The Blind Passenger

I had been contemplating this year’s Thanksgiving blog, when I came across this beautiful story by an unknown author on Spiritual-Short-Stories.com. It is perfect the way it is written, so allow me to just share…

The passengers on the bus watched sympathetically as the attractive young woman with the white cane made her way carefully up the steps. She paid the driver, and using her hands to feel the location of the seats, walked down the aisle and found the seat he’d told her was empty. Then she settled in, placed her briefcase on her lap and rested her cane against her leg. It had been a year since Susan, thirty-four, became blind. Due to a medical misdiagnosis she had been rendered sightless, and she was suddenly thrown into a world of darkness, anger, frustration and self-pity.

Once a fiercely independent woman, Susan now felt condemned by this terrible twist of fate to become a powerless, helpless burden on everyone around her. “How could this have happened to me?” she would plead, her heart knotted with anger. But no matter how much she cried or ranted or prayed, she knew the painful truth: her sight was never going to return. A cloud of depression hung over Susan’s once optimistic spirit. Just getting through each day was an exercise in frustration and exhaustion.

 And all she had to cling to was her husband Mark. Mark was an Air Force officer and he loved Susan with all his heart. When she first lost her sight, he watched her sink into despair and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again. Mark’s military background had trained him well to deal with sensitive situations, and yet he knew this was the most difficult battle he would ever face. 

bus-city

Finally, Susan felt ready to return to her job, but how would she get there? She used to take the bus, but was now too frightened to get around the city by herself. Mark volunteered to drive her to work each day, even though they worked at opposite ends of the city. At first, this comforted Susan and fulfilled Mark’s need to protect his sightless wife who was so insecure about performing the slightest task. 

Soon, however, Mark realized that this arrangement wasn’t working – it was hectic, and costly. Susan is going to have to start taking the bus again, he admitted to himself. But just the thought of mentioning it to her made him cringe. She was still so fragile, so angry. How would she react? 

Just as Mark predicted, Susan was horrified at the idea of taking the bus again. “I’m blind!” she responded bitterly. “How am I supposed to know where I’m going? I feel like you’re abandoning me.” Mark’s heart broke to hear these words, but he knew what had to be done. He promised Susan that each morning and evening he would ride the bus with her, for as long as it took, until she got the hang of it. And that is exactly what happened. For two solid weeks, Mark, military uniform and all, accompanied Susan to and from work each day. He taught her how to rely on her other senses especially her hearing, to determine where she was and how to adapt to her new environment. 

He helped her befriend the bus drivers who could watch out for her and save her a seat. He made her laugh, even on those not-so-good days when she would trip exiting the bus, or drop her briefcase. Each morning they made the journey together, and Mark would take a cab back to his office. Although this routine was even more costly and exhausting than the previous one, Mark knew it was only a matter of time before Susan would be able to ride the bus on her own. He believed in her, in the Susan he used to know before she’d lost her sight, who wasn’t afraid of any challenge and who would never, ever quit. 

Finally, Susan decided that she was ready to try the trip on her own. She said goodbye, and for the first time, they went their separate ways. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Each day on her own went perfectly, and Susan had never felt better. She was doing it! She was going to work all by herself! 

Blind-Passenger-silouette

On Friday morning, Susan took the bus as usual. As she was paying for her fare to exit the bus, the driver said, “Boy, I sure envy you.” Susan wasn’t sure if the driver was speaking to her or not. After all who on earth would ever envy a blind woman who had struggled just to find the courage to live the past year? Curious she asked the driver, “Why do you say that you envy me?” The driver responded, “It must feel so good to be taken care of and protected like you are.” Susan had no idea what the driver was talking about, and asked again, “What do you mean?” 

The driver answered, “You know, every morning for the past week, a fine looking gentleman in a military uniform has been standing across the corner watching you when you get off the bus. He makes sure you cross the street safely and he watches you until you enter your office building. Then he blows you a kiss, and gives you a little salute and walks away. You are one lucky lady.”

Tears of happiness poured down Susan’s cheeks. For although she couldn’t physically see him, she had always felt Mark’s presence. She was lucky, so lucky, for he had given her a gift more powerful than sight, a gift she didn’t need to see to believe – the gift of love that can bring light where there had been darkness.

