Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Change, Flying Laptops and Staying Cool Under Pressure

Change is inevitable, but sometimes it’s a pain. For instance, my kind and loving spouse, CB, bought me a new computer. I used it for the first time while we were traveling to Washington. I type a lot, but the keyboard is a little different and I keep hitting keys that change the size of the text, move what I wrote to different parts of the page and sometimes toss me into hidden parts of the computer that I didn’t know existed. It’s as if a little gremlin is playing jokes on me.

Of course I know it’s my hand placement, not a computer devil. But the experience is creating a little internal demon in me. I have to fight the urge to take my new laptop and throw it out the window. When I finally took a break from my task I realized that I had ground my watch band into my wrist. My computer at home has a wrist guard, so this is usually not a problem. Ironically, I did not even notice the discomfort until I took a break. However, now that I see the words “stainless steel band - China” are imprinted in my wrist like a tattoo, I want to curse all things electronic, items made in China, all gifts from my spouse, computers, as well as the very world that doesn’t stay the same long enough for a luddite like me to adjust.

Of course it makes no sense to curse devices, or all thing remotely connected to the source of our aggravation, but how often have we engaged in this senseless behavior? The truth is that all of us have situations in our lives that evoke a sense of anger. That is why we addressed the issue in our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. Here are a few tips that may help.


•When you start to lose control or feel angry, move away from the situation or person that is causing the infuriating reaction. If at all possible, take a walk. Do not drive when you are mad.
•Choose your words carefully. Replace irate language and thoughts with more rational ones. Instead of thinking, “this is awful,” “everything is ruined,” try saying, “this is frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world.”
•Every time you feel yourself entertaining angry thoughts, hold your hand out and say, “Stop!” Even if you have to stop yourself 100 times a day, do it until you feel you are in control again.
•Avoid absolute words like “never” or “always” when talking about yourself or someone else.
•Remind yourself that getting upset will not fix the situation. Angry outbursts will alienate others. Even if your fury provides a temporary feeling of power, in the long run, you could actually make things much worse.


•Close your eyes. Breathe deeply through your nose. Put your hand beneath your breast and feel your diaphragm filling with air. You do not want to inhale through your chest. Hold your breath for a count of 10. Release the air through your mouth. Do this at least five times.
•As you inhale, repeat a soothing word or phrase such as “I am calm” or “relax.”
•Close your eyes and smile for at least 30 seconds to one minute. While you are smiling, repeat in your mind that you are calm and happy. It is impossible to stay angry when you are smiling. This may feel silly at first, but give it a try anyway.
•Visualize a relaxing experience. This image can either be from your past, or your imagination. Hold the image for at least one minute and continue to breathe deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
François de la Rochefoucauld once wrote, “The only thing constant in life is change.”

Since change is inevitable, the best thing to do is to find a way to reduce our aggravation about it and find a way to make it work for us. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “We change, whether we like it or not” so we might as well change for the better and enjoy the benefits of erasing our negativity and embracing the magic within.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cleaning Out Hearts, Souls and Toilets

I’ve seen a few articles about spring cleaning in the newspaper and on television. I’m semi-motivated to do a little seasonal clean-up – but I thought it would be so much nicer to write about it than to actually do it. It reminds me of a former boss of mine who said that every time she had the desire to exercise she sat down until the feeling went away.

I used to be very enthusiastic about cleaning. Needless to say, this “need to clean” has long since lost its luster. I appreciate a clean house, and my house is always presentable, but the excitement of polishing furniture, vacuuming carpets and scrubbing the bathroom is not my idea of a good time.

In my youth, I actually enjoyed cleaning. I’d play my favorite Bonnie Raitt tapes and I’d scrub while grooving to the music. I remember my youngest daughter, Brittany, who was maybe 4 years old at the time, would run through the house with her hands on her ears and yell, “No! No more Bonnie Raitt!” I think I should have played more than one album over and over.

Another one of my pet peeves is clutter. I love getting rid of things more than most people enjoy collecting it. I would love to live a simple life with fewer attachments, but this has never happened because I’m always partnered with hoarders. My mother was a product of the Depression, so she kept everything. Why she thought the utility bill stubs from 1946 would come in handy, I’ll never know. However, it isn’t uncommon, because my spouse, CB, not only keeps everything, somehow my spousal pack rat inherited the family archive of utility bills, doctor bills, college tuition payments etc. as well. All of these items are at least 30 years old – and some are old enough to collect social security.

