Take Joy In Life

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Do you walk fast and let your mind ruminate about your worries and problems, or do you take your time and actually see your surroundings? Do you see the lovely different colours (That’s right, colour not color. I’m in Canada WordPress) of the leaves on the trees or on the ground? Do you hear the wind shake the branches on the trees? Do you hear the rustle of leaves on the ground or crunching underfoot? Do you hear nearby dogs barking? Kids playing? Cars driving by on an unseen street? Birds chirping?

Taking joy in life means also being able to actually see the world around you. Taking the time to notice the little things. After Halloween how many people still have decorations up? Who leaves their outdoor Christmas lights up year round? Those things aren’t really important but if you’re not noticing stuff like that then you’re probably walking around in a fog.  And that means you miss out on all Kinds of things.

Life is an every day occurrence. It’s happening Right Now. Not yesterday and not tomorrow. Right now. Memories are getting made right now. Good times are happening right now.

Don’t look back on the past and remember memories fondly, wishing you could go back there. That means you gave up control of your life and you’re not really living anymore.
Your life NOW should be as great as any moment in your past. If not, then Do Something About It! Take back control of your life and start doing things you enjoy. This is Your life. All yours. No one else’s.

If you’re reading a book you aren’t enjoying, and you don’t have to read it…. then stop! If your food could use a little more flavour (yup, still in Canada) then stop eating it and go add more spice! If it’s raining and you love the rain then grab an umbrella and go walk in the rain! If you have rubber boots on then jump in some puddles! (Or if you have spare shoes at home and are close enough then jump in anyway). If you’re walking down the street and listening to music, then dance to it :-D Don’t look to see if anyone sees you…who cares?

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You don’t have to be a ‘responsible adult’ ALL the time. That’s no fun! And life is Meant to be fun!

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Slow Down

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There’s one thing that enables almost Everything I’ve talked about so far. That is…

MEDITATION

I never knew much about meditation and thought of it as a hippy or monk thing. I now realize how very wrong I was!

…You’re lying in bed or on the couch. You’re So comfortable! Just about to nod off, feeling so relaxed. Your mind is quieting down. Ever done this? Of course you have! Every single day. How else do you fall asleep? If you’ve never meditated, well then You, my friend, sort-of already do ;-)

Meditation is being still, being calm, and letting All thoughts go from your mind. Thoughts are like pesky children who like to keep coming back. Close the door and keep them in the other room. If they open the door then Lock it. One way to practice being thought free is to have a focal point, something to look at. Think only of that thing. When random thoughts come along, like floating helium balloons, push them along. Every balloon that comes your way, just push it along. With time and practice you’ll get better and better at this and will experience fewer and fewer balloons.

Candle flame is a good focal point, since it’s hypnotizing.

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The Benefits to emptying your mind? I used to think it was bad to ‘not have a thought in my head’ as if that signified stupidity. But when lying down for the night I could never get my damn brain to shut up and just let me sleep! All through high school I’d lie in bed for an hour before my brain would give me reprieve – even though I had a set bedtime. As well as my sleeping problem I had poor control over my emotions or temper. I reacted to absolutely Everything.

When you are able to empty your mind you gain control over your thoughts and emotions. You are able to act, not react. You have control over your life. And meditating helps you see with clarity; you can see solutions to problems you’re currently dealing with, or see which decision you should make. You are also able to control negative thoughts, when they pop into your mind you can just pop them back out. Kind of like pushing that balloon along.

Meditation puts you in a state of balance and being balanced gives you optimum health, more happiness, better brain function (proven by studies), makes you more productive (you’re able to focus); enhances your life and career. There is No drug that can do all that!

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Bullying

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I decided a few months ago that one of my life purposes was going to be to help in the fight against bullying, or bullycide. I spent half of my life in foster homes, and as a child was always the recipient of bullying. At least in those days it stayed at school since there was no internet, social media or texting. I have been trying to decide how this epidemic can be tackled, since the worst affected are public-school age youth. The answer seems to be in the very place it originates, in the schools.

Ellen DeGeneres stated that the education system needs to teach empathy. I agree wholeheartedly with this.

Providing support for those suffering through bullying seems to be the main platform for this issue. I feel this is putting the cart ahead of the horse. I believe we need to concentrate on tackling the bullying and heading off this problem at the source.

