Sunday, June 10, 2012

Yin and Yang

Jane has been aware of the yin and yang symbol for quite awhile. You know it, right? Like a fat comma in black with a fat comma in white flipped over and tucked against it. It can be oriented in different ways, but that's the basic concept. Yin and yang. Most of us are at least vaguely aware that it represents balance. What Jane didn't know is that this is one of the most fundamental concepts in traditional Chinese medicine. It goes all the way back to somewhere around 700 BCE. In the I Ching (Book of Changes), everything reduces down to yin and yang.

There is a lot of information about how the symbol came about, the reason for the exact design, the philosophy behind it. Jane is not going to even attempt to discuss some of this because while it's fascinating it is also well beyond her normal conversational level of yin and yang-ness. If you are interested, look it up. The philosophy, though, can be summed up easily. least on a superficial level. More in depth discussions can be held over coffee, lunch or ice cream. Jane is happy to arrive at any of those destinations with her contribution to the discussion.

So...everything changes. Everything, all the time, no matter what. And with that change comes a constant shifting in our search for the balance that allows us to handle the change. If we are out of balance, we suffer mentally, physically, emotionally. If we are in balance, we thrive. Makes sense, yes? But of course it's not nearly so easy to achieve this as it is to discuss it and nod in agreement that we all need balance. Who wouldn't agree with that? Talk about a "duh" moment.

Jane is pretty sure that balance is different for every single person. Some generalities, though, certainly apply. If you are all about yourself, cruising along on an ego-driven trip towards Pleasure Land, you will likely hit some significant road bumps. But the same thing applies to the opposite situation. If you are completely oriented towards the needs of others without offering yourself the same consideration, you will feel the imbalance at some point. The trick is to actually want balance and then to pursue it. You might think that's another "duh" moment, but look around. If it's so basic, why aren't more people doing it?

Jane has a neighbor who walks with a dark cloud of doom and gloom over him at all times. Now admittedly, not everyone is going to see this cloud...but they sense it from his behavior. This neighbor held on tightly to every bad thought, feeling and event in his life. He held them so closely that they became his life. Balance? Not a bit. His mental health reflects this choice. His physical health does, too. The cloud is so palpable that people do not want to push through it to reach him. An extreme example, and a sad one.

What more generally applies to most of us is the need to realize when things aren't quite right, whether we call that yin and yang or some other name or whether we have no name for it at all. For Jane, this specifically means that she needs to watch the balance of busily getting her life in order and still having fun. Simple, sweet, uncomplicated fun. She has not given enough attention to that side of her energy and she knows it. Is this a huge big deal? Not right now, but if Jane doesn't take steps to add some of that simple, sweet, uncomplicated fun to her life she will find it more and more difficult to do so. At this exact moment Jane has a strong desire to find a stream, take off her shoes and wade in the chilly water. Have a picnic. Eat a popsicle. Watch a movie. Chase fireflies. Share a belly laugh. Those things represent balance to Jane.

Create your own balance list and then make time for whatever is on it. Play. Volunteer. Worship. Work. Your own yin and yang are as individual and unique as you are, and the balance grows from the inside out.

Know yourself first. And then...grow yourself.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ten steps towards happiness

Jane was looking at something online earlier today and ended up finding a website that was not related to her search but turned out to have some intriguing information. Isn't it fun when that happens? This particular blog is about getting the most out of life. You can find it at mysuperchargedlife (dot com, of course).

So the author's premise, and one Jane embraces heartily, is that happiness is mostly created within us. There are a whole lot of people running around chasing happiness with all their energy. Do they find it? Unlikely, because the most powerful source is exactly where they are not looking. If they were to slow down and contemplate for a bit they might realize that, like Dorothy while visiting Oz, the key to their happiness has been within their grasp all along.

This blogger divided the list into five things to stop doing and five things to start doing. Fair enough. It's nice to have a mixture.

First on the list is to stop being negative. Jane is jumping up and down right now (in a very positive sort of way), agreeing. Negativity does absolutely no good except to draw more of the same to you. And does that look like happiness? No, it does not.

Next? Stop unfavorable comparisons. There will be people who have more than you and people who have less than you. This is the way of the world. Deal with it.

Stop worrying so much. If you are filled with worry, if your sleep is not peaceful, if your stomach hurts with the anxiety, what has that accomplished? Nothing, beyond turning you into a tired person with a stomach ache. Make a plan. If things change, make another.

This next one is great. Stop being so easily offended. For Pete's sake, people. Not everything is meant as a great big personal offense. Sure, some things are...and you will know them when they smack you upside your head. Avoid those people. But in general we are way too quick to take offense when none is intended. Jane likes to remember that there might indeed be one tiny point in the universe around which everything revolves...but that point is not her.

Stop living for tomorrow. This goes along with chasing happiness. If you are always waiting for tomorrow to arrive because then you'll have enough to be happy or meet the right people so you can be happy or experience the next best exciting event so you can be happy you are going to be seriously disappointed. Why? Because just like Annie's song, tomorrow is always a day away. Why not be happy today?

Next comes the start list.

Start finding the good. This sounds so basic, but Jane has found that many people put a lot of energy into finding the negative. If you concentrate on the good, you will find it easier and easier to recognize it in your life every day.

Start practicing gratefulness. Jane has blogged about having a gratitude journal. Definitely one of the most powerful things she does daily. It gets easier and easier to embrace the little blessings and to find them everywhere. Do it. No, really. Do it right now.

Here's something Jane has also mentioned. Start realizing you have choices. Oh, yes, you do. Maybe you couldn't do anything about whatever somebody else chose, but you can decide what happens next in terms of your own choices. Attitude is, after all, altitude.

Start planning happiness activities. What little things do you like to do that boost your spirits? Browse in the library? Meet a friend for ice cream? Dig in the dirt? Cook? Have an idea of these and them. Yes, it really is that simple.

Start helping someone less fortunate. It's amazing what this does for your own happiness. Reaching beyond your own egocentric existence creates an immediate feeling that grows from a little nudge to a great big shove into the land of happiness.

That was the list, both the stops and the starts. Jane thinks it is good stuff and wanted to share. Simple, right? But if it were so simple why isn't everyone doing this? Why, indeed?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Jane's two arms

Jane read something the other day. It stuck in her mind, replayed throughout the week and now here it is getting blog time. Obviously this has significance to her.

God gave us two arms. It's up to us to decide whether to cling to the past or embrace the future.

Many times we don't even think about this. Our actions and reactions are instinctive and we move along almost (almost, mind you) effortlessly. Clinging to the past or embracing the future isn't something we even consider because we're just doing it, you know? We're going on with the business of life.

But after a great biggie bump in the road, what do we do with those arms? Sometimes we wrap them so tightly around ourselves that we create a very solid suit of armor. Sometimes we refuse to face forward and reach with determination back into what was, the familiar that we still want to embrace. Because if we actually turn around and confront the unknown future, we might have to let go of the past. Or forever remain twisted up in an attempt to do both.

Jane understands the need to do that for a bit. After all, it's challenging if not completely impossible to bounce up and race forward with a grin on our faces and our arms outstretched. Gimme some future! I'm ready! So a certain amount of clinging to the past is natural. Maybe it even provides a recovery buffer.

Until it doesn't. The tricky part is realizing when that happens and accepting it and releasing our grasp on the past and turning around and reaching out for whatever might come. For the totality of possibilities. Sometimes we don't even realize we're doing the clinging. Sometimes it's so very apparent to everyone but us and when we finally join in on the collective realization we can hear the huge sigh of relief from all our friends and family.

Clinging to the past feels secure because it's what we know. Embracing the future feels like a great big butterfly in our stomachs. It's so very tempting to keep clinging. But Jane knew right from the start that she did not want to miss out on the great and delicious wonders the future would bring. After her grieving time, after she relaxed her arms and shifted her stance and peered cautiously over her shoulder at...gulp...the future, she knew what she was going to do. She knew she would take the first tentative step, and then the next, until she was turned towards the road leading to the unknown. And she would extend her arms, not to shield herself but to embrace the wonderful, exciting future.

The past? Jane wishes she never had to let it go. But in a way, she doesn't. It's part of her, those experiences, part of what makes her Jane. What makes her smile, what makes her think, what makes her strong. Knowing that, Jane can step along the new road with the comfort of bringing the best part of her past with her.

That gives her the confidence and the power to open her embrace even more.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Say What?

Here's something to ponder. We are the stories we tell about ourselves.

No, no, wait. Read it again. The point here is not that we tell stories or that we tell them about ourselves. The point is that we ARE those stories. There's a difference. Jane knows people (and admits to being one herself, though she is working on that) who do this all the time.

"I'm so clueless that..." "I can't..." "I'm not..." "My body isn't..." "My life isn't..." "My potential isn't..."

Sounding familiar?

It's sneaky, this story telling. It quietly slips into conversation, once...twice...look out, because after the third time it might easily become a habit. And that's okay if the stories are about how you handle adversity (by rising to the occasion) or how you confront challenge (with squared shoulders and a good attitude) or how you are proud of your good strong body and your creative mind and your serene inner peace. But you know what? Those things aren't often in the stories. Because somehow along the way, we (as a society, as a culture) decided that the good stories, the ones that build us up in a nicely positive way, aren't what people want to hear. They want to hear about our flabby arms and our inability to get over hurt. They want to hear about our negatives. Makes a better story and assures an audience ready to listen to each word. If we talked about the good stuff, if we told positive stories about ourselves, maybe they would whisper about how we think we're all that.

