Just Peachy

peachesIt is Palisade Peach time in Colorado. If you have never had one, you are missing out on one of life’s greatest treats. Rumor has it that they are better than Georgia peaches. Sorry GA.

Mother Nature graciously gifts us with this annual bounty of flavorful goodness, reminding us of life’s true sweetness. One bite of these babies puts bliss upon your tongue and will fill you up without longing for anything beyond. This is true sweet, not sugar, not chemical substitutes, not some lab-cooked corn laden concoction that gets you addicted with the first taste.

Our Dear Mother is telling us to reach for Her blessings of fruit when we need a pick-me-up from life. If you are having a bad day or a series of bad days, put down the soda, the alcohol or any other substance that will only give you a temporary lift and leave behind unseen damage. She’s not too happy about genetic modification either, natural fruit is always available even if it needs to be shipped from another country.

When you cut them open, most fruit has a visible seed. Although you might not have the climate to grow that type of fruit, a seed is available to continue with your own harvest. Mother Nature loves renewables. A seed is also a reminder to plant ideas. When you take time to savor a piece of fruit, the pleasure helps you to relax and you might get creative thoughts. Use those thoughts to plant your own seed so when it’s harvest time, it will be Just Peachy.

Pi-Lot-es

pilates-3799327_1920I love Pilates. Once you learn the movements, you can do Mat Work anywhere. Bedroom floor, back yard, hotel room. I consider that it saved my life.

I’m convinced that I developed bursitis in my hips from an often-prescribed medication. I won’t name it, in case Big Pharma starts poking into my life. Let’s just say most cardio docs want you to take it. I can’t prove that it happened, but it coincidentally occurred right after I began taking it. I stopped the prescription quite a few years ago. The constant pain in my muscles and joints was not worth the small risk of not taking it. I had to stop exercising because of the pain.

And then I discovered Pilates. The manager of fitness programs at our rec center suggested I try it. The teacher was phenomenal and taught the Classical version. When I began the lessons, it was hard work. I was still on the drug and didn’t have a lot of muscle strength. I still had pain. Some in-depth research made me stop the meds and within three months, everything changed. Sure, I adapted to the routine, but the biggest gain was no more pain.

I love Pilates.

It’s been eight years since I first laid down on a mat and stuck my legs in the air. (Yep, most movements are like that.) You will hear that Pilates is all about core strength. They are not kidding. I am often amazed how much I now have. Why core strength? You might think it’s all about the abs. That is part of it, but it is so much more. From your neck to your knees, everything is connected and has the most impact on your daily life. Getting up out of a chair takes core strength. Good balance requires core strength. Lifting your arms in the air requires strength in your shoulder girdle. Without it, you might become one of those rounded-shoulder, shuffling elderly that we too often see.

Going to a class is fun. Since you are laying down most of the time, you can’t really see what anyone else is doing so there isn’t much competition. However, it is really impressive when you see someone do the inversions so effortlessly. You can do it by yourself. You can do it with a friend. (Sounds dirty, but it’s not.) You can do it however often you want. I try to do a short routine every night before bed. It helps to “untwist” me, so to speak, from my day. You don’t get all sweaty and cardio so it doesn’t affect your sleep.

A whole lotta Pilates is really good for you in every which way. Anyone up for the “Hundred”?

I Wants It

barbecue-2098020_1920You remember Gollum from “Lord of the Rings”. An emaciated creature who craved an empowered gold ring. A craving so intense that nothing else mattered. I doubt that even a junkie would be that far gone.

Cravings are powerful. I’m sure you’ve experienced them in some form or another. Like OMG, nothing will do but you have to have a bag of chips before you die of starvation! Not likely, unless you are on “Naked and Afraid”, and even then they would rescue you before death.

