It was a Struggle

This morning’s run was a struggle. When the alarm went off, signaling it was time to get up and get started on my mornings healthy habits, I did not want to get out of bed. The alarm was snoozed and snoozed again. Eventually my commitment pulled me out of bed and downstairs to my meditation space. My mind was restless and I had to continually pull myself back to focusing on my breathing. I found myself peaking at the timer before I hit the 20 minute mark. Still I persisted and continued to sit quietly for the whole 20 minutes.

Next it was time for my run. It was 31 degrees out. The ice has melted off the driveway, so an outdoor run was called for. I began my warm up walk on the frozen gravel road. The air was crisp and calm. I could feel the resistance in my muscles even on the warm up walk. I pushed on, being my usual Stacy Sunshine, believing it was going to get better. Once the running began, it was still difficult. My muscles felt tight. I was short of breath. The hill seemed way more steeper than most mornings. I walked more than I ran.

I continued to push on. Convinced I could “positive think” myself out of the struggle. The full moon was setting over the hill in the distance. It was beautiful to behold. There was a pink tint to it in the early morning lavender sky. It felt inspiring to see it so large in the sky. It did not make the run any easier though. I completed my run, although I did not stick to the C25K algorithm completely. Although my time was the same as my run 2 days before, my distance was slightly shorter. Even though I got out there and did it, it still felt like a failure.

Why are some days like this? My day yesterday was stressful and full of intense emotions. I am recovering from a mild case of COVID, so perhaps that played in. The food choices I made yesterday were not as exemplary as I would have liked. When I weighed this morning, my weight was up slightly, causing me some disappointment. Was it any one of these things? Was it the combo deal of all of them? Should I blame it on the full moon?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why today was a tough day to take care of me. What does matter is that I got out there and took care of me. I continued my commitment to myself. I may repeat this run tomorrow, in order to be true to the walk/run ratios called for in the C25K program. If I don’t, know one would know or care, but I would be letting myself down. Commitment to ones self is of the highest importance.

Not everyday is going to be perfect. Not everyday is going to feel like a huge flaming ball of success. In fact, I believe, it is these days that are struggles, that we gain the most from. It is on these days that we remind ourself, we can push through. We can do what once seemed impossible. It is on these days that we grow! Keep those commitments to yourself. It is worth it. Push beyond the story in you head that says, “go back to bed”. In the end, you will be glad you did. I am very glad that I still meditated and ran today. Even though my experience was one of difficulty, I checked the boxes and got it done. Tomorrow is another day.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find the gumption within yourself to push through even when it feels difficult.

Don’t Judge Yourself by Others

With today’s social media it is easy to see what is going on with friends, family, acquaintances, and even total strangers. It is so easy to look at what everyone else is doing and feel discouraged about your own progress. How we judge our progress, our life, our success, or our value needs to be compared only to what we did in the past up to now. If we are making progress by our own measures, against our own past performance, or even according to our own goals, then we are a success. We will always do better than some and not as well as others.

My husband and I joined a Spring Fling Trail Challenge. The goal is to hike 75 miles from March through May. With this there is a Facebook page for everyone to post and share their hikes. People all over the United States have been excitedly showing their progress. People are posting that they just did a “short” 4.5 mile hike. There are a lot of people who are sharing 7+ mile hikes. Some post only pictures and no mileage and still other are posting hikes just over a mile. It is easy to understand how those who are clocking shorter hikes could feel less successful than those who are marching away on much longer treks. In light of this the only person any of us should be comparing ourselves too, is ourself. It is the only true gauge of our progress or success.

What really matters for Marty and I is that we are getting outside and enjoying the beauty of nature. The challenge keeps us motivated to get out there. We are improving our bodies strength and endurance with each hiking trail we complete and we are getting to see some of the most beautiful scenery. The State Parks near us look very different in the snow, then they did in the bright light of summer. Slowly but surely we are making gains. In December we didn’t hiking. January we only did 3 hikes with less than 3 miles logged. February, we got out there 15 times for almost 20 miles. Now in March, 5 hikes has us just under 7.5 miles. We could compare ourselves to those individuals who have done in one hike, what it took us 5, or we could look at how much we have progressed since December and celebrate our success. We’ll celebrate us.

