The Art of Doing Nothing

The Art of Doing Nothing

The Art of Doing Nothing

Guest post by: Leo Babauta

Sure, we all know how to do nothing. We all know how to lay around and waste time. But many of us are too busy to do it much, and when we do it, our minds are often on other things. We cannot relax and enjoy the nothingness.

Doing nothing can be a waste of time, or it can be an art form. Here’s how to become a master, and in the process, improve your life, melt away the stress and make yourself more productive when you actually do work.

Start small
Doing nothing, in the true sense of the word, can be overwhelming if you attempt to do too much nothing at once. Do small nothings at first. Focus on 5-10 minutes at a time, and start your practice sessions in a safe place — at home, not at work or in a busy public place. You may also not be ready to do nothing in the middle of nature, so do it in your bedroom or living room. Find a time and place where there are not many distractions, not much noise, not a lot of people to bother you.

Shut off all distractions — TV, computer, cell phones, regular phones, Blackberries, and the like. Doing nothing is hard when our communications gadgets are calling at us to do something.

Now, close your eyes, and do nothing. Yes, the smart-asses out there will say you’re doing something — you’re sitting there or laying there, closing your eyes. But we mean doing nothing in the sense that if someone were to call us up and ask what we’re doing, we say “Oh, nothing.” Don’t let them call you up, though. They are trying to distract you.

After 5-10 minutes of doing, nothing, you can quit, and go do something. But try to do this every day, or as much as possible, because it is not possible to become a master without practice.

Breathing
The first place to start in the quest for mastery over this art is in your breathing. If this sounds suspiciously like meditation, well, cast those suspicions out of your mind. We are not here to do suspicion — we are doing nothing.

Start first by breathing slowly in, and then slowly out. Now closely monitor your breath as it enters your body, through your nose, and goes down into your lungs, and fills your lungs. Now feel it as it goes out of your body, through your mouth, and feel the satisfying emptying of your lungs.

Do this for 5-10 minutes, if you can. Practice this as you can. When you start thinking about other things, such as how great that darn Zen Habits blog is, well, stop that! Don’t beat yourself up about it, but bring your thoughts back to your breathing every time.

Relaxing
An important part of doing nothing is being able to completely relax. If we are tense, then the doing of the nothing is really for naught. Relaxing starts by finding a comfortable place to do your nothing — a soft chair, a plush couch, a well-made, clean bed. Once you’ve found this spot, lie in it, and wiggle around to make it fit your body better. Think of how a cat lies down, and makes itself comfortable. Cats are very, very good at doing nothing. You may never approach their level of mastery, but they make for great inspiration.

Next, try the breathing technique. If you are not completely relaxed by now (and a short nap would be a great indication of relaxation), then try self massage. Yes, massage is much better when administered by other hands, but self massage is great too. Start with your shoulders and neck. Work your way up to your head and even your face. Also do your back, and legs and arms. Avoid any areas that might lead to doing something (although that can be relaxing too).

Yet another great way of relaxing is an exercise where you tense each muscle in your body, one body part at a time, and then let the tensed muscle relax. Start with your feet, then your legs, and work your way up to your eyebrows. If you can do the top of your head, you may be too advanced for this article.

Once you are relaxed, see if you can relax even more. Try not to relax so much that you lose control of your bodily fluids.

Bathing – an advanced stage
Those who are in the beginning stages of the Art of Doing Nothing should not attempt this stage. But once you’ve become proficient at the above steps, the stage of the Bath can be pretty great.

The bath must be nice and hot. Not lukewarm, but hot. Bubbles are also required, even if you are a man who is too manly for this. Just don’t tell any of your guy friends. Other bath accessories, such as a loofah sponge, or bath gels, or potpourri, are very optional (editor’s note: think hilarious Friends episode).

Again, you must have all distractions shut off. Bathing is also best done if you are alone in the house, but if not, everyone else in the house must know that you CANNOT be disturbed, even if the house is burning down. If they break this sacred rule, you must turn upon them with the Wrath of Hell(tm).

Step into your bath, one foot at a time, very slowly. If your bath is properly hot, it is best if you get into it an inch at a time. For more sensitive body parts, such as the crotchal area, it is best to squeeze your eyes shut tight and slowly lower yourself into the steaming water despite all instincts to flee. Once you are fully immersed (and you should go completely under, head included, at first), close your eyes, and feel the heat penetrating your body.

You may begin to sweat. This is a good thing. Allow the sweat to flow. You may need a glass of water as the sweat could dehydrate you. A good book is another great way to enjoy your bath. Allow your muscles to be penetrated by the heat, to be relaxed completely, and feel all your worries and stresses and aches and inner turmoil flow out of your body into the water.

A hot bath is even more awesome if followed by a bracing cold shower. Either way, get out of the bath once the water is no longer warm and your skin is very raisin-like.

Tasting and feeling
Doing nothing is also great when accompanied by very good beverages or food. Good tea or coffee, wine, hot cocoa, and other sensual beverages go very well with the Art. It’s best to take these beverages by themselves, with no food, and without a book or other distractions. Focus on the liquid as you sip it slowly, savoring every bit of the flavor and texture and temperature in your mouth before swallowing, and feeling the swallow completely. Close your eyes as you do this. Truly enjoy this drink.

Foods are also great: berries, rich desserts, freshly made bread, the best … soup … ever, or whatever it is that you love. Be sure you eat it slowly, savoring every bite. Chew slowly, and close your eyes as you enjoy the food. Feel the texture in your mouth. It is bliss!

