Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Simple Plan to Laugh

"A day without laughter is a day wasted."
-Charlie Chaplin

Laughter is the best medicine. Seriously.

When I get migraines, I dive straight for the prescriptions. Then I get sleepy. Then cranky. Then stressed. Then I get another headache. Maybe I need to consider a new routine.

After some research, it turns out that humor is a fantastic way to relieve Stress. Laughter releases endorphins, which are natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude. Like any good researcher, I put this to the test. With less than three weeks remaining until I receive my masters, one can imagine how much Stress presents itself. My source of humor? My husband.

I can't think of a day that has gone by when he hasn't made me laugh. Intentionally, he's a funny guy. Unintentionally, he's hilarious. His heart is so warm and open, that even when he's angry it's hard not to laugh a little. If you're lucky, you have someone in your life to laugh with. When you find this person...don't let him or her go. They'll save you a lot of money on medical bills.

So what was the conclusion to this experiment? Hypothesis confirmed. Here I sit with three deadlines tonight and (what feels like a million) errands to run. In a cafe sipping herbal tea (see earlier post), listening to some relaxing music (see even earlier post), with a view of a beautiful lake (see future post) and sitting in front of a man who makes my heart smile and has the ability to make me laugh uncontrollably (see current post)...there is "simply" no sign of an otherwise expected headache.

"Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Simple Plan To Be Simple

Simplify your life.

I write everyday to welcome and encourage simplicity, but I still don't think it can ever be stressed enough. I am programmed everyday to wake-up each morning at the mercy of my 'to do' list. While I have finally found a way to keep my list(s) organized and manageable (check out Remember The's my favorite website of 2012), there's a whole other mindset that should be considered. Rather than looking for ways to squeeze more activities to do, errands to run, or chores to complain about, we need to leave some things out. Ask yourself what really needs to get done, what can wait to be done, and what can be dropped completely. We need to remember that it is okay to say no.

Many of us have heard the loaded questions, "What is our purpose in life?" or "Why are we here?". In our pursuit for a greater purpose we often get lost in the clutter of trivialities. It's like the book said: "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (and it's all small stuff)". Be careful where you focus your energy. It's not procrastinating if your prioritizing. Do what matters and lose what doesn't. This is no easy task. We tend to take ownership of so many things...maybe as part of our identity. Instead, we should take solace in the fact that there are other identifiers. If we are lucky, we have family, friends, pets, or even hobbies. These are important identifiers. Do what is important, and what is important to you will become your purpose. But remember, one can find their purpose when they take control of their environment.

So take control of your 'to do' list. Take control of your life. Simplify.

"The simplest things are often the truest."
-Richard Bach

"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude 
will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness."
-Henry David Thoreau 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Simple Plan

"Stress is not what happens to us. It's our response TO what 
happens. And RESPONSE is something we can choose."
-Maureen Killoran

After a significant injury to my left foot and ankle, I've been seemingly out of order for the better part of a year. Although I'm still healing, I'm back on my feet (figuratively speaking) and ready for action. 

While coping with trauma, one might find themselves at the mercy of their demons. For me, and most, those demons can be stress. Everywhere we look we are warned of the consequences of stress. Whether emotional and physical, the impact of stress is never good. After one too many migraines, I recently researched the topic and decided there was no better time to continue my pursuit for simplicity. 

Just as a garage can be too cluttered with all the items we're too scared to throw out, so can our minds. Things to do, people to see, places to go...the clutter of life can be mentally exhausting. All the excess baggage overcrowds our minds and leads to the inevitable headache. Solution? Avoid the stress. 

Who are we kidding? It is near impossible to avoid stress altogether. However, a few simple steps can help keep the stress under control and minimize headaches. Over the next few days, I'll delve into the details of a plan to help manage stress. I can promise that there will be no surprises, it's all been heard before...but they are tried and true....and "simple". 

Ready? Set? Relax. 

