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    No More Complaining!

    …If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” ~Maya Angelou


    I complain a lot more than I’m even aware.  I think we all do this.  It’s easy to complain; it garners sympathy, empathy, even camaraderie from those around us.  A complaint could be as obvious as, “this house is a mess!” or “the temp is freezing out here!” or as subtle as that inner voice that says, “I should lose some weight” or “feels like I’m coming down with something” when we look in the mirror. I don’t think it’s natural to complain; children don’t complain.  I think it’s a habit that we form over time.


    A negative habit! If we’re always thinking or speaking negatively (complaining), we can’t help but see the things around us as negative.  The more negative we see & feel, the more difficult it is for the positive to come through. It only makes sense that the more positive we feel, the more positive we are, and the more positive we’ll see.  If we can break the habit of negative thinking, perhaps our lives will overall become more positive.


    My grandmother is a wonderful example of the power of positive thinking. I remember back when I was a sulky teenager, she’d wake us in the morning singing, “You Are My Sunshine…”… and then we’d proceed to pull the covers up over our heads.  She’d keep singing, undeterred, open the curtains, and pull the covers back down & tell us what a beautiful day it was – to get up with her and celebrate!  She shared with us her belief in the power of positive thinking through her daily morning routine: before getting out of bed, she’d tell herself the kind of day she wanted to have: positive, productive, happy. Once she had her intent set in her mind, she’d get up.  And, that’s the kind of day she’d have. And complaining?  I don’t recall my grandmother ever complaining.  She can find beauty in the worst of situations.  That’s strength & grace. She’s an inspiration to me.


    As are my children.  When’s the last time you heard a child complain about anything?  They start the day with such vigor and face everything with joyous expectation. They naturally choose to be & see & create positive. I hope every day to be more like them, and my grandmother.


    But, it’s not enough to hope for change; if you want to change, you have to be the change you wish to see (so says Gandhi, and I agree). So, in an attempt to be more positive and take a more active role in really changing my outlook and interpretation of the world around me, I found this really cool tool: Rubber bracelets from A Complaint Free World.


    The idea behind the bracelets is that you start with your bracelet on one arm. Each time you complain, gossip, or criticize, you move it to the other wrist.  You keep doing this, hopefully increasing the duration on each arm with time & awareness, until you’ve gone complaint-free for 21 days – essentially creating a new habit of NOT complaining!


    They believe that the power of just a few people changing their attitude can have a ripple effect on the world, bringing about, “greater harmony, understanding, prosperity, and peace” http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org/ourvision.  I agree.


    If you’d like to get a set of bracelets for yourself, or just want to read about their vision of shifting the worlds’ consciousness from positive to negative, visit http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org/ They’re also on twitter @acfw60million

    I’m going to give the bracelet a try.


    The website says the average person giving it their best try will take between 4 – 10 months to go 21 days complaint-free. I’m going to consider this day one on my positive journey! I hope some of you will join me in this quest to complain less. Please let me know if you take the leap; and how it’s going for you!


    Posted: Feb 12 2010, 14:36 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    Filed under: Inspirational

    Turning Negativity into Positivity

    Deepak Chopra tweeted this yesterday:
    Emotions are contagious. We monitor, regulate, and are regulated by each other's emotional state. Your well being improves my well being.
    I found it apropos, as I was at the moment pondering these questions: How to get out of a “bad mood”? How to avoid passing negativity along to those around you? How to stay immune to the negative moods of those around us? How instead, to be open to positive moods, and sharing that energy?
    It’s something I think about often as you really can’t escape people. Or yourself, really. So better to learn to interact in the most beneficial ways.
    Our energy levels fluctuate throughout the day – and thus our moods. Lower energy I’ve found directly correlates with more openness to allowing negativity to have an effect me. Negativity & lower energy makes me feel less creative & productive. The less productive I am, the less good I feel. The less good I feel mentally, the less good I feel physically, the less positive my interactions with others, and my low energy and mood gets passed along. It’s a cycle which I’d like to break. Of course, the cycle works in the opposite direction as well, so maybe I just want to reverse it, not break it altogether.
    The more productive I am, the more energy I have. The more energy I have, the better I feel, the more able I am to deflect negativity thrown my way, and be creative in dealing with “bad moods” – my own, and others, to be more positive. When I’m positive, people react positively, I feel healthier, and things just work right. When more things work right, I’m more apt to be grateful and expectant of more things working right. When you expect things to go well, health to be good, and people to behave well, they pretty much do.
    So how to achieve that positivism reliably? This is really what I’m pondering. Thought into action.
    In the short term, giving myself physical space from negativity or chaos works best. If I can get a moment to myself, to think, breathe, it makes a world of difference. Taking my focus off a future or past worry, and centering instead on the current moment also works for me. If I cannot get my brain to shift gears from worry to peace, occupying myself with a task that requires concentration & creativity – art making or playing the piano or even organizing a space works to distract my mind and start the cycle working in the opposite direction – the more creative I am, the more positive I am.
    Now, I can’t always physically separate myself from the chaos (say, driving kids in the car). So in these instances, I find music helps center me. The more cheerful, the better.
    Your nerves gather with the altitude
    Exhale the stress so you don't come unglued
    Somewhere there is a happy affair, a ghost of a good mood
    ~Owl City (from Rainbow Veins)
    Alternatively, outside we go. Nature always has a calming, energy-boosting quality. You can’t take a walk in the woods and come out feeling bad. I mean, unless you’re attacked by a bear. (who obviously hasn’t discovered the virtues of positive thinking). But, I digress.
    In the longer term, overall positive thinking & repetition of affirmations has worked the best for me, as trite as they may seem: I am healthy. I am productive. Life is good.
    Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right. ~Henry Ford