Today’s youth are bombarded with way more advertising and marketing than any other generation and the prime aim of marketing seems to be to make people feel they have some shortcoming that only so-and-so’s product can solve. The numbers of preteens, both male and female, concerned and unhappy with their physical appearance is both shocking and very sad. Even before they hit high school many young people have eating disorders. For my generation the death of Karen Carpenter was the shocking result of once being called fat by a heartless music reviewer. She took it to heart and this led to an eating disorder that eroded her health which eventually killed her. How many of these young people have an early death ahead of them just because of Advertising?? Or because they didn’t have effective role models or mentors who believed in them and built up their self esteem? Some designers are using real size models in their fashion shows. Some advertisers are using realistic models in their print ads and magazines. This is an absolutely Wonderful proactive action. And since the music industry has become so much about looks musicians are taking it upon themselves to be in the best shape of their lives. This can also be an inspiration for young listeners, since physical activity makes you feel good, not just look good. Wii bringing physical activity to video games was a great move. There are even a children’s show where physical activity is part of the show; the kids moving around is supposed to keep the main character energized.

The Psychology of It All

Psychology has proven that a certain percent of people repeat what they know; whatever unhealthy abuse they grew up with/currently experience at home. A certain percent of young people who bully are receiving some kind of abuse or neglect at home. Any child who bullies or acts out is telling you something; either there’s an issue at home or an issue with the individual. Schools are Such an important place and teaching is Such an important job; in my view every individual who works in such a place has taken on a Huge responsibility to help direct and protect our most important resource; the future. The reality is that some parents just can’t or aren’t able to do the job of parenting at home and this falls to our teachers as well.

I’d like to counter Ellen DeGeneres’s empathy in schools idea with self-esteem and confidence-building. This would help both the bully and the bully-ee. The person acting out could be too afraid to tell a teacher about their own issues, or just doesn’t know how to ask for help and is taking their anger out on an easy target. I TRULY believe that integrating self-esteem and confidence-building into education would have a HUGE impact on eradicating bullying. I’m still figuring out what format would be most effective and least contested by current-day school boards. School visits to talk about confidence and self-esteem seem the easiest option at this point. The only drawback is that positive vibes die out quickly if not reinforced. I will also shortly also act on my idea from years ago to make a website geared towards youth to help instill self-esteem and confidence in them.

Since youth aren’t the only ones with self-esteem and confidence issues hopefully this is the start of a whole new movement, a whole new era,  where we start putting our fellow humans ahead of materialism, self-indulgence and appeasing our egos. Since reaching adults is much harder than reaching children, hopefully creating change in our youth will create change in adults; trickle-up theory?

My Anti-Motivational Rant

While looking for a picture for this post I saw some Very gruesome images: nooses, bruised, battered and bloodied faces, punches about to be thrown and kicks about to be disbursed. While writing this I was ignoring just how violent young people can be. Whenever an adult would consider an action to be assault I strongly feel that we need to treat young with the same seriousness. Even into late teens some are causing emergency room visits or even hospitalization without being punished in any way whatsoever. If they’re allowed to drive at 16, then why are they not considered to be responsible for their actions when assaulting another? I’m of the generation where belts and wooden spoons weren’t just to hold up pants or kitchen utensils. We survived those punishments. Society is now so freaking lax with any punishment for deserving behaviour, that a certain number of our young people have little or no respect for authority, their elders, themselves, or each other. The only solution I see for aggressive physical behaviour is legal action and self-esteem and empathy work while incarcerated (a group home or whatever setting the judge chooses). And I think ALL bullying incidents should result in required community service. Any infraction by anyone should result in community service. Oh, just thought of a great slogan: “If you’re going to act like an ass, you’re going to get the work of an ass.” (as in donkey) Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? ;)

Rant Done. Thank You

If you want to be part of this movement there are many ways, basically all under volunteering; Big Sisters/Big Brothers, volunteer at your local recreation center, volunteer for a homework tutor organization or the library – in Toronto many branches have homework tutor programs. Every city should have it’s own volunteer website. Toronto’s big ones are (http://www.volunteertoronto.ca) and (https://charityvillage.com/directories/volunteers/find-volunteer-listings.aspx) Charity Village is Canada wide. You’ll be surprised at all the places that use volunteers and have programs you aren’t aware of. YMCA has a lot going on that I didn’t know about until I perused their site one day. There’s a lot you can do in your own back yard as well. Perhaps there’s a single mother in your area or building who could really use some babysitting help. Or maybe just play basketball with the local kids, any exposure to another role model is a great thing for young people. I watched the movie ‘Unconditional’ about Papa Joe (Joe Bradford) who lives in Nashville. He has been a father figure to many fatherless children in his neighbourhood and also distributes food to needy families. We all have the ability to be a Papa Joe.

