The Good News!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com Like my OCD friend Clifford: for some of us, life hasn’t changed much…

“It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.” – Viktor E. Frankel, Man’s Search For Meaning

Ok. What good news? Everything is about the Coronavirus – and it’s just bad, bad, bad…isn’t it?

Actually, no! Read on to see what’s good

But first, I assure you that, as mentioned in a previous post (Feeling Fear-Less), I take this situation very seriously. Getting sick is not enjoyable, and dying is not a light-hearted subject. However, a positive attitude and a sense of humor may not only boost immunity, but also, make living far more enjoyable.

History abounds with stories of survivors and thrivers who’ve used humor to elevate not only their own spirits but the spirits of those around them. From cancer survivors binge-watching comedies to concentration camp interns finding the laughable in the bizarre.

Personally, I’ve chatted with Malaysian and Korean veterans who remarked particularly on the humor of Australian soldiers fighting beside them in wartime. They commented that the self-effacing, politically incorrect, irreverent humor of the Aussies gave them daily belly-laughs and helped them get through very tough times.

And then there’s the Serbian man I spoke with about his experience during the Croatian War of Independence. He described how people got so fed up with being huddled in fear while listening to bombs hitting neighboring houses, that they rounded up candles, organized a makeshift theater, and people performed, sang songs, and laughed…

Going through a war in your head? Let’s find the upside of the economic and social downturn!

The Good in the “Bad”

  • You’re stuck at home workingHey! You’re working! Saving gas and commute time, having less carbon impact on the environment…Also, for women (mainly), we’re saving so much on cosmetics, dry cleaning, and laundry detergent for work clothes! Even if you do Zoom or Skype for meetings – you really only need to wear a top – so you’re also saving at least 1/2 your laundry detergent!
  • You’re stuck with family 24/7Perfect opportunity to get to know each other better and do some of the things you’re always wanted to do with them but never had time because you were commuting/stuck in traffic…And if they’re driving you nuts, it’s a great excuse to have a little extra vino. Sante!
  • No hairdresser – You get to see your natural beauty, learn to love your natural self more, and save money! And if you have grays or dark roots growing back, now’s your chance to have fun with hats. Bonus: Your partner sees your new look (change keeps it fresh) and things get spicy again…She can be Rapunzel, and he can be Prince Valiant…
  • No mani-pedi – You get to save money, let your nails breathe and get healthy (mine have become pinker!). Seriously though, I’ve never seen my nails so healthy! (Tip: Rub coconut or olive oil into them daily after a shower or bath.) Plus, no nail polish, polish remover, resins, etc. = fewer toxins absorbed into my body through my skin and nails!
  • Long lines at grocery stores – I’m actually using up what’s in my cupboards and refrigerator before going back to a store, so I’m saving money, getting creative with what I have, and there’s less waste…Who knew there was a jar of Kashmiri Curry behind the peanut butter and tins of tuna!. Also, having cupboards that have less in them means less clutter. From the perspectives of Feng Shui and Zen, this is really good for positive energy flow! Here’s a funny guide to decluttering.
  • No gym – Getting out in fresh air, nature (beaches, hikes, etc.), and sunshine for walks is one of the greatest things you can do to boost health and immunity. Plus, many people are losing weight just from doing this alone! In fact, I see whole families pounding the pavement now and changing shape! (Note: All shapes are beautiful – like a fruit salad we are apples, pears, bananas, durian etc. – but some shapes and fruits, are healthier for our hearts!)
  • Less income – Less spending! “A penny saved is a penny earned”, it is a wise adage. So it all equals out. In a way.
  • Less shopping – Being forcefully weaned of shopping addiction is so good for so many people (ahem)…Go through your closet and repair, recycle, and rediscover old faithfuls. And Cinderella – those designer shoes that you wore 10 years ago but no longer fit your feet…donate them now! Guys, when a shirt has a perma-ring of dirt on the collar, or is fraying at the edges, or clings to your body like a shrunken wetsuit – it’s just gotta go…
  • Can’t.Travel. Anywhere. – Ok, internet surfers and couch vegetables, your time has come! Take virtual tours of exotic locales and find exciting activities to do as a family, without stepping out of your home! Check it! Going to “virtual” France? Warm up some croissants for your couch trip! Going to Italy? Mac ‘n Cheese qualifies as a pasta dish! Going to Australia? Barbecue ANYTHING!

What have you noticed or think is funny right now? Go ahead and share your humor in the comments section – we can always do with more laughs!!

Take care, and best wishes for the health of you and your loved ones…Keep rocking!

Aloha,

Lara

Are You Really Awake To Life? (Or Sleepwalking Through?)

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

You’ve heard about people who can sleep with their eyes open? Amazing, right? What about people who sleepwalk and do activities such as brush their teeth or make a sandwich while they’re still asleep? There’s another kind of sleep walking that’s more common, and more dangerous: Going through life unconsciously. Is this you?

I’m talking about that autopilot, dismissal of the present or apathetic “I just wanna get through the day/week/month” type of sleepwalking. At times, I haven’t even been aware of doing it. Now that I am, it’s a whole new world. (Thank you, Prem.)

The Urgency of Living Consciously

Average age of death in U.S.: 78.54 years. If you are lucky and live to be 80, you will have lived 29,200 days. How many days have you used up so far? It’s time to wake up to the incredible gift and treasure that YOUR life is – each and every day!

How Are You Being?

People often ask “How are you doing?” That’s nice. Truly. But we focus so much on what we are doing and less on how we are feeling – how we are being.

Our inner lives ultimately reflect our outer lives. We think before we create. But a lot of advice is given on how to use our thoughts, and imagination on creating what we want to manifest materially in the world. Yet, if we don’t focus on our inner lives and being happy within, what good is all that we manifest materially?

If our being is happy, then our doing becomes a joyful reflection of that and what we feel drawn to do and accomplish is driven by our hearts. When we do what we truly love, work becomes play, we enjoy and become better at what we do, and material rewards will come to say “Thank you”. What we put into the world, we get back. Ultimately, giving is getting. What are you giving yourself?

Are You Conscious of Your Thoughts?

I love a bumper sticker I’ve seen on a car. It read: “Don’t believe everything you think.”

It’s a great reminder of how thoughts and ideas are just that. Things that come to mind based on so many variables in our experiences. And our experiences and observations are subjective and selective. I like to think of this as being a passenger in a vehicle and only looking out the window on your side. What are we missing out on seeing from the window on the other side? Even if I turn my head to look out the other side, I’m now missing what was on my side. We just can’t see and know everything. The more we learn the more we realize that there’s so little we know.

But what we DO know is that we have all of these thoughts in our heads, and we can decide what we choose to think. Why not think in a way that elevates your life and those around you?

Elevating Conscious Thoughts

The words in our heads are either loving or negative. What percentage of your “self-talk” is positive and what percentage is negative? You may not even be aware of the amount of negative, limiting or counter-productive thoughts in your head every day.

Once you start observing your thoughts, don’t get stressed over trying to get rid of all of the negative thoughts – they are sneaky, and will creep in from time to time despite your best efforts. It’s good to recognize the most pervasive negative thoughts and simply replace them with postitive ones.

Example 1: “Oh, that was so dumb” Replace with: “Oh, that’s funny/interesting/different!”

Example 2: “I keep trying and I just can’t…” Replace with: “Ah, how strong of me to keep putting effort towards what I want. Let’s try a new approach.”

Example 3: “I hate…about myself.” Replace with: “I’m the most beautiful me there has ever been or ever will be.”

Another way to deal a negative thought: Stand up to it! Remember, you’re the boss. Say “Hey! What are you doing in my head? You’re a negative thought and I’m only hiring positive ones. Sorry. Bye bye.”

I try to catch myself when I say things like “I should be doing this” or “I should be doing that”. Why is “should” negative? Because it’s reprimanding yourself for things you’re not doing but think they are the “correct “ things to do according to your own intellectual reasoning or according to what you’ve been told by others. The problem with this is that tension is created within you (a push to do something and at the same time a pull away from doing it).

Sometimes “should” can also be a placebo – a pill that has no intrinsic potency, but may psychologically dull your pain. (Or if you berate yourself, it could be akin to self-flagellation…but I digress.) You feel a little better by acknowledging that you know something that would be good/useful/prudent to do, but at the same time, you’re not actually doing anything to produce a result.

