Feel Good  

Magical holiday memories

With the Christmas season fast approaching and schedules jamming with holiday events, parties to attend, gifts to shop for, and rooms to decorate, it’s easy to forget the magic of the season. I’m pretty sure my happiest memories of the holidays are primarily due to one person, and her name is Mom (with a little bit of Dad thrown in).

I’m not sure how she managed with three kids, a husband, a dog, volunteer work and multiple part-time jobs. Somehow, she managed to get a tree and house decorated, cookies, pies, and countless other baking baked, and a fabulous turkey dinner, complete with all the trimmings, onto a festive Christmas table, singlehandedly. Not to mention wrapping a ridiculous amount of presents that burst from underneath the tree. My Dad, brothers, and I sure appreciated it, although in hindsight I don’t think we really showed it enough.

From watching my Dad attach a not-so-straight Christmas tree to the wall with a nail, hammer, and some sort of rope, to delaying Christmas dinner so she could drive someone home from work, Mom took it all in stride. There wasn’t any complaining, judgments, or recriminations. Last minute guests were welcomed with open arms and Dad made sure drinks were poured. All this was created with a cheerfulness that turned out to be the glue that held our family gatherings together. If something needed doing, she got it done with a stoic acceptance I wish I could replicate.

Dad did his part since he was border-line obsessed with ‘twinkie’ lights. Inevitably he waited until the coldest day in December (somewhere around 20 below) before deciding he was ‘in a bad mood’ enough to merit hanging lights outside. I had so much fun stringing lights with him in the freezing snow, joking around, and replacing burnt out bulbs with frozen fingers.

Nothing was as warm and comforting as coming inside to a bright, warm house where Mom would make Irish Cream hot chocolates topped with whipped cream. Everything was right and good in the world.

I’ve adopted many family traditions – the legacy of keeping family close to your heart when they are far away. Family rituals, from tobogganing to touring Christmas lights together, give us a sense of belonging and peace that rarely occurs after leaving your childhood home. Integrating your favourite rituals from childhood can be both calming and sustaining.

Now that those days are gone, they hold a warm, special place in my heart. They bring a smile to my face just thinking about them. I always knew, from a young age, how precious family time was and how deeply I would miss them when things, as they inevitably do, change. Perhaps Mom didn’t know how profoundly felt her actions of creating Christmas magic meant. Now I hope she does.

Whatever you do this holiday season, no matter how chaotic, crazy and dramatic things get with your family, make sure you pause in wonder at the magic of it all. Tell someone you love ‘Thank you’. Bless the magic of Moms (and Dads) everywhere. In case you were wondering, our hearts are filled with gratitude.

Visualize and it will come

Business professionals, athletes and public speakers do this before they perform. Students can do it before taking an exam. Musicians may do it before heading onstage. Just as you map out a road trip prior to leaving, you may envisage how you wish an event to unfold. Results prove this a surprisingly effective tool to success – better than say, worrying yourself into an ulcer.

Extensive research by scientists and Quantum physicists reveal we use only a small percentage of our brain power. Tests show the body cannot differentiate between imagining and doing. If anyone can practice creating new neural pathways in their brains through meditation and visualization, prompting change in the world, why wouldn’t we do it? Why waste brain cells fretting about crazy things like impressing people who don’t matter? Your choice to see something you want in the future instead of dreading something you don’t want will manifest exciting outcomes.

Good feelings improve the effects of visualization. If you feel jealousy or anger, it can be indicative of an action you are failing to take. Conversely, if you feel excitement and motivation, you often take steps to ensure success. Pickling in negative emotions is a recipe for misery and causes everyone to avoid you like the plague! Concentrating on emotions you want transforms a lousy day into something far worthier of you.

There is more than one way to visualize. Meditating, collaging in a scrapbook with magazine clippings and glue, using your imagination daily to focus on your goals, and window shopping for items you desire, such as a new home. These activities help create feelings of success, adding motivational fuel to your fire. I have manifested all sorts of material items and events in my life through the practice of visualization. A new vehicle, free bottles of wine and concert tickets, exotic vacations, new friendships, clothing on sale, a wonderful dog, increased energy, and so much more.

Experimenting can be a lot of fun – just be careful and specific what you wish for! I wanted more doggy-doo bags while hiking since my dog used the last two. I came upon a brand new one lying right in front of me on the trail. The universe can be very amusing.

A helpful book is Shakti Gawain’s ‘Creative Visualization’ (http://shaktigawain.com/). I’ve had to replace my old one since it was falling apart from use. More recently, I’ve been enjoying the experiments in E2 by Pam Grout (http://pamgrout.com/). This #1 New York Times bestseller is thoroughly entertaining and anyone can try her exercises anytime, anywhere.

Photographer Ansel Adams sums it up best – “In my mind's eye, I visualize how a particular... sight and feeling will appear on a print. If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice.”

When you dream a better future, you’ve created a new reality, like so many successful visionaries. Followed with action, a different outcome in the future is guaranteed. Even when something doesn’t occur the way you planned, sometimes it brings about a pleasant surprise anyway.

