15 – CURE Panic Attacks

Panic happens because one gets scared and holds their breath. The longer one holds their breath, the more the panic increases. In truth, if one were to pass out, the body would immediately resume breathing. It is the frightened mind that has one panicking for air BECAUSE they are forgetting to exhale.

Solution

Say out loud for an entire exhale (until you run out of breath) “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha…”

Why does this work?

By saying aloud “ha-ha-ha-ha-ha” you are exhaling, and the body is no longer terrified you are going to die. The body automatically does an inhale after you exhale. It’s when you won’t exhale, there is no room for a new breath. For without any conscious effort, the body will automatically inhale. Now that the panic is over, you have the energy and wherewithal to deal with the problem that scared you. And it doesn’t seem nearly as bad as dying, so you feel empowered and more confident, as well as more clear-headed for having taken a big breath.

14 – Appreciation Epiphanies

— Jack Canfield and others suggest starting each day with appreciations, and I determined to stay out of my two-month funk, so I began with the basic litany:

I appreciate having electricity.
I appreciate having running water.
I appreciate having a house.
I appreciate having a husband.
I appreciate having a comfortable bed.
I appreciate being alive.
I appreciate my two daughters who are wonderful.

After five minutes, I began to get bored so wondered if I could keep doing appreciations and be productive. The result fascinated me.

I appreciate that I have so many ideas I can’t do them all.
I appreciate that many of my ideas would be fun but are expensive and even impractical.
I appreciate that my husband and I have different opinions.
I appreciate that what is important to me isn’t important to my husband.
I appreciate that I get bored easily.
I appreciate that I love challenges and love coming up with ideas.
I appreciate that some of my ideas truly excite me, but might result in causing others harm.
I appreciate that I care hugely about everyone and everything.
I appreciate that I’m smiling.
I appreciate that I don’t know what to do to remodel our house.
I appreciate that I am interested and willing to make the house more to my liking.

For an hour I walked the neighborhood, appreciating that some people fix up their houses and some don’t. I appreciated that some may not have the time, money or interest. During the walk I had epiphanies of what I could do to our house that made me laugh or ponder.

I shared with my husband what I was doing and he said, “At least it makes you light. That’s a nice change.” Then he appreciated me and broke into a grin. I’m still smiling and laughing an hour later, even after dipping after hearing about drama and mayhem.

I appreciate that I’m a sensitive soul and get upset hearing all this drama and anger.
I appreciate that my husband can almost laugh at other people’s craziness.
I appreciate that I get a bit crazy hearing other people’s craziness.
I appreciate that I only want to feel laughter and joy.
I appreciate that life is so much easier and productive when I come from appreciation.
I appreciate that I manifested a playful, fun, adoring marriage after two hours of non-stop appreciations.

I APPRECIATE JACK CANFIELD, HIS TEAM (ESPECIALLY PATTY AUBREY) AND MY CLASSMATES FOR HOLDING A SAFE PLACE THIS PAST WEEK WHILE I SLOGGED THROUGH UPSET, ANGER, FEAR, PRIDE, DEPRESSION, OVERWHELM, INADEQUACY, etc.

I appreciate that I never gave up even though I was afraid I might.
I appreciate that I gave myself a long leash to entangle myself.

I appreciate that this morning I got up almost immediately and didn’t let myself fall back asleep implying that what I do doesn’t make a difference, that I can’t improve my life, that I shouldn’t care and not even try. Part of me didn’t want to get up and in truth, I vacillated three times because I didn’t have enthusiasm, didn’t have a plan, and considered escaping back into dreams. But my quiet voice said, “Get up,” and while part of me worried and doubted, a stronger voice said, “You are not going to slip into depression; get up, get dressed, make your bed, make the other bed, do appreciations.”

And voila! My husband and I have laughed and enjoyed each other. It’s rare my brain is quiet, so learning how to keep calm is a huge leap in growth.

