Spiritual Friendships

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Day 5

The last day of my Meditation Workshop was all about relationships. Specifically friendships and romantic relationships. Similarly to building your tribe, but more focused on actually pursuing the relationships and friendships you want in your life.

Because of this idea, I notice I’m always “on alert” when meeting new people. I’m looking for signs that we have similarities. It could be social justice or mindfulness or any one of many things. I recently met a woman at work who I connected with INSTANTLY. And not because I knew so much about her, but she matched my energy. Which is rare. I feel like I have a ton of energy, I talk a lot and I’m a doer. So, when I find someone who speaks animatedly like I do, I’m like a moth to a flame! And after talking for only a few minutes, we were exchanging contact information. I don’t see her often, but when I do, we greet each other with hugs and begin talking so much we lose track of what else is going on around us. THIS is a spiritual friendship. Just one example of one though. Another lightening bolt friendship happened while I was attending an event for an organization I volunteer with when I got to talking to a woman I’ve only talked to in passing once or twice. Again, she matched my energy immediately, but this time it turns out we are incredibly alike. Maybe more alike than any other friend I’ve made in many, many years. We became good friends shortly after! These are the people to surround yourself with. I’m aware that I cannot and should not be pushy. Friendships either happen or they don’t, but engaging is key. You will not curate your tribe if you don’t get out there and meet people and then talk to them, with meaning. So, what I do now, that I NEVER would have done before, is start to invite these people I’ve met to get together as soon as I see or hear of something I know they would be interested in. Or just lunch, as soon as possible! I can’t tell you how rewarding this is. These kinds of friendships are SO DIFFERENT from the friends you make because you both have kids on the same sports team or in the same classroom. Maybe that’s all you have in common! The question to ask yourself is “Who do I want to bring into my life as a friend who shares similar values?” Life changing.

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I’m not expert on romance or intimacy but there were a few nuggets to take here. The idea is that most couples feel disconnected in some way and they want to be closer. We are connected but separate. If you want more connection you have to act that way. There’s a revelation! Yes, this is something Gretchen Rubin says about with happiness or confidence, etc. She says “Act the way you want to feel.” By the way, this REALLY works. If you haven’t tried it, I say give it a go. It’s kind of like fake it til you make it. Eventually, you will truly catch up to feel like what you were doing to “fake it.” A couple of other takeaways I found helpful were the following.

Precision – Pay attention to the other person. Have good manners. Be thoughtful and honest.

Openness – Equal importance is given to you and the other person.

Romance – Romance ends. But you can increase intimacy. It has no end.

I have to say these are ALL works in progress for me. I’ve been married to a great guy for 24 years and in that time I may have lapsed on a couple of these to say the least. I also think just that fact that our kids are older now and we can start spending some time away together resolves a lot of these issues. We can now plan a hike or movie without thinking about who am I driving where today. Because they all drive themselves! My life is not their life anymore. In some ways, that makes me want to cry! On the other hand, life is changing and our relationship is changing too. And that’s a good thing.

Have you built spiritual friendships? Are you wanting to connect in your romantic relationships? Try the following;

Seek out friendships with people with similar values, who enjoy the things you enjoy and align yourself with those people.

Take the initiative to meet up with these new friends. Don’t wait!

In your romantic relationships, try paying attention to the other person, being honest and thoughtful.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for being here!


True Self

Day 1/2

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I began my fourth Meditation Experience in July of 2019. This was my forth go around and was excited to get started. This time the focus was on relationships. I needed to work in some of these area more than others. And to be clear, relationships were an area that needed some work for sure.

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Deepak says “We are not our feelings. Our true selves are always fully awake”. I’ve heard this before explained as “we are not our thoughts.” Being authentic has been a focus for me ever since I started learning from Brene Brown, Deepak Chopra and Gretchen Rubin. How much time did I waste not being authentic? And surrounding myself with those who I truly had no connection with and not really enjoying the things that I loved and made me happy?

There was a time when I would meet someone new and I would hear myself edit my conversation as I’m speaking! Maybe not tell the entirety of my story. And for what? What does not being authentic do for me? I think I’m meeting someone new, I’m looking for that bond or I’m thinking this could be a new friendship so don’t scare them away! Ha! When I stopped doing that, suddenly I had the best friendships I’d had in a long time. The right people just fell into my life. If I fall in that trap I stop and correct it, being my true self instead. There are places where I’m ALWAYS my true self. With my family, when writing, at yoga, and with my new friends. And it goes hand in hand with feeling my best.

Do you feel like you are your authentic self when meeting new people? This week try and catch yourself when you hear yourself not being authentic. You will be so happy with the results and the people you attract into your life! Thanks for being here!


