WHAT STRESSES YOU OUT?

This was yesterday’s question of the day. It was a random question that popped up an I thought I’d put it out there. I’d forgotten that I asked, and when I looked at the responses, I was happy to see that it got quite a few answers.

Lots of people were willing to share what bugs them, and they are all everyday things that everyone sees different. There were some things I read that don’t bother me at all and some that I think are funny; you never can tell what stresses other people.

It’s a bit of a synchronicity that I asked that question yesterday and had a visit with my doctor in which he explained some things to me. I’ve been dealing with some symptoms that are caused by something with my hormones. Well it turns out that when we have stress, any kind of stress, good or bad, it affects our hormones.

We all know what bad stress is, but good stress could be watching an exciting game or an intense movie. All of those things cause our hormones to shift. When the doctor was talking I thought about work. I have worked 60 plus hours a week for most of my career, and though when I work, I have fun, it is a stressor. It’s not that I take my job home or that I worry and fret over things, but, as the doctor explained, it’s the act of it.

I wake up at 3 AM every morning, I read, write, then go to work for a ten hour, or more, shift. Add in a trip to the gym three or four times a week, and my constant goal-setting, and you have someone who is under constant hormonal stress. No wonder my body is sending me these messages.

This is not the type of stress where I’m stuck in traffic or I’m worried about the job. It’s stress where I’m constantly doing something, which includes demanding physical exercise, which I enjoy. It seems that even doing the things I enjoy I need to step beck from and learn to slow down.

The slowing down part has not been as easy as one might think. I had a seven week vacation and went back to a forty hour shift. It’s taking my mind some time to slow down after pulling the loaded cart for so many years. I guess this is good practice for retirement that will begin in a few years.

Now, as I slowly get back to the business of living, I need to look for new ways to exercise. Slow down and do something low impact. I need to take care of the body differently, so it lasts longer and I can enjoy everything I’ve worked so hard for, and that means giving up something’s I thought were pleasurable in the past.

HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR COFFEE?

I woke up this morning wanting, no, needing, a cup of coffee. I’ve been drinking it since about the age of ten, seriously. There haven’t been too many days that I didn’t drink it, except for the few times I attempted to give it up.

I’m giving it up again and am now dealing with the constant headache and lethargy. Coffee is the greatest beverage in the world and also the biggest ball and chain. Coffee doesn’t care where I’m at, at home, in a hotel, on the road, it comes calling every morning demanding that I consume it.

The taste of a good, strong cup of this addictive bean is exquisite. Did I say addictive? Oh yes, that’s because it is. Everyone knows it. Caffeine is the one socially acceptable addictive substance. The one whose virtues are constantly extolled. I decided to quit the daily habit, it was out of control and my body needed a rest. I normally drink 32 ounces or more every day. Most days I drink more coffee than water, to be honest.

Anyone who drinks coffee on the regular knows that if you miss a dose, the headache soon follows, the the fatigue, aches and pains. I found a way to ease the withdrawal symptoms; tapering. I started with my regular serving, the water filled to line six on the coffee pot with six scoops of grounds. Every couple days I replaced one scoop with on scoop of decaf. I brought green tea into the mix and drank that for a few days.

After two weeks I was ready to give it up and drink no caffeine. Sunday was that day. I did fine until mid afternoon , that’s when the headache arrived. It would have been much worse if I hadn’t tapered off. I took ibuprofen and it kept it at bay.

Monday came and the headache returned around the same time. This time, no ibuprofen and it dissipated in the evening. I still feel a little shaky and lethargic but I’m hoping that passes soon. This morning I’m starting my third day caffeine free and I’d like to see how many days I can go; it would be nice to make a week.

LONG TERM GOALS

As I sit and write this, I wonder if my short term actions are aligned. Some of them are, such as a daily writing habit and reading everyday. Some are not, like healthy eating and exercise.

Goals are something we put out in order to give us something to work for. We all have goals, even if we don’t name them. For instance, you might have a concert planned for the upcoming weekend. Call it what you want but the intention to be at the concert venue on the date and time that it starts is a goal.

It doesn’t have to be some high achieving, earth shattering intention, anything you set your mind to is a goal. In order to get to that concert, a ticket must be purchased and in order to purchase it money is required. To make money would take going to work, so getting up and going to work would be a short term action toward a long term goal.

Now it’s time to think of other long term goals. Losing weight, buying a house, moving forward in a career. Those are a little more long term than going to a concert. What is the object of your desire? It’s not going to fall in your lap out of thin air. It does take some action on your part, but it’s not major, pain inducing leaps that are needed. Small steps. For me, I am working on publishing a book, so I write ten minutes a day. If I write 500 words in the ten minutes it will take 140 days to write 70,000 words, that’s a book.

