Posts Tagged ‘happy’

What to give up for Lent? How about complaining

February 16, 2010

It’s Fat Tuesday and I’m thinking about the most difficult things to give up for Lent. I was raised protestant, but my friends were mostly Catholic so I adopted many Catholic practices. (And now I am converted and married to a Catholic – but that’s another story.)

In high school I gave up material things I loved, like chocolate or sweets altogether. One year I attempted to give up swearing. Every time I swore, I would do ten pushups or sit-ups. By the end of Lent I had great abs and arms.

Learning about Catholicism during nine months of required adult education provided a better insight to Lent and what it means to me. Personal changes can be made in any season, regardless of religion. However, Lent prompts me to look at myself honestly and the changes I need most.

I’ve found that as difficult as it might be to give up – gasp – beer, it’s much harder to renounce a negative trait. (And since I quit sugar in January, I have very few drinks anyway.)

Instead, I will continue to attack serious downfalls in my spirit and attitude – the areas in which I do not behave like Christ (or Buddha or any enlightened being). I’ve learned that you’re not supposed to announce your Lenten plans, so I’ll talk about past years instead.

Two years ago, I gave up complaining. Yes, complaining. I can’t say that for 40 days I never thought or voiced a complaint. Who could? But I learned to catch complaints in thought, ask myself what good the complaints served, and then keep most of them to myself.

It’s amazing how many complaints our heads come up with in one day. I get out of bed and complain that my back hurts. Then I complain that the cat puked on the floor. The shower runs out of hot water mid leg shaving and I complain again. Plus, there’s always dishes in the sink, traffic is bad, and on and on.

I caught myself complaining about good things like a messy fridge filled with too much food. Or the sun was too bright. Or there was too much work to do (who would have known I would loose my job). I needed an attitude adjustment and it started with being aware.

Why was I complaining? How could I be grateful instead? How much of this could I just turn over to source and let go?

It turns out that most complaints are not warranted and serve no good purpose. I still complain, but a lot less. Even my husband notices the difference and catches me if I start complaining.

This year, I’m tackling a pretty huge lineup of issues. If I have success, I will find peace and joy in every day. For anyone who wants to keep chocolate and give up something hurtful, this little reflection is from one of our church bulletins last year. I cut it out and it’s still on the fridge.

Give up complaining … focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism … become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments … think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry … trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement … be full of hope.
Give up bitterness … turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred … return good for evil.
Give up negativism … be positive.
Give up anger … be more patient.
Give up gloom … enjoy the beauty that is all around.
Give up jealous … pray for trust.
Give up sin … turn to virtue.
Give up giving up … hang in there.

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Searching for career, yet finding myself

January 11, 2010

The only way to get what you want, is to know what you really want.
And the only way to know what you really want, is to know yourself.
And the only way to know yourself, is to be yourself.
And the only way to be yourself, Larque, is to listen you your heart.
I do, ~ The Universe.
(sent from Mike Dooley)

This printed email has been on my computer for at least two years. However, I only recently feel like I know myself enough to know what I want (somewhat).

Months of unemployment triggered a treasure hunt for answers. What are my passions? What do I want? Who am I really? Do most people have answers to these questions?

It doesn’t seem like it. It seems like if we all knew what makes us happy, then that’s what we would do (or eat, or listen to, or think).

When I lost my job, it was difficult to listen to my heart because my brain kept saying “oh shit, what am I going to do?” I had to start with what I knew – what I dislike and did not want. I had to start analyzing my thoughts and actions – were they judgmental and why? Even harder, I had to dig deep to find out who I am – strengths and weaknesses.

This work would probably help just about anyone. Unfortunately, every day life keeps us busy enough that we don’t take the time to really listen to our hearts. (At least I didn’t.)

Career Coach Sean Harry co-created a workbook Career Crossroads: Finding Your Perfect Career. It could have been called Life Crossroads: Finding Yourself. The process he’s licensed applies to both. ARMS: Assessment, research, marketing materials, and strategy.

I thought I was pretty self-aware. Possibly I was only opinionated and loud. As soon as I admitted I didn’t know it all, even about myself, I began learning. The more I studied me, the more I wanted to know. The more I want to know.

