I used to hate cats

    Growing up, we had a collie that was prettier than Lassie, the one on TV in the 1950’s.  We never had a cat because my mom hated them.  She had a bad experience as a young child, involving her dog dying on account of a cat, and carried the feelings inside for many years.

I was a die-hard dog lover.  They were friendly, cats were aloof.  They were social, cats were snobby.  I could hug my dog, but I had never gotten near enough to a cat to even attempt a hug. When I was 25, my husband brought home a kitten – a beautiful Maine coon cat that he had gotten from a friend.  It only took a few minutes of holding this  tiny, frightened, furry creature for years of hatred to be replaced with love.

Now I love cats.  Long after I moved out Mom did get a cat who got along well with her dog.  Unfortunately, this cat was killed by a dog when she ran outside – an ironic turn of events.

What’s the point?  We can change.  We don’t have to carry the old thoughts and feelings from childhood into adulthood.  We are more content if we do not let a few bad experiences define us, allowing them to influence the rest of our lives.  Change is possible if we have the desire to let go of the past.

 

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A New Attitude – Noticing Miracles Every Day

There are two ways to live your life.  One is though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.

I love this quote.  It is often ascribed to Albert Einstein.  Since he was a scientist, it did not sound to me that he would articulate this idea in this way, even if this what he believed.  I checked it out, and it is indeed a misquote.  For more information on this, you can scroll down to number 6 at this link:                                                                                                                http://skepticaesoterica.com/debunking-fake-albert-einstein-quotes/

I digress – I still love the quote, regardless of its origin.  And whether or not miracles actually exist does not really matter either.  If you believe something is a miracle, you will be less judgmental, more in awe, and more open to life’s experiences in general.  It becomes easier to go with the flow.  Not to mention that there are benefits to seeing the glass half full as opposed to half empty.  And when I go outside – I am more aware of the miraculous abundance and beauty of nature..

Today, for example, I accidentally deleted a credit card off a website I use regularly.  A few years ago, I would have cursed myself for making the mistake and wasting time.  Instead, with my new attitude enabling me to simply go with the flow, I went to the financial website, hoping to retrieve the information without getting my body up off the bed.  You see, I have muscular dystrophy, so when I rest with my laptop, it involves propping it up on a triangular pillow and a laptop board.  Well, I had no such luck getting my account number and I had to get up and get the card, but what I did find is that if we use the card for gas purchases we get an extra few percentage points bonus on each purchase!  That is like money in the bank to me!

Then, after I got up to get my credit card, I decided to give my husband his card before I forgot so that he would have it the next time he had to get gas.  Upon entering the living room, I found him watching an interesting show which featured an elephant fish.  Who knew such a creature even existed!  He taped the show for me to watch later, since I had to get back to my laptop to continue with my purchase.  I am looking forward to watching the show later.  Maybe it will inspire another blog post .  .  .  .  .

 

 

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Amazing Results of Mindfulness Research

Everyone knows that the mind affects the body, but now there is scientific research to back it up.  Where you put your mind, your body goes.  This explains the placebo effect, when there is a positive result even though nothing has really changed, as well as spontaneous remissions in people diagnosed with terminal illnesses.

Ellen Langer of the Harvard Psychology Dept. has been studying mindfulness since the 1970s.  She has done research on how thinking young keeps you young  and on the concept of mind over matter. She reports that she studied a group  of 84 chambermaids who all stated that they did not exercise.  She told 42 chambermaids that their work was exercise and that making a bed is like working out on a machine.   Before and after measurements showed that 3 months later their waists got slimmer and their blood pressure dropped.  The other 42 who were not told that their work was exercise showed no appreciable difference in blood pressure or waist to hip ratio.

When Langer had men in their late 70s live as if it was 20 years ago for a few days, their memory, sight, hearing and strength improved.

Anderson Cooper attends a mindfulness retreat with Jon Kabat Zinn finds he enjoys it.  In fact, he says that it has changed his life.  Ohio Congressman TIm Ryan is encouraging others in Congress to take a minute to stop and breath.  This was on 60 minutes:   http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mindfulness-anderson-cooper-60-minutes/

Wouldn’t it be a different world if  mindfulness becomes mainstream?

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A New Tradition

I hate endings.  I always get a dull feeling in my stomach which indicates to me that I must accept what is and move on.  As I get older, it gets easier to drop my resistance and go with the flow, but it still requires a conscious choice that I feel I do not really want to make.  As I look back on 2014, with the deaths of my mom and my father-in-law, I feel the need to focus more on what I am grateful for.  It is the best way for me to keep from dwelling on my sadness.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of gratitude is my husband and daughter.  Then I remembered something my daughter said, and I wished I could call my mom and father-in-law, who would have loved to hear it.  I had purchased a new phone when my old one died.  I have no interest in smart phones, because I am usually at home with easy access to my laptop and Kindle.  I just need to make phone calls and text.  I thought I had purchased the same phone that I had before, but a it was an upgraded model.  I had so much trouble adapting to it, that I finally gave it to my daughter and asked for help.  After about 5 minutes of playing around, she said something which is what all of us baby boomers, who grew up before computers and smart phones, long to hear, “Mom, it’s not you.  It’s your phone!”

