It's all about how you think about it, react to it, and play with it!
How we think about stress is related to our general inner dialogue. What do we tell ourselves about our capability for strength and resilience? What do we think about what kind of life we deserve to have? Sometimes inner dialogue work feels deep and tumultuous. But when we have guided activities, and support in a group, and we have permission to do it as it works for us... then it's so much easier. And, when we address our inner critical voice instead of avoiding it, we reclaim our power to make our lives what we really want them to be!
Our reactions are often dictated by our past. We let things play out as they have before, even if we don't want the same results... because it's just difficult to repattern our behavior when we're in the midst of something stressful... and because then we're doing it alone. This time, let's do it by thinking it through, putting structures in place to support us when times are hard, and let's do it together!
And let's play with it. Play with stress? Yup. It's important to find joy... even it's tiny in a really overwhelming situation. It's what grounds us, and helps us find our own centeredness. I have a special guest that will join us with tools for playfulness and joy!
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My kids and I were sitting in front of The Hula School in Santa Cruz waiting for the keiki (children's) class to start, when a guy in a straw cowboy hat walked up to a guitar repair shop next to us. The man inside was busy with another customer. This self-described "old hippie" was thin, had a gray ponytail, and a friendly voice. He asked us how long we'd lived in Santa Cruz... I said we'd been here on and off for almost 20 years. He told us he'd been here since 1963. He also freely dispensed some advice from his grandmother... and it sounded to me like it hit the nail on the head... so I thought I'd share it with you.
Grandma apparently told him that there were really just three rules in life that were important.
1) Use your imagination. Or at least use your brain. Turns out that's one and the same.
2) Life should be fun. What's fun spelled backwards? N-U-F. That's right. If it ain't fun then that's 'nuf of that and you should move on.
3) Be nice. As much as you can. 'Cause we all gotta live here together.
I'd say Old Hippie's Grandma was a wise woman.
This year I celebrated Dia De Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) and for the first time, I really sat and thought about my ancestors and what they'd been through. Somewhere, recently (this happens to me all the time... I hear something really profound, ponder it slowly for days/weeks/months and then when I try to tell the story I can't remember where I first heard it! Gah!)... I heard/read that just by virtue of the fact that we are here we have an unbroken line of parentage (first I focussed on my matrilineal line, then patrilineal, then a funny energetic "choice" line back... I'll get back to that). When I pondered that unbroken line, I realized that there was something that these people had that allowed them to survive, to nurture their children (at least some of whom also survived, since I'm here), and to adapt to whatever situations they moved through in their lives. My ancestors were pioneers. And while most of my life I'd focussed on the things about them that I didn't appreciate, like, or agree with... this was paradigm shifting for me to consider them as having strengths.
I don't have a lot of information about the lives of my ancestors... not the details of daily life, anyway... so I imagined how it might have been. My kids are in 2nd and 4th grades, so I have learned a bit about the pioneers through them... and hearkening back to my days in college when I took a history class on Early Colonial America... I made up my own story. And lo and behold I understood a little more about their strengths, sacrifices, and the spirit they must have had to have survived and even thrived. Now, I'm not going to condone all pioneer behavior or anything... I was just thinking about individuals. I felt their fortitude, persistence, and love of their children. I felt their strength being summoned within for mere survival. I imagined cold Mid-West winters and their flexibility and adaptation around simply living.
The ancestor I probably feel closest to is my paternal grandmother. She grew up on a farm in Iowa, then raised nine children on a farm with her husband only a few miles away. Though I was still a child when she died, I felt connected to her in a way I can't describe with words. She epitomizes the strengths of the ancestors in general for me. She kept a large garden that fed her family of 11 most of the year. She worked hard, took everything in stride, and still somehow had time to be a devout catholic and fulfill her roles as mother, sister, wife, friend, aunt, and probably midwife (I know her sister came to help her birth her children... I imagine it went both ways).
These are qualities I can be proud to possess... and I am grateful that I come from such a line of loving individuals who were committed to working together to make things better. They had their own version of that dream... and I have mine.
I saw somewhere... a spoof of some fitness posters. It was really pretty phenomenal how the message of the original posters was along the lines of "work harder", "do more", "look in the mirror to assess where you are"... all things that seem to me to say "you're not good enough, you should do better than that". I guess that sums up why I have trouble getting on board with most fitness programs. It's always some type of "whip you into shape" kind of attitude that I don't go for, myself. In fact, those kind of messages, about how I'm not good enough... really just stress me out.
Anyway... then I got to the end of the list of posters... and one said something about the goal being clear urine. Now there... you just went beyond "you're not good enough" into "dangerous". It seems to me that fitness AND nutrition types are often pushing water. They act like there's no upper limit. Oh... but there is. Your urine should NOT be clear. It also should not be dark yellow. If your urine is clear you are in danger of flushing out critical minerals... some that could cause your heart to beat improperly (potassium comes to mind first).
The truth is, I can't think of anything that the body uses and NEEDS that can't become too much. Some things are harder to get too much of than others, but it can be done. The whole thing with the body is finding a BALANCE. Not too little, not too much.
Let's go back to the water thing. I've heard lots of formulas and such about water. I wonder why we don't teach people to listen to their bodies? Why don't we train ourselves to monitor for signs of too little water? I realize that means that we are already off balance... but if we monitor ourselves for a few days or weeks, I imagine you'll get a pretty good idea of how much water YOU need. That is to say... based on YOUR exercise, body composition, diet, and metabolism.... how much water do YOU need every day? This provides you with no less than two strengths that the "clear pee" goal doesn't. 1) You can respond to changes in weather, activity levels, or body conditions that might require a change in the amount of water you are drinking. 2) If you're self-monitoring this way you are training yourself to be conscious of your body's needs, you are responding to its feedback, and you are building a relationship with your body. You are doing what's right for your body based on the feedback you get... not following someone else's idea (or ideal) that isn't applicable to you.
My goal is that we all learn to listen more to our bodies... there is so much wisdom to be found there. The body can connect us to our emotions, our experiences, and truly enrich our lives. But it can't do that if we're constantly forcing it to do things that aren't supporting it. Too much water can be very hard on the kidneys. This provides a physical stressor, in addition to the messages that we aren't good enough as we are. I have more coming up soon with regard to stress... but long-term ongoing stress is certainly one of the things that underlies many hormone imbalances. More on that soon...
I'm an explorer of inner realms, a pattern observer, and an invitation maker. I believe that healing the world starts within.
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