Counteracting the Inevitable Snake Bite

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It was all just one big misunderstanding. I really just didn’t know, or at least that’s what I tell my middle aged self that is just trying to be as happy as possible without making anyone else miserable.

There were so many things I didn’t know that I didn’t know about getting older. I did a lot of assuming along the way, maybe had a little too much faith in some things and disguised it to myself as hope that everything would turn out like the end of a tear-jerking, problem-solving, life-lesson-learning movie. But real life is not lived in 2 hour movie chunks and “half the promises people say were never kept, were never made.” ~Edgar Watson Howe.

You know what people say about making an assumption….

So here we are, mid-life. I may be a bit wiser than I was a decade ago, but I don’t feel much smarter. Maybe I have a little more patience, or maybe I just have a higher tolerance for ignorance. When you are force fed the same drivel and balderdash for half a lifetime it’s possible to develop a tolerance to it, like a daily dose of serum to counteract the inevitable bite of a poisonous snake. You do what you have to do. But, what do I know?

What I do have is permission. It’s a gift I have given myself. I have granted myself the permission to make myself happy even in the midst of all of the unhappiness and intolerance I often feel around me. I have allowed myself the time and space to sort through half a life of perceptual errors and mountains of guilt given to me directly or indirectly by a life lived hard. Years of trying to do the right thing and please the wrong people has given me quite the pile of sorting to do. It seems that each time I climb up to a peak on Guilt Mountain, I see another off in the distance that beckons me forward.

It was all just one big misunderstanding. You don’t arrive at mid-life knowing what you want and feeling ready to take on all the responsibilities, even if you were sure you would. You fumble through your days with good intentions, feeling sometimes exhausted and unsure of the decisions you’ve made. It seems we all endeavor to make it seem that we are exactly where we want to be, doing it all with ease and, of course, flawlessly…. but if you are looking at someone else’s life through a lense of expectations and assumptions, then you are not seeing them clearly. It’s like constantly photoshopping reality. It may look prettier, but it’s just not natural. 

If you know the snake will inevitably bite, then it’s smart to drink the serum. It’s smarter to get the hell away from the snake. But what do I know?

gratitude to paulabflat from morguefile.com for the above photo

Come On Get Healthy

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I have found that, for me, getting happy started with a healthier body. It’s almost impossible to have a positive state of mind if your body is distracting you from your happiness goals. An unhealthy body that feels achey, sluggish, and doesn’t sleep well is probably not leading you on a journey to a happier place. When you feel healthy, rested and well nourished you are then more free to focus on your state of mind. An important thing to consider is that healthy looks different for every body, so keeping in mind that you only need to be the expert on making yourself happy is essential.

A great place to begin your journey to happiness is in the kitchen. Chances are, if you’re feeling less than happy, there are easy, manageable steps you can take right now in your own home. To make positive change, you have to make changes. The goal should be reinventing your relationship with food. Begin by taking inventory. Every few months I like to pull everything out of my pantry and reassess. Creating healthy habits and maintaining them does not happen with one trip to the grocery store. It can be an ongoing process of learning and adapting.

After you pull out all of your food, it’s time to take a good look at what you have on hand and consider your patterns. Anything that is expired has got to go, that’s easy. Anything that is processed and/or eaten in moments of emotional distress has also got to go. Food is fuel. Using food for comfort is not a step toward getting healthier. This process is about positive change. Replacing your comfort food with exercise, stretching, breathing, meditation, yoga, or a hot bath will serve you better. Consider what will work for you and give it a try.

Now clean out your fridge and freezer using the same process. When you are done with your purge, gather some healthy recipe and snack ideas and make a list of what you need. Grab your cloth grocery bags and head out with your list. Try and stick to what you need and not fall victim to impulse buying. Planning out your menu will serve you well, it saves time and let’s you be prepared in those moments when you want to slip back into old habits.

