A Handful of Quiet

 

I bought this lovely book a few years ago when I began teaching fifth grade.  It was my intention to kick the year off with it, but it never happened.  Being new to the elementary school environment, I was barely able to keep my head above water.  As a matter of fact, my head was never above water.  My lips were really, really close to the top. I could see the light, and was begging for air like a gold fish swimming around in murky water needing the water is his bowl changed.

The water in my bowl needed to be changed big time.  Never have I ever had to work so hard to implement every single bit of energy work I had in my back pocket.  Whew…. I’m glad it’s over! I’m beginning my twentieth year in education (woo-hoo!) and my third year with the fifth graders. I’m still in the water, but now I’m wading through it and enjoying the coolness of the water’s edge.  It’s very refreshing as I twirl my arms and allow my fingertips to skim the ripples that surround me.

The anxiety and stress levels of the kids in my classroom are just some of the ripples that desperately need to be managed all throughout the day. This year, the kids are getting Mindfulness notebooks to decorate and make their own.  I know they’re going to have a good time with the drawing exercises this book offers and they’ll absolutely LOVE going outside to hunt for four pebbles to represent a flower for freshness and beauty, a mountain for feeling solid, water for reflecting and stillness, and space for the feeling of freedom. I can’ wait to get started!

Resources for Family Practice: Related books

Mindfulness Retreat Communities for families: I’ve never visited any of the locations below, but if you’re curious…

Blue Cliff Monastery

Friends have visited Blue Cliff Monastery and very much enjoyed the experience.  I hope to head there this fall.

Deer Park Monastery

Magnolia Grove Monastery

Plum Village

If your email provider is not displaying the images in this post, please visit the Shift for Wellness blog.

Overcoming Cancer

A woman (me!) recalls how a positive attitude—and top-quality treatment—helped make a scary diagnosis just a memory.

While having fun redesigning the SHIFT site, I stumbled across this article last night.  It’s certainly an act of divine timing that it presents itself to me, so here it is for you!  I hope it brings you some comfort today <3. Love.

 

Self-Talk

Our self-talk is the creator of our universe.  It is the voice of our heart, mind, and soul, and reflects our perceptions of the world, others, and ourselves.  It guides us, criticizes us, supports us, and impacts our decisions. Our “inner voice” often influences our moods and determines if we are happy, sad, relaxed, worried, optimistic, or helpless.  Because self-talk is the “voice” we hear most, it has more influence on us and can impact our future more than anything else.

It’s estimated that 80% of what the average person says to him/herself is harmful, pessimistic, and undermining.

Ask yourself and consider:

  • Are you willing to easily accept less than perfection from yourself?
    • Do you give yourself permission to do less than 100%?
  • What do you say to yourself when you make a mistake? Do you give yourself a hard time?
    • How can you be more compassionate with yourself?
  • Is “should” one of the most prominent words in your vocabulary? Do you hear yourself often saying, “I should be working”, “I should go on a diet”, “I should get that done”, etc.  
    • Stop shoulding on yourself!
  • Do you compliment yourself when you look in the mirror?
    • What are some lovely things you can say to yourself, even on your worst day?
  • Do you give yourself praise for your accomplishments?
    • Don’t wait for someone else to pat you on the back.  Know you are already enough.
  • Are you uncomfortable accepting compliments? Do you brush off the compliment and say something negative about yourself or give the credit to someone else?
    • Just smile and say, ‘Thank you.”
  • Do you ever say things to yourself that you would never say to a friend because it would hurt his/her feelings?
    • Speak to yourself the same way you speak to those who you hold very near and dear to your heart.  You deserve nothing less.
  • Do you ever hear words of a critical parent, family member or boss out of your mouth- directed to yourself?
    • Don’t beat yourself up.  Start again.  Apologize to yourself and take a moment and think of something kind and loving to say.

