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Banking it up

In my last post, I talked about self-care in relation to caring for others. You really can’t pour from an empty cup – you have to fill yourself up so that you don’t feel resentful or frustrated when others need something from you. On the flip side of that, we all need to fill ourselves up so that we can be ready to show up for ourselves when things fall apart. 

Eating right and exercising isn’t just a means to a firm, toned end, it’s really so much more than that. It’s about feeling GOOD – feeling good in your body and your mind. And it’s about being ready to handle whatever the future wants to throw at you. 

Stress, like death and taxes, is inevitable. It’s going to come at some point and it’s not going to be particularly convenient, but if you start doing things now that are known stress relievers, you will be so much more able to handle that stress better. 

For instance, if you have a habit of running 3 miles (or doing yoga, or lifting weights, or [insert favorite exercise here]) every day , not only will the everyday stress be more manageable, but when those big stressors hit (a job loss, divorce, a death or illness of a family member, etc) you will have already banked up the skills and tools you’ll need to face them head-on. Think of it as depositing stress relief into your health account so that when you need to make a big withdrawal, it’s there waiting for you. Every time you take a walk, every time you eat your vegetables, every time you write in your gratitude journal or do a 5-minute meditation, you are banking it up and getting ready for the heavy hitters in life. 

If you are already in the habit of doing some of these things, great – you are ahead of the game, but if you are like me and forget this lesson more than you remember it, then take note of the things going on in the lives of your friends and family and let it be a reminder for you. Set a reminder in your phone once a week to ask if you’ve made a health deposit lately. Have someone you can be accountable to and keep each other on track. I tend to think I can put off exercise or vegetables until later, but really I need some form of movement and nourishment every single day, even if it’s only in small amounts.  Do whatever it takes to grow your account so that you’ll be able to handle it better when life gets dicey. 

What do you do regularly and consistently to keep stress at bay? Or alternatively, what do you wish you could do, and what’s keeping you from doing it? 

 Really good book about finding your exercise groove! (Click on the picture to see it at Amazon.com) 

 

Also an excellent read for an overall healthy approach to nutrition. (Click on the pic to see it at Amazon.com)

 

Amazon links are affiliate links. 

You can’t pour from an empty cup

Cindy and I have been friends for a long time – 20+ years now, but we have the kind of friendship where we can go for months and months without seeing each other but when we do finally get together, we pick up right where we left off and spend the next several hours talking nonstop. 

Early last week, Cindy was on my mind and I made a mental note to myself to call her and make an effort to meet up for lunch with her soon. Then late last week, I noticed that she was posting lots of photos of her husband on Facebook. Later that night she texted me: her husband had been diagnosed with cancer just a few months earlier – he didn’t want anyone to know – and hospice had been called in. Early the next morning, another text: he had passed away in the early hours of the morning. He was 58. 

I am so sad for my friend. She and her husband had a very loving Christ-centered marriage and were the very definition of a “team”; they depended on and supported each other greatly. He often referred to her as his bride, even though they had been married for over 30 years. 

I talked to Emily a couple of days ago and she gave me some very good advice. She said, “I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but you need to prioritize yourself right now – you need to take good care of yourself and accumulate some positive experiences so that when you see your friend, you can be in a place emotionally to bolster her, not weigh her down.” It does sound counter-intuitive to look for positives during such a hard time, but she’s right. I don’t want to bring my negative energy to Cindy, I want to be strong enough to let her lean on me if she needs it. And it’s not about being Suzy Sunshine and glossing over the tragedy of his passing, it’s about taking care of myself, so I can be healthy enough to bring a little light into her day, the last thing I want is for her to feel bad that I feel bad! So even though I am sad, I am trying to do things that will make me feel better instead of just wallowing in the sadness (caveat: I did spend the day Saturday feeling sad and cranky. The dam finally broke when late in the afternoon I went to make cookies for my husband and realized we were out of brown sugar. I threw a little temper tantrum, then dejectedly threw myself onto my bed, covered my head with blankets and quietly sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed some more. Obviously, my tears had nothing to do with brown sugar.) 

