Balance

balance

I heard a statement recently that made me reframe my thinking. As I attempted to balance on one knee and one hand during a gentle yoga sequence (audio), the speaker said,

Balance is not static, but consists of tiny, constant movements and adjustments.

My whole body shook from side to side. I tried to shore myself up from my center so I wouldn’t fall over.

This experience made me think about how I view my life when different aspects aren’t, what I consider to be, “optimal.” When I’m feeling defeated at work, one of my relationships is strained, I’m not as kind or positive as I’d like to be or I’m choosing too much screen time over self-care, I feel as if I’m sucking at life.

What I’ve come to realize is that life, by definition, is never balanced, nor is it static.

It consists of tiny, constant movements and adjustments.

We just have to center ourselves as much as possible (and try not to fall over).

I know this can be a difficult time of year for some. The holidays are approaching and the days are getting shorter and colder.

I know I have less energy, my mood is lower and I’m really missing my parents. If you read some of my previous posts, you might even notice that my writing is more introspective this time of year. I’m definitely feeling the feelings.

Although my life isn’t ever static, it’s become much more balanced. If you’re interested, I wrote an essay on what I know works for me. You can read about it here: https://beallthere.net/2015/06/20/be-all-there/

Wishing you balance (and peace) now and always.

Love,

Jeanne xox

 

 

 

Being Present Can Change Your Life

gifts-of-presence-3

When I first started focusing on being all there, it helped me dwell less on the past and worry less about the future. As I’ve written about in previous posts, I have incorporated many new things into my daily life that have made me less anxious and depressed and more present (and happy).

Minimalism, meditation, yoga, veganism, hiking, and writing are more than just habits in my life, they have become part of who I am and have changed my life!

gifts-of-presence

I’ve noticed that my weekends and time off don’t seem like such a blur and actually feel like quality time off.

Being present can change your life in many ways:

  1. Feel less anxious and depressed-By not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
  2. Slow down time by being fully present in each moment-And don’t we all want to slow things down a bit?
  3. Get to  know (and love) yourself more-Being present forces us to take a closer look at who we are and put some time and effort into areas that may need love and attention. This is not always comfortable or easy, but remember, no mud, no lotus!
  4. Develop deeper relationships-By spending more quality time with loved ones.
  5. Let go of comparison-Being present helps us focus on what works for us.
  6. Worry less about what others might think and don’t take things personally-Follow Brene’ Brown’s advice and keep a short list of names in your wallet of whose opinions really matter. Ask people to clarify what they mean rather than add your own commentary.  Most times people act in certain ways based on what’s going on with them rather than in response to us.
  7. Ask for what you need (in a kind, loving, “I” statement way)-Being fully present can really highlight what we need in any given moment and we want to acknowledge these authentic moments rather than ignore them. People have no idea what we are thinking or feeling unless we tell them! I have had to build up the courage to do this, but, I promise that with practice, asking for what you need gets easier.

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This time of year mindfulness has helped me no longer grieve the passage of summer and fear the thought that winter is around the corner (perhaps I grieve and fear a little, but certainly not as much). I’m enjoying fall for what it truly has to offer, beautiful weather, warm fires, gorgeous colors and delicious fruits and veggies from our local farms!

Peace, Love and Presence,

Jeanne

 

 

We Are Who We Are, Aren’t We?

we are who we are

For as long as I can remember I have experienced a range of feelings that made me feel  like I was missing out on life. Social anxiety, self-doubt and criticism, anger, fatigue, fear of failure and, at times, self-imposed social withdrawal. I had so much to be grateful for, but I never seemed content for very long.  I felt that this was my lot in life.

After all, we are who we are, right?

I think that so many of us feel that it’s impossible to make big changes and we just hunker down and “armor up,” as Brene´ Brown would say. Rather than focus inward, which is too painful and overwhelming, and wade through the heavy fog of emotions that never really seem to lift, we distract ourselves with drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, social media, work, over scheduling, and by accumulating, organizing and maintaining more and more stuff!

There are some bright spots along the way, but the years pass and we never seem to be able to lift ourselves completely out of the fog.

After all, we are who we are.

Well, I disagree!

