Use It Or Lose It

My cross-trainer that hasn’t been used in way to long.

As the years pass I’ve continued to say, “I don’t want to be a ‘rockin’ chair granny.’” But it appears that unless I get my ass in gear, that’s exactly what I’m going to be.

Over the last year, I have used every possible excuse to slowly let my exercise routine go by the wayside. It began to happen over a year ago when my FitBit died. I had been walking well over 10,000 steps a day but not enjoying it. I was dizzy and exhausted after my treks, and developed aches and pains. It was suggested that I was overdoing it. So when the slave-driver I wore constantly on my wrist quit, I decided to just bury it. Besides I was in the thick of writing my book, and time to sit in front of my computer being creative was at a premium.

Last year, when the going got really tough and I was in the midst of beginning to market my upcoming memoir, my then four to five 30 minute walks a week turned to two or maybe three. I continued to go to my yoga class and worked weekly with my pilates coach. All of that seemed to be enough. But I was still tired most of the time. And frankly it was just easier to sit at my desk and do what I had to do. I was constantly behind and stressed by that.

After my book launch in September, I crashed and spent most of my time resting and beginning to find my way back to a more relaxed life. Sitting and doing the daily crossword puzzle, reading, or napping took a lot of my time. When I did go for a walk the aches and pains returned. I knew that I needed to get back into taking short walks on a daily basis, but my lack of energy told me that yoga and pilates were enough. I started getting stiffer and stiffer. And I got depressed.

Then January came. A new year. Time to get into gear again. I promised myself I would take at least 30 minutes a day to stretch and begin walking for short periods of time. I didn’t keep my promise and my sad self gotten even sadder. As the last week in January approached I got angry with myself. I beat myself up and made promises every day that tomorrow would be the day I’d start taking care of myself again.

One morning I was so sick of myself that I went for a neighborhood walk and was out for thirty minutes. I loved it and felt so good afterwards. The next day I was out for a little longer and the next day and the next. My depression was going away. But suddenly the knee that I’d been favoring for months got swollen and I was in tremendous pain. Yikes! What had I done?

I hadn’t started out slowly. I was pushing myself too hard. I am an overachiever, if you haven’t noticed. And I wasn’t stretching enough. My muscles weren’t happy and I was creating my own disaster. I visited my doctor, and I’ll start seeing a physical therapist to begin the work of getting back in shape. I need to be sensible and careful as I return to healthy activity levels. It is possible to do that, but it takes more than a promise. It takes not being lazy and simply doing some work everyday.

Here is as interesting article I found in the Washington Post, last week that has inspired me to get rid of the occasional thought that maybe I’m just getting too old to exercise.

Do you have a regular exercise routine that you stick with? Have you ever taken time off from it and found yourself stiff, with aches and pains? And even depressed?

Marching, Listening, With Love

Due to a severe crowd phobia and legs that are unable to support me for hours on end, I did not march in Washington or Charlottesville last Saturday. I did however march through my neighborhood to honor all of my friends and relatives who went to towns and cities around the world to let their voices be heard. My spirit walked beside those who marched for unity, love, equality, truth, freedom, and non-duality. My spirit walked beside those suffering from war, poverty, hatred, hunger, disrespect, and for those who can not see. I walked and prayed to end the idea of the the good versus the bad, Republicans versus Democrats, men versus women, and those who hate because not everyone is on their side.

I am disturbed by the idea of the “Other.” Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, white, brown, black, yellow, straight, gay, trans, rich, poor, pro-lifers, pro-choicers, male, female. We really are all one. I’ve watched polarity and negativity growing on Facebook, Twitter, and on the streets, among those who had at one time seemed to be united in their cause. For months fear and hysteria have gripped our nation. I was there along with everyone else.

Now that the deed has been done, and Donald Trump is the new president, we’re still breathing, we’re still alive, and we still live in the best country on earth, on the bluest, most sparkly planet in the Universe. That, however, does not mean that all will be well. Climate change will still happen, some people will still hate one another, many will continue to worship money, and few of us will agree with everyone else all of the time.

There is a huge amount of work to be done. Being kind, taking care of ourselves as well as those who stand next to us, speaking out, making phone calls, signing petitions, and writing letters are some of the things we can do.

Since seeing the turnout on Saturday, I feel better about the future of our country. I will work to respect everyone’s individuality and belief systems. I will work to look beyond my own prejudices and look at what is best for all of us. I will work at being loving and kind even when I don’t see eye-to-eye with those around me.

