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 relationship...you 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.

Unless...you 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 process...is 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 to...do 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, kindness...it 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 this...be sure you do that...you 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 when...you 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 kindness...to 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?