127. How Are You?

 

Okay, so let’s work on our stories!  When someone says, “How are you doing?”, what is your normal answer?  I would always go to my health to answer. I might say, “I’m ok“, but, in my mind, I’m going over the list of what isn’t working for me.  My breathing is rough, my body aches and hurts.  The list is pretty long.  I might add things about my family and their problems, job uncertainty right now, in light of Covid19 affecting everything.  But, I want to try to change that story.  Are you up for an experiment?!?!

The next time someone says, “How are you doing?”, let that be your reminder to stop the automatic response, and think about what you say.  Watch your choice of words.  Talk about what is working for you.  Maybe if you are sick of being stuck in the house, say, “Well, I’ve had plenty of time to get things done that I ‘ve been meaning to get around to for a long time!” Whatever you want to say, flip it around and talk about the good aspects.  I would say, instead of my usual about my breathing being tough, or hard to breath, I would try to say, “I can’t believe how well my body is holding up through all that it’s going through!  I am still eating, no feeding tube!  I am still breathing!  No ventilator!”  (or at least think it in my head when I reply, ok.)  Focus on the good stuff!

If you have no job, maybe you could focus on what you do have.  When someone asks, “Have you found a new job yet?”, you can say, “I don’t want to talk about that, but I just watched the funniest movie, or I am feeling great because I’m sleeping in every day!”  Talk about what is working for you.

When I woke up this morning (okay, maybe it was afternoon), I thought to myself something along the lines of, “Thank you to my mind for those awesome dreams!  How do you/I come up with this stuff??  Thank you body for resting so well, I hope it helped you.  Sending love to my bladder for working so well all night long! ” I swear, I felt just a little bit better than I usually do when I get up out of bed. I wouldn’t recommend saving any of that out loud, but who cares what you think to yourself!?  If it could actually help, then what have you got to lose?  Just try it!  Try it for a week, and see how you feel.  I can almost promise you’ll notice a difference.  Then if you do, you’ll have even more things to thank yourself for!  Even more things to be grateful for, and to focus on!  Let it pile up. Let it pile up until your list is so long you can’t even remember all the good things that are going on in your life.  Even better, maybe you won’t be able to think of any negative things about your life!  Let’s get started, right NOW!! So, how are you doing today?

126. Messages

 

Messages are there for us if we only take the time to listen.  It’s the help we want and need to live our best lives.   Messages from, Spirit, from your family member who has crossed over, your spirit guide, your higher self, etc…  They come in the form of Facebook posts, and Instagram messages, and tweets, and commercials on TV.  They come in passages you read in a book.  They come in lyrics in music that get stuck in your head.  That’s where my messages come from, many many times.  I will wake up, and lyrics to a song will pop into my head.  They will play over and over again a few times before I suddenly stop and think, Oh, ok, thanks for that message!  I needed that!  It could be anything.  This morning, it was a snippet of a song that said,

I’ll turn this thing around

Yes I will

Yes I will

Yes I will

It might be something tiny.  Something you could easily write off as not being a message.  I was looking at a photo of my grandparents the other day, and I heard a Blue Jay singing outside my window.  Blue Jays always make me think of my summers spent in Michigan at my grandparents’ house.  So, I knew they were saying, hello.  I could have just as easily seen the bird and thought nothing of it, but I paid attention and was open for a message, so I got one.

The Universe / God has your back.  He / She is always looking out for us.  No matter what is going on in your life.  Just take the time to listen.  Right now, it’s easier than it ever has been for you to hear those messages.  It’s a rare occasion when the entire world slows down enough to make it easier for us to hear and pay attention to our messages.  Take advantage of the situation.  Spend some time on yourself.  Whether you are reading a book, or taking a bubble bath with no kids interrupting.  Do something for yourself each day, to have the time for those messages to come through.

