Each Time for the Very First Time

When was the last time you experienced something like a child? Or you experienced something for the 500th time, but it felt like the first time? Whatever your answer is, I'm sure it could be more. When we do something over and over again, say put our feet in grass, it may not feel as fun and interesting as the very first time we did it. Why do babies smile so much? Because everything that is going into their brains is new information. 

I recently saw the movie The Giver, based on the book by the same name by Lois Lowry. It's something I read in high school as well as reread just the week before the movie came out. However, being the visual person that I am, the film moved me to the point of not quickly letting go. 

In the film Jonas experiences joyful experiences for the first time in his life at the age of 12. He is raw and excited, and relinquishes control of his emotions to the moment. I ask again, when's the last time we were able to do that?

Without going into much more detail of the film or book (which is something I could gladly do) I want to take inspiration from Jonas and live my life as if I am him experiencing everything for the first time. The first time he rides a sled down a snowy hill, he feels the chilled wind in his face and is joyful in the moment that he loses control to the slope of the hill. He dances for the first time and experiences laughter, emotional connection, and the overwhelming feeling of love. 

The way we choose to experience things is within our control. We can walk out of our homes and stay within in confines of our own mind and thoughts. Or we can open ourselves up to the entire world around us, taking note of every sound, organic or man made, and experiencing it as a fact of life on Earth. We can shop in a store and choose to view all the colors and feel all the textures of that which is around us. We can experience the people that come into and out of our plane of view, wondering what their feelings are. 

I was recently posed with a life choice that challenged me to choose between my head and my heart. I'd always like to think of myself as a heart person, but I let me head win over in this one. I do think it's for the best. But after this choice I almost felt a shift in me. Whereas I didn't follow my heart on this grand scale, this time, I somehow began to give myself permission to follow my heart on a smaller scale and on a daily basis. For instance the other day on Cascades hill I decided I wanted to roll down it. When I got myself in position and proceeded to let go, I couldn't control my laughter. As I was knocked around by the hill I saw the world spin around me. Once my body came to a stop, even amidst a spinning headache, I still couldn't stop laughing. I experienced true joy. My hope was to experience that like Jonas probably would. I succeeded. 

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Tip Tuesday: Water Before Coffee

Here is another tip to help you get going in the morning. Instead of firstly reaching for a cup of coffee-reach for a cup of water. 

I first got on to this concept from an international school student at Jackson High School. When I was working as a building substitute at Jackson High, one of the many tasks I did was administer an ESL exam.  I got to have conversations with all the students, who's first language was not English, to test where they were at. One of the questions asked had the students talking about ways they stayed healthy. One of this student's suggestions was to drink a full glass of water in the morning to "clean yourself out." I guess I hadn't really thought of it before. 

But think about it...fatigue has a lot to do with dehydration.  Once you rehydrate yourself you may start to feel more energy. I recently came across another point that drove this concept home for me. When you wake up in the morning you have just gone 8-9 hours (depending on how many you sleep) without water. Would you normally go throughout your day not drinking any water for 8-9 hours at a time. I hope not. 

So my challenge to you is this: Try for one week drinking one full glass of water as soon as you wake up. See how you feel. Do you have more energy in the morning? What about throughout the rest of your day. I'm not saying you can't have your coffee too, but try hydrating yourself first.  I'd love to read comments from you on how it goes.

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Coexist with all Creatures

You are going to scream hippie! at me on this one...

A lot of us humans believe our species to be the most superior of all species on Earth. This may be a matter of opinion or may be a matter of fact. Since I don't have any factual evidence that we are, I'm keeping it opinion based. I don't want to say we are or we aren't, because I don't believe there is one species that is on the top of them all. We all exist because of each other and couldn't exist without each other.

Some people live their lives keeping to their own species. Not welcoming pets into their home, squashing every bug they see in their space, running after a spray at first sight of encroaching weeds. 

What I believe is that every creature that is here with us now exists for a reason, has withstood the test of time, and deserves to be living. Instead of thinking that other creatures are moving into my territory, I keep in mind that we are co-inhabiting  our own common territory. 

Instead of cleaning up a spider web the first moment I see it I just let it be. Instead of trying to get rid of a small daddy long legs in my bathroom, I let it do its thing. 

Let me close with a quote from the very smart Betty White.

"All creatures must learn to coexist.  That’s why the brown bear and the field mouse can share their lives in harmony. Of course, they can’t mate or the mice would explode."

