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November 29, 2011

Shake Off The Holiday Blues

Author: JadeF

Wouldn’t you agree that spending time with family can be both a blessing and curse? There’s no doubt that it’s a double-edged sword. When it comes to family, I’ll always choose to taking all the good no matter what bad comes with it. But doesn’t family sometimes have a way of knocking you off your game? Especially when we are going, going, going ,often, to the point where there’s nothing left after that.  And then we’re with extended family and we’re confronted with expectations about yourself that you used to have, expectations others may have of you were expectations that you haven’t quite met yet. The desire to be bigger badder, meaner in your game than in the years before show that you may progress. But what if you’ve made progress that’s immeasurable? Such as personal growth or the quality of your relationships? What if you’re still in the process of lining things up for the take yourself to the next step? What if you’re in the middle of a transition?  All this added up, the resulting feeling are mental, emotional, or spiritual exhaustion.


So how do you get back into this new things? So how do you get mojo back? First and foremost, acknowledge that you feel this way. Sit with it. Instead of letting your thoughts ride you, you need to ride it. Be present to them. Notice the thoughts in your head that are creating this feeling. You don’t want to just ignore these thoughts and feelings and pretend they’re not there. Denial is the worst thing you can do for yourself. What happens to the things you deny?  It festers and gets worse doesn’t it?


You need to know the root of your problem which is your thoughts. There’s a root though tin your head which all these feelings and follow-on thoughts are stemming from.  Begin to notice your root thought.  For me my thought was “I’m nowhere near where I should be in life.”  So I wasn’t feeling like I was living up to my own expectations, and I felt like I was letting down the people around that I loved.  Begin to notice your own feelings arising from whatever thought you have.


So now that you know your root thought and have sufficiently sat with it, become present to the feeling that it causes.  My feeling that it caused was disappointment in myself. If you’re just this one thing you would only be so easy. But it’s compounded by other life events such as spat with the spouse and financial crunches.  If you have any physical ailment this only compound the feelings you have. Can you feel how this can all add up and feel like a snowball?


But you’ve acknowledged it which is crucial, because your thoughts are your inner child.  Your inner child, unlike other children that are throwing tantrums, doesn’t quit by just ignoring it.  And when your inner child throws a tantrum, no matter how much you ignore it, does it ever quit?  Wouldn’t you agree that things you’ve suppressed have come up again like the uncontrolled fizz from a soda bottle you’ve shaken? You have to show it attention and nurture it.


How do you nurture this inner child of yours is throwing a tantrum? You can’t just stop your negative thoughts, which is the root of your feelings, with positive thoughts. It’s not enough to simple tell yourself positive things, you have to actually think it and add feeling to it. One of things I do is I have a book.  Have a book or a story of someone feeling in the dump who turns it around. The book I use is Three Feet From Gold by Napoleon Hill.  I take the time and I go through my book, I go through my highlights, I go through the story, and I allow my mind to have positive thoughts around my feelings. Newton’s law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If you press upon the stone with your finger, your fingers also pressed by the stone. If you have a negative thought in motion, you need to set positive thoughts in motion for the same amount of time and strength just to stop that one negative thought that is been running your mind. Just to counteract that one negative thought that’s been running you, you need even stronger positive thoughts and feelings turned the wheels of your feelings in the other direction. You need to let these thoughts build momentum, to build power to build positive feeling and let those thoughts and feelings create the right actions to get you back on track.  And that’s how you get back into the swing of things!


So have an arsenal of positive thoughts that you can turn to when you’ve got that negative thoughts running around.  You have to fight fire with fire.  So helps to be mindful of how long you let your negative thoughts run its course on you, because it’s going to taken even longer time for positive thoughts to counteract its effects.

For many people, Thanksgiving is a joyous holiday; for many people, Thanksgiving is a dreaded holiday. One factor that can make it tough is spending time with difficult relatives.


So how should one approach anxieties about seeing family members? And what steps can help to make the holidays a civil and enjoyable time for everyone?  Here are some strategies for keeping Thanksgiving dinner pleasant:


1. Before you join the group, have you ever spent a few minutes thinking about how you want to behave? Instead of just reacting in the moment; considered how you wanted to act?  If you’ve had unpleasant experiences in the past, think about WHY they were unpleasant and what YOU could do to change the dynamics of the situation. You may tell yourself that you want everyone to get along – but if so, you need to do your part to contribute to a harmonious atmosphere.  If you know somethings are going to trigger you,  wouldn’t it be helpful to have preplanned, tactful  or humorous responses already planned out?


