March 21, 2017

10 really easy ways to happiness

  1. Sit in your windowseat in the afternoon sun on a warm winter 's day (Okay, it's actually spring, if you really want to be fussy).
  2. Eat healthy food that tastes amazing (for example, lunch was a salad of cucumbers, baby tomatoes, avocado, a boiled egg with homemade tehini blended with parsley! Don't forget to sprinkle this with fresh cilantro - unless you hate cilantro, in which case, give that a miss!)
  3. Know your neighbors by name and face and wave as they pass by.
  4. Notice the sun and the sky that has miraculously turned blue and cloudless!
  5. Spend an hour watching 'Call the Midwife' and let yourself cry at the end.
  6. Know you have a pleasurable evening activity coming up - one that is fun to do and something you chose to do! (I'm going to Hebrew Groove choir practice!).
  7. Plant some seeds in your garden and don't worry about the dirt under your nails!
  8. Have a quick walk to the supermarket with one of your new friends who lives right down the street. (I'm so grateful!)
  9. Allow yourself a lazy day in the middle of the week once in a while, just because you can, and do it without feeling guilty. 
  10. Start off with a cynical, tongue-in-cheek, type of list in mind, but then while writing it, realize that these things you've done today have made you pretty happy, and be grateful that by doing such a small exercise, you can change your mood! 
  11. oops, I have 11!!! (shh, don't tell! Sometimes you just gotta bend the rules a little!). Don't tell anyone, but I bought a new watercolor that I fell in love with at first sight by my artist sister, Margot Gran!
    Watercolor by Margot Gran

March 20, 2017

Camp NaNo here I come!

I was in a pit, a well, a deep dark space.
But then, I learned something while teaching my students about pursuing their careers. While doing the exercises I had assigned them, I realized that my writing projects were all on the back burner. And I made a plan to make some changes!

So, although it's been over 2 years since the last time I did any editing for my book - The Fourth Baby/Unraveled - (name still in progress), today, yes TODAY, I sat down and did a sprint - finally got 450 new words added to the book! Woohoo.
It seems like nothing, and those of you who don't know me will be raising one eyebrow and pursing their lips.

However, oh ye doubters, let me tell you this:
I have joined up for Camp NaNo - during the month of April, I will be editing my book (finally, right?). I have made a specific goal of 30 hours of editing. That's an hour a day, for anyone who can't count. That's a lot for me, considering my Netflix binging behaviour, my healthy Paleo cooking addiction, and not to mention my day job. (Sorry kiddies and hubby - you will have to fend for yourselves).

What do I need?
* support
* encouragement
* curiosity
* trust
* time & space

If anyone wants to be my editing buddy, (what the heck is that anyway, and how would it work?), that would be awesome.

In short, I am going to do this ! Get my writing back on track, finish my first (yes, you read that correctly, there are more in the pipeline after this one) novel, work to get it published, and rule the world. (Okay, maybe not that part.)

But it has always been a dream of mine to write, and not just a dream. I do write. But it stays in the dark, where no one ever reads it. So, I'm slowly opening up the curtains, and exposing myself and my writing to the elements!

Wish me good luck!

February 6, 2017

Feeling in a dip? Dig yourself a canoe

Inner Relationship Focusing - part 2 

‘I have nothing to talk about. My life is balanced, pretty much. No major dramas. Work is good. Family - all good. No problems,’ I think, but keep my eyes closed.

And yet, here I am sitting on a soft couch at Michal’s house, 4 of my classmates watching our short demonstration. Suddenly I find myself talking about my relationship with my hubby. (Sorry, hubby!)

“Stay with that…” whispers Michal.
I take a long breath.
“Feel in your body what’s coming up for you now…” she suggests to me.
I feel a tightening in my chest and throat. Wait a minute, screams another part of me, don’t you dare cry now! And anyway, why do you want to cry? Everything’s fine, right?

I keep breathing, and expressing how I am feeling. From time to time, Michal quietly reflects some of my feelings. I feel heard. I keep going.

Stop being so whiny! Shut up and suck it up. My life is good. Near perfect.

Don't back off from the horrible feelings*

But Michal encourages me to stay with the part that feels whiny.
“It’s hard for me to go there. I shouldn’t,” I say. And yet, those voices, the ‘don’t whine,’ are not my only voices. Part of me does want perfection. That part wants improvement, growth, change, development. ALL THE TIME.

