or someone, can make it so.  You might be ahead of your time with your thoughts, I encourage you to maintain your sense of curiosity and imagination. 

    My journey has involved many people and ideas.  Some with which I agree, some I don’t.  Nonetheless, in most cases, at least one of the laws has been mentioned and discussed.  Why do we want to consider these laws?  Of what value might they be to us? 

    One reason to explore these laws is to help discover a more spiritually aligned life.  With each law, I have included how you might be able to apply it to your life.  But remember, you make the choice, one size does not fit all.  You choose what works for you to get you the life you want. 

    The 12 Universal Laws

    The 12 Universal Laws are thought to be intrinsic, unchanging laws of our universe that ancient cultures have always intuitively known. (Sarah Regan)

    Law of Divine Oneness

    All things are interconnected.  Every thought, action, or event is connected to anything and everything else.  Use of this law in real life to help develop your compassionate nature and greater understanding of others and their situation.  We are all one.  Understanding this law and living in accordance leads to increased power and empathy.

    Law of Vibration

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    Everything is in constant motion, carrying energy, and vibrating at a specific frequency.  This applies to people, as in good vibes.  If you are having a bad day, you can elevate your frequency by practicing yoga, sound breathing (such as using a singing bowl), and chakra work.

    Law of Correspondence

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    As above, so below.  Patterns repeat – both personally and throughout the universe. Regan quotes Kaiser

    “If our life is chaotic and fearful it’s because there is chaos and fear within. If our life seems calm and grounded, it is because we feel peace within.”

    When things aren’t going well for you ask what you are meant to learn about yourself, and what inner healing you might need. What patterns do you repeat in your life?  If you were to change a repeated pattern, what transformation would you expect to see?

    Law of Attraction

    Like attracts like.  This law suggests what you focus on is what you get.  This is the law often used in manifestation.  To have the things we want in our life, we need to work to vibrate at the same frequency as the chosen item.  Being positive, proactive, and loving attracts more of the same.

    Focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want.”

    Law of Inspired Action

    Though similar to the Law of Attraction, this law tells us we must take action to get what we want.  We must actively pursue our goals and desires.  You must take inspired, real, actionable steps to invite what you want in your life. 

    Apply this law by slowing down, getting quiet, and allowing space for internal guidance.  Look within.  Be open to all possibilities.  Whether you take a big or small step toward what you want, you instantly attract that relationship, job, or abundance you seek.

    Law of Perpetual Transmutation of Energy

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    Everything around us is in constant flux, ever-evolving.  Many of the changes exist or occur at the cellular or atomic level, nonetheless, they continue.  Every action is preceded by a thought.  Thoughts have the power to eventually become our physical reality.

    Have you been around a negative person and soon found yourself becoming down or being negative?  That is an example of how this Law of Perpetual Transmutation of Energy works in daily life.  Of course, it can work the other way too, being around a positive person (positive energy, high vibration) can bring your vibrations up and have you feeling more positive.  You can raise the positive energy around you by maintaining positive thoughts and actions.

    Law of Cause and Effect

    All actions have a corresponding reaction.   

    This law highlights the direct relation between actions and events.

    You might not see the effects immediately, but they will come around. Your spiritual life can affect the world around you, positively or negatively.  And your environment can influence your spirituality. Everything you put out into the universe has a ripple effect. Every one of your actions will have a reaction – good or bad. What are you putting out?

    Law of Compensation

    This law is similar to the Laws of Correspondence and Attraction.  You will receive what you put out.  You reap what you sow, be careful how you treat others and the planet.  What you seek you will find if you contribute to that goal.

    To put this law into practice ask yourself “What can I do to be of service and to support others today?”

    Law of Relativity

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    This law is about the neutrality of things when seen in isolation (everything is neutral).  No specific person, experience, emotion, or action is evaluated as good or bad until you compare it with something else. There are always multiple perspectives and perceptions about anything that happens to you.  Considering these alternate perspectives can make you more grateful and show you how to make improvements in your life.

    While I don’t support the idea of comparing ourselves to others because it so often supports the erroneous ideas that we are not good enough, or not worthy, I do support comparison if it can help us see what we have.  This is a good law to help us identify the abundance we have and to be grateful for all our wealth.

    Law of Polarity

    Everything has an opposite; good and evil, hot and cold, love and fear.  There are two sides to every coin. 

    When you experience something difficult, this law will help you appreciate the good developments to come.  This law also helps improve your resilience in troubled times.  What is the contrast to the current situation or circumstance?  How will this help you appreciate your current status?

    Law of Rhythm

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    Also known as the Law of Perpetual Motion, it is focused on movement.  Consider the seasons, aging, and life stages as examples of this law.  Reflection on these can help you gain perspective.  Enjoy what you have while it lasts.

    We do not remain the same, nothing remains the same, there is constant evolution. Pay attention to your body, your inner voice, when your body and mind are tired – rest. 

    Law of Gender

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    There are two major types of energy, masculine and feminine, yin and yang.  All things have both types of energy. 

    We must find a way to achieve a balance between the two.  Think about the role each type of energy plays in your life and if there is a deficit or excess of either.  Try to have a balance of energy.

    References:

    https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-12-universal-laws-and-how-to-practice-them

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140710134910-39932686-the-hidden-power-of-the-12-universal-laws/

    What Comes Before, What Comes After?

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    Do we communicate before we are born? Do we communicate after we die? Having spent some time grieving the death of my dear friend I feel compelled to share some of my thoughts, questions, and beliefs.

    Have you heard that we choose our parents?  So interesting if you think about this as an adult.  Would you pick those parents again?  If we chose them, was it so we would learn from them or they would learn from us, or a bit of both?  Would your life have been easier if you’d had different parents?  So many things to think about. 

    Do you believe in reincarnation?  Do we come back to this earth after our death?  If so, how many times, and can it be as a human or an animal?  Do we keep coming back until we get it right?  Are there angels, demons, ghosts, or other entities not in physical form?  Or do these entities inhabit the bodies of others? 

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    Do the dead communicate with us?  How, when, or why?  Do the dead communicate with us to help us or harm us? What would be the purpose of our dearly departed staying in communication? 

    What kind of experiences have you had with ethereal or other-worldly beings? 

    I have chosen to believe that there are beings, or forces who do communicate with us. When we die, are we simply no more; do we merely come from nothing and return to nothing?  We have learned that energy can neither be created nor destroyed and we are made up of energy: The First Law of Thermodynamics.  Everything is made of energy, including the human body.

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    Energy is defined as the capacity to perform work. According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, the total amount of energy in the universe is constant — incapable of being created or destroyed — and can only change from one form to another.

    https://www.massagemag.com/author/kdambrogio/

    I am more than my physical body. When my body is no longer able to stay on this earth my spirit will continue to live on in some form. In the last few years, many people close to me have left this earth; their bodies were no longer able to survive in this environment. These were talented, strong, giving individuals with much to offer.  As such I find it hard to conceive that they just stopped being.  With so much to offer to the world a new form was necessary for them to continue their work and to share their important messages.  Our role, the role for those of us inhabiting early bodies, is to listen and be aware of all that is present in mind, body, and spirit. Be a part of the universe and be cognizant that it is more than we yet know.

    Make the most of your time in this world. Share your love and kindness, always be curious. Enjoy life to the fullest. Check out my other blogs.

    Is Your Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?

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    What’s the Big Deal About Positive Thinking?

    I recently received a message informing me that most people complain once every three minutes during conversations. (Sri Preethraji).  Is this a habit you want to have?  Focusing on the challenges we face is neither productive nor healthy.  Change is possible.

    For the next few days, during your conversations pay attention to what you and others are saying.  Is it a pity party?  Or a general complaining about all that is wrong in the world.  When life gives you grief and you share your problems with a friend are you sometimes told “just think positively”?  This isn’t what you want to hear. You just want to wallow in your pain.  You might even want a bit of sympathy.  But hang on a minute!  How long do you wallow?  There might be some value in thinking positively.

    I don’t suggest you gloss over life’s problems.  When you experience hurt, pain, disappointment in life it is important to acknowledge what you are feeling and why.  No one would expect you to not be upset, sad, angry, or frightened when you receive shocking news, lose your job, or get a devastating health diagnosis. We all go through tough times, and we move on: but how?  Life is full of difficulties.  We want to overcome the difficulties and enjoy life to the fullest.  When we feel our world has ended there are things you can do to get yourself back on track. First, be compassionate with yourself.

    Our fears, anger, and frustrations are often important, they notify us of things that need to change, or warn us of dangers. Pay attention to that little inner voice. Learn how to control how you respond, learn how to enjoy life to the fullest.

    Attitude

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    Do you know anyone who tends to see things as negative?  “What a beautiful day,” you say as you greet your friend. “Oh yes, the house is going to get so hot, another night too hot to sleep.” Or, “I hear you have a nice vacation planned.” And the response comes “I hate flying, it is always so uncomfortable, the seats are too small, and check-in just takes forever.  I wonder if it is really worth the hassle.”  Most of us have friends, family, or acquaintances who have this attitude. I don’t know about you, but I eventually spend less time with them.  I prefer to be around people with a positive attitude. Though I prefer to be around positive people life doesn’t always work that way. We pick up on the electrical field that surrounds others.

