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Archive for Change

The North Side

Snow! This white moisture is falling as I write. And I was reminded how beautiful snowflakes are when they spin and float. The wind may push these flakes into drifts. They become heavier in some spots. And lighter in others. Tucked away in crevices. They get stuck where they land.

But here’s what is most interesting: when the sun comes out, and the snow begins to melt, some of these white patches disappear quickly. Some take a bit longer or partially thaw, freezing overnight. They become hard and unyielding. It takes days or even weeks for the ice and snow to dissipate. And the north side is the most stubborn. It takes the longest to melt, often lingering for a month or more. This side is often cold, perhaps shaded by trees or boulders. Or it’s stuck deep within a tree, shielded from the outside.

Just as the north side snow stays longer, we too have parts inside of us that may be stubbornly entrenched. Perhaps it’s a grudge held from years ago. Or a recent dustup with a friend. Maybe even a long-held belief (I’ll never lose weight, I’ll always be like this, I hate myself/my life). Or a recent decision, say “I’m just old. I can’t learn how to do (fill in the blank).”

These feelings, emotions and beliefs can be tenacious and sometimes downright intractable. We can get stuck. The mind sets a pattern. “This is what we did the first time, and it was successful. That’s the way it will be from now on.” Just as the north side of snow and ice is fixed in its way, the mind continues to do what it’s always done until there’s a change in its thoughts.

But how to change that thought? Here are some tips to melt your north side:

  • Be mindful of where your north side resides. Someone in your family instantly sets you off and you explode before you know it. Take some time to gently tease apart the reasons for this immediate reaction before you deal with the problem. Resolve each issue as it comes up, knowing your experiences resemble an onion. Watch as each layer unfolds.
  • It’s a challenge to hear opposing points of view. Some friends have different opinions from yours. You feel yourself getting steamed up. Do you shut them off? Or listen to what they have to say? Be curious as to your reaction rather than quickly getting stuck. 
  • If frustrated, ask yourself, “What else can I enjoy doing right now?” This simple sentence opens the door for more options. Rather than being stuck in the same rut, you can develop new patterns of behavior.
  • What’s the smallest action you can take to resolve the situation? You’ve gone to lunch with friends. And once again, you are paying more than everyone else. You feel frustrated and put upon. Stop! Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Next time? Ask for separate checks. Go to a restaurant where each pays for their own meal. Meet for coffee. And keep the friendship.
  • Put your words to music. The other day I came across a long-standing north side of my own. Instead of the nasty downward spiral I was creating, I sang my words to “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning.” The issue disappeared. And I was laughing. I was unstuck.

I hope I have opened the door to investigating your own inner north side.

Break That Habit!

Is the cycle of bad habits a real challenge for you? I don’t know about you, but some of them stopped me from living unstuck. But breaking that bad habit isn’t as hard as it seems. I managed to break three of those within two months. Yes, that’s quitting three habits in less than 21 days.

First, I broke these pests down. Habits like slouching when using my cell phone, deviating from my budget and not having any down time. Then I took steps to change them one at a time.

So how did I do this? I used the Control/Alternate/Delete Method. What’s that, you ask? Read on.

Identify your triggers. First, it was important for me to figure out what was triggering that bad habit. Sometimes, this is easier than others. But slouching with my cell phone was an easy one. My neck would be sore halfway through the day. Frivolous spending was oh-so-clear, for it showed up in my bank balance. And not having down time? Cranky me.

Alternate. The second step involves self-reflection. I asked myself questions, like:

  • What positive gain am I getting from this habit?
  • Why do I need: comfort, relief . . . fill in the blank?

And I learned a lot. For instance, I slouched because it felt comfortable. When I was tired, I spent more on stuff. And there’s usually a push to finish projects. All positive gains, but they don’t turn out well in the long run. More reading revealed reinforcement for what I discovered. Slouching? I have seen too many ads showing what happens when someone hunches over a cell phone or computer. And it felt good to spend at day’s end or after 7:00 pm on my computer. But oh, the consequences. Working non-stop? Time to check self-esteem and see how I can be good to myself. I found out a lot about who I am and why I do things.

While I was considering these patterns, I began to write them down and make a list of what I could “do instead.” Which led to:

Delete. Everyone has moments of weakness. But I developed a Defense Plan for those moments.

1) I pictured myself sitting tall as I used my cell phone. Even imagining a string attached to the top of my head did the trick.

2) I figured out I over-spent when I was tired or felt I deserved a treat of some sort. Every now and again is fine, but on a continuous basis? Didn’t work for me. I made a rule that I didn’t shop on the computer after 7:00 pm. I even have a friend who takes my wish list and holds it for a day or two. If I really want whatever it is at that time, I give the signal and she orders. (She also finds fabulous deals! A win-win.

