Tuesday, April 22nd5.9°C
Feel Good


Growing up, I never gave much thought to my value system or the value systems of friends I spent time with. Looking back, I think if I had, it may have saved me a lot of grief. However, hindsight is nearly perfect and I’ve learned the importance of connecting with like-minded souls. Think about it – how much better does your life flow when you are laughing, working, and playing with someone who shares your goals and interests? How do you feel after spending time with someone who disagrees with everything you believe in or belittles all of your accomplishments? Not so good; maybe even depressed or angry enough to throw things. Connecting with people who support, nurture, and appreciate your unique gifts and who inspire you to feel the same towards them feels entirely different, yes?

You can’t choose your family growing up, but you are free to choose your friends, potential mate(s), and if you’re fortunate, co-workers. I witness many people miserable and complaining because they are ‘stuck’ with a spouse who does not share in their value system. We see this all around us – individuals who choose a mate who smokes when they do not, who is a couch potato to their marathon lifestyle, who is carnivorous to their veganism. I’m not promoting a less tolerant approach to the world, but taking part in the things you love to do with others who share the same passion certainly brings more happiness, peace of mind, and positive reinforcement to your own achievements.

My fascination with murder mysteries and the psychology of what drives people to make poor choices puts a spotlight on values. Quite often it boils down to surrounding yourself with people that maintain clear value systems – perhaps values like a reverence for life or a clear understanding that stealing from others is not cool! Nothing fascinates me more than watching someone make horrific mistakes, and how they were caught, or proven guilty. Not because I enjoy watching the misfortune of others, but because it becomes clear how many of these people may have avoided a lifetime prison sentence by surrounding themselves with people who had better judgment and values. Yes, everyone has personal responsibility, but sometimes those who are lost simply need a little guidance in the right direction in order to avoid catastrophic life decisions. Over and over again, I’ve watched people being convinced, manipulated, or talked into doing things they never could have imagined by befriending the wrong person or groups.

It becomes clear when you view the actions of those around you and review your past mistakes.  You may see where you adopted similar habits and beliefs that are not true to you. Surrounding yourself with people who inspire, support, or encourage you along your life path may make the difference between failure and success in many areas of your life. Olympic medalists and successful entrepreneurs often did not reach their goals without the love, support, and hard work of those around them. Become aware of your own values and what is most important to you, from optimal health to ethical business success. Choose your friends, co-workers, and life mates wisely. It may help avoid a long term jail sentence!


Love and fear

“Fear Controls. Love Sets You Free.” This quote applies to all areas of life where fear prevents us from achieving our goals, dreams, and facing challenges that take us through to increased self-confidence, moments of blinding happiness, and deep peace of mind. Feed your fears and they will make your world a very small place indeed. Feed your joys and your world will expand with possibilities and great success.

Recognizing our own fears requires self-awareness. For example:

  • Fear of success makes a creative person jump from one activity to another instead of honing in on the one activity they excel at and love.
  • Fear of social situations prevents a shy person from venturing out; stuck in a rut of playing video games instead of establishing what could develop into meaningful new friendships.
  • Fear of growing old keeps many people hopelessly addicted to the next great ‘miracle’ cream or ‘health’ concoction, spending all their money and time on plastic surgery and gym memberships. Instead of accepting the wisdom and gifts of growing old, they fight it every step of the way.
  • Fear of failure prevents some from trying a new sport or career that may bring them into alignment with their true values.
  • Fear of not being accepted causes an individual to bend over backwards in an attempt to please others instead of pleasing themselves, leaving them feeling empty and wanting.

Fear controls, giving ego desires priority over soul needs. Fear feeds ego through material goods, vanity, and self-centeredness. Love feeds our true desires for taking risks, connecting with others, and creating. New adventures and positive action nourish our minds with great wisdom, creating a ‘can do’ attitude.

Love is letting go of fear and embracing faith and trust in yourself and others, giving more smiles and hugs, expressing gratitude, and making connections in your community in whatever way is meaningful to you that effects positive action or change. Love is truth, wisdom, compassion, and faith in action. Love is expansive, in endless supply, energizing, and always feels good.

