I have a confession to make: I didn’t always eat healthy. There were times when I was thirty pounds heavier than I am today. Though we had fancy dinners with crystal and china every Sunday after church, we were often served Hamburger Helper, chicken pot pies, and frozen dinners. During junior high and high school, I would frequently have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a bag of chips, and two Hostess cupcakes. I was involved in many sports and sometimes called “healthy” or “big-boned.” Growing up, my nickname was Shelly. Occasionally, kids called me “Shelly with the big, fat belly.” I prayed I would be as skinny as the models on magazine covers.
You will find more happiness growing down than up. —Unknown
There’s more to playing than just having fun, though that’s important too! Many of us are just too serious. We seldom have laugh-out-loud fun. Playtime helps us physically and mentally by allowing us to exercise and be creative. Our imagination can be stimulated through a childlike recess. Physical exercise can release hormones in our bodies that create a feeling of euphoria (similar to the process that occurs during sex!). These hormones are also used to block pain. On top of it all, having fun burns calories and helps us to temporarily ignore our troubles.
After being exposed to toxic mold poisoning, I became chemically sensitive. Four types of mold infiltrated my bloodstream. With alternative remedies such as oxygen therapy, infrared sauna, vitamin IV, and eliminating chemical cleaners, I became super detoxified, which is good but also challenging. Strong chemical scents now make me physically ill. During my recovery, I couldn’t go into a mall, a grocery store, or even my son’s school.
While multiple chemical sensitivity is a controversial topic among physicians, I can tell you that it’s a very real diagnosis for my husband and me. Chemically scented candles give us headaches. That “new car” smell is actually the off-gassing of formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals used to treat materials for the carpet, dashboard, and seat covers. We use only paints with no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs give us headaches and flu-like symptoms.
When you put energy and effort into something it becomes an asset, something of value, or perhaps something for which you hope to receive a reward, bonus or promotion. Sweat equity is the extra energy you expend, above and beyond what’s expected, that will propel you into the next level in many areas of your life. Doing a better-than-average job at work might pay off in the form of a bonus or promotion. More often, however, it’s easier to put a little elbow grease into helping others, or doing something special for our loved ones. But what if we set an intention to put ourselves at the top of the list?
Life is work and relationships are even more work. There are times when we really don’t want to do something that’s expected of us, but we know our efforts will be appreciated, so we do it. We show up. We are the best we can be. We volunteer for charities, we attend events that we’ve made commitments to.
Have you ever had a gut feeling about a person or a situation? By gut feeling, I mean that inner wisdom, the power of your feelings, not logical thinking. This is a gray area of metaphysical science that has recently gained popularity among doctors and psychologists, although philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Jung, and many more have discussed it for centuries.
My friend, Deirdre Capone (grandniece of Al Capone), said she and her great-uncle Al relied on intuition to make decisions. Al would walk into a room for a meeting, and if he had a bad feeling about it, he would leave. Most of the time, he was indeed being set up.
Unless you’ve studied philosophy or metaphysics or there is someone in your life who has encouraged you to trust your intuition, it’s unlikely you’ve had the confidence to learn from or even listen to your instincts. Some think it’s a wishy-washy approach to making a judgment call and can’t be trusted. With modern technology, we rely more on cold, hard facts and statistics than our gut feelings about something or someone. But have you ever met someone and instantly liked or disliked him or her? You can’t describe exactly why you had those impressions, but you did. That’s intuitive thinking, and it serves people well. Law enforcement, the military, boxers, and athletes use intuition to direct their actions.
Today’s challenge is an important one. Our instincts can be a very reliable source for decision making if we allow ourselves to embrace our gut feelings. We may feel pulled to do or not do something that may have saved our lives, such as taking a different route to work and finding out an accident occurred on our usual path. Or simply having second thoughts about a person that you cannot corroborate.
Can you recall a few times that your instincts served you well? For at least four minutes today, trust everything your intuition tells you.
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. —Confucius
If you don’t love your job, change it. Easier said than done, right? However, if the nature of what you do to pay the light bill impacts your physical and emotional well-being, it’s important to at least consider other options.
Still not interested? Does going to work make you anxious, stressful, tense? Does your job give you tension headaches and stomachaches? Those are wake-up calls, and over time, you could end up with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or even cancer.
Have you ever felt that your life’s work should be a something other than what you do now? Do you ever imagine yourself in a different career, making more money, and feeling happier?
Many of us dream about having different, more exciting careers, but what if we could actually could make those dreams come true? Let’s be reasonable, though; I’m not talking about being an Olympic gymnast at age fifty, (darn!). Perhaps you can’t have the exact career you’ve always wanted because of age, geography or some other variable, but can you experience some degree of a more exciting occupation? Once upon a time, I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. My dad even built me a balance beam in our backyard. Those dreams never came to fruition for me, but I’ve been teaching group fitness classes for more than 30 years and I continue to experience the physical benefits of dancing and stretching in my exercise classes.