Doing nothing in nature

Once you’ve passed the above stages, it is time to practice this gentle art out in nature. Find a peaceful place — in your front yard if that’s peaceful, a park, the woods, at the beach, a river, a lake — places with water are excellent. Places out of reach of the sounds of traffic and city life are best.

Out here in nature, you can practice the art for 20 minutes, an hour, or even longer. There are fewer distractions, and you can really shut yourself off from the stresses of life. Don’t just let your mind wander everywhere — focus on the natural surroundings around you. Look closely at the plants, at the water, at the wildlife. Truly appreciate the majesty of nature, the miracle of life.

Incorporating the Art in daily life
This is the final stage of mastering this Art. Don’t attempt it until you’ve practiced and become competent at the above stages.

Start by doing nothing while you are waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, on a bus, or for a plane. Wait, without reading a newspaper or magazine, without talking on the phone, without checking your email, without writing out your to-do list, without doing any work, without worrying about what you need to do later. Wait, and do nothing. Concentrate on your breathing, or try one of the relaxation techniques above. Concentrate on those around you — watch them, try to understand them, listen to their conversations.

Next, try doing nothing when you drive. Yes, you must drive, but try to do nothing else. Don’t listen to music or news or an audiotape. Don’t multi-task. Don’t talk on your cell phone, don’t eat, and don’t do your makeup. Just drive. Concentrate on your driving, look at the things you are passing, and feel your breathing. Relax yourself, and don’t worry about the other drivers (but don’t crash into them!). Drive slowly, going easy on the gas and brake pedals. This technique has a great side-effect: better gas mileage.

Last, try doing nothing in the middle of chaos, in your workplace or other stressful environment. Just shut everything out, close your eyes, and think about your breathing. Try a relaxation technique. Do this for 5-10 minutes at a time, building up to 20-30 minutes. If you can do this, in the middle of a stressful day at work or with the kids, you will allow yourself to focus more fully on the task at hand. You will be relaxed and ready to concentrate, to bring yourself into a state of flow. (Warning: Doing nothing could get you in trouble with your boss, so be careful! But if it makes you more productive, you boss might not mind.)

Finally, the Art of Doing Nothing cannot be mastered overnight. It will take hours and hours of practice, of hard work (doing nothing isn’t easy!). But you will enjoy every minute of it! Try it today.

Want more tips on staying focused in your life?  See “Minutes of Mindfulness” every Monday.

The Red Flags of Passive-Aggressive Behavior and How to Deal.

Dealing with passive-aggressive folksIt’s lunch time and you try to avoid seeing anyone in the break room as you know what’s going on in there.  The sharks are circling and trying to get any bit of juicy gossip they can feast on…in order to draw more sharks in.

It’s possible you might not even be aware of what is happening as snide comments are masked, and you are left feeling like you were just complimented and insulted at the same time.  Maybe they even said “Relax.  I’m just kidding.” Like that takes away the sting of their hostility.  The truth is, it doesn’t.  They know that what they said was carefully crafted to hurt.  These people have spent years acting this way and to be honest, might have been raised in a home that used tactics in passive-aggressive warfare. 

Passive-aggressive behavior is actually masked in sarcasm, silent treatment, withholding praise, being critical yet complimentary at the same time, arriving late, procrastinating or avoiding responsibility altogether, and basically sugar-coating mean remarks and hostility.

You can be sure of one thing.  This is open hostility towards you. 

If you noticed any of the above red flags of passive-aggressive co-workers, friends, or even family, it might be hard to deal with.  As a matter of fact, you might just want to shut down, but that’s exactly what they are after so I am going to give you a few tips on how to handle this.

5 Ways to Deal with Passive-aggressive Folks:

  1. Name it for exactly what it is.  Do NOT let them make excuses for why they treat you this way.  “Oh you can’t take a joke.  I was only playing.”  In order to make you think it’s your fault.  The truth is, they can feel when their behavior is wrong.  If someone is using shaming tactics, being unreasonable, making you feel uncomfortable deliberately, trust me, they know.  This is a repeated pattern.
  2. Shore your boundaries.  You can’t change them; however, you can change how you interact with them and how much.  Notice where they hang out and who they hang with.  That says loads about them.  Look them in the eye if they are speaking down to you, and stand up straighter.  Give visual and body language clues by making sure your shoulders are back and your head is held high that you are having none of their crap today.  Or any other day.  You don’t want or need that “energetic pooh” in your life.  << That links to my clean energy tips and what “energy pooh” really is.
  3. Notice how you are being and what triggers them.  If you are having a great day, got a great review, the boss patted you on the back or you got special notice, chances are, they’re probably jealous.  Yup.  Triggers their insecurities and bitterness.  I jokingly said today on my FB Live chat “Mama always liked you best” from the Smother’s Brothers, but it is a true trigger for some people.  Whether or not it happens to be true, the person who uses hostile words masked as “fun” is feeling left out or unloved.
  4. Maintain your composure during the “dig”.  Now is the time to practice RBF…resting bitch face.  Only the eyebrows move up a notch, but you just look at them and say nothing.  You aren’t going to change them, but staring at them for a minute usually makes them say more.  If all else fails, you can use humor, or simply walk away.  Want a bit more on what they are trying to do here?  You can read 5 Ways to Spot an Emotional Manipulator.  Or if guilt seems to be used try reading When Guilt is a Weapon<< opens in new tab.
  5. Be mindful of yourself.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of silly little games, but your weapon can be mindfulness.  How is arguing with them going to help?  What are they trying to gain from this?  Making you look bad.  If you engage, they are trying to poke the bear so to speak.  Oh look at what so and so said to me…can you believe it?  They will conveniently leave out all indication they said anything at all.  Just remember that words can be twisted but if you simply look at them and walk away, they have nothing to use against you.