The solution is to eliminate “should”. First decide, being absolutely honest with yourself, if you really want to do a thing or not. If the answer is “Yes”, then look at what the obstacle is. Is it fear, a feeling of being overwhelmed or tired? Getting to the root of the issue means that you can now take steps to overcome it.

For example, you think: “I really should get to the gym” but you don’t go. Perhaps the issue is really that you feel you will be judged by others at the gym because you’re carrying some extra pounds.

Now, you can first decide if you really want to lose weight. Many people are actually quite happy with a few pounds more then the media says is attractive (if you need to lose pounds for health – that’s another issue). So don’t pressure yourself. Enjoy your choice!

However, if you want to lose weight but feel shy going to the gym, think of ways to counteract that, so you can achieve what you want. You could go to a gym at off-peak hours, start with exercise videos at home until you feel more comfortable and the urge to expand your exercise becomes greater than your fear of what you think people will think. (A lot of people will be thinking “Good for you!”) Or you could start with swim/aquatic classes so your body is submerged during the class. You could also call the gym and ask for exercise classes that have people your size in them (if that makes you uncomfortable – ask for “beginner” classes).

Rewording Self-Talk Gets Rewards

What to do when you hear yourself saying “I should…”?
Try saying this instead: “I want to…”

Next, decide how you will: “I will…”

Include “when”. Be specific, not “When I get a chance” (haha). It could be “When I get home tonight”, but a time or time frame is best: At 6 pm or from 6 pm to 7pm.

For those who balk at exact times (some people feel too constrained), you could try looking at a time not as something pinning you down but a date with an activity to empower you, and create a better experience in your life.

If there’s a task that seems daunting, remember that a meal is eaten one bite at a time. Do you sit down to a meal and focus on having a clean plate? Or do you sit down and look forward to enjoying each bite of it?

The same thing with any project/learning/studies/activity you want to do (not ”should” do”). Assign a specific time to take a bite out of that task. Remind yourself that you’re doing the task because you WANT to do it. Keep chipping away regularly and you’ll find that it gets done faster and more happily than expected. This is how I wrote my first book. What seemed daunting, became a joy as each day I committed to writing a specific number of words – without trying to be perfect or focussing on how far I had to go. I found joy in those moments, that day.

So we know we want to do something, does it matter why?

Yes.

If why we’re doing something aligns with adding meaning, joy or love to our lives, then it’s a greater motivator than “Other people do it” or “I don’t know what else to do” etc. Why are you doing the things in life you’re doing?

Being conscious of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, brings lucidity to your life.

Sleepwalking through life is going to feel like so much time has been wasted and that won’t make you happy. Some people say you shouldn’t have regrets! Really? I believe in not wallowing in regret and wasting precious time being miserable in the present – but if regret is seen as simple awareness of how you don’t want to be or don’t want to live your life then it’s actually a valuable insight and motivator.

We do what we do for the reason we gave ourselves at the time. When we gain new understanding, we make different choices.

Suggestions

  • Work with what you know now!
  • Work on your relationship with yourself and with others for rewards that go beyond material gain.
  • Do what you can with what resources/skills/mentors you have available to you now.
  • Don’t dwell on the past or future, dwell in the present.

You only know you have today, for sure. Awaken to each moment of it. This is a way to live with 20/20 vision.

Aloha,

Lara

Feeling Fear-less

The Joy of Sand

I don’t feel fear. Am I stupid? Crazy? In my 20s? (I don’t think so. Sometimes. Um, no.)

This is a time that is difficult in different ways for people. Some may have a job, food or money but be stressed by fear and suffering from negativity and arguments within their families. While others may be more worried about feeding their kids after losing their jobs, than avoiding the corona virus.

My heart goes out to everyone in any situation that threatens to rob them of the joy of life.

What do we have in common? There is a thief among us. The thief is fear.

What can be done about it?

Fear needs to feed on something to stay alive in our minds. When people are cooped up indoors for long periods of time, not only can they get on each other’s nerves, but also, watching news and social media sites can feed fear through misinformation, exaggeration, and pushing people’s emotional buttons.

Fear or worry in and of itself isn’t going to benefit us in any way. In fact it can make a bad situation worse by making us sick before the virus comes anywhere near us. How? In psychology it’s termed psychosomatic illness. It’s when stress and your emotional imbalance for extended periods causes changes in your physiology that results in a physical illness. In other words : your mind makes your body sick

The antidote to fear is positive action. Do, think (this is an action), be – in a way that isn’t fearful. What we focus on, we experience. The more we focus on particular thing, the more we increase it’s effect on our mind and emotions. When our focus isn’t on fear, we aren’t experiencing fear.

So focus on looking for joy, seek out what or whoever makes you laugh (call them!), exercise, meditate or listen to uplifting music. There is so much in life that is beautiful and joyful if only we look for it.

I know that it’s hard to be joyful when you’re looking for enough food to eat. I’ve been there. But because I was in a situation I had no control over (as a child you are totally dependent), I came to accept that the hunger wasn’t going to go away (anytime soon), and so I turned to nature and my imagination to feed my soul. I was living in the outback, which might look desolate to the casual observer, but to me, it was alive with all kinds of creatures and interesting, twisted, leafless trees.

Our response to our conditions can not only save us, but also, uplift us.

Now, instead of going into details of all of the hardships I suffered, I just want to draw attention to the fact that, if you let it, the human spirit can not only be resilient, but on a deep level, it can be awakened to an unconditional appreciation and love of life. This appreciation and love can be found at anytime and in any situation because it is within us.

I’m feeling joyful and peaceful. It’s as if the outside world has again forced me to go inside, not only physically, but spiritually too. The current situation can be seen as a wonderful opportunity to refocus and refresh the soul. We can’t control outside forces such as viruses or what other people do, but we can control what we think and feel.

Right now, you are alive. I am alive. And I choose not to allow this virus (or fear of it) take away the life that I have at this moment. It is precious, and not to be wasted. I choose not to be scared, worried and miserable in this moment. I could be, but then it would have won, whether I’m sick or not.

We’re All Big Kids

Something struck me as I watched my toddlers at a gym class they attended (before I took them out of it for safety): the “Independent Play Time” could be an analogy for life. Large buckets of toys were brought out for about 3 minutes (I timed it), and they were supposed to play with them (while parents/guardians watched from the sidelines). When the time was up and the buckets were taken away, the toddlers variously cried, got angry, ran after the buckets or refused to give up any toys they were holding.

Like life, we get to play with things until the time is up. We all react differently when we realize the end has come (talk to nurses in a hospice), and there can be great stress. Although we actually face the possibility of death every day, we probably don’t think about this when we get in our cars. Now, with the possibility of death from a virus, many people are very fearful.

Perhaps what we should be more fearful of is not living each day of our lives fully.

If we saw life as “Independent Play Time” and told ourselves each day that we know we have this day to play our hearts out, would this change the quality of our lives? Oh, yes. Absolutely.
Living fully, joyfully, and gratefully in this moment that I’m alive is the best thing I can do for myself and my family.

So what does it mean to live fully? Being conscious of the incredible beauty of life all around, the kindness of friends and neighbors, the laughter of my toddlers, and the warmth of my husband’s hugs. Drinking in those moments and allowing them to sink into my bones brings me joy. I go for a walk and see a flower that is so vivid in hue, exquisite in design, and with a most gorgeous scent, it brings a tear to my eye. I smell the less-polluted air and see families exercising together.

You may think, “Ok, that’s nice but these times are stressful and I argue with my family, so where’s the joy in that?”

Well, why argue? Why get angry? Choose another option. It’s always possible.

We are often reactive and behave in a knee-jerk, automatic way. There are probably some go-to comments or facial expressions that you have a habit of giving to certain behaviors or remarks from people. Anything coming to mind? Wink. We can consciously choose to start retraining ourselves and the way we respond. Habits take time to change – but we now have the time!

If we take a second and choose to respond thoughtfully (rather than just reacting), we can prevent or change a negative situation. Before reacting to something, think “How can I deal with this in a positive way?” “Does winning the argument or point, really help me win?” (What will I win?) And with children: “Would it be so terrible if they ate one more cookie, or had cereal one night for dinner?” Or something like that.

