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The Mess That Heals You

I’m enjoying my (black! undoctored-up!) coffee this morning and internally planning my day. My children are still sleeping. My husband is away on a business trip. My pets have either gone outside, or are mute. Aside from the gentle whirring of the dishwasher, the periodic shaking of a ceiling fan, and the continuous  pouring of water from our turtle’s waterfall across the room, it is quiet. Which means, I suppose, it isn’t actually quiet. But it’s peaceful in my home.

I was thinking about how when you are plodding along through life, and everything is going right, that can be a great thing. It usually means, to me, that a person is really doing a lot of what works in her own Universe. The planets seem to align, so to speak, in response to that person’s actions, wishes, direction.

Yet when we are in a mess, whether it be a deep one of our own making or we are being tossed around in the whirlwind of someone else’s turmoil…or, as we all know, many messes are jointly made, so maybe it’s a shared mess…we learn our most valuable lessons from cleaning up that mess. What caused it? Can it be prevented in the future, or at least minimized?

I’ve been involved in countless messes in my 41 years. Too many to go into here, really.

Many say that weight gain is simply a symptom of other life issues that run deeper. I think that sometimes that is true and has applied in my own life. But the hard part is how much more effort it takes to reduce body weight as I get older…being more limited in certain activities.

Now I’m sure there are many people out there that would say, You can do anything, Barb! Don’t limit yourself like that. Just put it out there into the Universe and it will happen!

I used to have this exact mentality. The fact is, the Universe cannot heal certain physical ailments. And as one ages, one needs to adjust certain things accordingly.

The biggest adjustment for me is being more careful about my knees. Minimizing running and impact to my knees. Being careful with squats and lunges. But, at the same time, it’s critical to increase lean mass in those supportive quadriceps and hamstrings. Also lose weight which will reduce pressure on those joints.

I’ve got a slowing metabolism working against me.

It’s so important that my diet is improved because THAT is really the key to so much of what I need to accomplish in order to lose weight, get stronger, look and feel better. And as I’ve preached so often on this blog, the results feed all of my relationships positively.

I’m on Day 3 and I’ve done really well the past 2 days, meeting my goals.

Today I’ll continue decluttering my mess, and I’m feeling positive about it. But it needs to be addressed and thought about every day. It really can’t be swept away anymore, or minimized. My health and myself are too important to neglect any longer.

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Who am I?

I’m going to type very quickly because I need to be in bed in about 20 minutes or maybe less. I haven’t written on this blog in over a year! How did that happen? Well, I’m sure you know the story. The usual. Got caught up in this and that. Work, homeschooling, activities, events, obligations, blah, blah, blah. I wrote a bit in my private journal at home (old school–writing in tiny lined book with actual pen!) but I sorely neglected this blog.

The fact is, I’ve picked up some weight. Surprise! Not really, right? I’m not sure how many times that has happened since I started this blog, but probably a few.

I’ve struggled with my weight nearly my entire life. My mom has as well. My dad, periodically. I can remember being a 3rd grader, new to Florida (my mom moved us here from Maryland), and being overweight. With glasses. It was really not very fun. My younger sister, in kindergarten that year, was slim. She really always has been. It just hasn’t been her struggle.

But, anyway, over the years I picked up weight. In middle school, I really felt I needed to do something so I began various diets. My mom was on lots of diets over the years, so I tried MANY of them. And I was on various programs as well. I look back and wish that A) I had had half a clue about nutrition–by which I mean, clean eating, and how great it is, and B) I had engaged in any type of organized physical activity. I’m a mom myself now and there are plenty of options.

So I was more or less a lone exerciser, and still am. I love walking and biking best. I did used to run, but I don’t think it’s great for my knees (I fell years ago while ice-skating and injured one of my knees), so other than a bit of a light jog during my walks here and there, I avoid that. I’m about to reintroduce swimming into my regimen as well because it’s hot as Hades here, and about to get a lot hotter.

But back to my growing up and dieting. I loved taking long walks with my Walkman (handheld cassette player with headphones) and listening to all the mix tapes I had made. I could walk and walk and walk for hours. It was GREAT for my body.

