Perception Deception

Steve-h / Foter

Perception seems like such a straight forward thing. We assume that what and how we perceive something, whether it is the weather, our boss, our relationships, a news story, or the size of our hips, is reality. Not so fast. We might physically see or experience the same thing as someone standing next to us, but we perceive it differently. That’s because perception involves taking what we see or feel and running it through our mental filters that are based upon our own past life experiences.

Too often we rely on our limited experiences to make judgments and decisions every day. We perceive situations, food, music, individuals and even whole countries by an often outdated, second or third hand experience.  If you’ve attended a high school class reunion or happened to run into someone who knew you as  a child, you know what I’m talking about. No matter what you have become, done or accomplished former classmates assume you to be as you were ten, twenty or thirty years ago. Our experiences have changed us but those who knew us before often hold onto their past view of who we were.  Is it any wonder we have discord and misunderstandings in the world?

Let go of preconceived notions and expand your day-to-day experiences, pull yourself out of the rut of ‘same old, same old’ and learn to fully appreciate the variety that exists in the world.  Where do you start? Small, of course and work up!

1. Retrain your palate.  Are you a regular who eats the same thing for lunch or breakfast? Is Wednesday always meatloaf and Friday pizza? Has it been years since you set foot in a new restaurant? Mix it up a bit and try that new Mexican place, give Brussel sprouts a chance, or grill salmon the next time instead of burgers. The worst is you won’t like it and you get to try something else the next time!

2. Culture won’t kill you  Do you remember a museum as some place an adult made you spend hours of time when you really wanted to be outside? Many museums today now have interactive exhibits; often feature local artists, and shows that change every few weeks. Check out what museums within a sixty mile radius have to offer and note the exhibits or special activities they have planned for the summer.

3. Ear for music I always loved stations that played music from my college years but shied away from current pop and country. Then my daughter got an iPod and as I downloaded tunes for her, guess what? I actually liked many of the songs! Now I find myself tuning into different stations in the car and learning lyrics to new songs. My taste of music has expanded and so can yours.

4. In your own backyard Often we plan elaborate trips and vacations to far away places but spend little time exploring what is within a few hundred miles of our home. I’m not saying give up your get-a-ways, but also take time, save money and energy by exploring the sites within your area. A quick, on-line search can reveal a year’s worth of day and weekend trips to satisfy your quest for adventure.

5. Set in your ways Do you always sit the same place at the dinner table, church, in the car, or the family room? We can become so comfortable in ‘our seat’ that we become irritated when someone dares to sit there! Let it go and try moving yourself around so you have a different view of the same old places. You might like it.

No excuses, branch out, stick your big toe in the water and dare to try something new. Be brave enough to open yourself up to new experiences, new points of view, and perhaps new connections.

“True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” Leo Tolstoy

 

 

To Do or Not To Do? That is the REAL Question!

kevin dooley / Foter

It‘s  January, the start of a new year and the start of new lists. Or at least that’s what everyone says we should do. But we know from  experience that the well-intentioned lists of January often turn into the regrets of February, (OK, maybe March or April if you are really good.) Why does this happen? It happens because the sugar high from goodies ingested during the holidays impairs our judgment and we tend to get a bit too lofty in our goal setting. As reality sets in and we move into the implementation phase we back off, regroup, or just forget the list altogether. Not a good recipe for success is it?

I first noticed this phenomenon in a kick-boxing class that met three days a week at our local YMCA.  All year long there was plenty of room in the class, in fact there was space left over so you could kick and box with all your gusto and never hit another human being. I loved that! Then January rolled around. Instantly the class became crowded with people who apparently put ‘get in shape’ on their New Year’s Resolution list. I got elbowed, stepped on, punched and kicked from every direction. The exercise high of getting into ‘the zone’ was  replaced by a ‘get this over and get out of here’ attitude.  By mid-February it all changed; while we gained one or two class members the rest had either given up or decided to try another class.  And so it goes, each year we set unrealistic goals, which are often the same ones we had last year and the year before, get discouraged, and go back to our old habits.  Which makes me think the whole resolutions list is overrated. What if instead of resolving what to do in the year ahead we make a list of what we won’t do? Maybe it’s easier to get rid of a negative behavior than it is to add a positive one. So that’s what I have done. The difference is, my list should be adhered to for the rest of your life, not just 2012.

Darla’s Top Ten “Not To Do” List

1. Do not take your blessings for granted. Practice gratitude for little the stuff each day.

2. Do not be quick to judge, criticize or blame. Its 3 things but they go together to create a negative energy drain in our life and relationships.

3. Do not harbor negative thoughts. They are like poison and multiply fast!

4. Do not hold grudges. Let it go. Really.

5. Do not cause pain for yourself or others. There is already enough in the world. We don’t need to create more.

6. Do not try to do it all.  Asking for help is not failure.

7. Do not limit yourself.  Expand and think big for yourself and others.

8. Do not be afraid. Fear is not fatal and comfort zones do expand.

9. Do not neglect yourself. Nurturing yourself is not indulgence.

10. Do not worry.  It’s just a bad habit and keeps you from the reality of NOW.

I  know this doesn’t cover everything, but it’s a start.  What would be on your Top Ten “Not To Do” List?   Right now I’m going to make a copy of mine and post it in a prominent place. Happy 2012!

