See your path in front of you ~

During one of my earliest trips to Hilton Head Island, I spotted a woman on a bike.  She was wearing a yellow bikingtop and heather grey biking shorts.  Her socks were bright white, but I don’t recall her the color of her shoes.  Black, maybe.  She had a luxurious long grey pigtail down her back.  Tanned and fit, I guessed that she was in her 60’s.

I have maintained that image ever since then.  Perhaps 18 years ago.  I saw what I wanted to be physically at that age. I wanted to be fit.  I wanted to be biking.  A fit and strong woman riding her bike on a beautiful day in a lovely environment inspired me without having seen her face nor heard her voice.  Although I have lost my fascination with Hilton Head (another stoplight??), I have not lost my love of biking.  At some point in my life, I decided that if I took good care of my legs, they would take good care of me.  Even with the feet problems I endure, my legs are strong and vital.

I believe that if you see it ahead of you, you can get there.  If you can imagine it, you can attain it.  If you believe it, then “it” will become real for you.  The universe hears and responds.  I believe that I can stay fit for the remainder of my life.  The amount of miles I can ride may change from year to year, but that hasn’t yet been the case.  I rode 14 miles yesterday, and plan 20 today.  I’m 56 years old.

This is what I find curious.  I see women who apparently spend time and money on hair and nails.  They are completely finished with color and sparkle on the outside of their bodies.  But they are 30 lbs overweight.  Or 50.  I have to wonder if they took those hours which they spend on hair and nails – or a portion thereof – and applied them to walking, or Pilates, or biking, how much better could they improve their lives and their health?  How much better would they look with the glow of regular exercise?

Start slow.  Start small.  But start.  Walk to the mailbox, walk around the block, go to the park with your dog, walk. Walk.  Walk.  Cut down slightly on portions.  Notice eating habits after 9 PM or 8 PM or whenever you realize that eating is just about a habit or emotional need.  Give your body the attention you offer your hair or nails.  I think that the delight you will see and the health you will create will add great satisfaction to those lovely nails and that gorgeous hair.  You don’t have to be an athlete.  You simply have to decide what you want to be in 10 years.  Or 20.  Look ahead, find that image that inspires you – a realistic magazine photo, a picture of you in a fit condition, a cartoon – find something that inspires you.  And go get it.

Dang, this is not what this post was supposed to be about.  I’m going to get my nails done.

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Wtf?

Watch the following. Wow, you thought it was going to be a very ugly post, didn’t you?  No, no, no.  I can do this on my time, but not on VN’s nickel.  Ahem.

How much have you changed?  Think about that for a moment.  1….2….3…. and so on.  How different do you feel today from, let’s say, five years ago?  10?  25?

We change.  Yeah, that’s the good news and the bad.  Women change.  And sometimes we don’t want it to happen.  Who deals with change well?  The human condition says you don’t do it.  Well.  Yet, it is the one constant in life.  That changes will happen.

So you’ve changed.  Do you feel less maternal?  Less willing to give until you drop?  I do.  This will be my last Thanksgiving cooked at my house.  Everyone is welcome to come again next year and the year after and the years after that.  I hope to be living somewhere else next year.  That is part of my change.  I have been in the same house for 26 – YEAH – 26  years.  I want new living arrangements.  I want a downtown condo without two huge german shepherds.  I don’t exactly know what to do about that, but it suddenly occurs to me that this is not where I want to be now.  I don’t want to be and do and act like others think I should.  I want to live in my skin without the care taking of previous years.  I’m not in charge of anyone else nor do I want to be.

So here’s the deal.  (One of my most hated statements.)  I want to choose for a change.  I want to be me in such a real way that others may hate it.  Sons may wonder where their mother went.  Perhaps when I’m 70, I will want some of this back.  I rather doubt it.  I want to pursue my path and my direction without the endless demands of a mother and, quite frankly, a wife.   I finally just want to be me.

I have recently begun HRT.  Pellets.  I feel very good now.  Energy is popping out all over.  Check your research, and see if you need the benefits of estrogen.  testosterone.  progesterone.  Check out Milleniumwellnessusa.org.  Its worth considering.

Where are you in your life changes?  Do you have less need to be the care-taking woman who you’ve been?  Man, have I been that.  If you still want it, tell me.  I would love to hear from all of you whether your body is changing your life or you are choosing the path you chose.  I need to know.

 

Happy Birthday to me, and other great books

Today I am 56 years old.  I feel it, yet I don’t.  I feel older, yet I don’t.  I feel younger, ummmmm, no I don’t.  I do feel that I’ve been here this long, sometimes longer, and I’m not terribly unhappy with where I am and who I am.  Sometimes the comments of others stand out so loudly from the crowd.  A few which I received (via Facebook) were eye-opening and rather delightful.  Those may be from people who don’t know me very well.