Okay, okay. Jane gets it. Nobody wants people whispering that we love ourselves too much. But still...isn't loving ourselves way better than putting ourselves down at every opportunity?

The obvious answer is that yes, it's way better.

Jane can't even think of enough good adjectives to convey how much better. And Jane knows a lot of adjectives! Basically, without excessive adjective embellishment, it comes down to a simple difference. Do you want to become the stories about a flabby-armed person holding onto hurt who has no luck in life and would probably step in poo if there is any in the vicinity, especially when wearing those new heels? Or do you want to become the stories that show a person who loves herself, who allows herself time to grieve but then makes a plan for moving on, who laughingly avoids the poo?

This is all very specific and Jane realizes that some of the stories we tell are simply...stories. No harm in that, right? Sure, no harm except that the little stories have a way of repeating themselves until they really do become us. Or we become them.

Why are we so hard on ourselves? We offer compassion and understanding to friends. We hug away their hurts. We listen gently when they need it and we laugh freely when the mood is lighter. And we encourage them. That's the big thing. We encourage our friends and our family and our children. What happened to encouraging ourselves? Since when were we exempt from that need?

You might be thinking that you don't do this, you don't make negative comments about yourself. Maybe you don't. But it's Jane's guess that you don't realize how many sneak into your daily conversations, either with yourself or others. So Jane is going to challenge you (and herself) to keep track.

Every time you think "that was stupid" about something you did, every time you put yourself down, every time you describe yourself in a "can't, won't, don't" kind of way, make a note of it. Every single time. Jane bets you will be surprised.

You might be thinking that you get along just fine, thanks, so there's no need to keep track of anything. But...what if you still did, what if you still paid attention and discovered the negatives in your conversations and in your stories and what if you decided that getting along fine is...well...fine, but how much better would you get along without all that? What if? What if?

What if the stories we tell about ourselves are kind and loving and brave and positive? And we believed truly that we ARE those things? What if we taught our daughters to do that as well? What if we embraced our positives instead of emphasizing our negatives?

Jane will leave you to consider the possible outcome of such behavior. She feels that it would be not only life changing but quite possibly world changing.

The stories we tell about ourselves become our reality.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Paragraph breaks

Jane apologizes for the lengthy muddle that was her most recent post. Blogger has changed formats and along with that, apparently, the ability to create paragraph breaks has been lost. Jane hopes this loss is temporary.

Jane ponders yin and yang

It's all about balance, you know. The idea is that you lead a balanced life and things work out rather nicely. Right? Is Jane right? Balance your energy, balance your eating, balance your interactions, balance your work and play, balance, balance, balance. Create and maintain a good balance and it's all smooth sailing from there, yes?

Why, then, when balance seems to be in order, do bad things happen to good people? And for that matter, why then do good things happen to bad people? Where's the balance in that?

Jane has heard various theories about why this happens. Some say that it's karmic debt being repaid and so if you were a stinker in previous lives the universe will extract retribution this time around. Jane supposes that could also be the reason some stinkers in this life seem to get such an easy ride. Where they *that* good at some point in their vast histories? Meh. Jane finds this less than satisfying.

Another theory is that God is up there playing Point the Finger of Fate. It's God's will, people say. Ummm...seriously? It's God's will that babies die? It's God's will that happy families are blown apart by bad behavior and bad choices? It's God's will that diseases have no cure? This paints an image of a God that Jane can't accept. Her God doesn't peek down one day after consulting the list in His hand and decide to smite this one and that one. You there, you in the red plaid shirt. It's your turn!

Nope. No, thanks. When it comes to karma, Jane does believe that we create an energy for ourselves, something that is at times palpable. There are people who radiate such joy and positive energy that others are drawn to them and respond with more of the same. There are others who radiate such negativity that people withdraw. This doesn't mean that the joyful and positive people are spared challenges. It does mean, though, that when confronted with these challenges they have a stampede of loving friends coming to help. We can't live good enough or perfect enough lives to avoid the bad stuff. We can live in a way that keeps us from being alone when the bad stuff happens.

And as for God? Jane has never and will never accept that God creates the bad stuff. God does not create the whammies or double whammies that sneak up and surprise us. He's there to comfort us, inspire us, strengthen us and hold our hands, but not to punish us.

How, then, to explain why these things happen? Maybe there is no explanation. No tidy reason why. Maybe the point of seeking balance is not for the ultimate protection from stuff that happens but instead is for the ultimate survival kit when it does. Balance is not a talisman to keep you safe. It is, though, a wonderful tool to keep you secure.

Why do good things happen to bad people? Jane has no earthly idea. She does believe, though, that bad people do not have the balance to ultimately embrace the good and so it will slip through their fingers and they will be left grasping exactly nothing.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Jane believes there is no reason why. No explanation, nothing that can make sense of it all. She also believes that the balance in their lives creates the strength they need to cope. Step by step, with their hands held securely by people who care, with their faith in place and their hope and their love leading the way. And because of that, they consider themselves blessed.

Maybe that's the greatest balance of all. Finding blessings in the midst of despair.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Surrender is not a bad word

Sounds like it, right? Jane's mental image of the word surrender is one of an army, bowed with fatigue, laying down their weapons and awaiting their fate. Official definitions seem to concur.

Verb: cease resistance to an enemy or opponent, submit to their authority.
Noun: the action of surrendering.
Synonyms: yield, submit, give up, capitulate.

Well, okay then. Who can really get excited about that?

But, wait...what about this quote that Jane read recently?

Surrender is faith that the power of love can accomplish anything...even when you can not foresee the outcome.
Deepak Chopra

That doesn't sound so bad. Jane kind of likes the idea of having faith about the power of love and what it can accomplish. So in this case, surrendering is a GOOD thing. And this kind of surrender is far more applicable in Jane's life because she can't recall ever needing to lay down her weapons and await her fate.. She feels rather blessed by this.

Now when Jane searched for more quotes about surrender, she found many that made it sound like the very last thing you would ever want to do. But then she came across someone who seemed to be thinking like Deepak Chopra.

Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.
Gail Sheehy

Oooh, and here's a good one.

Surrender to what is. Say "yes" to life--and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.
Eckhart Tolle

So lemme see here. Surrendering our tight hold on our own circumstances, on what we deem essential in our present and in our future, means unclenching that tight hold on it all. Relaxing the grasp, letting our hands rest peacefully, letting our thoughts calm. If we, as Eckhart Tolle suggests, surrender to what is, we are no longer quite so intent on what should be. Maybe that feels a bit wobbly, a bit less than secure. Can we believe that very feeling could lead to growth?

Jane is reminded of those gadgets...and there have been many over the years...that challenge our balance. The notion being that your core works harder to regain balance and the harder work results in a tighter core and...drum roll, please...better balance. Aha! So the fitness gurus have just proved what philosophers have been postulating about all along. Finding ourselves in situations where we do not have absolute control results in growth.

It's not easy to balance on one of these contraptions. It's not meant to be easy. Jane has a large exercise ball and it's not uncommon, when she is attempting to get in exactly the right position to work her abs, for the ball to shoot out from underneath Jane's...well, you know. Plop! Jane lands on the floor. Confession: sometimes this results in Jane frowning at the exercise ball and there might even have been times when she kicked it once or twice, just to show that darn ball who was boss. Or at least who was boss when Jane was back on her feet.

You can't kick at life, though, however rewarding that might be. You can only hang on, regain your balance and remember that growth, when it comes, will be all the more rewarding. Really. Yes, really.

Marianne Williamson writes about how something amazing happens when we surrender and just love. Jane believes she is talking about loving ourselves and offering love to the world, neither of which are easy things to do. So what happens?

We melt into another world, a realm of power already within us. The world changes when we change, the world softens when we soften. The world loves us when we choose to love the world.

Surrender, when viewed that way, is not a bad word. It does challenge our balance, though. For a stronger core, isn't it worth a try?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jane flows with the current

Change is scary, exciting, overwhelming, scintillating. It can make your spirit soar or your stomach hurt. But one thing Jane has learned? Change is inevitable.

Jane thinks of change as a current. Sometimes it moves along very slowly so you almost don't realize you've gone from point A to point B. Gentle, easy, painless. You arrive at the new destination, climb out of the boat and stretch your legs with anticipation. Here I am, ready for action!

Sometimes the current is swifter and the ride somewhat less comfortable. Maybe there is some hand clenching the side of the boat going on. Maybe the scenery slips by so quickly that once the destination is reached there has to be a bit of recovery. Whew, that was fast. Okay, time to steady those legs and step carefully onto the shore. Hang on, take a few deep breaths. Look around. Regroup. Gingerly move on.

Any of this sound familiar? Jane has experienced change in both those forms and she bets you have, too. The second type might take a bit longer to embrace, but once those legs regain their strength after the bumpy ride things generally go along in a way that, while different, isn't overwhelming.

And then there's the other kind of change. The one where you don't even realize you're in a boat at all. In fact, you're not. You're standing on the shore minding your own business when the current reaches up and grabs you. And what's more, it's not a calm, quiet current. It's not a quicker but manageable current. This is a swift, rolling current of change and no matter how you hold onto the shore, to the branch that might happen to be within reach, you're not going to be able to remain in place. Nope. No way, no how. You can cling with determination but at some point the current will loosen your fingers and you'll be bobbing downstream before you know what has happened.

