Ever Evolving

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Aging. There is a reason why it is a verb and not a noun. Or a journey rather than a destination. Some days I just blaze through them when I am focused on a task and not even notice that the time has passed.

Other days, I look in the mirror and think: WTF what is going on here?

Lately, I’m a bit obsessed with my wardrobe. I’ve always been a fashionista, with a tendency to make a statement with my clothing. I like edgy with leather moto jackets and studded boots. I like bohemian with flowy prints. I like color, texture and patterns. No one that knows me would call me beige.

What comes with aging, that is so mind-boggling, is the constant state of body change. All you women out there who have gone through menopause, know exactly what I’m talking about. There are a gazillion blog posts written on this very subject. Lots of WTF moments.

Change is inevitable, but I think it is difficult to accept what happens to your body. Your boobs get bigger and they droop. Your ass gets bigger and droops. And then there is this round thing that shows up around your waist like a Monday morning donut. WTF. It is not an easy task to get them corralled and back in shape.

A diet shouldn’t be a diet, but a lifestyle. Learn to love vegetables. Eat hormone free meat. Seriously? If it makes an animal get bigger, what do you think happens to you? Practice intermittent fasting, if nothing but to eliminate the digesting grumbles in the middle of the night. Take supplements because, yes, they really do work. Drink water with a chunk of lemon in it. It makes you pee, but you’ll notice the puffiness goes away.

Exercise. Walk. Take the stairs. Do weight-bearing repetitions several times a week. Even if it doesn’t do much for your shape, your bones and joints will love you. Having muscles will help you get out of bed in the morning, instead of just rolling over and hoping you don’t end up on the floor. Our muscles get weaker as we age, so you can counteract that by lifting weights.

Take care of your hair and skin. Nothing ages you faster than looking like you don’t give a sh*t. Gray hair looks awesome when it is well-cared for. Spending money on good hair products is worth it. Same thing with your skin. If you live in a dry climate, like I do, moisturizers are a must unless you like itching your way through winter. Coconut oil works quite well.

Keep up with your teeth. Brush, floss, see your dentist. Healthy teeth keep you healthier.

Breathe. Meditate. Get out in nature.

It will make it a lot easier to go back into your closet and throw out all the things you bought last year that no longer fit.

The Winners of the World

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Image by AxxLC from Pixabay

It is Sunday, which means football, which means that – once again – I am writing a football inspired article. Why? Well, I like watching the sport, but there is just so much inspiration to be found in such a hard-driven game.

There are, of course, winners and losers in each game and each season. There has to be; that’s why it is a competitive game. No one would watch otherwise.

What makes a Loser? And why would I start with that? Because it is too easy to talk about a Winner. A Loser can happen for various reasons. Not feeling good enough comes to mind first. A Winner can feel that way too, and so pushes themselves that much harder. That isn’t so bad, unless the endless quest pushes you into a nervous breakdown or serious injury. You can have an off day or feel ill, which could make you a Loser for that day. That could make you a Winner if you realize that sometimes you need to rest and recover instead of pushing yourself harder.

You could have a bad rapport with your mentor or coach, so you make a bad decision based upon bad direction. If you can adapt or resolve the situation, you become a Winner. Sometimes choosing to leave the situation altogether can be winning.

A true Winner knows how to change their circumstances through the power of choice. A Loser believes they have no choice. Not choosing at all is still a choice. Even if you are part of a team, and your team is experiencing a loss, you still have a choice to be a Winner. You played your best; you did your best work; you did something that made you feel good about yourself – makes you a Winner.

So get out there and kick some a$s, even if it is just your own.

Festi-fall

IMG_0687Every now and then, my fashionista side says “let’s go play fashion shoot” and off we go to some interesting locale to get my vogue on.

September is nearly at its end, and the leaves are changing colors and floating to the earth. These last few days of warm weather herald a flurry of festivals; whether it is an outdoor concert or a romp through a pumpkin patch. Or for many, a chance to suck down a few gallons of beer at an Oktoberfest.