Fear is jealousy, anger, envy, and hatred in action. It contracts, stops you from growing and moving forward, and doesn’t feel good unless you move through it to positive action. Check in with your feelings often – they are an accurate guide.

Fear believes:

“I can’t afford to do that.”

“That’s too complicated to try.”

“They won’t hire me without a degree.”

“I’m too old to do that.”

“I don’t deserve to be with someone that beautiful.”

“My ideas are lame.”

“I’m not talented enough.”


Love believes:

“I’m open to trying new things.”

“Once I start this, everything will fall into place beautifully.”

“What can I do to help make things better?”

“Yes, I can!”

“I can learn new skills no matter what my age is.”

“I will continue to work through this because I want to accomplish the goal ahead.”


Love believes in possibilities. Time to squash fear like the cockroach it is and choose the love that transforms your caterpillar into a butterfly! Tune into your heart needs through meditation, exercise, creativity, journalling, or reading the wisdom of others who have made their dreams a reality. Whether you believe in love or fear, it will be your experience. Choose wisely; choose what feels good in 2014.

The sensual world

The first time I viewed Kate Bush’s video “The Sensual World”, it struck a chord with me (check it out on YouTube). We have five senses – touch, taste, smell, sight, sound – but how many do we fully experience daily? Are you immersed in the joy of all you can touch, the flavours of what you eat, the subtle scents perforating the air, the sights around you, and what you hear? Life is a sensual adventure, if you choose to dance it that way.

Touch seems to be out of vogue, unless you’re a touch pad or phone. In our germ-phobic culture, hand shaking is almost cringed upon. Personally, fist bumping or sneezing into my elbow is not my thing. I learned how to wash my hands when I was three and we have immune systems for a reason. But seriously, if you hug at least one person a day, you’re likely to destroy any virus due to the warmth and intimacy a hug brings to your sense of well-being. Violence permeates our media, culture, and entertainment. Everyone could use a good hug.

Hiking the trails in the Okanagan offers an opportunity to listen to nature. People who are sensitive to constant noise surrounding us can take a vacation by noticing what they hear when it is quiet. Once I’ve shut off the incessant noise pollution in my head, I listen to the breeze rustling leaves, birds singing, the silence of no vehicle or electronics buzzing, and the satisfying crunch of dead leaves underfoot. It’s like a breath of fresh air. Alternatively, marinating in the hustle and bustle of city lights and shoppers is another feast for the senses.

The December holiday season is deliciously sensation-filled, and an ideal time to awaken your senses:

  • Inhale the scent of a citrusy mandarin orange, a minty fudge candy, or a fresh swag of pine – personal favourites that offset my Boston Terrier gassing us out of the living area.
  • Brew a decadent hot chocolate with Irish Cream or Kahlua, topped with a generous dose of real whipped cream, sit back and watch the snowflakes swirl like you did when you were little and had all day to daydream.
  • Put on headphones and enjoy a Christmas symphony or old school Christmas songs (Bing Crosby and Johnny Mathis are good choices) and let the crooning take you back to Christmas memories of yesterday; hopefully not that time the Christmas tree fell over immediately after you placed the last decoration. Yeah, it happened.
  • Go for an evening walk to see your neighbourhood Christmas lights and listen to the crunch of fresh snow underfoot, along with the silence of the night. Or choose another area if yours is filled with large, muffler-less trucks continually roaring by.
  • Visit a skating rink and watch adorable toddlers learn to skate for the first time. Remember fondly that first time your skate pick caught on the ice and you had your very first bloody nose from the ensuing face-plant.
  • Indulge in Eggnog and Gingerbread – guiltlessly and joyfully, like the little girl I saw in a coffee shop recently, out on a date with her Dad. The glee on her face when her hot drink piled high with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle arrived was priceless.
  • Meditate on the lights of the Christmas tree. Forget about the Christmas to-do list until next year.
  • Have a meaningful conversation with a homeless person who asks you for change. Instead of avoiding eye contact and rushing by, look them in the eye and smile. Fulfil the need of someone who is simply looking for a little bit of warmth over the holidays. Ah, there’s that heart you forgot you had, Grinchy!
  • Bring friends over to share dinner, drinks, and a night of laughter – avoid any discussions involving work or politics as this is sure to put everyone to sleep.
  • Hold hands and give hugs away. Every day. Whether they want it or not.
  • Gather friends or family to tour a new neighbourhood and sing Christmas carols at the top of your lungs. Have a competition for worst caroler. Feel good for a change for losing.
  • Snuggle in front of a crackling fireplace and absorb the heat. The Yule log on cable will also do in a pinch. Big screen TVs really give off the heat, and all the stoking is left up to TV guy.
  • Share your favourite Christmas stories with loved ones. Marvel over how differently your brother remembers the snowball fight where you pelted him in the head and made him cry. Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s how it went down.
  • Wrap up in the warmest, softest, thickest blanket you have and simply stare at the tree or candlelight. Fall into a deep nap like the bears do because hibernation is actually a pretty brilliant concept when it’s freezing outside.

