My Umbrella

My Conclusion

After a week of clouds, humidity, and daily rain, I’ve come to a conclusion. This weather pattern doesn’t simply affect my ability to walk outside. It affects my mood. Anything that affects my mood tends to affect my productivity, and not in a good way.

First, my energy level is lower. I become more slug-like. Couch-surfing, along with watching the news non-stop, becomes my go-to activity. This might be ok on an occasional basis, but during the rainy season (Florida is semi-tropical), this is a daily event. Even the days that start out sunny become ominously dark as the day progresses. 

The Money Pit

On that note, I can’t tell you how much I spend on umbrellas. It’s so easy to lose one. If I hired a detective to track down my lost umbrellas, I’m guessing they’d be found on restaurant seats and floors, grocery cart baskets, check -out counters, friends’ houses, as well as the myriad of places I simply put it down.

It only takes a fraction of a second to forget about the umbrella. It’s not something that rates five stars unless it’s actually raining.

If I’m lucky and the stars have aligned, I’ll have left it in Whole Foods or Walgreens where I can actually buy a new one. In fact, I often do a mental review to see if I’m walking into a store that actually sells umbrellas. This is because not having to take my umbrella out of its “safe place” on the bucket seat is like a little savings plan. It’s an automatic potential savings of $14.95. It may not sound like much, but I’m here to tell you, it adds up over time. 

Buck up!

I shouldn’t complain, because at least I don’t have to deal with Siberian temperatures here. Humidity may portend a bad hair day, but it’s good for my skin. That seems like a fair trade off. But I draw the line when the temperature goes below 60.

Ok. I know I’m spoiled by warm weather and tropical breezes, but let’s face it. I’m a weather wimp.

Here’s another drawback. You’ve heard of spectrum lamps? These are for people, like me, who tend toward depression or even old fashioned grumpiness when the sun stays behind the clouds for too long.

There’s even a name for it. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD Syndrome. Talk about an appropriate name. I’ve included a link if you’d like to buy what they call a SAD Lamp. If you suffer from this disorder, which miraculously goes away after Spring Break, one of these lamps can give you much needed relief. 

If you live in a region with four seasons, you get a little reprieve. 

If not, you can always move to Florida. 

But beware…there’s always the rainy season.

Why Are You Here, Anyway?

Here’s a question. Why are you here…on planet Earth?

 Do you know? Is it even a “thing?” Or is it simply a passing fad, like the pet rock?  

Has this question even passed through your mind, and why should it? 

Ok. What Is It?

Many people think it’s a job…a career. It can be, but doesn’t have to be. Basically, that may be one of the reasons you’re here. I say one, because I believe you’re here for multiple reasons, with multiple goals or spiritual assignments. As they said on Mission Impossible, “your mission, should you choose to accept it, is…”

That’s the cool thing. You don’t have to accept it. This is called “free will.” Free will gives you power with a capital “P”. You’re in charge. Your acceptance is mainly a matter of whether it coincides or interferes with what you define as what you’re here to do, be, or accomplish.

However, and this is a big however, I believe it’s a setup. I feel, in the depths of my being, that you’ve already agreed to this mission, or you wouldn’t be here. Maybe you’d be lounging on some cloud, but you wouldn’t be on this battlefield. 

Since you’re reading this, I take it you’ve accepted your mission.

You’re a soldier now…a type of Navy Seal on Planet Earth. In other words, you signed up for the ultimate adventure…life.

As a child, you probably didn’t give a thought to esoteric issues like spirituality, religion, or self- examination. There are too many other developmental things occupying your time and demanding your attention.

But at some point, most people begin to wonder what it’s all about, and question their place in this maelstrom. Thomas Moore defined it as “the dark night of the soul”. Peggy Lee warbled, “Is that all there is?”.

This may sound depressing, but it’s actually a good thing, akin to the butterfly breaking through the chrysalis.

There’s no one way that works for everyone. For some, the search for meaning is born through tragedy, misfortune or loss. The book,” When Bad Things Happen To Good People “by Harold Kushner comes to mind.

