Tag Archives: life

Elusive Pleasures: Get the Feeling Back!

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Elusive Pleasures: Get the Feeling Back!

How can we get our brains to release that much-needed pleasure response again?

We’ve looked at how easy it is to lose a good feeling. A simple change in sensation can derail pleasure. (If you’re just joining us, you can read part one of this series by clicking here). We’ve also discovered that our own perceptions and beliefs can contribute to pleasure loss (to review this concept, click here).

Now we’ve come to the good part! The reason you’ve come back, the reason you’re taking precious moments from your busy life to read this little blog:

How to get the feeling back!

happy found on clipart by Word

It really is important to have pleasure. How many marriages fail when a partner looks elsewhere for pleasure? It’s a common misconception to think that making a new connection with a different partner will restore pleasure. It’s only partly wrong, though. Making a new connection is essential. The different partner, well, that’s debatable!

The new connections we need are not necessarily with new people. We need to make new connections in our brains. When changes in sensation (like those sprinkler heads) result in a misfire in the pleasure response, our brains need new associations to restore pleasure. It’s neuroscience, but it’s not that complicated:

One neuron reaches out to shake hands with another.

“Pleased to meet you!”

“Likewise, charmed. Let’s meet here again.”

Most of us have heard of Pavlov’s dogs. Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist around the turn of the 20th century, used dogs in his studies of the digestive system. He paired a stimulus (like ringing a bell) with food presentation. Before long, he noted the dogs began to salivate at the mere ringing of the bell, even without the aroma or visual presentation food. The ability to create purposeful connections between the digestive system and the brain became known as “classical conditioning.”

It’s old science now, but still true.

Since then, scientists have discovered much more about brains. We now know that our brains constantly learn–including how to learn better.  We also know that natural chemicals in our brains can make us feel excited, good or pleasantly satisfied.  Perhaps most relevant to our task of restoring pleasure, scientists who study the brain found that

neurons that fire together, wire together.” neuronal connections with blue light from Word clipart

This is a catchy way of saying that pairing one sensation or movement with another, repeatedly, enhances their function, and eventually, activating one automatically activates the other.

We can re-condition our brain to respond to new stimuli with a pleasurable response!

Crazy, huh!?!

But true.

Try it! Pick something that always makes you feel good. Maybe it’s an Adam Sandler movie. Maybe it’s a sensual time with your partner. Maybe it’s a big slice of Death by Chocolate cake. Now, add a new sensation or movement while you enjoy this activity every time you do it for the next month or two. For example, bring a certain pillow to place on your lap every time you watch a funny movie. You may want to try touching an area on your face during intimacy. Or, if you’re the chocolate lover, play or hum the same piece of music with each bite.

eating chocolate cake

Before long, you’ll find that when you experience the sensation you’ve added to your pleasurable activity, your brain will start sending out that pleasure response! Just picking up that pillow makes you smile. Stroking your cheek in that spot will. . . Your song on the radio will give you the feeling you’ve just had a scrumptious slice of chocolate cake!

Neuroscientists are our friends! They also research methods to enhance new brain cell connections (neuroplasticity). They’ve found that physical and brain exercises boost neuronal growth.

For this week, along with practicing the pairing we just discussed, add some physical exercise to your daily routine. It needn’t be much; just an extra walk around the block, some light resistance work, or a few extra times up and down the stairs. Do this while you’re thinking pleasurable thoughts, and your brain will have more reason to fire up those neuronal connections.

brain exercises found on Word clipart

Next week, we’ll discuss more brain exercises we can do to improve our pleasure responses–even if they’re impaired by our own erroneous beliefs. For now, though, you have plenty of things to try. Please join me in a discussion by commenting below.

  • How will you be pairing activities to restore pleasure?
  • What exercises will you add to your daily routine this week?
  • Have you found new connections that restored your pleasure, now or in the past?

-Joan

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11, AMPC

Passing

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Untimely for we who stay,

Torn in sore lament–

Time and distance

Ne’er to be breached again;

Not from our doing.

Resigned unto eternity

Or waiting to be joined again Read the rest of this entry

Dark Chocolate to my Soul

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First smile from my baby~

Fingertips at my back~

Purple hued sunsets o’er mountain or sea.

A word fitly spoken~

Laughing toddlers at play~

Secret gifts sent before there’s a plea.

Read the rest of this entry

But I Don’t Wanna Go On a ‘Bencher!

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But I Don’t Wanna Go On a ‘Bencher!

Adventure.

There’s so much in a word. What’s your take on the word adventure?

Some say it’s about taking a risk, trying something new, or exploring new territory.

Some say life’s an adventure.

