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Feeling Flat? Here’s How To Create Oxtocin

I’m not going to point to all the research. You can Google it. Basically, there’s various ways you can trick the body into releasing Oxytocin. The benefits are simple: feel better, reduce stress, be happier and those things help us live healthy – longer.

It’s hard to know what to do when things seem to have flat-lined. I don’t like feeling too comfortable. Maybe another term for it would be plateauing.

Am I Flat-Lining?

On one side … comfort poses a threat to improvement, but that might be my perception and not true. I perceive healthy discomfort as an opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable. The world happens to the ready.

On the other side… “comfortable” – where I am present and things are sufficient with the “comfortable” is a great place to be.

It’s discerning between the two.

I Just Made A New Rule For Myself

I’m making this up now:

If things are flat-lining for 90 days and, to my best efforts, I can’t get things to improve or at least have hope for improvement, then I will shut it down and start from scratch.

Then again, I don’t know. It kind of sounds like an old behavior where I feel the need to put a Saber Toothed Tiger on my shoulder to make life difficult

I will live that question for awhile. If I’m going to live a question, I need something to do. That’s when I decided to get high on my own supply of Oxytocin.

Feeling Flat? Here’s How I Get High On My Oxytocin

A post shared by Eric Walker (@ericwalkerblog) on

Dancing!

Dancing is a state changer. It’s a big YES in my book. Dancing with kids, dancing with lovers and dancing with friends – all Oxytocin inducing, all remedies for feeling flat.

Hugging

My most fondly remembered moments this past week were giving/receiving hugs from people. Almost as good was imagining myself being hugged by someone I love.

Connection

Even something as small as browsing my Instagram feed I “Liked” a photograph that a random friend from 25 years ago posted. I don’t consider calling this person to say, “that was a real cute photo of your kid that you posted.” But liking the photo is one small way (of many) of connecting with someone that I have felt close to at some point in my life, even if it was just because in middle school me and him played ball together, went “ding-dong ditching” and swam in his pool. It’s not insignificant if you’re present to the human being that is behind those digital pixels.

Do Something Rarely Done Anymore

I called people to chat for a few minutes.

Like we used to do when we were kids. “Hey, how are you doing? What’s up?” This feels good. It’s like a vocal hug with someone I like. I’m good at vocally hugging people. I want to do it more. Warning: it will throw people for a loop. They will be like WTF are you calling me for?

Trust

Being trusted feels good. It gives me more confidence to trust others too.

I find people that I trust to be charismatic, and I live with a permanent crush on those people. Same goes for endearing people. All it takes for me to think you are trustworthy, charismatic and endearing is a good sit down talk.

How to be more trusted? Simple … Integrity. In all of my past relationships if I lost trust, I broke integrity first. Integrity is the only ingredient for prolonged happiness.

Play

I ask my kids all the time, What do you want to do? Always the same answer: I want to play. That’s the gist, anyway. Us adults spend a lot of time, effort, and money being serious. But play?

I played with my kids all day yesterday, and let me tell you, I hope you choose to get out and play. We kicked rocks, jumped from swings and drew pictures with our imagination, among other things. No screens. They didn’t even ask.

If you want your small angers to disappear in a flash of laughter, then let go of serious and play with your kids.

Other Things I Did To Create My Own Oxytocin

Outtake from this morning which is what set our #epicday into motion.

A post shared by Eric Walker (@ericwalkerblog) on

Humor – That video above made me and the kids laugh SO HARD! We couldn’t get enough of it. Kids laugh like 300 times per day. Us adults… maybe three if we’re lucky.

Jumping rope – My best physical habit at the moment is four flawless minutes of jump rope a couple times per day.

Being creative – I started an Instagram profile. The first and primary reason is to ignite my creativity using photos as idea starters and practice pairing my pictures with the brevity that our “tl;dr society” is asking for.

Helping people, being helped – I had to ask for help in the form of childcare. I helped members of our staff at the greenhouse by teaching them instead of being an impatient asshole.

None of This is Science

Who cares! Maybe it’s not Oxytocin that I created. Maybe it’s a Jedi mind trick I played on myself. But if it helps me to be more efficient with, and reduce my “carbon footprint” with shitting out my mental and emotional waste, then sign me up.

Oxytocin is the flower. The flower grows toward the light. My goal is to be the light.

