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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Life Lessons from a GPS

I spent a lot of time the other day driving around the city.  I had a number of meetings and a bunch of errands and nothing seemed close to the other. I racked up a lot of miles going back and forth and in between, even in getting to the city in the first place. I had very good company for this travel. I took our trusty GPS device which we affectionately call "Shirley".

GPS stands for Global Positioning System and according to technical specifications is a space-based satellite navigation system based on a method called triangulation. Wow.. that's a mouthful.  I really don't spend a lot of time thinking about how this thing works. I turn it on, plug in an address and a map "magically" appears and  a voice tells me where to go and how to get there. Hmm...

When I first got "Shirley" I used to argue with her a lot.  I didn't trust her. I'm directionally challenged, but I really thought I knew better than she did for some reason. Sometimes I didn't think Shirley gave me the instructions far enough ahead of time so I would make some decisions on my own, and a little prematurely, that made my journey a little more complicated than it might have needed to be.

Over time I've come to trust Shirley and we have a much better relationship.  Shirley has taken away a lot of stress for me. I don't worry anymore about finding my way, I really trust that Shirley will do the navigation for me. It frees me up to "just" drive. There's some comfort in that.

Perhaps because I was "stress free" the other day, I did some thinking about Shirley.  It seems to me there are some life lessons to be found in the GPS technology.

The GPS is based on satellites orbiting the earth. The distance between my vehicle and three or four satellites is measured constantly and that identifies my position in space. I don't know how that works any more than that. But the point is, it would seem , that I don't need to figure that out because Shirley works just fine without me having any idea how she "does what she does".  It would seem if I can trust some sort of orbiting satellite or three or four to provide me direction while traveling at 110+km/hr, I should be able to trust some sort of divine universe power and a master plan for my journey on earth. Maybe I don't need to understand how that works, what's actually "out there", or how the system is designed. Perhaps I can just find the trust.

I can override Shirley at any point in time. She doesn't actually do the driving, she just provides me with suggestions.  That seems to be similar to the concept of free-will.  We can vary off our path and take short-cuts, back roads, and alternative routes in life. We can decide we just aren't up for a challenge that might be presented to us. We get to choose, but if we are willing to accept it, there is a lot of help along the way.

If I "mess up" and don't follow Shirley's advice correctly she does a "re-calculation".  She doesn't throw up her circuit board in disgust and tell me I'm on my own.  She very calmly, without judgement, adjusts and gives me new instructions.  Having been way off course a time or two, it would seem she will recalculate an infinite number of times. I think the life journey is similar. There are no mistakes- just miss takes and you always get a "do over" after you've spent some time to recalculate.

The more I trust Shirley's guidance the smoother my trip is. That lesson took awhile, but I no longer second guess Shirley or think I know better.  I follow the signs to the best of my capability. I still have to make allowances for detours, road closures and sudden changes. Sometimes I shut Shirley off when I already know the route and am confident to go it alone. Again, that seems like a life lesson. Sometimes we need that guidance and sometimes we're good to make our own map. But it's always nice to know the help is there if you run into trouble along the way.

A lot of people I know have a GPS. Most people give it a name.  I guess it's just because it feels like if something is talking to you, you should personalize it. There are lots of names out there for the same model. That seems to be an individual choice and as far as I know, it doesn't affect the directions you get. So maybe the same is true of life.  Maybe it doesn't matter what you call your guidance system; God, Buddha, Allah, Gaia, Spirit, Divinity, Source, Mother/Father, and the list goes on. Maybe whatever you call it- it's still the same system. Hm...

Sometimes I can't get the direction I need from Shirley.  Occasionally, I plug in an address and it just doesn't seem to be there. But no matter what, it seems Shirley tracks my position in space. Again that seems like a life lesson.  Sometimes the directions don't seem to be clear but "the now" is always present and tangible.

On thing is very clear with my GPS.  At any point in the journey, if I plug in "Home", Shirley can get me back there.  There is huge comfort in that.  It might even be that I would venture further than my comfort zone knowing that I can find my way back.  Particularly in uncharted, woodland, this feature can be life-saving. Hmm..

The final lesson I take from my GPS is this.  While Shirley provides the navigation, is often decent company, relieves stress, and provides comfort, it is still up to me to do the driving.

Happy Motoring!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Waxing Half Moon in Taurus

It's almost the end of January.  Although it's been pretty mild in my part of the world, and by times in the sun today it really did feel like spring, it is still January. So it seemed rather surprising to me when I got a notice from the ordering co-op I belong to that it was time to order my seeds and seed potatoes for spring planting! Wait! I'm not ready!  

I was still pondering those seeds when I opened my We'Moon 2012 book to today's date. It turns out today marks a Waxing Half Moon phase on our way to a full moon on February 7th.  We'Moon reports this Half Moon is in Taurus. Interesting.. maybe those seeds make sense.

The Waxing Moon is a powerful energy pull.  The moon in this phase is moving towards fullness. In a similar manner, people often feel, perhaps with or without being aware of it, a similar pull.  It can be a time when goals start to become realized, we move forward in direction, bringing ideas to action.  At least it would seem that kind of energy is out there in the universe thanks to the power of the moon, and therefore it's a good time to tap into that source to bring your dreams and efforts to fruition.  Just as the waning moon suggests an ability for people to tag along with the moon in  letting go and release, the waxing moon invites you to tag along on a ride to bring energy to you. This type of drawing of energy in resonates with your third chakra- your source of personal power. 

We'Moon identifies that when the Moon is in Taurus we may feel the need to slow down in order to plant our roots deep. Those born under a Taurus Moon are said to be strong, solid, stable. They have a deep connection to the earth that is reflected in resources enough to share. So the Waxing Moon in Taurus seems like a good time to plant your roots deep so that what you grow will be strong, resilient, and stable.

The challenge may be to identify what type of energy, projects, people, or dreams you want to build on during this energy opportunity. I guess it's all about seed selection. And although spring, or the Full Moon, can seem a ways away, if you want your dreams to manifest you have to first select the seeds.

Perhaps a couple of good things to plant would be Wild Oat and Clematis.  They are both Bach Flower essences and they can both be helpful for realizing your dreams.

Wild Oat can help you in the seed selection process.  If you're feeling pulled in multiple directions and just not sure where you want to place your energy, you may be bouncing around and back and forth between projects. That kind of unfocused attention can leave you feeling dissatisfied and scattered.  It can also leave your dreams unfulfilled.  The universe has no idea what to bring you! Wild Oat can help you get a clear picture of what you want to do in life. It can help you identify what type of energy you want to draw towards you during this powerful time.

Once you've selected your seeds, you still might need some Clematis in order to get those seeds in the ground. In fact, if you're a Clematis type, or have been through a Clematis state or two, I'm willing to bet you have a package or two of seeds in your junk drawer! Clematis types are great dreamers. Round about the end of January they can look out the window and see flowers growing amongst the green grass as butterflies fly about under a warm spring sun. They can dream right past the reality of dirty snow, slush, and frozen horse manure. They have no problem with the dream, but they lack the Taurus sense of grounded roots. A few drops of Clematis can help you take a more lively interest in the world around you.  It can help you bring your dreams into reality.  In order to create that flowering garden in the sunshine, you just might have to order some seeds!

This Waxing Half Moon in Taurus day is a great time to sit down with the seed catalogue of your mind. Spend a moment or two to really consider what you want to bring into your life. Dream it, scheme it, and consider it from multiple angles. Identify some clear goals and then ride the moon towards it's realization.

Happy grounded dreaming!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Animal Signs: Sparrow

Change seems to be all around these days.  Everyone is talking about  feeling shifting and movement as actions, outcomes and events are  accelerated in pace.  In my part of the world today we've gone through just about every weather pattern except the "hot and sunny" phase.  One day we have green grass that doesn't make sense around here for January, the next day it's covered with snow, only to be replaced in the same afternoon with rain that washes it away - maybe a layer or two of freezing rain in the middle. I'm not sure the animals are too happy with this up and down and all around stuff, but I guess they make their adjustments. Maybe they are smart enough to just not fight it, think about how it might be different, or question that it doesn't seem right to be raining after a snowstorm.  It just "is what it is" to them maybe. Hmm...

