We have reached that time of year when the phrase “tis the season” covers all manner of circumstances. Included in tis the season is an emphasis on the virtues of gratitude and appreciation. However, it is unfortunate that for many the gratitude light doesn’t go on until “the season” rather than keeping it on all year round. As a matter of fact some people complain about gratitude fatigue. It’s a real thing. Let’s look, instead, about the positives which is borne out by scientists and psychologists.
What helps you sleep better, exercise more? Buy less and connect more ... all while decreasing stress during the most wonderful stressful time of the year.
It's Gratitude! Yes, It's time to get all the incredible benefits of gratitude. Gratitude is like Netflix for our well-being — giving you JOY, enthusiasm, love, happiness and optimism on-demand (don't change that channel!
Gratitude helps you counteract the season of stuff that’s careening right around the corner to remind you what the holidays are truly all about.
You've probably seen a Bazillion Gratitude exercises and challenges. All wonderful. All can work. Yet, not one size fits all. If you wonder which ones to endeavor, many positive psychology sites offer several options. Choose those that fit your fancy. I suggest you put fun and love into whatever you choose to do. Here are some ideas both inside and outside of the box.
A more traditional one which is still of great benefit to the giver and receiver is a thank you email or text. In 2 minutes or less, let someone you care for know what about them you are grateful for. Be specific. Include some creative emojis, if you like.
Be an appliance appreciator. Select something or somethings around your abode you are grateful for. Recalling times of having to dry clothes on a clothesline in weather that jeans were so stiff they could walk themselves into the house, I so appreciate my washer and dryer. As we dealt with lock downs, I’ve been most grateful for my coffee grinder . Gotta have my daily elixir, you know.
Gratitude Gaming. This is something you can do with family and/or friends. All you need is a ping pong ball, a tennis ball, a nerf ball or something similar and a timer. Set the timer for however long you want a round to last. Then one person tosses the ball to another. The tossee then says something they are grateful for. Then the ball is again tossed to another, continuing and sharing gratitudes until the timer goes off. Every gratitude must be original. No repeating someone else’s or saying “the same for me.” This is a game that can inspire tweaks and modifications to your liking.
Have some fun on social media. Make a gratitude Tik Tok.
Finally, just say, “Thank you …” thank you to the mail deliverer, the person at the check out, the store clerk, restaurant wait staff, any service provider, family members, health care providers, etc. You will all feel happier.
Comments are welcomed.
A friend and I were strolling along in my favorite neighborhood. It started to rain so we looked for a place to step inside until the rain let up. As fate would have it, we were right in front of Lemon & Lavender. Of course, we scooted inside. It was definitely looking a lot like Christmas. There were ingredients for Christmas magic at every turn. I have a split personality when it comes to Christmas decorations. On one hand, I cherish the more serious, spiritual aspects of Christmas. On the other hand, I am also drawn to the whimsy and merriment of Christmas. This particular day, whimsy was in charge. So many items caught my attention, but I managed to exhibit restraint with final purchases. I was happy to find a couple of gifts for close friends along with a little something for myself.
What does this have to do with stuffies? It seems like all manner of stuffies are taking up store shelves. A couple of months ago my granddaughter showed me this super cute little octopus stuffy. She happened to find this at Lemon & Lavender. Of course, I had to see for myself what this stuffy stuff was all about. Shortly after my visit with K I ventured into L & L. There were stuffies galore. There were all sorts of fruit and vegetable stuffies, sea creature stuffies, other little animals and more. Honestly, all of the stuffy stuff was just too cute. I did purchase a peach stuffy for a friend who needed to do some hand exercises. The peach was the right size with the right squeezability. I’m happy to report my friend was thrilled with the peach finding it most helpful.
Back to the day we stepped in out of the rain. There was a myriad of beautiful traditional ornaments. As we meandered through the store, we came upon displays of stuffy decorations. All super cute. OMG! I succumbed. There was a stuffy gingerbread house which kept calling my name. I tried to ignore it, but it was relentless. What choice did I have? It now occupies the center of my dining table, being a little too tall for any of my wall unit shelves.
The pseudo gingerbread house has now contentedly occupied the table for several days. I’ve wondered if this would reside with me until next Christmas. Perhaps I will at some point pass it on to a child who might be enamored with such an item. In the meantime, I will enjoy this impulse purchase throughout the holidays.