    Our Electrical Field

    We each have an electrical or vibrational field that radiates about three feet around us (some studies suggest this is much more). So, if someone is giving off bad vibes how do we protect ourselves? Will our own positive vibes over power their negative ones? This is where you need to do some work and use your imagination. Visualize you are snuggly wrapped in a cloak (you choose the colour, I like pink or gold) that lets your positive, loving energy flow to others but filters out the negative energy from reaching you. (image from Human Energy Field Facebook Page)

    I have written about Positive Self-Talk before. This information about choosing to be happy, learning how to find joy and calm, and decreasing the stress in your life merely adds to my previous blog.  I have learned from Ekam, World Centre for Enlightenment, there are only two states of being, a beautiful state or a suffering state. And I am on a journey to spend most of my time in a beautiful state.

    The Benefits of Positive Thinking

    There are benefits to positive thinking.  One article I read suggests positive thinking can lead to the following health benefits:

    1. Increased life span.
    2. Decreased rates of depression.
    3. Lower levels of distress and pain.
    4. Increased resistance to illness.
    5. Better psychological and physical well-being.
    6. Better cardiovascular health and decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stroke.

    Why do these health benefits result from positive thinking?  The answer isn’t known.  We can only guess that it might relate to our being able to handle stress better. We know that prolonged stress leads to a weakened immune system, increased blood pressure, poor sleep, it might influence what you eat and drink.  All of these are detrimental to our health and if we can do something to improve our health, why not?  Is it easy to do?  Here are some suggestions.

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    How to Think Positively

    A message in my email inbox from Deepak Chopra contained these suggestions for positive thinking:

    1. Acknowledge your negative thoughts. First, ask yourself if the negative thought is true.  Example: “I’m so stupid, I can’t do anything right.”  Well, we know for sure that isn’t true.  Now to Reframe that thought: “This is difficult, but I’ve done difficult things before and done well.”
    2. Move your body. Get the oxygen flowing along with the endorphins.  Those endorphins will give you a natural high.
    3. Try affirmations.  Display these on your bathroom mirror, or somewhere you will see them often.  This helps you celebrate your worth and successes.
    4. Practice gratitude.  List 3 – 5 things for which you are grateful every morning and/or evening.
    5. Meditate daily. 

    More Things to Help You Think Positively

    If you tend to be a pessimist or negative thinker don’t expect to change overnight.  As with anything you want to change – first you must decide what you want, what you need to start doing, and what you need to stop doing. 

    You can start with how you talk to yourself.  Be kind to yourself.  Speak to yourself as you would speak to a friend, beloved family member, or someone for whom you care about.

    Take time during the day to reflect on what you are thinking.  Just a moment or two to get yourself back on track if you have started down a path of negative thoughts. It might help at this point add some humour and even laugh at yourself.  Find the funny side of what is happening around you.

    Body and mind work together if one isn’t healthy the other will be affected.  Live a healthy lifestyle. Eat nutritiously – healthy food in healthy amounts.  Get adequate sleep. Take time for appropriate physical activity.  Learn ways to manage your stress.

    Surround yourself with positive people.  Be with people who are supportive and positive.  You want to be around others who will help guide you and offer feedback if you want it.  Negative people might just add to your stress, which you don’t need while attempting to make positive changes to your life.

    You are on Your Way

    There are many more things you can do to be more positive.  Find things to do that you enjoy and spend some time having fun.  You might need to take a little time to think about what those things are – but you deserve to have fun in your life.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Love yourself, just the way you are. One small step at a time.

    Let me know your thoughts on positive thinking.  I’d love to help guide you on your journey to a beautiful life.  I am still learning, but I have numerous resources we can explore and discuss.

    Leadership: Nursing and Healthcare

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    I recently spoke to the Philippine Canadian Nurses Association in Calgary.

    Florence Nightingale’s 203rd birthday was celebrated on 12-May-2023. Florence was an English social reformer, statistician, and founder of modern nursing.  Nightingale focused on #personalizedpatientcare and #goodhygiene, which increased chances of recovery. Florence was also a #statistician and collected data. During the Crimean war she used the numbers she collected to introduce reform to the care being provided. Florence Nightingale was a leader.

    Let’s delve into leadership a bit more.

    Who is a Leader?

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    Though there is no universally accepted definition for leader or leadership, we do tend to know both when we see them.

    Everyone is a leader.  Sometimes, in some situations you are a leader.  We know not everyone is a good leader.  Some people are better leaders than others. We also know that leadership can be learned.  There are numerous competencies each of us can develop if we choose.  Whether you are a formal or informal leader, leadership competencies and skills are worth learning.

    Nurses are leaders to many in numerous ways. Patients and families look to nurses as leaders. We lead each other – no one nurse can know everything. Nurses have insights into how things could be done better – and it behooves each of us to share those insights.

    What is a #Leader?

    Oxford online dictionary defines leader as “the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country”. I immediately feel the hairs on the back of my neck go up when I hear the word “commands” – but I guess it might fit in some situations. Commanding might be important in military situations, or large-scale incidences such as 9/11 the leader might be the commander of the situation organizing and issuing order appropriately. In most of our daily situation commanding is not necessary.

    What is #Leadership?

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    Again, from the Oxford online dictionary come 3 definitions:

    “the action of leading a group of people or an organization.”

    “the state or position of being a leader.”

    “the leaders of an organization, country, etc.”

    Where Do We Find and Interact with Leaders?

    1. The coach and the captain of your sports team are both considered leaders.
    2. Your teachers and professors are often considered leaders.
    3. The king, prime minister, premier, mayor – they are considered leaders, but…
    4. On a trip you might have a tour guide as your leader. This can be especially important if you don’t speak the local language.
    5. Your boss, supervisor, manager.
    6. Within the family – Parents and family members.

    What makes a person a strong or good leader?  Think about this, not just while reading, but afterwards. Pay attention in a variety of situations: watch people, movies, tv shows and pick out the leaders, both formal and informal. Notice the leadership qualities displayed by others in different settings – which qualities appeal to you and which make you cringe.  When you see examples of bad leadership or bad leader behaviours, learn from them. You can learn from what is done wrong just as you can learn from good practices.

    Are you, or have you been in a #formalleadership role?  Did you receive any specific guidance, education, or support when you took on the role?  On a #personaldevelopment level have you sought out information about being a leader, about leadership, or management?

    #Nurses and anyone in #healthcare are probably chuckling right now thinking “when does she think we would have time to do that?”  I know there is a nursing shortage – it isn’t new, but it might be worse than we have experienced before.  Over the last few years, you have been stretched to the breaking point so taking courses has not been high on your to do list if it ever was on your list at all.

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    But there are ways to develop your leadership skills without significantly adding to your workload.  I will cover how you can do that a bit later.

    Though management and leadership are different, there are many significant similarities.  And we might even want to consider why leadership even matters.  Maybe we should just forget about the people part and focus on the business and the bottom line.

    Let’s delve into this a bit more.

    When Does Leadership Occur?

    Leadership is happening all around us all the time.

    Leadership occurs anytime anyone influences someone.  Leadership happens in our interactions with others – in our #relationships.

    We often don’t want to be put into a leadership role.  Some people don’t believe they are leaders.  As an assistant manager of an ICU, I sometimes asked the staff on the unit what kind of leader they were.  Most often the response was “Oh, I’m not a leader.”  Yet, I continue to believe everyone is a leader, even if they do not recognize it is themselves.

    Whether you are a formal leader, or an informal leader you can improve your #leadershipskills and abilities. No matter what type of leader you might consider yourself i.e., some of the traditional types being transformational, transactional, delegative, participative, authoritative, or servant there is always something more to learn. I would like to introduce 2 types of leadership that I think are worthy of your attention: 1 – #EmotionalIntelligenceLeadership and 2 – #ComplexityLeadership.  However, it doesn’t matter if you put a label on your leadership style or not, you have leadership strengths and abilities.  

    Why Do We Need Leaders and Leadership?

    Leaders provide #guidance, direction, #support, #inspiration, and #motivation to achieve desired goals in business and personally.

    woman in yellow pants
    Photo by Luke Webb on Pexels.com

    Think about the leaders you have had? Which leaders stand out? Were they good leaders or poor leaders? What reason or reasons brought you to that conclusion?  Some reasons could be they were arrogant, not a people person, didn’t listen to the ideas of others, didn’t keep promises, didn’t explain why changes were made… OR they were kind, honest, took time to get to know you, were empathetic, were humble, listened to the ideas of the team, or just seemed to understand where you are coming from.

    Complexity Leadership is ideal for nurses and nursing because it is a process involving complex adaptive systems and highly interactive people (#complexadaptivesystems are the roots of all healthcare delivery). Some of the concepts of Complexity Leadership include it being highly interactive, #collaborative, creative, #innovative, and #adaptable, often with outcomes that are #emergent – unplanned and nonlinear. So many of these words seem to relate to nurses and nursing – interactive, collaborative, you definitely need to be creative, innovative, and adaptable with shortages of people and supplies, technology and machinery that doesn’t work as stated.  