I can’t take credit for the jewels uncovered in initial digging. In fact, this is a bit of a testimonial for coaches. Social Media Coach Joshua Waldman saw my true niche talent before I did. Sean often reminds me of strengths I’ve overlooked. Business Coach Noah Waldman helped me transform, literally, by sending head trash to the dumpster (where it belongs). The path to these great coaches began with Sales Coach Jeff Schneider who believed in me, and that was enough.

As thankful as I am to these guys, I will admit that I did all the dirty work. I mumbled to myself as I walked mile after mile; “What do I want? Where do I see myself? What is God’s plan for me? What are the solutions I bring?” (on and on until I almost ran over a gal walking her little dog). I made lists. I read books. I watched videos. I listened to webcasts. I wrote and wrote. I pushed myself. And I’m continually repeating the process.

Now I feel as though this work, if I keep doing it, will lead to the ideal life. That is what I want. Not just the perfect career or even the perfect body. I want to know the best Larque from every angle. If I know her – and become her – I will naturally be my best at everything.

Lights, camera, success! Mind movie = rave reviews

January 2, 2010

Today I am creating a mind movie to guide me in this new decade and my new business.

I know visualizing my destination is crucial to easing my stress and worry about “how” I will get there. I also know that if I can’t see my success, I won’t know it when I have it.

I have read a lot about visualization, starting with The Secret a couple of years ago and in every positive attitude-building book since. Yet for some reason, I have not implemented a good practice.

Friday I had my first experience with muscle testing (applied kinesiology) and guided EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). My session with Pointman Consulting was specifically to help me move forward with my business without fear and old contradicting beliefs.

Despite being very open minded about these practices, I was still surprised when the invisible weight lifted. My coach Noah led me through a visualization exercise that filled me with a comfortable warm and tingly energy. At the end of the session my subconscious said “make a mind movie” in which I see, hear and feel my desired goal.

So today I need to make a short movie of me using my creative skills in marketing, sales and writing. What does it look like? Well, I am enjoying my work and making plenty of money to pay bills. I feel excited by challenges and satisfied as I help other small business owners achieve success. I work hard, but balance life with exercise and time with my husband. People meet me and are eager to work with me. I hear them saying I am such a great help and positive spirit. People congratulate me on my new adventure. Everyone I meet has a gift for me: wisdom, connections, education and means of making money. I feel so secure and stable that I bound through the days in happiness and love. I don’t get tripped up on the little stuff.

Yep, that’s my movie. This is who I am. Magazines publish my articles. I have extra money to buy the SLR camera I’ve dreamed of since their inception. Great ideas pop into my head for business owners and other clients.

I’m not an expert at mind movies but this is fairly simple. Imagine what the goal looks like, feels like and sounds like. The Secret and many websites provide guidance and examples. Another example of mine is that instead of saying “I must loose 20 pounds,” I imagine how I look and feel at this weight. When I go to bed and when I wake up, I visualize myself looking thin and fit, exclaiming how great it is to wear my old jeans and hearing people say how I look great. I support this vision throughout the day by banning negative self talk.

Start the decade off right with a movie of your own. Since you are the star, the superhero, you can achieve anything you imagine. As Napoleon’s Pedro would say: “All your wildest dreams will come true.”

Christmas presence and a new breakfast spot

December 27, 2009

It just occurred to me that I got my presence for Christmas. I didn’t even realize I was living in the moment until I got out the pad and pen for tomorrow’s to-do list.

As it turns out, I’ve been going with the flow since Thursday.

It’s nice to have a stretch of time that is not choreographed or over-produced. I enjoy week-long backpacking trips because concerns and distractions are narrowed down to food, water, warmth and comfortable feet. Once you hit the trail, it doesn’t matter what you meant to pack – only what is in the pack.

It wasn’t that I planned some perfect holiday either. I didn’t send one card. I also forgot to fortify the fridge for Christmas breakfast. I quickly accepted that cards simply didn’t get done (rather than lament over it). And the search for Christmas morning grub unearthed a great breakfast spot we’ve been driving past for five years.

I see that being present, for me, means I must continue to work toward a balanced life. I have duties and obligations, goals to pursue and knowledge to attain. However, I need to stop thinking of the next item on the list. I need to be flexible for the unexpected. I need to allow dishes to sit in the sink while I enjoy company – or sun.