Yesterday Was My Birthday

From my journal earlier this morning.

The highlight of my year was meeting up with my son Ben in June.

He’s 11, will be 12 in May. He lives in Florida. We became separated from one another when he was six months old. The last I saw him before June was when he was two years old back in 2008. This separation has been the single biggest hurt spot on my heart. It has impacted my life in so many profound ways. The real work has been guiding this significant life event into a meaningful, fulfilling and happy ending. Our meet up in June felt like a big win for us. Yesterday, Ben texted me to say Happy Birthday and let me know what he was up to (fundraising for his travel basketball team). Then just 10 minutes later, my other son Lucan called me from his mom’s house to wish me happy birthday. That was a symbolic and tremendous good feeling in my heart.

Here’s a picture of my first born son Ben and me last June.

My daughter Ella and son Lucan had artwork on display at Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA).

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is a nonprofit art museum and school. They offer art classes, exhibitions, lectures, events, activities and a permanent collection. It’s an appreciated institute in our community. Ella and Lucan’s art teacher selected their work to be featured for this special exhibition.

I picked up the kids fr0m my ex Kaitlin’s house. She had to walk her dog and followed behind us by about 25 minutes. At the KIA, my mom and step Dad were there. We found the kids’ artwork, took pictures and enjoyed the free refreshments. Then we did it all over again once Kaitlin arrived. I so appreciate where my relationship with Kaitlin has arrived. Just two birthdays ago, I remember dealing with court about custody for our youngest daughter Ada whom Kaitlin was pregnant with when we broke up.

Kaitlin helped the kids get me a toaster. It was wrapped and Lucan was so excited for me. For as long as I can remember, I haven’t had a toaster. I always make eggs, toast (or bagel) and bacon for breakfast, and SO OFTEN I burn the toast. I make toast in the oven. I turn the knobs to broil and toss in the toast. The kids are always hollering at me that I need a toaster. Kaitlin helped them make that happen. That felt good for all of us.

Afterward, Lucan and I went to Food Dance for a brownie bus stop dessert. We played tic tac toe and had good laughs together.

Here is a picture of Ella, Lucan and me at KIA.

Here is Lucan and me at Food Dance having a good time

I wish I would have taken a picture of my coworkers bringing in homemade tamales and cake for my birthday at work yesterday.

It’s greenhouse season so we definitely work on Saturdays. But yesterday I said we could all go home at noon. Gloria made tamales for everyone. Gloria is from Mexico. She is the one who most helps me with my Spanish. Chilla brought in the cake. They all signed a birthday card for me. Mark got me a six pack. A couple of others slipped me stinky green nuggets of marijuana. Tayshawn was like, “Damn Eric I can’t believe you’re 41. You’re old enough to be my Dad.” I said, “I might be.” Everyone laughed.

I sincerely had every intention of going to Salsa Night at Papa Pete’s bar.

I have had this playful fantasy with a couple of my friends about meeting a latina. So I’ve been telling them that on my birthday I was going to a “latino bar” to meet someone. The glamorized premise comes from an unrealistic desire to meet a woman who doesn’t have first world concerns yet is present to the gratitude of the first world.

Anyway, I found out that Papa Pete’s offered Salsa Night. My thinking was to go and dance the Salsa and discover the experience. But alas, I found myself 40 pages into Hemingway’s memoir, A Movable Feast, and three beers down the gullet and it was only 7:45 p.m. I know enough that the peak times at Salsa Night aren’t until 11 or 12. I didn’t go. Another time.

I slept well. Woke up for push ups and sit ups then went to the corner Coop for a breakfast burrito and coffee. I texted with a few people including a thank you for the toaster to Kaitlin. Then I opened up this journal and began the day.


In one year, my relationships with all of the most important people in my life has blossomed.

Tony Robbins says where the focus goes the energy flows.

Nobody in my life is more important than my children. #1, 2, 3, and 4. Which means Sheila (Ben) and Kaitlin (Ella, Lucan and Ada) are #5 and 6 in my life no matter what. I spoke with both of my ex’s yesterday. It might be too much to say we’re friends, but there is love, appreciation, respect, meaning and depth. My focus has been on these relationships. That is where my energy has flowed. Consequently, that’s where I feel a considerable amount of gratitude. These relationships are going well.

It has taken time to arrive at this place of peace?!