125. Welcome To My World #2

Well, I have already done a welcome to my world post, so this is welcome to my world part two!  People are nervous about COVID19, worried that their end could come if they catch it.  These are serious times, you could get sick, and even die.  Take care, take precautions.  I have been living in that world for almost 22 years!  I was told my end was near in 1998! I should enjoy my time and prepare, and take precautions because you never know when your body might up and quit on you, you have ALS!  Well, I did all of that preparing, and living like the end was just around the corner.  And, I did it some more and then more.  It gets old fast, let me tell ya!  I’m sure the end is out there.  But, somewhere along the way, I started living instead of dying.  I highly recommend it.

By all means, be safe.  Wash your hands, and then wash them again!  Then repeat!  But, eventually, we are going to have to figure out our new normal.  Unfortunately, things will never be the same.  Just like when you get a serious medical diagnosis, your life changes in an instant, and will never be the same again.  But, that’s okay.  You can do this.  We can all do it.  Some of us have already had to change the way we live.  They are saying that we can’t go out right now every day, to do nonessential things.  I already don’t go out much.  It’s too much trouble. I have to have someone get me up and ready for going out, put on a bra and underwear, and shoes, then find my neck brace!  Ugh!  Then, getting the wheelchair, the accessible van, etc… It’s just a lot. It takes forever. So, I’ve already made the adjustment to staying in.

Order everything online.  Check! Once again, the hassle of getting out and about means I already order nearly everything I want and need online.  So much easier!  The only problem is that now that everyone is doing it, shipping is getting slow!  I’m not sure how I feel about making someone else work, so I don’t have to go out, but I definitely genuinely appreciate everyone who does it!

Don’t touch your face all the time.  Not a problem when you have ALS, or other neurological problems. You can’t do it!  Next….

Social distancing.  I’ve been doing that too.  When you can’t walk up to someone, you don’t get too close.  When I wheel up to them in my chair, I am still down lower than everyone else, so I feel like I’m not that close.  Sometimes It’s hard to have a conversation, but you’ll get used to it.

Back to washing your hands.  Well, this is to kill any germs you could have picked up.  I already avoid germs as much as possible.  I probably think about it much more during flu and cold season.  A flu bug of any kind or even a cold could be the end of this go-round for anyone with decreased lung function.  So, some of us already think about this, but it’s nice to have everyone else on board!

So, reallyyyyy…. welcome to the way those of us with ALS /MND live!  You are getting a glimpse of our lives.  It is doable.  It just requires a little effort.  Sending virtual ((( hugs))) your way! Leaving you with someone who always makes me laugh…

 

124. Think About Your Thoughts

We get upset easily these days.  But, why?  The reason may surprise you.  Is it because your roommate did something ridiculous that made you mad?  Did your kids scream and yell at each other, which made you mad?  Or, is it your thoughts about your roommate or your kids that actually made you mad? Think about that for a moment. If you chose not to react to their actions, then you wouldn’t feel so bad.  If you reacted, and let it go, you’d be fine in a few minutes.  But, we tend to dwell on what happened, go over it in our minds, and continue to think about it.  Our thoughts are what upsets us.

When things don’t go the way you want them to, it’s usually not the situation which upsets you, but your reaction to the situation.  Your thoughts are what make you happy or sad or mad.  If you are making something to eat and you drop your bowl, you may immediately get upset.  But, you could also just as easily brush it off, clean up the mess, and get another bowl.  It might be annoying, but is it really that bad?  It’s only what you think about the situation that either ruins your day or doesn’t.  Listening to the latest coronavirus updates can be stressful. It’s easy to feel worried, and uneasy about the future after listening to all the negative talk.  Choose how you react to the news by focusing on all the positive news stories.  Everyone coming together, while staying apart, to help friends, neighbors, and even strangers.  The many acts of kindness from people are outweighing the few who are choosing to be irresponsible.  Let your positive thoughts outweigh your negative thoughts.

Choose thoughts that make you feel good.  If you are upset or angry, stop and realize what thoughts are going through your mind.  If they are making you feel bad, change them.  It’s as simple (and as hard) as that.