Another thing to look at, with all of this, is the amount of effort. A hike along a flat clear trail, is not the same as a hike with multiple elevation changes and rough terrain. This is true of all areas of your life where you may be making progress. Everyone is different and just looking at one aspect of something, like mileage, does not tell the whole story when it comes to effort put forth. If my goal was to cook a homemade lasagna dinner, that is great. Though there are many of things that play into this. Is homemade, to you, defined as putting it from the freezer into your oven at home? Is it using boxed noodles and sauce and assembling at home? Are you making the sauce by simmering it for hours? What about the noodles, homemade or store bought? Did you raise the meat and vegetables? You see that not all home cooked lasagna meals are created equal. Also, if I have been making lasagna for 30 years the effort for me will not be the same as someone who has only cooked a few things from scratch. This is why it is important to only judge your improvement based on yourself. Otherwise the comparison is just not fair. Have you seen the posts on social media of the cool looking cakes and then someone posts what theirs turned out like when they tried to make it? It wasn’t an apples to apples comparison because the original cake maker has likely made hundreds of cute cakes.

There will always be someone able to do more, have more, have a better life, be more fit, have a more seemingly glamorous career. It is important to remember the things we see on social media are snapshots in time. They do not tell us the whole story about someone else’s journey through life. Trying to compare our life against theirs is not fair to us or them. It is not a good measure of the progress we are making and have made. It does not help our happiness. A wise young woman shared with me that she decided to leave social media and since doing so she is so much happier. She is no longer inundated with everyones perfect appearing lives.

You are amazing! You make progress and grow everyday. Look at where you were last week, last month, 3 years ago! There may be areas of your life where you have lost some ground, but that is okay. It means there are areas of opportunity for improvement. What are the areas you want to improve? Take small bites at progress towards your outcomes, it makes for an easier time. Pick one area or maybe a few small areas, look realistically at where you are, were you have been and then where you want to go. Then set a realistic goal. For example, it is realistic that I can hike 75 miles between March first and the end of May. It would not be realistic for me to log 15 miles of hiking every weekend, although that is perfectly realistic for others. So your goal needs to fit you.

Know yourself, be true to yourself, and judge yourself on your own progress and no one else. Be proud of where you are, compared to where you have been. Set realistic goals for yourself. Remember that 3 steps forward and 2 steps back is still a step ahead of where you were. Slow and steady wins the race. You can do this. The only race that is worth it in the end is the race against your self. Your journey does not need to look like anyone else’s. Your journey is your journey. Be proud of your progress! Share it on social media if you like, because it is something to be proud of. Share and celebrate other peoples’ success! What a beautiful world it is when we all celebrate each other but not judge ourself against them. A rose and a daisy are both beautiful flowers. No point in comparing them. Just enjoy the beauty of each of them doing their own thing.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you have many successes to celebrate, that feel good to you. Your success is for you and you alone.

Permission to Be Yourself

This morning as I started my run, the song This Is Me from the Greatest Showman soundtrack played. As I ran along the rural Wisconsin roads, in the cool 17 degree weather, I realized how scary it is to be blogging very publicly and running. How childhood trauma of other children making fun of me, as children will do to one another, still effects me as adult. In the deep recesses of my mind,where I put what i don’t want to acknowledge, it is still there. I turn 50 this month. My healthcare professional would label me as obese. Do I have any right to be out here running into the sunrise? I came to the realization that I still fear being judged for the choices I make. As my legs carried me along the rolling Wisconsin hills, I realized that a lot of people feel this same way.

Do you filter who you are to fit in with society at large? Do you express yourself as less than authentic in order to not stand out from the crowd? You do not need permission to be your truest self. But… if you would like permission, I give it to you. Your special form of “you” may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does not need to be. If people read my blog and judge my words or even my right to be putting myself out there, it matters not. What does matter is that I show up for myself. I keep putting one foot in front of the other on my runs, despite my age or my weight. My actions in this life are for me alone. When I show up for myself I show myself that I matter and that I am worthy of living the life of my dreams.

This morning was only my second morning running, after years of believing I couldn’t run anymore. The C25K program includes a walk/run algorithm to help you slowly increase your endurance. I am very early in the program; about 22-26 runs remain to bring me to successful completion of a 5K. It is the journey that is important. This running journey has me feeling amazing! I smile more. I feel completely unstoppable. I feel radiant. Where I am running there is a good size hill that hits early on in the run. It is intimidating and I freaking love it. By the time I am cresting the top of the hill I know I will complete todays run, because the hardest part is behind me.