I was feeling the wind pick up and switch again and seeing the slushy accumulation of "stuff" and wasn't feeling very inspired to write. I went out to deliver some hay to the critters and 6 or 7 sparrows greeted me from the hay pile.  They didn't seem scared of me really, just a little annoyed that I had dared enter their "shelter from the storm" area.  They said a lot to me, but I'm afraid I didn't quite catch it.  So I wondered if Sparrow was a animal spirit or Power animal and considered there might be a message there- like a topic for the blog...

Sure enough, Steven Farmer in Animal Spirit Guides, includes Sparrow. He suggests the presence of  Sparrow is a signal to look for the nobility in the most common of things, including yourself.

Sparrows are a very common bird. They flourish where other species fail. The don't seem to mind the rain and snow and extremes of weather. They don't fly off and look for an easier place to rest. They know their self-worth. They are evidence that even a little bird can triumph.

P.D. Eastman wrote and illustrated a  wonderful children's picture book  in 1960 called Are You My Mother?.  In the story a mother bird sitting on her egg in the nest feels the egg about to hatch and goes out in search for food for her new arrival. While she's gone the egg hatches and a small bird (that I'm going to take as a sparrow!) is born with a big attitude. He doesn't decide he's abandoned when his mother isn't around, he doesn't worry about where she might be, he just takes off in search of her. He knows she must be looking for him. He never doubts that. Having never seen his mother (or himself) he has no idea what his mother looks like so he keeps asking everyone, and thing, he meets if they are his mother. He encounters a cat, a hen, a dog, a cow, a boat, a plane, and finally a bulldozer before he finds his mother.  It works out in the end, but I won't spoil the surprise. The point is, this little sparrow (I think) has full confidence in himself. And that never wavers no matter what anyone says to him.  He can't fly so we walks; with his head up, full of poise and self-esteem. And that's the energy of the sparrow.

Farmer writes that Sparrow energy is a signal you might be in very productive and prolific times. I think that speaks to the energy cycle we all seem to be in. During this time of intense change and rapid energy, it might be wise to draw on Sparrow energy to remember you can hold hold your own, be a survivor, comfortable wherever you happen to be. Whether that's safe and secure in the nest, or walking along a dusty road looking for a connection, it's all about the unshakable belief in self.

On the Animal Totem website , the song sparrow is said to reflect the chakra energy awakening from the heart and throat. The Sparrow reminds us to love ourselves and feel confident we are speaking our truth from the heart. Maybe it's time to sing your own song and sing it loud. If you need a bit of inspiration, go to another website , click onto the audio and listen to the song of the sparrows.  Ahh....

You might want to try some peppermint cheesecake like Rachael did in Sweet Shack & Bach Bar, to help you sing. Bach Flowers might help you as well. Rachael tried Mimulus, Agrimony and Cerato. Or you might want to just curl up with a good book sheltered from the storm of energy, safe and secure in yourself and your place in the world. Even the littlest bird has a great song to sing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Animal Signs: Cat

I was scanning the news headlines this morning. I try to do this with an open mind and look for something positive or somewhat non-judgemental. It isn't always easy.  There is talk about the cruise ship that sank off Italy, government scandals and money markets, fatality fires and murders, tourist attacks in Mexico, and solar flares. Basically sounds like kind of a bad day. But then I saw a headline about a cat getting loose in an airplane delaying a flight.  Now that sounds at least "unusual" and not totally tragic so I read that one a little deeper.

As the story reads, a passenger boarded a plane in Halifax with intentions to travel to Toronto with her cat. Somehow, the cat, Ripples, got out of her possession and went "loose" in the plane before the flight could take off. So the search for Ripples began. Sounds like everyone was involved as  his owner repeatedly called for Ripples to no avail. This is starting to sound to me like one of those "most embarrassing moments stories". Imagine all attention focused on you as you frantically try to contain your somewhat "disobedient" cat.  Makes those parent/child toy store "events" pale in comparison!  The story goes on to explain that the cat got into the cockpit of the plane and didn't just check out the controls- he got all twisted amongst the wires and whatever it is that just might keep your plane in the air! They got Ripples out eventually, but the plane had to be further delayed so the wiring could be checked.

What's really interesting to me about this story is that while I'm sure there were passengers that weren't taking this whole thing in stride- it seems like a lot of people were very gracious and understanding about the whole thing.  They "felt" for the woman with the "wild cat".  They understood how upset she was and didn't seem to be laying blame or irate at the situation.  At one point the crew shut down the engines in the hopes of calming Ripples so he could be found more easily. Seems like everyone could understand that Ripples was scared, not intentionally trying to create a commotion and put everyone off schedule. One passenger said it was just some "random" , "freaky" thing and people seemed okay with that- not judgemental. Wow- now that is actually a news story in my opinion!

With so much attention on Ripples, I thought today might be a good day to open Steven Farmers Animal Spirit Guides book  to the section on Cat and take a look. Farmer writes that if a cat shows up;

" This is a period of magic and mystery for you, so pay close attention to signs and omens that will guide and direct you.
 Whatever you've released- relationships, material goods, self-defeating habits- will soon be replaced with something or someone entirely more suitable for who you are presently"
I rather think there was some magic and mystery going on around that flight that people seemed to connect with the passenger and her angst. They looked for Ripples and didn't seem to "go crazy" about the delay. It sounds like there was a magical understanding among strangers that we don't always find in our busy world these days.

It occurs to me that maybe some people  did "release" some old patterns and self-defeating habits. Perhaps they weren't as demanding as travelers usually are.  They got connecting flights arranged and sorted things out.  Maybe they ended up with better schedules and interesting encounters as a result.

Cats are said to be very self-sufficient and connected to ancient wisdom. Farmer writes that having a cat come into your life might mean an ancestor or spirit guide is trying to communicate with you.  I wonder if people listened?

Maybe Ripples knew something we'll never know. Maybe that wiring did need to be checked anyway.  Maybe poor Ripples just didn't want to be that much closer to the solar flares that were bouncing around in the atmosphere- that much closer at some 30,000 feet!  Maybe Ripples wasn't ready for the big city?

One of the passengers interviewed did mention that most likely a new policy on the method of traveling with animals would be reviewed. Maybe something like making sure the animal is actually in the carrier and unable to "run loose". That makes sense.  It also would be a good idea to give your traveling pet Rescue Remedy before you put him or her in that carrier.  I hope poor Ripples gets a dose of it during the aftermath.  The really good thing about Rescue Remedy is that both Ripples and his owner could share the same bottle. Because there is no doubt in my mind that while she was calling for Ripples'  both terrified for the cat and worried about the attention, that mother could certainly have used the calming nature of those essences. Wouldn't it be nice if airlines offered Rescue Remedy along with the snacks and headphones you can purchase on board.

I hope right about now Ripples is feeling as good as the cat in today's picture.  I hope he's been calmed and comforted and given some of his favorite treats ( I wonder if that is ripple chips?).  I hope his owner is feeling secure and calm as well. 

Sometimes what feels like the worse event in your life at the time, makes the best story later.  I hope Ripples gets to write his story!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Needing a bit of a Nudge ? Bach Flowers to Help Get You Started

It's January. We're in a New Moon phase and have just started a new year.  On some level, for a lot of people, that signifies a fresh start, an urge to move ahead, to make some change. We often set off with good intentions and even some resolutions at the first of the year but towards the end of January it's easy to feel stuck. You have an idea what you want to change, perhaps a pattern you really want to get out of, but it feels like you are spinning your wheels a little and you could really use a bit of a push in the right direction. There's a couple of Bach Flower essences for that!

There are in fact, two Bach Flower essences that Julian Barnard in "Bach Flower Remedies: Form & Function", describes are being "catalysts".  Catalysts are agents that work to accelerate a reaction. Barnard writes that both Holly and Wild Oat have the capability to do that. But they work in different ways.

