Posts tagged ‘positive’

January 21, 2019

Finally, Sunshine! Let’s Enjoy It!

Finally, Sunshine! Last year was the 4th rainiest year on record where I live and the cloudy, drizzly days have continued into this year. Finally, this morning there’s sun. It’s amazing how waking to a bright sky can lift your mood and boost your energy! This is a great time to prepare for healing by creating a cache of pleasure and joy.
sun
If you’re ill, in pain, exhausted, busy caring for someone else, in danger of losing your job, grieving, or reeling from emotional flashbacks, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine anything that makes you feel good. It’s like there’s just no room in your entire being for a visualization of pleasure. When I am in this spot and a tiny bit of warmth, thoughtfulness, or kindness manages to register, it triggers a feeling of sadness and loss.

While I consciously know this is counterproductive, I also know there’s no point in fighting the process. I have learned that the best way to limit the duration of such sadness is to allow it to flow. It’s hard to measure whether the well in my solar plexus from which it pours gets shallower over time. I hope so, but I just don’t have enough perspective to judge.

Embracing this reality means I recognize I must actively engage in noticing the small gifts life brings each day. Having a system for recording positive feelings is a tool I can use to stockpile feelings of calm, peace, silliness, delight, gratitude, glee, lightness, and mirth. It also gives me a pathway to access positive feelings quickly. But before I create a system, I must open myself to positive experience even if it brings a moment of sadness too.

I was immediately aware of the brightness this morning as I sat in my recliner coffee in hand. I stopped reading and took a moment to breathe while looking at the sky. There are 9 windows in my small sunroom. It gets both morning light and beautiful sunsets.

sunroomA couple of years ago when I removed the cafe curtains from these windows to wash and iron them (I learned my lesson on sending them out to be laundered the year it took $350 to retrieve them from the laundry service. It would have been much cheaper to buy new curtains.), I decided not to rehang the top tier. Not only did that mean less ironing then, it means more light all of the time.

This wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. I debated about it, took photos with and without, texted them to a designer friend, and ultimately chose the light. I don’t know that I improved the design of the room, but I improved the quality of my life.

Today, it’s sunny but it’s cold and the ground is frozen. It’s not a good day to dig up those bulbs in the yard or to sit on the porch and write. It’s a great day to do something not on my to-do list: go to brunch, run to the grocery store and get the ingredients for a new salad I want to try, take a drive with my grandson, walk through an open house or two, take a brisk walk, or book a trip somewhere sunny. The key is to enjoy the sun, to bank the positive feelings it brings, and to make a deliberate plan to enjoy the sun in the future.

And so, I’ll leave you here. I’m going to bundle up and get out of the house into the sun.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/?s=coffee

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/my-five-feel-good-things-for-the-week/

ad

October 17, 2017

Can You Pivot?

When things don’t turn out as planned, can you pivot? Today, I thought I was going to make enchilada sauce. Over an hour into the process, I realized there was no way my combination of ancho and pasilla chiles, charred vegetables, marjoram and Mexican oregano was going to turn out like any enchilada sauce I’ve ever tasted or hoped to make. The flavors had potential, but not as the end product I’d planned.
pivot
I face similar situations regularly. No matter how meticulously I plan, things change. I can either let that throw me, or I can pivot. At those moments, I usually remember my grandmother saying, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Hearing that over and over let me know that it was not unusual to have to look for another solution.

Changing course is not always easy. Sometimes it requires significant physical, mental, or emotional effort. But with life throwing challenges my way, the ability to pivot has made me less wasteful, more efficient, more creative, more knowledgeable, more confident, and infinitely more resilient. This is true when I’m developing recipes, but it is also true throughout all areas of my life.

Pivoting requires engagement, flexibility and decision making. If I had been determined to end up with enchilada sauce, my efforts would have been wasted. An hour of wasted time with my current schedule can mean I must say no to lunch with a friend or rearrange anticipated down time. That would feel discouraging.

Being able to see potential in the work I’d done allowed me to make a subtle shift that turned the effort into an acceptable mole sauce that can be easily tweaked into perfection. Visualizing a different outcome is one component of a graceful pivot.

Recognizing I’m in a moment that could benefit from a shift comes even before visualization. That was pretty clear to me when adding salt didn’t head the sauce in the right direction. My taste buds called for sweet and something to mellow the bitter overtones. Honey, anise, and chocolate all fit that bill.

Connecting my taste instincts with my food knowledge led to an immediate association of the sauce on my stove and mole sauce. Exploring that thought excited me because most of the jarred mole sauce I’ve found in stores contains crackers or bread. I added a few ingredients to see if my visualized flavor profile would work as I anticipated. It did!

