As we head into 2021, I reflect on a year I never thought imaginable- it felt like a science fiction movie or the twilight zone!
So many people I know, and love have been affected by Coved- 19. Some have lost people they love. Sadly, some of those who died were alone without human touch and contact. Some have lost jobs, cannot pay their bills, and worry about the future. Some have recovered from COVID-19 but still feel exhausted and depressed. Some have realized what is important in life and have been decisions about how they want to live their lives going forward. Some have ended a relationship or are finding and starting a new one. Being in quarantine with someone can make or break who you are as a couple. Others who live alone have too much time to look inward and dwell on their situation and become depressed.
Some choose to stay positive by looking for the silver lining in all that has happened around them by reaching out to others and being present. Some have realized the importance of taking control of your health and made positive changes with diet and exercise.
Around Thanksgiving, our governor put us all on a two-week "Pause".
This action was to try and get the growing number of cases back down to a manageable number. It made me think about how we should all be taking a "personal pause" in 2021 and think before we react.
It is easy to make a judgment about someone's decisions or beliefs. What is sad is many times there are underlying reasons for the way a person is feeling or acting...people do not take the time to think about it or ask. Our world has become so self-focused. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is we need human connection.
My wish for you in 2021 is good health, happiness, and "a pause" from judging, assuming, accusing. As the year progresses, and we come out of the pandemic, I hope we all realize and cherish the true value of human connection and those who love you.
My last blog was about my 30 day Yoga Challenge. I completed it and learned a lot about myself and my dog while on the mat. Here’s my dog waiting for me in the morning …
I realized my body craved the daily stretching and felt better after. It also helped me to make a decision about what was best for me. My life partner is retired and I am not and he likes to spend time in Florida. I may have a different feeling about it if I was retired too, but I am not and after losing my mom in November I was getting homesick and felt very lonely and vulnerable living in an area where I didn’t have my family and friends. So I came home early! This meant a big adjustment for my partner and me since we had driven down with our two dogs and my dog is very attached to me. So as John Denver used to sing…. “I’m leavin’ on a jet plane, Don’t know when I’ll be back again.”
Traveling with a dog was very stressful and not something I would recommend to the light hearted. First when checking my bag, they told me I was 11 lbs over and charged me $75. I had weighed the bag before I left and didn’t believe I was over. Then they charged me $95 to put my dog under the seat and she would count as a carry-on. I gave her Benadryl and put DoTERRA lavender oil on her to keep her calm. The Benadryl didn’t do a thing to make her sleep. The lavender oil kept her and me a little calm.
I was told by the flight attendant she would have to stay in her carrier zippered closed. Needless to say she didn’t like it. At this point I wished I had taken some Benadryl….
I ended up sitting in a middle seat on the plane. The person to the right of me looked rather unhappy to have a dog near him. She wouldn’t settle down and was shaking quite a bit. Finally when we were an hour into the flight I unzipped the top of the carrier and let her pop her head out. Poor thing was pretty stressed. I couldn’t wait to land and get off the plane. In my concern for my dog I left my $300 prescription glasses on the plane. I called and did all the online paperwork – still have not turned up.
Six hours and a loss of $470 extra dollars we made it! HOME SWEET HOME!! I agree with Dorothy……”There’s no place like home!” Here’s Amber 2 hours after we arrived home. What is the point of all this. Sometimes you have to honor yourself and make a decision to do what is best for your own well-being. It might not be what your partner, family, friends can understand. If you are genuine and you trust the direction of your journey then you need to be true to yourself in order to be happy and present to those around you!
It’s a new year with new challenges. In 2018 my personal and professional life experienced some bumps in the road and when 2019 started I felt overwhelmed with sadness for the losses I dealt with in 2018. I felt uncentered, overwhelmed, unsure of my future. My day to day existence was difficult to deal with. I knew I was experiencing grief after losing my mom in November but some of the other changes and loss in my life seemed to be bubbling to the surface. As I watched the ball drop on TV on New Year’s Eve I didn’t have the same feelings I seemed to in past years. I had no New Year’s Resolutions, no exciting goals, didn’t want to create a 2019 Happiness Jar, no exciting feelings about 2019.
I have decided to try a couple of things to get me out of this FUNK! I signed up for a 30 day Yoga Challenge starting tomorrow! In addition I have added my own 30 day Meditation Challenge to start my mornings with gratitude. What do I hope to accomplish from this? Feeling more like my old self, more flexibility, less worrying and stress, more gratitude, toned arms and slimmed down core, living in the present moment-not the past or the future. I’ll let you know how I am doing in my February blog after I complete the 30 days!