Emotional Contagion is REAL

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Have you ever felt drained after meeting with a friend? Our friends should give us energy, not deplete us. Emotions are contagious. You can learn more about emotional contagion here. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201906/protect-yourself-emotional-contagion That is reason alone to review who you are spending your time with since we are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Elisha Goldstein explains that we are a highly social species and whoever we are around influences our behavior. Having a high social connection has become one of my overarching goals for many reasons that I’ve written about here before including longevity. I’ve made some huge improvements on this front, but still have more to work on.

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In this lesson, I was to make a list of all the people I spend the most time with and then rate them on a scale of 1-10 by asking how much that person inspired me. At the time, I came up with a list of 17 people that I saw regularly. I thought this would be a difficult exercise but it was not. The uninspiring people were glaringly so. The lowest number I assigned any one person was a 3. Needless to say, I’m not really in contact with that person anymore. There was nothing so terrible about her, but she was the kind of person who when they speak, only complaints come out of their mouth. I was like that too at one time, and I probably would have been a snarky cohort, but now I see it and I want to run!


On the other end, the highest number I assigned was a 9 and that went to three friends. One of which was my personal trainer Carrie, which made complete sense since she jumpstarted so much of this for me. One other was one of the ladies in my exercise group who did some incredibly meaningful volunteer work. The kind of work that stopped me in my tracks to ask more. She was SO inspirational to me. She was the reason I started doing more important volunteer work in the first place. Not to mention all the health benefits of volunteering that I’ve mentioned before. I used to joke in class that “When I grow up I want to be her”. She lives her beliefs and there’s nothing more inspiring than that. My last 9 went to a friend who I feel is truly supportive. I never felt drained around her, in fact, the complete opposite is true. After seeing her I feel GREAT! She actually listens to me and understands me. Our conversations are real. She is most definitely part of my tribe.

This week try the exercise above. Make a list of the people you spend the most time with and assign each a number based on how inspiring they are to you. If nothing else you will see where your energy gets lifted up and where it gets drained. I can’t wait to hear about your experience with this exercise! Thanks for being here!


Relationships

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Day 11’s meditation was all about giving relationships quality time. If we don’t pay attention to our relationships, they devolve. It’s really choice on whether or not we give our relationships the attention they deserve. I had two issues here. One, I neglected all my relationships (except with my mother and children) during the time I out of commission. I didn’t see any of my friends during this time. For one, I couldn’t do anything. And I just didn’t want to talk about how awful I felt. I just wanted to feel normal. And my relationship with my husband was strained to say the least. He took on all the driving duties for our kids at this time. My son was about a year away from learning to drive and when he did that eased up the responsibilities some. I couldn’t even do the dishes or any housework whatsoever. He did what he could, but he was very busy at work as well. My mom helped out, I ordered my groceries online and did what I could. My life had come to a halt. That is going to strain any relationship. He was feeling the stress of “why aren’t you getting better” too.

The second issue, and one I will cover much more in depth later, is that I wasn’t that great at paying attention to my friendships in the first place, before any of this started. I didn’t make it a priority. I let time slide between seeing them. I would say no to invitations for no good reason. And I really don’t know why I did that, but looking back it is most definitely a pattern I see.

I’ve made my friendships a huge priority. I talked about the types of people I’m surrounding myself with on a prior post about finding my tribe, but what happens when you have your tribe? I began to make those people in my life a priority. I make a point to invite friends on lunch or dinner dates. If I see that I don’t have any booked, I started reaching out and getting things on my calendar. I ask myself, who haven’t I seen in a while? Or who do I need to connect with right now?

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I also make sure I’m showing up for friends when needed. I’m quick to offer help now, where to be honest I wasn’t before. I’m not proud of this. It’s just a fact. Now, I’m more giving. And when I am with my friends, I make sure it’s a real conversation and that just comes naturally now because of the people I’ve surrounded myself with. Taking time to talk is so important. Even just a quick text makes a difference.

Are you looking to make your relationships a priority? Try the following:

Make time to meet up with your friends, whether that means lunch, dinner, a movie, a festival, whatever you enjoy! And make sure you have these dates in your calendar to make them a priority!

Check in with your friends often just to see how they are doing or even a quick text to keep connected.

Can’t wait to hear your comments! Thanks for being here!


