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Unmoor from emotion, find mental peace

 

So many times we yearn for peace. We want a true serenity that makes our problems seem far away. This is possible – though meditation, it can be possible. Walks in nature, a good back rub, time with kids or pets, a good book that takes you away. All these things can help.

It is quite possible to live much of your life in a calm and harmonious way. Eastern traditions often teach this. The key is mindfulness. To be mindful, observe your emotions. Watch how they work. Think about why they are. This practice, in itself, will help you to be at peace.

If a person lets their emotions run them, their life can be highly turbulent. It can be difficult to relax or get going, relationships suffer, projects only are worked on when the person is “in the mood.” It’s also much easier to be angry or offended and it’s far too easy to feel threatened and lash out verbally or even physically.

Emotions shouldn’t rule things. They are a fickle master. If a person observes them and notices what causes them, emotions can be beneficial. After a time, emotions add spice to life but don’t make up the whole dish. Who would eat a meal that was all spices? Better to have a good solid base with spices as an accent.  Put another way, being ruled by emotion is like being tossed on a stormy sea when you have no oars.

An analytical mind may sound cold and unfeeling. It isn’t. An analytical mind merely decides what the person is going to do, using emotions as information but not letting them run the show. The best place to start is, as mentioned before to be mindful and observe how things work. This is a great way to face fears, ease emotional difficulties, banish anxieties. If attention wanders, refocus. “Failure” is okay. Giving up isn’t.

One of the best parts of living mindfully and thinking about everything is not only will you feel more peaceful, you will learn faster. Your life will run more smoothly. People’s opinions won’t sting as much. Fears won’t loom as large. You will know peace that is based on fact not fantasy. Your brain is your greatest tool, the more you use it the better.

Being guided by your mind and not your emotions is like getting two oars and a motor in your boat tossed on a stormy sea.  Suddenly, you can move about and get to calmer waters!

 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Unmoored

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Fear, Cliffs and Precipices

I’ve been scared of heights my entire life.

Mostly cliffs and steep stairways, steep hills, things like that.  It makes my knees go all watery when I look at pictures of that city in China, the one that’s all built on a cliffside and is nothing but dizzying views of the valley floor, far, far below.

It even makes me nervous to look at rock climbers when they are dangling from some difficult rock face.

At a writer’s retreat, I wrote the following passage:

What is it like, not to be afraid? I’ve never known. Among the planar ferns, carpeted with dew- bedazzled moss and roofed with maple clerestory, I’m fine. Or, watching mist-silvered ripples run cross mossy swells of granite. Or ranging mile on mile through fir and cedar pillars, hot pitch perfume rising to my nose. It’s easy to forget when things are comfortable.

But venturing along a cliffside trail, or threading a narrow planken bridge, I’m liable to turn… and there it is, a grinning vista. My blood runs icy as a spring when I contemplate infinity. Far peaks turn into fangs to bite me, friendly lake a vat to drown me, lovely trees just claws to catch.

“How lovely,” I hear from far away. “How picturesque!” For my best appreciation, it should stay in the picture. Caught between cliff and hill it’s all too easy to feel the footing fail, the world tilt askew and the mountain come tumbling on my bare head. Here, imagination turns from friend to foe. A stout stick and a will of unworked sponge-iron are my only defenses. Step by halting step I head for home.

I’d like to be able to stand atop a cliff or mountain, and not know what that fear meant. Not feel my heart slam against cage of ribs, not have my legs turn to egg noodle paste, not taste imminent death on the wind.

Until then, isn’t this fungus under the emerald-blanketed log a thing of beauty? And do you mind if I stay on my knees?

 

Anyone with a phobia can probably relate.   There’s a way through that terror.  The way is to remember that fear is a paper tiger.  If you realize that it can’t truly control you, and you face it and move through it, fear dissolves.  I have not been entirely successful yet.  However, whenever I truly practice this, I beat back fear.

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Precipice

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Finally, summer’s here! Have some Switchel.

You may be wanting to know exactly what switchel is.   Basically, it’s a mix of water, ginger, vinegar, and sugar.  Sometimes fruit juice is added.

When I first encountered this beverage, I thought it tasted strange. However, the more I drank it, the better I liked it. I learned that it was a common hot weather beverage in Early America, and that intrigued me. I’ll write more about its history later but first, here’s how to make it.

