30 January 2011

The Journey Begins

"Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love,
 and something to hope for."
 ~Joseph Addison

While perusing  the dish aisle at Ross For Less a few nights ago, a coffee mug caught my eye because of it's size and unique shape. *laughing* Yes, I pick out my coffee mugs the same way "most girls" would pick out a diamond ring. It's just as important in my world. As I reached for the mug, I noticed it had something written on it. I turned it around to see the word, "Happiness" written in Chinese, as well as English. There was no way I was going to leave that store without that mug; my new favorite mug! Obviously, it would hold a lot of coffee, which would make me VERY HAPPY, in and of itself. But just in case that wasn't enough, the big bold writing would would serve as a constant reminder on those days that required much more than a good cup O'Joe.

A few days later I was at my favorite little thrift store and came across even more "Happy-ness" in the form of a framed picture. Of course I had to have it too! Does one ever have enough HAPPINESS? It sits on the shelf with all my favorite books (most of which are "manuals" on how to find happiness....ah the irony) and my little money Buddha; a gift from a former co-worker. Now I'm really laughing! It just occurred to me that perhaps, this shelving arrangement is sending a very conflicting message as fundamentally, I DO NOT believe that money is the key to happiness.  I'd probably get 20 to life for this if I lived in China. (Notice the ever so slight difference in the Chinese writing on the mug and the picture, proving that even in China they, too, "struggle" with, "You say tomato, I say tomahto." Teehee)

So if I didn't already have enough Happiness flowing into my life, I tune into Oprah on Wednesday and her show topic was, guess what? Yep....Happiness! Goldie Hawn was her special guest and she, in my opinion, sweats happiness! "Motivated by the alarming jump in stress, depression, and violence among today’s children and young people," according to her website, in 2005 Goldie created The Hawn Foundation. "Our mission is to help young minds by nurturing resilience, hope, and optimism," states Goldie. I love that resilience is the first thing she mentions in her mission. I believe it is as paramount as Reading, Riting and Rithmetic.

This past summer, a counselor described me as "abnormally resilient." It made me happy, but it also reminded me how tired I am, of being resilient. The concept of nurturing resilience in children makes complete sense to me. I wonder how many lives would be so very different if they only knew what it looked like, felt like...tasted like. It's a powerful tool when you get to pull it out when you need it as opposed to not being able to survive without it. A beautiful mission by a truly beautiful human being. Here is the link in case you are interested in learning more about Goldie's organization. http://www.thehawnfoundation.org/welcome

Another guest on Oprah's show that day was Dan Buettner (total eye candy and boyfriend to former supermodel, Cheryl Tiegs). He is the author of a book entitled, "Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way." He has traveled the world studying the happiest populations and even the happiest place in America (San Luis Obispo, CA) to find out what makes people happy. Surprise, surprise, it is NOT money. According to Buettner, "the average person can control about forty percent of his or her own happiness that requires only slight changes." Relative to your job, he says, "Do what gives you bliss not bucks." (I like that!) Buettner also stresses the importance of sex as it releases a hormone called Oxytocin, a.k.a., the cuddle hormone. [You know you want to....cuddle, that is.]

And then, of course, there are the no-brainers like healthful eating, exercise, friends and family, keeping in mind Oprah's words of wisdom, "Surround yourself only with people that are going to lift you higher." Amen?! I am so lucky in that I have the most amazing friends in the UNIVERSE! They are all so different and bring a myriad of wisdom to the table. I learn something new every single day about each one of them and in turn, am taught something new about myself. Life is a learning curve, in and of itself and knowledge, especially about one's self, is certainly key in the journey towards happiness. 

That said, my own journey TO happiness FINALLY begins tomorrow and I feel like a child on Christmas Eve. I know any sleep tonight will be near impossible. I pray that tomorrow will be the first day of the life that I was meant to live....that each and every one of us are entitled to live. Tomorrow, after a year of waiting, I begin EMDR Therapy. EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro as a means to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories, and allowing negative beliefs to be reformulated. It is nothing short of off the charts fascinating and has an 80-90% success rate. BOO-YA!! 

I have spent eleven plus years in and out of therapy attempting to make peace with a multitude of childhood traumatic events and it wasn't until a year ago that I learned about EMDR. I suppose this would completely negate the idea that money doesn't buy happiness. I could have purchased a nice cozy home with all the co-pays and out of pocket expenses incurred trying to "buy" happiness. And inasmuch as I am a firm believer that we all can use a little unbiased conversing with someone who gets paid a lot of money to ask, "And why do you think you feel that way?," I'm up to my hairline in coping tools. Know what I mean, Jelly Bean? 