I appreciate that tomorrow this technique may not work for me.
I appreciate that if it doesn’t, I will find some new latest greatest way to bring myself back to joy.
I appreciate that I need joy more than the average bear, or, I’m just more aware and determined.
I appreciate that I am a joy expert and have a skill that’s fun to teach.
I appreciate that not everyone wants to unleash their joy.
I appreciate that I’m often wrong.
I appreciate that I love being the Pied Piper and the tune I use to attract a following is joy.
I appreciate that I have no idea who I’m going to meet or who is going to resonate with my ongoing quest to find and spread joy.
I appreciate that I’m getting older.
I appreciate that I’m getting wiser.
I appreciate that I have a husband who encourages my becoming happier and immediately responds by becoming happier, too.
I appreciate that not every day is great.
I appreciate that dips are potholes to try to go around, but if hit one, to just appreciate that pothole for showing how I didn’t react fast enough to detour around it.
I appreciate that my old computer is still working.
I appreciate that I am a joy junkie.
I appreciate that I get so joyous that I don’t want to do the mundane like cook, clean, grocery shop, unpack.
I appreciate that I am a good cook.
I appreciate that I have a house to clean.
I appreciate that I have a husband who likes my cooking.
I appreciate that I like organizing.
I appreciate that grocery shopping especially in Bedford, a half hour drive along a beautiful lake.
I appreciate that we have a house that has a pond three houses away.
I appreciate that the waterfall two blocks away is bigger than ever.
I appreciate that I get so excited about new and different that I’m easily distracted and don’t finish projects.

I appreciate that you have read all this.

Love and Hugs, Kathryn

11 – Happy Drunk

This post is to test whether I make sense drunk. I’ve been drunk only a handful of times and never to the point of passing out or vomiting. Yet it took so many tries to get into my website that I’m afraid I’ve lost what I wanted to share. Yet I had the patience to persevere, meaning that I haven’t been able to access my website because I got so irritated that I gave up in the past few weeks, which is why you haven’t heard from me. That’s not to endorse drinking, but again, citing this an experiment.

Most people I’ve known drunk have been sad drunks or angry drunks. However, Canadians like my husband are amorous drunks to the point of saying “I love you” and kissing me in public, both typically not comfortable nor common actions shared in public.

So it surprises and delights me to find I am a Happy Drunk. I’ve had two vodka-mint-raspberry drinks; one was enough to know I was in no shape to drive; two had me barely able to keep my eyes open, yet my auditory skills seemed heightened. This post is to test whether that while I cannot walk a straight line nor barely navigate stairs that my mind is lucid.

The new title of One-a-Day Joy seems the most suited for my upcoming book. Why? Because I need help every day!!! It’s like I well remember being born a joyful creature and resent and get frustrated when my joy is thwarted. Hence, most every day I need a new way to find joy. As blasphemous as it sounds, God hasn’t been enough nor have anti-depressants nor have techniques that worked brilliantly the day before.

My life has been a quest of finding new ways to find JOY today.

TODAY’S JOY: Spending $200,000 dollars.

Inspired by Abraham-Hicks’ book The Processes (Ask and It is Given – Part II), they advise to imagine spending money. They believe that the psyche doesn’t know the difference between spending the money in reality versus spending it in imagination.

They purport that to attract money one must be willing and ready to receive it, and imagining spending money puts one in a state of such joy that one is ready to receive money in actuality.

I cannot describe the joy it has brought me all day spending this sum a dozen times. It is the largest sum I could tangibly conceive of having in my hands. It has made clearer what I really want to spend my money on and more importantly, how just the thought of buying is enough to bring me joy, that I don’t actually need to make the purchase.

