Simple tricks to fit meditation into your day

Simple tricks to fit meditation into your day

Usually when one goes on vacation, the mind is finally supposed to relax and not think about stressful things. Have you ever noticed this well-intentioned plan never works?

I’m a woman constantly obsessing about what I need to face when I’m back at work, or things I need to do around the house. It’s a never-ending saga!

While on vacation for the last week in sunny Huatulco, I spent a lot of time napping under the shade of palm trees and meditating with my spirit guide. One thing I learned is that my mind wanders so much that I can’t even keep it still for 5 minutes at a time!

dog-meditating
This dog is meditating better than me!

This means that for the precious moments that I am focused, I need to make my meditation count!

I started repeating short affirmations to myself whenever I caught myself being unable to stay in meditation mode:

  1. I am powerful and abundant.
  2. The Universe is providing everything that I need.
  3. I am getting whatever I want.
  4. Abundance, abundance, abundance!

These short little affirmations were a lot easier to automate in my head than doing the long drawn out versions like:

  • I am abundant and in the flow of money. The Universe provides me whatever I need. All my dreams are being realized. I want for nothing and am financially provided for.

If you find that you are having issues focusing on meditation or doing manifestation work, try coming up with short mantras that you can repeat to yourself throughout the day that are easy to remember.

Repetition is key! Find ways to build meditation into smaller chunks throughout the day.

There are days that I’ll meditate at my desk while I’m working. I’ll close my eyes for a few minutes and just focus on my breath. This helps me to be more centered and alert.

Active meditation is something I practice a lot. Usually when I’m washing dishes, or walking to get coffee, I’ll focus on the moment. What am I seeing, hearing, or smelling? Being present in the moment can often relax the brain.

Woman washing the dishes in the kitchen.
Washing dishes can be very meditative

It’s very easy for us to let our minds wander all day long, but as I get older I’m learning that my thoughts alone cause me more exhaustion than any other outside stimulus!

Mental breaks are very important when it comes to being productive and present in your life and the lives of others. If you are the type of person who likes to be of service, you have to remind yourself to take a lot of breaks.

Short mantras are also great for manifestation work! Try to figure out the quickest way to say what you want to achieve mentally:

  • I am manifesting an extra $2000 in the next 3 months to go on vacation to Hawaii in May 2017.

The best trick for manifestation is to make it seem like it’s already happening in your mind. That means you need to visualize what your intention looks like. Remember, you’ll always get what you ask for so make sure you are really clear when you do this work!

What does it feel like? Can you smell the dollar bills in your hand?  Is your wallet getting thicker? How happy do you look knowing that you didn’t go into debt to go on holidays? How does that beach sand feel between your toes? Can you feel the heat of the sun on your skin?

The visualization of your meditation is what helps convince you that your intention is becoming reality.

I’ve read some forums where people are attempting to attract the right significant other into their lives. You cannot force someone to fall in love with you. Free will is always going to work against you.

If you have a crush, you might let the red flags slide just to be with them. However, if you are focused on particular personality traits, you might end up attracting a mate more suitable for your needs.

How does this person make you feel? What activities are you doing on your dates? Is this person a great conversationalist? Does he or she make an effort with your family and friends?

There are going to be hundreds of qualities to choose from in a romantic partner manifestation. Just pick your top favourites and give it a go. Make up mantras and repeat them in your head when you think about it.

Hopefully this trick of shortening up affirmations into a repeatable mantras will help you if you can’t sit still long enough to meditate. Successful meditation requires frequency and repetition. The way I meditate looks nothing like how other people would meditate, but it works for me.

What are some tips that you have about fitting meditation into your life? Do you schedule it or just do it when you think of it? Share some of your secrets in the comments!

 

 

 

 

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The disease of bias in the Canadian Health Care System

The disease of bias in the Canadian Health Care System

I had a bad week with the Canadian Health Care System. Even though it’s nice to know that we have it, I’d like to share some of the sad reality of this system and that there are a lot of times when I have needed it and it failed.

A massive stomach cramp came out of nowhere last week and struck me down. Was it the shitty Chinese takeout I ate last night?

Man Sitting On Bed And Feeling Unwell
Stomach cramp from hell

Favourite go-to scapegoat for tummy problems: blame whatever I didn’t cook myself. It was all vegetarian so I couldn’t blame uncooked meat for this pain.  Damn!

