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.

It’s Just the Little Things

The Big Things

Life is full of things…big things and little things. We tend to pay more attention and give more value to the big things. Why is that…and what are the big things, anyway?

I’d guess who your parents are would fall into the category of big. So, choose your parents well. With their help, your character will be formed by the age of seven.

Another big thing would be whether you’ve taken advantage of your totally free twelve years of education. This counts as a super biggie because academic success usually translates into financial success. Colleges want you and four years later, employers want you. You have more choices. 

Working in a fast food restaurant is a big thing because you learn to work with the “public”. This is not a dirty word, but it can turn into one if you don’t have experience dealing with the “public”. Fast food restaurants are beautiful training grounds for this under-rated skill.

Another big thing is the marriage question. Do you or don’t you, and if you do, who will become your lifetime partner? This is a serious biggie. Fools rush in, remember. Make sure you know your partner, but first, make sure you know yourself. Who are you, anyway? What are your values, yada yada yada. This is big.

There are other big things, but I think these are the top three. Your choices determine the trajectory of your life and happiness.

The Little Things

But, ah, the little things can give you joy on a daily basis. They don’t cost money…just a little self- awareness.

I was watching the Crown last night and suddenly realized I was smiling. I thought this was strange because it wasn’t a particularly happy scene. But my body knew. I just had to catch up. 

My body was suddenly my teacher. I’d better start paying attention. It was a little thing, but not so little it went pass my awareness.

Little things can totally brighten, if not your day, your entire moment.

For example, as I rinsed out the cat food can before tossing it in the garbage, I suddenly realized the next day was garbage pickup. I wouldn’t have to gingerly scrape every morsel of tuna delight from the can. I was thrilled. I’ve had many band-aid moments from the treacherously sharp edges of those cans. It was a small thing, but in the moment, it made me happy. Somehow, I felt I had won. At least, I had won a reprieve. 

Many days of the week my neighbor picks my paper from the driveway and puts it on my front door mat. What a wonderful way to start the day! It inspired me to do the same for another neighbor. Don’t they call that paying it forward, or in my case, wanting to return the favor?

So, here’s a challenge. Observe how many little things bring you joy. The big things are important, but few. But the little things are there for the taking each day. 

Don’t let them pass you by. 

Hasta La Vista, Mercury Retrograde

What Is Mercury Retrograde?

Have you noticed things have been taking longer than usual to accomplish? Do normally simple tasks require several attempts before completion? Are you hitting all the red lights?

If so, you may be experiencing the joys of Mercury Retrograde. I only write about this because the last month has been a particularly brutal retrograde, at least in my experience.

So, what is Mercury Retrograde? If you don’t know anything about Astrology, you probably need to know this. It causes frustration. If you like to get things done, just know that the universe isn’t out to get you. It’s nothing personal…just the retrograde…a celestial event that happens four times a year. The good news…there’s a beginning and an end to this astral menace. You can compare it to the frenzy of the full moon. 

Ask Me…I Know

When I had cafeteria duty as a teacher, I tried to anticipate the craziness of the full moon and show extra tolerance for the kids’ behavior. I, at least, knew about the effects of the full moon. After all, if the moon controls the tides, it can practically suck a baby right out of its mother’s womb. You have to respect such a force. Well, I have the same respect for those times when the planet Mercury is traveling backwards.

Although different, Mercury Retrograde is just as powerful, and you’ll be reaching for the chill pill if you’re not aware you’re under its spell. The biggest clue you’ll get is delays. For this reason, during this time it’s advised not to sign contracts or important documents unless you want them back for correction or some other delay tactic. Don’t purchase new gadgets, cars, or cell phones unless you live close to the store where you bought them. Trust me, I’m 99% sure you will be returning to the store. Case in point…the hoop earrings I bought last week broke before I could even wear them…. another trip back to the store. I shouldn’t even allow myself in a store during those weeks.

Another not so fun aspect of this period are the number of fluky things that rain down on you. If there’s something really important you want to do or buy, it’s more than prudent to wait.