1. Taking my daughter and her husband for a $50 dinner = 4,000 times.
2. Assuming it costs $300/hour to rent a helicopter = 667 hours of flying = 16 weeks of flying 40 hours/week… can you imagine the joy of flying so many hours in a helicopter? I’ve flown straight up waterfalls in Maui, over San Francisco Harbor and the Grand Canyon, out to Catalina Island, over volcanoes in Kauai and New Zealand; it’s always bliss.
3. Buying 5,000 Mimosa Trees — paradise to imagine lying amidst a large meadow of such glamorous trees.
4. Buying 100 Macbook Air computers (11 inch, 2 lbs.), keeping one and gifting 99 to others.
5. Putting the down-payment on a house in Santee, California.
6. Putting the down-payment on a house with a view of water in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia within the city limits that pleases my husband, too.
7. Traveling the world on a cruise for a year, both me and my husband.
8. Gifting the money to cause that would do good.
9. Going to a remote area where $200K would truly change their lives.
10. Renovating my home AND putting in a down-payment on a house in Santee, CA.
11. Handing a dollar to two hundred thousand people and hugging each one.
12. Giving $400 to the first 500 people who came to see my one-woman show called “A Funny Thing Happened When I X-rayed Myself.”
13. Giving $40 to the first 5,000 people who came to see my one-woman show called “A Funny Thing Happened When I X-rayed Myself.”

There are more, but with even just those daydreamed while attending class, I spent $2.6 million dollars.

Previous processes had me stuck at spending $500K. Yet it was so easy to imagine spending this sum of money. It gave me joy in a way that delighted me. That sounds profound. Joy always delights.

Advice to you: Take your bank account, or the amount you could borrow, and imagine spending it over and again in all the wild and fun ways you can imagine. See if it doesn’t bring you joy.

Why is JOY so vital? Joy makes priorities clear which makes decision-making easier. When Joy fills the bored hours, the sleepless hours and lifts one from the depressed hours, the time is well spent and enjoyed. Joy makes life interesting and more colorful and often more productive.

JOY is your best friend in bad times, in bleak times, and in alone times. Joy works whether you believe in God or not. Joy is always there if you are willing to see it. Joy never abandons you. It is you that abandons JOY.

Let me know your reaction to this post. If you liked it, tell me why.

I need feedback.

Hugs and joy, Kathryn MacIntyre

10 – I almost gave up yesterday

Yesterday I awoke down in the dumps, and by the time I got out of bed felt like I couldn’t succeed at doing the one-woman show, and seriously considered cancelling the upcoming fundraiser for Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax. The flyers hadn’t been posted, no advertising had been done, so it wasn’t too late to cancel the event.

The thought of cancelling made me feel worse.

Then I had an epiphany: I would blame my husband forever for my not going forward. Then I had another epiphany: I can’t do that to him. I have to go forward. And I have to do a great job and have fun preparing for it.

My mood perked up, but I was still in a bad mood. Determined to shake off the malaise that lingered like sticky glue, I got dressed and went for a walk before dawn. Bundled in my long red coat and gloves, I felt better immediately. From the moment outside and listening to Abraham-Hicks’ audiobook “The Vortex,” I was loving life. Within a few blocks, I felt empowered, joyful, loving the old Victorians and Craftsmen homes.

Of course I could do the show! Of course it would be a success!

This is another example of how getting outside and MOVING revitalizes flagging spirits, energizes the body and makes the impossible seem possible once again.

I didn’t know HOW I would pull off this success, but I knew I wanted to try.

Confidence is mostly faith, trusting that you can achieve something new and huge, and if you can’t, you’re glad you tried and learned lots, made new friends, and perfect just looked different than you expected. In that frame of mind, you can’t lose.

Admittedly, sometimes it takes a strong sugared coffee to boost my spirits when tired or depressed, but after a few sips, I feel better. Amazing how having more energy makes me feel more confident that I can accomplish everyday things and brand new challenges.

9 – Sobbing to Thriving in 26 Days

I remember the moment I realized it’d been 26 days that I’d stopped crying.

I wrote my daughters, “It’s still summer and I’m already cold, hahaha I love to start the day on my computer on the deck, but brrrrrr…. my ankles are cold!”