Change is possible! But in most cases, things just don’t get better. We have to make an effort to work through what we’re not satisfied with in our lives.  We have to get to the point of being so sick and tired of hearing ourselves complain about the same things over and over again in order to take action.  Or, as was the case with me, we get a major wake up call. A big life change (or many smaller ones) or trauma can cause a shift in our thinking, feeling, what we choose to let into our lives and what we choose to eliminate.

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I’ve been on this journey for two years now and I have discovered so many things that have helped me be who I WANT to be. There are books, blogs, and e-courses that have inspired me whose authors range from everyday people, like Courtney Carver and Joshua Becker, to research psychologists like Brene´ Brown and Kristin Neff  (ALL superheroes in my opinion!). I’ve shared some of my favorite reads below.

Other things that have helped me greatly and which have become part of who I am are yoga, meditation, writing, nature and outdoor activities (especially hiking), minimalism and nutrition. These things help me focus on being present and positive and make me feel so alive! I am extremely lucky to have a supportive group of family and friends who love me unconditionally and who I can rely on for encouragement. I am so grateful for them!

It’s been a slow, DELIBERATE process of trial and error. It literally started with going outside on a daily basis and gardening- planting, repotting or even just weeding. I’ve tried many different activities and if I enjoyed them, they felt good and they fit into my lifestyle, they became part of my routine. If not, I moved onto something else. I’ve read things that have been extremely helpful and even life changing, and other things that have not really worked for me.

I realized that things weren’t going to change unless I put down the armor and started to move forward and pull MYSELF up out of the fog.

I want to encourage you not to give up! If you are not happy or satisfied and you feel it in your bones that there has to be a better way, then take action! Big changes can come from small steps you take on a consistent basis.

Try something different today. Take a walk, read a helpful book or blog, meditate for a few minutes, stretch, do yoga, go for a hike or run, paint, write or draw, eat better, or just sit in the garden and put your hands in the dirt. Start small. Baby steps. Slow and steady. If it doesn’t feel helpful, try something different. If it resonates with you and makes you feel good, keep doing it, until it becomes part of your daily or weekly routine. Once it becomes habit, experiment with something else.

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You might even try something called, “habit stacking.” Courtney Carver explains this as the pairing of two new habits each for brief periods of time, like a few minutes. Over time, you can extend the amount of time spent on each of these. I started with a short meditation (3-6 minutes) followed by a journal entry where I wrote 2 brief statements: a gratitude statement and an intention for the day.

Before you know it, you’ll have several things in your self-care arsenal! You can pick and choose which will be helpful to you on any given day rather than fall back on old habits that were more numbing than healing.

Reach out to positive, encouraging people who will support you. Embrace change!

I used to think that there was some secret to peace and happiness, but what I’ve discovered is that these things are well within our reach. We just have to make an effort to move in a different direction. Just like the lotus, we may have to go through some mud before we can rise above it.

My journey, with its twists and turns, achievements and setbacks is what life is all about and I’m glad to finally be in the game!

Here are some inspiring reads that have helped me along the way:

The Gifts of Imperfection-Brene´  Brown

Daring Greatly –Brene´  Brown

Rising Strong-Brene´  Brown

The Four Agreements-Don Miguel Ruiz

The More of Less-Joshua Becker

Buddhist Boot Camp-Timber Hawkeye

Faithfully Religionless-Timber Hawkeye

Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself– Kristin Neff

http://bemorewithless.com/

http://www.rowdykittens.com/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/

http://www.timberhawkeye.com/

Christmas Presence

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been off my game lately. Rather than being focused on enjoying The Christmas Present, I find myself dwelling on The Christmas Past and fretting about The Christmas Future.

I get a little sad when I think about the big family gatherings we used to have, and how different they are today. I feel stressed out thinking about what still has to be done before December 25.

Although I’m tempted to fall into my old routines of mindless eating, watching TV and endless hours on Facebook, my phone or the internet, I’ve come to realize that it’s especially important to be mindful during the holiday season.

After a particularly busy day at work recently, I finished off a partially eaten bag of potato chips and was headed to the living room to watch The Kardashians I had DVR’d.  It dawned on me that I was on autopilot.  I was mindlessly doing these things to shift my focus from missing loved ones and buying the perfect gifts.