    Nursing, leadership, and complexity theory have overlapping characteristics when placed in Venn Diagram thus creating a model for Complexity Leadership in Nursing. I presented this in my dissertation when I examined the education and development of leadership in nursing programs.  (A Case Study in Complexity Leadership in Nursing: Preparing Baccalaureate Nursing Students).

    All three, nursing, leadership, and complexity theory involve relationships, the ability to manage conflicts and ambiguity, and require excellent communication skills. All three need to deal with complex dilemmas, and ideally will challenge the status quo and processes. Leaders enable others to act – and if you look you know these all apply to nurses. We know nurses and leaders will model the way and inspire a shared vision. Complexity theory is non-linear and if you think about it, so is nursing and leadership. All three are #dynamic – ever evolving. Just like each of us.

    Sometimes we are not aware of the interconnectivity or have knowledge of the other parts of a system or situation. Situations are often novel, and changes are never ending.

    Think About the Butterfly Effect

    close up shot of paper kite butterfly perching on red flowers
    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    A butterfly flapping its wings can cause a tornado weeks later, on the other side of the world is how the #butterflyeffect is often described. What does this have to do with leadership?  Small actions can lead to large results. Conversely, large actions sometimes lead to small results. At other times it is repeated small actions that lead to change.  I was told to brush my teeth to prevent cavities, – well I did that once, but I still got cavities. I also exercised one day but I am still overweight.  You don’t necessarily need to make big changes to get important results. A small thing like listening to what an employee has to say about a new work schedule could provide important insight into what else might be needed, or a small tweak that will make the new schedule work better. What would happen if management listened to employees more often?

    What is Universal or Divine Intelligence and How Does it Have Anything to do with Leadership or Nursing?

    #UniversalIntelligence is the intrinsic or underlying tendency for things to self-organize and co-evolve into ever more complex, intricately interwoven and mutually compatible forms.

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    Universal or #DivineIntelligence does not belong to any religious ideology. Its focus is personal transformation and spiritual advancement, again spiritual is not connected with any religious ideology, it is an awareness of the unlimited, creative potential within you, and it infers a deep connection between our minds and the fundamental makeup of the Universe.

    Keep these in mind. How do nurses working together, and side-by-side self-organize or evolve over time? How do our actions and ideas create something new and improved as we manage our work and care for our patients? We often don’t know where our ideas come from, what caused us to have a certain idea or thought, we just know there is a better way, and we move to implement something new. Never underestimate your intuition.

    Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

    Emotional Intelligence involves: #Self-awareness, #Self-regulation, #Empathy, #Motivation, and #Social Skills. Can a leader truly be a leader without these? Without these someone can certainly be in a leadership role. But to be a good leader these things are imperative. I believe we all need to have these qualities. They are not necessarily easy to develop, self-awareness requires work and attention, from there self-regulation can develop. Taking time to become Emotionally Intelligent will benefit you in all situations. I think learning about Emotional Intelligence needs to be incorporated in the nursing curriculum. As a former assistant professor of nursing the first question that comes to mind is “and where are we going to squeeze that in?” This is one of those things that requires some creativity. It does not need to be a semester long course, but it is incredibly important for the well-being of nurses and can help improve patient care and interaction. An Emotionally Intelligent Leader will:

    • Base feedback on observations.
    • Show recognition.
    • Promote open and transparent communication – not everyone needs to agree, but we do need to be able to discuss differences with respect and kindness.
    • Delegate work – this demonstrates trust, and you are empowering the individual.
    • Be respectful.
    • Support learning and development.

    Who Are the People You Look up to?

    Those are the leaders you want to remember. Why do you look up to them? What qualities d0 they display? What do you learn from them?

    Can you be a leader if you are not in the news or famous? Are the famous and well-known people leaders? Politicians, movie stars, singers, athletes, …

    Consider the qualities of a strong leader. What kind of leader do you want to follow?

    Strong leaders

    • Unite.
    • Are trustworthy.
    • Inspire.
    • Collaborate.
    • Are humble & kind.
    • Unselfishly give.
    • Develop & educate.

    Of the politicians, movie stars, celebrities, media personalities, and athletes, who of them fit these criteria?

    Steve Jobs gave us some ideas for leadership:

    • Focus – don’t let distractions get in your way. Always do your best.
    • Simplify – simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. Be clear about what you want and do.
    • Take responsibility – we all have free will – but whatever you choose you must accept the consequences.
    • Bend reality – use your imagination, be creative. If you can think it, you can do it.
    • Say “no” – you can’t do everything. And remember, not everything is the right thing.
    • Push for perfection – Though no one expects you to be perfect, you can’t go wrong by doing your best.

    Though I have added my own explanations into Steve Jobs’ ideas I think what he suggests are good qualities. Moving on I promised I would share some ways on …

    How to develop your leadership skills without adding to your workload.

    • #Listen – be present, be aware.
    • Pause – take a second before you act or respond. Make sure you do what you believe is best in the situation. Know and follow your values.
    • Learn names and use them when you greet people.
    • Ask questions – show interest. Others will notice when you show interest in them or in what they are doing or saying.
    • Ask for and listen to others’ ideas and opinions. Think about how you feel when no one is paying attention to what you are saying or what you think.
    • Be #polite – say please and thank you. It doesn’t cost a thing to be polite, and to be #respectful. You don’t have to agree, but there is no need to be rude or disrespectful.
    • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh at yourself. Speak kindly to yourself, we don’t want negative self-talk, there is way too much of that, but also laugh at the silly things you do or say.
    • Share your #stories – tell others what you do, the successes and the challenges. Let others know the emotions you experience – sadness, anger, happiness, and excitement. What frustrates, what boosts you up.

    Be the leader you want to follow.  Know that everything you do, your actions, behaviours, and attitude affects everyone else…

    Ikigai: A Reason for Being

    Are you looking for something more from life?

    I hear from lots of people who want something more. When asked to be specific, they often can’t identify what it is they want. Some people want a new job, some want to own a home of their own, some want better health, and others just don’t have any idea, they just feel something is missing.

    I can’t remember how I came across the work “Ikigai”. That doesn’t matter; I found the word intriguing, so I needed to know more. There is much more to read and learn but just getting started is fascinating and I hope I can help you find “A Reason for Being”.

    https://www.japan.go.jp/kizuna/2022/03/ikigai_japanese_secret_to_a_joyful_life.html

    Doesn’t this look and sound like a little bit of alright?

    I want to dig a bit deeper and learn more. What is your Reason for Being? Examine the four questions presented in the image: What do you love? What does the world need? What are you good at? What can you be paid for? These four things can help you find your Ikigai. Give these some serious thought and record your thoughts, in whatever form works best for you (writing, audio, video). Take your time and revisit over a period of time.

    What Do You Love?

    pink rose
    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    When you consider what you love, think people, places, activities, pets, food, music, and everything else that enters your life. What do you do that makes you lose track of time?

    I love life, my husband, and my family. I love my dog. There are numerous people I could name that I love. Though I don’t consider myself to have artistic talents I love to sew, knit, garden, paint, draw, and all kinds of crafty type of things. I love games and puzzles, things that challenge my brain.

    I love writing and sharing my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, I just want to write but not necessarily share. Other times I would like to share my thoughts and feelings anonymously – maybe, I need a pseudonym.

    When I think about this category for Ikigai, I think about the things that are important to me. These could be called my values, but they are more than values. I don’t really know how to explain them. Some of them are passions. I know I do have a passion for wanting to help others. That had a lot to do with my becoming a nurse. I sometimes let some of my passions and loves slide and when I do, I soon find I’m not happy. Though I often don’t figure that out for quite some time.

    Knowing what you love and being able to link that to what you are good at can be a real benefit.

    What Are You Good At?

    focused ethnic kid playing piano with sibling at home
    Photo by Marta Wave on Pexels.com

    What do you know you are good at and what do others say you are good at? These are your talents, your strengths. Ask others, don’t rely on yourself for this. We often have trouble seeing our own talents and strengths. These do not have to be big items. Some people are excellent cooks or bakers, some are wonderful homemakers, great parents, gardeners, sewers, painters, writers, poets, listeners, or great at organization, or a million other possibilities.

    As you think about what you are good at, think back to your childhood. What are things you used to do that you were good at but that have been put aside for whatever reason? I love gardening, the smell of flowers and the outside, I love the smell of cooking, perfumes, and oodles of other scents. I recently took a course to become an aromatherapy practitioner. I love essential oils and experimenting with blending their scents and creating blends to use for minor health concerns. I love these and I am good at creating them.

    For almost as long as I can remember I have had a superb intuition and when I haven’t paid attention to that little voice inside, I have usually paid the price. Several times in my life I have dabbled in paying more attention to my intuition or developing it to a new level. Like aromatherapy and essential oils, I let it slide. I am working on exploring my spirituality, my feminine being, the witch inside me, and I am loving what I am discovering. And – wow – doesn’t this all go together? I might just have expanded my reason for being.

    What Does the World Need?

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    Photo by Cup of Couple on Pexels.com

    The world needs love, kindness, and caring. These are things I can deliver. My nursing background supports one element of caring with love and kindness. My love of the earth, scents, and creating help me to do what is best for our earth and all the inhabitants.

