Send Love to Feel Your Best

On my best days, I have a spring in my step, joy in my heart, and feel surrounded by a sense of peace. That can be pretty elusive some days. Everything can be fine, but schedules get chaotic – the peace changes into stale air or worse, chaos; my heart feels heavy or angry, and my steps are labored. How can I call on joy and peace to return when life gets overwhelming?

For me, I can always find a sense of peace after sending some love out into the world. Checking on a friend in need, sending a small gift for no reason, making someone smile changes the whole day for me.

It can be difficult to remember this when I’m living in the chaotic moment. I often feel like I am bouncing from task to task, putting out the fires that keep popping up. Although I feel compelled to perform, my energy is low and everything feels like a drag.

On days like this there is often at least one task that I really want to avoid. I get mental blocks about certain things. They could be easy or difficult but for whatever reason, I resist them with every ounce of my being. At these moments when I just want to cry out “I don’t wanna” and revert to a childhood tantrum, I need to get out of my own head and the best way to that is to send some love to someone in need.

I just need to think of someone else. A client. A friend. My spouse. Just ask someone how their day is going. Send an email to someone you know is going through something challenging and let them know you’re thinking about them. Give somebody hungry something to eat. Literally anything I can do to put love into the world will almost immediately change my day.

I can literally feel the stress melt away. Things become much clearer and brighter. It feels like a chemical reaction – a change in the day as distinct as the sun shining brightly after a storm. Everything shifts all at once. I still may not want to do the thing, but once my perspective has shifted, without even trying, I can think of a new way to approach it that is less scary/annoying/daunting.

This journey towards enhancing my joy is so fascinating. I am beginning to observe the patterns that I’ve lived for years and understand my triggers. I don’t always catch them early, but I can see and understand myself better and am learning how to shift to a better place. When my day is crappy and heavy, I need to send some love out to change it.

Advertisements

Falling in Love Again

I have the nicest life. That sounds like bragging. It’s not. I have problems like everyone else. I have people who crap in my proverbial corn flakes. They make me mad, and sad, and then I get mad and sad that I let them affect me. I could stand to lose some weight – some for vanity; some for health. None of that matters. I have the nicest life.

I took a day off this week. Actually, I took off half a day. And, I am paying dearly for it in piled up work. I don’t even care. I spent four glorious hours doing something that I love and it completely rejuvenated my spirit. Just look at this day!!

Have you ever seen a sky this blue???
What can be wrong with this view?

Not everyone can take a day off of work and not everyone wants to ski. That’s cool. What makes your heart sing? What do you love to do? What do you look forward to? It could be yoga. It could be playing monopoly with someone special. It could be running or climbing or cooking or painting or anything really. The only thing that matters is that you really love it and that it brings you into the present moment.

Once you know what it is: DO IT!!! Let the world fall away for a little while and just be you doing the thing you love. Doing something that puts you into the present moment is another form of mindfulness, and can provide similar benefits to a meditation practice, namely

  • Stress release
  • Memory boost
  • Increased focus
  • Less emotional reactivity (I can attest to this one)

Check out the APA’s list of mindfulness benefits here.

Basically, if it quiets the mind from the normal chatter, it’s meditative, whether you’re sitting on a bolster or pounding the pavement. If you can get there by doing something that you love, especially if you have a hard time sitting still on a bolster, you are much more likely to keep going!

I love the blue sky. I love the white snow. And I love sailing down the hill. I am still riding out the high from my half-day off. Life is challenging. People are hard and don’t submit to my will, like ever. However, instead of focusing on the challenges, I can focus on the feeling I get when I do something I love and fall head over heels in love with life.

Addressing Stress

Photo by Ivan Obolensky on Pexels.com

Stress stresses me out. Like really. I shut down.

It’s been really interesting watching what happens to me when stress starts piling up. When five emails come in needing five different questions answered immediately even though I’m on deadline for something else and haven’t thought about any of those other assignments in weeks or months, I just shut down. I can feel the overwhelm start to cover me like a blanket, it’s the emotional equivalent of a storm moving in fast – the kind that turns the whole sky black. And then, I just go away. I don’t want to do anything. I want to eat cake, and bagels. And smoke. And drink. And crawl under the covers.

In the past, I wouldn’t even think twice about what to do in these situations. The answer was easy: take a break – smoke a cigarette or eat a cookie. But I’m not doing that anymore. So now I have to find other things to do – still taking a break, but breathing through it or taking a short walk.

Ideally, I wouldn’t have any physical reaction at all. I would simply note that someone needs my attention, put it on my running “to do” list and get back to the task at hand, likely shooting off a quick email reply that I will get to them as soon as I can. But the surprise of these requests along with the tone often make me feel like I need to drop everything and handle an emergency for which I am completely unprepared.

At this point, I just want to say that this is not any indication that people shouldn’t ask me questions. It’s not about the request or the person making it. It’s my job to be able to help my staff and my clients. I want people to think of me as a resource. I want to answer their questions. And, I want them to feel like my priority. This is not about them. This is about how I react when it feels like things are starting to pile up.