Please don’t get me wrong, I think that rules and structure are important and necessary, but a little flexibility when something isn’t crucial can actually give everyone a happy break, and even bring out some memorable, fun moments that mean so much.

If you find yourself in the kind of crazy, tense, and argument-filled atmosphere (reminiscent of those annual family holidays), you might like to try taking an emotional step back for a minute and change course and try to discern the real root of your feelings and motivation for your comments or actions.

I like to think of tracing back impulses and emotional reactions as being like “pulling the string” on a sweater – you keep going until you unravel the sweater to its first stitch. Like a decorative knitted sweater, our mind is complicated, but if we go backwards stitch by stitch we can see how we got to the strong feelings we’re having.

It’s useful to do this because your “mind sweater” can be different from mine (even if we’re using the same wool and the first stitch was the same). We could both be angry, but we got there a different way. Or, you could be angry because your mind created a very complex sweater and you surprised the hell out of the other person!

Have you ever heard someone’s reasoning for feeling a certain way and wondered “Wow! What made them go there?” or “How on Earth did they draw that conclusion?” Well, some person, somewhere, has probably wondered the same about you, too!

On the surface, our reason may seem completely unreasonable to someone else. That’s why we can unravel, to understand.

Here’s an example:

I got angry at my husband for not doing the dishes. He then got angry at me for “demanding” that he do the dishes.

Let’s pull my “string” using “Why” questions to help: I was angry and yelled at my husband. Why? I’m thinking that he’s selfish and doesn’t care about me. Why do I think that? Because he didn’t do the dishes and ignored me. Why does that make me unhappy? He doesn’t want to help me. Why? Maybe he doesn’t care about me enough.”

Here we get to the emotional root which is often a need for love, respect or feeling valued.

Is it true that my husband doesn’t care about me? No. There are many more likely reasons for his non-compliance: he’s tired too; you sounded too demanding (people like to protect their sense of autonomy); he was watching a great movie and couldn’t drag himself away, and so on.

It’s always good to consider the other person’s perspective and interests when we ask them for things.

Now, what if an argument has begun and you need to de-escalate it (put the brakes on it)?

Simple but Powerful Ideas:

  • Say something kind (The shock of hearing that in a tense moment may be enough to derail the anger train)
  • Ask yourself “What would Jesus do?” (This may sound funny, but can work wonders as your focus turns inwards and draws upon the wisdom of your “higher self”)
  • Change the topic to something really interesting to the other person (it works with toddlers and with big people)
  • Focus on what you love about him/her and communicate with that in mind (when your intentions come from love, the other person will respond better)
  • Let it slide if it’s not really important (Don’t sweat the small things)
  • Say something humorous (laughter frees us from tension)

A Time For Love

What if we started looking at this time as a perfect opportunity to give more love and understanding to those around us. What if we made a conscious decision to embody those characteristics we admire in our heroes? We could find joy in bringing our best selves to the occasion.

Being loving begets love. Giving joy and kindness to others, sees it reciprocated. These things are needed now, more than anything else.

This situation of people temporarily stopping work and being at home with family is in some ways like being home for the holidays. Intense! But rather than fighting each other, we may feel closer when we acknowledge that we’re fighting a common enemy. “In this together “ are seen on signs around Honolulu. Indeed we are.

Is there anything positive that you’ve noticed around you or experienced in your life during these tense times? I would love to hear about it!

Take care, and big virtual hugs.

Aloha,

Lara

P.S. As ever, please feel free to comment or send me a private message through the Contact link.

Boost Your Health and Immunity (Part 2)

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Twenty years ago, I went to a doctor for a wound that wasn’t healing. I explained that I was healthy and ate a lot of vegetables. He said to continue eating well and to also take Blackmore’s Bio Zinc (an Australian product. *Note: not to be taken if pregnant) as there wasn’t enough zinc in the soil. Within a few days I was healed. I was shocked. This really opened my eyes to the state of the food cultivation industry.

In this post I’ll highlight special health boosters, food, vitamins, supplements and amazing celery that can strengthen immunity and health. More health boosting factors can be found in the post “Boost Your Health and Immunity (Part 1)“.

In general, good, food-sourced supplementation can be helpful as a boost or if you have a deficiency and especially if there isn’t enough fresh fruit and vegetables around, but be careful if you’re pregnant, breast feeding, or on medication and check with your doctor first. Also, supplementation shouldn’t replace real food and should be done intermittently. Our intelligent and adaptable bodies could become less efficient at extracting the regular vitamins and minerals from food.

Avoid popping vitamins like candy. Some vitamins such as vitamin C will be excreted by the body if there’s an excess the body can’t use but other vitamins or minerals can be dangerous in excess, such as vitamin A.

Try to get food-derived vitamins if possible, but don’t worry if you can’t – studies have shown that lab-created vitamins will still help if there’s a deficiency.

Even now, all fruit and vegetables still have great benefits and such a complex mix of hundreds of compounds that work together in your body to nourish it, keep it working properly (elimination!) and keep it vibrant. Get organic, if you can. If you can’t, wash well.

Powerful everyday foods that boost health:

Fruit: oranges (can be acidic in body tissues – boost alkalinity with lemon juice taken at the same time), lemons, pears, pineapple, bananas, grapes, strawberries, blueberries (wild if possible), kiwis, acai berries

Vegetables: kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, bell peppers (more vitamin C than an orange!), seaweed (all types, provides iodine which many people lack, and helps remove heavy metals from body allowing the whole system to function better), alfalfa sprouts (considered an almost complete food due to its nutrient profile and density – grow your own in a jar!)

Wholegrains: quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, oats, spelt (an ancient form of wheat), brown rice (wholegrains contain nutrients in the “germ” that are great for both physical and mental health. Studies have shown that a lack of these in the diet is linked to depression. Pizza-addicted teenagers definitely need them!)

Nuts: almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts

Seeds: sesame seeds (especially black seeds), tahini (sesame paste), pepitas (pumpkin seeds – high in zinc), chia, flax (when I take flax oil daily, I really see the difference in my skin!), sunflower seeds

Oils: olive oil (best not cooked), coconut oil and sesame oil (withstand high cooking temperatures and can also be taken raw), fish oil

Fats: grass-fed butter in moderation (especially if you’re not getting enough sunlight – it contains vitamin D), avocados (packed with vitamins too!)

Spices: black pepper, thyme, curry powder, curcumin

Herbs are wonderful too! (And powerful, so check with your doctor for any medicine interactions.): garlic, cilantro, thyme, ginger, astragalus, lemon balm, echinacea (start now as it takes a while to become effective)

Super Supplementation: Look for standardized extracts that are food-sourced, if possible

  • Ester-C (is better absorbed and less acidic, otherwise use ascorbic acid – vitamin C). Getting enough C is important not only to reduce the length and severity of flu symptoms, but also “Vitamin C inhibits the excessive activation of the immune system to prevent tissue damage“. Why is this so important? As viruses such as Covid-19 do their damage, doctors are seeing patients having over-active immune responses where the body’s own immune system actually starts damaging tissues in the body thereby weakening the body further. Good effects are seen with dosages of 2-3 mg per day. (*Note: always check with your doctor first.) Also, slow-release forms or smaller dosages of 200 – 250 mg spread out through the day have been shown to have greater bioavailability (your body makes better use of it).
  • Quercetin (found especially in yellow onions)
  • Bio-Zinc (or zinc sulphate)
  • B12 (food-sourced or try the fabulous Vegemite! – but not for those on low-sodium diets)
  • American ginseng (In Asian medicine, ginseng can be “cooling” or “heating” to the body, so the type is chosen according to the individual’s current health condition. Since health is rooted in balance, you wouldn’t want a cooling ginseng if your body is “cool” (has too much yin – cold hands and body plus watery eyes are indications.) American ginseng is considered neutral, so it’s good for everyone. Best if used prior to feeling unwell, to strengthen body.
  • Astragalus Membranaceus (not other forms) general tonic, immune system booster
  • Elderberry (used for centuries to reduce flu symptoms – and less concentrated syrup form is available for kids)
  • Hawaiian spirulina (similar to seaweed in that it helps remove heavy metals from body, allowing the whole system to function better)

Celery Juice

My sister had a debilitating skin condition that appeared suddenly on her hands, face and body after taking multiple types of antibiotics for dental issues. After taking all kind of doctors’ prescriptions, she took celery juice, and it’s the only thing that helped to clear her skin: 16 oz of celery juice (not the fiber), on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, every morning. Wait 20 minutes before consuming anything else.