I took some digestive over the counter aids like Tums and Gravol. I played the waiting game until the pain subsided. It didn’t.  

I waited a few days to make sure it wasn’t just in my head. Took stronger antacids and doubled up dosages. No effect.

My symptoms included a persistent stomach pain in the upper abdomen, fatigue, chest tightness, shortness of breath, lack of appetite, inability to sleep due to the pain and what felt like acid reflux. The first day it hit me, I slept for 18 hours and ate hardly 300 calories worth in 2 days.

I caved and called Health Link 811. This is a phone number provided by Alberta Health Services which connects patients to a real nurse. He or she will listen to your symptoms and tell you whether to just continue treating with some OTC medicine or go see a doctor.

My nurse told me I had to go to my closest Urgent Care and get myself looked at ASAP.

I left work reluctantly because I felt she was a bit alarmed for nothing. I thought, “here we go, time to sit around the waiting room for 2-3 hours before I even get in to see a doctor.” But I figured since the nurse was quite insistent I head over there, that it was serious enough that I’d be seen quickly.

waiting_room_final_01
A typical hospital waiting room

I’m a healthy 30-something but in recent months I’ve begun to notice my health is starting to decline slightly. It’s not like in my 20’s where I could fix any health issue by taking a nap! Ok, I exaggerate but it literally didn’t take long for anything to pass in a day or so.

These days if I spend one night on a crappy mattress, I end up with back pain that lasts for days. I can’t just walk it off anymore. Ugh!

After two hours in the waiting room, I was called in to wait around some more to see the actual doctor. Two nurses talked to me about my symptoms and checked my vitals. All good.

Then the doctor came in, felt my abdomen and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. She gave me a strong antacid with lidocaine in it (the stuff that numbs the crap out of you). The doctor assured me that if I felt better that all I needed was a stronger antacid.

doctor-patient-relationships-unlocking-doors-1
Expectation: the doctor will listen to my concerns and address them

After a good half hour she checked on me and noticed that I looked “normal”. My face colouring was fine. I wasn’t wailing in pain like some other drama queens in the waiting room. There were at least 4 that I counted that day that were crying out from time to time and cursing periodically when their name wasn’t called.

This was my health care provider’s initial sarcastic comment: “You look pretty comfy!”

I was dumbstruck, “Excuse me?”

Doctor: “Well it seems like that antacid did the trick.”

Me: “Actually, it didn’t do anything except numb my tongue.”

Doctor: “So did it reduce your pain?”

Me: “No, it just covered it up. The pain is still there.”

Doctor: “I’m going to write you a prescription for a stronger antacid.”

Me: “I don’t think the antacid you gave me even worked.”

Doctor: “No, it’s fine, it REDUCED the pain.”

Me: “It NUMBED me, but the pain is still there.”

Doctor: “I think what you have is acid reflux and if that’s not it, you might want to talk to your family doctor about ordering a test to check for an ulcer.”

The doctor hands me the prescription and wishes me well. She assures me that I can come back anytime if the pain worsens in the next few days.

doctor-guessing
Reality: The doctor needs the bed for a “real” patient…so GTFO!

 

Well, I’m completely un-reassured at this point that seeing a doctor in Urgent Care is even worth the hassle! The doctor didn’t even listen to anything I was saying. But she did offer another culprit: an ulcer.

I left the Urgent Care after 4 hours altogether. I spoke to a co-worker after I got back to the office about what happened and how pissed off I was about my experience. Jaded, she attests, “Unless you are a senior or a child, everyone in between gets the most mediocre health care because you are likely to survive anything.”

Unfortunately, it turns out doctors are human, and therefore, biased to some level.

Bias in the health care system can be based on age, gender, race, weight, or a myriad of other stereotypes. Just because one is a doctor doesn’t make them immune from being prejudiced.

In fact, it’s alarming how many people are sent away from the hospital due to mistakes made in the diagnosis due to bias.

Is it just assumed that “healthy adults” must be faking our symptoms, or exaggerating the severity of them, because we are “healthy”?

Due to my family’s medical history with cardiovascular illnesses, I’m a good candidate to get heart disease. The same disease that killed Carrie Fisher recently. Being a woman, I know it won’t be easily caught and is typically under-diagnosed for my gender.

I’m 35 and I’m already on high blood pressure medication even after I was a vegetarian for 8 years to prevent getting it.