At first glance, Holly is considered the remedy for anger, jealousy or envy. It's typically used for sibling rivalries or a generalized state of anger. But Holly is also the remedy to consider for active, perhaps intense people that feel stuck in a situation or an emotional state. Holly my help this type of person when other remedies that seem to be a match, just aren't working to achieve the desired effect. The Holly essence is one of the few essences prepared by the boiling method. The heat and fire of this method really speak to that power of  transformation that may be required to break an old pattern or a way of being. The Holly state often develops from feelings of unfulfilled love and a sense of not being "good enough" or "lovable enough". The person turns those feelings of insecurity into a fight for survival type response and when in a Holly state tends to see the world from a place of suspicion and aggression. Holly acts on the point of change and can allow you to break out of a pattern of reacting to find another way of looking at things. It can help change your perception and therefore change your emotions. For these reasons it can be a powerful nudge towards the new direction you are seeking. I guess it's the essence that encourages you to turn the wheels slightly so that you can find solid ground.

But not all people that feel "stuck" are intense or active in their approach to the world.  There are others that seem to lapse into a weak, almost despondent, behavior. These people don't sit in the car spinning their wheels and gunning the gas peddle.  They don't try to rock the car out of it's position. They don't get out and shovel and swear and try to push on their own. Those are all Holly type behaviors. The Wild Oat person  leans their head against the seat, throws their hands in the air and gives up. There are so many options and possibilities available when stuck that the Wild Oat person just doesn't know which one to choose. Wild Oat is typically indicated for people that are undecided in their career, or purpose in life. It can be helpful when you feel you have so may ways you might go that you can't decide where to start. If you've lapsed into that state of being bored, dissatisfied, or frustrated but can't find the direction to start and the way to begin, Wild Oat might be a good remedy for you. If you've been trying remedies that seem to be the right match for you without achieving results or you just can't find the place to start, Wild Oat might help provide that nudge in the right direction. Barnard, in Form and Function, quotes Dr. Bach as saying, "Wild oat is an all-purpose remedy to use in cases which do not respond to other essences or when it seems difficult to decide which to give.."

Bach Flower essences don't give you a huge push from behind. They are subtle in their approach to healing.  It's a gentle nudge  from Holly or Wild Oat to get to you on  a course for change. Bach Flowers essences are meant as a self-help method. You don't need a practitioner to set you on your course. But...

Every once in awhile, at least in my part of the world, you might just need a tow truck.  Sometimes that gentle nudge, even a pretty big push from behind, just won't get you out of the ditch. It's good to try some options like turning your wheels to find traction, doing some targeted shoveling, putting your transmission into 2nd gear, or putting down a layer of sand or kitty litter even to provide some grip. But, if all else fails you might just need that tow truck.

The same might be true of Bach Flower essences.  If your remedies aren't quite working the way you want them to, you don't know where to start, you can't figure out if you should be using Holly, Wild Oat, or something else all together, you could benefit from a consultation with a practitioner. You don't need the tow truck to haul you all the way to the garage. You aren't broken.  You just might need a wee bit of help. Sometimes a gentle pull out of the ditch to get you  back on the road and solid ground is what you require to get back on your journey.

It isn't giving up or showing weakness to call that tow truck practitioner. There's no embarrassment in sliding off the road every once in awhile. It's not an indication of a horrible driver as much as it's a sign of slippery surfaces and tough conditions. Once you  understand the resources that are there for you can use them to fill the gap in your emotional management.

It's January and "stuck happens". Safe travels.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bach Flower Essences to Help Kids Sleep

I don't think there is a parent alive that hasn't at one time or another had some issues getting their child to sleep.  Probably not many that haven't had their own sleep disrupted at one time or another as well because of nightmares, night terrors, or just a "mind that won't quit". 

There is a Bach for that!  In fact, there are a number of Bach Flower essences that might help. It's always best to customize the Bach Flowers to the person needing them.  It might surprise you why your child is having problems sleeping.  But the most typical essences for sleep issues would include Rock Rose, Aspen, White Chestnut and Mimulus.

Rock Rose is the essence that balances true terror.  It's helpful when you are frozen in fear. If your child is waking up suddenly, and totally terrified, this essence might help. This is the essence to consider if you child is experiencing night terrors.  They are more extreme than nightmares and if you've ever witnessed a night terror you'll understand what I mean!  Often the child won't even be fully awake and may even appear violent as they struggle with some unknown force that is threatening them at a sleep level. They may look right at you and seem to be awake but nothing makes sense and it's pretty much impossible to "get through" in a rational way.  They may not even realize they had a bad dream in the morning. Rock Rose helps calm that terrified state and restores courage and presence of mind. There's a pretty good chance if you need to give your child Rock Rose, you might need a few drops yourself. They are a frightening thing to watch.

Aspen is another essence to consider for a child that is having difficulties getting to sleep or staying peacefully sleeping. Aspen is indicated for fears and worries of unknown origin. In my opinion, we make a mistake when we think that childhood is a carefree, problem free time. Some children feel suddenly fearful or worried without knowing the reason why and without being able to identify the source or issue. Often this is increased at night when the room is quiet, distracting stimulus is actually decreased and one is left with their own imagination and unknown energies. Aspen may help if your child either wakes up with a nightmare of can't get to sleep because of fear. The difference between Aspen and Rock Rose is more of degree. The Aspen state is a worry or general anxiety for no known reason. Sometimes it's described as feeling something is there or hearing something that can't be identified.  Aspen would be the essence to help keep that boogy man or monster away. Rock Rose is more extreme, a sense of terror more than worry.

White Chestnut is always a good essence to try when you or your child can't get to sleep. In the combination remedy marketed as "Rescue Sleep", White Chestnut is added to Rescue Remedy. In a White Chestnut state you can't get your mind to shut down and it just plays a recording over and over. In Sweet Shack & Bach Bar Norma benefited from White Chestnut during her sleepless nights. The child that can benefit from White Chestnut can probably very accurately describe what they are thinking about if they are willing to tell you. Sometimes it's good things, sometimes it worries, often it's a combination of the day's activities. White Chestnut can help replace worry with a peaceful mind. Once your head is clear you are more likely to be able to drift off to sleep.

Mimulus might also be an essence to consider either on it's own, or in combination with some other essences if you child can't sleep. Mimulus is particularly helpful if the child can't get to sleep because of a known fear. If they are afraid of the dark, or afraid someone will break in while they are sleeping, afraid you won't be there when they wake up- these kinds of fears can be helped with Mimulus. Unlike Aspen where the fears are unknown qualities, Mimulus fear can be clearly identified and is probably the reason why night lights were invented!! Mimulus can help your child face their fears getting their emotions under control so they can think their way through what is bothering them and enjoy life without fear.

Sometimes we all need a little help and understanding in this world.  Sometimes our fears and anxieties don't make a lot of sense, but always they deserve to be acknowledged.  Sometimes you can talk your way through. Sometimes a patient parent and a hug goes a long way. Melvin Balloons might be a good book to open up the discussion if you're sensing an issue is keeping your child awake at night.

Bach Flowers are safe for use with children without producing side effects.  They don't interfere with other medications and you don't develop chemical addictions to Bach Flowers.  Since they are vibrational in nature you don't have to worry about allergies or overdoses.  And if you're awake at night worrying about why your child is having trouble sleeping- you might consider a drop or two for yourself!!

Pleasant dreams.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Animal Signs and Year of: Dragon

On January 22nd as we enter a New Moon phase, the Chinese Year of the Dragon begins. I know that's still a few days away, but maybe it's good to go into this time a bit prepared. We'Moon 2012, writes that the Dragon is the most powerful sign in the Chinese zodiac.

So hang on! It's going to be a wild ride or an exciting flight in 2012.  Most likely it's up to you whether you choose to ride clinging tightly or fly to great heights.

In Western tradition, the dragon is kind of an evil creature. Lots of fire-breathing stuff, huge talons, pointy wings, lots of spikes.  I'm not that found of all that armor and huffing and puffing. I'm not sure all that ripping and tearing and pyromaniac tendencies are really necessary. After awhile it just gets tiresome.

