“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” ––Tom Bodett
How true is this? Life throws us curve balls all the time, but it’s how we grow and what we learn from them that ultimately shapes us.
Studying many of the principles of the New Age movement, I have learned the importance of our thoughts and how they hold power that can move us in a positive or negative direction. When I first started reading about this theory, also known as the Law of Attraction, I didn’t really understand what it meant. My initial interpretation was that like attracts like and good thoughts will create good results and bad thoughts will create bad results.
I was a bit rattled by this concept. If your mind is anything like mine, controlling my thinking is no easy feat, especially when insecure, critical, and fear-based inner dialogue rapid-fires in my head. As much as I want to tell them to shut the F up, my mind doesn’t always like to oblige.
Delving further into this idea, I learned that manifesting the life you want for yourself is more than just having a positive mindset. It’s about our energy, our vibration, our emotion. That’s the real ticket. It serves as the fuel behind the thoughts that enable us to create our reality.
The goal is to maintain a joy-filled, high vibration as much as possible, until something sh*tty comes flying in your direction. And when that happens, worry and self-loathing tend to jump onto the scene, initiating a hostile takeover of your happy thoughts.
New Age experts offer many different tools to help you snap out of a downward spiral, such as making a gratitude list––no matter how bad things seem, you can always find something to be grateful for; staying in the present moment; connecting with other people; spending time outside in nature; writing a script of how you want things to turn out; recognizing that you’re not your thoughts; watching comedy; exercising; practicing breathwork; meditating, etc. Many of these suggestions are helpful, but do they work? Yes and no.
Here’s an example of how I recently tried to turn a crappy day around:
It all began when I received a phone call from a friend who had tested positive for COVID-19. She and I had gone for a walk together a few days before she discovered that she had the virus, which meant that I had been directly exposed and needed to get tested.
On the way to the testing center, I got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Gripping the steering wheel in frustration, I tried to calm myself down by taking deep breaths, but it wasn’t helping. The longer it took to get there, the more I wanted to rip my hair out of my head. The ten-minute drive turned into forty minutes. By the time I arrived, my insides were filled with irritable tremors.
To make matters worse, after the test, I couldn’t locate my new AirPods. I thought maybe I had dropped them when I was walking over to the testing center. I carefully retraced my steps and tore my car apart looking for them, but couldn’t find them anywhere.
Consequently, when I got home I was in a terrible mood, and since I had to wait until the end of the day to get my test results back, the fear that I might have COVID-19 was adding to my angst.
I had to find a way to raise my vibration before my negative thinking sucked me further down a dark tunnel. I forced myself to go for a walk outside. The fresh air and sunshine helped a little, but I couldn’t stop focusing on the fact that I didn’t have my AirPods, which I had recently purchased to replace another missing pair! Like my phone, I take my AirPods everywhere. I use them to listen to podcasts and music when I’m exercising or doing mundane chores, like cleaning the house, and I use them to make phone calls. Without them, I was lost.
I tried to put it in perspective. In the grand scheme of things, this was not a big deal at all. In fact, even as I write this, I realize how ridiculous and bratty I must sound. There are far more pressing and dire issues facing the world right now than losing a trivial material item. But that day, in that moment, it didn’t matter what I told myself, the gnawing in my stomach was not subsiding.
Following the walk, I called my daughter on the phone and told her what had happened. She sympathized with me, but then the conversation switched to problems she was having with her friends. By the time we ended the call, my vibration was a notch lower.
Next, I tried journaling and making a list of things I was grateful for. I knew I had a lot to be thankful for, so that was easy to write. Even though I wasn’t feeling worse after I did that, it was by no means a magic bullet.
I thought maybe I should try singing or dancing. Really? Who was I kidding? That was never going to happen. Laughter also would’ve been ideal, yet nothing seemed funny.
The antidote to my sour mood finally came when I was busy cooking dinner. I stopped trying and stopped focusing on my low vibration. Preparing a meal distracted me from worrying about my COVID-19 test results, and it distracted me from my lost AirPods.
When I was finally in a better head space, I checked my email, and to my delight, my COVID-19 test came back negative. As for my AirPods, I accepted the fact that I would have to buy a new pair.
So, how do you stay positive when nothing seems to be going your way? Well, I would first suggest trying the techniques listed above. They may work, and they may not. But remember, the problem is the harder you try, the more difficult it might be to flip the switch on your negative headspace.
The best remedy is to let it go. Over and over in your head, say to yourself something like this: “I release my fear and anxiety.” Repeat it one hundred times if you must. It most likely won’t disappear right then and there, but as soon as you put your attention elsewhere, the black clouds hanging over your head will eventually give way to sunshine again.
Although I wasn’t consciously telling myself to let it go, the cooking distraction served as a doorway, allowing the bad thoughts to escape on their own. It may seem like an easy fix on paper, but the best way to learn a new skill is to practice it. The more you become adept at raising your vibration in the face of adversity, the more you will excel in the school of life, and that right there is––the greatest lesson of all.
Have you ever experienced an awkward greeting with someone you know? It typically happens when you’re not sure if you should go in for the one-cheek kiss, double-cheek kiss, the air kiss, the no-kiss-but-casual hug, or the casual kiss followed by a hug. Whatever you decide to do, my advice: don’t hesitate. Go right in for the kiss or the hug. Otherwise, you may experience the embarrassing side-to-side head bob, ensuring that you and the recipient make complete fools of yourselves.
