I Hope You Miss Me–Just a Little

Wherever you go, go with all your heart. Confucius

I won’t be bogging for the next three weeks. My husband and I are taking a cruise from London to Iceland. Although I’ll have WiFi on the ship (join me on Facebook to see photos), I’m taking a break from “work” and leaving my laptop at home. 

I’m going to give my full attention to the sea breezes, sunsets, fabulous food, new acquaintances, unique experiences, and beautiful places like Saint Malo, Dublin, Belfast, St Mary Isles of Scilly, and Reykjavik. I’m going with all my heart and giving the experience my full attention. 

I hope you miss me—even if it’s just a little. 

P.S. This photo is from a past Alaskan cruise. I took a helicopter to a glacier, the dogs’ summer training ground, in order to dog sled. Two of the dogs on my team had run in the Iditarod. One of my favorite life experiences.

 

 

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Keeping Our Brains Young

Aerobic exercise can change the brain’s anatomy, physiology and function. Wendy Suzuki, PhD, author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life.

Perhaps you think exercise is all about your body—building muscles, conditioning your heart, circulatory systems, etc. You’re right, of course, but exercise is also about your brain. Exercise, along with fresh food, adequate sleep, and socialization, helps keep your brain healthy. “What virtually no one recognizes,” warns John Rately, MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, “is that inactivity is killing our brains.”

Scientists believe that physical activity stresses our brains similarly to how it works our muscles. Neurons break down, then recover, becoming stronger and more resilient. The good news is that exercise keeps our brains young. Rately adds, “Everything we’ve learned continues to confirm that exercise helps prevent cognitive decline as we age.” Exercise makes our brain stronger and protects it from a variety of diseases including dementia. If this doesn’t motivate us to exercise, what will?

Affirmation: I exercise regularly.

Coaching questions: How much do you value your physical and mental health? What steps will you take this week to honor this value?  

 

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Photo by Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash 

Learn to Manage Your Energy

Life is long and if you play it right, you can do most of the fun things you always wanted. You just need to have patience and manage your energy so you can ENJOY the things you do. Darius Foroux, The Medium

There was a day when I concentrated on managing my time but I’ve learned that it’s more important to manage my energy. I still write to do lists and check my calendar but I’ve learned to view my schedule with an eye to managing my energy rather than figuring out how many activities I can squeeze into a day. 

As a person who has always needed quiet time and plenty of sleep, it hasn’t been difficult  to switch my priorities. Foroux writes, “Learn what activities destroy your mood and drain your energy. Manage your life so that most of what you do makes you happy and adds to your energy.” We all have the same 24-hours in a day. You know how much time you have. Learn to honor your varying energy levels so you can make the most of your life while enjoying the things you do. 

Affirmation: I manage my expenditure of energy.

Coaching questions: What activities make you happy and add to your energy? In what ways do you manage your expenditure of energy? If there is something you need to adjust, what will you do this week to make changes?

 

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The Benefits of Embracing Nature

Embracing the great outdoors cuts down on mental rumination and can boost well-being in the process. Erman Misirlisoy, PhD

This morning my intuition told me to skip the gym and spend time in nature. I exercised my body by walking. I believe I also enhanced my overall health by reducing my mental workload and taking a break from making decisions. Although my intuition is usually spot on, we now have the research to prove the benefits of spending time in nature.

Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, writes, “Spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term wellbeing hasn’t been fully understood. We gathered evidence from over 140 studies involving more than 290 million people to see whether nature really does provide a health boost.”

The team analyzed how the health of people with little access to green spaces compared to that of people with the highest amounts of exposure. They found that spending time in, or living close to, natural green spaces is associated with diverse and significant health benefits. It reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death,  preterm birth, and increases sleep duration. People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress. They also determined that exposure to green space significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol — a physiological marker of stress. 

The research team hopes that their findings will prompt doctors and other healthcare professionals to recommend that patients spend more time in green space and natural areas. Whether it’s a visit to a park, a walk on the beach, or a hike in the woods, make it a priority to regularly spend time in nature.