At the greenhouse we grow potted flower combinations and hanging baskets. I know very little about growing flowers. They don’t let me touch the hoses too often. They also know that I grow people. That’s my thing. Yesterday, I saw that reflect back at me. My focus has been on transforming the culture of day to day operations at the greenhouse. That’s where my energy has flowed.

Same concept for my relationship with myself. I was perfectly content with Hemingway and cold bottles of beer in my recliner. I no longer feel compelled to turn over every stone on the path. Thank goodness. I have to recognize a mindful meditation practice for the increased peace and contentment I feel today.

Some days really offer a glimpse about where your focus and energy flow. Yesterday, my birthday, offered a glimpse. I am happy with what I saw reflect back at me.

I’m still on a partial writing sabbatical catch me on Facebook.

Facebook is like a blog of my “B-sides”


My Sunday newsletter is still the best place to hang out if you want insights into life that will move the needle forward.

Sunday Newsletter: Beginning Again

This week I heard myself use the word starting over to refer to myself. I don’t exactly remember the context.

Such as: I’m starting over with dating and romantic relationships.

Or, I sometimes look at my financial responsibilities and say, I’m starting over financially during these heavy single parenting years.

I’m not going to say, starting over anymore. The more appropriate word is beginning again. It feels more positive to me.

I make this distinction because it’s impossible to start over. I have never lost all of my previous work. It’s in me forever.

This applies to love, relationships, business, employment, parenting, and all aspects of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical fitness. The wisdom, experience and lessons I have learned along my inevitable path of life find it’s way into whatever I choose to do next (whether I like it or not). With this perspective, it’s more accurate to say I’m beginning again.

Here I am beginning again. Interestingly, it feels like a strange intersection at what I’ve both figured out and can’t figure out – unless I keep tearing it all down some more, and begin again, again.

To begin again is to become an amateur. I write that sentiment lightly, but that’s how I feel – like an amateur. I’m engaging in this authentic pursuit of myself without pay and without bias and full of passion.

I want to be the strongest version of myself so I have a checklist every day that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. I know that if I just mark the boxes off this checklist, I’ll be okay

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Sunday Newsletter: Coming of Age

No one ever heard her subtleties or mistakes as keenly. No one heard her the way she most deeply heard herself, so brilliant, so vulnerable, so insecure, so confident, so longing, so seeking, so creative, so much like me that I bet the house and left one dream for another, and that is how I came of age.

What was that?

Let’s call it trading character for destiny. In the movies, it’s a helplessness you can’t resist rooting for. In real real life it’s rewarded if there aren’t any tangible sacrifices. Consequently, most were disgusted with me, some even called me a monster.

She loved my accepting, appreciative, nonchalant ear. I loved her cavalier swagger and her breath. To this day, I have never smelled perfume without thinking about how intoxicating it was to unbutton her shirt, kiss the nape of her neck and be sent into a different realm of consciousness.

She loved my indifference to politics and religion but fierce worship and intention to written language and remarkable communication, and the way that mixed with my wide, strong back and work ethic.

I loved her small adjustments, the way she embarrassed people who misunderstood and underestimated her because they only saw her flawless fashion and beauty.

She loved how I could stop time, isolate a moment and feeling helpless to resist. I liked that she never did. Not once ever. She was as much a romantic as I. She appreciated that I could bask in my own version of a superpower, and I appreciated that I was never implicated or encumbered for doing so.

I liked the way she prepared herself for a date, pretended as if I wasn’t there. It was a part of her art, to entertain as others watched. She never once asked if this was the right dress or if that was the way her hair should go. She never doubted herself in a mirror. I’d never witnessed the privilege of true beauty up to that point.

We loved each other – because together, for a brief moment in time – we functioned above the small fraction of our capacity to live fully in the totality of love, of caring, of creating and adventuring through what might otherwise be a dull life. We found one another, and the timing was terrible, but it was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever encountered.

The love I had committed to up to that point, in all it’s limits, loneliness and lack of knowledge of myself, resulted in confusion. It was more of a need attachment from the boy I was when we met.

This lover taught me that love is an emotion that can be a true response to an emotion, and therefore an active expression of what is felt, and can never be learned, just acted out and acted upon.

I want to be the strongest version of myself so I have a checklist every day that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. I know that if I just mark the boxes off this checklist, I’ll be okay

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Sunday Newsletter: What Now?