When I slip into my sneakers and secure my knee brace, I am doing it for me. I am doing it because I want to show up for me. I saw running as something I was doing for my physical health. As I dip my toe back into the running waters, I realize that for me, running is for my emotional health. Once the run is done I am glowing.

That glow has an amazing side effect. It is contagious! I see how my elevated mood effects those around me. My exuberance for life rubs off on my friends and family. Even my co-workers get caught up in it, even if they don’t know what they are caught up in. The affects goes beyond that. My work days have been more productive, passing with ease, flow, and contentment. All of this because I won’t let the naysayers in the dark corners of my mind talk me out of my self-care goals.

How easy it would have been to tell myself I was too old, or my knees too bad and talk myself out of this. I could have put it off until I lost some weight or the weather was better. I could have made up excuses about being to busy or needing better shoes. No one would have faulted me for any of these things. They would have agreed with me and nodded, feeling supportive. All of those things, for me, would have been giving in to the childhood taunts and fears. Isn’t it interesting that we have fears we don’t even know about or acknowledge? If asked, I would have said I don’t have fears related to being judged by others. I believed I had proceed and move beyond any childhood teasing. When you consider things you have wanted to do, but talked yourself out of, can you trace it back to a fear?

It is worth exploring what might be holding you back from setting off towards your dreams. When those fears are brought out of the mists, in which they hid, into the bright light of day, you can see them for what they are. They don’t necessarily slip away. It still takes a concerted effort to push beyond them, but at least I know what I am pushing beyond. It does not matters what anyone thinks of me, past or present. The mean kids in life reflect on themselves, not me, with any judgement they may pass. Why would I make myself small in fear of their judgement? If I had, I would have missed out on this feeling of invincibility. I would not have felt this glow that started in my solar plexus and spread golden light all throughout me, until it was spilling out into the world around me.

I get that running is not for everyone. This same truth holds true for whatever is calling to you. Painting, yoga, writing poetry, cooking, body building, collecting stamps, rebuilding motors, growing vegetables, raising fainting goats, it doesn’t matter what it is or if it makes sense to someone else. What matters is that it lights you up. You feel like “you” when you are doing it. Your glow will rub off on those around you. My grandmother was the type of woman who walked into a room and it lit up. I have always aspired to be like her in that. When I run, I am.

After my run this morning I texted a friend letting her know how ama-za-zing I was feeling. She told me she was so glad to experience me feeling great again after having been down for so long. Talk about a serious blind spot. I had no idea I had been “down”. Apparently those around me knew.

I enjoy being a bright and shiny, positive, being. I delight in the emotional zeal for life that courses through me. After a run, I look forward to writing a blog to share my morning’s insights. My vibration is higher, raising the vibration of those around me. For all of these reason I will run on. I am having the time of my life learning to take care of me. Who knew it could be so fun? Life looks rosy and I can’t wait to see how amazing my 50s will be!

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find that thing that lights you up and do it, no matter what anyone else thinks! I love you.

2020: The Year of Health

I may sound cliche to start the new year focused on health and it certainly is not new for me, but it is different this time. Let me tell you why.

In the past my focus was to loose weight. I would make a New Year’s resolution to exercise and get thin but the motivation was really vanity. I didn’t understand how powerful mind, body and spirit wellness was back then. The resolution would last 2, maybe 3 months and then I would fade back into my old patterns of behavior. Today I no longer make resolutions; instead I make a list of new year’s manifestations. These manifestation can be anything I want to come into my life in the new year. I decided 2020 would be a year of health.

My year of health manifestation list has a lofty number of health related items I want to enhance my life. They are mind, body, and spirit related, for one cannot successfully be well without balance in all these areas.

It is day 4 in my year of health and I already feel a shift in my mood. I find myself making healthy decisions and I keep slowly incorporating items to bring about overall wellness.

On Jan 1st, I started the day hungover from a New Year’s Eve party I attended. I find this very embarrassing to admit to. So, my first healthy initiatives were to give up alcohol and sugar. Next I went back to intermittent fasting. This is an eating strategy that limits the time you can eat during the day. It has many health benefits but my primary use of it is weight loss. I have gained about 30 pounds in the last 4 years and it is affecting my energy level and ability to do things. Losing weight is not about vanity for me this time. It is about being comfortable hiking, having the energy to kayak and reclaiming my connection with my body as a divine being.