Self-Talk Strategies

  1. Before reacting to the ONE thing you did not do correctly, remember the times you have been stellar today.
  2. If you “hear” a negative internal message about yourself, stop and provide a positive statement.
  3. Dropped the ball?  Let it go. Remind yourself of your true value and potential and move on.
  4. Every time you give someone a compliment, give yourself one too!
  5. Be patient.  You’re reprogramming your mind.  It takes time, but if you persist, you will be living in a new reality.  True reality is not made for us but by us.

S.H.I.F.T work….

Choose an affirmation or two that works for you and write or type it up on beautiful pieces of paper.  Place the affirmations in areas around your home and/or work to act as constant reminders.  

I type mine up and turn the paper into a tent with a trifold. I place the tent on my bathroom sink and look at it every morning while getting ready.

I’ve even gone so far as to laminate some and hang them in the shower for my kids if I felt they needed a little help. Of course, they thought I was nuts, but it never hurts to teach your kids how to help themselves.

 

Vulnerable and Rusty

I awoke this Sunday morning to a personal vow of not allowing work to be all-encompassing in the practice to continue to live a more balanced life.  Breakfast is finished and I’m feeling encouraged. I pull out the computer and sit in my favorite spot at the end of the dining room table. The energy is good here and I enjoy the brain breaks the wide window to the neighborhood provides.  As I acknowledge the want to write more and allow my creativity to flow, my fingers go to work on the keyboard as my right arm breaks out into hives.

Convinced the breakout is in direct correlation with the swirling thoughts I’m suppressing about Monday approaching, lessons that need attention, and papers that need grading, I pretend I’m not stressed by the idea of it all.  My body continues to react and denial allows the hives to hop over to my left arm.  My breathing gets shallower.

I remove myself from the table and walk over to the bookshelf to look for my thin, little book of sanity written by Louis Hay, published in 1998, the very year I began teaching.  What irony.  I do a quick flip through the pages of Heal Your Body A – Z  in search of “H” .  I skim passed Hip Problems and Hirsutism, not knowing what that is, and land on Hives (Urticaria) see: Rash.

Hives:

Probable Cause: Small, hidden fears, Mountains out of molehills.

New Thought Pattern: I bring peace to every corner of my life

For lots of reasons, it makes perfect sense to me. I’ve switched roles at work and I’m not being as patient with myself as I need to be.  Now I’m curious about what message  Rash has to offer. I continue to flip through the pages to the beginning of the R’s pass Rabies at the top of the list, and land on Rash.  This is what I find:

Probable Cause: Irritation over delays. Babyish way to get attention

New Thought Pattern: I love and approve of myself. I am at peace with the process of life.

Irritation over delays I get.  My world of work is not where I’d like it to be and I’m working really hard to honor all those things that are not where I’d like them to be like: this week’s lessons, the class blog, filing, the dinners I’m not cooking at night because I’m too tired, and the yoga classes I’m not attending any longer for the same reason.

Babyish way of getting attention, I didn’t get. I sat with this probable cause for a bit. It didn’t take me long to figure out it is meant to tell me to buck up and get over it.  Snap out of it.

I’m learning to give myself permission to feel the feelings that arise and not to judge.  I’ve also learned to offer these moments up and allow my higher power to take over.  This is the best treat of all.  Remembering that I’m not in this alone makes everything so much more delightful.  Time to sit, breathe, and be thankful I have a job to be anxious over 😉

Affirmations

Many people have scripted our self-talk, and the good news is we can re-script it.

By selecting and feeding our minds positive affirmations the programming in our minds will change.  Professional athletes and business people have used the technique of affirmations for years to increase their performance and success. An affirmation is a statement of fact or belief (positive or negative) that will lead toward the end result you expect.   

Here are some examples of affirmations created by Robert Egby.  Have fun creating your own.  These will get you started.  Good luck and remember, think well and be well. Which one will you choose for yourself today?