I have entire days (weeks even) without experiencing the discomfort of emotional pain or anxiety or regret. Everything feels so real. It’s as if I can touch the texture, shape and temperature of my emotions, and of life in general. Nothing is tainted with worries.

My ex girlfriend was at church a couple Sundays ago holding hands with another man. There was no finger on that trigger. I saw my ex for who we all are… people just trying to fit the puzzle pieces together. I wanted to wish her good luck.

I’m currently celibate, not dating. There are some Friday nights I stay home. I no longer worry that I’ll be alone. My own company has never been better.

Money is tight. I crunch the numbers to make sure the budget works but I don’t stress about it anymore. I have enough. I am making my life happen.

I cry nearly every day. There always seems to be something that moves me. Such as movies, something my children say, a story that a friend shares with me, the ways of the world. These tears feel natural so I let them flow unchecked.

I laugh much more too. I laugh with my children. I have discovered greater depths of joy. I am feeling genuine gratitude for what seems like the first time in my life.

When I meet someone, I stop and listen like I know them. I am making friends and acquaintances with people I wouldn’t normally think to do so with. My prejudices are slowly fading.

If I do notice that I am feeling regret about the past or anxious about the future, I have this healthy habit of stepping aside. I hear myself saying, “I notice that I am…”

This immediately puts distance between me and my thoughts. Then I invite whatever derivative of fear that I’m feeling to sit down. It sits at the dining room table of my mind, and I never offer it any service. After awhile, that feeling stands up and walks out. Good riddance.

Or if it doesn’t leave, I recognize that this is a perfect opportunity to follow my own advice (following your own advice, btw, is wisdom), which is to replace the bad thoughts or the fear with gratitude, or 10 ideas, or 50 push ups… anything to break the pattern.

I think I’ve cured myself of having the disease to be “right” about things too. Here’s what I think now when I have a disagreement or a strong opinion. I don’t actually have a lot of disagreements or as many opinions, but here’s what I do when it happens.

I think:

A. I might be wrong. I’ve been wrong so many times. I might be wrong now too.
B. It’s not black or white. There’s a middle ground here. There’s a third option. Hmmm.
C. How much does it really matter? Like, if I were to die tomorrow, would it matter to my life and loved ones?
D. How much of what I’m talking about do I really know anything about? (usually not enough)
E. Will I actually change their opinion? (NEVER!)
F. Don’t push

I don’t have to be right. I just have to be kind. Because we either learn our lessons now or we learn them later. Or we pass them on. My mom always has called me a late bloomer, but as a man and a parent, the buck stops with me. I’m doing my best to not pass on bad things to my kids.

The thing that I’m working on right now is feeling okay with everything being okay.

I want to be the strongest version of myself so I have a checklist every day that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. I know that if I just mark the boxes off this checklist, I’ll be okay

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Sunday Newsletter: What I Do When “Self Care” is to Much Work

I’m reclined, listening to John Mayer’s 2006 album “Continuum.” I’m drinking a Michelob Light.

Cheers! I almost headlined this post “3 Ways to Slow Down and Take Better Care of Yourself.”

It would have smacked of the value of a healthy living practice, and how it will reward you with good health, tons of clarity, energy, and the ability to experience all the good that life has to offer for years to come.

Instead I wrote this because I think there is value is letting off the “healthy living throttle” sometimes. Try to keep an open mind.

Last night I ate three platefuls of turkey and gravy, drank seven beers, smoked a couple cigarettes and didn’t pass when it was handed to me.

The dishes didn’t get done. Neither did the laundry. All my intentions to complete chores went undone.

And today, instead of working out, I’m watching an old Richard Gere and Winona Ryder movie called Autumn in New York.

Today, I don’t give a shit about enhancing my health, preventing disease, limiting illness, or restoring health. And I feel great!

I’m not in the least concerned about reclaiming time to focus on myself amidst balancing work, family, and personal life. Nope, I’m staring at Facebook on my phone. My feet are up. I’m watching people walk by on the side walk from my front window.

This is my self care today. I have a hot bath and dark chocolate coming up this evening. Then bed at 7:45. The kids are with mom this weekend. I have nothing to answer to. I’m not answering to myself either.

My point in telling you any of this?