Control the Comparisons

When people gather it is easy to fall into the comparison trap. Unfortunately that can even occur during the holidays. I love this Self Care tip from my friend Karen Rowinsky and wanted to share it with you as you head straight on into the holiday week. Thank you for joining me in 2011 and I look forward to more sharing and growing together in 2012.

 Control the Comparisons                                            
by Karen Rowinsky                                            

Studies on happiness reveal that happier people do not spend much time comparing themselves to others. Of course that is easier said than done. Most of us compare ourselves, our kids, and our economic status to our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. We make assumptions that other people are happier, more in love, more cared about than we are.

The problem with comparing ourselves to others is that some of our assumptions may not be true. People usually put up a good front. Many people show us what they want us to see. They don’t show us their pain about their relationships, the problems with their kids, or their unhappiness or depression.

If you find yourself comparing yourself to others, take a moment to question whether you are basing your comparison on reality. Sure they might have a nicer house than yours but they might be struggling to make payments. Their kids might seem to be excelling in sports but how much pressure are they under? They may have a smile on their face but what is it hiding? You will most likely never know if what you assume is accurate, so why bother comparing?

Self care is controlling the comparisons. When you find yourself comparing, substitute a few minutes of being thankful for what you have instead.

Karen Rowinsky, LMSW, is a licensed master social worker. She has a private counseling practice in Overland Park, Kansas.

Contact her at: 913-663-3511 or http://www.overlandparkcounseling.com/

The 365 Challenge: What are you thankful for?

Yes tomorrow is the official day that we set aside for being ‘Thankful’ but in reality Thanksgiving Day should be a reminder/wakeup call to be thankful, grateful or mindful every day of the year! My challenge to you is to help me do a 365!  I am starting a thankful list on this blog and am challenging all my followers and friends to add to it in the comments section. The goal? To reach a grand total of at least 365 items to be thankful for before Thanksgiving Day is over.

Can we do it? Yes we can!!

I am thankful for: good health, home, my daughter, my husband, my little mama, my son and daughter-in-law, brothers, sister-in-laws, nephews and their families, my great-nephew, our dogs Sparkle and Dexter, all my aunts, uncles and cousins, my faith, freedom, my eyesight, my hearing, my strange mind, creativity, my legs for exercising, sense of touch, sunshine, sunrise, sunset, the smell of rain, fingers to type with, my friends of all ages, backgrounds, and interests who make my life so much fun, good memories that sustain me, bad memories to learn from, silence, giggling babies, hot chocolate, my voice, singing, rhythm, pumpkins, squash, chocolate, pecans, old photographs, books, shoes, clothes, reading glasses, fingernails, fuzzy socks, popcorn, warm soup on a cold day, hot apple cider, sticky notes, my car, feet for walking, soft, warm blankets, puppies, clients who hire me to speak, Facebook friends, the Mogul Mom Community, the ability to be a friend to others, learning that never ends, listening skills, compassion, grandmothers, inventors, my imagination that fuels my soul, artwork that appeals to the heart and eye, teachers of all kinds, disciplines, and temperaments, volunteers that make our world better for no other reason but to make it better, journals with blank pages waiting to be filled, the smell of cinnamon, the musicality of my mother’s wind chimes from the farm that sounds like God talking to me, artist talent, electricity, LinkedIn connections, people who understand computers, and much, much MORE!

Now it’s your turn; comment on this blog by listing what you are thankful for and help me meet the 365 challenge!

 

 

Welcome!

Do you have too much to do but not enough YOU to handle it all?             

You are not alone. I feel like I’m living with a full plate of ‘to dos’ and no fork to move them off the plate. In fact I believe most of us are. One day my daughter came into my office and forever changed my life by saying to me, “Wow, you have a full plate with no fork.” (See About FPNF for more of that story.) And the rest is history. Or it will be when I’m rich and famous and sharing this story with Barbara Walters. Okay that might be pushing it but a girl can dream.

I grew up on a farm as an only daughter with two older brothers. In fact, there wasn’t another girl for miles around so I played boy games or I couldn’t play at all. I vividly remember being exiled to the outfield with a left handed glove and told to stay there but don’t tell my brothers I said that; they have a different story. They are wrong. Really, trust me on this.

I live in small town Missouri with a semi-retired husband, a teenage daughter, a Yorkie, a Terrier mix we saved from the pound, and my mother who lives in the local nursing home. I am a speaker, author and artist (in a past life I was an art teacher) who regularly uses stories about my family in my work, which is why I NEVER want them to travel with me when I speak. We tried it once in Baltimore and it wasn’t pretty.

I spend most of my days trying to cram all the living I can into the time I have! I hope you enjoy my blog. You can count on me sharing day to day revelations, lots of stories, recipes, and how tos and pictures of my art and DIY creations.

As Rosanne Rosannadanna would say, “It’s always something.”