But the Chinese dragon, now that's a different sort. In Chinese tradition, the dragon is generous, benevolent and extremely lucky. This dragon symbolizes royalty, wisdom, prosperity, protection and power. This magical dragon can transform into any type of creature and overcome all challenges.  Now that's what I'm talking about!

Whether good or evil, the dragon is about drama and change. I guess it's a case of "you can use this power for good or for evil".  Again, I think it's about personal choice.  So 2012 just might be the year to make things happen. There is an energy and enthusiasm out there during this year of the dragon that can be used to propel you foreword in extreme ways.

In, Animal Spirit Guides, Steven Farmer includes  Dragon as a spirit or power animal. He writes that if a dragon shows up in your life it may symbolize a new phase for you, one where you'll be taking more risks. He reports that although you may be more vulnerable, you can be well protected by Dragon. Farmer suggests you do more of the kinds of activities that bring passion to your life if you are seeing the spirit of Dragon.

So I figure, if this is the Year of the Dragon, then that means Dragon is showing up everywhere in the world and it becomes a message for everyone.  Farmer writes those that have Dragon as a totem animal are often considered to have a past-life connection to a time when Earth-based spiritual practices were predominant. This totem animal is said to support spirituality and mystical arts from Wiccan, Pagan, Druidic, or shamanic traditions. Once again, I interpret that to mean that during this Year of the Dragon, the entire universe may benefit from these powerful practices and new opportunities may open up. Hmm...

Sleeping Dragons All Around, by Sheree Fitch is a wonderful children's picture book and has been a favorite around our place for years.
It's written in really catchy contagious rhyming language and we find ourselves still using phrases we first came across in her book.  Fitch's dragons are hanging out in the kitchen and in the hallways, they are even  in the bathtub. These colorful, eclectic creatures are sleeping all over the place. And so, there is a lot of tip toeing around for fear of waking up a dragon.

No question about it, that much power brings some fear. But I think it's time, like it or not, that the dragons are waking up and we're going to have to face them. With all these dragons around, it might be a good time to be armed with some Larch and Mimulus Bach Flowers.

If you've been tip toeing around dragons, you might just need Larch- the kind that Winnie-the-Pooh needed for Hunting Woozles. Come to think of it, Woozles might have been a Piglet version of a dragon. We know when we're tip toeing to avoid something.  We might just be a bit afraid to allow our abilities and talents to flourish because that way we can avoid the risk of failing.  Larch can help you let go of that fear so that you can find that strength within you to face the dragon and travel with the power to achieve your potential.

Most of Fitch's dragons look pretty pleasant.  I guess they are more the Chinese than the Western variety.  But no doubt about it, a dragon with his or her eyes closed is a little less intimidating that that fully alert, ready to shoot fire, flapping wings type. Steven Farmer suggests you call on Dragon when you know there is a situation that you have to deal with even thought it triggers a lot of fear. That's the energy of Dragon. That's also the energy of the Bach Flower essence Mimulus. Mimulus can help you face those fears with your emotions under control so you can think and feel your way through it. It can help you stand up for yourself and pursue your dreams with courage and confidence. 

Embrace you inner Dragon, and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hunting for Woozles & The Bach Flower Larch

Today felt like a pretty heavy energy kind of day in my part of the world.  It was a little dark and gloomy in many respects.  It sort of felt like it might snow, just might rain, and never really ended up doing either one. It seemed like a lot of people were feeling that kind of doom and gloom as well. No one seemed to be really having an "uplifted" day.  Nothing really wrong, but not much right. Hmm...

So having the spent the day with some intense meeting stuff, I thought I'd wonder back to The Hundred Acre Wood again.

 Ernest Shepard, the illustrator of "Winnie-the-Pooh" drew a map of The Hundred Acre Wood.  One of the places marked on it is "Where The Woozle Wasn't".  In my opinion, that might be a pretty important place to remember on a day like today.

As the story goes, Piglet found Winne-the-Pooh going around and around a Larch tree with his head down searching the ground.  When Piglet asked what he was doing Pooh declared he was tracking "something".  He had no idea what the "something might be" but this didn't bother Pooh at all.  He seemed pretty confident in his tracking abilities. Piglet, who hadn't been circling the Larch tree, wondered if it might just be Woozle tracks. Before you know it, Pooh and Piglet are off on an adventure to hunt a Woozle in amongst the Larch trees. The thing is that the more they walked around, the more paw prints started showing up, and the more they talked about the possibilities of Woozles, the scarier the hunt got.  Piglet, who's imagination had been fueling the hunt pretty well, decided he might want to get out of the hunt all together in order to get away from what he had convinced himself was something very scary. He made an early exit and bowed out of the hunt. Pooh carried on and eventually realized the Woozle prints had in fact been paw prints made by Piglet and Pooh!

Once Pooh discovered his mistake, he lost his confidence for a moment.  He decided he might just be "A Bear of Little Brain". Luckily, good ole Christopher Robin was there in his non-judgemental way to soothe, support, and perhaps distract a bit. Pooh regained his confidence very quickly  and went off in the search of a snack.

Once again, I'm rather amazed by the coincidence between A.A. Milne's, and therefore Winnie-the-Pooh's, choice of vegetation.  Dr. Bach, in perhaps his own Hundred Acre Wood a few years later, found the Larch tree a very helpful Bach Flower essence.  Larch is indicated when you are feeling low in self esteem. It's a confidence booster. It's especially helpful when you know deep inside you have what it takes but are having trouble bringing that feeling to the surface and are afraid to try in case you fail. It might be just the thing you need when you are embarking on a Hunt for a Woozle or two.

But back to that map.  The location is marked as "where the woozle wasn't".  On a gloomy, heavy day like today, it seems kind of easy to get trapped into the Piglet type fear, anxiety and worry. You don't really know what you might be chasing down, or what those tracks might mean and it's easy to decide they aren't a good thing or you won't be able to handle it when you find it.  That's the type of energy that can start to tear down your confidence a bit and you feel like you might be "of little brain".  You can get trapped into creating something like a Woozle to fit the feeling so that you do have something to be worried, or anxious about. Once that anxiety takes over you might bow out of the hunt due to fear of failure.

I might be wrong, but I don't think there are Woozle's around- at least not in my part of the world. And there are no Woozles in The Hundred Acre Wood.  There are only places where woozles aren't. Those are the places and situations that you know you can handle. Those are situations where you are confident and secure in your abilities. If you haven't got your Hundred Acre Wood mapped out as well as Winnie-the-Pooh, you might still have to got hunting a bit to discover where the woozle's aren't.  You'll only find those places if you find the courage to try. A trip around a Larch tree or two, or a few drops of the Larch Flower essence might be all you need to map your Woozle-free area.

Happy Hunting!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bach Lessons From "The Hundred Acre Wood"

If you've ever read A.A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh", you'll recognize The Hundred Acre Wood as the fictional place where Winne-the- Pooh, Eeyore, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo, Tigger, Owl, and Piglet live. If you've never read any of their adventures, you could do yourself a favor by picking up a copy.  It's never too late to get the soothing lessons from Winnie-the-Pooh.

These characters are old  favorites of mine.  I had a cherished Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed bear, and Eeyore will always have a special place in my heart. I was thinking about using Eeyore as an example for Bach Flower essence types and I picked up the books to re-read them.  Chapter One of the original adventures is titled, "In Which We Are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees, and the Stories Begin".  In the the first few pages that I saw how linked these stories might be to Bach Flowers. 

As the story begins, Winnie-the-Pooh is searching for honey. He climbs way up in a tree to follow the bees and begins to get pretty discouraged. He's on an upper branch singing a "Complaining Song" when he falls. After some bounces and crashes he lands on a Gorse bush. Seems that Winnie-the-Pooh and Dr. Bach travelled in the same kind of English countryside. Dr. Bach discovered that Gorse could be used as a Bach Flower essence for hopelessness and despair.  Dr. Bach wrote that Gorse could restore faith and hope and could encourage one to see problems as a positive experience.

