Fear: A Silent Killer

There is a difference between fear and a phobia.  Fear is to be afraid of something.  Phobia is to be irrationally afraid of something.  That’s pretty simple, right?

The number one fear in America is the fear of spiders. Almost 50 percent of women and 10 percent of men have a fear of spiders.   I personally love spiders.  I am awed by them and rescue them from squashation before my co-workers have a shot.

Fear holds us back from so much.  Phobias hold us back as well, but they are irrational and so, only gross amounts of therapy can help us with that.  And most times that doesn’t even work.

Fear of the unknown kills us.   And in unknown, I don’t mean ghosts or extraterrestrials.  I mean the future.  I mean change.  Change affects the future.  We’re so busy trying to maintain the humdrum present; getting the same thing for breakfast everyday, driving the same way to our thankless job everyday and putting on the same after work clothes everyday.  We don’t even recognize that we’re afraid of change until…

One day someone says, “You want to go get sushi for lunch?”  And the mere thought of this is paralyzing.   Sushi?  But, I eat turkey on whole wheat with mustard every day. I hate mustard, but it’s fat-free. This thought is immediate and uncomfortable.

You say, “Thanks, but I brought my lunch.  You know, turkey.”  You feel like a dweeb as soon as the words start falling from your lips, but it’s too late.  You can’t take them back.

Most of us are so comfortable inside the box as we gaze upon the wonders of “what if” that we do not dare disturb the monotony of our world with sushi.

Have you ever talked to someone who incessantly complained about their life?  You offer ideas and feedback and all you get back is constant rebuttals of “why it simply will not work.”

I’m too old.  It’s too hard.  I don’t have enough money.  I’ll fail.  They’ll laugh at me.  Someone already thought of it. I can’t.

All of these statements say one thing.  I am afraid.

What are you afraid of?

Have you ever done something in spite of fear?  Maybe you stood up to your boss.  Maybe you told your spouse that your marriage wasn’t working out.  Maybe you, like me, decided to say “screw it” and submit one final article to a site that turned you down three previous times.   Doesn’t it feel good when you stand up to fear?  How many times have we said, “that wasn’t so bad.”

Fear kills our spirit.  It robs of us finding out whether or not we should truly be afraid in the first place. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself”.   I never really understood what in Hades ol’ FDR meant by that until I decided to leave my husband of seven years.  And it hit me.  Fear should be the only thing I fear.  Fear held me back.  Fear kept  me isolated.  Fear does these same things to you.

Fear kills us for as long as we let it.


What Does Music Do For You?

I love music.  My grandmother frequently told me an interesting story about me as a baby.  When I was about three or six months old, I was lying in my cradle, crying.  She picked me up, she put me down, she fed me, she changed my diaper.  Still I fussed and cried.  At her wit’s end, she wound up a tiny Fisher Price music box and tossed it in the cradle.   To her amazement (and relief) I stopped crying.  Since I was just a wee lass, I can’t say that I remember this.   However, I know it to be true.

At my grandmother’s, there was an organ that once belonged to my mother.  I would sit at it every chance I got and play whatever songs were in the sheet music book.  I got bored with that easily.  To resolve my boredom, I began sitting under the organ and reaching up to play the songs without looking.

Music has always been my outlet.  I have tried my hand at a few instruments.  I played the flute in grade school but didn’t like it.  I switched to the violin, and played that for four years.  I gave up the violin.   I went into junior high school and none of the cool kids had instruments.

Eventually, I wound up lying in front of the clock radio in the back bedroom with pen and a notebook.  As I listened to the radio, I would write down the songs that came on.  I once did this for an entire weekend only getting up to eat or pee.  Hot hits played twice an hour, semi-hot hits played once every sixty to ninety minutes and the rest was up for grabs.  I must have had 30 pages of songs.  Yes, I was that dorky.

As I progressed into early adolescence, I found that I could release any emotion I was feeling by listening to music.   If I wanted to stay sad, I’d put on some Pink Floyd.  If I wanted to be happy, I’d pop in some 80’s pop or rock.