    I do believe by reminding myself that things are good, things really can only become better. Not because I'm tricking myself, but rather by looking at what's already there in a better way than I currently am (remembering that when I'm feeling down, negativity flows more easily than positivity). And if things don’t actually become better, at the very least, my reaction to them does. Thus, the reactions of those around me become improved as well, and can lead to physically changing things for the better. Positive energy transfer: it’s what I’m striving towards – greater positivism, increased gratitude, more peace. It can only be good.
    So, how do you cope with negativity and turn it into positivity?
    Posted: Feb 01 2010, 11:19 by kelly | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |
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    Spirituality & Kids

    At dinner last night, the subject of our recently passed dog, Haley came up.  I said that I missed her.  My children echoed that sentiment.  My 2 yo then asked, "Where is Haley?" to which I replied that she died; her body was very sick, and died (we had previously discussed this at length when she was sick with cancer, and at her passing).  He said, "but where IS she?"  To which my 5 yo replied, "Well, she’s probably another person by now".


    It was just then, that I saw that my spiritual “beliefs”, as much as I’ve tried not to foist them on my children, are developing in my childrens’ minds.  I’ve talked to my daughter about my thoughts about death & “reincarnation” of sorts… in that I believe when a body dies, there is an energy, a spirit, life force, soul, whathaveyou, that continues on.  The body is just a container for that energy. The energy is what makes you, YOU. Maybe this energy goes back into the earth – to help the trees grow stronger, maybe it finds its way into another animal, or newborn baby. And thus the life cycle & energy cycle continues.  The more positive we are in life, the more energy we have, the more we have to give & share with others on our life path.  I don’t have any proof of this.  I don’t have any documentation or books or doctrine.  I just feel it.  I feel we’re connected with everything & everyone living.  I feel it when we take walks in nature.  I felt it supremely with my dog, when she was living… if my energy was low, sad, angry… just being close to her filled me up.  My children are the same way – full of energy & light.  I want to pass this along to them – this feeling of connectedness with the earth & people around them.  That if they’re feeling low, a hug from a friend, a walk in the woods, a pat of a dog can help you feel more positive, and when you're positive you're more creative, and more intelligent, and able to pass positive energy on to others through the things that you say & do in life.


    It made me feel good to hear her say what she did.  Yet, there was a bit of discomfort there as well, since, I’m just not SURE about these things.  My feelings about spirituality are just how I FEEL, and am continually adjusting & growing in my thoughts about life, as I move through it.  Yet, so many things in life I tell them, I’m SURE about: running into the street without looking is dangerous, going out in the winter without a coat will make you cold. But death? Or the reason for life? The bigger meaning? I haven’t figured that out; so it’s a bit disconcerting, when they’re looking to me for certainties, to say, “Well, this is what I THINK…”. But for now, that’s where I am.  And they seem okay with that. I think I’ll go take a walk.

    Posted: Nov 13 2009, 09:36 by kelly | Comments (5) RSS comment feed |
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    The Secret. And a bit of a birth story.