It's not a gentle ride. Jane has discovered this and she can say, with the assurance of anyone who has experienced the dazed confusion of such a turbulent ride, that the only way to get through it is to simply let go and flow with the current rather than fighting it. Eventually you'll wash up on shore and crawl to some point that is not, thankfully, moving. And you'll rest there and breathe. And that's it for awhile. That's enough for awhile.

Ultimately your breathing becomes deeper and calmer and you regain feeling in your legs and you might even stretch and sit up and look around. There's no rush to stand just yet. The landscape is completely different. Survey a bit. Nobody expects you to leap to your feet and navigate through the new terrain.

Jane knows the urge to walk back to the river and look upstream and sigh. She knows the longing to find a boat that will take her right back to where she started. There's no such boat, though. There's only Jane and her new location and the aftermath of change that brought her to this point. And the only real option is to turn away from the river and face the trees and the paths that disappear into whatever the future might bring. The only real option is to put one foot in front of the other and move towards those paths. And pick one. And bravely march into the unknown.

Change is scary, exciting, overwhelming and scintillating. Change is inevitable.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Seize what you have been given

Yes, that's right. Seize it. Grab onto it and embrace it and make whatever you can that is good and beautiful and right with what you have been handed. Not just seize the moment. Not just seize the day. But seize the life.

Why? Because it's not a dress rehearsal. This is what you have and if you spend moment after moment wishing things were different you are essentially squandering that time. You are squandering those moments. Is your life perfect? Probably not. Can you seize that imperfect life and make the absolute most of it? Most definitely you can.

Jane wishes this and Jane wishes that, just like most everybody else. Jane thinks "oh, if only" as many times as the rest of you, she is sure. But Jane also knows that "oh, if only" gets you absolutely nowhere in terms of progress or happiness or satisfaction. Jane doesn't want to go absolutely nowhere. She wants to grab onto life. She wants to inhale life with a great big gobble of enthusiasm and she wants to seize her joy and her dreams and her possibilities. Oh, yes, seize them and use them to create a life worth living.

We wait for perfection. Truly, it's no surprise that we do, considering how society insists that the next latest and greatest whatever will be coming soon to fulfill our every need. The next gadget. The next car. The next person. We wait, because once that perfection comes our way, THEN we can embrace the moment with enthusiasm. Then we'll be happy. Then we'll be fulfilled.

Only...and maybe you've noticed this...perfection doesn't come. Or if it comes, it doesn't linger because soon there is the next latest and greatest coming along and we all know that it will be what brings us happiness and fulfillment. It's coming soon. We'll wait.

Jane doesn't want to wait. Jane wants to take what she has been given, no matter how imperfect that might seem, and she wants to gallop around shouting "Whoopee! Look what I've got and better yet, look what I'm doing with it!" Oh, yeah, baby. Jane wants to seize what she has been given and spin it into pure gold.

Seize what you have been given. Seize life. If it isn't perfect, learn from it. Take the lessons and the love and let the rest go. And when you do that, you'll be able to open your arms and seize whatever else comes your way.

You can wait for perfection or you can create perfection. You can wait and wonder and wish and watch time slip steadily by. Or you can grab on to what you have been given, you can seize life and you can soar. It's a choice. What's yours?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Inspiration on a locker door

Jane likes quotes. Yes, she does, and it's not uncommon for her to stick them here and there so she can repeat the tidy bit of wisdom whenever she wants. So when Friend of Jane...let's call her, say, Linda...mentioned one of her own favorites and how she has it posted on her locker at work, Jane was happy to add it to her collection. Jane does not have a locker at work, but she has a refrigerator and that serves nearly the same purpose.

The quote? Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket. Keep it in your own. This goes rather nicely with Jane's recent thoughts about responsibility. It's not that you can't share your happiness. That is a dandy thing to do. Share it. Radiate it. Project happiness beams all over the place. But don't rely on someone else to provide your happiness. That's just not going to work out well.

It should be mentioned that Linda also has the Serenity Prayer on her locker. That deserves its very own blog post, so Jane will just add that she loves it, she really truly does. Powerful stuff, that prayer.

But back to lockers and refrigerators and inspiration. Jane wants to share a few of her favorites. They might appeal to you, good reader, or they might leave you scratching your head and wishing Jane's taste were more like your own. That's the thing about quotes. They are special to the mood and the moment of the individual.

A couple about dreams...important to Jane because she believes dreams are the essence of our goals and goals are the essence of our future.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
--Henry David Thoreau

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the pateince, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
--Harriet Tubman

The power of imagination makes us infinite.
--John Muir

And a couple about growth.

Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.
--Chinese Proverb

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
--Mahatma Gandhi

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.
--Guatama Buddha

And something about creativity.

We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.
--Grandma Moses

Something about making your own way.

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
--Harold R. McAlindon

And one last one because it makes Jane laugh.

There go the people. I must follow them for I am their leader.
--Alexandre Ledru-Rollin

Whatever quotes are your favorites, think about putting a few of them here and there to remind you. Remind you of what? Well...whatever you need reminding about, that's what. If you need inspiration, encouragement or a laugh, you'll appreciate finding just the right words on your locker (like Linda) or on your refrigerator (like Jane) or on your desk, taped to your mirror, tucked into your get the idea.

Oh, okay. Just one more.

Remember to light the candle of joy daily and all the gloom will disappear from your life.
--Djwhal Klul

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jane ponders responsibility

Who is responsible for your happiness? Who is responsible for your success? Who is responsible for your state of mind? Who, who, who? Is there an owl in here? What's with all the who who-ing?

That's just Jane's way of getting your attention. The who is, of course, you. Yes, that would be the *you* sitting here reading and wondering who else might take on the job. Nope. Nobody will, because in spite of how convenient that would be it just isn't happening. It's all up to you, baby. All up to you.

This is one of those situations where we might look around hopefully in case someone steps forward...and they won't...before sighing and squaring our shoulders and gearing up to claim responsibility for our own amazing selves. It does not matter if you have ten children or two children or none. It does not matter if you have a wonderful spouse and partner who stands by you throughout it all or if you have been tossed aside for greener pastures. It does not matter if you are at the top of your career field, still climbing or a very fulfilled at-home parent. Or if you have thirty close friends or three. When you get past all of that stuff the fact remains that responsibility rests with you.

Now, Jane realizes that we are all human. Oh, yeah, she's human, too. She gets disgruntled, too. She even thinks sometimes that Dick ran off with her happiness, darn him. He messed up her state of mind. Because, you know, it's far easier to blame someone else, to put the responsibility on someone else and then to sit back and wait for happiness and success and a positive state of mind to return. Going to be a long wait, with that attitude. Do you want to put your life on hold, to put yourself on hold, while you wait? Jane does not.

So on go the big girl panties once again while Jane contemplates this whole thing and realizes that it all comes down to a choice (her choice) to get on with the getting on and claim the amazing life that is hers. Not that will be hers, mind you. Remember the affirmations? There's no "will be" about it. This life IS hers, for the taking, as soon as she steps up and assumes responsibility for her own state of mind.

You know that passive aggressive stuff? It's no good. Guilt trip? Nope. The woe is me routine? Forget about it. Woe is me is out. Go, me is in.

Marianne Williamson, in her book A Woman's Worth, mentions some things that help us find the spiritual renewal necessary to nurturing our personal power and healthy energy. Jane read the list with interest.

Engage in some kind of daily spiritual practice
Treat your body well with yoga or exercise.

That list looks familiar. Bits and pieces of it have been on this blog in prior posts and can be found all over in books dealing with things like your state of mind and your power and your energy. Coincidence? Jane thinks not.

The peace and security we all want, the strength and the happiness and the success and the power all come from within. They start inside and work their way outside. You can have the life you want and the joy you want. You can have the love you want and the hope and strength and laughter and peace. You can claim whatever it is that you want.

If, that is, you first claim responsibility.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Affirming your truth

Jane was out for a long walk on this sparkling spring day. Others had the same idea, including one huffing and puffing woman who jogged past saying...out loud..."Yes, I can." Every few paces she said it again, sometimes with different emphasis. "YES, I can." "Yes, I CAN!" This might have been deliberate or it might have been the result of huffing and puffing and affirming all at once. The point is, she was giving herself a boost with those words. Jane loves a good affirming kind of moment and she jumped in with applause and some of the "You go, girl1 Yes, you can!" stuff. "Twenty miles," the runner responded. "Twenty miles!" That called for more applause.

So there it was, an affirmation in action. Something declared to be true. A positive statement. There is a lot of power in affirmations, a whole big lot. What, you might wonder, is an easy way to incorporate them into your own life? Funny you should ask. Jane felt like discussing that very topic.

First of all, the strongest affirmations are in the present tense. If you say "I will" you are creating an event in the future. And it's always the future. So instead of "I will learn to control my anxiety issues," affirm that your goal is happening right now. "I control my anxiety issues." And because positive language is always more inspirational than negative, how about switching that up to "I am calm and peaceful. All is well in my world. I am safe."

Once more, with feeling. Yes, that's the second point. Affirmations are meant to inspire. Wishy-washy bland kinda sorta statements aren't fooling anybody, particularly your subconscious mind. Mean it, feel it, wrap it around you. Own that affirmation. It's yours. Speak it in a strong voice. Concentrate on the words and don't just hear them, feel them. Jane tried a few affirmations in front of a mirror, speaking them right into her own eyes. Not easy, she discovered. Not easy at all. And the ones that were the most difficult were the very ones she continued to say, because she recognized that those were what she most needed to hear.