So I guess it's no surprise that as Winnie-the-Pooh climbs out of the Gorse bush and picks the Gorse prickles from his nose, he starts to think and comes up with a great idea to get some of that honey.  He doesn't give up the quest, instead he goes and finds his friend Christopher Robin. And then the true adventure begins.

I won't wreck the story for you, but let's just say that Gorse makes Winnie-the-Pooh a much happier bear. And because his faith and hope is restored, he's able to enlist a friend to help put his newly formed and elaborate plan into action.

But the real gem in the story might just be Christopher Robin.  Now that guy really knows how to be a friend! Christopher Robin doesn't judge Winnie-the-Pooh or his plan.  He doesn't tell him the plan won't work even though one gets the feeling Christopher Robin may not be that sure the outcome will be as Pooh anticipates it to me.  Christopher Robin asks Pooh what he needs and he helps provide it as he can.  He doesn't come up with a bigger, better, plan. He doesn't talk Pooh out of his goals and objectives. He doesn't suggest he'll do it for him or get him honey some other easier way (like from the cupboad!). Christopher Robin also doesn't seem to invest a lot in the plan itself.  It seems as though he sees the whole plan as a good excuse to go on an adventure with a friend.  Somehow he remains detached from the outcome.  He's there for support, of that there is no doubt, but he lets Pooh adjust and modify as he goes. He gives his opinion only when asked and he does what's asked of him in a way that works for him. When that "ask" induces a bit of drama he doesn't rush in to catch Pooh. He doesn't  even try to "break his fall". But when Pooh lands, Christopher Robin is still there.   

When the plan doesn't quite achieve the original objectives it doesn't seem to matter. There is no judging of self or others. Christopher Robin doesn't say "I told you so", and Pooh doesn't seem to feel discouraged anymore. They both recognize that together they have just shared a grand adventure and that's the ultimate journey. The outcome is just a great story and they move on to other things.  Hmm...

I think there are a lot of Bach Flower and life lessons embedded in the adventures from The Hundred Acre Wood. But perhaps the first lesson is to pick friends like Christopher Robin. No judgement- just pure adventure! Certainly, a little Gorse for when the going gets tough might help. It seems a balloon here and there might be something to consider, and perhaps good aim with a non-lethal weapon could help. No doubt a nice warm bath after a day of adventure can be soothing for all.

And so the adventure begins...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Animal Signs: Moose

We're pretty proud of moose in my part of the world.  The beaver may appear on our nickle, but the moose head  appears on our quarter. It is also the trademark for a particular brand of beer and a brewing company, a whole clothing line of t-shirts, sweatshirts and pajamas, and a sports team or two.   You can even  buy moose head hats and moose head slippers but they will cost you more than a quarter!

It seems that emotions are still running pretty high.  Maybe this is still the influence of the full moon, but it's starting to wan and I'm not seeing much of a decrease in the emotional intensity of things. People seem to be pretty "intense" lately whatever emotion they are feeling.

So maybe it's about time to put on a moose hat, slip your feet into moose slippers, or just consider the spirit of the moose. I found a great book by Steven Farmer called "Animal Spirit Guides".  This book has over 200 spirit animals in it and even includes some domestic varieties. I guess, given the emotional quotient lately, I shouldn't be surprised that when I opened it up to browse, the animal that "appeared" was the moose.

Farmer writes that you may find moose showing up when it's time to explore new depths of awareness and be prepared for increasing sensitivities.  I personally believe that's happening to all of us in some way or another and whether we like and welcome it or not. The appearance of the moose may also be a symbol to encourage others with their dreams and visions and supporting them in their triumphs. Wouldn't it be nice if we did that. Hmm...

Farmer believes that you don't always have to wait for a spirit animal to show up in your life.  Perhaps because of his perspective as a shamanic practitioner, he believes you can call on the spirit of an animal and receive help and support.  He writes that it would be a good time to call on the spirit of the Moose if you are being excessively self-critical. If you've been your own worst enemy and need to remind yourself of your positive qualities, it might be time to receive from the Moose world. He suggests Moose spirit or energy can be helpful during times of conflict and turmoil when you need extra strength and endurance.  In fact the appearance of  Moose in your life may be a symbol that you do have the strength and ability to endure emotionally turbulent times.

During difficult emotional times, we humans often look to others for our sense of self assurance.  Perhaps it's that "herd mentality" that keeps us always checking in with others and wanting to know that other people in the herd think we're okay. Maybe it's our ego needing some feedback. But when emotions start running high, that reassurance is not always there.  Perhaps, because we humans also search for dominance in the herd.  We get that dominance, temporarily, by fighting and chewing and kicking a bit, more often than by encouraging others to pursue their dreams and feel good about themselves.

There are a few Bach Flower essences that might help when you're feeling the need for Moose energy.  They include Chicory, Cerato, and Crab Apple.

Chicory is considered a remedy for feelings of over-protectiveness, or possessiveness. It can be helpful for strong-willed people that expect others to conform to their values. Chicory types, although strong, are easily offended and may loose their strength if the herd turns against them. Chicory can help you feel ful-filled and self-assured on your own.  It can allow you to no longer need other people's assurance that you are worthy of love.

Cerato can also be helpful if you are feeling the pressure of emotional turmoil and seeking advice or confirmation from others. Cerato help you trust your inner knowing and decision making. With the balance provided from Cerato you may recover your self-assurance and realize that you should follow your inner wisdom without asking for confirmation or expecting others to follow.

Crab Apple can be helpful during emotional vulnerable times as well. Crab Apple is considered the cleansing essence and is included in Rescue Remedy cream for treating topical reactions. Crab Apple can also help you deep in your core. It can help you accept yourself for who you are, relaxed in your being with a positive sense of self.

Maybe we should look at "our herd" a bit differently.  Most of us don't really need the group to provide warmth and shelter, food on the table or protection from prey. Maybe it's time to consider other people in your life for the joy of sharing, not for a need to be fulfilled.  Maybe if we could be enthusiastic in our emotional exchanges for the purpose of supporting others rather than boasting or competing we could all thrive rather than struggle to survive.

I'm going to look at my quarters differently having read Steven Farmer's Moose spirit. I'm going to think about encouraging autonomy and supporting people for who they are, without measurement or judgement against myself.  As kids we used to get a quarter every now and then to spend on treats. Perhaps it was the spirit of the Moose on that quarter that helped us feel so independent and self-assured when we picked out exactly what we wanted for ourselves.  We compared what others bought with their quarter, but not for the purpose of arguing, judging, or even second guessing our decisions- merely for the joy of changing a quarter into a treat on a summer afternoon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Emotional Emergency Management: Step 4 of a 4 Step Process

This is it- the final step in the emotional management process.  Unfortunately, it's the most frequently overlooked piece and it often just doesn't get done.

You've taken the time to really define and figure out your emotions. You've considered the impact of those feelings and identified the events, situations, and people that increase your vulnerability to those emotions.  You've considered the gaps in your resources and built a plan. You've tested the plan, maybe even tried it out during an event. You might have reviewed and revised the plan a bit. Those are all part of the first three steps.  Now you're tired. 

You might be "riding high" on the success of a plan that worked well.  You might be so energized by it all that you're ready to tackle another emotion, or you're ready to 'fix" someone else.  You might be wallowing in the sorrow of a failed plan. You might be second guessing yourself, blaming others, judging your plan, yourself, everyone and everything in the universe. Most likely you're feeling a combination of both elation and defeat. You've changed a pattern and no matter how it went, the process is exhausting.

So that's when you stop. You go into recovery mode. This is when you retreat to that beach in your mind, set up your lawn chair, put your head back and feel the sun on your face (sun screen not required!). You do not go to that relaxing place in your mind to review the events.  You don't try to run the events through a picture screen. You face a blank canvas, a blue sky, and don't fill it with anything, least of all clouds to block your sun. This is not a critique of what you did, how you did, or even , what you should do next.  This is a blissful state of "being".