I'm one of "those people" who has spent their whole life researching how to fix the problem while everyone else was having fun and already experiencing happiness. So when I heard the term EMDR a year ago, it was something new; something I had not yet researched. I'm also one of those people who will try ANYTHING short of biting the head off of a rattlesnake, in order to live the life that God meant for me to live. I drove straight to the library to get any and all books on EMDR. I read the entire week sobbing at the thought of living normally. So here I am, the eve of EMDR, and I find myself elated one second and filled with trepidation the next. What if it doesn't work? What if I lose my sense of humor that has kept me alive for the last 49 years? What if it does work and I am unable to survive in a happy person's body? How will I adjust to knowing and BELIEVING that I am lovable and worthy of all that is good and decent in this world? What if, like a prisoner that has been pardoned, I am unable to process life "on the outside?"

I will keep you posted and would love for you to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. In the meantime, if you are struggling with something that is interfering with your ability to lead a productive and meaningful life, I am attaching a link that will give you a peak inside the world behind this amazing technology. I do not know who this therapist is as I found her on YouTube, and found her to be most informative in her explanation.

Pay it forward,
The Paper Whisperer

25 January 2011

"NOW" hear this!

"Those who live in the past, stay there. Those who live in the future, never get there.
And those who live for moment....live!"
~Mark Shapiro~
Huh-lowwww, Gawjus!! Yep, I'm talking to you, 2011!! I have never been so excited to see "someone" in my whole life. Out with the old, in with the old. Nope, that's not a type-o, it's called reality. Two can play this game. Here's how I see it. Every new year brings the same old same old; everyone's gonna be a new this or a new that, including myself. But, by the end of the year, nothing has changed except the added stress because, whadya know, nothing changed! It's a vicious cycle. So this year I've decided to use a bit of reverse psychology and simply live in the now; the present moment. I've punted the past and told my future I'd get back to her because I'm too busy enjoying my present. It's Now O'Clock!

Without the added pressure of having to change, I've found, thus far, that I'm actually changing even more. It makes so much sense when you think about it. No one likes being told what to do. When there's no pressure there's no stressor. hahaha Wonder if Nike would like to use that?

Back when I was a "gym rat," I had my routine; my very rigid, OCD'ish, quite frankly I'm missing the point here, routine. I mean to tell you, I was so rigid that when someone wasn't finished with the "Fanny Fixer" when my watch said it was time to fix my fanny, it sent me into a tailspin....no joke! So one day during my workout, this gym nazi comes up to me and taps me on my shoulder while I'm running on the treadmill. "OH NO YOU DIDN'T JUST THROW A WRENCH INTO MY RITUAL WHEN I STILL HAD 24 MINUTES LEFT TO GO!! Yes... she did.
It seems there was this little old man who wanted a treadmill and I had been on longer than the allotted 30 minute time limit (when others were waiting). So without so much as a cool down, I was forced to abandon my ship. I was panicking like a fish out of water when the gym nazi suggested that I go to the Elliptical machine to finish up my workout. "But you DON'T UNDERSTAND! The Elliptical is NOT part of my routine," I argued. Then she proceeds to tell me how much better it would be for me if I would mix it up a little; work other areas. 'Whatever, you Jillian Michaels wannabe!'

All the while I am pouting like a 10 year old that has just had their video game taken away. I was making god awful facial expressions, rolling my eyes and calling her all sorts of "fun" names inside my head. I was just about to put my fingers in my ears and start la, la, la'ing, when I realized that my two hour childcare limit was almost up....so I stomped over to the Elliptical while she gave me a "thatta girl" nod. "Yeah, I'll show you, gym nazi! I'll continue to pout the entire time I'm doing whatever it is that this machine does...you'll see!" I could tell I completely ruined her day.....not!

I was totally convinced that I wouldn't be able to sleep that night, work the next day or EVER get through life the way I knew it, again. You probably think I'm kidding. Anyway, I put my headphones back on and Snap's, "You've Got The Power," was playing. I could workout on a sawhorse as long as that song was playing! (God works in mysterious ways!) So I start pumping the Elliptical to the oh so cool beat of Snap and next thing I know, I've got a big smile on my face and a new "best friend!" Guess you could say I "Snapped" out of it; threw caution to the wind and simply enjoyed being in the moment. I liked it, a lot! "Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out” so says JohnWooden.


That said, I'm resolving to no longer seek out the happily ever after and just show up for the happily ever now. It's been nothing short of liberating. You've got "The Power!" And here's a link to Snap just in case you need a little nudge. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z33tH-JdPDg

See ya Now & Later,
The Paper Whisperer