The problem was, my nutrition was awful. I ate terribly. Lots of sugar, fat and refined carbohydrates. So, as much walking as I did, I was still gaining weight. Once I entered my 20’s, I lost A LOT of weight by working out in the gym and dieting. I dieted very severely, though…really didn’t eat enough calories, and probably harmed my metabolism. I think I starved a lot of that weight off. My idea of a meal was a few pieces of low-fat turkey on 2 pieces of diet bread with fat-free mayo and a slice of tomato. Maybe a protein shake later on. Not good at all.

After while I would begin what I eventually came to understand to be binge eating. This would typically happen after long periods of deprivation, and might be combined with some other area of my life where I was feeling unfulfilled or sad/depressed. So the weight would come back on, I would ignore it, then address it, do crazy things to lose it. Really no bueno.

Now this past time, I will say that I’ve eaten a LOT of healthy food. But there is still too much of a good thing, you know? So what I’m doing now is I’ve removed dairy, sugar and wheat from my diet. I’m eating a lot less grains in general. I’m drinking less alcohol, raising my hydration and committing to sleeping 8 hours per night. I’m doing 30-45 minutes of cardiovascular activity per day (every day) as well as a short 10-15 minutes of resistance training 4x per week. My eventual goal would be to merge cardio with resistance training into 1 workout that is very intense. That is the best kind of workout for me, and for many people.

How do I know this? Because I used to be a nationally-certified Personal Trainer.

WHAAATTT?

I know. How does a Personal Trainer struggle with her weight? I guess because I’m human. Ha ha. But, anyway, I’m devoted to these above goals. I did weigh myself yesterday and I’m around what I thought. I’d probably like to lose 25 lbs. of fat and see how I feel. It’s harder when you are older to gain lean mass…it’s a longer process. But I’m going to make the time. I’ve just got to stop putting myself last, and that’s all there is to it.

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Love

Those Things We Wish Weren’t Happening

I have an hour to blog before getting ready to see my friends play a show–something I’ve looked forward to all week long. I’m privileged to have a lot of artists (in so many different areas/mediums/genres) as friends, but music is my own art as well, so I really get to celebrate that when I attend these shows. Also I feel so happy for my friends because their band, Fowler’s Bluff, is doing exceptionally well! You can find their music just about everywhere online now, they’re on Pandora, there are some articles out there about their music, and they now have a site selling a line of Fowler’s Bluff merchandise. So I feel extremely proud of them!

I have so many things going through my head all week long that I really struggle with what to write about. I guess I should start out (since this WAS a diet/fitness blog) by giving you a little update. My husband and I are walking together daily now. We do it early in the morning and late in the evening. We both really need to and this whole getting-healthier thing is just so much easier when you have support from your spouse. Today we discussed how we would change our diet to work in concert with exercise. We’ve always gone to a really clean eating type of diet in the past, which we are then able to really experiment with…but in the beginning it’s a bit shocking. I can assure you it’s completely healthy, though. But the idea of…wait, there’s no beer on this plan? When can we cheat? Can we have a cheat day? What, just a cheat meal? THAT’S IT? Oh my…
So, anyway, we’re going to probably go shopping for that tomorrow. It’s a lot of veggies, some fruits, lean protein, a bit of healthy fats, and minimal grains/starches…and those must be unprocessed. So you know the drill! I’ll put down my loudspeaker now.

I want to talk about aging. My friend posted on Facebook last week about a commercial in the 80’s where a woman said she was going to fight old age “every step of the way.” Today I told her that ever since we got into that discussion, I’ve had the singsong “I’m gonna wash that gray right outta my hair” jingle running through my head. It was interesting to hear different views on aging. I’m particularly interested in the covering-of-grays phenomenon because MANY of my friends and family do it. Recently, I darkened my hair. For several years, I’ve been getting it highlighted. I’ve spent the better part of my life as a dark blonde with lots of highlights who ends up being a light blonde on top and then has to have dark lowlights put in to even things out. It costs A LOT OF MONEY and looks awesome for about 2 weeks.

So recently I decided I was just sick of it, and I would go back to my natural color. This wasn’t an easy decision because over the years, whenever I’ve done this, and I have done it probably 4 times, I’ve been so shocked at the result–namely, I feel I look OLDER as a brunette…even though it is the REAL ME–that I’ve rather quickly gone back to highlights and eventually being blonde.

