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Articles: Ideas and Tools for a Better Life

Chronic Stress Interferes with Wellbeing

As a hypnotherapist, stress, worry and anxiety are the most common concerns reported by my clients. If stress is not the presenting issue for a client, it is often an underlying concern, so I find myself constantly researching stress and seeking new techniques to provide relief.

When stress becomes chronic or ongoing, it can directly or indirectly impact our psychological and physical wellbeing. Stress may come as a result of a sudden change or trauma, or as a reaction to issues related to work, health, relationships, finances and daily responsibilities. We can also be affected by the stress that others are experiencing around us.

When we are young children, we are especially vulnerable to picking up our parents or caregivers stress. According to Bruce H. Lipton, as written in The Honeymoon Effect, “From two to six years old, a child’s predominant brain wave is theta.” “Theta brain frequencies are associated with the state of hypnosis during which information can be directly downloaded into the subconscious mind.” So as children we are highly programmable which helps us learn quickly, but we can also be negatively programmed.

I grew up in a household with a parent who worried excessively about our safety, and I too became a worrier. As a young child, I remember always being anxious about riding in a car, for fear we would crash. As I became an adult, this uneasiness continued, until I did some work to address the issue. As adults we have the power to make the change.

While attending hypnotherapy school, one of my teachers described worry in a way that hit home for me. He said that when we worry, we repeat thoughts over and over putting ourselves into a trance-like state, while feeding ourselves negative suggestions. Hypnosis can be used to do just the opposite, to relax and become more focused and open to positive suggestions.

It is important to be aware of what you are “feeding” yourself. Carefully choose the music you listen to, what you view on the internet, and what you watch on TV. Pay attention to the messages that may have been programmed a long time ago and are no longer serving you. Be aware of what you are repeating over and over to yourself. Create new habits and download new programs that serve you NOW.

Peace of Mind

I was talking to a friend last night and she said, “All I want is peace of mind and good health.” I thought to myself, yes the two go hand in hand. If we are perpetually unhappy, stressed, afraid, and not at peace with ourselves our physical health can be affected. And on the other hand, physical health issues can impact our peace of mind.

During a talk given by Bruce Lipton, a cell biologist and author of The Biology of Belief, he explained that when a person has fear they may interpret their environment or situation as unhealthy, which can feed their cells in an unhealthy way, potentially resulting in illness. He suggests that by getting out of the “perceived” bad environment, the cells return to health. So in other words our thoughts can create our physical reality, especially when we hold on to them.

We have all experienced times when we are not at optimum physical health. Often this leads to fear and anxiety about our future and our ability to live healthy lives. Unfortunately these ongoing fearful thoughts can perpetuate dis-ease. As Anita Moorjani writes, in her book Dying to Be Me, “If and when I notice negative thoughts creeping in, it seems best to allow them to pass through with acceptance and without judgement.” By accepting ourselves as we are, we allow these feelings and emotions to come…and to go.

After the passing of my sister and friend in 2007, I entered a time of deep self-exploration, seeking peace of mind. During this time I immersed myself in an intuitive program, where I began to understand how I was unknowingly stuck in old patterns and beliefs that were no longer serving me. Next, I enrolled in hypnotherapy and energy therapy programs. I was actually surprised at how many unresolved issues I had. I often tell people, “Even if I hadn’t chosen hypnotherapy as a practice, the time and money for the program was well-spent on my own healing.” I learned techniques to empower and heal myself.

Since then I have continued the self-healing process, and have come to enjoy helping others do the same for themselves. My friend was right, we all want peace of mind and good health, and achieving peace comes through loving and accepting ourselves unconditionally, exactly as we are in this moment.

My Thoughts on Dis-ease

Over the years I have given a lot of thought to why dis-ease exists. Like most of you, I have friends and family who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, and have lost some dear loved ones as a result. This has raised my awareness and increased my interest in improving the health and wellbeing of all. I am not looking to place blame on anyone or any specific thing for dis-ease, but to encourage wellness by seeking ways to love and care for ourselves.   