    Our world, our earth, needs our care. When we live with love, kindness, and caring we are creating a beautiful, sustainable world.

    The world needs peace. As I write that statement what comes to mind is ‘how can there not be peace when we inhale the beautiful fragrances of nature?’

    What do you see the world needing? What of your loves and things are you good at that can benefit the world? Once again, these do not need to be big. The kindness you show to others is something the world needs. If you are a server, you are needed in this world. If you are a parent, this world needs parents. Some of what the world needs can lead to you making money, or you can also choose to volunteer or just be.

    What Can You Be Paid For?

    cheerful florist with flowers enjoying work
    Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

    I have been paid for being a nurse, and an assistant professor of nursing. Two of my passions – caring and teaching. Now retired from nursing and teaching I continue to share my caring and teaching through my blogs, posts on social media, and life and leadership coaching. I’ve been adding in bits of spirituality and use of essential oils as I coach and talk to people.

    I don’t have a desire to build a huge business. I don’t want to work that hard. But I do want to be of help and make the world a better place, and if I can, make some money to cover my expenses. I have many ideas for sharing my newfound information about essential oils and to have some fun while teaching and helping others to enjoy their life to the fullest.

    The Venn Diagram

    Note the other sections in the Venn diagram above: Passion, Vocation, Profession, Mission. How do these fit into each of the four sections we have just examined? Depending on your stage of life the importance of these might vary. Being a retired, senior I am not looking at my profession and vocation as money-making ventures. But my Passion and Mission in life remain important for me to feel fulfilled.

    I am happy with my life. My life is not perfect, but if nothing changes, I am still pleased, I have a good life. I remain curious, I like to learn, and maybe what I have can be better. Maybe, I can help someone else have a better life.

    Where Are You?

    Do a deep dive into your soul and discover your Reason for Being.

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    Photo by Antoni Shkraba on Pexels.com

    Give me a shout if I can help you to explore your Reason for Being.

    What Are You Thinking?

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    You Can Control Your Emotions

    Our minds are always working. Many of us meditate and can focus on our breath, or something specific such as the sounds around us, or the feel of the air on our face. But our minds are always at work. Some of our thoughts and emotions drain our energy and some can boost our energy. Ideally, we will learn how to respond to our emotions in such a way that they aren’t draining our energy.

    Monkey Mind

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    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    Do you pay attention to your thoughts? Do some thoughts overtake your mind and keep you from focusing on your current task? Do you have trouble focusing on what you are reading or a show you are watching? Would you like to control your monkey-mind? We all have monkey-mind from time to time. When this happens, it is ok to let it happen for a short time, but we don’t want that to be our normal mind. We want to be able to get the racing thoughts settled so we can be productive and do the things we want, and to be the person we want to be.

    Emotions

    Emotions are neither good nor bad; they are all valuable and natural according to Dr. Jamie Rabin in the Chopra Newsletter. However, we do not want our emotions to control our lives. We want to control our emotions and our lives. We want to have a healthy relationship with our emotions. Let’s get started!

    Some of the more common emotions we experience that intrude on our thoughts and enjoyment include:

    Anger

    A powerful emotion, anger, can often lead to other emotions, to uncontrolled outbursts when released, or to illnesses such as high blood pressure, muscle tension, or inflammation when suppressed.

    When we have learned how to manage our anger it can be beneficial as a motivator. We can use our anger to direct us to create positive changes such as setting appropriate boundaries, letting go of unhealthy habits, or starting new healthy habits.

    Anxiety

    Anxiety can lead us to feel restless, have trouble concentrating, and feel agitated. Anxiety can cause us to have trouble sleeping, which in turn can lead to more anxiety. Over time, chronic anxiety can cause health issues such as increased blood pressure, sleeplessness, and a weakened immune system.

    On the positive side, when we learn to manage our anxiety, we can choose to make necessary changes to improve our self-awareness. Anxiety can also be a warning system to potential threats to our well-being.

    Worry

    We have all experienced worry at some times in our life. Worry can take over all our thoughts and keep us from being productive. In addition, worry can cause us to have problems with memory and concentrating. As with other feelings for which we do not find positive coping mechanism worry can lead to physical illnesses including a weakened immune system.

    When worry is balanced it can give us the boost needed for problem solving. Worry informs us that something is not right and that there is an issue to be resolved. Worry can also inspire gratitude and encourage being present.

    Fear

    Fear, another powerful emotion that when not addressed can lead to us to becoming insecure, to panic, to withdraw, or to avoid other people or situations. Unresolved fear can lead to sleep problems, chronic pain, a weakened immune system, or even adrenal fatigue.

    On the other hand, fear warns us of danger and risks. Fear might also lead to the exploration of spiritual growth.

    Sadness

    This emotion can cause us feelings of sorrow, exhaustion, and apathy. Once again if sadness isn’t addressed our appetite can be affected and we eat too much or not enough. Additionally, ongoing sadness can lead to lethargy and increased risk of illness.

    On the positive side, sadness can be the stimulus we need to make necessary changes in our life. Exploring the reason for our sadness, learning about ourselves, and identifying things for which we are grateful can all be of benefit to our well-being.

    Positive Coping

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    Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

    All these emotions drain our energy. Most of us don’t have an abundance of energy. Our busy lives use up what we have, and we tend to search for ways to enhance our energy. One way to increase energy is to halt the drain caused by our unhealthy coping methods.

    Of course, there are many more emotions. But let’s not overwhelm ourselves. One way to begin is to set aside a few minutes each day to look after your feelings. This is part of your self-care plan along with adequate sleep, healthy nutrition, and appropriate activity.

    The Plan

    Heart-Focused Breathing® is a HeartMathTechnique that I recommend. This is a technique that can be used no matter where you are, at any time.

    Focus your attention in the area of your heart.

    Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area.

    Breathe a little slower and deeper than usual.

    Suggestion: Inhale for a count of 5

    Exhale for a count of 5

    Or whatever rhythm is comfortable for you.

    Repeat 5-10 times at least once per day.

    Breathe Inhale Exhale - kathleenport / Pixabay
    kathleenport / Pixabay

    Another practice is one suggested in the Chopra Newsletter, by Dr. Jamie Rabin.

    Select an emotion you want to work on – one that is causing you concern.

    Identify how that emotion influences your mind and body.

    Honour selected emotion by identifying ways that emotion has been of benefit to you, now or in the past.

    Thank the emotion for how it has served you.

    Use your breath to release the emotion. Inhale naturally. As you exhale, imagine you are releasing any attachment to that specific emotion. On the next inhalation imagine you are breathing in fresh, clean energy.

    Suggestion: Repeat 10 times for best results.

    This is a start toward you becoming the best you can be. Self-improvement is an on-going journey toward the life you want.

    Mindset and Hope for the Future

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    Photo by Bradley Hook on Pexels.com

    I just finished listening to a HeartMath Podcast and am incredibly impressed by the discussion.

    I am a Certified HeartMath Trainer and Coach, but I need to work at my practice every day. I am far from perfect and way too often forget to practice the self-care I encourage others to practice. Daily self-care involves adequate, quality sleep, good nutrition, and activity as basics. Additionally, self-care involves our emotional health. Unfortunately, we often don’t pay attention to our emotions or to our mental health. Why does this matter? Because our health encompasses mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. When one area suffers the others will also suffer.

    Mindset

    food healthy wood marketing
    Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

    After listening to this Podcast, I was reminded of how important mindset can be. I have just returned from a few days away. We had flown to and from a visit with friends and family. I have been diagnosed with PBC and Sjogren’s, both autoimmune diseases. Among the symptoms of these are extreme fatigue, dry eyes, dry mouth, and much more. With Sjogren’s there is also body pain. The fatigue and pain often flair up because of overdoing activities, or just not paying attention and not eating and resting well. For me if I only do one extra activity per day, such as a medical appointment, or some additional baking or cooking I might be ok. If I have a busy day, such as cooking for company and visiting, I need to take the next day to recover. I do quite well at managing, most of the time, but not always. So, I now ask myself ‘why did I think I could fly one day, spend two days visiting, and spend the next day flying home?’ But I made that decision, and I have learned. I was beating myself up for making this poor decision. The podcast reminded me that rather than beat myself up for this ‘failure’ to remember that it doesn’t matter that I made a poor decision, which is now the past, what matters is what I do next.

    Following the podcast, I reminded myself to use positive words and rather than say, “I suffer with Sjogren’s” to change that and say, “I have been diagnosed with Sjogren’s disease, which reminds me to practice self-care so that I can live the best life I possible”. I was reminded that today I need to give myself the rest I need to recover. This was all a mindset change. At the end of the podcast the listeners are guided through Heart-Focused Breathing. Though I had already meditated earlier, the Heart-Focused Breathing practice made quite a positive difference to my mindset.

    This podcast was just what I needed today. I hope you will listen and be inspired to take care of yourself every day. 🌈 #leadership #work #coaching #podcast #life

    I provide Life and Leadership Coaching via ZOOM if you need a little support to live the life you want.


    A Day: Do You Take Time to Be?