I was pleasantly surprised when I actually LIKED the results this time. FIRST TIME EVER. I feel like maybe I’ve grown into this color. Maybe I’m finally just at the age (40) where it looks right on me. But that doesn’t really make sense. Because it was my natural color, so how would it have looked wrong? Wasn’t the blonde wrong? The more I turn it over, I think that maybe something really positive has been happening in my mentality. I don’t perceive myself as “looking old” with darker hair anymore. It looks right. It looks good. I actually really like it! Am I growing up inside, or do I just have a great stylist?

I don’t have gray yet. Not much, anyway. I’ve had the random gray hair that I’ve pulled, but this has only happened 2 or 3 times. Even my younger sister is graying. So I can’t relate to the phenomenon of dyeing one’s hair to cover up the gray yet (although maybe it is similar to me dyeing it blonde to cover up the darker color before, when the brown made me feel older-looking).

A lot of women (and some men) perceive gray hair as undesirable because it means we “look old.” But I’ve been reading lately that gray hair is coming into style. That women are going into salons and asking for gray and white to be put into their hair. DELIBERATELY! They are paying for it! I think this says a lot. First of all, I don’t think it’s crazy. When celebrities do it, they are trying to stand out, I think. But when non-celebrity women go into salons and decide to go gray ahead of their time, or maybe they are trying to even out what is happening, I feel encouraged. Imagine if we didn’t correlate gray hair with “old.” Suppose we entertained the novel idea that gray and white are actually just other colors besides black, brown, blonde and red.

When we see the gray hair, we automatically assume “that person is older.” Okay, so maybe they are. Graying is part of the natural aging process. Apparently a lot of people–mostly women–are not okay with that concept. To them, it’s unattractive. It doesn’t look good. But I think it’s important to dig into the deeper reasons why. Gray means getting older. Getting older means breaking down, declining, deteriorating, becoming sick and frail. Dying.

We’re afraid of death, so we’re “dyeing” our hair?

Like dyeing your hair a color other than gray or white is going to slow the aging process or death. It doesn’t! We have to do OTHER things that have nothing to do with hair color to increase our longevity and hopefully slow the physical changes associated with aging, if that is our goal:

Drink water. Don’t smoke. Eat well. Exercise. Protect your skin. Sleep. Laugh. Love. Have Friends!

I wonder when our society will get to a place where we can be happy with ourselves as-is. When we don’t feel we need to change ourselves to other-better people. Why do we need to be the Fake Us’s to be happy? I totally understand it because, as I’ve mentioned in past blogs, I was raised to wear makeup if I go out. My mom offers me makeup if I’m not wearing any. She’s colored her hair for many, many years. I’m not saying my mom is a bad person. I’m simply saying that this “not good enough as me” or “I need to look younger” mentality has been pervasive for multiple generations. Probably ever since we could cover up the grays with hair color. And obviously for thousands of years…ever since people figured out they could grind rocks into powders that we could rub into our faces and brush over our eyes…we have had makeup. Fugedabout the real me. If everyone really saw? Whoooooo…..scary, scary, scary. At least, that seems the perception.

But behind all the fake color and creams and powders, the breakdown is happening. Certain biological processes are slowing down, our bones and joints aren’t what they were. It’s getting harder to do as much. We’re at a higher risk of having heart disease and stroke. We have to be careful in certain physical situations. I’m a little annoyed and even sometimes embarrassed over this. Sometimes you just don’t do it to prevent yourself that mortification…ugh.

I think we need to be proactive in increasing our longevity, though. Or at least that’s something I care about. Why? Because I have people to live for. Because I want to be happy. Because I want to keep celebrating life and friendships and family. I want to make music, cook, and write. I want to make people laugh and smile. I want to be a listener when needed. I don’t want to dwell on my appearance too much, for goodness sake!

In short, I want to keep showing up. Will my hair color really matter?

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Always with the Love

I was about to begin this post when I realized I could not type. The keyboard would not function. The mouse was fine, but that was about it. Removed the laptop battery, blew on it, reinserted it, held the power key for 15 seconds, and now I am as good as new. I’m ever thankful for technology, but we are at its mercy in so many ways. We must wait for things to “go through.” We must hope our devices last a while before inevitably malfunctioning. We depend upon signals, connections, reception. Our patience grows thin concerning these things. We cannot even imagine mailing something and waiting for a return reply. Why wait?

