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Posts tagged ‘joy’

It’s a Tough World Out There

Bobbe 21

Bobbe tries  to pull herself out of the garbage of life, to carry on.

It’s Friday, June 17, 2016…

…and it’s a tough world out there. Within the past week,

  • A talented singer is killed in Orlando,
  • 50 people gunned down in Orlando nightclub,
  • Two-year old is killed by alligator outside of Orlando.

Poor people, poor families, poor community, poor Orlando.  Makes a person understand what “being under a dark cloud” means, right? If we ever needed to feel better, it is now. But where do we start and what can we do? Is there anything right in the world? It’s called, “basic”, People, “basic”.  Basic comfort for pain. What’s that?  It might be a chocolate chip cookie, cuddling your child or sipping a nice glass of merlot. Basic pleasures for uplifting your attitude: pet your dog, peak at a sleeping baby, watch Jimmy Fallon and President Obama write thank you letters out loud, set to melodic piano. Then, try to live with Positive Expectancy (Steve Wilson). What does this mean? It means: approaching life, as we know it, not as a Pollyanna, but with hopes for good things, which make living worthwhile. To me, it means looking harder than ever for bits of humor, wherever they will pop up. And they WILL pop up, if you play attention. That’s right, it’s not a typo, I said, “PLAY” attention. Be aware, be alert, be alive! It’s okay to carry on. And besides, (queue Leslie Gore), “It’s my birthday and I’ll smile if want to, smile if I want to, smile if I want to. You would smile too, if it happened to you!”  Yep, it’s my birthday and at the risk of sounding like a goat, I’m going to have a goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood day. Why not? At my age, that’s 427 years old – in dog years, I don’t know how much time I have left. And in dog years, I might have 14 glasses of wine and 7 pieces of cakea tonight!  You’ve got to love dog years. Cheers and happy weekending in spite of it all.  bw

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Putting A Muzzle on Mind Chatter- November 30, 2014

Originally written by Jeff – retold by Bobbe

Like other babyboomer couples, Jeff and I have been stacking life’s changes: empty nest, aging careers, aging parents, aging food in the fridge and how all of these factors affect us as an aging couple. The empty nest is okay, the career horizon is a bit foggy and the aging parent deal is a doozie. The only thing normal is the aging food in the fridge. Then the abnormal changed our normal forever.

In February, 2013, Jeff lost right eye vision. No reason. It was just gone. In his personal struggle to adjust to myriad changes, he spent a lot of time alone doing things that had long ago given him pleasure, but which he’d abandoned while we raised children, advanced careers and dealt with busy lives. His activity often occurred in the woods or with wood. He sawed, chopped, and nailed pieces into forms. He squirrel hunted, target practiced, or just walked in the woods, which proved to be tricky. It was in this environment that Jeff regained balance between his mind-chatter and fantasies. I was a bit uneasy at first, with the word, “fantasy”. He was surprised by my immediate jump to a definition that he’d not intended. Informal polls indicated others jumped to the sex connotation too. We sought to find a synonym, but nothing worked better. Feel free to use a synonym, it it makes you comfortable. That way, I can rest easier, knowing that that you aren’t envisioning me pole-dancing in the bedroom or at a sleazy night club. However, I suppose my stage name could be “White Trash…”

Mind-chatter and fantasy are universal human traits, in fact, 90% of every day is spent on one of the two. On days when the mind-chatter runs rampant, we stress more and sleep less. Jeff found out that by learning to turn off the chatter and allowing more fantasy time, his happiness greatly increased. He is beginning to see his loss as a gift.

Mind-chatter Vs. Fantasy Mind-chatter is our internal rules system. Fantasies offer us the illusion of emotional safety. Mind chatter guides us away from our heart and the things we love to do. Fantasy offers us reasons to overcome chatter and create life happiness. Mind-chatter will tempt you with its relentless reminders of past failures and future fears, resulting in a heightened state of worry and unhappiness. Oh boy, no joy. As we age, we allow mind chatter (rules maker) to become more intense. We learn this at an early age. Over the years, we equate happiness with how other people react to us. Negative chatter can make us afraid to express ourselves, or ask for what we want. It limits our potential and hinders our ability to express love for others. The most detrimental aspect of mind chatter occurs as we approach mid-life; the chatter is rife with self-criticism. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for the human mind to turn chatter off, or even down a notch.
Fantasies mostly involve the future; they reflect the essence of one’s personality. Fantasies help us solve or address problems, concerns and prepare us for future events. In the rare times fantasies are past-tense, they would be a form of analysis, as to what we should or shouldn’t have done, but (and this is a BIG but) without the guilt, which mind-chatter implies. Fantasy helps comfort, encourage and reinforce ourselves when impending decisions are going to be difficult. In a state of fantasy, we allow our minds to develop guidelines for a more positive outcome, providing clarity to our concerns. Fantasies allow us to change preconceived deficiencies to strengths.

