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How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World

photo Paul Bloom

So much rage / violence / death / confusion embedded in our past, present, and future.

Past: the Burns/Novick series brings the anguish and horrors of Vietnam to our eyes

Present: our sisters and brothers die “unneeded” deaths in massive numbers: another mass shooting in the USA…killing, displacement, starvation in Syria, France, Myanmar, Puerto Rico – and so many other places

Past/Future: I just saw the 1959 movie On the Beach. I wake at 3 AM wondering, Is North Korea still here? Will my grandchildren live to reach 20?

What to do, how stay sane, in these crazy times? Back to the basics:

  1. Take care of my body
  2. Keep my mind as clear as possible
  3. Do what’s possible in front of me – the “ordinary things” – for myself and others

Even as I do all of this, I notice – and feel –incredible rage inside of me. I’m seen by others as a usually “calm” person, but in these days how many times I want to give the finger…

What to do with my rage?

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  • First of all, know that it’s there, inside of me
  • Second, see what the rage is about
  • Third, do something positive with that energy

If I, who am safe, loved, “privileged”, feel this so intensely, what must it be like for people not so fortunate?

What I decide to do will probably be different from what you decide to do.

If you’re near Madison, WI on October 24, I invite you to join me for my keynote How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World. Whatever, do something pro-active for you, and for somebody else. My simple Self-Care Checklist may give you a few ideas.

Oh, and why do I have a splint on that 3rd finger?

Playing football with my grandsons. I caught a bunch of the high spirals from 10-year-old Jules, but on the last pass I heard my finger pop. When 6-year-old Theo saw my finger drooping, he glanced up at me and said mournfully, “GranMillie, you’re really old.” Then a dramatic pause – “but you’re really good.”

So now my middle finger is not a rage weapon. Rather it’s a trophy reminding me that sometimes it’s definitely worth not “acting my age” – whatever that means.

After the orthopedist set the splint, he said “Ten weeks, 24/7. And don’t get it wet.” Then he added,” I’ll be watching you in Sunday’s NFL game.”

I may be kneeling with the rest of the guys.

Speak the truth. Harm no one.

What we do matters.

Lucky Ol’ Sun – Lucky Us –

Example: As is our routine, Pablo and I chose dates for our hike in the Wyoming Rockies according to best coordination with Nature:

After the glaciers melt. Before the snow starts.

Bingo! By sheer luck, or call-it-what-you-wish, we will be in the 30-mile ribbon of total blackout solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. Funny. I’m remembering a song from my childhood – “That lucky ol’ sun – ain’t got nothin’ to do – but roll around heaven all day…”

Strange and wonderful to head into the wilderness for ten days. Away from electronics. Cut off from “world news.” Immersed in tangible world reality… Who knows what will happen in our time away?

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Wake up to the day’s most important news.

Give yourself a “roll-around-heaven” OASIS right now:

– If you’re near Cape Cod, treat yourself to an OASIS massage at OASIS by the Sea in Falmouth, MA

Dive in to the Authorized OASIS Training on September 14 at Mercy by the Sea in Madison, CT

– Indulge in the OASIS 60-second Sanity Tip below.

OASIS Sanity Tip

Facts of Life:

Sun shines. Glaciers melt. Snow falls. We breathe.

Today, take 60 seconds (at least!) to:

  • Sit outside. Absorb the sun’s warmth.
  • Put your hand on your heart. Feel its rhythm.
  • Do one simple kindness for a) yourself, b) someone else.

Wherever you are, I send you refreshing OASIS greetings,

Millie

When’s the last time…?

Bruce Plasse

On this hot summer day I am savoring pleasures I had as a kid on 42nd Street in Louisville, KY.

We did all kinds of things that moved our bodies and activated our brains. And nobody had to plug us in or drive us anywhere. We just did it.

Here are some of my favorites:

Play Rock Teacher on the front steps
Chalk Hopscotch on the drive
“Mother, may I?” on the sidewalk
Kick the Can in the street
Hide & Go Seek till it got dark
Sprinkle each other, or just Stand in the Rain and get soaked
My all-time favorite? After a heavy rain – Popsicle-Stick Race down the street gutter: Whose stick will get to the corner sewer first?

When’s the last time you did something simple – outside – and free – to celebrate being alive?

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The photo is of me and my friend Wendy Battles sprinkling each other – as grown-ups – in my backyard in New Haven. Never too late to enjoy simple pleasures!

Here’s a quick OASIS Sanity Tip for you:

Take a few minutes now to get nostalgic. Ask yourself:

What were two of my favorite outside free activities?
Who were my real-life buddies before social-media electronics took over?
Savor the memories.

Now, take action:

What is one free outside activity I can do today?
What is a favorite game that I can teach to someone under 12?
With whom? Exactly when?

If you are eager to bring even more peace and pleasure to yourself and others, I invite you to try some Oasis in the Overwhelm 60-second Strategies. You may even want to become an Authorized Oasis Trainer – a powerful way to make yourself and our world happier and healthier. Want to do the Training en español? ¡Contáctanos!

I send you refreshing breezes on this Summer day, Millie.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/millie-grenough

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

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