Monday, June 20, 2011

Get Moving into Summer

"The greatest thing in the world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving."
Oliver Wendell Holmes
It is another cool, rainy day. Spring never quite arrived, so I have my hopes of warmth and sunshine set on summer. Summer brings with it a certain lightness of being. I can pack away the fleece and bring out the cotton, I can count on local garden-fresh fruit and vegetables to invigorate my meals, I can lounge in the warmth of a lazy summer day, I can pick up the pace of my summer walks or runs as the early morning sun rises, I can enjoy the parade of blooms as we move through summer, I can delight in the basil growing in a pot on my patio as I add it to almost everything I eat, I can savor my morning cup of coffee or tea on my front porch as the sun peaks its way above the trees, I can stop and listen to the songs of summer as the birds drift in and out of the area, I can kick off my shoes and let my feet wander. Oh summer⎯I welcome your returning grace.

How might you enjoy summer?
  • Catch some sand between your toes
  • Head out for a swim or a float
  • Camp in the woods
  • Scrape off the BBQ
  • Grab your boat
  • Dance at a festival or outdoor concert
  • Devour a humongous ice-cream cone
  • Go outside and get moving
Summer may scream more work in the yard, but that is a good thing. We need to move and stretch our bodies and do the things outside one does when summer rolls around. No matter what type of summer we have, I will take advantage of a bounce in the temp even if the rain continues to fall. I am going to keep moving and use the momentum I am gaining to enjoy all the spoils of the season. It’s summer after all, and once it is gone⎯we will have to wait another year. Don’t let this one slip by.

As I begin moving into summer I will be taking a break from my weekly postings. I may send you a thought or two along the way to keep you moving; otherwise, I will plan on catching you up in the fall.

Here's to an amazing summer of moving in the right direction. How do you plan on moving this summer?

Photo courtesy of Guiri R. Reyes
© Copyright 2011 Michelle Clark

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Flash of Anger

I am not an angry person. As a matter of fact, I am probably the exact opposite. I don’t like the way it feels when I become angry or the way it makes me feel when I am around anger in any way, shape or form. Even the most composed person can be pushed to the limits in a flash when anger invades our space. We may even be surprised by the fact it happens so quickly, and we may even feel momentarily out of control. Momentarily or not, this is not a good place to be.

The last few years I have been working on observing my actions and reactions to the everyday ups and downs of my life. This has brought me face to face with anger⎯how I react to it and how I deal with it. My observations helped me realize there are alternate routes to dealing with my feelings. I don’t need to feed the anger but dissect it in a way that helps me determine if my anger is going to be productive. I am learning to just stop, take a moment, and in that moment, LET IT GO! My observations have shown me a few things about anger:
  • Anger clouds my thinking⎯I don’t necessarily say what I mean or mean what I say.
  • Anger produces caustic emotions⎯These negative feelings build quickly and grow more volatile leading to additional emotional pain and provoke even more anger!
  • Anger hurts me and whoever else is in my line of fire⎯It physically invades every cell in my body creating a pain that my body responds to. It unleashes the fight or flight behavior. My muscles tense, my heart starts to pound and the heat begins to flush throughout my body. Have you ever noticed how long it takes to calm yourself down once that starts? Even if you have mentally stopped anger, it continues to course through your body for a time as stress.
  • Anger is not productive⎯It complicates things and generally takes me down roads I didn’t even consider taking, and creates quite a mess in the process.
  • Anger scares me⎯Who is this person anyway?
  • Anger is ugly⎯Have you ever seen your angry self or perhaps the aftermath?
  • Anger is not healthy!
  • Anger does nothing but motivate me to change my behavior.

Learned habits can trigger an anger response in a flash, but you can do something about it.

  • Start paying more attention to what you say, think and feel.
  • Take a breath, take a moment but learn to pause before you react.
  • In that flash of emotions ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”
  • Let it go!
When I let it go, I feel my muscles begin to relax as my heart rate slows and the pulsing heat fades away. My observations have helped me to stop the anger before I feel the physical change, and guide me to walk away from whatever it is I am feeling in that moment, because I know⎯it’s just not worth it. Walking away from anger helps me to be my best self. How about you⎯can you learn to walk away from anger with me? Take a big breath, now doesn’t that feel better?

Photo courtesy of Leland Francisco
© Copyright 2011 Michelle Clark

Monday, June 6, 2011

Growing Pains⎯Tending the Garden

Every step in the right direction has growing pains⎯but you need to do it anyway!
My friend June was recently telling me how difficult it was for her to move forward in the new life she had created for herself. June finds she is falling into the same pitfalls of living she was trying to leave behind. On the other hand, June also finds herself frozen at times and is not sure how else to move forward. She knows what she should do, she just doesn’t know HOW. It then becomes easy for her to fall back to what she knows⎯it’s safe.
  • Safe makes you feel secure
  • Safe feels harmless
  • Safe gives you shelter
  • Safe keeps you insulated
  • Safe is a place many of us want to live because it requires little effort on our part
  • Safe is a place many of us cannot move away from because we are stuck!
I told June what she was feeling was normal. She has taken the steps in the right direction but she is now feeling the growing pains⎯you know, the stresses and strains of development. Just what are growing pains in this circumstance?
  • Evolution⎯gradual development of wisdom
  • Maturation⎯the process of growth
  • Expansion⎯ to a new and better self
  • Progress⎯forward movement, momentum
  • Improvement⎯making life better
Growth takes time⎯like when you plant seeds in a garden. You don’t plant seeds without taking care of them properly, otherwise they will not grow. One must tend the garden.  Water the seeds and once  they have started to grow, focus on the roots by continuing to water and gently feed them. This will allow the roots to develop into a healthy base in order to support the life of the plant. It doesn’t stop there. You must continue to nurture the plant in order to sustain continued growth.

We all feel growing pains from time to time whether initiated by ourselves or the circumstances of our lives. Yes there may be setbacks, but you weed out what is not working and plant seeds anyway. YOU KNOW HOW⎯one small step at a time. I am proud of anyone, like June, who chooses to make a move in the right direction, for continued growth provides more healthy roots and buds of pure joy, which will eventually open into blooms of love and happiness.

Step outside yourself and grow, grow, grow! You can do it, I know you can.

Photo courtesy of AmandaLouise
© Copyright 2011 Michelle Clark