I’m into healthy living, but am weary of the cruel optimistic relationship to self care in which self care is envisioned primarily as a means to rejuvenate us so that we’re able to work faster and harder, which is what causes our stress to begin with.

It’s okay to tune out of self care and drop into leisure.
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You like corny romance movies? (I do…)

Just to make this somewhat useful for you, I have 16 different movie recommendations. Google them and watch the trailer.

Most of these movies are corny. They are lazy, guilty pleasure movies that I like watching on late Sunday afternoons. Call me soft, but admittedly, each of these movies have brought me to tears.

16 corny romantic movies that made me cry.

1. The Song
2. The Words
3. The Choice
4. What Katy Did
5. Witness
6. A Year and Change
7. The Age of Adeline
8. The Reader
9. Autumn in New York
10. The Natural
11. Cider House Rules
12. Creed
13. Meet Joe Black
14. The Last Waltz
15. Complete Unknown
16. Pretty Woman

Reply with your romantic love story movies recommendations for me.

Don’t even think of recommending The Notebook 🙂

Sunday Newsletter: 8 Trump Headlines That Made Me Want To Puke In My Mouth

I had been ignoring the news. I’m busy being healthy, being creative and improving myself. The news, to me, is about as gross as porn. Even more gross, to me, is everyone so addicted to it.

That said, I feel strongly about keeping my eyes open for causes and ways in which I can participate in equal rights and equity for all people. It’s clear that Trump poses a threat in that department.

So where to start?

I started with all the headlines from Trump’s executive orders. Then compiled them into an ordered list of “I want to projectile vomit” down to “I might puke in my mouth a little.”

Anyway, it was a creative mental exercise that helped me get clear on causes near and nearer to my heart.

It got me to thinking about healthy living. I have talked a lot about physical exercise. I have written quite a bit about my own journey with emotional fitness.

I write and be creative every day but just thought that was me. Not something many others do. But maybe you should.

I haven’t talked much about the mental muscle. This post is about practicing and strengthening our mental muscle. 

Imagine not using your legs for a week. They would atrophy. You would lose muscle. How about for a month? You might not even remember how to walk!

Just like walking, the mental muscle atrophies within days if you don’t use it.

You need to exercise the mental muscle just like you’d exercise your body. It takes about 2-6 months to build up once it atrophies. Just like it would the body starting from an “out of shape” place.

That’s why I recommend daily mental labor. This occurs in the form of reading and writing. Writing ideas, thoughts, diaries, all kinds of stuff. Crossword puzzles are good too. Be creative. Write your stories and feelings.

For example,  yesterday I memorized all 16 flower programs, variety and combinations that the greenhouse I work is growing for Walmart.

Today, I came up with 13 ideas for you to exercise your mental muscle. Try one.

1. 10 things that Trump could do in the next 4 years that would change our mind and not think he is a complete douchebag

2. 7 things you can start doing immediately that do not require any money and that you know just out of your own common sense to improve your health

3. 41 different slogans or sayings that you would put on a t-shirt

4. 11 family trips you would like to take before your children graduate from high school

5. Every productive thing you did yesterday

6. 13 different at home businesses you could start with $500 or less

7. 30 different chapter titles for your autobiography

8. A complete listing of the best coffee shops in town and why you like their brew better or less than the others

9. Skip the to-do list, write a to-don’t list for the day

10. Empty all of your to-do items on a blank piece of paper and categorize them i.e. home, work, family, social

11. 19 hard situations from your past that blossomed a blessing over time

12. 29 of your all-time favorite books and big take away from each. Haven’t read 29 books? Start reading. That’s a great place to begin.

13. A comprehensive list of links of the best Tony Robbins videos that can be found for free on YouTube

It’s hard to exercise the mental muscle every day. Nobody is perfect. I don’t know if I’ll get to it today. But I know when I do, I know when I make it a priority to be creative, it works. I’m healthier. I’m better. I’m improving.

***BONUS***

Choose one of the above (or any of your own) and send it to me.

I want to be the strongest version of myself so I have a checklist every day that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. More about that here

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Sunday Newsletter – Don’t Say, “I Need To Lose Weight”

Instead, say “I need to burn fat.”

The point of this post is to be super clear about your physical fitness goals and to begin with an understanding of what you’re really trying to do for yourself.

Keep these three B’s in mind when it comes to finding your physical health. If you use these three B’s as a guide for finding the path of your physical health, you will be empowered for life. Here they are:

  • Burn fat
  • Build muscle
  • Boost metabolism

There’s nothing else.