This touching story has me wondering if we aren’t sometimes all like this blind woman? We feel alone, struggling to go about our life, meanwhile we are watched over, protected and held without being aware of it. We are, in fact, safe and abundant beyond our wildest imagination. There is an abundance of love and support—if we could just see it. What if we opened our hearts and looked around to notice the fullness and abundance in our life with gratitude.

Thanksgiving - Happy Thanksgiving 3

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I love you! I love you! I love you!

Energy follows attention. What you focus on, is what you get. That universal law applies to our relationships as it applies to anything else.

In the past, there was a theory that it is good to get your negative feelings out. Unfortunately, venting at our partner leaves him or her with bad memories. Over time, our brain responds with apprehension to high energy interactions. In fact, our brain starts to associate our partner with negative situations and with danger instead of with feelings of safety. Our brain goes on alert because we remember the hurt and emotional pain. Instead of triggering endorphins (feel good chemicals), the stress hormone cortisol is triggered. Our main job in our relationship is to be a source of safety for our partner, instead of another source of stress.

Our brain has, as Rick Hansen calls it, “a negativity bias”. We remember negative events more easily than positive ones. For our ancestors that negativity bias was important for survival. Drs. John and Julie Gottman state that five positive exchanges or comments are required to override one negative one. If we hear more critical comments than affirmations or appreciations, we are often left feeling defensive and uneasy with our partner.

Another reason why venting is not beneficial is that whatever you express, you also experience. Whatever you do to others, you do to yourself. When you yell at your partner, it is as if you are yelling at yourself. Your brain reacts to your own negative yelling in the same way your partner reacts. It triggers danger cues and the release of cortisol.

What would happen if we flooded each other with positive emotions and we were able to connect intensity with positive exchanges? Hendrix and Hunt suggest the following couple’s exercise.

3 Minute Exercise That Re-Patterns Our Brain

In preparation for the exercise, make a list of

  1. your partner’s physical characteristics which you like
  2. their personality traits which you admire
  3. some of their recent behaviours you appreciate, and
  4. come up with a global affirmation, e.g. they are terrific, thoughtful, fantastic, amazing, wonderful etc.

positive flooding

One partner sits in a chair and the other one circles him or her and floods the partner with positive adjectives. The first minute is focused on the physical characteristics. The circling partner identifies and appreciates all of the physical features of their partner in a normal tone or volume, e.g. I love your smile. I really like your silky hair. I love your soft hands.

During the second minute, the circling partner focuses on appreciating traits in a more excited tone, while raising the volume of their voice, e.g. I appreciate your warmth. I appreciate your kindness. I appreciate your intelligence.

During the last minute, the circling partner values and affirms behaviours the partner has displayed. This time they are raising their voice even more, e.g. I appreciate that you picked the kids up from school yesterday. I am thankful for your advice in regards to my boss. I am so grateful for you sending Aunt Edna a gift.

At the end, the circling partner comes around and stands in front of the sitting partner. He or she yells, “I can’t believe I am in a relationship with (married to) a person as amazing as you. I love you! I love you! I love you! You are wonderful/amazing/fantastic” etc.

Then both partners stand and give each other a full minute long hug to calm down.

 

The rationales behind this exercise are

  1. This interaction exercises, first, the sympathetic nervous system, and during the hug at the end, the parasympathetic nervous system. It activates the bonding hormone oxitocin.
  2. It creates new safe memories of our partner. Intensity is now connected to positive memories.
  3. It also takes us out of the resentful part of our brain where we have kept a list of the things our partner has done to frustrate or hurt us. It moves us into the part of the brain that wakes us up to how wonderful our partner is. Our perpetual issues or relationship problems have, of course, not disappeared. However, the shift into our prefrontal neo-cortex opens up the option to deal with them in a more civilized and calm manner than our primitive brain is capable of. From that part of our brain, we can be more curious about why our partner is the way they are, instead of being judgmental with each other.

 

If you are hesitant to try this dynamic exercise, consider cutting out negativity and shifting into appreciation with a different ritual. Drs. Gottman for example suggest a weekly “State of the Union Meeting”. The couple sets aside one hour a week to reconnect. The State of the Union meeting begins with giving each other affirmations and appreciations. Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt propose to end each day by sharing three things we appreciate about our partner and vice versa. This conscious practice of appreciation requires us to pay attention to what we enjoy about each other.

positive flooding - joy

Re-patterning our brain, as well as other activities of shifting into appreciation, give us the opportunity to revive the love we have for each other. Gratitude and appreciation foster a secure bond and allow us to continually build a sound relationship house.

