Simplified News, and What it Can Do for Your Health

Sometimes it feels as if the only emotions left in the world are anger and fear. We are constantly barraged by a media who fills our minds with stories of grief, heartache, and pain. Night and day we are fed horrific news about rapes, murders, robberies, hate crimes, and financial woes.

News is the first thing we see when our computer boots up in the morning. It is the voice on the radio, the sound from the television set. It is splattered in newsstands across the country. We can’t get away from bad news.

And I think it’s making us sick.

Think how you feel when a family member is ill, how your whole body gets clammy and your stomach turns nauseous. Think how your heart hurts when a friend dies, or how you can barely breathe when you hear about a missing child. Remember the feeling you had when you heard about a burning house and later found it was filled with a family of five? Remember how you felt when you learned one more life had been lost in the war?

Do you wonder what our bodies do when all they hear is bad news? I know what mine does. My stomach turns to knots and I lose my appetite, and when I do eat, I want nothing but comfort foods. Depending on your personality type, bad news, and stress, can do the same thing, or something totally different.

Stress can make you eat more, reach for foods you wouldn’t normally eat, or drink too much. It can make you over-exercise, or become lethargic and not exercise at all. Bad news can make you depressed, cause headaches, muscle pains, and many sleepless nights.

I’m not a medical professional, but I can tell you this – I’ve experienced it all. I’ve been the shoulder for every news story, the one who held everyone’s grief in my heart. I’ve cried over stories of people I didn’t know, and stayed awake all night praying for those I’ve never met. I’ve starved myself, over-eaten, exercised too much, and not at all.

And I got sick.

The reality is, we can never get away from bad news. Our world always has been, and always will be, filled with evil. And I’m not suggesting we remain ignorant of what is happening around us. But the fact is, sometimes, we need a break. Sometimes, we need to step away from the world and lessen the load placed on our bodies, and our minds.
We need to shut it off. For a day. For a weekend. For two hours before bed. And we need to make it a habit.

Change the homepage on the computer screen to a generic search engine. Turn off the television, step away from the newsstand. Listen to only music on the radio.

Now find the good. It’s easier than the media suggests. It’s in the couple who talk to the lonely woman who lives down the street, in the man who holds open a door for a struggling mom, in the smiling bank teller, and the waitress who goes beyond her call of duty. Good news is everywhere, if we just look.

For the sake of your mind, and your health, I challenge you to let go of bad news, if only for a day. I challenge you to make it a habit.

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Simple Lessons Learned From the Gilmore Girls

Recently, I was watching an episode of Gilmore Girls. Yes, I am a Gilmore Girl junkie. I love it – the quick wit, banter, literary references, and subtle wisdom. Who knew lessons could be learned while watching a simple television show?

In the last episode I watched, it was Lorelei, the wise-cracking, adorable mom of a teenager, who taught me a few things. I guess I knew them all along. Perhaps I just needed a reminder.

Before I tell you what I learned, here is a rundown of the characters:

The Gilmore Girls are a mother-daughter, and best friends, team that live in a tiny town called Stars Hollow. Lorelei is the mom, Rory is the daughter.

While Lorelei and Rory are a story in themselves, there are many colorful characters in this show, two of which are Lorelei’s parents, Richard and Emily Gilmore.

Richard and Emily are well-to-do snobs (though totally lovable), living in a large home complete with servants.

***
The Show:

In season 3, episode 10, Richard’s mother, Trix (played by Marion Ross), comes to visit. Trix is snobbier than any of them, uptight, in everyone’s business, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Trix wants to see Lorelei’s house, and whatever Trix wants, she gets.

Emily freaks at the thought of Trix walking into her daughter’s home, an average size house with furniture and knick-knacks that are, shall we say, quirky.

Emily speeds to the house, and as she is in the process of moving a sofa across the floor, Lorelei walks in.
“Hold it right there. Stop,” says Lorelei.

“This couch cannot stay. It’s awful ….we have to do something.”

“What is so horrible about this room?” asks Lorelei.

“You may like it, but your grandmother will not. She will take one look at this junk-store collection of hobo furniture and she’s going to blame me.”

“For what?”

“For letting you live like this…”

Lorelei instructs her mom to sit down. “I’d like to give you some advice….you need a new mindset….there are many things in my life you don’t approve of.”

“Like what?” asks Emily.

“Like this couch.”

“Well, this couch is terrible.”

“You think the couch is terrible. Now at one point in my life you saying that a couch that I carefully picked out and had to pay off for eight months is terrible…. One day, I decided instead of being hurt and upset by your disapproval I was going to be amused. I’m going to find it funny.”

Lorelei goes on to tell Emily how “this idea could set you free.”

***

Think about it. Freedom from others, their thoughts and disapproval, their judgement and criticism. Freedom to not worry what others think.