With others, therapy may crack open the search for one’s life purpose, or at least propel a search for meaning through a trip down memory lane, or a life review.

Never Too Soon To Start

At the tender age of 13, my teacher assigned an autobiography. I still have it. It’s called, “From Pablum To Pizza”. Even at that age, I had zeroed in on the events that made a difference to me, the events that stood out as meaningful. I believe those events were pointers to my life purpose.

 Even meeting people you feel like you’ve known before can make the events of your life seem less random.

Finally, we all have intrinsic gifts and talents. We all have things that excite us and move us to action. These are also pointers to the reason we’re here.

Still, life is basically a mystery, but overall, I think these are worthy issues to ponder.

How Woo-Woo Is Your Subconscious?

What Is It, Anyway?

As a therapist and life coach, I often hear clients talk about the subconscious. This is, at best, a murky subject. Everyone has their ideas on what the subconscious actually is. Some refer to it as the unconscious because it’s the part of ourselves not accessible without some type of intervention. 

Loosely, going to sleep might be considered an intervention. Dreaming, known as REM sleep, is one gateway to the subconscious. But, how often do you even remember the content of your dreams? It’s hard to receive messages or even begin to do dream interpretation if you don’t even remember the dream. Yes, sometimes I get brief snatches of a scene, but they evaporate at record speed, leaving me frustrated and still clueless about what the dream might mean.

 According to Carl Jung, a Swiss psychoanalyst, the subconscious is genetically inherited, and is not shaped by personal experience. Freud, however, did believe it was formed as a result of personal experience.

What seems to be the popular notion is that the subconscious is the receptacle for all our memories and experiences. One method of accessing these is through the Energy Therapies, such as hypnosis and The Emotion Code.

I have to admit. I love the Energy Therapies…in particular The Emotion Code. Developed by Bradley Nelson, it’s based on the belief that emotions are bits of energy, and, as such, are always in motion in some form. However, unprocessed emotions can become stuck at various locations in the body. 

For Instance

Let me give you an example. An argument with your spouse is likely to cause anger or anxiety. If you’re able to process these emotions through self -talk or a healing discussion, the energy generated by these emotions will quickly leave your body. However, if you’re not able to resolve the emotions, they can become stuck in your body, causing residual problems in your relationship or your sense of self.

Through a process called Muscle Testing, which essentially uses the strength of your arm to gauge the validity of certain statements, you’re able to get information from your subconscious mind.

How is this possible?

 Your muscles actually weaken slightly when presented with an idea or statement that doesn’t resonate as true with your subconscious. In that way, you’re able to communicate with your subconscious and easily and painlessly release the emotions connected with that event. 

I know this sounds really “out there”, but I’ve witnessed amazing healings with this method.

We all have a subconscious and it’s the repository for everything we’ve ever experienced. 

When they talk about a “Life Review” after death, I wonder if they’re simply rewinding the tape of our subconscious mind.

What Are The Odds? The Story of Mike Lindell

Don’t Say You Don’t Know Him

I’ve decided to share a book review I wrote for my blog, I Read the Book. This book is written by a man most people will recognize immediately…Mike Lindell. If you watch infomercials, I know you’ve seen him…maybe too many times. He’s the My Pillow guy.

He’s nothing if not a “character”. Even though he describes himself as shy, he’s exuberant and outgoing. If you’ve seen him on TV, you know what I mean. He either doesn’t have a shy bone in his body or he deserves an Academy Award.

Success didn’t come easy for Mike. He struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for many years. Owning a bar was probably not the healthiest occupation for him, but his life has been nothing if not colorful. 

Mike is, or was, a card counter. If you’re like me, I had no idea what that was. But if you spend much time in Vegas, you know exactly what it is. Numbers are his strong suit, and even in his druggie periods, he could memorize cards with the finesse of a savant. This is what kept him from going under financially. He was like those plastic dolls that pop back up when you knock them down. Mike is a fighter.

The fascinating thing about Mike is his strong intuition and connection to God. In my opinion, he’s a psychic. He trusted the messages he received, and they were right on. He seemed to have a direct line.