Contact

Belief Change and Relationship Coach Angelika,

905-286-9466,

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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An Unusual Anniversary

Today is an unusual anniversary for me. A year ago today, I fractured both ankles. For six weeks following, both my legs were in casts. I was first bound to my bed and then to a wheelchair until I had learned to walk again. It was one of those experiences that give you a completely different perspective on life, on yourself and on others.

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A year later, I hope I have discovered all the messages this incident had for me. I have written and shared many of the insights. There were lessons around being caught in love and caring when we fall , living in the now, vulnerability versus autonomy, gratitude and heart coherence, empowerment, and taking care of one’s needs. So-called accidents are not coincidences. Their timing and exact details happen for a reason. We have to ask, what does the injury or illness prevent us from doing; what does it allow us to do? In what way is our body speaking our mind? Which of our needs have we not been taking care of?

The end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 was a time of many changes for me. My oldest daughter was moving out, which shifted the family dynamics. There was also a lot of disruption and emotional upheaval stirred up in our core family through our extended family.  On top of that, some professional changes were unfolding. I had moments of confusion about where I was going and how to meet everybody’s needs. “What ifs…” came up and the question of “Who am I in the different roles that I am playing?”

The accident happened just a few weeks after I taught the Shadow Energetics workshop, created by my friend Darryl, for the first time on my own. I originally felt that I had to fill big shoes, as Darryl is a powerful teacher with a catching laugh and fabulous sense of humour. I have meanwhile taught the four-day workshop—or part of it—several times and have learned not to fill his shoes but my own. As much as the processes I am teaching have remained the same, the class is filled with my stories, my own sense of humour, and completely new media to present everything differently.

With some of the other lessons, I took my sweet time to learn them fully, for example the lesson of noticing when we over-function for others and thus end up feeling unappreciated. A clear reminder of that came up for me around Christmas. We can’t please everybody. In fact, there are people who never can be pleased because they feel so deeply unlovable that there is nothing anybody else can say or do to change this. They are insistent on telling their victim stories, which give them attention and are oblivious of how they affect others. All we can do is send them love from a distance and allow our own life to be in balance.

Balance is something

Other lessons—like fully living in the present and enjoying each moment—I am certain will come back time and again. Life is this wonderful balance of looking ahead to the future and co-creating our tomorrow but still living right now free of cares, just connecting to our true essence.

When I come across somebody in a wheelchair or a walker, I make an extra effort to connect. Being physically disabled can be a life of looking in from the fringe and can feel quite lonely. Even with a temporary disability, I was treated differently; people avoided looking at me and even spoke to the person pushing the wheelchair rather than me. I can only imagine how challenging this must be for others in a more extended situation than mine. Every person, who smiled at me or talked to me while I was out and about in the wheelchair made my day.

What remains for me a year later is a deep sense of gratitude for my amazing family, for my body which carries me so well through life and a huge joy at being able to enjoy this spring time outside. I watch each flower blooming, each bud sprouting on the trees with true delight. Here is another spring, another round to learn and grow and be present with each glorious moment that unfolds.

IMG_7743

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Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

The Effects of an Attitude of Gratitude

Have you ever heard somebody say “You should be grateful for…”? How did that feel? Was that an invitation to even consider shifting into an attitude of gratitude?

Growing up as a child, gratitude got a “bad rap” for me. Gratitude went into my shadow for a while because I could not relate to it. My parents’ and grandparents’ experience came from lack. Some very essential ingredients were missing when they referred to gratitude with that disapproving voice. They completely missed the joy, the magic, and the wonder that is to be found in gratitude. When they referred to gratitude it came from the head instead of the heart, it came from fear to have to experience lack again, instead of knowing the universe as abundant. Instead of teaching true gratitude by their example, they preached gratitude and judged what they perceived as “ungrateful”.

When I moved from Europe to Canada, Thanksgiving became one of my favourite times of the year. I loved teaching my children about giving thanks and seeing their brains process the information of abundance. Their eyes lit up and their creative little minds joyfully came up with more magical and wonderful things that had manifested and were reasons for thankfulness.