I was taken by surprise when I suddenly developed a similar condition. This came after my bout of prescription medications after giving birth to twins and hemorrhaging and subsequent hospitalizations. I went straight to celery juice, and I was so relieved. See the difference in the before and after below. (Bonus: my 18-month-old girls love it!)

Special notes on food

Citrus: is best absorbed eaten alone. But adding lemon or lime to water or other drinks is still effective.

Fruits and vegetables: if you want to drink them, blend rather than juicing. Juicing takes out the fiber, some nutrients, and increases the sugar (fructose) content of each glass you drink. Too much sugar from any source can throw your body out of balance.

Refined (processed) foods: aren’t great for the body in general, however, if you’re sick wholegrains can be harder to digest and put strain on your system. This is why it’s recommended to eat things like plain crackers and noodles such as in a non-oily, chicken noodle soup.

Sugar isn’t evil: While it’s important not to consume too much in your daily diet, having a little something sweet after a meal – for example a couple of small chocolates – can actually help digestion and also boost your mood and sense of well-being. This in turn boosts your immune system!

Super Soups: The body and nutrition must be seen as a whole system and simply isolating ingredients or vitamins is short-sighted. Meals such as soups and stews are fabulous health boosters as their effects in the body are greater than the sum of their parts (individual ingredients). Vegetables, herbs and spices work together enhancing the absorption of vitamins and minerals, the foods are easier to digest, and the liquid is nutritious and hydrating. Pressure cooking is best for preserving nutrients.

Note on drinking water: an easy check to ensure you’re drinking enough water – if your urine is dark yellow or tea-colored then you’re not drinking enough water. If it’s clear or a pale yellow (straw) color then you’re drinking enough water.

Bonus Health booster: Alkalize your body! Stress, lack of sleep, too much acid foods such as wheat, grains, animal products (meat, eggs etc.) are acidic. Most pathogens and chronic illnesses thrive in an overly acidic body. Fresh fruit and vegetables (not canned or bottled) make us more alkaline. As an emergency boost, try taking half a teaspoon of (aluminum-free) baking soda in a glass of water a couple of times a day. It helps quickly alkalize the body. Athletes have used this to help speed muscle recovery after a strenuous workout or event. Just don’t depend on this – you need the nutrients in fruit and vegetables.

I sincerely hope that any, some, or all of this information will help you to get healthier and stay healthier. Being healthy not only helps fight viruses, diseases but also keeps you aging slowly and keeps you vibrant and happy! Mood and food go hand in hand.

Warm wishes to you and your loved ones.

Aloha,

Lara

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This blog, its content and any linked material are presented for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or prescribing. Nothing contained in or accessible from this blog should be considered to be medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or prescribing, or a promise of benefits, claim of cure, legal warranty, or guarantee of results to be achieved. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog or in any linked material. Neither Lara Palafox nor Mana Force Media is a medical doctor or other licensed healthcare practitioner or provider. Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before altering or discontinuing any current medications, treatment or care, or starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, or if you have or suspect you might have a health condition that requires medical attention. The United States Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated any statement, claim, or representation made in or accessible from this blog or any linked material. The content of this blog and any linked material does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Mana Force Media or the principal author and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. This article may contain links to other resources on the Internet. These links are provided as citations and aids to help you identify and locate other Internet resources that may be of interest, and are not intended to state or imply that Mana Force Media or the principal author recommends, endorses, supports, sponsors, or is in any way affiliated or associated with any person or entity associated with the linked material, or is legally authorized to use any trade name, registered trademark, logo, legal or official seal, or copyrighted symbol that may be reflected in the linked material.

Boost Your Health and Immunity (Part 1)

T Lymphocyte of the immune System _Courtesy of NASA

What are you doing, right now, for your health? Even after the latest Corona virus is gone, it’s always extremely important to care for your health. If you’ve been putting off taking better care of your health, start doing it now. It’s not just the elderly, but according to Michael Osterholm (U.S. public-health scientist and infectious disease expert), younger people in their 40s, the obese, diabetics and more, are becoming seriously ill and dying. He also warns that this is not a “sprint” but a “long marathon”. The Corona virus has been around for a couple of months and the SARS (a less deadly pandemic – looking at death rate alone), wasn’t officially “contained” for 6 months). So what to do?

Do what you can, with what you have available, and what you’re capable of doing. There’s a lot of information (and misinformation) out there, so let’s cut to the most important points and keep in mind that the health of a human being lies in the strength of the whole being, not just taking care of one aspect.That’s why there will be two parts to this post, to cover a lot of ground. In the second part, I go into more detail about food, herbs, psychological and spiritual factors. But do what you can do now – and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money!

Let’s look at protection, then improving total physical health.

Protection

Firstly, preventing yourself from coming into contact with something that could make you sick, is ideal. Here is a list of simple but important things to do.

  • After being in public or touching public objects (doors, elevator buttons money etc.), wash hands up to the wrists thoroughly with mild soap and TEPID/COLD water for at least 20 seconds). Otherwise, use hand sanitizer with 60% – 80% alcohol rubbing hands until dry. (Hot water can weaken skin and open tiny fissures making it easier for organisms to penetrate.)
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth until you’ve cleaned your hands.
  • Whenever possible, avoid being in crowded public areas. (Go internet shopping and have food delivered from supermarkets!) Michael Osterholm (mentioned above) asserts that this virus can be spread even by those not showing symptoms, and it can be spread while they talk or even breathe – it’s that infectious. If possible, keep a distance of at least 6 feet from anyone who appears unwell.
  • Wear a mask if feeling unwell (WHO and CDC recommendation) The N95 type of respirator mask is more effective than the other simple paper masks. However, the regular paper mask does help to contain large droplets that are coughed or breathed out of a sick person. But is less effective in preventing a well person from getting infected.
  • If you sneeze, do it into a tissue and throw it away, or into your shirt or elbow. (Clean elbow/shirt as soon as possible. This not only prevents you infecting others but also prevents re-infecting yourself.
  • Fresh air is important for both the healthy and the sick. If you can only use an air-con where you are, make sure the filters are clean. A good flow of fresh air takes pathogens away from you (including the ones you exhale).

Improve Physical Health

Forget crazy diets that have you eating almost nothing or eating only food of a certain color, extreme cleansing or fasting. That only puts stress on your body. You want optimum health which means a fruit-and-vegetable rich, balanced diet. After researching, reading, and experimenting for decades and always staying up-to-date, this is what I’ve found to be extremely efficacious and way ahead of it’s time:

The C.A.R.E. guideline outlined by Dr. Harold Reilly directly obtained from the healing insights of Edgar Cayce:

C is for Circulation: Get your blood system and lymph system moving! Exercise, stretching, slow and deep breathing, massage, saunas, skin brushing, alternating hot/cold showers all work to improve your circulation. The heat is a big pump that needs exercise (walking is great) to keep strong and keep the blood flowing. The tiny capillaries under the skin are helped by brushing and massage. The lymph system (which doesn’t have a pump) requires muscle movement and massage to get it circulating properly. Circulation is vital for the removal of waste and toxins from the body, providing oxygen to cells and getting nutrients to where they need to go. Your lymph system is where waste products from the metabolism of food, dead cells, and invaders are gotten rid of.

A is for assimilation: This means getting your body to absorb the food. Yes, you may eat good food but how well are the nutrients being absorbed? Do you chew food thoroughly? Mastication is vital to break food into small enough particles – there’s only so much work your stomach acids can do, and people have varying amounts of enzymes and strengths of stomach acid available for digestion. According to Dr. D’Adamo this is the reason why some people can eat steak (stronger stomach acid) and feel energized, while others (with weaker stomach acid) feel sluggish. Digestion begins with the enzymes in the mouth – so chew, chew, chew!