I personally have dealt with various “chronic” health conditions over the years. As you know, a chronic condition is one that persists for a long time or constantly recurs. Often it is insinuated that these conditions are “incurable.” I have since decided that I will no longer use the word “chronic” when referring to my own health, as I don’t want it to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, nor will I accept that I have to live with a health problem forever.   

Instead I prefer to look at health issues as imbalances in mind-body-spirit. Our bodies have an amazing ability to heal, but it often requires a little detective work to figure out what is out of balance. Health issues are wake up calls to pay more attention to what’s going on in our lives. Perhaps we have lost hope or we’ve neglected our true heart’s desires. Or possibly the issues are related to what we’re doing or not doing in life, or what we’re eating, drinking, breathing or thinking.   

I have come to know that fear, stress and worries affect our overall wellbeing. I’ve had plenty of personal experience to prove it, like stressing myself to the point where the only way to get a break was to get sick. Now I try to be more aware of what my body is telling me and make changes before it becomes a full-blown problem. For example, when I’m tired, tense, irritable, or forgetting to breathe, I pay more attention and look at what is and isn’t working in my life, and do my best to make changes that support my needs. I am easier on myself now, and more forgiving of my mistakes. Most importantly, I hold positive intention for myself and others, and strive to act accordingly.   

Falling into hypnotherapy school a few years ago was a blessing. I never realized how many unresolved issues I had until I became a “client” for my classmates to practice on everyday. If I never used what I learned in school professionally, it still would have been money well spent. Hypnosis helped me learn how to relax, to recognize and release what was holding me back, it helped me find answers, and inspired more joy and peace in my life. Doing this work has confirmed my belief that there is a direct connection between our mental and spiritual health, and our physical wellbeing.  

Most Adult Smokers

Used to Be Teen Smokers

When I was teaching elementary school in the Bay Area, every year we would have a “drug-free week,” to focus on drug prevention. I was inclined to spend most of the week teaching about tobacco and alcohol use because they are the most commonly used drugs, and pose the greatest threat to our children on the whole. Even though the National Council on Alcoholism cites alcoholism as the number one drug problem for our youth, and the US Department of Health and Human Services cites cigarette smoking as the number one cause of preventable death in our society, many children don’t even realize they are drugs.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, cigarette smoking is the most important health-related issue of our time. One in every five adults in the U.S. smokes cigarettes. Over 80% started smoking before the age of 18. Each day, over 3000 young people under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette, and about 1000 of those become daily cigarette smokers. So it is important to prevent young people from starting to smoke, and to help current smokers quit.

Young people start smoking for various reasons, including peer pressure, to “look cool,” act older, control their weight, or to feel more independent. According to Cancer Research UK, children are three times more likely to smoke if their siblings or parents smoke or use tobacco. Experimenting is part of learning, but the danger of experimenting with cigarettes, is that smoking is highly addictive.

Start talking to your children about smoking early. Encourage them to ask questions and give their opinions. Make sure they understand that nicotine is addictive, and that other chemicals are added to make cigarettes even more addictive, so once a person starts smoking it is difficult to quit. Additionally, explain that cigarettes contain hundreds of toxic chemicals, including some that can cause cancer.

Talk to your children about the many health risks associated with smoking, such as increased risk of heart and lung disease, and many different cancers. Explain that smoking can also negatively affect fertility, eyesight, bones, digestion and more. Smoking even affects your ability to smell and taste, taking some of the enjoyment out of life.

Explain that smoking is expensive! Most smokers spend over $1000 a year on cigarettes. Additionally, cigarette smoke makes everything smell, including your clothes, your breath, your car and your home. Many of the clients that I work with, who want to quit smoking, feel imprisoned. They describe that they are like “slaves” to cigarettes, constantly thinking about when and where they will smoke their next one.

Discuss how to handle peer pressure. Some children may be confident enough to just say no, but others will need some coaching. Help them determine responses that include why they don’t want to smoke, such as “I don’t like the way cigarettes smell and taste.” Encourage them to walk away from friends who don’t respect their reasons for not smoking.