Switchel is simple to make. You start with cold water and add apple cider vinegar, sweetener of some kind, and fresh ginger. It’s refreshing, replenishes your potassium, and helps your digestion. It’s a great recovery drink for after a work out. Though the spicy, sweet and sour flavor may be a bit odd at first, it’s certainly well worth getting used to!

Here’s a good recipe to start with.

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons brown sugar, 10 ounces cold water, and minced fresh ginger to taste.  

Variations:

Make ginger tea and add the vinegar and sugar.

Use honey.

Use maple syrup.

Add a splash of fruit juice, such as blueberry or cherry.

Sometimes I will make a strong ginger tea and chill that to make my base with. Other times I’ll simply add chopped ginger to my vinegar-sugar-water mix. Or, as mentioned in the recipe, I might add some fruit juice for variety. I’ve even drunk it warm! Your choice of sweeteners affects the taste. So far I like pure maple syrup or plain white sugar the best. You could also use honey, molasses, or stevia. You may want to limit your sweetener, though I wouldn’t recommend eliminating it at first. Personally, I plan to keep a big jug of it in the fridge this summer, especially during the hot, sticky monsoon months.

Personal experiences:

I have found it to have an energizing effect, somewhat like a mild energy drink. I usually digest things better after I’ve had some, too. I have some digestive issues and the ginger helps the muscles in my stomach and gut move a bit more slowly (link) so I digest things more thoroughly. Plain ginger tea does the same, particularly when I eat the chopped ginger as well as drinking the liquid. My body seems to crave the vitamins that are found in the apple cider vinegar. I tend to like {this brand}, though you can buy it at your local grocery store. If possible, buy it organic with the “mother” still included, though I’ve had great results even with the purified, pasteurized variety.

The history of Swtichel:

As mentioned before, this was a farmer’s drink in early America, but many people liked it. It was believed that the ginger had a warming effect that would lessen the shocking effect of cold water on the stomach, while the sugar and vinegar were there for flavor. It was basically an early sports drink.

Since it’s so easy to make, why not try some today?

If something more traditional is more to your liking, here is how to make a simple ginger beer.

First, start with ginger tea. That’s easy to make – steep chopped ginger in hot water for five minutes or so. Make it nice and strong.

Mix the tea with sugar to taste. Perhaps a cup of sugar for a gallon of ginger beer.

Once it’s cooled to body temperature, add a half teaspoon of yeast. Simple baking yeast is fine.

Evenly divide the mixture into two clean 2 liter soda bottles. Put a slice or two of ginger in each one to strengthen the flavor. Fill the rest of the way with plain water. Leave an inch or so of space at the top of the bottle for “head room.” Cap the bottles tightly.

Leave the ginger beer in the fridge overnight, or until the bottles feel hard. The yeast will carbonate the sweet ginger tea and make it into a simple ginger ale, without building up enough to form alcohol. This makes a great cold drink for a hot day!

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Final

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Temporary Profit – an open letter to department stores

Many of you are rightfully concerned by online competition. Retailers such as Amazon have taken a lot of your market share. So I have a suggestion to increase your profitability in a way that will endure.

Instead of doing more of what you already do, or engaging in progressively more intrusive and annoying advertising, how about capitalizing on your strengths? The strength of a local store is responsiveness. Workers at a store can answer questions, find things for customers, and set up orders for things not in stock. Knowledgeable, personable employees are the difference between a successful business and a faceless set of walls and aisles.

Central planning is the bane of many shoppers’ existence. How many shoppers have gone into a store to buy something and discovered that it wasn’t available in the style they liked because Corporate didn’t carry it? Usually, that just sends shoppers online because comment cards and suggestion boxes do nothing to put the goods they want in the store.

As a business, why not put the human touch back into the department store and be truly responsive to customers? Then they will have a reason not to send all their money to online retailers.  Engage your workers, encourage them to become experts about what they sell, and encourage them to order what customers actually ask for.   The result may be a slightly lower, but more enduring profit, and more importantly, customer loyalty.

Customer loyalty can be all too temporary when they aren’t getting what they need.  Move with the times and with customer demand, and your future will be secure.

