Patterns

Have you noticed how many patterns there are in the world? Animal prints, flowers, stripes, circles, triangles and squares. There are so many different shapes and patterns it’s hard to notice how amazing they are. People invented every pattern you see, unless it is in nature of course. Nature has many patterns of its own; flower petals, leaves, grasses, trees and water to name a few. We too have patterns. We make patterns of our lives. We go to bed at a certain time, and call ourselves morning people or night owls depending on our pattern. We eat certain foods and drink certain drinks depending on our patterns.

Our patterns then determine the kind of people we become. Our patterns of thinking determine our politics, our kindness or lack thereof, our being quick to anger or slow to get upset. Our patterns make us laugh easily, or take things personally. We think our patterns are something that we have decided upon, and have thought about. But really, our patterns often originate from our DNA, peer groups, family, friends and teachers.

My youngest grandchild who is three years old has already established a pattern of using technology. He can open an i-pad and find Baby Einstein on you-tube. That happened because his parents have an i-pad and they taught him the password. It also happened because his generation is already ahead of us technology wise. He will soon be doing things on the computer faster than I can speak. He may believe that he has accomplished this himself, and in a way he has, but it is also because of what he is being taught. If he was born in a cave, he wouldn’t know how to use technology. He would believe in survival, finding food, shelter and warmth.

I believe in a creator because my grandparents did. They went to chapel every Sunday, and I went to Sunday school. I learned about God and Jesus and all the bible stories and so it is part of my belief. If I had not been sent to Sunday school, but had attended a Mosque or a Synagogue, I would have different patterns of belief.

Today is about noticing your patterns. Do you always do things the same way? There is nothing wrong in the way you do things of course. This is just about noticing your patterns. Are you doing exactly what your parents did? Are you missing out on certain aspects of life because you are in a pattern of behavior that doesn’t allow some things to happen? For example do you take life seriously—maybe too seriously? Is it a pattern you would like to change? Or do you take things personally, and are fed up with being so upset by other people? Maybe that is a pattern you would like to work on changing.

Don’t worry about your patterns. Today you are just noticing them and how they make you feel. If they make you feel good, keep the pattern going—but if they make you feel bad—maybe it is time for a change….everything begins with awareness of what we are doing, and then deciding if we want to keep doing it or not.

Darkness

I’ve talked about it before, depression loves darkness. But sometimes darkness needs to come out. It needs to be talked about. Sometimes. Not all the time. But sometimes.

It happened tonight with my two grandchildren. They are still little, nine and eleven. The nine-year-old is struggling with math. She didn’t want to do her homework. The eleven-year-old wanted to help but she didn’t want help from her big brother. The mom wanted them to do their homework and stop arguing. It was a dark place in the household. Tempers were flaring. Upset and darkness was on the horizon.

We could have swept it under the carpet. But this homework problem had been going on for a long time. Their mom felt no one listened to her, and she was really frustrated. So finally after arguing back and forth about the homework and the math problem, I asked the nine-year-old, “If you had a magic wand, what would you want to have happen?” She was quiet for a moment and then answered, “A bunch of things.”

“Well just pick the top thing.” I said.

Her answer when it finally came made me burst out laughing. I expected her to say something about being good at math, or not having to do homework, or not have her mother frustrated. Her answer after a lot of thought was, “To buy some new clothes.”

We were all struggling with her homework, and her top magic want was clothes. It made me realize that when things seem dark, they’re not really that dark. We make them dark because we put all kinds of imaginings onto them. I think that someone else’s problem will be similar to mine—but it’s not like that at all. Other people’s problems seem strange to me. I don’t have their problems—I have different ones. Other people’s problems don’t seem as big as mine when I am in the darkness with them.

When you shine a light in the darkness, the things that seemed so terrible, so unanswerable suddenly don’t seem so bad. There are possibilities that you hadn’t thought of before. Just by shining a light into the dark—new ideas can be seen. Creative ways of solving a problem can be brought out into the open.