Then I decided to start tracking what I eat. This is about mindfulness. So now I know what I am putting into my body and why. I am using the “My Fitness Pal” app to do so; although there are so many apps that can help you with it. I have anemia, so it helps me track my iron intake, something that is important for me as a pescatarian. I also find that tracking what I eat, makes me less likely to do the mindless noshing that can occur when I am bored.

Yesterday I decided to start drinking 1/2 my body weight in ounces of water. I feel this is helping purify my body from all the toxic things I have put into her in the past. Also, yesterday I recommitted to moving my body. Getting at least 10,000 steps a day. I even started running a little again. I plan to improve my fitness condition in order to participate in 5K events. I really enjoyed these in the past. My daughter, Liz, and I have also done a couple 1/2 marathons together and we are toying with the idea of committing to do another one of these.

Today I am starting on my commitment of “52 Hikes” during 2020. I have seen others make a commitment to this in the past, but never got on board because of the frozen tundra where I live. I know I feel better when I get outside and be “in” nature, so this is another part of the mind and spirit commitment for me.

My husband and I continue our pursuit towards financial wellness. Yoga and meditation are on my list of items to incorporate. I find that adding (a little) something new daily is helping me stay motivated and not feel overwhelmed. I’m just slowly incorporating, the items I want, into my year of wellness.

I know it is only day 4 but I already feel clearer and  more upbeat. I am more connected with my body and the aches and pains are starting to subside. I have lost 4 pounds and even reclaimed my right to be a runner.

Would you like to join me on my journey into the year of health?

Come along! It won’t always be easy but it will be totally worth it!

I love you! May your year bring you every happiness.

Oh Sugar Sugar; 11 reasons to decrease your sugar intake.

Do you have a sweet tooth? Me too! I have alternated over the years between eating a lot of sugar to eating little to no sugar at all. I know that I feel a lot better when I do not eat sweets but it sure does taste good. I find that knowing the reasons behind decreasing something can have a big impact on staying motivated to pass it by; even when others are partaking. Below are 11 reasons to really consider decreasing your sugar intake.

Let me clarify. I am not talking about natural sugars like honey, fruit, or real maple syrup. I am talking about processed sugar made from Sugar Cane or Sugar Beets. I have found that replacing processed sugar in receipts with Stevia, Honey, and real Maple Syrup helps when you want a sweet treat or to serve a dessert but not all the other affects.

 

Reasons to decrease sugar intake

Inflammatory – Sugar can cause an inflammatory response. I notice that I have joint pain when I eat sugar. Decreasing the intake of this inflammatory substance can almost completely relieve my pain. This is my number one biggest reason why I try to avoid sugar in my diet.

Addictive – There are lots of studies out there about the addictive nature of sugar. Some people think it may be even as addictive as Cocaine. What I do know is the more sugar I eat, the more sugar I want. It takes me about 3-5 days, without having sugar, for the cravings to decrease.

Empty calories – Sugar has no nutritional value other than the carbohydrates. These are a fast energy source, but if we do not need them, they are stored as fat.  If you are making choices in the foods you get your calories from, then I urge you to choose foods with more nutritional value.

Blood sugar effect – Eating sugar spikes your blood glucose levels. In people with properly functioning pancreases, insulin is released to regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream. This spike in blood sugar levels can cause problems even for people without diabetes. For me, the spike triggers my body to release insulin, which does too good of a job removing the glucose from my blood stream and I end up getting low blood glucose levels. This causes me to feel woozy and have trouble concentrating.

Cognitive function  – There are some studies which suggest that sugar can cause fogginess in the brain. Sugar intake has been linked to forgetfulness and trouble concentrating. This is ironic when you think about how many student will reach for a candy bar for that little pick me up to keep studying.

Blood pressure and heart disease – There are many complications to the the cardiac and circulatory systems that diabetic people face. There are studies out there that show that, even for people without diabetes, increased sugar intake can cause elevated blood pressure as well as strain to the heart.

Depression – Some studies are showing a link between sugar and depression. Others are saying that inflammation increases depression and we already know sugar causes increased inflammation. 

Cancer – Sugar feeds cancer. This alone is a good reason to avoid excess intake of this sweet poison.

Hunger – Because of sugars effects on the blood glucose levels, it can cause a continual rise and fall and when blood sugar levels fall, we feel hungry again. Because of this it is easy to get into a cycle of eating sugar again and again throughout the day because of the effects it has to continually cause us to feel hungry. Eating less sugar will reduce those feelings of hunger.

