Archive for February, 2010

Feb 27 2010

Facing the Unfaceable – Ear Aches, Rear Aches & Fear Aches – Issue#44

I just came face to face with a massive issue I’ve been avoiding, and I have my butt to thank for it.

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time messing around on the computer, watching TV, and eating. I recently did something I haven’t done since my diagnosis and removal of cancer a year ago. I have been faithfully avoiding sugar (it feeds cancer) and dairy, but the other day I walked to the Fresco bakery (voted best desserts in Santa Barbara) and I got a big slice of berry pie with homemade whipped cream. I was proud of myself for bringing it home and sharing half of it with my husband Tom. Two days later I went back and got another yummy dessert (a caramelized banana marzipan flakey pastry), but this time I didn’t share it with Tom. I didn’t even tell him about it. It was a sweet, secret treat that I hoarded and hid and ate all by myself.

Big fat red flag! There have been other red flags that something was up, or held down, something I didn’t want to face. A few weeks ago I had a severe ear infection and blockage in my left ear with pain radiating into my neck and face. I couldn’t hear out of that ear and I felt unbalanced. In addition, for several weeks my butt has been unrelentingly aching with painful hemorrhoids (the grapes of wrath!) So I asked myself, “Your ear aches and your rear aches, what’s up with that?”

I’m taking antibiotics for my ear and it’s better. But the pain in my butt is not going away. My rear aches everyday, like a tiger’s got ME by the tail. The persistent pain scares me, with the thought that cancer is always a possibility. I tried to reassure myself that everyone gets hemorrhoids (it’s said that’s why Napoleon rode side saddle!) But then a lady from the community garden told me she had hemorrhoids and it turned out to be anal cancer. Oh My God, my worst fear! I googled anal cancer and hemorrhoids and my fear mushroomed.

Fear has taken over. I am out of balance — I’ve lost touch with my spirit. In trying to avoid this fear by distracting myself with TV, food, and the computer, I have also separated myself from my spirit. I have been spirited away by the addictive distractions that fill my day.

My ear aches and rear aches are fear aches. I’ve been tightly clenched, trying to push fear away, avoid it, sit on it. But once again I am reminded that when I try to sit on my feelings, they bite me in the butt! And it’s very painful! I am now willing to come face to face with my ear, rear, and fear aches.

Laying in the spaciousness of Tom’s arms, I let go and I let myself go into the depths of my fear and sadness about cancer. Even though it was removed, I have a creeping fear that it will return. I face into the surprising awareness that a part of me would rather die than to go through more cancer, pain, hospitals, expense, needles, knives, blood, and fear!

I cried and released and unwound my pain, and then…I became aware of Tom holding me, and I felt the sweet space he was providing me, and I suddenly remembered how I used to cry and feel this deep despair years ago when I felt so alone in the world. Now here I was with Tom. My eyes opened wide, taking in this present moment where I was held and loved. I awakened to this wonderful moment and I smiled, happy to be alive, feeling my feelings fully, in the spaciousness of the here and now with this beautiful man.

I can see that my butt has been aching to communicate with me, trying to tell me, “Get off your butt. Take walks in nature. Reconnect with your spirit.” My hemorrhoids feel better when I’m moving, walking and breathing fully, and they hurt when I’m sitting around distracting myself with mindless, breathless activities.

I am hereby committing to reconnect with my spirit, to meditate, to walk in nature, to call my doctor, to face my fear, to breathe fully and recommit to life.

Later today Tom and I are going for a walk in nature. We’re going back to the Botanic Garden where I haven’t been since the Jesusita Fire ravaged it several months ago. I haven’t wanted to see it’s marred beauty — I didn’t want to face it. Today I am willing to face everything.

How about you — is there something you haven’t wanted to face? Have you been distracting yourself? Is the universe probing you with aches and pains and discomforts to wake you up? Nestle into the spacious embrace of the present moment and let it all hang out. You will feel so much better afterward.

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Feb 22 2010

The Olympian Challenges of Life – Issue #43

   How do you deal with disappointment? While watching the Olympics I have been fascinated with the various reactions to winning and losing. Some lucky ones say, “I’m just happy to have been here and had the Olympic experience.” Others, who expected to win gold and won silver instead, experience a bitter disappointment that will forever affect them. Yet other athletes who won the same medal are overjoyed and will carry that joy the rest of their lives. It is our thoughts about what happens that affects us more than anything else.

   We don’t have much control over mistakes, slip ups, going off track — life happens; but we do have control over how we choose to perceive it. How we look at things has a huge impact on the quality of our lives. Scientists have found that our perceptions affect us on a cellular level. Our brain cells, our bodies, and our lives literally rearrange themselves according to our beliefs. If we think we’re a failure, our brain cells and body will reshape themselves around that belief, and our lives will draw in experiences that confirm it. It is the beliefs we hold, the stories we tell ourselves that shape our lives.