Today, shine a light into the dark. It maybe that you put a limit on the amount of time you spend in the dark. “I will be depressed for another ten minutes, and then I will come into the light.” Or, “I will spend ten minutes talking about my problem with a trusted friend and then I will talk about a solution.” Or, “I will write down all me fears and worries and then I will have gotten them out of my system.”

Today is about shining light into the dark. My friend, when you focus on the light, you will notice that things are not as bad as they first appeared. Your eyes will get accustomed to seeing in the dark, and there are no places to hide. Today, shine your torch, and fill the dark with light. Focus on the good things in your life be they ever so small. A bird singing. Laughter from across the fence. A stranger smiling at you. The wind rustling in the trees. The sun shining. The moon glowing in the night. An uplifting song. You deserve the very best of these things–these are gifts–enjoy them.

Yaks in the Moment

Yaks in the Moment

Cushions

Everyone Needs a Cushion

We All Need a Cushion Sometimes

I love cushions. They are colorful and bright. They are add-ons. They are made of materials and patterns you wouldn’t use to cover the entire sofa. Basically, a cushion is a pillow or pad stuffed with a mass of soft material. It is used as a comfortable support for sitting or leaning on. A cushion is also something used to dampen shocks or prevent excessive pressure or chafing. It is something that lessens the effect of hardship, or distress: “The inheritance was a cushion against unemployment.”
Cushions in life are people who support you. When something awful happens to you, a person can act like a cushion to dampen the shock or relieve the pressure. It doesn’t even have to be someone you know well.
Imagine when someone feels extreme pressure, and maybe even wants to end their life, there are people who will talk to them over the telephone, and help them realize that life is worth keeping. There are groups; all kinds of groups which help people overcome terrible loss and sorrow. Or groups that help addicts overcome their addictions. All over the world, there are strangers heading up groups, being a cushion against the blows and hardships that life sometimes offers.
I have friends who have gone to groups to get support and comfort. There is no need for any person to feel alone, because there is always someone, somewhere waiting to be a support. People need people who are suffering so that they can be a support. Can you imagine if we all suddenly became completely self-sufficient? If no one needed anyone, it would stop people being a support. People need to act as a support, just as people need to be supported. Sometimes we are the support and sometimes we are the ones needing support—a cushion—a soft landing place.
Today is about finding your cushion. Maybe all you want to do is simply hug a cushion—take a pillow and hug it. Or maybe you are brave enough to step out and find a group. A support group that will help you feel good about yourself. Help you know that you are okay, that you are liked, that you are likeable, loveable and loved. It may mean trying out different groups until you find the one that fits. It may be a church group, a choir, a book club, a writing group, an Over Eaters Anonymous Group, a grief group, a cancer group. Whatever ails you, there is a group just waiting for you to come and share. Remember a trouble shared is a trouble halved. Today find a cushion, get some support and be prepared for a soft landing.