I don’t want you to think I’m wasteful. When I have things, I do use them. And I am a huge believer in reuse and recycle. But after a while it is time to let go. That is why I felt vindicated when I interviewed Lisa Montgomery, one of the top feng shui practitioners in the southwest, about how to improve the energy in the home.

Here are some tips that are listed in the Home Sweet Home Chapter.

• Give the house a thorough cleaning. Qi stagnates in a messy environment. Not everyone enjoys cleaning, but your life is worth it. Clean up your act and keep it that way.
• Get rid of clutter.
• Box items you don’t use and put a date on it. If you haven’t used it in a year, sell it, give it away or donate it to charity.
• Take an inventory of the things in your house. Pay attention to how each object makes you feel. If you experience a negative sensation, get rid of it.
• Surround yourself with things you love. If that means getting rid of that ugly lamp you inherited from Aunt Tilly, so be it. You don’t wear Aunt Tilly’s clothes and you don’t have to live with her ugly furnishings.

It’s raining today. It’s a perfect daytime for cleaning. It’s not my favorite chore, but I’m going to do it. I see a few stacks of papers to recycle, some magazine that I will donate to the library, and the toilets…well…I don’t need to go into that. Well, actually I DO need to “go” in there, but I digress. Sometimes you just have to buck up and get things done – pleasant or otherwise.

For those of you who would like to clean a little negativity out your hearts and minds, please pick up a copy of my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. It's $15 on Amazon, but you can still get it at the sale price of $12.99 at several bookstores in Arizona, California, Colorado and Washington.

If you contact me through my website www.EraseNegativity.com or email me at Markspr@cox.net I can send an autographed copy of the book for $15 and I'll pay the shipping. Happy cleaning...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Student of Happiness

I returned to my alma mater today. I gave my spouse, CB, a ride to school and chose to hang out near the music building and use the venue to do a little writing. I spend a lot of time in my home office, so sometimes it’s helpful to have a change of scenery.

I graduated from community college in 1985. It was an 11-year process to earn a two-year degree. I’m sure many folks thought I’d never finish. But, if I am anything, I am persistent. Once I moved on to Arizona State University I completed my bachelor’s degree in three years. So in total, it took me 14 years to earn a four-year degree. However, in my defense, I gave birth to both of my daughters, worked part time and still kept up with my responsibilities of being a wife, parent and volunteer.

If I had gone to school full time during that time during my 14-year educational stint perhaps I could have done something more prestigious, like become an orthopedic surgeon. Instead of wielding a scalpel, I have a pen and computer. I do not have a MD after my name, but I am a healer of sorts. That is why I decided to co-write the new, self-help book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. My co-author, Jackie, and I saw people in pain and we decided to do something to help.
It all started when Jackie and I were discussing some of our favorite self-help books and how they had helped us. Then the conversation shifted to people we knew who were in terrible emotional pain and very negative because of it. We wondered, “What would it take to help someone like that?” We brainstormed and decided that there needed to be some sort of primer, or “read this first” book that could help them erase their negativity. Then once they were no longer entrenched in negativity, they could go on and enjoy the optimistic messages in other books. Our thought was that if a person doesn’t erase their negativity first, any optimistic front would just fall apart.

I’ll be honest, sometimes ongoing education is a pain. After my marathon process to earn a Bachelor’s degree, it was years before I wanted to park my butt on one of those uncomfortable little wooden desks and listen to a lecture again. But I did. I also learn in other ways such as webinars, reading, attending lectures etc. Like it or not, we are always learning new things. Sometimes we continue the educational process by replaying old, negative messages about our past. That is about as useful as studying for a urine test. But I digress.

Whether or not you are in a classroom, learning is a life-long process. For instance, Jackie and I chose to focus our energy on the topic of erasing negativity. Why? Because negativity is a killer of happiness, a robber of the spirit and the best friend of despair. No one is born negativity (although I’ve met some crabby babies.) Pessimism is a habit we learned. The good news is we can take steps to learn how to erase it.

That is why I’m reaching out to individuals to offer free, 30-minute phone consultations to the first five individuals who qualify for this offer (yes I make you fill out a form, but it is not a big deal.) Please contact me through my blog, www.erasenegativity.blogspot.com, website, www.erasenegativity.com or email me at MarksPR@cox.net and let me know if you are interested.

Forget about the old cliché about you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. There is no time like the present to begin a new journey toward a happier, magical life. I look forward to hearing from you. Now go home. Class dismissed.