The Redeeming Feature

On the positive side, Mercury Retrograde has a redeeming feature. It’ll teach you patience.

But if you’re like me, and satisfied with your present patience level, just remind yourself how happy you’ll be when this is over and things run smoothly…”like butter”, as they say.

If you apply for a new credit card, just look at your daily trips to the mailbox as extra steps on your fitness app. Attitude is everything!

So, to leave with a helpful tip, the last retrograde in 2021 is from September 27 to October 18.

If you’re planning a trip during this time, don’t say you haven’t been warned.

What’s Happened to TV?

Let’s Go Retro

Growing up, TV was a different animal. There were only three channels. At midnight, that was it. You had to find another form of entertainment. That meant either a book or bed.

Having only three channels may seem like the dark ages. But I’m here to tell you those choices were choice…like choice meat. 

I say that because they were stories, almost in the same genre as fables, and they had morals. They were, for the most part, designed to make you think, and possibly suggest constructive behaviors. 

I’m thinking, of course, of programs like Lassie, Leave It To Beaver, and Bonanza. They had shoot em’ ups without graphic details of blood and gore. The writers didn’t compete for the most grotesque displays of human suffering. It was fantasy, similar to little kids play cowboys and Indians. The shows had happy endings. The good guys always won. 

Get Real

Unrealistic? Maybe, but I prefer to live in a world where the values of the good guys trump the villains. Call me vanilla, but life is scary enough. We don’t need terror pumped into our homes in 3D on a 60” screen.

As a therapist, I’ve had to suggest to more than one client to literally change the channel.

This also applies to our thoughts. We can easily scare ourselves out of our wits with a single thought. Often, instead of challenging the thought, we obsess on the thought. …bad idea.

Try This

Instead, try thinking, “How did that thought make me feel?’ If the answer isn’t happy, powerful, thoughtful, or optimistic, maybe it’s time to choose a better thought. In other words…change the channel. 

Another positive aspect of the retro shows, other than brilliant writing, was their demonstration of problem- solving skills. When Beaver Cleaver found himself in trouble, his father, Ward, led him through a mini problem-solving session. It’s along the line of “teach a man to fish”. You know the drill.

These days, when I turn on the TV, guess how many stations I normally watch. 

If you guessed three or four, you’re right. Go to the head of the class. 

Quality always beats quantity.

Are You Living on Elm Street?

To me, “Elm Street” is a metaphor for terror. Some might recognize it as a staple of Halloween. Others love the thrill and excitement, but I like to sleep at night. Sleep is hard enough to come by as it is.

I’m not a fan of using external sources of terror as a means of stimulation because I already have the ability to create enough terror on my own…media aside. Synonyms to describe this mental state might include fright, worry, or anxiety. Shakespeare was right. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Scary Times

We’re living in scary times. Yet, if you’re a student of history, most times were scary. To quote Thomas Paine, “these are the times that try men’s souls”. That was over 200 years ago, and they didn’t even have indoor plumbing. I know that alone would try my soul.

So, how are we supposed to be resilient with the circus we call life going on around us?

Ways To Chill

I often tell my clients to monitor what they see. What your eyes can picture, your mind absorbs. This is why looking at nature is so calming to people. I recently read an article about the ability of the colors blue and green to calm the frenetic nervous system. Personally, I use a binaural beats CD with sounds of the ocean waves. I imagine the color blue as I hear the waves hit the shore. It’s like a mini vacay where my hearing meets my imagination. It’s one way of tuning out the world. It’s my way of regulating my mind.

Another perk of regulating your mind is inviting your physiology for the ride up the lazy river of peace.

Biofeedback

When Elmer Green, Ph.d and his wife, Alyce, were working at The Research Department of the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas, they demonstrated that ordinary people can learn to control their blood pressure, heartrate, muscle tension, and temperature. They called it “biofeedback”.

