Photog Dude

There’s a shopping center where I live that has the coolest sculptures, all made from sheet metal. Every now and then I go visit my favorite one, whom I have nicknamed “Photog Dude.”  What else could I call him? I mean, really, he’s all duded up in a hat and bow tie and never takes that camera down from his face.  I just love “Photog Dude.”

My husband took this particular photo last Sunday and I applied a couple of edits. Kudos to him – a great angle for this shot.

More photos of this guy can be found at my gallery.

"Photog Dude" © Regina Arnold

 

 

Give Yourself a Break for the Holidays

The holiday season can be so joyous and yet produce some real (but unnecessary) stress. Don’t let your holidays be ruined by nerve-racking experiences. Here’s some inspirational insights to help you keep your stress to a minimum this year.

Ask yourself if your expectations are realistic. Are you going to be getting together with family members that you normally prefer not to be around? Do you feel obligated to buy gifts for people who you aren’t really close to? Do you get invited to events that just don’t appeal to you but you feel obligated to go?  Believe it or not, these types of scenarios take place every year for millions of people. Why? Because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings so we sacrifice our own and then become resentful. If you want to stop that cycle, then just think carefully before you decide what to do. If it’s a NO that you decide upon, say it as politely as possible but make it very clear that your answer is a firm NO. If it’s a yes, then realize you committed yourself and see it through (hopefully in a very enjoyable way).

Are you scheduling too much in too little amount of time? No one has more than 24 hours in a day. Try to remember that as you plan your pre-holiday events and accept invitations. Enlist the use of a calendar or day planner, either paper or electronic, so that you can feel some measure of control over your time. And don’t feel bad if you’ve overlapped something by mistake. Just inform the parties involved and they will understand. We all make mistakes, especially at this hectic time of year.

Do you have a holiday budget or are you over-spending? Over-spending can be the biggest source of stress because we know what will happen … we have to pay for those items sometime. If not now, then later. Just the dread of getting the credit card bills in the mail is enough to keep you from having a good time during the holidays. Stick to a budget. You’ll be so glad you did come January when all the lustre and shine of the holidays has disappeared.

Sometimes our holiday stress comes from missing loved ones. If someone you love has passed on, change things up this year so that you can make it through this rough patch. There are lots of support groups with people going through the same kind of grief at the holidays. Tap into that for some healthy and supportive ways to cope. Last year at Christmas I just let myself “be” because my brother died in September. So I was pretty easy on myself and so were others around me. Of course I missed him, but attending a grief support group was a lifeline for me.

The holidays can be the worst time of the year for us in terms of taking care of ourselves. My advice is to make sure you’re eating healthy meals and drinking plenty of water. Dehydration (yes, even though it’s not warm outside) can sneak up on you before you know it. And water supports every organ in your body. And if you plan on doing some holiday drinking, be sure to increase your water intake. And I sure don’t want to take the fun out of those holiday parties. It’s just that all those high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie foods can wreak havoc on your system. When you increase your water intake, it dilutes the sugar concentration and that’s good for your system in all ways.

This may sound crazy because of all the running around we’re doing at this time of year, but exercising is really important. Take a walk out in nature, ride a bike, do yoga, etc. Any form of exercise can be a phenomenal stress reducer. Also good for lowering blood pressure, which could rise when crazy Aunt Mildred walks through your front door on Christmas Day.

One of the best things about the holidays is that more people open their hearts to acceptance and forgiveness. If there’s someone in your life that you will be around this year that this applies to, give it a try. Even if it’s a silent blessing from your heart to theirs. After all, the season really is about love.

The holidays are supposed to be a great time. Take good care of yourself and practice things that will eliminate some of the stress. I hope these tips help you.

The most important tip of all is to just breathe. In through the nose; out through the mouth. Long, slow breaths will do the trick.

Merry Christmas!

 

Dog Lovers: Mastering the Art of the Canine Walk

You love your dog and want to spend more time with him, but the minute you try to take him for a walk, he becomes unmanageable.  Sound familiar? Let’s face it, no human wants to be dragged down the street by their four-legged friend. Below are the steps that you need to take to get Spot in line and out the door.

1.  Get your dog in command mode by making him stay still at the door. This sounds so simple and yet most dog owners never do it. Once your dog sees the leash he usually gets so excited that you can’t get to the door fast enough and the minute you open it, his head is out and you’re behind. Practice putting on the leash with your back to the door so your body is blocking the door while you’re doing it. That sends a message to your dog that you’re in charge. Once the leash is on have your dog sit before moving toward the door. This makes him calmer and gets him used to obeying your commands. I’ve had to practice this one a lot with both of my dogs because the minute they know we’re going for a walk, the excitement begins.

2.  Walk through the door ahead of your dog to show him who is boss. This is very important as it sets the tone for the rest of the walk. Dogs like to lead and if you let him, he will take over as the pack leader and whose job is that? Yours!

3.  Do not use a flex leash.  You need a leader collar and regular leash. I’ve never used a flex leash because I live in Arizona and if I let my dogs have too much leash, they could run into all kinds of dangerous creatures such as rattlesnakes, biting lizards, cactus, etc. Even if you don’t live where your pet could experience these dangers, a regular leash is the best tool for walking, even after your dog has learned to walk at your side. You can always stop and let them sniff, water the trees and fire hydrants at a later time after they’ve learned the art of the walk.