I wholeheartedly support volunteering. When young people partake in volunteering it helps them see a bigger picture of the world, gives them responsibility and confidence and also lets them see that some people aren’t as well off as they are. This pretty well goes for adults too. And there is no feeling comparable to helping others and giving freely of your own time. The appreciation you get back is very rewarding. To me this is a requirement to a balanced life. Keep yourself happy and ‘the small stuff’ will just disappear :)

My spiritual growth journey

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I have come to the realization that we are here to serve others. We are here to look after each other and put others first whenever possible (you still have to maintain a healthy balance in life and live a decent life). I genuinely care about people and that comes through whenever I deal with anyone (aside from when I’m being stupid and sweating the small stuff) and this causes people to care in return and to help me in my time of need.

You have to give to receive. I have seen and heard about this in action. The Higher Power only wants to help us. When we show we’re deserving we get that help. Being deserving means we’re learning our lessons in life. Being a Scrooge means we’re Not learning our lessons so life heaps on another helping of pain and grief to teach us. There truly is a method to the madness; we can see this if we open our eyes.

We show people how to treat us. This sums up all my bad experiences in the past. It’s very hard to admit but I have let people treat me a certain way. When I didn’t like how things were going I didn’t walk away. I would continually give that person yet another chance to change, which never happened. One ex treated his next girlfriend quite nicely, but when he had interactions with me he went back to his old ways. She showed him she’d only allow good treatment whereas I had showed him he could be a jerk with me with no repercussions. There’s a spoken word poet I like, Suli Breaks. (He did this great video ‘So you want a degree’. You should check it out, it’s really good.) I’ve linked his ‘He’s not’ video. It gets golden at around 3 minutes. Steve Harvey says basically the same thing. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJzBtL2SKZg)

Show gratitude. Here in North America we’re taught greed and want. Chasing the next new toy or keeping up with the Jones’ is a never ending vicious cycle that will never bring happiness. We have to be able to stop and realize how great of a life we have. I try to mostly ignore marketing; that new shampoo does Not do what they say it does. That new beauty cream will not necessarily even be nice to my skin. The best beauty product is Confidence! The best thing you can put on your face is a Smile :) The best way to age well does not come in a bottle but by Stop Worrying and be able to ‘stop and smell the roses’, hear the birds, etc. At any moment you should be able to stop, look around you and see beauty and wonder. To the old angry me this was like a hidden world that I Just Didn’t See. It’s so sad that so many people still wear these blinders. When you have a calmness about you your worries take care of themselves. Recently I could have ended up homeless due to a school loan issue but I just accepted the situation and thought of ways to have my stuff taken care of and knew I’d likely be able to get a shelter bed somewhere. My calmness likely directly worked for me; my landlord allowed me to pay rent late. It’s only now that I can look back on my life and see all the blessings I’ve had along the way. I experienced the unconditional love of maternal grandparents and had a mother who, for the most part, loved me. They’ve all left me years ago but to have Had that love makes me luckier than many. I’ve had no great life by any stretch of the imagination but it has definitely been colourful/interesting and it has ultimately led me to be the person I am today. The trick is to not see the bad things but rather the good. Things are done For you, not To you. I am a much stronger person today for what I’ve gone through. I am also very gentle and kind, this seems to also be a result of ‘colourful’ lives (sandpaper that polishes us).

Be grateful that you have a job that gives you money to pay the bills, be grateful for the food in your kitchen, be grateful for your 5 senses, be grateful for your health. You don’t have to think of people in 3rd world countries who don’t have these, people in your own city don’t have these. Also be grateful for your Ability to be grateful. Again, the people around you don’t all have this ability. You can create your own happiness. That is a wonderful thing :)

Smile! An inner happiness and peace will literally make you shine :) We give off vibes and a happy vibe will attract happy people and situations to you. Be kind to everyone you meet. Never carry over anger from any past hurt, if 2 people in a row hurt you that doesn’t mean the 3rd one will. Have a clean slate for every person you encounter. Allow them to write on that slate, don’t assume for them what they would write. We all have bad or off days. It could be that you’re encountering a great person on an ‘off’ day. Mean people are usually just someone who’s hurting or having a really bad time, try to not add to their woes by being mean in return, or to your own. The smallest gestures have had profound impacts; have made people change their mind against committing suicide.

