The Power of Place

The Power of Place

I just returned from three relaxing and fun weeks vacation in Mexico. We spent two of those weeks in a magical fishing village, which made me reflect on and appreciate the power of place.

Have you ever visited a place and felt like you were “home”? Whenever I enter this pueblo, any stress I have instantly drops away. I feel relaxed, playful, open to possibility, “in the flow”. There is also a special sense of community in this town where locals and foreigners live peacefully together.

Some years ago, a woman from California started a children’s art and music festival that is still held every year in March. Over time, though her hard work and dedication, she gathered human and material resources and now the festival has grown to include a bricks and mortar community center with a library, computer room, recycling depot, coffee shop and a small retail space. It is a place that offers courses for girls and boys, women and men on everything from entrepreneurship, to environmental education, to sustainable development, The center has a truly welcoming atmosphere and is aptly called Entre Amigos (among friends). People who visit from largely Canada and the US often volunteer time to contribute to projects and help with fundraising.

A sponsorship program has been developed whereby Canadians and Americans (many of whom live there 6 months a year) sponsor promising local Mexican high school students to attend college and university.

Last year we attended a fundraiser for the local hospital where many talented local children performed music, dancing, gymnastics … . It was an animated community event. Every year there is a well-organized music festival in the local plaza (square) with amazing performers from around Mexico and a few from other countries.

What keeps my partner and I coming back to this magical place? It’s a combination of the welcoming and supportive atmosphere, the natural beauty, the strong sense of community and the positive bonds and caring evident among the locals and those who visit for periods of time. It’s also a community where I feel I can contribute and make some sort of positive difference. Plus I get to speak Spanish, and for some reason I have a natural affinity for Latin culture.

I have also experienced the power of place closer to home. When I’m feeling stressed and want to ground and unwind, there is a place by the ocean about 10 minutes from our home that I walk to. When I lay on the rocks and feel the sun on my body, any tension drops away and is absorbed by the rocks. I feel so grateful to live so close to this place of natural beauty.

Have you experienced the power of place? I’d love to hear your experiences and see descriptions of your magical places. Feel free to share those below and to forward this post to others. I also encourage you if you haven’t already, to find a place close to where you live that you can go to relax, reconnect and let your stress melt away.

 

 

 

The Power of Being Kind to Yourself

The Power of Being Kind to Yourself

I’ve come to believe that if I don’t truly love myself and treat myself with kindness, I’m unable to have a happy, fulfilling and healthy relationship with someone else.

February is celebrated as the month of love in many countries around the world. It’s often thought of in the context of romantic love. That said, this month has got me thinking about self-love and being kind to myself. I believe in the saying If you aren’t good to yourself, no one else will be. 

We often give so much to others that there is little left for ourselves and we feel depleted, exhausted and at times resentful. We think that if we say “No” that others won’t like us or we’ll be letting them down. I know for sure that when you set healthy boundaries, people sense and respect them and still love you, perhaps even more.

So What does being kind to yourself look and feel like for you?

For me it looks like:

  • Taking time each day to do something special for me
  • Meditating each morning.
  • Doing yoga 3 times a week or more
  • Walking in nature once a week or more
  • Booking trips and making time to visit my grandchildren every quarter
  • Truly being present with family and friends when I am with them
  • In yoga class, listening to my body and not pushing myself when I feel low in energy
  • Taking time to breathe and “smell the roses’ instead of constantly thinking about my “to-do” list
  • Listening to music I love
  • Letting my inner child come out to play regularly – through dancing around my kitchen, finger painting without a picture in mind, swimming, kayaking, hiking, cycling
  • When my inner critic begins to chatter in my head, saying a loud NO to it and stating “I’m not listening to you any more” and then reframing the negative chatter into a positive statement and saying it aloud
  • Treating myself to a massage
  • Treating myself to a pedicure

When I’m kind to myself I feel:

  • Relaxed
  • Playful
  • Fully present
  • At ease
  • Free of negative chatter
  • Grateful
  • Creative
  • In “the flow”
  • Fun to be around
  • Inspired

I invite you to answer this question and notice what flows out of you. I challenge you to begin every morning thinking about and choosing at least one way you wish to be kind to yourself that day. During the day notice how you feel when you are doing so, and also how others respond to you. Continue doing this each day for three weeks and notice what difference it makes in your life.

