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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Let it Go: Unlocking Your Frozen Emotions with Music


William R Brooksher, Photographer


 'If you had to choose just one song to sustain you with happy memories for an eternity, what would that song be?'
Music and Happy Memories

This morning I woke up thinking about what music I would put on my list of lifetime favorites when I came across a TED discussion group with the question, 'If you had to choose just one song to sustain you with happy memories for an eternity, what would that song be?'

Having just watched an incredibly moving documentary on Netflix the night before--'Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory'--in which social worker Dan Cohen demonstrates the extraordinary and amazingly immediate effects of music in unlocking memory and emotions in patients with Alzheimer's, this was the very question on my mind. 


The documentary had me contemplating what music I would want on my playlist if by chance in the future I was locked for all eternity in a soul-killing Alzheimer's hell. After witnessing how music awakened the soul within those stuck without memories I knew I would want my children to help me unlock my emotions and memory through my music should this be my fate.

Frozen Heart--artist unknown


Unlocking Frozen Emotions

But as I began to listen to some of my favorite music this morning, I immediately felt something shake free in myself. Having recently experienced the loss of loved ones, I have been locked up and shut away within myself. I thought I was really thawing out but I discovered I had a way to go as the music moved me.

Sometimes life challenges and transitions lead us to numb our emotions and freeze our hearts. As we strive to be strong and survive the more difficult changes we often shut ourselves off from others and separate from our emotions. When we're ready to let go and unlock our frozen emotions we need a way to reconnect to others. Music offers us an excellent bridge back to the core of our fully functioning selves.

I realized if music has the ability to awaken memories and exuberant emotions in people with Alzheimer's, it can help us through the other times when we close off against life.  

'Why wait to apply the musical salve when we can apply it to heal our frozen hearts and numbed emotions today?'
Hearts Overflowing by Susan J Meyerott


What Music Is on Your Playlist?

I took advantage of the favorite music choices provided by others in the TED discussion group to start me on my own list--and began adding from there. I offer the start of my list to you to get you started.  I would love to hear what YOUR favorites are too. 

'What music would awaken your warm memories and exuberant emotions?'

Sunshine on my Shoulders
Annie's Song
Mr Tambourine Man
Singing in the Rain
This Land is Your Land
Fly Me to the Moon
Blowin' in the Wind
Louis Armstrong's It's a Wonderful World
Time of your Life
Amazing Grace
Jim Croce's Time in a Bottle
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Somewhere over the Rainbow
You Raise me Up
Stand by Me
Wednesday Morning, 3 am
Brazillian Music
Brazil 66--Night and Day
The Power of One Soundtrack 
Canon in D by Pachabel
Handel's Hallelujah Chorus 

I never tire of hearing Susan Boyle in her debut performance. What an inspiration!
I Dreamed a Dream sung by Susan Boyle 

This one was offered up by someone in the group. Do yourself a favorite and listen to it...it is incredible! 
"O Magnum Mysterium" by Morton Lauridsen
King's College Choir (Oxford)  Dec. 24th, 2009 choral performance: 

Thank you to Phil MacNeill, Director at PRMAC Consulting and Research for posting the question 'If you had to choose just one song to sustain you with happy memories for an eternity, what would that song be?' on the TED LinkedIn discussion group.

Check out  Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory on Netflix or go to link:  http://www.aliveinside.us/#land

Heart Art by Susan J Meyerott


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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Tribute to the Bee Charmer




My Father--The Bee Charmer
'Seeing only what is fair, sipping only what is sweet--leave the chaff, and take the wheat.' Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'The Humble-Bee'

The Humble Bee

Our father, 'Daddy' passed away September 4th, 2014. Like Emerson's 'humble-bee' he graced us with his humble yet dynamic presence for 98 years. 

Despite his powerful work persona--leading research in high energy physics and working with the Atomic Energy Commission and on the Manhattan Project--at home, he presented a quiet, unassuming image in his torn 20-year old flannel shirts, grease stained pants and straw hat with the front cut open 'for proper aeration'. 

When he arrived home from work he'd transition from his 'Roland Edward Meyerott' role to his 'Daddy/Rollie' role by changing his impeccable suits for his casual clothes and going straight out to spend time by himself tending the organic garden, animals and bees. I loved to greet him when he came home so I could check his pockets for brewer's yeast tablets.