Here’s a little story, based on a real episode, involving adventure:

They passed the turn toward home, and Missy, though only three, knew they had missed it. “Wher’re we goin’?”

“We’re going on an adventure!,” Nana proffered, in her most excited tone.

“But I don’t wanna go on a ‘bencher! I want my mommy!”

Nana drew in a breath and considered her response. She knew the meltdown would only last a few minutes, but it broke her heart every time. She knew, by now–by the tone of Missy’s voice, the rate of her breathing, the look on her face–whether she was ready for an explanation, or comfort, or distraction, or whether words would only make it worse. This time she chose a brief explanation, followed by a time of respite for Missy to regain her composure. When the time was right, Nana brought in the highlights of the upcoming trip.

“We’re going to Tampa, to see Cousin Stevie, play in the pool, and visit a place with lots of pretty fish to see!”

“Stevie? Yay, Stevie! I miss him so much!”

Missy cheered up. The rest of the trip she counted cows and horses on the hillside, “loved” her new bedroom, devoured popsicles at the pool and hung on Cousin Stevie all through the exciting trip through the aquarium. It ended too soon.

Along the way

Along the way

One Cool Chick

One Cool Chick

Checking out the Giant Mr. Grouper with "Cousin Stevie"

Checking out Giant Mr. Grouper with “Cousin Stevie”

On the ride back home, Missy’s love for adventure blossomed.

“I like Tampa. When can we go on another ‘bencher, Nana?”

Lookin' for Adventure!

Lookin’ for Adventure!

No matter the level of risk involved, all adventures are a little scary. We can’t always have our mommies with us. Sometimes we get stuck and afraid of stepping out. Sometimes outside forces launch us on adventures we’re not so sure we want to go on. When this happens, we can take time to process it, like Missy did, and end up embracing the experience. If we look for the good, there’s always something to gain. . . eventually.

With risks weighed against benefits, we can usually make good choices about our adventures in life.

That’s my take on adventures for today. What’s yours? Have you a little story of adventure you can share? It’s your turn now!

Joan T. Warren

With appreciation for this week’s WordPress Prompt.

 

And on and on

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I wait for no one
I am a-wastin’
You cannot stop me

I will tell

I am an illusion
I keep on slippin’ into the future
Procrastination is my thief

If you enjoy wasting me, you will not waste me
I am an equal-opportunity employer
You can’t save me to spend me on another day
If you want me, you must make me

I change things

I am too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice,
But for those who love,
I am eternity

I am the most valuable thing a man can spend
I am the coin of your life
Come spend a little with me

I am what keeps everything from happening at once
I have a wonderful way to show you what really matters
I am the clarity for seeing right and wrong

There is a place for me
I’m of the essence
I heal all wounds
I have been kind to thee

There is one of me for every purpose under heaven
I have no dominion over love
I will explain
I am on your side
You had the me of your life

I go on

I am time

I am up,
Time to go.

This, the ultimate in plagarism, a group of sayings related to time, by various famous quippers and long-forgotten cliche-makers, supplemented and arranged by yours truly, to honor my friend, who is ever precious, present, and elusive at once.

Joan T. Warren20140802-104517-38717942.jpg

ROFLMAO

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I can’t remember the last time I actually rolled on the floor, laughing my ass off. Maybe that would explain the slight but ever so definite widening of this writer’s derriere?

This week’s DP Challenge from WordPress prompts us to remember and share the last time we had a “real, authentic, tearful, hearty belly laugh.” Perhaps the editor is in need of a good laugh. Apparently, so am I!

It’s funny you should ask, WordPress. Just yesterday, I wondered aloud (to a confidant) if I may be getting depressed, maybe need a little medication. I’ve been pushing my mind toward gratitude, happiness, enjoyment, and it keeps sliding back into the gutter where sludge hangs out. Sludge like the PLOM’s (poor little ol’ me’s), BLAHS’s (Boy Look at Her Stuff’s) and the POINTY FINGER’s (Projecting Out In Negative Thinking: Your Fault I’m Not Getting Everything Right!).  There’s been a lot of stress in life in the last year, oh, actually make that in the last fifty-six years (yes, I’ll be fifty-seven soon! Maybe that’s reason enough!). Stress, they say, can lead to depression by depleting the serotonin levels over time.

The prescription, so kindly returned, included practical things to improve my mindset, such as mentally rehearsing all I’m grateful for (check), getting enough sleep (un-check), exercising regularly (getting better, check), making time for friends (yeah, right), and, last but not least, laughing.
“Rent a comedy you’re sure will really make you laugh: belly laugh, can’t stop laughing, rolling on the floor laughter. It’s really good medicine!”
I slumped on through the day, the next morning, and then saw the WordPress challenge for the week. Maybe there’s something to this idea, twice in two days coming at me.