Echkhart Tolle, in The Power of Now, and his other books as well, writes about what he calls a "pain body".  He defines "this accumulated pain as a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind". He goes on to explain that we develop these emotionally negative patterns through past behavior, cultural experiences and collective groups.  Dr. Bach talks about negative emotions as well and explains how we often come to these places through learned behavior, sometimes inherited coping strategies. We are drawn to this energy not because it's good for us, right for us, or makes us feel happy. We are drawn because it is a pattern we know.  It's a feeling we identify with. We consider it part of us and we hold on to it. It's what we know and therefore it feel comfortable to us.

If you've really looked at your negative emotions and put a plan in place to change them in any way, you've started to break out of that "pain body" or that negative feeling. That feels uncomfortable. It's different. It's just a bit foreign.  It may be liberating, but it's still just a wee bit scary.  It's like buying a new pair of riding boots. You really love them, they look great, you know they fit, but you have to wear them in a bit to make them really feel good and you're tempted to put your old ones on so you don't get blisters in your efforts to work them in.  It takes some adjustment to feel comfortable with your plan and with a new emotional state.

You don't "do" anything to adjust. If only it were that simple.  You "be". You sit with yourself in a recovery, realignment, adjustment phase. You don't sit with yourself to "think".  You just allow recovery to occur without tweaking anything or trying to adjust.  It can happen if you don't force it and before you know it you forget why you really thought you had to go to the beach anyway!

It's okay to sit in the lawn chair in your mind and "feel how you feel" as long as you feel it rather than think it. That means you don't try to attach an event to the feeling- you just feel how you might be changed in a way. Don't judge it. Just feel it.  Depending on your personality type, you might need to get out of the lawn chair and do a bit of wave surfing to allow your body to readjust. In my opinion that's okay as long as you don't start judging your ability stay on top of the wave.

Once you've given yourself some time to adjust you can rebuild again. The point is that if you start to rebuild before you've allowed for adjustment you're likely to rebuild exactly the same structure all over again. Your pain body will help you do that if you're not careful.  If the structure wasn't hurricane proof the first time, the same structure won't be hurricane proof the next time either.  You might build it to withstand more winds and be a bit stronger the next time but there's a good chance you'll be facing destruction again.  But maybe, just maybe, if you let yourself adjust, you won't build in the same place again. Or maybe you'll come up with a structure that sways in the wind and welcomes the movement. For sure if you wait until the ground has settled under your feet again you'll find a new foundation to start your growth. Allow it to come.

The End.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Full Moon in Cancer: Connection to Root Chakra

Today we enter a Full Moon in Cancer phase.  If you've been feeling pretty emotional over the past few days, perhaps a bit lonely or insecure, you might have been feeling the effects of the moon's influence. If you've been following along and doing the Emotional Management Steps, you might have found a serge of emotions coming to the forefront. That's just part of the process. I didn't forget about Step 4- it's coming, but I think the Full Moon deserves some focus and recognition today!

I've written about the Full Moon in Cancer before, and all this information still holds true  This full moon is also sometimes called the Sea Mother's Moon. It's a good time to let those family, friend, personal or business emotions run through you like the tides.  It might even help to find a quiet spot by the water and tap into nature's flow.  It's a time to release the issues that are holding you back and that might mean having a good- ole -cry.  Let it flow. Accept the release that crying offers rather than trying to "buck up and be strong".  In my opinion, allowing the tears to flow requires much more strength and knowing than suppressing them.

Today marks the end of my We'Moon 2011 book. Thankfully, Wise Woman gave me a 2012 copy of this book.  I feel much more secure knowing I have this book on hand! We'Moon writes that when the moon is in Cancer we connect with our "oceans of emotions" and we can choose to either feel overwhelmed by that, or nourished by that. Hm...

People born under a Cancer Moon and those that are heavily influenced by this moon are natural empaths.  They feel deeply but may need solitude to be able to refresh, renew, irrigate, and heal. 

In my opinion, we are all opening up to the emotions and feelings of others more.  To some degree we are feeling that interconnection with both others and  the planet. That opening, understanding and feeling can bring a flood of challenges including the need to find your own inner strength. We have been taught in some circles to surround yourself with protection to prevent the emotions and feelings of others from reaching your core.  The Violet Flame, for instance, is a way to protect yourself. But, as we open up, it isn't just about protecting that shell, it's about finding the inner strength so the shell becomes less necessary or at least "selectively permeable". It's about finding who we are as individuals so we can be part of the connected group without loosing our sense of self.

This emotional flood that the Full Moon in Cancer can bring can be quite a 'hit" to the Root Chakra.  This Chakra is focused on safety and security. But the challenge is to find your own source of Safety and Security. It's not about finding someone else that can provide that for you, or surrounding yourself with material things that help you feel secure. That's as a short term fix that can create problems later down the road.  This Chakra is focused on finding the real source within. It about developing your personal "backbone" that holds you up and allows you to be strong in your very core.

It's easy to be distracted by material calls for safety and security.  Particularly during this Full Moon Phase we may feel drawn to compulsive eating, spending, drinking or bingeing in other ways that trick us into thinking this will provide a sense of security.  Now is the time to really focus on what it is you feel you are lacking. Identify what it is that you really need and allow that to come into your life. Let go of whatever is holding you back to make room for what you need to grow to your full potential- safe and secure in yourself.

Lola, in Sweet Shack &Bach Bar goes through some Root Chakra issues.  She finds some help with the Bach Flowers Rock Rose, Sweet Chestnut, and Clematis. As Lola experiences, they can all resonate with the Root Chakra.  Lola also discovers that she has everything she needs from within.  That's the lesson of the Root Chakra and the Full Moon in Cancer phase.

Be kind of yourself and embrace your inner wisdom.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Emotional Emergency Management: Step 3 of a 4 Step Process

Crisis Management is all about building plans and creating steps to help you move through an event with ease. It's about being prepared for an event because you've thought it through and considered how to deal with it.  Emotional Management can be approached in the way way.

If you've followed along you've got at least one definable emotion that you'd like to manage better.  Balance can be found when the impact of an event, or in this case an emotion, is matched with appropriate resources. So there are two ways to tackle this plan.  You can either lessen the impact of your emotion or increase your resources to deal with it.

There are lots of examples of this type of planning from the emergency management field.  Let's say you move into a new house and the first time you get a heavy rainfall your basement floods. All the items and boxes you had sitting on the floor floated around for awhile before you got home. You decide to build a plan to manage this situation the next time it rains. You could lessen the impact by not storing anything on the floor in your basement.  You could move everything up a level, above the high water mark. That would be lessening the impact.  You still might have water in the basement but it won't be as devastating to you when the accountant needs the year-end files. Or you could put in a pump that will automatically drain the water before it accumulates.  In order to ensure this pump will run if the power goes out at the same time, you buy a generator and wire it in to automatically come on.  Now you can still store your things in the basement because you have increased your resources to deal with the heavy rainfall. 

There are ways to lessen the impact of your emotions as well.  If you go back to Step 2 and review that whole spider incident, you could lessen the impact of that by sealing off that basement and avoiding it all together.  There are people that wouldn't agree with me, but in my opinion, sometimes avoidance really is a strategy.  When you are honest with your self and really analyze the impacts (Step 2) you might find there are certain people or events that trigger an unpleasant emotion in you. It isn't always about "working through it" or "forcing yourself to deal with it".  Sometimes it's about walking away to lessen the impact. If you know that agreeing to take the lead in the school fundraising committee this year will cause you to feel overwhelmed with responsibility, maybe you can decline the position this year or agree to be part of the committee but not the chairperson. If you know that you get really impatient every time you drive to work in rush hour maybe you can lessen the impact by altering your work hours to go in earlier or later. Maybe a soothing CD will calm your impatience.

Sometimes you can lessen the impact by confronting the emotion head on. Maybe there is someone in your life that pushes the "guilt button" for you.  You know every time you meet with your brother, and the subject of elder care comes up, you're going to feel guilty that you aren't doing enough for your parents even though at all other times you feel very secure you're doing everything appropriate. Maybe it's time you decided to have a head on conversation with your brother about what he says that pushes your guilt button. Maybe you've been skirting the "real conversation".  It's called "addressing the elephant in the room".  Sometimes avoidance of the issue increases our emotional imbalance. It's important to think this through and plan this out though.  Once you really understand how you're impacted you're more likely to have a positive conversation and get to the root of the matter. You can't cause or change anyone else's emotions, you can only manage your own.