In looking for a Yoga Challenge I came upon this quote which explains what I hope to do- live in my moments on the mat and in my day to day and find the joy of the moment.
“Life is made up of a collection of moments that are not ours to keep. The pain we encounter throughout our days spent on this earth comes from the illusion that some moments can be held onto. Clinging to people and experiences that were never ours in the first place is what causes us to miss out on the beauty of the miracle that is the now. All of this is yours, yet none of it is. How could it be? Look around you. Everything is fleeting.
To love and let go, love and let go, love and let go...it's the single most important thing we can learn in this lifetime.”
― Rachel Brathen
What will YOU do in 2019 for your own personal challenge?
During this busy time of the year so many of us are running around buying gifts for those they love to celebrate the holidays. Some have lost the meaning of what this time of year is really about. Sharing with those you love, paying it forward to those you don’t know, showing kindness, volunteering for those less fortunate. Sharing one of the most precious gifts there is – TIME. I have personally learned this year there will never be enough TIME….especially when you lose someone you love dearly.
This Christmas and all other holidays going forward will be different for my family. Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday! Here she is last year on her 75th birthday. Little did any of us know it would be the last birthday we would be sharing a meal and singing Happy Birthday! My mom had a stroke on November 3rd and she died in Hospice on November 7th. It was heart wrenching for all of us to experience even though we all know death is part of life. You just never know when those you love will leave this earth to a better place. Your life can change in an instant!
My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year. When diagnosed they told us she probably had it for 4 years. She was pretty good at covering it up. My dad was her main caregiver at home. This included cooking, cleaning, keeping her on a schedule, doctor appointments and medication (which she would refuse to take). She was starting to spiral deeper into the disease and would become angry and agitated with him and with me when we would try to help her. It was difficult and discouraging to see her decline. There were times when she seemed fine and others when she was not well at all. We signed her up with PACE-ri.org, a wonderful agency. PACE helps aging participants and their families face many challenges maintaining their independence, while coordinating care for the participant. We finally received approval for my mom to start PACE on November 1, 2018. This would have given her some socialization and care in her home and my dad a much needed respite from being a caretaker 24-7. She was scheduled to go the agency for socialization on November 8th and have people come in to help at home twice a week. She never made it to PACE because of her stroke. I was amazed by the care PACE took to be sure everything was taken care of. They called and checked on my dad and on my family members after the passing of my mom. They came to my mom’s Celebration of Life and were warm and comforting. They went above and beyond. They gave the gift of their personal TIME!
I can’t help but think back about how frustrated I became with my mom the day we took my dad out for his birthday in late October. It was a beautiful fall day and we were taking my dad and mom to Publick House in Sturbridge and for a ride to see the foliage. She didn’t want to go. It took me an hour and a half to get her ready. During this time she was angry and agitated. We finally made it to the car and to the Publick House. We had a wonderful time, laughing and joking (at my dad’s expense) while eating a delicious meal. She was animated and full of conversation. We talked about the upcoming holidays. She ate more than any of us which was different since her appetite had not been good for the past few months. While sitting there watching her and my dad laugh and joke, I was relieved we didn’t give up getting her ready to go out. They both seemed relaxed and happy. I didn’t realize it would be the last time we would be together enjoying each other for a happy occasion. I almost forgot to take a photo when we were leaving. My better half Jonathan said “Let’s get a photo!” and he took a photo of my parents that I will cherish forever.
Christmas was always my mom’s favorite time of year. Her birthday fell two weeks before so we always celebrated by decorating the tree and making Christmas cookies. She made most of the ornaments on our tree. I still have most of these ornaments and I treasure them more than any new ones I may have added. My mom made the time to take care of all of us and made us realize the importance of family and spending time together. Our house was the house that hosted all family gatherings during the holidays and it was always full. This took lots of planning and TIME! We all cherish the memories we have of the holidays.
My wish for you and yours this holiday season is for you to find the best gift that you can give anyone, it has no price tag. The gift of TIME means so much, to so many. So make some time, to make a difference! It will change not only their life for the better, but also your own. Merry Christmas and a Very Happy and Healthy New Year!
