Saturday, January 12, 2019

Protecting Your Spirit

We are now twelve days into a the new year. Many have successfully set goals for themselves. Many have already broken their resolutions. Where do you stand? Are you starting out the year knowing what you want and where you want to be?

Each year I begin by hoping for clarity; trying to decide exactly where I see myself and most importantly, what will it take for me to get there. What kind of effort and commitment will I need to garner up? Do I see myself ten pounds lighter? Do I see deeper and growing relationships with my friends? Do I see new projects on my horizon?

Lately, what I've been striving for is reclaiming my strength. I see myself stronger; in body, mind, and spirit. That's no easy task, for sure. It's a very complicated process. I need to take better care of my body. I need to succeed more at reducing stress. And most importantly, for me, is learning to nurture my spirit. My spirit is what drives me more than anything else. It's that voice inside of me that pushes me to try harder, to walk further, to be more creative, and to learn to trust my instincts more. There are always going to be more voices telling us why we can't or shouldn't do something, that we aren't good enough, and that we don't have anything valuable to offer. We need to learn to drown those voices out more with the voice of strength that lies inside each one of us. Some days the voice of my spirit is nothing more than a whisper, but some days it wants to shout loud enough to shake the walls. Those are the days when I have to stop and pay attention.

It's okay to try to achieve things that other people think are silly or impossible. It's okay to go after what makes you happy and whole. I'm learning that sometimes it's even okay to put yourself first.

Putting yourself first ... that's the trickiest of them all, especially if you have relationships with other people. Being a wife - I try to be supportive to my husband. Being a mom (and it doesn't matter how old your kids are) - we worry about them. Being part of a care giving team - there are always lots of unexpected stresses. Being an employee - you try to always put your best effort forward. There are always the same number of hours in a day, but sometimes the demands we're dealt exceed the amount of time we have, leaving nothing left over for us. Our spirit needs to be supported as well; I'm discovering that the weaker my spirit is, the less I have to give to everyone else.

So ... my goal for this year? To improve my body, challenge my mind, and protect my spirit.

How are your goals going so far? 
Anything I can do to be supportive?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Out With The Old

Tomorrow is the last day of 2018. It feels like it is time to write the obligatory New Year's Eve blog post; something about whether or not to make a resolution or set a goal. Truth be told; I'm just not feeling it this year. Don't get me wrong; I like to set goals for myself, I just don't like the added pressure of setting my calendar to it for January 1st. Our lives aren't that good at sticking to timetables; at least mine isn't.

I tend to spend my New Year's holidays reflecting on what was successful for me during the last 12 months and what needs some work. Some years the list is pretty lopsided, some good some not so much. For me 2018 had many blessings; another year of good health, two healthy granddaughters who make me laugh, a wonderful and supportive family, and a very productive summer of heavy labor redoing our backyard landscaping. Like a lot of people I know, 2018 also brought with it some changes and some unwanted stresses. I guess that puts a lot of us in the same boat.

So what does that mean for 2019? Great question, I think. For me and others that I know, we are in a place where we're trying to accept and understand some of the changes that we've been facing. We're trying our best to gain some clarity to see if we merely need to concede and accept the changes we're being handed or if we still have a voice in what we want to see happen. Some will say that we always have a choice and in some situations that may be true, but not all the time. Some times the changes are going to happen with or without us. Some times the best we can hope to achieve is to decide if the changes work for us or whether it's time we go in a different direction and charter our own course.

No two people's situations will be the same, which means no two plan of attacks will be the same. What works for some may not work for others. That's where the clarity comes in; being able to look at our own lives and decide what we are looking for and what fits best is obviously very personal (as it should be). We need to take ownership of our own choices; whether they seem logical or make sense to anyone else really doesn't matter.

New Year's Eve is tomorrow and whether or not you choose to set a goal of losing 10# in 2019 or work more on a personal relationship - the choices are all yours. You get to decide. You get to take ownership of your own future. You get to decide what makes you happy or what doesn't.

Do you make New Year's resolutions? Do they work for you?

Do you prefer to reflect on where you've been and where you want to go?

Regardless, 2018 is drawing to a close tomorrow and a new year is on our horizon. I guess, if nothing else, it's fair to say, 'OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW.'