What actually happens when we focus on all our blessings? Quantum physics has taught us that we affect and create change by what we observe. We literally modify the molecules that make up our physical world. As we are focusing our attention on all we have in abundance and give thanks for everything, for what we really enjoy but also for everything we like less, we are affecting our reality.

We are happier, we are healthier and we are able to perceive opportunities and more abundance. Complaining inhibits our brain from properly processing information. Our perceptive filters prevent us from seeing what we are looking for. We only see the print-out in the physical world of our past fears and worries. Complaining creates interference. Instead of using our ability to create with clear focus what we actually want, we are creating blocks and are getting ourselves stuck.

gratitude-james-mellon_-cement

What we complain about expands. Complaining brings on more of what we are complaining about. We always have the choice. We can focus on gratitude or on complaining. We are creating either way.

Gratitude is not something we do but who we become as we focus on our riches. Gratitude is a powerful magnet. It is expansive. Complaining, worrying and “should-ing” are constrictive. They create statics in the infinite field of possibilities. An attitude of unhappiness and dissatisfaction keeps us away from our good. “You should be grateful” is counterproductive. Saying “yes” to life means working in resonance with the field of possibilities.

 

gratitude-e-tolle_always-say-yes

In today’s globalization, we are being sold a hostile world everywhere. Our fear driven amygdala kicks in and buys into the illusion of separation, of living in a “dog-eat-dog” world. We feel small, unsafe and shift into “fight mode”. From that fear, ideas of greed, envy and competition are born.

During the Shadow Energetics workshop, we begin one morning with a deep meditation called “Being State Meditation” which my friend Darryl Gurney created. The purpose of that meditation is to experience ourselves as different from form, independent of the many roles we all play, of experiencing ourselves as true essence. Once we have had that taste of being more than our physical body and being connected with everything and everybody it has to reflect our choices. We realize the responsibility we all carry for the entire system we are all part of.

Everything is connected. Just like the five fingers of my hand are all connected, each of us is an integral part of one living system; we live as such, breathe as such, thrive as such. Everything I do affects everything else. We affect and change everything, even just by observing and thinking, not to mention by what we say and do. When we apply our beliefs, fears and opinions to the world, we shape the world. If we buy into hostility and danger, we create more violence and aggression. If our commodities are love, compassion and forgiveness, we contribute to healing the planet.

Experiments with the Transcendental Meditation® technique has shown that only one square root of 1% of a population practicing unconditional love and true peace, results in measurable improvements away from fear, crime, aggression and violence, to lower crime rates, less violence, cooperation and group thinking.

gratitude-pam-grout

“… By choosing to add energy to the resonant field of gratitude and joy, you can fundamentally change the world… you don’t have to march for peace (although you may want to)… You can enlarge the conversation by taking your focus off the negative and noticing all the things that are going right, taking a stand for goodness of humanity.” (Pam Grout)

What we choose to focus on manifests. My mind creates my experience, not the other way around! Therefore, it is my responsibility to see a friendly Universe. It is my essential contribution to making this planet the beautiful, safe and loving place it can be.

thanksgiving-happy-thanksgiving-2

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Angelika Baum

Belief Change Coach and Workshop Instructor

905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

The Shadow Side of Gratitude

When I casually asked my family a couple of days ago, “Any ideas for a Thanksgiving blog?” my daughter replied, “Only cheesy ones, about gratitude”.

Now, I don’t think that gratitude is cheesy at all. Gratitude has many benefits. It gives us an experience of joy and optimism, it strengthens our relationships and it actually improves our health. The better we feel about our life, the healthier our physical body is. However, the question is, how do we handle gratitude?

My grandmother who survived two world wars used to look at her grandchildren and say to us “You are so spoiled. You should be modest and grateful for everything you have.” I learned early on that being “ungrateful” is a terrible thing, a character flaw, something we need to hide and fight. Can you guess what happened?

It became one of my shadows. Each time when I felt disappointed about something and had the perspective of ungratefulness about an event, I felt really guilty and flawed. I felt like I had failed to be what one should be, which is always grateful.

shadow 1

And as it is the case with our shadows, one of the things which triggered me most as a parent were little children who showed up as “demanding” and “spoiled”. I remember vividly a little boy at my younger daughter’s birthday party, the forgotten sad middle child of three, who loudly and clearly expressed his dissatisfaction with his loot bag as opposed to his brother’s loot bag. Apparently, his brother’s loot bag had the items in exactly the colours he wanted.