I have to get it out of my mind that the idea is going to put itself on paper instantly. The story can’t be rushed. It flows steadily into the written word. If a small ten minute action is taken daily, momentum builds until the job is complete.

I could be more consistent with writing everyday, but some days I’m not feeling it and need a break. Its only ten minutes, but if I push too hard, I might experience burnout. Taking the small actions takes patience. Patience with yourself and your own limits. Yes, we all have those too, but they can be stretched through small actions.

Your long term goal doesn’t have to be anything grand in anyone else’s eyes. Maybe your goal is to be happy. What actions are you taking to meet that objective?

ARE YOU LISTENING?

Well, are you? Not to me, I may not have anything to say. I mean are you listening to anything. You can’t hear if you don’t listen. The Voice is loudest in the silence.

That’s where it starts, in the silence. With all the white noise going on around us on a daily basis, we hear nothing except noise. Sometimes it’s good to step back into the silence and just listen. No music, no computer no social media alerts, just silence.

This morning as I sat in quiet contemplation I heard the silence, and through it, I heard the singing of a bird. It was still dark outside and its chirping sounded like a car alarm, but didn’t last as long, and soon after the bird received its answer. Another bird in the early morning singing to begin the day.

In the silence is where we hear the Voice of The Intelligence. The Voice of God. The Universe. It’s ever calling, waiting for our response, yet often the wait is in vain because we don’t hear it through the noise.

The noise could be sound, or it could be activity in our overactive minds. There are different types of noise, sound being only one of many. The silent whisper in the back of our minds is calling us. It wants our attention but often we are too busy with work, soccer practice, piano recitals, social media activity, binge watching.

There are infinite distractions and diversions in life, each designed to take our mind away from the reality that we live. What is reality? Who knows, it’s different for everybody. For some, it’s work, work, work. For others it’s pouring themselves into family, or building a business. We are all on separate paths but on the same journey. How will we know where to go if we don’t hear the Voice? How will we hear the Voice if we have no silence? How will we have silence with all of the activity going on around us?

It’s time to unplug, unwind and understand. Understand what gifts Life has for us. It’s time to accept those gifts, and the only way accept them is through silent contemplation where we can hear the still, silent whisper calling us.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE WORLD TODAY?

I remember this lament from when I was young. I heard it from the older people who would complain about the world going to Hell in a hand basket. The world, it seemed, was better in the old days. The days when these older people were young ‘uns themselves.

They were probably repeating what the older generation before them said; that the world was changing, and not for the better. I guess indoor plumbing and sanitary conditions were not desirable. That’s right, even though it’s been around since the ancient Aztec and Roman civilizations, only recently have water and power reached the masses. It’s something that most Boomers and X-ers take for granted. Something that to millennials is a given, kind of like instant worldwide communication.

What is the allure of the old days, though? There are so many technological advancements, especially in the past twenty years, that even those of modest means live a comparative life of luxury. As an example I’m have in my hands a device that holds 256 gigabytes of memory, I will communicate these thoughts instantaneously and it can be seen around the world in real time, a phrase we knew nothing about when I was growing up.

Back then, thinking of a computer conjured images of a vast warehouse with giant machinery stacked to the rafters, and it houses maybe half the capacity of my cell phone. I remember being amazed when the game Asteroids came on the scene. Now it’s a relic of the past.

Enough about all that, though. The question is; what makes the past so much better or desirable? Why do we pine for a “simpler” time? Maybe it’s because we now see the world through a different set of eyes. Maybe now we see that much of what we do and pursue is folly and we want to go back to when we didn’t feel like hamsters on a wheel.

Forty years of grinding 40, 50, 60 hours a week and more has brought little more that a big mortgage and a stack of bills and these young whippersnappers have no idea how hard we’ve worked to attain this level of comfort and, worse, have no inclination to work for any of it.

Lazy, we call them. Entitled, because the parents worked so hard to give them everything they never had and now we think, they don’t want to work for it. Has anyone stopped to think that the new generation doesn’t want what the previous generation wanted? Maybe the new generation has seen through the illusion that has been fed to them and force- fed to the previous generations.

Perhaps the new generation believes that life is about experience and growth? Why be cynical about what the new generation wants? We had our day in the sun. We had our chance to leave the world better than we found it, and in some ways we succeeded, others not so much, but at least we tried.

Anyway, maybe life is more than status and material. Maybe it’s about living in the moment of Now, about sharing. Whether it’s money, shelter, thoughts. Maybe it is about the experiences we share. We seem to have this idea that young people need to listen to their elders, and while that is valuable advice, maybe we can learn something from them.

Maybe it’s time for us to get on board and live in the moment of Now. Perhaps we should let go of past programming that made us driven to succeed. Maybe it’s time, not to go back to a simpler time, but to create a simpler time now.