Living in an Atmosphere of Growth

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If I had to describe my journey in two parts I would say the first part was the physical recovery and the second was mental recovery. That’s lumping a lot of areas together, but in the end that is what I was doing. One thing truly did lead to another. I would begin a course, or hear a talk on subject I was interested in and it would inevitably send me off in another direction of personal growth. Gretchen Rubin calls this “living in an atmosphere of growth.” It would have been nice had I decided to one day just start working on all these areas in my life instead of having something so devastating happen to me, but that is not my story. And I think it’s true for many people. Unfortunately it usually takes some horrific event to awaken us to how we should or could be living. To people I’m meeting for the first time, I can seem extreme. This is partially my Upholder personality, which has always been there, it was just focused on other things instead of growth. Like I’ve said in earlier posts, I live this way because it was a WAY OUT of how I was feeling. And I never want to feel that way again. So when someone says to me “don’t you miss cookies” , the answer is always no. My “why” is crystal clear and keeps me moving forward.

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I say all this because the next step in my wellness journey was a class I stumbled upon given by Elisha Goldstein. It was an online Mindful Living Course that I did over four or five days. I’m going to share some of my revelations I unearthed while taking this class. You can find out more about Elisha here. https://elishagoldstein.com/

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Did you know our brains are wired to survive, not to be happy? Our brain fears the unknown so when we try to make changes our brains start to object. It’s a survival instinct. When we relax, we calm the nervous system. This jumped out at me because if there was anything I needed to do it was to relax my nervous system! According to Elisha, the benefits of relaxation are the following:

Less Worry
Slows Heart Rate
Boosts Memory
Better Decision Making
Less Stress Eating
Protects Mental Health
Protects Your Brain

All super important. Why would I not want all of those benefits? Sign me up! One of tips he suggests, which I have used in my own life are recognizing when you tense up. What people or time of day does this happen? When it happens, we should breathe and stretch to relax. On my Insight Time app, there are many 1 minute meditations for exactly this purpose. If you are bracing you need an antidote!

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Another tip was to practice single tasking. I’ve posted before about the fact that there is no such thing as multi-tasking, you are just doing two or more tasks more poorly than you would have doing one at a time. The biggest change in single tasking for me came with my walks. A couple times a week, I walk at our local nature preserve. I’m so fortunate to have this beautiful piece of nature in my neighborhood. When I walk, I do nothing else. I don’t listen to anything. No audio books, no podcasts, no music. I love all three of those things, but my focus is on the world around me. I do some GREAT thinking during these walks. Decisions get made because my brain can relax and wander. My decision to write a book, start a blog, take a part time job all came out of these walks.

This week think if you find yourself “bracing” and what you can do when that happens. Try relaxing by breathing, meditating or stretching. Also, try single-tasking. See if it makes a difference. It did for me! I can’t wait to hear your comments! Thanks for being here!


The Wholeness of Time

Day 17/18

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Everything is designed for wholeness. Especially in nature. Deepak says “not to measure your life in bits and pieces. The true nature of yourself is the wholeness of the universe.” Maybe that’s a little woo-woo for you. I believe we are all part of something bigger which in turn makes us feel whole. For me I feel this way clearly when I’m meditating and secondly, when I’m in nature.

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Being in nature is a very new thing for me. I’ve never, ever been outdoorsy. I’ve only camped a handful of times most of which were with the Girl Scouts when I was very young and then once in my twenties. It was not my favorite thing to do. I didn’t enjoy the bugs, the dirt or the discomfort of being outside. I was a city girl. Raised in the city of Pittsburgh until I was 11 then moved to Southern California and from there to Northern Virginia just outside DC. The only thing I did outside was go to the beach. Which I loved but not for the reasons I love being in nature now.

Many studies show the health gains for those in contact with nature. Read more about the studies here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180706102842.htm Which then made me take it more seriously. Later it became part of my goals, vision board and 18 for 18 which I will explain later!! But I can see in my notes from this meditation experience I wrote “I feel whole when at a national park – do more often”. That was the beginning. My first thoughts of getting out in nature with purpose. Which I do regularly now and LOVE! I will have a lot to say on the subject when I talk about my vision board for 2018. But for now, I’ll say that I appreciate being outside more than I ever have before in my life. I feel like I’ve uncovered some sort of secret world in the parks I’ve been visiting! Of course, there is an entire community of people in on this world of nature. I’m just a newbie. I feel like a little kid taking pictures of all the creatures and beauty around me. I notice everything now. I’m being mindful.

How about you? Where do you feel most whole? Try the following:

List experiences that make you feel whole and present. This could be while meditating, hiking, yoga, etc.