It’s important to wait, though. We can do other things in the meantime. Waiting is underrated, in my opinion. When you have to wait for something, you appreciate it so much more. The immediacy we have come to expect these days has removed that burst of pleasure. It’s affected our state of mind. Our happiness. When we were children, we were told, “Good things come to those who wait.” And sometimes, that was true. Depending on what exactly it was we waited for, that is.

The last few times I sat down to write on this blog, I had no idea what to say. Where to begin. My blog used to be this very diet/weight loss centered place where I talked about what I weighed, what I was eating, what sort of exercise I was doing, as well as emotional battles concerning body weight, appearance, and food. But for quite a while now, I’ve not felt like focusing on those things. I’ve gained some of the weight back as a result. I’ve always had to focus my attention on diet, exercise and these other patterns in a laser-like fashion in order to get results. But you can only focus on these things for so long when you have a husband, children, a job, friends, interests, hobbies, etc. For years I talked about the necessity of achieving and maintaining a healthy balance when it came to diet/exercise, but it’s just been so much easier said than done.

And so I’m not depressed in this area, although, truth be told, I am still searching for my motivation…my mojo, as my friend R would say. I’ve been exercising just about every day, but not pushing myself as I know would boost my progress. And I’ve struggled with late night eating. Typically it’s not unhealthy food, but still, it’s just too late to be eating. My friend T suggested protein as a late night snack, which is a good idea (yogurt, for example). For some reason I crave dried figs and almond butter in the evenings. That’s not an unhealthy snack, but just too high in sugar and fat for that particular time. So I’m working on that.

You may be wondering when I will ever get to my actual topic: Love. Well, here I am, at last. I was thinking the other day about the concept of love while I was in the midst of some mundane task. We all know what love was supposed to be, or how it was explained to us as children…or perhaps it was explained differently. I was told that one day I would “fall in love,” get married and have children, and that was what love was all about. Yep, that pretty much sums it all up right there.

Growing up, I didn’t really observe much of that. My parents divorced when I was 8, and then my younger sister and I watched as she went through a string of relationships–just one that was close to enduring (6 years). But I just never really observed that romantic, fall-in-love, prince/princess, rainbows everywhere lovefest that had been described, or was periodically described to me. I came to learn as I got older that love was not (for me, anyway) so cut and dry.

It wasn’t for everyone. Or maybe just didn’t happen for everyone. It didn’t necessarily entail being fawned all over and covered in flowers and chocolates. Wining and dining was not some automatic thing. It wasn’t all rainbows. In fact, it might be largely rainbow-less. You didn’t always have compatible personalities, goals, desires, priorities, likes…you didn’t care about the same things. You spent a period of time together — a season — and then moved on to better weather. Sunnier skies. Someone who met your needs, which had undoubtedly changed…not the fault of the last one, necessarily. But someone who gave you what you felt you needed, and you once again felt the joy of getting to know someone. The adventuresome feeling that I now recognize (but still treasure) as the “not-old” feeling. You felt young and happy and admired…sexy, intelligent, almost immortal. You decided that you really felt loved again.

So the problem, or maybe it wasn’t a problem but more of an interpretation at the time…was just the way you defined “love.” As in, love was something that made you feel all of these wonderful things that apparently you needed this other person to implant into your insecure psyche. Of course, as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to find that love is about much, much more than another person helping me to feel young, attractive, intelligent, funny, talented, secure, etc. Not to say that a person who loves me doesn’t assist me in experiencing those feelings — of course they make me feel good — but that is just part of something much bigger. Something I’m not sure I’ll ever fully comprehend, and that I can safely say I barely (if at all) understood as a younger woman.

Love is not defined by a romantic relationship. We may find love there, certainly. But we also find it in the minds and eyes of children, in our pets, in other animals, in the touch of a loved one, in the warmth of a balmy day, when our face is buried in the hair of a friend, when we are clasped in a hug. Love is the music that lifts our heart or drags it through trenches, the leaf that clings for dear life to the tree that is bent on shedding it. Love is saying yes…love is saying no…and everything that results from those actions. Love is a smile between 2 strangers, holding the door, looking out for one another.