So, since I can’t smoke, or eat, or hide, I need to find something else to do in the moment to move on. I don’t carry a lot of stress with me in the sense that I can’t sleep or have stomach issues, but in the moment, stress can leave me feeling quite paralyzed to the point where I can’t even get back to what I was doing in the first place! So what are some things that I can do?

  • Take a break – give myself permission to go breathe fresh air for five min (like smoking only not)
  • Walk around the block
  • Take deep breaths – maybe a five minute meditation
  • Put it on a list where I will see it later and forget about it – get back to the task at hand. This would be the gold standard if I could get out of my own way.

I am not a multitasker. I honestly don’t know anyone who is. I don’t think multitasking is a real thing. Maybe walking and chewing gum, but not doing anything that requires focus. I need to give myself permission to stop checking my emails while I’m focused on something important. (side note: How do I stop those notifications in the corner of my screen?) I’m not doing myself or my people any favors by succumbing to feelings of overwhelm and becoming paralyzed.

I don’t have a go-to solution for this yet, but I am actually quite pleased that I can now observe how stress affects me, and my reactions. I think a couple of strategies for coping with it a bit better will go a long way towards changing my reaction to stress into non-reaction.

In the short-run, giving myself a break and getting out of my chair to walk around the block of breathe is a healthier equivalent of past habits. It will be interesting to see how my immediate reaction changes as as I continue developing my meditation habits.


Beginning a Meditation Practice

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

I have tried and failed to start a meditation practice so many times, I can’t even begin to count them. I am currently working again on a meditation practice and this time, it seems to be working out much better, thanks to youtube and couple of phone apps.

The benefits of meditation can be incredible. Meditation reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and even increases your sense of well-being because it allows you to slow down your mind so that you are less reactive. Long-time practitioners talk about watching things happen to them from a removed point of view, which allows them to choose whether, how, and when to react. Sounds like a recipe for joy to me!

I haven’t experienced that yet, but I can imagine that it brings an incredible sense of power and inner-peace to be able to slow down or stop a reaction. If you’ve ever gotten a confrontational email and immediately shot off a defensive reply, you know how powerful delayed reactions can be. Imagine being able to take the emotion out of your reactions so that you can really see what’s in front of you and act appropriately. And really, as if I needed more convincing that a meditation practice is worthwhile, let’s not forget that it was her meditation practice that gave Tina Turner the inner strength and confidence to finally leave Ike! Count. Me. In!

So how does someone get started meditating? There are many different types of meditation, and some of them are quite intimidating. Even with a regular yoga practice, where I can zone out in Savasana and start to feel like I’m floating, it is almost impossible for me to sit still for even 5 minutes and quite my mind. So how does someone start a meditation practice in a way that allows for some early wins to keep them coming back?

Some research on meditation practices indicate that the greatest benefits, the ones described above where you can almost watch your life happening from a place removed from reaction takes serious discipline. Those benefits come from being able to still the mind for a good 20 minutes. Honestly, that also mostly comes from Transcendental Meditation, which is difficult to get into because it requires a resource commitment (money), finding a teacher, and going all in. I want some early wins, so I’m going to start with something a little less intimidating: guided meditation.

Guided meditations are amazing for beginners and are available on such a wide range of topics! I’ve used guided meditations related to the following:

  • Letting go
  • Clearing energy/chakra balancing
  • Manifesting/visualization
  • Connecting to Spirit
  • Connecting to passed loved ones
  • Having a productive day/enhancing confidence
  • Improving sleep

There is literally a guided meditation for anything you need! Just do a quick search on youtube for “(topic of choice) meditation” and watch the results come in! If you really want to commit or you’re worried about the quality of free meditations, you can use apps like breethe, clam, or headspace. I haven’t subscribed yet, but I have used some of their free meditations and they’re great.

Once I have a consistent meditation practice using guided meditation, I can start investing my time and energy into a more challenging meditation practice. There are still many benefits to be had to using guided meditations and it’s so much easier for me to focus on someone’s voice and use that to go deep than it is to sit and get quiet in the mind on my own.

For me, this practice of seeking out joy through developing new habits means that I need to get some quick wins to keep coming back. I think that’s true for all of us for anything we try. We need to see early progress when starting or stopping a habit – otherwise it’s so easy to give up. I can dive into certain things, but a hardcore meditation practice is a bit intimidating. Because I know developing a meditation practice has been very challenging for me in the past, I am taking a path-of-least-resistance approach to this practice, using 5-15 minute guided meditations each day to bring early wins to help build the habit.

Here’s a great one from youtube for chakra cleansing before bed.

Consistent Journaling

fashion woman notebook pen
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

As part of my journey to cultivate joy, I have been working on more consistent journaling.  I’ve wanted to keep a journal for years but was not able to accomplish a consistent practice until I changed my definition of consistent.

