Category Archives: General Musing

Stress is Sneaky

It’s not one thing that creates stress… it’s a whole bunch of things that build up.  Little things that pile on until we are over our edge.

Right now, the world is mired in all sorts of concerns.  We all are feeling it.  Climate change—which they just should have called Global Weirding and no one would have debated it!  The mass shooting of innocent people.  The Stock Market in a tizzy.  Too many to mention. It’s way capable of frazzling our nerves!

But of course, there is also whatever your triggers are!  Little things like health, making money, relationships, the car breaking down.  ‘Tis never-ending!

The real problem for us all is that our biology is behind the times.  It hasn’t caught up and probably won’t, based on the speed of change these days.  Our bodies evolved to use ‘stress’ as a way of getting our attention and focus when bad things were about to happen.  Things like a lion or a pack of hyenas running toward us.  One of the evolutionary fixes for coping with danger is the fight-or-flight response, a physiological reaction to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.

To simplify the result let’s just say we go into hyperdrive.  The “Danger, Danger, Will Robinson” alerts kick in and carry us away.  There are all sorts of things going on in our bodies and minds, not the least of which is we lose our peripheral vision, and can’t hear—which explains why when in an argument you often find someone saying: “Don’t you hear me?” Actually, they don’t, and they won’t until they have calmed down which will take between 20 to 60 minutes after they have stopped stressing.

This has been going on for quite a while.  In 1910 Rudyard Kipling  wrote the poem “If”, which started with “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”  So it’s not new.

The real point is how do we manage the stress?  How do we keep the deep mire of it from sneaking up on us?   There are so many stress factors bombarding us every day that it is prudent to get ahead of it.  Don’t wait!  Create your own pockets of peace now!

There are all sorts of ways to build your capacity for dealing with the vast, never-ending triggers we experience every day.  In my search for balance, it’s the little things that are the most effective for me.  I’m being purposeful in creating what I call “Pockets of Peace”.   Some examples I’ve been trying include:

  • Time swimming—being in the quiet of the water
  • Muting the ‘ads’ on the TV—otherwise thought of as ‘limiting white noise’
  • Reading books that take me away, and are NOT scary
  • Petting the ‘purr machine’—otherwise known as the cat

There are lots and lots of possibilities.  There are only two things to keep in mind:

  1. Have some techniques that work for your own stress reduction in the moment
  2. Have some everyday practices that build calm and peace as a preventative measure

Unfortunately, we can’t actually eliminate stress, what we can do is make choices about how we handle and manage it!  Find the ones that work for you… it’s crucial, especially now!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you need a bit of support finding those pockets of peace give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

The Horse They Rode In On

Here’s yet another guest blog for your summer reading.  This one is from Kate Deaton, a certified coach, friend, and colleague with a slightly different take on the Inner Critic voice than mine.  Kate is writing a book about the Inner Saboteur and agreed to give us a taste of her work.  Her contact information is at the bottom of the blog if you’d like to get in touch with her, or follow her musings!

“My boss-he doesn’t care about what I am doing- he just wants more. Even if it means I work late 4 days a week and take work home, it’s always MORE-MORE-MORE! If I didn’t count on that paycheck for my family, I would quit. I know I have my master’s but jobs in my field just don’t pay that well. I am lucky to have gotten this job.”

There is a saying that a complaint is simply a value that is being stomped on. Being expected to do more and more at work, beyond what can be delivered in a 50-hour work-week may stomp on quite a few values: family time, fairness, quality over quantity, being able to deliver good work…just possible examples. Yet do you notice that, in the first example, the worker ends by reminding themselves why to continue in that cycle? It is not that it is not true- most of us depend on our income for supporting ourselves and our family. Yet something else is true, too: We could be more satisfied, have more family time in other circumstances that might also support the value of family security. So what stops us from checking out those options?

“The devil we know is better than the devil we don’t.” That could have been written by our inner saboteur-that inner voice that creates seeds of doubt each time you try new behavior or have a thought about taking a stand for what you need. Have you noticed that voice sometimes? It is the one that tells you the safe way is the best, keeping the status quo is imperative. It may even go so far as ridiculing you for dreaming and planning, for taking steps toward something new. Here is another example:

People had always told Kim how good her work was on creating mosaic inlaid furniture. She had been encouraged for a few years to apply for a juried arts and crafts show in her community and she always laughed it off.  “No one wants to pay for my work- it is best as a gift.” Finally, Kim was persuaded to try, and the first time she applied for the high quality, juried show, she was accepted. Kim sold well, got lots of compliments and  6 months’ worth of orders. Although this was what she loved to do, she refused to apply for more shows. “It is just a fluke that I got in. Sales won’t keep coming. I will just finish up these orders. I was lucky to get them.”

So what kept Kim from celebrating her success and reaching for more? The voice of her inner saboteur, telling her she was just lucky- nothing to count on.

Each time we challenge the status quo in our life, the voice can get stronger and meaner to match the level of threat to the norm. And the worse thing may be that the voice is cloaked to sound like our own voice or even the voice of our parents or people we love.

So how can we make changes and reach for more in our lives? A simple method is to become aware of when the inner saboteur shows up, what it sounds likes like, thank it for trying to keep you safe and then take the next right step. With some practice, you will be able to notice the trends of when your inner saboteur is going to get activated.  Then you will be ready to avoid getting hijacked by the fearful thoughts, thank your inner voice for wanting your safety and take steps forward. It is a new dance. And a new dance that will create new neural pathways in your brain that support new options, rather than familiar behavior.

So what do you want? What small steps can you take toward your goals? Just be ready with some recognition, appreciation, and movement.