Since my cathartic little meltdown, I have felt better. I have no doubt that I will again shed enough tears to fill a river when I go to the funeral tomorrow, but that’s okay, it’s expected. However, in a few weeks or so (or sooner if needed) when Cindy and I get together I will make sure that I have filled my own cup with self-care and kindness, so that I can pour some of myself into her cup and maybe it will lift her spirits, even if only a little bit. 

Cindy and I getting ready to run a 5k back in 2014.

To the Frustrated and Resentful: I see you.

To the woman who swears that this week she will stay out of the break room at work (and all of the snacks it beholds)…I see you.

To the woman who spent the weekend on the couch, avoiding all the things she “should have been doing” and now she feels like a big unproductive failure…I see you.

To the woman who pushed herself all weekend long to play catch up at home, even though she was exhausted, because her week was so busy and she couldn’t get all the chores done…

To the woman who puts in an extra half hour on the treadmill because she had wine and pasta at her anniversary dinner Saturday night and she just really can’t afford those calories…

To the woman who refuses help because she “should be able” to do it herself…

To the woman who feels like there will never be enough (time, money, etc)…

To the woman who feels frustrated and overwhelmed and resentful at what her life has become…

I see you. I know how you feel because I used to be you: resentful, overwhelmed, frustrated, insecure, scared.

I get it, I really do. It feels like if you could just try a little harder, you might be able to accomplish all those things that you think you should be doing. So you vow to do better – you will be stricter with food, you will work out every day – no exceptions, you will make a chore chart, a menu, and a budget plan and you will stick to it no matter what! You just need to fight harder and things will work out…

…until something unexpected comes up and your grand plan falls completely apart.

I did this over and over for years. I ended up 75 pounds overweight, cranky, and just generally unhappy and wondering why me? Why and how did I let myself get this way?

Here’s what I eventually learned: the harder you fight, the more you dig in your heels and rage against the machine, the deeper your rut gets. And because I had been on this same path over and over again it was well worn, I thought that I could bully myself into submission and that if I talked terrible enough to myself, I’d eventually get it right and magically become someone I wasn’t meant to be.

Living that way is exhausting. In fact, it’s not really even living, it’s just existing, at least it was for me.

So…how do you start living again? Grace, forgiveness, kindness. 

Give yourself some of that. Give yourself a whole lot of that. Stop believing what society says you “should” be and start believing in who you ARE. You are strong, you are capable, and you are VALID just as you are today, right now. Take back your energy, your boldness, your belief in yourself. Forgive yourself for not measuring up to society’s standards and set your own standards. Set the bar where ever you want – because guess what? There actually is no bar!! Put your effort and your energy into adding more fun, more comfort, more relaxation in your days. And if that sounds like too much, then just start with telling yourself “I forgive myself for everything. I’m going to get curious. I’m going to experiement with what feels good in my life and what needs to go.” Just start there.

And then say it to yourself everyday from now on. 

The rest will come. It will. 

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/imperfect/2016/07/14-inspirational-quotes-from-brene-brown/

Zoom…and it’s gone.

Does anyone else feel like that long weekend zoomed by in a flash? I could really use another day off – I did NOT want to get up and get moving this morning. It’s after noon and I’m still sleepy! 

As quick as it was, it was an enjoyable weekend. I had T’giving dinner with my parents, my sister and her husband, and my little tribe. Friday…what did I do on Friday? I don’t think I did much of anything…Oh, I did run a few errands and then hit a couple of stores in the afternoon for some Black Friday deals – I got a few things but I really wasn’t in a shopping mood.  Then on Saturday, I did shop some more but again, didn’t get a whole lot. I think I’ve gotten spoiled by online shopping because it seems I can get a whole lot done in just a few clicks, all from the comfort of my couch (which I did this morning at 5:30 am. Cyber Monday is the best Monday!). Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny 75 degrees and then yesterday turned cold and windy and gray. I stayed home all day and piddled around and took a nap. I discovered that I need a few hours every Sunday to just be a lazy slob or else I feel like I didn’t have a very fulfilling weekend. I typically spend all day Saturday running errands and catching up on housework, just generally on the move the whole day. I need my Sunday downtime – it recharges my batteries for the upcoming week, and also if I don’t get that, by Wednesday or Thursday I am CRANKY. It’s for everyone’s benefit, really. 