Ultimately, he made a success of My Pillow, and the book details his struggles. If I had to choose one word to describe him, it would be “tenacious”.

I Confess

To be honest, I’ve never owned one of his pillows, but I highly endorse his Giza Dream Sheets. I recently visited a hotel in Austin, and those sheets felt just like the Dream sheets I sleep on at home. 

All in all, his book is an interesting read because he’s a fabulous storyteller, and discusses his ups and downs with no holds barred. His personality jumps off every page. Simply stated, the book is page turner.

I can’t wait to see what he does next.

The Benefits of Meditation

The Perks

Let’s talk about the perks of meditating. You’d be amazed by the many benefits of this ancient practice. In an 8-week study, a meditation style called “mindfulness meditation” reduced the inflammation response caused by stress. Ever experienced stress?

I thought so.

Furthermore, research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia. 

Another study found that people who completed a meditation exercise experienced fewer negative thoughts in response to viewing negative images, compared with those in a control group

Meditation can also increase your ability to focus.

How?

First, let’s look at how meditation works. Because your task in meditation is to focus on one thing instead of letting your mind wander, it conditions your mind. You’re building your focus muscle. This helps you feel more in control of your mind. Ever walked into a room and wondered why you’re there? Meditation helps you feel less like you’re losing it.

Meditation can make you kinder. In “Loving Kindness Meditation”, you think kind thoughts about others, starting with those you love, and, with practice, advancing to those you’re not so crazy about. For example, the thought “May she be at peace” actually helps you feel more loving, or at least, more tolerant.

See For Yourself

If this sounds too airy-fairy to you, go to PubMed.org and research “meditation and telomeres”. Then comfort yourself by reading about your telomeres. These are the caps, somewhat akin to the caps on your shoestrings, on the end of each of your chromosomes. The more your body ages, the shorter your telomeres become. Aside from the aging process, stress shortens your telomeres. So, stress is not innocuous. It can affect the number of years you have on this planet. 

Meditation protects your telomeres. Check out the research.

The average meditator doesn’t look like a monk sitting atop a mountain, or even Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree.

News flash…the average meditator looks like you.

A Distraction Hack

The Biggest Distraction

It’s easy to get distracted these days. There’s little respite from the media. If you’re even a touch obsessive, it’s hard to turn off the TV …if only for fear of missing something. It kind of reminds me, as I’ve said before, of the scene in “A Clockwork Orange” where the guy is forced to watch what they wanted him to see.

The problem with TV is it kidnaps at least 50% of my focus. This is okay when I’m folding clothes. But any activity requiring more than 50% focus, like reading directions, cleaning the litter box, paying bills, talking on the phone, or especially reading, is half- baked with the TV blaring in the background. In fact, talking on the phone becomes a battle of the talking heads if I happen to be watching a News channel. 

Bottom line, there are many things vying for my attention, and it’s become increasingly more difficult to focus. I’m at the point I need to memorize my morning and evening routines so I don’t leave out a step.

The Magic Elixir

So, what’s the magic elixir to cure my lack of focus without a drastic reduction in TV? After all, this isn’t Lent. I don’t want to actually give up TV. I just want to be more efficient.

The answer, in my mind, is Meditation. Meditation trains your brain to focus. It’s like a magic pill, and it’s free!

They say if aspirin came out today, no one would be able to afford it. We tend to take it for granted, in the same way we water down our respect for freebies as potent healing modalities. In this way, we’ve drunk the kool-aid.

Meditation is a freebie…a potent freebie, and one of the benefits is an increased ability to focus.

Not only is it easy on your pocketbook, it’s an easy process. You simply find a quiet spot, set a timer for 5 minutes (if you’re a beginner), and focus on your breath or a word, such as “one”, or any word that won’t lead you down a trail of other thoughts.

Of course, other thoughts will interrupt you because the brain is always percolating with thoughts. That’s what the brain does. You’re simply harnessing, or in other words, training the brain by limiting it to one thought, or one focus, for a brief period.

