Tag Archives: calm

A Calm Mind

There are no words to describe the feeling of waking up in the morning with no worries. At first, it started to worry me… how can my mind be without worry… I must be forgetting something. But I caught myself falling into the old habit, and actively decided to just let it go, and enjoy the moment.

Waking up to a calm mind that is not racing, ruminating or over-processing things is new to me. What a wonderful feeling it is!

It’s not because I won the lottery. It’s not because stress has magically disappeared from my life. It’s not because certain people have suddenly found the exit door from my life.

Do I have things to worry about? Yes I do, but I don’t let them linger like they used to.

I remember being taken to the doctor’s office when I was 12 because I frequently suffered from stomach aches. After an abdominal exam and not finding anything, the doctor’s advice was to stop worrying so much otherwise I’d develop an ulcer.

But there was so much to worry about: Getting good grades, pleasing my parents, getting my homework done on time, fitting in at my new school, being the “husky” kid, being the shortest boy in my class.

And as the years went on, my worries changed, but worry was a constant: maintaining a good average in high school to get into university, choosing a major in university, completing university to get a good job, the first work assignment, the first apartment, money management, the first car, paying my dues at work, health, relationships, the second apartment, noisy neighbours, the third apartment, car repairs, illness in the family, the first house purchase, home renovations, dog poo in my yard (and I don’t own a dog)… you get the picture.

At any point, I had a stack of worries circulating through my mind, but that seemed normal to me.

Along the way, I had read several self-help books and taken stress management courses to develop a tool kit to help keep my cool and to keep me grounded. Things seemed to be in check, but worry still followed me around even in the quietest, most relaxed moments. Continue reading

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under 50+, Health and Wellness, mental health

Why I Love Nature Photography

PhotographyOn my last day off, I couldn’t have asked for a better day weather-wise. The sun was shining, the sky was a stunning shade of blue, there was a gentle breeze and the temperature was a picture-perfect 20 degrees Celsius.

When deciding how I was going to spend this precious day off, I knew that grabbing the camera and spending an hour or so around a nearby creek was at the top of my list.

Upon my arrival, it took less than five minutes to get completely absorbed into the creative bubble of this enchanted forest, focused on a world of tiny subjects in their intricate detail.

Thoughts of the real world had completely suspended. It was like I had jumped into vacation mode, yet was still just minutes from my house.

On this quiet morning, I appreciated the peace and solitude of the moment, even though I was surrounded by many species of wildlife pursuing their business of the day. I marveled at the soothing effect of just being there, bearing witness to nature’s gentle pace.

I noticed that my usually hurried steps gradually slowed down as if to not disturb nature’s ebb and flow. My breathing slowed as well, as a calming effect took over.

I scanned through the tall grasses and plants surrounding me, looking for my next subject. My senses were fully tuned in, trying to spot those moments that we miss while rushing from commitment to commitment.

Thoughts of my to-do list drifted away as I followed a monarch butterfly floating from plant to plant, posing and preening in the sunshine as if to say “Take my picture, take my picture!” I happily obliged and then thanked her for the opportunity. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Inspiring, photography

Traffic: Survival of the Calmest

Share The Road signAfter some serious traffic tie-ups through the city in recent weeks, a few colleagues mentioned “I don’t know how you can commute day in and day out like you do.” They were interesting observations, I thought, as I mulled over the reasons while in bumper-to-bumper traffic tonight.

Here are some of the secrets to how I remain calm through approximately 444 traffic jams per year:

Great music
Have you ever arrived at a destination and then stayed in the car to let a song on the radio play out until the end because it is one of your favourites? That is the same logic I use in building commuting playlists of just my favourites. That way, even if am stuck in traffic, it doesn’t feel like I am stuck when I think to myself “Oh, I like that song!” one song after the other. That way, I don’t get irritated by commercials, news or DJ banter on topics that don’t entertain me. Also, I keep my eyes on the road as I never need to change songs, my music player does it all for me, shuffling through my list of favourites. I just set it and forget it. Before departure, I can also choose the playlist that best suits what I need in the moment, whether songs to energize or to decompress. When the playlist is perfect, it is like the music becomes the focal point and driving becomes the secondary activity.

“Go” Before I Go
Self-explanatory. That way my bladder is not complaining if I need to navigate through unexpected traffic delays.

A meal or a snack before hitting the road
With something in my tummy, I find I have a greater threshold for not sweating the small stuff, especially when behind the wheel. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Humour, Inspiring

The Writer All-nighter

Typewriter Back in my university years, between classes, working, socializing, sleeping, watching music videos on Muchmusic and trying to get all my assignments done, there were times that there simply didn’t seem to be enough hours in a day. To try to make ends meet time-wise, I would occasionally revert to the old stand-by: the all-nighter.

I did not do it often, but I do recall the ceremony behind it, ensuring I had all the supplies I needed to make it through the night: coffee, cigarettes, snacks, plenty of good music, typewriter ribbon cartridges and typing paper (because of course, typewriter supplies never ran out during store hours). I did not usually go to caffeine tablets on top of that because they just made me so jittery I couldn’t read my own writing. Red Bull had not been invented yet so we made do with the above even though it was not the healthiest of combinations by any stretch of the imagination. And for the record, I quit smoking around 1990-91.

I do not want to over-romanticize the all-nighters of 1986, but there was something magical about the peace and solitude of the middle of the night, clickity-clacking on my Mom’s typewriter in my man cave, and producing some quality essays that earned me some decent marks.

I recall those smoke-filled nights, with a gentle breeze wafting through the window, expanding my musical horizons listening to all kinds of classical, jazz, rock, pop and instrumental artists like Kitaro and Tangerine Dream.

I even remember a couple of quick runs to the 24 hour grocery store around the corner to pick up more snacks, only to find that I could sing “All By Myself” at the top of my lungs in aisle 7 and really mean it. (I tried it once, it was most liberating.)

It did not matter whether Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Humour, Inspiring, Writing

Enjoy the Silence

One of my all-time favourite songs is from Depeche Mode, “Enjoy the Silence”. A quick Google search seems to reveal two predominant schools of thought as to its true meaning. Some think it has a relationship connotation while some think it is about heroin addiction. Either way, the take away for me has often been just the title itself.

At the moment I am writing this, I have the windows open, a gentle breeze is billowing through the curtains, I can hear a choir of birds singing while only the occasional car drives by. It is one of those magical moments of serenity when no one has their lawn mower running, the neighbourhood kids seem to have vanished temporarily, the neighbours’ dog has not barked yet, no one’s air conditioning has clicked on yet and no one is doing home renovations. Everything is still and calm. I have some gentle baroque music playing, but the volume is so low, it is just punctuating the moment with a little rhythm to set the pace for my writing while providing the perfect background music for the concerto of birds.

I look at my to-do list and Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Inspiring, Misc blogs