I love Aretha Franklin’s song, Think.  I’ve heard it a thousand times, but, never really listened to what she was saying. I always thought she was talking to someone about what they were trying to do to her.  But, maybe not?  Read the lyrics.  Good advice from Aretha, “let your mind go, let yourself be free.”

Yeah think (think)
Think about what you’re trying to do to me
Yeah, yeah-yeah yeah (think, think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free

Finally, I leave you with something fun from Adam Sandler and Jimmy Fallon.  They are great at choosing the funniest of thoughts.

123. A Fine Line

What we focus on is what we find showing up in our life.  So, is it good to focus so much on something like COVID19, which no one wants?  Probably not. Definitely not!  People feel like they need to talk about the problem to get through it.  I understand we need to prepare and know what to do for prevention.  So, we do need to be aware.  But, it can be a fine line between being aware and being obsessed, or too focused.

Hoarding groceries and toilet paper, of all things, comes about when you cross that fine line.  Crossing the line leads to increased stress.  Stress leads to gut dysbiosis, which leads to a decrease in your immune system, which no one needs, especially now.  It’s a slippery slope.

We must try not to focus so much on the nightly news, the almost daily presidential press conferences, and all the negative news related to this virus, the daily counts of how many were diagnosed, how many died.  Think about what you can do, instead of feeling helpless. You can eat well to give your body what it needs to stay healthy.  Now is not the time for dieting.  It’s time to eat and drink heavily… scratch that… I mean healthy!  We need to make sure to take time out each day to find ways to boost your mental health.  Your immune system is not just your physical health, but also mental health. Meditation, yoga, walks in nature.  Just sitting in your yard (yes, touch the ground, or a tree, you’ll feel better, it’s actually good for you…more on that in another post), or on your deck, doing nothing.  Reading.  Learn something new with all your extra time, finding something besides your health to focus on.

Practice gratitude.  Remember all the good things in your life right now.  Do you have a job?  If not, focus on something else.  Do you have a comfortable house or apartment to stay in?  If not, focus on some other thing that you do have.  Do you have enough food?  Are you warm?  Are you able to breathe on your own?  Did you wake up today (if not, you wouldn’t be reading this… Unless people who have crossed over still enjoy my posts… which.. well done to me)?  There is always something to be grateful for.

I’ll leave you with something fun to watch.  Remember, there is always something good in life to focus on other than the bad stuff.  The more you think about the good stuff, the more amazing things will come your way.

 

122. Sing Along

Sing along with the video…. “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine! ”

Just because it’s the end of the world, as we know it, doesn’t mean you can’t feel fine.  You will be okay.  It will all be okay.  Really.  All this social distancing isn’t that bad. I do it every day.  ALS has prepared me for this for years!  When life gets tough, and we are feeling down,  I always turn to music.  No matter what the question, music is the answer.  Music can make you step away from your problems and forget about life for a while (thank you, Billy Joel). When we are sad, we turn to music.  Sad songs, they say so much (thank you,  Elton John).  When we hurt, and everybody hurts sometimes, we turn to music ( thank you, R. E. M. ). When we are happy we hold a celebration with music (thank you, Kool & The Gang). Music is always there to help us with whatever we are dealing with.

As we do the walk of life, music is there (thank you, Dire Straits).  No matter what you are dealing with, there is a song for that.  It can help you realize that you are not alone, no matter what it is, someone somewhere has gone through the same thing.   There has been a song written for every emotion, a song for every feeling, one for nearly every woman’s name in the English language.  A song for every situation you will ever find yourself in.  Really.

Music can bring us together even when we have to stay apart (thank you singers from Europe).  Hope springs eternal.