I loved the deck especially since I’d added five flower baskets — it was my outdoor desk — and while I was shivering from the unusual snap of cold weather that had locals complaining, and even though I was now very apprehensive about enduring my first winter in Nova Scotia considering I needed furry boots to sit outside on that first day of September, I was loving my life.

More than that, I wasn’t missing China! How was that possible? China was now officially relegated to my past life. My future was so enterprisingly entrenched in Nova Scotia that I was eager to start each day and expectant that more good was to come. I loved my future!

How did I go from sobbing to thriving in 26 days?

1. Made the decision to stop crying for one year, realizing it takes time to make new friends and build a new life.
2. Decided that that wasn’t enough, that I had to make Canada be even more great big huge, more outrageous and more wonderful than China or else I would resent my husband FOREVER!
3. Decided if I could not legally work in Canada until I attained Permanent Residency that it would be a good time to finish writing my book: Joy for Dummies.
3. Hired a writing coach to keep me accountable, to be a reader who would give constructive feedback, so that I would finish this book.
4. Alisia (my editor) found my writing inspiring. To have an impartial reader was a new experience. To have my words quoted back to me was a brand new heady experience that inspired me to write more and write better.
5. I started sending Alisia vignettes of my life in China. She loved them and said, “This has to go in your book.”
6. I joined Curves for Women, and while gyms intimidated me, this did not! In fact, women exchanged recipes while working out, recommended movies to see and discussed the weather. I even began to sweat (which until then had been unilaterally opposed to doing).
7. Going to Curves almost daily got me meeting people, making friends, out of the house and MOVING. Have you ever noticed how just getting busy doing something usually makes you feel better?
8. Started listening to the Principles of Success by Jack Canfield – this book lifted my spirits and directed my thinking and got me energized!
9. Realized my life purpose: to spread joy!!!
***I use my joy, compassion and vitality to inspire and build confidence, and to elicit joy to create a world where everyone is calm or exuberant and creatively doing activities that nurture them and make people smile and feel good. – Kathryn MacIntyre, author and motivational speaker***
10. Listed 100 things want to do/see/feel in next 20 years per Jack Canfield’s book – and that was FUN! It got me excited about the future!
11. Listed 100 victories – wow!!! Again, per Canfield’s book and felt so surprised and validated that even in times of feeling down, I’d been succeeding!!!
12. So many more victories I could have listed.
13. Realized I focus on my failures and mistakes rather than my successes!!!
14. Got excited about my future!!! Was not sad to not be returning to China.
15. Had four sets of overnight company in one week.
16. Made blueberry pancakes four mornings.
17. Started 10-day Transformation with Jack Canfield.
18. Day 1: Five things want to change most in this next year.
19. Had so many epiphanies – listed so many ideas took 3 pages.
20. Day 2: Took 100% responsibility for my unhappiness.
21. Vowed to watch less TV and write more.
22. Excused myself from company watching a movie and spent a wonderful 2 hours writing!!!
23. Day 3: Gave up blaming others for my unhappiness.
24. Wrote new thoughts to replace negative thoughts.
25. Day 4: started Daily Victory Log.
26. That’s when it hit!!! Wow!!! I’d done so much since landing in Nova Scotia on July 27th.

In 26 days – I’d accomplished so much!!!
I’d gone from sobbing to thriving!!!

7 – Levels of Consciousness

This is a re-posting of Steve Pavlina’s blog with his permission as he generously gifts these writings to the public domain. [https://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/04/levels-of-consciousness/]

It is the best summation of David R. Hawkins’ theories about the levels of human consciousness as detailed in Hawkins’ groundbreaking and world-renown book that I’ve listened to literally over 100 times, learning or hearing something I swear was not there before, but obviously I was ready to finally understand and assimilate.

In the book Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins, there’s a hierarchy of levels of human consciousness. It’s an interesting paradigm. If you read the book, it’s also fairly easy to figure out where you fall on this hierarchy based on your current life situation.

From low to high, the levels of consciousness are: shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire, anger, pride, courage, neutrality, willingness, acceptance, reason, love, joy, peace, enlightenment.

