Robert and I had a wonderful Vail and Santa Fe vacation. Our most memorable activity was our first ever zip-line experience.
While in Vail and Robert had the idea to try zip-lining. I was shocked at this suggestion as he is afraid of heights and does not have great balance. I went along with this, hoping he would change his mind. The control freak in me was not thrilled with his suggestion. My husband feeling was- if not now, when?
We went to the adventure center (the word adventure was my clue for what was about to take place), and the only zip that was open was the extensive 7 zip excursion. Yes, zip to zip to zip, with platforms and ski lifts in between. Well it was a go-big or go-home decision. No turning back after the first zip.
We suited up, walked up the first log ladder and stood there, ready and scared. We were told to sit back in the harness and allow it to hold us. Okay, here we go- I went first after one of our guides. To my surprise I enjoyed myself but held on for dear life. Robert was next to go and he white knuckled it the entire way.
After the first zip, I let go, sat back and enjoyed the exquisite landscape, figuring if the line snapped I would be dead whether I held on tight or let go- so why not go for it? Robert continued to hold on tight enjoying the experience.
By the last two zips, I had totally let go, holding my arms out and screaming in delight. I appreciated the joy and freedom that came with letting go and fully surrendering to the experience. I also realized how much I love excitement and fun, and in my daily life and do not get enough of it.
What is the point in this experience? Change things up, enjoy my day, and most of all to stop the “shoulds” and pressures I put on myself about money and judgment of my productivity. I want to simply embrace and enjoy what I do, plain and simple.
My takeaway and new venture
With this said, in my Custom Calm work, I will still speak and offer programs.
Keeping with my theme of challenging myself and having fun, I am joining forces part-time with a colleague to be her Community Connections Manager. In a nutshell, I will be doing the activities I love doing: Promoting, networking, speaking, connecting, writing for a 1-doctor dental practice whose work is in line with mine- health centered with a customized approach (yes your mouth is part of your body!) This practice works with many patients with chronic illness- one of my specialties as well. You will be hearing more about Dr. Brenda Paulen of Proud Smiles soon. It’s a funny story how I came upon this opportunity. I will save this for my next newsletter..
My challenge to you
Summer is the perfect time to let go a bit more, have fun, and do what you love. Try something that makes you a bit nervous and push your limits. It is quite freeing. My zip line experience taught me that holding on tight only brings tension- if I’m going to crash, at least I want to enjoy the ride! I would love to hear about your new experiences.
Every day we see another crazed event surrounding airlines both on and off the plane. Luckily, I have a month to brush up on my boxing skills or buy a helmet before my vacation!
I have been giving this some thought and put it out to my husband. He feels that it has always happened but now we have the ability to catch it on video. I’m not sure I agree.
I think the culprit is the tension that is prevalent in our country, triggering impatience and anger..It is a constant low level anxiety, and I for one have been dealing with it on a daily basis. I am afraid It’s not going away any time soon. So what does one do about it?
Well, as a realist it will take some action on our part. How do you remain calm (or sane) in the midst of the chaos around you? It is not about avoiding what is or being asleep and wishing things would be different.
I have chosen to break my silence and write about this- partially to hear my own solutions and partially because it is part of our daily reality. We are going through a really crappy, turbulent time (to put it nicely) and it has been going on for a few years now- sadly, it is escalating.
Here are my simple sanity thoughts: Stay present. A mindful practice throughout your day will help.
- Notice what is going on around you, without judgment
- Notice the tension in your body
- Notice your thoughts at any given moment
- Notice your feelings
- Do not try to change how you feel
- Do not try to make sense of what is happening
- Hang out with people that share your values and talk about positive topics
- Balance any proactive activities you are involved in, with the rest of your life
- Add something uplifting to do or read on a daily basis.
- Remember, there is only so much negativity you can handle before it seeps into your cells. Been there and it is not pretty, so take care of you!
In any given moment
- Pause before you do or say anything.
- Take an inhale and a slow exhale
- Get in your body: Feel your feet connect to the floor and look at your surroundings.
- Make eye contact with someone who is struggling. We all need some compassion.
Change it up
No matter how evolved you are, it is a time to increase whatever you do to keep yourself spiritually fit. You might even have to change up or add to your routine. For example, most days I try to get still and follow my thoughts in a mindful way. On some days my thoughts take me into the gutter, so a different practice is needed. Maybe simply sitting outside and noticing nature and feeling the air against my skin will be my practice, or maybe a quick walk is needed. To force or expect yourself to do what is usually effective, will be counterproductive.
It is t time to be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break and Lighten Up. If you are planning a vacation, make sure to fill the well. Of course, if you are afraid of the dreaded air travel, go ahead and drive- you might get there faster! Stay safe and be well. .
The back story
A former client sent me wonderful comment about my last newsletter. If you have not yet read it, check my blog. She wrote: I LOVE S’mores! I feel that so much of what you taught me has become hardwired. I am so thankful for your guidance and friendship – you truly changed my life.
Now, that is an amazing testimonial, wouldn’t you agree? You would think I would take that in and kvell in the gift she gave me. I did for a moment and was grateful for her response. But then, I took a turn- I replied and thanked her, then added a comment that I had made a typo on the title (no looking back please J) Oy, why would I do that? A compliment can be difficult for many, and I see I am still one of them.
She gave me a perfect response: Perfection is overrated.
We tend to be tough on ourselves when we make a mistake. We also tend to dismiss a compliment pretty darn quickly. I wonder why this is?