2. Have you ever been caught off guard by how topics that seem innocuous to you might upset someone else???  THIS ONE IS MY NEMESIS!!!  I notice in my family, topics I’m passionate about are left wing to them, and things that are unimportant and silly to me are passionate to them!  Or you have that one family member,  who thinks they’re showing a polite interest, but some questions will rub a person the wrong way: “So do you have a boyfriend yet?” “When are you two going to get married/start a family?” “Didn’t you give up smoking?” “Can you afford that?” “When are you going to get a real job?” Show an interest with more open-ended questions, like “What are you up to these days?” or “What’s keeping you busy?” If this is you, repeat this mantra, “love and acceptance, love and acceptance” as often as necessary!!!


3. Avoid strife instead of charging in head first. Some families enjoy arguing passionately amongst themselves; however, most don’t handle arguments very well. If you know Uncle Bob’s views on Sarah Palin are going to drive you crazy, don’t bring it up! And if he brings it up, you don’t have to engage.  Just take a deep breath, let it go, and try to make a joke of it!  You may also have to play the distractor,  run into the kitchen screaming “OH CRAP!  I thinking I burnt the food in the oven! SOMEONE HELP!!!”


4. Does it fall upon you to be the mediator?   Take a proactive approach this year!   Just like the distractor in the above tip,  it doesn’t hurt having a few hip pocket lines or distractions to redirect people’s attentions when things get heated up!   Your family will thank you, and you walk around feeling like a genius! Everybody wins!


5.  Are you really going to change them with one visit once a year?  Complaining and criticizing our acts of love, they are actually disapproval because you love them. Inspiration and encouragement are far more effective tools, words of former just creates resentment. They’re probably under a lot of pressure right now and putting on a cheerful face, so try to be compassionate instead. Try to see things from their point of view: chances are you’ve had this conversation before, and they’ve been dreading this encounter with you since they first found out you’d be there.  So the trigger on that gun is cocked, all you need to do is touch in order to set off.


6.  Leave the lush at home! It can seem festive and fun to fill up your glass, but it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re drinking. Alcohol makes some people feel merry, but it also makes some people feel combative, or self-pitying, or lowers their inhibitions in a destructive way.  It’s amazing how much happier family dinners turn out when no one’s crying or acting out after drinking too much.  If you’re a hyper drunk like me, Avoid letting your family  see your wild side in this particular setting :D .


7.  Play your part in the tradition. For some people, traditions are very, very important; for others, no. You may feel irritated by your brother’s insistence on having exactly the same food every Thanksgiving, or by your mother’s extreme reaction to the possibility that you might not come home for the day. Try to be patient and play your part. In the long run, traditions and rituals help sustain family bonds. If you’re the one who wants everything to be perfect, try to ease up on yourself and everyone else, so that you can enjoy the day, whatever happens.


8.  Stuff the turkey, not yourself! Research shows that in fact, most people add just one pound during the holidays – but then they never lose it. You’ll have more fun if you’re not feeling uncomfortably full and then guilty about having eaten too much. Think about strategies for staying in control of how much you eat; feeling bad about having eaten too much can make you feel irritable and angry, which spills over into your interactions with other people.


9.  Remember it’s THANKSGIVING!!! Be thankful that you get to cook, or that you don’t have to cook. Be thankful that you get to travel, or that you don’t have to travel. Be thankful for your family or your friends. Find something. Studies show that gratitude is a major happiness booster.


10.  Be compassionate. You want to celebrate the holidays with your grandchildren and your adult children because you love them. Complaining and competing with other family members are not acts of love. Your sons and daughters and their spouses may be under a lot of pressure to make everyone happy; cut them some slack.


11.  Ask for help, but don’t expect it. Families are never fair. Work is never equally divided. That’s just the way it is.  Don’t waste time being mad because one person tends to just sit around.


12.  Ask questions and listen to the answers. There are some people who’s mind you will never change! But you can learn a lot by questioning them and trying to understand their opinions, rather than just reacting to them. In their own way, they often makes sense…even though you still disagree.


13.  Do you really have to be right about everything? Getting the family together can be a toxic experience when someone insists on being the winner in an argument, or thinks he or she is right about everything.   Would you rather be right or happy?


14.  How effective really is criticism?  Nothing is more hurtful or hard to watch than someone criticizing someone else in front of others. Whether it’s your kids or your spouse or your sister, holidays are a time to suspend critical thinking and just surrender to holiday spirit. If you need to discipline a child, please take the child to a quiet corner or another room and speak respectfully.