Instead of being able to see what was going on for this little guy, that his life experience was being overshadowed by his only slightly younger brother and being able to feel compassion for him, I felt an inner anger rise about this entitlement and lack of gratitude. There was my grandmother all over again. I felt like saying to him, “You are so spoiled.” Obviously, I didn’t, but I could tell his father saw it in my face and heard it in my tone as I tried to respond with a calm I didn’t feel inside. All the little boy had done was mirror to me what I had learned to hate about myself.

I have thought about my grandmother and what she taught me to suppress—the feeling of dissatisfaction in this case—many times since. I’ve thought of birthdays growing up when I felt disappointment but smiled because one is supposed to be grateful for everything. Inside, I felt like a horrible ungrateful person. Somehow that feeling of “un-gratitude” grew more from year to year, and from birthday to birthday. Suppressing our shadows is like cutting off the heads of the Lernaean Hydra, the serpentine water monster from Greek and Roman mythology. When you cut one head off, she grows two. If you cut those two off, she grows four and so on. I had a multi-headed hydra in my life, waking up each October around my birthday with more and more heads.

It wasn’t until I was a mother buying natural fibred underwear for my first child and my grandmother repeated her sentence “You are so spoiled” that I realized, it wasn’t just a bad thing to be spoiled. Suddenly, I heard a different sub-text. I heard, “Who are you to think you or your child deserves the more expensive item? Who are you to think you are special?”

I didn’t know the answer back then but I know it today. Back then she managed to trigger the feeling of guilt for being so ungrateful and spoiled. Even though my rising anger inside told me there was something to do with this situation, I did not have the right answer because I did not really feel deserving. Today, I know I deserve whatever I decide I deserve. What can look like lack of gratitude to others can also be that you know what you want and you are able to treat yourself or your family to the best.

Louise Hay - I deserve

Fact is, we are all everything. Everything that exists in the world around us, in the macrocosm, also exists inside of us, in the microcosm. We are all grateful at times and ungrateful at others. Sometimes we see the light at the end of the tunnel or the gift something or someone is. Other times a nagging feeling of “this is not good enough” creeps in. That nagging feeling is not there to be judged and suppressed. It is a call to find a way to honour ourselves more—even if that means being judged by other people as ungrateful, spoiled or selfish.

Fifteen years ago, I started on my spiritual path. In spiritual circles it’s all about gratitude. And, as I mentioned above, gratitude is a fantastic perspective changer and key to happiness. Yet, let’s not forget to first honestly feel what is really there, acknowledge it, decide if it’s a call to do something and then, in the final step, shift to a different perspective—if we choose to.

Gratitude cannot be forced. Nobody has to be grateful, not on their birthday or Christmas or Thanksgiving. Those celebrations can bring out all sorts of emotions. Honour them. And when you are ready, feel free to try this thing called gratitude—not because we should all be grateful, but just because it might be fun to see what it’s like.

Angelika

Thanksgiving - Happy Thanksgiving

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The Perfect Mother

A client said to me this week, “I saw my mother again and suddenly realized that I could just be with her, treat her with compassion, see her as a human being. I really have stopped judging her, and am more able to love her the way she is.”

Isn’t that beautiful? Each time when somebody I am working with is healing a relationship, it touches me deeply in my heart.

Another client of mine wrote a letter of gratitude to her stepmother this week. She hasn’t seen her stepmother or her father in twenty years. Their last encounter was one full of anger, conflict and mutual hurt. The daughter has spent the last two decades blaming the stepmother for everything. Those feelings had bound up her energy in the past, and left her feeling unloved and “broken”. She felt she was victimized by her stepmother, who struggled to raise her stepdaughter with the same affection she had raised her own biological children with.

perfect mother - letter

My client did not write the letter for her stepmother, she wrote it for herself. After doing the inner work, she was able to acknowledge her own feelings, but also everything her stepmom had done or had attempted to do; she was truly able to forgive her for what she didn’t do. Nothing of that needed to be written in the letter. Instead it was a simple letter of thank you to the woman who was in her life for most part of her childhood. She didn’t send the letter off to receive a response, nor for the purpose of changing or influencing her stepmother. She wrote it to clear her own energy of resentment and anger out.

