Please listen to your flight attendant….

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Before every plane ride, the cramped individuals of the cabin are always treated to the preflight safety instructions.  They’re always the same; the flight attendant walks us through what to do and where to go in case of an emergency.  If you’ve flown more than once, it’s more likely you will be fumbling with your tiny airplane pillow or an electronic device, rather than listening to this standard briefing.  But I’ve chosen it as a blog topic for good reason.  There is actually a really great bit of advice to be found, metaphorically, within the mundane instruction.

Included in preflight safety instructions is what to do if cabin pressure changes.  When cabin pressure changes on an airline, it triggers the emergency oxygen masks to drop from overhead each passenger.  The instructions given for what to do when the masks dropped always perplexed me when I was younger.  The flight attendant tells the passengers that they must ‘first secure their own mask, before placing a mask on their child’.

I always used to think that seemed a bit selfish.  I mean, isn’t the first instinct of a parent to run to the aid of their child, without regard for themselves?  That seems right…save the child first.

Then, I had children.  And now I see the wisdom in the words.  I think it’s natural, especially for women, to forget your own needs.  We get good at putting ourselves on the back burner for others.  Anything else seems selfish.  After all, taking time for yourself is frowned on, because the perception is that by making time for yourself, you are taking it away from someone else.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reason the flight attendant insists on putting your mask on first is so you can take care of your child.  Without that mask, and the oxygen it provides, you will lose consciousness while trying to help your child.  The result is a child left without a parent to care for them, without protection, and in grave danger.  The metaphor is pretty powerful; if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot possibly hope to be present to truly provide the care those you love really need.

This week, the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of drug overdose in his New York City apartment.  Alone.  On the bathroom floor.  I can think of few, more sadly preventable ways to die.  Police found 40 bags of heroine in his apartment, and he was found only because he failed to pick up his three young children as promised that day.  Please don’t interpret any anger on my part as being aimed at Mr. Hoffman.  I hate addiction, not the addicted.  Mr. Hoffman, a beautiful, talented human being, filled with the same potentiality for life that every human being possesses, chose in a moment of emptiness to believe the lie of addiction.  It is a lie which says that something other than living and being ever-present in your life is somehow better in a given moment.  It says there is no truth in human pain and suffering, nothing to be learned.  It insists pain simply be eradicated, even if only as a temporary reprieve.  But in truth, addiction is pain.  It is a thief that robs life and replaces it with more and more hollow emptiness.  Numbness replaces presence.  Game over…

Addiction allows us to play the victim.  It hides the ability and free will of the human spirit which empower all good practice and positive thought.  Addiction is the lie, because we are not victims to anything but our own minds.  We live our choices.  No one chooses to be an addict, but we do choose to do the things that set addiction in motion.  Life is a powerful experience that merits responsibility for identifying what is best and discerning what is good and right in our lives.  Life is precious and fragile…so respect the journey.

So please, listen to your flight attendant.  Take care of yourself first.  Feed yourself full to the top with good things, so you can be ready and able to be there for all those other human beings you love so much  🙂

*image provided by: http://williamtollefsonvalues.blogspot.com/2013/07/addiction-recovery-southwest-florida.html

What is Sexy?…

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The level of fixation on sex and all things body-related has grown to epidemic proportions.  Physicality is widely seen now as the primary dictator of ‘sexy’, though physical depiction, even generationally, is interestingly diverse.

‘Sex sells’… ever heard the phrase ‘sex sells tires’?  It’s meant broadly to communicate ‘sex can sell anything’.  And upon first interpretation, it seems to indicate it is not referring to the persona of the bikini-clad Miss, reclining uncomfortably (and suggestively) over a brand new tire.  Or is it?

Perhaps it is the communication of an ‘ideal’, which only superficially perceives that it deals directly with the physical.  In reality, physicality is fickle, differing with each new generation and between cultures.