Set a good example for your children. If you smoke, look into programs that will support your desire to quit, and choose one that works for you.

If you are a current smoker and you’re motivated to quit, check out my Be Smoke-Free Program beginning Saturday, September 15, 2012. I am a certified clinical hypnotherapist interested in helping you.


· Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, A Report of the Surgeon General (2012)

· Teaching Today’s Health (Seventh Edition, 2004), David J. Anspaugh and Gene Ezell

· Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

- Adult Cigarette Smoking in the United States: Current Estimate (Rev. March, 2012)

- Smoking Cessation (Reviewed November, 2011)

- Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking (Reviewed January, 2012)

Take Care of Yourself

Are you so busy taking care of your family, friends and job that you have forgotten to take care of yourself? Well the airlines provide good advice when they remind you to “get your own oxygen first.” If you take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually, you’ll be stronger, happier, and in a better position to help others.    

There were times in my life where I gave so much that I felt like the “well had run dry,” and I had no more to give. In some cases I felt so resentful that I decided to abandon the relationship or job. I realize now that things could have been easier had I set boundaries for myself up front, and given as much energy to taking care of myself as I had given to others. Clearly I wasn’t treating myself with the love and respect I deserved.   

I have met many people in similar situations, burned out and overwhelmed from life’s responsibilities. And like myself, some became so accustomed to giving that they forgot how to receive, or how to ask for help. And many lost sight of the importance of caring for themselves. Don’t misunderstand me, I am all about being of service to mankind and helping others, but I now know that we are more powerful when we nurture and care for ourselves. Claim your power! Love, respect and take care of yourself, and you’ll be stronger, healthier and more present for those in your life.   

Nurture Your Body

There will never be another body exactly like yours, so treat it special. Give it enough rest by getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep, feed it tasty and nutritional foods (especially fruits and vegetables), quench it with plenty of pure water, and exercise to stay strong and healthy. Avoid sugar, alcohol and drugs. Listen to your body. Health issues send the signal that something is out of balance and something must change.   

Relax Your Mind

There are many ways to relax and de-stress. All you have to do is make time for it. It can be as simple as taking 3 deep belly breaths in through your nose and out your mouth. Or you can take a mini vacation by imagining you’re sitting in the soft sand on a warm sunny beach, inhaling as the waves roll in and exhaling as the waves roll back out. Listen to a guided visualization. There are many wonderful CDs out there for $10-15. I am happy to provide you with a complimentary CD, either Guided Hypnosis for Relaxation, or Grounding, Letting Go and Protection Meditation

Request your free CD

Send an email to [email protected], let me know which CD you would like, and don't forget to include your mailing address.   

Feed Your Spirit

It is important to do what makes your heart sing. We are all happier and healthier when we are doing what truly makes us happy. Think about what you loved to do as a child. Perhaps these are the very same things you enjoy as an adult. Or ask yourself, if it were my birthday today, what would I choose to do? Do it now. Who says you need to wait for your birthday. Enjoy your life and express your true creative self.   

Suggestion: Take a Walk in Nature, It’s Free!

Relax your mind, exercise your body and feed your spirit. Walk in nature and enjoy the fresh air, the warmth of the sun, and the beauty of your surroundings. Let go of worries and mind chatter. Relax in the moment. You can take an inspiring walk alone, walk and talk with a supportive friend, enjoy walking hand in hand in with your lover, or walk and play with your children. 

How Change Put Me on

the Path to Wellbeing  

Lately I have been reflecting on how change impacts our lives. Sometimes change seems to happen to us, and sometimes we make change happen. My sister Penny always used to remind me that the only thing you could be sure of is change. But even though we know change is inevitable, it can still make us uncomfortable. We are often stuck and unable to make positive changes in our lives because we get complacent with the way things are, even when we are unhappy. Sometimes we resist change because we fear the unknown outcome. And other times, change happens and we just can't make sense of it, but with the passing of time the gift of the change usually comes to light.