The Jumping Duck Media 30-day Blogging Challenge helped me realize that I shouldn’t fuel one passion to the point of extinguishing another. A few nights ago my husband and I were having wine by the Christmas tree and sharing stories of the busy day. I had already missed blogging days, so I really needed to write. But I decided the moment was too good. Instead of blogging, I refilled my wine.

I’ve mulled over the decision. Even if laziness was the reason I missed days of writing, I’m okay with that. Some days I am the task master of myself and go way overboard. Other days I struggle to get in the groove. I am hoping to have more days I accept for what they are – a moment I am meant to be in.

Tis the season to stomp ANTs (Auto Negative Thoughts)

December 19, 2009

Five days until Christmas and my focus is on the battle against ants. Not the little black sugar ants trying to find goodies in the kitchen, Automatic Negative Thoughts.

I’m listening to and reading Happy for No Reason. I heard this gal on the web, so I know this book discusses how most of us are not born happy, but raise our happy thermometer over time.

As I drove past two malls this morning, on a mission to the vet, I saw the usual hustle and bustle of people out buying happiness – or attempting to buy it. Simultaneously, the chapter about ANTs came on. Based on fight or flight, we are programmed to think cynically to survive. Since survival requirements have changed completely since our caveman days, we don’t really need to be so cynical.

Author Marci Shimoff says we only have to comprehend one thing to battle – and defeat – our ANTs. “What we think is not necessarily true.”

She says we have 60,000 thoughts a day and 45,000 of them are negative. Holy smokes Batman. Thoughts are like ants at a July picnic in the park. And if they are ANTs, then the picnic sucks, it’s too hot out, the watermelon is mushy and that potato salad is probably going bad.

I use many brain exercises, so this isn’t my first circuit at the mental gym. Still, I need to treat positive thinking like a workout habit. I can’t do it once a week and expect results. I figure this next week will provide plenty of opportunities to catch ANTs, put them under the magnifying glass and fry them. I expect a few of the ANTs to be nasty, flying carpenter ants (like Christmas will suck because we have no money), so this will be fun.

And I will replace the zapped ANTs with thrilling thoughts that may not be true, yet have potential. Wow, I think I just lost five pounds. My hair is perfect today. There are so many job offers awaiting me. The bills are covered for the month.

Plus, I will concentrate on the positive resounding truths. I have the best husband, a beautiful house, good health and enough wit to survive. My belly is full of yummy casserole, my energy is high and I hear the rain will stop for Christmas. (hike, hike, hike)

Last but not least, today’s blog is done! Woo-hoo.

Now get out there and stomp some ANTs.

No mistake; Mishap prompted my best habit

December 10, 2009

Walking is one of my favorite habits that started by accident, literally.

In my early 20s, I lived in Northern Idaho where freezing rain is a winter standard. One wrong step and I landed a reconstructed ankle complete with titanium pins, screws and plate. After months of casts and physical therapy, workout options were few so I started walking.

Slow, unsteady strolling led to intense power walks on the St. Maries River dike. The injury came without invite, but the new habit became an addiction I need to feel good.

Walking provides time to pray, brainstorm new ideas and explore. Some days a dog or a cat will join me until I pause to send them back home. Squirrels and crows fighting over nuts induce laughter.

Walking is ideal for people with low back pain, poor posture or goals of improved fitness, according to our roommate Nick, a physical therapist intern. He suggests walking 20-30 minutes three to four times a week. Within 21 days, it should be habit.

“Make it a habit after a meal. Or just make it part of your daily routine,” he says. “Start slow. Get a partner; someone to hold you responsible will help.”

I know shoes are important gear because I grew up in an athletic family of marathoners, bike racers and backpackers. I realized talking with Nick that some people may not know how, or why, to pick great shoes. He likes the “shoe dog” on www.roadrunnersports.com. It’s a guide to the correct amount of support, cushion and control for each foot type. A good shoe prevents stress fractures, poor posture and collapsing arch, all of which can lead to injury.

When shopping in store, bend, poke and prod at the shoe. Nick says the toe break should match the natural break of the foot, the heal cup should be sturdy and the arch needs increased “medial support,” (less give). He isn’t fan of all-leather shoes because they stretch with wear. Lastly, Nick reminds us to replace walking shoes at least once a year. I replace mine every six months.

A mishap prompted my habit, but it was no mistake. Walking is an option everywhere I go. It has no dues or fees and always yields countless rewards. It’s a journey with every step.