The Bee Charmer

One of his many roles was that of the family Bee Charmer--he was the keeper of bees, collector of honey, and nurturer of the family hive. He kept beehives humming for 60 plus years, and his own family hive humming for 98 years.  

As a 'systems-thinker' Daddy had his system for everything. Perhaps that's why he admired and kept bees. Beehives can house 60,000 bees, collect 66 lbs of pollen a year, and are the model of system and organization. 

Raising Worker Bees

Perhaps Daddy modeled his own family hive on the beehive: 

'Honeybees represent a highly organized society, with various bees having very specific roles during their lifetime: e.g., nurses, guards, grocers, housekeepers, construction workers, royal attendants, undertakers, foragers, etc.'

He wanted a large 'hive' and certainly made sure his worker bees were kept busy and organized. 

The Bee Charmer taught us to be worker bees--industrious beings who make the world a sweeter place for others through our personal magic, diligence and dedication to the hive.


Growing up I didn't give much thought to how intimately bee culture was woven into our family's language and experience, but it was always present. 

Today in honor of the passing of our Bee Charmer, Daddy, I am sharing with you the collection of bee memories created by YOU that make me stop and think about 'our father who art now in heaven' (with his queen bee) that helped our hive keep humming and thriving. 

Please keep sending me your BEE related pictures, photos and memories. 

'Bee on Clover' photography by Sean Royce


Bee Happy--Bee Free--Bee Sweet

Memory: Do you remember as kids, when we walked into the kitchen or hot house, we'd see a fresh batch of honeycomb in a colander separating the honey from the comb? We'd walk by, break off a piece of honey-filled comb to pop into our mouth and let the sweetness of clover honey melt in our mouth. 

Memory: Do you remember when we weren't allowed to use sugar or syrup when we could use honey? I grew up taking bees and the honey they produced for granted because it was so plentiful in our home.

'Men of experiment are like the ant; they only collect and use. But the bee gathers its materials from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own.' Leonardo Da Vinci


The Queen Bee, Moo
'His labor is a chant, His idleness a tune; Oh, for a bee's experience of clovers and of noon!' Emily Dickinson





 Honey--Sweet as can be!





Mind Your Own Beeswax!

Emma forgot and was stung on the nose.

'To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.' William H Walton




Oh Bee-Have
Ain't Mis-Bee Hiving

'There is no bee without the sting; cleverness consists in gathering the honey nevertheless.' Sri Sathya Sai Baba




Bee Still



'What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.' Pericles




Just Bee



'The holiest of all holidays are those kept by ourselves in silence and apart: The secret anniversaries of the heart.' Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Burned Out? Small Changes Make Big Difference







'If you do what you've always done you'll always get what you always got.' Henry Ford



Small Changes--The Secret to Regaining Your Balance

Feeling burned out by work, relationships or life? Want to regain that sense of balance and fire in your belly? It all begins with a single small change. 

Seemingly insignificant changes in your environment, perceptions or actions can alter the course of events and re-balance the power in relationships. By making small changes you create different results.




Where to Start

Burnout is especially problematic for service-oriented, heart-felt people who freely give of themselves without restraint--those of you who are the caregivers in relationships and hard-working, enthusiastic contributors in the workplace. 

Too much of a good thing--caring deeply and always being accessible--can quickly turn those strengths into weaknesses, and your unbridled enthusiasm into resentment when you fail to give it a rest.

If you are a caregiver by nature, start by looking for little ways to shore up your boundaries by compartmentalizing your work and life, and disconnecting from others daily. 

Think about it:

  • Are you always connected to work and people through your computer, I-phone or other devices? 
  • Do you check your work email when you leave the office?
  • Are you always available to work or others--taking phone calls or checking messages when out with others or throughout the night with your phone turned on by your bed (and text messages pinging on arrival)? 
  • Do you make yourself available to work when you leave for vacation?
  • Are you the first one in the office and the last one to leave?

Turning OFF in an ON Culture

Living in an always ON culture creates a fertile ground for burnout. Without appropriate boundaries you'll never get away from the overwhelming expectations of the outside world.


