Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Disease of Dis-ease

"The thoughts I choose to think and believe right now are creating my future. These thoughts form my experiences tomorrow, next week and next year."
 - Louise Hay

I have been re-reading some Louise Hay recently.

I don't really know why.

Well...that is a lie. I actually know that it is because I finished that last book I was reading and I looked at my book shelf and grabbed her book "You Can Heal Your Life" quickly as I was running out the door wanting to have something in my bag to read in case the spirit moved me.

In this book, Louise breaks down the term "disease" into two parts - "dis-ease".

It makes sense, since when we are inflicted with any sort of it cancer, depression, addiction or a anything else that falls into this vast category, we all feel a great deal of dis-ease.

This means, of course, that we are not at ease with our situation.

We are fearful. We worry. We feel lost.

We are un-well.

And all of these feeling of dis-ease certainly don't help us on our journeys to getting well.

Having negative emotions and feelings because we are not well only add to our disease and our dis-ease. Negativity feeds disease and our dis-ease increases.

It becomes a vicious cycle and can lead to the famous "self-fulfilling prophecy" of keeping whatever ails you...well...ailing.

Now don't get me wrong. There are some who truly believe that if you change your thought patterns, you can heal anything...even cancer. Louise is one of those people. She even has the personal experience to back it up.

But I am not quite there yet. But she was on to something.

Like the Bible, you can't always take a person's or a book's teachings word-for-word or completely literally to garner something useful from them.

For example, I have a good friend Liz who has been battling breast cancer. She has gone through chemo and radiation treatments like the warrior that she is. I actually dedicated a post to her entitled Live, Laugh, Love...Liz.

The thing is, Liz chose medical intervention - as most people with cancer do - to fight her disease.

But the amazing thing is...she also chose to be positive throughout this process. Not an easy undertaking when you are fighting the battle of your life.

And the key word in that sentence is "CHOSE".

Liz had...and everybody has...a choice.

She could have chosen to play the constantly spout the "poor me/why me" thoughts that I am certain pooped into her head countless times. I mean, how could they not? She is a beautiful, vibrant, wife and mother of three and an amazing woman in her own right.

But she was and is intelligent enough to realize that feeding her dis-ease with positivity and vibrancy could only help her. And I believe these things HAVE helped her.

And not only that...but her amazing attitude spread.

She has...through sharing her journey and showing her positivity and vibrancy through this very difficult time...helped with my dis-ease.

Now I am not saying I have cancer. But we ALL have issues and problems that we are dealing with. And Liz has been a constant reminder to me that staying positive promotes wellness.

So, we may not be able to choose when an illness stops us in our tracks.

But we can CHOOSE to feed the illness with negative thoughts or with positive ones.

And always the way to help the dis-ease of disease.



Friday, March 22, 2013

What Makes Your House A Home?

"Think of the inside of your house as your soul and the outside architecture as something like your bone structure, your genetic inheritance...Our true home is inside each of us, and it is your love of life that transforms your house into your home."
 - Alexandra Stoddard

Your house may be your home...but the question I ask here today is...does your house FEEL like your home?

Yes, I realize, that is a loaded question.

Think back to a time when you were living somewhere that FELT like home. What was is about the place that made is so?

Was it the house itself?

Was it its contents?

Was it the other people who lived there with you?

I generally relate feelings of home to feelings of COMFORT.

How do YOU define comfort?

As some of you may know, I am a Certified Home Stager (although I have never really done this for a living!). Here is a post I did a while back that show several before and after shots of rooms I staged.

Imagine yourself in each "before" space and notice how you feel. Then imagine your self in the co-ordinating "after" space and notice any shift in feeling. Notice any difference?

Here is the post: If You Stage It, They Will Come.

There are a few things that are conjured up in my mind when I think of comfort when speaking about what HOME means to me 

1. Coziness. I want my home to feel cozy. When I walk through the front door I want to feel a sense of being embraced by the walls...kind of like the safely of a cocoon...a feeling of belonging.

I want one of these.

2. A sense of calm. I want to feel my stresses of the day fall as I cross the threshold. I want to feel relaxed and at peace.


3. Surrounded by beauty. And beauty can mean very different things to different people. When I look around my home I want to see things that bring me a sense that this is MY home. I want my home to be a reflection of ME.

So purdy!

4. Order. As I mentioned in a past post, A Cluttered Home is a Cluttered Mind. When we are in a home that is full of scattered "stuff", our mind becomes bogged down by the dis-order. Hardly the grounds for a relaxing, calming, beautiful, orderly home.

