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Stressful Jacuzzi Dream Purchase

Recently, I was reading the Sleep Issue of Reader’s Digest. There were some interesting articles about insomnia, sleep, and lucid dreaming. Of course, everything that I read eventually permeates my brain, so I’ve been having some very vivid dreams lately. As with most people, I don’t always remember all the details – but I do remember some incredibly vivid tidbits! The mind is a wonderful thing.

Last night’s dream was an epic-long dream. Ever have those dreams that seem to last forever and ever? In this epic, I was at a convention center and there was a presentation about to start. The auditorium was full of hundreds of people all sitting in front of a large screen, waiting for the presentation to start. I was dressed in a skirt and a blouse for some reason. I think I might have been going to a different event in the building. I walked in just to have a look around, and was immediately ushered to the seating area by some smooth-talking sales people. Before I knew it, the presentation had started, and I had a pamphlet in my hand. Continue reading “Stressful Jacuzzi Dream Purchase”

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Getting over the wall

As per usual, I’ve been thinking. Not only that, but I’ve been trying to simplify things for myself, in hopes of finding a more simple answer to a lot of questions, issues, and problems that seem to be recurring for me.

Why do we feel bad, sad, upset, angry, or anything negative? Aside from physical ailments that make us feel down, it occurred to me that all of these things (and more) have a common denominator.

Uncertainty. Insecurity. Fear.

A closer look:

I did a good job at something and nobody said anything about it, so insecurity sets in. I feel unappreciated and begin to second-guess myself. I wonder if I did a good job and why no one noticed. Maybe I start questioning what people think of me.

Someone puts me down and makes me feel insignificant. Insecurity sets in and in some cases snowballs, making me notice more ‘faults’ that I may have. Subconsciously (or consciously!) I become afraid that people won’t like me.

I’m not sure what to wear to a party and I’m stressed because I want to look good. I’m feeling insecure because I’m worried about what others will think of me when they see me.

I have a fight with a loved one and amongst the feelings of anger, hurt, and upset – I fear that the relationship may be affected, or even end because of this fight.

My thought process:

I’ve been analyzing situations like these as they happen to me, and they all boil down to fear; Fear of what others think of us. Why do we place so much value on how others see us? And why do we place so little stock in how we see ourselves?

On a daily basis, I try to live by one of my own credos “Stop caring so much what others think of you!” This is easier said than done. Fear creeps in. It’s irrational, and often gets blown out of proportion. I try to keep reminding myself that in any and all of these situations, everything will be fine. I try to check with myself to see what I think of me. As long as I’m doing the best that I can and living up to my own code of ethics, that’s all I can do. That’s the BEST I can do. I can’t change how others outside me act and react.

I concluded that the importance must be placed not on what others think of me, but what I think of me. In order to not lose my perspective, the thoughts and opinions of others should always be included in the mix… but I think it’s time to keep my opinion of me in the forefront.

It’s taken me 32 years to get it

Last night I was in the car with a friend. She was making a left turn and thought that the one car coming toward us in oncoming traffic was turning right, and thought that she was clear to turn. I saw that the car was going straight, and that if she didn’t stop, we were going to hit them. Time seemed to slow down, as I put my arm out and said “you’re going to hit that guy.”  We managed to stop in time, and no one was hurt, but this experience struck me for some reason.

Do you ever notice how fast time goes by? And in other instances when time goes very slowly? I think I have had a  realization of how our mind works, by default, when processing time. I believe that time itself is relative, and can stretch or be squashed depending on our perception. This instance is evidence of that.

What I noticed, though, was that time usually only slows down with negative experiences (at least for me). For example, the near-accident last night… but also I feel time passing slowly when I am experiencing negative emotions – like a bad day, or a bad break up.  Conversely, time seems to go faster when we are having fun, or when things are going well, when we are busy at work making progress on a project.

So why does this phenomenon seem to accelerate the good times, and slow the bad? I think we have the power to slow down and enjoy the good times! Part of the key is that we are constantly speeding up time for ourselves. We wake up in the morning and often our mind races toward the future – all the things we have to do today, the groceries we need to pick up later, making sure we leave on time for dinner. But what about the coffee in your hand that you’re drinking right now? How does it taste? How does it make you feel?