Falling in love is another thing. You can fall in love with a person, but is it really the PERSON? Or something ABOUT the person you are in love with? Is it something in their personality, a talent, a skill? A mindset? Is it something in their physicality? If it is, does that mean you haven’t fallen in love? Does that diminish the loftiness of love? Does it make it not really worthy of being associated with love? Should we all just forget about it because it was just too simple to be love?

Does it have to be complicated to be love? It seems in life that often the most complicated situations come down to something so utterly simple…that I can’t believe it must be complicated or needs to be full of a lot of whatever to be considered love. But where relationships are concerned, I think love itself is just a part of the puzzle.

You can be in love with a cause. With a business. With a concept. With a mentality. But does that mentality persevere? I’ve found in my life that this is not the case. Perhaps because our minds are always changing as we take in more information, process it, form ideas and opinions. We fall out of love with certain ideas and into love with others. And the funny thing (to me, anyway) is that no one has any problem with that. Well, I suppose they do in politics. But in other areas of life, where our minds are continuously tweaking, adjusting, changing, adapting, etc., we’re not necessarily going to be in it for the long haul. So one day we were just ON FIRE for this particular thing, but down the road, we change our minds. We’ve lost that loving feeling.

For me, love is maintaining my home. Cleaning, straightening, ironing, packing lunches, making breakfasts, baking breads and muffins. Doing A LOT of dishes. Saving money creatively. Sharing music with my children. Laughing with them. Enjoying a coffee with my husband. Ignoring his video game but sitting close to him in the early mornings. The “being there.” Babytalking to my cats while I stroke them and carry thema around like babies. Sweeping leaves, weeding the yard, savoring music on Spotify, practicing cello, working out a song idea at the piano…trying to make sense of guitar.

But even at work, in my office, I find love. Laughing with colleagues, standing up for another one, spoiling them with baked goods, listening to their struggles, doing my best to get the job done. Knowing they are all fellow human beings doing what needs to be done to carry on their own lives…love is there. The smiles. The bits of personal chit-chat that say, “I’m a person, not just a coworker.” The connection reminds me of the love that flows through every one and sustains us all. Even in our darkest times. That is when a stranger smiles. That is when someone asks, “What’s wrong?” Maybe someone holds the door, then, or says, “Let me take that for you. Your hands are full.” That’s love talking right there.

Love for my friends that is never-ending because they are always close to my heart and in my mind. Feeling their presence even when we are not together. Even when time has passed. Knowing they are there, breathing in and out, living their own daily lives. Hugging them close internally at that thought.

I even find love in traffic. And give it. I love to let people in. You know, when lanes are closing and you’re trying to get over, and that one car finally lets you in? And you thank them profusely? That’s me. I let people in AND gesture wildly to say thank you when people do me the courtesy. I NEVER lay on the horn. People are so impatient, beeping like crazy…ugh…used to make me mad. Now I just feel pity over it. They aren’t feeling the love for some reason. They aren’t opening themselves to it. When we close ourselves and make it all about us, we turn into selfish, beeping fools. And I mean on the road and off the road. So you just have to try to be that person (if you’re actually in a position to interact) to remind them that the love is there, ready and waiting to be tapped into. Sometimes they’ll realize it. Or ignore you. Or beep at you, LOL. Whatever.

My point is, love is everywhere. We can see it and experience it if we choose to be conscious of it and open to its gifts and lessons, some of which may be painful. Love is the heartbeat of our lives, creating an endless, changing rhythm. It is up to us to choose the dance. And very luckily, because love is all-encompassing, we can spend the rest of our days falling in and out of it. Which at times is very nice, in my opinion.

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Love

And Now, the Opening

This past week has been pretty good overall. I’ve had my mother-in-law and my husband’s brother in town, so we’ve done some family stuff — lunches, dinners, amusement park, Renaissance Festival, movie, etc. As much as I care for my visiting family, I look forward to relaxing back into my normal groove. I’m sure they miss home as well. Particularly my brother-in-law because he is autistic and goes to school, so his routine is a big deal to him. He gets interaction with other kids, which he really looks forward to.

