Quality of Life; How To Find It and What It Means for You

As a hospice nurse, quality of life verse quantity of life, was something that often came up in discussion with patients and families. How do you want to live your life? What is an important focus for the time you have left here? You may not think this questions is relevant to you at this time, after all you are not dying, but this question is relevant to all of us. None of us know how much time we have left here. Even more importantly, sometimes quality of life and quantity of life are not the same thing.

According to Deepak Chopra, research shows that people who age well have 7 things in common.

They are:

  1. Meditation
  2. Wide social support systems
  3. Close relationships with family and friends
  4. Daily Multivitamin and mineral
  5. Good sleep and daily activity
  6. Life long curiosity
  7. Take on new challenges

Deepak goes on to say that most of these things are about quality of life. Therefore having a good quality of life equates to having more quantity of life too. I have seen this first hand in hospice. Patients on hospice, on average, live about 30 days longer than similar patients with the same diagnoses. Shifting the focus from curative to quality of life, actually extends life.

So what makes quality of life so important? It makes life worth living. What is the point in having a long life if you are miserable? Do I think that this means you should eat everything you want, party, and abuse your body? No, absolutely not. Although those things may give you pleasure in the moment, the abuse to your body is likely not going to contribute to healthy quality of life over the long haul. These types of abuses to the body take a toll on it, which could potentially cause disease and frustration.

A better quality of life can be found by:

  1. Working through you baggage
  2. Forgiving others and more importantly yourself
  3. Learning to truly love yourself
  4. Making healthy choices for your body
  5. Finding hope
  6. Having balance
  7. Surrounding yourself with people who respect you and make you feel heard
  8. Trusting the flow of the Universe to support you
  9. Awareness of yourself as an eternal being
  10. Remaining positive whenever possible but also acknowledging your emotions

How do you feel your quality life is? What steps do you need to take to attain and maintain a healthy, happy, quality of life? Remember that happiness is an inside job! No one can “make” us feel happy. It is a choice we make in every moment and with each interaction. Live your best life now. Don’t wait for tomorrow.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you have an amazing quality of life, as if by magic.

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Keeping Up With Healthy Initiatives When the Seasons Change

Healthy initiatives can seem energizing when you first start them. They give you hope of a better tomorrow and the good feeling in your heart of really doing something important for yourself. When Mother Nature sees fit to make changes in the seasons, it can throw a curve in your plans. Also seasonal holidays can seem like an excuse to no longer stay the course. Having a plan to combat these changes is the best way to not let them derail your progress.

If you follow my blog you probably know I have a number of healthy initiative all going at once. Taking Care of Me; Step By Step, is the blog that lays them all out if you are interested. My husband and I have been doing an excellent job getting our 10,000 steps in a day. We’re getting up and walking before work, then after work and again before bed, if we still need some more steps. This week we got snow here in MN. I wasn’t expecting it and upon waking discovered 3 inches of the pristine white stuff covering everything. I found it hard to want to get out an walk. I did eventually bundle up and head to the grocery store. I could have driven and it would have been quicker and warmer, but why not take care of 2 things at once. It was a nice sunny day. The bright sun reflected off the snow and I reflected on how to keep up with all that we are working on, despite time marching on.

I am a wonderful “justifier” and snow seems like a great reason to justify skipping a walk. Having a plan in place helps keep you on task. Just like with the intermittent fasting that we are working on. There is always a justified reason to not stay the course; family in town, a special gathering, or an appointment that throws a kink in things. Recently, when my brother visited, we met him early each morning for breakfast. I always look forward to this annual visit and our early morning breakfast and conversation. As his visit neared, I started to fret about what to do about the intermittent fasting and the fact the fact that I wait until 10am before I break my fast. In the end I had a conversation with my brother, who was gracious and understanding. I still met him for breakfast and I enjoyed a nice cup of hot tea, while we had our usual time together and great conversation. Having a plan helped me stay the course. I have so far lost 15.4 pounds by sticking to the intermittent fasting.