How do you burn fat?

First, cut out sugar. Eat more protein and greens. Second, move more. Take the stairs not the elevator. etc. etc. Then begin walking. Every day. I suggest you not eat any food whatsoever after 6:30 pm. When you wake up first thing in the morning, walk for 40 minutes at 60% of your max heart rate. Wait to eat until you’re done walking before you eat. I’ve seen this work so many times for other people. This will burn fat.

How do you build muscle?

Most people don’t care about looking ripped. They don’t care about their max bench press. Build muscle with a simple home routine of basic calisthenics. Here’s my current at-home routine.

  • 100 push ups and sit ups
  • 100 squat hops
  • 25 pull ups or chin ups
  • 12 shoulder press against the wall

I do this in the comfort of my home four or five days a week. It’s a part of the routine. I get to it either within the first 20 minutes upon waking up in the morning, or at lunch at work, or after dinner/before bed time. It takes me no more than 15 minutes to do this little routine. It’s built lean muscle and toned everything on my body.

How do you boost metabolism?

All of the above will boost metabolism. In particular, metabolism boosting exercises are those that require a maximum amount of energy because multiple joints are involved like doing a squat with an overhead press. In a nutshell, you boost your metabolism by performing compound exercises with little rest in-between exercises in an effort to maximize calorie burn and increase metabolic rate during and after the workout. FYI, your metabolism (aka metabolic rate) is how many calories your body burns at rest. I do two metabolic workouts a week with a friend that last 25 to 30 minutes and they really kick my ass.

I want to help you be in the best physical condition possible. You don’t need diets or clubs. You need simplicity. This, to me, is simple. You only need to remember these 3 B’s described in this post. If you have questions, I can help. This is my thing.

This is from the Healthy Living series

I want to be the strongest version of myself so I have a checklist every day that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. More about that here

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Sunday Newsletter – Hitting Stride

This is the work that I’m immersed. Today I want to share with you what I’ve been doing to find my stride. I’m sharing it with you because my goal is to be the strongest version of myself. My opinion is that the world is a better place if we are all our best version of healthy.

Since New Years Day, I have made a choice every single day. I think to myself: What is wrong is just as available as what is right. I am going to take control of my focus. I will not suffer.

That was initiated because of a break up, but it quickly became less about the break up and more about all aspects of life in-general.

What I found is that my “muscles” were not strong in this department. I was not capable of snapping my fingers, and 90 seconds later, turning what I thought was a problem into a solution. Or changing my perspective. Or redirecting my focus. I’ve been working HARD on this. Now I’m starting to feel the results. They say a new habit takes 21 days to form (though that is highly debated and scientifically unproven). It has been 22 days of practice for me.

I’m not saying everything is rainbows and unicorns. I’m saying what is wrong is just as available as what is right, and I’ve been successful at taking control of my focus. This has improved the quality of my life.

22 days in, and I feel I’ve achieved enough momentum that I’m at a steady pace. I’ve reached the level at which I’ve observed how to function most competently. I can allow the waves of “pain” in stride, and deal with it calmly or “acceptingly.” (is that a word?)

Physical

Small workouts every day that don’t take longer than 12 minutes.

Always waking with 100 push ups, situps and air squats or bulgarian split squats. Then another workout at noon or early evening before dinner.

Yoga every Tuesday. The yoga has been pivotal. Especially for my breath work. Not to mention, that particular yoga community has made me feel very welcome.

Emotional

Meet ups. I’m averaging three or more per week. Just meeting with new people I don’t know well but would like to know. I’m seeking wise people.

I’m listening to people far better.

I’m feeling compassion for everyone.

I’m choosing to bring my best energy to people and I can see how positive the impact is. In general, I want to talk to everyone. I’m curious about people and life. I feel free to be the unique me that is me.

Mental

Writing in my journal every morning. This is honest, raw writing only for me.

Being creative for the heck of it with no agenda.

Writing my stories. Submitting some of them off to other websites.

Writing down all my ideas and taking the first step. Eliminating most of my ideas after taking the first step. Getting SUPER clear on what I want by going over it every day. I’m in a relationship with myself and I am discussing that relationship’s future with myself.

Writing at my blog, on Facebook and to you with no intention other than documenting my process and my journey and hopefully helping you in some way or another.