The Beauty of Being Mindful

Mindful

The Beauty of Being Mindful

Being Mindful

Focus on Awareness
If you made it through yesterday’s combat move with money, you will find today a breeze. Today is about being mindful which means the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. It is about focusing your awareness on the present moment while being calm about your own feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. For example, you may find yourself in the middle of conflict. To be mindful, you would be focusing on the conflict, you would be aware of your own feelings, but you would not get overwhelmed by them. You would not charge into the conflict in an argumentative way. Jon Kabat-Zinn a famous teacher of mindfulness meditation and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way. On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
Be Consiously Aware
For example, I was eating an English muffin this morning, and I noticed I was wolfing it down really fast. As soon as I became mindful of this, I began to be consciously aware about how I was eating it. I slowed down. I chewed. I noticed how much longer it took me to chew the food. It suddenly changed from eating an English muffin in a mindless way just to get it down, to enjoying an English muffin and noticing how it was sustaining my body and spirit.
Being a Life Warrior
Will I be able to do that every time I eat? No. I know myself and I know that sometimes I just eat food very fast. However, I am working on being more mindful because I enjoy enjoying my food. I did this recently with alcohol. I became mindful that I wanted to stop drinking alcohol. Now before you stop reading, because you enjoy a drink of wine or a cocktail before dinner, please do not worry. Being a Life Warrior does not mean you have to give up a glass of wine. For me, it’s just something I wanted to do. So I became mindful of it.
Stopping a Habit
I had read about a lady who wanted to stop smoking. She had tried many times, and she decided that every time she had a cigarette she would say to herself, “I hate smoking. This tastes nasty.” And she said this even while she was smoking the cigarette. She did this day after day, for quite a long time. Then suddenly one day, she was about to have a cigarette and she thought, “I don’t want this, it tastes really nasty.” And she stopped.
Tell Yourself What You Want to Happen
I decided to try it with alcohol. Every time I had a drink of wine, I said to myself, “This tastes really bad. It’s like poison.” And what happened was really amazing. A few weeks later, I had drunk a couple of glasses of wine with friends at dinner, and that night, I woke up feeling absolutely terrible. My stomach was in so much pain, I could hardly bare it. The next day I realized what had happened. I had been telling myself that wine was like poison, and I believe it literally poisoned my body. Not in the long term…but I definatley need to choose my words more carefully!! Thankfully, the next day I felt absolutely fine, and it put me off alcohol, which is what I wanted. Now I have not had a drink of wine for a few weeks. I don’t expect to drink again.
The Buck Stops Here
Today, what do you want to be mindful about? What is in your life that you want to give up? I have a family member for example who is a shopaholic. She doesn’t enjoy much of what she buys. It uses money she doesn’t really have, and at the end of the day she gets depressed about it. Yes, I know what you may be thinking. Depression is a gene that runs in my family. Who knows? Maybe it is a gene that’s been passed down. Whatever it is, I do know that the buck stops here.
No Judgements
Where do you want the buck to stop? What do you want to pay attention about? Remember it is not about being judgmental. We’ve all had enough judgments in our lives and critical self-judgment to last a life time. So this is not about judging yourself. This is about being mindful in the present moment and paying attention to what you are doing. Remember I am with you every step of the way. As you are being mindful, I am being mindful. As you are being non-judgmental, I am being non-judgmental. This is about paying attention. So today, pay attention. Be present in the moment and notice what you are doing.

A smiling dog

Money

I just love this photo

I just love this photo

Money is energy. It allows us to buy things. It allows us to survive. It buys a roof over our heads, food on our table, technology in our lives. We may buy a car, spend it on a vacation, or clothes, shoes, sports….most things in life require money. I have asked people who are on the verge of retirement, “what do you want to do?” and many say, “Travel.” But travel costs money. Hobbies cost money. Okay, okay, I know you are saying to yourself, “I want to be a Life Warrior and learn some combat moves to kick depression. But this talk about money is just making me more depressed!” Don’t let it. The money talk is what depression actually doesn’t want you to do. Remember when I said that depression just wants to hide away. To skulk in the corner, leave the party early and take your ball with you—because if you’re not playing and having fun—no one else is allowed to.

Playing with balls is more fun with others

Playing with balls is more fun with others

The same goes for money. Depression loves you to feel worried about money; it loves to feel that there is not enough money to go around, or that you don’t have enough money to pay the rent, the car loan or the school fees. So it doesn’t talk in any positive way about money. So it ignores the money talk.

To kick depression let’s have the money talk right now. First, you can tell what you spend money on, by looking at your visa bills. What are your payments going towards? Clothes, hobbies, vacation or just survival things like food, and rent. It doesn’t matter at this point what your money is going towards, this is about kicking depression in the gut and bringing the money topic out into the sunlight. You are airing your  money situation just like you would air anything else…you bring it into the light.