There is some odd notion that we must do things perfectly or we look “less than.” Think about it. The feedback she gave me was a gift, yet my focus was on letting her know I made a mistake. Really Ellen? The awe of improving someone’s life vs. an extra letter in a word. Hmmm, that is a no-brainer, yet I got caught in the trap of perfection.
The concern about my error (that she did not even notice) clouded my ability to take in the lovely affirming note she wrote about my work. I took what was an opportunity to really appreciate my gifts and chose to focus on my small error.
- I get tripped up in trying to look a certain way and to make a mistake makes me seem less professional. What the heck is that about?
- Even though I am getting much better, it is still my tendency to dismiss a compliment.
One day soon
One day, I too will get new behavior around this issue “hardwired” as she has. Even when I get tripped up, I will remember her wise words: Perfection is overrated…
Thank you my student, friend, and teacher. You are one smart cookie!
Write your comments on my blog. I love to hear from you. Also, stay tune for some exciting new programs.
P.S. For those who come to the Cancer Support Community in Atlanta, I decided to share the Saturday yoga class with another instructor. Will see you on April 1st– no kidding!
Hope to see you soon.
I planned to write a funny post about a recent experience, but after hearing about Wednesday’s terror attack in London and the killing of a Jewish Family in Paris this week, I am not really in a playful mood. One of my daughters just left London, so it hit home even more.
My heart is heavy from the hatred in our country and world. I do not want to turn into the fear based, angry person I had become just a few months back.
I ask myself, what do I do now? How do I help heal the world besides donating time and money to causes I care about? How can I write a solution based post, when feeling this way?
The answer is- practice what I teach (boy, that’s annoying!) I need to find a way to fill up though out my day, even when I have no time- and so do you.
My S’mores experience is an example:
I was at a bonfire event this weekend. For those who do not know what a S’more is, you are missing out. Marshmallows roasted over a campfire (a fireplace will do), a chocolate bar, and a graham cracker. I could have slapped it all together and wolfed it down, but chose not to. This is what I did:
I got my ingredients, picked out a good stick, put two marshmallows on the stick, put stick over the fire, watched the marshmallow get bubbly and a bit burnt (that to me gets the marshmallow gooey in the middle), take the graham cracker, break it in two, put my chocolate bar on the cracker, and then take both crackers, make a sandwich, and squeeze the marshmallow in between until it comes off.
Yes, quite a production. Now for the best part- take a bite, (rather than putting it all in my mouth at once-tempting I know), chew, get messy marshmallow all over my face, and continue the process. When finished, lick all the goo off my fingers. This brought back childhood camp memories. Now that is a meditative, uplifting experience. As I sit and write about it, my heaviness is lifting.
Simple, lifesaving moments
We need this level of simplicity. Life is challenging and at times chaotic and frightening. Everyone is affected. It is not about avoidance, but about balance. Without the mundane moments of enjoyment, it is easy to get pulled into the muck and tough to crawl out.
It is all happening now
My feeling of sadness over the terror in London, memory of my S’mores experience, the sound of my dog chewing her bone, the smell of my lunch, is happening right now- got the picture?
So, my point? Make a decision each day to be aware of things that you find uplifting- even for a moment. The moments add up and give you the balance you need to find some joy or sanity each day. Simple- yes, Challenging-yes, Practical and Possible- Absolutely.
And if you have not yet indulged in S’mores, give it a try!
Leave a comment about what you find uplifting in your day
Hope to see you soon.
The Back Story
I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of caregivers and professionals who are dealing with high stress events in their lives. As I was teaching and listening to their stories, what came to light was the unyielding demands many have upon them.
When I asked one women what she loved to do that she can no longer do, she said: I loved to cook. You might be thinking, that is easy enough for her to do- you are wrong. This woman work is taking care of an Alzheimer’s patient throughout the day. Now you might be thinking, well she can cook when she gets home- wrong again. She comes home and takes care of her three children. Barely time to breathe. This, I am sad to say is the reality for many. Work all day in a demanding job, only to come home to a full evening of responsibilities.
When I responded, what I did NOT say was – you must find time for yourself. That is what we hear over and over again and frankly, I am sick of it. It is not helpful and leaves people feeling hopeless and unheard.
I asked her if she goes to the market to shop for food. She said yes.
I asked her if when she goes to the market could she go to the produce aisle and take a moment to look at the colors and textures of the fruit and then smell their aroma.
I went on to suggest a few other actions:
- To pick a piece of fruit that she had never had before and purchase it.
- To take a moment and walk by the flowers, look at the colors, and smell the aroma.
- When home to put on the cooking channel, even if she has no time to watch, she can hear the sounds and conversations in the background.
You get the picture? She did, and said yes she could and would do what I suggested. As she said it, I noticed her eyes were a bit brighter.
In other words, when at the market, be at the market. For this woman, that might be her only opportunity for her to enjoy what she loves- maybe not in the same way but still filling the well even just a bit. Think of it as taking a short vacation at the market!
Simplicity works. Simplicity is effective and simple opportunities occur throughout the day, every day.
This is the riot I want to incite. A riot of stopping the useless fluffy suggestions that are given to people who are dealing with high stress or dealing with daily health issues of their own to “take time for themselves.” Get clear- they do not have the time!
I am ready to take on and transform what we think self-care looks like. I want to teach people how to fill up bit- by-bit, drop-by-drop in a way that works for them. All it takes is a bit of willingness to consider the possibilities- and there are lots of them.
Hope to see you soon!