As the years go by (and they seem to go by faster now) I realize how lucky I am to stay in touch with my childhood friends. We might not see each other as much as we would like since we all lead full, busy lives. We work, help take care of parents who are starting to fail, help our adult children with their children. Some of us have lost parents, some lost a child, some have had serious health issues, some have divorced and gone on to find new love. We each have our own trials and tribulations in this thing called life.
Recently one of my dearest friends lost his dad and we all went to the funeral at a church most of us had been in while growing up. As I sat with 3 of these childhood friends I thought about all we have been through over the years. It wasn’t always easy for any of us but the memories of childhood and high school and the closeness and comfortable feeling when seeing them made me realize how it is comforting to be with those who have the same crazy memories I have. We have all made new friends and continue to live our individual lives but there is a love, comradery amongst us I know will never die. I am thankful for this and hope I am the type of friend who is always available if needed. I know I could call on any of them if I needed them. Here’s to my childhood friends- Love you always! Xo
“Mistakes are part of the game. It’s how well you recover from them, that’s the mark of a great player.”
– Alice Cooper
My last blog was about Spring and looking forward to golfing. Well I started golfing twice a month with my friend after work so I could get better at the game. Well, let’s just say …..that’s not how it’s going. I am not good at the game!! I have tried practicing at the driving range and I try to talk to myself before I hit but it’s not happening!! My friend is doing awesome and hitting every shot!! Would I feel better if she didn’t – truthfully yes!! I find it isn’t as fun as I thought it would be, not because of my friend, because she is lots of fun and we have enjoyed the beauty of the golf course and sharing on the 19th hole. She is very patient and even gave me a couple of her woods for me to practice with (have not had time yet but hope to soon!) She tells me which club to use and gives me some tips when there is water!! I worry I am holding her back since she is pretty good!
I have come to the conclusion I may need to buy some horse blinders so I can only see forward. Not behind me when other golfers are waiting (makes my hands sweat). I really should take a few hours to read the “Golfing for Dummies” book I bought (I skimmed it since I haven’t had much time). I probably should buy more golf balls since I have lost many of those pretty pink ones I bought.
This weekend will be the tell all since I will be golfing with my better half and he is really good! He eats, drinks and sleeps golf! Am I looking forward to it? Not really…… Will I continue to try and embrace the game? Yes I will. This time I am going to try and meditate before I golf to see if it helps to clear my monkey brain that keeps telling me, “you aren’t good at this ….give it up!” Sometimes we need to be out of our comfort zone to learn new things and connect with our friends/partners. Isn’t that what life is about – human connection? Or is it swearing while you look for 15 minutes for a ball that went over the hill into the brush, frustration when you swing and miss the ball, getting so close to the hole in a putt but it circles the edge….. The game of golf is like life- ups and downs and peaks and valleys. Let’s hope this weekend has more ups and peaks and my ball doesn’t fly into the next valley or drop down in the lake…..: ) !
Spring is here although it doesn’t feel like it after surviving four Nor’easters in one month. One would think this is the North Pole right now. But Spring will come and will receive the rain that will give life to flower buds and seedlings. The buds will start on the trees, and we will get a “Spring” in our step and want to get outside and breathe in the new air and find the new possibilities that await you.
In honor of Spring, you could make a list of the many ideas of what you envision for the future. One may be to take a trip in the area you live. Explore some of the places you have never been to visit. Start a new hobby or sport. Plant a flower or vegetable garden in your backyard or find a community garden in your area.
Spring is a great time to clear out the cupboards of heavy winter foods and start planning menus with more fresh fruit and vegetables. Take those clothes you haven’t worn in 2 years and call Big Sister/Big Brother to come pick them up. Spring is a time of cleansing and renewal! Start cleaning your home of stuff you don’t use, and you will have more time for the things you enjoy.
One of the things I am doing this year is learning to play golf. I have been saying I would learn for the past four years since my better half plays all the time and it is something we could spend time doing together (I think-lol!). A good friend of mine called and told me about a great deal at a local country club and I signed up with her. Am I scared- oh yes! I am not that good, and I don’t feel comfortable displaying my lack of athletic ability, but I am going to give it my best shot. I even asked for “Golfers for Dummies” for a Mother’s Day Gift which brought lots of laughter from my adult son. I am looking forward to the melting of snow and the arrival of Spring giving way to me getting on the green!
