Chasing happy

I watched this documentary on sugar last night.  I’m not going to lecture you on liver or heart damage or how addictive it is or anything,  but it got me thinking about chasing a high.  You see, when you eat sugar it makes your brain feel good and then when it returns to its normal state you feel like you need more sugar.  We are so accustomed to having loads of sugar in our diets (hidden everywhere) that we don’t recognize that we are on a constant roller-coaster trying to maintain that sugar high and that “happy place”.

That “happy place” is what struck me more than the physical ramifications of sugar.  That happy place is not just a sugar induced place that we enjoy , but it’s something we come to expect and strive for.  This whole business of inner-peace has nothing to do with happy. Did you know that?  Happy is such an  ambiguous term.  We all want to be “happy”, but I think what we really want is to be content.  Happy is fleeting.  It is a feeling of elation and pure joy.  It is  a wonderful emotion, but you cannot stay there.  Chasing this emotion is much like the reaction of the brain to sugar.  When you aren’t high you crash.  When you aren’t happy you’re down in the dumps.

But there is an in-between!

This has been a common theme in my mindfulness meditation class. Collectively,  we have gained perspective on this emotion as something that swoops in and out, but not a state we need to chase.

One cannot have inner-peace while chasing happy.  

I’m afraid I may have lost some of you.  Think about a nice massage or a warm bath or even the feeling you have after running 5 miles (if that’s your thing).  You know that relaxed, content feeling you have after.  That is what inner-peace feels like.  By practicing mindfulness you can obtain inner-peace anytime without other activities as noted above.  You can tap into that place anytime, anywhere. Tools can help, mantras, meditation, yoga and as above, running, massage, baths, but the ultimate goal is just learning to “be” in inner-peace throughout your day.    

Starting today I will recognize the moments where I can just “be”.  The moments that I’m content, safe, free of fear, anxiety, regret, disappointment, anger, jealousy etc.  I will observe these moments and I will relish in them.  Who’s with me?!

With Love,

Tosha

 

Further Reading:

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/dont-need-try-hard-to-be-happy/

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2014/09/26/the-happiness-racket-when-the-pressure-to-be-happy-makes-you-miserable

Documentary on Sugar:

https://www.amazon.com/That-Sugar-Film-Damon-Gameau/dp/B010I4O6ZW/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1483537276&sr=1-1&keywords=sugar

 

The Reality of Normal

After going through treatment and dealing with a cancer diagnosis, things change and that change is referred to as our “new normal”.  I hate that term because it feels like something has been taken away, but in actuality,  things have just shifted.  

Maybe we ALL need to find our new normal.  What fits YOU?  Is there something that might feel better than it feels right now?

Discontent is where expectations fail to translate into reality.  This is what gets you!!  Birthdays, holidays, family events even Holiday tree cutting!! Realizing what our expectations are is half the battle.  This is where that time to quiet our minds comes in.  It helps us to make these realizations.  I just suffered my own discontent over the weekend.

I love social media, but you really do have to keep it in check.  We often don’t realize the expectations we are setting for ourselves,  and therefore have trouble turning the discontent around.  It sometimes seems that social media is setting the tone for “normal”,  but it’s a very distorted reality!    

My husband and my three boys and I  did some tree shopping this weekend. It was after church Sunday morning and the kids just wanted to go home. They were mopey and following me around too close and GASP leaning on me and invading my personal space.  I nearly lost it.  We are shopping for a Christmas tree.  You SHOULD be having fun.  This is a hallmark moment, isn’t it?!  Luckily my senses kicked in and I decided that my husband and I might sneak an opportunity to have a nice tree hunting experience alone.  Problem avoided.  We all remained calm and went home.  

TODAY as I flip through facebook with my morning coffee I realize that part of the reason I got upset shopping for a tree is that, what seems like EVERYONE, is out cutting their own trees, sipping hot cocoa and all happy happy happy.  WELL!  It was never our tradition.  As a matter of fact, for years we had a fake tree.  It snuck into my subconscious that this is a family occasion that we SHOULD be enjoying together.  BUT it’s not OURs and we, for whatever reason, don’t particularly like it.  SO, I choose happy, I choose content and I choose to free up that time doing what I perceived as something I SHOULD do and do something we wanted to do.  We spent three nights in a row watching Christmas movies.  We were lazy and together and I think we even created some memories of binge watching Santa Claus.  I’m good with that.