Speaking of age bias, a doctor on a separate occasion chuckled when he saw that I was on Ramipril. “But you’re so YOUNG and HEALTHY!” Uhm…being on a medication for a precursor to heart disease does not imply health, doc!

Getting back to my story, after taking this stronger antacid for a couple days and still feeling little to no effect from it, I went to a walk-in clinic for more answers.

Normally, I’ll call the clinic in advance to find out the wait time and then I’ll go. This time there was no one in line so I bolted from work and was able to see a doctor within half an hour. Score!

The doctor I saw there was much more sympathetic and ordered me a panel of blood tests. The panel also included an H. pylori breath test, which apparently is the bacteria that causes peptic ulcers and stomach cancer.

h-pylori-bacterium
H. pylori bacterium

The “C” word is always scary when mentioned. This doctor is at least taking this a bit more seriously. Unfortunately, she warns me the test takes a month to book. Sure enough, when I went to book the H. pylori test, the first opening was a month away with Calgary Lab Services.

So here I am, stuck taking an antacid that hasn’t cured me for at least another month until I get answers on that one test. At least my appetite is back and I can sleep somewhat better.

You have to be your own health care advocate.

The system is stacked against you if you are considered “healthy” compared to people who are bleeding out, suffering from chronic illnesses, or literally on the verge of death.

In my 20’s I tried a lot of diets and could never keep the weight off. I thought something was wrong with me. I went to see a doctor about a decade ago that he didn’t want to order me “unnecessary” blood tests because he didn’t want his clinic audited. But he was more than happy to prescribe me a weight loss drug that caused involuntary diarrhea and dehydration as potential side effects. Naturally, I declined.

For a second opinion, I met another doctor who barely knew me for 5 minutes and told me I was probably pre-diabetic because I had trouble losing weight. I cried in the car on the way home because I couldn’t get it out of my head that I might have diabetes! It turned out I didn’t have diabetes.

I suspect now the doctor either had a weight or age bias, or was just an asshole with no bedside manner.

Universal health care has a lot of hoops you have to jump through. My American friends think of the Canadian health care system as something to be admired. The reality is that it’s not as perfect as you think.

Sure, the health care system is great if you like waiting around weeks or several months for answers on the government’s dime. On the other hand, private health care is available in Alberta. Trust me, after my experience, it’s very tempting to consider forking over $4000 a year just to get access to doctors on a moment’s notice.

bills-stack-640x425
Money, money, money, MONEYYYYYY!

But don’t worry guys, that hefty price tag is reduced to about $3000 if you renew with the clinic for the next year! These clinics bank on the fact that a lot of services are covered by your private health insurance through work so you’ll be reimbursed for many services, if not all of them.

But if you are a business owner or contractor, well…cough it up! You must be rich, right?

Your health is the most valuable asset you own.

It’s not your house, your car, or anything material. What I’ve learned is that I have to fight to receive the care I want.

For my younger adult readers, make sure that you never take any answer at face value from a doctor especially if your gut tells you something is off. Always ask more questions and never accept a mediocre answer. Be persistent.

Don’t forget, it’s our taxpayer dollars that are funding the big salaries of our doctors. YOU ARE THE BOSS! So if you think your doctor is giving you a pat on the head and rushing you out the door with a half-ass medical opinion, be aware you might need a second or third one to feel satisfied.

Be your own superhero and hold your health care providers accountable. Your life is worth saving even if you’re the only one doing it.

supermom
I am my own superhero!

Secret to success: take a 15-minute break

Secret to success: take a 15-minute break

When I was in grade 11, I remember my high school biology teacher was this militaristic school marm-type woman who was intimidating as all hell.  I’m sure you have experienced at least one teacher in your life who basically struck the fear of God in your soul if you were even 2 minutes late to class.  Her death glare was legendary. For the sake of anonymity, I’m going to call this force of nature who shaped me permanently Mrs. Smith (also because I legit forgot her name!)

school-marm
The hallmarks of a typical school marm: Strict, scary, death glare…check!