This is your mental gym. It requires concentration. But the benefits are off the charts. And one of the coolest benefit is how meditation beefs up your immune system

In my next blog I’ll explain how, and go over the other benefits. 

So powerful…so cheap…so cool!

Stay tuned.

Austin, Anyone?

 Texas Adventure

Ever been to Austin? I recently visited the city. This was a first for me. I’ve been to Dallas, but as far as I can recall, that’s the only place I’ve been in the state of Texas. Yes, I’ve been to the Houston airport, but that’s as far as it goes. So, maybe it was time to visit the Texas capital.

Texas is a proud state. In high school, a fellow classmate, who I believe had lived in Oklahoma for her entire life, announced that she was moving to Texas. I remember her exact words. “Once a Texan, always a Texan!” How, quickly, I thought, she changed her allegiance. So, there’s obviously an allure as well as a deep sense of pride and privilege connected with living in this state.

But, hey, I was just a random tourist passing through…or should I say “we” were just passing through. By this, I mean both me and my money. After all, I left a hefty amount of cash in Austin…at least, hefty by my retired teacher standards. I added to the coffers of the hotel, several excellent restaurants, as well as several trendy shops in the area.  

I left with several Tee shirts and a pair of new glasses. They’re in the genre of the elderly, but fashionable, lady known as Iris…you can find her on Netflix…thick, black glasses that definitely make a statement.

We also went to Milk and Honey for massages. We needed these after hoofing it around downtown Austin. 

The Duck Tour

Tourist wise, we took what’s called a Duck Tour. This is where your vehicle leaves the city streets and drives right into the water. I was hesitant to take this adventure after reading about the Duck Tour fatalities in Branson, but I was assured they no longer use the military style boats.

My first clue this Duck Tour thing was mainly for kids was when the driver started handing out “duck quackers”, as these clickers are called. Strangely, he didn’t give a “quacker “to me or my cousin. Maybe we looked too ancient to even bother wasting a “quacker” on…or maybe it was my curled upper lip that dissuaded him…whatever.

Diary of a Foodie

I like to think of myself as a foodie, although my love for McFlurries probably discredits this moniker. However, it was in Austin I experienced probably the best food of my life to date.

In case you go to Austin, it’s called Hestia. They serve you with individual servings shared by the group. With each serving, my cousin made this noise that sounded like pure bliss. I’ve never heard her do this at any other restaurant. At first I thought she’d bitten her tongue or hurt herself in some way, but I quickly realized she was in a state of culinary ecstasy. I had to concur.

The only not- so- great experience was in an establishment, which will go unnamed, that served really, really hot food. It must have been an Aries restaurant. I’m usually sensitive to spicy foods, but this was spicy on steroids. One taste was all it took. If there hadn’t been a pitcher of water on the table, I might not be here to write this blog.

Yes, the Covid was rampant during our visit. But we wore masks, and in spite of that, had a wonderful time.

So, even though I’m not a fan of Austin City Limits, the trip was a blast.

The Right Thing To Do

A Point of View

I read an interesting article this morning in the Epoch Times written by George A. Rivera. This particular essay was from a column devoted to the next generation. In other words, advice from those of us who are little long in the tooth to the up- and -comers.

In this article, he discusses doing what’s right simply because it’s the right thing to do. “Of course,” you may think. “Isn’t that a no-brainer?”

When the question was posed to his granddaughter, she had other ideas. These included to avoid getting in trouble, to get a reward, and to please others. 

Although these are all bona fide reasons to do what’s right, he reminded her that the only reason to do the right thing is because it’s the right thing to do.

 The other reasons are born of external motivations. Isn’t this, many times, the reason we do the things we do, and is there anything wrong with this?

Our Motivations

 In my mind, absolutely not. How many of my students would have studied for my Civics test if they knew it wouldn’t be graded? How many of us would go to work each day without the extrinsic motivation of a paycheck? So, getting a reward is an understandable reason to do what’s right.