The beautiful colors of fall had me pulling on some festival worthy garments, such as this gorgeously embroidery tunic from Johnny Was, aptly named “Festival Tunic”. The pants are from Sundance and the 4-inch platform sandals are by Schutz. Although I wouldn’t recommend sauntering through a pumpkin patch in them. The happy hippy hat is from some shop in Estes Park.

IMG_0674Fall is such a lovely season. I think Mother Nature gives us all Her glory as a present before the frigid days of winter. Something to stick in our mind as we hunker down and nurture ourselves while She rebuilds herself for another season. And so should we. Getting out there in all my glory helps to remind me that whatever is hiding beneath those layers of clothes, like it or not, it is me and I can rebuild myself with all the intent and care as Mother Nature. Sometimes She, too, doesn’t look Her best, but with faith and knowingness comes another season to get Her festi-fall on.

And so will I.

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Do Forward

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Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

You’ve heard the term “do over”. Typically it is combined with a lasting feeling of regret. Why would you beat yourself up if you did the best you could, with what you had, at the time you did it?

Whenever we have some goal we want to accomplish, or a continual way of doing something, we study, learn and practice with the intent to become better. Sometimes our goals include a competitive event or testing of some sort to determine our proficiency. And then the self-judgement sets in and we wish for a “do over”.

Why not look at it from a different perspective and consider it a “do forward”? Ditch the regrets, the shame, the sadness, even the anger and focus forward instead of backwards. Looking back keeps you stuck backwards. How can you envision your future if your gaze is on what you should have done? See each new moment as a brand new opportunity to stretch, to grow, to reach beyond what you though you could do. Why would you want to do over if you could do different?

Think about the movie “Ground Hog Day”, in which the character woke up over and over to the same day. Sure, it may have been an opportunity to do something different, but it was THE SAME DAY. The environment was never different and neither were the people. So by doing over, you never get the chance to experience something new.

Maybe the day you had your competitive event was crappy weather. Would you want a do over in that? No, you’d rather have better weather. Maybe you had a mild cold the day you took your test. Would you want a do over with a runny nose, or would you rather have good health?

By doing forward, you open yourself to new possibilities, a new environment, and the ability to bring a new you to your event. Imagine what you could do.

Mediation Meditation

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Yes, you read that correctly. So let’s take a look at the meaning.

Mediation uses a third party to resolve a dispute. Meditation helps you access your subconscious for insight, relaxation and ideas. For this purpose, consider that your conscious mind and body are in dispute about something you would like to accomplish. Your subconscious is the neutral party, because it holds all the skills, brilliant ideas, memories, knowledge and most of all, the neurological wiring to make sh*t happen. This part of your brain can tell your conscious mind and body that they can do this thing, whatever it is.

Let’s say you want to want to improve your golf score. Now, I know nothing about golf so if I don’t explain this correctly, forgive me and make your own mental correction. Every time you tee off, the ball sails off to the right. You’ve changed your stance, your grip and even your – ahem – balls and the damn thing continues to make a perfect arc. (There IS perfection in something.) So why not try meditation to improve your skills?

Find some time and a space where you can sit quietly for a few minutes. No phone, no music, just you and your thoughts. Close your eyes and begin to breathe slowly in and out. Feel the tension of your day slowly draining down from your head all the way through your body and out your feet. You will know that you have begun to relax when random thoughts start scrolling through your head. Don’t worry about them; most people think your mind should be clear. Not necessarily true, just don’t fixate on any particular one of them. Keep breathing until you don’t notice any of your surroundings, and your focus is somewhere in your forehead. This is when you can begin to access your subconscious.

Now visualize yourself setting up to tee off. Ask your subconscious how to make the ball go straight. See yourself making the swing and the ball going straight down the fairway. Now say to yourself “my mind and body hit the ball where I want it to go”. Repeat this several times so you train your brain to instruct your body what to do. Make this a practice and watch how your golf game changes. Who knows, you might even make Tiger a little worried.

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

You Want to be a Football Hero

quarterback-4363871_1920Football season is upon us and players are vying for first round position. All guts, no glory, as they say and you see many a young quarterback launching the ball for all it’s worth and hoping for the game-winning touchdown. Careers are set or lost on a weekly basis.