Second step. Do you need to see a money councilor? I did that one time when I got into serious money problems, I went to the free Catholic Charities counseling services and got tremendous help just in sorting out my bills and finances. Remember, depression doesn’t want you to talk about what is going on, so be a Life Warrior and talk to a professional about your financial problems. You will see, just as I did, that nothing is as bad as it seems.

Nothing is as bad as it seems

Nothing is as bad as it seems

It may seem bad right now, because depression makes you feel so alone. That no one in the world cares about you. But that is a lie. People do care. I am writing this because I care and my gift is to write. I would not be the person to bring your financial problems to, because that is not my talent. My talent is writing about my experiences. And my experience with depression led me to want to help other people who are going through the same kind of thing. I am not a doctor, so I don’t prescribe medication, but I am all for medication if that is what you need. Bottom line, there is help for you. I want to help by pointing you in a different direction, that’s all.

Today then, please bring your money into the open. Find out where you spend your money by looking at your expenses and  notice what your visa statement tells you about your money habits. Next, find a counselor if you need one. Make an appointment. If you need to cut back on spending, cut back. But here’s the kicker. If buying a new top every week helps elevate your mood and you can afford it, then buy the top. If playing a round of golf helps you keep fit and you can afford it, then play the golf. But if you are spending money on alcohol and cigarettes and chocolate and it isn’t making you feel good, then stop. Stop spending money on things that feed your depression. Start spending money on things that elevate your mood and bring vitality into your life. Sort your spending into vitality and depression.

Sort your money into Vitality and Depression

Sort your money into Vitality and Depression

Make two columns: Vitality and Depression. Under the vitality column, name all the things you spend money on that make you feel great. Under the Depression column, write all the things you spend money on that make you feel depressed. What do you want to spend your money on? How do you want to feel at the end of the day? What do you want your money energy to feed? Vitality or Depression.

My friend you are doing great. You are here and I am here with you. I made it through to a more vital life and you can too. It won’t all happen overnight….I am still learning myself how to be a Life Warrior. I am here with you and we are doing this together my friend. Happy money day!

Sunlight

Depression wants to hide in the shadows

Depression wants to hide in the shadows

Depression abhors light. Depression wants to hide away in the darkness. It wants to stay undercover. It doesn’t want to be seen. Depression feels embarrassing. It doesn’t want anyone to pay attention to it. Why do you think that is? Why does depression hide away in the corner sulking and feeling horrible? Why does depression not want to talk about what is going on?

Today go into the sunlight

Today go into the sunlight

Answer: because when depression is seen, it loses its power. Depression simply cannot survive in the sunlight. It cannot continue to live in a light environment. If there is sunlight coming into the room, depression will seek the dark shadows. If a sunny, happy person walks into the room, depression wants to sneak away, leave the party early. Stare at a picture on the wall until the sunny person has gone. Depression is like a seed that doesn’t want to push up through the soil and get born into a beautiful flower. Depression is like a stone turning its face towards the dirt. Depression is like a gnarled tree unable to grow into the light and just giving up.

Seek the sunny side of life

Seek the sunny side of life

Today, go into the sunlight. Whether it means you move your chair into a sunny place, or walk into the sunshine at your break time, or watch a sunny movie that wakes up the laughter within you, whatever means and method you can employ today—make time to be in the sunlight. And like I said, if it is not sunny outside, or you cannot get to a sunny place; make it happen anyway. Meditate on the sun. Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful golden sun above you. Feel the golden rays of sunshine radiate throughout your mind, body and spirit. Feel the warmth and the golden light of that beautiful golden ball of sunlight and bring that sunlight into your soul. Fill yourself with light. Allow the light to open your heart and feel the golden warmth radiate within you. Then, spread the light out. Feel it spreading out to your room, to your building, to your town, your city, your country and to all other parts of the globe. Now you are the center of the sunshine and you are spreading it across the planet. That is how powerful you are my friend. So powerful.