Next point? Make time. Jane has said affirmations while walking her bestest buddy and finds that works very well. She also uses this time for gratitude. Either way, the approach is the same. Every few steps she is either thankful for something or affirming something. By the time she gets back to her house, she has had a good physical workout and is feeling on top of the world emotionally.

Does this all sound too simple and not worth your time? Ahhh, that's because you haven't tried it. There is a wealth of power and potential here, people. A wealth. You can pull yourself out of the deepest of emotional depths with affirmations. And before you say "well, Jane, how do YOU know?" stop and think for a minute. Yes, Jane does know.



Now, imagine an arrow leads from BELIEFS to ACTION and from ACTION to RESULTS and from RESULTS to BELIEFS. Which one starts the never-ending cycle? Who knows for sure? Affirmations lead to beliefs, right? That much makes sense. So if affirmations lead to beliefs, then the cycle starts and you get action and results goes on and on. Jane offers this in the hopes that it sounds more logical and less woo-woo.

Jane writes her affirmations on index cards. Hers have been specifically intended to pull herself up after emotional hurt, but they can be as unique and personal and individual as the person creating them. What works for you? What is an area in your life where you need some help? What part of your life might benefit from affirmations that lead to beliefs that lead get the idea.

Louise Hay is an excellent source for exploring the concept of affirmations. Shakti Gawain is another. Once you get comfortable with the concept, you'll find that your own affirmations come as readily as you need.

One of Jane's favorites...

I rejoice in my unlimitedness and know that before me lies the totality of possibilities in every area. I trust totally in the One Power and I know all is well in my world. So be it!

That's more to say, of course. It doesn't have to be that long. After all, for some people all the moment calls for is the very basics. "Yes, I CAN!"

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jane gets by with a little help from her friends

Everything Jane has discussed in the blog has been very helpful to her and in some cases has been life changing. But she would be completely remiss if she failed to mention the one constant in her life, there before the Big Awful and a steady force throughout. Jane wishes to acknowledge the awesomeness of her friends.

They have been wonderful, these friends. Scattered around the world and throughout the country, these friends have offered hope and encouragement, outrage and affection and always a steady long distance shoulder whenever Jane might need it. And the local friends? Who could ask for better? These terrific women have been Jane's sounding board, her cheering squad and a source for advice and entertainment. Jane will never forget the evening that cars pulled up at the favorite spot for ice cream and conversation and women jumped out and rushed to envelop her in hugs and support. She will also never forget a particular utterance from one of those friends. It was quite a surprise and this many months later Jane still chuckles when she remembers.

Jane is blessed. She knows this and thanks her Creator for the reminder that men might come and go but the friendship of women endures and sustains. Okay, that might not be the exact message her Creator had in mind, but at the moment Jane feels it's quite pertinent.

Sometimes shared laughter is all Jane needs. Sometimes maybe a movie, with popcorn being munched while the previews are discussed. Sometimes it's a volunteer activity or coffee with the group or a book discussion (here's a shout out to Jane's book club!) or a meal. And sometimes a meal turns into a conversation with lasting benefits, which is what happened last night when Jane told a friend that it was daunting to feel so replaceable. Her friend offered the opinion that just because Jane was replaced so readily does not mean that she should define herself as someone who is readily replaced.

This might possibly have made more sense over pad thai, but say it out loud a time or two and you'll understand why it made such a big impression on Jane. That little statement, offered over Thai food on a Saturday evening is something Jane will hold very close to her heart. And the friend who said it? She is also held close to Jane's heart. Because that tidy bit of wisdom sums it all up. And the fact that it was given to her by a friend makes it even better. Jane's friends, bodacious babes all of them, are valued beyond what she could possibly describe here. Though she is making a commendable attempt to do just that!

With credit given to the Beatles...

What do I do when my love is away?
(Does it worry you to be alone)
How do I feel by the end of the day?
(Are you sad because you're on your own)
No, I get by with a little help from my friends.

Thank you, my friends.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Turning the negative around

How do you respond when faced with a zing? Jane considers a zing to be an emotional hurt, but this term could apply to any aspect of your life. However you define it, a zing is a negative. So what is your response?

Well, when it comes to relationship issues and what Jane is experiencing, it's all too easy to wallow in the zing. Dwell on it. Allow it to fill the moment, the day, the heart, the essence. And since this is a negative, that means filling the moment, the day, the essence and the heart with negative energy. Jane chooses to avoid that.

Notice the word there? Chooses? Because as Jane has learned and shared here already, there isn't always much she can choose about what is happening in her life. But she CAN choose her response. So this is more of that kind of thinking. How to turn the zing into something positive and not something she pulls out each day to examine in careful detail. What Dick said, what Dick did...these are Dick's actions and his choices and he has to own them. He can examine them in careful detail, if he were inclined to...which he most certainly is not. But for Jane, the best way to handle these zings is to challenge herself.

Everyone's got their own range of options here. Jane chooses physical challenges and mental challenges and also is experimenting with creative challenges. This might sound like a lot, but she doesn't run around in a constant state of exploration. She's building her own strengths and deciding what works best. And because her situation is particularly overwhelming at times, she needs a good supply of challenges and successes.

It pleases Jane to set the challenge and meet it according to her own terms. For instance, starting the P90X Arms and Shoulders workout was in specific response to something that zinged her in a significant way. This workout is a significant challenge. She's doing well with it and every single time she lifts those weights she feels more and more powerful and the power grows greater than the zing. This works for Jane. It might not work for everyone, but it works for her.

The mental challenge comes from learning something new. Jane will be training this summer to achieve her Reiki Master certification. To prepare for that, she is reading and studying, reviewing and sending out a whole lot of Reiki energy. This is all about Jane, not about Dick and not about his choices. Again, that keeps Jane's focus on positive growth. Same thing with creative challenges. What hobby might be worth pursuing? What talent should be dusted off and explored again or encouraged as a new interest?

When you draw your attention back to yourself and then spread it outward in whatever new and interesting direction appeals, you are changing the negative into something far better. It is very hard to dwell on the source of your pain when you are filling up with so many other things. Positive things. Positive energy. And the act of doing those things will create more possibilities and bring them right into your life. But there has to be space for them...which is why you are pushing out the zings and making room for the good stuff.

Jane realizes this is an investment in herself. She also realizes that she is worth it. And you are, too.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jane explores the concept of karma

Jane hears a lot about karma these days. And she admits that there is a strong temptation to wish that karma would come around and bite Dick on the caboose. However, Jane also knows that she had best be concentrating on her own karma. There are many occasions in life where it is wise to tend to your own garden. Karma definitely falls into that category.

So what IS karma, anyway? If you translate right from the Sanskrit root, karma means "action". So anything we say or do or think is karma. But in the yoga tradition it's defined a bit differently. There are three parts to the definition. First, karma is the actions we are committing now, in the present. Second, karma is the effect that our past actions have in our current life. Third, karma is our destiny.

This is summed up by the following statement: actions have consequences. In the Bible, there's a phrase for that. "As you sow, so shall you reap." No matter how you put it, the meaning is the same. What goes around, comes around.

In the spirit of tending to your own garden, Jane offers a little saying that keeps the gardener focused on her karma rather than the behavior...good or bad...of others. "Sow a thought, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny."

Really, all we can do...all we have ever been able to work on ourselves and our own karma. Starting from the inside out, this all begins with thought. If thoughts are a template used to model our lives, what sort of template do you want? And if actions follow thoughts...okay, this is logical...and actions become habits and habits build to form a character...well, what sort of character do you want? And then if character builds to destiny, how do you want that to go?

Jane knows how easy it is to think about what other people did and what that means in her life. Starting from childhood, there are many reasons to act a certain way, to be a certain person, to think certain thoughts. To make that happened to you in childhood or at any other time in life...the framework for your thoughts, habits, character, destiny.

But seriously? This is one area of your life where you have far more control than you might realize. No matter what has gone on in your life or is still going on, you can turn inward and start creating. Yes, creating. From the inside out. It starts with a thought.

Actions have consequences. Actions begin with a concept, a need, a desire, an impulse, an urge, a justification. You can sow thoughts that will reap a glorious harvest in terms of your karma.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Who do YOU think you are?

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Years ago, in 1884, a baby girl was born. Though the times called for young ladies to be decorative debutants, to be well-versed in the ways of etiquette and propriety and not particularly so in the ways of politics and social reform, this baby girl grew into a woman who was decidedly and unabashedly different from what was considered the norm.

She was active in the Social Reform movement of the Progressive Era. She argued for fair labor practices. This young lady found a group of debutantes who were interested in helping others. They called themselves the Junior League.

One day, while on a train, this young woman met someone who would become her husband. Her uncle, who was then the President of the United States, walked her down the aisle at their wedding. Her husband, waiting for her at the alter, was also destined to become President.

As a political spouse, this woman was able to fulfill her social obligations and still remain very active in what concerned her the most. Ultimately she developed an independent career that included writing, teaching and reform politics. When her husband became the President of the United States, she gave up her own political affiliations but remained politically active...though often in the background. She supported her husband's interests and balanced the expectations associated with being First Lady with her own interests and pursuits.

In her twelve years as First Lady, this woman gave many press conferences and insisted that publications send only female reporters. She wrote a monthly magazine column and a newspaper column. She was a radio host, a lecturer and a public speaker. She was an author.

Because of her appearance and her disconcertingly direct manner, it was not unusual for this talented and progressive woman to be the target of unkind comments. She was far taller than average. She was no beauty. Her voice, her teeth and her clothing attracted caricature. Her husband was rumored to be having a relationship with another woman. Her views were not always embraced by a society opposed to change.