So, dutifully, I Googled movies that are sure to make me roll on the floor laughing.

Reading their reviews, I noticed something odd. All, without exception, had a dark side, a tragedy or relationship struggle, a cancer to battle, you know, really un-funny stuff, blended with “hilarious” antics. It made me wonder, Is it funny because we need something to be funny at that moment? Would it still be funny if you take it out of the context of contrasting misery? They say most comedians come from grossly abusive and dysfunctional families, you know. Anyway, I’m not sure that’s the sort of comedy I need right now. None the less, I selected a few that seemed lighter than most. Here’s my list:

Midnight in Paris

Greenberg

Kick-Ass

MacGruber

Seven Psychopaths

Sleepwalk with Me

This is 40

What do you think? Will any of these actually take me there? What funny movie or show do you recommend?

Hopefully at least one of these movies will get me ROFLMAO. Real. Authentic. Tearful. Hearty. Belly Laughs. Then I can tell you why it’s funny.

In the mean time, something happened to remind me that someone around me may need encouragement more than I. It only took a minute to give that person some positive feedback. Guess what? I feel better, for two days now. I think she does too.

So for now, I’ll be happy with feeling better, but I won’t turn down a hearty laugh as soon as it finds me.

Thanks, WordPress!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9_fjZHcs2bY

©Joan T. Warren

Life is Better with a Twist: Weekly Photo Challenge

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Liebster not Biebster

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This article has absolutely nothing to do with Justin Beiber, shown here turning himself into police on Jan 30, 2014, courtesy of abcnews.com

This article has absolutely nothing to do with Justin Beiber, shown here turning himself into police on Jan 30, 2014, courtesy of abcnews.com

All the talk about what the Biebster is doing wrong again. . .  instead of that, I am going to talk about the Liebster!

imageKhana, of khanasweb.com, was awesome enough to give me the Liebster Award nomination. This award honors quality blogs that have less than 200 followers. I guess she feels I qualify on quality, and my stats tell me I do on the last! As of today, 168 extremely insightful, astute and intelligent people follow this blog! It will be interesting to see if participating in this award will add to that number, but I’ll keep writing even if  just for you wonderful 168!

In order to comply with the nomination, though, I need to answer Khana’s ten questions–hers, not someone’s who started it 10,000 posts ago! I decided to turn them about and give them to you from #10, countdown fashion, to #1. After you get through this incredibly interesting material, you will find links to those I’d like to pass the nomination on to, and the ten challenging questions I thought would be great to know about them.

Here goes!

10. Describe yourself in a Haiku. (A three line verse of seventeen syllables, traditionally five, seven, five, but this is flexible).

Simple yet complex
Compassionate yet boundaried
Gentle, wild and true

Did that tell you much? Well, it’s a start. Let’s jump into the weightier questions–

Read the rest of this entry

Haiku Grace Journey

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The Fall

Heart falls–glass vase. . . down
Droplets and shards splay with force
Dreams, with them, splatter.

imageThe Ache

Heart aches–lost in gloom
Dull and flat to spite the sun
Hopes, defied and slain.

imageThe Hardening

Heart hardens–dark shroud
Surrounds, squeezes, tender shoot
Shriveled, left to die.
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The Gasp
Heart gasps–reflexive,
Violently as from sleep
Final thrust for life.
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 The Cry
Heart cries–help me, please–
Sobs deeply heaving, need dire;
Light enters, here, now.
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The Nurturing
Heart heals–sunrise warms,
Kissing snowdrops, melt to tears
warming buds unfurl.
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The Restoration
Heart rejoices–Grace is!
Joy and life fill broken heart
Carry on to love.
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©Joan T. Warren

DPchallenge this week, to write five Haiku (or more) about anything. I choose to write this series, a journey of grace.

Reaching Out With WordPress

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keyboard and penThe way I figure,

if this conversation

~blogging~

reaches even one person,

then it is worthwhile;

even if that one

is just you

or me.

Heart reaching heart,

relating,

encouraging–

this is life.

Note: The above poem is my offering to a fellow blogger’s event, in which one responds to three words offered and writes whatever one wishes. The three words today were figure, reaching and conversation.

My reflections were also partly inspired by thinking about the value of what I am doing as I spend many hours blogging, reading and following other bloggers. For example, Randall A. Golden’s “The Curse of the Follow Button” helped me solidify my underlying feelings (after putting a lot of work into some pieces and finding them hardly viewed), which in turn helped me get beyond that emerging frustration and transition to acceptance and balance. After all, we don’t want to forget the main reason we’re here as we excitedly make new connections and catch Follow Fever (more to come about that later).