Forgiving and shifting into appreciation and gratitude is always primarily for ourselves, “for-giving” ourselves love and freedom. It is also a huge step towards taking responsibility for our own life. When we finally let go of blaming others, we win the ability to respond differently to past, present and future events in our life. We gain true response-ability.

Why do so many of us struggle for such a long time with forgiving our parents for their imperfections? Why do we insist on blaming them and on feeling that they ruined or affected our lives negatively?

We have idealized images of what our mother (and father) should be like. We might all have slightly different ideas, but the perfect mother somehow should be selfless, she should take care of us, she should always be patient and supportive, she should listen well and encourage us, she should be proud of us and make us proud of her, and so much more: in short she should love us unconditionally. Media images, TV shows, movies and books often perpetuate these ideas of the perfect mother and affect our beliefs of what a “good mother” is like. These images stem from our deepest desires to be truly loved. Yet, they cause us to judge our mother and ourselves as mothers because we naturally fall short of this perfect mother myth at times. They are the source of guilt and shame instead of enjoying the love we do feel.

Perfect Mother -Carpenter quote

Most people, no matter whether they are parents or not, are still learning to love themselves and others unconditionally. The perfect mother images disregard the fact that we always mirror and trigger each other’s issues and challenges. Children trigger their parents and parents trigger their children. That is a good thing. It is an opportunity to grow and do our inner work.

What triggers us in others, what we judge and dislike about them, is really what we dislike in ourselves. As long as we refuse to give ourselves what we would like to receive from others, it is out of our reach. Only when we truly feel we are good enough, do we become just perfectly lovable the way we are. We can feel loved by others, no matter how limited their ability to love unconditionally might be.

Perfect Mother - Desjardins quote

Nobody and nothing can prevent us from truly loving ourselves. It is our job to love ourselves; nobody can do it for us! No amount of love from the outside can penetrate through if we do not take the cape of self-judgment, self-loathing or even self-hatred off.

 John Gray cartoon love-hate

  from “What You Feel You Can Heal” by John Gray

On this Mother’s Day, make the choice to let go of the past. Forgive your mother or stepmother, whether they are alive or dead. What happened in the past is over and does not matter anymore. Realize that it doesn’t mean anything unless you give it a certain meaning. Decide that your mother, stepmother, or mother-in-law for that matter, is just perfect the way she is. Start telling your story differently, with love.

Perfect Mother - Tolstoi quote

Free yourself up to love your parents without expectations or needs. Be willing to love them the way they are. Take the cape off that prevents you from feeling the love of others. Finally give yourself the gift of loving yourself the way you are.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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Two Words

There are two words in the English language which have an almost magical power. They make us feel appreciated and valued, they bring a smile to people’s faces and they can completely change the energy between two people.

We can use them with our family; we can use them with our friends; we can use them with complete strangers and make somebody’s day. These words are already effective when said lightly in the passing. But when we put the entire energy of our feelings behind what we are saying, they are like a key which can open anybody’s heart. The more coherent our body language and verbal communication is, the more powerful their effect. “Thank you” goes a very long way. “Thank you” connects and builds bridges. “Thank you” brings out the best in all of us.

Sometimes we get stuck in feeling so unappreciated by others that we forget to thank them or feel stubborn about thanking them. However, these words open up the doors for greater appreciation on both sides. What if we said thank you to our parents and step-parents and to our children, to our siblings and even to our ex-partners? Let’s not stop at saying thank you to those people who we already find so easy to love. Let’s say thank you to those people we feel judged by or unloved by. Perhaps one reason why they are angry at us is that they feel unappreciated.

Many of my relationships are strong due to love and appreciation. My children use every celebration or other opportunity to say thank you for all I have done for them. Their words come straight from their heart. That acknowledgment makes me want to do more for them, give them all I possibly can. I know that they appreciate the quality time we spend together and the financial expenses that come hand-in-hand with raising them. My ex-husband and I are thankful for the mutual flexibility and good communication we extend toward each other. It has taken work to arrive at this point. Knowing that we appreciate the other greatly as a co-parent makes us want to be even better co-parents.

Yet, I have one extended family member who I haven’t said thank you to in a long time. I have been stuck in judgment for this person, only aware of what I don’t like about her. Of course, I know that what I judge about her is exactly something she mirrors for me; it’s an energy which exists in my shadow, and therefore an energy I need to work with and embrace.