I often joke about using my powers for good vs evil. (I DO have one super power; whenever in line I tend to be invisible – both to cashiers and the people behind me in line. I’ve also had bus drivers close the door on me Three times!. I just KNOW the one time I try to make this super power work for me in a bank it will fail ;) ) We actually Do have a lot of power, each and every one of us. The hardest part about life is thinking outside of the box that we’ve grown up to believe in. The box doesn’t actually exist. There’s an experiment where fruit flies are put in a small bottle with the lid on. They try for 20 minutes to get out, then realize how futile their efforts are and stop. When the lid is taken off they actually starve to death in this little bottle because they still believe that they’re trapped. It’s easier to deal with and manage billions of people if they believe their bottle has an air tight lid. Guess what? There is no lid! It’s your choice to live life knowing all the wonders of existence are available to you or to live in a little bottle. Truly your choice. Seeing is not believing. Case in point: Is electricity real? Yes. Can you see it? No. Game – set – match.

Don’t Worry Be Happy!

As I progress along my journey to happiness and peace and see how my life is changing, how I’m changing, I become more and more surprised at how willing people are to just Accept their lot in life. So many people truly believe there’s nothing they can do about it, and that’s sad.

A classmate compared me to a guy when I told him how I was handling all the stress and financial situation of being  a student; I’m chill. I didn’t really like the comment because it took me 38 YEARS to become this chill. And I’m much better for it. You will be too if you try it. Bills are due? They’re still due whether you freak out or not. Money all gone? You’re still broke whether you get upset about it. Instead of wasting precious energy on worry you could put that energy into ideas on how to become unbroke :D There’s always a way, always a solution, if we’re clear headed enough to look for those solutions. Sometimes we have to make our own solution but there IS one.

When we expect life to get better, opportunities will come our way. But we have to be willing to work for them. There’s no free lunch in this world, but there are free appetizers or dessert to help you along the way ;) Some incentive as it were. Don’t just Believe life will get better, Expect it! Demand it! And then be willing to do some old-fashioned hard work to make sure it Does happen.

I’ll give away a secret right now. The one thing that will solve All problems is Love. A dose of Love will cure what ails ya. There is no emotion as strong as love. There is no force more powerful. Learn to integrate love into your life, into your daily routines, and you will be well on your way to happiness and peace. And health as well.

Learning to take complete responsibility for everything you do is also a required part of your daily life. No excuses, no blaming others for anything. Blaming and complaining stop. If you don’t like something figure out a way to change or improve the situation. Blaming and complaining are not allowed on this journey. It sounds hard but once you’ve replaced those bad habits with good ones (you can never get rid of habits, just replace them) they stay.

Life is beautiful!!

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About a year ago I was introduced to a whole new perspective on life. It falls under the Law of Attraction. Over the years I’d had some exposure to the philosophy but I wasn’t ready to embrace it.

This knowledge has been around for a VERY long time. Some compare it to what’s in the bible. I don’t, though I can’t say the bible doesn’t say basically the same thing. I guess it all comes down to what method works best for you and who’s writing speaks to you. Personally what’s worked best for me has been the writings of Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich), Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People) and Joe Vitale (The Attractor Factor). These men have all written numerous books and they use personal examples of how the philosophy works when applied. These readings are literally changing my life. I still have much to learn, and need to practice the philosophies more, but I’m a MUCH happier person. It’s great to be able to see the positive side to Everything, to know that there is one. To realize that I’m completely responsible for my life and the state that it’s in. To see how everything that’s happened to me has been for my benefit, to help me blossom into the wonderful person I’m becoming (that’s seeing the positive side to every situation). To see how being angry, upset and holding grudges only hurts ME. LOVE is the answer. Train yourself to feel love at all times and happiness and a wonderful life will follow :)  To realize the power that EACH and EVERY one of us possess. Our lives CAN be as great as we want, we just need to learn the tools to make that happen.

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