What I know to be true is that when we’re kind to ourselves magical things happen!

I’d love to hear from you and what you do to be kind to yourself, as well as what you notice when you intentionally do this. Please share your comments below and feel free to forward this post to others.

How to Connect with Your Inner Child & Why It’s Important

How to Connect with Your Inner Child & Why It’s Important

With all the gloom, doom and uncertainty in the world, it’s more important than ever for us to “let go” of our worries and to connect with our inner child. What do I mean by “connecting with your inner child”? 

Imagine what it was like when you had no cares or worries, when you felt loved, safe and secure and lived each day from a place of childlike wonder. I invite you to take yourself back to that time and place. What do you see and how do you feel?

I see myself playing with friends in nature; pretending we are pirates and digging for gold in the farmer’s field close to where I grew up. I see myself swinging so high and then jumping off a swing. I see myself running, jumping and feeling so free. I see myself swimming at the family cottage, back and forth between the docks. When I imagine doing each of those activities I feel light, carefree, empowered, creative, energized and curious.

So how can you connect with your inner child and with those feelings you felt as a child? One clue is when I play with my grandchildren. I now have 4, three years of age and under! On a recent visit I went for a walk with my 21- month old granddaughter. It was her first winter of experiencing snow and what it was like to walk in the cold. Initially she had a bit of trouble walking all bundled up in her cumbersome snowsuit. Before long she was almost running, so excited to be outdoors. I drew pictures in the snow and she kept saying “more, more.” I showed her how to blow snow off her mittens as it was too dry to make a snowman. I helped her make an angel in the snow. I tried to put myself in her shoes and see through her eyes of childlike wonder. It was so fun and energizing!

Another activity that connected me with my inner child was in the acrylic painting class I recently started. In the class the instructor encouraged us to try finger painting and to free paint without trying to paint anything special. It was an incredibly liberating experience! For several days after, I felt so connected to my creative side, easily designing a workshop and doing some writing. I felt like I was “in the flow”. My mind was clear and focused.

I really enjoy being in, on or by water. When I’m feeling stressed I find it therapeutic to walk to the ocean (which is close by) and lie on the rocks. When I do this I feel grounded and supported by Mother Earth. My worries fall away and I relax and feel embraced by this sacred space.

Here are a few suggestions of how you may connect with your inner child.

  • Try finger painting with no agenda and notice how it makes you feel
  • Is there a special nature place close to where you live? Visit it regularly. Bask in its beauty and notice how being there makes you feel
  • Spend time with young children; notice and try to reconnect with your childlike wonder
  • Spend some time at least once a week imagining a time or times when you felt loved and supported with no worries or cares. Feel those feelings and recall what you were doing at that time. Perhaps begin integrating those activities into your life. It could be a regular hike, walk, drawing …
  • Create a sacred space in your home; a place for you that is comfortable and contains a few special reminders of your childhood; e.g. rocks, shells … . Commit to spending time in that space initially for 10 to 15 minutes three times a week and notice how you feel when there and the cumulative effect.

I believe that if we all took the time to reconnect with our inner child and let her or him “come out to play” on a regular basis, that there would be less conflict, less stress, more creativity and more collaboration in our lives, communities and workplaces.

I’d love to hear how you connect with your inner child and what you’ve noticed from that experience. Please share your experiences below so we can all learn and grow from each other.

If you’d like to learn more about how to Tap into and Express Your Creative Side I invite you to read chapter 5 in my #1 Best Selling book “Learning to Dance with LIfe” – http://pamela-thompson.com/books/

Do You Often Go “Full Out” then Crash? Tips to Change that Pattern

Do You Often Go “Full Out” then Crash? Tips to Change that Pattern

Oh, how I love spring! Here on the west coast, the daffodils and crocus have been out for several weeks, and the cherry blossoms and rhododendrons are starting to show their beauty. Many of us in spring get “spring fever” or a burst of energy; particularly if we’ve endured a long, cold winter. This time of year, I have to remind myself that I’m not 25 anymore and avoid taking on too many new obligations and activities even though I feel so alive! Perhaps you relate. Do you often take on alot of activities and obligations, and say “yes” because you’ve been asked and you think you should? I’ve been there and know what it feels like to lose your energy and not feel like doing much of anything. So how can you prevent yourself from taking on too much and then crashing?