There are 2 morals to this story:
One: Sometimes we need to play in a sand box that’s actually filled with pixie dust. It lightens the heart and releases stress.
Two: Take life but not ourselves too seriously.
Comments are welcomed.
Facts as Facts
As easy as it is to speculate on what might happen in our lives, when we are devastated by illness, financial ruin, divorce, politics, and so on, it seems best to stick with the facts. “Facts as Facts,” is a maxim of Japanese Psychiatrist, Dr. Shoma Morita. Of course, it is natural and even helpful to look ahead, like the Stoics, to have some options in our back pocket. We just don’t want to linger there, putting our lives on hold. Thus, the advice to rein our minds in, when they go galloping through the fields like wild stallions, is useful. Of course, this can be easier said than done.
However, one of the ways that has consistently proven to be helpful when we are suffering from angst, fear, uncertainty, and discouragement is to do physical things. We are better off to work in the garden or clean a cupboard than tackle paperwork. Moving our bodies is a way to release adrenaline and when we have the satisfaction of bagging all those fallen leaves, we have the extra bonus of surveying our beautiful handiwork. And when it is one of those crisp, clear, blue-sky kind of days – well, that is a bonus. When the going is tough consider the things, you can do that require you to move.”
That was from an article written by Trudy Boyle in an issue ofTodo Institute’s newsletter. I am finding that I am continually reminded of the importance of moving for mental, emotional, physical well being. Even the smallest of movements like wiggling our ankles can have a positive effect. The one aspect that especially hits home with me is how important moving is to brain health. Everything I have read by neuroscientists, neurosurgeons cites the number one factor in maintaining brain health throughout life is movement. The scientists all say that we don’t need to be going to gyms or having big work out regimens. Any movement will be beneficial. Go for a walk, garden, house cleaning (which may not be very appealing unless we can view it as exercise), take stairs instead of elevators when possible. Just about anything that involves some movement is good for us. Here’s to keeping sharp. Guess I will clean the bathroom. How about you?
Comments are welcomed.
For several years I’ve taken to redecorating each Spring and Autumn. It’s nothing major. Primarily, I just change my bedroom curtains and duvet cover. Occasionally, I change a little something in other parts of my apartment appropriate to the season. In case you wondered, I have one set of curtains and bed cover for Autumn/ Winter and another set for Spring/Summer. I do not buy brand new stuff every season. That would be insane.
As a rule, I tend towards minimalism, so I don’t like adding any tchotchkes unless they are a swap out. I tell you all this because I recently had to add an unwanted item to my bedroom décor. It neither blends in with the color scheme, nor does it accentuate the existing design. So, what is this unwanted objet d’art?
In 1944 Ella Fitzgerald and a group called the Ink Spots cut a song entitled “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall.” Mind you, this was before my time. However, I’ve heard those words over the years. My guess is they became a cliché for hard times. My recent experience was one in which those words were literal.
Here's what happened. It was a rainy day and night like most other run of the mill rainy days and nights. I had gone to sleep. Suddenly during the wee hours of the morning, something hitting my chest jarred me awake. That something continued when I realized it was the rain coming in from the roof through the ceiling right over my bed. I bolted out of bed, though stunned that this could be happening. For a moment I wasn’t sure what to do first. I grabbed a towel to put on the spot. As I did that, I realized that was stupid as all my bedding would still get wet. I quickly went for a big bucket I had, stripped the bed and placed the bucket on the mattress where the rain was coming down.
Next, in my crazed state, I started doing laundry, putting my bed cover, sheets and mattress pad through the wash. Then what? It was too early to phone anyone. I waited until 7:00am before phoning the building manager.
C, the building manager, came over a little later to assess the situation. Fortunately it was just that one spot that was dripping. Our neighbor who’s roof was a continuation of ours had their roof done a few years ago. So M (the neighbor) and C set to patch where they thought the leak had originated. It finally stopped raining in my bedroom after 12 hours. C moved my bed as far away from the leak as he could. Other pieces of furniture had to be moved around, also. I put plastic down on the carpet and left the bucket in place.