It is time to stop my judgments and feelings of dislike and reach out with a simple thank you for all she has done, whether I liked how she has done it or not. I will need to sit down and really put myself in her shoes to appreciate all her efforts and how difficult things have been for her. We all have our own interpretation, our own story about ourselves, the people around us, and the situations we find ourselves in. I am sure she has hers. I certainly have mine, and I don’t doubt that our stories vary greatly. Saying thank you means going beyond these stories of right and wrong.

When did you last say thank you to the parent or step-parent you have judged your entire life long, but who has done his or her best? When did you last tell the partner who we so easily take for granted that you are grateful for their support, which they show in so many different ways? When did you last let your sister or brother know that you appreciate them and their role in the family?

Do you find it hard to do this in-person? Then write a letter or an e-mail simply saying thanks. Don’t expect anything in return. Do it just because. Do it because this world needs more appreciation and gratitude from all of us.

Thank You in Diff Languages

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Relationship Coaching, Shadow Work, Belief Change Coaching

905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

New Year’s Traditions

In Europe—and Russia so I heard from one of my clients yesterday—the end of an old year and the beginning of a new year is seen as a more important celebration than in North America. Everybody stays up, and celebrates with family and friends. You think back to the old year and look forward to the new, setting intentions of what you want to experience.

 

bleigiessen

When I was a girl, we used to do “Bleigießen” (“Lead pouring”) for New Year’s Eve in Germany. A small amount of lead was melted in a tablespoon (by heating it up with a lighter underneath the spoon) and then poured into a bucket of water. It would harden into different shapes to give you a preview of what to expect in the New Year. For example, if the lead formed a ball, it meant “luck will roll your way”. Superstition? Or is it maybe a way to talk about your dreams with your loved ones and to set intentions of manifesting more consciously in the New Year?

 

gratefulness jar

In our family, our favourite New Year’s Eve tradition is to open our Gratitude Jar. The jar is filled with little notes about the year that is just ending. Whenever something good happens to one of us, something we felt excited about or grateful for, we put a note in the jar to hold onto those memories and good feelings. On Dec. 31, everybody has a chance to read out their own notes to everybody else and re-experience their happy moments. It’s a way to look back at a year of plenty, an abundance of joy, happiness and dreams which came true.

 

suitcase

Another tradition my children like is to take a suitcase and run around the block or around the outside of the house to set the intention of travelling in the year to come. I believe we first came across this fun custom speaking to a Mexican friend of ours. It has us laughing and envisioning the marvellous places we want to visit in the future.

Have you ever wondered why we kiss the person closest to us once the clock strikes 12:00? It has to do with the custom passed down through the ages to kiss the person we hope to keep kissing in the New Year.

 

Oliebollen

In different parts of the world, food is used in a symbolic fashion, usually for food to be abundant again in the new year. In Dutch, Belgian and North German homes, fritters made out of flour, eggs, and milk, called Oliebollen or Ölkugeln are served. In Swiss homes, dollops of whipped cream, symbolizing the richness of the year to come, are dropped on the floors.

 

letter to Universe2

A spiritual way to end the old year and begin the new is to write a letter to the Universe. This letter is written as if you are already looking back onto the coming year, so for example this year’s letter would be written looking back onto 2015 at the end of December 2015. In the letter you give thanks and feel gratitude for all the health, happiness, prosperity, growth and wonderful manifestations of the year.

 

THEME OF THE NEW YEAR

My friend Grace Attard raised an interesting question on Facebook by sharing her theme for 2014 (“easy manifestation and allowing”) and her new theme for 2015 (“all in” and committing to the work required). Someone else mentioned “letting go” as their theme for the New Year.

What is your theme for 2015? What are you focusing on?

My theme is “creativity”; meaning handling life’s challenges creatively. We are not in control of what other people bring into our life but we are in control of what we want to “cook” from the “ingredients” which show up.

What do all these traditions and end of year reflections have in common? They are about gratitude and focusing on what we want. They help us to be thankful and give us clarity about our goals and desires. Energetically, we are getting ready to live and create more purposefully and in line with what makes our soul sing.

An old year ends, a new one starts, and we are bringing all those beautiful memories of 2014 with us as we continue to create and celebrate life. We carry feelings of gratefulness and excitement in our hearts. Here is to another amazing year! Cheers!

Angelika

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