 

 

121. My Sky Is NOT Falling!

Do you remember the children’s story about Little Henny Penny, the chicken who was convinced the sky was falling?  She pulled out her phone and posted all over social media, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling! ” Henny Penny got all of her friends all worked up about something that could have been just a bump in her day.  For Henny Penny, who had something literally fall from the sky and hit her in the head, it made sense to worry that the end was near.  After all, something, an acorn, I believe, hit her in the head.  She felt like the sky was falling at that moment.  Then she went around, like a chicken with its head cut off ( I’m not sure I like that visual) and got all of her friends believing their sky would fall too! After all, she had proof that the sky fell!  She probably had a bump on her head, and how else do you explain that?  She was just going on about her day when something fell and hit her in the head, why wouldn’t it have been the sky?!  That was her reality.

What Henny Penny didn’t know, was that her reality didn’t have to be her friends’ reality.  She was probably having a bad day anyway, and maybe she was mad at herself for how long it took her to get out of bed that morning because she stayed up too late the night before.  Getting up late made her miss her usual breakfast, and she was out trying to find a substitute meal and was thinking angry thoughts, and making angry chicken noises, and BOOM,  her horrible reality caused something horrible to happen to her.  She could have looked down, seen that an acorn had fallen from the sky, and been thankful that now suddenly she had something to eat for breakfast.  But, instead, she kept on with her terrible mood, and attitude and went on to complain to her friends and got them into a scared and bad mood too.   Foxy Loxy might have been having an okay day, which could have improved to a good day if he would have just tried a little, but then Henny Penny shows up talking about the sky falling, and that was all it took for him to run down the rabbit hole with Henny Penny, and he was scared too!

Goosey Loosey’s day was just fine until she heard the other two shouting from the rooftop about the sky falling! Instead of ignoring them and going on about her business,  she started thinking, well, she did hear something odd outside this morning, and maybe that was what she heard?!  It could be,  you never know what bad thing might happen.  Maybe she should go get supplies just in case the sky really was falling.

You’ve probably heard about Ducky Lucky, Loosey Goosey, Foxy Loxy, and Turkey Lurkey, but had you heard of Kitty Catty?  She was a Siamese cat, and she rarely followed the crowd. She followed her own path, and things always worked out for her.  She didn’t buy into the whole, “the sky was falling” panic that all the others were shouting about.  She just pointed her nose and tail up in the air and walked in the other direction when all her friends and neighbors came by shouting as loudly as they could.  What her friends didn’t realize was, that her sky wasn’t the same as their sky.  She believed that her reality was her own, controlled by her, and her alone.  So, her sky never fell in.

Depending on the version of the story that you have heard, either Henny Penny and her friends finally realized that the sky wasn’t falling.  Just because one thing fell from the sky, or just because something bad happened, that didn’t mean they were doomed.  They realized that how they felt about the situation had a lot to do with how things turned out.  Perhaps you heard the version of the story which does lead to doom for Henny Penny and her friends, their belief that the end was near, really did bring about the end for them when they were all eaten in a cave by some big animal!  All, except for Kitty Catty that is, who of course didn’t believe in all the doom and gloom, and lived to experience another day. Be like Kitty Catty.  What you think about, really does affect the way things happen in your life.  Take care not to focus on what you don’t want, and think about what feels good, what makes you happy, and what you do want to happen in your life.  If you can do that, you will find yourself living a healthier and happier life.

120. Follow Your Gut

We’ve all heard that saying before, to follow your gut.  It’s good advice.  Your gut always knows what you should do.  You just have to learn to pay attention to it.  That’s the tricky part. Maybe because we have such an epidemic of poor health these days, especially in America, we are used to our gut feeling upset all the time.  So, we don’t necessarily notice what our gut is trying to tell us.

Just like this awesome video by Devo, Gut Feeling, our gut isn’t really into expressing itself with a lot of words.  Once it does start talking to us, it can really seem like it’s just screaming at us, especially if we aren’t really paying attention. Watch the video, and you’ll see what I mean!

Doctors and researchers are just now discovering how complex your gut truly is and what it’s all about (yes, I’m ending my sentence with a preposition… but, not really because of this little note). They are now calling the gut our second brain.  It turns out the gut is just as important at running the body as the brain is.  So, all this time, whenever people have talked about going with their gut, or their gut reaction, it was more than just talk. More than just a metaphor.  Your gut really can tell you what is best for you!

