Two days ago I was cruising up I-8 on my way to Phoenix from San Diego to pick up my mom at the airport. If you have ever driven out West, you will know how straight and narrow those highways can be. You can go 100 miles without really seeing civilization. With good tunes on the radio and a bit of mindlessness, it is easy to go a tad over the speed limit.

It is embarrassing to admit to you that, right after a pitstop in Yuma, AZ for some breakfast at IHOP, I was pulled over by one very nice Officer Sanchez for going too fast.

Picture it.

“Hi, Ma’am. The reason I pulled you over is because you were going too fast.”

“I was? I thought the speed limit was 70!”

A warm smile.

“I clocked you at 81.”

Oops.

He asked me where I was going, where I am from and what I do for a living. I cheerfully explained that I had had a spiritual prompting and was on my way to Sedona. Admittedly, I thought the spiritual angle might soften his heart. And I told him how ironic this all was, given I am the author of The Power of Slow.

He made me wait a full ten minutes while he checked out my profile in his car. When he returned, he kindly handed me a warning instead of a ticket, told me I really needed to slow down, and ,”Oh, Christine? Read your book!”

I giggled to myself all the way to Phoenix.

Thank you, Officer Sanchez. You are right. Slow really is faster.

Social connection is the healing bond that keeps us centered. When we disengage from the world, withdraw from our loved ones or wander down the path of isolation, we aren’t able to cope as well.

According to the new book, Manage Your Stress: Overcoming Stress in the Modern World, love heals. We all know this, but what is surprising is that a lack of social connection is more toxic than smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, obesity or a lack of exercise. That’s pretty significant when you think about it. You could be the physically fittest person on the planet, but without someone to love, and be loved by, you’re in bad shape after all.

A dear friend of mine entered the hospital yesterday for a fairly routine operation, but before he did, he reached out to me to tell me how scared he was. He needed reassurance and I was so glad to give it to him. It helped him manage his stress better and I felt good for being there.

That’s what it’s all about. Being there for each other to manage the ups and downs of life.

So if you are feeling stressed, reach out to someone you love today. It’s the best win-win situation you could create for yourself. And you’ll live longer, and better, for it too.

Mind Mapping the Slow

August 17, 2012

The folks at MindMaple approached me with an irresistible offer to try out their new mind mapping software. Having never created a mind map before, I felt a little daunted, but the software was so easy, even someone as non-technical as myself could grasp the concept quite readily.

If you are looking for a snazzy way to shape up your power point presentations,  your office walls or even your screen saver, check out MindMaple. They offer a lite, free version so if you don’t want the bells and whistles, try it instead.

And for those of you who are curious what I came up whilst trying out the software myself, I offer you this. Slow. In true colors.

 

It has been four years since the global recession grabbed hold of the world. It seems in the United States a lurking pessimism has undermined the once unshakable can-do spirit of a nation I’ll always consider home.

Yet never before have we had the possibilities we have today. We are desperate in so many ways — informed usually by fear (of losing or getting a job, of finding the right spouse, of making the right decision, etc.) and yet fulfillment lies within our grasp.

If you’ve heard me say it once, you’ve heard me say it one thousand times. Abundance lies within.

When we are desperate for something to happen, we pine away the hours, hoping, wishing and praying for That Thing to occur. And then, when it finally does, it doesn’t have the flavor of satisfaction we thought it would. All that energy we wasted wishing for the very thing that would happen anyway! We would enjoy it more if we expected it less.

What would our lives be like if we allowed things to unfold in the divine scheme that is our DNA instead of pushing, wishing and wanting things into existence?

We would be much happier indeed.

Whenever I start to obsess about something, I ask myself what the origin of my yearning truly is. It is typically intertwined with a feeling of lack, as if filling the whole from the outside will finally quench my eternal thirst.

Not so.

Eternity is in each one of us. We share that common bond. Life is about a constant giving, receiving, allowing and releasing.

We live in an age of plenty. We needn’t grab at anything. We already have everything, and I mean everything, we will ever need because we are born with an entire package that makes living possible. Now is the time to uncover its mystery.

And that mystery, you will find, is you.

Dump that Detritus!

August 2, 2012

Are you grappling with a toxic situation in your life? Maybe it’s a so-called friend who is not only unreliable, but only ever calls you when she needs something. Or maybe it is a work environment that spells poison. Perhaps it is your house that is bursting at the seams with too much stuff.

Whatever it is, it’s time to dump that detritus.

You all know I’m a fan of living life without baggage, whether it is your long-suffering negative relationship with time or with actual clutter that’s filling your halls and walls. Energy is meant to flow. Trapped energy not only frustrates, it also constipates.

Make a list of things you could do without. They can be material items, relationships or habits. Take one action step toward liberating yourself from it every day. Some things might take longer to remove than others. Be patient, but stick to your plan.

Once you’ve made a commitment to toss your trash, you will soon be free of it. And in the process, you will become lighter, freer and happier than ever before.