I remember this happening years ago with me and one of my husband’s relatives. He and I were doing the head-shake dance, but rather than the kiss landing on his cheek, I inadvertently smacked one on his lips. My face lit on fire afterward, as did his. In hindsight, we probably should’ve laughed about it, but instead, we walked away from each other pretending our embarrassing greeting never occurred.
Thanks to the pandemic, greeting our friends and family members with a kiss and hug has been strictly forbidden. Yet that feels weird too, especially when you haven’t seen someone in a long time, and you want to touch them. So you find yourself standing there, feeling out of sorts as your body pulls you toward the person, desperate to reach out, while fighting the urge to remain at an appropriate distance.
What about the person who has been living under a rock for the past year, ignoring the COVID-19 safety measures? That would be the man or woman who wraps their arms around you in an embrace––without your consent––or reaches out and shakes your hand. Afterward, you stand there, frozen and eager to dive head-first into a pool of antibacterial soap.
I would have thought that since these casual, social greetings have been discouraged throughout the pandemic, I would be grateful that I was off the hook for a while and not have to experience the side-to-side head bobbing again. But I’ve come to realize that having been deprived from physical contact with other people (outside of my immediate family) has only made me yearn for it even more.
One day soon, when this pandemic is over, I’m going to take my affection toward others to a whole new level (appropriately, of course). I plan to hug everyone, sometimes with a cheek kiss, sometimes without. Heck, I might even consider standing on a street corner and hugging random strangers.
Human touch is so important. It’s how we show a person that we care about them. It’s a sign of empathy. It’s healthy. It’s good for our hearts. It’s love. When our children are babies and toddlers, we’re always holding them in our arms, in our hands, on our laps, and smothering them with affection.
I remember when I was a teenager, my mother would say to me every once in a while, “Can I have a hug?” I would always give in and let her wrap her arms around me, even though, as a stereotypical teenager, I was usually a bit irritated that I had to stop what I was doing to let her hug me. Now that I’m a parent of teenagers, I get it. Back then, I didn’t realize how important that was to my well-being. It was one of the ways in which my mom showed me how much she loved me.
Maintaining this type of affection with my daughter is easy. At nineteen years old, she still loves to snuggle with me in bed or on the couch to watch a movie. As for my sixteen-year-old son, I have to remind myself to periodically ask for those hugs—even when he thinks I’m being annoying.
Along with putting nutritious foods into our bodies, getting a daily dose of fresh air and vitamin D from the sun, exercising, and laughter, we also need to remember the importance of mental and physical connection. And for those of you who, like me, have experienced a few awkward greetings in your lifetime and are still a bit self-conscious about it, let it go––because as soon we’re all feeling safe from catching COVID-19, follow my lead and jump right in for that social hug or kiss—and just be grateful that you finally can.
Recently, someone in my community wrote a statement in the newspaper bashing those people who opposed his politics. When I first read what he had written, I was flabbergasted—to say the least. I couldn’t understand how a highly educated man who values family and religious tradition would make such harsh, negative comments about people who do not share his political views.
At first I went into attack mode—in my head and on the phone with my friends, lambasting this man—but once my anger subsided, I realized I was no different than him. After all, who was I to judge this man for having different views than me? Who was I to stoop to his level and spew venomous words out of my mouth about him?
Through my reaction, I had become his mirror image. Read more
Throughout most of my son, Judd’s, youth, he has been skiing with the Aspen Valley Ski School, where he learned how to freestyle ski, performing tricks in the air like an acrobat. I’ve witnessed some jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching flips and spins as Judd jumped off large cliffs on his skis. I am grateful every time he lands safely, his body intact.
In the summer months, Judd and his friends enjoy doing the same acrobatic moves from the edge of a mountain into a deep body of water. Recently, he was hanging with one of his lacrosse buddies at a lake, and the boys were flipping off a high peak. That evening, Judd showed me video clips of himself and his friend taking turns leaping into the air in a front somersault and landing (thankfully, injury-free) into the water. Cringing, I watched his friend open his body midway through the flip, flailing as he splashed into the water. With all that adrenaline running through him, it probably looked worse than he felt.
Judd explained to me how he tried to teach his friend the proper front flip technique, emphasizing that to do it correctly, his friend had to stay committed, which, from what I observed, he didn’t do. The word committed struck a chord with me. When I questioned Judd about it, he said that was how his ski instructors had taught him to do many of the tricks he had learned over the years. To get a perfect acrobatic landing, one must stay committed.
For the next week or so, I couldn’t stop thinking about how powerful the word commitment is. Commitment is derived from the Latin word committere, meaning “to unite, connect, combine; to bring together.” Com means “with, together” and mittere means “to release, let go, send, throw.” (https://www.etymonline.com/word/commit)
The above definition makes sense as far as teaching someone how to perform a gymnastic move, but the word has so much more meaning when it comes to mastering life goals. Read more
When my husband, Michael, and I were newlyweds, we had two fur babies: a black labrador retriever named Brocco and a yellow labrador retriever named Homer. Treating them like we had birthed them ourselves, their happiness was intricately tied to ours. I even wore a picture of them in a locket around my neck.
Homer and Brocco were a funny duo. Their opposite personalities were reminiscent of the main characters, Felix and Oscar, from the classic TV show The Odd Couple. Although, unlike the show, one wasn’t neat while the other was messy, but rather, Brocco was food obsessed and a bit lazy, while his brother, Homer, ate only out of necessity and could never get enough exercise. Read more