What sets this woman apart is that she allowed no one to put her down and keep her down. She believed strongly in the causes she supported and was determined to make a difference. Was she aware of what people said? Certainly she must have been. Did it hurt her? Quite possibly, but she carried in her heart the knowledge that those views did not sum up the value of her life.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Eleanor Roosevelt did not give her consent. She did not give that power to others. She believed in herself and in doing so, she was able to pursue her dreams and direct her life's energy in ways that are truly impressive.

There are times when the actions of others leave us feeling cast aside, thrown away, not good enough, of little value. Inferior. Their actions are their choices, but our reactions remain always ours. It is within our power, even when we feel low and powerless, to retain our own sense of value and worth and purpose. No one can take that from us, ever. Not without our consent.

Jane chooses to follow Eleanor Roosevelt's example. She stands tall (though admittedly a good many inches shorter than that particular lady). She believes in herself. And she will not give consent to anyone who, knowingly or not, attempts to put her down.

Bravo, Eleanor. And thank you.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Forgiveness does not come easy. Jane isn't sure it really should be easy. Sometimes what holds the most value is what we achieve after a struggle. True forgiveness holds a great value, indeed. And true forgiveness has nothing at all to do with the flippant exchange of "sorry" and "don't worry about it". Because you know what? True forgiveness comes whether or not the apology is offered.

That's the part that involves a struggle. When we have been hurt, when we have been wronged, it's a comfort to wrap our righteous indignation around like a secure blanket. After all, we were the ones hurt, right? We were the ones disappointed or crushed or abandoned. We should wrap up snugly and wait for the sincere apology.

But what if it never comes? No matter what we might wish, sometimes people do not regret their actions and they do not want to take responsibility for the hurt they caused. We can wait, wrapped up against further harm. We can wait, wondering if they will ever come and ask our forgiveness. We can wait...forever.

Well, sure. Technically we can wait forever. But how does that serve us? If we are so filled with waiting and hurt and the need for that apology and anger and sadness, how exactly does that serve us? Jane realizes that anyone in this position might feel entitled to those emotions. She knows this as well as anyone. She also knows that if she allows herself to be filled with those thoughts, those feelings, the hurt and resentment and the waiting for something that might not ever come, she can't be filled with something else.

What else? Ohhh...lots of things. Joy. Wonder. Peace. That's a big one, peace. Enthusiasm. Possibilities. Yes, possibilities sums it up nicely. Jane has a favorite affirmation that talks about possibilities.

I rejoice in my unlimitedness and know that before me lies the totality of possibilities in every area.

Wowza, Jane thinks every time she reads that one. Wowza. Unlimitedness! Totality of possibilities! But if Jane limits herself by clinging to that which she can't ever change, how is there room for all those possibilities?

Of course there isn't. That's where forgiveness comes in. Something that Jane learned is that forgiveness does not mean what someone did was okay. It's not the same as saying you don't mind about the hurt and the betrayal. This is not about going up to the other person and telling them everything is super duper, thanks, and golly gee you wish them well. Nope. This is about acknowledging the pain and then letting it go. Releasing it. Making room for all those wonderful possibilities.

Forgiveness does not mean the other person isn't responsible for his or her actions. Forgiveness means that those actions are no longer going to fill you with sadness and hurt and pain. You don't like what happened, you wish it had not happened, but it did. Nothing can change that.

Forgiveness is a choice. It's a deliberate choice and it is not easy. But to move on fully, to embrace whatever wonders the universe has in store for you, forgiveness has to take over the hurt in your heart.

Jane wants to rejoice in her unlimitedness. She wants to be filled with the totality of her possibilities. Forgiveness is a challenge, Jane admits, but the reward is far greater than clinging to the cloak of sadness.

When you forgive, you in no way change the past--but you sure do change the future.
~Bernard Meltzer

It's your future, Jane realizes. What do you want to fill it?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Butterfly Jane

Or...the value of cocooning.

Cocooning defined as smothering or cocooning defined as sequestered in denial are not good. But cocooning defined as taking time to grow and change and emerge as a butterfly? Very good indeed. That's the type of cocooning that Jane endorses. Sometimes it's one long process and sometimes it comes in stages. A bit of exploration, a bit of time to consider. Maybe the butterfly retreats now and then, when that quiet time is needed.

Jane thinks that society comes at us with an all or nothing mentality that can be overwhelming. And along the way, quiet contemplation has become an antiquated notion. With the constant bombardment of noise and expectations, is it any wonder that we feel frazzled on occasion? In need of some comfort routines? Some self-nurturing?

Well, sure. Sometimes it's in response to emotional hurt. Sometimes it's work related or friend related or family related. The reasons don't matter. They are all valid. What matters is the need to cocoon and the ability to accept that need and to make it happen.

Jane's own cocooning ritual involves books of motivation, a favorite yoga routine and the comfort of a steaming mug of tea. If that doesn't do the trick, her dvds of Modern Family (seasons one and two!) and a cozy dinner of whatever she wants will leave her feeling nicely balanced. Yes, she does realize that watching tv does not count as quiet contemplation. But sometimes cocooning is about emotional growth and sometimes it's about good, refreshing laughter. At least in Jane's world it is.

Now if hearts have been broken and lives have been changed, cocooning takes on a new meaning. Ir provides a safe haven for a butterfly just stretching new wings. And there is nothing wrong with peeking out and trying the wings for a bit...and then drawing back to consider how that felt. Recovery isn't something that happens at the same time and the same pace for everyone. Cocooning is a way of honoring your own pace.

Not everything is instant in today's world. Not everything. So if you, like Jane, are in the process of growing new wings you can take comfort in your own cocoon. Be gentle with yourself and don't worry if the butterfly next door is flying out across the field already. You'll get there, in your own time and at your own pace. One day you'll stretch those wings and soar.

And even then you'll be glad for the shelter of your own cocoon.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jane silences the monkey chatter

Meditation takes practice. Getting into a comfortable position is the easy part. Not too comfortable, mind you. Jane finds that attempting to meditate while reclining results in a pleasant nap but nothing else. She also has discovered that sitting with her legs crossed (criss-cross applesauce, as the little ones in elementary school say) is all well and good but she needs to be leaning against something. The goal is to find a position where you can relax and not have your thoughts drifting to the various protests of your body.

Because drifting thoughts are the biggest challenge. It's called monkey chatter and getting those monkeys to settle down also takes practice. Jane's first few attempts were relaxing, indeed, for about ten seconds. After that random thoughts zipped through her head with unfortunate speed.

"Ahhh." Jane relaxed. Wasn't this nice?

"What am I making for dinner?"

"Shhh. Ahhhh."

"I've got to...I should...I wonder if..."

"SHHH! Darn it! I said AHHHHH!"

Now the goal of meditation is to go beyond the monkey chatter into that gentle zone where calm prevails and focus and energy meld into something quite impressive. Jane found it difficult to deny monkey chatter completely and was frustrated until she read more about it. Got monkey chatter? Acknowledge it and let it go. It's there, okay, and now move beyond it.

So why meditate?

Maybe meditation isn't so mysterious after all. Neuroscientists have found that meditators shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex - brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear.

That's the official word, for people who like to have something a little more concrete than "because it feels good".

If you practise regularly, the benefits of meditation will promote a sense of calm and control, you’ll feel far more relaxed and happy. Your ability to concentrate will be greater. You won’t become stressed about things and you’ll feel more peaceful and relaxed about everything. One of the greatest benefits of meditation is learning to go with the flow and things that used to irritate you before simply become insignificant.

That next bit was something Jane found on a meditation website. Same basic thing, just less scientific. From Jane's point of view, which definitely tends toward the non-scientific, meditation is nothing short of amazing. Jane is a meditative newbie. She started for reasons that are obvious to any reader of this blog. And she started right from the most basic starting point, monkey chatter and all.

After struggling a bit Jane decided to see if YouTube might offer some guided meditation. Indeed, they did. Ten minutes, maybe more and maybe less. With a little experimentation to find the right voice and music that appealed, Jane got her jump start. Her opinion? Very good stuff.

And Jane believes that the articles do not exaggerate. She feels much calmer when she meditates regularly. Things that were a big deal are less of a big deal and if they soar to bigness once again she can regroup more readily. Jane found that along with the benefits already listed she got something else from meditation. Something that she hadn't expected.

What, what? Jane knows the readers are clamoring for her to reveal what she got. What she got was an awareness of herself and...even acceptance of herself. This is no little thing. jane feels that meditation has been a significant part of her healing and the discovery of (and acceptance of) her Jane-ness.

Because, you know, when you quiet your mind and release the monkey chatter and relax into the moment you have nothing to hide behind. It is just you right then, just you and the beautiful energy that comes from whatever source you embrace. And it is joyful and it is peaceful and it is loving.

And it is life enhancing. Jane would say life changing, but some people don't want to be caught up in any kind of change. So she'll tell you with the certainty of one who has experienced it, that meditation is life enhancing.

Jane is going to take a moment now to go quiet her own monkey chatter. Inhale...exhale...ahhhh.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jane's thoughts on...

...being, doing, having.

Or is it having, doing, being? That's the order that Jane assumed was logical, before she started reading a lot about life and happiness and change and...oh, well, you know. A lot about everything.