Looking for a supportive group to build yourself up?  Find out more here.  << Click on I need support.

Practicing the Pause Before You Speak.

Social Media can either uplift, inspire, amplify, influence, or shift your moods in the most positive ways; likewise, it can show division, hate, disrespect, ignorance, greed, falsifications, and ways that people think they are living in a much better way than their fellow-man by putting others down. Using words like “all” and “everyone who ever did this__”, and hashtags folks have found which are derogatory, so they feel better in that one moment maybe being part of the mean hashtag club.  In light of many recent events, I just encourage you to practice the pause right now brothers and sisters. The pause is important.

Are you alienating people you once broke bread with? Are your words in hate and anger more important the human being?  Do you feel better arguing on social media or perhaps by doing so you are becoming the very thing you are so vehemently denying?

I spoke to you guys this week on my page about a few things and people commented that I looked a bit tired…maybe sad even.  The leaders/clergy/healers of the world have a lot on their shoulders right now and they aren’t perfect either.  Whatever religion, beliefs, or views you have, I want you to think about a few things before getting into a debate with others on social media.

3 Ways to Practice the Pause:

Is it True?  (How would you know for sure) Is it Necessary? (Is it adding value to your feed) Is it Kind? (if the answer is no…)  This is actually pretty interesting as it comes from a book of Victorian Poems called Miscellaneous Poems by Mary Ann Pietzker published in 1872.  Here is an excerpt:

Is It True? Is It Necessary? Is It Kind?

Oh! Stay, dear child, one moment stay,

Before a word you speak,

That can do harm in any way

To the poor, or to the weak;

And never say of any one

What you’d not have said of you,

Ere you ask yourself the question,

“Is the accusation true?”

And if ’tis true, for I suppose

You would not tell a lie;

Before the failings you expose

Of friend or enemy:

Yet even then be careful, very;

Pause and your words well weigh,

And ask it be necessary,

What you’re about to say.

And should it necessary be,

At least you deem it so,

Yet speak not unadvisedly

Of friend or even foe,

Till in your secret soul you seek

For some excuse to find;

And ere the thoughtless word you speak,

Ask yourself, “Is it kind?”

 

So, my thought is this.  If you are out there shouting the words of someone who does not practice the pause, and deliberately provoking people you once considered a friend, how are you being different from what you are shouting about?  To be honest, I expect those of you reading this do, in fact, practice the pause.  We can only work to change ourselves and most often I have found those who are actively working to change themselves, will reflect on this and think about it in more than one aspect.

Because I want you to have more than one take away here, especially if this brought to mind certain people in your life, I was doing research on how anger affects the brain (for my Club content), and this wonderful PDF is free so while I wanted to share this with my Club, I also want you to have it today.

In a nutshell, the research from The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine outlines how stress hormones affect your body.  Those of you with heart problems acting in anger will elevate your heart rate, blood pressure will rise, arterial tension rises, blood glucose level and blood fatty acid levels will rise as well.  I don’t want you to basically have a stroke over your anger and reactivity.  I also don’t want your headaches to increase (have you noticed that), your stomach to be upset, and your immune system to be weakened all because of how you are reacting to stress.

If this helped you in any way, here are a few tips on how to practice a simple meditation.  <<  Thank you my friends.  I wish you good health.

These 5 Signs Scream Drink More Water!

My youngest daughter recently started running cross-country.  A cross over from soccer as she loved her coach and he coaches girls soccer in the spring, and cross-country in the fall.  She’s been doing an amazing job, until the one race she was in agonizing pain.  I knew that she was running last after being at a meet all morning, but what did I miss?

It suddenly hit me that no one, herself included, remembered to remind the kids to stay hydrated for the last race.  Then, volunteering to march alongside the band for the oldest daughter in a recent parade, a mom told me of a boy cramping and almost passing out during the last parade.  You guys.  What do I always say (to my kids to be embarrassing)?  Hydrate with some high quality H2O!! Yes.  I use The Waterboy.

So now that we have covered this, grab some water right now and read the rest of this.

