Tag Archives: relaxation

Anxiety: When it was Time to Seek Help

As I get older, I like to think that I have things pretty well figured out and that it takes a lot to surprise me. I have become more accepting of my quirks and foibles and my reactions to situations are generally consistent, coming from a place of authenticity and self-awareness.

Through the years, I have also conquered some minor fears and sources of internal struggle that definitely kept me on my toes.

For me, the trick to remaining calm, cool and collected through life has been to gradually widen my comfort zone. It took guts, perseverance and hard work, but when taken in baby steps, it served me well. With a wider comfort zone, I could trust in my own skills, knowledge and resourcefulness in the face of adversity and stress.

And to cope with stress, I had in my back pocket a huge tool kit of stress management techniques, breathing exercises, mellow music, meditation techniques, grounding techniques and relaxing hobbies, not to mention lavender bath salts, scented candles and massage therapists on speed dial.

With things seemingly so neat and tidy, why is it that at the same time I felt I was becoming older and wiser, anxiety was suddenly creeping up on me as well?

“I say the universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers. And a whisper in your life usually feels like ‘hmm, that’s odd.’ Or, ‘hmm, that doesn’t make any sense.’ Or, ‘hmm, is that right?’ It’s that subtle. And if you don’t pay attention to the whisper, it gets louder and louder and louder. I say it’s like getting thumped upside the head. If you don’t pay attention to that, it’s like getting a brick upside your head. You don’t pay attention to that—the brick wall falls down. That is the pattern that I see in my life and so many other people’s lives. And so, I ask people, ‘What are the whispers? What’s whispering to you now?'” – Oprah Winfrey

To read more: http://www.oprah.com/own-master-class/oprah-winfreys-master-class-quotes/all

To me, those whispers were showing up in the form of reactions to situations that seemed out of character. Beneath my usual calm and cool exterior, I was starting to experience more moments of nervousness, an increasing intensity of nervousness, longer spans of ruminating over issues and needing more time to bounce back from dealing with life’s issues. I was also having a much harder time letting go, no matter how many times I heard that Idina Menzel song. Continue reading

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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

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How I Need the Internet to Go “Off the Grid”

In keeping with tradition, last month I booked some time off for some rest and relaxation from the office and to take in the festivities of the Eurovision Song Contest, from the comfort of my couch here in Canada. For what seems like ten years now, Eurovision has been the focal point of my version of “spring break”.

The first few days of my time off consisted of jotting down some blog ideas floating around in my grey matter and puttering around the house, getting chores done. With those out of the way, when Eurovision came on, I could truly let myself get swallowed up by my sofa, pillow, blanket and cat, and to completely disconnect from the world.

That is… until I woke up Tuesday morning to find I was already disconnected from the world.

No Internet service!

After a series of attempts over two days to restore my Internet service over the phone, with the assistance of cheerful client service representatives, it finally took a site visit from a technician on Thursday to get everything fixed up.

Once I was on the couch, with pillow, blanket and cat, watching the Eurovision semi-final #2, my cares completely melted away with each passing costume change, wind machine, and key change.
The next day, I watched semi-final #1, and on the Saturday, I watched the finals live with the other 204 million viewers around the world. Everything seemed right with the universe again.
But those few days I was without Internet, I surprised myself at my dependence on it. How do people actually go off-the-grid anymore? Continue reading

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How the Feline Barricade Saved Me from Myself

Shortly after the arrival of Ivy the Wonder Cat, when she started dropping her guard with me, it was a wonderful thing.

Those first few times that I was quietly watching TV only to find Ivy inconspicuously walking into my lap, plopping herself down and making herself comfortable, were heartwarming moments.

When trust and comfort conspired to become her naptime, I knew that I had succeeded in creating the right environment, that she was comfortable with me, and that we had truly bonded.

The only pitfall of that was getting locked into a couch or armchair and not being able to get up. I hated the risk of disturbing her peaceful sleep.

