Monday, June 27, 2011

Nobody puts baby in a corner

As the days creep closer to the 4th of July I tend to get pretty excited. I love, love, love fireworks and I’m also quite partial to BBQs, pool parties and the general merriment surrounding such an important holiday. But of course as I am wont to do I find myself thinking about the significance of the upcoming day in history. We celebrate the 4th because it is the day when the declaration of independence was signed and America declared itself free from the rule of Great Britain.

Now I am not going to get into a history lesson but I do think that the notion of independence is a really important one when it comes to our health and our habits.

Have you ever heard of the term emotional independence? I heard it a lot when I was dating. “I want a man with emotional independence etc. etc.” I thought it meant that a person knew what their issues or baggage were and could talk about it like a grown-up. I certainly believe that’s a valid skill to have but I no longer believe it’s called emotional independence. I have come to think that EI as it shall now be named is the ability to feel what you’re feeling regardless of what someone else is feeling. Example: I wake up and it is a great day. The sun is shining, birds are singing and little mice have made me a beautiful dress to wear, this day is perfect and nothing could go wrong. As I am walking down the street in my lovely mouse-made frock, a friend comes up to me who is in a v bad mood. She says, “Ugh, this day sucks and your dress is ugly.” (Not a great example of a friend really) Emotional independence would be my ability to not let this un-friend get me down. I am happy. Just because she chooses to not be happy does not mean I will. If I did not have EI, her mean and grumpy mood would wipe away my smiles like Windex and I would spend the rest of the day in a funk and not know why.

Another form of non-EI can happen when you base how you feel about yourself and your behaviors on what someone else thinks of you. Or even worse, what you think someone else thinks of you. Example: Me again in my critter designed creation happily walking down the street when I am confronted with an old friend. She doesn’t see me, even when I wave. I get a little anxious. Did she ignore me? Have I done something wrong? Oh my goodness I wonder if I have somehow upset her. Non-EI is you jumping to conclusions and then having those conclusions affect your wellbeing. Even if she walked right up to me and said, “Sarah, you are a laundry list of awful. “ It’s still only her word against mine and my EI says, “No, I am a laundry list of rad.”

Now of course, the caveat: There will always be moments when you cannot help but have your emotions swayed by the likes of others. If a friend is ill or you are at a stand up comedy show you may feel compelled into sadness or joy, but you have the power to decide that you will let them affect you. That’s the big ah ha with EI. You have the power to control how you feel, no one else does, only you. And that is some awesome independence.

This weekend as you celebrate the independence of a great nation, why not also celebrate the independence of a great person. Don’t let anybody tell you how you can or cannot feel. Only you can make yourself feel small. So make yourself feel grand!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Growing pains

I have this lovely little book that I read every morning. It’s just a page per day and it’s full of little stories or affirmations or ideas for how to lead a more lovely life. Lately the pages have been filled with anecdotes on gardening and flowers and the blooms of summer. The author recommends that every one would benefit from kneeling in the dirt, digging a hole and planting some seeds or flowers. I am not a gardener. First off I live in an apartment. Secondly, I am impatient. But I am also an avid follower of self-help goals so I decided to stick my hands in the dirt.

About a month ago I bought a package of seeds and some little pots and decided to make an herb garden. I filled the pots with soil, I planted the seeds, I sat them in the sunshine and I watered them. They never grew past the seedling phase and eventually they died. They died because I stopped watering them when I lost interest in the fact that they weren’t growing. I wanted them to grow faster.

Have you ever felt this way about your life? Has there ever been something you have been interested in, something you’ve been working on to better yourself or to grow and when you don’t see results, you stop tending to the project?

I see it happening all the time. Maybe you’ve started a weight loss program and when the scale doesn’t budge you give up. Perhaps you have been learning a new language and when you can’t understand the guy speaking Italian at the coffee shop, you quit, just like that. Is there anything you’ve started and stopped because it just didn’t happen fast enough?

Think about my herb garden. Those little seeds sprout from practically nothing: the tiniest grain of sand. All they have is dirt and water and hopefully some encouragement. They have to push their way through all that dirt and pierce the top of the soil and still they have so far to go but they won’t give up (not unless you do). They keep growing and blooming and breathing. But if you stop watering them, if you take away all their sunlight and their dirt and their encouragement, they will die. Well the same thing happens to us.

What is your current goal or project? Are you giving yourself the nutrients and oxygen to flourish? Are you adding kind words of encouragement on a daily basis? Are you practicing patience? The seeds will grow, they just need a little time and so do you. Take a sip of water. Take a deep breath and whisper to yourself. “I am growing right now.”