What about not getting in trouble? That’s a valid reason. After all, only masochists intentionally cause themselves pain. Oh, and of course, teenagers, who use those years to experiment with risky behaviors, only partly because the human brain doesn’t totally develop until the age of twenty-five. Until that age, thinking ahead to the consequences of one’s actions may be considered only briefly, or not at all. Insurance companies who insure young drivers know this.

Doing what’s right to please others can be linked to getting a reward. There’s nothing wrong with this. 

But doing what’s right because it’s the right thing to do…ah, that falls into another category. This is what we all aim for. 

A Moral Dilemma

I remember when one of my students found some money on the school grounds. He was thinking about pocketing the money. This turned into a class discussion. 

“But nobody is claiming it. We don’t know who it belongs to,” he reasoned.

“Yes, “ I responded. “You don’t know who it belongs to, but you know who it doesn’t belong to.”

End of discussion. Taking the money to the front office was doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do. But this higher ordered thinking sometimes takes being exposed to advice from someone with more exposure to life than you. 

It’s the gift you give to the up- and- comers.

Flowers and Thorns

Just the Facts

Let’s face it. If life was all flowers, I guess we’d call it Heaven. Unfortunately, and I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but with the flowers come the thorns. 

I love my cats, but they have claws. Their love pats can elicit screams.

 I like having money, but I have to work for it.

I love my work, but the paperwork drives me crazy.

When I was working full time, I had a 50- minute commute and had to be on the road no later than 6:30 am (thorn), but driving in the dark and listening to the radio was pure pleasure.

I love the convenience of ordering online, but having to assemble something is way beyond my mechanical know-how. Unless I study the directions at least three times, I’m likely to deal with the thorns upon arrival, which usually means, in addition to some salty language, a long stay in the garage.

I love to eat what most people would call meals, but unless I do some planning and start the prep before my hunger pangs set in, the so-called meals can look a little grab-baggy.

I love the convenience of the Internet, and how it’s opened up the world and become my part- time resource for the disease of the month, but I hate how I have to be on constant red alert in case I click on a phantom link and make some hacker’s day.

The Cold Truth

It’s true. We put up with the thorns to get the flowers.

Anyway, thanks for listening.

The check is in the mail.

Keep It Simple

Let’s Not Complicate Things

Sometimes I just want my world to be simple. 

One of the clues in today’s crossword was “a game where the highest number wins”. I figured it out fairly quickly. The answer was “War”, a card game my sister and I spent hours playing as kids. It went like this…you each lay down a card and the highest card wins. 

Let’s face it. It wasn’t chess. There was no calculating, planning, anxious moments wondering if your strategizing will pay off. Nope. Just lay down a card. It was purely a game of chance.

Why did I love this game? In retrospect, I hated games where you had to think, and I actually still do. Games are supposed to be a means of relaxation. Not having to think or calculate works for me. That’s why my perfect vacation is going to a spa. Life is simpler at a spa.

Simplify The Commute

Another way of simplifying my life is living no further than five minutes from a grocery. My current home meets that criteria. It’s five minutes from Publix and two minutes from a Walgreens. With gas prices increasing, my location is a little money mecca. I can get to Walgreens on the fumes.

This could even have health benefits. Not having a long drive to the store could mean fewer chances for a road rage incident, ergo…lower blood pressure.

Another idea that would simplify my life falls into the arena of taxes. You can’t avoid taxes. You know what they say…”death and taxes”. But they could certainly simplify it. When one of our leaders was exploring the idea of doing our taxes on a paper the size of a postcard, I was in tax filing heaven. Postcard size would be perfect…no fuss, no muss. 

Finally, I read a Facebook post that explored the idea of a cell phone that could tell you where it was when you couldn’t find it. When you screamed, “Where is my cell phone?”, it would reply “I’m in between the cushions on the couch”. 

This would eliminate all that desperate searching and anxious fantasizing about whether I left it at Publix or Walgreens. 

Thank you, Henry!

So, what are your ideas on how to simplify life? I may concur.

Thoreau was right on when he said, “Simplify, Simplify”.

He’s my hero.