If you are of average weight and maintain it, cravings are fairly normal. They typically signify unmet needs for fun, excitement or love. Basically, you are bored and food fills a hole. If you struggle with being overweight or are a chronic dieter, then food cravings and overeating signal unmet emotional needs. Overeating often springs from anxiety or depression. I am not a doctor, nor am I providing a diagnosis, but if you struggle with these issues please see a doctor or therapist. Life is too short, and you are missing out on too many good things so make your overall health a priority.

Real physical hunger comes on slowly and your stomach tells you it needs fuel. Emotional hunger swirls in your mind and triggers taste sensations in your mouth. Poor nutrition, blood sugar swings, alcohol and drugs mess with your brain chemicals – especially serotonin – and cause even more cravings. Give your body the proper fuel and in return, it will provide you with energy and feel-good chemicals so you want to get out and enjoy life. Good trade-off, I’m thinking.

Lately, I’ve noticed that I have been overeating. Nothing extreme, but I’m looking a little poochy. Ick. And not for anything in particular as that points to different needs, such as salty-crunchy for anxiety. So I decided I needed to look into my need for food.

Sometimes we overeat for simple reasons: obligation – someone brought cookies to work and you don’t want to hurt their feelings; not wasting – you ordered the food at a restaurant and don’t want to leave a full plate, although a doggie bag is always an option; taste – it’s damn good!; boredom – snacky foods give you something to do; true hunger – eat too fast and eat too much; tired – hoping it sparks energy. These are a few of the reasons we shovel in more than we need.

Well hmm, I think those are my reasons.

I’ve b*itched about my work plenty, but it is a long day from waking to coming home. I have plenty of responsibility that goes from all-out-balls-to-the-wall to sitting and waiting. Anyone that does accounting work understands those cycles. During the boring times, I eat. During the stressful times, I work through lunch, go home tired, eat to refuel and have a drink to unwind. The perfect combination to build tummy fat. Because of all that, I have set aside some activities that I would normally enjoy doing – like I don’t have the time and energy for them. I know, practice what you preach. Eating has become the new enjoyment. Therein lies the problem.

Using food as a replacement for getting your needs met is a bad idea, but instead of focusing on food as the enemy search for the root. Give yourself permission to have fun. Schedule some free time in your day, just for you, to do something you love. Practice self-care. Give your relationships some attention. Hug your friends. Get out in nature and soak up a little sun. Maybe do some energy work. The third chakra – Solar Plexus – is at the navel. It governs personal power, so it may be said that a little tummy fat protects your power. Maybe your personal boundaries need a little work. The second chakra – Sacral – is directly below and governs pleasure, emotions and addictions. A definite connection. If you sit at a desk all day, like me, then the two probably get squished into one muddled energetic glob.

Hmm. Addictions ending up in the stomach. Better get up and stretch, but not for another cookie.

I wants it. . .

 

A Happy Space

I’m taking a week off from work. I have a lot of vacation time built up and I want to use some of it up before I retire in January. Plus, it’s great to get away from the stressful hustle. I chose to be home-bound for the rest and relaxation, and it is a sigh of relief. We’re hosting a neighborhood gathering tomorrow evening, and having a party Saturday afternoon with some friends. There is always a lot of prep for events, but I have plenty of time for it.

IMG_20190614_181516011 (2)I have several of these weeks throughout the summer. I am using them as practice for retirement. I knew that I needed some time away and I anticipated that it would be enjoyable, but certainly not at the level I am experiencing.

I am discovering an absolute true feeling of contentment.

IMG_20190614_181523173 (1)There are books, and articles, and videos, and podcasts, and so on, that speak of being happy. Do this, don’t do that, the list is goes on. Much of it is true, but it all comes back to how you feel inside. It is different for everyone. Sometimes the happiness is fleeting or short-lived. Such as that which comes from a thing, place or person. We all want the kind that stays with us for ever and ever. But what does it really mean?