What if you had to live your life like the NFL? Sixteen chances to win and move on to the Super Bowl. A moment of glory to be immortalized in a statue and documented permanently. At least it gives former players something to do each week.

It may sound as though I am demeaning football. Not at all, I’m glued to the television each week to see what the Broncos are going to do. I cheer, cuss and throw popcorn at the screen trying to make my own touchdown. And usually not all that successful either. I confess to not knowing a whole lot about the game, but I just love the passion and athleticism. I can tell who is having a bad day and who is focused upon winning.

Winning isn’t everything. I’ve heard that saying too. Oh, but it is! It’s all in the personal view of what it means and the level to which it is taken. The Super Bowl is a huge deal, but so is threading a sewing needle when you can’t see for sh*t. Like me. Writing a page a day for a book is just as important as busting the ribbon when you cross the finish line. Winning at life is another saying, but who really knows what that means?

Our journey here is to grow our spirit, in order to grow Spirit, and experience giving and receiving love. Sounds rather simple, but everyone’s journey is complicated. If you compare it to a single football season, you aren’t totally sure of what you are going to get. You might know ahead of time which teams you are going to play and who is on the roster, but then it is a guessing game. Any single one of the players could be having a bad day due to illness or minor injury, and you know they usually play through most of that. That little bit could throw off the rhythm of the team. Just like at your workplace when the go-to person is out sick. It could also be later in the season and some of the players are sidelined with a more serious injury. Think about that if you are older and had made life plans of traveling or some such and your partner has become permanently disabled. You now have to re-strategize your game plan. Maybe your partner is okay with you traveling with a family member or best friend, while they stay home and enjoy their poker league. Just like in football it is all a matter of attitude and adjustment.

So you can still be a football hero.

Breaking It

keyboard-393838_1920I’ve taken a short break from blogging. It wasn’t intentional, just too many things going on that kept me out of creative thinking. I don’t lament the time lost, because sometimes circumstances work in our favor to give us a break.

Taking a break from anything can be healthy. If it is physical exercise, you give your body a chance to rest and recover. If it is mental activity, such as studying or work logic, you give your brain a chance to reset and balance. Taking a creative break does the same thing from the opposite side.

A break is a temporary, short-time-frame rest. A long-term break may be a sign of something bigger like burnout. Lacking desire or interest in something could be that it truly is no longer relevant in your life, however, if the lack of desire or interest is widespread it can be a sign of depression.

Depression is a treatable disease. There are many resources and methods that are readily available. Don’t allow this to overcome your life when there is help.

A break can be as simple as a short nap. Taking a walk is a nice break when you have been sitting awhile. Reading a book, listening to music, playing with a pet or child, fixing a cup of tea or coffee, having a healthy snack and especially meditation are various forms of relaxation. The important thing is to do the opposite of what you have been doing.

Just don’t break anything.

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. . .

 

It’s Five O’clock Somewhere

IMG_20190505_132400079 (1)Alcoholism is a serious and debilitating disease that engulfs the mind, body and spirit. It can contribute to any number of health issues and can result in death. From my research, alcoholism can be a coping mechanism for deep, personal issues. It is a sad waste of a beautiful human life.

There is no doubt that drinking alcohol can be fun. A summer afternoon, an evening cocktail party, wine pairings, all are fun gatherings with friends. A cold beer after yard work. A “topping off” after the completion of a project. All reasons to offer a toast. But anything in excess is unhealthy for your well-being.

When you are super stressed, it is easy to reach for a cocktail to numb your nervous system. It may be helpful for the moment, but you’ll wake up in the middle of the night just as restless and edgy as you started. Instead take a walk, or engage in some other mild form of exercise. Meditate. Read a book. Work a puzzle. The idea behind stress relief is to focus your thoughts on something that relaxes you, which will help you do actions that relax your body.

Treat alcohol as a treat, and just because it’s five o-clock somewhere doesn’t mean it needs to be five o’clock every night.