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Mother Of All Bombs…


This morning the daffodils in my backyard shout “Happy Passover / Easter — whatever!

So vibrant. So erect. So fleeting… My life, the life of my grandchildren, the life of each person in our world — how fragile, how fleeting.

The juxtaposition of last week’s headlines rattles me:

chemical warfare / missile strikes

palm sunday processions / church bombings

passover gatherings/ hate killings

And then

Mother Of All Bombs! — is Mother Of Us All trembling?

Awake at 3 AM, as I walk in daylight, I look for any spark of insight, of hope.

The only glimmer I find?

When we get into any kind of “us” vs. “them,” we’re in big trouble. Eons ago, or right this minute in my neighborhood, in my country, “my” world.

Dylan’s song rings strong. I alter his words a bit –

how many deaths will it take
till we know
that killing won’t stop killing.

My life work, Oasis in the Overwhelm, aims to help each of us find a place of respite, of clarity, when life appears to be too much. I wish all of us – me, too — deep wisdom and active compassion today. A simple Oasis Sanity Tip:

Today, any time I catch myself in “us” – “them”:

Pause

Breathe

Look for the big picture, the very big picture

Do one simple act to make that big picture a bit saner

Peaceful Passover, Easter – whatever – to all.

The daffodils don’t want us to ignore their beauty.

…How Many Deaths Will It Take…

Photo Paul Bloom

 

On this April day in 2017, dew on the petals in my front yard captures me.

How beautiful. How fleeting. How fragile my life – the life of each person – in our world.

The juxtaposition of headlines rattles me:

chemical warfare / missile strikes

palm sunday processions / church bombings

passover preparations / hate killings

In the middle of the night, as I walk during the day, I search for any spark of insight, of hope.

Does This Baby Iris Know Something I Don’t…?


Millie Grenough

When I walked to my sideyard in the middle of last week’s blizzard, a flash of purple stunned me.

How in heck can that little flower push up through all this snow?

My daughter-in-law phoned me that afternoon.

“Millie, I’m worried. The daffodils in our yard just showed their green. I don’t think they heard the weather report. We’re supposed to get a big snow this week. What’s going to happen to them? Will the blizzard kill them?”

This is Elizabeth’s first winter in Pittsburgh. She’s used to southern California winters. I’ve been in New England for many seasons, so I could reassure her.

“They’ll be okay. They’ve been around for a long time. I think they have more wisdom than we do.”

After I hung up, I wrote this poemette (is that a word?) —

baby iris know

how to grow in snow

An amazing miracle!

Well, not really a miracle. They’re just being natural, just doing what they do.

But I began to wonder: do they know that the earth seems to be getting warmer? …are they already beginning to adapt? … do they have anything they want to say to me, besides

“Notice my fragile beauty”?

The snow is melting now. More colors are popping up: a sunshiny crocus, pearl-white snowdrop, more purple iris.

I take a little more time than usual to look at them. I ask,

What can I do today to appreciate all the beauty around me?

What simple act will I do to help something – or someone – come to fuller life?

Thanks, baby iris.

Stressed Out in America — or How NOT to Deal with Stress

Millie Grenough

“Stressed Out in America” shouted the New Haven Register front page. Reporter Ed Stannard cited stats showing that the level of anxiety is increasing:

“Two-thirds of Americans say they are stressed about the future of our nation, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans,” according to the American Psychological Association’s report Stress in America™: Coping with Change.

“Between August 2016 and January 2017, the overall average reported stress level of Americans rose… At the same time, more Americans said that they experienced physical and emotional symptoms of stress in the prior month, health symptoms that the APA warns could have long-term consequences.”

Not surprising to me since my field is Stress Management. Not surprising to you, because you’re living in it.

The question: what do with this current reality? A piercing question for each of us.

How am I dealing with stress?

  • Trying not to tear out my hair. Brush it instead.
  • When I feel angry, use that energy to take a positive action—even if a tiny one.
  • Pay more attention to everything and everyone around me: my grandkids, people I meet in the supermarket.
  • Try not to judge people’s words instantly. Instead, listen with longer pauses. Look for common ground.
  • Temper my addiction to news. Instead, walk around the block, meditate, hang out with friends.

How are you managing your stress? Let me know.

If it feels right to you, join me for a whole-day retreat at Copper Beech Institute on Sunday March 19. Theme? Welcome Fresh Life This Spring. Time to refocus, refresh, rejuvenate.

As the good ol’ song says, You gotta accentuate the positive… Give it a shot.

Valentine for My Country

Millie Grenough
Coach, Trainer, Author who helps you find an Oasis in the Overwhelm, whatever it may be
This post is hosted on the Huffington Post’s Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and post freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

My country, ‘tis of thee,

Sweet land of liberty –

Of thee I sing!