Love,

Tosha

*Update...this was written last year before ZenDitty was launched.  This year, we bought another fake tree!  Bring on the Christmas movies!!  :-)   I hope you find the happy place in your holidays!  xoxo

My mouth is going to get me in trouble!

As the fog lifted from my chemo and I immersed myself in “real” life, I had many challenges.  During the recovery period I had tremendous difficulty with memory.  I was often challenged in the parenting arena when the kids would say they “told” me something and I didn’t trust my own memory to know if they did or didn’t.  Sequencing and processing, getting from point A to point B for anything from planning a trip to learning a new game, was also a major difficulty. Every couple months during the year after treatments I’d feel this fog lift and I am now somewhere between this fog- induced state and my normal over scheduled crazy forgetful state.  This is the term they have labeled….”the new normal”.  I despise this term, but it is probably the best way to describe life post chemotherapy.

So, where is my mouth getting me in trouble?  Every time I feel things slipping through my hands I fall into an “I can’t do it” routine.  I have had actual fear of being able to do things properly.  I am a lot more confident these days, but I still struggle with some of these changes and utter; I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.  My mom gently pointed this out one day and it was an awakening.  I can.  I just need to do it.  I know what needs to be done; I am capable.  I didn’t even realize what this negative self-talk was doing to me until it was pointed out.  If this is true than all those positive affirmations we can offer ourselves is also true.  I actually feel empowered to tackle these challenges.  No longer am I stuck in a place of can’t, but I am ready to tackle some of the challenges ahead of me that are needed for my inner peace and creating a healthy life.

Too vague?

I can’t fit exercise into my schedule I just can’t.  Yes I can.  This is one of the top ways to stay healthy and keep osteopenia at bay.  I will find ways to incorporate more.  I can take walking breaks at work.  I can join a hiking club.  I can, I can, I can!!  Diet restrictions are also a big topic in health.  Which direction do I go?  I’ve been reading so much, but yet I get confused and turn away from all of it and eat pizza with my family.  Too hard….I can’t!  YES I CAN.  I know how to eat clean.  I know what needs to be done.  I know I don’t have to sacrifice yummy food.  I just need to plan ahead.  Something I am capable of now.  I spent the last couple days prepping some special brownies (not that kind ;-)) and sugar free pumpkin pie for the holiday.  I just needed to commit and not be wishy washy.  I know that motivation and dedication can slip and I’m sure this journey will continue with it’s ups and downs, BUT thanks to my mom,  I have recognized my negative self-talk and am ready to turn it around.

Let’s support each other.  Let’s be gentle with our words so they can be constructive and not hurtful.  Let’s not be afraid to point out to someone where they might make a positive change.  If we do it with love and a helpful hand, we can’t go wrong.  Let’s work on self-love, positive self-talk, and of course self-care.  Don’t you feel the weight lifting already??  

We are never alone in our journey.  Surround yourself with love and positive energy and you CAN do anything.

With Love,

Tosha

Finding Zen in Your Story

It’s our story.  That’s all it is.  I can get caught up in the sadness of how my story differs from normal life.  Soon after my cancer treatments ended I was invited to my 20th high school reunion.  I just couldn’t muster the energy to go and see all those people.  I was struck with a sadness and the reminder  that I also had cancer my senior year of high school and didn’t have a normal high school experience.  Let’s face it.  Important bonds happen in that last year before leaving for college.  It really sucked that I was stuck in this cancer cycle, but time gives perspective.  It is my story.  It’s just different from others and not better or worse.  I have amazing bonds.  I had so many normal and fun experiences in college and ironically developed life-long relationships with people from my high school in the years post-graduation.  It’s my story and it’s a good one.

