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Meaningful Monday: Winter or Summer

People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy. (Anton Chekhov)

This, to me, speaks volumes about learning acceptance. When we are happy, we don’t notice a lot of other things. It can be hot or cold, rainy or sunny… we could be single or married, working or unemployed, we can still be happy. Happiness is a state of mind as much as it is an emotion. As a sufferer of anxiety disorder, this has been a hard lesson for me to learn. Even so, it is so very true!

We are all in control of ourselves. We decide if we will succumb to road rage or drive on. We decide if we will react to ill-behaved idiots on the subway or ignore them and move along. We make many decisions throughout the day that impacts our mindset and emotions. While we are in lockdown, we also have the freedom to make decisions that will impact our mindsets and emotions. Consider thoughtful reactions instead of just mindlessly reacting. Think about what you say and do before it actually happens. Plan it out, especially with more important or stressful encounters. Think of the different ways your situation could go and what you will do or say in each scenario. Not only will you be well equipped to handle those situations, but you will also appear to be quicker-minded and more intelligent to those you interact with. By planning out scenarios, you’ll be less effected when a situation takes a negative turn because you are already prepared and less likely to reactive negatively or overreact.

Take time for yourself. It is even more important when we are cooped up with others during lockdown that we take some “me time” every day. It’s amazing what a little alone time can do for your mental and emotional well-being. Even if you just hide away in the bathroom for a half of an hour or have to let the kids sleep a little late so you can have some “me time” in the morning (which is what I usually do!), it will work wonders for your happiness!

Spend some time in the sun! Go outside in the yard, enjoy the weather. It doesn’t always have to be sunny and bright! Cloudy and rainy days can be as enjoyable as sunny days. When the sun is obstructed, the breeze feels even cooler and colors can really look more vibrant! Listen to the rain and even go out and feel it on your skin. Take a note from the kids and splash in a puddle. Who cares how old you are? It’s still fun! Even if you live in an apartment, you can open the windows and let some fresh air in, enjoy the fresh breeze and feel the sun. It works wonders!

Stop. Breathe. Repeat. Continue with life. Deep breathing exercises can be a lifesaver! Breathing slowly and deeply actually tricks your body into calming down, even if you are upset! Try it! I’m not talking about “breathe in… one, two, three, four, five… breathe out… one, two three, four, five…” even though there is something to be said for the “breathe and count” method. I’m talking about mindless, calming breathing. Just be mindful to go slow and breathe deeply. Even if you are sitting there reading this article, watching a youtube video or watching TV. Just controlling your breathing can train your body to remain calmer all of the time. It also helps to increase your lung capacity and increases your blood oxygen saturation level, which is very good for you!

Even though you may be tempted to let the housework go a bit while in lockdown, don’t give in to that temptation! As a matter of fact, this is a great time to do some major spring cleaning! De-clutter your house and you’ll be surprised how it impacts your mind and emotions! Maybe even take a few minutes to research Feng Shui and how you can apply those ancient concepts to your living area. Rearrange furniture. Plant some houseplants or start a kitchen herb garden. Keeping your space clean and green will help you to keep your mind and emotions in good shape, too!

By taking some time to analyze situations and your reactions, taking some “me time” every day, practicing deep breathing exercises a few times throughout the day, and making mindful decisions to do things that have positive impacts on your mindset and emotions, you are truly taking full control of your situation and limiting negative impacts on yourself. Focus on being happy!

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Meaningful Monday: Happiness

Happiness exists in giving and serving others. Even in our hardest, saddest times, we have always been able to pull together, help others who need it, and find joy in serving our communities. Now more than ever, this is exactly what we need to do! There are so many people who are in need, so many healthcare workers who need supplies, so many people who need food… we need to be at our best once again!