This just makes me want to get out my label maker!

5. Love. I want to feel love when I am at home. I want to feel as if my home loves well as the people I live with. Love is a two way street when it makes one feel good.

My loves.

When I review the above list, I realize that my home has some work to do...or rather, I have some work to do on my house in order to make it truly feel like my ideal home.

I often walk in the front door and feel overwhelmed. Piles of clutter, toys, papers and what-have-you stresses me out.

I don't feel the sense of calm I crave.

There is certainly some beauty to my home, but it still does not totally feel like ME. Now, part of this has to do with the fact that I hardly live alone. What means "beauty" to me, does not necessarily mean beauty to my husband and three sons.

Beauty to me...may not be the same as... to one of my boys!

Finding a balance here involves a lot of compromise and give and take. I have yet to find that perfect (or good enough) solution...but that's OK. With three young boys running about, one has to surrender a certain amount of what one finds ideal in order to accommodate the realities of their family.

Messy? Yes. Fun? Definitely!
Well worth the clean up!!!
(And homemade brownies ALWAYS make a house feel more like a home!)

The same goes for order. I am not a drill sergeant, nor do I want to become one all in the name of perfect order. Again...some surrender order, if you will.

A "locker" system I concocted (with my husband's help!) - one for each of our boys.
Their photos are above their own "locker" in case they - or I - forget!
I'm trying!!!!

As for love...well...I love the people I live with. Not to say they are perfect - no one is. But they are my family and Lord knows I am no personification of perfection myself.

No comments from the "Peanut Gallery" please! LOL

But if you don't, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your situation.

Do you have roommates that suck the energy out of you?

Has your relationship run its course?

Only you can answer these questions, but if these people make your house feel more like a prison than a home...well...maybe you need to take some action.

Well...I didn't mean a LITERAL prison...but you know what I mean.

Now this is my list and my feelings. Your list may be entirely different. 

Start by making your own list of things that make you feel "at home".

Here is me making mine.
Notice my small waist.

And then...take a little action.

And then, maybe...just day, you will find that your house whisper to you...

"Welcome home".



Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Four Stages of Happiness

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony."
- Mahatma Gandhi

Yes peeps...I am still making my way through the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

(At least I was when I wrote this!)

And yes, I am learning something new with each small snippet I absorb.

Like what I learned about Hostess Neurosis.

Or what I learned about Fog Happiness.

And what I learned about how I need to Act The Way I Want To Feel.


I'm always learning!

In Chapter 4, entitled "Lighten Up" her focus is on parenthood. Rubin is the mother of two young girls and through her happiness project she was seeking out ways to add more fun and lighter moments into her day-to-day life - especially concerning her interactions with her children.

Before she mentions the four stages of happiness - which she came up with after her extensive research on the topic, she reminds the reader of the more commonly known five stages of grief as famously coined by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Being a self-help junkie, I was already quite familiar with these.

And perhaps I will write something more in-depth about my thoughts on these stages.

But today, I want to take a closer look at Rubin's four stages of happiness.

According to her, "to eke out the most happiness from an experience, we must anticipate it, savour it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory."

Hmmmmm. Interesting.

The first stage - anticipation - is something I already knew.

I actually say quite often that "half the fun of realization is anticipation."

Remember the anticipation of a first kiss?

I probably even wrote a post about this way back when, and surely have mentioned it...and I would link you up to that if only I remembered and if only I were not so lazy.

But think about it.

Let's say you are planning a vacation to...oh...say...Hawaii. Your tickets have been purchased, childcare for your kids has been arranged (yes...this is an adults-only get-away!) and you have booked of the time from work.

But the vacation is not for another 3 months!

Do you see where I am going with this?

Having something to look forward to is exciting!

It gives you a skip to your stride and something to daydream about. Just knowing that the day you get on that plane, on your way to a tropical paradise is inching forward with each passing day is all part of the fun!

Moving on.

Let's chat about savouring happiness as it unfolds.

It really depends on the attention you give to any experience - be it something as big as a grand vacation - or as seemingly insignificant as baking cookies with your kids.

I remember this fun, cookie-baking, snow-day with my boys.

It is all about being present. And Lord knows I have written about this one before. For example...Parenting and Pondering in the Present. In fact, this one was picked up by a popular website VividLife and republished under a slightly different title here.

Children naturally live in the moment. We can learn so much from them.

Julian having fun with bubbles!

Drew ripped up a box of Kleenex all over the living room...and Mama let him because he was having so much fun!

And while we are on the topic of happiness, I also write a short piece entitled A Short Note on Happiness that you may enjoy.