Psychological well-being is directly related to our ability to fantasize. If we then act on those concepts we can reinforce relationships, improve health and turn down the mind-chatter volume. Jeff decided to employ some fantasies with me. Before your imagination runs wild, let me explain that these acts were simple and basic. In essence, we started dating again. He actually phoned to ask, “Want to go on a date?” He was afraid I’d decline the invitation and was relieved I’d accepted. This from a tough guy, who is afraid of NOTHING! He became more attentive, less argumentative. He asked for additional dates. We talked. A lot. (And he listened!) He complimented me when I got dressed up. (That was the best improvement!)
Like millions of couples, we’d put our relationship on auto-pilot for years; we hadn’t nurtured the most important thing we possessed. My own mind-chatter had reduced my self-image to seeing myself as a frumpy, middle-aged, boring wife/woman. You see, mind-chatter tarnishes how we see ourselves and others. Jeff’s fantasy was to reverse 37 year-old habits, using creative thought to facilitate positive change.

This newfound attention was a bit overwhelming at times, I must say. Our comfortable, predictable approach to an old marriage was not a bad thing at all, but the positive changes will sustain us much better, as we enter our retirement years. The home climate became more positive. I felt like a queen. It seemed that the adage, “Marriage is a marathon, not a race,” did not apply. Jeff was trying to make up for lost time, at full sprint. It was both weird and wonderful. I realized that if we didn’t stop the mind-chatter and pay attention, life would move on without us fully participating in it. How sad.

Before one of our dates, I was soaking my feet in a foot-spa the kids had given me last Christmas. Jeff saw I needed new polish and offered to do it for me. I said yes, but was unsure. This seemed a bit kookie. “Better not tell the kids about this one!” I said. Mind-chatter had kicked in hard and fast and was working overtime, robbing us of a simple gesture because of an empty pre-conceived notion. He explained that, as a little boy, his mom allowed him to paint her nails, on occasion. Being one of six children, one-on-one activities were precious and probably few. It seemed that if his mother permitted a polish, it was okay for me to accept the same treatment. And our kids might even think it was okay, too.

The important part is that when the innocence of wanting to paint my toes was disrupted by mind-chatter, Jeff empowered his fantasy to continue a nice gesture. These spontaneous self-generated thoughts only become reality when we turn the chatter off long enough to allow us choices that will make us happier in life. One thing is for sure, his sight will never be the same, but he sees many things much clearer now. We both do. Isn’t it ironic that his loss has become a gift? What a great Thanksgiving blessing. bw

Fear: The Breakfast of Champions

Last post, I challenged you: WWDD? (What would different do?) What did you do different in September? Please share! (1) comment here (2) Facebook (3 email: bobbe@trylaughter.com or (4) send smoke signals. Just share it!

Here’s my September different. My kids sent me to South Carolina, as a gift, to see Debbie – a sister-kind-of-person. What good news! The REAL good news? The kids told me it was a one-way (?) ticket. Imagine Debbie and Fred’s elation, “WHAT? She’s never leaving??”

One day, we ate fear for breakfast. We paid $54 to scare ourselves to death at the U.S. National Whitewater Rafting Center. We rapid rafted with 6 strangers and a guide. We prayed to remain afloat during 4 runs: two on the intermediate course and two on the competition run. Oh, yay. I paddled so hard, my right arm, the dominant arm for paddling on the right side of the boat, was aching. A woman in the position ahead of me had a knee scar from seven (7!) surgeries (volleyball.) But the team counted on each person. No pain-no-gain. Or end up wet.

Next, Zip-Line. Holy zippers! What’s better than bonding in line with strangers who are equally as nervous? The attendant looked about twelve. As she secured our harnesses, we hoped she wasn’t at the end of her shift (i.e. tired/burned out) Hanging by a harness, hooked to a cable wire isn’t exactly a warm, fuzzy feeling. Stepping off the dock was unnerving, but the zip trip was grand; I wished it’d never ended! Even Deb, who’s afraid of heights, enjoyed the ride! Sort of.

Next up: rope course. (i.e. Flying Wallendas.) Who doesn’t love floating sidewalks and swinging bridges, strung between trees, again, while hanging from wires, attached to the cable. Honestly, I’m surprised there aren’t more deaths at the circus.

Finally, I climbed a telephone pole and jumped off. Yes, I did. I almost didn’t. The attendant instructed: “At the top, step off the platform in the red arrow direction. DON’T THINK ABOUT IT VERY LONG!” I felt faint and queezy at the top. But, there were few options, so I stepped off. I paid good money for this? Geesh, I could been shopping for a cute $54 top at J. Crew instead. I felt like Peter Pan; looked like a yo-yo. It was like a bungee jump, but with more floating than bouncing. Actually, very nice!