I promise.

The Cleanliness Code

July 18, 2012

Filth is something I’m very familiar with. I grew up, after all, on a horse farm with barnyard cats, half-feral dogs and enough land to scamper gleefully without seeing another person for miles (or so it seemed). But as I have gotten older with a home of my own, I have grown to appreciate the serenity of spotless surfaces gleaming reverently in the sunlight.

While they say cleanliness is next to godliness, it is not the divinity I seek in order, but more an expression of the love of place. When we care for our things, we extend a warmth and respect for our surroundings and ourselves. It is as if our environment mirrors what is going on within us (I am fully aware of the level of chaos a teenage mind must experience. Daughter’s room says that so nicely!).

At a trade show recently I found the funniest doormat that read: “If you’re not God, take your shoes off!” I can hear myself saying that to my kids. Can you?

For years I battled a disorderly desk, but lately I have found even here a sense of calm. It is as though my Universe has rightly aligned itself. All tops are spinning on their axes. All is well.

If your life is overtaken by clutter, take a closer look at what you need to release. Everything holds energy. Do you want that kind of energy around you? The Cleanliness Code dictates that you let go of the baggage. If you do, your world will find a new order. And you, my friend, will have the smoothest surfaces to prove it!

In Deep Water

July 14, 2012

The other day I read a great saying: “If you get into deep water, dive.”

That says it all.

Courtesy of Orlando Family Magazine

Sometimes we get into situations in which we feel we are over our heads. Last year I was commissioned to write a full-length statistics-laden report for a client. For those of you who know me, I’m a wordsmith, not a bean counter. So when it came to analyzing, dissecting and evaluating all that data, I felt like a fish out of water. Or a person in the deep. Waaaaaay too deep!

So I dove into it with everything I had, asking for help when I needed it and coming out alive at the end. It was, needless to say, one of the most intellectually stretching experiences of my life.

And I got to do it all over again this year. But because I had already been equipped with a level of experience, the deep dive felt a little less taxing. My lungs didn’t feel like they would burst as I scrubbed the ocean floor, mining for meaning in a sea of percentages. We altered the graphics to make it more appealing to readers and I built an overarching narrative to make it more readable (once a writer, always a writer. I couldn’t help myself!).

If you are confronted with a new situation that feels less than comfortable, put on your wet suit and plunge into it with eyes wide open. What do you see? What fears arise? Allow them to be there because they want to be heard. Love them to ease their pain, then let those fears go like water between your fingers.

If you are in deep water, you won’t sink unless you let panic take over. Trust that you have everything you need to make it through. The Universe offers us so many opportunities to grow. So dive right in and give it a try. You might just surprise yourself at what you are truly capable of!

The title caught your eye, didn’t it? Not all things that are worthwhile have to come slowly. And although I am dedicated to the power that slow brings, I’m equally committed to human happiness. And I mean for everyone.

You can experience instant joy by doing a few simple things. So in true slow style, I offer you five methods to attain more joy in every day situations.

  1. Traffic jams. Instead of beating yourself over the head that you took the slow lane and are now trapped on the road, take a look at all the other cars in line with you. They want to get to their destination too. Smile at someone you pass. They just might smile back. Joy points: 2+
  2. “I’m late” syndrome. While we all like to be on time, life gets in the way sometimes. So if you are going to be late to an appointment, call or text the person and let them know. Chances are they’ll be equally relieved to have a few minutes to breathe themselves. If you are going to be late for an event, trust that the Universe has your back and is aligning with what is meant to be. And remember: there’s really no such thing as late: you arrive at the right time, every time. Joy points: 1+
  3. The sound of music. Listen to your favorite tunes. A good song can boost your mood in no time. Joy points: 2+
  4. Acceptance. You might find this hard to believe, but accepting that some people in your life aren’t going to change can liberate you to focus on what they can do. While I do not condone abusive behavior (and if you find yourself in that situation, please ask for help), your quirks make you the person you are. This rule applies to everyone. Joy points: 3+
  5. Gratitude. I once thanked a person who said she could never be my friend for teaching me so much about communication. She didn’t get it, but it made me feel better as I left the situation. Gratitude can heal the weirdest of circumstances. Joy points: off the charts!

So now I’m going to tell you a little secret. To unlock your joy, look at your attitude. A good attitude will give you the altitude to stand above anything life throws at you.

I’m feeling a little joy high right now. Are you?

According to anecdotal evidence, the recession has created a generic sense of crankiness in my dear home country. The United States, in particular, is experiencing a new kind of energy crisis that concerns me. But, I have an idea on how we might reach a solution.

“Where on Earth do you get all your energy?” I get asked quite frequently.

If you have ever watched children, they are full of it. Somewhere along the line, we start to lose it as we enter the teen years (or it gets rerouted in the strangest of ways. Sleeping until noon, but staying up until all hours). Then we gain momentum again as hormones get sorted out and life takes on some kind of form.