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Taking Time To Enjoy The Holiday

It's that time of year, just before Christmas, when it's very easy to get stressed. Some would say that the holiday season has snuck up on them and they aren't prepared. They haven't had time to shop or bake or write out cards or decorate their tree. Funny thing is that Christmas comes at the exact same time every year. I'm not sure why people act surprised that's it's only a week away. It's not like those birthdays that fall in the few first days of the month and you accidentally forget about them until you flip your calendar page over for the next month. No ... Christmas falls on the 25th of December, just like it did last year and the year before that and the year before that. 

Truth be told, for me, it's not the holiday itself that gives me stress. I started my shopping this year way ahead of time, so I could do it in small increments. I bought my Christmas cards in October and had them written out, stamped, and ready to mail before December 1st. With Thanksgiving coming a little early this year we had our outdoor lights up (thanks to Mother Nature being reasonable) and our indoor tree up and decorated by Thanksgiving. I was feeling ahead of the game. No last minute holiday scrambling for me this year, lol. 

For me it's the other 'stuff' that gives me the stress. I try to be proactive and handle it the best I can; some is avoidable and some is not. I have certain things to take care of for my mom who's in a nursing home (her Christmas open house, her holiday shopping for the nursing staff, and her annual paperwork needed for the State). It's the extra work load at work trying to plan ahead and do 2 1/2 weeks of work in one week so that I can be home between Christmas and New Year's. Things still need to get done; other people rely on it, but it also makes for a lot of long hours. 

Every year I find myself feeling overly stressed and tired around the holidays, but it's not usually because of the holidays. Every year I seem to need my mammogram at the end of the year, but this year decided to postpone til January, along with my annual physical. Mammograms aren't always a big deal, but when you're a breast cancer survivor who was originally diagnosed during the holidays it's always stressful.  Right now, though, I am carving out this little bit of time for myself to sit on the couch with my laptop; no TV, no music, the tree lights are on illuminating the room ... just me and my thoughts and a plan to put them into words. Trust me, I have enough on my mind as it is without storing up blog post ideas, too!

How do you handle the holiday season? Is it all twinkle lights and Christmas cookies, or do you just want to go to bed early some nights so you can store up the needed energy to get through the next day? Is your plate overflowing with responsibilities? Do you feel a bit sad or overwhelmed? Whatever you are feeling, it's perfectly okay. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Don't put any unneeded pressure on yourself. Do what you can when you can. If something doesn't get done, that's okay. It'll be there when you're ready to get back at it.

Try to put your own needs at the top of the list when you can, even if it's only for a night. Fix yourself a cup of tea and turn on a Hallmark movie (don't judge me, Hallmark always helps me disengage from the responsibilities of life and escape for 2 hours ... if I'm lucky enough to fall asleep I don't even mind because I know all Hallmark movies will have a happy ending).

As the Christmas holiday quickly approaches my hope for you is that you find contentment, you spend time with friends when you want or need company, but always make time for yourself to be quiet when that's what you need. Sometimes the festivities can help us feel social, but other times it can be overwhelming. I hope your holidays are all that you want them to be.

Friday, November 23, 2018

What Color Nail Polish Will You Wear?

It's the day after Thanksgiving; some people have been up since the crack of dawn this morning to stand in line for that 'special' gift, while others like myself are home and enjoying nothing more than the peace and quiet. I will most likely head out for a few errands later today; after most of the mobs have gone home feeling exhausted (at least that's my hope).

Around this time of year I feel like I should write something very profound; something about the things I am thankful for, about getting in the holiday spirit, and planning to spend quality time with family and friends. But the only real epiphany I have is about the color of nail polish I chose to wear yesterday. Crazy, right? That's the best I can come up with? Apparently, lol.

On Wednesday my family and I were outside getting rid of the fall mums and the last of the pumpkins and putting up the outdoor lights on the house. Doing that I knew my hands would get beat up, so I decided to pamper myself yesterday and paint my nails before heading out to visit family for Thanksgiving.

