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The Art of Being Present & Making Authentic Connections

 

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29 December 2014

“…..it was a changing period of time that took everything away, turned it around and returned growing like a glorious garden full of color light and magical energy and most importantly possibilities…”

Life as I knew it was over. I looked around and realized this is not what I thought I though I would be doing. This realization was eye-opening. It was the confirmation of my control issues. If I could judge the situation as not what I anticipated, this lead me to believe I was certainly lost in the past (ruminating) and investing in over planning the future (fearful). What does this mean? Simply put not spending enough of time of my time being present. Funny, not haha, but ironically the present is where I want to dwell. I want to be in the moment. I want to enjoy what is happening when it is happening. The benefit to bringing yourself to the present is pleasure. Worrying about the past and anticipation of the future is a waste. Time just passes and it belongs to none of us. It is precious, it marches in, with or without you. Consider this when you are not operating in the present moment. You miss what is happening in real-time, wasting time thinking about what is now the past or anticipating what hasn’t yet occurred, the future. All we have is the present moment. The past, yes it is the past, it does not belong to us. We only have the promise of a future, there is no guarantee. We all have things to look at in hind-site, enabling us to move forward and be more productive and thrive. That is fine.  You are in the moment reviewing your take away from a learning moment. That is prudent and useful.  Obsessing about what has happened is unhealthy and dangerous. You can easily get stuck in the past. This is regret and it will prevent you from growing. What good comes of that? It will hold you back and likely depress you. Obsessing about what may happen is just as destructive to your well-being. The bottom line, the past and the future will rip you off. They both can suck the life out of you. People close to you will tire of your obsession with the past or the future, as it will overtake you, unhealthy and unattractive. It is so sad to be wasting time. Remember the truth, time is precious. You can not buy it you can’t recoup it, it is fleeting. Be mindful and make a commitment to being present. It is like any habit, good habit, it takes time to establish it. You will quickly discover how often you are not present. I think it may surprise you.  The practice coming to the present moment is very similar to taking a breath and coming to center, a calming moment. You can work toward being present more of the time employing the same methods. Pay attention, take the breath and bring yourself to the present moment. We can all benefit from this work. Modern life can be very distracting.  You can decide to set aside these distractions, just decide.  I find I am becoming more present the more time I dedicate to my meditation practice. It calms me down and clears my head.  Meditation creates space. Makes room and helps me use my precious time in ways that benefits my well-being.

Think of someone you know or someone you met who seemed very attractive.  I am not talking about physically beautiful or handsome.  I am talking about their essence.  It is something you can’t put your finger on. It is a combination of elements.  It is their personality, sense of humor, intellect, body language, tone, engagement, and the stories they tell.  Any attractive quality adds to the overall feeling you get from someone. When you experience this feeling from someone your takeaway is positive.  You would love to get this person better. You would love to know their secret.  The next time you come across one of these individuals, evaluate your experience.  What is there to learn?  Well they don’t have a secret, they are simply present.  Being present fosters their ability to employ powerful tools that opens them up to every possibility.  They have the skills to meet and greet people, they open themselves to you, this is an attractive quality. They are engaging, they look you in the eye, they “see” you, their body is supple, their body language says I am open, they may rest their hand on your arm while making a point, they are genuinely interested and they are very good listeners.

The practice of becoming more mindful is just that, the more you think about it the more you will do it.  You will become more and more present.  Everything worth having is worth working on.  Practice, practice, and practice.  The present is an amazing place to be. You will feel energized.  The way people respond to you will be all the evidence you need, you will find it refreshing.