5 Signs That Your Body Needs More Water:

  1. You actually feel dry.  Dry mouth, dry eyeballs, or dry skin.  Right.  Like you’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name…or something like that.  Sugary drinks are like adding some crack to your brain and are not going to hydrate.  I do not make these facts up.  I just write them in a more interesting way than others.  If you are experiencing itchy eyes and don’t normally have allergies, go for some water.
  2. You feel like you are 80 years old at age 30.  I might be the exception to this because I started to feel old at 23, but really, if you are experiencing joint pain, I learned about this really cool thing called synovial fluid, and hey.  It needs some love.  Sugary stuff is inflammatory to joints.  Chances are you have heard this.  Water is not.  It helps nutrients move through your blood therefore getting to your joints, and not only that, your body’s cartilage is composed of nearly 80% water.  Hmm.  What if it’s not getting any?  Where is it taking nutrients from?  Think about it.
  3. Fatigue like you can’t explain to the average person.  When I was in chronic fatigue, my body had to work twice as hard.  I don’t try to think back on those days of 24/7 pain for like 5 years, but I do know that I wasn’t doing the correct things.  No doctor ever addressed this.  Seriously.  Water brings oxygen into your body.  No one, not one doctor, said you know, mild dehydration causes the blood to thicken.  I started noticing when I went for phlebotomies that my blood was really thick at certain times (not trying to gross you out, but it was part of my life for over 19 years to watch my blood go into a bag, and technically, I still have to keep an eye on it).  I was always so out of it before, and during the nurses would say drink, drink, drink.  One smart nurse finally hooked me up to an IV.  Duh.  That felt better. I didn’t know that my body was sucking the oxygen out from wherever it could find it, thus creating this sort of mini-storm of fatigue, mood swings, and basically quicksand feeling.
  4. You might suffer digestive problems.  Let’s talk about our colons.  They need some acknowledgement for all the shit they put up with.  << I couldn’t resist, but really.  I would be embarrassed about this, but that ship sailed years ago when my friend was diagnosed with colon cancer and had zero history and the only warning was she thought it might have been hemorrhoids.  I know I sound like my college biology teacher, and I can still hear her today, but she would yell to the class your ermmm feces says lots about your health.  Again, if this saves a life, I don’t mind saying stay hydrated and take note of any issues and see a doctor as needed.  Don’t be embarrassed about this as life is too short.
  5. Your headaches are increasing.  A very noticeable sign all the way down to your young child who is in sports.  A theory is that the dehydration feeling causes pressure in your brain to change.  Drink 2-3 cups of water immediately as that helps (in theory) to level out the fluid levels around your spinal cord.  I believe this to be true as I get enormous pressure and, I notice when I urinate that it is not the right color.  Ack!!  Those two go hand in hand.  Dark pee, headaches, drink more water.  Sorry not sorry.  Trying to be helpful and embarrassing at the same time.

The bottom line is, why don’t we talk about this with our health professionals?  Are we too embarrassed to mention these signs?  Our body is showing us in the only way it can that it is of dire importance that we notice the signs and signals it is giving us.  Liked this?  Here are 5 Steps to Being Healthier Today to continue on in this theme.  Just use the search button on the right hand side or the top tab “health” for more.  Want my newsletter?  That’s over there too.

Need anything else to help you today?  Here’s my online catalog.

The Balanced Empath…7 Tools You Need Today!

The Balanced Empath...7 Tools You Need Today!As I scan my feed for just a second, something comes into my line of sight that potentially has energy attached to it that could disrupt my mood.  There are posts about pain, hurting people, animal cruelty and more, but whichever post gets my attention, I know that I have the power to choose how I am going to stay balanced.  It wasn’t always this way though.

I know that I can pick up on the vibrations, moods, auras, energy or however you want to explain it of other people.  What I didn’t realize long ago was that those energies can also be projected through social media and other forms of communication.  Prior to social media being the big thing, I think people had an easier time staying balanced.  However, let’s face it, we have to learn to adjust to the changing times.

Being an empath is hard enough as it is, but becoming one that stays in balance, well, at one time that seemed like a far off dream.  I would fluctuate between happiness, sadness, anger, peace, and calm all in one hour it would seem.  Maybe it was a little bit longer than that, but I know that three years ago, moods came on me like a heavy blanket trying to smother a raging fire.  What I was doing was being swept away in the blaze, and the little bit of control I had seemed non-existent.

I was suffering from anxiety, depression, pain and illness, and 2013 was the catalyst to me letting everything get out of control.  The final straw was in November of that year and by 2014, I had vowed to change everything I was doing.  I was the only one capable of changing things.

The 7 tools I used to create balance in my life:

  1. I started with my mental body (thoughts), and learned how to recognize what was not really mine.  I did this through a variety of ways, but the first thing I tried was meditation.  I wasn’t all that great in the beginning, but I kept at it and even found a local woman who would later become one of my dearest friends who taught guided meditation in a group.  I am so thankful for her guidance during that time.
  2. I learned more about how to stay in the present moment with mindfulnessIt sounds like a buzz word.  I know.  But I started to realize how much time I was spending in moments that would never change.  Time lost to sadness over things I could never possibly go back and fix.  National tragedies, curing cancer, animal cruelty, all those things, well, I could only start with the present moment and love the ones I had now, fix the ones I can, and help those who let me.  << Who let me.  I could not stay in the moment of unbearable sadness and mourn the loss of friends or family who passed too soon.  It was robbing me of this present moment.  Hell, even looking out the window at my daughter’s playhouse was robbing me of the present moment as I was getting sad thinking of times long gone.  So I started to change the way I was thinking and thank those moments and move into the present.  The playhouse disappeared with my blessing (as well as my daughters) and is becoming a new yoga shed.
  3. The mental body was in need of repair.  The pain and suffering of my illnesses had taken a toll on my physical body.  I decided to start restorative yoga, and then gradually move to Vinyasa yoga.  I still wasn’t convinced that it was going to be my thing, but then the decision was made for me and I became a yoga teacher after 200 hours of hard-core training.  I kicked in and gave it all I had, and spent many nights soaking in a tub with new pains, of my own making this time, and the weirdest thing happened.  The pains from the past 5 years started lessening.  I then became certified in yoga for arthritis and pain…and started teaching others that there was a new way to live.
  4. I learned how to ground and stay centered…which was something no one tells you about.  I connected to the breath, the earth and my center.  Centering is literally connecting to your core.  To your essence and really getting focused on your body.  So many times I had felt “floaty” or only half here.  I started using wonderful affirmations, visualization techniques and core rooting that really helped guide me through difficult times.
  5. I learned how to let go of energy that was not mine.  This was a freaking HARD lesson and it was a huge one baby.  You know that angry driver that cuts you off, the office worker who always lies, the boss who tells you what you want to hear?  Poof.  That’s theirs.  The things in the news feed that are evil, angry, and just plain not true?  I started learning how to rise above that kind of mentality and what it meant to truly call upon my own energy and release all the other stuff.  I was in control of what I allowed in.  << Huge lesson.
  6. I gave myself plenty of time to be human…and to forgive.  I was going to occasionally drop my newly created boundaries at times, and things were going to slip.  But I knew that within was a greater power to start back up again…kind of like that tire analogy.  Do you know the one?  Where they say if you have one flat tire, you aren’t going to get angry and slash the other four, right?  Right.  You start back over fixing the one that’s flat.  So I would do energy check-ins and see what had worn me down that day…or week.  Where did I have a leak and what did I need to fix?  What was working in my life?  What wasn’t working?  Same concepts I teach in my Club.
  7. I journaled about nearly everything I could and didn’t stop.  I learned how to dig deeper than I ever thought, how to rephrase the mind, how to shield and protect my energy, and best of all, how to let go of things.  I worked on my emotional well-being with this newly created form of journal therapy.  I worked on the inside and really concentrated on understanding my gifts.  If you are in need of some journal therapy and this post resonated with you, here is something you will love >>> Journaling for Empaths <<<

