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Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Aloha, gang!  Reposting a favorite (and very timely!) blog entry today.

Happy Aloha Monday!


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Auē!  How has time passed so quickly these last few days?

Wasn’t it only yesterday that we were beginning the 12 Days of Christmas??

It seems like everything is due at once.  Like the pot on the stove has come to a full boil.

And with that–my blood pressure (and my anxiety level!) soars!

Know what that means?

It’s time for a strum break.

Ok… maybe SEVERAL strum breaks.

Ok… maybe several strum breaks EVERY HOUR!

And I need to remember to take deep breaths.

I don’t know about you, but when I get all stressed-to-’da-max, my breath becomes shallow.  And that’s just plain dumb.  I mean, what good is that doing?  It adds to the anxiety!

Oh!  And I need to remember to say, “Aloha” a lot.


I had to run to the grocery store this morning. Standing in line at the checkout counter–a few people away from it being “my turn” to check out–it seemed like everything was moving in SLOW MOTION.  And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you: I NEEDED IT TO MOVE AT LIGHTING SPEED.

Instead of freaking out (which very easily could have happened!) I looked at the people around me and silently said to each of  ’em, “Aloha.” 

Something happens to me–physiologically–when I say it.  It almost always brings a smile to my lips.

Did it help?

Well, I can tell that it sure helped me through a panic-situation.

And maybe that helped everyone around me, too… Even if it was only because I wasn’t freaking out.

Strumming, remembering to take deep breaths and saying, “Aloha.”–that’s how I’m gonna get through these next few days.

How are YOU surviving the holidays??


The Crooner with the Twitching Eye

Monday, November 14, 2011

I woke up this morning with a twitching eye.

It was kind of fun–for maybe the first 30 seconds.  It was like looking at a video that was made using a shaky camera.

And then it stopped being fun.  Auē!

Pops is always reminding me: Nānā i ke kumu.  Look to the source.


I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep last night, but the dreams I remember having were far from restful.

I was having “waiter dreams”–dreams of working as a waiter, again. That’s usually a sign that I’m under a lot of stress.  (The dreams always take place in a restaurant where I worked when I first moved to NYC.  It was one of the most stressful times in my life.  I loved waiting on the customers, but the restaurant, itself, was a toxic environment for me.  It’s very telling that I return to that place and have stress-filled dreams when my waking life has become stressful, don’t you think?)

And I’ve had insomnia a lot lately.

Nights where I’m physically exhausted–but I can’t calm down and relax mentally.  I will lie in bed and wrestle with ideas (some fun and some, well, not-so-fun), tossing and turning, before I finally just head back to the couch and “zone out” until the sun comes up.

The twitching eye is physical manifestation of what’s happening: I’m just plain ol’ stressed out.

And that’s ok.  Stress happens. That’s part of life.  (Yes, even an Accidental Hawaiian Crooner can become stressed out!  Ha!)

I know the stress-filled period will pass.  That’s a guarantee.

In the meantime, I just need to to find a way to deal with this period as consciously as I can.  And I need to be conscious about my physical/emotional health so that I can deal with the stresses as they happen.

That means I’ll be taking lots of strum breaks.  And I’ll be listening to (& singing!) songs that make me happy.  And taking time–real time–to rest.  Recover.  Recharge.

Right on.

How do YOU deal with periods of stress? 


An Anchor

Thursday, October 27, 2011

kamaka, kamaka ukulele, 'ukulele, standard ukulele, soprano ukulele

Kamaka standard (soprano) 'ukulele

I was going to title this “Using the ʻUkulele as an Anchor.”

But then I pictured a bunch of people in boats and  (gasp!) throwing their ‘ukuleles overboard and trying to literally use them an an anchor.  The image made me laugh.  And I was equally horrified by the thought.

But it’s what I’ve been trying to do lately: use the ʻukulele as an anchor.

Or more specifically: Using the SOUND of the ʻukulele as an anchor to the present moment.

Here’s the scoop:

A series of traumatic events in my youth rocked my world.  As a survival technique, I learned to “disassociate.”

It’s not that uncommon.  We all do it–at least to a certain extent.  When the going gets rough, we “check out” (mentally) and go to a happy place.  Perhaps a happier time in the past.  Or even dream of a happy time to come in the future.

And let me be clear:  I’m so thankful to have been able to do that as a kid.  I’m pretty sure it saved my life.

However, if that becomes a standard practice/habit for you, you run the risk of losing touch with the present.

Think about how much time you spend during the day thinking about “What if…” (future) or “I should have…” (past).  It’s pretty wild how little time many of us stay rooted in the PRESENT moment.

That’s a HUGE problem for me.

Recently, I was reading about a Buddhist tradition that uses the sound of a bell to remind the practitioners to “come back to the present moment.”

The sound, in essence, wakes them from their dream state.  It helps them to become aware of the NOW.  It serves like an anchor–something to hold on to.

And I was thinking that I could do the same thing with my ‘ukulele.

For example, I spend a significant part of my day studying about the ancient traditions of an ancient valley.  Then I spend time studying “vintage” songs–the crooner classics–that I love so much.  And I also spend a piece of my day working on a writing project that explores events from my personal past.  That’s a lot of living in the PAST.

As a champion worry wart, I spend a lot of time dreaming up catastrophes.  Yup.  Like  ”What if the (insert potential tragedy/catastrophe) happens?  How will I/we/the world deal with that?”  Living in the FUTURE.  (And not even in a fun way.  Yuck!)


One thing that I keep close at hand is my ʻukulele.

You guys know how much I value a simple strum break.  The sound of those 4 simple strings helps to ground me.

It’s like my “bell.”  My anchor to the present.


This week, I’ve been taking a moment to really LISTEN to the ʻukulele.

To strum it very consciously.  And I’m not talking about doing that for an entire song.  I strum a simple chord a few times.  (Maybe 3 times in a row.  Or perhaps a simple “Hawaiian vamp” that you might hear at the start of so many classic hula tunes.)

And I really LISTEN to it.  This isn’t about listening to see if my ‘ukulele is tune.  Or even to strum the opening of a tune I’m about to play.  This is just to listen to the sound.

And I’ve gotta tell you:  it’s helping.

It’s really neat to be able to strum and take a deep breath and just listen.

So, I thought I’d pass this little practice along to you.

Maybe it will help you, too!

Using the ʻukulele as an anchor to the present moment.

Right on.

What tools/tricks/techniques help YOU stay anchored to the present moment?  Drop me a line!  I’d love to hear from you.