Jane assumed that she needed to HAVE a certain amount of things (money, job, possessions, rewarding get the idea), in order to DO the things she wanted, in order to BE happy and fulfilled. Because that's how it goes, right? You have what you want to do what you want to be who you are. Yes, yes. Makes perfect sense. reconsider, as Jane did. Mind you, reconsidering doesn't mean instantly changing your philosophy. It's not easy to change what has been our standard operating procedure. Jane wobbles between embracing what she thinks is a VERY good attitude and hanging on to what served her well for years.

Or...did it? Did it really serve her well? Perhaps not.

Maybe, just maybe, it really does make for a more empowered self to BE happy, to allow for happiness and fulfillment without placing other conditions on them. To open up for beauty and peace and appreciation and happiness and...that's it. To be open to those things and to embrace those things and not wait until you have enough to invite them into your life. Jane realizes she can BE filled with all kinds of wonderfulness, all kinds of Jane-ness, and she can take joy right then and there, each and every day. Whew, boy. What is she waiting for?

After that, Jane realizes, she can DO what she loves simply because that makes sense. Getting all recharged with being makes doing a logical extension of the hum of positive energy. Jane found out that the more she embraces the BE, the more appealing the DO becomes. She thinks of this as creating a whirlwind of positivity around herself. That's what BEING (being fulfilled, being grateful, being kind to yourself, being a loving friend...being, being, being) does. And with that going on all around and inside, new things to DO (experiences, work, challenges) are drawn to the energy field. No, really. Jane realizes this sounds like woo-woo philosophy again but she will tell you right now, it's the real deal. If you stop dwelling on what you have and flip the equation around to work it from the inside out, you will find a very definite change in your life.

Having, doing, being means measuring your life by what you have first, and waiting for that goal to be achieved until you measure what you've done and who you are. Jane thinks that embracing who she is, and relishing that process, delighting in it, encouraging herself...and then doing what comes out of that going to result in a lot more having than if she were to approach life the other way around. Keep in mind, Jane has no intention of casting her possessions to the wind and becoming the next Mother Teresa. But she is going to try to embrace a new philosophy and to celebrate her being.

She'll get back to you on how that's going.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

See Jane clarify a point

Someone commented recently that Jane has done very well and has progressed through (translation: survived) the past seven months far better than they themselves did. Jane almost felt guilty about navigating a difficult time with at least some degree of aplomb. Almost.

The thing is, everyone is different. Now there's a startling revelation, yes? Jane's experience can't be measured up to any other and Jane's reactions can't be measured up to any other because Jane is Jane and has no need or desire to be anyone else. Jane's method of handling challenge and hurt and betrayal is just that...her method, based on what she realizes are her needs. How Jane approaches all of this doesn't mean she takes it lightly. It doesn't mean she wasn't deeply hurt and saddened.

Make no mistake, Jane has her moments. All in all she realizes that humor, even in the midst of hurt, works well for her. She realizes that allowing a moment, an hour, a day of grief and wallowing is good and is even important. She's not trying to push this all away and pretend it didn't happen. It DID happen and Jane is never going to forget that. But the only way to pick yourself up after a crushing blow is it. Pick yourself up. A little at a time and with plenty of self-indulgence when it's needed. But the goal is up and the only way to achieve that goal is to stand and move forward.

Jane has sad days. Very sad days where she pulls on her red USMC sweatshirt (because it's cuddly and makes her feel empowered...which is a rare and valuable combination) and makes a cup of tea and finds something cheerful to read. Preferably something about people who find an amazing love that lasts. And she sighs a lot. And she maybe eats a snack that is more designed to be comforting than nutritional. And she cuddles with the furry friends who always seem to sense her mood.

She does that for awhile but not forever. Once she's had the cocooning time she gets back up and considers her plan. Yes, it's really a plan. She writes things down. She picks new challenges. Some she likes, some she doesn't, but she's up and out there trying them anyway. And so it goes until she needs another bit of time in that sweatshirt.

The point of this blog is not to set Jane up as an example of how we all should be. The point is to offer a glimpse into how Jane is handling it all. And maybe to offer a bit of encouragement or a new idea or two along the way. The point is to show one woman's effort to get up after life delivered a smack down. If Jane's thoughts and actions, portrayed here, give a virtual hand to someone else who is struggling to stand, all the better.

Jane's one hand is extended to you, the reader. Her other hand is clasped warmly by whoever is helping her stand. Life, energy, love, all is magnified by passing on whatever good you have to give.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thank you for...


Jane read something about gratitude the other day. She's read quite a few things about gratitude because she is, in fact, reading an entire book about it. This might explain her current interest. Her enthusiasm, however, comes from experiencing it for herself.

One tidbit in the book offers the belief that if you are filled with gratitude you can't be filled with negative emotions. Not anger. Not bitterness. Not anything resembling "woe is me". You can't. There simply isn't room. Jane read that and read it again and thought it sounded nice, maybe, but who knew if it really applied.

Only one way to test it. Jane became her test subject. In the book, one person suggested singing a gratitude song. Something you make up and sing in privacy. Whatever tune suits you best, but the words are all about being thankful. This particular person sang her gratitude song in the car. That works well because people are often bobbing their heads and singing along with whatever is on the radio. Nobody thinks anything of it. Jane was going out for a long walk with her best buddy, which meant that the singing part was going to be done while walking along. In public.

Not a problem! jane didn't have to sing loudly, after all. She could be quite subtle about the whole thing. She set out with her best buddy and soon a thank you medley sung to something that might have remotely resembled a Broadway show tune was being whispered, cautiously at first and then with increasing gusto.

Her goal, Jane decided, was to keep up the thank you song for the entire walk. No distractions. No thoughts rambling in other directions. She wanted to see how she felt at the end of the experience.

Easy? Nope, not at all. You might think it would be easy to warble off a thank you with every pace but at some point you start looking around and naming anything that catches your fancy. Thank you for that bright and cheerful mailbox cover! Thank you for their wind chimes! Thank you for this big hill that requires huffing and puffing to climb!

Jane continued on her walk, but as she approached her home (and the end of her song) she realized she was running out of creative ideas. One last verse! One last line! One last thank you needed! Jane's pace increased. Her volume did, too. Jane's best buddy looked at her curiously but kept walking.

"Thank you for..." Jane paused. What? What! Thank you for WHAT!


Arms flung wide, Jane came up with the last thank you of the walk...and then burst into laughter at her choice. Turtles? Really? Still laughing, Jane rounded the corner and marched to her own driveway. The thank you song had worked. There wasn't room for anything but gratitude and laughter in her and it felt wonderful.

And every day since then, if negative thoughts start to prevail, Jane thinks about being thankful for turtles and about singing that word out loud and about the startled expression on the face of the person driving by at the time and she laughs and feels thankful all over again.

Jane hopes that you look for...and find...your own turtles.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Jane listens, but follows her heart

When Jane found herself a member of the Sisterhood (being a discarded woman is a bonding experience) she wasn't sure what to do. There didn't seem to be any guidelines or terms of service that she had to read first. One day she wasn't in the club and the next day she was definitely in it. How confusing.

Even more confusing was the amount of input Jane got from other women in the Sisterhood. Or from women who had not been discarded but who were single again and who had plenty of experience to share. Watch out for sure you do will...he will...and then...whew. There were as many kinds of advice as there were flavors of ice cream at the favorite stand where Jane spent quite a few summer hours soothing her inner ice cream beast and listening to her friends.

What Jane realized is that it was all valid advice. Everyone gave their own input based on their own experience and each and every one of them had something important to say. Jane recognized that right away. But sitting there listening to it all was scary and overwhelming. She should do this. No, wait, she should do that. Or maybe both this AND that?

One friend, a member of the Sisterhood, was sitting beside Jane and must have noted the way Jane's head turned from person to person as the input swirled. Or maybe she saw Jane's increasingly crazed expression. Or maybe she just remembered how it was for her know..."it" happened.

She didn't raise her voice to compete for air space. She simply nudged Jane lightly and offered a quiet tidbit.

"You're going to hear all kinds of advice, Jane. I know I did. Listen to it all, but in the end follow what your heart tells you to do."

Jane wants to say a hearty thanks to this friend. Best. Advice. Ever.

It's okay to get lots of different opinions. It's more than okay to hear the stories from others in the Sisterhood and from those who don't know exactly how it feels but do know some related things they want to share. It's helpful. It's beneficial. It's bonding. It's a very good way to learn more about your options.

In the end, though, there is only one person who can decide what is best for Jane. And that is...of course you know this one...Jane herself. All the listening and learning has to mix with Jane's own thoughts. Once that happens, Jane's heart gets involved and only then can conclusions be made.

How to handle it. What attitude to take. Where to turn for guidance. All of it, every bit, is up to Jane. Her heart ponders and ultimately shows her the way.

What Jane has found interesting is that some people will be almost indignant that she isn't following the same route as they did. But others are warmly and even wildly supportive of her choices. So it's a balance and one that works just fine for Jane. She might have come to this conclusion herself...let's hope so, at least. But hearing it from a friend in the midst of the initial pain and upset proved invaluable.

Listen to everything but follow your heart. Exactly so.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jane wonders...what is the story you tell?

Jane read something that she thought was very interesting. At first she simply nodded to herself and agreed that it sounded like truth. Later, though, she thought of it again and actually started paying attention. That's when she realized that it didn't just sound like truth. It WAS truth.

We are the stories we tell about ourselves.

Simple statement. You might read it and agree that sure, we tell stories about ourselves and we are in those stories and so it's not a great leap to think that we are the stories. And then you might wonder why Jane is so taken with this statement. Maybe she did not have enough coffee and is feeling a bit muddled.