“Follow reason but don’t ignore that gut feeling. We create reasons with our limited knowledge and experience, but gut feelings often come from universal knowledge.”
― Debasish Mridha

Listening to your gut can really come in handy.  I do it all the time, or at least I try to remember to do it.  I did it when I went to England right after 9/11. My mother and I went to visit my aunt who was living and working in England at the time.  We weren’t sure if we should fly at that time, but my gut said, “go for it“!  My mom reasoned that it might have been the safest time to fly because all kinds of new precautionary measures were in place. So, we went, and we were fine.

Have you ever tried to decide if you should buy something? Maybe you decided not to because something about it just didn’t feel right?  That was your gut telling you that you shouldn’t do it! That uneasy feeling, that is your gut talking to you.

Today, people are worried about the coronavirus.  I know several people who are trying to decide if they should travel now.  Is it safe?  I think it all depends on what your gut is telling you.  Some people will do everything under the sun and be fine.  Others, won’t be so lucky.  Listen to your gut!  That feeling is there for a reason!  God made everything for a reason!  When you are trying to make a decision, and you get a weird feeling in your stomach, that weird feeling you get isn’t just a fluke, it’s God or the Universe telling you, “no”!  It’s a bad idea!  Listen!  If you will always listen to your gut, your life will go much more smoothly than if you let your brain make all of your decisions.  Your brain can tell you if it’s statistically a good decision to do something or go somewhere, or buy something, but your gut knows if it’s best for you as an individual.  Your gut knows you better than your brain knows you. Keep that little tidbit in your brain, and you’ll be just fine!

119. Your Spidey Sense

Okay, we all have that voice inside our head that keeps yammering away, no matter what.  But, have you noticed the other voice that is much easier to ignore?  It’s much much quieter. You won’t even notice it if you don’t pay attention. But, if you do, you’ll find that it’s a source of great advice.  It will tell you when you’ve forgotten to check something or forgotten to do something.  It will tell you which item to choose when you are trying to decide which one you really want or need.  It is a never-ending source of guidance and encouragement.

Some people call it intuition.  Some people would say that it’s a gut feeling.  It could be called your inner guidance system. Your higher self.  Your spirit guide. Maybe, your internal GPS.  Yet others would say their spidey senses are tingling!  It really doesn’t matter what name you give it.  Just know that it is there to help.  Always.

“The Higher Self is whispering to you softly in the silence between your thoughts.” ~ Deepak Chopra

That quiet voice is filled with knowledge that you may not remember learning.  It is full of a wisdom which is greater than yourself.  It’s unlike learned knowledge, which you may have to stop and try to remember or think about.  This information comes in a flash, or quickly.  When you have a problem, it’s often the first thing that comes to mind.  If you pay attention.  It doesn’t always have to be a big thing, sometimes a thought pops into my head to remind me of some little thing I should do.  If I am paying attention enough to realize it, and I follow the advice, it always works out for the best.  If I ignore it and let my brain enter into the conversation, I almost never end up following the advice, and I regret it later.  Say, I’ve asked my husband to help me adjust my computer (I can’t do it myself because I can’t move… ALS), I may suddenly have a thought that I will probably want my blanket adjusted too, sooner rather than later, and I should ask my husband to do it now while he’s standing right there.  If I pay attention to this thought, and I have him pull my blanket down, I’m fine. If I’m thinking of other things, and don’t listen, or my brain says, no, you can do that later, you’re fine!  Then, more than likely, when I really need to move the blanket (which again, I can’t do myself because… ALS) because I am suddenly burning up, he will probably be outside, and I will be stuck waiting, for whatever reason, wishing I had asked when he adjusted my computer!

Have you ever run out of the house, in a hurry to get somewhere, only to realize, too late, that you’ve forgotten something?  Have you done the exact same thing in a different situation, but that time you remembered right before you left that you had forgotten something and you went back to get it, saving yourself some time, maybe an extra trip, and anger at yourself for forgetting?  That was you paying attention to your intuition.  You weren’t too busy listening to the thoughts produced by your brain, thinking, and you heard your higher self.