It is how you feel at any moment, where you experience peace, contentment and relaxation. Your blood pressure drops, respiration becomes slower and deeper, worrisome thoughts seem to drift away, your gaze softens, and your senses relax. When I sit outside and look at my flower garden this happens. The colors, the shapes, the sheer beauty of the flowers overwhelm me. I become less aware of street noise and more aware of the tiny bees that roam from flower to flower. The chirp of birds. Perhaps one lands to take drink from the bird bath. Butterflies floating about. Time passes by without a thought.

I can begin to appreciate that the stress and striving brought me to this. That work and effort is important, because it brings safety and security, and purpose in serving. But yet, we must never lose sight of the need to fulfill our own passions and the necessity of self-care. Whether you are working or not, good health or bad, have many responsibilities or not, taking a few moments to find your happy space are as necessary as breathing.

Your soul will hug you if you do.

Rainy Days and Mondays

rain-84648_1920“Always get me down.” (The Carpenters, 1971) It’s been raining a lot, for the middle of May. Yes, I know some of you have been getting snow and I certainly don’t envy that. We plan on setting up our little pool next weekend and I’m wondering if we might get frostbite. Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be stormy, just a dandy way to start the work week. Sigh.

The weather is always volatile this time of year. The planet is making its bi-annual tilt from winter to summer (or the opposite for the southern hemisphere). I realize the tilt is an ongoing shift, but the wild and wacky weather makes it seem as though it is happening within a month. I guess I could liken it to riding down the road, doing 70, in a convertible and without a hat. Mother Nature’s convertible is a little larger and she likes to get a little “showy” with the lightning strikes. Reminding us just who is in charge. I am always grateful to get through Spring without too much of a spanking.

IMG_20190519_132436966 (1)

The rain is certainly good for the garden. I’ve discovered that I really like growing flowers. Their beauty, of course, and just the riotous colors, shapes and sizes. With each bud, a surprise lies inside and you must wait patiently for it to reveal itself to you.

IMG_20190519_132612255 (1)We added to the perennial collection this weekend. A few things didn’t make it through the winter so they needed to be replaced. We also have a dead zone towards the front so instead of trying to suffer through another round, we put in some blocks and raised the bed. Naturally, it had to be filled immediately. I found this bright, candy red, small rosebush that called to me. I haven’t grown roses in, oh probably 15 years. I guessed that little bush was what I needed. The pots and the planters always get annuals and I change them up year-to-year. I could not resist the very fascinating fuschias even though the location might be a bit sunny for them.IMG_20190519_132640740 (1)

I am always excited when the buds appear. Flowers mean I made it through the winter and hot days are ahead. I love the laziness of a hot summer day. I love floating in our little pool. Dinner outside. Cocktails with friends. It’s sort of like recovery after a surgery. It just makes me feel good.

Thank you, Mother Nature, for giving us the rain so that I can appreciate the sun.

Easter-ly

easter-celebration-4006113_1920Brightly painted eggs. Floppy-eared bunnies. Elaborate hats. And the historical and religious significance of Jesus Christ rising from the dead.

The Northern Hemisphere has begun its rising from the dead of winter. The planet is slowly angling itself towards the sun and warming the Earth’s crust. Brilliant yellow daffodils, multiple colors of tulips and tiny purple hyacinths have poked their heads through the melting frost and announcing that warm weather is on its way.

The turning of the Earth shakes up the sky and brings with it spring storms. Rain, snow, sleet, hail, tornadoes can all appear within the space of a single day, oftentimes leaving behind some level of destruction in their wake. Spring is symbolic of renewing the dead, just as Christ rising from the dead is symbolic of our rebirth.

The cycle of life is a miraculous one, be it a single tiny flower or a human. All things must live and die, and as I truly believe, are reborn again. The Creator loves beauty and growth and experiencing everything so why not with our spirit also? We have only to look at a tiny purple hyacinth to appreciate, study and understand that this is the course of life. To move in an “Easter-ly” direction of rebirth.

What would you do-over if you had the choice? What new flower would you grow from your stem? Would it be a tiny purple hyacinth only showing its face in the spring? A long season of blooming? Or a stately oak tree lasting a lifetime? We have choices each day of our life so why not for many lives?

