Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut, A Father's Day Tribute

I’ve been thinking about my dad lately. Father’s Day is approaching and even though my pop died more than 15 years, I still think about the kind of gift he might like to have for Father’s Day.

Dad had a weird sense of humor and wasn’t particularly helpful when we asked himfor gift suggestions. Each year it was the same.

Me: “Dad, what do you want for Father’s Day?”
Dad: “A new butt. Mine’s cracked.”

This was the same response for Christmas, birthdays and other gift-giving occasions. I don’t know which was sillier, his corny response or the fact that my siblings and I continued to ask the same question.

That is not to say that we didn’t come up with some good gifts over the years. My brothers took him to ball games, my older sister , Diane, bought tickets so he and mom could go to a show, my sister, Tina’s fiancĂ© bought him a new television and VCR (back when the technology was new.) My sister-in-law, Joannie, always bought him a new pair of slippers. Dad wore slippers all the time so he needed replacements on a regular basis.

However, the gift that I think he enjoyed the most was a nutcracker my spouse, John, and I bought him. It wasn’t any ole nutcracker. This little marvel held the nut in place and a weight (released from a rubber-band-type launcher) cracked the pecans in half.

My dad loved nuts and we had three pecan trees in the yard. Having grown up in the heart of Chicago but probably being a country boy at heart, my dad loved it that he could go outside, gather nuts and pick fruit (especially citrus) and make something from scratch. Even during his years of dementia he never tired of making fresh squeezed lemonade or cracking a bowl full of pecans.

What made this gift special is it was directly related to his passion. Now cracking nuts is not MY passion, but it was something my dad loved to do. So rather than buy him Old Spice or another useless tie, we hit the mark with the nut cracker that year.

But now that my dad is gone, I still think of how I might have done things differently. What my father (and I think most fathers) want is to spend quality time with their children. As we get older we have the money to purchase bigger and better things, but finding the time to spend the day with dad is sometimes more difficult than cracking a nut without a cracker. It makes me think of the Harry Chapin song, “Cats in the Cradle” song chronicling the busy life of a father and son.

However, I found a simple answer while promoting my clients, International Academy of Hair Design, ITS Academy of Beauty, Hair Benders and Olympian University. They have a father/son special for two haircuts for the price of one. Here is a link to the Arizona press release, but the same deal is in effect at all their schools in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Florida.

It can be difficult to find the time to spend an entire evening or afternoon with dad, but we all need to have our hair cut. Why not ask dad to come and join you for a simple errand? It could be a trip to the post office, a walk to the store, or you could even ask your pop to ride shot gun while you pick up the kids from school. The added bonus to the haircut idea is it shows dad that you know how to manage your money well too. I don’t know about your father, but my dad would have been very pleased to see that I knew a good deal when I saw one.

I miss my dad, but when I think of the corny things he used to say, it still makes me smile. The other day I was helping my granddaughter with her toilet training. She goes to preschool and she is obsessed with what the name of everything is. She pointed to her butt and said, “What’s my butt’s name?” I told her “Briannah’s butt.” If she would have said “I want a new one, mine’s cracked” I would know that my dad had reincarnated back into our lives again.

Of course she didn’t say that, but when she smiled at her question (she knew she was being funny) I couldn’t help but think a new nut was had been born into the family. And with her budding sense of humor it would seem the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Migraine Headaches and Asking Why

I have always enjoyed being around children. I admire their honesty and openness. My grandchildren are two and four years old. They see wonder in everything. In fact, Briannah, the younger of “the girls” as I call them, “wonders” about everything. She is always asking “why?”
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree as the tot’s mother, Alicia, was the queen of inquisition as a child. She would ask about gravity and her father, an engineer, would answer her. She would ask me how electricity worked and I would tell her, “magic.” That’s the best answer I had for her other than the proverbial, “Go ask your father.”
I don’t ask “why” too much anymore in my everyday life. I sometimes will ask the other w’s I learned from my journalist’s handbook, who, what, where and when. But “why” seems to allude me.
However, during a recent session with Theta Healer, Tiffany Bil ( “why” became the question of the day. I was getting a session to help cure my migraine headaches. These skull-crushing pains have cursed me, and the majority of my family members, for years (very often migraines are hereditary.) I’ve been to family practice doctors, a neurologist, past life regression therapists and psychics to no avail. I can reduce the pain by taking imitrex and its generic brand, but the headache still press on.
One time, my friend, Lauren, and I performed a ceremony where we wrote down our thoughts about our headaches.. We dialogued and decided that part of the problem is we believed it was a connection to our past ancestors. We decided that we could honor our ancestors without engaging in the migraines they passed on through our DNA, or whatever trait comes in the headache package. After we wrote down our thoughts we burned the paper. I know this works for getting rid of other negativity. In fact, it is mentioned in my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.
Lauren reduced her headache load considerably. I got one the next day.
However, when I was in session with Rev. Tiffany Bil, she asked me how my headaches served me? What benefit was I getting from my headaches? I know when I was a kid and my mom got a headache, we were not allowed to pester her. She would lay down with the curtains drawn and not emerge until she felt better. We were not the best-behaved or considerate kids on the block, but I do remember leaving her alone when she was down with a migraine.

