S.T.O.P. –A refresher…

 

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I had a little argument with Olivia on our way to school this morning.

I didn’t have time to make her lunch and I was a feeling a little vulnerable since I knew I have not been a model parent these past few days. I was on a training course and we were off our usual routine.  Although I get home earlier than usual, I do not seem to have enough time to do laundry, put away the dishes, or go for a run.

Although…I seem to have time for two glasses of wine and cheese, check the Raptors game, do some Amazon surfing for some retail therapy, sleep later than usual, etc…

At any rate, some consequences have certainly been felt the mornings after….I’ve been oversleeping, Olivia scrambling for clean jeans, no time to sit down and have breakfast (or even packing lunch), and both of us grumpy and testy in the morning.

I knew she was going through a rough patch too…she was worried she didn’t study enough for her Spanish test, she has a history project to work on, a finance test for DECA Ontario (an extracurricular finance club for young and upcoming junior executives), a math test to study for  (trigonometry, as I recall) and she was having some trouble prioritizing which one to deal with first….

Anyway, she said, “I’m hungry.”

For some reason, I took this negatively.  I immediately responded that we should really do better at planning our mornings or even consider laying out our clothes the night before and she should give me some ideas on what she would want for breakfast or lunch instead of relying on me to read her mind…and how late did she stay up last night that maybe she should be waking up earlier in the morning?

…all in my “pissed off” and “accusing” tone.

Silence on the passenger side.

Then I realized that with all the mindfulness practice and mantras I have in my arsenal, there are still times when I fall off the wagon and I revert back to old habits of mindlessness.

Anyway, I dropped her off and said, “Have a good day, honey”.  At this point, I was hoping that she had forgiven me for my outburst.  As I was waiting for the train heading downtown, I remembered one of the simplest techniques in my arsenal that I should have done:

S.T.O.P.

S–stop and take a time out; pause

T–take a slow breath in and out. Take another one, for good measure.

O-observe what is happening inside you. Were you holding your breath? How about your shoulders–were they tense and up? Just notice. No judging.

P-proceed; having checked into what is happening, continue with whatever you were doing.  Maybe, just maybe…you are feeling calmer and clearer to deal with the present situation.

Anyway, as I write this blog on the train on the way home (the course finished early! yay!), I remind myself that there will be times when I will fall off the wagon, but it is okay.

I can always begin again.

Next time, I hope that I remember to STOP… before I blow things out of proportion.

Hopefully, you will too….

Have a good rest of the week, everyone!

Debbie.

 

 

 

Wasting time…

 

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I reached level 1170 of the Candy Crush saga today.  How I got to this level, I cannot really remember.  When I first load the game on my phone, it says “everyone’s game” or   “50,000,000 Candy Crush fans cannot be wrong…” or “join millions of players.”.  Well, I’m one of those millions, I guess.

Level 1170–imagine how many hours I spent to get to that level!  I actually don’t really want to think about it.  What other things could I have accomplished while I was trying to get that “polka dot thingy” with the “square thingy” to create a explosion that clears all those jellies?

Thank goodness I never fall for those tricks where I buy gold or lives.  I still retain some degree of sanity!

Looking at my phone, I realize I have other apps that help me waste my time…Clash Royale, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest.  Once I am on one of those apps, I get so engrossed that when I do resurface, 30 minutes or even an hour may have gone by…! It is especially bad when I go to the toilet with my phone and I don’t come out for a good 45 minutes (don’t shake your head and be hoity-toity about it–I’m sure you’ve done it too!).

So, I am going to try an experiment this coming week to see how much time I really spend on my phone and wasting time.  Checking text messages and emails will not count as those should just about 15-20 minutes to respond to. I will make this my mindfulness practice for the week.

So, I’m thinking that to replace those hours, I will bring a book with me to read on the train, brush up on my Spanish, write more on this blog, make more of my runningmuffings jewelry.  That should keep me busy.

Will report back next week.

So, I may be stuck on level 1170 for while….

Have a good weekend everyone!

Debbie

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Year’s Resolution…?

My daughter and I went to a small community Christmas concert that showcased wind instruments. Actually, the Oakville Wind Orchestra is Canada’s oldest concert band (it was created in 1866 and it was sponsored by the Town of Oakville on 1881 and it continues to the present day!) so it was a big deal to have something with so much history in our own backyard.

It’s not like one of those big production kind of things either!  The tickets were $20 per person and $10 for students. So for a total price of $30, we got to enjoy concert band music on a nice wintry evening. The musicians were very talented and you would not have believed that the group of 45, ranging from 16 year olds to seniors, were students, teachers, lawyers, accountants, wives, husbands, etc!  My daughter and I were really quite enthralled once they started playing.