   That is the true Olympian challenge we all face.  Life’s disappointments offer us the opportunity to go for the real gold – the ability to direct our thoughts to positive, life-enhancing perceptions.

   As a child I adopted an attitude of thinking negatively; I figured that way I wouldn’t be disappointed. It didn’t work. I was often disappointed. My negative attitude arranged my cells and myself into one big disappointment magnet! I finally wised up to how my thoughts were creating my reality. 

   It has been my Olympian challenge in life to transform my attitude from negative to positive. My recent experience with cancer has been a test for me – do I get caught up in the draining, complaining energy of  “poor me” down the drain? That’s no fun! Though I did dip my toe in that energy a bit, wondering what I did wrong. But then I chose to shift to a higher perspective, to look for the gold in my experience, focusing on positive perceptions, which generate healing and good feeling.

   I’d like to share with you some of the ways that help me shift to a higher perspective. When you find yourself dwelling in disappointment you can do the following:

1.    Remind yourself that it is your thoughts that are making you feel bad. It is not another person or event that is causing you to suffer, it is how you are perceiving it. I recite to myself Shakespeare’s quote: “It is neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so.” 

2.    Choose encouraging thoughts instead of blaming thoughts. For instance, tell yourself that you did the best you could at the time, and when you knew better, you did better. Appreciate yourself for trying.

3.    Question your negative thoughts. Byron Katie has devised four questions that help jog our thoughts loose from their rigid position. Ask yourself: “Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true? How do you react when you think that thought? Who would you be without this thought?” These questions open us to a whole new way of seeing the situation.

4.    Become thoughtless — shift to your right brain. Negative thinking happens in our habitual left-brain chatter. Singing and other acts of creativity, like dancing and play, shift us to our right brain where we are in the present moment and see the bigger picture. When you find yourself sinking in stinking thinking, come into your ‘right mind’, into the Now — sing a song of self-love and encouragement. I like the song, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.”

5.    Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Search for the learning in your experience the way you would search for a treasure. The real gold medal in life is the learning we acquire. Focusing on what we have learned makes us a better person, instead of a bitter person.

6.    Cultivate an attitude of loving kindness towards yourself. How would you talk to a child who is suffering in disappointment? Address your own self the same friendly, loving way. A much better goal than being perfect is to learn to truly love ourselves AS IS. That is a major life accomplishment worthy of a gold medal!

7.    Go for the gold! Find the gold in the experience — how has it made you a better person, a stronger person, a more empowered person? For instance, many people who have had challenges such as cancer, including myself, have been awakened to the preciousness of life, and galvanized to live our highest purpose. What a gift! You can multiply the gold by sharing it with others, so that they too can benefit from your experience.

   Life, like the Olympics, tests our metal. I remember a past Olympics when Russian Bela Karoli, the American gymnastics coach, was encouraging Keri Strug, who had sprained her ankle, to do her last vault to help the team win the gold. “You can do eet Keri! You can do eet!” And that diminutive, determined dynamo did it!

   We can do it! We can be winners in the Olympics of our life! All it takes is to choose how we think about things. With Olympian determination we can keep coming back to choosing self-loving thoughts over self-castigating thoughts, focusing on what we have learned rather than what we have lost, creatively shifting into new perspectives instead of staying stuck in old thought patterns, dwelling in the present moment rather than wallowing in disappointment, and finding the gold in every situation and sharing it with others.

   Are you facing a challenge right now? Flex your muscles, activate your determination, call on your Olympian courage, and with all the power that is within you commit to focusing on life-enhancing thoughts and perceptions – you can do eet!

   In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Feb 22 2010

The Gift of Appreciation — Verbal Bouquets #42

I am learning to live in the magical, miraculous, continually growing garden of appreciation. The more I appreciate myself, my life, and the people in my life, the more bloomin’ happy I am! The ability to focus on appreciation is something that most of us are not born with, we have to cultivate it ourselves, like cultivating a flower garden. As human beings we are hardwired for fight or flight, for problems and things going wrong — we look for it, we expect it, we focus on it. That focus is there to help us survive. However, what we focus on grows, and when we focus on what’s wrong we grow more of that. By choosing to focus on what we appreciate, we attract more of the same. It is a law: like attracts like, and appreciation attracts more things to appreciate.

I was first introduced to the amazing power of appreciation while apprenticing with Gay and Katie Hendricks (authors of Conscious Loving). I’ve seen them literally glow as they bestow upon each other beaucoup bouquets of appreciation. Recently they wrote, “We give each other 10-Second Verbal Valentines all year long. We believe it’s one of the main reasons we’re more in love now than when we met 25 years ago.”