I have found THE book.  Yes, I do mean THE book.  So often, many tell us they have THE book.  Oprah tells us that on a regular basis.  My problem with Oprah’s books is that the are often too froo-froo for my taste.  Yes, I like to know that I can think positive thoughts and change my reality, but sometimes I want feet-on-the-floor advice.  Look-in-the-mirror-see-life suggestions.  I can meditate, and should do it more often, but on occasion I want the great understanding from writers who can help me.  I have found it in this book.

If you do not yet have it, RUN don’t walk to your nearest book store, Amazon connection, Kindle download.  The book is The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D.  This book has offered me a birdseye view of me.  I walked into the Local B&N store on Saturday afternoon, after dropping off the last of our Thanksgiving visitors at the airport.  It was time for some serious “me” time, so browsing through the books and having a cup of tea sounded perfect.  I, of course, cannot browse through books without becoming enamored with several.  Also, one of my gifts to myself this year is a trip to the beach for three nights alone to do some thinking, walking, and re-energizing.  I need books to help with that.  Again, RUN don’t walk.

I opened the book, which lay on a table of buy-2-get-1-free books, and begin to glance at the pages.  Reading the contents page, I quickly flipped to “The Mature Brain” (not to be confused with grownup.  Mature=50+).  The first paragraph was one of those strange “she must have interviewed me” reporting that made me know immediately I had found what I had come to find.

I know I’m preaching to the choir now, but this book will open your eyes on your whole life’s brain in a way that you never considered possible.  According to Brizendine, research on women’s brains did not begin until 1990.  Prior to that, we were considered to have the brain of small men.  Because our brains are actually smaller.  Denser with as many neurons as a man’s, but physically smaller.

Content titles run from “What Makes Us Women”, to “Love and Trust”, and “The Future of the Female Brain”.  Because of the differing hormonal styles of women’s bodies and brains, there are such tremendous differences between how a man reacts, responds, chooses, and lives.  Interestingly, as I read portions to my husband, he kept asking about what this meant for men.  I stated calmly, then firmly, then with some agitation that this was a book about women.


Dr. Brizendine begins the book with her hormonal cast of characters, in which she defines the important hormones in both women and men.  She includes a chart which explains what is happening hormonally to women at each stage of life, from fetal to postmenopause.  The book reads easily, with personal stories to explain and compare the many stages and their characteristics.  If you have children, both boys and girls, this will allow you insight into them that you could have used many years earlier.  This is not an  anti-feminist book.  She states, that “females perform all the cognitive functions males perform — they just do so by using different brain circuits” (5).

Treat yourself for your birthday – whether it is today, or sometime in the next 364 days.  You will be so glad that you did.

Just watch the sidewalk right in front of you

I have a new bike.  It is fabulous.  I think it is one of the greatest bikes every created.  Did I mention its fabulous?  A Trek – lightweight, responsive, pads on the handlebars on which to rest the pads of my hands.  I’m in love with this gorgeous bike.  When I ride, I feel like all the cobwebs of burdens, uncertainty, self-doubt, and fear are blown from my mind away in the wind as I sail down a hill.  Pumping my legs up the hill is another thing entirely, but the focus remains so intense that I have a feeling of bike-induced meditation.  It is a wonderful experience.

In Greenville, SC, we have a new “rails to trails” bike path, named the Swamp Rabbit Trail, in honor of the former Swamp Rabbit train that cruised the same path.  This is a 14-mile-long path that has slight inclines and gorgeous sites as the trip takes you from Cleveland Street (on the south side of downtown) back through the breath-taking Falls Park in downtown, meandering through an older section of town, winding among trees and along a small river, along the backside of Furman University, and then onward and slightly upward to Travelers Rest, SC.  On warm evenings, and Saturday mornings, the trail is filled with bikers, runners and walkers, strollers, dogs walking their owners, and families.  People that appear to have never ridden a bike before are precariously teetering on pedals that push their knees to their chins.  Finding a bicycle that fits can be a challenge in itself.  I love the whole scene.

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Several weeks ago, my husband and I were riding the trail, but we decided to take a detour.  Hundreds of runners were participating in a local marathon.  26+ miles.  I’m not a runner.  I like my bike.  The runners deserved their space and dodging bikes can be difficult on the 20th mile of a marathon, so we headed off the trail and up Hunts Bridge Road.  Sometimes, when you ride, you encounter mean-little-hills.  These are not the lengthy heart palpitating inclines that will make your legs burn with pumping, but a simple mean-little-hill that will lure you with its short length, but bite you as your breath comes in ragged wheezes and you realize that the hill might win.  Mean-little-hills are almost always a surprise, even if you’ve ridden them before.   I’m not crazy about riding on 4-lane highways, as this one is, so I got off on the cracked and gravel-covered sidewalk.  Not a good place for a lightweight trek.  A new lightweight beloved trek bike.  On a mean-little-hill.