But, wait. Think about it again. We are the stories we tell about ourselves. Not "we are in the stories we tell" and not "we tell stories about ourselves". No, no, those statements have quite different meanings. This one, "we are the stories we tell about ourselves" goes deeper. It goes beyond telling what you did on your summer vacation or what happened at the grocery store. This statement is about how we define who we are and how we keep ourselves in that role. Sometimes it's deliberate but often it's become an unconscious habit or maybe an excuse or even a defense.

Since it's always easier and more comfortable to notice behaviors in others before we admit to them in ourselves, consider the people you know and what stories they tell. And then consider how often they tell those same stories. And finally, consider the reason.

Maybe you know someone who tells stories about how they mess things up. They can't do anything right! Why, listen to what happened last week or last month or last year. Listen to the stories of how they can't stop making mistakes.

Or maybe you know someone who tell stories about the great hurt they received in their life. This hurt was deep and it was significant and you know this and you listen to the stories with patience and kindness. But as time goes by and the years go by, you wonder when this person will put aside the stories of the great hurt and start to tell the stories of new adventures and maybe a new love.

Jane thinks about people she knows and she realizes that she knows their stories. She knows them very well. She has heard those stories again and again and she would be surprised to hear a different story. Delighted? Yes. Because Jane knows that hearing a different story would mean the story teller had moved beyond the security of the role...however negative...they had created and that they were ready to try on different roles and different stories.

That was the easy part. Now think about your own story and how you tell it and how you live it and how you even (this is the hard part) clutch it tightly to you because it's what you know. There's comfort in what you know, even when you do know, somewhere deep in your heart, that it's not a very productive kind of comfort. Think about that the next time you offer up a story about yourself.

Jane is thinking about her own stories. Is this the Jane she wants to be? The Jane who sits down with her friends at dinner and, if the conversation heads in a certain direction, tells the story they all know? Or does she want to reach out for different stories...the kind that make her friends lean forward, their eyes sparkling? The kind of story that makes them listen. Really listen. The kind of story that makes them learn something new about Jane.

The kind of story that makes Jane learn something new about herself.

We can be the stories we tell about ourselves. Or...we can tell stories of what we are thinking and dreaming. We can tell stories of what we are trying and experiencing.

We can tell stories of what we can be.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jane offers herself

In the end, only kindness matters.

Jane supposes that could be debated up one side and down the other because there are a lot of things that matter. But kindness is without a doubt one of them. It interests Jane that we often offer kindness to others far more readily than we offer it to ourselves. Why is that? Why are we so often so very negative towards our own tender selves?

If you listen honestly to your own words, you might be surprised and maybe even shocked that this is true. Jane guesses that most readers think they do okay by themselves. She would have included herself in that category as well. But a few days of careful listening taught her otherwise. Jane offers a quick smile, a warm hand and words of encouragement and support to people all around her. Bravo, Jane! But she slips far too easily into the habit of correcting herself. Belittling herself. Diminishing herself. Not much of a reason for bravo there.

Think about how good it feels to have friends or family or someone at work acknowledge our efforts and accomplishments or compliment something about us. It creates a little smile that can linger a good long while. What if we acknowledged and complimented our own selves? What if we took that a step further and encouraged our own dreams? What if...whew, boy, let's get radical here...we created such a flow of positive energy for ourselves that we felt all aglow? And what if that lasted longer than awhile? What if it lasted a lifetime?

Ohhhh, the possibilities! The amazing realm of possibilities when we are loved and supported by ourselves. Jane is a firm believer that there is nothing we can't do with that kind of nurturing. Now a thoughtful reader might wonder why she doesn't offer more kindness to herself if she's such a firm believer in it. Good point, thoughtful reader. You see, Jane knows this logically but still finds it a challenge. And since she fully intends to challenge you, the reader, to create an energy of positive kindness for yourself she will also accept the same challenge.

Jane does not intend to start this "someday". She intends to start this today. Yes, this very day, because Jane is starting a new year and wants very much to have a force field around her. As much as she appreciates the kindness she receives from her children and her friends, she knows that inner kindness has a different sort of strength. And she wants some of that.

Habits take approximately sixty-six days to become established. Jane looked up that information and was surprised because she had thought it was more like one month. Apparently not. In a month you might be fooled into thinking you have a new habit but you are still at risk for slipping back into your old ways. If you can do something for sixty-six days, you can do it for a year or five years or a lifetime. Well, alrighty then. Sixty-six days sounds like a lot, but it will still sound like a lot tomorrow or the next day or the next. Jane knows that the time to start is now.

Day one. Jane offers kindness to herself. It's not that she's been so especially hard on herself, but she realizes that this little bit of negativity or that sigh and shaking of her head over something she has done can add up. Jane wants other things to add up. She pictures each kindness she offers to herself as part of a glowing force field. It's an energy field of joy with sparkles of self-acceptance and encouragement and hopes and dreams and goals all shimmering together and every day the force field grows. It will surround Jane completely in...can you guess?

Sixty-six days.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

One step forward

By now anyone who doesn't live under a rock has heard about the benefits of simple exercise. I doubt very many rock dwellers have missed the updates, either. But knowing is one thing and doing is another and sometimes there is a large gap between the two. A very large gap.

Jane admits to being someone who likes and craves exercise. She was the little girl who climbed trees and ran around the park until her mama made her come inside and wash her very dirty self and go to bed. As a teenager, Jane found comfort and inspiration in the woods and mountains that surrounded her home. And as a young mother she realized that fussy babies liked fresh air and adventures. The stroller got a lot of use.

But it wasn't until more recently that Jane explored what she thinks of as official exercise. As she approached midlife she decided that some midlife muscles might be dandy and so she got some dvds and some weights and did enough to notice a difference when she flexed...which, she admits, she did in front of the mirror quite often because it was all so new and impressive and empowering. That was what Jane noticed and appreciated the most. Being a woman of a certain age (ahem) and having a bit of a muscle thing going on made her feel absolutely, positively, no doubt about it terrific.

Hello. Wouldn't we all like a bit of that feeling?

After the Big Awful when her self-esteem got stomped and her life plan was scrambled, Jane cocooned for a bit in order to regroup. She kept getting fresh air and some exercise because her best buddy in the world needed his walks, but she didn't put in her dvds and she didn't lift her weights. She felt emotionally weighted, so that every movement was heavier and more demanding than ever before. That's normal, very very normal. But it can become a habit and a bad one at that, so after a couple weeks of cocooning Jane decided she had better get off her cocooned patootie and take charge. If she didn't, who would?

Nobody, that's who. You are the only one who can be responsible for your own self...unless you are a child, of course, but if that's the case you wouldn't be reading this blog.

Jane joined the local rec center. She considered some of the other gyms but felt that something smaller and cozier might be a better match. And she took a Zumba class and then a whole bunch of Zumba classes because it felt so good to wiggle and dance and sweat and move. And she took yoga (and has already expressed her views on that). And she's about to take a Body Pump class.

But here's the thing. Jane didn't start off prancing around in Zumba AND doing Body Pump AND walking her best buddy. One reason so many people are hearing the word about exercise but are stuck in that big gap between hearing and doing is that the doing part seems so overwhelming. Join a gym? But which one? And what about all the proper clothes you need if people are going to see you at the gym? And what shoes do you need? And when will you have time to actually get there? And what if people look at you? And what if they don't?

Yeah, yeah. Jane gets it. That's a lot of questions, especially for women of a certain age who really need to move and stretch and, yes, sweat (this is seriously good for your body and your mind) but who find the moving and stretching and sweating part hard to embrace. So don't start there. But don't let that keep you from starting anywhere.

Start with one step forward. Start by walking. Jane is not the only one who endorses this plan. Dr. Oz says it's the one simple thing people can do to maintain their health. Walking. Seriously? We all learned to do that way, way back. Surely we can put that knowledge to use now.

And here's the great part! You don't need special clothing. You do actually NEED clothing unless you are walking on a nude beach and Jane wants to immediately banish the mental image of that because she doesn't know you well enough to think about it. Regular walking, though? In a regular setting? You can wear whatever is comfortable and whatever you actually have in your closet. No need to wait for a trip to the store to get the "right" clothing. Put on a pair of sneakers that give you some support and plan out a nice little route and go. Yes, go. Just do it.

Jane suggests that you figure out how far you are walking and how long it takes. You will want to know this, even if the only person you tell is your reflection in the mirror. You will want to know that it took however long the first week and then the second week you realized that it took less time. And by the third week you might even decide to add some distance. And after a month you might find yourself looking for ways to bring your success into casual conversation.

Sometimes this is quite natural.
"Why, Jane, you look so good!"
"Thank you! I am walking two miles every morning!"

Sometimes it's not.
"Excuse me, do you know what aisle the canned tomatoes are on?"
"I believe they are on aisle ten. I was just there a minute ago, but because I am walking two miles every morning I got to this aisle much more quickly than I would have last month!"

Before you even think about the gym and special programs and classes, get yourself out into the fresh air and move a bit. Just a little bit. That first step forward takes you into a whole new world of health and strength and power. One step forward.

What are you waiting for? Jane is putting on her shoes now. Come join her.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Be faithful in small things

Jane is an admirer of Mother Teresa. Here's something the good lady said that rings true for Jane and might for you, too.

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

Sometimes the big things go plop. When that happens, Jane has noticed, it's all too easy to think that everything else has gone plop as well. It might feel that way. It might feel like nothing will be the same again...and maybe it won't. It might feel like you have been knocked right down and are struggling to get up...and maybe you have been. It might feel like the clouds are permanent and the sun has gone away...which of course can't be the case, but still. It feels that way.