Highly Sensitive people really have to make an effort every day to realign to the present moment, so I hope these tips help you.  I really expand on them in the Journal for Empaths, and I know that it will be of great benefit to you personally.  Thank you again friends.  ~Aimee

5 Things to Start in a New Month to Re-charge!

5 things to start in a new month to re-chargeI don’t know about you, but I am very thankful to see the start of a new month.  I feel bogged down by all of that old month’s nonsense somehow.  Like “get it out of here already” and let’s begin fresh.  Although to be perfectly honest, it could have to do with looking at your bank account at the end of the month and seeing how many “friends” you have in there and wanting them to invite more friends over there so you know, it’s not lonely.

So whee, start of a new month. I feel re-charged with the first day in a new month.  Like it has its own energy and I am going to plug into that.  So I wanted to share with you my tips on how you can use this in your own life.

For inquiring minds, it doesn’t matter if you are single, have kids, don’t have kids, have pets, have no pets except for dust bunnies, whatever.  This really relies on you.  I need you to get that concept like you need air to breathe.  The start of changing and re-charging is always up to you and it can be done at anytime you choose.  So with that in mind…here we go.

5 Things to Start to Re-charge:

  1. Embrace the morning.  Look.  I get it.  I actually do considering I have the Vampire disease and I really am a night person, but I have been setting my alarm clock back 5, 10, then 15 minutes earlier.  Why?  What does this do for you?  First, please use a real alarm clock.  Everyone who watches my videos knows I say this.  It gives back the power and takes it away from your phone.  Any number of things can and do go wrong with technology anyway, but the worst is checking out what everyone else is doing before you check in with yourself.  << Busted.  Seriously.  The urge to check-in on social media is an addiction that only you can start to change when you get fully centered in your own routines that don’t involve the phone being the first thing you check.
  2. Start with gratitudeSo this morning, as the sleepiness was wearing off, and I stretched in bed, I was thankful for my favorite flannel sheets that I use no matter what the temperature is outside.  I embraced my eyes opening, and said thank you for today.  I did a body scan quickly, and told my body how I wanted it to act today.  << This is something I teach in my club about the power of positive thinking and using it to manifest the desires we wish to see come true in our lives.  It’s kind of a long story about how I used to feel when I woke up, but for those of you who are new here, feel free to read this later >> About me <<.  I continued to say thank you for the blessings in my life as I got out of bed.
  3. Have a plan for your meals.  I start this off when school starts again in the fall because in the summer, its fresh veggies and fend for yourself.  However, there’s strength in planning as you don’t see the worst foods in your fridge and grab those…well if you do, it’s at least because you wanted it instead of there was nothing to eat.  I am certified in sports nutrition, but even I struggle with staying on track.  Because I am gluten intolerant and do still have autoimmune disease, I get that life isn’t always fair.  So in order to go around that thinking, I have everything that supports me fully in front of me.  Like 5 foods to boost my mood <<< Read later:)  A new month means a new plan for my fridge, which oddly enough, makes me feel so good!
  4. Move your body!  People who are not used to exercise are often drawn to my style of group coaching.  Why?  Because I get that you don’t want to move when you are in pain, but the benefits outweigh the negatives.  So this summer, I started a new program for myself and I was in some pain of my own making.  And you know what?  That actually feels freaking amazing compared to the pain of dis-ease.  My youngest daughter started to run cross-country as well and her results have been amazing.  Her entire energy changed.  She came home full of those great “runner’s high” endorphins and her entire mood was different.  She was doing things she didn’t think she could do so naturally this boosted her head, heart and health.  Get your friends, fam and anyone else out there walking with you.  No one said you have to start big, and if you need help, check out my baby steps program >>> 4 Weeks to Wellness <<< for a great start to your month.
  5. End your day with journaling.  The research on this alone is astounding as some of you know that I am a former teacher who loves brain based research.  Since starting my own personal journal practice in 2015, my life has changed for the better.  when thoughts struggle to overtake me, I do my yoga breathing, get centered and journal it all out.  I create my world based on how I want it to be and I start to remove my own blocks on paper.  The research on this is that we are using language more and thinking about how to remove these blocks thus improving our immune function as well.  << Seriously.  Writing also has critical connections to speaking, and your communication improves from the “dumbing down” we have seen due to technology and using abbreviations.  << Don’t be mad, it’s not my research, but it is true.  You can use this technique with your entire family if you want and measure the results in as little as 3 months.  Memory starts to improve, comprehension, and more. 