Needless to say, my bedroom was completely discombobulated and a little disorienting for sleep. There was really no other place in my apartment I could sleep instead.
C and M continued to patch different parts of the roof, soaking it down to see if there were still leaks. C and M’s efforts seemed to be successful. My bedroom remained in disarray for at least another week as rain was predicted for every day. We didn’t want to take any chances by putting everything back where it belonged. While all this was going on, C had hired a roofer who would do the job as soon as there was a dry spell.
As the rainy days continued, my bedroom remained dry so we chanced putting everything back where it belonged. I did keep the bucket and plastic covering handy just in case.
Next week is supposed to be a dry one. We’re hoping the roofer will then be able to do the job. In the meantime, being a little superstitious and not wanting to tempt fate, that wide-mouthed battleship gray bucket remains part of the décor until the new roof is in place. My bedroom is most like the Traditional Interior Design. Some might think the bucket turns it into a more Eclectic Interior Design. I say no way. It also disrupts the feng shui.
Here’s hoping that roof will be redone sooner than later. Then the bucket can return to it’s proper place on the floor of my pantry. It will be happier there and so will I.
Comments are welcomed.
After reading this you might think I just flew out of a cuckoo’s nest. I might even tend to agree with you.
Here’s the thing. Prior to this year’s patio dining, the streets were clear, there was parking and there was one of those recycle and litter cans near each street corner. Once patio dining was in full swing for the summer, those litter and recycle cans became inaccessible. It seems the city wasn’t keen on diners abusing those receptacles. Why is this important? Why does it even matter? I will explain.
I live on a street very close to a major intersection in the city. Since I am vision impaired I do not attempt to cross the street on my own. Thus, I am confined to independently walking just to the corner and proceeding around the block to a laneway. At that point I return home. I take a couple of laps every morning for a bit of exercise. There has always been one of those recycle/litter cans near the corner of my street. When I went out with a sighted guide, that person would deposit my offerings to the can for me and I never thought much about it. When the pandemic hit everything changed.
My laps around the corner continued as usual. The big change was that I no longer had friends dropping by or being able to go out with friends. Disposing of refuse also ceased. One day I asked a friend to describe the exact location of the can and how I might find it. After a couple of attempts I was able to locate the can independently. The importance of this was that I am quite limited in things I can do totally on my own. Visiting the recycle can on my walk added an additional sense of accomplishment.
Then patio dining was activated and the recycle/litter can was covered up and made unusable. I called the city to find out how long the situation would continue. They said until October 31 when patio dining would end. That call transpired in early August. It felt like it might be forever until the end of October.
It's not like the city doesn’t collect garbage every week. Yet, stopping to visit the can a couple times a week had become this fun, cool thing I could do along my walk.
The point of all this is finding pleasure, happiness, joy in the simplest things contributes to our well being. We also need to remember not to take ourselves too seriously. Now, here’s my little tribute :
Ode To A Garbage Can
Hail to thee, Blithe Spirit Oops, sorry. That’s Shelley’s Ode To A Skylark. Heck, I’m just not the ode writing type. Let’s go with this:
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
When it comes to recycle/litter cans,
I’m glad there is you.
Comments are welcomed.
I have certainly done my share of complaining and whining during these most difficult times. Still, there have been many delightful days as well. For example, there were the 2 or 3 days I was able to visit Lemon & Lavender, a most unique boutique. I have no doubt that store has been imbued with fairy dust. There were also a couple of Mr. Rogers days in the neighbourhood. I could cite more, but you get the idea.
During all those days of lock down and curbside pick-ups, there wasn’t any need to upgrade my wardrobe. I find shopping on line is too much of a crap shoot to get items that won’t need to be returned. Looking back, I hadn’t been out of my neighbourhood to do any clothes shopping since before the pandemic hit.
As life in the city has shown more signs of normalizing, I felt the itch for some retail therapy. An opportunity presented itself and off I went with a friend. Weather wise the day was just right. Warm but far from too warm. A very light sweater was not too much. When we got to the mall which was an outdoor mall, again just right for current times, there was no parking. My friend drove a couple of laps around the entire lot. Nada. She then drove into the parking garage. Also nada. This all seemed a little strange as there were hardly any people to be seen. We drove out of the garage and there still appeared to be no spaces. I put a little request out to the universe. No sooner did I finish my plea when a parking spot opened up right in front of one of the stores I had planned to visit. We call that TV parking. You know how on TV shows or movies wherever people need to go, there is always a parking spot right in front of the building.