I looked in my box where I store my nail polishes and had a monumental decision to make ... what color should I wear? Of course I have about 8 bottles of varying shades of pink (my stand by), a couple of summery beachy colors, and a couple that are a bit more bold. What was my mood? Was I feeling cautious or daring? Like an extrovert or an introvert? Why was the shade of polish I would choose so important? Would anyone even notice? Would it even matter? Apparently so; at least it mattered to me.

In the late 70s when I was a teenager there was a phenomenon called 'mood rings'. They were all the rage and if you wore one you were thought to be extremely hip and cool. Of course I had one, lol (or maybe two). The idea behind the mood ring was simple, wear it on your finger and it would reflect the state of your emotions. People would know HOW you were feeling by the color of your ring. It took all the guess work out of it; you didn't have to tell anyone if you were happy or sad - they would just know. Today, nail polish colors kind of work the same way. You can choose something subdued or bright and bold, something relaxing or something with high energy. I used to think if I was beyond a certain age or a parent or even a grandparent, I should wear something conservative or responsible or a color that wouldn't get noticed. Wow, how times have changed. I may be 55 years old, a wife, a mother of two adult children, and have two precious granddaughters ... but I like color. The past year or so I've given myself permission to wear what I want, when I want. This Thanksgiving's color of choice? A metallic coppery-brown; which ironically kind of matches the color of my husband's Durango. Not sure what that means, other than he likes the color of his vehicle and I liked the color for my nails.

So is there anything profound to be read in this blog post? I'm not sure, other than giving yourself permission to share the side of you that you are presently feeling. Whether people notice or not is on them, not you.

And if you're a guy reading this post and you're thinking, 'Nail polish colors? Seriously?' Just remember ... no one can rock out the black polish better than Steven Tyler or Ozzy Osbourne.

What's been your 'go to' color of choice lately? What do you think it says about you?

Monday, November 12, 2018

If We Could Only Skip The Drama

Drama is a funny thing; it has the ability to take on a life of its own and run rampant like a snowball building momentum down a mountainside. Drama is fine, at times, as long as it's part of a Hallmark Channel mystery movie; but not when it gets in the way of things we love.

Last week I was having lunch with my husband at a regular local spot and chatting with a waitress we've known for years. She'd always had a great personality and been efficient; probably why we would ask to sit in her section. We were surprised to hear that after nine years she was leaving and taking a new job at another restaurant. She said she loved being a waitress; she liked her job and liked talking with the customers. She took pride in her work. Management had changed and there was beginning to be too much drama; so much so that she was becoming stressed and unhappy. 

Most of us have had times in our lives when we were with someone or doing something (a career, volunteer work, or a hobby) that we felt passionate about; those times when we felt good about getting up in the morning and looked forward to what our day had in store for us. But when 'drama' gets in the way, it isn't healthy. Our light becomes dim and our excitement about what's to come lessens. Our motivation to make a difference can easily lose its strength.

I suppose the first step to taking care of ourselves is to be aware when something is interfering with our passions, our health, and our spirit. Doing things we are good at and contribute to making us happy and feeling whole is something we have to take ownership of. It belongs to us and no one else. What we choose to do with our passions, our gifts, and our talents is completely up to us. When drama threatens to get in the way, we need to make a choice. That's what our waitress, Stephanie, did. She saw the stress start to affect her life and didn't like what she saw. She made the tough decision to leave co-workers and customers she liked and chose to allow herself to become whole again and start fresh. Kudos to Stephanie for taking the horse by the reins and getting back on the path that makes her happy. I wish her luck and will be sure to look for her at her new location.

Today's world can be stressful enough with all of the things that we cannot control. But our own destiny ... that is something we need to hold on to with both hands. God has a plan for each us; we don't always know what it is in the time frame we would like, but God has it taken care of. He will give us the strength we need when we need it. We will get where we need to be and accomplish what we are meant to accomplish. We just need to be patient (I can admit, that's never been one of my strong suits, lol).

When was the last time drama got in the way of you doing something you love?

Was the drama yours or someone else's?