4.  If your dog has too much energy, get a doggie backpack and weigh it down. This works extremely well for the high-energy breeds who need to burn off that excess energy and for pets who need to lose some extra weight. (Gosh, maybe I should use one of these on me!) You can use plastic 16 oz. water bottles filled with water, cans of food or whatever you have that will fit. We have an 80-lb. mixed breed who can handle two bottles on each side and our smaller dog, a border collie mix, does well with one bottle on each side. Start small and work your way up if you have to. Keep an eye on your dog for fatigue so you’ll know if the pack is too heavy. The first time you use this method, you will probably notice that, after a short time, your dog will feel that he has a job to do and just start moving forward with his pack. It’s amazing to watch this take place.

5.  Keep a loose grip on the leash. If you keep tension on it, your dog will feel it and keep pulling. Think of the leash as an extension of your arm. Send positive energy down your arm, into the leash and into your dog. If you find yourself being tense for any reason, stop, have your dog sit by your side, take a couple of deep breaths and then continue on more relaxed.

6.  Reward your dog with treats. Buy some of those small training treats at your local pet store to use on your walk. When your dog does well, reward with a treat. Any commands you want to teach your dog can be practiced on the walk. For example, you walk 30 or 40 paces and then give the command to sit. Reward with a treat as soon as he sits.  Walk 30 or 40 more paces, give another command. Reward again with a treat.

7.  Be patient with your dog at all times. Depending upon your dog’s age, limit your training time to no more than 10-20 minutes at a time. You’ll be surprised how soon your dog will pick up on what to do and how to please you. Don’t give up and remain consistent.

Follow these steps and Spot will be walking side-by-side with you in no time.  Enjoy spending more quality time with your newly trained four-legged friend.

An Open Letter to Those Who Judge Others

Today my post is about being careful with your thoughts, words and actions. And it’s about judgment.  I’m referring to the people who accuse another of something awful, then becoming a self-appointed judge and jury and finding them guilty before even bothering to find out if it’s true.

None of us are perfect. We’re all having a human experience here and I think sometimes we forget that we’re all in this together.

All humans make mistakes and most of us are willing to admit when we have. We apologize to those we’ve harmed, learn something from the experience and then move on. Not the case with some people I know. They would like to continue to punish and make others wrong even if they’re not. Holding grudges never solved anything and normally hurts the one holding the grudge the most.

So I say to those people right here and right now … let go of your fear, anger, persecution mentality, righteousness and “holier than thou” attitudes. You are NOT holier than thou. You may think you’re on the high road and others you want to make wrong are on the low road. If you really were on the high road, you would reach out and pull the others up with you and help them along. When it finally dawns on you (and it will) that gentleness, kindness and compassion are the methods that will allow for resolution of problems and disagreements far more effectively than inflexibility and righteousness, then and only then will resolutions be honored, respected and adhered to. How much destruction does there have to be until you “get” this? Just how much longer will you allow your ego to run rampant in your life?

The truth is that people who win battles out of anger and fear are never really winners. They will always be internally afraid that the ones they defeated will someday rise against them. How sad to have to live that way, when there are so many other choices.

The next time you make a decision, a choice, to make someones else wrong, think about what you’re doing. Is there something inside of you hurting so bad that you must make others feel wrong in order for you to feel right?

The universal law of reciprocity states that whatever you send out in thoughts, emotions and actions will manifest in some way and return to you. Just picture a boomerang.

What do you want to load your boomerang with?

Namaste!

Unconditional Forgiveness is the Great Healer

(This post is re-blogged from John Smallman’s blog – November 20, 2011)

As the days pass and the intensified divine energies enveloping the planet are experienced by ever greater numbers of you, the urgency of your intent to awaken also intensifies. Many, who previously had dismissed spiritual ideas and beliefs as the mindless longings of the weak and ineffectual, are beginning to understand that this is not so, and are starting to reassess their values and attitudes as it becomes apparent to all that unloving ones lead only to conflict and destitution for all.  The call to awaken is being heard and responded to with mounting enthusiasm all over the world.

As your progress towards awakening gathers speed, it is essential that all cease dragging their feet with regard to personal issues that they need to address and release. Frequently, the addressing of these issues has been delayed in the misguided belief that they are someone else’s problem, or because they have been strongly repressed or denied and seem inaccessible, or because someone feels that it would be unwise or inappropriate to stir up old and painful memories. But it is absolutely vital to look at all the unresolved issues hidden in the attics and basements of your minds where they continue to fester, and take the necessary steps to forgive absolutely everyone, without exception, whom you feel or believe has hurt you or any of your friends or loved ones in any way. Remember that those who have inflicted pain were in great pain themselves,  and that true, indiscriminate, unconditional forgiveness causes a domino-like effect, allowing and encouraging love to flow into even the darkest of places, bathing all in its soothing balm.  To forgive is to open your hearts in love and ensures that healing occurs; and much healing needs to occur because much pain has been inflicted through the eons all over the world.