Our first stop was Eddie Bauer’s as I have been needing a super warm winter jacket. EB’s has always been my go to for winter wear. As fortune would have it, the second jacket I tried on was exactly what I had been hoping for. It was on sale which made it even sweeter.
The next stop was Anthropologie. I have not had the opportunity to visit that store previously. It had been on my mind to do so the first chance I got. I was hoping to find some interesting tops. I did. There was a shirt with a combination of colours that makes smiling irresistible. I also purchased a sun shiny yellow sweater that would brighten anyone’s day. No sunglasses needed either. The cool part was the entire process took very little time to zero in on those 2 items, try them on and buy them. Both stores, I might add, have great return policies.
Honestly, I had no desire to visit any other shops of which there were many. I had gone to the one’s on my list, found exactly what I wanted. It couldn’t have been easier or more fun. We did take a little time to sit down at a patio for some nourishment after which we drove home.
This may not seem like a big deal. On the surface it was not. Beneath the surface, however, it was. From the time we left home until our return, everything flowed smoothly, easily, joyfully. The feeling in that state of flow is very uplifting. That is the point. When we can find that flow state in whatever we are engaged, we are at our best, feeling our best and have that sense of overall well being.
Comments are welcomed.
This week there’s a little more to say about the continuum of changes going on. Change, good or bad, can be disruptive in normal times. We are no longer living in normal times. Everything has become exaggerated, exacerbated and topsy turvy.
We may never fully figure things out. Just when we think we know what makes people or things tick, they tock. Then one Debbie Downer day, I happily remembered why change is so difficult.
There is actually a neuroscience reason that accounts for a good part of it. Neuroscientist Jeffrey Schwartz: “At the level of individual neurons, brains are built to detect changes in the environment and send out strong signals to alert us to anything unusual. Error detection signals are generated by a part of the brain called the orbital cortex (it’s located right over the eyeballs, which is very closely connected to the brain’s fear circuitry in a structure called the amygdala. These two areas compete with and direct brain resources away from the prefrontal region, which is known to promote and support higher intellectual functions. This pushes us to act more emotionally and more impulsively.”
Knowing my brain is not a fan of change is curiously comforting. Knowing there’s a valid reason for being wary of change, tells me I’m not a total neurotic. Well, then how might we best deal with change? There is no one size fits all. Each of us deals with challenges in our own unique way. Each of us has particular coping mechanisms that work for us. Here are some things I’ve found helpful:
Build a support team of family, good friends.
Comments are welcomed.
Happy Thanksgiving to all Canadians. As Autumn has rolled in so come 2 major reminders to express gratitude and appreciation for the blessings we have despite these difficult times. Today being Canadian Thanksgiving and U.S. Thanksgiving next month. Of course, it would be the best of worlds if we celebrated the blessings in our lives every day as Terri Guillemets says, “Every day, spread the magical stardust of thankfulness into your life. “
Despite the fact that Winter is not far behind, there are so many gifts that Autumn gives us to enjoy while we are in it.
A few years ago I wrote a cheesy poem mixing the styles of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Maria Von Trapp that express some of my favorite things about Autumn.
Autumn, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
County fairs and fresh produce markets,
Apples and pumpkins and hot roasted chestnuts,
Cider and doughnuts and cool moonlit evenings,
These are a few of my favorite things.
Leaves of bright colors at peak for the viewing,
The first sign of wood smoke through the air swirling,
Hay rides and scarecrows and fun family gatherings,
These are some more of my favorite things.
A couple other favorites that didn’t end up in rhyme include the swooshing and crunching sounds from walking on leaf covered paths and the wonderful aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice wafting from baked goods and hot mulled drinks.
On a more philosophical note, Autumn is a good time to reflect on the year. What things would we like to carry into the next year and grow? What things are best left behind or changed? What things do we want to let lie through the Winter and view with fresh eyes in Spring which brings hope renewal and rebirth? Lots to ponder over a cup of hot cider and a piece of pumpkin pie.
Comments are welcome.