  • Have you considered food combining? (See chart here.) Certain foods when eaten at the same time, prevent absorption of particular vitamins or make for digestive havoc. For example, fruit (which should be eaten alone on an empty stomach) ferments and creates a sour liquid that hinders good digestion.
  • Do you have a leaky gut? Many signs include constipation or diarrhea, IBS, inflammation, skin irritations and so much more. Celery juice (on an empty stomach), bone broth, and slippery elm bark – tea or capsules (on an empty stomach) are believed to be good healers for the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Do you drink water with your meal? You shouldn’t, as it will dilute the stomach acids necessary for breaking down food.
  • Do you eat fermented foods and/or take digestive enzymes? These help break down food and increase absorption of nutrients. Fermented foods increase good bacteria in the gut. Examples: sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, natto, kombucha. Digestive enzymes can be purchased relatively cheaply or can be found in raw, fresh food such as papaya and pineapple.

R is for relaxation: Your body and mind need rest. Get 8 hours of sleep. Nap if you have to, to give your body a chance to recover and heal. Your body is constantly fighting off invaders, processing food and functioning in so many ways that you don’t see. There are microbes in the air and all over your skin and in your body right now which are constantly being fought off – give your body the R&R it deserves. Relaxation for the mind is necessary too. Listen to soothing music, sit in nature (beach, mountain, pasture, forest, park) and do some daydreaming. Gentle exercise such as swimming and walking can help you with both circulation and relaxation – if you allow your mind to wander and not be stuck on your “To Do” list. Take time out from anything stressful in your life. Give yourself an appointed “No Stress Time Zone” even if it’s just for 10 minutes during your day.

E is for elimination: We are organisms that constantly cycle things in and out of our bodies. When we do this efficiently, our bodies are more comfortable and energized. Elimination of waste products is done through the bowels, skin, nose, breath and mouth. If you think that because you have regular bowel movements (constipation should be rectified immediately), your elimination is fine? Then it may surprise you to hear that there is more than likely still partially undigested food trapped and rotting in your intestines.

  • Bowels: At least 70% of your food should come from fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. This will give you insoluble and soluble fiber which, together with 8-10 glasses of water, will keep things moving. Taking senna once in a while can help move things along (don’t rely on this indefinitely). Psyllium husks are also a natural food-based way to do this. Occasional saline or coffee enemas are beneficial as is the gold standard eliminator – the colonic.
  • Skin, nose: sweating through exercise, saunas (don’t use if you have a heart condition or are pregnant), hot springs or even a hot bath (with Epsom salts is good). Be wary of going to communal saunas etc. at the moment though. You can do your own sauna at home by letting a hot shower run (close door and curtain). To save water you can sit naked next to a large bowl of steaming hot water and put a blanket or sheet towel over your head, covering your body and the bowl (like a teepee). This is a great respiratory cleanser. Add just a couple of drops of lemon balm, eucalyptus or tea tree oil to the water for extra purifying benefit. Saline spray for the nostrils has been shown to reduce symptoms of colds and flu. It helps to eliminate (pathogen-containing) mucus. The neti pot is used for this in India, but a cheaper way to get the same effects is by snorting from a tablespoon, water mixed with a little salt!
  • Breath: Breathing slowly and deeply is great for eliminating stale air and toxins from the lungs and body, as well as increasing circulation. Do this several times a day or as often as you remember. It does make a difference.
  • Mouth: brushing teeth, flossing, tongue scraping (yuck but good for you), or brush your tongue with a toothbrush (I prefer this), gargling with mouthwash or salt water all help eliminate bacteria, mucus and toxins.

The C.A.R.E. protocol is a comprehensive overview of the proper functioning of the body as a whole. Yes, we can learn what foods to eat that are nutritious (see my next post), but we need to know that they are being absorbed. Yes, we can learn about exercise, but what exercise is right for you and how much so your body isn’t under stress and your immunity weakened? (It depends upon your current fitness and overall health. For example don’t suddenly start running if you’re obese as it will put too much strain on your body. However, walking is great for everyone!)

It’s important to note that all of these little differences will add up to a large improvement in health in a short time and even greater improvements over a longer period of time. It’s surprising how great the body can feel when we start caring for it better!

Please take care of yourself.

Aloha,

Lara

Disclaimer
This blog, its content and any linked material are presented for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or prescribing. Nothing contained in or accessible from this blog should be considered to be medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or prescribing, or a promise of benefits, claim of cure, legal warranty, or guarantee of results to be achieved. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog or in any linked material. Neither Lara Palafox nor Mana Force Media is a medical doctor or other licensed healthcare practitioner or provider. Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before altering or discontinuing any current medications, treatment or care, or starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, or if you have or suspect you might have a health condition that requires medical attention. The United States Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated any statement, claim, or representation made in or accessible from this blog or any linked material. The content of this blog and any linked material does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Mana Force Media or the principal author and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. This article may contain links to other resources on the Internet. These links are provided as citations and aids to help you identify and locate other Internet resources that may be of interest, and are not intended to state or imply that Mana Force Media or the principal author recommends, endorses, supports, sponsors, or is in any way affiliated or associated with any person or entity associated with the linked material, or is legally authorized to use any trade name, registered trademark, logo, legal or official seal, or copyrighted symbol that may be reflected in the linked material.

“No” Isn’t a Four-Letter Word (How to Say “No”)

Is Saying “No” often painful, difficult or sometimes downright impossible? Do you find yourself saying “Yes” to things and then regretting it (again and again)? Even if you only do this occasionally, it can cost you in more ways than you may realize.

Let’s uncover three big reasons behind this negative behavior (seeing “No” as a positive word is a great start!), and look at ways to improve our lives and happiness using the power of “No”!

When you just can’t say “No”

You’re busy, have tons on your “To Do” list, you’re tired and stressed, but, sure enough someone comes along with a request for something and they really need your help so you say…”Yes”.

Aaarrrrgghh! Now you’ve got a problem because you realize you just can’t do everything so something has to give. And guess what? Once again the thing that gives is something you wanted or needed to do for yourself or even for your family or partner.

How do you feel? Awful. Regretful. Angry at yourself. Or perhaps you simply feel defeated and resigned to your “fate”.

The Why: people-pleasing and low-self esteem

What to do: Take a deep breath and exhale very slowly. You will learn that you are a person who needs to be pleased too, and will work on your self-esteem. When your sense of self-worth is strong, you will know thqt saying “No” at the right time or for the right reason won’t feel bad and won’t hurt anyone. It’s wonderful to give to others when we can, and joyfully, but not wonderful to give of ourselves to the point weakness.

Now, go to a mirror and start practicing saying “No”. You can make a game of it. Pretend you’re an actor and say “No” in different ways.

‘Um, no. I can’t. Really sorry.”

“Nope. No can do, amigo.”

“Aww, would love to – but no. Thanks for asking!”

And my favorite: “No.”

What’s wonderful is that you can use the “No” on yourself too. As practice. Here’s an example scenario:

Me: “Lara, would you like to help your mother weed her garden right now because she wants it done right now, so that you miss out on that pedicure you haven’t had in months as you’ve had a hectic time caring for teething twin toddlers?” (Note: the alliteration was accidental – it just happens to be true ;P)

Me: “No.”

Result: Relief. And a warm fuzzy feeling that comes with a moment of self-love.

When “No” feels like you may miss an opportunity

It’s something that’s not truly appealing and you’re not really sure if you should do it but other people think you should. They tell you it could lead to something good.

This happens a lot in the world of newbie actors, business, and sales (but it could happen anywhere, anytime). People are only too willing to make use of your time and energy to benefit themselves with little if any benefit to you.

When I was 19, I was enticed into selling a particular brand of vacuum cleaner. Sales wasn’t really my thing (I have no talent for it), and I didn’t love vacuum cleaners. Long story short: I worked for a few months and made not a penny. I kept wanting to quit but they had all kinds of mind games to keep you saying “Yes” to coming to work. Finally, something happened (that still haunts me) to make me say “No”. I visited the house of a young mom with a newborn baby. She was sweet and certainly happy to have me come in with my vacuum cleaner and give her carpets a once over for free. However, when I started placing the dirty filter cloths around her baby’s room and near the baby in her crib (my boss had instructed us to do this to reinforce the notion of the uncleanliness for the infant) – she turned sour. Understandably, she was angry and asked me to leave. I did so, and swore to myself that I would never work another day for the company. And I didn’t.

What a waste of time and energy doing something that gave me nothing that I wanted in return!

The Why: fear of missing a chance to earn a lot of money quickly.

What to do: Realize that an opportunity is only a good one if it aligns with your core values and ideals, who you want to be as a human being, and the innate talent/s that you have. Trying to make quick money (as enticing as it sounds) shouldn’t be your focus. Building the empire of you – the right way – should be the agenda. It’ll take less time in the long run and you’ll avoid the heartache, moral pitfalls, and possibly having to start from scratch again.

