Shake It Up!

carsshakeitup “Dance all night play all day 
Don’t let nothin’ get in the way. 
Dance all night keep the beat 
Don’t you worry ’bout two left feet. 
Shake it up!”

For those of you who are familiar with that 80’s song by The Cars – I apologize for the earworm. 

As I was working out this morning, boredom reared it’s ugly head.  I felt like I was going through the motions without a lot of heart.  Not a good sign.  So I talked to trainer Chris today and told him that I was going to take the month of October to challenge myself with new classes – I was going to shake it up.

As I looked over the list of options, several classes stood out as interesting.  Studio Cycle, which is a spin class, sounds like a good one to try.  There’s also a class called Total Conditioning, that’s one that would be good to incorporate on a long term basis.  Then there are the fun classes like Zumba Toning and Fitness Pilates – those are worth a shot. Lastly, there is a class called Foundations – Strength.  So over the next four weeks I am going to try at least 1 or 2 new classes a week.  My friend, Jeani, is game to try too so that’s a big plus.

I’m sure I’ll find that some of the classes aren’t a good fit for me, and that’s okay.  It’s the challenge of finding some new opportunities for change and fitness that matter.

I’ll let you know how it goes.  And, although my musical mind is in an 80’s mode right now, no leotards nor leg warmers will be worn.

Ooohooohooo!

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Rain

woman-dancing-in-the-rainBe still, sad heart, and cease repining; 
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; 
Thy fate is the common fate of all, 
Into each life some rain must fall, 
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – The Rainy Day

Outside, the sun is shining and people are laughing and happy and oblivious to the pain you are feeling.

How can this be?  How can they not see that the world is a painful place today and there’s a storm that’s abounding?  How?

Sometimes we are swamped with the physical, emotional and spiritual happenings of our lives.  We can barely put one foot in front of the other without a great deal of effort.  When people ask us, “What’s wrong?” we answer, “Nothing.”  We can’t put words to it so why even try.

You know that is a common thread that weaves itself in and out and among the lives of each of us who has ever taken a breath.  Rain.  Sadness, frustration…we all have felt it. The thing is, when it’s our own life which is being rained upon, it’s much worse because we are living in it.  Others may notice that something isn’t quite right with us, but they can never understand the impact it is having upon us.  Why?  Because, most of the time, we don’t explain it to them.  Remember, that’s a choice.

We need to learn to open up and share the burdens with others who are willing to help shoulder them.  After all, you would do the same for them, yes?  Now I’m not saying to be a world-class complainer about every little thing.  That gets old fast and you will soon find yourself only hearing the voices of your loved ones on their respective voice mail greetings.  I’m saying when you are feeling overwhelmed by life and feel like you are going under – call for help.  Reach for a lifeline.  That’s what it’s there for.

If the storm doesn’t seem to want to pass, seek professional help.  There’s no shame in seeking help – actually, quite the opposite.  It takes a great deal of strength to say, “I cannot do this alone.”

Remember, when you are in a place of strength – even in the midst of rain – you find that you are still able to dance.  There is still joy to be found.  Seek it.

Solitude

DSC03413Don’t make the mistake of confusing loneliness with solitude.

I embrace solitude.  I always have.

Some of the best memories of my life were days spent alone exploring new places.  London…Brighton…The Magic Kingdom.  I arrived at those spots due to the benefit of my husband, Tim’s, work travels – but in order to make the most of my free time, I ventured out by myself.

In London I saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace – I shopped at Harrod’s – I explored Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern…In Brighton, I walked the famous pier and beach – spoke with many locals and visited a great cafe.

While I was in the Magic Kingdom, for the first time ever I might add, I met one of the original Disney animators and he even drew a Peter Pan sketch for our children.  His name was Harry Holt and I’ll never forget him.

So what I’m saying is that when you are experiencing times of loneliness – seek out ways to use your creativity and turn that sadness into wonder – turn it into solitude.  And while you’re at it – listen to that small, still voice within which  has been trying get your attention for such a long time.  Listen to what it has to say.

And whether you’re by the ocean or a local swimming pool – enjoy the time.  I might offer this tip:  take your camera.  Those moments will turn into favorite memories as seen through only your eyes, no one else’s. You will have the luxury of choosing your path for the day or hour with no complaints or suggestions.

As I was walking along Brighton Beach, that small, still voice spoke to me loud and clear.  I have always sensed the presence of God and a feeling of encouragement when I see seagulls – long story, but true.  As I was wandering the walkway and feeling very thankful for the day and time I had there – a seagull landed next to me.  He is the fellow you see at the top of the page.

Message received.

 

Viewpoint

Elegant white dandelion wallpapers 640x480 (03)Have you heard the story about the blindfolded men who had an elephant placed before them?  They all touched the elephant…one felt the tail and thought there was a piece of rope before him.  Another touched a leg and thought he was feeling the trunk of a tree. One touched a tusk and thought it was a pipe.  Funny thing is – it was always an elephant.

When we keep our mental eyes closed in our view of life – when we keep the blindfold on – we tend to be mistaken, oftentimes, because we don’t have all the facts. Sometimes we are absolutely correct. Sometimes, we need to adjust our viewpoint.

It’s very easy to establish what we believe as absolutely correct in such a way as to never be open to hearing the perspective of another.  That makes me quite sad. And, might I say, that by hearing them – truly hearing them – it doesn’t make us wrong and them right, it just makes us open to understanding them better, seeing their viewpoint. In the case of our foundational beliefs – our personal tenets – hold strong to those, build on those – but never use those beliefs to injure another.  Never. Do remember this….sometimes those we cannot understand may have a thing or two to teach us – and sometimes it’s the other way around.  Both can be beneficial, but we first must meet each other where we are – in our individual truths – before we can truly communicate.