While we can pop in and out of different levels at various times, usually there’s a predominant “normal” state for us. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re at least at the level of courage because if you were at a lower level, you’d likely have no conscious interest in personal growth.

I’ll go over these levels in order, mostly focusing on the ones between courage and reason, since that’s the range where you’re most likely to land. The labels are Hawkins’. The descriptions of each level are based on Hawkins’ descriptions but blended with my own thoughts. Hawkins defines this as a logarithmic scale, so there are far fewer people at the higher levels than at the lower ones. An increase from one level to another will result in enormous change in your life.

Shame – Just a step above death. You’re probably contemplating suicide at this level. Either that or you’re a serial killer. Think of this as self-directed hatred.

Guilt – A step above shame, but you still may be having thoughts of suicide. You think of yourself as a sinner, unable to forgive yourself for past transgressions.

Apathy – Feeling hopeless or victimized. The state of learned helplessness. Many homeless people are stuck here.

Grief – A state of perpetual sadness and loss. You might drop down here after losing a loved one. Depression. Still higher than apathy, since you’re beginning to escape the numbness.

Fear – Seeing the world as dangerous and unsafe. Paranoia. Usually you’ll need help to rise above this level, or you’ll remain trapped for a long time, such as in an abusive relationship.

Desire – Not to be confused with setting and achieving goals, this is the level of addiction, craving, and lust — for money, approval, power, fame, etc. Consumerism. Materialism. This is the level of smoking and drinking and doing drugs.

Anger – the level of frustration, often from not having your desires met at the lower level. This level can spur you to action at higher levels, or it can keep you stuck in hatred. In an abusive relationship, you’ll often see an anger person coupled with a fear person.

Pride – The first level where you start to feel good, but it’s a false feeling. It’s dependent on external circumstances (money, prestige, etc), so it’s vulnerable. Pride can lead to nationalism, racism, and religious wars. Think Nazis. A state of irrational denial and defensiveness. Religious fundamentalism is also stuck at this level. You become so closely enmeshed in your beliefs that you see an attack on your beliefs as an attack on you.

Courage – The first level of true strength. I’ve made a previous post about this level: Courage is the Gateway. This is where you start to see life as challenging and exciting instead of overwhelming. You begin to have an inkling of interest in personal growth, although at this level you’ll probably call it something else like skill-building, career advancement, education, etc. You start to see your future as an improvement upon your past, rather than a continuation of the same.

Neutrality – This level is epitomized by the phrase, “live and let live.” It’s flexible, relaxed, and unattached. Whatever happens, you roll with the punches. You don’t have anything to prove. You feel safe and get along well with other people. A lot of self-employed people are at this level. A very comfortable place. The level of complacency and laziness. You’re taking care of your needs, but you don’t push yourself too hard.

Willingness – Now that you’re basically safe and comfortable, you start using your energy more effectively. Just getting by isn’t good enough anymore. You begin caring about doing a good job — perhaps even your best. You think about time management and productivity and getting organized, things that weren’t so important to you at the level of neutrality. Think of this level as the development of willpower and self-discipline. These people are the “troopers” of society; they get things done well and don’t complain much. If you’re in school, then you’re a really good student; you take your studies seriously and put in the time to do a good job. This is the point where your consciousness becomes more organized and disciplined.

Acceptance – Now a powerful shift happens, and you awaken to the possibilities of living proactively. At the level of willingness you’ve become competent, and now you want to put your abilities to good use. This is the level of setting and achieving goals. I don’t like the label “acceptance” that Hawkins uses here, but it basically means that you begin accepting responsibility for your role in the world. If something isn’t right about your life (your career, your health, your relationship), you define your desired outcome and change it. You start to see the big picture of your life more clearly. This level drives many people to switch careers, start a new business, or change their diets.