How did you get past it?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

It's An Overlapping Time of Year

When I looked out the windows this week I saw dry leaves blowing across the parking lots, trees and burning bushes turning gold and crimson, pumpkins and corn stalks in front of many houses, and photos popping up on social media of a variety of Halloween costumes. It's the end of October which means plenty of Trunk Or Treating events. It also means Hallmark has kicked off their Christmas movie season. Some would say, 'What ... Christmas movies already? Slow down! Let's enjoy one holiday at a time.' But don't get mad at Hallmark. They aren't the only ones on the band wagon to speed up time. Many stores have had Christmas items for sale for weeks now; of course they're just an aisle over from the Halloween and Thanksgiving decor. Equal time for equal holidays? I'm not exactly sure about that, but then some holidays bring in more revenue than others (business is business after all).

My kids are grown now and yet for some reason it still seems like once Labor Day rolls around and the school year has resumed, time just seems to go by a little faster. Summer ends, autumn begins, football games and tailgating takes place every weekend, it gets darker outside earlier, Halloween is upon us, Thanksgiving dinner discussions are already in full gear, and some people already have their check list complete for Christmas (okay, maybe not many, but enough to make me feel a little rushed, lol).

As we get older we tend to wish that time would slow down. There's too many 'responsible' things to get done, leaving not much time for the 'fun' stuff. Every year I say I will do things a little differently in the coming year; that I'll get started earlier so that I can enjoy the holidays more. Truth be told, some things change and improve, and some things stay the same (there's still never enough time).

So, to anyone who complains to me this year that Christmas movies shouldn't be playing yet or the local radio stations shouldn't be asking 'When should they start playing their Christmas music?' I say ... 'Don't worry about it so much!' It's going to happen anyway, so just let it ... in fact, why not just embrace it? What's the worst thing that can happen? You'll be taking your kids trick or treating AND talk to family about Thanksgiving dinner plans AND start picking out your Christmas cards all in the same week. There are worse things in life.

Personally, I don't mind that it's an overlapping time of year. It means I have wonderful things to be part of and look forward to. I enjoy the fall colors, the pumpkins, and kids' costumes. I also like the idea that when everyone's schedules and lives are packed full and busy, that Thanksgiving is still a time to put all of that aside and come together to get caught up with each other. Then there's Christmas ... I LOVE the twinkling lights, the decorations, the aromas of cookies baking and cinnamon scented pine cones on the porch, writing out and receiving festive cards, and standing in line and shopping for just the right gifts for people (yes, I rarely shop online ... I would rather go to a brick and mortar store and talk to people while I stand in line ... I know, call me CRAZY).

My point is to not let your yourself become consumed with the commercialism or the schedules or the To Do lists. Enjoy the moments for what they are. Make the memories. Don't worry about the calendar or what is coming next.

What do you look forward to this time of year?
What part do you like or dislike the most?

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Does Your Heart Listen To Your Head?

We've all had moments when we had to make big decisions; those decisions that make you stay awake all night playing out every possible scenario in your head. What if I choose (fill in the blank) and it's the wrong choice? What if it's not the right time to (fill in the blank)? What if I choose one direction and find out later I should have gone the other way?

The thing is that none of us have a crystal ball. None of us have someone that can tell us what the right choice is. The choices we are presented with aren't always clear; we won't always know what to do or if the choice is really what is being presented. Maybe we think it is offering us one thing, when in reality it really isn't. Sometimes if an opportunity seems too good to be true, chance are it might be. It's always going to be difficult to know.

When you have to make a big decision or a choice, people will say to 'go with your gut', 'trust your instincts'. Then you have to ask yourself, 'Do you tend to react with your heart or with your head'. Those that react with their heart may be more emotional; how will something make you feel? Happy, sad, stressed, needed, appreciated? Some tend to react more with their head. They will look at a situation or decision and think about the pros and the cons. What will the job offer? How much time will I be on the road and away from my family? Will the choice they make get them where they want to be and doing what they what to do?

Choices can be about relationships, finances, starting families, choosing the right health treatment, new jobs, taking risks, going back to school, etc. We all make tough choices and make decisions each and every day. We need to have faith that whatever decisions we make are the right ones for us. Will we make mistakes? Undoubtedly, we are human after all. Will we learn from our mistakes? Hopefully so. Will whatever choices we make in our lifetime develop and define our character? You bet they will.

When you have a big decision to make do you tend to go with your heart or your head?

Does your heart ever listen to your head or vice versa?

Does making a big decision tend to keep you up at night?