"Material blessings, when they pay beyond the category of need, are weirdly fruitful of headache."
-Philip Wylie

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Simple Sacrifice

Obvious as it may be, I recently went on a hiatus from blogging. Initially, I set out to blog for simplicity and to iron out the whirlwind of thoughts that seemed to complicate life. I wanted to find joy in the simple things, go back to the basics, and give myself a fresh start. For a moment there, I failed. I think the most important lesson to remember here is that we are, in fact, human. We will make mistakes, and we will meet with obstacles. I have had a few obstacles along the way, but now I'm back: ready to take on any complications this life has to offer.

Tonight, as I regret the pizza we just ordered and strive to find the will to type after having just finished three papers for my classes, I want to explore the thought of sacrifice. I look back on these past couple of months, and I see that much was sacrificed for a new job, a new hectic schedule, and a new load of responsibilities. Health, quality time with my husband, smiles, housekeeping, laughs, hobbies, home-cooked meals, and (regrettably) daily baths have all been sacrificed as I took on a new job. (Note: showers were taken, just not relaxed ones.)

It would be easy to look at these last few weeks and be deeply disappointed. I look at it as a simple sacrifice. We do it everyday. Who hasn't sacrificed a breakfast here or there to get to work on time? I think the lesson to be learned is that we will make involuntary sacrifices, but we can always bounce back from them. This is me, bouncing back.

It's off to bed I go, with high hopes for tomorrow, and wishing my husband good luck in his pursuit for the will to wake up at 5:00 am. What happens if he doesn't? In the big picture, nothing. It's just a simple sacrifice.

"The sacrifice which causes sorrow to the doer of the sacrifice is no sacrifice. Real sacrifice lighten the mind of the doer and gives him a sense of peace and joy. The Buddha gave up the pleasures of life because they had become painful to him."
                                                                                                    -Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Simple Strength

In moments of hard times (and there will always be hard times), do not fear...

If you do, you're mother will call you out on it.

A very wise woman recently sent me the following quote to ponder upon and live by:

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. 
                                                                                                       ~Henry Ford            

A Simple Hot Cocoa

Neither my husband nor myself are much of a tea/coffee drinker, so when it comes to the warm comfort of a delightful drink, hot cocoa is our generally our choice.

The fact that I didn't come up with the following before disappoints me.

Ingredients in store bought regular hot chocolate:
sugar, corn syrup solids, vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated coconut or palm kernel and hydrogenated soybean), dairy product solids (from milk), cocoa processed with alkali, calcium carbonate, and less than 2% of salt, cellulose gum, sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, sodium citrate, guar gum, skim milk, sodium aluminosilicate, mono- and diglycerides, artificial flavors, sucralose. (made on equipment that also processes soy and wheat)

(add to milk and enjoy)

Ingredients in our homemade simple hot chocolate (organic optional):
cocoa powder, sugar

(add to milk and enjoy)

We specifically use organic cocoa, organic pure cane sugar, and organic fat-free milk. (My husband likes his with a dash of (organic) vanilla extract.)

I'm slowly realizing, better late than never, that there are so many ways we can simplify the products we use, produce, and ingest....all without sacrificing any of the "simple" satisfactions.

                           "The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink (cocoa) permits a man to walk for a whole day without food."
-Montezuma, Aztec Emperor (c. 1480-1520)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Simple Silence

My father recently went on a "Vipassana", which translates to "insight into the nature of reality". He has been known to do this from time to time, but I've only recently began to understand why. While this meditation can be practiced through a variety of techniques, I find one specifically astounding. Along with nearly 17 hours of meditation, those who choose to go on this journey are asked to observe a "noble" silence. This is the silence of the body, the speech, and the mind. I used to go crazy trying to consider what 10 days would be like without speaking or being spoken too. Now, I think going on a Vipassana would be a real treat.

Can you remember the last time you went 24 hours without your cell phone? I definitely can't. The days that I tell myself to shy away from over communicating, someone will call as my own personal oath of technological silence is destined to be broken. Email, facebooks, cell phones, iphones, twitters and texts have turned our society into an over-communicating frenzy (as she typed on her Google hosted blog).

You don't have to meditate and you don't have to be far from your phone, but if only for an hour...treat yourself to a "simple" silence. You'd be surprised at how little you will have missed.

                              “See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence...we need silence to be able to touch souls.
-Mother Teresa