Mrs. Smith was actually away for the first half of the school year in 1997 for a medical leave. Instead,  a substitute teacher taught my bio class who was super nice, and unfortunately, bullied hard by the students. I always loved Mrs. Burns (fake name).  She was jovial, smiled a lot, joked with the students, and laughed at her own clumsiness. Mrs. Burns was joined by a teaching aide who was just in university finishing up her teaching degree.  I felt bad for Mrs. Kay because she was very mild-mannered and bullied even more incessantly than Mrs. Burns.  Mrs. Kay seemed to always be on the verge of tears as she could never get the class to quiet down or cooperate.  She spoke so softly, we could hardly hear her over the din of raucous classmates who loved the sounds of their own voices. Due to her inability to rally the herd, the students shamelessly ignored Mrs. Kay’s instructions and Mrs. Burns would have to cast her own version of a disappointed stare, which was barely effective.  This toxic situation lasted about 5 months until Mrs. Smith returned to school and worked to shut that shit down.

Due to the easy-going nature of the class during the first half of the year, the students were barely ready for Mrs. Smith’s arrival.

She showed up after the Christmas break and we had no idea that she was actually our real teacher. Mrs. Smith introduced herself and was very open about having been on medical leave. She was very direct about her expectations. She didn’t tolerate students who spoke out of turn and would kick them out of class for disruption.  She wouldn’t let them back in until they apologized and behaved well. Otherwise, the disciplinary action was repeated. Mrs. Smith used shock value to shut us up by slamming a ruler against her desk to create an ear-piercing pop that would startle everyone into silence followed by an icy stare down.  She wasn’t afraid of anything, least of all a bunch of sniveling teenagers.

Every week there would be a quiz on all the stuff we learned in class. If we passed each quiz, we automatically earned 10% of our overall mark. If we failed to study our texts or do our assignments, we’d lose the 10%. It was the easiest 10% I ever earned!  Or so I thought…

That 10% though came at a cost. It meant I actually had to read and re-read all my notes in class. I also learned to re-write all my notes, as they looked like illegible scrawl coming out of class. She taught us study tactics like making up our own quiz questions as we read chapters to retain the information better. She taught us to highlight specific sentences and create flash cards out of glossary words. No one had taught me how to study before Mrs. Smith came along. I was grateful in later years for her advice.

However, there was a chink to her plan. Mrs. Smith realized quickly that students were getting burnt out because many were not passing those weekly tests. I was always very studious so I had no issue with it. One thing she mentioned to us later, that stuck with me all through University years and eventually now, she said take study breaks every hour for 15 minutes. Shut your brain off completely by watching tv, going for a walk, making a snack, or taking a power nap.

I thought to myself “what a waste of time!  I can’t afford to take 15 minute breaks every hour!”

I have a total of 4 hours of studying time after school is done and if I take 15 minute breaks it means I shorten my studying time to 3 hours!  That’s completely nuts!  The nerdy kids like myself all bitched and moaned that the old bat was off her rocker.

Boy, was I proven wrong.

The 15 minute breaks helped me retain more information when it came to memory recall during quiz time. I performed better on tests. In fact, I became more efficient at studying because I had a shorter time to absorb the same amount of information. I used the break trick throughout University. When my friends were exhausted from their studies, I had 2 part-time jobs, a sorority officer position which was like having third part-time job, and full-time studies with my Bachelor’s degree!  Yet I was never as exhausted and burnt out. Sure, I was stressed by deadlines and exams like everyone else and I maintained a respectable GPA of 3.34/4.0.

I wasn’t a straight-A student, and didn’t need to be. Perfectionism is not really my strong suit and even though I try I have always failed at it.

But striving for excellence means I’m hella above average so I’ll take that anyway!

Fast-forward ahead to 20 years later. I build in a 15 minute coffee break every 4 hours during my workday. Every hour or two I’ll get up and walk to the kitchen and do a round through my office which gives me a 5 minute repose. The breaks help me recharge and quiet my brain slightly so that I can focus on the task at hand. It make me more efficient as a worker but also friendlier to my colleagues as I am less wound up.

work-breaks
Gotta de-stress at least once a day by the water cooler to discuss the weather, the road conditions, or the latest Trump tweet!

There are still times I find myself having to disengage from people. I tell friends I’m busy so I can sit on the couch and Netflix all night. I’m ok with that. But last year in an effort to save money, I didn’t go on a proper vacation for almost 12 months. That lead to me feeling drained and empty, even though I was still filling my life with activities that I enjoyed. I lost focus. Those activities felt like work and because less fun over time.

My greatest passion in life is to travel abroad. If I take a 3-4 day mini-break, it’s simply not enough time for my brain to shut off. I’m bombarded by thoughts of everything I need to do when I get back. In fact, there are times I can’t even sleep because my brain will not shut off.  Rather than feeling recharged, I come back irritated and exhausted from my mini-break.