Take a look at your list and pick one or two things to bring into your life more often.

Your overall happiness will increase when you begin to start seeing yourself as part of the wholeness of the universe.

Can’t wait to hear your feedback! Please comment below! Thanks for being here!


Get Outside

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Needless to say, I was not getting outside much during this time in my life.  Taking a walk was out of the question.  Even sitting in particular chairs was a problem. I tried to sit out on my patio as much as I could, but where I lived that is not a year round activity.  Everything had stopped.  I wasn’t able to attend my children’s activities and events for a long while and I was rarely doing anything social with friends or even family.  By the time I got to my Happiness Project, I had read enough to know that managing stress was key to good mental and physical health.  So, my next monthly resolution would be Get Outside.  This would include being in nature and actual people!  Did you know that social interaction is a HUGE boost to your longevity?  Being disconnected from community is worse for your health than smoking or obesity.  It’s a killer in it’s own right.  No wonder I was feeling so awful.  I was spending a ton of time alone.  Doctor visits and seeing my family was the extend of my social time. Up until I started my exercise classes.  Those classes were the beginning and I will talk more about that later.  To read more about how being outside and social interaction affects our health click here: https://www.businessinsider.com/why-spending-more-time-outside-is-healthy-2017-7. The second month of my Happiness Project looked like this:

This Month’s Resolution:  Get Outside

My Quotation: “Be Active, Be Healthy, Be Happy”

Daily/Weekly Actions:

Plan Bird Walk

Be a Local Tourist

Attend First Friday

Find Nature Events

Say Yes

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Birding was an activity that I discovered when moving to the east coast from California. I was suddenly seeing birds I’d never seen before which got me interested in bird watching. Since we’ve moved here I’ve always had multiple feeders and bird baths. I would take guided bird walks in local parks to see more and different birds. I decided that I wanted to get back to these walks for a couple of reasons. One, I enjoyed them so much when I was doing them, all the different birds, having a guide to help you find said birds and the com-moratory of the group. Second, it would be an opportunity to be in nature. I have to admit I’m still working on this one. I was hesitating for a long time for a couple of reasons. One, the walking, which I have control of now. And two, the concern about looking up for two hours and the affect on my neck. This sounds like an ABCDE moment. I actually feel like this is doable this year!

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Being a local tourist is something I’ve ALWAYS loved to do. And living in near the nation’s capital allows me access to SO many activities and things to do. This was an easy one. I’m a planner by nature. I’d just do what I had always done. Look for local events and attractions and go!

Attend my local area’s First Friday event was something I always had penciled in on my calendar but didn’t go.  I was fearful of all the walking and what it would do to my back.  But I needed to start getting out there, so I did it.  My husband and I attended a First Friday event where we visited local galleries, had a light dinner outside, listened to live music and just chatted as we roamed the streets. It was wonderful. A nice, normal evening. Yes, my back and neck flared up some, but it was worth it and I was exposing myself slowly to allowing my brain to realize this was going to be the new normal.

Being in nature was never a priority for me before. Ever. I wasn’t a camper, hiker, or sporty or outdoorsy in any way. But now I realized the power of nature and being outside on my mental health along with the physical, so on the list it went. When I say “Find Nature Events”, that meant anything that took place outside. I went to local fairs and festivals, plant sales, anything I could find that took place outdoors.

Did you ever say no to an invitation without any real reason to? I did this all the time. I am lucky enough to have many friends in this great community I live in and over the years I am positive I said no more than yes to invitations that came my way. Not to say I wasn’t social, but I could have been doing SO MUCH MORE. So, this was a big one, and one that made an impact on my life. I started saying yes to every invitation. I also became that person who actually nails down a day and time when ideas of getting together were floated about. You know how it goes. You are chatting with friends and someone says “we should do that sometime!” or “we should all go to ..fill in the place!” It all sounds great, and then nothing happens. I became the person who would immediately send a text or an email to get the “thing” organized so it would happen. So, with combination of saying yes to what was coming in with being the organizer of the ideas, I suddenly I had a full social life again. And it was GREAT. Saying yes is still an affirmation I use in meditation sometimes. It’s easy for me to slip into “I don’t feel like it.” Even when I’ve made plans with someone and then don’t feel like going, I remember my reasons (my why) and force myself to go. And guess what? I never regret it. It’s always so energizing to be social. I’m learning a lot of these lessons later in life, well, mid-life, but I thank God I’m learning them at all. Life can be so much better.

Would you like to get outside more often?  Try the finding local events (a lot of which are free), go for a walk in nature at a local park, and SAY YES to those invites you get!

Thanks for being here!