Since I had trouble speaking my mind as a young girl or showing emotion, I found that Def Leppard or Simple Minds could do a better job.  I would tape record songs and push rewind and play at least thirty times so I could write down the lyrics and eventually sing along.

Somewhere around the transition from junior high to high school, I discovered heavier rock and eventually heavy metal.   Little angels sang in my head the first time I heard Judas Priest singing “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.”  It turned out those little angels were the voice of metal god Rob Halford.

I am still hooked.  I went through a brief rap phase, I went through a briefer country phase but still there were some songs that I truly loved from both genres and I have them on my ipod.   I suppose they are my guilty pleasures.   Hell, I even tap my fingers sometime to muzak when I am on hold.  I know, I know… so sad.  But so true.

What does music do for you?

Do The Worst First…Save The Best For Last…

I’ve given this a lot of thought.  Never the go-getter type, I have gone through life  on a lackadaisical kind of cloud.  Sometimes that cloud is puffy and white, other times pink and fuzzy.. still other times dark and foreboding.

We all need different textured clouds in a rainbow of colors.

I finally decided I am going to do what I want for whatever it takes.  A loaded statement, I know.

Hear me out.

This does not mean I will tread blindly on others while hoisting myself to the top of the proverbial ladder.   Quite the opposite.  The more I give, the more I receive.  That’s sacrifice.

I could have blown off this blog entry and took a nap like I wanted to.  It is Sunday afternoon, after all.  I always take a nap on Sunday afternoon.  I most likely still will.   But I have to prioritize.

Something I have learned over the years.  Get the big stuff out of the way first.   Kind of like a reward system, if I get the big stuff out of the way, then the smaller tasks are almost like a treat.

I learned this when I was seven and my mother used to make brussels sprouts for dinner.  I hate brussels sprouts.   At first I used to eat all the yummy stuff and save the grossness for last.   I dreaded eating those bitter, green balls.   Even more, I dreaded sitting at the kitchen table for two hours wishing them into dematerialization while my mother glared at me.

I had an idea.  I would eat the disgusting brussels sprouts first… then I would eat the meat and save the best for last: mashed potatoes.  Dinner done and still time to go outside and play.. bonus!

Since then, I’ve really tried to follow that self-imposed law.  Unfun stuff first.  Fun stuff last.   Chores, then writing.  Food shopping, then relax.  Work, then play.  Dinner, then dessert…

It makes things much more meaningful.

Getting Through The Day

Today we have way too much to do.   We have our career, and some of us have a second job on top of the demands of the career.   Some of us have children while some of us do not.   We have our routine, from which we rarely deviate.   Some of us have gone back to school either to get a degree or to get a better one.  We do the laundry, shop for groceries on a budget, make the meals, help with homework, do our own homework, meet deadlines, write blogs, go to yoga class, do laundry… well, you get the idea.  We do too much.

Where is our “me time”?  Where is the payoff?  When are we going to say, “I am taking the day off” and actually take the day off. Not sort of take the day off.  Not “only work a little bit” ( we know this never goes the way we planned!).  When are we really going to learn time management and make it work to our advantage?

I have found that in order for me to get through my day I must block time.  No, I don’t mean squint your eyes really tight and pretend like time does not exist.  If there is anything I’ve learned (begrudgingly) is that no one, not even me, can control time.

But we can monopolize it to the fullest extent and get what we need from it.

Sunday is my only day off.  But it feels like I never sit down on Sunday.   I have a lot of chores to do, rewrites to write and new articles to post.  I have pets that need attention and I have to take care of myself.

So when I have to make a meal, do the laundry and go food shopping, I need creativity.  I throw the laundry in the washer.  While the clothes are washing, I make the shopping list and do some tidying up.   After the clothes go in the dryer, I go to the grocery store, stick to the list I wrote (important to stick to the list), get out of there and get home.  I usually have about ten to fifteen minutes left before the clothes are ready to come out of the dryer.  I use this time to put away my groceries and start on a crock pot meal that will cook for a good 4-6 hours leaving me time to fold the laundry, jot down some ideas for articles and maybe (if I am lucky) take a twenty-minute nap.

On top of everything in my week day, which is Monday through Saturday, I need to recharge.   Recharging gives me the energy I need to get through the day.  Recharging will give you energy too!