We live in a world where we are judged, not by who we are, not by our generosity, kindness, or sincerity, but by what we wear and drive, and what we have, like the sofa in our living room.

Sometimes, we are even judged by what we don’t have.

I’ve told this story before, but it is one worth repeating:

My son was about eight, and had a good friend whose parents owned a lot of ‘stuff.’ Their living room was filled with furniture, and every wall held a picture. Ceiling-to-floor shelving sat between the kitchen and living room, each small shelf holding books, vases, frames, and miscellaneous knick-knacks. I never did see inside their children’s rooms, but I vaguely remember the parent’s bedroom, and the many pieces on the dresser and bedside tables.

I also remember the parents walking into our house, and making comments like, “You need more furniture,” and, “Where are all your pictures?”

My son came home after a visit to his friend’s house, looked around, and innocently asked, “Are we poor?”

What a funny question, I thought. Our children were well-fed, owned plenty of clothes, ate good food, had enough toys to keep them, and the neighbor children, busy for months. We vacationed, camped, dined out, and our children participated in every sport known to mankind. Poor? Hardly. But I wondered why he asked.

I looked around the living room, at the sofa where we sat each evening, reading books and laughing, and at the loveseat next to it, where I curled up on chilly winter days. At the end of the room sat a large piano, one my oldest son played nearly every night. Near the entry were two small chairs where my boys tied their shoes before bounding out the door. Two pictures adorned the walls, one bought while on a family vacation, the other one my husband and I picked out many years ago. Except for one small vase, the room was void of knick-knacks.

“No, we’re not poor,” I said.

Never Change for Others:

I never changed our house, it remained the clean, simple home it always was. I didn’t add more furniture, or place books on the table. Because that day, I learned something. No matter how much others judge, no matter how much they criticized and condemned, my life was mine. I only needed to smile and laugh to set myself free.

Another Reminder Needed:

Life has a funny way of turning around and making us forget the very lessons we were once so passionate about. I’m not sure when it happened, or how, but one day, I realized I was once again trying to please others.

I was shopping to wear what society and the current fad said I should wear. I was wearing my hair in the latest style, and dressing my home in the nicest pieces. And I wasn’t always happy. (It’s a lot of work to try to please others.)

Even when I began minimalism, I think, at times, I was doing it to belong, to feel part of a group that would not judge. The funny thing is, no matter what we do, wear, own, or don’t own, there will always be someone to judge, criticize, condemn.

One More Lesson:

That wasn’t the end of my lesson that day. There was one more: Don’t judge others.

How unfair it is for me to ask others not to judge. How unfair to ask others to accept my possessions, or lack of. How unfair to ask others to accept me as I am if I do not do the same to them.

I can’t say I never make mistakes, and sometimes look for acceptance. I can’t say I’m never judgmental or critical, I am too human for that. But I can say I am trying, to accept others for who they are, and not by what they own. To laugh and be free in the face of criticism.

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Simple Changes

I am always looking for ways to simplify my life. This blog isn’t any different.

I began this blog with grandiose ideas, intent on writing about health, the planet, our homes, food, taking care of ourselves, and life, and how we can do them all in a simple fashion. But the truth is, though I enjoy all those subjects, I’m not passionate enough to keep them as categories on my blog.

So I’m doing some cleaning. Over the next few months, you will find a few changes.

The category, ‘Chow,’ has already been eliminated. Though I love to eat, I’d rather use simple recipes created by others than make up my own.

‘Shack’ will probably be the next to leave. There’s not much for me to write in this category. Maybe it seems straightforward to me, or perhaps a little overdone. But for me, taking care of our home is pretty simple – clean with whole ingredients, get messy, repeat. However, a few of my blogs will always touch on the subject of home, because home is, after all, where our hearts are.

‘Pampering’ is another category that will most likely be eliminated. It’s a touchy subject in our home, probably because my husband still has nightmares about the homemade shaving cream incident. After a small explosion, and lots of cleaning of cabinets, countertops, and the floor, I had to vow to never make it again. And though I’d love to try homemade lotion, I found a simple version I love so much better – coconut oil. It does wonders for the skin.

That leaves three categories: ‘Health,’ ‘Planet,’ and ‘Thoughts.’

I am truly passionate about health. I saw firsthand what a healthy lifestyle can do. I know if I hadn’t changed the way I ate, exercised, and even the medical professionals I saw, I would not be where I am today. One way or another, you will hear about health. Whether or not it remains a category is, at this moment, a mystery.

As for the planet, I love our planet, the mountains and ocean, and the diversity of our world. And I really, really believe in taking care of it. But writing about it? Probably not going to happen, at least not often enough to make it a category.