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    Photo by Michaela S. on Pexels.com

    A review of a day in my life points out where I might need to make some changes. I hope you can use this as a template to look at your own life and identify some areas that might need to be adapted. As I try my best to improve my health, to take time for me, to do the things I want to do I have often gotten a sense of overwhelm. As a Certified HeartMath Trainer, retired nurse, and life and leadership coach I know feeling overwhelmed is sign of stress and too much stress is not healthy. So, I decided to look at how a day might be spent. My information below is not complete, because there are many other things I would like to do.

    I have been cancer free for 3 years, this is wonderful, a sigh of relief. I do have a couple of autoimmune diseases that at times cause me extreme fatigue which is usually accompanied by nasty pain in many parts of my body. I need to pay attention to that and make sure I don’t overdo activities, or I am out of commission for several days. I share this with you because I know many people have chronic conditions that limit what can be done in a day.

    I have learned in the last few years the best way to do as much as I want is to set limits. What this means is that I set a usual day and if I am having a flare, I take something off the list, if I am having an awesome day, I add one thing to my list. My past behaviour was do as much I as I could – go all out when I felt good – then just spend a few days recovering – whoops – that was not the best way to do things.

    As I created my basic day and looked at the amount of time I spent on various activities, I began to wonder how the ‘average’ (I hate that word but can’t think of a more appropriate one right now) person manages in a day. What do we need to change to live a healthy, fulfilled life?

    How do you spend your day?

    * DisclaimerI am not providing you with medical advice. I am merely sharing information that I have found, some of my own activities. What is good for one is not necessarily good for everyone. Check with your physician or medical team before introducing exercise routines or changing eating habits. My goal is to help you be the best you can be, with that in mind I share what I learn, I share my experiences, and I hope they will help guide you on a journey to a beautiful life.

    My basic day

    Alarm goes off – before I get out of bed I
    – identify 3-5 things for which I am grateful
    -determine my daily goal
    -do 3-5 slow, deep, focused breaths
    10
    Prepare & eat breakfast, feed the dog30
    Clean up after meal15
    Morning hygiene & make bed30
    Review schedule for the day10
    Answer emails & other communications60
    Exercise/Activity30
    Meditation (at least once, usually more)10
    Journal10
    Prepare & eat lunch30
    Clean up after meal10
    Get outside for 10 – 20 min.10
    Time with dog (walk, play, brush, pet)30
    Time with husband30
    News – listen, watch, read30
    Prepare & eat dinner60
    Clean up after meal30
    Me time30
    Tidy/clean houst30
    Job (for me 2 hrs. for others 8 hrs)120
    Sub-total625 min = 10 hrs. 35 min.
    Sleep8 hrs.
    Total18 hrs. 35 min.
    Free time for me 5 hrs. 25 min

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    This is a fairly routine day for me, though some things might not be included, and other things added. Note that I have several free hours to do things I enjoy or to rest. I often require more than 8 hours of sleep due to my autoimmune diseases. Once upon a time I would frequently get only 6 hours of sleep. I now know this was very likely not enough. Many people’s routine day will be much fuller. My work/job is only 2 hours with no travel time. For those who work 8 hours per day, this brings the total of things to do to sixteen hours. So, when do you fit in some of the other things you like to do? Not included are volunteer time, time for getting groceries, going to appointments, housework, and yard work/maintenance. Sometimes I like to have an hour or so to visit my neighbour over coffee or have a family dinner which adds a couple of hours to the day. If you have children add in their activities and chauffeuring.

    Some things in the above are not things we would do every day but are usually included in the activities of a week. This routine is so full there is no time for adding on spontaneous activities, which I believe is important for everyone.

    Assess Your Time

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    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    Don’t forget time for sleep; we do need 7-9 hours on average. Without adequate amount and quality of sleep, we will not continue to function, we will get ill. So, let’s add 8 hours which brings us up to over 18 hours in the day. That leaves 6 hours to do all those other things mentioned above (unless you happen to work 8 hours a day and not the 2 hours I work). If you work an 8-hour day you are now 2-hours in the hole. Oops. What do you leave out? Of course, you might not need or even want to do all the things I like to do. There is lots of room for flexibility and adaptation.

    Notice that I have not included any travel time to and from work, or time for shopping. If you have chosen to do your grocery shopping online, you still must include time to place the order, and though you don’t need to travel, remember that the groceries don’t just put themselves away.

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    Some of the times I have identified are minimal. Times with dog, partner, family, exercise, and meditation often take much longer. Consider also that you might be part of groups or committees, you might want to read something for enjoyment, sit and enjoy the outdoors or bask in the warmth of your home without doing – time to just be. These things are important.

    Pay attention to the amount of time you have when you agree to add ‘just this one thing‘ to your ‘to do’ list.

    What things are you doing that drain your mental, emotional, and physical energy? What things are you doing that boost your mental, emotional, and physical energy? What are the activities or non-activities that cause you to lose track of time, which lead you to a state of joy, calm, or even bliss? Are you taking enough time for the positive activities that lift you up?

    How much time are you spending watching tv, being active on social media (chatting, playing games, reading postings, blogs, or listening to podcasts)? Though these activities might be a needed break, or educational, how are they of benefit to you? Are these activities adding value to your life, and how?

    Grandma on her 80th birthday.

    How often do you take time to be? I remember spending time with my grandma when I was a young girl. My grandma was born in 1880, she gave birth to fifteen children. I remember grandma sitting, the radio might have been on, but there was no tv. She would just sit. Obviously, grandma was not lazy, you can’t be lazy when you have that many children on a farm. Sometimes grandma would knit or crochet, this is the way I remember my grandma. I could sit and talk with her or talk to her while I played. I never thought this was out of the ordinary but as I reflect, I don’t know of anyone else who did this. I had a close relationship with grandma, sometimes we would walk the hills in the countryside where she lived or visit neighbours for coffee or tea. What a beautiful, retired life. Do parents or grandparents do that today?

    We have been socialized to feel the need to fill every moment doing. Sometimes that doing is sitting mindlessly in front of the tv or computer. What would happen if you did not turn on either of those items? What if you just sat? Do you remember looking at the clouds and identifying objects such as a rabbit, a ship, or something else? When did you last do that? Would you be comfortable? If not, you might want to learn.

    We become more creative when we give our brains a break, just as our muscles do. Muscles need a break from exercise, we are advised to spread various exercises over several days, to not do the entire body every day, to achieve the best results. Our brains also need breaks and variety to achieve their best results.

    Wrapping Up

    The new moon on 20-February signals a time for new beginnings. What seeds will you plant?

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    Many people I coach and talk to want to make changes to their lives. They want something different, new, or something more. It is often difficult for them to figure out what they want, they just know they want something different. Before we can change, we need to know the current situation, we need to measure our current activities, assess the activities, and determine where changes can be made. Sometimes we also need a change in our way of thinking. What do you need?

    If you need some help doing this, give me a shout, we can figure it out together.  

    Touch: Might it Be the Key to Our Well-Being?

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    Touch, One of Our 5 Senses

    Touch is essential to our well-being. A June 2022 edition of National Geographic includes an article The Power of Touch by Cynthia Gorney. This article updates us on the importance of touch and what is occurring in the development of touch sensation in artificial limbs, among other things. Touch is one of our five basic senses, and one we cannot live without. Though scientists are suggesting more than five senses. I’ll leave that for another time.

    Why is touch so important to our well-being? Science explains a lot. However, I think the important thing is the positive feelings we have with pleasant touch, even if we do not know the science, we know the feeling. We also know unpleasant touch and the associated feelings. Touch sensation warns us of dangers; hot, sharp, hard, cold, or sticky. What happens when we are deprived of touch?

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    Isolation, Quarantine, Solitary Confinement

    As a nurse I often cared for people in isolation, and as a patient I have been in isolation more than once. What does that do to our ability to heal? What happens to our mental and emotional health? What happens to the health of criminals or prisoners of war when put in solitary confinement? Hospital isolation and quarantine allow for some interaction with humans, and some touch. In prisons isolation does not offer interaction or touch. How does this affect us in the long term?

    I know when I was most recently in hospital isolation, and extremely ill, my mental health suffered greatly. I was completely aware of this and despite how ill I was, I just wanted to get out of that tiny room and be home with people I loved, and my dog.

    The United Nations has proclaimed solitary confinement for more than 15 days is torture.

    Long-term Effects of Touch Deprivation

    Our skin is our largest organ. The skin sends touch sensations to our brain. Pleasant touch sends a signal to our brain causing the release of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is the ‘feel good’ hormone, or ‘bonding’ hormone and stimulates the release of other ‘feel good’ hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. (Reference)

    What happened during COVID with the decrease in touch that most of us experienced? I know at one point I decided I just didn’t care, I needed to hug my son. I hadn’t seen him in months and wasn’t going to see him again for months. I needed to hug him and be hugged by him. How many other people have had similar experiences?

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    We have been hearing about the mental health concerns resulting from the absence of human interaction over the last two-plus years. Considering what I have been reading about touch, this is not surprising. I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection between lack of touch, isolation, and long COVID. Afterall, we have been told about the effect on the immune system when we go without positive touch.