I find that a wonderful residual benefit is that as you give the gift of appreciation you receive that energy. “A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives flowers.” (Chinese proverb). When you look for things to appreciate about others, that is the world you are living in. In focusing on appreciations, you are cooking in that expansive, vibrant, joyful energy, which is so much more fun than stewing in the negative energy of carping and faultfinding.

Cultivating the energy of appreciation takes focus and commitment, like tending a rose garden. It requires remembering and choosing to do it everyday and telling ourselves, “Today I’m going to look for things to appreciate.” Before you know it, it is a habit, it is who you are, and it is the garden you are living in. Give the people in your life verbal bouquets and you will find your relationships blossoming. Focus on what you appreciate about your life and soon you will experience that everything’s coming up roses!

How many heartfelt flowers of appreciation can you generate today? Gather them together and give them away in a beautiful verbal bouquet.

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Feb 09 2010

Miracle Marriage by Janet Jacobsen, her first eBook

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Here is my new e-book, Miracle Marriage — A Transformational Journey to Love, Joy & Intimacy.

Miracle Marriage ebookIt is a not so minor miracle that I am married! My husband Tom and I have been thriving in our relationship for over ten years. I still pinch myself and wonder, “Is this really my life?” It is so different now from what it once was. For years I was trapped in a hard-wired cage of beliefs that I was unloved and unlovable. It has been quite a journey out of that hard-wired, lonely cage into a big, open, joyous playing field with the man of my dreams. This book shows how I purposefully set out to free myself from that cage and open myself to love. It also reveals how Tom and I maintain a joyful relationship that just keeps getting better and more fun all the time. Yes, relationships really can be fun!

Get Jan’s Miracle Marriage Ebook  right now for only $5.95        Funny and Inspirational!

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Feb 04 2010

Fantasically Fun Relationship Rescue Remedy – Issue #41

My husband Tom and I have been getting high on some really potent stuff and I want to share some with you. The great thing about it is it’s free, readily available and has no bad side effects. What is this great stuff? It’s laughter. We laugh on purpose like crazy and before we know it we’re loaded…with endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain and stress relievers that create a feeling of well-being and even euphoria. It works whether the laugh is real or simulated. Want to get high together right now? Let’s cook up some endorphins in our body lab and laugh together for a few seconds and fake it til we make it.

How do you feel? You have just produced some powerful juju in your body. Besides decreasing stress and increasing bliss, you have lowered your blood pressure, activated your immune system, oxygenated yourself, and, if you’re laughing with others, created social bonding. Laughter is a strong stimulant for social bonding. Infants laugh at an early age as a way to bond and connect with their caregivers. For the same reason, most of our laughter occurs when we are with other people.

I want to share some ways you can use the power of laughter to create joyful relationships. People in happy relationships laugh often. But relationships, as you know, are not always a laughing matter. We can get stuck in our position and our playmate becomes our stale mate. Our bodies literally become frozen in the position of our position, such as, arms folded, shoulders hunched, scowl on our face – we are in lock and load mode, ready to fire, or we are locked down and glued shut. Play and laughter are powerful solvents that dissolve the glue and shift us back into closeness and feeling good.

One of the best ways I’ve found to shift quickly is to go playfully non-verbal. As adults we have well-developed minds that, like supercharged attorneys, can build strong cases for our position and keep us stuck in it – we become encased in the cases we build. Going non-verbal quiets our well-meaning but troublemaking mind and helps turn a battleground into a playground. Let me give you some examples.

Tom and I first met ten years ago at Gay and Katie Hendricks’ relationship workshop where they emphasized play as a way to shift. During the breaks Tom and I danced together and made faces at each other for the fun of it. Tom is a master of making faces. I thought, here is someone I can really play with. As our relationship progressed we added growling to the mix. Whenever we felt anger coming up we would growl. Grrrrrrr. It expressed our feelings, and it kept the anger from taking hold, and laughter would always follow. To this day we still make faces and growl to lighten the mood.

Here’s another example: Recently we were driving on the highway and Tom accelerated as the car ahead of us was braking. I was scared and yelled, “Slow down, you’re too close to that car!” I could feel my adrenaline pumping and I felt angry. Right then I knew I had a choice to either get swept away in the surge of adrenaline or to shift. I chose to shift by going non-verbal and doing some fake laughing and Tom joined me. Our fake laughter soon turned into real laughter, and my adrenaline turned into endorphins.

Another example: when Tom and I are aware of a power struggle happening between us, we shift into play mode by ‘assuming the position’ – we stand facing each other, and put our chests together and then…we push as hard as we can trying to push the other across the room. We break up laughing and we break the power struggle.

Play and laughter loosen and free us from our rigid positions, which helps us see things more clearly and allows us to find creative solutions. If you want to decrease stress, increase pleasure, and promote bonding with others, lace your day with laughter. It’s a fun, natural high and a healing medicine. As the saying goes, “He who laughs lasts.”

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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