Starting to Find Myself and My Tribe

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My first day of exercise class at my therapy center went like this. I walk towards the room and was met by another lady, beautiful, older than me, but just so elegant. She asked if it was my first class and what my issues were (because you would not be exercising there if you DID NOT have issues of some kind). As soon as I began to explain my story the tears started. I was so drained at this point. I had been in physical therapy for over a year. I HAD made progress. I was driving myself to class, that alone was huge. But the pain was still everywhere and unbearable. I had tried one-on-one training, but looking back now, I can see I wasn’t ready for that. This class was my last shot. Everyone in the class, at that time, was older than me. But as I joked, my doctor said I have the spine of a 70 year old, so I fit right in. Everyone was very warm, the trainer was full of energy. She was 10 years YOUNGER than me and easily the strongest woman I have ever met.

This class and these women became my source of strength for the next two years. They understood how I was feeling, for the most part and it felt so good to talk to others with similar issues. All of them had improved in the program. So, I started. In the beginning, EVERYTHING was difficult. Do you know we start losing muscle strength after just a week of not using them? It had been a least a year and half for me at that point since I had exercised and I hadn’t even lifted my arms over my head in that long either. Let me say also I was not an exercise class type person. I always exercised but usually I would walk outside or use DVD’s in my house. I had a nice little set up in our basement where I had a DVD player and TV, all my weights, everything I needed. I thought. Here’s what I learned. Form is incredibly important. I didn’t know how important. In this class I learned the CORRECT way to exercise as to not hurt my back and neck further or cause any future problems. God only knows what kind of form I had on my own. Not correct I can tell you that. AND when I had started running, I for sure had poor form. All of that leads to trouble. So, the first few months was just getting through class. I started realizing my pain subsided substantially after class. I always left feeling better. It was a combination of working my body AND the environment. These ladies were smart, caring, kind and confident. And I felt safe there. If I was to start a program at home at that time I would have freaked out every time something hurt. But my trainer would just talk me through all those moments, let me know what was normal and what needed to be modified.

These women were readers, volunteers, teachers, world travelers, mothers and grandmothers. They had similar interests as me, like going to the ballet, museum exhibits, art shows and concerts. And later on more women my age joined and they also were such interesting people. We all became so close. We understood each other’s struggles. But these women were different from my other friends in such that there were no taboo subjects. We just talked. Openly and honestly about everything. From whatever was going on in the news, to family issues, religion, you name it. No one held back and it was fantastic. I loved these women! It’s so freeing to have uncensored conversations and no worry about offending someone. If you disagree you move on. There’s no hiding or not speaking your mind. AHHH, I loved it. And it made me realize that I didn’t have these kind of people in my life before now. I was curating my tribe before I knew I needed to do it. That would come later when I started really working on myself. I’m not blaming anyone. It was me that would hold back. I have A LOT to say and I’m a highly emotional person. And that’s not a bad thing, unless you feel like the minority all the time. I wasn’t with the right people. I think as moms we don’t always choose our own friends. At least this was true for me. I hung out with my kid’s friend’s parents. For years and years. And I truly liked most of them. We would get drinks, go to lunch, etc. But were these my people? No. It was superficial. I was superficial. There was a lot missing. It took me needing REAL friendship and these women showing up in my life at just the right time. I was so beaten down and fragile at this point. Just one of them asking “how are you today?” would send me into tears. Because my life was not normal at that point and they understood that better than anyone else did at that time and they actually listened. I needed that so badly.

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I’ve learned since then, and I will get into this more in depth later, that our social time with others is extremely important to our health.  It is known now to be MORE important to our longevity than exercise or diet!! Don’t be an isolationist!  It’s not good for you.  Read more about that here. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/relationships-boost-survival/

By the end of the first year I was feeling so much better. I was doing more on my own, I was starting to go out to enjoy things again, but I still had pain, quite a bit of pain that was hanging on. Next week I will talk about the HUGE change that happens the second year and how it came about thanks to some incredible insight by my trainer. You can find my trainer, Carrie here https://pnxsolutions.com/

For this week I ask that you look at your own exercise routine.  First, are you exercising at all? Do you feel like you are using correct form in what you are doing?  Are you exercising alone? Do you want the support of a group?  Try the following;

If exercise is new to you, try walking.  Just a few minutes a day to start and then add on a little more time every day.

Try working with a personal trainer, just one time even to have them look at everything you are doing. It’s so important to have those eyes on you to prevent-injury.

Take a group class of some sort. There is SO MUCH out there! And it doesn’t at all need to be expensive. Look at your local recreation centers. Locally I can pay $6 for a day of whatever classes I want and access to all the machines. Quite a deal. Just make sure you like the instructor and they are watching for good form. Not all instructors are created equal. I promise the boost you will get from the people in the group is priceless. And if you don’t, those aren’t your people. Keep trying different groups until you hit on the one.

As always Id love to hear from you!! Comment below  and thanks for being here!