Also included in today’s offering is WordPress’ weekly challenge, to participate in a Blog Event (as above) and incorporate one of WordPress’ extremely-easy-to-access blog features such as using the Media Explorer to  insert a tweet or YouTube video.

Here’s an example:

If you would like to participate in this fun and interesting challenge, follow the links below, where you’ll also find my official event:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/blog-events-listing/

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/weekly-writing-challenge-events/comment-page-1/#comment-244525

https://joantwarren.com/2013/09/17/hope-joy-and-chores/

Thanks, and enjoy the process!

©JoanTWarren

Weekend Dissipation

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      Friday brings anticipation;

      promise of rejuvenation.

     

     

Saturday,

The List begins–

Chores and household obligation,

Squeeze in time for jubilation.

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    Sunday whispers, “Spirit waken,”

    Too soon dawns the realization:

    The List,

    Forever long,

    Defying expiration.

    Abandoned chores–

    Exchanged for contemplation,

    Treasured inspiration,

    Until time forces

    On

    to weekday preparation.

    ©JoanTWarren

A Delicate Strength

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Above the tree line, frigid wind, snow and ice sever all but the most adapted life forms.

In this harsh environment, against all expectation, alpine wildflowers paint the rocky terrain with vibrant hues of pink, purple, white and yellow:

National Park Service, Rocky Mountain National Park Alpine Flower
Rocky Mountain National Park Alpine Flower

Colors we typically associate with femininity–

certainly not our definition of rugged.
 
 
Courtesy Andy Baird, Travels with Gertie
Courtesy Andy Baird, Travels with Gertie

Though the largest clusters are one to two inches tall and less than a foot in diameter, most are miniscule–those pictured here, just an eighth of an inch! These tiny beauties have the power to attract attention despite intense competition from endless mountain views and pristine open skies:

Miniature stature we typically deem picayune–
certainly not our definition of majestic.

Sometimes needing several years to produce their brilliant best, they bloom as long as they’re able, which is sometimes just a day, a week, perhaps a month at most, then rest for the long winter. If damaged by caribou, moose or tourist, it may take years to recover the wound.

This level of productivity we might typically judge as insubstantial, flimsy–certainly not our definition of efficient or prolific.

Yet who among us could survive the throes of an alpine home?

Rocky Mountain National Park – National Park Service

How is it, then, these dainty fairies thrive amidst frozen, barren, wind-torn and rocky terrain? Read the rest of this entry

Life, Death and Grains of Sand

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We never know how long we have. We don’t know how long we have with the ones we love. Read the rest of this entry

Deeply Rooted

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Deeply Rooted

There’s something about one’s heritage that runs deep.  Be it genetic memory, collective unconscious, morphic fields,  or some other forthcoming mechanism, I believe we encounter intangibles like values, interests and talents with innate responsivity that tends to override our conscious efforts.

When I was a child my family joked about our heritage, blended as it is, saying we were mutts or Heinz 57. Mostly, though, my ancestors were Read the rest of this entry

Leaders, Followers and Fancy Footwork

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Do you aspire to leadership? Are you a leader?

Are you a follower? Do you hope to be a follower?

Leadership is highly valued in our society. Following–not so much. Just as we’d never set out to become a drug addict, we don’t set out in life to become followers. Is this right? Can we all be leaders? Should we all? Is there anything wrong with being a follower? Read the rest of this entry

Birth of a Blog: Heart to Heart

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Somewhere around my fiftieth birthday I started thinking seriously about what I could still achieve in the fifteen to twenty years I had left in the work force, and hoping I’ll have many healthy years after that to pursue leisure, creative and volunteer activities. I set goals, then made some tough decisions and changes to help me reach those goals. As of this writing, five years have passed since then. Sometimes I feel I am no closer than I was, that unforeseen challenges have blocked progress. Time to stop and take stock.
What was I thinking? In these five years I started and finished a master’s degree, started my own business while maintaining my annual income, kept up a large percentage of maintaining our home and daily life, helped my husband’s business through four months during shortages of office manager, front desk and phone system meltdowns, managed the stress of helping a teen stepdaughter through some serious challenges (that shall remain confidential unless she consents to my sharing them), and gave a large portion of my time to nurture and care for my live-in step-granddaughter! Whew, and, now that I think of it, all while battling fibromyalgia and menopause! Not too shabby after all.
This brings me to why I began this blog. About twenty years ago I felt a Read the rest of this entry