I noticed immediately, however, if I shifted my attention to the sidewalk right in front of my bike, I didn’t fear the hill so much.  I could stare at the two feet or so that was directly in front of my tire, and the “idea” of the hill went away. (was Plato speaking directly to me?)  This was not about beating a little hill, but it became the process of peddling through the two – three feet that were right in front of me.  And I also noticed that with that kind of focus, I didn’t notice the hill part.  All I saw was that short amount of cracked sidewalk that, with this kind of focus, would allow me to miss the particularly deep cracks and huge rocks.  Hmmm.

This felt like an analogy to life.  If, on a day-to-day basis, I focus on what I need to do that day, and not what the longterm scary goal is, I don’t notice that the goal has not been reached that day.  I only notice that I’m doing what needs to be done.  On that day.  In that hour.  In that moment.

This is referred to as mindful living.  I haven’t actually looked it up, so I can’t see that is what anyone else calls it.  But it is what I call it.  It is paying attention to the person to whom you are speaking at that moment.  Sincere undistracted attention.  It is finishing the creation of one quiz for my history class.  It is writing the next 2000 words of my book for today.  It is making that appointment that I wrote in my daybook that I will make today.  It is being present in my mind while I hold my grandchild, talk to my son, or read a book.

Just watch the sidewalk in front of you.  The rest of the hill does not have to be conquered at the same time.  You won’t even notice it is a hill.  Because your daily bites and successes can come two – three feet at a time.

Compassion Fatigue

Here’s a new one for me.  Compassion fatigue.  I didn’t think up the label, but when I read the blog entry, I immediately understood.  How do we deal with compassion fatigue?  For healthcare workers, it likely is an issue for their own health.  For mothers and caregivers, same.  For caring women who do too much for everyone else but themselves, absolutely. 

My problem is that I tend to get angry when I’ve given and given, and little is given in return.  I’m not talking about taking care of sick people who don’t jump up immediately and take care of you.  I of course do not expect nor want that.  However, if down the road, I need some help because someone at my house is ill, I do expect that.  And if I reach out to you in depression, I do expect some modicum of response on your good days.  I am not Mother Theresa.  I don’t wish to be.  I’m not that good of a person.  But I am a mother and close friend of many, and will be the first to show up for my friends who need help. 

I want to improve here.  I want to give, and not expect anything back.  I want to offer everything as a grant and not a loan.  But neither do I want to be a rug.  It is such a fine balance for me.  I am attempting to begin a daily meditating exercise in support of my own center.  I’ll be glad to report later on how that is working. 

If any of you have suggestions for how you do it, I’d love to hear it.

Know your heart facts

Several months ago, I was writing at my PC.  It was a Sunday, late morning, and suddenly I felt a squeezing in the middle of my chest.  It came and went a few times, and I began to feel slightly nauseated.  My left arm eventually began tingling, and I decided it was time to get to the hospital.  I’m 54 years old, fit, but with hypertension and a father who died at 46 of a heart attack.  I got my husband, and we went to the closest emergency room, which happens to be one that is generally not full to bursting.  Once there, I was taken back, given the full questionnaire.  The doctor decided to keep me there for 6 hours to get hourly enzyme tests.  It was not a fun or interesting 6 hours, I didn’t feel bad, nor did the doctor believe I had experienced an attack, but we were going to be safe rather than sorry.  I did not, in fact, have a heart attack.  I did go to a cardiovascular doctor several weeks later for a follow-up to check for calcium damage, and very little was found. 

I do experience rare anxiety attacks which express themselves through a squeezing sensation in different parts of my body.  This may have been just that, but I know I made the right (although expensive) choice, and I would do it again in a heartbeat (ahem).  The way I convinced myself to go to the hospital was through a conversation with myself.  “What would you do if your best friend called you with these symptoms?  You would yell, ‘GET TO THE HOSPITAL!’ ”  That is how I took my own best friend advice. 

Read the article and memorize it.  Just like you would want your best friend to do so.

http://www.womenhealthline.com/decoding-warning-signs-of-female-heart-attacks-part-i/

Biological Clock Info that has nothing to do with having babies

I was reading about Circadian Rhythms in my Writer’s Digest magazine.  I have long said – with a touch of humor – that my best time is 10 – 3.  Once I read the article, I sat down to write about it (in my personal blog) and discovered that I’m right.  Which gives me no thrill.  I want to choose my rhythms in accordance with what would work best for general society.  But my rhythms don’t really care about general society, only about working efficiently.  So, in researching more, I came across this very interesting article about CR’s.  I am quite choosey concerning webpages, and usually choose .edu or .org ones, but I think this one has validity.  What are your best hours during the day?  When are you most creative, most alive to your surroundings, and happiest?  Read and consider.

http://news.softpedia.com/news/The-Biological-Clock-44241.shtml