How do we hear that little voice?  You have to slow down, and pay attention.  You may be listening to the advice you receive on a daily basis but have never stopped to think about it.  Your brain often gets credit for the work of your intuition, or internal GPS.  But, whenever you catch yourself thinking of an answer to a problem immediately, it might just be your inner guidance system at work.  Try to differentiate between the two and you’ll find your life going much more smoothly and easily.  Your intuition or your internal GPS is like a muscle, it can increase in strength the more you use it.  Lucky for me, it is not really a muscle, because I have that muscle zapping ALS!  So, work your spidey senses muscle, and before you know it, it will be tingling constantly!

118. Mind Chatter

I have a voice inside my head that never shuts up! I do mean, never.  Ever.  I try my best to quiet it with meditation, but my mind is constantly interrupting with thoughts.  Stupid thoughts, like, I need to make sure to get bread today.  Or, I’ll suddenly remember that I forgot to email someone back after I read their email.  Or, maybe a blog post idea will pop into my head.  It’s always something interrupting my meditation. I try distracting my thoughts with TV and movies. That just makes more nonsensical thoughts pop up, “Oh, what was that other movie she was just in?  You know, the one with the monkey?  That one that other guy from that other show was in!? ”  Sometimes I can read a book, or write a blog post, and it seems to slow down, but it’s always there in the background.  We all have that little voice that incessantly chatters away.  Even when there isn’t much to discuss, our little voice makes up scenarios, what if this or that happened?  What will so and so say?  If the voices in our heads were audible, we would all be in trouble!

Thoughts are different than thinking.  Random thoughts float through our minds almost constantly, but thinking is when you purposely try to find an answer or have control over the pondering. I say, any thought that doesn’t make you feel good, is a thought you don’t need.  Whenever you catch yourself with one of those thoughts, shut it down!  When you hear about a job opening at your place of employment, but you find your thoughts saying, “Well, I probably wouldn’t get it anyway”,  shut them down!  When you have a test to take, and you study and study, but just can’t seem to remember everything, you could find your mind saying, “I’ll never remember all of this!”  Stop your thoughts in their tracks.   How many times have you been cut off in traffic by another driver and find yourself going through what happened in your mind and keeping yourself upset long after it happened?  It’s over and done, yet your thoughts are still going over it in your mind and making you upset.  There is no logic in allowing your thoughts to affect your mood in this way, yet we do it anyway.

Why oh why do our thoughts seem to repeat endlessly on situations that were negative or traumatic events?!  Those thoughts would be best never to be remembered again, but our minds dredge them up every so often, nevertheless.  Psychology tells us when our minds run through all the occurrences of a traumatic experience, our bodies react the same way as we did when it was happening for the first time, your body can’t tell the difference.  If that is true, is it any wonder so many people have problems with depression, anxiety, and other health issues?!

Lesson four of A Course In Miracles says, My thoughts do not mean anything.  If we are willing to accept that our thoughts are meaningless, then we can accept change much more easily.  Those long-held beliefs (thoughts) of ours might not be right.  We really are good enough.  We might actually deserve to have things work out for the best.  Whatever those nagging thoughts are floating through our heads on a never-ending loop mean nothing.  That is a good thing! Don’t let that voice in your head, and those thoughts run amok ( this memory always pops up in my mind when I think of the word, amok) anymore.   Remember they are meaningless.  Be mindful of your thoughts and don’t hold onto them, but let them come and most importantly, let them go.  Allowing them to flow without attaching emotions and meaning to them is the key.  It takes practice.  I am reading a great book about The Course In Miracles, by my favorite author, Pam Grout.  I invite you to give it a go as well.  She makes learning about life interesting and more importantly, fun.  Life is all about fun.  If you aren’t having fun, you might just benefit from this book.  Until next time…