I follow the windy road of my thoughts and feelings, the things I want and need. What I feel I’m not getting enough of. What I wish I could have. I hardly know what I feel, maybe some sadness and disconnection.

Suddenly an image comes to me. My old dugout canoe. I climb off of the yacht (strangely enough - this was really my childhood home), where I have no “me space,” and into the canoe. Only one person at a time can fit into it. My sister or me. It’s too small for my parents. It’s not very steady. If I sneeze, it tips over. I paddle over towards the shore, away from my family. I am strong, capable and independent. A small wave bounces me around. The canoe tips over and I giggle, as I flip it over and climb back in. The warm tropical water is refreshing.

After sharing this image out loud, my metaphor for the strong, rough side of me that is also sometimes unstable, but independent as well, I feel refreshed – issues feel resolved.

No one is to blame after all, except perhaps me, for forgetting that I carry my dugout inside of me, and whenever I want, I can hop in and go for a little paddle.

* * *

* For more reading about Inner Relationship Focusing, and some of the techniques Michal used in this demo, go here:

January 26, 2017

Me and my Inner Relationship Focusing

The complex mountains of my mind

“…a remarkable skill that relieves suffering and awakens possibility.” Ann Weiser Cornell

Way back in the day, when I was a kid, my dad often said to me, “Get your head out of your belly button,” by which he meant that I should focus on more worldly things than those affecting only me. But I was rarely interested in the news back then, maybe because of the other sentence he used to say, “Never believe what you read in the newspaper.”

Focusing Training Course

Well, now I'm 53, and more focused than ever on my belly button and deeper, into my soul, especially thanks to the latest psychology training course I’m taking, one called “Inner Relationship Focusing,” according to the Ann Weiser Cornell method @AWCornell ( Twitter)

Feeling about the Feeling

Today I learned more about something called “Feeling about the Feeling.” You know how people tend to say things like: “I hate it when you’re right?” So, the idea is to separate the two emotions from each other, and to radically accept each of them.
In this case: A part of me hates this feeling (of when you are right).
Another part of me feels that you are right (at least some of the time).

Then it’s possible to go even deeper into each of these separate parts:
What is that part of me that hates this feeling (of you being right) telling me?

  •       What does it want? (For example, maybe it wants to be right, to win, it wants to feel smart and strong.)
  •       What doesn’t it want? (It doesn’t want to feel weak, or stupid, or wrong.)

That’s just an example, of course. I love it when you’re right. I can accept feedback, that I’m less than perfect. That I’m mortal. That you are as clever as I am. Can’t I?

Still learning, after all these years

In short, it’s interesting for me, being in this process. I’ve worked long as a therapist, a counselor, and made it my business to analyze the feelings and thoughts of both my clients and myself (and even sometimes those of my family and friends, at times, much to their dismay). I thought I ‘got it.’ Although surprisingly, I've still had an issue or two of my own to deal with. :)

Now I’m learning this method, of letting the person who is focusing (eipther me or another) go deeper and deeper into their (my) feelings by way of untangling feelings, looking at them one by one, going deep into them, seeing them, via metaphors and bodily feelings, and then radically accepting them.

You know best - not me

We are learning this in a group, which is a learning experience as well, especially as I see people, not just from the field of psychology, who, simply by this method of focusing, are able to go through very therapeutic, healing processes. It really shows me how empowering others works – how capable people are – how we have the answers within ourselves, if we are only open to listen.

As a DDD, #DeeplyDisappointedDemocrat, I now have an obligation to watch the news, shocking as it may be, but at the same time, I spend a lot of time focusing deep deep within. (Radically accepting my deep disappointment!)

I just want to give a quick shout out to my amazing teacher in this process: Michal Madar-Porat, M.S.W. Focusing Trainer. 
She is so good, kind, giving, and containing. Just spending Monday mornings in her sunny presence would have be enough! Thank you, Michal!

December 9, 2016

Going Paleo & Feeling Better!

Paleo Stuffed Mushrooms
About a month or so ago, I decided to go full blown paleo. 
It happened after suffering from a frozen shoulder for over 6 months. As you may have read, in some of my earlier posts, I have tried a few different things, even though the doctors said, "it's a matter of time," and that it wasn't clear what has caused this. (Hint: STRESS).

I just want to say a big THANK YOU to all the Paleo bloggers out there, who have made my transition from 'I'll eat anything' to Paleo both easy and even quite fun: Here are two who I especially appreciate, for their plentiful and easy recipes!