Finances is another healthy initiative we are working on. The holiday season is fast approaching. This is the time of year when people often try to spend money to show someone how much they love them. Buying someone a gift, that they may not need or want, will not necessarily communicate your love and appreciation of them. I encourage you to come up with a plan on how to handle this time of year. Start a savings account that you add to throughout the year. Set a budget for gifts and holiday groceries and stick to it. Find innovated ways to show your love and appreciation for those you care so dearly about. Start a conversation with your friends and family about other ways to celebrate your love and appreciation like agreeing to volunteer together as a family. Make an understanding about gifts and a cost limit. Give homemade gifts infused with good intentions and lots of love. There are so many options.

As soon as you decide to focus on a healthy initiative, something will come up to throw you off course. Try to think about what these things may be. Make a plan for them. Remember that healthy initiates are not things we do just for today or tomorrow. These are things we incorporate into our life an become our new standard of living. To ensure success at improving our life, we need to think about how to remain faithful to ourselves. We need to make ourselves a priority by having a plan to keep our momentum moving forward.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May all your plans come easily, so that you stay the course, and reach the goals you set for yourself, as if by magic.

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This Mystical Magical Life

There is magic in this world. I know this to be true. I have seen it time and time again. Some might call it miracles or God and others maybe would call it happy accidents. Whatever you call it, it is inspiring. Think about a time when something happened so serendipitous that you knew it had to be Divinely guided. I always feel a bit more hopeful after something like this happens. After the Universe (AKA God) plops magic down into our life to give us something amazing.

The innate individuality between people, especially children, is one of the things that feels absolutely magical to me. How they naturally form different interests, different outlooks and different talents. Watch two small children about the same age. When they are very young, they are completely themselves. A tune to the wonders of living as life has not yet slapped them into conforming with everyone else. You will see two youngsters that have very different ways to interact with the world around them.

Sometimes it is a magical opportunity. Suddenly, without even trying, this amazing opportunity will pop up. Maybe it is a volunteer opportunity that calls to your soul or a dream job, a great chance to purchase something you never thought you would be able to afford or a once in a lifetime event you can attend. When these things seem to come out of the blue, how could we not appreciate the “magic” in this world.

Last night my husband and I went on a walk. We had a very magical experience, that we never expected, when we bundled up and set off to face a cold night. As we were walking we heard; “who who who who” and then it would repeat. I knew, with a sparkle in my eye, that there was an owl nearby. We started walking toward the sound but then didn’t hear it any longer. We continued on our walk when my husband noticed the sound again. As we looked toward where we thought the sound was coming from I saw a large horned owl on the very top of a high evergreen tree.  When we walked towards it, it flew into the neighboring tree, where we saw there was another. They were busy talking back and forth.  My spirit was light and I was full of Joy. Owls are not readily seen because of their nocturnal nature and especially in the city. I love owls and was so thrilled to have the Universe deliver this magical experience into my life. As we walked we could hear them hooting. They seemed to be taking the walk with us and followed us as we went.

From the extraordinary to the seemingly mundane, magical events, things, and people float in and out of our life, leaving a trace of the mystical by touching our soul. They remind us of the Divinity all around us. The Divinity that is a part of us as we are a part of it.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your life be filled with mystical, inspiring moments, as if by magic.

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Busy for the Sake of Busyness

Do you ever feel like you are doing something just to be busy? Is it hard to find time to be still? This is definitely something I struggle with. On a nice day I will plan to go spend time outside in the hammock or on the Adirondack chair. I will get myself ready with a cup of tea and maybe bring a book or journal and plan to spend some peaceful time just relaxing. After about 10 minutes (if I make it that long) I will no longer be able to ignore all of the things that need to be done, that are jumping around in my head. I will get up and get busy getting something done. Am I doing things just for the sake of doing something? Why do I feel there is no value in resting and being quiet?