The truth is I feel ripped off when I don’t take a proper vacation.

The end of 2016, I went away to Vancouver for 6 days. I got to meet up with a good friend who moved out there, did some sightseeing, ate too much food, and slept in every day. In addition to this, I still had an extra 3 days off because of the New Year’s holiday. This extra long break helped me feel more refreshed than if I had just taken a couple days off for the statutory holiday.

The moral of this story is that if you are the type of over-achiever who isn’t taking proper breaks in your life, you will wear yourself thin. People will notice your irritability and anxiety and will not want to spend time with you for very long. You need to do yourself and the world a favour by disconnecting solidly every once in a while. Does that mean being cooped up inside your room for 24 hours, or going on a hike where you don’t have a cell signal, or does that mean a 2 week vacation?

After years of studying myself, I’ve learned the magic number of days off is 10 days for me.

Any longer than that and I start to get irritated that I’m not back to my life because I’m ready to take on the world! Any shorter than that and it’s like I wasn’t even on a break.

What’s constitutes a brain break for you?  I’d love to know!  Please comment below and tell me.

The Shift: Stop making new year’s resolutions and start changing your mindset

The Shift: Stop making new year’s resolutions and start changing your mindset

Around this time of year, everyone is running around like crazy.  Parties to attend, work deadlines to meet before the holidays, family obligations, and spending an inordinate amount of time online shopping for the perfect gift!  Stop with the madness already!

Maybe it’s a bit early to talk about New Year’s resolutions, but imma do it anyway!

When all this Christmas stuff is over, we get to set up new expectations in the new year of all the bad habits we want to break or all the new habits we’d like to start.  We want to lose weight, eat more vegetables, stop drinking alcohol or quit smoking.  Or there could be more interesting goals like save money for a vacation, buy a new house, travel abroad, or change careers.

According to the stats, only 8% of people ever successfully achieve their new year’s resolutions.

Well…crap!

That’s because we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect.  Each of the goals listed above is quite lofty in its own way.  How do we keep the momentum once the buzz of the holidays has worn off?  Do you feel withdrawal from cutting out sugar or caffeine?  After a few weeks you’re cranky, hungry, and agitated.  What chance of manifesting success do you really have?

How many diets and weight loss plans have I started and regrettably ended because I lost my willpower?  Dozens of times in the last 20 years.  The featured image I chose for this blog is how I and other gym rats always scoff at the New Year’s “resolution-ers” hitting the gym as of January. Every gym regular knows those people who are attempting to make it based on willpower will most certainly fail by the end of March. Then we don’t have to wait for our favourite machines anymore and the fitness classes become more roomy again! Yaaassssss!

The best advice on achieving goals I ever got was from reading one of those free books you get with a GoodLife gym membership when you sign up.  In Living the Good Life: Your Guide to Health and Success, David-Patchell Evans writes about how “good enough is good enough”. He says perfection is something that no one should be striving to achieve on a day to day basis.  You are more likely to give up your goals or get burnt out over the long-term.  Making smaller incremental changes that become a part of your life are the best way to have them become a permanent part of your life.

There’s going to be days or weeks where you’ll fall off the wagon, but that’s ok.  You have to brush yourself off and try again.

Instead of aiming for new year’s resolutions to start making changes in your life, why not start now?  Each day I do something small to work towards manifesting my goals.  I want to be debt-free and have financial freedom.  So I read a lot of books and articles on how to do that.  I don’t do it for hours, but just enough to get a couple new ideas into my brain.

I listened to a podcast by Tony Robbins this morning where he spoke about the entrepreneur mindset. Robbins believes that 80% of success comes from thought while 20% comes from mechanics.  Tons of books have been written on the subject of changing your thinking.  Fear, which is a construct of our brain, holds people back from executing the tough stuff.  Maybe instead of taking giant leaps forward all the time, we just need to take baby steps and get closer to our dreams.

We need to give ourselves a break from being our worst critics.

It’s hard to achieve a goal and one should be praised for getting it.  Why is a reaching a goal worthy of praise? People forget how hard the journey itself is.  The journey is where we learn how to be the best parts of ourselves, through the learning and the mistakes.  We survive somehow.  It doesn’t make you weak if you don’t succeed at something.  The fact that you tried anything at all should demonstrate how strong you are.  And if you dust yourself off and try again, you are even stronger for doing so.