Consider these two examples:

modern Body1955BodIf physique is ‘sexy’, how are the drastic differences explained between what was considered ‘ideal’ in 1955, versus the ‘ideal’ of today?  Notions that the physical body defines what is ‘sexy’ have been reinforced to unhealthy extremes, leading to increases in the number and severity of eating disorders and negative body image issues.  People are dying to be thin…literally.  As if thin dictates ‘sexy’ without regard to the entire multitude of other aspects that actually make us human and attracted to one another.   In fact, it is a form of Fetishism, and it allows for the commoditization of sex and the ‘sexual ideal’.  It is an alarming deviation from sexual truths and a reflection of misrepresented ideals.

In actuality, physique is only used to ferry communication.  And it is the communication that remains unabashed and unchanged, proving it is the focus, the issue at hand.  The physical is used to ferry the communication of ‘sexy’…and by ‘sexy’, I mean attitude.  Attitude is sexy.

The physique is merely the vessel by which the attitude is dispensed…a ship containing the gold within, to speak in metaphor.  A physique can be honed and crafted.  Hell, it can even be bought these days.  But attitude?  Well, that’s the real gold isn’t it?  After all, that outer shell can look like a million bucks, but if there isn’t much of substance on the inside, it’s only going to take you so far.  It will in fact only take you exactly as far as any physical body is capable of, and no more.

Ask most men and women what is really ‘sexy’ and if they’re honest, they’ll likely talk about ‘the way he/she looks at me’, ‘how much he’s/she’s in to me’, or ‘wants me’.  It’s something in the look and the action, not in the actual eyeball.   It is a conveyed sensibility; enabled and enhanced through its communication by the body.

Consider that people who may be very adept at using their bodies to communicate attitude are naturally sought after by multimedia outlets that communicate solely through visual campaigns.

So buyers beware…the body might mislead what the mind has to offer.

Examine the Alternatives…

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The word ‘alternative’ has two wonderful synonyms:  ‘option’ and ‘choice’.

And of course, a synonym is defined as ‘a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language’.

So, ‘examine the alternatives’ simply means ‘consider all the options’ and ‘consider your choices’.

In every action or reaction, we should examine our alternatives.  The important key word in that statement is ‘examine’, because it should prompt one to contemplate what they are examining their options or choices for, but also why there is a need to examine them.Blog 18 Image

Do we make our choices blindly?  No.  Choices are made based on their perceived merit.  Merit should regard how our choices impact others through their potential to enhance and uplift life.  Trouble is, sometimes merit can stem from individual unhealthy needs or desires.  For example, if we choose to give our time and effort to another, but with the ultimate desire that our efforts be acknowledged somehow, say with simple appreciation (seems harmless enough…most people expect a little appreciation for doing good things).  But in such cases, we have given of ourselves with an expectation to receive.  Giving with the expectation to receive is not true giving…it is the result of a cost/benefit analysis conducted under the umbrella of a ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality.

And we are all guilty of it…so no harsh judgments here…

However, it can become a dangerous process….a habitual viewpoint of the self as victim to the world and circumstance.  It is paramount to get real in the examination of our motivations.  Truth is health, and truth is not always easy.  Ask yourself (and be honest) about any hopes, desires, or expectations you might be attaching to your choices and why you really need them.  Are motivations borne from loneliness, envy, unhappiness, or anger?  If our options and choices are rooted in these motivations, there is serious work to be done…inside.  Eventually, once the hard work is done and truth is achieved, loving and giving comes simply and clearly from the desire only to love and give, without the expectation for anything else.

NOTE:  This endeavor is part of the perpetual classroom of life; a renewable ideal, a process and lesson which needs constant gardening to reveal its infinite ability to improve with every season  🙂

blog image courtesy of:  http://www.alternatives.org/impact.html

3 Minute Shower Meditation…

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I haven’t been keeping up with my blog as well as I’d like lately, but our daughter is a senior this year and so the added load of college applications, scholarship searches, and campus open houses is upon us.  Although we’ve been through the senior year routine before, with our son, those of you with children understand every situation is different and presents its own challenges.