And finally, my post Have You Noticed? was another one that struck a chord with many as it went viral via Facebook, Twitter, etc. It also got picked up and re-published by WellnessX here.

So...presence is a cornerstone topic here on The Hugging Home, as is happiness, for that matter.

So is my digressing. But you know that.

So often our minds are in the past or in the future. We need to be in the NOW to really savour the day-to-day experiences of our lives.

After all, now is all we really have. Now IS life...happening.

So pay attention.

The next stage of happiness, as per Rubin, is expressing happiness.

It is one thing to say you love someone, but it is quite another to express it.

We need to show people that we care about most how much we care about them.

Snuggle with Noah!

So often we focus on the negatives and take the positives for granted. And the elusive "they" say that it takes 5 positive expressions towards someone to counter any 1 negative expression.

Julian giving his baby brother Drew a loving nuzzle.

So do those little things that mean so much...just...because.

Praise and compliment. Try not complaining or nagging too much.

If you feel love.

You will find you get it back in droves.

I talk about the power of simple but powerful words in my post Powerful Words for Today as an example. Come to think of it, this one was also republished by WellnessX here.

Recalling a happy memory is the fourth stage of happiness.

This is one of the reasons why I think traditions are so important.

I can recall so may happy memories from my childhood that stem from traditions.

Going skating at the local park and then home for fondue with my family on New Year's Eve. Enjoying hot chocolate by the fireplace and getting to open one Christmas present each on Christmas Eve. Ordering Chinese food every time the Super Bowl was on...even though none of us were much in to football!

Looking back at photos from when I was younger bring back happy memories too.

Me and my mom at Blue Mountain.

Me and some of my best friends goofing around on my 21st birthday.
That is me, bottom, middle apparently trying to lick my friend's forehead.

 I have tried to preserve some happy memories for my children by making them each a scrapbook of their first year of life...right from the moment they were born to their first birthday. (I have to admit though, that I am overwhelmed with all of the digital photos I have of my youngest - I didn't have a digital camera when my oldest two were little - that I have yet to even develop most of them. I have to get on that!)

As I truly believe, the main purpose in life is to be I was happy (ha!) to learn about these stages - not because they are revolutionary - because really they aren't - but because we all need reminders.

Consider this yours - from Gretchen - to me - to you!



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

HuffPost Live with Ty Pennington & Me!

So a couple of months ago, out of the blue, I was contacted by The Huffington Post - one of the biggest news websites in the world.

A producer of the site's popular, on-line show HuffPost Live contacted me because she read my blog and thought I would be a good segment guest for a show they were doing.

So that I am not repeating myself, the details about that...along with a link to the segment is here.

I was contacted again - this time by phone - by another HuffPost Live producer asking me to participate in a segment with SELF magazine about spring fitness. Unfortunately, I was unable to fit that one into my schedule.

What can ya do?

Then a few days later, I got another message from yet another HuffPost producer asking is I would be a segment guest on a show with well-known interior designer and TV personality Ty Pennington!

Ty Pennington
You probably know him best from "Trading Spaces" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"

Now this was exciting!

...and THIS is exciting!
You're welcome.

Not only am I am big home decor junkie, but I am a big fan of Ty's - both because he a cutie pie and because I really like his design aesthetic.

I also dig his magazine!

Luckily, I was available to do the segment.


Now those of you who are familiar with Ty know that this guy is majorly hyper and talks and moves a million miles a minute (he actually has spoken openly and honestly about living with ADHD).

This being said, he did most of the talking during the segment and my contribution included a couple of questions near the end. If you blink you just may miss me!

But it was still cool and fun to be a part of it!

So here is the link!

HuffPost Live: Pennington Style, March 11, 2013

Special thanks to Vanessa and Camille at The Huffington Post / HuffPost Live for asking me to be a part of this fun experience!

I hope to do it again soon!



Saturday, March 09, 2013

Groundhog Mornings

"When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide then I stop and I go for a ride and I get to the bottom and I see you again."
 - The Beatles

Do you ever experience so many deja-vus in your life that you feel as if you are living in the movie "Groundhog Day"?

My mornings are like this.

Alarm sounds. Press snooze. Alarm sounds. Press snooze. Alarm sounds. Press snooze. Alarm sounds. Almost press snooze but then realize you are already 20 minutes behind.

Get up. Stretch you aching back. Rub your eyes. Saunter to the bathroom. Jump in the shower if you have time. If not, pull your hair back. Put on a bit of make-up so that you look half-presentable.