I gotta wrap up this riveting post because I have a boatload of work to do here at my day job. Just wanted to pop in and say I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Also, are you into Black Friday shopping? Or are you more of a Cyber Monday shopper? Do you get rush from fighting the crowds and scoring the best deals early on Friday or does the thought of that make you shiver and duck for cover under your blankets? I don’t mind getting out later in the day on Black Friday, but I can’t handle those crowds. I’ll stick to online shopping thankyouverymuch. 

Oh! PS. I looked at my blog on my phone over the weekend and saw all the ads…Good grief, what a mess! I don’t see those ads when I’m on my desktop computer so I had no idea how distracting and irritating they were on a phone or tablet. I have disabled the ads – I don’t make enough money off of them to subject you guys to it on a daily basis. I might start plopping in a few more Amazon links, but I’ll try not to be obnoxious about it. 🙂

Why I never branched out into other forms of social media (hint, it’s because I’m old and tired)

Woo, look at us blogging again!! Just like riding a bike. Except last time I rode a bike which was earlier this year, I was all wobbly and my balance was off and it was not like I remembered it at all. Where were the pink and purpler streamers? Where was the plastic basket with the purple and pink flowers on it? (Answer, back in 1979, along with the banana seat. Man, I loved that bike.) 

Anyway, while we’re on the subject of blogging, let’s talk about it in all it’s new and different forms. There are so many ways to get your message out there now: You can be a vlogger on The Youtubes, you can post your stuff directly on Facebook, you can take photos of yourself and put it on Instagram along with a post, you can post 47 Tweets in a row that tell your story in staccato bursts, or you can record your voice and turn it into a podcast. Let’s look at what it takes to get your message out with each of these forms of communicating, shall we?

Vlogging on YouTube: you have to know what you want to say, look presentable while saying it, make sure your background is free of clutter and looks pleasing while not distracting from the subject of the video, which is YOU. Then, while filming, you have to be articulate and engaging and not annoying. Then after filming, you have edit the thing and maybe add sound or insert pictures or text… good gravy, I’m exhausted just thinking about it! WHO HAS TIME FOR ALL OF THIS???? If you posted a video several times a week, my word that would take up so much freaking time, but if that’s your thang, then you do you. But man, I can see how it might take over your life if you let it. 

Next up, posting on Facebook: I don’t know, I never wanted my blog to have it’s own page on Facebook because do I really want that guy from high school to comment on my post about perimenopause? I just feel like having my blog on FB would open it up to people who don’t really have an interest in my topics. If you come to my website, it’s because you WANT to know, but if it just shows up in your timeline, you might read it out of curiosity, and comment just because you can, but that opens up a whole can o’ worms that I want no part of. I did try to post links to my blog from my personal page, but it just felt weird, so I stopped. I know some bloggers post exclusively to FB and they’ve made it work, but it just wasn’t for me. 

Instagram blogging: See, my problem with this is that I just don’t take enough pictures. I’m a words-girl, not a picture-girl. If I want to say something, I want to come to my keyboard and just start banging out a post, I don’t want to have to take a picture or a video first. Now, I do post personal stuff on IG, but not terribly often and not in the name of my blog. I feel like old-school blogging was replaced by IG blogging and there are TONS of people who are all about it (except for Blogger/Friend Shelley who has some VERY STRONG OPINIONS on what counts as a blog post – hint: IG does not count). I feel like IG is more for aesthetics than for words. I go on IG to look at pretty pictures, not to read 1000 words about yoga or makeup or leggings. But again, if that’s your thing, Get It Girl. 