Money – By not spending money on sweet treats, which make us hungry repeatedly through out the day, we will save money. There are lots of great natural foods to put that money towards, that will not cause the repeated need to munch and save you money in the long run.

Immune system – Sugar affects the functioning of our white blood cells. These are the cells that rush in when an invader gets into the body to fight off infections. If we are eating a lot of sugar, and causing these cells to be sluggish, we are risking increased illnesses.

All of these reasons and we didn’t even talk about tooth decay! Ultimately, whether you decide sugar is thumbs up or thumbs down for you, do your own research. Know the facts about what that cupcake might cost you or how it could affect you in the long term. Ultimately life is full of choices and luckily we all get to make our own. I, personally, am choosing to not have sugar as one of the choices of what I put in my body. At least most of the time, no one is perfect after all.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you make the food choices that are right for you.

 

My Dance with Suicide

Suicide has been in the news so much more lately. It seems that I run into people quite often now, that a suicide has touched their life. I do not know if this is because it is more prevalent or if the stigma related to it has just gone away. Either way, I feel guided to share my own personal experience with suicide. This is a story I seldom share with anyone but I have decided to now, hoping that it will help someone in some way.

First off, I have never been diagnosed as depressed or with any psychiatric illness. I have also never taken medications for mood or psychiatric issues, not that there is anything wrong if someone does have psychiatric issues or needs psychiatric medications. These are true conditions and illnesses that many people struggle with daily. These medications are life changing for many and there should be no stigma associated with these diagnoses or medications. I just say this to simply let you know that this was not a part of my story. I also was not using drugs or drinking. None of the usual suspects contribute to my journey down this dark road.

This took place when I was a teenager. I was angry. I felt alone, although I was not. I felt unloved, although many people loved me. I cannot say if it was because of the hormonal surges that all teenagers go through or perhaps just related to the fact that I focused on all the bad (in my life) and ignored the good. I wrapped the drama of everything around me like a protective cloak. What we think about we bring about, so this quickly became a downward spiral for me.

All of this darkness, anger, and very low vibration continued until I finally came to the point that I wanted to take my life. I was in high school and I wrote a note to my best friend. Just thanking her for being a wonderful friend. I left school early and went home. My parents were both at work. At home, alone, I gathered the supplies to execute my plan. I had decided to take a bottle of aspirin and cut my wrists. I didn’t want to risk that I might not be successful in executing my plan. I wrote my note. I do not remember what was going through my head while I was writing the note, but I do still have it tucked away.

As I was getting ready, the phone rang and I answered it. I can’t say why I answered the phone, but I did. The school counselor had been alerted by my best friend, who had figured out what I was going to do from the note I had left her. I spoke to my mother and the counselor came out to the house to speak with me. I lied and told everyone that it was never my plan to commit suicide. Privately I was very glad that my plan had been foiled and I suddenly looked forward to the next day. Perhaps I just needed the confirmation that people did indeed care. Perhaps I needed the chance to see there was more to life than the darkness that had enveloped me. Whatever the reason, I have never had thoughts of ending my life since. My friendship totally fell apart and this dance with suicide caused the loss of my best friend.

Fast forward to now. I live a blessed life. I am a happy and positive person. It is hard to look back and even realize that I was that same angsty, suicidal teenager. I have since found my high school best friend and apologized to her for my lie. I truly felt horrible for this lie. Perhaps this is why I believe that lies are among the worst thing you can do and why I do not tell lies. I told this dear woman that she did, in fact, save my life and I was very grateful for her intervention. I love life. At that time I could not have anticipated the twists and turns my life was going to take, nor could I have begun to guess how magical and full of blessings my life would be.

I wish back then I could have known that the darkness that so easily settles in your soul can be shed by changing your focus. It does not happen over night but by counting blessing and looking for the silver lining it can begin to shift. I wish I had known that I had the power to take control of my life. I wish I would have realized that I was not alone. I wish I had know that it was safe to talk to adults about how I was feeling. I wish I would have realized that the hormones that were raging through my body could have been contributing to how I was feeling. I wish I would have known that what I was experiencing many others also experience. That I was normal. I wish I could have realized how many people really care even if they way they showed it was kind of messed up.