Affirmation: I spend time in nature.

Coaching question: How important is it to you to spend time in nature? How does being in nature make you feel? If you are rarely exposed to nature, what’s keeping you away?

 

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Celebrating My Life

When I throw my bread out upon the waters of life, it comes back buttered. Mershon

It’s my birthday! I’m seventy-four. It sounds old but I feel like I’m in the prime of my life. Although it’s been a wild ride starting with my mother dying when I was eight, a heart-breaking divorce after twenty-five years of marriage followed, eight years later, by the sudden death of my second husband ten months after we were married, there’s been much joy. In addition to good health and the blessing of faith and friends, I had three wonderful children who turned out to be amazing adults, eight grandchildren who are all brilliant and charming (of course), a precious third husband, and an abundance of step kids, step grands and step great grands who I love dearly. 

In the last four years, my husband and I started a whole new life on Marco Island. I now have new friends that feel like family, organizations that keep me vital, and the benefit of living in a beautiful, peaceful environment. I’m on the cusp of publishing a book on a topic I’m passionate about for an audience for whom I care deeply. Mom’s Gone, Now What? will be part of my legacy along with gardens lovingly planted, a kid or two who can now speak English, memorable tea parties, policy changes in the fields of mental health and aging, plus some people to whom I’ve brought love, support, and adopted babies. 

Early on I learned that life can be short. This lesson taught me to live each day with exuberance and joy. Because my mother and grandmother both died in their thirties, I’ve considered the last forty years of my life to be “gravy.” To me, the next twenty or so years will be “frosting on the cake” (you can tell I’m a Foodie).

Affirmation: I live my life with exuberance.

Coaching questions and request: Take time to celebrate your life. This isn’t an egocentric exercise. This is about gratitude for what you’ve endured, accomplished, and who you have become. If you’re thinking, maybe not, ask yourself, what’s holding me back? 

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Open Yourself to the Unlikely

If you open yourself when you open a good book it will continue to illuminate your life even after The End. Oprah

If you know me at all, you know I love books. However, there was a time when I read very little. With three children, a business, and a household to manage, even sitting down to read a magazine seemed a far off dream. Now I read about fifty books a year and many magazines. Reading is a necessity for writers but I still see it as a luxury afforded to an empty-nester. 

I recently read The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. It’s everything I’d normally not read: A fantasy written for middle grade kids set in the Middle Ages. I bought the book at a writers’ conference and had it signed by the author for my ninety-two year old friend, Virginia, who writes for this age. Murdock won the 2019 Newberry Award, the top award for children’s literature, so I was intrigued. As I read the book before mailing it to Virginia, I did as Oprah suggested. I opened myself up to an unlikely genre, hero, author, and story. The visions Murdock created will illuminate my life even after The End. 

Affirmation: I open myself up to the unlikely. 

Coaching questions and request: What new endeavor or experience might you open yourself up to that could make a difference in your life? Camping, a different type of music, an unlikely friend, Lebanese cuisine, a memoir, tap dancing, a symphony? The list is endless. This week, I challenge you to try something outside of your comfort zone. Let me know how it works out.

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Embracing Imperfect Beauty

Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. Richard Powell, author of Wabi Sabi Simple 

Fortunately, next week I get to celebrate another birthday. I’m not a woman who hides her age or laments lost youth. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature but beautiful old people are works of art.” I’m embracing her words. 

I also make an effort to embrace the Japanese notion of wabi-sabi, or “imperfect beauty.”. Wabi-sabi prizes authenticity. It’s the true acceptance of finding beauty in things as they are. Jessie Shool, in her magazine article, The Wabi-Sabi Self, writes, “By perceiving ourselves through this generous lens, we can stop endlessly striving for the ideal body and focus instead on real physical health. All it takes is a shift in perception.”

Affirmation: I am a work of art.

Coaching questions: How do you perceive your aging? What shift in perspective do you need to make to embrace wabi-sabi?

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Photo by Pablo Rebolledo on Unsplash