Whatever that may be, know that the Creator formed you out of love simply for you to experience that love. Be kind to each other and know that whatever choices someone makes is for their growth and learning even if you don’t agree.

For each of us moves in our own “Easter-ly” direction.

A Whiter Shade of Gray

senior-3336451_1920In the last several years, there has been growing popularity in older women and men being chic, fascinating and featured in magazines. Well, why not? Older people have this “been there, done that” attitude and are going to continue doing what they want. Old does not mean slow, stupid or even about to die.

Our bodies are aging, each and every day. We know that. Yes, our brains do too, but that does not equate to being senile. We have a wealth of experiential knowledge that helps us to make quick and powerful decisions. We are no longer burdened by the “image” society has picked for us. We can sky-dive if it so pleases us. We can get married when we are in our 90s. If we want to wear florals, stripes and sequins all in the same outfit, so be it. “Insta-Grannies” are all the rage now. I won’t list them, because by now you will have seen, read or are following most of them.

Is this a fad that will slowly fade away as many of these icons pass on? A fad is something that gets worn out and loses its appeal. If we are all aging, then we are all fads. So why not be so individually cool that you never outlive your time?

active-cyclist-elderly-264073What these ultra-cool elders are really showing us is that you must keep going and growing in order to live your best life. Having your 60th birthday, or whatever age you deem to be old, is not an automatic indicator that you must now move to an assisted-living facility and wear Velcro shoes. A continually stimulated brain will spur you into stimulating your body. Walk, dance, climb, hike, swim, sky-dive, whatever challenges you want to place upon your body – just go for it. Be safe; just because you can do it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care for your body. Our muscles don’t recover as quickly as they used to, and our bones aren’t as strong as they used to be either.

barca-473854_1920Are you a widower and think that because your spouse of 50 years is gone, you should just sit alone in your tiny new apartment? Au contraire, my friend. Loneliness will kill you faster than your one martini with dinner. Why not a companion to share that martini with? There is no social demand that you be married. Living in sin, if you call it that, is far more fun than withering away by yourself.

Many seniors become entrepreneurs. Done with the working-for-someone-else world, many active adults start new businesses built upon hobbies or passions. We have a lifetime of skills and workplace savvy to make it lucrative.

How about a little Botox, sculpting, or other cosmetic enhancements? False eyelashes and eyeliner aren’t just for the 20-something set. Whatever you choose to make yourself look and feel better should be just to make yourself feel better, and not about what anyone else says.

old-2742052_1920Growing older isn’t an easy thing. The changes in your body can be very frustrating. The lapses in memory are annoying. Don’t let them overwhelm you. Be kind and loving to yourself. Use them as opportunities to slow down and savor the moments of each day. You now have time to do all the fun things you put off while you were working and raising children.

You might even have time to go sky-diving with your grandkids while wearing your new purple-sequinned jumpsuit.

A-Dior-able

images[5]On February 12, 1947, Christian Dior launched the “New Look” collection from his Paris couture house. The world was recovering from World War II, and its austere, masculine clothing. The New Look returned the feminine silhouette with a full bustline, tiny waist and curvy hips. I believe that it reminded the world that the feminine, nurturing energy was returning. It was criticized as being a wasteful luxury when times were still lean. Thus is the power of the feminine energy, to create, to nurture, to honor the need to pamper our souls.

Today, my Sweetie and I attended the Dior exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. The show is in its final tour, ending on March 17th. The exhibit included dozens of beautiful gowns and suits, beginning with the classic “Bar Suit” categorized by a creamy fitted jacket and a black, calf-length full skirt. Think Lucille Ball in her heyday. From the simple suit to fabulous gowns of detailed embroidery and gems, lean silhouettes to curvaceous sweeps, all stunning in this gorgeous collection.