And, *sigh*…there’s Twitter. Guys, I just have never felt comfortable on Twitter. As I stated earlier, I’m a words-girl. Give me aaaaaalllll the room I need to write as much as I need to write and I’m as happy as a bird with a french fry. I hate having to cram my thoughts into 147 characters or whatever it is now (215? I can’t remember). And I really don’t love when someone posts tweet after tweet after tweet trying to tell a story when they could just post a link to, oh I don’t know, A BLOG where they can tell their tale with as many characters as they like. It just doesn’t make sense to me. And also, while I’m at it, get off my lawn!!! 

Last up to bat is Podcasting: Full Disclosure – I LOVE listening to podcasts. I have a handful that I listen to when I need to get things done at work. It keeps me focused and on track while distracting me from the sometimes-drudgery I have to do. I do appreciate a good podcast and how easy the good ones make it seem, but if I had to make a podcast? No thank you! So much work goes into a really well done podcast and see point above re: Vlogging. Who has time for this??? The scripting, the editing, the research, the marketing…so much to do! Now having said all that, if say, my sisters or my nieces/nephews, or even my best friends wanted to do a podcast where we just talk and make each other laugh, I WOULD BE SO DOWN FOR THAT because I come from a family of funny people and I have hilarious friends. But it would just have to be a private thing because no one else would get it. WE would think it was hilarious, but others on the outside, probably not – but they might, because as I said, we are blessed with the gift of The Funny.

Blogging is simple and relatively fast and I don’t have to have my hair and makeup done to do it. In fact, right now, I’m in my big sweatshirt and my fuzzy Snoopy pants and my hair looks like I was raised by wolves. And yet, I was able to write this whole post while looking decidedly not-attractive in about a half-hour’s time (or maybe 45 minutes, I didn’t notice what time I started). This is why I stick with my trusty WordPress site, it’s simple, quick, and efficient. I can do what I love while still leaving time for doing other things I love without letting blogging take over my life. 

So, am I alone in my opinions here? Anyone want to challenge me on any of this? And please realize, this is all tongue in cheek – if you enjoy vlogging or Instagramming or podcasting, that’s great! Keep on keeping on. 🙂 

Renovating Blogging

Last week one of my favorite bloggers, V in the NW, wrote a post in response to The Bloggess, who wrote a post in response to Asha Dornfest, in which there was a call to return to blogging. This was my favorite part of Asha’s post, and what I’ve longed for, for a while now:


I’m talking old-school blogrolls and comments again, not for building influence or traffic, but for re-energizing community. Between us as friends and colleagues. Between us and our readers. We all miss that, but there’s nothing stopping us from doing that again. The currency wouldn’t be dollars or page views or virality. It would be the connections between us, once again. Not going back — this isn’t nostalgia. I’m suggesting the 2018 version of blogging and *real* online community.

I started blogging in 2007 and it was out of a need to connect with others and because I thought I had something to say. Back then, my obsession was with weight loss and so that’s the community I found myself in, and never had I seen such a supportive, encouraging group of people (mostly women, with a few guys thrown in too). When my focus shifted away from dieting, I found it difficult to write, because I thought my audience was still mostly women who were on restrictive diets who really weren’t interested in reading about mindfulness (or maybe I just didn’t know how to write about it in a way that would resonate with others), and also because I think this type of blogging was falling out of favor. Facebook was taking over the world, then Instagram and YouTube, and now it seems that Podcasting is the New Black. I think a lot of bloggers took to these social media outlets to post their thoughts in a new way, which is fine, but I just never had any desire to do that. I found it hard to write a post and send it out into the ethernet, not knowing if my community was still interested, or even there. And I will admit that when my favorite bloggers went silent, I stopped seeking out new bloggers to follow. I let my own involvement in this community slide, so I’m part of the problem too. (Side note: special thanks to those of you who have stuck with me since the beginning. You know who you are and I appreciate you still to this day. ❤)

But here’s the thing: I still love to write. I have a private online journal that I sometimes post to when I’m not sure that what I’m writing is appropriate for my blog, but really I just don’t post much anywhere anymore. But I miss it so much! I miss crafting an idea into well articulated words, I miss turning my jumbled thoughts into a paragraph that clarifies exactly how I feel. There is a certain high I get when I can finally express exactly what it is I want to say in exactly the way I want to say it. Kind of like finding that puzzle piece that you’ve been looking for  for an hour and locking it into place – it’s a small thing but feels so victorious! 