In 1995, my sister Penny was diagnosed with breast cancer. In that instant, our lives changed forever. It was impossible to see the silver lining in this news. I was faced with the possibility of losing my sister, and she meant everything to me. While Penny was overwhelmed with all of the changes in her life, including radiation, chemotherapy, and a disrupted work schedule, I was seeking answers. Should “she” stop drinking alcohol? Should “she” change her diet? How can I ensure that “she” will live? And the strangest thing happened, while I was looking for how “she” should change, I began smoking cigarettes for the first time in my life, at age 35. Luckily my body didn’t agree, and this was short lived.   

 Penny and I lived together in San Francisco. Life was a hustle. I think it would be safe to say that Penny and I were both workaholics, in stressful jobs with extremely high standards for ourselves. The only exercise I remember doing, was going up and down the stairs at work. And although it is hard to admit, we used to load up our grocery carts with sodas and microwavable macaroni and cheese. When we weren’t eating macaroni and cheese, we were eating out or ordering in. Most of the time, we were too exhausted to shop for fresh food and cook for ourselves.   

In 2001, I made several life-changing decisions. Penny had been in and out of treatment for the past 6 years, I was in a 5-year relationship that was spiraling downward, and I was burned up from 16 years of working long stressful hours at my job. Within a matter of months, I ended my relationship, left my job, moved to a new home, and went back to school. These changes were difficult, but eventually they put me on a path to wellbeing. Of course, I’m not recommending that everyone should make a bunch of changes all at once, but if it’s going to improve your life, start with one.   

As for the 5-year relationship, now I know that we were divinely united for that period of time to grow and learn from each other. But at the time, I certainly didn’t see it that way. We had resorted to hostile yelling and name-calling. It was creating a stressful home environment, and taking a toll on our relationship (and Penny too). When it occurred to me that I was happy less than 50% of the time, I knew our relationship was complete, over. Although it didn’t end as quickly and as smoothly as I would have liked, eventually we both moved on.   

As for leaving my 16-year career at Gap Inc., I was frazzled. I had given too much. I had worked long stressful hours, and rarely used the vacation and sick time that I had earned. I took the job way too personally. I had created so much angst within myself, that after I left Gap, my stomach would turn from simply driving by the building where I used to work. And as relieved as I was to move on, it took me a while to realize that Gap Inc. was not my identity. Now ten years later, I am grateful for the relationships I formed with many incredible people at Gap Inc., for the skills I developed and for the many lessons I learned. And I am thankful for the material gains that have allowed me to make positive changes in my life.   

Around the time I decided to leave Gap, I was in the shower and an idea came to me that we should move to the town of Pacifica (Pacifica means “peaceful). Penny had always been interested in living on the coast, but I wasn’t sure about “all that fog.” Now I tell everyone, it was the pelicans that sealed the deal. With every trip we took to look at homes in Pacifica, flocks of pelicans glided along the coastline, drawing me in completely. So we moved from our home on bail bonds row in San Francisco, to a sanctuary amidst the cypress trees. Believe it or not, for the first week we couldn’t sleep because it was so quiet, but we quickly settled into tranquility. Pacifica challenged our normal dine out or order in, way of eating, there just weren’t a lot of restaurant options available. So we began cooking more healthy meals at home. This turned out to be a wonderful change in our lives, and a terrific creative outlet for Penny, as she was an amazing cook.  

I left Gap with the intention to pursue a career as an elementary school teacher, something I had always been interested in doing. At the time, going back to school did not appeal to me, but being certified was a requirement for teaching. Once I got in the groove, being back in school was rejuvenating. And although I had a full schedule, I no longer had the self-imposed drag of working 60+ hours a week. I had time for myself. I started walking and hiking the trails of Pacifica. These walks in nature revived me physically, mentally and spiritually. I began to enjoy my life. I took many trips to the Caribbean, studied in Ecuador, and enjoyed outdoor world music festivals.   

Those four significant changes I made in 2001, were just the beginning of many fantastic changes to come. But unfortunately, the change I feared the most, came to be in 2007. Penny crossed over, leaving me at a loss for how to live without her. In time I learned to adjust to her being here in spirit and memory, rather than in the physical. I am forever grateful to her for showing me how to enjoy life, love unconditionally, and give positive meaning to unexpected change.     