So, okay. The big things happened and you are feeling lost. Jane knows about this feeling. Believe me, Jane knows. She suspects Mother Teresa knew the feeling as well, at some point in her life. She also suspects that Mother Teresa knew about big things and little things and their importance in life from personal experience.

The big things seem more important, certainly. But you know what? The big things are all supported by the little things. Your strength does indeed lie there. When you have been completely deflated by whatever has happened, take as deep a breath as you can and look around. Look for the little things that bring you grace. Write them down, if you want. Hold them close in your heart. Small things can make a large impact.

From Jane's list of little things...
--huge snowflakes slowly drifting from the sky and landing on her dog's head
--a mother deer and her yearling sleeping in a sheltered back yard
--the first cup of coffee in the morning and the first sip of that first cup
--the peace and power in exchanging smiles
--a simple meal shared with a good friend

The list goes on and as it grows, so does Jane's strength. And that's a very big thing.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Jane in Mountain Pose

As promised, a bit more about yoga. Remember, Jane comes to this from the perspective of the newly converted. Yoga has been part of her life for about six months. She will try not to insist that everyone *must* try it or lead an increasingly worthless life, but she will admit that it has changed hers, body and soul. No exaggerating.

Yoga is good for flexibility and core strength, no doubt about it. Good, that is, as long as the one doing the flexing and strengthening realizes personal and comfort limits and respects the body's voice. Nobody should ever force themselves or anyone else into a position. Ever. Go gently, modify when needed and remember that just because someone two mats over is twisted into astonishingly impossible shapes does NOT mean that you need to do the same. Yoga is all about the person on your mat and that should only be you. Draw your focus inward and commune with your own body. In other words, no peeking around the room to see how your downward dog measures up.

The thing about yoga, though, is that there is far more than body movements going on. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism (this is an ancient Indian religion, not to be confused with Jane-ism) define yoga as a "spiritual discipline". While the body is moving the breath is flowing and the combination of the two creates something deeply powerful. Jane realizes that yoga is a hot trend these days, but that's simply because of our world's tendency to "discover" things that have been around for years. Thousands of years. It's accurate to say that yoga is gaining in popularity but even more accurate to say that it's regaining. Jane admits to jumping enthusiastically on the bandwagon.

Okay, so increased flexibility, good posture, an improvement in core strength, better lung capacity, reduction of stress, improvement in concentration and mood, lower heart rate and blood pressure. Quite the list, yes? There's a hard to measure benefit, as well, and that's what happens when you take time away from your busy day and devote an hour or even less to yourself. Let's say forty-five minutes. Read over that list again. Worth it? Jane thinks so.

Jane also likes the connection. Not with other yoga enthusiasts, though that is nice, but with the people who practiced the same positions five thousand years ago. When Jane is standing in Warrior One, feeling the strength of the earth rising through her feet and her own power shooting from her fingertips, she knows that others over so very many years, have felt the same. The earth's power, their power and hers mingle. The energy is theirs. The energy is hers. The energy is yours, too. All you have to do is reach for it and breathe and bend and flow.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jane says yes, Jane says no

Jane has discovered that sometimes you need to give yourself permission to say yes and encouragement to say no. It dawned on her at some point over the last few months that she has not been particularly skilled at either response. Jane, Jane. What will we do with you?

Well, for one thing, we'll encourage more yes and more no. Appropriately timed, of course, and you gentle readers know that appropriate means what is best for Jane. Sometimes it's quite okay to consult the inner self and listen before choosing the yes or no option. Really, it is. Are there any midlife readers out there? Please nod your heads in agreement and then hold that agreement as your own truth. If you are anything like Jane, you've been the very last person you consult about anything.

Let's start in reverse order. Saying no will not cause the earth to shift, the poles to reverse and the seasons to jumble...though, come to think of it, we are having a rather mild winter. Hmmm. But seriously, the power of no is far more positive than it's definition might suggest. Looking inward and recognizing boundaries is one of the best things Jane can do for herself. Whether that means setting aside enough time to honor her own need for physical, mental and emotional cherishing or whether it means acknowledging that something simply isn't her cup of tea, Jane has the right to make decisions based on her own parameters. And she is beginning to realize that it's not just a right. It's an obligation to herself. Because you know what? Nobody else is likely to do so.

Take a moment to absorb that shocking paragraph before moving on to saying yes. In jane's life, the yes isn't about agreeing to help with whatever activity or to read whatever book or to meet a friend at whatever restaurant. Those are easy and don't need to be discussed here. This yes is about Jane being open to abundance in all areas of her life and not just being open to it but believing that she is worthy of it. Something she has discovered about herself and a great many other women out there is that saying that we deserve good in our lives is one thing. Believing it is another matter entirely. Sometimes saying yes is a good bit harder than saying no.

The thing is, we often get what we embrace. Take a moment and think about a person you know who could be described as an Eeyore. You remember the character from Winnie the Pooh. Droopy Eeyore, always sure that bad things are about to happen. And so they do. Now think about someone who draws peace and light and energy to herself or himself and who radiates it in return. What does that person have that Eeyore does not have? That person has embraced the Yes. That person feels it, sees it, knows it, believes it.

Jane practices saying no to honor her own time and inclination, but she has also promised herself to practice saying yes. There's a universe of good and abundance out there. Does Jane believe she is worthy of it?

Yes, she does.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Jane circles the wagons

The title of this post refers to those old Westerns where settlers circled their wagons and prepared to defend themselves against attack. When something goes wrong in a big way in life, sometimes we need to circle our own wagons and prepare to defend ourselves. Maybe we don't actually have wagons and certainly we are unlikely to have settlers crouched behind the large wheels...which, come to think of it, is a good thing. I mean, really? Have you watched those old Westerns? Wagon wheels are a poor source of protection. They consist of spokes and empty spaces, people. How many brave settlers have crouched there, seemingly unaware that other than their toes, perhaps an elbow and maybe part of a shoulder they are completely exposed?

But enough about them. This is about Jane and anyone else who can relate. This is about self-protection. Something Jane has learned about the topic is that beyond the wagon metaphor the methods of self-protection that she embraces the most are largely Eastern, not Western. Now, really, this is a matter of whatever floats your boat and sometimes you simply have to try a few things and discover what works the best. Since this blog is about seeing Jane in various aspects of her life, the philosophy discussed will be hers. Okay? So Eastern it is.

More about all of this in detail will appear in future blog entries. For now, Jane offers the basic trio. Yoga, meditation and affirmations. Oh, and exercise, too, but that is in its own category.

Now Jane realizes that just as there are large differences between Eastern and Western philosophy there are also areas of overlap. And she realizes that it is very difficult and perhaps unwise to try to strictly categorize any idea. Someone will either shake their head in disagreement or feel outright offended. Put all that aside and simply go with the flow here. Disagreeing is fine and no offense is intended.

Let it first be said that Jane attends a protestant church regularly and enjoys it very much. She sees absolutely no conflict between that and what might be termed her "woo woo" philosophy. In fact, a recent discussion with her big brother brought forth the opinion (offered by Jane) that the greatest benefit comes from combining the two. Big brother concurred. An example? Medical science is discovering, or perhaps rediscovering, the benefits of adding in some of Jane's basic trio. Jane does not get credit for this because she is simply embracing the idea and did not invent it (yet another good idea that she was only moments away from creating).

So, then. What's the point? Why bother with woo woo? Because woo woo works.

Yoga, meditation and affirmations are all designed to get you in touch with your body, inside and out. Mental and physical and while all that's going on, emotional gets a boost as well. What's not to like about that? All Jane is saying, is give woo woo a chance.

Yoga has been around forever, and if not forever at least for a very long time. Stone carvings dated around 3000 BC depict yoga poses. That's pretty darn old, people. Pretty darn old. And why is it good for you? It's good for your body to stretch and hold for greater flexibility. The breathing done with the poses helps center your thoughts, slow your pulse, draw your energy in (okay, that sounded very woo woo) and release tension. Your mind concentrates on the poses and the breathing and not on the myriad of things that push and pull you in the regular world. During that time, you are are not racing or rushing or multi-tasking or worrying or achieving. You simply are.

Meditation seems to have been connected to yoga from the beginning, and so it also has thousands of years of history. Why meditate? To circle your metal wagons. If you find your thoughts going flittery gibbet and think that meditation is not for you, try again. Youtube has some dandy guided meditations that get you going and literally talk you through the relaxation process. Ten minutes is the average time. Surely you can spare ten minutes to start what might benefit you for a lifetime? Jane did. You can, too.

And then there are affirmations. Jane suggests reading something, anything, by Louise Hay. That lady knows her stuff when it comes to building up what has been smooshed down. Jane wrote affirmations on index cards and repeated them to herself every morning. She stuck them wherever she thought she would read them. She breathed them in during yoga. She said them again and again and again while walking her dog. And sometimes she looked at herself in the mirror and offered them to her reflection with love and acceptance...and if you think that's odd you might be right, but Jane will tell you that it's not easy and it's worth every odd and not easy moment.

More about those and about exercise and about whatever else Jane has been discovering in future posts. What works for Jane might not work for you, but these are not new and unique philosophies (if they were, Jane would be a Guru). These are philosophies that we are seeing more and more about in today's unsettled world. There is a reason for that. They are needed and people are rediscovering them.

Many wagons are circling. What about yours?