3) And I began to schedule time for me to do fun things. Recently, I went to the Hot Air Balloon Festival. The Duff and I had such fun. And such interesting people! Next week, it will be something different. I eliminated the problem times and congratulated myself when I deleted that habit. I did it and you can too. That’s living unstuck.

How do you break those pesky habits? Leave a comment below.

Are You a Now Person?

Recently, a good friend of mine was involved in a severe car accident. When the other driver hit her head on, her entire world changed. She has a large garden. Fruit trees that need pruning. A thriving greenhouse right off her front entry, filled with soothing plants and spring growth that require loving care. A colorful garden in front of her cottage. A home that welcomes. You know the kind of place. Where you feel a warm hug and invitation to “sit and visit” for a moment, even as you step onto the property.

But after this misfortune, her life changed in an instant. Chores that were easy are a challenge. Where gardening was a major love, it is now a hit-and-miss activity as she regains her strength. That adds to her distress, for she thrives in the outdoors. Her home is not kept the way she wants it to be. She found a new car. But there is grief in releasing the other vehicle, with all its memories and treasures. She is a strong woman and will recover. But not without a struggle.

One thing struck me as we were having breakfast. She said, “I’ll never be the same.” And that brings tears to both of us. I am in tears now as I consider all she has had to give up. My friend wants to be in charge, and I respect her need for privacy and independence. So I do what I can. I look up websites and refer them her way. I send funny things via the internet. I mail cards. But it all seems so inadequate compared with what she has been through.

That incident prompted me to decide: I want to live in the Now. Along that line, another friend told me about the “5-second” rule from a book she read. She asks herself, “What can I do in the next 5 seconds . . . to reach a goal, to further myself?” and then follows through. After almost losing my friend, I thought: what a great idea!

I too have become a Now Person. I text, send people emails or call them when I think of them, for I only have Now. When my husband, Ken, was failing, another dear friend used this rule and called me as the day was closing. I was exhausted from what was going on. But a three-minute phone call beginning with, “How are you doing?” in Ann’s soft, gentle voice made all the difference. I could, and did, go on. A short call, but thoughtful and heartfelt.

As I walk through the door of my home, I use this little rule. What can I do in the next 5 seconds? Take the trash out? Pick up discarded items tossed about before I left for the day? (And put them away.) Check my body: do I need to sit for a moment and gather myself? Play with the Duff? Organize what needs doing the next day? All are possibilities with the 5-second rule.

Are you a Now Person? My friend’s accident showed me how precious life is. And it can change or be taken away in a heartbeat. Someone can be there. And then they’re not. We thought we had more time we say. We were planning to go on this excursion, to launch into this new adventure. But life has changed.

I say: become a Now Person. Do it Now. You have today, and then it’s gone. Make the most of it. That’s living unstuck.

I hope I have opened doors to the little things . . . on the Mountain.

Want to Change a Habit?

When a snowstorm rolls toward the White Mountains, the wind picks up. Powerfully. Strongly. Forcefully. At times, the gusts are over 50 miles an hour. The trees bend as this force of nature puts the towns in these parts on notice. The temperature drops and icy fingers of cold creep around doors and windows. A winter event is on its way. This condition goes on for two or three days.

The Duff and I walk in the early mornings. He hunkers down and moves along. But when the wind surge is strong, I have to almost bend over double to continue on my way. I marvel at the power of the weather at that time. When the storm reaches the Mountain, the wind ceases. Sometimes suddenly. Totally. And the snow begins to fall softly and gently to provide much-needed moisture.

To me, the wind before a storm is similar to gathering the energy to end an old pattern. When I realize something in my life is not working, I gear up. I become the power of the wind before the storm. Be it weight loss or exercise, over investing on a shopping spree or spending less time on the Internet, I stop. And figure out: where did this habit come from?

For me, and perhaps you too, bad habits are the result of stress or boredom. And all of these behavioral patterns are in my life for a reason. They serve a purpose and fill a need in some way. As a result, it’s difficult to simply eliminate them. “Just stop doing that” often brings up a lot of resistance, right?

How to get past that old way of doing and break that habit? Here are some tips:

  • Start with awareness. It’s easy to get caught up in my feelings about those pesky habits. But these thoughts take me away from what’s really happening. Instead, I focus on when the habit happens. How do I feel? Who am I with? Clarifying the activity will give me dozens of new ideas to stop it.
  • Choose a substitute for that bad habit. Just as the wind’s intensity before a storm, I make a plan and gather energy for something new. For me, it needs to be just as attractive as the old habit, or it’s a no go.
  • Shift as many triggers as possible. For the wind to introduce my storm (the U-turn,) I change my environment. I worked with a woman to quit smoking. Instead of sitting in her favorite chair to smoke, she took a walk instead. Result? She dropped 25 pounds and stopped The outcome was attractive to her.
  • Visualize yourself succeeding. When I geared up to start walking again after the recent Major Storm, I pictured myself stepping into my boots and walking out of the door. And the rest was easy.
  • Use the word “yet” to overcome negative self-talk. One thing about battling bad habits is it’s easy to judge myself. Every time I slip up, I’m oh-so-quick to tell myself I failed again. Instead, substitute the word “yet” and notice how it feels. “I haven’t cleaned up that corner…yet.” What a difference.
  • Plan for failure. Rather than beat myself up over a mistake, I plan for it. Sure, I can get off base. But I’ve noticed what separates top performers from the rest of us is: they get back on track very quickly. My favorite example? A football quarterback with an intercepted pass. He shakes it off and runs another play. Pays off in the long run.