You have three considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Addressing three meals per day, everyday.
  2. Plan for your need to snack
  3. Consider your nutrient and mineral deficiencies

If your intention is to get healthy and happy, you need to begin to live from a place of intention and not a place of habit. Addressing your eating habits and being open to making positive, lasting change can very well be your first step on a path toward enjoying more happiness. It certainly was for me.

Gratitude to MaxStraeten for the lovely photo above from morgue file.com

The Empowering Journey From Never Enough To Perfectly Imperfect

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At so many times during my first 40 years I’ve wasted energy feeling like no matter what I was doing, it was just never enough. We are all human, we crave connection and validation so we often fall into traps of guilt or obligation to satisfy what others need from us. At your core, no matter how much confidence, ability and talent you possess, you have the desire to be loved and feel safe and accepted and will often go against instinct to achieve it. Maybe that’s human nature. But, action should come from a place of love, not a place of obligation. We are all born with potential that we may not recognize initially. It’s time for me to turn off this tap that spews energy in the wrong direction. It’s time to stop pouring myself into the expectations of others and begin to cultivate that energy and direct it inward to myself.

Why do we struggle? We look around to see how others are perceiving us and what they are demanding from us, when at the end of it all, it was only us who created our own story. The minute you stop paddling so vigorously against the current and let go, it will all flow. “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are” – Chinese Proverb

The only constant, the only thing we all have every moment of our lives is breath. Breathing in and out is a universal constant if you want to sustain life. Another universal constant is change. One day, the breathing will stop and your story will be over.  Before you get there, change will happen over and over and you will be there to see it all. You are not now the same person you were when you woke up this morning nor will you be this person when you wake up tomorrow. That is life. That is living. Why would you waste a single breath, in or out, taking in or giving away energy that doesn’t align with your true life intention? Do what creates what you believe to be the greatest version of yourself, not what others think will bring you to such ends. Breathe every breath.

Are you becoming who you are meant to be? Or are you letting yourself become what other people need you to be? Can you let go of the negative path to perfection, and start to accept and relish the perfectly imperfect life that is yours to enjoy? “If this is what you are doing with the negative, imagine what you could do with the positive” – Maya Angelou

When you embrace the idea that you will never be perfect, and accept that you will be the perfect version of you, life will begin to flow. Pour your energy into yourself and who you want to become. “Strive for progress, not perfection” – Unknown  And, when you have learned all that you can and grown as much as possible from someone or somewhere, it’s time to move on to your life’s next master class. There is so much left to learn, so many mistakes to learn from.

“I want to be all used up when I die” – George Bernard Shaw

Be who you are.

I am again grateful for my friend Shannon and her pretty toes showing us how to truly let it flow

Unapologetically, Authentically You

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Living an authentic life means not being afraid to be your true self.  Authentic people embrace and respect what exists and make no excuses for not riding on the bandwagon.  An intention to be authentic may be enough to get you started, and being brave enough to uncover what that looks like for your life is a noble stride toward making peace with your life’s path.  To be authentic means that you don’t look to others to assess experiences, make a choice or feel an emotion.  You let it flow and accept what naturally spills from your heart as true.  Being a keen observer of your authenticity will make you understand your journey and yourself.

Being authentic in a relationship is possible when you are being true to yourself. Hiding what you feel will hinder others from loving you for who you are.  If you are consistently you, others can consistently love who you truly are.  What a lovely thought, and what a lovely experience.  Imagine spending your day being absolutely true to who you are and being sincerely loved for it…..

“Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss

Accepting yourself as exactly who you are is empowering and freeing!  Start with forgiving yourself for your past.  Everything that has happened up until now made you the person you are today.  Without each day of that existence you could not be the person you are now.  Express gratitude for every lesson those past versions of yourself have endured and realize that you are smarter and more schooled than all of the past versions of yourself.  When you go easy on prior versions of yourself and allow the present version of you to benefit from the past, those fundamental life lessons begin to serve your life education instead of break your stride.  Let the past contribute to a breakthrough, not a breakdown.

A quiet, uninterrupted mind will reveal simple truths about yourself.  What do you think about when you wake up in the morning?  Before the world and technology shifts your thoughts and invades your head space, what and who comes to mind?