We left the Whitewater Center tired, more emotionally than physically, but proud. So proud. I’m not wild about mid-air insecurity. I don’t even trust carnival rides and yet, we were suspended by a wire -our thread of safety- between us and the ground. The $54 fee was a paycheck, more than a fee, because we bought c-c-c-c-c-c-c-courage, guts and glory.

The good news: we didn’t break from cables, fall in rapids, throw up, wet our pants or faint dead away. The really good news? I found out yesterday that my 2014 deductible has been met and my physical therapy for my impinged bicep will be 100% covered. Woohoo. Next time, I’ll paddle from the raft’s left side, not the right. When the caller yelled, “FORWARD, 2 STROKES!” I delivered my best paddling, of course. You’d expect nothing less from a competitive person. Why? There’s no i in team, especially mid-stream.

Now for October’s WWDD? I hope it’ll be something to test my resolve, stimulate my nerves, curiosity or creativity. What it won’t be? Paddling on the right, for sure. Won’t you join me in WWDD? Maybe I’ll take the Assertiveness 101 course for team members on the right, who need to be on the left… bw

The Four F’s For More Happiness

I have been learning about the prospect of happiness as an important element in global survival, as major changes loom on the horizon. What I believe: the trend from convenience services to doing more for ourselves – for less – is part of this trend. It’s economy driven. Or lack of economy, as it seems. For example, it will be more expensive to drive to restaurants and fast food places (cost of gas) and unhealthy choices (bad fast food/obesity) and cost of food (supply and demand) that will be force us to live more simply, ride less, walk and bike more, grow and eat garden vegetables, and consume fewer processed foods. This can’t be all bad, right?

It can be summed up in the FOURbidden (4-4-4)  FOURmula: gas at more than $4.00/gallon, hamburgers at more than $4/patty, and food consisting of more than four ingredients. We must get back to a more natural state of living – and doing so happily with these changes.  Our environment, both physically and economically is beginning to demand it.

So, how can we find a level of happiness and a sense of humor that can sustain us through some tough times ahead?  The idea of wanting more and more possessions could become prohibitive, so we must learn to fill our heads and hearts with other things, in order to find happiness within ourselves.

As a professional speaker and a banker, I LoVe LoVe LoVe speaking to groups who like learning my (banking) philosophy:  cash in on obvious humor – every day in every place, balance yourself with laugh-minded friends, deposit daily entries into a humor journal, laugh at your own expense, and compound your laughter daily. Money ia a metaphor-mindset with this philosophy. Who knew that the very thing that will cause the major shifts – and stressors – in our lives (money) can translate into a higher level of happiness? It’s the little things that can cause the biggest change. (i.e. finding humor every day equals more joy in even the most mundane and stressing experiences of life…running errands, sitting in traffic, toilet paper on your shoe.)

While the politicians try to color our world with promises of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you may want to consider the other end of the rainbow. Those who know me, know that I am anything but a pessimist. But there are too many economic indicators otherwise. Don’t be clouded by a few recent rain showers – the drought will still have major implications on food supply and cost next year. Don’t expect gas prices to drop. Our global supply is not infinite. Alternative energy sources are imperative.  In spite of the political rhetoric, the economy is still quite fragile – here and abroad. If Healthcare, Medicare and social care were circus performers, they are pretty well teetering on a threadbare tightrope and if the costuming were hospital gowns, their flaps are wide open in the back for all to see! We have a lot of areas that need fixin’ fast, but it won’t happen until our proverbial backs are against a wall. That’s when ‘Merica will shine at her best.

The above issues are overwhelming. And individually, none of us can find a quick fix. In the meantime, we can fix ourselves. Now THAT we can do.  I’m not an economic expert, although I do live with one. So I get a daily dose of reality. That makes it important to me to balance the dark with the light. Here are some simple tips for adding more joy to your life…

  • Lonely? Get a dog, cat, turtle, bird or fish. Not kidding.
  • Sad?  Take a look at the people you spend time with. Do they bring you down? Ditch them.
  • Broke? Learn to live lighter. We really don’t need all the StUfF we think we do. Make an attempt to pay down debt. As what’s-his-name-says, “Debt is dumb. Cash is king!”
  • Joyless? Look for simple humor every day. Start writing it down.
  • Depressed? Stop watching the news. Read enough to know what’s going on, but remember what I had to tell my elderly parents:  CNN repeats itself every 30 minutes! Why subject yourself to so much negativity?  Get the facts from several sources, then move on to Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, or Full House reruns.