 

I, myself, enjoyed the blatant outrageousness of John Galliano. Highly satirical, if you studied the garments closely. One fabulous gown, that I failed to take of photo of, (God knows why not), which I dubbed “Queen in Bondage”. Bejeweled red satin, the bodice was a tightly fitted corset style with the seeming intent to expose the breasts, although there was a bit a fabric tucked in to keep it decent. Or so I assume. The skirt flared out from the knees, mermaid style, looking almost impossible to move in. The entire garment was capped by an innocuous-appearing crown. Luxurious, over-the-top, this gown defined Galliano’s evil genius. Too bad he couldn’t limit his antics to design instead of running off at the mouth.

IMG_20190303_115107239 (1)Like all art, fashion is beauty in the eyes of the beholder. For women in general, it is the living expression of our soul. You can wake up in the morning ready to deal with what is likely going to be a sh*tty day, and instead, choose to arm yourself with a great outfit. Fake it ‘til you make it, or so they say. Dressing in your favorite outfit, because you know you look fabulous in it, will change the day into something great. And I hate to disappoint you guys, but women don’t usually dress for men unless they are hunting for a husband or boyfriend. As designer Betsey Johnson said “if girls dressed for boys they’d just walk around naked at all times”. Just notice when you are in a public place, most of the women are looking at each other and often commenting about shoes and handbags.

Why? Because we are just f-ing adorable.

Love Is All Around Us

hug-2702900_1280Tomorrow, February 14th, is Valentine’s Day, another retail gold mine involving chocolates, roses, teddy bears, more chocolate and occasionally something sparkly.  A time when we declare our love for someone through gifting.  Nothing wrong with that, gifting is always about expressing our love and appreciation with material items.  A gift, like our love, is with the intent of lasting value.

But for many people, tomorrow is Thursday, just another Thursday in a long list of Thursdays.  That is not meant to be sad, either, some people just don’t care about V-Day.  Some people don’t have a romantic partner and don’t care about that either.  But for those that don’t have one and do care, tomorrow can be a difficult reminder of the single state.  It is during those times, that one must remember that love can come in many forms and from many places.

We were created out of love and joy, not just from our birth parents, but from the Creator.  No matter your upbringing, environment, personal characteristics or anything about you, you are loved and you are lovable.

Have you ever reached down to pet a puppy?  Unconditional love and joy bounces up and licks your fingers.  Or waved at a baby in a stroller in the grocery store.  Their little eyes focus on you, sparkling a little as the hint of a grin curves their lips.  A hug from a friend you haven’t seen in a long while.  I could keep going with a list of every molecule of love that surrounds you, but I don’t have that much time to write and the file would be too big to upload.  That’s a lot of LOVE!

But the biggest love of all, is the love you feel for yourself.  When you love yourself, accepting all your warts and faults and farts, you will never do without love in your life.  You are lovable so there is no way you can’t not love yourself.  Got that?

Love is not just all around you, it is eternally within you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Oink

pig-3914574_1280Pigs make oinking noises, along with squeaks and grunts as their form of communication.  Pigs are social creatures, intelligent and contrary to popular belief, like to be clean.  Apparently, all that lolling in the mud is a way to keep cool.

In the Chinese zodiac, the pig is a sign of wealth.  We have just entered into the year of the Earth Pig, leaving behind those yapping, territorial Dogs.  It is time to lick our wounds and snuggle up to the oh-so-social Pig.  And it’s no wonder we started the year with a clean-it-up frenzy, Piggies like clean spaces, which makes inviting their friends over a true joy.  Party carefully with the playful Pig, they are known to overindulge.

Work hard, play hard motivates the Pig, but they often have trouble setting clear goals.  You will want the Pig on your team, because their bright spirit enthuses those around them.  Help your Pig friend or partner to make a good financial plan lest they spend all their hard-earned cash.

The Year of the Earth Pig promises to be pleasant and congenial, and oh boy, we could sure use some “friending” after being nipped on our butts by the Dogs.  Take some time to rest and reconnect with your besties, and not just electronically.  This Pig likes to touch.