When I allowed myself to be present in that moment, I was able to get my bearings and I became aware of what I was experiencing and why. Then I came up with a better alternative (yoga) to make myself feel better at that moment and beyond. The breathing and stretching felt great!

I realize things aren’t always going to be the same from year to year, and I look forward to developing new traditions and making new memories.  I also know that I’ll get the things that really matter done by December 25.

I’m not saying that I won’t be eating chips or watching reality TV, but with an increased understanding of how the busyness of the season can impact me, I plan to be extra mindful so I can enjoy The Christmas Present.

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Peace, Love and Lots of Christmas Presence to You! XOX

 

 

 

Funkytown: Just Passing Through

I’ve been working really hard this past year to combat mild depression and anxiety by adhering to a self-care routine that includes healthy eating, exercise, yoga, meditation, minimalism and a creative outlet. These lifestyle changes have made a big difference in my outlook on life, and have essentially changed my life.  I’m more present and less regretful or anxious about the past or the future. But I am not without moments that I veer off my positive path and into Funkytown.
Sometimes, a thought may trigger a past situation or I might get caught up in the “what ifs” ahead. My glorious, soul quenching summer is coming to an end and I’ll soon be back at work, waking up to the cold, dark mornings (yuck)!
I could easily dwell on these things and get myself into a funk. But I’ve been to Funkytown and I don’t like it! So I’ve decided that I don’t need to stop in Funkytown, I can just pass through. I can notice my feelings, but I don’t have to dwell on them, and I have developed the coping skills to help me do just that!
I’ve found that just being out in nature helps me get out of an imminent funk and that my overall self-care routine keeps me focused on the present on a daily basis. The more I practice, the easier and more natural this becomes.
Have you developed a self-care routine? If not, it’s never too late and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time! My (almost) daily meditation and journaling take about 15 minutes. You can listen to a guided 5 minute meditation in my last post:
I would love to hear about your self-care routine!
Thanks for reading!  Please comment and share freely.

Passion for Presence!

I’m excited to share my passion for presence with you and I’ve changed the name of my blog to reflect this passion.

After my last post, I realized that I was very passionate about what I had learned over the last 10 months, and I wanted to share it here with you. I have been writing this blog for a few years now and it has been about many different things in my life.

All along I was searching for something that I could offer you, a way to be of some help to others. Little did I know that in helping myself, I had learned how I could help others.

I think we all strive to be present in our everyday lives. The busier we’ve become, the loftier that goal may seem, but I’ve learned that there are several ways to Be All There for our families, our friends and ourselves.

There are many pathways we could take to being more present, but for me it’s been a gradual process of integrating several different things into my life. You can read about what I’ve been doing here https://beallthere.net/2015/06/20/be-all-there/.

What I’ve learned from personal experience is that it can be done and it feels great! I’ll share what works for me (and what doesn’t) as I continue my journey. I hope you’ll join me!

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment and share your experiences with what works for you to Be All There.

Jeanne

Be All There

I see a lot of my parents in me. My dad was loyal, forgiving and compassionate, and my mom was loving, kind and supportive. What I’ve learned in the past 10 months is how to be all of these things to MYSELF.

As some of you may know, I lost my dad suddenly in August and experienced several months of debilitating grief. As I look back on this sad time, I will be forever grateful for what I have learned.

A big part of my grief was the realization that I was no longer a daughter, a role I had known my entire life, since both of my parents were now gone. I was confused and I felt lost. I had to rebuild who I was.

What actually happened was better than I could have ever imagined. Instead of rebuilding who I WAS, I became who I wanted to be, the best version of myself.

Since I was working with a blank slate, I only put back the pieces of myself that I wanted and put aside the rest. This left a LOT of open space for me to Be All There. I continuously strive for this presence each day.

Here are some of the things I’ve found that make me feel happy and healthy and like the best version of myself……so far! Since I’ve written about all of them in previous posts, I’ll just list them here. Please feel free to comment and ask questions on any of these if you’d like more details.

  1. Minimalism
  2. Yoga
  3. Meditation
  4. Nutrition
  5. Fitness
  6. Nature
  7. Positivity
  8. Creativity
  9. Gratitude
  10. Intention

Are you the best version of yourself? If so, that’s awesome! I’d love to hear about what works for you!