When we follow the path of our true calling, it is way more fulfilling. As for money? It will come. When we are doing what we love and what comes naturally, life is easier, happier and attracts the right people and opportunities to us.

When “No” would prevent avoidance

You secretly or subconsciously want to avoid the job at hand. There is something or things you know you must get done, but you say “Yes” to that latest movie at your local theater, hours of coffee-drinking with friends, binge scrolling through Facebook etc. You reason with yourself that “It’s only for a little while”, or “I deserve a break” or you simply act on the impulse of something that catches your attention in the moment. You can’t say “No” to your sabotaging behavior.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t take breaks from work or difficult tasks, on the contrary, breaks are great for refreshing the mind and stimulating imagination and problem-solving capabilities. Yet, if you find that you’re constantly saying “Yes” to activites that delay or inevitably prevent you from completing tasks that you need to do, then it’s definitely a problem.

The Why: procrastination

What to do: Become conscious of when and why you go off task. Make a note each time. Great if you do this for a week, but even two days should be enough for you to see a pattern. Ask yourself “Why is this distraction more important than my task and the goal it will lead to?” If you can’t come up with an extremely compelling answer, you have your answer: it’s not!

And if you keep coming up with extremely compelling excuses? You’re very imaginative! (But ultimately, you’re hurting your dreams.) Dreams aren’t meant to stay dreams, they’re meant to inspire action to live a fabulous life of your own making. If you don’t create the life you want, you will get a default life because it keeps on moving regardless.

Procrastination is a seriously undermining habit with its basis in emotions. Yet, it can be conquered! There are different reasons for procrastination and good books on the subject. But beware of books or people who equate chronic procrastination with laziness. Not true. It’s far more complex. As is the concept of laziness.

At one point in my life, my mother angry at my tardiness and difficulty in completing tasks, took me too see a psychologist (not the dope-smoking one who was our family friend and pet neurotic). This man apparently surmised that I did these things due to a desire for power over others.

Huh? I knew he was way off as I was introspective enough to be aware of my emotions at the times when my actions resulted in missing deadlines or events. Actually, I would be angry at myself and disappointed to tears for missing things that were important to me. So, I didn’t get the help I needed, and this habit continued.

When I was doing my final year of high school, my English teacher did something unusual. One day as we entered the classroom she told us there would be no talking. There was a paper on each desk with two writing topics on them. We were to choose one topic and spend the lesson writing on it. Several days later, our marked papers were returned to us. I was disappointed that I only got 19 out of 20. The teacher asked me to stay behind after class.

“I did this for you”, she said. Without pausing, she continued. “You see, I know why your student record is alternately high marks and then zeros. You don’t hand some of your work in because you think it’s not good enough.” Here, she paused gauging my reaction. (My face burned as a vision of my rubbish bin full of writing screwed up into little balls came to mind. She knew.) “Well, it is. And you’re good enough. Stop beating yourself up with perfectionism. Even if you sit down and write something without editing, and without revision after revision, you can still get a great mark. Anyhow, it’s gotta be better than a zero!”

Wow. I was floored. And humbled by the fact that she’d taken the time to do this to help me.

She had hit the nail on the head. I had never thought that what I did was good enough (ever!). My perfectionism wasn’t about simply wanting excellence, it was about low self-esteem. No amount of “A”s would have cured it. But learning to not tie my self-worth to those “A”s – that certainly helped.

It also helped to realize that by not completing a task, I was shooting myself in the foot, because if you get a “C” no-one knows (or should care) that the “C” was due to “A”s + zeros…

This can also be used as an analogy for other situations in life: If your project doesn’t get finished, your business never gets off the ground etc., no-one will know or have a use for all of that great work or service you could have brought to the world. And you won’t reap the full fruits of your labor, either.

A fun exercise for any type of “No” challenge

Think of 3 times when you’ve said “Yes” to something and you really should have said “No”.

Why did you say “Yes”? Make brief notes. Do you see a pattern? Becoming aware of why we do what we do can help give us those “lightbulb” moments when we understand ourselves better.

Now imagine yourself saying “No” in each of those 3 scenarios. (You can say “No” in a funny voice or choose a character from a movie and imitate their voice os you say “No”.) How does it feel? Scary? Joyous? Satisfying? Why? What would you have done instead with your time? Think about how it could have helped you become a stronger, happier person. Breathe that thought in. Enjoy it.

Finally, know that in life, you have the power and wisdom to choose your “No” (or “Yes”) not from fear, doubt or insecurity, but from positivity. Let that be your guide. And remember that saying “No” shows others that you value yourself and your time – and they will value you more also.

Anything more you’d like to know about “No”? Feel free to reply or contact me.

Aloha,

Lara

How to Ask for What You Want

“Those who ask don’t get”. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. Such were the contradictory words of my step-father. So, um, which is it? He never did tell me, and soon after giving this and other “words of wisdom” he ran off with the neighbor. I guess he asked, and he got…

Why is asking for what we want, sometimes so difficult? Some of the reasons:

  1. We think we won’t get what we ask for
  2. We’re waiting for the “right” moment
  3. We’re not sure how to ask
  4. We think we don’t deserve what we want
  5. We’re afraid of what may come next after we get what we want

Let’s address number 1 of the list above: We think we won’t get what we ask for

Well, that certainly is a possibility but if we don’t ask, then we definitely won’t get. What’s really behind this excuse is more likely a fear of being told “No”. This word is scary because it could mean the end of our dreams, or we’ll feel like a failure, or we’ll feel that we can’t move forward – our hands are tied. The thing is, if we ask and get a “No”, it’s much easier to move forward, look for a solution, an alternative or ask someone else. Remaining in a holding pattern because you’re not asking for what you want is the best way to become stagnant in your life. Life must flow forward to be a happy and healthy one.

And what if you get a “Yes”? It may surprise you to know that many people are willing to help or just happy to say “Yes” because it may benefit them in some way you haven’t thought of. Always assume someone will say “Yes”.

People have asked for outrageous things just to see if they could get them. Guess what? They did. For example, an experiment where psychology students had to ask for a seat on a crowded New York subway (yikes!) managed to get a “Yes” 68% of the time (they weren’t sick, old or pregnant either). You see? You never know! I like to approach a big ask with the feeling of “Why not?” And actually repeating this (silently) to yourself if you feel nervous can bolster positivity.

Note: Make sure you’re specific with your ask. People need to know exactly what you’re asking, that it’s within their capability to give it to you, and like to feel that you really want their help.

Number 2: We’re waiting for the “right” moment

Really? Okay, so timing is important and there will be appropriate moments for asking for what you want, (there is a time for everything), however, there should be a reasonable time frame in which you should ask what you want to ask. Look for an appropriate time within a week or two.

Not a good time: At the end of the day (decision fatigue affects us all); during mealtime, when someone is hurrying somewhere; when someone is preparing for a trip or has a deadline looming; if someone is noticeably upset. One way to check is to simply say “I’d like to discuss something with you for a few minutes. Is this a good time?” If they say “No”, then ask “When would be a good time for you?” Be polite and considerate. Listen carefully to the response and how they say it. Always follow up with a considerate “Thank you for your time”.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes: Why might they say “Yes”? Think of some good ways in which they could benefit from saying “Yes”. Be prepared. Make it easy for them to agree to your ask. The more you can make it a “no brainer” the less likely they are to be affected by other stressors or decision fatigue.

If you’ve been waiting for the “right” time, and it’s been months or years, you’re putting off asking due to another reason. What is your other reason? Have an honest chat with yourself. The fact that there is something that you really want but you’re delaying asking means that you’re putting something important on hold. Imagine going to buy yourself a cappuccino and you stand at the cafe’s register and say nothing. It’s like that. Now, imagine you want a cappuccino made with oat milk. If you ask and they say “No, sorry, we don’t make that here,” you now have a choice to either look for a place that does make it or get something else. If it helps, think of life as a big cafe.

Number 3. We’re not sure how to ask

It starts with opening the mouth and ends with the mouth closing (haha). But seriously, it’s more a problem of lacking self-assertion. By asking for what we want or need, we’re not being aggressive, selfish or demanding. When we don’t assert ourselves we allow others to take advantage of us or allow life to push us in directions we really didn’t want to go. Life doesn’t wait.