Initially, I thought a consistent journaling practice required daily, weekly, or some other standardized frequency of action.  For years I would make New Year resolutions to start journaling, only to give it up before January ended.  But who says that consistency is defined by time when it comes to journaling?  Maybe consistency can be defined in another way?  Maybe journaling consistently means writing things down when you need to get them out?  Maybe it means making gratitude lists when you’re in need of a shift in perspective?  Letting myself journal when I felt the need, and having a journal and pen at the ready helped me to let go of expectation or guilt and start getting into a journaling practice.

The benefits of journaling are vast and well documented.  A quick google search shows that there are anywhere from five powerful health benefits to 83 benefits of journaling!  In short, journaling is a very powerful tool for unloading psychological junk and gaining perspective.  It allows you to put it down long enough to maybe look at things from a different angle.  A few ways that I use journaling include:

Tracking: Be it food, workouts, alcohol intake, water, hobby work, or anything else you can think, a journal is a great way to keep track of your habits.  In fact, there has been such a movement towards using journaling for this purpose that a journaling approach called Bullet Journaling has become popular.  Bullet journaling allows you to track your habits and schedule intentionality into your day.  Although this is meant to be an analog practice, there are also several bullet journal apps.

Spirit Work: Here I am including everything from gratitude lists to work that comes from other practices related to meditation, spirit work, releasing psychological junk, and all manner of stuff to shift perspective.  This could also be called psychological work, but I am starting to see this more linked to spirit work.  I find that the deep internal joy comes from tapping my heart into the universe more than wrapping my head around anything in particular.

Regardless of how you journal, you may find that your practice goes through phases or that your needs change.  I journaled frequently after losing my father, but over time my need to release grief began to subside.  My journaling went from hourly (early on) to less than weekly.  I still wrote when I needed or wanted to, but the time was only tuned to my needs, not to the calendar.  At some point I decided that I wanted to write about other topics, so even though I still had pages in my “Dad Journal,” I bought a new journal and started over.

You can also just free-form journal about anything and everything.  Do it as needed, when you have something to get out. I’ve decided that this qualifies as consistent journaling.  If you feel low and need to remind yourself of the good in life, journal.  If you want to shout something from the rooftops, but have no one to tell at the moment, journal.  If you’re working through some feelings or changing a habit, journal.  Any time you feel the need to send my attention someplace, journal.

For me, a consistent journaling practice was easier to achieve if you allow yourself to believe that you already do it.  Your ego may push back and say that you have to do it every day, but you don’t.  The thing is, no one cares.  No one is going to come after you and say that you don’t really journal.  Once we let go of our egos’ ideas that we have to do something 100 percent to do it at all, we can redefine what it means to have a journaling practice and begin to reap the somewhere between 5 and 85 benefits of journaling!

Learning to tune out or quite the ego is so freeing!  In this case, it allowed me to let go of the guilt that I should be writing more frequently, and just begin to journal and enjoy the process.  These are powerful ways that we can create more joy in life – by journaling, but more importantly by letting go of definitions that don’t serve us.

<a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/19793425/?claim=gd274768ytv”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

post

Welcome to my journey to live a more joyous life!

Now that I am firmly set in my middle-age, I know that there are a few tips and tricks to living more joyously that I have picked up along the way.  However, there is still much to be learned and done to enhance the joy in my life.  This website will be the place where I share what I’ve learned so far, what am experimenting with currently, and what intend to try!

Living joyously to me absolutely does not mean that I never have a down day, or that I always see the bright side of life.  Let’s be honest, when it’s cold outside and my bed is warm, I still sometimes have to drag myself out of bed.  That is part of the human condition.  Who doesn’t love to be cozy?  That’s not what this is about.

It’s not about seizing every moment in life – although, seizing moments is part of it.  Shaming yourself for wanting to stay in bed when the floor is cold is ridiculous in my opinion.  Living joyously is not about living perfectly or doing anything 100 percent of the time.  Living joyously is about living in alignment with your inner voice – the quiet one that guides you to make decisions that cultivate self-love and joy.  This doesn’t mean never eating a cookie or reading a gossip magazine, but being conscious about how we live and how our decisions make us feel about ourselves.

That is my overarching goal for myself.  I think on the cusp of 44 I’ve learned some things and gotten some minor amount of perspective.  I’ve started some good habits and kicked out some bad habits.  I will explore all of those here, and bring you along on my journey to project more love into the world, manifest financial independence, and discover wonderful books, habits, and possibly products that enhance the journey.

Although I don’t have all of the answers, and never will, I will share my experiences and discoveries with you.  Above all, I will be honest about my journey, sharing the lows as well as the highs.  We are all human.  We are all on a journey.  And, I sincerely believe that we all can benefit from hearing about each other’s stumbles as well as triumphs.

Wherever you are on your path, I hope you will join me on mine.  It is always better to make this journey with others.

In gratitude,

Sherry