Elana - from Elana's Pantry
Ciarra - who I just today discovered via her blog on

I sometimes post my Paleo food online on Instagram: AudreyCreativity - Instagram.

My family thought it was just a little craze, a fad I was going through, so I had to sit them down and tell them to help me, and they did! And yes, I'll cook up pasta for them to add to my slow cooked stews, or whole rice (which I help myself to also sometimes).  It's not so hard, except when I have a craving for something special, and some starch that isn't orange colored!

But the good news, and I'll end with this, is that about one week into eating Paleo, my pain levels decreased so much that I went totally off any pain medication, I started to sleep through the night again, and even enrolled at the gym recently. My physiotherapist (manual therapist) is seeing me only once every two weeks now, instead of weekly. I'm on the mend, my friends! Yippee!

November 20, 2016

Trees and Trumps - 10 min rant

10 min personal challenge. How much can I write in 10 minutes? I have fallen off the writing wagon for a few months now, and now that my shoulder is slowly improving, I feel the need to get back on, to start being creative again.

It's a windy day outside. Not windy, that word doesn't describe the howling that I can hear via the air vent in the bathroom, the leaves and branching swooshing with each strong gust, the beech tree in the neighbor's backyard, that reaches high above our houses, with its few yellow leaves still clinging on, rocking back and forth. As I drove my daughter to work earlier, we saw a tree that had fallen, luckily not into the road, and luckily not into the building it was next to. Still, the cracked stump of the tree, like a wounded animal with a broken leg was a sad sight.

The Dutch are not immune to awe nature.

October 5, 2016

Do you trust other people? Happiness & Fulfillment #5

by Dion Damen

In general, do you think other people can be trusted? The answer to this question varies a lot from country to country, as you might have guessed already. However, did you also know that research proved that overall, countries are happier when people’s trust levels are higher. So, interpersonal trust is a big determinant of happiness. 

Why trust is historically ingrained in us

Steven Pinker states in his book ‘How the mind works’, that the reason why trusting others is so important is because trust played a big role in our evolutionarily past. Because in the past, people often needed to work together in order to survive. What if you can’t trust your neighbor that has borrowed meat and vegetables from you, that he won’t give it back. Not trusting others means to constantly look over your shoulder to possible threats. Nobody wants to live like that.

In order to determine my own trust level, Dr Raj. gave us another survey to complete. My trust levels were higher than average. I was really glad about my results because Dr Raj. had mentioned before the test that almost everybody will score beneath the average trust levels, unless you have thought about this topic before. And I guess I have thought about it before.

How I have learned to trust

As Dr. Raj. explained all the benefits of trusting others I understood that I had realized many of them already. Working in the bookshop/post office contributed to this a lot. We have a very pleasant working environment where the relationship between us and the customers is nice, friendly and informal. A part of the environment is that we trust the customer, and the customer trusts us.
For example, if someone did not bring enough money, we often tell them to bring the rest of the money another time. In 9 out of 10 situations, people actually return later that day, or even another day, to pay off the rest. I have experienced that in situations where people trust each other, both sides have a smile on their face, and so have increased their happiness.

Why you should trust more:

I recommend to everyone who wants to be a more trustworthy towards others to consider two things: 
  •  The first thing to consider is that even though, we hear a lot of the negative stories every day from the media about untrustworthy behavior of people, many studies have proved people to be more trustworthy than we actually think them to be. One of these studies was done in Toronto, where 20 wallets were ‘left behind’ on the streets, including cash and the name and address of the fictive owner of the wallet. You might not have guessed it, but 16 out of the 20 wallets were returned to their original owner.
  • Another thing to really understand about trusting others is that there are a lot of ‘hidden’ benefits when you are trusting someone. You do not instantly 'get' the results when trusting someone, however there definitely are benefits.

One of the hidden benefits of trusting others is that when trusting someone, a hormone ‘oxytocin’ is released. This hormone is also released when two people are in love, or when a mother feeds her baby.   

Another hidden benefit is that you are contributing to "upliftment" in society. This is because if you trust someone, they in turn are trustworthy back. Which also means they are more trustworthy towards others in society.

So, by trusting others, you are actually contributing to society. Making people feel connected with one another. And this connection between one another is in turn something which everybody (sometimes unknowingly) wants.

Want to find out your own trust level? Do the test here.