If you are interested in learning more about how journaling changed my life and continues to be my constant go to as I obtain clarity, sort through things that come up in a completely different way, capture inspiration and really sort through my emotions to achieve happiness, find out more here.

>> The Club with Soul <<

I really hope this inspires you to start living your best life right now.  I know that if I can do it, and turn my life around, so can you.  ~Aimee

Healing the Doormat Ways…3 Tips on Getting Up Again.

Healing the Doormat WaysWhat is a doormat personality?  It is someone who believes they are actually unworthy of boundaries.  The people pleasing behavior is there and it doesn’t ruffle feathers.  There is a desire to be accepted that is so strong that it seems to override the part of the brain that says “Hey, you are better than this.  Say something!”

Where does this come from?  It could come from a past history of feeling abandoned, ridiculed to the point of low self-esteem, or it could actually just be there with one particular person for reasons unknown to you, but you recognize it, and want things to change.

As we work towards healing the doormat ways, you have to understand that this is not an overnight process, but a work in progress, and that’s perfectly okay.  Once you have recognized the signs, know that there are things you can do to change yourself, but not the other person.  You can only ever work to change yourself and this is a key factor here.  The other person will not change, so repeat this to yourself.

It is important to recognize these 3 key thought patterns and work on yourself, not them.

3 Tips on Healing the Doormat Ways:

  1. Recognize when you are going into victim mentality.  It might be like this in your head “I am not at fault here.  I had nothing to do with that.”  Sometimes, the truth is hard.  It is harder still when you start to look at the facts of what is happening objectively and you actually see your involvement in a situation.  Maybe you haven’t been all that clear in your interactions with someone and you thought that things were implied. This leads to you not having to take a stand and then it loops back around to the victim thinking.  You never actually had to say out loud how you felt, but it was implied, therefore you didn’t actually have to involve yourself in life’s disappointments and feelings.  I know that sound complicated right now, but think about it.  Does everyone know where they stand with you when you feel disappointed?  Next time, use I feel statements.  I feel cornered when you don’t call ahead and just show up here asking me to babysit. It puts me in a difficult situation.  There.  It’s out.  Not implied.
  2. Set boundaries that you admire.  We are each responsible for our own boundaries, and sometimes we “wish” we could be like someone else.  So if you admire someone and how they handle situations, think about what it is that you actually admire.  Do you like the way they say no without apologizing?  Write that down on a list.  Do you like the way they tell their friends that their kids can’t ruin their couch by eating on it?  Write it down.  Maybe it’s how they handle relationships and boundaries.  Now apply these thoughts to your life.  No, we can’t change other people nor can we become other people, but we can take some cues from them and start to apply the good parts to our own lives.  In this situation remember this, the clearer you are on what you want to allow in your life and what you want to repel from your life, the clearer your energy is.  Your thoughts, actions and body language will start to reflect it.  You are working on you.  No one else is going to do this for you.  So use this list only to work on yourself, your actions, and your thoughts.
  3. Start learning how to detach from approval.  This one is going to take some time and will not happen overnight.  Grab your journal and write approval in the middle of the page.  What does it feel like to you?  Circle it and branch off with why you want it, how it feels, and what it does for you.  Okay, good.  Next, write dislike on a page.  How does that feel?  Branch off, and keep going.  What is the worst thing that can happen if you are disliked?  Did you write it down?  This part is going to be uncomfortable as growth often is.  Growth can be disguised as struggle and pain.  So for just a minute, think about how it is going to feel when you start to stand up for yourself.  And then you keep doing it over and over again.  Interestingly enough, the feelings of standing up for yourself will be similar to the ones under the approval cluster.  Only this time, you will have created those feelings for yourself.

As you begin to make this change to your inner self, your outer self will start to reflect it as well.  Note that people in your life, especially narcissistic ones, are not going to like this change and they might start to fall away…and that’s okay.  You are now learning how to meet your own needs and make boundaries that are appropriate for you, not them.  You might start to see less of them, and eventually not see them at all.  The people who are meant to be in your life will now have more of a clear space and that my friend, is where you will find peace and balance.  Looking for more tips on creating balance in your life and taking back your life?  Check out the >> Club with Soul. << where journal therapy, meditations, yoga poses for beginners (even if you have never tried it and don’t move much), and tutorials are available to you 24/7.

Want to Make Friends After 40? Try these tips.

Want to make friends after 40?  Hey.  Want to be my friend?  Sure.  And you go off…hand in hand into the sunset to play with pieces of bark, climb the jungle gym, or skip rope.  I just made a new friend like this yesterday.  Actually, that’s not true.  I wish it was.

As you enter what seems like a new era in your life, making friends should be this easy, right?  Not so.  I feel like I am personally stuck in some limbo place where I don’t know what to do.  My girls are both, ahhh, both going to be in high school now.  However, some of my friends have younger kids.  They seem to have more time to meet new people because they are in that “I still have to drive everywhere, and go to play dates, etc” phase.

I also have friends who don’t have children, or have kids who have been out of the house a long time.  I want to let you in on a little secret.  This in-between limbo place is hard.  I feel like other people have it together in this area, and I look around and wonder if I just don’t “people” well.  I probably don’t to be honest because I don’t fit in with the norm…and I like it that way to a certain extent.  Working alone doesn’t give me time to socialize face to face.

The difference now, is that people who are in their 40’s actually remember a time when we used to get together.  A time when we had dinner parties, house warmings, Christmas open houses, or just come by for a beverage nights.  So what can someone do to make new friends and rekindle this lost art of socializing?