Here are a few tips:

  • Spend time in nature several times a week or more. Go for a walk, a hike, visit a garden, use all of your senses to take in the natural beauty. Bathe in forests. The Japanese have done longitudinal research to show that when we walk in forests, it reduces our heartrate, reduces our blood pressure and increases the number of natural killer cells our body produces (strengthens our immune system).
  • Be aware of your energy and the people who “give” and “take” energy from you. Get clear on the people in your life who energize you and those who tend to sap your energy. Spend most of your time with those who energize you.
  • Set healthy boundaries. Write a list of the things you enjoy doing. When people ask you to chair a committee or serve on the Executive of a group, be clear that this is what you enjoy doing rather than what you feel you SHOULD do. Living life following the “shoulds” is energy-draining and doesn’t bring out our “best sides”. For more strategies visit http://creativelivingcommunity.com/are-you-giving-too-much-2/
  • Practice saying “no”. You may have been raised in a family where children and women were expected to do what they were asked and experienced the repercussions of NOT following the rules. … Start small. It’s like a muscle; the more you say “no”, the easier it becomes.
  • Listen to and Trust in Your Body’s Wisdom. Our bodies always know the truth. There are a number of decision-making tools that enable us to get “out of our heads” and our logical left-brains, and tap into our bodies. Muscle testing is one way to determine whether we should say “yes” or “no”. One way to do this is to stand up straight, feel like you have a plumb line going from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Then ask yourself the following: Is my name …? And state your real name. Your body should sway forward meaning “yes”. Then say to yourself Is my name John Doe? If that is not your name, your body should sway backwards. Now you have a baseline. Now ask yourself other questions such as Should I accept the position as President of this Club/organization?. When your body moves backwards it indicates “no”, forwards “yes”, and if it doesn’t move ask again. It may be that this decision won’t have strong impact on you either way. For additional examples see http://creativelivingcommunity.com/how-do-you-make-decisions/ . 

I’d love to hear from you and invite you to try any or all of the strategies above and notice how they work for you.

Please share below strategies that you’ve found helpful in preventing you from taking on too much and then crashing.

Here’s to your health, happiness, fulfillment and inner peace!

The Importance of Reaching out for & Accepting Support

The Importance of Reaching out for & Accepting Support

As women, many of us have been socialized to always give to others first, and to put ourselves at the bottom of the list. We may have come to believe that we are selfish if and when we do something for ourselves, such as having a massage, going for a walk on our own, or taking time to journal each morning. Guilt and negative feelings often result from this. We may find it challenging to accept compliments and often deflect or make light of them.

If you are the one others typically come to for support, you may view asking for support as a weakness. You may worry that this will change how people see and value you. After all you are a strong, capable women who has all the answers. Don’t you?

When you constantly give and do for others without taking time for yourself what are the costs? Giving, in and of itself, is a good thing. We feel positive to be helping and supporting others; however if we are out of balance in our giving, over time we may become resentful and SOoo tired because we are giving to everyone else, and not taking time for and nourishing ourselves.

What if we as women recognized the importance of reaching out for and accepting support? What if every time someone gave us a compliment we were able to stay in our bodies, acknowledge and mindfully receive the positive message we were being given? What would that look and feel like?

What if we integrated regular self-care and nurturing into our lives such as regular walks in nature, yoga, journaling, regularly connecting with girl friends, and felt like we deserved this, and that it was essential to our overall health and well being. The reality is, doing so makes us much more responsive, less reactive, more fun to be around, and more present with those we care about.

Did you know that to change a health behavior, we not only need knowledge, skills and motivation; we also need social support. That is, support from others to change a behavior and integrate it into our lives so it becomes a healthy habit. There is a lot of research to show that the more social support[1] people have, the more preventive health actions they take.

When people give support we feel good inside. And when we receive support our bodies produce oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Research shows that oxytocin has a number of positive physical and psychological benefits from enhancing trust, self-esteem, optimism and feelings of mastery to reducing blood pressure, gut inflammation and stress.