Reason – At this level you transcend the emotional aspects of the lower levels and begin to think clearly and rationally. Hawkins defines this as the level of medicine and science. The way I see it, when you reach this level, you become capable of using your reasoning abilities to their fullest extent. You now have the discipline and the proactivity to fully exploit your natural abilities. You’ve reached the point where you say, “Wow. I can do all this stuff, and I know I must put it to good use. So what’s the best use of my talents?” You take a look around the world and start making meaningful contributions. At the very high end, this is the level of Einstein and Freud. It’s probably obvious that most people never reach this level in their entire lives.

Love – I don’t like Hawkins’ label “love” here because this isn’t the emotion of love. It’s unconditional love, a permanent understanding of your connectedness with all that exists. Think compassion. At the level of reason, you live in service to your head. But that eventually becomes a dead end where you fall into the trap of over-intellectualizing. You see that you need a bigger context than just thinking for its own sake. At the level of love, you now place your head and all your other talents and abilities in service to your heart (not your emotions, but your greater sense of right and wrong — your conscience). I see this as the level of awakening to your true purpose. Your motives at this level are pure and uncorrupted by the desires of the ego. This is the level of lifetime service to humanity. Think Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Dr. Albert Schweitzer. At this level you also begin to be guided by a force greater than yourself. It’s a feeling of letting go. Your intuition becomes extremely strong. Hawkins claims this level is reached only by 1 in 250 people during their entire lifetimes.

Joy – A state of pervasive, unshakable happiness. Eckhart Tolle describes this state in The Power of Now. The level of saints and advanced spiritual teachers. Just being around people at this level makes you feel incredible. At this level life is fully guided by synchronicity and intuition. There’s no more need to set goals and make detailed plans — the expansion of your consciousness allows you to operate at a much higher level. A near-death experience can temporarily bump you to this level.

Peace – Total transcendence. Hawkins claims this level is reached only by one person in 10 million.

Enlightenment – The highest level of human consciousness, where humanity blends with divinity. Extremely rare. Even just thinking about this level can raise your consciousness.

I think you’ll find this model worthy of reflection. Not only people but also objects, events, and whole societies can be ranked at these levels. Within your own life, you’ll see that some parts of your life are at different levels than others, but you should be able to identify your current overall level. You might be at the level of neutrality overall but still be addicted to smoking (level of desire). The lower levels you find within yourself will serve as a drag that holds the rest of you back. But you’ll also find higher levels in your life.

Think about the strongest influences in your life right now. Which ones raise your consciousness? Which ones lower it?

Look at this hierarchy with an open mind and see if it leads you to new insights that may help you take the next leap in your own life.

6 – Writing this book scared me.

The world sees me as happy and successful. However, only my daughters and spouse and ex’s know that almost daily I blinked through tears of panic with warrior strength and in weaker moments raced to the bathroom to scream silently to control the furies that threatened to unravel me, that often I fought to keep from exploding into oblivion and putting an end to the misery I called myself.

In truth, I have gotten my great-big-huge-wonderful life, but every day since age fourteen I have been scared, sometimes forsaken with only God as my friend, for there were many hours and years that I loathed myself.

Only in joy is there no pain.

It took me sixty years to learn that love wasn’t enough, that the more I loved, the more I hurt. Joy is an oasis of calm and safety. We have no word such as “unjoy.” There is joy and merely the absence of joy. Finding joy is a journey that takes one beneath the lies, the false beliefs, the confusion and the horrors of everyday life.

Happiness cannot be taught because it is a fickle emotion. Joy can be taught because it is merely unveiling what is already within you. Joy is finding the essence of yourself, stripped clean of misconceptions, when you once again meet the real you. We were born knowing joy but soon learned to hide it. The journey to reclaim joy is easy, yet requires surrendering one’s identities, the veneers of vanity, pride, shame, anger, etc. Joy is living without illusion.

Writing this book made me a calmer and stronger person.

Publishing this book challenges me to grow even more.