I recharge during my work week by making it a point to take twenty minutes for myself.  This means no cellphone, no kids, no work, no boss, no television.  It is walking in a park (I am fortunate to have one close to my office) and thinking of nothing.   I breathe deeply, look around inquisitively,  and leave my mind blank.  That is when the ideas come.  That is when I am able to truly be grateful for things I may otherwise take for granted.

After my walk, I am able to finish my day.  Satan could come up from the bowels of hell, an after my piercing scream I’d say, “I got this.”

Find your “me time”.. you’ll love how much more you can accomplish.

Technorati – What It Means For Me

I have been writing for years.  At first it was just for fun.  I want to take it to the next level these days.  And yes, it is still fun.

I always fancied myself a fiction writer.  I love to make up stories and share them with others.  However, I am digging the article side of writing at the moment.

That brings me to Technorati.  A great site that publishes your articles after review.  They must be a certain word length, not more than 250.  There is another Technorati site that publishes longer articles.   But I haven’t ventured around that corner… yet.

The other great aspect of Technorati is that when the article posted gets shared, and it almost always does, then other people share it, and more people still.

For example, I wrote an article about the tragic death of former bassist Mike Starr.   That article has been shared on Facebook 198 times.  I was and am still astounded.  I know there are a lot of people who get way more tweets and shares on their articles, but to date that is my biggest one yet and I am loving it.

Do I have dreams of some magazine editor happening across my work and saying, “Ms. Steelman, we’d like you to write for us”?  Absoposolutely!   In reality, I know the chances of this match evenly with my cat having coffee ready for me when I come home from work one of these days.  Hey, a girl can dream, can she not?

 

Angry Birds Flock To Facebook

Parents, you have been living without technology if you haven’t heard of Facebook. Yes, the hottest social media site to find old friends, make new friends and market yourself, all free of cost. Besides chatting with friends, posting funny thoughts, videos and quiz results, you can play games. Highly addictive games.

Games like Mafia Wars, Farmville and Petville were the craze when they first happened onto the scene within the last few years. And just when you thought you beat your Facebook game junkiedom, here comes a new one.

The game is called Angry Birds and will be available on Facebook next month. Angry Birds, hatched by Rovio, started as an iPhone game then graduated to other handhelds before showing up on PC’s and PSP’s. There is even talk of an animated series and a movie tie-in.

The game is essentially a 120 level revenge game. There are angry birds with unique powers of destruction that will destroy the castles of Green Pigs who steal the Bird’s eggs. Although it sounds like evil birds causing mayhem, the birds are actually the good guys in the game.

Angry Birds is set to debut next month. The game will have, Rovio CEO Mikael Hed says,”completely new aspects to it that just haven’t been experienced in any other platform.

Renewing your Facebook game addiction is easy. Nick Thompson, Senior Editor at the New Yorker says, “Angry Birds is easy to get into and hard enough to play for hours and hours.”

If you dare to play Angry Birds, be sure to have lots of caffeine on hand and nothing to do in the morning.

How I Find Blogging Ideas

In the blogger world – pretty much all topics are covered.  Food, sex, media and worldly events are topics written about every day.  The trick is finding a new way to tell the story.

I get my ideas from articles, commercials, other blogs and magazines.  Sometimes I get my ideas from something someone said to me or in my proximity.  Then I pounce.

There is a website “100 Blog Topic I Hope YOU Write.”  That is where this topic came from.

Writing is hard work.  I’ve wanted to write since I was in my early twenties.  I wrote a lot of poetry.  I filled a binder with over one hundred poems in less than two weeks.  The words would not stop pouring out of my mind via the pen in my left hand.

Then life happened and truth be told, I got lazy.

My focus is the big picture.  Right now the big picture is blogging and article ideas.   The big picture is telling stories and reporting events.  The big picture is the more I write, the better I write.

Blogging ideas come from paying attention, listening and reading.  Blogging ideas are everywhere.  They are right in front of you at this moment.

If you need blogging ideas, eavesdrop in your local coffee-house.  Pick up a magazine at the checkout.   Watch a television show.  Listen to new music.  Read a book.  Go to the mall and people watch.