By thirty, we are on a downward slope once again, especially if you have children of your own. One year when my children were really young, my mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday. My response: “Eight hours of consecutive sleep.” I certainly wasn’t the energetic bunny I am today. Sleep deprivation can do that to a person.

To answer the question where I get all my energy, it comes from years of stripping away the unnecessary (I kept the kids. They are indeed necessary!). Worry can weigh you down like a rock. Slough it off like a snake removes its skin and you’d be surprised at how much energy you’ll discover.

Focus is another one. If you know what you want, focus on it. Think about it. A lot. Ask yourself, “What is important to me today?” Then do that thing first.

Embrace change. Let it go through you. Release resistance. Accept.

Hug a tree. It’s incredibly grounding and puts your head back in order on those days when the world gets to be too much.

Talk to someone who can help you. I recently had a phone call with a new friend who was looking to jumpstart her writing career. She already had all the answers to her questions; I was simply there to help her discover them for herself. With a travelling husband and no full-time job, she had a lot of time, but no focus, which can be exhausting.

It comes down to energy management. If channeled correctly, you can reach your goals so much faster by ignoring things that would distract you. Surround yourself with people who give you energy. Stay away from the energy vampires that take without replenishing your supply.

And remember to have fun, which is energizing in itself.

If you aren’t clear where to put your energy, develop a new vision for yourself. Put together a new way of thinking about your life. Step-by-step you will make choices based on that new belief system. As if by magic, you will start to burst with renewed strength.

Then, when people will ask you “Where on Earth do you get all that energy?”, share your secret so they too can experience the same.

I’m starting to think we might be able to solve the world’s energy crisis together after all. Do you believe?

 

When learning a new language, you are bound to make mistakes. It’s expected and normal. But when you are in a world where you don’t understand a thing without an interpreter to help you find your way, you might become dazed, confused and a tad irritated after a while.

Such is the language of computer programming for me. Product Key IDs, Windows Installer corruption and the inability to update applications such as Skype, a lifeline for me in so many ways, are things that put me in a tailspin.

And so it was this week. That is, until Mumbling Microsoft Man came to the rescue. The support guy on the other end of the line spoke so quickly and unclearly that I literally only understood the first and last word of every sentence.

“It……….again. So…….,okay?”

Right.

For the record, he told me I could use his last name here, but since we got on a first-name basis over the course of an intense three hour on-again, off-again mobile phone conversation, I decided to create a pseudonym for the purpose of this post.

It only seems fair.

After repairing what at first seemed like a minor missing link, Microsoft has gained enormous respect in my eyes. Admittedly, like a college student dabbling in drugs, sex and rock-n-roll, I have been known to dabble on the Dark Side (read: Apple products). Their graphics rock, the look and feel of them are appealing and the store itself makes me want to take my shoes off at the door and speak in hushed tones as I admire, well, everything. I love Apple products for their cutesy nature, their instantaneousness and their speed.

Yes, even in a blog about slow, speed is valued. But when push comes to shove and I really need to write, my PC stands like a lighthouse in the dark: solid, stark, simply there.

You can imagine my frenzy when my PC rejected any type of updates whatsoever. To make a long story short, an old registry sweeper application I stupidly downloaded had eventually erased an important product key that unlocked the mystery that is Microsoft-based computer programming.

Microsoft Man patiently began our session with a kind request for the Product Key ID. I gave him the wrong one. He patiently asked me to look on my computer tower, not my Home Office software packet. I got down on my hands and knees, owing him my own set of patience as I scanned all four dusty corners of it. Finally, with a shriek of delight, I found what he was looking for. After discovering how dirty my floor was, I pulled myself up from under my desk and waited for Microsoft Man’s next intelligent command. He logged into my computer via some secret remote program and I watched him whip around my computer screen like Super Geek trying to find the solution.

Forty minutes later, I was a liiiiiiittle less patient, understanding only half of what he was saying. What first came out of my mouth as, “I’m sorry. Might you please repeat that?” later morphed into, “Huh?” accompanied by a glazed look of the truly defeated.

But Microsoft Man would not be beaten. After an hour and ten minutes, we took a break. I headed for the kitchen, he to a colleague’s desk. I’m not certain whether he beat his head against it, but he came back to the second conversation sounding as even-keeled as ever.

I threw him a bone.

“Would you like to take a lunch break?” I suggested, secretly muting every time I took a bite of my Thai food.

“Not until this is over,” I heard him say.

What commitment!

He manually added some gibberish into an additional screen and by the third hour, we were speedily updating, reinstalling and generally smiling at the amazingness of Microsoft Man himself.

He kindly suggested I fill out the customer satisfaction evaluation form that would inevitably pop into my inbox in a few days.

You bet I will, MM. Somehow I feel like we speak the same language now.

What’s your computer repair story? If you have a PC, I know you have one. Now Apple, well, that’s another story!

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