If you are in a dark or low place. Please get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. You do not know what blessings are waiting for you in the future. There are more lives that are touched by yours than you can even imagine. If your life has been touched by someone’s suicide, I am so sorry for your loss and the pain you have been impacted by. I send kind and loving intentions to all of you.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you see all the blessings in your life, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken at Blue Springs, FL

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Financial Wellness: An Interesting Side Effect We Discovered

My husband and I recently decided to work on our financial wellness. You may be thinking that finances have nothing to do with your overall wellness, but I strongly disagree. Our finances have a profound affect on us. They allow us to pay for important healthcare; such as acupuncture, massage, or even a visit to the doctor.  Having adequate resources allows us to buy healthy and nutritious food. Money even supports some self care activities such as going on a retreat, vacations, or yoga classes. Even without all the things that having some coin in our pockets can do for us, there is the stress that not having enough cash causes. When the bills seem to out number your income or creditors all calling, the stress level can get out of control fast. High stress levels are not good for us. They can cause anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and other illnesses including unhealthy weight problems. Gaining control of your funds is an important step to your overall wellness.

As my husband and I set out on our journey to financial wellness, we first had to get on the same page. We are grateful for the book, Total Money Makeover; by Dave Ramsey. Dave doesn’t believe in manifestation or the Law of Attraction. Interestingly, I feel it was my focus on manifesting financial abundance, that caused the Universe to bring Dave and his books to my attention. I am happy to agree to disagree with Dave on this point. Total Money Makeover inspired Marty and I to get serious about our finances and we started working on the steps Dave laid out in his book.

All of this was a new to me. I have done spreadsheets for bills and payments due but never made a plan for how to spend the rest of the money. It just never seemed like there was enough of it to worry about. However, not worrying about how to spend the rest caused overspending. This just made matters worse and financial stress higher. We downloaded the app, that has been developed to support Dave’s principles. It is called Every Dollar. Dave wants you to give every dollar coming into your household a home so you know where every dollar is spent. When we initially logged our October spending, we were shocked to see some of the ways that money was escaping from our pockets. There were a lot of little things we were spending money on that, quite frankly, were a waste. Money was dribbling away from us in little insidious ways. It was not big purchases that were doing damage to our bottom line. It was the few dollar here and a couple of bucks there.

Next, we developed a November budget and set forth to follow it as close as possible. It was the first time either of us had ever really budgeted that tightly. There were things that came up that we had to adjust another spot in the budget to expense them from. Everything needed to add up to zero at the end. There were a couple places where we placed too much money and a couple others where we did not plan enough.  In the end, we made it through our first month of budgeting. When we talked about how we felt during this first month of budgeting, we both agreed that we felt more in control of our finances and less stressed. The interesting side effect was, when we got to the end of the month and the next payday, we had some money leftover. It seems crazy but true. Somehow being on a budget, giving everything a home and watching where things were going; not only gave us the feeling of having more money but actually more money.

I am very grateful that my husband is the type of man who is willing to walk this process with me. It is truly a team effort. If you decide to start on a road of finance wellness, I wish you every success. That are many money gurus out there. Maybe Dave is right for you or maybe it is someone else whose process just seems to make sense and be the right tool you need to feel financial well.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! I wish you a lifetime of finding the right financial tools for your personnel wellness, as if by magic. Just as mine came to me.

*Photo taken in Rome, Italy

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Get a Massage! It’s Good for You – No Need to Feel Guilty

So, I need a massage! I really do. I can feel it in every cell in my being. Maybe you are thinking, “Stacy, a massage is a nice way to pamper yourself but saying you need it is a bit much, don’t you know.” But need is what I mean to say. Massages are part of my healthcare. I focus on holistic modalities whenever possible and massages are an important part of that tool chest. They have many health benefits, of course there are the usual benefits that everyone thinks of:

  1. It feels great!
  2. It is so Relaxing.
  3. Massage can relieve pain and tension. 
  4. It is a great way to practice good self-care and remind yourself that you are worthy.

But, did you know, there have been lots of studies that show there are many more health benefits then you might realize?