And the community! – it was so fun to read someone else’s blog and comment and know that they would read your blog and comment, and soon you became invested in these other lives and they became invested in yours and at one point in time, I knew, knew without a doubt, that if I called some of these women at 2:00 in the morning with a problem, they would absolutely answer the phone for me. THAT is community. (And that also is an extremely long run-on sentence but I don’t care. I said what I said.) 

So, I am answering the call! I want to build up this community again and I invite you to help me – list your active blog in the comments below, and if you had a blog that you haven’t posted to in ages, dust it off and list the name here and we’ll come visit you. Maybe you always wanted to start a blog but didn’t have the nerve…now is the perfect time to begin! Go start your blog and come back here and tell me what it is. 

Let’s make blogging fun again. Let’s make it a place where we can get inspiration and support and encouragement from one another. Let’s spend less time reading each other’s blurbs on FB/IG/Twitter and more time reading each other’s paragraphs. Let’s get to know each other again. 

Tips for Surviving the End of Daylight Saving Time

Cher-Turn-Back-2

Yes I am still using this tired old meme. No I do not regret it. 

It’s that time of year again! When it gets dark earlier in the evening and stays dark later in the morning and basically it’s just dark dark dark all day long, for the next six months. That’s how it feels anyway. And hey, let’s make it worse by pushing time back an hour!! Great idea Ben-Freaking-Franklin. You couldn’t just leave well enough alone could you? Sure, we appreciate that extra hour in summer but seeing as how it screws with all of humanity and our circadian rhythms twice a year, I’m thinking it wasn’t such a great idea after all.

I just happened to find a helpful email in my inbox yesterday and I thought I’d share it (with permission) with you, my six remaining readers. ❤  Full disclosure, I know nothing about this doctor – her PR company sent me this article, but I thought the tips were helpful and practical and worth sharing here.

***********************************************************************************

Lose Daylight Without Losing Your Mojo

Neuropsychologist Offers Practical Tips to Prepare for the Clock Change

www.comprehendthemind.com

That post-summer sluggishness usually kicks in every October as we head into fall. The temperatures drop and the one thing that makes winter’s rapid approach evident regardless of climate is the loss of daylight. For many, this loss of daylight also leads to a loss of energy, an uptick in short temper and even bouts of depression. So how can we ease into the rapidly approaching winter months? Dr. Sanam Hafeez, an NYC based licenses clinical psychologist and faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teachers College, offers practical tips to prepare for the clock change.

Before we get into the tips, it’s important to understand the clock change’s impact on our brains and therefore our bodies, so we understand what is actually going on. Dr. Sanam Hafeez explains that “a cell in the retinas of our eyes called a ganglion cell contains the photopigment melanopsin. When we are exposed to sunlight, melanopsin signals a pathway to cells in the hypothalamus specifically responsible for regulating our bodies biological functions. This process then triggers the pineal gland which is in charge of melatonin secretion which peaks at night and wears off during the day. In simpler terms, the less light exposure we get, more out of whack we feel.”

According to Dr. Hafeez, the following simple adjustments leading up to the clock falling back can make a significant difference for those who don’t struggle with more severe depression or bipolar disorder.

1. Avoid alcohol.

When the clocks are turned back in the fall, many bars stay open an additional hour. This is typically celebrated by people in their 20’s and 30’s who only pay for it the next day opting to sleep away their Sunday. Drinking alcohol before turning back the clocks can add more sluggishness the next morning. “Even with just a one-hour clock change, our body’s circadian rhythm is thrown off making our brains a bit confused. Alcohol only heightens these effects,” explains Dr. Hafeez. Imagine the double whammy of a hangover after the fall back clock change?