I’ve been reading “The Eat-Clean Diet” by Tosca Reno. I’ve made it a point to read this book whenever I feel off-track in my dieting and exercise. I’ve read so many diet/nutrition/exercise books over the years, but when I read this one some years ago, I felt a huge YES, THIS IS IT feeling. For me, anyway. Tosca’s book helps me to get re-energized about healthy eating and exercising. I didn’t realize it the last few times I read it, but she was 40 when she reshaped her physique…my same age! It’s an inspirational book, and very easy to read. Lots of glossy, colorful pictures that really illustrate the beauty of whole foods (as opposed to crap foods, which aren’t naturally vibrantly colored). So I feel good that I’m taking time to read that book.

A friend posted an article about Facebook which really rang true for me. I tend to check Facebook too often (for what?). I really noticed, after reading the article, just how much. I also check my phone too frequently. If I’m at an event or spending time with a friend, I need to be able to put my phone away and not check it for the duration of the event. I really need to unplug more. That being said, this week I will be severely cutting back on my Facebook usage. I will only be checking it twice per day. In the morning when I get up, and then maybe after dinner. So, about 12 hours later, roughly. It will KILL me but I need to break my addiction to it. I want to work toward just checking it 1 time per day. I really enjoy Facebook because it keeps me in contact with friends I do not see, or do not see enough, but care about. When I went off Facebook last time (because of this addiction), I missed out on A LOT of happenings and goings-on. So it’s great to not be disconnected. But, on the other hand, when I was off Facebook, I focused more of my time on things that were important to me. So the goal this week is to see if I can enjoy Facebook (minimally) and redirect the extra time to things I care about: improved health, better eating (prepping!), exercise, music, continuing to research building  my business, etc.

Last week when I posted about the “secret club” feeling, several friends reached out to me. I had just wanted to share that feeling because it’s something I’ve experienced over the years here and there, usually when I am not feeling incredibly good about myself. I don’t blame others for that feeling, though. I’m not a victim. I’ve been blessed to have some of the most wonderful friends in the world. But the fact is, we are all living our own lives, and have to divide our attentions in multiple directions. Friends don’t “just know” when I’m upset if I don’t say so. I’m very crafty at hiding when I feel sad inside because I want to be strong and get over it without outside assistance. But sometimes I DO need outside assistance, and a friend would never NOT want me to ask for that guidance.

I have a friend who is just a few years older than I am, and she said something to me about a month ago that really impressed me. It was something along these lines, and I really took it to heart: If people want to do things that aren’t in line with what I am doing or vice versa, and they don’t want to hang with me or want to move into other circles, they can feel free to do that. There is plenty of room for all of us to do what we want to do in life. I respect their choices to do whatever it is they are doing, and I have my choices. I’ll just keep doing my thing.

I was blown away by her confidence and self-assured attitude. I felt like, that is exactly how I want to be able to feel about my own life. I want to do my own thing and not worry what others think. But the more I consider the “not worry what others think,” I realize that I’ve always spent a lot of time projecting what others are thinking. For example, if I make a choice not in line with that of my other friends, they must think badly of me. Surely, they must. And I feel bad about that. BUT, in fact, there is no evidence to support that assertion. So here I am, feeling “judged,” when it’s very possible no one gave my differing choice a second thought.

In fact, the more I’ve thought about my various friends, in turning this over in my mind, they just aren’t the type to do that. More than likely, they just accept that “That’s just Barb,” when I make the choice that is different from what everyone else is doing. And I suspect they do it without judgment…or with very little. I say that because my friends have incredible character in this area. They are very accepting and loving. Rarely have I heard a judgmental word or any assertion that wasn’t given careful consideration. It comes with maturity. It’s friendship that isn’t about ego, but just about being happy with each other and for each other, and also helping in hard times because of course life isn’t all puppies and roses. I was able to see one of these friends today (unexpectedly – she is very busy and I didn’t think she’d be in), and our short time together was such a soothing elixir to my soul. This person is my wonderfriend.

In short, I’m very blessed. I have what it takes inside to continue to improve physically and emotionally. Turning my thoughts over on this blog really helps. I also have great friends with so many excellent qualities to learn from. How could I fail, really? I just need to press on and remain open. Love is all around.