What to give my country for Valentine’s Day – chocolates? red roses? No.

Much better: Truth Bouquets.

I send luscious bouquets to:

– Margot Lee Shatterley – you shine light on so many hidden figures

– Gabby Giffords – you carry on, even after being shot down

– Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Elizabeth Warren – you speak your consciences on the Senate floor

– Peter Salovey and Yale Corporation – you change a college’s name from Calhoun to Grace Murray Hopper

– Julius, my 10-year-old grandson, after seeing a Noguchi sculpture – you ask, “What is lynching?”

– My husband – you answer his question calmly, clearly

– Millions of people in the USA and around the world – you stand up strong for your beliefs

– Youtube – you make it possible for me to hear Marian Anderson sing My Country, ‘tis of thee at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939

To all of you I offer bouquets. Of you all, I sing.

Happy Valentine’s day, country of mine. Let freedom ring!

 

 

Millie Grenough, Author Oasis in the Overwhelm. www.milliegrenough.com

P.S. Give Yourself a Valentine ~

Join me this Wed Feb 16, 8 – 8:30 PM for a brief chat – Free

Topic? Compassion – for Yourself & Others: Strategies for Tough Times

Decide now to come to a 1-Day Retreat – Sun Mar 19

Theme? Welcome Fresh Life This Spring

“AMERICA FIRST” — Huh?

I was one of the millions of marchers yesterday. I drafted the sign above on a bench in Union Station, New Haven, CT while we waited for the next train to New York.

A man on the bench across from me waited till I finished the red-and-blue flag, then gave a smile and thumbs up.

On the streets in NYC so many people, so many signs. Our signs invited us to talk to each other.
An Ecuadorean worker emerging from a construction site on 47th Street stopped to read my sign, then reached out his hand when I told him I had lived in the Andes.

When we went into the 53rd Street Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee and a pee break, the wrinkled woman cleaning the ladies’ room chatted. She held her mop, told me she was from Oaxaca, Mexico, then looked sad when I told her about the assassination this week of another indigenous environmental activist in her home province.

The athletic-looking man carrying a large sign, “I am gay and in the U.S.Military” paused on the corner of 55th Street to oblige people who wanted his image. He saw my sign, read it, and spontaneously gave me an all-embracing hug.

“This is democracy in action.” The streets reverberated with the roar.

Maybe we needed the events of these past months to blow the lid off. It’s not just now, not just us. The results of centuries of injustice, of measured and calculated insanity that established one group over another group are now blazingly clear.

Now is the time. Not just for “America First” or my own individual cause. This is bigger than any of us.

What can you do today — what can I do — to walk and act with compassion? with clarity? May we all walk humbly, but/and with determination in these days ahead.

For a short way to re-connect with “the big picture,” watch the 60-second 1-Stone Meditation that Thich Nhat Hanh taught me in 1988.

Another blog tomorrow. I’ll write about how Anne DiNoia, Boz Scaggs, and Justin Williams are connected with this.

This post is hosted on the Huffington Post’s Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and post freely to our site. 

In These Dark Days, How Can You Shine Your Light?

Yep, in this Northern Hemisphere, we’re in those dark days of winter. 5 PM and it’s pitch dark in Connecticut. Where is that sun anyway? Makes me wish I were back in Perú.

Helps me to remember that nature never stands still. That’s why I was surprised when I looked up the origin of the word solstice. Webster tells me it’s from the Latin:

sol = sun + status, past participle of sistere = to come to a stop

Webster goes on to explain that solstice is one of the two points on the eclipse at which the distance from the celestial equator is greatest. (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)

But the sun doesn’t stay there. Even as I type these words, we’re beginning to move towards more light.

On these darkest days of the year in our hemisphere, how can I – how can you – how can we – shine our lights?

Last Thursday 50 light-shiners gathered with me at Career Resources in Bridgeport, CT. What’s their task? To work with jobless, homeless, re-entry population, single parents, and those with mental health or addiction difficulties.

What’s their toughest challenge? To take excellent care of themselves as they go about their stressful work.

Photo by Holly Wasilewski

They journeyed to Oasis in the Overwhelm with me and left with practical strategies to take with them. As one participant said, “I learned how to stay calm in stressful situations. I have my stone to keep with me.”

To honor your light in these dark days, try this Oasis Sanity Tip, ask yourself:

What is one specific thing I can do today to:

1. Feed my own light – nurture my sun?

2. Honor someone else’s light?

3. Shine light on a dark place?

And if you happen to be in Lima or Cochabamba, shoot some psychic rays up our way.

Click here to receive a holiday gift from Oasis in the Overwhelm and me.