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Meaningful Monday

Living through the COVID-19 Crisis is challenging at best. As a country, indeed the whole world, we are all experiencing a certain amount of anxiety and trauma due to the unfolding health crisis. Recently, a friend told me that there wasn’t much more he could handle, that he is getting so angry at politicians acting like political party matters while people are dying. He is getting angry at leaders NOT LEADING, at the lack of preparedness, at so many people not taking it as a serious threat.

He, like me and so many others like us, is “at risk of serious illness” if we contract COVID-19. Before most people were even thinking it was a big deal, we were already practicing self-isolation and sanitizing the hell out of everything that enters our homes (people included!). Not because we were scared but because we have learned to be cautious. In the beginning, I got angry as well. I stressed out. I cried in frustration because no one was paying attention to a serious risk unfolding. I find it hard to comprehend the mindset of those who still don’t take it seriously, while we have entire countries in the midst of a complete collapse of their healthcare systems, and our own healthcare system teetering on the brink of collapse. But do I still get angry? Do I still get stressed out?

No.

The reason is simple: my anger and stress don’t do anyone any good at all. It just makes me miserable, makes my family upset, and is harder on my health. I am tired of anger. I’m so very tired of stress. I am also very tired of seeing the numbers of the infected and dead climb by the hour, while there are still some out there who just don’t get it. But they don’t make me mad anymore. They stay on their special side of reality, I stay here in the real world.

You might be asking why I am using this discussion in relation to the Meaningful Monday quote, “Happiness can only exist in acceptance.” But if you think about it, the meaning is very clear. When I was busy being angry, stressed, anxious and generally pissed off about the whole situation, I had absolutely no hope of being HAPPY. None at all. There’s a seriously small amount that I can do about the crisis. I do what I can to help who I can. But there’s honestly not much that I can do.

I can bake bread for friends who can’t find a loaf at the store because panic shoppers bought it all. I can make homemade, washable and reusable face masks for friends who need something to cover their faces. I can make homemade alcohol for myself and my friends who can’t find antiseptic at the store to use as a sanitizer. But, I am the McGuyver of my group of friends… you know, the type who has all those skills useful in a zombie apocalypse? I can preserve fresh vegetables. I can make bread from scratch. I can sew (clothing and skin, too). I know crazy kinds of first aid. I can find medicinal herbs in the back yard. I can distill sugar, water, and yeast down to almost pure ethanol with a homemade Frankenstein distillery made of kitchen supplies. I can knit winter wears and socks and blankets. I can do a lot of things that you never have to leave the house to do because I can’t leave the house very often at all in the best of times, much less now. I haven’t been out in public (excluding doctor trips) since January. I order nearly everything I use in my household and have it delivered to my door.

Basically, I live the life that most people are having a lot of trouble acclimating to. It was hard to learn to accept living this type of lifestyle. I used to be vibrant and full of life! I was a dancer (Bellydancing and Scottish dancing). I was a very social person, always out and about enjoying life! I loved laying in the grass in the sun. I now have allergic reactions to UV light, so I have to avoid sunlight. I loved running and dancing, especially in the rain! Now I have such bad arthritis in my feet, ankles and knees, as well as weak ligaments, that I can barely walk much less run and dance. I can sit on the back steps when it rains and close my eyes, remembering the joy of feeling the wet grass beneath my bare feet and let the rain wash away any sadness that I feel. I have had to accept my life, to play the hand I have been dealt and attempt to do it with grace.

I have been living this way for a while now. If people like me can do it for years, you can handle it for a little while. It’s not permanent for you. It’s not even that much of a long-term thing. It’s temporary. It’s fleeting. It’s nothing. So, sit on the couch and binge-watch every TV show you have ever thought would be cool to see. Use the time to take up some more healthy habits, like daily workouts and meditations. It’s not forever and the sooner you accept that the sooner you can be happy. Life is different when you have to live like this, but different isn’t bad. You CAN be happy, but that happiness can only come with acceptance. Those of you with kids, your children are looking to you for guidance now. They look to you to see if they should be happy or not, so let’s be good examples and show them that we can enjoy life in a different way for a little while.