So the next time you come across a dandelion – be it actual or metaphorical – remind yourself of this…where you see a weed, someone else sees a wish.

Where the Magic Happens

1234328_591211927609004_1043599790_nThe idea of the comfort zone goes back to a classic experiment in psychology. Back in 1908, psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson explained that “a state of relative comfort created a steady level of performance”. Alan Henry for “Mindhacks” reminds us that in order to maximize performance, we need a state of relative anxiety—a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal. This space is called “Optimal Anxiety,” and it’s just outside our comfort zone. Too much anxiety and we’re too stressed to be productive, and our performance drops off sharply.

Any of us who have ever challenged ourselves to step outside of our comfort zone know that there’s a fine line between challenging and overstepping.  If we don’t push hard enough, we remain in a rut.  If we push too hard then we reinforce the notion that we should NEVER step out of our comfort zone.

What happens if we actually achieve the ultimate amount of self-prescribed discomfort? Well, things like this:

  • You will become more creative.  New experiences cause new patterns of thinking.
  • It will become easier to roll with the punches life throws at you.  When we aren’t so set in our ways, change isn’t as threatening.
  • You will find you have strengths that were previously undiscovered.  You might be a fabulous swimmer or runner or photographer.  How will you know if you never try.

Now here’s how to do it:

  • Try something new everyday.  It could be as simple as taking a new route to work or trying a new restaurant without checking it out on-line beforehand.
  • Step outside your bubble.  We tend to stick with the same people, the same authors, the same music – today try deviating from that.  Talk to a few people you don’t know very well.  Ask them at least 3 questions.  Make them interesting ones.  Tune into a new radio station – something you might have never previously listened to.  Give it a chance.
  • Don’t over think it.  Sometimes it’s okay to make a snap decision when you are generally very careful and methodical in your choices.  Something as simple as trying a new fruit or vegetable at the market would be good.  Just grab, pay and go.  You’ll find lots of recipes on line to create a dish with your new find.
  • Trust that you can do it.  If it’s always scared you but intrigued you, for example, skydiving – find a friend who’ll go with you and schedule it!  If there’s a workout class you’ve always wanted to try but don’t want to look silly – try it!  No one will be watching anyway – honestly.

So go ahead and break free from the ordinary – vive la différence!  It’s a little addicting, you’ll see. Soon you’ll be seeking out challenges and changes you never dreamed of.  And then all that’s left is to wait for the magic to happen.

Kinky

kinks-2845867“Yeah…you really got me now, you got me so I can’t sleep at night!”

While the band, The Kinks, was a groovy thing to behold – the kinds of kinks which are bothering me this week, are not.

Stress is not a good thing for this old body, or any body for that matter.  Stress causes a host of bad things:  Kinky muscles, headaches, stomach aches, sleeplessness and weight gain.

Went to see Dr. Mike the most excellent Chiropractor this morning and he could tell something was up.  He reminded me that the reason I was holding my shoulders and head like Frankenstein’s monster was due to stress.  He then went on to un-kink the whole mess.  Might I say, “ouch!”.  Although now I feel better.

Then I headed up to see personal trainer Chris and it was evident that the reason I didn’t lose any weight this week was a direct cause of stress.  Diet – same,  work outs – same, stress – off the charts.

I realize that stress is a part of life, it cannot be avoided – however, there are things we can do to ease the effects of stress a bit.

1. Journaling – spend a few minutes writing down the things that are bugging you – once they are down on paper, sometimes they aren’t so bad.  It’s also a good way to release the tension without burdening a friend or loved one.

2. Meditation – Find a guided meditation podcast on iTunes (if you have it) or on-line.  Take a few quiet minutes to listen and relax.

3.  Restorative Stretching – Look for a good relaxation class nearby and try it.  It will help your body relax and take your mind off of what’s bugging you.

4.  Deep Breathing – Take several slow, measured breaths in and out – slow your heart rate.  Relax.

5.  Massage – Now I know this can be expensive, but there are deals to be had.  And if you are super stressed and are feeling it in your bones – it’s worth the cost.

I feel much better and the stresses of last weekend are disappearing quickly, thank goodness, so I’m hoping next week’s weigh in is a “negative” experience, if you catch my drift.

“Louie, Louie…oh baby…I gotta go now.  Yeah yeah yeah yeah.”

The Critic

roger-ebert-2-600You’ve heard the voice…”You look awful!”…”You’re fat!”…”What has happened to you?!”

You know that voice well, and you should – because it’s your own.

We women are especially good at self-criticism – although I’m sure men are a very close second.  We give everyone else a break, but not ourselves.  Why is that?

A little criticism can be a good motivator to move forward or achieve goals, but along with that, we also need to be kind and uplifting with our self-speak.  We mainly do this because we are disappointed in ourselves for failing to do the things we so strongly wish we would do.  We have every intention of following through, but we don’t give ourselves permission to have any road bumps or set-backs along the way.  This is a mistake.

In order to move ahead we must experience trial and error along the way.  Sometimes we will be sailing along, true to course and seeing the  finish line in the distance and then BAM!  Something causes the anchor to drop.  We didn’t plan on it – it just happened.

So rather than immediately reverting to that voice of the critic – use the voice of the coach.  “You look pretty good for only getting 2 hours of sleep last night.”…”You’re doing great on your weight loss goal – one slip up doesn’t mean failure.”…”You look pretty good for your age!”  After those encouraging words, put on a smile – it’s nature’s perfect cosmetic.

And remember one thing, you’ve tried being your own worst critic for all these years and it hasn’t been very successful at encouraging change – from now on, try approving of yourself and see what happens.