For other methods of recognizing and dealing with your inner saboteur, look for Kate’s upcoming book…….

Kate Deaton MS CPCC,  Personal Leadership Coaching, (434)390-0105,   Kdeatonleadership@gmail.com

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

 

Present In This Moment

As part of my summer blogs, I just couldn’t resist sharing this with you!  Meet Marcus Elliot.  He is an amazing Sax player and Composer in Detroit, Michigan.  He has recently written and performed an fascinating piece of music dedicated to his mother.  One of the most beautiful parts of his journey with this challenging time in his life is his recognition of the value of really being present in the moment.  He’s someone I’m honored to know.  Please read what he has written and listen to “Aesthetically Present”

April 27th, 2019, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, multiple myeloma. This news really shook me at my core. As time went on I begin to find myself trying to distract myself from the reality that I was faced with. One of those distractions that I fell into was hoping for “more time”. I found myself hoping and praying for more time with my mother, and hoping that all of the treatments that she will receive will work, and hoping that things would be better than they were at that time.

I did all of this hoping with the thought that doing so could only better the situation. I was wrong. It did not better the situation. If anything, it created a distance between myself and the reality of where my mother was at. It was not allowing me to be present with her at this moment and time. The “more time” that I was hoping for was already happening. I was missing the exact thing that I was hoping for because I took for granted the fact that every single moment that we are alive and we are with one another is the “more time”.

Our lives are not a given, every moment is truly a gift. For me, music is an exercise in this principle of being present. Music allows us for a brief second to realize just how beautiful, precious, and fragile these moments that have been entrusted to us are. “Aesthetically Present” was written during the time that all of this was happening in my life. It was not originally written with this theme in mind, but it felt appropriate and necessary to dedicate the music to the time that it was written inside of.

Thank you to my mother, Jo-Lynn Miller, for your love, strength, wisdom, and encouragement. If I already don’t say it enough then please, let me say it again, I love you.

Sincerely, Marcus Elliot”

Such a joy to know such talented people!!!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Another Dimension?

It’s Tuesday, and I’ve been spending the last several days in another dimension – one where time, access to information and connection are very different.  It truly is like being in the Twilight Zone!

This past Saturday in the early evening, I happened to take a look at the box where my WiFi/internet comes into the house, and it was swarmed with ants—thousands of little tiny ants in my living room.  I know these guys, there is an ongoing war between me and them! Last November they took out an electric outlet which left me in the dark for several days before I could get an electrician out to restore order.

This time is more bizarre because it took out my capacity to use the web and my phone (which is voice over internet).  I’m left with my truly basic cell phone, designed for emergencies only.  What that means is that it’s a basic “burner” phone.  I can call and get texts but no data at all. It’s sort of reliable.

Of course Frontier doesn’t see this as urgent so they have decided to drop in and fix it on Wednesday.  I was delighted to have a neighbor who allowed me to use her computer so I could email my three clients that I had calls with on Monday, and friends I was supposed to meet on Tuesday.  I still need to contact the clients booked on Wednesday to warn them.  Theoretically it will be fixed by the time of their calls, but I’m not really trusting that.

So here I am writing my blog, not in WordPress where I normally do this.  Instead it’s back to Microsoft Word for me.  I have TV because I have been on an antenna for that for several years.  I also have a fairly big collection of movies on DVD.  So there is that.

The phone doesn’t ring.  That’s odd in a way.  Somehow that’s more about all the catch up I’ll need and want to do when I am reconnected to people.

Which brings me to the real reason I’m writing this blog.  The most pervasive and odd part of this ‘blackout’ is that I can’t go look anything up, any little fact.  Things like:

  • What’s the weather going to be like today?
  • Which internet provider gives the best service? (Frontier had me on hold for an hour, and wasn’t clever enough to have an option where I could choose to have them call me back. They did continue to suggest that I use the internet to solve my problem…hmm…but I both digress and rant.)
  • Is the next Phryne Fisher Mystery ready for me to download onto my tablet from the library?
  • What’s an easier Hair Ball treatment to use than that sticky brown toothpaste I can’t get down Miss Teak’s throat?

One of the reasons I don’t have a smart phone is that when I’m out in the world, I want to be present in the experience.  So I’m frankly amazed at how many times I go look something up out of curiosity, a desire to plan, or wanting to gather data to make a decision.

Most of my childhood through my teenage years I spent summers in Wyoming with my maternal grandmother, “Cupcake” (so named by me when I was very young because she was sweet and had white hair – Frosting on top).  She never had a TV, and reception for those that did was spotty anyway.  We read, played games, wrote letters, sewed, knitted, talked…did things.  The phone was on a party line so people didn’t tend to have really long conversations, and if they did, they did so knowing that someone might be listening.  Summers where very different than my life at home where I had a TV in my room, and spent much time on the phone as a teenager.

I held the two places as equally valuable, just different.  Frankly I think these two different worlds helped me to be both adaptable and curious.

Today I’m feeling calmer about this turn of events.  There is something in this ‘experiment’ about the value of just ‘being’ where I am in the moment.

I have learned something from this hiatus.  It’s something around allowing myself to sink into where I am right now, instead of anticipating and leaning toward what’s next.  Trying to cram it all in to the detriment of not really experiencing the fullness of what’s here.  Oddly, for me, the next step will be to limit how many times I go look something up once I am able to do that again.  The question will be: “Do I need to know that now?  Or can it wait?”

What might the experience of being without phone or internet in your daily life for several days be like for you?  And could there be a pony in the midst of that pile?  Looks like at the end of this I’ll have to acknowledge some value in the ants’ act after all… hmmm.

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

PS: it did finally all get sorted.  I’m back in the present!