Bright greetings on this dark day, Millie Grenough

Do You Need a Respite?

retreatgrouo-thumbPhoto by Sabir Abdus-Sabur

These days are turbulent for sure. What to do?

In his Just One Thing e-note this morning, Psychologist Rick Hanson responded to my wondering:

This week’s practice – love someone.

Rick affirms: that’s a good practice at any time.

“But it’s especially good if you feel stressed, worried, or turned upside down – including by big forces that seem beyond your control.”

Two days after the US elections, a group of us knew that we needed an oasis in the overwhelm. We gave ourselves a day of respite at a beautiful place – time to be with ourselves, our emotions, our fears, our hopes. You can tell from the faces at the end of the day that the time together helped us face our current reality with more equanimity, less fear.

I invite you to join me for a special Day of Retreat/ Respite December 10 at Copper Beech Institute in West Hartford, CT. It will be a day to choose Love in Action for yourself, with others: quiet time, stress reduction, practical mindfulness, opportunity to breathe, re-group, re-fresh, re-juvenate body/mind/spirit.

As Rick says,

“No matter what others do, we can choose to love. Besides its benefits for others, love is also calming, centering, and strengthening for oneself.”

Don’t wait for a retreat day to practice Love in Action. It’s a great antidote for frustration—plus it helps our own health, and the health of our world. Here’s a little Oasis Sanity Tip for a practical way to do it today. It’s a single investment with triple beneficiaries.

Ask yourself:

What is one act of love I will do today:

1. for myself?

2. for someone I know?

3. for someone I don’t know?

Write down the specifics for each one.

Check it off when you’ve done it.

Breathe gratitude – in and out.

Enjoy your day. Sleep well.

Wherever you are, I send loving greetings from New Haven. Treat yourself to an oasis. Now.

Follow Millie Grenough on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MillieGrenough

Election Stress? 2 Survival Tips

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Are you ready to axe it all? When will this nerve-wracking hype be over? And after the big day, will the stress be gone?

What to do…?

The other morning when my husband was chopping firewood, I remembered the Zen saying:

Chop wood, carry water.
Before Enlightenment, Chop wood, carry water.
After Enlightenment, Chop wood, carry water.

Loosely “translated,” that means: whatever the heck is going on around you, be your true self and do what’s in front of you.

So here are my two tips:

  1. Before Election: Chop wood, carry water.
  2. After Election: Chop wood, carry water.

Translation?

  1. Today: do what’s in front of you. Do your usual tasks with intention, clarity, focus. If that includes contacting someone to encourage them to vote or let them know you’ll be happy to drive them to the voting place, do it. Decide what time tomorrow you will vote your conscience.
  2. Wednesday and days after: do what’s in front of you. Breathe often. Make time to sit quietly. Do your tasks, usual and maybe unusual.

The leaves here are now at peak. Many have already fallen, nourishing the ground for the next season. Rhythms of life going on, even as I type these words.

I send you warm greetings from New Haven in this time of intense color.

11,000 feet — 9/11

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What’s it like to toss your stress to the background and climb to 11,000 feet?

I had the luxury of doing that in August. Left all the usual stuff behind. Packed the bare necessities. Then climbed. Tough climb! Not much air. One focused step at a time. Incredible beauty/spaciousness in the Wind River Range in Wyoming, Tetons to the north.

Back at sea level now, “reality” is smacking me in the face. Bam!

Sharp memories of 9/11
Nuclear threat looming
World leaders badmouthing each other
Unrest in my own neighborhood
My sister and a dear friend gravely ill

How to manage the instant stress this generates in me?

Wow, I’m almost back in the overwhelm.
How to keep sanity, clarity, the big perspective?

Pause.
Breathe right now.
Consider: What’s my best action right this minute?

Simple.
Be me. Do what’s in front of me. Today’s tasks. With open eyes and open heart.
That includes writing this blog and inviting you to do this Quick Mind-Clear to give you an oasis in whatever your own overwhelm is. Here’s my Oasis Sanity Tip:

Set aside three minutes today to:

  1. Toss aside your overwhelm, whatever it may be.
  2. Give your body, mind, and spirit a chance to let go.
  3. Luxuriate in a favorite “big-picture” scene for yourself.
  4. Breathe a sigh of gratitude that you are alive, safe, well.

After this, ask yourself — gently — if there is an action you want to take.

Me? Now that I finished this blog, call my sister. Then go to Edge of the Woods to buy veggies and fruit for my friend. Not world-shaking, but real. Practical.

If this little Sanity Tip is useful, you may want to learn more ways to rewire your own brain away from chaos into calm. The next Oasis Training is coming soon. Join me!

From sea-level Connecticut, I send you “big-picture” spaciousness. Give yourself a break right now —

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