  • I am positive, confident and radiate good things
  • I have energy, enthusiasm, and vitality
  • I am totally relaxed and confident. When I am relaxed I achieve more.
  • I realize that time is my most valuable resource, so I carefully use it on only what is important to me.
  • I am a professional, respected person, fully capable of earning a professional, respected income.
  • I attract success into my life.  I deserve everything that success brings.
  • I really am very special.  I like who I am and I feel good about myself.
  • I was designed and created, in body and mind, to achieve.
  • I am a person of quality and strength.  I deserve success.
  • I always look for ways I can get something done instead of finding reasons why I cannot.
  • I always listen to those around me and work to understand their needs.
  • I enjoy showing others the best of themselves.  I always accept them at their best.
  • I have strength, absolute determination, and limitless endurance in the pursuit of my goals.
  • Everyday, in every way, I feel better and better.
  • I am calm and confident.  I have the quiet self-assurance of winning in my life.
  • I have inner peace.  I am living my life in a positive and worthwhile way.
  • I have purpose and value in my life. I love who I am and I enjoy being me.
  • I love and accept myself completely as I am.
  • I am intelligent.  My mind is quick and alert and clever and fun.
  • I think good thoughts, and my mind makes things work right for me.
  • I am able to see a precise picture of exactly what my goals are in everything I do and what I must do to achieve each of them.
  • Because winning takes energy, good health, and a strong, positive attitude, I make sure that I keep myself fit-both mentally and physically.
  • I take full responsibility for everything about me, even the thoughts I think.
  • I always visualize myself being at my absolute best in every part o my personal/professional life.
  • I learn from everything I do and everyone I meet.
  • My mind is clear and alert.  It is capable of meeting any challenge I place before it.
  • I have excellent powers of concentration.  I attune all my senses to the subject at hand, and I am able to focus my attention more and more easily each day.
  • I am creative.  I like to find new and interesting ways to do things in my life.
  • Every day, something new and interesting happens in my life.
  • I like myself and I like my goals.  I am moving forward in my life.

TIPS:

  • You may want to get yourself a copy of Louise Hay’s book, Heal Your Body A-Z.  In addition to having beautiful artwork, each page is structured with three columns:
    • Ailments which are listed from A-Z
    • An explanation of what’s happening in your world as a result of your ailment
    • An Affirmation that aids in creating a SHIFT in mindset set, which will aid to rid you of your ailment.

Heal

Open Up Outrageously This New Year

Cleaning out my space and recharging my batteries annually is a practice for me as the New Year approaches.  As the end was beginning to wrap up, I could feel deep within me it was time to re-read two of my fav-o-favs by Tosha Silver: Outrageous Openness: Letting the Devine Take the Lead and Change Me Prayers: The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender.

By re-reading, I mean opening up my Audible app and listening to Tosha speak to me on the ride to and from school. Her casual, comfortable tone has her sitting right next to me in the front seat of my car; and for the next six days, I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to venturing out each morning in the cold.

Tosha’s message is very simple:  Offer it up. Let the Big Guy take over; or as Tosha writes, “She”.  This shift in my daily prayers has transformed everything for me.  Despite my pretending I am not, I am a multi-tasker. An over-planner. An obnoxious “To Do List” maker. A payer of attention to too many details. A people pleaser. And though it’s hard to write, a self- sabotager (at times), typically I am very, very kind to myself.

Having had cancer, I want to prove to myself that I can still “Do”. The lesson the cancer has taught me, however, is I’m not supposed to keeping “Doing”, I’m supposed to slow it down.  While that lesson immediately came through for me loud and clear, it’s hard to practice for me. The ego takes over is what it comes down to.  I have to keep that ego in check and that’s where letting Devine take the lead is my saving grace. Slowing down was very easy to practice at first while I was home recuperating; but as the months and years pass by, getting sucked into the vortex of “Doing” and going and planning and making things happen like everyone else, just happens.