I have spoken to many people in the last couple years that are going through diagnosis and treatments for cancer.  Some are really stuck in this perpetual “why me” place.  It’s very sad, because the longer we stay there the less time we spend out living life.  We choose what part of our life to make the focus.  I absolutely know how easy it is to get stuck and I do think it’s important to wallow there for a little bit because it’s part of our acknowledging and acceptance process.  I had a very wise friend in college whom I learned many important life facts from.  He would always say “acknowledge and move on”.  It was somewhat annoying at the time because I like to talk things through, but at the end of the day it’s the only thing we can do.  Acknowledge what is ours and keep moving forward.  I have since added the words, self-love and kindness to his words of wisdom.  

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How do we propel ourselves forward?  We need to have things in our lives that are more important than our own crappy stories (we all have them).  I am such a believer that “thinking outside ourselves” is what is going to save us from ourselves.  Living a full life means having things in your life that you care about.  Many people are just getting by.  Working, errands, cooking, cleaning, sleeping and doing it over again.  I see why we get stuck.  I’ve talked about having and developing tools to help you through the rough patches.  I have written about tai chi, yoga and meditation, but I have also written about community and service to others.  We are social animals and developing this part of us is going to help in so many ways.  Lastly, spirituality and faith.  This isn’t something that I have written about directly, but many times it’s the missing link to healing.  There are many things we cannot explain, but if we can have faith and really feel that we are loved and that we are going to be ok no matter how our story is written, we can begin to heal.  

In short, go out and explore more.  Get involved in something outside of yourself.  Find faith in a higher power that allows you to relinquish control and heal.  

With love,

Tosha

What Most Doctors Won't Tell You

Wow.  Sometimes things hit you like a ton of bricks.  I’ve been crazy lately.  Feeling more stress than I’d like, feeling out of sorts more often than I’d like and I’m the heaviest weight I’ve ever been.  So what gives?!  I’ve been working hard at all this and really really trying to keep things in check and do what is healthiest for myself.  WELL, thank you Bernie Siegel for reminding me that I’m doing it ALL wrong!!

"I am convinced that unconditional love is the most powerful known stimulant of the immune system. If I told patients to raise their blood levels of immune globulins or killer T cells, no one would know how. But if I can teach them to love themselves and others fully, the same changes happen automatically. The truth is: love heals."- Bernie Siegel

I went to see Bernie speak last week and he basically said “Don’t try to be a vegan marathon runner to be healthy”, “It won’t work”.  The desire to live will outweigh all of the “healthy” things you can do.  Eat healthy so you can feel good.  Exercise because it makes you feel good or gives you energy to do the things you love.  The things that fill your heart and give us purpose are far more life giving than an eating plan.  Some of you are probably saying…..but isn’t that what you have been telling us all along?  Yes, it actually  has been my priority all along, BUT I get off track.  I’ve been reading too much about what I can do to stay healthy and I’ve gotten my head all full of excess information that I’m not ready to process.  Bernie’s speech came at the right time for me.  It yanked me out of the sky where I had been floating around and planted my feet back on the ground where they belong.  Remaining grounded is far easier when you are standing on the ground!!

Bernie went on to share so many amazing stories about his patients and the remarkable power humans have over life and death.  We have all heard about that relative who waited until all the family was nearby to finally pass.  It isn’t too far of a stretch to realize that the healthiest things we can do for ourselves is to live a life that we find worth living.  To have a purpose and to nurture ourselves and others is going to give me life.  We don’t know how long we have on earth.  Let’s find the value in our days and go from there.

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Our energy and our desires create the world we live in.  I was dangerously close to a world of fear and rules and obligations.  Where would you rather dwell.  In fear or in peace?   Hearing Bernie speak really gave me the freedom and the lightheartedness I needed to tackle the big picture and enjoy the process rather than be weighed down by the heaviness of the subject.  I’m excited to have yet another new lease on life.  Please keep exploring, keep reading, keep trying new things.  Keep living a full life while you are here.

With love,

Tosha     

Resource: Bernie S. Siegel MD