2. Enjoy physical activity during the daytime.

The more time spent outside in the daylight doing physical activity, the less sluggish you will feel once the clocks fall back. Fall is a great time to powerwalk or go for a run. If you’re an early riser then you will love the earlier sunrise at least for the next few weeks. “A lot of people shift their exercise routines to include more high energy group workouts in the evenings to give themselves something to look forward to as a way to shake off the workday. You really want to pay attention to when you feel most energized and align your exercise to that,” suggests Dr. Hafeez.

3. Don’t sleep in. Go to bed earlier instead.

In the days leading up to the clock change, add extra “wind-down” time before bed and get to bed an hour earlier. On the Sunday morning of the clock change, people mistakenly opt to sleep in. You really want to stick to the same wake-up time while getting to bed earlier. That’s the key according to Dr. Hafeez. “People think they are gaining an hour of sleep, they’re not because at bedtime they’re losing it. When you keep the wake-up time and get to bed earlier that extra hour isn’t felt as much the next day,” explains Dr. Hafeez.

4. Avoid watching the news before bed.

People think that getting to bed an hour earlier means it’s ok to watch TV in bed before sleep. TV or any kind stimulates the brain. Your favorite show causes you to focus when you’re trying to shut down stimulation. The news is even worse. You get wrapped up in the doom and gloom watching the news. “If you want to really make sure you still wake up refreshed, opt for tranquil music or guided meditations available on YouTube or an app, recommends Dr. Hafeez.”

5. Plan ahead! Consider taking Monday off!

For those who find their mood is negatively impacted after the fall clock change, consider taking Monday off and make it about self-care. Waking up early, taking advantage of the early light, enjoying a healthy breakfast, getting a massage or catching up on reading, tidying and whatever you feel necessary to feel good, do it. “People can feel the effects of the clock change for up to 3 weeks. Taking a day off to focus on your own well-being can become a nice post clock change ritual,” she says.

About the Doctor:

Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyD is an NYC based licensed clinical psychologist, teaching faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College and the founder and Clinical Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, P.C. a neuropsychological, developmental and educational center in Manhattan and Queens. Dr. Hafeez masterfully applies her years of experience connecting psychological implications to address some of today’s common issues such as body image, social media addiction, relationships, workplace stress, parenting and psychopathology (bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, etc…). In addition, Dr. Hafeez works with individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), learning disabilities, attention and memory problems, and abuse. Dr. Hafeez often shares her credible expertise to various news outlets in New York City and frequently appears on CNN and Dr.Oz.

Connect with Dr.Hafeez via Instagram @drsanamhafeez or www.comprehendthemind.com

 

Morning

It’s early in the morning and the night sky is dissolving into a soft light. The water on the pond is absolutely still, the birds have not yet woken to sing their morning chorus. Even the neighborhood dogs are still too sleepy to stand at their posts in backyards and bark at any perceived threats such as feral cats who dare to tread on their territory.

I love this time of day.

When I’m the only one awake and everything – the whole world it seems – is quiet and still. When the day holds so much potential and the promise of things to come. When the only sensations are the smell of my freshly brewed coffee and the heat of the liquid as it fills my mouth. That first sip of coffee matches the feeling of the morning….aaaahhhhh.

During this time of day, when I am quiet and the world is slowly, slowly waking up…it truly feels like time stands still.

But then I hear the caw of a crow, and the surface of the pond begins to dance with the swimming of fish beneath, and trees branches crackle with the bustle of squirrels looking for pecans to pilfer.

The day yawns and stretches and blood begins to flow through its veins. I sit and take it all in and try to remember this feeling, so I can put it in my pocket and feel it as I go through my day, remembering that moment when time stood still and peace was all there was.

morningquote

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