Success is 99 percent failure.

-Soichiro Honda

So instead of making a list of unrealistic new year’s resolutions that you may achieve a little but then give up on by March, maybe just tell yourself that you aren’t going to make them anymore.  I haven’t made new year’s resolutions in years because I think they are a waste of time and energy.  I’d rather just go on impulse and do whatever I want no matter what time of year it is.

I bought a guitar at the beginning of December 2016 and want to learn how to play it.  Doesn’t mean I’ll succeed but I’m going to give it a go.  I tried to learn by watching YouTube videos but quickly realized that my fingertips weren’t hitting the strings or frets correctly and my posture was completely off.  The strumming didn’t sound right either.  Rather than learning how to play badly without one-on-one instruction, I just figured I’d pay someone to teach me.

Like everyone else, I figured that it was cheaper and just as good to try something on my own. But unlike everyone else, I didn’t give up when I didn’t get it. I changed my mindset to accept that I am not a guitar teacher and I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s better I hire a professional to save me time and energy!

In my first lesson, my instructor helped me loosen the grip on my hands.  He watched me and taught me how to make it feel natural playing chords and strumming the guitar.  I wouldn’t have learned these tricks on my own. I’m not the expert.  Just check out the hundreds of ads on Kijiji where people have written that they bought the guitar on a whim and only ended up playing it a couple times because life got in the way. Basically, for the people who didn’t want to invest in the journey, they gave up.

It doesn’t matter to me that I become an expert at the guitar. I want to play it as a stress reliever because I’ve always loved music. When I was a child, I learned to play a variety of instruments (accordion, harmonium, sitar, clarinet and saxophone) and I remember how good it felt to play a song.  When I was 17, I stopped playing the saxophone because I hated band practice!

So why did I quit music if I loved it so much? I used to force myself to practice at least an hour and I absolutely loathed it.  Knowing what I know now, it was a mistake to make my practice sessions so long to the point that I hated practice at the end of it.  I thought I was being disciplined and everyone else in band was practicing at least an hour a day (or so I thought).  Unfortunately, it made me hate playing music so much that I ended up quitting it for almost 20 years.

Now when I practice the guitar, I don’t practice for an hour.  I practice until my fingers start to hurt too much and then I stop.  That’s maybe 20-30 mins at a time, and sometimes even less. As I build up the calluses, I know I’ll play longer. My goal is just to play what I learned quicker and better than when I started the practice.  If I achieve that, I stop when I reach my high point. It leaves me with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that I’m farther now than I was before.  Good enough is good enough.

How many of you reading this were musicians, dancers, athletes once and have given up because the practice schedule felt overwhelming to you and now you have given it up permanently?

 It’s always a good idea to invest in yourself and work towards personal development.

Sometimes you have to fight yourself against yourself too.  Your inner critic is always waiting for you to fail so why not shut him/her up by changing your mindset?  Push out the negative thoughts and pull in the positive ones.  It’s easier said than done and takes practice. But that’s the Law of Attraction and manifestation for you!

Forget Monday or New Year’s Day.  Start your goals today.  Don’t think in terms of calendars anymore.

Here are some journalling prompts in case you are thinking about goal setting now:

  • What goals are you trying to achieve?
  • What have you started and given up on?
  • Why did you give up?
  • Was there anything you’ve stuck to long-term?
  • What made you stick with something longer than another goal you gave up on quickly?

In the meantime, what is your advice for those of us trying to stick to our goals: resolutions or otherwise?  Have you successfully stuck to a new year’s resolution?  Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know!

 

How to survive holiday parties: 5 tips to fake it while you make it

How to survive holiday parties: 5 tips to fake it while you make it

Ah, the holidays are here!  Christmas music on the radio and the in the mall.  Festive lights everywhere.  Santa Claus and nativity displays on every corner.  But yet, my rear end keeps expanding and the stress levels are higher than Dave Chappelle’s crackhead alter ego: Tyrone Biggum.

tyrone

As a typical introvert, I sometimes don’t like hanging out in large groups of people when I’m stressed.  It’s the end of the year, deadlines are looming, personal commitments are piling up, everyone wants a piece of you, and the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t until January.

The weather outside is frightful and I am simply not spending enough time in front of that delightful fire.  The last thing I want to do is hit up a festive holiday party!