Get baby out of crib. Change poopie diaper. Yell across the house to remind your older kids that they had better be eating their cereal because they are old enough to get themselves their cereal and pour milk on it.

Dress baby. Wish he was old enough to get his own breakfast. Realize he is not and give him a break. Make him breakfast.

He's lucky he's cute.

Clean up that very breakfast because in a fit of rage he decided he does not want what you made him for breakfast and threw it on the floor.

Clean up the floor and eat some of it as you go for your own breakfast.

Not me...but could be!

Tell the older boys they need to get dressed. Hear "just a sec!". Tell them again in a sec and hear "just a sec!" Tell them again and hear "just a sec!" Yell "If I hear "just a sec" one more time....!"

Boys pass you in the kitchen and you kiss them good morning and tell them to listen to you. They turn to go upstairs and you say "Pardon?" and they say "Sorry mom".

"Sorry Mom!'
 They're lucky they're cute.

Make something different for baby. If he eats it, good. If he throws it on the floor again, too bad for him...more food from the floor for you.

Older boys come downstairs dressed.

One asks where his belt is. You tell him "probably in the hamper and you should remember to take off your belts before you put your jeans in the wash"...again.

One comes down wearing jeans with big holes in the knees. You say "How many times do I have to tell you that those jeans are for don't wear them to school?!?'

A familiar sight.
They are so holy they should only be worn to church.

He sighs and goes upstairs to change while the other one is sighing because he still can't locate his belt in the hamper.

You change the baby's shirt as he threw his breakfast before you thought to put on his bib and now it is soaked in milk. You change your own shirt because you forgot that your baby likes to throw his breakfast when he does not like it and it is also soaked in milk.

You put the soaked shirts in the hamper and find your older son's lost belt.

Oh...there it is!
You also find a perfectly clean pair of new jeans in the hamper that you knew were dumped there because your other son was too lazy to put them away.

You give them to him and say "Stop putting clean clothes in the take those ratty ones off and put these perfectly clean ones on." He complains because they were in the "dirty clothes" and you remind him that most of them are clean clothes that he and his brother threw in there anyways.

Except for the shirts soaked in milk.

But you keep that detail to yourself.


You spout four-letter words to yourself - or perhaps out loud - because you failed to put the coffee on and really need a jolt of java!

You rush to put the coffee on only to realize you are out of coffee and now you don't have time to stop at Tim Horton's on the way to work.

Not to probably would have been the day I would have won a car!

You get the lunches out of the fridge and you silently thank your husband for making them the night before but also spout more four-letter words at him for having to leave so early for work each morning that he can't help you deal with all this shit.

You realize you don't have socks on so you run up and can't find any that match so you take some out of your son's drawer and give thanks that their feet are now as big as yours.

Oh what surprises lurk under my Uggs!

You tell the boys to turn off the TV, the video game, the whatever and then send them back to turn off the lights. Then they argue as to who left them on and you tell them you don't care...just somebody do it. And clear your breakfast dishes while you are at it.

And put them in the dishwasher because you may be their mother but you are not their maid.

Nope. Not me.

Tell older boys to put their lunches in their backpacks and then one of them tells you he needs $12 and a 4-page form filled out for a field trip and it was due yesterday. You tell him he needs to tell you about these things earlier and quickly fill out the form and search for cash around the house until you finally write a cheque for $12 because who carries cash anymore...really!!?!?

Ask the older boys if they brushed their teeth and get little smiles that mean "no I forgot" and at this point you don't care...there is no time for personal just want to get out the frickin' door.

You tell them their teeth are gonna fall out and that they will never get dates when they are older and they tell you that girls are gross anyways.

This is what I think of girls. Gross!

You get baby into his jacket, hat, scarf, boots and then he throws a tantrum because he hates mittens. You tell him his hands are going to be cold and he does not seem to care and neither do you.

You tell the boys to get on their outdoor shit and one of them complains that his socks are uncomfortable under his boots and you tell him too bad we are late. He starts to whimper and you ask him if he would like cheese with his whine.

He grumbles and groans as if he is having a major health crisis and you run upstairs and throw down - a little too hard - another pair of socks that are exactly like the ones he is wearing but whatever.

Finally everyone is out the door.

Except one of the boys forgot his backpack and you have already started the car.

You take the keys out of the ignition so that he can take the keys, unlock the house and get his bag and then you yell to him to remember to lock the door.

Then everyone is in the car.

And you feel like going back to bed.

And WHAT time is it?

And it is only 8:07am.

The silver lining?

At least you don't have to do this again until tomorrow.

Like you do I...they are lucky they are cute.