Or you could just sit in silence and let your subconscious do the talking.

Whatever you decide will work.  It works for me.

Shut Up And Listen

For years now… a lot of years, I have done what others expected of me.  I have worked the 9-5 job (which I still work), I have put off my dreams,  and sacrificed things that I love for the sake of others happiness or a better opinion of me.  I morphed myself into whatever I needed to gain acceptance and likability.

That started to fade about a year ago.   Two weeks ago, I am happy to say that part of me died.  There was no funeral, no teary good-bye.  Just a smile and a one finger salute.

When expectations weigh on us, we feel the pressure.  Some thrive on pressure, while others feel the weight of expectations dropping down like a sledgehammer.

If more of us listened to our own advice, we’d all be happier.   I am fantastic at giving advice.  As I sit there and ramble on and make great points about others lives, I listen to myself.   I think, “Man, that’s good.  I should listen.”

I finally started listening.

Maybe it was when I had a falling out with someone whom I thought was a friend.  Maybe it was that motherly feeling I felt the last time I was with my daughter.   I can’t say for sure it was the totality of those situations, but they played a huge role.

In reality (the cold hard kind), I took a look at my life.  I sat, and had a one way conversation with God.  When I finished talking, I shut up.  I sat quietly, and listened.  From the inner sanctum of my soul, there was indeed a voice.   It may have very well been God.  He does work in mysterious ways.   The voice said, “You are so ready for this”.

Our inner voice, our heart, talks to us every day.  It tells us what we need, how we can help others and help ourselves.  Instead, we are up in our heads, telling ourselves what we want, what others should do and do for us.

A lot of people confuse the heart and the head.  Misconceptions and ideals clutter the head.  The head gets crammed every day with facts and half-truths.  The heart knows two things: pain and joy.

Here is an example:  someone in a bad relationship.  If you talk to this someone, they’ll say: “My head is telling me to leave, but my heart is saying stay,” or some crap like that.  Uh, you got it backwards.  Your head tells you to stay because then you don’t have to work on yourself.  Your heart tells you to get the hell out of there because it knows you deserve so much better.

If we shut up and listen to our heart, we’ll get all the answers we need.

Start The Road To Healthy

Most of us want to live the healthy lifestyle.  We buy books, eat healthy foods and join a gym all in an attempt to feel and look good.  Books are expensive, healthy food is expensive (this blows my mind) and joining a gym… expensive.  In these trying economic times, we are barely able to put gas in the tank to get us back and forth to work each week, let alone back and forth to the gym.

Let’s go over a few ways we can maintain a healthy lifestyle while continuing to live within our means.

RUN, JOG OR WALK…OUTSIDE

Sure you can spend money on the gym membership, or buy an expensive piece of machinery to take up space in your home that will double as a clothes rack.  But will a giant clothes rack that help you live the ultimate cardio lifestyle?  And just what are you getting out of that gym membership anyway?

Run, jog or walk outside.  Getting your twenty minutes of cardio vascular exercise outside is smarter than getting it on the machine of your choice.  When you run outside, your feet hit inconsistencies in the pavement, asphalt and dirt.  This activates those little muscles that you probably didn’t even know you had.

If you aren’t sure where to get your cardio in around town, check out www.mapmywalk.com.  It is free to join and you can find maps and log your progress.  If you want features like fitness reports and training plans, you can upgrade to one of the pay memberships.

HYDRATE

One of the best things you can put into your body is water.  Straight up H2O in a bottle or on the rocks has many benefits for your health.  Often, we think we are hungry when in reality we are actually dehydrated.

The human body is 60% water for males and 55% water for females.

Drinking water aids in the process of fat loss.  The kidneys cannot effectively work without water.  If the kidneys are not getting their quota of water, they dump their work on the liver.  One of the livers purposes is to metabolize stored fat.  This fat becomes energy if metabolized properly.

The liver cannot do two things at the same time (like most of us) and when it has to help out the kidneys, it cannot metabolize stored fat.

So in a sense, you can work out until the cat comes home, but if you aren’t drinking enough water, you’re making it harder for yourself than it should.  Shoot for 8 – 10 eight ounce glasses a day.