When you're always on-call  to others you fail to provide yourself moments of soul-saving, off-line silence letting you sit with your private thoughts and disengage from the unspoken expectations or needs of others.

To begin putting balance back in your life try altering the perception you need to stay constantly 'connected', then unplug from one activity that's keeping you 'always on'.



Choose One Small Change


  • Turn your phone off at a set time before you go to bed. 
  • If you just can't resist turning your phone back on when you leave it by your bed, put your phone in a location that makes it too much work to get out of bed to check it...preferably in a different room.
  • Separate your work email from your personal email. 
  • Do not check work messages at home.
  • Turn off the computer in the evening and on weekends.
  • Do something different. If you are home in the evening and just can't resist checking your computer or phone for messages, take a book or journal out to a coffee house. Leave your phone home.
  • If you tend to stay home waiting for that person to call, make plans with someone else--just get out of the house.
  • Leave work at a predetermined earlier time for one week. Let others know you will leave at that time.




For Relationship Burnout Seek Silence and Separation

Where is the OFF button for establishing appropriate boundaries in your personal relationships? What do you do when you're burned out trying to make a relationship work? 

If the harder you try to fix a relationship, the worse you make it: 

Stop. Pull Back. Do nothing. Do something else. Spend time with someone else.

Try seeking silence and separation so you can hear yourself think--and set appropriate boundaries according to the spoken rules of the relationship.

Sometimes you don't need to talk more to solve a difference or problem. You need to put it down, separate, and create open space for everyone to breath and think.

But what do you do when someone you're interested in romantically says  "I just want to be friends", then proceeds to text you well after 11 pm or wants to get together at 10 pm? 

While you may want to push the limits of the relationship, you will only burn yourself out by accepting the 'we're just friends' while still acting as if you are more than that. 

To maintain balance in your relationship (and leave the door open to the possibility of a love relationship developing) you need to set appropriate 'friend' boundaries by working off the spoken 'friend' rule.

Friends spend time in the daylight and early evening. Lovers spend time late into the night.

When you play by the 'friend rule' you take the 'I only want to be friends' person at his/her word and you relate like friends--without allowing the other person to inappropriately invade your life like an intimate--you don't date; you don't take phone calls or text messages after 10 pm; you spend daytime and early evening time together, not late night time together--and you freely date other people and talk about it. 

Do not allow other people complete run of your life by allowing them to act on both the spoken and unspoken rules. Whatever the spoken rules are those are the ones you play by--not by what you think is really going on (the unspoken rules).





Silence IS Golden

Bounce back from feeling burned out--seek silence and re-establish boundaries by changing one small thing. What adjustment will you make to regain your balance?

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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.


If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.






Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In The Silence



In the Silence

"Listen to the rhythm of your own silence….

As we journey once more toward the darkness of winter we are called back inside, into the quiet stillness of our inner life. Here we are meant to rest, to listen, to regenerate and deepen our connection with the silence from which all life springs. From this conversation with the silence, we emerge fresh, a birth." Lee Bryant

Silence is the womb of all creation


This lovely 'In the Silence' poster sent to me by my sister-in-law, Lee Bryant, served as my meditation focus for today. From the simplicity of the 'In The Silence' title to the pictures to the 'listen to the rhythm of your own silence' my mind flowed into the silence.

Lee Bryant~one of the two artists in the exhibit~ is my sister-in-law, as well as the sister of my heart. Living on San Juan Island in Washington, Lee creates art that takes me into the silence ~ and leaves me calm, serene and refreshed.

If you'd like to enjoy a healing journey this winter, take a trip to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Stay at a bed and breakfast. Go to the Saturday Market. Visit the Lavendera Day Spa to view the gallery showing of 'In The Silence' November 7th through January 1st with Paintings by Cynthia  Church and Lee Bryant.


Silence Is

God's poet is silence! ~Joaquin Miller

Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment.  ~Henry David Thoreau

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.  Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.  ~Mahatma Gandhi


Silence is a source of great strength.  ~Lao Tzu

Susan Meyerott, Artist


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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

Do you know someone who could benefit from uplifting messages? Please share Lightarted Living with them. If you or someone you love is interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Letting It Go: Tension is Who You Think You Should Be; Relaxation is Who You Are


'Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.' Buddha

To Let Go of Stress You Must Find 'IT' First

Have you ever stopped to think about the words 'IT' and 'STUFF'? 