This is one of the things I appreciate about my trips to the BWCA with my Adventure Sister Emy. There were times when it was raining and there was nothing that needed to be done. We would sit under our tarp, listening to the rain, drinking tea and chat. After a couple of hours of this, there would be nothing more to talk or even journal about. All that was left was to sit peacefully and just be. Even in this beautiful, remote area this was very hard for me. I would feel anxious but then typically have a  bout of anxiety, followed by some kind of emotional breakthrough. Almost as if my subconscious was trying to protect me from the pain. As if it was trying to keep it pushed down deep inside and hidden away. I would get anxious and feel the need to do something, anything, rather than just sit peacefully and rest. There were times this feeling of anxiousness was so strong I felt I wanted to leave the Boundary Waters all together. Once I got past the anxiety though, a rush of bare emotions would flood up in me. These were not fun emotions but, by allowing them to come up, I was able to process them and eventually move past them.

This begs the question; is the constant busyness of our time really just a manifestation of emotional disconnect. When I have free time at home I am seldom able to just be quiet and let time pass. I always feel the need to be multitasking. When I am on the plane or the bus to the rental car center, I seldom just sit peacefully. Typically I am scanning emails or playing silly games on my phone. I heard Deepak recently refer to it as the “illusion we are doing something”. Why do we feel guilty when we do nothing? How often does this really happen? Even when we relax, it is typically in front of the TV. Take a look at your life and see if (like me) you find that you are always doing something.

So all of this begs the other question; how do we change it? It is safe to sit peacefully and do nothing sometimes? Is it even honorable? How do we get there? Currently I am trying meditation. I feel it helps me see that it is healthy for me to spend sometime quietly, just feeling the rise and fall of my chest while I breathe. I hope that from meditation I can move to a place where I can sit in quiet contemplation. It was so powerful when it happened organically, as it did, in the BWCA. Even having the chance for a once a year retreat to allow for some quiet, seems like an excellent idea. I certainly do not have all the answers here. In many ways this question is as individualized as we all are. There is power and awe in those quiet moments. They are worth looking for and fighting to protect.

Thank you for reading my blog today! I love you! May you find many peaceful moments throughout your life, as if by magic.

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Divine Timing

Have you heard of the idea of Divine timing? It is the concept that everything happens precisely when it is supposed to. It can be a very freeing idea. It takes a lot of the stress out of our lives and helps us be able to “trust” in the flow. How can a trust in Diving timing reduce your stress? Let’s go over a couple of quick examples and you can see how it has played out in your life from time to time.

  • You are running late to meet a friend but when you pull up you notice your friend is just arriving as well.
  • You apply for a promotion at work but do not get it. A few months later an even better position opens up and you do get this one.
  • You meet a person you are romantically interested in and things just don’t work out. A year or two later the two of you reconnect and everything works out swimmingly or perhaps you meet someone who is an even better match for you.
  • You want to buy a house and you find one you like. For whatever reason, the purchase falls through only to find a better house that is beyond your dreams, that you are able purchase.

These are all examples of Divine timing. Have you had examples of things like these happening in your life? Have you ever had times when you have tried to force things to happen a certain way and ended up in a situation that just did not feel right or comfortable? Did you obtain something, that in the end, you did not enjoy or it wasn’t what you expected?

By trusting in Divine timing, life has more flow to it. There is less stress. You can apply for that promotion without attachment. Simply give it a try and trust that it will happen when the time is perfect. When you are running late, you can travel safely to your destination knowing that you will arrive exactly when you are meant to. I am not saying that you should be disrespectful of people’s time or have no regard to being punctual. What I want you to understand is that if life suddenly swirls in and puts you behind schedule, trust it. Do not fret and worry. It will be okay.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you you travel through life in the perfect flow, as if by magic.

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Find the Joy in Your Story, As Is

“Sometimes you have to let go of the picture of what you thought it would be like and learn to find joy in the story you are actually living” ~ Rachel Marle Martin

All of our lives, most of us have been told stories of the families we came from and have the expectations set for what we are to become. They may be others’ expectations or they may be ours. What will we do as a career? How will we live, pray, or even what recreational activities will we do? All of these things are expectations set for us early in life. Of course these change and shift as we move forward. Though often, when we do not meet these set expectations, there is disappointment. It may be our disappointment or that of others, who feel disappointed for us, but it is there all the same.