STOP POLLUTING YOUR BODY WITH GARBAGE

I love brownies.  I was never a big chocolate fan, but sometime after I hit the precious age of thirty-five, it all of my years of not eating chocolate caught up with me. If you are a junk food lover or a fast food eater, be careful of how much of the greasy, fat-laden stuff you eat.

Watch out for using junk food as a reward system.  Using food as a reward system backfires.  You are training yourself to reward good behavior with unhealthy foods. Before you know it, you’ll be rewarding yourself for every “good deed” with junk.
Look here for treats that are yummy and good for you.  Healthy Snacks

CHECK YOUR OIL LEVEL EVERY YEAR

If we didn’t maintain our vehicles they would break down and eventually be hauled off to the scrap metal kingdom.  The same goes for our bodies.  Without routine check-ups, we miss certain signs that our body needs attention.
My co-worker was sick for three months and didn’t go to the doctor.  She wound up being rushed to the ER, where she found out she had stage four colon cancer.  She is doing better these days, thankfully.
Be sure to get to your annual check-up.  For other check-ups, visit www.healthsolutions.org/mckesson to see when to look at what.  And for health’s sake, if you are sick, go see a doctor.
When you go see your doctor, be honest about your family history.  Things such as heart attack, stroke, mental health and alcoholism are important parts of your family history that your doctor should know.

Eating healthy and exercise are the best ways to keep your body healthy and in shape.  Check ups and regular exams are important to your well-being and body to address any changes as soon as possible.
Be sure to talk to your physician before starting a diet and exercise regimen.

What are some ways you maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Emotional Control: Why It Works

I don’t like to brag, really.  I feel like a stuffy, pompous, fill in the blank when I brag.  But today, I feel different.  Today I want to brag about my ability to control my emotions.  And I want to tell you why controlling your emotions is one of the smartest things you can ever do for yourself.

When we become overwhelmed with emotion, for some reason most of us feel the world needs to know that an injustice has been done to us.  If we’re mad at someone, we have to tell them what a jerk they are.  If someone has hurt our feelings, they must know how they have bruised us.

Why does anyone have to know what we are feeling? When someone treats us wrong or does something we disagree with, it is our perception of what has happened that hurts us.  We react so quickly to the perceived pain or hurt that we do not give ourselves time to understand it and look at it for whatever it is.

Feelings Aren’t Facts

A friend of mine was going through a break up about a year ago.  She told me how she felt abandoned and how her ex boyfriend was a jerk for leaving her and blah blah blah.  Like dice from a cup, the words, “Feelings aren’t facts and facts aren’t feelings” spilled out of my mouth.

You can’t change the facts, but you can change the way you react to the facts.  Dr. Phil said, “change the way you think and you’ll change the way you feel.”

Look up at a wall in whatever room you are sitting in.  That wall is there.  That is a fact.  How you feel about that wall being there does not change the fact that the wall is there.  You can feel angry about the wall being there which hurts you, but how you feel does not change the fact that the wall is still there.

Only We Have Control Over Our Emotions

When someone hurts us or something happens that brings us pain, we have the power to control our emotions.  Of course we do not let others walk all over us.  In the book, “You Can’t Make Me Angry”, Paul O. says, “-we get on with our lives.  We don’t sit around letting the situation decide our emotional state.”

People wind up sitting around brooding over injustices and how they were pained by others actions.  Worse still, some of these people hold it in until the tiniest situation arises and then they are screaming and throwing things with no justification.  What kind of solution is that?

Sometimes we really just need to get the feelings out.  It is healthy to get all that bad stuff out.  If you feel like you need a physical release, punch your pillow or go to the driving range.  If you belong to a gym, find the heavy bag and beat it to a pulp.  Never put your hands on another human being or any other living creature.

We have to get on with our lives.  We have to learn to say, “I have a choice today. I can choose to stay angry and ruin my day. Or, I can choose to let it go, if only for a while, and come back to it later.”

The bottom line is when we are dealing with emotions we have to rule them.  We cannot let our emotions rule us.  We are the creator and destroyer of our emotions.