Often, we don’t live very much in the present. This relates to my post from yesterday, when we are often on auto-pilot. Our minds are constantly racing thinking about the future. Not only that, but we are often re-hashing the past. I know it’s difficult, when you have deadlines to meet, meetings to rush to, have to pick up the kids, are late for your class, and other pressing matters in these crazy times… Maybe, just maybe, if we exercised staying in the present just a little more, we could learn to enjoy more happy moments rather than enduring a 10-second heart-stopping near-accident that seems to last about 20 minutes long.

Enjoy that sunset as you commute home in traffic. Laugh at that person singing away in the mall. Smell the aroma of your morning coffee and relish how it makes you feel. Check out that artwork in the hallway at work that you’ve never noticed before (even though you’ve been working there for 4 years). There’s so much to enjoy in the present – stretch those moments!

Whatever you do, wear your seatbelt!

I’m beginning to get a better understanding of road rage.. I will admit that I have been one of those angry people cursing at other cars or saying “come on, move!” and on occasion, honking my horn. I have realized a few things:

  1. They can’t hear you
  2. They can probably see you, and you look ridiculous/annoying
  3. Your ridiculous/annoyingness distracts not only you, but them as well, making it more likely that one of you (or perhaps someone else who is laughing at you waving your arms like a gorilla) will get into an accident
  4. honking your horn does not make people move faster, in fact it usually makes them stop (for spite!)
Road Rage
Image taken from: http://www.toothpastefordinner.com

I have learned a few things over the last 6 months, some of them from a very cute little buddhist monk who makes an awful lot of sense. When you are driving, it’s difficult to remember that you do not own the road. I know, we all like to think that we have the right of way, or that the guy over there just took your spot. But simply put, we all share the road. Following that train of thought, it’s not your lane or your spot either that some other car is squishing into. We all seem to feel entitled to our spaces on the road. This type of thinking is skewed. We need to try and think of it from the other side; in terms of us, not them.

What does that mean? It means that we can greatly benefit from concentrating on our responsibility to drive safely. If someone races into the small spot in front of you, instead of fuming over the fact that he/she has just taken up the safe space you have created between you and the car in front of you, try just making sure that you are doing the right thing, and that once this driver has squeezed in, that you are still driving safely – give them some space so that you remain safe! After all, you are the important one 🙂

Road Rage
Image from: http://www.theage.com.au

Also, if you are screaming at someone in front of you and honking, likely they will simply react defensively: cursing and swearing back at you, regardless of who is right or wrong. The damage at this point is two-fold. Now yours and the other drivers’ concentration has been compromised – raising your likelihood of being in an accident. Not only that but the people around you will likely have decided (in their own minds) whether one or the other of you was in the right – and carry the animosity of your situation with them. This means that not only you and the other driver, but also other people may be in an angry state while driving, all as a result of one person cutting another off, or not letting them into a lane. It creates a domino effect of angriness that spreads – more people swear and honk, more people swerve and cut others off – because if that guy did, I am entitled, too! Right? 😉

You can also look at things from the other perspective when experiencing not-so-great drivers who are compromising your safety. If someone is signaling to get into your lane, make space for them. Sure, you might be angry because they have just shoved you back one car length, and now you’re going to be even later than before (by a whole 2 seconds!)… but on the flip side – they are only one car length ahead of you! So they really didn’t get much further ahead, and you are not really that much further behind…

It’s difficult to think in these terms, because everyone seems to think that they are entitled to their spot, their lane, and to cut other people off – but not the other way around. There is a serious double standard in most drivers’ eyes. If we shift our concentration from making sure we are getting what we are “entitled” to when driving to concentrating on making sure that everything we are doing is safe, I think that not only will there be less accidents, but eventually (in a utopia, I know) people will catch on and be more courteous and forgiving on the road. After all, everyone makes mistakes.

Maybe that guy in the Audi cut you off because his wife is in the passenger seat with a huge bleeding cut on her arm and she needs medical attention. Perhaps the lady in the van didn’t check her blind spot because she is not concentrating on the road because her baby just threw up and is choking in the back seat. Or perhaps the teenagers in the K-car are just driving recklessly and not paying attention. You never really know what’s going on in other cars. Sure – most likely they cut you off because they feel like you (or others around you) are going too slow and that getting one car length ahead will help them go faster. Either way, just let them go and make sure that you are being safe. And do it with a smile on your face!