If not, it’s never too late (and so worth the effort) to retool who you are, and I seriously don’t think you have to experience what I did to get started. I’d love to use my experience to help you if I can, so please let me know if I can be of any assistance to you on your journey!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe, comment (I’d love to hear from you) & share.

Be All There!

Jeanne

1984

A few days ago my husband and I watched our wedding video that he transferred onto a DVD. Two things came to mind almost immediately.

First, I can’t believe we actually paid someone for it; the quality and editing were horrible! Actually, I think the quality and editing were good and that my standards for movie viewing have changed substantially in 30 years!

The other thing I became aware of the moment we started watching our wedding DVD was the huge rush of emotions that it triggered. It was instantaneous. I saw myself in a wedding gown at my parents’ house, with my parents, my sisters and my friends (and my two Aunts who had come to see me in my dress), and I immediately felt sadness, grief, longing, regret, loss, loneliness, and sentimentality.

As I continued watching, I also felt love, contentment, security and happiness as we exchanged our vows, and then joy, freedom and pride while seeing our families and our friends dance, party and toast us at the reception (also, shock, at how many people were smoking cigarettes). We had a great time!

As the DVD ended and I was left with this surge of emotions, I was lured by an old “friend” to crawl into a hole of despair where I could dwell on feeling depressed about the past and anxious about the future. I’ve been there before and, actually, the familiarity of it was quite tempting.

After acknowledging my feelings and accepting them (yup, there they are and this is me!), I made a decision NOT to dwell in them, not to go down that all too familiar path of depression and anxiety, BUT to use what I had been practicing for months:

Presence

What a game changer! I’ve been practicing yoga, meditating and journaling now for several months. I find that writing down what I’m grateful for each day and setting an intention for the day sets a positive, purposeful vibe for my day. My new habits paid off and my old defaults of depression and anxiety have been reset to mindfulness in the present moment, which creates peace!

Part of my journey in the last few months has been self-love and what a gift I’ve given myself!

I’ve gotten to this point with just a few simple things added to my day that don’t cost a thing and take very little time. They make me feel more centered, but honestly I didn’t think they could possibly have such a huge impact on regulating some of my deeply rooted emotions.

To read more about adding these things to your day read my previous post https://intomyfifties.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/my-cup-of-tea/. In addition to these habits, I think my diet impacts how I feel. I mainly eat a plant-based diet and limit my carb and sugar intake. I am nowhere close to eating a perfect diet (I love my coffee), but I’ve found that this way of eating helps me sustain my energy throughout the day. I feel more balanced. Finally, I have a lot of support from a few people in my life who I know genuinely care about me and accept me unconditionally. For them, I am truly grateful!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Into My Fifties, comment (I’d love to hear from you) & share.

Peace and Love,

Jeanne

My Cup of Tea

 

tea cup collection

I have a small collection of tea cups. They represent something more to me than just sipping a cup of coffee or tea. It’s what happens while drinking a hot beverage with a family member, good friend or acquaintance that appeals to me. The slower pace, limited distractions and simplistic act of drinking a hot beverage usually foster a relaxed conversation that can range from the superficial to some pretty deep stuff.

Until recently, I didn’t realize that I was just as fragile as one of the cups in my collection. I’ve always been an emotional person, and I’ve had some major changes in my life the past few years. At times, I haven’t felt very confident, loveable or stable, but I always thought that I hid my feelings behind a “put together” façade.

I learned this wasn’t the case as I was having a cup of coffee with a friend and she commented on how far I’ve come in terms of my personal development. She said in the past she’d censored what she said to me because she didn’t want to upset me.

My initial reaction was sadness. I felt bad that my good friend couldn’t be herself around me. My thoughts quickly changed to pride. The point my friend was making (and which I’m very grateful for) was that I’m not that person anymore, that I’m a better version of myself.

