Well-spirations

Sunday Sermon: Hitting the Holiday Wall

Many years ago, my husband and I entered the Los Angeles Marathon together. We didn’t train for it. We just thought it would be fun to fly to sunny LA, stay on a friend’s boat in the Newport harbor, and run 26 miles with a number pinned to our chests. What can I say, we were young, naive, and in love.

Hit the Wall? Not Us!

I knew enough about running a marathon to know about this phenomenon called “hitting the wall.” At mile 20, even with proper training, your body will most likely run out of stored glycogen. Simply put, you run out of gas. The last 6 miles can be torture—-if you even make it to the finish line.
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Just Say “No!” to Holiday Stress

Ready or not, here they come . . . the holidays!

By the time you’re reading this, you’ll be drinking your favorite caffeinated beverage out of a red Starbucks cup, and feeling the nervous anticipation of the holidays.

Unless, of course, you’re boycotting Starbucks because their cup lacks the appropriate amount of holiday cheer.

Bring It On!

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Sunday Sermon: A Sliver of Wellness

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Sunday Sermon, wellness friends.

But this morning, I sat on my meditation cushion, feeling sad over so many things—-Paris, the suffering in the world, my friend who has a day ahead of her no mother should ever have to face, and selfishly—all the heartfelt struggles in my own life.

I felt overwhelmed. Yet, surprisingly resolute to FEEL what I was feeling.

I remembered I read somewhere to put your hand over your heart and feel it beating. I did. An image of my hand, softly cradling a small bird came to my mind. Read More

How to Live Well: Lessons from Inspiring Survivors

IMG_7801What does a 50 something woman recovering from breast cancer treatment look like? I can tell you, because I met her after one of my aqua classes at Glen Ivy Hot Springs.

A Wellness Story

Jill was a woman who approached me with a story she was eager to share.

She told me she had been taking aqua fitness classes as part of her recovery from breast cancer surgery, and that the warm, therapeutic aqua environment had been extremely helpful in improving her flexibility and range of motion. It also helped alleviate a painful condition she had developed called lymphedema. (Click the link for an excellent article on aqua fitness and lymphedema.)

Jill’s voice was strong and confident. Her demeanor was upbeat, empowered, and life affirming.

To be honest, my first thought was, “What’s wrong with this picture?” This perky, fit, youthful woman, in her mid-fifties, did not look like she had just endured the rigors of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Instead, she looked like a picture of health!

And then it hit me. The question I should be asking is not, “What’s wrong with this picture?” It should be, “What’s right?” I began to think that maybe there’s a wellness lesson in Jill’s story. Perhaps the strategies she, and others like her, use to vigorously recapture their precious health and quality of life, would also work for the rest of us simply trying to make better choices in our crazy-busy lives.

Wisdom Worth a Listen

Like many of you, I have people in my life—-family, friends, clients—-who have faced the challenge of serious illness. I see them navigating their path with courage and strength, but I also see them making conscious choices that lead to favorable outcomes. Here are my top picks for what I think these wellness warriors are doing right. Maybe you’ll connect with a few that will help you along your wellness path:

  • Engage in your wellness. Survivors decide to face the problem by being part of the solution. They take specific steps each day to play an active role in their recovery. Rest, eat well, exercise gently, embody positivity. Day to day wellness doesn’t just happen on its own.
    • Embrace healthy choices as if your life depended on it—-because it does!
  • Gather your tribe. Survivors can’t go it alone and they know it. Any wellness journey requires the help of a supportive team of cheerleaders and people willing to listen.
    • Find two people who will support your journey. Spend more time with them. Think of two people who don’t. You got it . . . Nice knowin’ ya!
  • Have a winning attitude. Sure, cancer survivors “fight” for their health. But more importantly, they are in it to win it. Negativity does not serve them, so they move forward with an openness that invites new ways of thinking and being.
    • Practice working with that “mean girl voice.” Send her off on a slow boat to China, and invite more positivity to your wellness path. It really does work.
  • When you’re down, get up! Cancer survivors endure an unpredictable path throughout their recovery process. While they may become tired or discouraged at times, they remain focused on their wellness mission and are able to stand up, dust off, and get back to the business of healing. Any wellness journey is like this. One minute you’re peeling and chopping carrots for the week, the next you have your spoon in the Ben and Jerry’s. You’re not a failure. You’re not worthless. You just had a hard day and ice cream seemed like the best way to go.
    • Get over it! Move on!

Are You Ready to Own It? 

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As a hockey mom, I say, let’s use wellness to STICK IT! to cancer.

Cancer—-that big, bad, demon of a disease that we really need to find a cure for—-often gives people the permission they need to finally put themselves first. When they begin to take care of themselves—-I mean really take care of themselves—-they often emerge on the other side looking like Jill, the shining star of this story.

I say it’s time to let go of the limiting belief that it’s selfish to take care of ourselves until we are sick.

One of my students put it this way. She said, “When I say NO to some of the extra things I am doing for other people, it enables me to say YES to the things I need to do for myself.” Amen! Her words so inspired me, that I am stealing them for my new wellness mantra. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you did too!

Feel good. Be Well. Meg

Let’s celebrate our warrior friends by sharing a quick story about someone you know and how their wellness journey inspires you. How could you put their wisdom to work in your own life today? Why not call them up and tell them about it? 