Much of it was written in quasi confidence for an editor who inspired courage to tell the truth.  Publishing it scares me for I will shatter illusions, meaning my world will never be the same. People who never liked me will suddenly become friends.  People who liked me will no longer trust me, for I’m not the happy-go-lucky-sprite they admired; I am flawed and struggling like them.  Worse than that, I breached the code of a warrior and show my weaknesses.

Coming clean of the nightmare that has been my life, of revealing my shadow self that my bright smile kept all but empaths from seeing, is to turn my world upside down. But vulnerable is the new brave.   Astonishingly, my life is finally the calm wonder and joy I’d yearned for.  Only in joy is there healing.

Only in joy is there joy.

 

 

 

 

3 – Stripped Identity

We landed in Nova Scotia (Canada) on July 4th, and I left three days later for California to visit my daughters and to attend a Feldenkrais class.  Yet for the first time I didn’t enjoy myself; I didn’t smile, didn’t participate in class, went turtle and avoided classmates.

That last day, I sobbed.  It meant returning to Canada.  I had hoped that because classmates had their eyes closed during the ATM (floor exercise) and that if I didn’t make any noise, and because I was at the back of the room that maybe even the teacher wouldn’t notice me.

I felt bereft, like my identity had been stripped away.  Without China, I was no longer cool or interesting.  I was a has-been.  My future loomed as endless days of cooking, cleaning and watching TV.  I had hoped love would be enough, but once again it wasn’t.

My teacher asked what was wrong, and I darted to the bathroom in a panic to get hidden before tears broke like a dam.  As soon as I was composed enough to return to the classroom, an assistant asked if I was okay, and I gave him a double thumbs up with a huge smile, as in LEAVE ME ALONE.

The next week, back in Nova Scotia, crying was my sport and hobby.  I was dashing to bathrooms like battling Montezuma’s Revenge for it’s always worked best for me to grieve alone.  And it was grieving.  I LOVED teaching in China.  Now I was in a country that wouldn’t even allow me to work until I had permanent residency.

I applied for volunteer jobs, but even they wanted a police criminal check, letters of recommendation, a resume, pages of paperwork like for a real job, and three interviews … all to clean cat litter boxes in an animal resort!

Hot showers became my best friend to calm and cover up the noise of the sobbing.  I felt a bit desperate, confused and surprised at my disintegration.  I thought I’d prepared myself well for this new chapter of my life; I’d researched and listed three pages of activities and clubs to get involved with and yet the tears hit like a tsunami that wouldn’t end.

Was it only three days?  It felt like three weeks since I’d been back from California, but in truth that was how long I’d been intermittently sobbing.  But that third night getting into bed, feeling the tears swelling, I resolved:  “No, I will give it one year.”  Meaning I wouldn’t cry anymore for it takes time to make new friends and settle into a new place.  The tears evaporated.

It was like that decision shifted my focus to stop bemoaning the past and start living in the present. However, the next day, I had an epiphany:  I had to make Canada be more wonderful and outrageous than China or else I would resent my husband forever.

He was ready to retire; I wasn’t.  It chaffed to call myself unemployed, but that beat using the word retired.  Canada has strict laws that if caught doing any infractions, permanent residency (PR) will be permanently denied.  I wanted PR because from the moment you apply, you have medical coverage.  I’d been covered in China through my job, and the cost for coverage in the States was a lot, especially for a girl who wasn’t working.

I decided to hire an editor to help me finish my book, Joy for Dummies, for it would make use of the time I couldn’t be gainfully employed, but hopefully would eventually make money and give me a new career.   I’d started the book eleven years earlier, long before going to China.

An editor would keep me accountable for I have a history of moving onto new projects when get bored or overwhelmed.  Best of all, I would have a reader.  It truly sucks to write thousands of pages which no one reads.  I literally have boxes and computer files full of  vignettes, poems and two novels, all of which I’ve never taken the time to submit for publication.

The book morphed into something grander than it began.  Alisia Leavitt was a sensitive editor who culled out the best of me.  She inspired me to reveal my shame, sharing feelings I’d never articulated.  It was heady praise to have quoted back words I’d penned; she called some of the pieces like poetry.