Using this method, I learned to circumvent my migraines by warming my hands from a temperature of roughly 72 degrees to 92 degrees. This was done purely by visualization. I imagined my hands dipping into hot sand at the beach or even visualized the blood from my head heading down into my fingers. As implausible as this seems, it only took about 7 minutes for me to warm my hands to this temperature. Yes, it’s easier to take a pill, but knowing I can use my own mind to control my body is pretty heady stuff.

Claim Your Power

So, we’re not total victims of our genetics, the environment, or our emotions. When we feel our terrors taking over, the power of our minds can rush in to save the day. 

In that way, we’re a little like Superman. It takes practice, but we can be our own Superhero. 

The Art of Feeling Young

I love to read about health. There are a multitude of strategies for looking and staying young. What I don’t see are articles on feeling young.

There were times in my childhood where I felt much older than my chronological age. This wasn’t necessarily a good thing because it reflected a pattern of responsibility beyond my developmental level. Maybe you can relate.

As a young teacher, I actually did feel young because, for one thing, I was only seven years older than my ninth grade students. At parent conferences, I’d often hear, ” I wish I’d had a teacher as young as you!” So, not only was I chronologically young, I actually felt young.

There are many years in your life when you have the advantage of appearing young and spry. These are your power years because you’re not hampered my physical maladies. You probably are young and spry.

But, how about those years when you’re not young and spry? How young do you feel then?

The Brainwashing Machine

If you watch TV at all, especially during the day, then you might be lured down the slippery slope of feeling like the ancient mariner. The media delights in offering you a plethora of choices to cure your expected maladies…denture cream for your teeth, creams for your bad knees, antidepressants for your mood, pills for your memory, as well as their daunting side effects which, by the way, don’t exclude death!

If this doesn’t make you feel both ancient and in dire danger of eminent demise, there’s a pop-up attorney who’ll gladly help you sue the makers of the above products. Don’t tell me you haven’t heard the phrase, “if you or a loved one”.

On the positive side, I recently read an article that gave me hope. The crux of the article was about a study showing that people who “felt” younger than their age seemed to have a protective barrier against stress and poor health.

The Scientific View

I remember a study, or it could have been an experiment, where participants stayed in a town or street made to recreate life as it was ten years ago, complete with the popular music, stores, etc. They even wore the clothing from that time. Actually, I would probably have some of those clothes still in my closet!

When the study was complete, the participants not only felt ten years younger, they acted younger and their health had actually improved.

So, all in all, I guess it’s true…you really are as young as you feel!

Why I Love the Energy Therapies

What You Should Look for in Therapy

As a Life Coach and Therapist, I look for two elements in healing. I refer to these as the two E’s… Effectiveness and Efficiency. 

As for effectiveness, why waste your time and money on techniques and healing modalities that either don’t work, or aren’t best suited for your situation?

As for efficiency, how many hours in therapy do you want to spend? If you could go for the quick fix that solved your issue, what would that be worth to you? You see where I’m going with this. You need both E’s to get the job done. They’re both necessary.

When people ask about my typing skills, I say, “Take your pick… speed or accuracy.” They can settle for one, but not both. In the therapeutic realm, don’t settle. You need both.

So, why energy therapies? For one, our bodies are electrical. Your heart beats without instruction from you. We’re energetic creatures. We’re composed of matter. But matter and energy are interchangeable (E=MC squared). The body has an energy field that can become blocked or unbalanced. This creates symptoms.

Basically, energy therapies clear away the blocks and rebalance the body. Energy therapies work quickly. Sometimes one session is all that’s required. This is why I like these therapies. This is why clients like these therapies. They’re both effective and efficient.

What In the World Are Energy Therapies?

So, what are energy therapies?

The three I use are EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, The Emotion Code, and the Emotional Freedom Technique.

EMDR is a highly researched therapy used with Vietnam Veterans who returned from the war with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It was discovered by Francine Shapiro during a walk on the beach. As she was thinking about her worries, she noticed her eyes began to dart from side to side, and her worries began to subside. From this she developed EMDR, a therapy that treats trauma quickly and effectively. 

The Emotion Code was created by Dr. Bradley Nelson, based on the belief that unprocessed emotions become trapped in the body. Using muscle testing as a way to communicate with the unconscious, the trapped emotions are identified and released. 