Is there some way you can take even a few small steps toward getting that dream job (or even a smaller version) without losing your current job and insurance and uprooting your family? Could you work from home, get up early, or go to bed later? Could you spend a few minutes each day researching what it takes to have a more gratifying career? If more education is necessary, how can you fit that into your schedule and finances? And if higher education isn’t an option at this time, what is? Too often, we give up our dreams because we think they’re unattainable, when in fact, getting your dream job is just a few simple steps away. Sometimes, all you need is a little extra time and faith that you can live the life you only imagined you could.
Take a few minutes — a few minutes that you would normally spend surfing the Internet — and explore potential positions that might actually be better suited and more financially rewarding than the one that occupies forty or more hours of your time each week.
Grab a pen or laptop and be brutally honest when answering the following questions:
- What would you do if you could change your occupation without repercussions?
- Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but were too afraid to try?
- What’s your dream job?
- What attainable steps can you take toward having your dream job (i.e., working from home, getting up early, going to bed later)
- What would it be like for you to live out your dream and have a different, more exciting career?
If you really want to change jobs, it’s never too late to try. Life is too short and precious to spend your valuable time doing anything other than what you love.
We all experience some things in life that have brought us to our knees. Whether it’s an illness, death, divorce, loss of a job or financial troubles, our uncontrollable situations can cause us great suffering and grief. At times, we feel sad for no discernable reason. It’s very similar to and often related to negative thoughts. Sadness comes from a lack of meaning and purpose, from a lack of hope, from fear of the future, or worry about loved ones. It’s part of the human condition that we naturally have the ability to feel blissful and melancholy and everything in between. This is a good thing.
My son, Rocco, is intelligent, sensitive, and very spiritual. He studies many different spiritual practices from Christianity to Buddhism. During a phone conversation, he told me that he was sad but okay. Parents worry when their children are unhappy, especially when they live far away. My first reaction was to jump on a plane and make darn sure he really was okay. Rocco was the first person to explain to me—his mother—that being sad is part of life and that it made him appreciate the good times even more. I asked Rocco to recall our conversation and if he would share a few sentences about his interpretation of our discussion. Here’s what he said.
There is nothing more peaceful than being surrounded by nature and enveloped by its healing power. The sight of colorful birds and trees, the symphonic sound of crickets and birds singing, the gentle kiss of wind on your face, and the smell of freshly cut grass or a fragrant gardenia can be an instant stress reducer. The Great Outdoors is also a place where we can be alone with our thoughts and feelings. Have you ever gone for a walk to ‘clear your head’ and suddenly came up with creative thoughts about how to solve a problem or design something new? Inspiration takes place in many forms and in many places. Being in nature can do more than just enhance our sense of vitality.
A strong body makes the mind strong. —Thomas Jefferson
When I was in high school, I was twenty pounds heavier than I am now. Then in college I became part of the “Freshman Fifteen Club” – that’s not a club you want to join. At a time in my life when I should have been at peak physical condition, I was overweight. If I add it all up, I’ve gained and lost over 100 pounds in my life.
As a smart college girl, I knew many tricks to lose weight. Two of the all-time worst weight loss gimmicks were: wrapping my body in plastic wrap, donning a sweat suit, and sitting in the sauna, or simply starving myself. Neither, as you probably know, worked. Only when I started to teach group fitness classes regularly did I start to shed pounds. Another important change was that I stopped thinking about what I was going to have for lunch while eating breakfast. I kept busy. Finding something you love to do prevents you from eating out of boredom, too. Have you ever been so involved in a project that you forgot to eat? Compare that with inhaling a bag of chips while watching television.
“Before aligning the mind, body and soul … first one has to straighten their mind out.”
― Stephen Richards
Part of being healthy and happy is not only based upon what we eat and how we exercise, but how we think and feel. Scientists are discovering and admitting to the links between how our emotions affect our health. We’ve all heard stories about couples that have been together for a long time and when one of them dies the other soon follows although they had no terminal health problems. Grief can have an astonishing effect on the human body and can cause heart attacks and even stroke.
Meditation, relaxation and finding things to distract you from overwhelmingly negative thoughts have been proven to relieve stress and even pain during difficult times. When my husband, Ted, had both of his knees replaced he was in an incredible amount of agony, even with anesthesia. I tried something with him that I knew that has helped me with debilitating migraines. Don’t expect it to completely take away the pain of a critical injury, like a broken arm, but try this when you’re feeling stressed. It worked for Ted.