I have been meditating for a while now, but there were days when I found I was too busy to fit it in. The past 30 days I have done it every day, and it has made a difference in my attitude and calmness. I have had multiple conversations with clients, friends and family members regarding different life situations they are experiencing and feel they have no control over. I have suggested to them that they try meditating. Some laugh and say I can’t sit for that long or it won’t work for me. One friend mentioned how she couldn’t sit and meditate, but she has found a love of embroidery. When she is concentrating on her project, it calms her mind. Here is one she is working on now:
Years ago I read an article about how quilting helped you deal with stress, so I asked my BFF if she wanted to take a quilting class with me. At first, she hesitated, but she agreed to try it, and we both have been quilting ever since! I called and started taking classes at a place near my home. If you live in RI or MA check this out. I have met some beautiful women. We have both continued quilting, and we go twice a year on quilt weekends. When you are concentrating on the material you want, cutting it, sewing it and putting together, it takes your mind off your troubles. Here is something I made for Spring:
Meditation has helped me deal with some challenging changes I am going through in my life. This past month I have made sure to do it at least 20 minutes per day. When I lay down at night to go to sleep sometimes, my thoughts go to the challenges I am facing, and I lay there not able to sleep. I have downloaded an app on my iPhone called Insight Timer, and I have bookmarked the ones that help me. I have one for going to sleep that has not let me down (that and my lavender essential oils). If you are not sure how to meditate, take a look at the many phone apps there are. What I have found is my reactions to stressful situations or things out of my control are much calmer when I have made time to meditate. It isn’t going to change the issue, but it does change the way I REACT to it. I have noticed I can be very stressed and use breathing to calm down. No one knows I am doing it, but I feel my body calm on its own. I find I think before my mouth goes (big for me- I am Irish….Red face and mouth moving is part of my DNA if I get upset).
With the Spring weather coming I plan to do walking meditation. There are plenty of phone apps for this too. One example is here. Walking is good exercise and meditating is good for the mind and my outlook on life! So here’s to putting a Spring in my step and Sunshine on my shoulders! So think about it what can you do “mindfully” to help you reap the benefits of Mindfulness in your life this Spring!
Valentine’s Day is sometimes lonely for those who focus on the many commercials showing couples in love and all the romantic gifts, dinners and Hallmark type moments. But LOVE can be shown to others in so many ways. Showing love is good for your own heart! Take some time this Valentine’s Day to share love with others. Wouldn’t it be a better world to live in if we all passed some loving kindness on to others?
Bake some cookies for a neighbor!
Compliment a stranger. Everyone loves compliments!
Keep Ziploc bags in car with clean socks, kind bars, water for the homeless.
Pay the person before you in line grocery bill when they are short of money.
Give someone a smile. Smiles are contagious!
Send a handwritten letter or card to a loved one you haven’t been in touch with.
Start a conversation with someone who looks a little sad. It’s certain to brighten his/her mood.
Call someone whom you haven’t spoken to in a while. I’m sure Grandma or a beloved aunt or uncle would love to hear from you!
Give a gift…anonymously. What a selfless way to let someone know that s(he)’s loved and thought about.
Volunteer to do something helpful for your parents or grandparents. They’ll be grateful for one less task or chore to do.
Give the gift of time! Volunteer to sit with your elderly neighbor or to babysit for a single parent.
Give someone a hug. Sometimes a hug is just what someone needs to feel better.
Offer encouraging words to someone who’s discouraged. You never know when your words will help motivate a person who feels like no one cares about them.
I have been pushed beyond what I thought I could do physically and mentally and it has made me stronger inside and out! One of the items our gym sold was the MYZONE which helps achieve your health/fitness goals. MYZONE is a new innovative heart rate based system that uses wireless and cloud technology to accurately and conveniently monitor physical activity. It monitors heart rate, calories and time exercising that converts into MYZONE Effort Points (MEPs), with a focus on rewarding effort rather than fitness.
Here are my stats for 2017. The months I had the most MEPs were the months my clothes fit the best, I felt the most energetic and had overall body satisfaction. This makes me realize I need to schedule more MYZONE workouts for 2018. My eating habits were good in 2017 but I didn’t always push myself as hard as I should have to be sure I was hitting the right numbers I needed to burn fat and calories. 2018 I will be – I will check back in June and let you know how it’s going. In the meantime if you want to purchase your own MYZONE here is the link for it- http://myzone.org/getting-started/. Hope you find what makes you want to have better health and life balance in 2018! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.