My children, Alicia and Brittany, were more considerate. Plus their dad would usher them away from me when I didn’t feel well. If they did sneak in to see me I would ask them to rub my feet. I think the thought of massaging my crusty heels were too much for them and I would get my rest. Sometimes as much as 12 hours.
My children are grown now and I don’t need to hide from them. But I still get headaches. However, after talking to Tiffany and having a session with her, I did become more aware of the possible “whys” that could be contributing to my migraines.

I don’t have all the answers yet, but at least I’m asking the questions. The same can be said for erasing negativity. There are times when we need to stop and ask ourselves, “How is this negative behavior benefiting me?” Once you come to grips with the fact that you are holding onto a behavior or belief system that no longer serves you, the next step is to get rid of it and replace with something more empowering.
If you are interested in learning more, please view my you tube video 3 ways to erase negativity

Whether it is emotional or physical pain or negativity, there is no reason to suffer. There are steps you can take to enjoy a happier, more optimistic life. And if that answer isn’t a good enough response to “why?” then here’s another answer: Because I told you so, that’s why.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Walk a Mile in my Cleats

You can’t pick up a women’s magazine without seeing an article about weight loss or exercise. Eat less, exercise more and you’ll lose inches, feel better, live longer blah, blah, blah. Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t know this? We can hope for a magic fat-eating capsule and certainly the fitness and weight loss industries are making billions of dollars hoping we’ll pin our hope on their latest products, but the bottom line is there is no easy solution. Losing weight takes work. Before I hit middle age I never had a weight problem. I didn’t eat much, I kept reasonably active and I probably inherited decent genetics from my folks. Of course it may not have been genetics. My mom was wafer thin, but she lived on cigarettes and coffee. Not a diet I’d recommend. She remained thin her entire life, but it cut years off her life as well. I have not followed in mom's footsteps. I never liked cigarettes, so I had that going for me. Unfortunately at middle age I decided I enjoyed food, ate more AND exercised less. Guess what? I gained weight. This is not rocket science. It’s the simple truth. Bummer. On the other hand, my spouse, CB, is a fitness fantatic. There’s not a hill that does not beckon CB’s jogging shoes or mountain bike. My spousal unit loves to exercise. I wish I shared that enthusiasm. I USED to enjoy working up a sweat, feel the burn of my muscles straining. Boy those days are gone. I want to have a long, healthy life, so I make some effort to get my heart rate up. I would walk up the hill in our housing development, occasionally lifts some weights and do a few sit ups, but even I know this was a weak attempt at fitness. When we lived in Arizona my handy excuse for avoiding exercise was the heat. We have three cold days a year in Arizona, so this excuse worked pretty well. Or so I thought. It didn’t help me squeeze into a smaller size of clothes or improve my fitness, it was simply an excuse that made sense. It IS hot there most of the year. Of course there are indoor options too, but let's not pick my excuse apart so easily. Then we moved to the Pacific Northwest. Maybe it gets hot here, but I doubt it. My tried and true reasoning has evaporated into the balmy atmosphere. Of course I could use the excuse that it is too cold, or it’s raining (which is usually is) but it’s not as if I don’t own a raincoat and umbrella. My excuses were no longer serving me so I’ve decided it was time to turn over a new leaf. Some of this was forced on me as my car still lives in Arizona. That means I have to hoof it to most of my destinations. After a little initial grumbling, I have come to enjoy walking again. I see beautiful flowers, blooming bushes and verdant lawns. Of course I can’t make myself just walk for the sake of walking. I like to have a destination. So I amble to the store and I trot off to the post office. A part of me does this begrudgingly. I may have co-authored a self-help book on erasing negativity, but that does not mean I don’t battle my own internal grouch. I’ve just decided I will wage war on her every day – and win. Part of my strategy was to join a softball team. I found a team that would not only take me, but actually wanted me. At first several practices were cancelled due to a soggy field. But alas today was bright and sunny. The problem is the field is 1.9 miles away. There aren’t too many places I’m willing to walk more than a mile to visit, but the softball field is one of them. I packed my cleats and glove, stuck them in a back pack and marched off to practice. When I have a glove or bat in my hand I have more incentive to move my body. I’m more motivated when I’m trying to catch a fly ball, field a grounder, smack a ball out of the infield or run to first base. It’s not drudgery. It’s a joy. After practice I took off my cleats and made the trek home. I was tired, but happy. Losing weight, exercising and reducing negativity takes work. I wish I could promise an effortless solution, but there isn’t one. However, whether you work at becoming happy, or work AT something (like softball) because it makes YOU happy, something magical happens. What once felt like work is now fun. Whether it’s playing softball, dancing to zumba, kayaking or simply taking the dog for a walk, the trick to health and happiness is to find something you enjoy doing, stick with it and slowly extend the amount of time and effort you put into your joyful endeavor. If you can’t find anything that engages your soul, pick the least objectionable task you can think of and see if you can squeeze a little happiness out of it. The next day do it again and squeeze the task a little longer. Before you know it you will have squeezed your proverbial lemon into lemonade. For you pessimists or exercise grouches haters out there, I feel your pain. But I promise you if you get out there and make an effort, you will feel better. You would know if you walked a mile in my cleats.