At times it may be tempting to swallow your feelings of frustration and placate yourself with the conciliation of being a good martyr, (ahem), this is delusional. Not asking for what you want or need doesn’t help anyone and in fact, may hinder others. Why? Because if what you want is in conflict with what someone else wants, you hinder their ability to face competition or for both of you to compromise. Also, it isn’t helpful to others since you’re allowing them to think that you’re okay with something that you’re not okay with, and they will act accordingly (perhaps do things that you don’t like). This, in turn, can build resentment in you which can also be directed back at others in various ways. In other words, you will show your resentment and frustration to others anyway, by being rude, impatient, doing or saying things behind someone’s back or even saying things to their face (and under your breath!) that you know will offend them. And this, all because you’re not getting to the heart of the issue and simply asking for what you want.

What if there isn’t a conflict of interest with what you’re asking for?

  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes: Why might they say “Yes”? Think of some good ways in which they could benefit from saying “Yes”. Be prepared. Make it easy for them to agree to your ask. The more you can make it a “no brainer” the less likely they are to be affected by other stressors or decision fatigue.
  • Use the power of the pause: Ask in a clear and direct manner. then pause. Say nothing. Do not fill the awkward silence with any words or gestures. (Do continue to breathe.) The other person will feel a compulsion to respond in a more positive way. They won’t feel pressured by a stream of words or feel your desperate attempts to convince them of something (which subconsciously tells them that you expect a “No”).
  • Use your body (language): Go to them with confidence and conviction in your body and voice.

Number 4: We think we don’t deserve what we want

If a child wants ice-cream, before asking for it do they consider whether they deserve it or not? No! They let whoever has the power to buy them one, make that decision (and they will come up with as many reasons as they can to convince you to buy them one!). Don’t you think it’s far more fun to be like a child in this way? Don’t stop yourself before you even start!

Number 5: We’re afraid of what may come next after we get what we want

If A then B could lead to C, couldn’t they also lead to D if C somehow vanished? Yes. But then they could also lead to Z. You never know…That’s right. We don’t know most things for sure. It is prudent, however, to think about the consequences of your actions and to consider possible scenarios prior to taking action BUT if fear of the unknown prevents you from taking any action, then there’s a problem. I’ve seen people in a holding pattern for years, unable to move forward because they were paralyzed with fear about not only what might happen if they got what they asked for (a new job, an interview, a referral, money they were owed), but about what may happen months or even years after. This is not living a joyful life – this is living in fear of the unknown. Feel the fear, say “Hi”, then tell it to get lost.

Know Thyself

Why are you asking for what you’re asking for?

Have you heard the expression “Be careful what you ask for”? The reason is that sometimes what we think we want turns out to not be good for us. For example, you want to get a promotion as you believe it will lead to more money and therefore make you happier. But what if that promotion meant that you ended up working much longer hours, had to give up your exercise or recreation, gave you no time for friends or family and caused you stress that resulted in some form of illness? I do not exaggerate. This happens. Does this mean that you have to choose between having more money or a happier and healthier life? Not necessarily! You could work in a different company that pays more for the same hours you currently work or develop other sources of income such as investing or side hustles.

Think through what you want to ask for. If you decide that it really will enhance your life in a positive way, then go for it! Begin by praying (or focusing your thoughts on your higher intent “I really want this because…”), visualize getting the outcome that you want but prepare a “Plan B” in case the answer is “No”. Tell yourself that the Plan B is only because the road to the outcome you want – that you visualize – isn’t always straight…

Knowing you have a Plan B gives you more confidence to go and ask for something. The Plan B might be asking the person what you would need to do to get a “Yes”, (if what you want you can only get from that person); asking the person if they could recommend someone else who might give a “Yes”, (if you can get what you need from someone else in a similar position). Remember that even if they tell you “No”, circumstances can change and with that, people’s minds can change. Be respectful, however, if you’re too pushy you may ruin your chances. You will be remembered for being pushy and not any of the other wonderful characteristics you most definitely have!

Finally, do bear in mind that I have generalized this topic to cover as much as possible in a shortish post, and depending on what you’re asking for there would be some fine-tuning needed – specific ways in which to handle a particular situation.

If you have any questions about this post feel free to ASK! 

😄

Aloha,
Lara

Triumph Over Challenges – Part 2 (of 2)

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Fifteen different schools before reaching college. This was one of many of my life’s challenges. How did I approach it? Usually with an open mind and an innate belief that I could adapt to whatever came my way. Did it work? Yes, and no! At many schools I was popular, yet, at a couple of others I was harassed or bullied. You see, whenever you change environments or move to new places, there is a multitude of challenges at play. We may cope very well with some and not cope well with others. What did I learn? I learned that there will be people with whom you naturally resonate and others whom you don’t “get” and they just don’t “get” you. It’s best not to waste time on those people or try hard to get them to like you. Don’t compromise who you are because you might be a square peg in a round hole (just needing to find a square hole!). There are other wonderful people just waiting to be your friends! Seek them out.

I also learned that it’s important to do what you enjoy and to stand up for yourself and your ideals. At the end of the day, you face yourself, live with yourself and need to love yourself for who you are. However, sometimes, if things are so tough and you find yourself really unhappy: change schools (or jobs, or environment). This isn’t running away, it’s self-preservation. (And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t choose to change schools 15 times, but that’s another story…)

Another lesson I learned was that whatever energy and mindset you bring to a new environment sets the tone for your experience. As a child, I didn’t think of it in those terms, but what I noticed was that if I consciously went to a school full of confidence (even faking it) and had the mindset that people are going to think I’m awesome – it really did have that result. If I went in unsure and not really happy to be there, I didn’t have a good result. Our energy is tangible, and like wild animals, strangers sniff out our fear!

What if you can’t help being shy or fearful? Try building up your self-confidence and self-esteem beforehand. Then, narrow your focus so that your thoughts are on things that you’re good at, what’s good about the new situation you’re about to go into and join a group or club that practices your hobby or interest. If you don’t have a hobby, find one! It will provide you with opportunities for fun and a non-work-related connection with others.

Your Mind – The Creator and Director

How do you see yourself and your circumstances in the big scheme of life. Do you get a feeling of smallness, hopelessness or inferiority and think that life, other people or the world in general is sometimes working against you? Without realizing it, you might have an external locus of control issue. ( Click here for a quiz and explanation.) The truth is, you are far more powerful than you know.

What your mind focuses on, you strengthen.

This is illustrated very effectively in sports.

As an athlete I noticed that if I thought about what I didn’t want to do, sure enough, that’s exactly what I would do! Have you noticed that? Or maybe you’ve noticed that when you’re fearful of something happening – it happens. Many people know about postiive thinking, but are we really aware of those sneaky thoughts that aren’t negative per se, but they are our minds toying with possiblities, the seemingly innocent “What if…?”

Another sabotaging mind trick is the one that seems to be positive or is simply preparing us for a possibility when actually it is making the mind focus on the negative. For example, if I had the thought that I didn’t want my javelin to land flat – it was likely that it would land flat. If I was putting my golf ball and thought about whether it could miss the hole – it usually missed the hole. The great thing is that the reverse is true too. If I simply “saw” in my mind the ball going into the hole and then putted – it would go into the hole! The thought had been “pure” and free from doubts or any tension. It would feel as if it were a done deal, a “fait accompli”.

Now, how does this work with other life challenges? It works with amazing power! Visualize the positive, happy outcome you’re seeking and focus on it with the wholehearted feeling that you know it’s going to happen. As a result, you both unconsciously and consciously start to take positive action to bring it about. Others are responsive to your positive energy and adjust their own behavior which in turn affects you back. The cycle of positive reinforcement continues and gathers strength.

Look at your challenge. Be clear on the result you’d like to see. At the same time, reflect on where you may have gone in the opposite direction too! Losing sight of the outcome we intend, can mean that we take actions that are not moving in the positive direction we want.
For example: Your relationship has become a challenge but you want to create more harmony and love. Then there’s this: You know when you’re just on the verge of having an argument and there is that split second when you know that you could either prevent it or inflame it with your very next comment or action? That’s when you should be clear on the outcome you want. In that second you have the power to change things. How? By taking a breath and thinking “I want love in my life, not war”, and asking yourself what you can do to prevent “war” (the argument).