Which gets us to the final, and most used, category – Thoughts. I have plenty of those. As I look at my past posts, I realize this is the category that you, my beloved readers, like the most. This is where you and I meet, smack in the middle of life.

My new blog will include posts about life, what brings us together, what could tear us apart. Simple approaches on how to have a better, more meaningful life.

I am still The Simple Hippie, a girl who rambles on about the simple life. I hope you continue to join me.

I would love to know what you think, what you want to talk about, and any other thoughts you have.

As always, I hope you have a simply lovely day.

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A Simple Way to Relive Memories

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was eight and opened my first pink journal, complete with lock and key. My heart pounded as I wrote on the crisp, fresh pages, stories about a tiny stuffed bear, and my neighbors I thought were aliens.

As I grew older, my little journal was replaced by a notebook stuffed inside my fringe-covered purse, changing my writing from childish fantasies to dramatic phrases like, “My mom doesn’t like me,” and, “I met a boy.”

In high school, I carried college-lined paper with me from class to class, filling the pages with short stories and love poems written to no one in particular.

In my twenties, I owned a typewriter. The black keys click-clicked beneath my fingers as I wrote about motherhood, young marriage, and my dreams.

And after my children were born, my husband and I bought our first computer. It was then my real writing began, not because of the computer, but because I’d finally figured out what I wanted to write.

I had forgotten those memories. I thought they were gone, lost in some corner of my mind. And though it sounds silly, I’d always wanted to relive my childhood, at least partially, to see the world again, far from kid-coated eyes.

Sometimes, life has a way of helping us remember. I think it’s when I decided to get back to my roots that it happened for me.

Not long ago I was talking to a friend, complaining how difficult writing had been for me lately. She’d had the same issue, she said. When I asked how she fixed it, she said it was simple. She started writing in a journal.

What did I have to lose? I picked up a few journals at the store. Over time, I picked out a couple more. They are no longer little and pink with a tiny key, for like me, they have grown. I have a simple, one-toned notebook from the drug store, an eco-friendly journal with soft cream pages, a teal journal filled with notes I will someday use, and a leather-bound journal with trees etched on the cover, one I’d received as a gift from my husband.

My journals are like going home, back to my roots, to the place it all began. As I write, I remember pieces of my life: Sitting beneath a tree, pouring my heart on the pages; journals hidden beneath bed covers, a flashlight’s beam on each word; stories written of family, friends, and relatives, some no longer on this earth; and at this moment, I am reminded of late nights, my father in the kitchen reading, I in my bedroom writing in my journal.

My journals became my roots. My roots became my memories. And through them all, I was able to see the world one more time.

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The Power of Simple Forgiveness

I have been wronged. It isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last. Still, it hurts.

It happened by someone I love, admire, respect. And I can’t tell anyone, except my husband.

The best thing to do is to talk to the person who wronged me. But it’s not that simple. Relationships could be destroyed, and a bad situation made worse. Plus, I’m not certain they know what they have done.

Because that’s the way we are as humans. We forget to think before we speak, we blurt something out that hurts another. We do silly things like forget birthdays or miss appointments. We cause pain to one another.

It is in this moment I realize I am no different from anyone else. I have hurt people, forgotten events, ignored calls, said things I never meant.

I wonder how many times I have had to be forgiven. I’m guessing a lot.

So I’m thinking, maybe it’s best to let past hurts go, forgive the people who have wounded me, whether they meant to do it or not. Because if I don’t let it go, I hurt no one but me. I will build walls, destroy relationships, and possibly stop my heart from feeling again.

It sounds so simple to say ‘forgive.’ It sounds so simple to ‘let it go.’ But is it?

I remember a time, long ago, when someone hurt me. I lay awake at night, imagining what I’d say to that person if they were near. I stewed and tossed until my stomach became one big knot.

The person never knew. I let the relationship end, and they never knew why.

Even after they were out of my life, I couldn’t let it go. I remained bitter and unsettled over the incident, for years beyond.

The thing is, it kept me from future friendships, because the last thing I wanted was to be hurt again.

But I think I’ve finally grown up, become a tad wiser, and a lot more tired, because I no longer dwell on events that don’t matter. Relationships are too important, those in my current life, and those I’ve yet to meet.

I have realized:

We all make mistakes. We are such imperfect humans, filled with blemishes, lined with flaws. We say what we don’t mean, and do things we shouldn’t.

I am not better than anyone else. I have hurt others, and yet, I have been forgiven.

I can destroy a relationship, or build it. The choice is mine.

I’ve also realized that pain is the perfect teacher, reminding me to think before I speak, to act instead of react. It reminds me that we are all blemished beings, and we, myself included, will continue to make mistakes.

Mostly, I think hurt has helped me learn the power of simple forgiveness. To forgive with an unspoken grace. The same way I, too, have been forgiven.

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