15.   Have you noticed is easy to change yourself rather than someone else?  Seriously, the sooner we all learn this one, the happier we will all be. We all have people in our lives who we wish would be a little bit (OK, a LOT) different. But it’s just not going to happen. Adjust your own attitude about it, and suddenly the situation seems much more bearable.


16. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself! If you are doing all the work, make sure you sit down and take breaks and talk to people…so what if dinner is a little late? I like to spend a little one-on-one time with each person present—to take the conversation at least a tiny step further than just “How are you?”


17. Do you have your happy place?? If things get to be too much for you, go outside, take a walk, play with the kids, or find a place to take a nap.  It’s much wiser to find a bed to crawl under than let yourself get to the point where you blow a fuse!  Consider taking frequent, but small, breaks.


18. Remember, we are all going to turn into our mothers/fathers one day. The very things that drive us crazy about our parents and relatives are probably hard wired into us, too. It’s just harder for us to see it in ourselves, since we are looking at the world from inside of ourselves. So relax and don’t get uptight about personality tics and weird behaviors.


19. Know that one day, you’re going to miss this.  Things might seem crazy and chaotic now, but these days are the ones you will look back on and think of as good times. Watching your in-laws and parents reach the point where they can no longer do all the things that we take for granted really brings this point home for me. You never know what will happen between this holiday and the next, so savor every moment…and try not to eat too much  :D .


20.  Do you have a difficult relative?  The previous 19 strategies don’t tell you how to deal with your difficult relatives, they tell you how to behave yourself. Well, guess what! You can’t do anything to change what your difficult relatives are going to do; you can only change yourself. Also, in many situations, people behave a difficult way in reaction to something else. For example, you may think your niece flies off the handle without any reason, but she’s furious because she thinks you’re needling her about her appearance. If you behave differently, she will too.  Reminder that even when we can’t control what happens, we can control how we behave.   Again you might want to take a proactive approach, make a note of all the triggers that set people off and then avoid them!

Have you ever had someone in your life that took way more from you then they ever gave back?
Have you given so much of yourself to someone and felt left out in the rain when it came your turn?


The big thing that I want you to take away is to, “never make someone else a priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”


Think of that person in your life that has done this to you.  There’s usually one that will pop into your mind within seconds.  I have one.  We’d gone to war together.  Done combat operations.  There’s onetime we were sitting in a window sill together eating some rations in Iraq, and an explosive device went off 50 ft from us.  Blew out the windows, shook the entire building and flipped over one of the vehicles.  Luckily we didn’t get hurt, nor was anyone else seriously injured. Stuff like that brings you close to someone real quick.


Did you know that when you go through something heavy with someone, you bond with them a hundred times more than someone you just meet off the street?  We both lost a mutual best friend.  It brought us closer.  How many of you have experienced that coming together when faced with the loss of a loved one?  So we were doubly tight.


Things were fine for a while.  And it slowly started changing.  At first it was really small. I would initiate us getting together to catch up more than he would, and then I became the sole initiator.  And then I would invite him to major events in my life, and he wouldn’t show up.  I would offer to come to things of his, graduations, get togethers, you name it.  He’d want me there and think it’s a great idea, but it would be like pulling teeth to constantly remind him to send me the times and dates.  And then we’d only talk when I initiated contact.


Are you beginning to see a pattern??? Kind of like that movie “He’s just not into you,” but the friends version.  But I knew he would still care about me, because he’d alway apologize and tell me how I’m one of his best friends, so I’d forgive him and keep doing what I was doing over and over and over again!!! Have you forgiven someone so many times, that it feels like punching a frequent forgive card????  Does anyone know the definition of insanity??? Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.  Except the results weren’t different.


In fact it got worse.  He started treating me worse.  And then it became emotionally abusive, but he’d always apologize, so I’d always forgive and keep going back.  Do you realize that emotional abuse doesn’t start instantly???  It’s gradually increased with time.  Like cooking a crab.  You don’t throw cook a crab by throwing it in hot, boiling water.  You throw it in room temperature water and slowly crank up the heat.  And that’s what he did to me.  Here’s another takeaway: If you allow someone to drag you down once, you allow them to think that its ok for them to do it again and again and again.


Lucky for me, I said enough is enough and pulled myself out of this downward spiral and distanced myself.  But even at the height of our distance, if this friend came back and asked for help, I could see my self saying, “No matter what’s happened between us, you’ll always be my friend, and I’ll always be there for you.”  Without expecting any reciprocation.  Is giving without expectation good? Yes.  But is being taken advantage of and unappreciated crossing the line?  And then I finally gave myself permission to say, “I’ll always care for you, but this doesn’t feel like a good idea.  Past experience has shown that this will be not only be a burden, but unappreciated.  Let me think about it.”