Karma BuddhaWhy? Because KARMA will repay them. I have personally seen Karma in action while driving. I was in traffic, and a car was coming up fast from behind me, switching lanes erratically, swerving, and squashing himself into tight spots so that he could get ahead of all of us who were patiently driving through traffic. Then, all of a sudden he realized he had to go left, and crossed three lanes of traffic (nearly clipping someone’s car!) so that he could get into the left turning lane. Do you know what happened? This guy ended up hitting the curb in the left hand lane and likely did some real damage to one or both of the rims on that side of his car.  I’m sure that everyone who was patiently driving safely had a big smile on their faces.
I know I did!

So when someone cuts me off, or refuses to let me into their lane, 9 times out of 10 I have learned to just smile or laugh (at them!) and make sure I have left safe space around my car, and that I’m doing what I’m supposed to on the road. I try to only use my horn if I feel like I’m in danger and need to warn another driver to pay attention. I have found that not only does this make my commute happier (because laughing at idiots is WAY more fun than honking and swearing at them), but when I get to my destination, I feel a whole lot more fantastic. I’m far from perfect on the road, but I’m getting there. Not only that, but changing my practice has eliminated a whole lot of stress from my daily life!

The search for happiness

My apologies, again for missing Monday. I took a much needed mini-vacation for 5 days – and now I am feeling refreshed! I managed to post content on Wednesday, Thursday, AND Friday… so I didn’t miss too much 🙂

Recently I have been hot on the quest for happiness. I have realised I am missing some things in my life, and am in need of some self-repair. I have been asking myself questions like How can I be happy? How can I find spirituality? What are my goals? What do I want from life?

As you can see, these are pretty weighty questions. But on this quest, I have been finding some answers.

It’s difficult to see when you are inside the cloud of unhappiness, stress, feeling unloved, emotional distress, loneliness, or negativity. When friends and family are encouraging you and telling you things will get better, to look on the bright side, to forget the past and move to the future – the best practice is to simply listen to them and chug forward, rather than dwelling. Even if you can’t see out of that cloud, even if you don’t see happiness in your future, even if you are feeling hopeless and don’t know what to do – just listen to those positive encouragements, and just keep moving. Even if you are going through the motions and laughing because it is appropriate, smiling because it’s your cue to smile, and getting things done for the sake of being busy – eventually it won’t be going through the motions any more. You’ll be laughing because you genuinely found that joke funny, smiling because you are really experiencing a moment of happiness, of accomplishing things because it makes you feel amazing.

And this is just the first step. Not wallowing, and not being sucked up by negativity. A wise person once said – if it’s difficult to do, and seems like you should just give up – that’s when you should try your hardest!

I now find myself outside of that black cloud – unhindered (almost completely) by negativity and sadness and anger. I have come to the realisation that this is just one step in the right direction. The journey has just begun! It’s like feeling something wonderful for a few brief moments, and committing to pursuing feeling this wonderful all the time.

As you might think, realising that I have only come a fraction of the way might seem discouraging – but the prospect of how amazing, how fulfilled, how happy I could be if I got even a little further than I am now is incredibly motivating! Plus, another thing I have learned is to look at the glass half full – so in this case I don’t see the thousands of steps ahead of me, I see the step  I have taken and feel good about it.

Whoa! What was that?!

Do you ever feel like the universe is trying to gently (but not always so subtly) corral you in a certain direction? I was definitely feeling this force the other day.

I had an appointment so was working from home, but I’m not currently staying at home, so I was using a different computer. Turns out they are over their internet quota for the month and using more would cost money. So I got myself ready and headed home to work from my PC. Recently there have been internet issues at home (and by issues, I mean a construction crew cut the lines under the road and we are still waiting for things to be fixed properly). I logged into work at home and begin chugging away. It wasn’t long before my connection began dropping out and progressed to a full-on internet outage.

Going with the flow, I continued to work on a few projects that I could do locally on my machine, hoping that the internet connection would be happier eventually. I had enough connectivity to check and respond to my emails before getting cut off again. I continued to work locally and eventually had to leave for my appointment.

I ended up being early, so while trying to decide how to kill time I wandered into a Timmy’s to treat myself to an Iced Cap for a mid-day pick-me-up. When I walked in, I checked to see if they had Interac machines, as I was not carrying any cash on me – and there was indeed a machine on the counter. I proceeded to order my icy delight and when I took out my card to pay, the girl politely informed me that the Interac machine was not yet functioning, but they did take cash and Mastercard.