How to make friends after 40:

  1. You have to be open to the possibility.  Meaning, it might take you out of your comfort zone and you might actually have to say “Hey.  That looks like fun.  Can I come too?”  <<< Now I know this seems like you are inviting yourself, but you are reaching out to see what the response is.  New friendships don’t just happen and maybe there seems to be the same ole’ crew doing things, and they aren’t aware that you might like to come to.  You can hint at it, but I actually suggest just outright saying that you’d be interested in x, y, or z event as well.  See what happens from there.  I bet they didn’t think you’d be interested.
  2. Announce it on your status.  Sadly, most people will read your status before they call, text or ask you what’s up, right?  So say “Hey.  I am thinking about getting a paint night together on x date.  Comment if you’re in.”  Boom.  You have a night out planned.
  3. Make a private list in your journal of what you like to do and what types of people you actually want to attract.  I don’t cross-stitch.  I just threw that out there because I am not going to find new friends at a sewing circle.  I do yoga, hike, walk in the woods (almost the same thing, but not quite), drink wine, be a hermit, go to the mountains, read books, garden, write, journal, listen to 80’s music, pet dogs, be a geek, like to eat food that’s gluten-free, and occasionally paint bad paintings at expensive paint nights.  I could go on, but you get my drift.  I would like to attract people who kind of like the same things as me or at least have a few things in common with me.  The hermit part is actually important because I need friends who ask me to do things, yet understand if I say no because insert hermity excuse.  << it doesn’t mean I don’t want to see people, it just means not then.
  4. Join online groups of like-minded people.  After you have your list, check out places like Meetup.com and/or local FB groups.  Also, you can always volunteer at a local museum or hospital.  What if there’s nothing on the list that you like?  Start your own if you want.  Announce in those NextDoor app places that you are having a book club on x night to read Harry Potter again for the 100th time and anyone who wants to discuss the new things you found after this 100th reading can come over.  Wear your house colors though.

Some people say that it’s a matter of lifestyle and what’s important to you.  That if you want to make friends, you really will find a way, not an excuse.  I agree with that to be honest.  I know that I use excuses to back out of things (I’m in a nest today.  I’m writing.  It’s cold.), but lately I looked up and felt panic.  Holy Crap.  My kids are almost in college.  I need to make more of an effort.  And I do believe there’s time for us all to make more of an effort no matter your age.  So let go of the “My house is a mess” excuse, and start planning an event.  I’ll bring the wine or gluten-free snacks.  If you tell me I can wear my pajamas over that’s a plus.

Interested in uniting separately in your own homes to work together with my like-minded journal therapy group?  Read more here >>> HHH Club <<<

The Steps I took to Change my Life

 

Sometimes, my mind starts to wander and I think back to the year that my skin was on fire night and day.  I have tried very hard to block those memories out, so maybe you have no idea why this blog is called “The Burned Hand”.  I remember getting the incurable disease and thinking that my life was completely over at just 23 years old.  I feel like Ygritte whispering that I know nothing at that age.  And I didn’t.

I think back to the years that I had my children, and knew that I was so extremely fatigued it wasn’t normal and that I was not “bouncing back” from childbirth.  Then the second blood test and the news I had one more incurable disease, okay.  Not shocking, I already knew.  And more phlebotomies yearly would be needed.

I think back to the year my career as a teacher really started taking off and I was known as Mrs. Happy.  I had finally done it!  I changed my outlook on life and working with invisible diseases wasn’t going to stop me.  And then I started getting violently ill after eating.  I couldn’t look at food.  I looked pregnant all the time and my stomach was distended.  I started having severe allergy attacks, and I had vertigo for 3 weeks.  I spiraled down into a place of pain.  No one could touch my skin again, only this time was worse.  The base of my neck to the sitting bone was on fire.  I felt every single vertebrae as if it was on fire and begging to be put out like a living, breathing thing.

My shoulder went out.  My hip went out.  I couldn’t walk and I took a leave of absence from teaching, for presumably, a year.  I told everyone that, but I knew I was never going back.  I knew.  I actually thought that I was going to stay in that place of pain for a very long time, if not forever. 

I was diagnosed then with an autoimmune disease (just barely they said) and “fibromyalgia” due to the 18 points of pain that were in my body.  Didn’t I want to take pain meds for the rest of my life?  No.  No, I didn’t because I already had one disease that could mess with my liver and I wasn’t going to chance this.  It was at this point, that I realized I was screwed.  I had two options.  Get better or become something I didn’t recognize anymore…wait!  I already was.

The post will continue, but you can open these in new tabs if you are interested for later:

So life beats you down folks.  It does.  And it will over and over again if you let it.  What you do after this is up to you.  So here’s the point in my story that I don’t share much, but I was sitting on the couch in those early years, which yes, I wrote through the pain in 2013, but it barely scratched the surface, anyway, and I knew that I had a choice to make.  Get up and live.  Other people surely had as many diseases as I did, okay, I didn’t know anyone at the time, but surely they existed.  So I would live and change my life for them and show them that it could really be done.  I could do it.

One more test would come back in this puzzle that explained that on a purely cellular level I was not processing things correctly, but at that point, I didn’t care anymore.  I already knew I was different, and I was going to move forward.  So here comes the point where I tell you the steps I took.