IT and STUFF are two great words that allow us to tip-toe around naming what's bothering us. 'It's bothering me' or 'all this stuff is getting to me' are lovely non-specific descriptions that allow us to remain socially polite and seemingly still in-control as we voice our tension to others. But if we are to successfully deal with the stress we must move beyond the diffuse terms keeping us mired in a cesspool of fear and anxiety--and stuck--unable to move forward.

To let go of the stress that's 'putting you over the edge' or 'getting on your last nerve' you must be able to identify IT. If you just ignore or deny IT's existence you leave those things eating away at you to boil and fester until they spew out and splatter everyone around you.

Finding IT

  • What's happening in your life at this moment? 
  • What's making you feel tense?
  • What do you feel you should be doing you're not?
  • How are you failing to live up to someone else's expectations or your own?

 Looking over the last three days, what's stressing you out? Pick one situation to describe in uncensored detail in your head--and let it rip! 

As you focus on the recent tension-inducing incident notice any changes in your body as you merely think about IT. What happens to your heart beat and breathing? Do you notice any discomfort in your head or stomach? Are you aware of clenching your teeth or tightening your jaw; tension in your neck, back or other muscles? Do you feel tearful or angry?

Our stress-inducing experience has the ability to cause tension as we merely think about IT. We don't even need to experience IT to bring the stress-response on. That's why it is so important to name IT and all the STUFF that's bothering you--so you can STOP STUFFING IT.





Get Back to Who You Are

'Tension is Who You Think You Should Be; Relaxation is Who You Are'  Chinese Proverb

What does this mean? It is living in the 'world of should'  that creates the tension and discomfort throwing us into a mental fog and leaving us feeling overwhelmed and tense. 

If you care about being your healthiest, most robust self, choose to consciously identify what's causing you tension and bringing out the full stress-response in your body. Name IT and choose to engage in actions that puts you back living in the relaxation state of who you really are.

Trust yourself to hold the key to being your best self. Act on what you know to be right for you. Take the steps that will help you feel fully alive, fully productive, and fully engaged. Be brave.






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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.


If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Overwhelmed? 3 Tips for Surviving Change and Staying Healthy


Each moment of my life is new, fresh and vital
 Susan J Meyerott artist

'Our actions shift perspectives, whether it be your own or others.' John Edwards

Stop the World I Want to Get Off! 

Recently my life has felt overwhelming due to too many life events and changes. In just the past month I've been touched by the loss of a loved one; major illness, surgery and hospitalizations for friends and family; layoffs for family and friends; and changes at the workplace for me. 

Like you, when I deal with too many changes at once, the ensuing anxiety and emotional fog tends to kick common sense and a clear vision for what I need to do to regain my balance and energy right out of my consciousness. 

Despite being a Health Promotion Professional skilled in helping others move through stressful times, when I'm faced with times of rapid change I, too, must stop to recall what I know about keeping myself healthy during these highly stressful times. 

It's taken me a month to see my way through the fog--but here it is: Three (oh-so-obvious-in hindsight) actions that are helping me regain my balance and putting me back on the road to health. 


I breathe in 'uplifting' into my heart
I breathe out "calmness' into my gut
Grant Soosalu
Susan J Meyerott, artist


Action #1: Calm Yourself through Conscious Breathing 

'Just Breathe'--I know it sounds hokey...yet it is the very first step to pulling yourself out of the anxiety and stress. 

When our heart rate gets above 100 beats/minute in a non-exercise state our brain gets fuzzy. That is the emotional fog we experience due to our body's response to the stress.

Granted, when you're in a highly stressed state it can be amazingly difficult to begin conscious breathing. Sometimes you just have to keep practicing it--all the while 'acting as if' you believe it will calm you down. It will--just do it. 


Practice slowly and consciously breathing in and out--thinking 'I breathe in uplifting into my heart' and I breathe out calmness into my gut'.