Now I had a new identity:  I was an author writing a book about joy.

Now I had a future that excited me, that loomed greater, bigger, even more huge and wonderful than China!  Especially since I presumed that I could and would become a motivational speaker.  Teaching joy brought me tremendous joy, so the prospect of going on the road teaching it thrilled me to the core.  I began to thrive and embrace my new life.  I’d always loved the forests and lakes of Nova Scotia, but now it felt like HOME.

 

 

 

 

2 – Exodus from China

(ABOVE:  St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia) (picture courtesy of http://world-visits.blogspot.ca)

Mongolian countryside, from China to Russia.

My husband and I celebrated our exodus from working eight years in China by taking a five-day trek on the Trans-Siberian Train from Beijing to Moscow.  I turned 60 somewhere in Siberia.

The meal cars changed for each country.

Mongolian meal car
Close up of ornate wood carvings in Mongolian meal car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MISSING THE TRAIN on the third day was our only mishap; we had to hire a local from the very small town to drive us to the next stop in Irkutsk — almost two hours at break neck speed over mountains, curves, driving on shoulders and wrong side of road, but with a very competent driver who spoke no English.   Note to fellow travelers:  ask the conductor how soon will depart before venturing off to take pictures!

First church seen in Russia.
Slyudyanskiy rayon – up close.

But this was the first church to spot in Russia, and thinking we had 20 minutes, it seemed a grand idea to stretch our legs and snap a photo!  Imagine our surprise to see our train chugging out of the station!

Running pell-mell to locate someone to stop the train, I tripped on a curb and landed on my chin.  But no one spoke English.  My husband calmly said, “We need a taxi.”  I thought taxi?  This town is only the size of a church and a train depot!  They won’t have a taxi!

But taxi proved to be a universal word and a middle-aged backpacker spoke enough English to explain to the station master that we needed a ride to the next stop.  She called a local man who spoke no English, but was kind and drove fast to get us there in time.

Sprained wrist treated by Olga.
Olga, our cook and nursemaid.

Olga, who prepared all of our meals on the train in Russia, cleaned up my bloodied knees and treated my sprained wrist.

Boy were our friends surprised to see us on the platform waving to them at that next stop.  What had been a leisure two hours for them was a helter-skelter panic for us.  Thank God my husband remains composed under pressure.  One more demonstration of how CALM is the best approach to catastrophe!

1 – Preparing to leave China

Giving up teaching in China turned me inside out. I had hired two life coaches to make the transition easier because I was overwhelmed with the task of reinventing myself for the sixth, seventh time? I’ve changed careers a dozen times and moved 30+ times, but between my great-niece dying and then not being able to work in Canada until I had permanent residency, I was crying daily.

Barbara Wotherspoon is a longtime mentor and friend and coached me through the personal side of life, so I could as best as possible attend to my job and marriage from April to June.

But eager to plant seeds for a new career, I hired Emily Benson. While she usually only coaches boutique owners (such as LuLaRoe consultants) she agreed to take me on privately and would soon dub me as “her client from the future” for she was eager to work with people like me.

Emily got me to narrow my focus down to finishing my book “Joy for Dummies.” I had started compiling exercises for Rolfing clients in 2006, but now I had dozens of meditations and exercises to add. Teaching Oral English, I had to create my own curriculum and had decided to teach them something that might improve the quality of their life WHILE teaching verbs, vocabulary and grammar. After eight years and teaching 8,000 classes and 4,000+ teens and adults, I had extensively tested out my theories about joy.

It became obvious that while I could not teach anyone how to be happy, I could teach them how to find joy. Last year’s 10th graders — about 200 students — all claimed that they felt better after doing my joy meditation.

But where was my joy? Ducking into restrooms to silently sob had become my life. I hid my tears from my husband as best I could, but I was not fun to live with. Everything that had worked in the past did not lift my spirits, so I went in search for new ways to find joy. That’s when this book went to a whole new level and changed my life.