MAY YOU AND ALL CREATURES BE HAPPY
MAY YOU AND ALL CREATURES BE SAFE
MAY YOU AND ALL CREATURES BE FREE FROM SUFFERING

The Word for 2017

When you see the light stop and take another deep breath.

When you see the light, stop and take another deep brea

Wow, Happy New Year!  Where does the time go?

We’ve all had people tell us, “Life ain’t easy.” And all of us would like to escape the pain and anxiety brought on by that thing called life, especially those things that we have no control over. We constantly struggle to set things straight and keep our hearts from aching. We cling to the past, take revenge, utter nasty words, give those who disparage us the finger, and maybe worse. Loss, illness, rejection,the political situation in our country and the world, can send of us off into a state of rage, depression, and angst that keeps chewing at us until there is little of us left. We give up, slam a door behind us, climb into our caves, and rant to ourselves and anyone else who will listen.

One of those things I have always struggled with, especially in the last couple of months, is my reactivity. Like when someone says something nasty or critical to me or someone I care about. Or when another driver parks his or her car in the spot I’ve been trying to get into for the last 15 minutes. Or when I’m on a six hour flight and am seated next to a screaming toddler and a parent who doesn’t know how to handle her child. I can also be triggered by certain words, people who look like other people who have been abusive, and certain public figures.

Too often I embarrass myself with snide remarks, critical push back,  nasty looks, or sighs that can only mean I’m pissed off. While I experience brief satisfaction in doing those things, it never lasts. I break down in tears because I’ve made such an ass of myself, along with feeling a deep sense of shame. None of that does anything for my sense of self-esteem.

You’d think that after living with my mother for seven years and writing a book about it, that I’d be an expert at pausing before putting my foot in my mouth. But being as human as anyone else, I tend to forget what I’ve learned. I’m always amazed  how certain issues we thought we were done with rear their ugly heads somewhere down the road, reminding us that we’re truly never done.

So once again I’m planning to seriously work on this problem by relearning to PAUSE before I react.  If I can count to ten, take several deep breaths before I say a word, or take a quick time out, perhaps I can tame my wild feelings.

So I’m saying,“whoa,” to myself. I’ve chosen PAUSE as my word for 2017, in hopes of leaving that ugly part of myself behind. I’ve made little signs as reminders to stop and breathe. I’ve taped them in places where I’ll see them every day. There is one at the bottom of my computer screen, and one on the mirror in my bathroom.

I also plan to take time to pause in other areas of my life. It will help  me to stop and rest when I’m feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
And perhaps the PAUSE sign on the refrigerator help tame my appetite after having spent the last two months overindulging in the season’s fabulous food.

Do you take time to pause before reacting to a difficult situation?

Have you chosen a word for this New Year?

Finding A Calling And Seeing It Through

” A calling is what you have when you look back at your life and make sense of what it’s been trying to teach you …”    Geoff Goines

 

IMG_0013I am called to put my thoughts down on paper every day.  But it’s not always easy. Sometimes life gets in the way, leaving little time to focus and keep myself inspired. Other times my inner critic sounds off, telling me that what I’ve just written is crap and I ought to find something else to do with my life.

In the process of writing my memoir there were a number of times I almost quit altogether. It was difficult, intense work and I often didn’t want to face or write about some of the grimmest days of my life. Yet I wanted to share my story as a way to help others who were considering being caretakers to their parents. With the help of a writing coach and encouragement from other writers, I kept going and finished it. In mid-September my book will be a reality and the dream I had of bringing it into the world will be accomplished.

These days when it’s hard to fit writing time into my overloaded schedule or I simply don’t feel like sitting down in front of my computer and getting to work, I think of two individuals I recently met who work day jobs, write at the same time, and feel that what they are doing will bring them to a more satisfying place in there lives. They have their own dreams. They also have the courage and hutzpah to keep at it without knowing whether or not their dreams will become reality.

I met the first one, a cab driver, in May during my visit to Chicago. When I hopped into his cab in front of the hotel I was staying in, he immediately asked if I was going to the airport. He sounded somewhat disappointed when I told him I needed to go to McCormick Place, the city’s huge convention center only a twenty minute ride away. He knew that Book Expo America was going on there, and asked if I was a writer. When I said yes, he said that he too is a writer and began telling me a little bit about the book he is working on. When I asked him how he found time to write, he told me that when he can take passengers to the airport and drops them off, he goes to the end of the taxi line and waits for his next fare. It could sometimes be up to an hour of uninterrupted time. That is when he pulls out his notebook and begins work on his book, a philosophical self-help treatise filled with ways to live a happy life directed at young people. I was impressed and inspired by this gray-haired, African-American man, originally from the Sudan, who needs to work, but also has dreams of publishing his book. I was especially impressed that he called himself a writer, when many of us don’t, unless we’ve officially published a book. As he did twenty years ago when he decided to come to America for a better life, he has taken action in an effort to bring his calling to fruition.