My preference would be to slip into some sweatpants, make some popcorn and finally get around to finishing Mad Men on Netflix, which I’ve been watching for a year or longer…it’s blasphemy, I know, when you can binge a season of anything in a weekend if you’re committed. But Mad Men is very difficult to commit to. Ya know, like Don Draper trying to commit to his wives. *whisper* He can’t!

Oh, SNAP!

don-draper

In case you’re not a watcher of the show, this image shows Draper (the biggest ‘ho on Madison Ave) in an elevator with his mistress who has decided to stop seeing him and work on her marriage. But he’s still really into her and now they are alone in the sex elevator trying to not molest each other.  AWKWARD!

The main reason I don’t really enjoy holiday parties is that super invasive conversations are started by people who should mind their own damn business but the filter conveniently stops working right around December.  Every. Time.

If you are single, when are you going to find a boyfriend/girlfriend?

If you’re dating, when are you two lovebirds going to settle down?

If you’re married, when are you going to have babies?

If you have tried having babies but aren’t successful, how about adoption or IVF?

If you don’t want babies at all, it’s ok! You’re still young and will change your mind.

If you have babies, are you done having them?

If you are done having children, are you getting a vasectomy/tubal ligation?

I’ve gained so much weight over Christmas, I’m going to start the diet in the new year for sure.  How about you?  *judges you as you reach for another gingerbread cookie*

If you’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten intolerant, basically following any special lifestyle diet: good for you!  I could never do that!  I love high cholesterol and intestinal damage way too much.

*snicker* I inserted that last sarcastic sentence myself.

kimk

ARGH!!

I’m not angel, and I’m sure that I’ve brought up each of these topics in the past at some point or another just trying to make friendly conversation without realizing the problem.  It’s just so common in our culture that we forget how insensitive these questions actually are. I hope that if you hear me spouting this crap again, please tell me to STFU or walk away.  Permission granted!

So how does an introvert survive the holidays without murdering everyone at the soiree?

Here are five helpful tips to keep those anxious screams internal:

  1. Smile like God is watching you.  Because he or she is.  And killing people is bad.  Oh geez, I’m going to end up killing someone, aren’t I?
  2. Positive affirmations such as:
    • I like everyone at this party, especially when the vino is flowing!
    • The token biggot is not saying anything offensive today. Yey!
    • If I eat the food, I don’t have to make dinner myself and it’s free.  Score!
    • Everyone’s wearing the most hilarious ugly sweaters. Woohoo!
  3. Drink delicious spiked egg nog. Lots of it!  I’d rather be known as a drunk than a serial killer.  And if you’re feeling particularly ragey, add more rum!
  4. Hang out with people who are equally socially awkward so that you have something in common. Discuss, at length, all the Netflix shows you could be watching right now.
  5. Run to the washroom lots and imply that you are having stomach issues.  This way people won’t come looking for you when you disappear to hang with the pets in the basement until this thing is over.  Hanging with animals is way more fun than conversing with humans. Amirite??

And if you are the host of the soiree…well, save some ‘nog for later. You’re going to need it!

I’m sure there are a ton more tips out there to help you survive the holidays.  If you have any helpful suggestions, please leave a comment below!

First impressions: 5 tricks of reading body language to determine if you like someone or not in seconds!

I boast to people about how quickly I know upon meeting someone if I like them or not.  The first impression is the best impression you have on someone.  After that, you will spend a lot of time getting to know them, only to realize what you knew all along was true about them.

How do you do this?

  1. Trust your instincts!
    • This is a no-brainer. You must be aware of how your body reacts to meeting someone.  Do you feel edgy or warm?  Are you immediately attracted to their personality. Does this gaze seem genuine?  Does the hair on the back of your neck stand up like a giant “Watch out for this person” statement? You can determine all this in seconds.
  2. Look at their eyes
    • Making eye contact is the best way to peer into someone’s soul without really trying.  If they hold their gaze, it means they are interested in making a connection.  Averting eyes could be a cultural habit, or it could mean the person is flakey or insecure.  But if that person makes and maintains eye contact, chances are pretty good that they are in control and confident where they stand.
  3. Do they speak quickly or slowly?
    • Being a very astute observer of human behaviour, I’ve come to learn that slow speakers can be the most thoughtful, calculated people out there.  Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Quick speakers also have sharp minds but sometimes come off as being boisterous whether they intend to or not.  I have a mix of folks in my close circle.  You really need to look at the whole package.
  4. Is the person an active listener or just talking for the sake of it?
    • One of my biggest pet peeves about people is when they start talking about themselves more than asking questions about me when they first meet me.  I find this comes off very arrogant, especially to introverted people.  Talking for the sake of filling dead air can come very naturally to people who are uncomfortable with silence.  I find those people to be more anxious and stressed than people who just speak slowly or say very few words at all.
    • Another offshoot of this is, does that person keep their word or do they come up with a lot of excuses to back out of things on a frequent basis?
  5. Is their handshake firm or limp and clammy?
    • Firm handshakes are generally a good sign of confidence in a person.  I find that quality very endearing because I like people who are decisive and in control.  A vice grip comes off hostile.  A limp and clammy handshake, which I call a dead fish handshake, is the opposite where I don’t believe the person to be in control or be very superficial.