In light of these circumstances, I thought it might be nice to blog about a small stress reliever I practice in the hopes you, dear reader, might find some relaxation in it as well.  I find it quite centering…

A lot of people have told me they don’t have time to devote to meditation every day.  But because I believe meditation is very important, this might be worthwhile, because though most of us don’t have time for anything ‘extra’, typically we all shower.  This kills two birds with one stone…enjoy!

Note:  These are tiny movements!  Keep eyes closed for the duration of the meditation and feel the effect of the water on your body….

  1.  After you complete your shower, increase temperature of water to as warm as you can stand and still be comfortable.
  2. Move forward until completely submerged, stand with arms at your sides and close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing.  If face is forward, you should have no trouble breathing through your mouth under shower stream.  Hold about 30 seconds…
  3. Once breathing is steady, begin to move fingertips slowly up the sides of your bodyConcentrate on the feel of your touch, NOT how your body feels to your fingertips.  Give thanks for your living body.  Continue until arms are above head.  Hold about 30 seconds…
  4. With arms overhead, lean back slightly until head and face are clear of water flow and stream is only on your chest.  Give thanks for what this area does for you each day; the heart that pumps your blood, the breath in your lungs, the bones and muscles that support you and give you strength.  Hold about 30 seconds…
  5. Lower arms to your sides.  Lean back until shower stream is only on your abdomen.  Give thanks for what this area does for you each day; the processes and filtrations that make use of the things you take into your body, the miracle of the reproductive system.   The core muscles that support and give strength.  Hold about 30 seconds…
  6. Turn, face away from the shower streamExtend arms out in front of you and support yourself against the shower wall (if shower is too large, use hands on hips).  Posture should resemble a standing wall pushup.  Spread feet shoulder width apart, bend slightly at the hip until you feel the stream only on your lower backLet your abdomen release.  Feel the soothing warmth of the stream on your lower back.  Hold about 30 seconds….
  7. Maintain posture in slight bent position.  Now begin to slowly move upper body backward and forward, feeling stream move up and down your entire back.  Think of a tree in a gentle breeze.  Give thanks for your back; its ability to bend and straighten, giving you strength and support.  Continue for about 30 seconds…
  8. Straighten and turn to face shower streamSubmerge entirelyMove only your head using a long, slow up and down ‘yes’ motion.  As you do, feel the water moving over your face in a line from neck to top of head.  As your head moves down, imagine the line is removing negative thoughts, while as your head moves up your mind is opening to all of the potential contained within the universe.  Give thanks for the miracle of your mind, thought, and its power to heal.  Give thanks for your face and its ability to reveal your goodness to others.  Repeat for about 30 seconds…
  9. Facing forward as you started, step back out of shower stream, stand with arms at your sides and open your eyes.  You should feel a sense of center, calm, and rejuvenation!  🙂

Love Letter to the World (A Wish)…

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I love it when you smile… when you look upon others without judgment, with a kind heart…

And I love the look on your face when you receive kindness from others…
I love it when you make your children your #1 priority in life and the way they, in turn, make the world a better place for others, because of your efforts…
I love it when you’re not selfish; because you recognize that being self-absorbed means you fail to see the potential in others or contribute to anyone besides yourself…
I love when you give without expectation of reciprocity or praise…
I love when you consider the needs of others above your own feelings; because you understand your feelings aren’t always the most important thing in the world…you understand others have needs that may outweigh your feelings, feelings which may actually be very self-serving…
I love that you know happiness comes from the inside, not outside, so you don’t spend time forcing others to do things just to ‘make you happy’…
I love that you fulfill yourself and strive to be a better person, not just because it makes you better, but because you know you are contributing something positive to the world through your existence…
I love that you never hurt people, lie, or try to make others feel guilty…
I love when you choose to lift people up, rather than gossip or look down your nose at them…
I love how you always endeavor to find the good in things…
I love the way you support the goals of others, rather than tear them down, even when they don’t agree with what you think…
I love your humility, work ethic, and honesty…especially during tough situations…
I love your generosity of spirit and your humanity…
But most of all, I love the way you love me back 🙂