(Note: Nicholas Adams is a bodybuilder and physical therapy student living with us while interning in Portland. He is a proponent of making small changes and building on them.)

How NOT to treat your one and only body

December 9, 2009

Body image is my biggest struggle. It’s so hard to talk about that I am in tears already. I’d stop now, but I hope to deter one person from this path.

My thinking went askew when I was 8-years-old, wearing a half-size dress. Half sizes are for kids who are thicker around the middle. I had a belly and hated it. I wanted to be stick thin like other girls; like girls on TV. So I started dieting.

The battle between me and my body intensified from age 9 to 13. Then a friend introduced me to puking on purpose. It’s difficult, so I only did it when I overate.

High school was horrible for me socially. Despite excellent grades and above-average athletic ability, I did not like myself. My desire to be thin was insatiable. By dieting, I was fit and probably thin for my body by the end of sophomore year. That wasn’t enough. Over the summer and into my junior year, I ate less, exercised more and threw up often – up to five times a day whether I had eaten or not.

Did I become a twig? No. That’s not my body type. I ran cross country and played basketball, tallying up to eight hours of exercise a day on no food. I was starving. At night my muscles cramped so that I could not roll over or lift my arm. I knew I could not persist, so I sought help.

My family doctor initiated an intervention in which my parents and coaches watched me like hawks. I had to eat breakfast after morning practice or they would force me to eat. I had to stay in sight after meals at home.

Where is this gross story going? To the loss of my tonsils that year; stress fractures in my legs from ankle to knee; and the end of high school sports, my only solace.

Worse yet, the effects haunt me still. My gallbladder rotted when I was 23. If I get nauseous, I cannot stop. I can push a spot at the base of my throat or below my ribs and be sick.

I killed my metabolism and did lifelong harm to my body for what? Smaller jeans? I still struggle with poor body image, but I’ve made progress. I catch myself, and others, regressing to that high school mentality we hated.

Last night a woman told me she worked hard to have a great body for her 25th high school reunion to “show those girls.” Then she realized the “your body verses mine” mentality was what hurt her in high school.

Women, girls and guys too – this is not a competition. We are meant to look different. The body simply protects the spirit. We must love ourselves and exercise to feel good, not punish. Food is the energy, not the enemy. Most importantly, words are weapons. Don’t use them against others or yourself. Namaste.

(On the lighter side, tomorrow I’ll share healthy eating and exercise tips from my roommate Nick, a physical therapist intern and bodybuilder.)

Could my four-leaf clovers change your life?

December 7, 2009

Believe

Four-leaf clovers in resin-filled bezels dry in the sun on my kitchen table. I see them and am encouraged.

You see, I married a beautiful musician who had never seen a four-leaf clover and therefore did not believe in them. I insisted they exist because I found one on my 14th birthday. I wrote him a poem seven years ago that began like this:

Searching for a four-leaf clover
to prove you are an angel
when you sleep
and dawn fills your mouth
Music is conceived in your veins
A pin prick and it
will drip laughter and sorrow …

But with no proof, he had a hard time believing. Then a few months ago, my friend and I plopped down in the yard and I said “you should sit by those clovers because I know there are four-leafed ones out here.” And there were. She found two that day. I found a third the next day. Three times since I have been in the yard crying and begging for a sign that everything will be okay. I found 11 more four-leaf clovers.

Now I believe and others do too.

Our beliefs create our realities. My reality is formed by these beliefs.

Angels surround us and conspire on our behalves at all times. You can call them out in an emergency or just realize most coincidences aren’t. (Example: the day you are late for work for some stupid reason. Racing toward the office, you come up on a horrific accident that could have been your fate.)

Miracles happen, AND can happen from “bad” things. In hindsight, it is easy to see how traumatic events opened glorious doorways. Not so easy in the moment, I know. So I ask, what good can come from my struggle today?

We all get second chances … to start over, to say I’m sorry, to love, to achieve a failed goal, to be a better person. On that note, I also believe that people want to be good and do good things, yet sometimes it is easier to act poorly, do wrong or simply look the other way. If we don’t believe in luck, angels and miracles, then how the hell are we going to offer kindness to strangers? Please, just get out of my way so I can pick two lemons and go home.