None of my above observations are based on any sort of psychology degree, just what I’ve gathered over the years.  It’s very easy for me to figure out where I stand on people within the first minute or two of meeting them.  I’ve never really been proven wrong about a person yet.  When I doubt what I sense is when I’ll end up getting disappointed. Trust your instincts!

Do you have any tricks that you keep in mind when you are meeting someone for the first time?  What traits are important for you to find?

Thanks for reading!

 

The “pitfalls” of abundance

The “pitfalls” of abundance

I’ve spoken before on the concept of being specific when you are talking about abundance affirmations and meditations.  It’s kind of a big deal and anyone working with the Law of Attraction shouldn’t take this lightly.

If you ask the Universe for let’s say “connecting with friends” the Universe won’t be able to tell which friends you are requesting.  It will just somehow get the attention of everyone in your friend circle that may be open to receiving the call.  This includes acquaintances and perhaps people who may have lost touch with due to a disagreement.

But is that really what you were going for?  Maybe we need to work on our wording and phrasing so the Universe brings us exactly what we desire.  However, first we must figure out what we want.

It’s always a good idea to do some introspective work.  Ask yourself questions regarding the specifics of your goal.  For instance, going back to the reconnecting with friends bit, maybe you want to have a timeline e.g.) within the next month.  Maybe you want to reconnect with certain friends e.g.) give the Universe some names.  Don’t leave this to assuming the Universe will just figure it out.  That’s not really the right attitude.

I also find that if my request is too broad, then the outcome I am looking for never comes to fruition.  But when I specify what I want in even a few details, I will inevitably receive it.

When I was in my early 20’s dabbling with some Wiccan spell rituals, I decided to cast a love spell under a full moon on Halloween night.  It was perfect timing to accomplish anything.  The veil is known to be the thinnest at that time, so I was ready to work!

I spent a couple days gathering all the ingredients I needed for my spell to work.  This included the right herbs, the right tools like candles, a wand, a knife, offerings, a tablecloth, the correct crystals to enhance the energy, writing the incantation and then figuring out the order of how to do things.  This was before the days of YouTube so I read a lot of books on the subject but didn’t really have a mentor.

My altar was set, I invoked the cardinal directions, cast my circle with a blade, read aloud my spell and set my intention to attract the perfect boyfriend.  I gave a few specifics (I wanted someone tall, kind, loving to animals, and financially stable).  I thanked the spirits, gods and goddesses, closed the circle and grounded myself.

It was pretty powerful stuff I was dabbling with!  In fact, I refuse to even do this kind of work anymore unless it’s something serious that I feel I need assistance with.  I didn’t even know how this all worked or if I would even end up achieving anything.  At that time, I’d been single for a long time and I just wanted to find someone.  The risk was that it could have backfired as well with the Law of Three (any energy good or bad that you send out into the Universe comes back to you threefold).

I did end up meeting a man with all these qualities.  However, we had a hard time communicating. He was not as book smart as I would have liked.  I found out that he was cheating on me. There were things lacking in the relationship that were huge red flags.

From that experience I learned a lot.  Still, I reflect back to what happened and find new things I didn’t know before.  Most importantly, I learned that being as specific as I was, the Universe gave me exactly what I asked for.

Abundance manifestation is not easy and there’s no formula to it.  You must work at it and find your own way.  Our thoughts and intentions are very powerful.  I caution you though: use this at your own risk.  However, be prepared to reap the rewards if you work hard and learn to do it right.

Have you done any abundance or manifestation work that didn’t go as planned?  Tell me what happened if you are open to sharing!

Thanks for reading!