Betty makes us laugh, but let's really think about this. How can all that is living around us not matter for something? Again get ready to call me a hippie, but I've found true joy in greeting the squirrel  that crosses my path and taking a closer look at the grass hopper that lands on my car. We may not be able to communicate with them or know what they are thinking, but at least we can have a shared moment of being alive together. And we can admire what it is about them that makes them unique. Who knows they may be smarter than us. Humans are the only species on Earth who have to think of nuclear war, home foreclosure, or divorce cases. We may be over thinking this whole alive thing. Creatures of seemly lesser intelligence may have this whole thing figured out on a deeper level than we find ourselves able to go to.  

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Tip Tuesday: Start Your Day off Right

How many of you are not morning people and allot yourself only the minimum amount of time in the morning to prepare yourself for the day? I wouldn't call myself a super morning person, but I do enjoy having some me time to focus and ground myself before I leave the house.

Up until about eight months ago I would allow myself about one hour of time to get ready. I am not a morning shower taker so this allowed me time to wash my face, put on a little makeup, have breakfast, pack a lunch, have tea and be off. A while ago I decided to start getting up early in the mornings and doing yoga so that pushed up my wake time by about another hour. I was doing more yoga until recently, but I began to enjoy having the chance to spend my morning slower. 

I don't cable t.v. so I am not getting up and bombarding my brain with images of news or what not in the morning. This is a good thing. It's too jarring and startling to begin your day.  However, I am no stranger to possibility catching up on some Ellen Degeneres Show or Tonight Show clips, which always help to start my day with a good dose of laughter. Alternatively, I might put on a podcast to listen to. I am still trying to do the yoga at least every other day, or if nothing more starting the day with some stretching. A lot of times I will be able to enjoy a cup of tea while I am perking my face up. 

The inspiration for this tip came from HighExistence.com here is what they suggest:

 Start your day off right. Wake up and set aside an hour for personal development activities (meditation, self-introspection, observing nature, etc.) Do the things that make you feel blissful, optimistic and empowered so that you can set a positive tone for your day. I guarantee that once you start doing this, your days will be more enjoyable and fulfilling. Today is going to be the best day of your life.

Click here to read the entire article with more ideas for morning activities which help you get started off well. Right now my morning schedule is changing a bit so I now must decide if I want to sleep in a little longer or find more things to do in this morning time. This is my warning: There really is a sweet spot with time, I sometimes begin to get sleepy again before it is time to depart for work. That is never what I want to happen. Sometimes I enjoy doing some personal reading before I start my workday. Reading can typically make me sleepy, so sometimes I find myself needing a catnap before I've walked out the door. Don't plan too much time to where you are wanting to jump back under the covers. It may take a little time to get up earlier, with enough time to do some things for you. Try and start with a half hour and see if you like it.

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Compassion is Contagious

I recently came across a great show on National Geographic Channel called Brain Games. The show is a fun look into how the brain works and why we do what we do. The first episode I saw was about compassion. 

The show sets up "games" for unknowing volunteers to do in order to prove certain points. In this particular experiment a volunteer entered a testing room where they were instructed, by the test administrator, to choose between three hot sauces to put in a bowl of chili that would be fed to a stranger. The administrator simply explained the instructions and did not engage with them on a deeper level. Their choices were mild, medium, and death. Most people put either mild or medium in the chili for the stranger. 

Another element was then added to the test. While in the hallway, walking to the testing room, an actor violently bumped into the volunteer. He was talking on his cell phone when he rudely placed blame on the volunteer and didn't apologize. When the volunteer entered the room they were shown the stranger that they were choosing a hot sauce for from behind a two-way mirror. The "stranger" turned out to be the actor that ran into them just minutes before. At this point many of the volunteers choose the death hot sauce. They were wronged and were given an opportunity to get a little revenge. 

Lastly a third element was added. The volunteers were still ran into by the actor on the cell phone. This time, the test administrator, instead of being all business like he had before, was friendly and complementary to the volunteers. He told them they had beautiful smiles, offered them a glass of water, or asked them about their day. When shown the stranger though the two-way mirror, instead of wanting revenge the volunteers went a little easier on him. Many of them put the mild or medium hot sauce in the chili. 

The compassion that the volunteers received from the test administrator defused the rudeness that they had just encountered from the rude actor. What does this show?

Compassion is contagious. 

When someone is nice to us it makes us want to be nice to others. We are nice to others when we are happy with ourselves. By someone being compassionate to you, it makes you feel good about yourself. Sometimes even when compassion is hard, try your best to give it. You just may be starting something that goes and goes. Compassion is like a muscle, the more you give it, the easier it is to give. We can go about our lives, interacting with the strangers that we meet only on the surface level. But my question is this: how fun is that? I want to feel connected with this world and the other creatures inhabiting it at the same given time. Use  store clerks first name when they are wearing a name tag. Take a moment or two to ask how their day is going so far. At least for me, it's those moments that remind me that we are all connected, we all are doing this together.

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