Gratitude Journal

I’ve read more about the power of positive psychology.  When I first saw this, it seemed so old style.  Hadn’t we heard about this years and years ago?  Does it really work?  What I discovered was the ongoing new and updated research on how this works.  It is a bit more involved than when I first saw it more than two decades ago.  This has to do with habit.  Creating a positive journal that one must keep up with for 21 days.    With specific habits.

According to Shawn Anchor of TedX fame, he posits the following:

Small Changes Ripple Outward and the Power to Creating Lasting Positive Change

  • 3 Gratitudes written daily
  • Journaling
  • Exercise (8 mins a day)
  • Meditation (2 mins a day)
  • Random acts of kindness

This sounds like a plan.  This is a plan I am adapting  There have been several bloggers which I have followed this year who have focused on removing negativity from their lives.  I am inspired and will find that my focus on the positive will be my 2013 change.  I commit to beginning this year with this daily journaling exercise.  I’m excited and feel that this is a door which I can use.  Come join me.  Let’s make 2013 the year we found the positive influences in our lives.

God Bless America!

Last week, Roscio received her permanent resident card.  Roscio has worked for us for over eight years.  She is a sewer, as in sewing fabric (in our case, aprons, table covers, totes, etc.).  When she lived in Colombia she owned her own sewing house.  Coming to the states meant a step backward for her authority, but a step forward for her family.  She is no longer surrounded by drug cartels, violence, and oppressed citizens.

I initiated her employment with us.  When she came to our lobby, I was fascinated by the sparkle in her eyes and her head full of gorgeous white hair.  Her granddaughter accompanied her; Roscio didn’t speak English.  I pushed her interview.  I pushed her hiring.  Because no one could speak to her (No hablamos español), our sewing supervisor simply asked her to sit and sew.  She did so impeccably.

As the years have gone by, she has picked up English – probably more than we suspect.  I caution her coworkers to take care with what they say.  She may understand more than she indicates.  Everyone likes Roscio.  Some love her.  She is so grateful and gracious to have her job.  I make a point to say, “Como esta?” when I walk through our production area.  I also instruct others (as best I can with 4 semesters of Spanish under my belt) in words they can say to her.  As is often the case, the blue-collar Americans don’t make much effort.  After 8 years, many of them could be speaking better Spanish.

Last week, upon hearing of her new resident status, I ordered a cake.  Heart shaped, chocolate, with raspberry ganache.  And five American flags on tooth picks.  I didn’t have much advance notice.  On the top of the delectable desert written in red: “Felicitaciones, Roscio!”  At the 3:00 break, every office worker marched into the production area.  Roscio was not paying attention – the day happened to coincide with the boss’s birthday.  She thought we were gathering to sing happy birthday.  Instead, we broke into the chorus of  “God Bless America.”  I walked to her with the cake, and the tears began to roll.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  We should have recorded it, put it on YouTube.  It was an intensely emotional moment.  For the final line, we changed the words a little.  For Roscio, it became “Your home sweet home.”

The dream may have changed.  But, for many, the dream still lives here.

Review of “A Woman’s Guide to Great Sex after 50: Getting Your Mind, Body, and Relationship Ready for Pleasure” – BY: PEPPER SCHWARTZ, PHD A Vibrant Nation Health Gui

I am delighted to report that I found this report fascinating and encouraging.  Dr. Schwartz has covered all of the angles in creating and maintaining a healthy sex life for women (and men) past their 50th birthday.  I was curious when I began to see if she would be all inclusive to the many options which women have, and was excited to see that she did exactly that, covering masturbation, later in life gender choice changes, toys, diet, and exercise.

Having had many conversations with my close friends about the way sex changes as we get older, I was gratified to learn that for many, it does get better.  Dr. Schwartz doesn’t dodge the issues of body image or health problems.  There is some glossing of the “average” woman in her 50’s and how good “she” feels about her life, but I took this to mean that the things which Dr. Schwartz writes indicates how possible it is for women to be satisfied their sex lives.  She goes on to delve into the prospect of lowered libido for so many reasons, each reason well presented and researched, and how to approach that “problem” to enhance one’s sexual experiences.

I like the idea that there is one report which I can read that will detail the many separate articles for which I would have to search – in magazines, academic journals, online articles. This is an easy read that gives me the information I can seek on my own, and wonder about the validity of it.  Dr. Schwartz’s background removes that concern.

I particularly agree with the exercising component.  If you don’t love your body then it does become hard for someone else to do so.  The endorphins I get from exercise do more for my mind and sexual health than anything I have ever tried.  I have been on Paxil for too many years to recall, and I believe I will be weaning in the next few months just to see if that makes a difference.

I also have girlfriends who have opted out of long time marriages, seeking their own personal fulfillment or simply getting out of a bad situation, who I hope will find the part about dating after 50 a great encouragement.  One particular friend has chosen to throw her lot in with an emotionally unavailable man because dating is so difficult.  Remembering and reinforcing that it takes work to accomplish any goals which are worthwhile is an important part of Dr. Schwartz’s study.

Kudos to you, Pepper Schwartz, for boiling it down into an easily digestible guide which will hold appeal for so many women over 50.  I learned from it.  Have sent it to my husband, and will suggest it for many (male and female) friends.  Well done.  Dr. Schwartz is a wonderful writer, and an authority on this important subject.  I don’t plan to give up sex as long as I’m breathing, and I will embrace many of her ideas for getting the romance back.

FYI – for those of you interested (and all of you should be) here is the link to purchase the guide as well as a free report on vaginal dryness.

A Woman’s Guide to Great Sex After 50: Getting Your Mind, Body and Relationship Ready for Pleasure
Product Link:
http://www.vibrantnation.com/store/great-sex-after-50-a-womans-guide-to-getting-her-mind-body-and-relationship-ready-for-pleasure-php/

Associated Free Report: Top 5 Treatments for Vaginal Dryness and Dyspareunia (Sexual Intercourse Pain)
Free Report Link: http://www.vibrantnation.com/freemiums/top-5-treatments-for-vaginal-dryness-and-dyspareunia-sexual-intercourse-pain/

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.

 

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.

logo

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.

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