Take your visions beyond your day to day experience and picture the type of world you wish to see. Peace, kindness, everyone living in harmony – these days, we could all use more of that in the world. Welcome to the field of dreams!

Self healing

Throughout history, patients have been told nothing more can be done, there is no hope, or there is no cure. While most of us depend upon the advice of doctors, nutritionists, and other health professionals, optimal health and wellness ultimately lies within. Fortunately, with determination, practice, and implementing change, many people have overcome dire predictions to heal themselves.

If we listen and agree with the negative ‘proof’ of people who do not have our best interests at heart, we’d never make any of our dreams come true, like getting healthier! All that matters is the strong, supportive voice inside that says ‘Yes, we can!’ Yes, we can make changes in our diets. Yes, we can take charge of purchasing products that are nutritious and sustainable. Yes, we can focus on everything that is going well in our lives instead of the opposite. Yes, we can take up a new activity we enjoy that improves strength and stamina. Bouncing from prescription pill to prescription pill and fad diet to fad diet pill leaves most people sicker than before, often with unpleasant side effects. I don’t think any drug that may cause loss of vision or blood clots are worth the risks. Yes, certain drugs are life-saving; but many drugs are not; nor do they address the root cause of the medical issue.

Studies reveal the healthiest places to live in the world and why. While we can’t all pack up and move, anyone can adopt healthy changes gleaned from these regions:


1.  Air quality has proven to be best in Arizona. If you live and work in an area with heavy air pollution, you may want to purchase an air purifier or oxygenating plants to improve the air quality in your home.

2.  Hong Kong rewards working professionals with high salaries, low taxes, and generous vacations. While Canada falls far behind in these employee priorities, anyone can take stock of their work situation and decide to upgrade their skills and transfer to a better position, or practice negotiating a higher wage or more vacation time. If you don’t ask, chances are it won’t happen!

3.  Vegetable consumption is highest in California. Herbs and vegetables can be grown inside or outside the home. Perusing the organic produce section in the local grocery store and spending money on quality nutrition is also an easy step in the right direction.

4.  Colorado has the highest percentage of people who get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous exercise. With such a variety of options, anybody can take up mall walking in the temperature-controlled indoors, exercise classes or videos, hiking, cycling, skiing, rock climbing… You get the idea.


Change is never easy but the rewards make the work worthwhile. Higher energy throughout the day, deeper sleeps, and fewer visits to the doctor leave more time for things that matter. People who don’t like change may say ‘How are you going to do that? It sounds like a lot of work! It’s too expensive’. These are words you should ignore. The power of change lies within you. You are in charge of what you eat, drink, your thoughts, and ultimately how you spend time. Think healing thoughts, focus on excellent health, and drop nasty habits that sabotage your right to feel healthy and alive each moment. A change will do you good!


Looking good feels good

Need to get a haircut and get a real job, like the old George Thorogood song demands? Can’t remember the last time you purchased yourself a trendy new top or stylish shoes? Have you forgotten to floss for an entire week because your kids’ social life is keeping you scrambling? If you’ve been avoiding looking at yourself in the mirror lately, TLC may be in order, and not the trashy ‘learning’ channel kind.

The unfortunate truth is how we present ourselves to the outside world affects our self-esteem and self-confidence. Everyone projects an image, and first impressions count, from a first date to the first day of school, to a job interview. We’re all guilty of making snap judgments based on appearances. If you’ve been neglecting personal hygiene (like showering or brushing your hair) or can’t remember the last time you splurged on a fresh new hairstyle, consider the merits of putting your best self forward. Perhaps now, before hopping out the door with the stroller in one hand, errand list in the other, trying to force your scuffed flats on before tripping and breaking an arm.

Investing time in personal attention for one evening a month can do wonders for your outer shell (and peace of mind) and does not need to cost an arm and a leg. A bright new hair color, shiny manicure, whitening teeth strips, and detoxifying facial for healthy, glowing skin are great image boosters. Take out the tweezers and razor for some major pruning. Also prune closets of decade old styles no longer suitable now, like the concert t-shirt from 22 years ago that makes you resemble a thirty-eight year-old wannabe teenager.

Take a fresh look at accessories and create cool new outfits with what’s already in your closet. Pinterest is a fantastic tool for inspiring casual/work outfits to update your style. Watch tutorials on YouTube for funky ways to wear neglected scarves in your closet or apply eye shadow that makes your beautiful eyes POP and spotlights the shine of your soul. In Europe, a monthly massage or manicure is not deemed a luxury, but regular maintenance! Ah, progressive Europe! Think about art, travel and music that inspires you and why. Then think about how you can implement matching prints, shapes and colours into your wardrobe.

Get back in the habit of flossing, rubbing all natural (and fantastic smelling) coconut oil into your cuticles, and giving yourself a good once-over from time to time, maybe with the lint roller. Men included – I think many women will agree the Duck Dynasty face-fur is so yesterday. Okay, I may be hoping my significant other will read this and get a clue, in case he hasn’t heard my loud verbal ‘suggestions’. Now, is the reflection in the mirror someone you would want to get to know better? Good! Just add a smile and you’ve made the world a more beautiful place.

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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 does not warrant the contents.

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