  1. As a hospice nurse, I have seen the benefits first hand, that massage has at end of life. It helps relieve the symptoms that patients face as a result of their illnesses, medications, and the process of dying.
  2. Massage has been found to be beneficial for certain diagnoses. The Mayo Clinic says that research shows massage as proven to help with conditions such as fibromyalgia and digestive problems. WebMD also reports that studies have shown its benefits against back pain, headaches, and even depression. 
  3. It increases circulation. This just makes sense that the process of massaging the body would help move the blood through the vessels and keep it flowing smoothly.  
  4. Massage boosts your immune system according to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine. This is the precise reason why getting a massage during cold and flu season is even more important.
  5. Massages are great at decreasing tension both emotional and physical. So often emotional tension shows up physically in the body. For me it settles into my upper back, shoulders, and neck. The massage therapists who work with me, typically spend the majority of their time focusing on these locations. In a 90 minute full body massage, the rest of my body may only get a quick 15 minutes.
  6. Massages have been shown to promote calm and decrease clinical anxiety. According to the American Massage Therapy Association; decreased anxiety is one of the benefits of massage. Every massage therapist works a little differently. Some have a space with dim lighting and relaxing music but I have also had massages in the practitioners living room. For me, when you can get a massage outside, that is the best! I have had them on beaches and in forests. No matter what the location, massage has a way of letting my mind relax and the worries of tomorrow drop away. 
  7. They also, lowers Blood Pressure. According to Body and Mind Massage in Chelmsford, MA, it not only lowers blood pressure but also decreases cortisol,  the stress hormone. Reduction in cortisol can prevent weight gain. I do not know how often you would need to get massage to loose weight but it could be added to your health plan, along with other modalities, to help you on your journey.

Massages are not for everyone, but if you have never experienced one or if it has been a long time since you did, I highly encourage you to go get a massage. Go ahead, you deserve it and it is good for you!

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your world be full of healthy habits that help you feel great, as if by magic.

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A Story of Remembering

I want to tell you a story. This might be a story of old or it might be the story of now. It is likely a story that has occurred countless times throughout history. It is a story of trust and a story of renewal, but most of all, it a story of remembering.

There was a young woman. She was a mother or she wasn’t. She had responsibilities as we all do. One day, as she was walking through the forest of life, she saw a path. This path was not into the light but rather was a path into the darkness. This path went deep into the forest and it looked very dangerous. It was jagged and had many curves. It would have been impossible to learn were the path would take her by simply looking. The darkness of this path called to her. It called to her and it pulled at her, although she knew pain and betrayal waited for her along this path, she felt oddly intrigued by it.

Now I have to tell you, this young woman had always been responsible. She had always done what had been asked of her, what was expected of her, and even more. Everyone in her tribe felt she was the perfect young woman. Every mother wanted to call her daughter. The older men all wanted to call her daughter and the younger men chased her to be their bride. She cared for the young and learned from the elderly. She was the definition of smart and responsible.

Despite her history, as such a stand up member of the community, the young woman felt she must walk this path. She had to voyage into the darkness, even though it meant walking away from her responsibilities. She had to risk being hurt and had to hurt those who had placed so much trust and pride in her. She stepped onto the path, dropping the baskets that she had brought into the forest, leaving them where they lay.

The path was arduous. She stumbled and fell many times. She met scary creatures who pretended to be her friends or help her, but in the end, they we leading her farther into the darkness. They hurt her, physically, emotionally, and separated her from the light. Sometimes she tried to find her way back but they kept pulling her deeper into the darkness. They kept pulling her further from who she had been. They caused her to feel like a completely different person. It did not take long before she forgot who she was. She forgot she was from the light and she believed she was a creature of the darkness.

This went on for many years. The village mourned her. They felt that she was lost to them forever. They feared she would never find her way back to the light. But one day, she stumbled into the village. She was wild and untamed. She was a mere shadow of the bright young woman who she had once been. The darkness hung all around her and her “friends” from there, watched from the shadows. They called to her and pulled at her.

There was something about the village that felt like home to her, although she could not really recall. The community did not trust her, they avoided her. They would not let her care for the young or spend time with the elderly. They did not want to claim her as they once did. When they tried to give her responsibilities she would wander off or never fulfill them. Even though she was back, they felt she was still lost. They still did not recognize her as the brave and ambitious woman she had once been.

One day the village wise woman (the witch) was working quietly on something. She had been watching all of this. She saw how the darkness pulled at the woman, but she also saw how the woman tried to resist the darkness. She knew something deep within the young woman wanted to live fully in the light again, but there was so much baggage from the darkness, she couldn’t seem to step away from it. It had become a part of her identity.

The witch touched her finger to the young woman’s brow. The place in front of where the third eye resides. “Remember” said the wise old woman, “remember who you are”. The young woman blinked at her elder. The darkness seemed to fall away. Her “friends” let go of their holds on her and slunk back onto the treacherous path. Light beamed all around the young woman and she suddenly did remember who she was.