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Love

The Answer to All Questions

I’ve fallen behind on reading my favorite blogs, and on a few other things. This week I’ve tried to get back into exercise, but it didn’t work out every day. Eating was good some days, but not so much on others. And now my husband’s mother is visiting, so that’s always a challenge food and exercisewise. Foodwise because she loves junk food and eating out; exercisewise because spending time with her takes time away from other things I’d usually be doing. I’ve struggled for months with motivation. I need to get out of bed earlier, and get going with my exercise first thing. Like I used to. This really does set the tone for a productive, successful day for me.

I find myself contemplating a lot these days. I think of the past, the now, and the future. Above all, I’m trying to live my life compassionately. Love family, children, friends. Be friendly and caring in my interactions. Be considerate of others. Try not to be selfish. Tend to others’ needs and concerns. I’m trying to get to a place where others’ actions stop bothering me. Where I really, truly realize that I’m just in charge of me. That I’ve only got control over me, and that’s a good thing. That just because I am trying to be a more compassionate person, does not mean everyone else is. Just because I think that forgiveness is important, does not mean others do or will. Just because I am a friend who tries to be there for others in their time of need, does not mean that others are the same. That the whole give and take thing, while rationally sound, is not necessarily true.

But it gets lonely sometimes. You think people would reach out more, but they don’t. But realistically, in my own case, that perception correlates to the fact that I often do reach out. I initiate a lot of interactions. So then I feel despondent when others don’t do the same. And when you feel especially low, you just don’t feel like telling someone, or asking them to hang out…and if you do and they say no, even the most reasonable excuse in the world seems shaky and like a rejection. You get irrational and think they just don’t like you anymore. Maybe you’re not as “fun” anymore. Maybe it’s because you’ve gained a few pounds or don’t smoke weed or don’t enjoy drinking and dancing the night away. They’ve simply gone off you. You’re not in their fun, secret club anymore.

Whatever.

To make yourself feel better, you tell yourself you’re better on your own, anyway. You’ll make your own secret club and everyone else can just screw off. Your secret club is Members Only. (Or Member Only, as it were.)

So, that is the desperate, downward spiral in a nutshell.

We have to feel good about ourselves as individuals in order to be happy…we have to make our own happiness. As much as we love others, we need to find the love inside ourselves, and let it light up our hearts and souls. I think a person who loves herself or himself is like a beacon. They attract others. It’s their energy. And much of this energy comes from the love they have inside, that they spread to others. It’s good and wholesome and contagious. That is the kind of energy I want coursing through my veins and spreading all throughout my being. I want to spread love and cheer.

I don’t want to care about the petty things or the little picture. I don’t want to whine or complain about those things. I want to expand. I want to grow my mind, my heart, my soul, my artistry, my intellect. Sometimes, when I am listening to music and in deep contemplation, I feel something like a quickening. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s as though something is transforming within me. I can feel it pulsing as I mentally search for answers to deep questions.

I felt such a deep sadness last night as I lay in bed thinking of my children and my life. Thinking of life as a process that could end at any time for me…not that I know where I would go next. I’m not a believer of heaven or hell. I am more inclined to believe in going to another level of sorts. But, anyway, I was thinking about my children and how they are already, at the tender ages of 9 and 11, growing away from me in certain ways. How I am trying to savor the closeness with them, but they are becoming independent and will one day leave the nest. And perhaps move far away. Perhaps I won’t see them often. Perhaps one day, they won’t want to spend time with Mom. It could be education, work, or family-related. Then it would be me and my husband. And suppose he died first? Suppose it would just be me all alone. I thought of the people at the rehab center living out their old age alone in little rooms eating over-processed foods and receiving cards from strangers at holidays (bless them!) but nothing from family. I thought of the disconnects. The why’s. And I felt bitterly sad over it all. And I felt I must live as fully and deeply as possible, and love everyone as fiercely as I could, because who knows how long it will last? One day love may be a scarcity. It may be a sympathetic glance from a stranger at Christmas time. It may be a Valentine’s Day cookie clumsily frosted and decorated by tender-hearted child. It may simply be a hand squeezing my shoulder when I can no longer see or hear. And so I must savor every last drop of love while I am able. I must give it, take it, and share it. And not lose faith in it, come what may.

Love is the answer to all questions.