My daughter plays the flute so it was quite understandable that she gravitated toward the flute players and was particularly captivated with how the musicians’ fingers seemed to lightly fly over the little tiny holes in the instrument…

However, what really caught my attention was the percussionist who was playing the xylophone.  Actually, she had different types of xylophones. http://www.guitarcenter.com/Orff-Xylophones.gc. 

I thought, “Wow!  I didn’t think that a xylophone could sound that good!  The only xylophone I know are the ones with the rainbow coloured bars that always seemed to be the favourite of all toddlers! Definitely no rainbow colours here!”

This evening also made me rethink –perhaps learning an instrument in 2017 would be a worthy endeavour.  I’m thinking that it would be a good New Years resolution…

My choices were:

Piano? Nope, I used to take piano lessons when I was small…I have not-so-fond memories of my piano teacher’s stern look when she realizes I didn’t practice…

Violin? Maybe not a good idea since I have this fear that I might get a crick in the neck that I will never recover from…

Flute?  Nope–I already have a flute player in the family…

Guitar? My fingers are not that long…

Ukulele? Hey!  It’s small and compact and short fingers are a non-issue..and I recall I bought my daughter a ukulele when she was somehow inspired by Grace Vanderwaal (the 2016 America’s Got Talent winner)….haven’t seen it lately but I’m sure it’s around somewhere….so no additional financial outlay there!

But somehow, telling people that learning to play the ukulele as my New Year’s resolution seems rather unusual. Not that it should really matter what other people think….

…or maybe I should consider learning a language instead…? French? Spanish? Italian?

Here’s to your New Year’s resolution…whatever it may be!!

Debbie.

“Don’t push me…please.”

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Those who knew that I was on this mindfulness journey were actually afraid for me…”That’s it.  Debbie is going to be a doormat once the word gets out that she is actually nice….”

BEFORE that fateful spring day in April 2012, I was the “Yes, I can handle this” type of person.  There was nothing I couldn’t juggle:

  • a stressful career and since I just got promoted, my “proving mode” was on overdrive
  • a busy family life (swimming lessons, piano lessons, Olivia’s homework, renovating the basement, laundry, grocery shopping…you get the picture)
  • running regime (trying to break sub-2 hours in a half marathon and not throw up at the finish line),
  • learning Spanish for work (fail…although, I can order a bottle of wine and ask where the bathroom is)
  • writing a children’s book (still not finished)

While I thought I was a pretty good juggler, I admit I was not the nicest person to be around.  I was more impatient, more crabby, more mean…just “more”.

I remember telling my husband that his 102-year old grandmother will die a very bitter old woman and she deserves it. Ummm, yah. Not nice.

In the office, I had just gotten a promotion and so I was so engrossed in proving myself…if someone disagreed with me, I spent the day poring over accounting rules to prove them wrong.   “I am right and you are wrong.” Ummm, yah.  Not nice.

THEN, while on a conference call that fateful spring day in April 2012, my brain and lungs decided that juggling was no longer fun. I could not catch my breath and everyone in the office thought I was having a heart attack.  They called 911.

Not a heart attack, but an anxiety attack…equally as life changing.  It took months of doctor’s visits, hours of therapy, rigorous regime of mindfulness practice and meditation to realize that it is OK to be…imperfect, vulnerable, not be in control.

FAST FORWARD TO TODAY ….

I am more centered, more mindful, more present…just “more”.

My daughter loves that fact that I am patient, calmer, and actually listens…

Work is also more enjoyable–both for me and for my colleagues.  I try to inject humor and an all-around-positive-attitude during meetings, I try to actually listen with a “beginner’s mind” even though I may have seen the issue in the past (hey, I might learn something new), and I am more patient in explaining myself (if the other person does not get it the first time, it is OK…I can try to explain again).

So, getting back to the “doormat” issue.  I must admit that I too was worried that people would take advantage of my “niceness”….and you know what?  Yes, people have tried to take advantage.  I don’t fool myself into believing that just because I am on this mindfulness journey that everyone is also on the same journey. However, as Mahatma Gandhi once said,

“You cannot change how people treat you or what they say about you.  All you can do is change the way you react to it.”

So, when someone pushes me, I generally pause, assess (the person may be having a tough day!), and say with kindness and compassion…”Don’t push me…please.”

So far, this reaction has worked for me.

However, I wonder if they had kept pushing me…I think I might have eventually taken a page from the book of one of my very passionate Latina friends…..”You keep pushing me….and I BITE YOU!!”

At that point, I would have taken away the WELCOME mat….

Oh well.

Debbie