I recall my experiences when I began my focus on being present.  It was during the same period of time where I had begun a meditation practice.  The method was mentioned by a yoga teacher after a class.  When you encounter anyone, your best friend, the gentleman who holds the door open for you at the post office, or the clerk at the market, make a connection.  Here is what I would like you to try. You encounter someone, take a breath, look them in the eye, and quietly say to yourself, Namaste (that is my choice, you may use your own centering word). This may seem awkward at first, but as you practice it you we see that it takes mere seconds and no one even realizes you are doing it.  This simple act will delight you. You will feel people’s energy change as they open up to the possibilities of your time together. It feels genuine, authentic and real, we all crave it. I believe this practice has helped me be more present and has enriched my experiences with others tremendously.  I do this every day. I am not too busy or in too much of a hurry to do this. Try it, you may find it as addictive as I did when I began. You will feel awkward at first, keep trying, you will develop your own style and you will love the results. They are evident. People’s body language changes, they sense a warm engaging feeling, and they open up. What transpires is fantastic, you will see and feel it, it is palatable.  It becomes an exchange of energy, with possibilities that would not have existed had you not engaged on this level.  Imagine enjoying your connections with other much more.  This practice can be the beginning of a collaboration, cooperation, a new friendship, even a romance. Trust me you will love it, please give it a try. This practice always brings me to center, and into the present moment.  Get out of your own way, stay in the present moment and enjoy the experience.

Talk about “you never know”.  I have discovered incredible things about people through this level of engagement. It is a game changer.  You will be astounded by what is revealed, what comes to light and the energy that is created with this connection.  You will be most delighted by what you learn about yourself. Yes, open up, connect while being present and feel yourself grow, fantastic!

“tragedy stays alive by feeling what’s been done to us, while peace comes by living the result” Mark Nepo

Making Changes ~ a change becomes reality ~ you have encouraged yourself ~

 

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“as we light a path for others, we naturally light our own way” Mary Ann Radmacher

Do you ever wonder if the changes you make are having a positive effect? The moment you experience the validation that the change you have put in place is working, a wonderful feeling.  Some changes produce evidence rather quickly. Dieting for example, you change your eating habits you begin to feel better and you are dropping pounds. Hard evidence. Other changes produce more subtle results. It may take a while especially for a “doubting Thomas” to get the validation we all need – results.  My prayer for myself is that I am able to decide on a change I desire to implement and I can stick with it, be all in, regardless of the amount of time it takes to know that it is, in fact, in place. Think of results as what keeps you going, and as time passes your commitment grows stronger. The changes we implement that have the more subtle results require patience. You may need to be even more strident to keep going toward your goal. Eventually you will feel the changes are having an effect. The period of time that passes that seems to be growing long, is exactly where you will need your patience, it needs to be strong. Hang in there.

i have studied this, and true change is designed to take time. I gather it takes twenty-one days for your change to become a habit, for your commitment to become a working change. I go with a month for any change I am working toward to become a reality. Once you see and feel changes are working, of course, that is just what you need. It is an amazing feeling of success when you open yourself up to a new way. I have found when my patience is being tested that visualization is the perfect tool to sustain my commitment.  I see myself, feel myself, and I know that I have reached the day where my hard work, commitment and patience have added up to the success we all crave, reaching the goal of change becoming reality.

I have been tested this week. I truly believe that things happen for a reason and occur when it is time. This past Sunday afternoon my ankle felt more numb than ever before. I removed my shoe and sock to check it out. I was surprised to see my ankle was swollen. Had the edema returned? Had I injured my ankle without knowing it? Was something wrong? I know in my heart and with my intellect that I have a great working practice in place. I remained remarkably calm, surprising on so many levels.  I will admit I got a bit panicked. I instantaneously assumed the worst case scenario.  I thought okay that is a reasonable response. So, I sat with that reaction, I had given myself a break, thinking it is okay, but what else was there? The main thing I am working on in this period of real healing and recovery  is the critical element of my perception. I have discussed here in the past that the “events” that blind side us, push us down and knock us off our game are just that. I thought the specifics of the events were not really as important as how we deal with them.  How we handle our reaction is that process that has given me solace in the past.  Something has happened and I need to deal with it well and things will get better. I learned recently from my therapist, I have been missing a key step in this assessment process. It is simple, but I had completely missed it. It is my perception of events and the most important element of your assessment is it being real and true. Once armed with the truth getting to the process of dealing with what has occurred certainly will be more productive. Please note coming to terms, armed with the truth is not always easy. Take that deep breath and give yourself the time you need to see clearly to what is true and real. If you rush forward to deal with a problem without a clear perception you outcome will be fruitless. I have integrated this step into my process. I am waiting patiently to see if these truths will set me free.