I’m setting aside personal time to research business models, listen to Tony Robbins or learn of work that a wise person has recommended me.

Spiritual

I meditate. I’ve never meditated in my life, but I have now figured it out. It took a lot of practice.

I have found my breath. I have found my breath for different occasions. I have noticed my breath in different situations.

I have my dream board and the variations of visualizations that go with it. I have a healing visualization. I have incantations I say, or often yell, while driving in the car or jumping rope so that I am not only saying it, but I am feeling it.

I have a half dozen redirections that keep my focus healthy.

I write my gratitudes every day. I have started a list of my all-time great gratitudes. I take the time to write “hard gratitudes” when it’s necessary.

I take notice when I feel the heart squeeze, knotted, nervous stomach, which is what I refer to when I talk of my “pain.” I am able to sit with it. I understand why it’s there and I am so relieved that it’s not actual heart break after all, it’s just unfinished personal growth work.

Every other Sunday, I travel to different Unitarian churches in Michigan. These mini-travels to places like Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor (and my own Kalamazoo) to meet like-minded communities has made my heart grow. I have cried with strangers.

This is what a relationship with myself looks like and feels like, and it’s new to me, and now that I’m finding my stride with it, I feel deeply grateful.

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PS. Yesterday, January 21, 2017 was a historic day for our country. This is how I feel about it and what I offer to you.

Sunday Newsletter: Three Ways for How To Handle Pain

Driving home today. I was reminded how much I love a frigid cold morning with the sun shining and icy blue sky while I’m in my car with my music and a coffee. I felt grateful. I was comfortable with being alone. 


Heart squeeze, knotted nervous stomach – that’s my pain. My emotional body has a lifetime of conditioning and therefore 1,001 different triggers and associations that lead to feeling that way. Here’s how I deal with it. My experience is that there are three distinct ways to handle pain.

Connecting with Pain

So I’ll use myself as an example. Shortly after a break up, I was constantly checking to see what my ex was doing on Facebook and Instagram. It was that connection to her social activity that allowed me to connect with her. Accept it was not a real connection, of course. As bad as it felt, it met my aching need to connect. This is why it is comfortable to stay in sadness and sometimes difficult to transcend. Because we are meeting our need for connection. The only way out of this is to have something else you want to connect with more. For me, that’s not the person I wanted to be. I wanted to connect with myself more. Once I made this choice, the pattern was immediately broken. I started making new patterns to connect with myself.

Sitting with Pain

Still using myself as an example. Sometimes, my new patterns to connect with myself weren’t effective at satisfying my need for connection. As hard as it is sometimes, I sit with the painful sensation. For me, it’s a heart squeeze, knotted stomach.

When I was young, on few and far between occasions enjoyed the use of magic mushrooms. In hindsight, the reason I liked them is because it was a fascinating portal to connect with myself. Every time I used these mushrooms, there was a moment when the drug came into my system rapidly and aggressively. It would completely overwhelm me. This is where people can freak out on the stuff, but I learned to dig my heals in and watch it enter my body. The same applies to pain. Recognize it, observe it, and dig your heals in for a few moments as it enters into your body. Then find your breath and watch it.

Redirecting Pain

This is my favorite. It employs the other three aspects of health. For example, I was feeling that familiar heart squeeze, knotted stomach the other day. So I picked up the jump rope, put on my Eminem playlist and skipped for seven minutes straight. The entire time I was yelling out my “being” statement: “I am present, I am connected, I am creative, I am attractive, I am kind. I am confident. I am facing my fears and overcoming them. I am courageous. I breathe deep into my pain. I am opportunistic. I am making my life happen. I love myself. I am enough. I belong.” Physical exercise is a great way to redirect the pain.

Another example is writing in my journal every day. I’m connecting with myself. That pain I feel is being refocused toward writing my noticings, adding thoughts and responses to them then declaring them precious. This is a mental exercise.

The final way to redirect my pain is by being grateful. Especially being grateful about hard things, “hard gratitudes.” Inside every “hard gratitude” is a seed that can blossom into happiness. It’s impossible to be grateful AND angry, or upset. Grateful is grateful. It’s all that can occupy your mind if you’re generally connected to the gratitude.

I’m getting better at these things because I am practicing.

Need practice handling your pain, reach out. I’m here.