The Steps I took To Change My Life:

  1. I decided I was going to change.  <<< This is the biggest one that you have to learn.  No one, and I do mean no one, can force you to change.  Period.  If you are waiting for your sign and this post is speaking to you, please write down on your calendar “Day I decided to change and live my life.”  <<<  Seriously.  You’ve got this.
  2. Stop making excuses and lying to yourself.  I will get out of the house tomorrow.  I will join the gym in a few months.  I will try yoga next month.  I will eat better after the “holidays”.  I will…yup.  Said them all.  Been there done that.  I made a plan, and then I stuck to it.  I called it 4 Weeks to Wellness and when each week was over, I would start back again.  Slowly and surely repeating the things I needed to change.  Fitness, I had to move.  Nutrition, I learned what was causing all that pain, balance, what was that anyway? and finally, self-care which was really lacking.
  3. I learned to be thankful for what I already had.  This one was hard.  Not that I wasn’t thankful, but I was so angry.  I was mad at the universe for giving me this life…never really thinking I had that much control over it all, but I was so very wrong.  I was wrong.  I woke up and started a gratitude practice even in my darkest hours.  I couldn’t sleep, but I would roll over and pull myself off.  I would not think of the pain, if it came in I shut it down with these words “Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.”  I almost crawled to the bathroom with my eyes shut tight and said I will not insert the F word, think about this F word pain.  When i opened them on my bathroom mirror was the mantra “I am healing”.  Then I would say that to myself every single day.  Also, side note, my girls started to use dry-erase marker like I taught them and left mama messages to read on the mirror.  I was living for them and my husband and I was going to succeed.
  4. I started back to yoga.  I am thankful that someone took the lead in this and initiated my Yoga Teacher Training.  Can you imagine hardly being to move and going to yoga?  I almost said no a thousand times.  I almost quit a thousand times.  I would soak in the tub and almost cry out from pain at doing it, but I would not give up.  I would walk slowly and I would do the best I could, but I would finish that damn training.  I would and I did in June of 2015.  I went on to become certified as well in yoga for arthritis and pain.
  5. I started helping others.  I already had my FB page, but it just wasn’t enough.  How could I connect with others who could change their lives just by thinking about it, writing about it through my new journal therapy, starting a gratitude practice, and with sheer grit, take control of their heads, hearts and health?  I took some money and invested in a platform to build an online community.  I called it the Head|Heart|Health Club and I was going to make it work.  In January of 2017, I opened my doors to everyone who might want help, and I haven’t really looked back.

So if you are new here to the blog, welcome.  I really wanted you to know who I was before, who I am now, and what I am hoping to accomplish for the future of healing yourself.  I know you can do it.  Please stay in touch with me here <<< and get my monthly updates by newsletter if you’d like.  ~Aimee

Save

Feeling Lost? Are You Open for Help?

Are you open for help?

I was thinking about how hard it is to ask others for help.  Maybe this isn’t the case with you, but if you clicked on this, I think you were meant to read it.  You see I like to help others, I really do.  The weird thing is, I tend to isolate myself when I need help.

Why is being open for help so hard?

I think one of the reasons it is hard to ask others for help is because we assume society is going to see us as something less.  Truly.  Here is a wee example of a similar mindset.  My youngest has inherited my luck at finding faithful and true friends.  They are out there, and I do have my Unicorn (the one friend you can always call on no matter what), but right now, being a teenager is hard for her.  I went through this as well.

Scenario:  I have to be partners with x mom.  I know she left me out about 3 times, but I am okay with this.  Okay?  Don’t say anything.  I am fine.  <<< Not really, but okay.

So what advice would you give your teenage self if you could go back?

Don’t be the freaking Martyr. Seriously.  I told her to suffer in silence as this person continues to blow her off is not okay.  That is good advice for a teen and good advice for adults as well.  Be open and honest about the fact that being used is definitely not okay.

It is okay to not be okay.  Why do we have to say “No really.  I’m fine.”  If you aren’t fine, you aren’t fine.  No shame attached.  People who make you feel shame have had that passed down to them.  They were told to stuff it so often that they truly have stuffed their feelings inside.  Don’t let that be you.

Sit with it a while.  As the mom of not one, but two teenage daughters, I realize that occasionally I want to put on my armor and run into battle for them.  I need to sit down.  They need to sit down.  We all need to sit down.  Just be for a moment and see what happens.

Write about it.  I give everyone a journal.  I tell everyone to journal.  Ever since my red plastic Hello Kitty Diary days with the locking mechanism that got stuck, I journal.  I was around 6…seriously.  I also remember writing something that made me feel bad for the first time ever.  I “heated” someone I wrote.  Whew.  They had made me feel bad, made fun of me, and hit me.   So I heated them right back…and that made me feel bad.  That was the first time I can remember that I knew that wasn’t the answer to my problems.

Talk it out.  Now comes the time when we really need a good talking to.  NOT a private message.  NOT a series of short texts my people.  A chat.  A sit down.  People.  Don’t isolate if the problem is not going away.  The first thing I say to my girls is “Did you really talk?  Not a text??”  We can read into the words what we feel.  Not how they are intended.

Seek help.  If the situation hasn’t magically improved by doing the work above, it really is okay to say that you need some help or ideas in learning how to handle your problems.  Especially if it leads into the area of depression or thoughts of harm.  Have a list of trusted people.  Don’t have one?  Private Message or call a friend you trust especially if you know they have seen a mental health professional in your area.  Don’t want to do that because you want to stay private?  Use your friend “Google” and read the testimonials of the folks or reviews.

In the end, of course there are things we would all do differently, but today here is your most valuable lesson.  You did the best you could with the knowledge you had at the time, and now you might have different thoughts, but it is time to let it go.  If you need help moving on, ask.

Are you open for help?

Interested in monthly content that can help shift your thoughts and move you to a new direction?  Want to change old patterns of thought?  Looking for a safe environment geared to your needs?  >>> Learn More <<<