I recorded the changes in the recipe plus a few that I think will improve it next time. Of course, I also had to revise the dish I had planned for dinner. My enchilada pie turned into enmolada pie. It wasn’t that much of a shift and didn’t require a trip to the store.

The pivot, which included recognition of my dilemma, connection to a possible change, exploration of that change, visualization of a new end product, and implementation of the new plan, allowed me to turn a kitchen failure into a successful recipe albeit not the anticipated one.

Imagine what that did for my mood, energy level, and motivation! Instead of feeling defeated or discouraged, I felt excited about all the dishes I can make with mole. Woohoo, my mind is now moving full speed ahead!

The ability to absorb, process, and turn unfortunate events into positive momentum is what allowed a pharmacist I know to purchase and grow his pharmacy into the largest in the county seat, marry and have two beautiful children, and become a pillar of the community in spite of having had polio as a child that rendered him minimal use of his legs.

Instead of viewing his disability as something to hide, he chose to showcase his amazing upper body strength — a pivot that clearly fed positive momentum into the rest of his life. I think of his example each time I walk into his pharmacy.

A willingness to pivot is important for businesses too. If Anheuser-Busch had not reimagined its end product during Prohibition, there would most likely be no Bud Light, Franziskaner, Natty Daddy, or Rolling Rock today. Someone at Molex had to envision a future beyond flower pots and salt tablet dispensers for the company to begin to manufacture electrical appliances. We don’t always notice when a business innovates, but we certainly notice when it doesn’t. We soon become dissatisfied and move on.

It’s common to resist change. But things change whether or not we’re resistant. Hurricanes, floods, fire, and tornadoes reshape communities. Acute or chronic health problems arrive. Spouses leave. Jobs are lost. Violence touches our families. Any of these things can happen at a moment’s notice when we have done nothing wrong. It is at those moments that pivoting becomes a critical skill.

We all want to emerge from shock, trauma, loss, and grief feeling optimistic, energetic, positive, and poised for joy. We all can, but some of us don’t know that we can or don’t know how to get from A to B. That path starts with a simple pivot away from the devastation and toward the possibilities created by that devastation.

I feel fortunate that I can pivot both in and out of the kitchen, but the ability was hard earned. Some tough circumstances early in my life led me to hone this skill. While I’m not all that grateful for some of those circumstances, I am grateful for the resulting resilience. Enough so that I would encourage you to develop this skill even if you don’t see its merits right now.

Sometimes the stakes are much higher than enchilada sauce vs mole.

September 30, 2012

Dessert First! Day Seven.

I find myself at the end of this week in which I have deliberately savored the rich, sweet moments of every day BEFORE I rushed off to fill an obligation, achieve a goal, or take care of something for someone else feeling as though I’m at the crossroads of two realizations that seem paradoxically at odds with each other. First I feel as though this practice of Dessert First has resulted in additional insight and positive momentum. It has also begun to soften the edge of my communication with others. Because of these positive results, I feel as though it is important to incorporate this practice into each day going forward.

This belief is juxtaposed against the realization that one of the reasons for the positive effects of Dessert First is that it was an interruption to my previous habits and patterns. If I begin to make Dessert First a habit, it will lose the power of the interruptive effect.

So what should I do? This might be a true dilemma for me if I were asking the question two days ago, but as is often the case, the universe has stepped in to assist me with discernment. Last night I was in a state of deep, sound sleep when I was awakened by the phone. It was the alarm company summoning me to meet the police at the office. The drive takes less than 10 minutes. I usually spend that 10 minutes feeling increasingly frightened about the possibility of what I will find when I get there. I know what a break-in feels like. I’ve experienced 3 successful and one attempted break-ins at my home in the last 6 years.

This time, I was awaking from such sound slumber that I threw a ratty flannel robe over my mismatched pjs and headed out struggling to get fully awake. There was no time for fear to take hold. The event turned out to be nothing more than a simple interruption to perfectly comfortable rest. There was no visible reason for the alarm. I could ignore the interruption and stick with my previous plan.

But I made a different choice. I allowed myself to sleep late and refocused my day away from the to-do list and back to taking care of myself. As I made that choice, I realized that the universe often assists me with unexpected interruptions that give me a chance to learn. I need not fear incorporating a positive practice into my day. Whenever repetition becomes a limit to insight, something unexpected is sure to come along to assist me in shifting my focus. I can relax and continue to enjoy the rich, sweet moments of each day.

I am grateful for this week’s insights, grateful for the alarm, grateful that the alarm didn’t mean a real break-in, and grateful for all the beautiful moments each day brings. It has been a fantastic week.