Sometimes the best way to balance your emotions is to increase your resources to deal with them. This too involves honest planning and preparation. You might have guessed that each of the 38 emotions listed in Step 1 is linked to a Bach Flower essence.  Figuring out what Bach Flower essences might help your body balance your emotions is a way to increase your resources.  A few drops of Rock Rose might go a long long way towards releasing the frozen fear of spiders.  Carrying a spray bottle of Rescue Remedy (which contains Rock Rose among others) might also help when that real estate job takes you to old farm root cellars. If you need help in figuring out which essences would be the best match for you consider a Bach Consultation.

When you're in the "heat of the moment" and really feeling emotionally imbalanced, it's hard to take an objective approach to emotional management.  That's why you need to prepare by developing the plan. A lot of time we don't ask for help and can't see the opportunity to increase resources. Back to the spidery basement- instead of calling your husband to complain about the misplaced stroller and start a fight, you might be able to call a friend that has multiple kids, and a double-decker stroller that would be more than happy to pack everyone up and go to the library with you. No one misses out on the story time or the concentration time and you can probably share a laugh over the spider threat as well. That's increasing your resources.

Building a plan takes time, effort and a calm mind.  It also requires you to be really honest with yourself. You might even have to consider options outside your comfort zone in order to really find peace and comfort in the long run.  Once you've built a plan you exercise the plan.  Try it on on a small event. Practice having that conversation. Talk about your plan with people that love you no matter what.  Let your plan with you a bit and become a part of you.  If it doesn't feel right, tweak it a bit.

Stay tuned... there's one more step.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Emotional Emergency Management: Step 2 of a 4 Step Process

According to the principles of Crisis Management, once you have identified a hazard, threat or event, the second step is to assess that hazard in terms of impact. This can usually be done by asking the question "so what". The same approach can be used for managing unwelcome emotions.

If you've been following along and did your homework, you now have a list of emotions that are prevalent for you. Hopefully you've increased your emotional vocabulary, looked deep inside yourself and found a few that accurately describe the emotion you would like to bring in check or balance.

In the same way that you really can't manage a hurricane, you really can't manage an emotion such as terror. What you can manage is the roof damage caused by persistent 130km/hr winds, or the situation of not being able to go into the basement because you are terrified of spiders. That's impact assessment. Once the impact is assessed you can start to implement solutions to change your situation or behavior.

Four "so what" questions can be used to really asses your emotion.
1. So what is the direct impact of this emotion on me? How does it directly affect me?
2. So what is the indirect impact of this emotion? This is the ripple effect- how far does the impact reach and to what areas of my life.
3. So what areas of my life make me particularly vulnerable to this emotion? Are there certain situations or people that bring this emotion on?
4. So what physical signs and symptoms might be caused by this emotion?

Let's assume you went through Step 1 of this process and decided you were terrified of spiders.  It isn't a dislike of spiders, or a worry about spider bites, or a mild fear of spiders.  It's a total terror emotion that's come up for you a few times. Here's a  hypothetical walk through of those questions using the "terror of spiders" example:

1. Whenever I see a spider I am frozen in fear. I can't move to get away or do anything. I am paralyzed.

2. Because I am frozen in fear by the thought of, or sight of, a spider, I can't get my sons' stroller out of the basement which means we won't be able to go to the library today and our books will be overdue. He will miss the story time he loves and I will miss the hour of focused concentrationI was going to use to study for my real estate exam.  I have also already left a message on my husband's work phone telling him exactly how I feel about him putting the strolller in the basement last time he used it!!

3. I am most vulnerable to this emotion any time I am asked to go into dark damp places. This is particularly affecting my desires to be a real estate agent specializing in heritage houses and hobby farms.

4. For hours after an encounter, or potential encounter with a spider, my heart is still racing, my palms are sweaty and I'm shaky.  My doctor says I have mild hypertension which may be getting worse.

And that's the way it goes. For any emotion you experience, and want to manage, you sit down (when the spider, threat, or emotion is not affecting you!) and walk yourself through the questions.  Be sure you are honest with yourself. Attach "I" to the answer's like I did in the example above. Even if you're getting help with this, it's something that you are taking personal responsibility for.  You can help someone walk through these questions but you can't do it for someone else.

The "so what" questions really just bring you closer to understanding yourself and rationally seeing your emotions for what they are.  We loose touch with ourselves sometimes. If you can break your emotion down into "so what's" you've gained an awareness of the issue so you can move on to the third step which is developing a plan of action.

Stay tuned....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Emotional Emergency Management: Step 1 of a 4 Step Process

Maybe it's the post-holiday crash. Maybe it's the winter weather. Maybe it's the thoughts of a long hard winter. Perhaps it's the uncertainty of changing times and a new era of 2012. Whatever the reason, it seems like there is a lot of emotional upheaval "out there" combined with real concerted efforts to make things change. In my opinion that's a good thing.  It's when long time issues meet motivation that change occurs and we actually start to move forward. But it's not always easy to take the first step- to see the first step to take. I'm a big believer in integrating both sides of our brains.  When your emotional side reaches a crisis level, it's the perfect time to apply some scientific, logical principles from the left side of your brain.  In my world, that's a good time for emergency management  principles to integrate with emotional healing in a four step process.

When approaching a problem in the emergency/crisis world, the first step is to "identify the hazard". It's the same step for emotional management.  The first step is to identify the emotion.  Sounds easy...

We really aren't that good at describing how we feel.  We are much better at describing symptoms or relating events but when our emotions and thoughts run amok we sometimes  loose sight of how we are truly feeling. To find that perspective is the first step.  It's the "take a deep breath in, slowly breath out and consider how you feel inside" step.

Dr. Bach identified 38 different emotions. 38!  We usually stick to about 4 or 5: happy, sad, mad, scared, guilty. We have variations of those: "really happy", "sort-of sad", "furious", and "partly my fault". This limited emotional vocabulary really hinders our healing.  It also reflects a resistance to talk about and deal with our feelings.  In my opinion, we don't do a good job of teaching our children this so we grow up squishing our emotions and not being able to express them.

In my perfect world, round about the time that kids are learning to color pictures together we would teach them an emotional vocabulary. When the kid beside you had a much prettier shade of red crayon that was sharpened to a fine point and you grabbed it away from him and all heck broke loose, you could explain to the teacher, or the teacher could help you realize, that you were actually envious of that kid; not "angry". Seems like he always gets the good stuff. And the kid you grabbed it from that held on with tooth and nail (perhaps literally!) could explain that he was feeling possessive, perhaps a bit over-protective of his beautiful red crayon: not "angry".  Seems like people are often taking things away from him. It seems to me that if someone could help us see our emotions for what they were, we might find better solutions to our problems.  It might take a long time to get our mural colored, but it seems to me that might go a long way towards learning the important lessons of self and life in general. We might  understand the other kids better and find better ways of resolving our disputes.

When we don't delve into the emotional side of our brains and think about how we truly feel we put logical solutions to emotional problems that don't always fit.  We use the scientific part of our brains and really ignore the emotional side. Kids learn rules that :"you can't take crayons that don't  belong to you away by force" and "you have to share your crayons no matter how much you like them". That might work as a rule in kindergarten when the teacher's looking, but it really doesn't apply in the real world no matter how tightly we hang on to that belief.

If you're past the coloring/kindergarten stage that's okay.  It's not too late to learn. And, in my opinion if you want to change your inner landscape at all, the time to learn is now.  It's time to go within and figure out exactly how you are feeling.  It's the integration of putting your feelings into words.

So here's the homework assignment.  Review this following list of 38 emotions. They are based on one-word or short phrase descriptions of the Bach Flower essence indications. You could turn each of them around to positive emotions, but if we're honest, we really don't have as much issue with our positive emotions. See which ones are common to you. See if any of them really strike a cord for you or more aptly describe your present feelings.