And of course by forgiving you release enormous amounts of emotional baggage – baggage that has weighed you down with resentment and anger – enabling you to find the acceptance and happiness that you have been seeking for eons without very much success.  Forgiveness is undoubtedly the most efficacious medicine available to promote healing and wellness.  Most of you have at some time responded unduly harshly and angrily to a child’s accidental misdemeanor when you were very tired or stressed out.  You can remember how badly you felt later as realization of your overreaction blasted its way into your awareness, shocking you.  You immediately sought out the child, forgave her, and humbly apologized for your unacceptable behavior.  The child’s relief and joy at being forgiven overwhelmed you as you saw how hurt she had been, and you swept her up into your arms in a moment of intense love and joy as you resolved never to be so harsh and unthinking again.  The damage was repaired, your relationship was healed, and what happiness it brought you both!

True, unconditional forgiveness never fails to heal the one who does the forgiving, and an unconditional apology for a wrong word or action can be enormously healing for the one who has been hurt.

To stress and reiterate: unconditional forgiveness is the great healer, especially when it is combined with the strong intent to always behave in only loving ways. When you open in forgiveness, and also in humble apology, your heart sings out its love, and the most profound healings occur, leading to intense joy for all concerned.  This sets you up to awaken into the brilliant light and bliss-filled state that is Paradise, Heaven, Reality, Oneness with God.

With so very much love, Saul.

Seven Ways to Minimize Weight Gain While Quitting Smoking

As an ex-smoker myself, I know that giving up cigarettes is one of the best things you can do for your body, but the fear of putting on weight may hold you back. While a few extra pounds are actually healthier than puffing away, here are some ways to minimize weight gain when you quit smoking.

1. Drink lots of water. The easiest way I found to drink more water was to use my refillable water bottle and add a slice of lemon each time I filled it up. For the times when you’re on the run and can’t be bothered with lemon slices, there’s a product in most grocery stores called True Lemon. It’s pure lemon that has been crystallized and it’s 100% natural. Just pour it into your favorite water bottle and go!

2. Snack on crisp, cold veggies. Snacking can be an addiction all by itself when you’re trying to quit smoking, so if you find that it is, stick with the cold veggies like celery. Celery is an alkaline vegetable which is very good for your system. OK, so what if you add a little peanut butter now and then?  It’s OK if you’re not overdoing it. Radishes, zucchini slices and baby carrots are all good as well. Much healthier than a cigarette.

3. Choose sugar-free gum and mints, but keep in mind that most of the artificial sweeteners are laden with chemicals so go easy on the gum and candy unless it’s made with Xylitol. Xylitol doesn’t spike the cravings for sugar like most artificial sweeteners.

4. Take a walk after meals, especially when you know that craving for nicotine is going to kick in. It sure did for me, especially after the evening meal. During the day wasn’t as bad because I always seemed to have things to keep me busy. So be aware of your “trigger” times and take a short walk even if it’s just around your house. The urge to smoke will go away in a few minutes. Taking a few deep breaths can also minimize the craving for a cigarette as well as reduce your stress level.

5. Buy a gym membership with the money you are saving. Keeping the weight gain at bay can be tricky without increasing your physical exercise. And having a place to go where other people are trying to improve their physical health will be an added bonus … a great support system. A monthly gym membership, in most instances, will cost you far less than a months worth of cigarettes.

6. Ask yourself if you are really hungry before snacking. A lot of times we’re not really hungry; we just think we are. That’s the best time to drink some water, chew some sugar-free gum, or get out of the house and take a walk. Then if you’re still feeling the hunger, get a healthy, low calorie snack.

7. Replace cigarette breaks with bursts of exercise or stretching. Yoga and Tai Chi are both really good stretching routines and help you breathe better and take your mind off of eating. There are some excellent videos available free online.

Do not let the fear of weight gain hold you back from quitting smoking. With the advice in this article, you can become smoke-free without sacrificing your figure in the process. Remember, all cravings, for nicotine or food, will pass in a few minutes. Hang in there!

Thanksgiving Eve

It seems very strange to me to be sitting here at my computer on the eve of Thanksgiving. Normally I would be knee-deep in preparations for tomorrow’s meal. Normally I’d be looking forward to family members coming for Thanksgiving, which would include my brother, Mike and his wife. But not this year. This year we decided to change things up and go out to dinner. It will be me, my dear husband, my mother and stepfather. Both of the folks are 88 years old, so it’s hard to get them out to go anywhere without it being a big production. Should be interesting to say the least. I will miss the kids and the grandkids (as usual) and wish they were here, but I am thankful to God for always keeping them safe.

The Struggle Ends When the Gratitude Begins

 

Since Mike’s passing, it seems that a “new normal” has set in for me. It feels like every day now I can find something to be grateful for. Today, for example, I took my Mom to the doctor for symptoms of a very bad cold. At one point, I overheard the nurse tell someone in the adjoining exam room that the tests came back positive for Hepatitis C. I couldn’t hear the response from the patient; all I could do was say a silent prayer for that person and feel deeply grateful … on so many levels for so many blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving! Namaste.