I just tested that myself, to make sure it still works and you know what? It does. I feel incredible and you will too. Now I want to go clean something!!! LOL

Love

Love turns the world. Love is eternal. Love is what we want. Love is all throughout the bible. Love keeps us on the right path. Love holds us together. Love helps us evolve as human beings. Have you ever been in love? The answer is yes. Somewhere in your life, you were in love. Maybe it was with your parent, your sibling, a friend, a person you saw on TV or in the movies. I am not talking about romantic love necessarily—I am talking about the love that brings a sparkle to our eyes, that puts a spring in our step, and a hopeful feeling in our hearts.

So happy smiling cat

So happy smiling cat

Love is an intense feeling of affection. We feel it when we see baby animals. A little Panda baby, a baby elephant, or a baby zebra. Seeing that small, perfect little animal brings out the love in ourselves. Advertisers and marketing people try to stimulate our love when they show pictures of people falling in love, or an older couple holding hands. They want us to go “ahhhh….” And have our hearts open.

It's in love

It’s in love

We all experience love. Sometimes however, when our hearts have been broken, we feel that love can never live in our hearts again. Sometimes we close our hearts to love. Someone will come along and be loving, and we will shut them out, because we don’t feel we can ever love again. We are afraid of opening our hearts and falling in love and then having that love be crushed. The fear of having our hearts broken, will stop us opening our hearts to any more love.

But when we do that, when we close our hearts to love, we are endangering ourselves. We run the danger of becoming inflexible and cold, and hard-hearted. Sometimes when I was in the middle of a bout of depression it felt like I had fallen into a pit of misery where love could not possibly survive. Everything was dark; and I wanted to keep it dark. I did not want the light of love to touch me in any way. I felt protective of my heart. I couldn’t allow my heart to be hurt again. Then one day, I realized that I was killing myself. By not allowing love to flourish in my mind, body, and spirit, I was shutting out the sunlight of my soul. I was closing down the one thing that makes us human—love.

Even lions fall in love

Even lions fall in love

Even the sound of the word is loveable. Love. Say it out loud, love. It is soft and vulnerable. There are no harsh consonants or curt vowels. Love. It feels vulnerable and hopeful at the same time. It also feels strong and powerful. Love. To be loved and to love is a generous way to live. But sometimes depression can make love seem like an impossible thing. When I was depressed I expected love to come from outside of me. I thought that someone would come along and show me love, and that maybe, maybe I could then cautiously show them love too. But have you noticed, love in its purest form comes from within.

Awww so in love

Awww so in love

We have to experience love from within to be able to show it to the world. Many times we think that love must come from the other person. That they must love us no matter how badly we are behaving. And of course, love will do that. People will love other people even though they do behave badly…but when it goes on, and on and on—the bad behavior becomes unacceptable. I believe that is what finally brought me out of my depression. I was being loved, and yet my behavior was making me so unlovable, how long could I really expect to be loved. How long could I expect other people to love someone who did not love themselves?

Today, is about love. It is about loving yourself. I am with you all the way. I say it out loud and boldly, “I love myself, just the way I am right now.” And here’s the thing. I am overweight, old and sometimes crabby. I know this about myself, and yet I can still say, “I love myself.” And that is what you have to do for you. It’s no good someone else coming to you and saying, “I love you.” If you don’t love yourself first, no amount of love will make you experience it. Love means loving the imperfections. Love means loving yourself just the way you are, and just the way you are not. Today, look in the mirror, and say, “I love you just the way you are.” Tell yourself what you love about you. “I love your strength. I love that you are looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you love you.” I love that you are alive and still kicking.” ”I love your tenacity.” As I am telling myself that I love myself, I can hear you telling yourself that you are loving yourself. It’s a blast! And remember this…..love spreads. It’s like throwing a pebble in the water—love ripples out—so expect some ripples of love to flow your way today.

puppy love

puppy love