Do you know how to be yourself?  Can you experience it?  What if the YOU in your quiet moments could be the YOU that moves around in the world?  Would that make you happy?  Would that bring you peace?  I often wonder how much of a mask people hide behind and how much they let themselves just be.  Varying degrees of authenticity depending on the setting, people around you and your comfort level in a situation is such hard work.  Are you constantly playing a role or are you living authentically?  Can you stay connected to your vital relationships genuinely or do you feel like there are rules to follow and guidelines to adhere to?  Why do we over complicate things?  What if we could just simply be….

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves.  Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.” – Steve Maraboli

Waldo image from Google Images

Join The Mindful Revolution

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First we saw a rise in society’s belief in physical fitness and we are now seeing a rise in the attention paid to our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Just as you began to see variation in attendees of exercise classes and gyms, now you see a complete mixed bag of people who attend yoga and meditation classes.  Even science is standing behind the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  Just as people are encouraged to exercise, the trend is moving also toward people incorporating mindfulness and meditation practice into their daily life for the benefit of their overall wellbeing.  You can spend hours, days, and years exercising to attain the body you want, but in 30 minutes of meditation you can be leaps and bounds closer to a calm, peaceful mind.

We live in an age of RIGHT NOW and sometimes change takes time, so I’m not surprised to hear frustration from people wanting to see changes from their effort right away.  But, like a beautiful garden, these things take time.  Plant the seeds, nurture them and be patient for what is to come, it will be worth it.  Consider being open to what is available and abundant around you instead of fighting against your circumstance and constantly looking for what you WANT.  Many of us already have what we need, but we have to learn to need it.  Feel gratitude for what you have, the lessons you’ve learned and for what is to come that is still unknown.  The power to manifest the things that you desire is true.  It all begins with exercising your ability to calm your mind and listen to your truth.

One way to begin your path to emotional and spiritual wellbeing is to start practicing mindfulness.  The goal of being mindful is to be present without judgement.

Challenge: Pick an activity that you do regularly and make a commitment to perform it mindfully.  That means make an intention to be present in the activity and only focus on the actual act of performing that task.  If thoughts begin coming in, gently acknowledge them and then swiftly escort them out.  Some possible activities are showering, doing the dishes, taking a walk, riding a horse, driving a well traveled route, putting on your makeup, shaving.  Breathe, connect with the present moment and keep that moment real and free of external static.  This can be considered a first step toward a meditation practice.  Meditation would be doing this same mindful act without the activity.  So, begin with practicing mindfulness during an activity and move forward from there.

“Mindfulness is like that—it is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

photo courtesy of jade from morguefile.com

You May Say I’m a Dreamer

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Dreams are romantic, bigger than life, and sometimes they come true. When we dream, we let our minds play like children in a field of perfect grass, running and skipping in the warm sunshine.  Dreaming is letting your mind wander through the notes and lyrics of a soothing song that takes you back to your childhood or a particularly endearing time in your life.  Dreaming can catapult you into an imagined future filled with potential successes or fairy-tale reveries.  Floating and gliding through a tranquilizing contemplation can be a saving grace.  It can lift your spirits.  Everyone needs to dream.  Dreaming motivates us to keep going and to become better people.

But, we also need to set goals.  There is quite an important difference between a dream and a goal.  Not every dream is meant to become reality, but a goal is a clear and meaningful intention meant to come to fruition.  So, it’s important to spend time and energy putting goals down on paper and deciding how you will reach those goals.  At the same time, allow your mind to spend some time dreaming and playing and creating without worrying how to bring every thought to fruition.  Create a clear line in your thinking.  Knowing and realizing which plans demand your undivided, serious attention and which should occupy your free time is a distinction that can mean the difference between being well prepared and level headed and being frazzled and unsure of how to head down your path.  The key is balance, and balance is the key.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” -John Lennon

above photo courtesy of pippalou from morguefile.com

myhappypromise

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