Wake Up to Your Dreams

Dreams are a wonderful tool for self-discovery and growth. They give us a closer look at what’s going on in our lives right now, and how we are honestly feeling. Our dreams are often way ahead of our conscious awareness, so by paying attention to our dreams, we have opportunities to resolve issues more quickly and accelerate our personal growth.

If you have trouble remembering your dreams, there are several things you can do to increase dream recall. For instance, by drinking a glass of water before going to bed, you’ll naturally wake up, providing an opportunity to remember a middle-of-the-night dream. Also, if possible, wake up without an alarm clock. When you’re jolted out of sleep you’re less likely to remember your dreams. If you wake up and vaguely remember a dream, roll back to the position you were in, and you’ll be amazed at how often the dream details come right back to you.

The more you learn about dreams, read about dreams and record your dreams, the more dreams you will remember. One of the best ways to increase dream recall is to put a dream journal and pen by your bedside, creating the intent to remember your dreams. If you sleep with someone else, you may want to buy a small book light, so you won’t disturb them in the middle of the night. It is best to write the dream down while in bed, or immediately after getting up, because most dreams are forgotten within minutes.

I have kept many different types of dream journals over the years, of course with the intent to understand the messages in my dreams. I have found that my AHA moments have come when I've asked myself the right questions about my dreams. So I have created my own recording page that includes those key questions. Each year I make copies of the dream journal recording sheets and put them in a new 3 ring binder, and I create a special dream journal cover to kick off my dream journaling for the year.

When recording a dream, I write down a quick summary of the dream before I forget it, with no concern for grammar or spelling. Then I write a short title that sums it up. This makes it easy to reference later. The dream title can be very “telling.” I also like to capture the essence of my dream with a sketch. I only spend a few minutes on the sketch and I often use stick figures. What I choose to draw, and how I draw it, is often significant.

Next I begin answering questions that may help me understand the meaning of the dream. I consider what caught my attention in the dream, how did I feel in the dream, and what are the action metaphors and symbols in my dream? When exploring dream symbols (e.g., water, staircase, car), sometimes I use a dream symbol book. But most of the time, I think about what that symbol means to me. So for instance, if I am riding a bike in my dream, I would consider my associations with a bike. For example, a bike is a way to get places, it requires balance, and reminds me of childhood. As I answer these probing questions and explore the meaning of the symbols, I consider how all of this relates to what is going on in my life right now, because most dreams reflect what’s happening currently in life.

Obviously there are many different ways to interpret dreams. By following this simple process, hopefully you’ll begin receiving the “gifts” of your dreams. There may be times when you need a few days to ponder on the dream, or you may need to get another person’s perspective before the “light bulb comes on.” The most important first steps are to remember and record your dreams. Once you get into it, then you can have fun doing your own dream research. So dream on!

Written by: Carlene Foldenauer, March 8th, 2012  

Glow from Within

Love Yourself

Recently I received a Valentine’s email from Annmarie Gianni. She has her own natural skin care line in Berkeley, California. Her message was about how loving yourself “changes how you appear on the outside.” She offered a short list of things we could do to love ourselves more, and treat ourselves well. Her message really hit home for me. I was so inspired I forwarded it to a few friends. They seemed to relate to it as well. After all, deep inside we know that loving ourselves provides a path to harmony in our lives, and in our relationships with others.

As I pondered the idea that beauty radiates from the inside out. I remembered watching some home videos a few years back. In one of the videos, I was all dressed up for a special occasion with my hair done and make up on, yet I looked strained. This was a stressful occasion for me, for various reasons, and it showed in my face. Then on that same video, I saw myself on vacation in Jamaica, with no make up, relaxed and feeling “at home.” I seemed to glow. I couldn’t believe the difference. Watching this video had an impact on me. It confirmed that true beauty comes from within, and feeding our spirit and being at peace makes us shine. 

A Few Tips to Help You Shine

Let Go of Stress

The more you relax and reduce stress, the closer you will be to having peace within.