Be the powerful wind before the storm and end old patterns. Get unstuck.

Change the Way You Look at Things

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

—Wayne W. Dyer

Duff photoDuff again. I was considering this thought the other day. When Mom grooms Me in the morning so I can be the Handsome Dude I am, I am content. But I have given this Ritual a New Twist. When She cleans out My Eyes from the night’s sleepers on my fur, I tuck into the Crook of her arm and look at her from Upside Down. I then Smile my Best Doggy Smile. Interesting to note: She always Smiles back. And gently coos Endearing Terms to me.

Or when I run fast and beat her to the Top of the Stairs? I Dance with Delight, for I know We will Play for a while. She Ruffles my ears. She tugs at My Tail, all the time chattering away in what I consider baby talk. You know, That Higher Pitched, Lilting Sound mothers make to babies. And I think I fit in that Category. What Fun we Have! We are living unstuck.

How about you? Do you change the Way you look at Things to make Life More Fun? Do You surprise Someone on Their Birthday? Or give a Sincere Compliment? Doesn’t take much. If you do and as you watch, the corners of their Mouths turn up and Their Eyes Sparkle with Laughter. You have changed the Way They experience Living. And That makes All the Difference. Live unstuck. #unstuckliving#change

Super Bowl: It’s Over

Fly, Eagles, Fly! The Super Bowl is over, and the playing field is level once again. It was a well-coached game between two top teams. Coaches gather trick plays from pro and college games over the years. Players practice these plays over and over again. The wait for the perfect time to use them is a test. But in the end, the old phrase “it all works out” proves true. These are the times that change the tide of a match. Both teams played their hearts out. And as in any competition, one team wins, and the other loses. After a period of rest, time to gear up for next year’s rivalries and challenges. To live unstuck.

Kareena Maxwell wrote in Friday’s 2/2/18 White Mountain Independent about Richard Blodgett, a man rebuilding his life. He, his girlfriend and his son live in Concho, and he is now living a peaceful, mindful life. It wasn’t always that way. He left a miserable childhood behind and had some problems with the law. But made a 180 degree turn when his son was born. Pioneering is in his blood, and he has dreams of a drone company in his future. Maxwell quoted him as saying: “I am grateful now for what I have.” He is living unstuck.

I have made those types of turns in my life. Stopped and assessed my life, then decided to take another path. To move in a different direction. To enjoy each day, challenges and all. To live unstuck.

How about you? Have you made that kind of change? Or are you in the middle of one now? I encourage you: live unstuck. #UnstuckLiving

Everyone is on an even course.

No one ahead. No one behind.

Everyone has hope.


New Year? New You!

The New Year brings an avalanche of suggestions for resolutions, many of which will last three weeks . . . or less. There’s the tried and true: lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking. And there’s nothing wrong with those. I’m all for them. But to live unstuck this year, I want you to have some fun and be successful with your goal. And here’s one you’ll have a good time with: meet one new person each month. That’s right, just one person. Not someone you already know. Not someone with a similar background. But someone with different interests or other perspectives than yours. Of course, you’ll have to turn off your inner filter (the one that blocks new ideas) and pay attention to what the other is saying. Challenging? You bet! But think of the mind expanding possibilities and new worlds you’ll venture into. If you can step into that person’s life, if even for a short time, you can broaden your horizons and stretch your mind. And your brain will thank you.

Where to find these folks? Chat with someone at the grocery store. Or at the gas station. Here’s another one: if you have a friend with a new baby, there nothing more pleasurable than a new mom with her little one. You could take a class at Northland Pioneer College or visit the Arts Alliance of the White Mountains. People interested in rock hounding or the arts will bring a whole other point of view into your life. See someone climbing off a motorcycle? Stop and chat. Find out where they’re going and a little about the bike. Talk with small business owners. I have learned a lot from Suzy at her Consignment Store about antiques. And Bonnie at Crafter’s Mercantile about gifting and creating. A wealth of knowledge. Get curious! I’m certain extraordinary ideas will come to you too. Live unstuck.

My challenge for all of us this New Year is to meet someone new each month. And we’re not confined to only one. We can meet more. But at least one person with a different point of view. An unfamiliar frame of reference. We’ll celebrate living unstuck in 2018! #UnstuckLiving

The less you talk, the more you’re listened to.

—Pauline Phillips