What about other challenges? Again, what you focus on, you give energy to. If you want to sell your house and all that you focus on is “How can I get this house ready for sale? It’s so difficult!” Then you will continue to feel stressed and may not organize things well, if at all. Get off that hamster wheel! Instead try thinking this way, for example: “What resources (people/financial/physical/emotional/etc.) do I have right now that I can tap into to deal with this challenge?” See what comes to mind…

Resources for Facing a Challenge

  • Friends – those you’re close to and those whom you didn’t realize would be there for you (I call these acquaintances “gends” – people that you don’t realize have your back but are waiting in the wings and reveal themselves to be genuine friends when you really need support
  • Family members – even estranged or distantly related family could be a source of support if you just reached out for some advice or help
  • Community Groups including churches or non-profits
  • Teachers
  • Professionals or experts in the field your challenge is in (including a life coach)
  • Books and/or courses relating to your challenge: Learning everything you can will help more than you may realize…
  • Meditation and relaxation helps with centering your mental energy and calming your nervous system which in turn gives you more focus and energy to face your challenge
  • A mentor who “gets” you and has been where you are before (Don’t be shy about inviting someone you admire to be your mentor – the worst thing that could happen is that they say “No”. Most people would be flattered to be asked)

Surrender to win

Sometimes as you’re working on a goal or overcoming a challenge, delays come, there are road blocks that require detours or things are simply not going to plan. Surrendering to these doesn’t mean giving up. You may need to occupy yourself with some other important matter or hobby or just take time out, relax and have a laugh. We can get so wound up and stressed as we try hard to overcome obstacles and achieve our desires that it actually becomes counterproductive to our “higher goal”. For example, you argue with your partner or loved one over a pile of laundry not done as you’re tired from cleaning up a messy house. So while your challenge may be to keep the house tidy, your stressed and strained relationship is now counterproductive to your higher goal (and perhaps the real reason you want your house clean) – which is to have a family that feels cared for and content. Instead, you may want to surrender to your challenge temporarily and have a laugh, toss the laundry in the air and call out “piggy pile!” or whatever cracks you up. In my experience, joking around with someone is more effective than scolding them to get their cooperation.

Look at the challenges you have. Are they something you feel you are struggling to overcome? But have you considered whether the challenge is worth it. Deserving of your time and effort to overcome it? Did you create it? Why?

An example might be someone struggling with medical school, but in their heart they really want to be a preschool teacher. Some challenges could be so distressing and seem so difficult precisely because they are wrong for us and we should be doing something else with our energy…

Also, timing is important. Sometimes a person tries hard but feels as if they’ve come up against a brick wall. The timing could just be wrong. You may not want to stop but you may wish to take a break, do something else constructive or creative that you enjoy and then try again later. The break may also bring you a fresh perspective with different ideas on how to tackle the challenge.

Ideas for a break:
Meditate
Spa or retreat
Pick up new sport or hobby
Travel
Learn a fun skill
Read books that you’ve been putting off reading but that really interest you (Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk: all big readers)
Go for long hikes or go fishing, and enjoy some daydreaming (Einstein said that his imagination while daydreaming was where he got his “lightbulb” moments).

Good luck with your challenges!

If you have an comments or questions, don’t be shy – let me know below!

Aloha,

Lara

Triumph Over Challenges – Part 1

Photo by Vladislav Vasnetsov 

“You never fail until you stop trying.”

Albert Einstein

Challenges are not to be feared. They offer us opportunities to transform ourselves and our lives.

Take a long, deep breath, and as you exhale repeat these words to yourself, letting them ride on the breath you’re releasing: “I can find what I need to solve any challenge.”

Think you don’t have the strength or will? You do have it within you. Think you’re alone and without anyone to help you? You may be surprised to know that there are people willing to help you with whatever challenge you face. It’s true too, that whatever obstacle seems insurmountable on one day, can seem much smaller and scalable on another day. Time has a wonderful, softening effect on all of our troubles.

ʻAʻohe puʻu kiʻekiʻe ke hoʻāʻo e piʻi.

No cliff is so tall that it cannot be scaled. (No problem is too great when one tries hard to solve it.)

Ancient Hawaiian Proverb

Throughout history, all humans have been faced with challenges. It’s interesting how similar those challenges have always been, too. Read novels from over a hundred years ago or look into the history of different cultures (their poetry in particular), and you can find human beings suffering the same woes, pining for unrequited love, having trouble finding work or dealing with in-laws…The landscape, technology, and outward scenarios may change but the types of challenges – and what they require in order to overcome them – haven’t changed. Patience, tolerance, hard work, persistence, forgiveness, selflessness, vulnerability, cooperation, humility, kindness, love, faith, courage, and so on, are requirements to overcome different obstacles at different times. We have to reflect carefully and become aware of what is needed from us to improve a challenging situation.

Does it seem that certain challenges keep reappearing in your life?

You’re not imagining it! First, congratulate yourself on reflecting enough to notice this phenomenon. Next, stop blaming yourself for making mistakes or not having “learned” from past mistakes. We all are in the process of learning. Mistakes are just learning opportunities that will come again and again in our lives, so we must learn to embrace them – if not joyously, at least with curiosity and an open mind. Just as the other cycles of life repeat but are never exactly the same, so are our lessons (challenges) in life. Cycles affect and describe much of the events that we experience in this world. The Daoist philosophers, the ancient Hawaiians, The Mayans, the great Greek astrologers and so many more have all emphasized the importance of cycles. Seasons come and go every year. Tides come in and go out. The sun rises and sets. Our bodies have Circadian rhythms and fascinating cycles – for example, our bodies have completely renewed every single cell by the end of each seven-year period. Actually, life as we know it would not exist without the cycles of renewal (birth and death).

What does this mean for dealing with challenges?

It means that we can prepare for what is coming. It means that we can take comfort in knowing that “this too shall pass”. We may feel down for a bit, but then we will come through it. How well and how quickly we overcome a challenge will depend upon how aware we are of what is required to overcome it, how prepared we are to face it, and our will to overcome it.

Observing your challenges

Whatever challenge you are facing now – adversity in your job, relationship troubles, maintaining a healthful diet – observe it from an objective, unemotional stance. Note down answers to these following reflections:

  • When did the problem/challenge arrive?
  • When has a similar problem/challenge occurred? (If there have been multiple occasions, note them all.) They will not be exactly the same but have a common thread. (For example, a partner or family member who is disrespectful, or a boss or co-worker who takes you for granted, varying reasons why you couldn’t get to the gym.)
  • What did you do when faced with the challenge?
  • If the challenge occurred more than once, what did you do the other time/s?
  • How did you feel once the challenge ended – satisfied with your response and result or uncomfortable and regretful?

Facing a challenge

Now, as you look back over your notes see if you can find any repeating behavior associated with the challenges. What does this suggest? What have you learned from past challenges?

There is a funny saying, often attributed to Einstein:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

I find it funny because on occasion I have done this. Why? Perhaps because what I was doing seemed easier than trying another way that might have been harder, but probably more successful. Perhaps because I thought that being right was more important than finding harmony or compromise. Or, perhaps because I’d believed (from listening to others or reading something) that I was doing something that would get the result I wanted and I stubbornly persisted despite evidence to the contrary. I call this “The Emperor’s New Clothes” folly: blindly following popular consensus or opinions when you can see that it isn’t true (or true for your situation).

So, let’s look at our repeating patterns.

Hmmm. Time to do something different?

…Next week in Triumph Over Challenges – Part 2, I go into further details and make suggestions. In the meantime, sit somewhere quietly and ask yourself for answers to your challenges. Don’t try to force an answer, just release the question and be patient. Sometimes listening to your gut or your wisdom within takes practice. Write down any ideas that spontaneously pop into your head.

Have any questions about this week’s post? Write a response or send me a message!

Aloha, Lara

Self-Esteem

The Art of Loving Yourself

woman posing on pier
Photo by Allison Shannon

This is such an important topic as it underscores and affects almost everything we do in our lives. It colors our relationships with others and ourselves, the type of work we do or don’t do, how we dress, our health and so on. Why should we work on our self-esteem? Because life is so much happier, easier, more comfortable, and we attract more positive people and opportunities into our lives when we have high self-esteem.

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