 

via Daily Prompt: Temporary

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/temporary/

Two Weeks to Resignation – and a new Lifestyle

Some say your life flashes before your eyes when you are about to die. I don’t know if that’s true, but as my time of resigning draws nearer, little memories of this job keep coming up. That time my coworkers did something sweet, or something funny a team lead said. Little things. How hopeful I was when I was hired, how happy I was to have a job. My frustrations with upper management. Things I’ve learned, both large and small. My ecstasy when I saw a friend come back who nearly died twice, my overflowing joy as I hugged him back into the fold.

This hasn’t been an easy decision. I’ve weighed so many different factors. Distance from home, atmosphere, opportunities for advancement, pay, friendships. I’ve been thinking about it for months. When I finally was offered a good position, I thought it might vanish away like smoke. I even dreamed about it. Yet, it was real, and now only two weeks away. I find myself clearing up loose ends, planning my end. I clean up my work station, decide what saved information I’ll bequeath to my friends, decide where my locker loot will go. It’s like a death. I think I’ll bake something for my friends, including bringing something for the diabetics, to show them how much they’ve meant to me. I’ve spent a lot of time here, after all, and sometimes they feel like a second family.

As I tell people of my decision, they are happy for me but sad to see me go. I feel the same. I will miss so many people. Even though I feel anger at injustice from on high, still I’ve had so many intangible gifts. I tell each person with warmth and regret. I wish management could have improved things, if they had, I would have stayed. But their goals are my goals and mine are mine, and it’s time to go. I intend to make these last days good ones, working hard to serve my callers and train those who will follow me.

I know that someday my memories of this place will fade, I’ll learn new halls and doorways, and new faces will start looking like my family. I’ll be over the rocky ridge and back again in familiar country, but it’s going to take a bit of walking across barren ground, looking for landmarks. For me, nearly seven and a half years is a long time, the longest time I’ve worked in one place.

On my last day I’ll leave with head held high, wishing well to all I leave behind. Right now, I am trying to leave a legacy of helpfulness and good will. And there are two weeks to go.

 

Postscript:

There was another, somewhat unexpected fruit to that job – inspiration for my book, How to P!ss Off the Customers, which will be made into a second edition soon.  It’s a lighthearted look at the perils of working Customer Service, and available for sale on my Books page. 

 

via Daily Prompt: Lifestyle

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/lifestyle/

None will be spared from safety features

I love my car. It’s battered, it has 163,000 miles on it, and it was built in 2006. It’s put up with minimal maintenance, a paper route, a drive across the country while carrying heavy loads, and done it all with minimal breakdowns. It’s a Hyundai Elantra with a standard transmission. Even as old as it is, it can still go from zero to sixty in six or seven seconds.

Driving around in my responsive little car, the windows open to the world, I notice big differences between my car and others around me. I see the newer cars, with their higher stances, their taller doors, their smaller windows, their wide doorposts. My car is fairly low to the ground with big windows. It makes situational awareness easy. There is no navigation system, just a radio/cd player, and that leads to far less distraction.

I drove a rental a couple years ago. It was some kind of compact Chevy. Driving it, I felt so insulated from the road. It was harder to see my blind spots, and the thick door posts were also difficult to see around. The high doors, caused by the side impact airbags, further reduced visibility. The suspension system made the road hard to feel. I felt insulated – which is good, if you aren’t hurtling down the road at forty five miles an hour in heavy traffic.

Ironically, “safety features” cause most of these problems. In fancier cars, there are also lane warning systems, backup alarms, camera systems, GPS of course, and many other distractions. There are also automatic braking systems. As much as I love technology, I don’t trust a computer to know when to brake better than I do, or know when I should or shouldn’t change lanes. Do I need an alarm beeping at me, when I’m already in a crisis? No, I don’t.

The more control a vehicle takes from you, the more dulled your skills become. The harder it is to see and hear the world around you, the less situationally aware you are. I’ve seen enough traffic accidents to know that improved situational awareness would save many lives every year. For example, knowing that I have somewhat bad eyesight, I purposely avoid distraction when driving – not using the phone or texting – to give me more brainpower to devote to looking around me. I have avoided so many accidents that way!

The key to being a good driver is improving your ability, not relying on a bunch of safety features that may or may not work. Modern cars often give up real safety in exchange for increasing the driver’s perception of safety. So if a government ever tries to force me into a modern vehicle with all the bells and whistles, then I’ll develop a sudden interest in historical pieces, or build my own!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/none/

via Daily Prompt: None