Needless to say, I left Timmy’s with no refreshment. What is the universe trying to tell me? No more snacks! ?? No unplanned spending ?? I sat down to read a short story on my iPod. I got about three pages in when the battery gave out… Universe??? What’s the message here?

I headed up to my appointment, thinking being early wasn’t so bad – maybe I’ll get to go in early! But the universe wasn’t quite finished with me yet. The receptionist let me know that they were behind by about twenty minutes and asked if I could wait. Of course, I said yes. I didn’t drive 30 minutes just to turn around and go home 🙂

After all this, I kind of felt like the universe was having its way with me. But I’m confident that all these quirky happenings occurred for a good reason. It did feel like I was being shoved around a bit – maybe it was a test of my patience? If it was, I must have passed with flying colours! Rather than being angry that the internet was down and anxious about how I would be able to finish my work or communicate to co-workers, I simply hunkered down on my perfectly working computer at home and finished some projects that did not require the internet. Rather than fume at the Timmy’s lady (who was clearly not responsible for setting up the Interac) and whine about my lack of fun drink, I simply conceded to the fact that I did not have payment in one of the options available and moved on. When I got cut off from reading (in mid-sentence!) I moved on to my appointment – following the gentle push of the universe’s hand on my back. I ended up sitting in the waiting room and having some much needed time to think.

I ended up thinking about this series of events and writing it all on a scrap piece of paper.

I wonder what the universe has in store for me next? No matter what, at least I know that I am gaining the patience to deal with situations when LIFE DOES NOT GO YOUR WAY. I’m finding it a calming way to go through my day. Thanks universe, for the shove, the elbow, and the poke in the eye 🙂

The middle ground on relaxing is not really a middle ground

I’m finally learning that tasks and obligations and deadlines never end. Whether it’s with work, at home, a favour you’re doing for friends… I still find myself saying “After Saturday, I can relax.” Why is that? Is it because I need to or want to relax? Who doesn’t?! The point is that I continue to have a designated relax time. Why can’t I just always be relaxed?

I don’t think the solution is to not have stuff to do or have projects to complete. I think there is always going to be something I need to get done or something to prepare for, study for, clean for. Because if I didn’t have stuff to do, goals, deadlines, etc., I’d be bored! So what is the middle ground? Is there one?

I have decided that there has to be a point at which I am truly relaxed in every moment in every day of life. Where the fact that I need to get this project done by 4:30 doesn’t stress me out. Where thinking about all the things I still have to do before next week doesn’t make me run around in circles inside my mind… I don’t want to go over the list in my head seven times before bed to remember all the stuff I have to do. I don’t want to stress about timing, that I have to get this and then go there, and be back all within an hour, just so that I am on time for something else.

I will get to that point, or that frame of mind where I realize that everything is going to get done to the best of my ability. Only if I am doing something that I consider to be sub-par (which is completely different than doing something that others judge to be sub-par) am I allowed to stress – a little. I will balance my standards with a healthy expectation of myself.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all do that – and it was easy?! But who ever said life was easy 😉 That’s the fun part!

Plans and rants… or are they raves?

YAY! Post number two. So I am formulating a blog plan, based on my to-do list from yesterday.

I officially dub Wednesdays to be drawing day. All the drawings I have done all week will get scanned in and posted on Wednesday with commentary. I Officially dub Fridays to be photo day! Every day I will take 30 (or a bunch) of photos. Out of those, I figure I’ll pick top 8 or 10 and post them Fridays with commentary. FUN!

Other days I think I’ll just write something… like today:

OK. So stress. It’s really in the eye of the beholder. It’s all about survival – and what we’d do to survive. And it’s about how we look at what we need to do.

*how manageable is it?*

How do we react when only 7 out of 10 things on the list are accomplished and we have run out of time? This gets compounded with how much importance we put on the finished and unfinished tasks. It makes us CRAZY! We don’t need this stress!

So I suppose we need to accept what we can and cannot accomplish. Only if we are not doing our best, should we stress about our performance. If we are doing everything we can to get our tasks done, and we only get to 7 out of 10 on the list, we should be proud of those 7 tasks – not disappointed at the three we missed 🙂

My question is: What will be finished when we are dead? Will it matter? I guess what it comes down to is: I’m here! I might as well enjoy it!

So rejoice at your 7 tasks completed! (or even just one!)

Stress BEGONE!

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