Take a walk in a peaceful setting * Cuddle with your pet * Do some gardening * Relax in a sea salt bath * Meditate * Listen to calming music * Play a game * Get a massage or Reiki * Do Yoga * Practice progressive relaxation * Laugh a lot 

In his book True Love, Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Love is being there.” He suggests mindful breathing for 10-20 seconds, to be in the present moment, to be there for yourself and others. As you breathe, silently say, “Breathing – I know that I am breathing in, breathing – I know that I am breathing out.”

Treat Yourself Lovingly

“I have found that there is only one thing that heals every problem, and that is: to love yourself.” A quote from Louise Hay (

Think positive thoughts about yourself and others * Surround yourself with loving people * Nourish and hydrate your body with healthy food and lots of pure water * Forgive yourself and release the past * Work at a job that you enjoy * Accept and give love freely * Remember, you have a never-ending supply of love within you! 

Feed Your Spirit

Think about what you loved to do as a child. Perhaps these are the same things you’d love to do now. If you could do anything in this moment, what would it be? Do what you love, and love what you do!

Paint a picture * Write poetry * Dance around * Sing * Whistle * Play * Explore * Skip rocks * Go fishing * Climb a tree * Play chase * Ride your bike * Take a trip * Play an instrument * Build a tree house * Swim with the dolphins * Hug someone you love * Use your imagination...

Written By: Carlene Foldenauer, February 9, 2012 

12 Ways to Be Happier & Healthier in 2012    

May you enjoy a year filled with love, joy and peace!

1. Clear the Clutter

Get your physical space in order. Clear the clutter to make way for “the new.” Restore the free flow of energy. “As without, so within.”

2. Release & Replenish

Ask the Universe to help you release anything that is keeping you from true happiness – old grudges, fears, feelings of not being good enough… Let it all go, and fill the space you create with love, peace, joy, or anything you desire.

3. Slow it Down

Stop the constant doing. Do nothing at all, or enjoy an activity without a specific outcome. Do anything for the sheer enjoyment of it. By slowing down, and quieting the mind, you’ll be more attuned to your inner guidance.

4. Seek Balance

Honor yourself by making time for work and time for play, time for resting and time for doing, time for yourself and time for others. If you find that a part of your life is being neglected, nurture it with the intention of bringing balance back into your life.

5. Eat Right

You only get one body, so treat it nice. Eat plenty of whole fresh foods and drink lots of pure water, and notice how good your body feels! Reduce or eliminate sugar, alcohol, soda, processed or fast foods, and caffeine. (Stop smoking or chewing tobacco.)

6. Move It, Groove It

Exercise your body to get fit, raise your energy level and improve your mood – swim, bike, climb, hula hoop, jump rope, skip, surf, ski, walk, or dance…

“Forget your troubles and dance, forget your sorrows and dance…” – Bob Marley

7. Consider Alternatives to Drugs

Before you decide to take another drug (prescription or non-prescription), consider natural alternatives. Most drugs come with short-term or long-term side effects.

8. Rejoice in Other’s Successes

Be happy for others. Celebrate their successes with them. The more successes you celebrate, the more opportunities you’ll have for joy in your life.

“You will always have…what you desire for others.” – Dalai Lama

9. Bring Back Your Childlike Innocence

Bring back your sense of wonder and curiosity, your open-heartedness and trust, and your whole-hearted laughter. Bring back your innocence. Believe!

10. Appreciate Nature

Get out and enjoy the beauty of nature. Breathe fresh air.

11. Express Gratitude

Be grateful for all that you have, even when things look grim. This act of giving thanks is a wonderful way to uplift yourself.

“People who regularly practice grateful thinking can increase their “set point”

for happiness by as much as 25%.” – Robert A. Emmons, PH. D., Thanks!

12. Live from Your Heart

When interacting with others, speak and act from your heart, with positive intentions. Consider the possibility that we are all ONE. By intentionally hurting another, you actually hurt yourself. Come from a place of LOVE.

Written By: Carlene Foldenauer, January, 2012