I had an event, and I let myself spiral down to worst case scenario. I have given myself a break for that initial reaction. I take that deep breath and begin to sort it out calmly. I make a clear as assessment of the event, so I may proceed with my true perception. None of us like to consistently sit in reaction to life. It makes us feel powerless, but on the surface allows us to avoid dealing with the event and having to tell ourselves the truth. Lying to ourselves is not an option, it is not healthy and it is the roots of denial. Do not let that denial plant grow and bloom, that is much more difficult to deal with than the truth. The truth will set you free, it allows you to deal with things in real-time. It does not serve us to put things in boxes and store them in the denial attic. That is not healing. That is adding to the problem, not to the solution. Be a part of the solution. This fosters being able to take action, not sitting numbly amid our denial, merely reacting to our events.  Taking action, empowering, now that is part of the solution. The most important element is the ability to take that breath, the pause, and getting to the truth you require to move forward. Take the time you need, do not drag your feet. Try it, you will love this change, perception is everything. I discovered something very important to ‘take the time you need’ this past week. My very astute and compassionate therapist pointed out that occasionally in order to cope we need to put events in boxes and temporarily put them in the closet. I resisted this statement, but when she mentioned that eventually the box will press on the door and spill into the room…..well that made sense too. I am a visual learner and visualizing this, it made sense to me. What you may need in real-time is to cope, so taking the time you need may require that you put it in the closet, to deal with it later. When it does spill into the room, you will unpack the box, shake the events out neatly folding them and putting them away closer to being dealt with. This reminded me that it is all a process, the journey unfolds and it just requires that you take the time you need. If this provides you time to cope, I see clearly that this point is well taken.

I have an upcoming appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. A man who, yes is a surgeon, but remains in touch with his humanity, and is a an extremely caring and compassionate physician. I am so grateful to be in his care, he takes very good care of me, I couldn’t ask for better care.  I began to wonder should I move my appointment up?  There it was again, a little bit of panic.  Remember it was Sunday when I noticed the swelling. I had to wait until Monday morning to call the practice. I waited.  I called and spoke to the amazing, well-informed woman who holds down the practice like an air traffic controller. You speak with her and things get done and fall into place, she is very good at her job. I told her what was going on and should I come in sooner?  I was concerned. She ran a laundry list of why my ankle may be swollen. She helped me gather the information I needed, I asked for her help and she offered good information, but she would check with my doctor and make sure they were on the same page.  If he thought it was necessary that I come in sooner she would let me know, if not, I would come to my appointment as scheduled. I assured her I knew what to do, I had become quite an edema expert this past summer. I would begin taking my herbal/vitamin combination to treat my edema. I would treat my ankle daily with hydrotherapy, hot and cold treatment to stimulate circulation, which in turn reduces swelling or edema. What I had gained from speaking from her was a way to think about what was happening. No, I don’t know what is causing it, but I do know how to treat it.  Momentarily I became agitated as I was going to have to make room (time) for treating my ankle. The same frustration I had felt in the past reared its ugly head, why do I have to spend so much time and energy addressing my healing?  Well I quickly swept those thoughts away, as I know that is an express ticket to a pity party. We have a choice. I continued to sort what was happening. I had collected enough information from my doctor’s office to know there were no red flag disasters ahead. My approaching appointment would work fine.  I would proceed to treat my edema/swelling with what I knew worked. I had made it through the tight part in the river, squeezing through the rocks and the rapids, calmer waters were ahead, it felt positive. I was letting go, the truth was setting me free. I continued treating my ankle. Each day the treatments worked, each day the swelling returned as I was up and on it, although sleeping with my leg elevated always resulted in a morning where the swelling was down. I struggled with getting up and getting on with what I liked to be doing during the week.  I wanted to have breakfast with my sweet husband, and send him off with his lunch, hugs and kisses. But wait, we put his lunch together, which I usually prep the night before, he said he would pick up a breakfast sandwich at Dunkin Donuts when he stops for his morning coffee. Imagine that? He was perfectly happy (well he does love those sandwiches) and I am fine too. I am dedicating my time to treating my foot. I am pleased with making sure my perception is true.  It enables me to take action, being part of the solution.  Yes, it may be taking up my time right now, the time is not wasted, it prevents me from sitting in reaction creating more denial. It isn’t always easy, but it is encouraging. The light at the end of the tunnel burns a bit brighter today.