    “The secret is that you are already a completely whole, perfect person.” – from The Secret by Mavis Karn


    In 2004, while in my 9th month of pregnancy with my persistently frank breech daughter, I was in a chiropractor’s office, waiting to be seen.  I couldn’t believe I was there, but there I was. Up until that point, I’d tried everything under the sun to encourage my daughter to turn around: elephant walking on hands & feet, standing on my head, doing somersaults under water, putting cold peas on her “head”, playing music to & having Adam talk to her “butt”, shining a flashlight from the top of my belly down to the bottom, doing shoulder stands for entire lengths movies, visualizing optimal fetal position, moxibustion, praying, begging, hoping, and wishing she’d turn, even 2 failed external cephalic version attempts (don’t try this, ladies, trust me – its horrible). I’d done everything except seeing a chiropractor. In my 38 weeks, I was beyond the time that I was told she’d even have a chance of turning on her own, and with a heavy heart, I’d even consented to seeing an OB at my last midwife appointment, and scheduling a c-section. I felt defeated. We'd planned a natural birth.  We'd done everything right.  But things just weren't going as planned.  So, feeling I had nothing to lose, I decided to call this chiropractor.  I’d read something about the Webster Technique but, I’d never in my life been to a chiropractor. I didn’t really know what they did, and had this feeling that it wasn’t “real” medicine (just so you know where I was coming from 5 years ago), so I’d just been all around hesitant to see one.  Yet, I tried moxibustion – a smoldering herbal stick millimeters from my little toe while standing on a block – go figure.  Anyhow, the week before the section was scheduled, I looked online for a chiropractor in my area (which, at the time, was extremely rural) who also happened to be certified in the Webster technique, who would also accept a patient who was about to have a baby any day now, and lo & behold, I found one right away, and she told me to come right in. So there I sat, in a state of doubt, disbelief, and nervousness.  Couldn’t believe I was there, didn’t believe it would work, and worried about what she’d do to me. As I was obsessively mulling my thoughts, I looked up, and there was a yellow poster on the wall:  THE SECRET By MAVIS KARN it read. 

    I read on:

    …I have a secret to tell you.  Nobody meant to keep it from you… it’s just that it’s been one of those things that’s so obvious that people couldn’t see it… like looking all over for the key that you have in your hand….


    Intriguing, right? Anyhow, I read the whole thing through, waiting there. And reread it. And as I read, I felt a lightening of my heart. That maybe everything really was going to turn out okay.  


    I was called back to the exam room, and over the next hour (it seemed) the doctor talked to me, listened to me, educated me a bit about chiropractic, and eventually performed the Webster Technique.  She told me of other patients she’d had who experienced immediate turning of their babies, some whose babies turned soon afterwards, some who took a few visits, some who didn’t. When my visit was over, I thought to myself, at least I can now go into my C-section in three days knowing for certain that I’d done everything I could do.


    And as I was leaving the office, the poster caught my eye again, and again I read:

    … The secret is that you are already a completely whole, perfect person.  You are not damaged goods, you are not incomplete, you are not flawed, you are not unfinished…


    I asked the receptionist if she knew where I could get a copy – which she didn’t, though she offered to send me a copy (which I remember not really believing she would). 


    As I climbed back in my car & headed home, I remember feeling my daughter move around.  A lot. And if you know what it’s like in those last weeks, there’s not much moving going on anymore.  Movement that does occur is more contained, crowded, confined.  But let me tell you, she was MOVING on that trip. And moving all evening long.  And all night long. 


    Two days later, the evening before my scheduled C-section, I went to my OB’s office for a final check of position.  Lo & behold, my daughter was HEADS DOWN.  She actually was so excited for me, she told me she’d put her knives back in the closet & go away & I can have my midwives back (yes, she did actually say this, ask Adam)!


    My daughter ended up being born only 2 days shy of her “due date”, 31 laboring hours after my water broke.  I made it mostly naturally & then later medicated (and let me tell you oh doubters, it IS possible for an epidural NOT to work, and for the needle to cause MORE pain than a contraction) to 10 cm, and had pushed, and pushed…  But she was posterior for my entire labor (OW!) and was presenting her forehead to the world.  My midwife said she could feel her eyebrows with every push, but just couldn’t get a good hold of her. Vacuum was out of the question due to position, and forceps were not used in the hospital where I delivered. So she was delivered via C-section after all. The doctor actually got the vacuum out during the section because my daughter was so completely stuck in my pelvis (though in the end, it wasn’t used, thankfully).


    The birth of my daughter was the most amazing, scary, and incredible experience of my life.  She was so perfect & just how I'd dreamt how she'd look.  But I’d say my transition from pregnancy to parenthood wasn't exactly a smooth ride. She was born with ABO incompatibility (basically, she was allergic to my blood; Dr's were stymied & no one seemed to know exactly what was happening).  My milk didn’t come in for several days, we were in the hospital for a week, and the C-section made just sitting up hard work. But with the help of a wonderful lactation nurse (she's definitely gaining points in her karma bank), I was able to work out a system to keep my daughter & her incubator in our room, wake her every 2 hrs (extremely jaundiced babies have a hard time waking & latching, and need around the clock light therapy in addition to timed waking to feed in order to move the bilirubin out of their systems so as to avoid a transfusion or other serious complications), nurse her with the help of an SNS filled with formula & whatever miniscule amounts of colostrum I could produce (liquid gold, I tell you.  Even 10 drops was worth celebrating.  I recall the joy I’d feel each day being able to put just a bit more of my milk in the SNS, and just a bit less of the formula in), put her back in to the isolette, hook myself up to the pump, and perhaps catch a couple moments of rest before the next waking.