I really like the above quote because if we are to truly living in the now, we must accept this life we are living. For me this does not mean not to strive to improve myself and my life. It means that I need to find the joy, perfection, and peace in things as they are. It allows me to accept today, as is, while still manifesting the life of my dreams. Gratitude begets more to be grateful for. By finding the joy in my life, as is, more joy will be delivered to me as I step ever forward.

When I was growing up there was no doubt that I would go to college. It was the expectation as well as the legacy set down for me by my mother, who had  two bachelor degrees and two master degrees. When I dropped out of high school, I am sure she felt that her world was crumbling. I am sure it was crushing to her that I was not living up to the potential she saw in me, yet I eventually found my way and now have 2 degrees as well as several certifications. I did not get to this place all at once. I accepted each place I found myself as ok and where I was at that time.  I continued to manifest the future I wanted. I may not have always seen the joy in where I was as it took (and takes) time focusing on my wellness to get to that point. It took years of self-work to pull myself to the place I am, so that I can see the joy in today, right now. I still aspire to be more, do more and help more people. But for today I am joyful and I appreciate all the blessing in my life.

There are so many times in life when we paint a picture of what we think something should be like, when often it turns out to be quite different. Maybe it is your job. Maybe it is your relationship. Maybe it is your health. Maybe it is your faith. Maybe it is some other aspect of your life. It is okay to admit it’s not what you thought it was going to be. It is okay to accept it as is and find the joy in that. It is also okay to make plans to improve or change it and to move towards the life of your dreams.

Accept what is. Find the joy. Count your blessings and make plans to move toward the life of your dreams.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find the joy in each and everyday in the things that are not what you expected, as if by magic.

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Taking Care of Me; Step By Step

I keep plodding along trying to get to a better version of me. What can I do to improve myself a little more each day? I recently wrote a blog inspired by a friend called; How Do You Eat an Elephant or (in this case) a Dinosaur? It was all about doing things step by step to improve yourself.

Well, I put that into practice and started working towards the best me I can be, step by step.

  • I have been a Pescatarian since April 2012 – This was the first major health improvement I made. (What is healthy for me may not be healthy for you.)
  • 5 plus years of avoiding processed sugar – It does not make me feel good when I eat processed sugar because of my gastric bypass. Even more than that though, I have realized it causes me joint pain as well.
  • 4 months of intermittent fasting – I have been doing intermittent fasting since the beginning of July. There have been some weeks when I have not been focused on this or even stayed the course, but I am back solidly in the seat of intermittent fasting now and learning so much more about my eating and emotions and how they are connected. I have lost 14 pounds in that time.
  • 2.5 months of decreasing complaining Wellness is about mind, body, and soul improvements. Working towards 21 days complaint free is a way to improve my mind and soul. I did make it to day #2 once and I believe that if today keeps going well, I will make day #2 for a second time.
  • 27 days without Alcohol – Originally I only wanted to go 28 days without alcohol. I can almost taste the success of accomplishing that. Do you know what it has taught me? I do not need it and look at all the money I am saving by not having my nightly glass or two of wine.
  • 2 weeks of increased activity – 10,000 steps a day is my goal. I have made it 8 of the last 14 days. My September step average was about 5,500 steps but the last 2 weeks the average has been over 9,000.
  • 11 days without diet soda – Oddly, this has been much harder for me to give up than wine. I am making it though. Sparkling water gives me the same bubbly sensation and tea helps make up for the caffeine.
  • 7 days since refocusing on awareness of finances – Financial health is also an important part of wellness. How can we have peace of mind if our finances are giving us stress. I read Dave Ramseys book, The Total Money Makeover. I found myself inspired to refocus on getting to a place of financial freedom. I do not want money worries to rule my life.
  • 4 days of daily meditation – I was making great headway on resuming a daily meditation practice. I did four consecutive days and then a missed the next 3 days. Today I started again!

These are 9 great initiatives I took towards being the best me, I can be. If I had added them all to my routine at one time it would have been to overwhelming. Step by step additions of each of the various initiatives seems reasonable and it gives me time to get one under control before the next one is added.

What are you doing to take care of you? How are you improving your wellness? What would you like to do to be the best version of you?

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your wellness initiative(s) be successful, as if by magic.

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