It is a relief, being part of the solution. Seek your truth, fine tune your perception and move forward to deal with whatever has been put on your plate. Find your gratitude and take those baby steps, you must take all of them, they move you forward toward your light. You, like I will be just fine. I promise.  I must tell you now what my practice brought me to. A thought as powerful as any of the negative reactions I first experienced. I saw clearly that the swelling could mean that obviously something was happening and changing, could it mean that my nerve was healing?  Holy cow! I had received the validation I required to continue, to keep going knowing that I had implemented a change and it was in place, it was working. Pure elation! There is a world of help available to all of us.  The big take away for me through the process of implementing this change may be three simple words, “I need help”. I discovered and you will too, that there is no shame in those three simple words. Help will not knock on your door, yet it is waiting for you to ask. A smart person who desires real healing and recovery seeks the truth, uses all the available help, treats all that are there to help very well,  and once your perception is true you are free to react in a positive and productive manner becoming part of the solution. The validation is there and you will continue to walk toward your light. We have choices. We are free to experience true healing and recovery. It is there, available to us, I say, “go for it”. Make a change, work hard to implement it, be kind to yourself during the process, realize it is in place, and give yourself credit, you did it! Be sure to take a look back at the path you choose and you will see a clear and smooth way that you traveled, ah, go ahead and realize that you and only you were the one who set up all the barriers along the way. You now know that you can make necessary changes, encourage yourself armed with a clear and truthful perception, you are healing and recovering, because you, my sweet friend, are the only one who can do that. The truth will set you free.

I hope that this finds you feeling well today and in the best of spirits.

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: beautiful picture, photographer unknown.

The Worst Summer of My Life

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Ah, the gift of another day, I am grateful. I read my first blog post this morning, and I thought it was a great place to begin. If there is a thread that runs through a life, I’d say I usually get ahead of myself. Here, today I will explain “the worst summer of my life”.  We will get that behind us and move on.  That is what I am doing these days, moving on, firmly planted in a period of acceptance.  It took many days to get to moving on, letting in the idea of acceptance settle in.  Trust me I was stuck, firmly planted in denial. I was stuck in between “old” Karen and “new” Karen. A very surreal place I must say.  I had lost myself in everything that had “happened” to me. I was operating from a place of reaction, I yearned to take action. Confusion set in, I wasn’t sure who “old” Karen was, and I had no idea of who “new” Karen might be. My curiosity was killing me, I just wanted to like my new self, bringing all that was good, all that worked, and a lightness of being with me.  It isn’t that I did not like “old” Karen, I did, I loved her, in fact I missed her. Things had changed and she really did not exist any longer. There it is, opportunity and possibilities, a rebirth. I realize that life changing events are just that life changing. Here is how life changed.