The Emotional Freedom Technique was created by Gary Craig, a Stanford Engineer, who worked for the founder of Thought Field Therapy, Dr. Roger Callahan. Both utilize tapping on various points on the head and upper body to change emotions related to various events and traumas.

I’ll put my money on these therapies as the medicine of the future.

TrowerCoaching

My Favorite Pastime

My Faves

Do you have a favorite book? I have at least five…probably more.  My love of reading started early.  The summer I was 13, I read Gone With the Wind. (Living in Oklahoma, that could have been the title of my autobiography.)  Lazy summer afternoons were great opportunities for reading. 

My other favorites include To Kill A Mockingbird, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Book Thief, The Prince of Tides, The Lords of Discipline, as well as many others I can’t think of at the moment.

Why Reading?

What makes reading my favorite pastime? Maybe it’s the degree to which I get lost in the story. When I can’t put it down, that’s a clue. When I start the mourning process as I approach the final chapters, that’s another clue. I only wish I could remember all the books that met that criteria. 

Another advantage of books is their longevity and resilience. Books may change form, from hardcover, to paperback, to Kindle, but they stand the test of time.

Alzheimers Prevention

Books are good for your brain. They require you to create mental pictures. You get to be the director, creating your own idea of what the characters look like. Unlike television, you have the latitude to create your own images.

I’ll never forget my disappointment viewing the movie “Gone With The Wind” for the first time. My vision of Ashley Wilkes was a total disconnect from the character they picked to play him. 

In this way, movies leave no room for creativity. They create what they want you to see. Watching movies takes less brainpower. It’s passive…enjoyable… but passive.

Time To Chill

Reading is escapism. When I want to get away from it all, armed with a good book, I can enter another world entirely. My own stresses and troubles are temporarily put on hold. It’s both entertainment and therapy. What’s not to like?

I recently started a second blog entitled I Read the Book. You have to wait a while between blog posts because I actually have to read a book before I post. 

Check it out, though. One of my favorites may turn into one of yours.

I remember the first day of first grade. We sat huddled around the teacher, who pointed a long stick at the word “cat”, as we were taught the short “a” sound, and repeated the word cat with an emphasis on the short “a”. 

This method, as I learned, was called “Phonics”, and it gave me the ability to read almost any word because I can sound it out. I am so grateful for Phonics.

It’s the reason I can read.

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What Do You Really Want?

The Important Question

The first question I usually ask my Life Coaching clients is, “What are you wanting for yourself?” 

That’s a loaded question because, of course, we’re all wanting innumerable things. You could probably make a list of 50 wishes, or “wants” in the next 50 seconds…easy-peasy.

But what do you really want? What’s most important?

 Now, we get down to the meat and potatoes. You have to prioritize. What’s numero uno on your list? 

How Can You Know?

One way to figure out what you really want is to identify your biggest problem at the moment.

Once you’ve identified what you want, you can build your roadmap to attain this prized “whatever”. This means action steps. This is the opposite of wishful thinking, similar to how exercise is the opposite of sitting, which I hear is the new smoking.

Why Go It Alone?

Can you build your own roadmap? Or would you like someone to help you along the way…to serve as a listening ear, encourager, and accountability source?

As they say, “two heads are better than one.” 

Let’s cut to the chase. Maybe what you need is a Coach. 

Ok. You’re a mover and a shaker. Why would you want a Coach?

Yes, Why?

There’s a commercial on TV that says something to the effect,” An object in motion is likely to stay in motion, while an object at rest probably stays at rest.” 

I may not have the exact words, but you get the idea. Humans need motivation. A Coach provides motivation and keeps you accountable. This is why Mastermind groups work well. The members are accountable to each other. It’s harder to drift off course.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, as a Certified Life Coach, I’d love to help you stay on course. I’d love to see you achieve your goals. 

But first, you have to know what you want. Once you zero in, you’re on your way.

So, make a list. Dig deep. Prioritize.

What do you really want?