    Lack of touch can cause stress, anxiety, or depression. When we are stressed the body releases cortisol, another hormone. Cortisol release causes our heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate to increase, and can also cause muscle tension.

    Human Development and Touch

    Touch plays a significant role in our developmental well-being, both mental and physical. The importance begins from before we are born and continues throughout our life. Research has suggested the importance of touch in bonding with our babies. When my daughter was born, very prematurely in 1967, weighing only 2 pounds 4 ounces, we were not allowed to touch or hold her for 3 months, when she was nearing the time to come home. I have no idea how this might have influenced her ongoing development, but I know it was heart-breaking for me. Today, even very premature infants are held, skin-on-skin. Ferber, Feldman, and Makhoul, 2008 stated “Skin-to-skin contact [in] [sic] even in the first hours after birth has been shown to help regulate newborns’ temperature, heart rate, and breathing, and decreases crying”.

    Research, as far back as 1915, identified the correlation between death under the age of 2 was ‘due to failure to thrive, related to lack of touch and affection (Chapin 1915; cited in Montagu 1986, p. 97).

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    Seniors Need Touch Too

    Seniors often live alone and as we age many of our friends are no longer with us. Thus, seniors can go for lengthy periods of time without human touch. I have been told by friends in Massage Therapy and Acupuncture Therapy there are many senior clients who come simply to be able to enjoy human touch. Think about how much that was decreased during COVID? I’d love to see some stats on the mental well-being of our senior citizens during that period.

    Research indicates touch is important for the elderly, especially those with dementia. Compassionate touch has been deemed important for quality of life and for the elderly suffering with dementia, and at end of life. Touch is a form of communication we all know.

    Touch boosts the immune system, improves physical health, and benefits emotional health, and is a social interaction connecting one person to another.

    Get Consent

    Our culture has limited the amount of casual touching deemed appropriate. As we consider the importance of touch let’s consider how we can increase touch in our life, without running into sexual harassment charges. One of the main things to remember is the importance of consent.

    Some of the ways we can increase touch in our lives is by getting massages, manicures, pedicures, or having our hair done. We can make a point of shaking hands, if both parties are ok with that, even if it means using hand sanitizer following. Ask friends if it is ok to hug them, or to hold their hand while talking.

    Is it ok to lay a hand on another person’s hand, arm, or shoulder? If unsure ask. These are gestures among friends that I consider important to the relationship. My husband and I make a point of hugging and usually hold hands while watching a moving or sitting visiting with others.

    Touch and the State of the World

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    While reading for information about touch I also discovered a proposed correlation between lack of touch and violent crimes. An affectionate society tends to be a non-violent society according to an article in Humanism by Joe.

    As mentioned earlier, touch causes the release of oxytocin. Some studies suggest that oxytocin leads us to feeling more generous, empathetic, nurturing, more collaborative, and more grateful.

    Do you suppose if we spent more time hugging, we might have a more peaceful world? But don’t forget to get consent before you hug.

    Finding Bliss,

    Going with the Flow, Happy, Joyful

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    Going with the Flow could mean being apathetic and just doing what is easy to make sure you do not make waves and have to deal with challenging situations – not my definition. How about Going with the Flow, meaning going with what is happening and enjoying it to its full extent.

    The definitions of “Going with the Flow” with which I do agree” ‘keeping cool, remaining calm, remaining composed, keeping your head, remaining unruffled, having one’s wits about one, taking it easy, coasting, floating, going with the current’.

    I equate Going with the Flow to Bliss. Bliss is often defined as complete happiness or joy. This is a state that most of us would like to experience.

    “To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.”

    Jill Bolte Taylor

    The Dalai Lama’s, book The Art of Happiness, is worth reading and could aid you in finding bliss. Moraes identifies Bliss as

    “a state of mind that puts us in an ecstatic state of grace”.

    Bliss is not a permanent state, after all, we live in a complex world as humans. We can access bliss by taking time to go within and realize our inner most passions and desires.

    Big Island, 2022 My Paradise

    I experienced a beautiful state of bliss just over a year ago when I stepped off the plane in Hawaii. The state came over me unexpectedly, and I recognized it immediately. I never wanted it to end. I was with my husband, son, and daughter-in-law to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary and renewing of vows. I had left behind the frigid winter weather of home. I felt joy, peace, and just knew that nothing was going to send me into a flap. The feeling is hard to explain – but it is one that I wish could last forever. We have been to Hawaii many times and it is my paradise.

    Of course, I have experienced moments of bliss since that time, but never arriving so unexpectedly and overwhelmingly. I was in a beautiful place of joy, love, happiness, and fulfillment. I was experiencing a beautiful life.

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    How can this state of bliss be reached more often? Meditation, changing negative thoughts to positive thoughts, gratitude, living your passion, being of service, enjoying the moment and the beauty surrounding you, and learning to accept love and kindness. Each day I thank the universe for my life, for my family, friends, and acquaintances, my home, clean water, enough (too much) food, and a variety of the many good things I have. My life, like the life of most people, is not perfect. We do not live in a perfect world. We do, however, having many wonderful and beautiful things, experiences, and people in our lives and being grateful for all of those is a huge step in achieving a beautiful life full of bliss and wonderment.

    This is a state that requires some work. There was a time when it did not occur to me that reaching such a state might require work or attention: and it was not until I was experiencing some health challenges for which doctors were having trouble diagnosing and treating. Since that time, a journey to explore my spirituality, to learn more about myself and what is important, even vital to my well-being, has led to me feeling the best I have felt in at least 10 years. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually I am in a good place. The journey is not complete, it never will be complete. There is always more to learn, more for which to be grateful, and more to enjoy. If you want to learn more about my journey, contact me at drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach

    Being In the Zone

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    “In the Zone” or “Flow” is a state I enjoy. Or thought I did until I read that to get into ‘Flow’ I ‘should’ set a goal. Maybe what I thought was “Being in the Zone” or in a state of “Flow” wasn’t really what I thought. To me being in the zone is a pleasant state of being totally absorbed in what I am doing, to the point that I lose all track of time. I always thought of being in the zone as something that occurs spontaneously. If I set a goal that isn’t flow, to me that is focus. Nothing wrong with focus, but it isn’t the same as “Being in the Zone”. Obviously, I need to do more reading and gain a better understanding.

    A bit of history. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is the psychologist who identified the ‘state of flow’ or ‘in the zone’. Csikszentmihalyi outlined his theory as follows

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    “a state of flow—a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation.  It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter”

    This is a state that I enjoy.

    As I searched the terms “flow” and “zone” I was surprised to find works suggesting that to get into a state of ‘flow’ setting a goal was the place to start. I don’t think I have ever gotten into the zone when I have set a goal. I can certainly be entirely focused when I set a goal, but being focused is different from ‘in the zone’ as far as I am concerned.

    Csikszentmihalyi suggests that we get into the zone or state of flow by being completely absorbed in an activity just for the sake of enjoying the activity. You lose all track of time – oh what a glorious state. The hours have flown by as you have been completely engrossed in what you were doing. If you set a goal, the state doesn’t occur spontaneously, and I have always associated that spontaneity with being in the zone.

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    There are things we can do, or that are needed, to facilitate this state. Ensuring you are not interrupted is the prime one for me. Afterall, as soon as you are interrupted the state is broken. Enabling a state of flow requires loss of oneself into an activity. Have you ever gotten so absorbed in reading a book at bedtime that the next thing you know you only have a few hours until you must get up to start a new day? This has happened to me numerous times. Gardening is another activity which takes me to that other place – the zone – time doesn’t apply when I get playing in the dirt.

    What things make you lose track of time? How often does this happen? Would you like it to happen more often? I would love to get into this state more often. I love losing myself in my activities. Though Csikszentmihalyi does recommend ‘clarity of goals’ I only agree with this in a very general sense. The goal is often simply to read, plant, weed, or work in the garden, bake or cook, or sew or knit, etc. But if I was doing a SMART goal I would have to be Specific (is gardening specific enough), Measurable (I don’t tend to decide how many seeds I will plant, or weeds I will pull), being in the zone doesn’t require me to think about whether I am able to Achieve what I am doing because what I am doing is what is I plan to achieve. I don’t need to think about whether it is Realistic – it just is. If I get in the zone while reading, there is no sense of Time (being in flow a sense of time is gone). So, I just can’t link goals and being in the zone.

    I find being in the zone happens spontaneously. However, there are a few things that we can do to help us get into the zone if we don’t want to wait for spontaneity: 1. Clear your mind. Don’t be thinking about other things, be focused on the task at hand – mindfulness. 2. No interruptions – turn off your cell phone, ask others to leave you alone for a while and to just let you be. Prepare snacks and have them with you, have something to drink handy, and go to the bathroom. If you are outside put on your sunscreen and insect repellent ahead of time. 3. Prepare your brain with a few deep breaths to help you relax and let go of the clutter in your brain and put the squirrels back in their cage.

    Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher, called ‘being in the zone’,

    “doing without doing” or “trying without trying”

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    Being in the zone has been likened to a “runners high”. That is the experience I associate with zone and flow. It is an ethereal experience at times, like being on a different plane of existence. I find the experience other worldly. I think I will try some of the above suggestions for getting ‘into a state of flow’ because it is a state I enjoy. I think a few minutes of meditation before starting some projects would be enough for me to wind up in a state of flow. I’m not sure about the meditation or the earlier suggestions so I will be doing a little experimentation over the next while to see if I can get “in the zone” more often.

    Spoon Theory

    An Explanation of Chronic Illness and Limited Energy

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    I came across this article today, Spoon Theory. It is an amazing explanation of how someone, like me, juggles their energy every day. I don’t write this looking for sympathy, but to help you, and myself, understand what it is like to have limited energy. My lack of energy that accompanies my autoimmune disorders has been the toughest thing with which I have had to cope. I have many things I enjoy doing, many things I want to do, and until about 10 years ago I didn’t lack energy.

    Initially I wondered if it was ‘the aging process’. That didn’t make a lot of sense to me as the extreme fatigue seemed to have come about much too rapidly. It took a few years for me to get a diagnosis and I’m not sure that I have completely adjusted to the change in my energy level. I still tend to take on too much at times and get carried away doing the things I love. Of course, I pay for it in the following days.

    I am slowly learning to pay attention to how I spend my energy. How much can I spend in any one day? When I have a bit more energy, I can add one more activity to my day. On not so good days, well – I have to leave something out. There are times when the fatigue hits so suddenly that I am caught off guard. When that happens, I am forced to stop immediately. I still haven’t gotten used to this happening.

    I have included the link to the article and hope you will give it a quick read. It goes a long way to understanding what many people experience every day.

    Fluff!! Leaders Need Soft Skills

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    As an assistant nursing professor, I would sometimes be asked “why do we need to learn all this ‘fluff’, it has nothing to do with nursing?”

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    Nurses are in leadership roles all the time. Patients and clients are often in emotionally and physically challenging situations. Nurses work with a plethora of other healthcare professionals, more support people than can be counted, administration, families, and even the media and law enforcement. These are all relationships and relationships require work. The work needed encompasses the soft skills. I want to work for a great leader who has these skills.

    What are the soft skills? Communication, empathy, listening, emotional intelligence, teamwork, self-awareness, adaptability, and caring are just some of the skills considered ‘soft skills’ or ‘fluff’. But how do these skills help a nurse or anyone else be a leader?

    Let’s look at some of these skills individually.

    Communication and Listening

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    This is a two-way street with many crossroads. Communication isn’t just talking. Listening is crucial and includes hearing, not just head nodding without knowing what message was being delivered. Being able to listen and discuss differences politely and without judgement helps develop healthy relationships. We don’t all perceive what we see and hear in the same way. Furthermore, we are not always right, nor are we always wrong. Sometimes, there is more to be uncovered and understood.

    Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

    Empathy is sometimes confused with sympathy. They are not the same. Empathy is understanding the feelings of another, think about walking in the shoes of the other person. Understand how you might feel in that situation. Sympathy on the other hand is feeling sorry for the person and the person’s situation, a synonym would be pity. Not all people want you to pity them, but they usually appreciate you understanding how they feel. This understanding involves Emotional Intelligence.

    Emotional Intelligence involves understanding your emotions, and the emotions of others. What triggers emotional reactions, how to respond to your emotions rather than react, and to understand why others might behave the way they do. But it all starts with understanding your emotions. A bit of Self-Awareness.

    Self-Awareness

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    Know thyself. We have heard that before. What did Socrates mean? Possibly, he was telling us to know our limits, to know we do not know everything. There is always more to learn. We also have blind spots; we do not know what we do not know. We also have biases and beliefs that have come about through our upbringing and don’t necessarily have a foundation and might be incorrect. To be truly self-aware we need to constantly question our thoughts and beliefs, to be forever curious. Being curious and investigating our own thoughts and beliefs and those of others can help us to be caring and adapt to our new truths.

    Caring and Adaptability

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    I don’t know if caring can be learned. I don’t know if it comes naturally. I am a caring person. However, over time I have become more caring as I have questioned things I was taught. What are your thoughts and beliefs about different races, religions, ethnic customs, or even work ethics? Mine have certainly changed, I have learned more about others, about politics, science, and health. As I have learned I have adapted to the new knowledge. There are a few people who still believe the earth is flat, most of us have adapted our belief to the science suggesting the earth is round. Our truths can change over time.

    It’s a Wrap

    Though all of these, and more, are what I consider essential for any leader, they are also darn good skills for anyone. Consider each of these and imagine a world where these were commonplace. What a different world it would be.

    These skills all need attention. Many people have these skills, to some extent, but they all require attention and further development. I am forever learning more about communication, emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and how to demonstrate caring and adapt to the constant changes that happen in life. I am forever grateful to my coaches, guides, spiritual advisors, family, friends, and the wealth of information available through technology and reading. There is no end to learning and self-development.

    Does Positive Self-Talk Really Work?

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    Self-Talk: Does it Matter What You Say?

    I certainly didn’t believe in positive self-talk until recently. Furthermore, I don’t lie and so trying to look in the mirror and say “I love you” or “You’re beautiful” just wasn’t going to happen. However, being a curious person, I decided to see what research literature had to say. Guess what, I was wrong. There is some valid evidence that positive self-talk does have benefits.

    I started working on positive self-talk a few years ago when my health was at its lowest point, and I wasn’t sure I was going to survive. I had an autoimmune disease and cancer. But I wasn’t ready to give up, so I needed to smarten up. It wasn’t easy to start, so small things that I believed about myself were where I started. First, I was strong, and I was stubborn. I think being stubborn is positive, though there are synonyms that some people prefer. So, what have I gained from positive self-talk? Lots! I feel better about myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

    Because I see myself as a positive person and a leader, positive self-talk has helped me be more open in sharing what I have learned during my life without being afraid that I didn’t know enough or wasn’t good enough.

    The literature supports the benefits of self-talk. According to Health Direct, positive self-talk can:

    What You Tell Yourself Is What You Get

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    These all sound good to me. However, positive self-talk takes practice. My autoimmune disorders cause me to be crazy fatigued (I never experienced anything like this in all the years of working shifts and going on 3-4 hours of sleep per night). Now, 12-hours of sleep sometimes doesn’t relieve the fatigue, it is just there no matter what I do. Recently, someone commented when I said I was ‘tired, as usual’. “Well, if you keep telling yourself you are tired, you are going to be tired” was the comment. She was right. I hadn’t thought about what I was telling myself. Our brains can be fooled. If I tell my brain I have the energy I need, I will have the energy I need. Does that mean my fatigue is all in my head? Sort of, maybe. When fatigue hits, and sometimes it hits without warning, I now say to myself, my body needs a rest right now. A positive statement. I have noticed a difference in myself. Though I might still be fatigued more than I would like, I know that I cope better and that I really do have enough energy. Afterall, I decide what is enough.

    Our Brains Believe What They Are Told

    According to Health Direct, “Negative self-talk can make it more difficult to deal with chronic pain. It can also affect a person’s sexual confidence and body image.” Negative self-talk brings you down, can cause stress, and suggests you can be perfect. We are human, perfection is something we might strive to attain, but not something that is realistic in most cases.

    One way I like to think about what I say to myself is to ask if I would say that to a friend, my kids, my grandkids, husband, or anyone I love. In most cases there is no way I would be that mean or rude to someone else. So, why do we think it is ok to talk to ourselves that way? When you say negative things to yourself, start by asking if what you are saying is true. Often what we say is a generalization. When I hurry, I am sometimes clumsy. If I pay attention to what I am doing, and don’t rush, I’m not clumsy. Therefore, stating I am a ‘clumsy oaf’ is not true.

    Choose Your Words Carefully

    Something that I recently learned relates to our choice of words. We tend to make statements such as “I’m sick”, “I’m tired”, “I’m fat” we aren’t any of these. We feel sick, or unwell, or tired, or we have more body fat than is good; but we are not those things. We are not our symptoms. When I keep that in mind, I find it easier to incorporate positive self-talk into my conversations with myself; or at least I find it easier to stop the negative self-talk.

    The Journal of Sports and Exercise Psychology published the following article Effects of Self-Talk: A Systematic Review. If positive self-talk works for athletes, it can work for others. Regardless of your current thoughts I suggest you give positive self-talk a try. What can it hurt? I’d be happy to work with you to find the right words and times to build yourself up to be the person you truly are. Uncover the best you!!

    The End Suggests Beginning. What’s Next?

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    Whether you make New Year’s Resolutions or set goals for the next month, year, or longer the question remains: What’s Next?

    I am a long-time goal setter, but not much of a New Year’s Resolution person. As I reflect on the past year, and the past 10 years, I have a lot to consider. The events and changes are innumerable.

    We Can Learn from All Situations

    This might not resonate with many, but I learn from watching movies, tv shows, and reading fiction. Of course, I also learn from reading scholarly articles and research, but there is much to learn about people from what is being created for entertainment.

    I am a long-time Coronation Street watcher. One of the things I notice is that every catastrophe that occurs is the result of lies and deception. Imagine that? I don’t think that is much of a surprise to anyone. Other things to watch for: Sometimes the person isn’t what they initially appear to be; there is more than one side to the story; communication is sorely lacking (there is something important to say and small interruptions keep it from being said – so frustrating), and we see all a variety of leadership styles, we see these same things in daily life.