    Needless to say, were we ever so happy to be given the green light to go home at the end of that week!  But getting off of formula & the SNS over the next couple weeks, and getting on to nursing certainly wasn’t a party.  I spent HOURS in my rocking chair.  Literally hours. Reading & rereading Dr. Sears. And my dear baby was colicky as well. And wouldn’t lay down without waking (What is a crib used for, again?  I really don’t know, though at the time we thought that's where babies were supposed to sleep - silly parents!). So if I wasn’t marathon nursing, I was walking, and bouncing, and shushing, and singing, and doing every possible thing one could do to soothe a screaming baby.  It wasn’t pretty.  I don’t remember much very clearly in those early days.  Except that I didn’t sleep. At all. Until I figured out how to nurse side-lying, and cosleep.


    One day I remember sitting in my chair, feeling more than a bit sorry for myself & how my life had changed so much & how hard it was being a new mom, and thinking I should go get the mail, but not willing to move, because, oh thank all that is good & holy, the baby was ASLEEP, and she did have ultra Mommy is moving radar. But this day I risked it, and there, in the mail… Well, that receptionist, she DID actually send me a copy of “The Secret”!  And that simple poster did SO MUCH GOOD for me in those early weeks of physically recovering from a C-section, emotionally recovering from not getting the natural birth I’d planned on, learning to breastfeed without an SNS (and without family or support - we lived hundreds of miles away from our families, and in the middle of the woods), and adjusting to life as a mother of this amazing little person, no longer just a woman & wife who can do whatever she wants whenever she wants, but a MOTHER (this deserves all caps) of someone who depends completely on me and doesn’t care one lick about my routines or desires (nor should she).  It was an amazing, difficult, and not always happy or smooth transition. But reading that poster always managed to bring me back to what was important in life: my beautiful daughter & my wonderful husband.  Brought me back to the realization that I had the ability to change my thinking; to feel good instead of bad, to appreciate all that was amazing about our new journey into parenthood instead of lamenting over what life used to be like or how I thought my birth could have gone. I realized that I was, and am, every moment, in control of choosing to feel positive & grateful over negative & unappreciative. I wish I knew Mavis so I could thank her.


    I still have that photocopy hanging on my desk to this day. I’m writing it word for word here because I truly think it’s worth sharing (forgive any typos, please – they are entirely my fault).  Thanks for reading & hope you enjoy:


    Dear Kids (and former kids),

    I have a secret to tell you. Nobody meant to keep it from you... It’s just that it’s been one of those things that’s so obvious that people couldn’t see it... like looking all over for the key that you have in your hand.


    The secret is that you are already a completely whole, perfect person. You are not damaged goods, you are not incomplete, you are not flawed, you are not unfinished, you do not need remodeling, fixing, polishing, or major rehabilitation. You already have everything you need to live a wonderful life. You have common sense, wisdom, genius, creativity, humor, self-esteem... you are pure potential... you are missing nothing.


    The only thing that can keep you from enjoying all that you already are is a thought. One thought. Your thought. Not someone else’s thought. Your thought... Whatever you are thinking at the moment that feels more important to think than feeling grateful, alive, content, joyful, optimistic, loving, and at peace.... that’s the only think that’s between you and happiness.


    And guess who’s in charge of your thinking... guess who gets to decide where your attention goes... guess who gets to write, produce, direct, and star in the moment you’re in the middle of ... you. Just you. Not your past (stored thoughts), not the future (did you notice that it never, ever, shows up?), not your parents (they all think their own thoughts), not your friends (ditto), or school or television, or situations or circumstances or anything else. Just you.


    Thinking is an awesome capability. Like any capability it can be used either as a tool or as a weapon against ourselves and others. And just like with any other tool, we can tell whether we’re using it for or against ourselves by how it feels. When we think against ourselves or others, we get in trouble. When we don’t, we usually say out of trouble.




    So,… please remember that your thoughts are not always telling you the truth. When we’re in low moods, feeling down, our thoughts are not to be trusted… Our IQ’s drop. When our thoughts pass we lighten up, our thinking is once again creative, positive… our IQ’s go up. The only way you can feel badly about yourself and your life is if you think badly about them… it’s up to you, every single minute you’re alive. It’s always up to you! This is the best, most liberating secret I ever learned, and I want you to know it too.


    With Love,


    (1999, Mavis L. Karn)