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Love

The Cord that Binds

It is difficult for me to articulate exactly why I haven’t written on my blog in so long. There were many days that I said, I am going to blog. I have so much catching up to do. But then, it didn’t happen. And each time I felt the same disappointment in myself. I have a lot of responsibilities, and my blog has been shoved to the bottom of my list AGAIN, which I have preached against repeatedly.

So I’ve gained some of my lbs. back, and, once again…well, it seems this is going to be an annual thing…I have to plot how I am going to get back to where I was, when I was feeling really good and healthy, and just better as a person. Some months back, probably before Halloween, because that is when everything goes to hell in a handbasket for me, I would get up out of bed nice and early, put on my workout clothes and get outside immediately for morning exercise. As my favorite mix of songs began, positivity surged through me and set the tone for my workout. This was typically brisk walking with jogging intervals or a bike ride. I had difficulty adhering to my weights program, but I did it frequently enough that I felt leaner and stronger in the right areas. I spent a few minutes of my day meditating and found that it made a tremendous difference.

So what the hell happened?

Well, I’ve been going through some things. Number one, I just turned 40. I’ve felt more emotional. I’ve felt super fragile over the last few months…some of which may be related to hormones. I’ve felt myself wrapped so tightly so much of the time. Like an angry bobbin about to spin herself into flames. The tension has been so much at times that I’ve felt torn between screaming and crying. I’ve struggled in several personal relationships and have made mistakes. Some of the mistakes I’ve already made before, and then, I just feel like, what’s the use? I’m tired of chasing things, people, friendships, ideas, plans, projects. I get frustrated and feel rejected, and tell myself, that’s fine…it wasn’t me, anyway. That is what I tell myself when I want to feel better. That it just wasn’t a good fit. It’s a sort of self-soothe maneuver that works better than others I have tried in the past.

So earlier I was in the shower — I always take hot showers to relax and unwind — which is a funny term because I was about to say that I was imagining myself all bound up with cord. That is how I have been feeling…just strung so tightly. So I stood there and imagined these cords gradually loosening from around my body, and then as each one loosened, it floated up and away from me…and I realized those cords represented things I needed to just release…people/ideas/thoughts/things that just are no longer serving me in a way that is good or needed. And I think I was releasing them right then and there. There was some grief involved because it is hard to let go. It is so hard to change, even though I know it is for the better.

So, anyway, here I am. Unraveled. Open to new Realities. I feel good. Gratitude for all I have received in every area of my life. I’ve been so fortunate. I’ve been the type to think, “What more could I ask for?” for so long, though. The more I study the Law of Attraction and other metaphysical concepts, the more I realize, that sort of thinking may actually have held me back in some ways. So, while I’m not longing for some vast wealth situation (although I wouldn’t turn that down, LOL), I’m going to be meditating on what I *do* want as an entrepreneur. I’m going to create a vision board. I’m going to write a lot down. I have a class in a few weeks on licensure, taxes, law, etc. I’m really excited. I’ve wanted to do something for myself for so very long – something where I am the boss – where I am the one creating something. I’ve realized now that I want to create out of my kitchen. I’m good at what I do. I know a few key people. I know who I would want to market to…who would care about my product and benefit from it. There is no reason for me to believe I could be anything less than a success. And that is how I am going to think from here on out.

Tomorrow will be a day of cleansing, and I’ll crack open my Tosca Reno Clean Eating book. It always helps me to get back on track, and I’ll feel better after a few days of solid eating. I’m doing Pilates with another committed friend, and hopefully walking with my sister (we have been meeting at this great trail at the park). She walks really fast, just like me. We can book it and connect. I wish my older sister lived closer and could join us in the mornings because she, too, walks fast. It must be hereditary.

I’m still playing my cello, which I love. It’s a stress-reliever for me. I’m buying a guitar soon as well. Something small. I’ve learned that my favorite thing to do when I’m not wrapped up in all my other responsibilities is to play music. That currently might be singing, piano, viola, cello, or xylophone. Guitar will be such a nice addition.

That’s it for now. I’ll formulate an actual plan next time. But don’t worry. I’ll blog sooner in the future, and I feel so much better after writing (like I’ve had another release, but in a different way), that I know I’ll do really well over the next few days.

Gratitude to you all for reading my post.

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