    Over the last several years I have learned a great deal.

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    1. Your past does not equal your future.
    2. You can have a beautiful life despite some chronic health conditions.
    3. You are good enough.
    4. You are never too old to learn new stuff.
    5. Though I have always known change is inevitable, we control our change and our life. (That isn’t as nasty or mean as I once thought – I did not decide to have health challenges – well, not intentionally, but in retrospect I see why some of them have occurred).
    6. If you are only as old as you feel – decide what age you want to be and feel that age.
    7. It is possible to have a beautiful life.

    I have an almost insane number of things that I want to investigate further. Thoughts that require exploration, ideas to be pursued in numerous ways, and actions that I feel obligated to pursue, for my own satisfaction.

    The Future

    My ‘what next’ requires I give some thought to my priorities. Age and health mean I must think about the timelines for what I want to accomplish, where I want to go, and what I want to do. Though I know I need to not do ‘too much’, whatever that is, I know it means that I have to pace myself carefully to maintain my health. Without my health, I will not be able to do anything. My health is important to me because I value my family. If I don’t want to burden my family and want to have good times with them, I need to look after myself.

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    Supporting my teaching of the importance of self-care, I need to make a concerted effort to put that into practice. I’ve gotten better at self-care, but I am easily led astray by my active mind. One more thing won’t be difficult, won’t add to my fatigue. But of course, there is always one more thing.

    What’s Next

    What next? For me it is to re-examine my values, desires, goals, and then set priorities. Will these be New Year’s Resolutions? No! They will be a game plan for the next 3, 6, 12 months, or maybe the next 5 years. Focus and priority is high on my list of immediate things to do. Before leading others, I must successfully lead myself. What is next for you?

    Aromatherapy

    Essential Oils for Personal Use

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    I have many memories associated with a variety of scents and aromas. So, it is not surprising that I decided to take an aromatherapy course and become an Aromatherapy Practitioner. Smells bring back many pleasant memories.

    Are there scents that remind you of special people or occasions? I remember how my grandma and my mom smelled, I loved them both and when I come across those smells the memories are pleasant and precious. The first perfume my husband gave me early in our relationship is a scent I still love. The smell of logs burning in the fireplace makes me feel warm and cozy, and a bit like I’m in a fairy tale world or romantic story. A walk in the forest results in a calm, serene state, and reminds me of early mornings camping with my girlfriend and her parents when we were in our teens – super great memories.

    There are also memories I have of odours I experienced as a nurse. I learned what certain odours suggested, some not so nice. But being able to identify some odours could help in diagnosing specific infections and medical problems. The smells of some medicines also bring back a variety of childhood memories – Buckley’s White Rub when I had another bout of strep throat and chest infection.

    With this great interest in aromas, it is no wonder that I have been drawn to essential oils for a long time. Several years ago, I took a course that I enjoyed very much. Since then, I have used many oils and made occasional products for myself, family, and friends. Then a few months ago I embarked on an Aromatherapy Practitioner Course. The course was excellent, and I have learned a great deal. But there is still so much to learn. Dabbling with a wide variety of oils has been great fun: I love combining and experimenting.

    Both courses have stressed the importance of getting quality oils. They can seem to be expensive, but so little is needed, and I get such pleasure, and benefit from them that I don’t mind. Now to share with you some information about using essential oil, some of my favourite oils and their uses.

    Get Started with Essential Oils

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    As you start using essential oils, keep the following guidelines in mind:

    • Follow any label and packaging instructions.
    • Determine the specific uses and benefits of the oil you intend to use. Product Information Pages and shop pages are great sources of information.

    How to Apply Essential Oils

    There are three ways to use essential oils:

    Through smellAromatic use of essential oils includes any application method that helps you experience the aroma of the oil. You can use essential oils aromatically by:

    -Diffusing in an essential oil diffuser

    -Applying a drop to your hands and inhaling

    -Wearing as a personal fragrance

    On your skin. Topical application of essential oils allows the oil to absorb into the skin. You can use essential oils on your skin by:

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    -Incorporating them into a massage

    -Applying to targeted areas

    -Adding to lotions or moisturizers

    By Ingesting. Internal use of certain essential oils can be beneficial to the body and add unique flavours to dishes and beverages. *First, make sure the essential oil is safe for internal use, and then try taking essential oils internally by using one of these methods:

    -Add to a glass of water, milk, or juice, or to a favorite tea or smoothie

    -Include in recipes

    -Take in a veggie capsule

    -Put a drop under your tongue

    Here are the 10 most popular doTERRA Canada essential oils:

    Frankincense essential oil: Called the “king of oils,” Frankincense is one of the most prized and precious essential oils. For centuries, Frankincense has been used for its beautifying characteristics—particularly for rejuvenating the appearance of skin and promoting an atmosphere of relaxation. When used topically, Frankincense can help soothe and moisturize dry skin, promote a clear complexion, and can help maintain healthy-looking fingernails.

    Lavender essential oil: Lavender oil has been cherished for centuries for its unmistakable aroma and myriad benefits. The ancient Egyptians and Romans used Lavender for bathing, cooking, and as a perfume. Today, Lavender is a must-have oil because of its rich, versatile uses. Topically, Lavender oil has a cooling and soothing effect and can improve the look of healthy skin. Aromatically, Lavender produces a powdery, floral scent famed for relaxing qualities.

    Copaiba essential oil: Copaiba has a calming, woody aroma. Copaiba has a thick, soft consistency and is soothing to the skin. Copaiba is widely used to improve the appearance of skin.

    Lemon essential oil: Cold pressed from the peels of the bright, yellow lemon fruit, it is a favourite because of its versatility. Lemon oil is frequently added to food to enhance the flavour of desserts and main dishes. When added to water, Lemon oil gives a bright taste that helps encourage hydration throughout the day. Lemon can be used as a naturally sourced cleaning agent in the home or diffused to brighten a room with its invigorating aroma.

    Wild Orange essential oil: Wild Orange amplifies the sweet, citrus aroma and taste of orange. An uplifting and refreshing aroma, Wild Orange enhances any essential oil blend as a bright, refreshing addition and is a naturally sourced cleansing agent.

    Peppermint essential oil: Peppermint oil has a wide range of benefits from freshening breath to its energizing aroma. Peppermint essential oil is always useful to have handy.

    Tea Tree essential oil: The Aborigines of Australia used the leaves of the Melaleuca tree for centuries. The oil promotes feelings of clear breathing. This makes Tea Tree ideal for using in aromatherapy to relieve coughs and colds.

    Ginger essential oil: Ginger has a hot, spicy flavour that can take the place of whole ginger in recipes or add a warm, sweet taste when added to your favourite herbal tea. Ginger oil can also be applied topically or inhaled for a soothing aroma.

    Grapefruit essential oil: Known for its energizing and invigorating aroma, Grapefruit oil helps create an aromatically uplifting environment. Grapefruit essential oil is also renowned for its cleansing properties and is frequently used in skin care to promote the appearance of clear, healthy-looking skin.

    Eucalyptus essential oil: Eucalyptus is a refreshing, airy aroma, with topical cleansing benefits. The invigorating qualities of Eucalyptus oil can be enjoyed by rubbing a drop between your hands or adding several drops to the bottom of the shower and inhaling the energizing, earthy aroma. When applied topically, Eucalyptus oil can provide a cooling sensation and helps to clean and revitalize the look of healthy skin, especially when used during a personal massage.

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    The following are some oils I like and use quite often:

    Bergamot: Bergamot essential oil has a calming yet uplifting aroma and is packed full of cleansing properties. Sweet yet bitter in taste, soothing yet joyful in scent, and delicate yet strong in nature, Bergamot oil is a delightful contradiction in the citrus world.

    Capsicum: Capsicum is commonly used for nerve pain and other painful conditions. It is also used for many other purposes, including digestion problems, conditions of the heart and blood vessels, and many others.

    Clary Sage: Clary Sage oil is known for its calming properties and benefits to the skin. The main chemical component is linalyl acetate, part of the esters group, making it one of the most relaxing, soothing, and balancing essential oils. In the Middle Ages, the Clary Sage plant was frequently used to soothe skin. Inhaling Clary Sage essential oil adds to a relaxing environment, and internal use promotes a restful night’s sleep*.

    Wintergreen: The main chemical component in Wintergreen oil, methyl salicylate, is used in topical creams and massage blends because of its soothing properties. In fact, Wintergreen and Birch are the only plants in the world that contain methyl salicylate naturally. As a flavoring, small amounts of Wintergreen oil are used in candies, toothpaste, and chewing gum. When diffused, Wintergreen oil has a refreshing aroma that’s uplifting and stimulating.

    The following information is taken from doTerra website.

    If you have specific concerns about the essential oil you intend to use, consult with a healthcare professional first.

    I will share more information about essential oils and aromatherapy as time passes.

    How does this align with leadership? Anything that brings pleasure, calmness, and good feelings are important for leaders to understand as they work to build teams, provide support and guidance, and encourage both personal and professional development.