From that day on she worked to gain the trust of her community. She became who she had been only better. She was wiser now. Having known the darkness and living among the darkness helped her better see how she belonged in the light. It helped her embrace and enjoy her responsibilities. She become one others looked to for wisdom, for she had lived what they could never imagine and returned to the light.

Time would pass and worlds would change. The young woman would become the witch in the future. The wise woman would become the young woman again. This story would continue to unfold throughout history over and over again. Is this your story? It is my story. It is many peoples’ story. Forgive yourself for the time in the darkness. It was a part of your journey. It is done or nearly done now. You are wiser for it. Remember who you are! Remember that you are of the light!

Thank you for ready no my blog today! May you remember your true nature, as if by magic!

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Stepping into Your Power; 3 Techniques To Help You No Longer Feel Trapped or Powerless.

I’ve been listening to Mike Dooley’s auto book Infinite Possibilities. It is a great book discussing your ability to create the world around you. It dives into the how and why thoughts become things. There is a part of the book where he talks about depression. He references that a description of depression, that resonates with him, comes from one of the Seth books, by Jane Roberts. In this book Seth describes depression as feeling powerless. He goes on to expand on this description as feeling as if you are trapped by your life. Have you ever felt powerless and trapped by your life?

First off, let me say, depression can be a very serious disease. I do not intend to take it lightly or, for this blog, to inspire anyone to stop taking medication to treat depression. Always talk to your doctor before stopping depression medication. They are not meant to be stopped suddenly. If you feel depressed, get help; talk to a professional!

Now let’s talk about how you can address your feelings of powerlessness. Let’s talk about you no longer letting the circumstances of your life make you feel trapped. Where is your focus? What is it that consumes your thoughts? Like the quote by Norman Vincent Peale says, “Change your thoughts, change your world“. Have you seen the picture where two men are riding on the train? One man is seated on the right side of the train and his window looks out onto the stone cliff wall. He has no view at all, just the dark grey rock of the cliff. The other man is seated on the left side of the train and his window looks out into a vast and sunny landscape. The man on the right is frowning and looking disappointed. The man on the left is smiling and obviously enjoying the ride very much. All the man on the right has to do is turn his head to the left to see the same stunning view the other man sees. In fact, there are even more seats available on the left side of the train. He could just move to a different window seat if he is not enjoying the current view out of his window. There is always, always, always something to be grateful for! Sometime we just have to take notice of it.

Visualization is another important tool in helping you change your world. Imagine the future you want. Picture the things that will help you to feel the way you want to feel. Let’s say you want to feel joyful. Visualize yourself doing something that feels that way. Maybe you are sitting on a blanket in a grassy meadow on a warm sunny day, with just the right amount of breeze, surrounded by puppies. The puppies are up to funny antics, romping and playing with one another. Some are climbing on your lap and licking your face. You can’t help but giggle and feel joyous as the sun warms your face and your soul feels renewed. There are so many joyous events you could visualize. Maybe you see yourself going to the mailbox and opening an envelope. When you see what is inside your eyes widen, your heart lightens, and you whoop for joy! What great news! You have been hoping this would happen and now here is the confirmation that your dream has come true! You pump your arms in the air and maybe jump for joy as you run back to the house to share the great news with your friends and loved ones. They are all as happy and excited as you are! They celebrate and share your joy!

One final suggestion I have is to take action. This can feel daunting and even impossible at times but you can do it. It doesn’t have to be a big action. Get out into nature. Mother Nature has an amazing ability to feed our soul and help us feel renewed. Go for a walk. Our bodies are meant to move. Endorphins are released when we move and they stimulate our brains to feel better. Pick a corner of your home and clean it. I always feel better when my space is clean and uncluttered. Trying to take on the whole home feels to overwhelming but cleaning off the top of just one table, going through one drawer, or washing some dishes can have a great effect on the psyche and get some momentum flowing. It can also help you feel some pride, which is a powerful thing in moving out of powerlessness and into taking the reins of your life and living your dreams.

If you are feeling powerlessness and trapped by your life, I am so sorry that you feel that way. It is not a fun place to be. Be brave, take a couple small steps today. You can do it. Seek help, you do not have to go it alone. Look for the things you are grateful for. Noticing them will bring more things to be grateful for into your life. Visualize a better tomorrow. Our thoughts do create our reality. Take action, it does not have to be a big action, just a couple small steps can really get the ball rolling toward living the life of your dreams. In fact, you already did take action. You read this blog! I love you. I am proud of you!

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you feel powerful and live the life of your dreams, as if by magic!

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