So at least I say goodbye to 2014 with a chuckle.  And now I  focus on a new beginning, with the new phone my kid bought me for Christmas!

This year we are starting a new tradition in our home – New Year’s Day dinner is the same as Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday ever since the first of my five sisters moved away.  It was a weekend when we were all together again at Mom’s house. So much fun, laughter, food, and love.  Now that we are all older and have our own families, I cherish the memories of those weekends.

There is no better way to begin the new year than with the reminder to be grateful for everything we have.   Mom would love the idea.

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On Being Peace

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”                                                                                                                                                         – Mahatma Gandhi

I love this quote.  In the past I thought of it in global and or political terms, like the idea of peace on earth with no war, or I applied it to organizations like the Peace Corps or the Clinton Global Initiative.

In the past few years I have looked at being the change from a more personal perspective, applying it in my daily life.  Like many others, I was divorced in my early thirties.  In my case, I was married to a good man, but he was unable to deal with disability.  We parted amicably and did our best to make the transition easier for our daughter.   Six years later I married a wonderful man who has seen me go from a cane to a wheelchair and is just happy to be with me.  Unfortunately, his ex-wife who left him for another man, wanted their daughters to be on her “side”.  This led to much heartache and stress in the past.   In order to do what was best for my step-daughters, I felt I had no choice but to take the high road and become a better, stronger, more spiritual person.  There was no way I was going to be able to handle the situation without assistance from a higher power!  Looking back, I see that through it I have come to be the person I am today, able at times to rise above the drama resulting from fear and ego, to act from love and compassion.  Sometimes I fall short, but I know I am doing my best.

As my husband prepares for open heart surgery next week, it is more important than ever that I be at peace with myself so that I am not shaken, hurt, embarrassed, or disappointed with the behavior displayed by his daughters in such an emotionally charged situation.  And the fact that it is in the middle of the holiday season adds to their stress.  I am grateful that they have learned to get along and that they no longer visit us separately at Christmas.  I constantly remind myself that just because he loves me does not mean that they will.  And it is difficult for them since their mother, who now lives out of state,   feels threatened when they spend time with their Dad and me.  When I was younger, my step mom tried to turn me against my mother, so I know how hard it can be for adult children of divorce.  As difficult as that situation was with my step-mother, years later I am thankful for the lessons I learned as a result of going through it.  How else would I have been able to see their point of view?

So today  I am setting my intention to be peace, because that is what I want most for my blended family.   Peace.

 

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Giving this Holiday Season – Top Rated Charities

Yesterday was Giving Tuesday, the day we are reminded to give to those in need.   When we give from the heart, we feel good.  We are all at our best when we think of others.  For me, it just helps me to get my mind off myself, especially on days when I feel like crap, to put it bluntly!    I like to make sure that my donation is being put to good use, so I always check with The American Institute of Philanthropy’s Charity Watch.

Here is a link to their chart of the Top-Rated Charities:

http://www.charitywatch.org/toprated.html

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Organic Bath Soak Recipe

Finally, I have perfected my bath soak!

It is so easy for me to strain and pull muscles, so I often soak in bath salts.  I have tried so many and never did find one that really did the trick for me.  I am sensitive to chemicals and scents, so I began mixing my own.  I tried Himalayan salt, which is the most pure on the planet, but it is not worth spending the extra money to soak in.  I found no difference between that and regular Kosher salt and epsom salt.  I kept adjusting the ratios until I came up  with one that worked well for dry skin.

Now I have found one that I just love.

Here is my recipe:

2 and 1/2 cups coarse Kosher Salt to  soothe sore muscles                                                             1 and 1/2 cups epsom salt which aids in reducing inflammation                                                   1/2 cup baking soda to reduce skin irritation                                                                                     3 drops of organic lavender essential oil (available online) the most calming scent of all       a few drops of food coloring to desired color

Mix all these ingredients together and enjoy a nice relaxing, soothing bath.  Moisturize your skin, applying with upward strokes towards your heart for a mini-massage.

If you are sensitive to dyes, you can skip the food coloring.

Yield:  about 40 oz. which fits into a quart-size ziploc bag.

Store it in a bag or a moisture proof jar, like a canning jar, or a pretty one with a tight-fitting cork.

If you would rather purchase it, here is the link:  https://www.etsy.com/listing/212551112/free-offer-organic-salt-bath-soak?ref=shop_home_active_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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