Or try this week’s wellness prompt on your own . . . 

IMG_7492Wellness Prompt: When you think of making time to take better care of yourself, what thoughts, feelings and emotions come to mind? Take a moment to write about it. Does fear, guilt, overwhelm, or utter confusion take over? What would it take to finally OWN IT! around your wellness, and what specific steps would bring you back to your well-self again? 10-minute write . . . GO!

Find More Energy with This Feel-Good Mindset Shift

Do you ever wonder why you never seem to have the energy to make positive wellness choices for yourself? You’re not alone.

Our crazy, busy, striving lives, often leave us feeling depleted and standing in front of the refrigerator at the end of the day looking for a friendly glass of wine to talk to.

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Handy wellness advice.

But I received some wonderful news from my favorite wellness writer, Pema Chodron, a few weeks ago. One simple shift in mindset gave me a welcome boost of feel-good energy, and put my positive actions and intentions back on track.

Maybe it will for you too.

I stumbled upon a teeny tiny collection of her teachings in a palm-sized book called, The Pocket Pema Chodron. It fit perfectly in the side pocket of my knapsack, and I took to carrying it around and reading it whenever I found myself waiting, worrying, or wanting things to be different.

It was the next best thing to flying to Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia to sit with her in retreat.

Many of the teeny tiny teachings I had read before in longer, more detailed versions of her work. Maybe that’s why I missed the stand-out message I had been needing to hear for most of my big-girl life.

“No Happy Ending”

“You are never gonna get it altogether. Never.” 

It was a Taylor Swift kinda moment for me and the phrase began to play over and over in my head to the tune of her chart-topping hit:

“You-ou-ou are never, ever, EVER–gonna get it altogether . . . ”

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No happy ending. Ahhhh . . .

Previously, that message would have pulled the wellness rug out from under my feet, sending me into a foot stomping, planner organizing, productivity binge, until my days were scheduled down into bite-sized, highly choreographed pieces just to prove her wrong.

After all, striving to get it altogether everyday was the only reason I got out of bed in the morning, took 10-minute walks, practiced mindfulness yoga, ate healthy foods, and took my kids to church on Sundays (extra brownie points).

I always held out hope that one day, all these wellness initiatives—-along with a beautifully scheduled planner and the Grace of God, would start to “work,” and success, happiness, and a feeling of rock solid contentment would be mine . . . all mine.

But this time, who knows why, I finally got it.

I found myself smiling at the absurdity of having any real control over how my life rolls from day to day. I even chuckled out loud as I felt a surge of feel-good energy around this shift. Because, as a logical person, my next thought was . . .

If I’m never, ever, EVER gonna get it altogether, it must mean I can relax and stop trying so hard.

Just think of all the money I’m going to save on expensive planners in 2016!

Everything’s Going to Be Okay

Instead of gripping fear that my life would fall apart, I suddenly felt ok about a lot of things like:

  • It’s ok to make a to-do list and get absolutely none of it done. Chances are, the things that I did do—talk with my mom on the phone, sit at the bus stop with my son, take a stab at some crappy writing, added something of substance to my day.
  • It’s ok that I suck at keeping a planner. I finally get that it works for some people, but it just isn’t in my DNA. I’ve replaced my “to-do” list with a “got-done” list. It feels a lot better.
  • It’s ok that things fall apart in my life because things have a tendency to fall apart in spite of our best efforts. There’s even wellness in the falling apart. (I know, embracing that one takes practice.)
  • It’s ok that it takes me longer than many people to make things happen for myself. I’ve always been a late bloomer with good intentions. There’s something to be said for that.
  • It’s okay that I live up to my own wellness advice only on sporadic occasions. It makes for good writing material and a compassionate approach to the work that I do.

I’m not suggesting we sit back and let ourselves off the hook from getting up each day and going after our best life with gusto. Throwing the planner out with the bathwater, only leads to feelings of apathy, hopelessness, and “why bother?” That’s not the best wellness strategy either.

But relaxing into life, knowing that even Franklin Covey doesn’t have all the answers, frees up valuable wellness energy that can be used to take better care of ourselves. Without that sinking feeling that we don’t measure up, we might find the energy to close the refrigerator door and head outside for a brisk walk.

There’s hope.

Good Advice Always Comes in Small Packages

Pema is not the only one who dispenses pint sized pieces of wellness advice.

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I got it mom! The secret to a happy life!

I remember one gifted to me by my younger son a few years ago when he was only about nine or ten years old. He said to me, “Mom—I just realized that this moment, right now, is never going to happen again—and now this one—-and this one.”

He was right—never, ever, EVER.

All the more reason we should stop trying to get it altogether, and invest some of that precious, once in a lifetime, energy in our wellness.

Feel Good. Be Well. Meg

Do you find it stressful to keep it all together all the time? What helps you relax into the chaos of life? I’d love to know. 

Or try this week’s wellness prompt on your own . . . 

IMG_6493Wellness Prompt: What aspects of your life are you trying to get together or hold together for dear life? (Your planner could provide clues!) Write about it for a few minutes. Now write an “It’s ok that . . . ” list like I did, and read it back to yourself. Do you feel any relief? Is there a way to re-direct some of that new-found energy to your wellness? 10-minute write . . . go!