Grey Matters – Beach trip!

IMG_0227A friend invited me to join her for an impromptu  trip to the beach.  I quickly checked to see if I had anything that would keep me from saying yes and there wasn’t, so I took a quick trip on Monday to Carolina Beach.  This picture is me yesterday afternoon sitting on the beach.  It was a fun getaway and the weather was perfect.  Aside from hurricanes, September is my favorite month at the North Carolina beaches. It’s not as crowded and the weather is generally great. My 24 hour trip was no exception.

Here is a picture from the balcony! 

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Grey Matters – Getting you’re mind right

The Cleveland Clinic posted an article today on “How to Turn Around Your Negative Thinking“.

According to the article, negative thinking makes you feel blue about the world, about yourself, about the future. It contributes to low self-worth. It makes you feel you’re not effective in the world.

Psychologists link negative thinking to depression, anxiety, chronic worry and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). But almost all human beings contend with it — even those born with a positive outlook on life.

It’s because of the way our brains are constructed. Our amygdala and limbic system are built to notice threats, to protect our survival. In prehistoric times, it may have been a beautiful day on the savannah, but when we were stalked by a predator, we were trained to notice that danger.

Today, the same parts of our brain are active even when physical threats are minimal. The threats we deal with today are more cognitive — involving finances, whether we’re loved, whether we’re succeeding at work. They can set our hearts racing. That’s why we can panic on a Sunday night just thinking about work.

When you get distracted by a negative thought, notice something to engage with in the present. What are you seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, feeling? It’s called practicing Mindfulness.

Mindfulness also helps us program in ourselves a sense of that which is right. We can systematically notice what’s going well in the present. We can notice something favorable about each person we encounter. Words of admiration help us notice the rightness of things.

We can keep a gratitude journal, looking for those events that did work out. Doing this right before we go to sleep is especially helpful.

When we change habits, we change brain circuitry.  It’s hard to exchange bad habits for good ones because they exist deep within the brain.  Using Mindfulness helps us accept things as they are, rather than always being in fix-it mode.

So whether you are thinking of 3-5 things you are grateful for or being mindful of what is happening around you at the moment, the simple act of changing your thoughts can change your attitude and possibly your entire life.

To view the article from the Cleveland Clinic, click the link below:

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2017/01/turn-around-negative-thinking/amp/

 

Grey Matters – Thoughts to Ponder

As I reflect on life it occurred to me that a lot of people are really hard on themselves. I have been guilty of this myself.  Since I was diagnosed with cancer almost three years ago, I have changed my expectations and given myself a break about things I used to beat myself up about.

Last night while on the way to sleep this question kept running through my head.

If you weren’t you, would you like you?  

If the answer is no then the next question is why.

If the answer is yes then the next question is also why.

Sometimes it is hard for us to think about what qualities make us a good person. Years ago I came up with a trick to make it easier to think positively about myself.  Instead of saying “this is why I…” or “this doesn’t work for me” refer to yourself in the third person.  It sounds weird but it really works.  If you were raised like I was to be humble then it can be very difficult to extol your virtues, but if you simply say your name instead of “I” or “me” you will be amazed at how much easier it is to say  nice things about yourself to yourself.

I saw a comedian yesterday who asked why we don’t give ourselves more credit for the things we are doing instead of being critical of what we aren’t doing or should be doing.  I see so many people who are unhappy because of things they think they should be doing.  To me the word should equals guilt and unless you have done something very bad, guilt is a useless and damaging emotion designed to make us feel bad about ourselves.

Going through the experience of being diagnosed with a life threatening disease and talking with wonderful health professionals, I have learned the importance of surrounding yourself with people, pets and things that make you happy.  I also have learned to be more forgiving of myself and allow myself to be a little selfish when it comes to my health.  There is definitely a mind-body connection and I am working hard to make sure that my mind is assisting my body to heal.  Whether you are blessed with excellent health or not, embracing self acceptance and reprogramming your mind for a happier mindset is very beneficial.

Please be nice to yourself.  You are doing the best you can.  Happy Friday! 💕

It’s a Dog’s World – Poop Nest

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Bailey dog

Our beloved dog Bailey used to do something that amazed all who witnessed it.  During walks she would poop in a bag.  I eventually referred to it as the “poop nest”.

I would fold the bag down and be at the ready for the precise moment.

For years this is how it worked unless Bailey faked me out, which I believe she did sometimes just to mess with me!

Here is a picture of how the bag looks when it is folded down and ready to go.

Dog poop bag

Poop bag

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I am happy to report that my beautiful dog, Stella, pooped in the bag for the
first time!

Stella's close-up

Stella

For weeks I have been walking with the bag all ready to go.  She either didn’t go on the walk or caught me off guard, but today the planets were aligned and I was on my game!  It’s the little things in life that make my day! 🐾💕

The Cancer Chronicles – Coping

After being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in October 2014, I experienced a whirlwind of emotions and fears. For years since my Mom passed away from breast cancer I was worried that I might also get breast cancer.

After initial disbelief about my diagnosis, there was a calm that came over me, but then as I learned more about what my treatment would entail, old memories of what my Mom went through emerged and I found myself trying to cope with a planned mastectomy and chemo. I was told by the surgeon that I wouldn’t be able to have immediate reconstructive surgery which freaked me out. My Mom never had reconstruction and it, along with losing her hair, made her very sad. As a young girl I witnessed this and had developed a fear of going through these things myself.

A few friends of mine had seen a shaman and said he really helped them. If you haven’t heard of a shaman, shamans are spiritual guides and practitioners, not of the divine, but of the elements. The shaman I saw, Dr. Stephen Banko, has been doing energy healing for over 25 years through deep meditation and utilizing principles from quantum mechanics, quantum physics and viewing the universe holographically all with a medical background. He was conveniently located near where I live, too. It wasn’t inexpensive, but it was so worth it. Dr. Banko helped me neutralize my fears so that when I saw myself after the mastectomy and when my hair fell out I was able to have neutral feelings about what was happening to me. When faced with a life threatening situation I pulled out all the stops, first utilizing traditional western medicine and augmenting it with alternative add on’s such as shamanism, acupuncture, massage and yoga. Using these tools helped me get through these very stressful things and allowed me to create coping tools that I use everyday.

Dr. Banko encouraged me to use visualization at least twice a day. Right before I went to sleep and when I woke up I visualized that my body was healthy with no cancer. He gave me specific things to say and I used them everyday for months.

In addition, I made sure that I practiced gratitude. Whenever I am feeling down I take a moment to think of 3 to 5 things I am grateful for right now (big or small). It can be a beautiful day, that I can walk across the room on my own two feet, that I have a wonderful husband and two sweet dogs. It’s different every time and I believe that simply replacing negative thoughts with positive ones changes something chemically in my mind that puts me on a better path.

The other thing I do regularly is have what I call “LFT’s” (things to look forward to). For me it’s important to always have something to look forward to. It doesn’t need to be a big thing. It could be an upcoming visit with a friend, a movie I plan on seeing or eating a great piece of chocolate!

I enjoy the simple things; A beautiful day, hearing birds sing, petting my dogs.

Everyday I choose happiness. I decide to be happy and make everyday possible a happy, normal day.

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