I cannot begin to tell you how liberating letting God take-over is.  Have fun with what you ask of Him. Be playful, yet intentional.  It’s not about being passive and you will learn that in the book. Tosha gracefully and comically answers any questions you may have within her pages.

When I wake and when I walk into my classroom each day, I become overwhelmed with the many things that need to be taken care of. I first thank God for the day and for my good health that allows me to move through the day with my healthy body, independent of anyone (except Him of course).

At school, I thank Him for the job I have, all of the students I get to spend the day with, and the supportive teachers, administration, and parents I have this school year. I then ask to be led to only what needs to be done.  I ask to be shown the way to only that which is essential in the unfolding of the day.

I am amazed every day! Ironically, not much on the “To Do” list gets done and I find it didn’t need to be done.  I am easily led to what is most important and to things I wasn’t event thinking of.  My body just moves and I follow it giggling, “Oh yeah, thank you for that!”.

Celebrations

Holiday lit pines replace the wilted corn stalks and brown-topped mums that once decorated our front porch. I relish the subtle move into the Christmas season that I celebrate with family and friends, while hanging on to every note of Christmas music that now plays.

Thanksgiving has come and gone and leaves me with warm and wonderful lasting memories of the day and years gone by. We are fortunate to host the mother of all holidays, and I treasure every moment of time spent making the day all it should be for our family and friends. Preparation for Thanksgiving Day created many last minute trips to the store (and I thought I had done so well on my first trip), which presented lots of opportunities to run in to old friends doing their last minute pick ups as well. They ask how I’m doing and we both know the underlying concern. Am I well? Am I still well? Have there been any changes?

I find it overwhelmingly heartwarming to know so many still care and are concerned when sometimes I briefly forget it was even a chapter in my book. Here I am running around picking up last minute items after countless trips have already been made, when not so long ago, going to store wasn’t even an act I could entertain. I smile wide and tell them confidently, “Yes, I’m great!” I want to add, “And please don’t worry about me because I will always be great. I am fine.”  I don’t want anyone to worry about me.

The week of Thanksgiving also brings my birthday celebration which is, and always has been, an exciting day for me; even before the more dramatic significance it holds now. It saddens me when I hear people say, “I’m not celebrating this year.” Or “I’ve stopped celebrating.” Really? You’ve chosen to not celebrate the last year you’ve been gifted? Nothing in the last 365 days held any significance for you? You can find nothing to be grateful for during that time? And you’re not looking forward to the new year that has presented itself to you? Oh, please change your mind. Please put new thoughts into the air to be whipped up, heard, and sent back to you with love and kindness. You deserve the love. I know many may be kidding when they say it, but why even put it out there for the negative response? Somewhere deep inside it’s a thought, and thoughts become things. We need to choose the good ones.

Excitedly, I celebrated another year, a 48th one to be exact and they just keep getting better. My true inner celebration, however, is the 8th year mark of wellness I will celebrate next month; a new birthday if you will. I’ve shared before and many already know, the medical field notes all survival dates from the date of diagnosis. Medically speaking, I am 8 ½ years cancer free already, but on my day of diagnosis, I was on information overload listening to many things from my doctor and nowhere in our dialogue did he utter, “You’re cancer free!”

Reasonably, I choose to celebrate the day I did hear those words from him when he shook me awake by grabbing my big toe at the foot of my bed saying, “Hey! Wake up, you’re cancer free.” I love him. Steve and I both do. He’s like a celebrity to us and we always say he’d be a great fit in our circle of friends. He’s the kind of guy who is real, honest, and genuine, a guy you can sit down with and enjoy a nice cold beer, tell stories and laugh. Did I mention he’s Irish??? BONUS!

As you move through your holiday season, honoring your celebrations with friends and family, I wish for you peace, love, perfect health, inner calm in its simplest of forms, and the ability to see the silver lining in all that life places before you. You owe yourself that much. Peace.