I have been coping with chronic pain for the past forty years, stemming from a car accident. There have been periods of time where the chronic pain was in control of my life. There were other times, when the chronic pain subsided and I was able to cobble together a normal existence.   Presently, after “the worst summer of my life”, I have a foot neuropathy (dropped foot) and severe nerve pain in my lower leg and foot.  Ironically, what appeared to be a simple surgery to repair a couple of screws that were broken in my existing hip prosthetic brought on an onslaught of new challenges. Following the hip revision I experienced a debilitating cellulitis, extreme edema, two hip dislocations and finally another hip revision to install hardware to prevent future dislocations. The takeaway: my hip is fine, but I have what may be a permanent disability and a higher level of chronic pain.

So there, take that Karen! Talk about monkey mind, this has been the norm. I can’t even believe the thoughts I have had, the things I have been worrying about, no rhyme or reason to it at all.  Yet, all the while I have doing my physical therapy diligently and employing whatever tools I can to recover. My leg in general is stronger, my incision has healed beautifully, my edema treated with supplements and herbs is gone, my restrictions have been lifted and I may do my full physical therapy routine, I am riding my new spin bike, and I have reopened my vintage jewelry shop on Etsy. Sounds good doesn’t it? It is and I am very proud of myself, I have come a long way, and I am grateful that I have managed to put all of this together. But wait, I also become the master of my Tupperware smile, become an expert of taking care of my husband taking care of me, and worst of all I am feeling extremely ambivalent. I am emotionally flat, wondering if laughter and joy will ever return. The downside has manifested as sleep deprivation, a loss of appetite, monkey mind, anemia, low hemoglobin levels, and an overall sense of dis-ease. This situation has overwhelmed me on every level. I am a control freak and I am can do Karen. Not this time, I am venerable, I am scared, and I have no control over this situation. I finally had to say, “I need help”.  I went to see my primary care doctor. I adore her, we have a good working relationship, I trust her and she knows me very well. It didn’t take but a few minutes for her to tell me, “you are not yourself, you are depressed”.  Whoa, I am depressed, no that can not be true, not me, other people are depressed, I have never been depressed. Yes I have been depressed, more times than I’d like to admit.  My doctor told me how we would address this and I just let go and said, “ok”.  She prescribed medication for depression and a sleep aid, the medication would lift me up just enough to get out of my own way and the sleep aid would allow me to get some rest. You know why I said ok? Simple, old Karen would have wanted another chance to manage (control) the situation, I had nothing, I just sat there and agreed, I am depressed and I need help. I was relieved, my shoulders relaxed, I thanked her, hugged her, and went to my car and cried like a baby. I went to the pharmacy, picked up my prescriptions and began taking the medication like an obedient child. The next morning I actually felt better. I had really let go, there was a plan coming to light and I was all in.  I made an appointment to see a therapist, my first appointment is this afternoon. Hopefully we will be a good fit and she will be able to help me wade through this period of acceptance. That is where I need to be. No more waiting, wishing and hoping. Acceptance will allow me to move this situation off center stage and begin to move on to a better place. A place I remember, a place where I thrive, a place where laughter and joy are the norm. Now that sounds good, build it she will come. We will see what happens, I am looking forward to the appointment, and I am ready to show up and do my part.

We all have a choice today. We will decide to be part of the solution, or part of the problem? I am certain we all can sustain and grow through life altering events. It hardly matters what the event was, what is important is how we decide to deal with what has occurred. I am curious, wondering what tactics you employ when life has knocked you down? Whatever you are struggling with today, what path will you choose to lift yourself up? We are all coping with something, that’s just life. How will you walk toward the light today? I look forward to hearing from you.

Today I am grateful for letting go ~ accepting help that is available to me ~ my willingness to be open to solutions. What are you grateful for today? May I suggest you keep a gratitude book? More on my gratitude book later, it is clearly one of my most powerful tools.

I pray that you are feeling well and are in the best of spirits today.

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo – Quotable magnets, taken by me.