The second writer, a stewardess on a recent flight I was on is also working toward putting a book together. She was at the end of an exhausting four day stint up and down the east coast taking care of and serving passengers. She was anxious to get home where she would have the next five days off to clean house, shop, and do laundry. As I listened to her story of what she and the rest of the flight crew had been through during the past few days, I felt glad that I had never considered that line of work. I thought back to the times I watched myself and other passengers take out our frustrations on flight crew members because we had been delayed and would miss our next connections. This flight was no exception, since we were an hour late getting off the ground.

Once in the air and after the passengers had been served, she sat down and pulled out a red spiral bound notebook. She closed her eyes for a moment and then began writing. She wrote for about twenty minutes before she tucked the notebook back into her bag in order to get us ready to land. Once on the ground as we waited for the doors to open, I asked her if she was a writer. “Yes,” she responded with a smile and told me she had three notebooks filled with stories that she hoped one day would become a book. And,”Yes,” many of them had been written during those fleeting moments when she was on the job. I didn’t have time to ask her any more questions before I left the plane, but I was impressed by the way she was moving forward to hopefully bring her dream to reality.

I just finished reading, The Art of Work, A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do, by Jeff Goins. The cab driver and the stewardess could have stepped out of the pages of this inspiring book which explores the ideas of calling, vocation, and the challenges we all face as we search for a way to live a more purposeful and authentic life.

The description on the back cover of this book states: “Life seldom unfolds the way we hope or plan. The twists, surprises, and setbacks leave us feeling stuck with no option left but to play it safe—to conform to what’s expected of us. But what if theres was more to life than this?”

When we are called to plant a garden how can we make it flourish?

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How To Be Sane In An Insane World

Virginia Creepeer

Virginia Creeper

“All through our gliding journey, on this day as on so many others, a little song runs through my mind. I say song because it passes musically, but it is really just words, a thought that is neither strange nor complex. In fact, how strange it would be not to think it — not to have such music inside one’s head and body, on such an afternoon. What does it mean, say the words, that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift I should bring to the world? What is the life I should live?
Mary Oliver (from “Flow,” Long Life)

While beautiful and amazingly wonderful things lie all around us, we often forget to notice them, finding ourselves angry, depressed, grieving, living in fear, and unable to make a difference in our horribly screwed up world.

How do we stay sane while thousands of human being are turned back as they seek refuge from war, death, and destruction in their home countries?

Why must we worry about school shootings, bomb threats, and other horrific events that have become a regular new kind of normal?

What can we do about the political voices spewing hatred, prejudice, and racial slurs over the airwaves?

There seems to be no end in sight of things to fear and worry about … the economy, global climate change, finding work, and keeping our families clothed and fed. But instead of making our lives miserable and filled with angst, we can become extra mindful, notice the good things, and spread the gift of positivity every where we go.

Notice the way the wind tosses the autumn leaves about. Hear them as they drop and hit the ground, sometimes silently, other times with a crunch.

Watch the birds gathering together in preparation for their long migration to warmer climes.

Say, Hello, to people you pass on the street. Give them the gift of your best smile. They may be angry, sad or depressed. But knowing that someone has seen them and recognized them as a fellow human being may help them find respite from their troubles, at least for a moment.

Point out the glorious rainbow arcing over the mountains to those who are complaining about the rain.

It doesn’t sound like much, and it may seem like a losing proposition to those who can only see the dark side of things. But being positive amidst the mess we find ourselves in, can make a difference, not only in our own behavior, but in those around us. Laughter is the best medicine and if we can find the humor in a situation and begin to giggle, we’ll often find others joining us, laughing so hard they can’t stand up straight.

We need to stop complaining and when the time comes, go out and vote for those who respect humanity and the struggles we all face. We’re too taken up by the loudest voices who bring us down, rarely noticing the good things happening behind the scenes. Change takes time. Begin to trust that amidst all of the chaos, noise, speed, and destruction we see around us, things can change for the better.

Every day watch the sun rise and be grateful for new beginnings. Hope and trust is present in every moment. Be there to experience it.

These are the things I practice to keep myself from giving up and expecting the worst.  What do you do to keep yourself happy and sane in this maddening world?

 

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