What’s the difference?  The difference is that I won’t give in immediately like always did.  I’ve set my boundaries, and I’m committed to keeping him at the lines and making our relationship on my terms vice his.  It is it easier to train a dog when it’s full grown or as a puppy?  Absolutely, it can be done, but it’s ten times harder.  But you have to start somewhere, wouldn’t you agree?  It wasn’t the easiest decision I made or the quickest, I have to admit.  I was wasting my color on someone else, and wasting time and energy that otherwise could have directed to someone else more deserving.  It was painful decision and still is, but I made a commitment to myself to never make yourself a priority while allowing yourself to be their option.  How do you do this?  Give yourself permission to.  Just decide to it.  Just commit to it.  And then take the necessary action.


Now, Imagine that cutting ties from all the people that make you feel like that?  What would that look like? Would the quality of your life improve? Would you be relieved of a huge burden? Would you have a sense of inner satisfaction? Would you have an instant confidence boost? Hold onto that!!!!   Feel how empowering that is!!!  I already did it with this friend, but I get that same rush like I won something back whenever I think about it!! Why should we feel like we’re winners?? Because we just won back out control.
Can you change the past?  No.  But can’t you change the future?  Absolutely.  When can you change the future? The answer is now.  Can you make new choices moving into the future?  Absolutely!  Who can you see yourself choosing to give your new found time, love and energy to people who really deserve it?   On a bigger picture, who in your life would you be giving permission to do this, just by giving yourself?  Isn’t that what its all about?  Inspiring yourself to make a change for the better, and in turn inspiring others to follow suit.

November 16, 2011

Madonna Challenges Social Norms… Again

Author: JadeF

I saw an interesting article in bizarre the other day about superstar Madonna who cowrote and directed a new film to be released in February called the W. E. This article had some great insights about women, power and sexuality, and I just wanted to share that with you today.  This film, in Madonna’s classic modus operandi, challenges the social norms of feminine sexuality…. for the better ;D.


The film follows two parallel plots.  The first centers around Wally, a recently married New Yorker who is desperate for child and fascinated by Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee for whom King Edward VIII gave up his is throne for.   The film juxtaposes Wally, modern-day trophy wife with everything available its trapped in abusive relationship, with a mythical version of Wallis Simpson.  The two women’s stories intertwine when Wallace enters the mind of Wally and serves as kind of a Muse and mentor for her and spurs the young woman from her depressed passively into an agent of change in her own situation.
This movie is a reflection on almost every woman’s life. Sometimes we actively make choices in our lives that lead to results which aren’t always the ones we desired. And sometimes we submit to things that are going on our own journey as Wally is doing in the movie. She, like the rest of us, is learning about herself as all women are.


Madonna loves stories about strong women, which I don’t blame her for, because she, like me, didn’t have a strong female role model growing up or throughout my life.  She loves to make a controversial  heroine.  This film places the emergence of women from victims in their own story to mistress of their own destiny at the heart of the story. This focus on the woman’s journey is actually very rare in major films today. The role of man is also radically in usual.  Instead they are the villain, the sex object and nurturer, which is the way women characters are usually in relation to the male hero’s journey.


This film and Madonna is actually already facing a lot of critical hostility, just as she did with Evita.  A lot of it may have a lot to do with our culture’s resistance to women having power.  The world on a whole is not comfortable with female sexuality. Movies are always coming from the male point of view, and woman being objectified by  man and women seem to be comfortable with it. But when a woman does it however, both men and women are uncomfortable with and that has a lot to do with how we are conditioned as a culture. Women don’t have a lot of female role models in their lives. Look at the powerful women that we have in politics, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton for example, they were constantly being criticized in the media.  Look at the sexual politics that occur with the upbringing of children in Midwest Catholic families, boys get away with acting and dressing in ways that girls can’t.


Madonna thinks that a lot of the criticism she is receiving is because people are scared of her because she’s different. Those of you think of yourselves as different, have you in your life received any criticism because of it? And if you ask questions like why do I have to do that, why do I have to act like that, what kind of criticism did you receive? It is important to be aware of these things, so we can raise our children differently. We can teach them to admire and respect their partners and to be mindful of the people they choose in their life. We can ensure that our sons and daughters have strong male and female role models in their life father growing up. We need to be aware of what we are modeling for our kids. We need to be aware of what other people in our kids lives are modeling to them, such as their values were the energy they’re giving off because kids are very impressionable.  The more that we can teach them to be comfortable with their sexuality while they’re you, the more comfortable they will be in their adulthood.

August 16, 2011

Hello world!

Author: Jade Frisvold

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