Ashamed of self
Depression with no origin
Disinterest in Present
Dis-trustful of self
Fear for Others
Fear of Losing Control
Keep repeating same mistake
Lack Energy (mental and physical)
Lack of Confidence
Mentally weary
Numb from Shock
Obsessive worrying thoughts
Over-attached to the past
Physically Exhausted
Pre-occupied with Self
Suppress Discomfort
Unadaptable to change
Unsettled/Lack direction

If you don't like this list- make up your own.  There are many ways to describe your feelings, the key is to pull them out and identify them in ways that are meaningful to you. Spend some time inside yourself and see what you feel. 

That's step 1. Stay tuned for Steps 2-4! In the meantime, just allow yourself to feel.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Animal Signs: Beaver

Today is "back to work and school day" in my part of the world. It was kind of a gentle re-entry with a few business and work sites open yesterday, and a few that were opened in between Christmas and New Years. For many people, because of the way the holidays fell on weekend days, this was a nice long break. So today comes as a bit of a "crashing blow" and a bit of a relief, both at the same time.

I guess for the most part we are "creatures of habit". A lot of people find it comforting to have some kind of structure and routine in their lives. We seem to need that bit of direction if only so that we can appreciate the lack of routine and the true relaxation of a good vacation.

It can be hard to switch back to the "real world" though. At first it's not so bad.  You have a chance to get re-connected with friends and co-workers.  Kids get to see those friends they might not have been in contact with over the vacation.  We have new topics of conversation. Maybe you feel good because you something new on- a new outfit, a new piece of jewelry or new shoes.  You pick up your routine morning coffee or tea and that feels soothing in itself. Ahh...

And then you sit at your desk. You're ready to do something fresh and new.  You've been thinking about this.  You clean off your desk, sharpen your pencil, line up your pens.  If you're a Rock Water Bach flower type you didn't have to do this- that's how you left your desk before the vacation. In fact, that's how you leave it every day! If you're an Impatiens Bach Flower type, thought about that, started sharpening some pencils,  threw out a leaky pen, and then you decided you were wasting time so you moved on to something else. If you're a Scleranthus Bach Flower type, you spent some time trying to decide if you should clean your desk or your filing cabinet. In the end you just got up and refilled your coffee instead.

If you're a Clematis type, while sharpening your pencils, your thoughts strayed to dreaming about what it might be like to be beaver. You considered how fun it would be to chop down a tree with your teeth- no electric pencil sharpeners for you!  You could just hone them down to a fine point and make a dam while you're at it!  Right about now you've got a nice little beaver dam pile of pencils created on your desk and you're thinking you might go for a swim at lunch time!

Perhaps on this first day back to work and school in January of a new year, we could all use some of the beaver's energy. We all have great ideas of things we want to do and accomplish in the momentous year of 2012, but perhaps we could use some help to bring them to reality.

Daniel Mapel in, Into The Heart Of The Wild, writes that the beaver is the master architect and builder. As a totem or spirit animal, the beaver provides support for creating new projects, turning ideas into action and problem solving with structure.

Beavers don't just chop down those trees and leave them lying there, or throw them around haphazardly. They don't start one dam and then move on downstream.  They build with an obvious design in mind.  This is not a solitary project, they work together in groups to accomplish the goal. They build structures for the group or family and they all work together to achieve the goal. They seem to accept the fact that first they have to pick a good spot. They lay down a few initial support beams and then they work hard to "fill in the blanks". If you've ever watched a beaver swim around it looks like they truly have fun doing it. They seems to strike a nice balance between industrious work and play.

Beavers start out with one twig, branch or tree but they can change the entire course of a river. If this animal spirit has entered your life it might be time to think about how you might change the course of your life by putting some structural pieces in place. With a goal in mind and a bit of structure your dreams can be shaped into reality.

The presence of beavers as an animal sign are a call to action.  They can signify the opportunity to consider whether you are lost in your dream or neglecting your dream and if so, move towards the goal. Put a plan in place and start moving forward. Consider whether or not it might be easier to reach your goals if you had a team effort.

There are some Bach Flowers that support the beaver "call to action" energy.  Clematis can help you ground your dreams into reality. Hornbeam can help you get started, and remain focused on the goal. Oat might help you sort through what your goals really are and what dreams you really want to pursue. Water Violet might help you expand your dreaming from a solitary project to a group effort. If all you envision when you think of the beaver is those dangerously sharp teeth or the way they slap their tail on the water to signify danger, Mimulus might be helpful to release the fear around your dreams and ultimate goals.

In my part of the world, there are lots of opportunities to spot this totem animal.  As Canadians we consider the beaver as a bit of an icon. I guess we like the hard working yet playful symbolism of this creature that is pretty prevalent in most areas. Perhaps we like the idea of creating new flow and changing courses.

A nickle won't get you a lot of material goods these days, but perhaps today is a good day to place that 5 cent piece on your desk or in those new shoes your wearing.  Maybe having that beaver picture will help you draw the energy of the beaver to you and you'll find yourself bringing your dreams into reality- one stick at a time.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Book Review: Traveling with Pomegranates

I read  a wonderful book over the holidays: Traveling with Pomegranates, by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor.

Sue Monk Kidd is also the author of The Secret Life of Bees, which in my opinion is both an excellent book and a great movie.  She has also wrote The Mermaid Chair, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, Firstlight and When the Heart Waits.

Traveling with Pomegranates is a mother-daughter story.  It is their parallel memories taken from writing journals as they travelled together visiting scared sites through Greece and France. At the time of their travels, Sue is grappling with menopause and the transition into a new sense of self.  Ann is struggling with depression as she too tries to find a new sense of self in the transition from university student to "real life", career, marriage and independent adulthood.

Their travels alone are pretty intriguing. This is not a "lie on the beach and sip umbrella drinks vacation". Instead it is a journey through Greek mythology, feminist icons, and traditional, sometimes religious, barriers. The reader is taken on a guided tour through the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, the Chapel of Joan of Arc, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame to name just a few sites.  The title of the book is derived from the mythical account of Demeter and Persephone- a mother/daughter story with a unique twist!

If you're a mother of a daughter you'll find something that touches you in this book. If you are entering or have been through menopause, I think you'll find something in this book that resonates for you. If you are struggling with career, life, partner, or power issues, I think you'll find something in this book that speaks to you. I believe it's through the honest telling of personal stories that we hear our own voice and are able to more easily interpret our thoughts. And both Sue and Ann, in my opinion, tell very honest accounts that come straight from the heart.

Both Sue and Ann struggle through transition to find their authentic self, and I think this is part of the human struggle throughout time. Perhaps it is magnified for women in the juggling act between family and career.  Sue talks about the struggles between "being" and "doing" and how difficult it is to strike the balance. Sue even realizes the necessity of finding balance from a physical health point of view.  Ann writes about the struggle between doing what makes intellectual sense, and what feels right. She realizes that much of her career goals were shaped by the dreams of what a career could bring in terms of material goals, power, and ego rather than internal happiness.

This is also a book about writing. Although The Secret Life of Bees was published prior to this book, Sue's journal entries chronicle the birth of that novel, the struggle through it's writing and it's very early publication. Given the success of that book, it's particularly interesting to read about the internal angst to arrive at it's telling. And it's inspiring from that perspective.

Although this is Ann's first book, I don't think it's her last.  Throughout their travels Ann finds her fire within and realizes that she has a voice that demands to be written. She writes about the complicated battle many women find themselves in as they struggle to not be like their mother, at the same time they do want to follow in her footsteps and continue her path. For Ann, this battle involves writing, personal career choices, and the confidence to follow her intuition. 

I don't think it's any coincidence I finished this book on January 1st 2012, a time of new beginnings and dramatic shifts. Traveling with Pomegranates is all about finding the courage to really discern your own path and then follow whatever fuels your internal fire. In my opinion, 2012 is a year to really find what is meaningful for you personally and start living that life. In, Traveling with Pomegranates, Ann quotes David Whyte as writing:
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong
That's my wish for 2012.  Happy.. New.. Year.