I’m proud of where I am today. I’m physically and emotionally stronger than I’ve ever been! Here are a few things that have helped me along the way:

1. Meditation: I don’t do anything special, I just sit still and focus on my breath. When my thoughts become intrusive, I try to refocus on my breath. Counting backwards from 100 has been helpful and I always set a timer so I don’t get distracted by wondering how much more time is left in my session. I started with 5 minutes and I’m currently meditating for 8 minutes every day. Check out Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s free meditation series:

https://chopracentermeditation.com/

2. Writing: I write very day. Usually after I meditate, I write down one or two things that I’m grateful for and I also write my intention for the day. These things aren’t always earth shattering. For example, I’ve been grateful one or two times for a much-needed nap! I have a pretty red journal that I like, but anything will do. I’ve accumulated a stack of journals over the years and there are a few marble composition notebooks in the heap. Although I don’t have this one yet, I hear The Desire Map Day Planner, by Danielle LaPorte is pretty cool.

I also write here, on my blog. This public format has actually been very helpful in two specific areas, confidence building and authenticity. I am open and honest in my posts and I’ve gotten some positive feedback on both the content and quality of my writing.

journey cup of tea

3. Yoga: I do my own thing, at home with either a DVD or a YouTube video. I just finished day 11 of the YouTube series,  “30 Days of Yoga With Adriene.” I set up a little space in my house where I  practice yoga. It’s simple, my mat is nearby, along with a Happy Buddha statue  and my aromatherapy diffuser. I have a blanket that I roll up for support when I need it but I want to get a yoga block soon.

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4. Decluttering and Minimalism: This has been an amazing part of my journey! I first noticed Courtney Carver’s, Be More With Less blog on Facebook and began to read her posts about the benefits of consuming and owning less. Creating a paired down living space (and an emotional space) have obvious benefits. What I didn’t expect were the secondary gains. When I started to reduce and remove things (clothes, household items, relationships, social media) that didn’t provide joy and meaning, I had more room for the things I truly loved. This has become a new mindset for my husband and me, which is addicting! I started with this simple rule: For a new article of clothing or household item to come into my house, I have to get rid of one item. This way, at least I could get a handle on what I already owned and keep that number from growing.

If you don’t know where to start, look up Courtney’s blog http://bemorewithless.com/author/admin/

and Joshua Becker’s blog on Minimalism http://www.becomingminimalist.com/about-us/.

I’m so grateful to those of you who have supported me throughout one of the most challenging periods of my life, for you have truly sustained me and I continue to learn from you. I’ve even developed closer relationships with some of you as I’ve focused on becoming more authentic! Thank you!

I’ve shed the unrealistic need for everyone to like me, and so, if I’m not your cup of tea, it’s really OK, make room for someone who is.

 

 Cup of tea

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Into My Fifties, comment  & share.

~Jeanne

 

Honoring Myself

I’ve been working on paying attention to my feelings and not dismissing them. It’s one thing to be sensitive, yet it takes some courage to really feel what’s going on, in an investigative sort of way, rather than just label and dismiss strong emotions.

While on this emotional journey I realized that I was ignoring how was feeling physically, as well: MY KNEES HURT. Rather than push through these feelings, I needed to honor these feelings and take some of my own advice.

In one of my previous posts, “Rock It!” I discussed the fact that sometimes we have to readjust our goals, yet they can be fulfilling, nonetheless. I reached my goal of becoming a runner (by my standards) and I was not even entertaining the thought of stopping.

I’ve been running for a few months now, consistently, 2 miles, every other day. I even ran in California during my vacation. I am particularly proud of a run I took a few weeks ago with my daughter and her boyfriend, since I was able to keep up with them! It also felt good to be able to bond with them through this activity.

Honoring myself 1

I worked so hard to be able to run for an extended time that I was determined not to lose my momentum. I feared that if I took too much time off in between runs, that I would have to start all over again. So when my knees started to hurt  I pushed through the pain and continued my regime.

After a few weeks of constant pain, I grew concerned. I didn’t want to cause irreversible damage or do anything to my knees that would require surgery.

I bought new sneakers. My knees still hurt. I spaced out my runs more and more and my knees still hurt. Today marks one week since my last run and my knees are finally starting to feel better. Instead of going on a run, I went on my elliptical machine.

By identifying what I was feeling and honoring that feeling, I created a space for another activity.

I ran less, so I had more time to get into yoga, something I always wanted to do. Once again, my original goal (running) was redefined (fitness) and the end result was just as satisfying, perhaps even more.