I recently facilitated a workshop where I shared a model and positive actions women can take to embrace and learn from life transitions, and reduce the stress associated with major life changes. The need to share was huge, and just knowing that others were facing or had faced similar issues and challenges created openness, understanding and support within the group.

So how can you feel more comfortable asking for and accepting support from others? From my own journey and work with others, I find it easiest to take baby steps. Initially reach out and ask for support for something small. It could be asking a friend or colleague for a drive to an event during a particularly busy week, or asking your partner to do the dishes when you’ve prepared the dinner.

So the next time you’re feeling tired and would like some help, think of who you may reach out to and ask them for support. Notice how it feels. Often when we ask others for support, they feel honored that we did (as long as we don’t do this on a frequent and ongoing basis J).

I invite you to try reaching out and asking for support and notice how you feel and how others respond. I welcome your comments and shares below. Feel free to share this with others who you think might benefit.

 

[1]

“Social support means having friends and other people, including family, to turn to in times of need or crisis to give you a broader focus and positive self-image. Social support enhances quality of life and provides a buffer against adverse life events.” –https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/social-support

 

 

 

A Digital Detox: Is it for You?

A Digital Detox: Is it for You?

Do you habitually check the news feeds on your smartphone before falling asleep?

On awakening do you check Facebook on your phone?

Are you finding it challenging to fall asleep, and do you often awaken feeling unrested?

Do you feel stressed, and have difficulty focusing?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of the above questions, you are not alone, AND you may benefit from a digital detox.

What exactly is a digital detox? According to Wikipedia, a digital detox refers to a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic connecting devices such as smartphones and computers.”  It is recommended that you do a digital detox for 24 hours or more.

The Evidence[1]

Did you know that:

  • 67% of cellphone owners find themselves checking their device even when it’s not ringing or vibrating
  • One out of ten Americans report depression; heavy internet users are 2.5 times more likely to be depressed
  • 95% of people use some type of electronics in the hour leading up to bed, and
    artificial light from screens increases alertness and suppresses the hormone melatonin by up to 22%  negatively affecting sleep, performance and mood
  • Unplugging for just one day can give some users mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.

The Benefits of a Digital Detox

Scientific studies and social experiments have noted the following results from digital detoxing:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved sleep/reduced fatigue
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased connection with self and others leading to improved relationships
  • Improved focus
  • Increased creativity
  • Increased energy
  • Improved memory
  • Increased clarity
  • Enhanced health

Getting Started/How to do a Digital Detox

Frances Booth[2] shares some valuable suggestions on how to do a digital detox. She and others recommend the following.

Create a Positive Mindset

Identify for yourself why you want to do the detox and the benefits it will provide. While thinking about each benefit, imagine how you will feel in your body when you have achieved it. For example, how will it feel to be more productive, more creative, more connected to family and friends, more relaxed. … .

Plan Ahead

Identify a 24-hour period when you want to try a digital detox. Ideally make it a weekend or a time when you aren’t working. Tell your family and friends your plans, and why you’re doing it.

Plan some time in nature, as being among trees reduces blood pressure, reduces your heart rate and increases the number of natural killer cells your body produces.

Plan some one-on-one time with your partner, a friend or your family to truly connect with them.

Ask for Support

Tell your family and friends of your plans, and why you’re doing it.

You may wish to invite a partner or friend to do the detox with you. Support is important when changing any behavior.

Notice How You feel and Express Yourself

When you start the detox, notice how your feel. It’s not unusual to be fidgety and have some withdrawal symptoms. You may find it helpful to write down your feelings. If you feel the urge to connect, take some deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Experience the feelings rather than “pushing them down”.

During the detox and after, notice what you notice and write down those feelings.

Make Digital Detoxing a Habit

The more digital detoxing you do, the easier it becomes. Try unplugging for at least 90 minutes before you go to bed each night. Go offline for 24 hours each weekend.

Parting Words

I love the tagline of http://digitaldetox.org/   “Disconnect to Reconnect”. Unplugging is relatively easy, yet the results are profound.

An Invitation

I invite you to try a digital detox. If you’ve already tried one, please share your experiences and comments below. Share this post with people you care about who could benefit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://digitaldetox.org/manifesto/

[2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbooth/2014/06/13/how-to-do-a-digital-detox/3/#7461fa00253e