When you practice focusing your attention on what sensation you’re experiencing in the moment, it enriches your world. Our senses can generate long forgotten memories, extraordinary creativity, and deep inner satisfaction. Feel, inhale, listen, taste, really look at your surroundings – feels good! Have a Merry one!


Wickedly good

Sometimes, there is nothing like saying you are done with something (or someone). Sometimes, it feels good to quit. There are times when the only way to feel better is to indulge in something decadent. And sometimes, the only way to get your good vibes back is to do something you probably should not.

I don’t recommend robbing a bank, murdering your boss, or shipping a ‘problem’ child off to Antarctica so they’ll really have something to cry about! Going to jail is a whole other level of wicked. There does comes a time, however, when nothing else will do but a big box of chocolate truffles, paired with a large glass (or three) of your favourite red wine to wash it all down. There comes that cold, dismal, snowy day when nothing will heal your soul more completely than bundling under a pile of blankets with an all-day marathon of Breaking Bad, joyfully scarfing every kind of comfort food you can get your sticky hands on.

There comes a day when the best thing you can do to achieve peace of mind is throw away that goal you’ve been unsuccessfully striving for the last five to ten years, and just serenely accept it’s not going to happen. There comes a day when you confidently look your spouse or best friend in the eye and tell them the truth instead of giving a sugar-coated version that doesn’t really help them anyway. “No, I don’t want to try skydiving with you” or “No, those jeans do not flatter your butt”. Find your wickedly authentic voice.

Doing what other people consider bad, pointless, or just plain wrong may be the only action that will bring you closer to a better sense of who you are and what you truly need. Alternatively, instead of settling for ‘reality’, maybe you need to give yourself a virtual smack upside the head, get your act together, and go after your dreams, no matter how unbelievably difficult the road ahead may seem. Time to feel those fears and do it anyway! Or instead of keeping silent when an annoying co-worker spews sexist comments, maybe it’s time to tell them their words are completely inappropriate and they need to stop.

Maybe a month off from the killer term paper, killer work project, killer marathon training program, will save your life – because maybe it’s actually killing your mental stamina, or your joints. Why not sit and watch the world go by for a change? Something amazing might happen – you might actually feel good doing nothing! Why not sit in the bathtub when no one is home and sob your unwept tears until they stop? You might feel a holy release from the tension that’s been plaguing your body for decades. Perhaps it’s time to tell someone to take a hike and too bad if they don’t like it – if your sanity depends on it. Or maybe it’s time for that Harley ride your father told you never to take, just for fun!

No one is going to agree with your choices, all of the time. No one’s opinion matters as much as your own of your Self. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Life is not full of perfection, and it’s not meant for living someone else’s dreams. Life is what you decide it will be, every day. When you let go of caring what everyone else is thinking about you, and useless guilt about enjoying yourself, you can move mountains and swim oceans. Speaking from experience, I have been a quitter, dumped someone over the phone, had three desserts, went for a long Harley ride just for fun (and survived), and I have called someone on their lies, to their face. It all felt great!

Read more Feel Good articles


About the Author

Tara is a published poet and children's e-book author. Article publishing credits include Snowshoemag.com, Riversportsmag.com, VidaYum online children’s magazine, and Homes & Land Okanagan. She currently spends most of her time discovering new BC restaurants and wineries, hiking with her dog, and writing. Her column is about positive living and coping skills for a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Follow her on Twitter @TaraPanrucker.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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