Everything is (secretly) okay
All is well in my world
Susan J Meyerott, artist

Action #2: Name Your Stressors

As major life events piled up sending me into overwhelm mode I knew I needed to get a handle on what I was dealing with. I needed a simple way to name what was going on and the Holmes-Rahe Life Change Index was just what I needed.

The Holmes-Rahe Life Change Index is a straightforward inventory of life events that measures the number of 'life change units' for the events and includes both 'good' and 'bad' changes, with 'death of a spouse' worth 100 units and getting married worth 50 units. 

While the life change inventory does not cover all changes we might experience, it provides a good indication of the level of stress and the resultant risk for changes in our health status in the year ahead.

Like me, if you've been through significant changes this year, take a moment  to assess your score on the Life Change Index.

How to Use the Homes-Rahe Life Change Index 

Using the index below, identify changes you've experienced in the last year and add up the total life change units to see what risk category you're in for experiencing health problems in the next year.

Holmes-Rahe Life Change Index 


Life event
Life change units
Death of a spouse
100
Divorce
73
Marital separation
65
Imprisonment
63
Death of a close family member
63
Personal injury or illness
53
Marriage
50
Dismissal from work
47
Marital reconciliation
45
Retirement
45
Change in health of family member
44
Pregnancy
40
Sexual difficulties
39
Gain a new family member
39
Business readjustment
39
Change in financial state
38
Death of a close friend
37
Change to different line of work
36
Change in frequency of arguments
35
Major mortgage
32
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan
30
Change in responsibilities at work
29
Child leaving home
29
Trouble with in-laws
29
Outstanding personal achievement
28
Spouse starts or stops work
26
Beginning or end school
26
Change in living conditions
25
Revision of personal habits
24
Trouble with boss
23
Change in working hours or conditions
20
Change in residence
20
Change in schools
20
Change in recreation
19
Change in church activities
19
Change in social activities
18
Minor mortgage or loan
17
Change in sleeping habits
16
Change in number of family reunions
15
Change in eating habits
15
Vacation
13
Christmas
12
Minor violation of law
11

Holmes-Rahe Life Change Index and Your Health
Score of 300+: At risk of illness. 80% chance of illness.
Score of 150-299: Risk of illness is moderate. 50% chance of illness.
Score <150: Only have a slight risk of illness.

What Do the 20% Do Differently? 

What category of risk are you in for developing health issues in the next year? What's your score?

Me? I scored well over 300 life change units putting me in the category associated with an 80% chance of getting sick with a major illness in the next year. 

So does that mean those of us who score over 300 are destined to get sick with a major illness in the next year? Or if you scored 150-299 that you are part of the 50% who will get sick?

No! What it means is we must pay attention to what we do in the next year if we want to be part of the other 20% or 50% who stay healthy despite the onslaught of changes.


While 80% of the people in high risk group got a major illness in the next year--what about the 20% who didn't? What did the 20% do differently that helped them avoid getting sick in response to too much change? 



A Cheerful Heart is Good Medicine



Action #3: Let Go of Things that Don't Matter to You; Take Charge of Things that Do 

The problem with experiencing too many changes at once is it makes us feel like everything is spinning out-of-control. 

This out-of-control feeling can lead us to two ineffective extremes--giving in to a feeling of helplessness in which we're powerless to affect change; or taking on a hyper-vigilant stance in which we frantically attempt to maintain control over every aspect of life. 

Both extremes--a sense of under-control or over-control--are associated with poor health.

Good health--despite high stress and high change--is associated with having an optimal sense of control over your life. What does this mean?


People who stay healthy despite experiencing a lack of control in their lives share one perspective in common: They feel they have control over the things that matter to them. They don't try to control things beyond their control (i.e. death) and they don't try to control things that don't matter to them (they choose their battles). 

As John Edwards says "Our actions shift perspectives, whether it be your own or others." Take the actions that will shift your perspective and put your life back in balance after everything seemingly falls apart.

When Life throws you too many changes:

1. Acknowledge the Changes.
2. Sit quietly, release judgment and lower expectations.
3. When in doubt, do nothing.
4. Avoid making major life changes for the next year.
5. Find a way to feel like you have control over the things that matter to you. Focus on what matters most to you, and take action on the things that matter.


I speak and act with a calm, bright heart
Susan J Meyerott, artist



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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.


If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.