Fortunately, I caught on early and made sure that if I was sitting down with plans to watch TV for a while, to make sure I had gone to the bathroom first, had a beverage next to me, my remotes by my side and a pen and note paper, in case moments of creative inspiration should happen to strike me during my immobilization. Continue reading

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You Know It Was a Good Vacation When…

Isn’t it wonderful when you have enjoyed your vacation time to its fullest and completely immersed yourself in activities that were so far removed from your day-to-day routine… to the point of forgetting the details of your day-to-day routine?

That being the case, you know it was a good vacation when…

Ice Bar, Stockholm, 2005

You have a hard time falling asleep on cue, to wake up in time for the return to your regular morning routine.

You wake up with muscle or joint stiffness but no recollection of what could have caused it.

The prospect of wearing long pants again makes you cringe.

The prospect of preparing a lunch-to-go makes you cringe even more.

You overshoot your morning routine prep time by half an hour.

Even your pets are seemingly sad to see you go back to the regular routine.

You’re not freaked out by the guy who cuts you off in traffic on your first morning commute. Continue reading

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Top 10 Things I Like to Do on a Long Weekend

10- Slow down the pace

To me there is nothing better than just chilling, listening to classical music, sipping coffee and enjoying the peaceful silence of a holiday morning when everything is closed. Monday to Friday is always so busy. The extra day in a long weekend is for me, an extra chance to recharge.

9- Give the cat some extra attention… when she is looking for it

Usually by mid-day Monday on a long weekend, Miss Ivy is a little sick of having me around, but I’m certain she appreciates the bonus time to play and spend time together.

8- Indulge a little

While I generally stick to a healthy eating plan, a long weekend is a nice opportunity to break up the routine and maybe have a “cheat day”… especially if the long weekend includes a major holiday that involves feasting.

7- Reading

Usually, I read before going to bed. But whenever the opportunity arises to chill and read in the morning or the middle of the day is a serendipitous pleasure every time. Long weekends seem to offer that freedom of extra time to slow down the pace and check out a good book. Continue reading

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Top 10 Plans for My Retirement “Gap Year”

do-not-disturb-sign2If you have read some of my previous posts on the theme of retirement, you probably know that writing has already been carved in stone for my second career. Let’s face it, with fifty years of journaling behind me as well as enough ideas on pieces of scrap paper to wallpaper the CN Tower, I don’t think I will be running out of writing projects until the next millennium.

Watching the clock count down toward retirement is a mixed blessing. On one hand, I love my job and am concerned at how quickly the countdown is going. Will I have enough time to complete the work projects that are important to me, before I decide to hand in my security pass? On the other hand, the to-do list of personal projects I want to pursue is already starting to form in my mind and seems to grow longer with every passing month.

But just the same, there is that transition period between the two, where I plan on just taking it easy and leaving behind the old routine and making way for the new one.

I have worked very hard and I deserve the break. If high schoolers can have a “gap year”, why can’t retirees?

Here they are, my top 10 plans for my retirement gap year:

10 – Actually getting spring cleaning done during spring

In rushing around from week to week, between chores, gluten-free meal preparation and getting the regular housework done, I often find that my “spring cleaning” actually takes four seasons to get everything done, even with a good system of lists to keep me on track. I am hoping that by having more time to myself, the spring cleaning will eventually get contained to one season.

9 – Clear out my Netflix list

When I watch a program on Netflix and have the satisfaction of deleting it from “My List”, I am frequently tempted to check out the “Recently Added” section… and when I do, I usually end up adding three to five new items to “My List”. With almost 100 titles set aside for a rainy day, I am very much looking forward to a binge watching month.

8 – Catch up on all the movies I missed over the last decade

In addition to the programming offered on Netflix, I assume that there will be another list of movies I just didn’t have enough time to get around to seeing. My popcorn popper may have a hard time keeping up that year!

7 – Re-watch some of my favourite classic TV series

As if the programming in #8 and #9 aren’t enough, there will be favourite series on DVD or Blu-Ray that I will be overdue for watching again, as I tend to do from time to time. I may need to see all 14 seasons of Dallas again… just sayin’ Continue reading

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