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Imagine a scenario:

You’re in a bad mood. Something awful has just entered your mind or happened. You are confused and devastated and sorry for yourself. You feel rubbish. All you want to do is curl up at home with a sappy movie and some chardonnay and cry until your eyes hurt and you’re so exhausted/drunk you fall asleep/pass out. Got the picture in your head? OK, now imagine that a well-meaning friend or co-worker or family member says, “Chin up, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” Or maybe they say. “When one door closes, another opens!” Or maybe they can’t finish their asinine comment because you have shoved a scarf in their mouth and pushed them down the stairs.

At least that’s what I imagine doing when my mood stinks and someone tries to turn it into a growth opportunity. Have you ever felt that way? Like miss happy Monday couldn't possibly understand how utterly awful your life/situation/relationship/problem is and how dare he or she have the audacity to try and pull you out of it. I know how that feels. I hate those people, and yet, I hate them because they are &%$#ing right!

Here’s the deal: Sometimes bad stuff happens. Sometimes bad thoughts happen. Sometimes even a good thing to one person may suck to another. Sometimes we feel so deep in the trenches of yucky that we assume we may never get out and there is nothing good that can come of it.

Well unfortunately as much as it’s awesome to stay stuck in the mud, it’s a lie. Something good can come from it. I am not saying that we need bad things to happen or that it’s good when bad things happen, I am saying that yes, sometimes, often times bad things will happen and when they do, we have a choice. We can either freak out and cry and scream and deny and rage and stress and sleep and eat and yell, for the rest of our lives, or we can freak out and cry and scream and rage and stress and sleep and eat and yell, for a moment. Then, we can take a breath. And as we breathe we have the ability to notice what it is that we are going to take from this situation. Will we become bitter and harder and angrier or will we rise above our sadness and learn something about ourselves, and how we want to continue to live our life? I hope that when (as it does) life kicks me in the ass, I am able to stop focusing on my bruised butt and take a gander at where I’ve landed.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I have a vision

Firstly I need to apologize; it has been a few weeks since I’ve written. I just haven’t been able to do it, physically and mentally. Physically, typing has been proving to be somewhat painful and mentally I have had little to inspire others with. Some days it is hard enough to inspire myself. Fortunately for me and for you I have pulled myself out of un-motivation and now I am here to help y’all do the same should you ever find yourself feeling sluggish, un-inspired or downright apathetic.

It all started a couple nights ago when my mother (she really is the basis for all my good ideas, I think when I make it big, I’ll stick her on the payroll) suggested I make a vision board. A vision board for those of you who don’t regularly watch Oprah is basically a large piece of paper that you have collaged with pictures you’ve found, pictures you’ve painted, words, sayings or really anything that inspires you and makes you go, “yeah, that’s it, that’s what I want in my life.” The point of a vision board is to put your goals to the forefront of your mind. I know it still seems woo-woo to some of you, but thinking about positive experiences and goals actually helps to achieve them, while thinking of negative experiences and failures helps to push us farther away from our goals. It can also make us feel lousy and lower our immune system; negative thinking sucks!

Anyway I decided of course to make one and set about keeping it strictly focused on health. I swept through oodles of magazines and cut out any picture that made me feel healthy and positive. Some of the pictures had to do with health and others were random but just made me feel good, so in they went. After I had exhausted all my magazines I laid the cutouts on a piece of poster board and went nuts with some scotch tape. (Glue is good too; I just didn’t have any on hand) My finished product looks a little like something you’d make in grade school art class and it’s perfect (for me). After I’d finished, I set it aside and didn’t really think about it for the rest of the night. I did this all last night.

This morning I woke up feeling amazing. I think my body felt about the same but my mind felt like new. I had a spring in my step, which was noticeable. People at work even commented on it. I was able to complete tasks which have for the past week been too difficult, like taking out the recycling, breaking down a large box, and typing this article. I even went for a three-mile walk and while it’s not like I was pain free, it was bearable and I enjoyed it, more than I have in weeks.

This didn’t happen because some magazines made it so, this happened because I believed it would. Positive thinking really does help. Unfortunately it’s often really difficult to get out of a negative slump (I’ve been there) and a really great tool for pulling you out of the depths is to make a vision board of your goals.

What is it you want? Do you find yourself thinking it will never happen? Time to get out some magazines and start imagining it will. You don’t even need to understand or believe the pictures you use, just stick em on and see what happens. I truly believe it will change your future, and mine.