I believe today has something for me. You have something for me; a smile, a message, a blessing – a parking spot! And I have something for you; a heart full of wonder. I wonder how I can help you, warm you or heal you. I wonder if you believe in my four-leaf clovers, could that change your life? I believe so.

… So with fingertips stained
like lawn-mowing shoes
I part leaves
Searching for your solace
Proof
of what I smell in your skin
See in glacier eyes.

Dousing stinkin’ attitude with Jedi mind tricks

December 6, 2009

I don’t want to blog today because I’m irritated and don’t want to express this mood. I guess it’s a good day to share my tricks for triggering gratitude and happiness – and put them to use.

Exercise is a biggie and I should probably hit the gym when I finish writing. I prefer a brisk walk in nature, but 38 degrees and 40-mile-an hour winds are not that appealing. Regardless of the exercise venue, I tend to shift thoughts as soon as I sweat.

Often I do yoga while listening to one of my favorite sources of positive information; http://www.healingwiththemasters.com. Jennifer McLean interviews healers, teachers and positive thinkers a couple of times a week and posts replays of the audio. Sign up is free and the lessons are priceless. I hope there is a replay in my inbox today.

I have learned many mind tricks from interviews with people like Jo Dunning, Guy Finley, Marci Shimoff and Neale Donald Walsch. Plus these short talks lead to fantastic books, CDs, coaching and other programs.

Daily affirmations are a necessary way to stay positive and I need one today. When Stuart Smalley of SNL introduced affirmations … “Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!” … he was hilarious. Now I know this is a seriously good way to empower myself. Some of my affirmations are simple like “I can handle whatever happens today.” This site, http://bit.ly/uvvPF, gathers people’s affirmations and helps me write my own. From today, I plan to use daily blogging as a reminder to write an affirmation.

Making lists of things I love or am grateful for is another nifty tool. My heart fills with thankfulness when I list all the things I love. On a day like today, I open the journal and recall the reasons life rocks.

Visualizing also lifts my spirits. This is a tool I believe every positive person uses and something I should do more often. If I picture my happiest memory, my favorite place in the mountains or my dream for the future, this minute’s frustration fades. I use photos to stimulate these visions sometimes. I looked at several before typing today.

The last stunt I use on myself is self-inflicted laughter. Whatever it takes to rouse the giggles is fair game: playing with the cat, comedy on YouTube, a favorite movie, or the never-fail stare down in the mirror. Laughter is the best reminder that happiness comes from within – and it is always in there if I dig. Thanks to digging, I feel better already.

Santa, please bring me presence

December 3, 2009

Dear Santa, if you exist (even in spirit) and I have been good enough this year, please bring me presence. No, not presents … presence.

Six years ago I didn’t even understand what presence is or why I should desire it. My yoga instructor introduced presence to me. The longer I sit on the word’s meaning, the more I want it. Just so you understand what I’m asking for, Santa, here’s most of the Merriam-Webster definitions of presence.

1) the fact or condition of being present

2) the part of space within one’s immediate vicinity

4) one that is present: as a: the actual person or thing that is present or b: something present of a visible or concrete nature

5) a: the bearing, carriage, or air of a person; b: a noteworthy quality of poise and effectiveness; the actor’s commanding presence

6) something (as a spirit) felt or believed to be present

I might have presence some moments – or even some days. But my thoughts are a flashing neon signs that I need more presence. A couple of weeks ago I landed in a deep funk. At one point in the night, after too many beers, I sat and wrote:

“I am jealous of myself or the picture of me in my memories – how I was then. Thoughts you are not meant to think of yourself; judgmental. But here I am, looking at the old me in this hue.”

Wow. Does this mean I don’t love who I am today? How do I use this as a wake-up call? What the heck was I jealous of … a thinner body … fewer responsibilities … working as a photographer?

I read passages from Buddha, the Bible, Gandhi, healing gurus and positive thinkers. And Santa, do you know what I discovered? We humans tend to wish for the past and fear the future. They say we must practice catching negative thoughts and replacing them with optimism.

So, Santa, here’s what I need.

1) help staying in the moment (and appreciating it)

2) love and peace in my immediate vicinity

3) kindness and love that spills out to others

4) a spirit of thankfulness for the many blessings I have

5) the ability to scrutinize my thoughts and squash the stinkers

I’ll hang my stocking this weekend in case you want to drop off my presence early.

Thanks a bunch,

Larque