How many people decide to get physically fit, find a mate, or a better job at the beginning of the new year? While these are impressive goals, setting smaller more achievable goals may help us feel better without the pressure of doing something extraordinary. Here is a list of some simple self-care resolutions that while on the surface may seem silly, can make a huge impact on how you feel as you move forward in your everyday life.
Make sure you're ingesting enough fluids. Water is naturally the best thing you can do for your body, but teas and other liquids will also aid in your overall hydration. You can also eat fruits and vegetables with high water content, including melons (watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe), strawberries, pineapple, peaches, oranges, bell peppers, broccoli, celery, cucumbers and lettuce to name a few. Get a humidifier and make sure your home has healthy levels of moisture in the air. This will be good for your skin and your airways.
After a bath or shower, don't forget to moisturize. A really hot bath or shower can dehydrate your skin. If you don't like to use commercial products, you can also choose some natural ways to moisturize including coconut oil and aloe vera.
Schedule breaks and time off when you need it in addition to normalizing your sleep schedule. Your circadian rhythm is how your body regulates your alertness and sleepiness in response to light changes in our environment. If you're not getting enough rest your emotional, mental and physical health will suffer.
4. Balance your checking account
Knowing where you stand financially is one of the small things you can do to relieve future stress. It only takes a few minutes and the peace of mind that comes with it is priceless.
5. Be social
Join a group, participate in a club, or spend time with friends at least once a week. If we learned anything from the COVID pandemic, it's that we suffer when our needs aren't being met. Humans are meant to be social (yes, even introverts). The emotional support provided by social connections helps to reduce stress and provides a sense of meaning and purpose in life as well as community.
6. Take a hike (or whatever else makes you feel good)
We know we all need to exercise. It provides us with those happy chemicals called endorphins. Even if it's just a walk around the block with your dog, simply moving your body does a world of good.
7. Brush (and floss) your teeth
This may be a surprise to some people, but when you're stressed this simple task can seem overwhelming. Make it a habit to brush and floss your teeth every single day at the same time. It's okay to skip once in a while, but don't neglect your smile.
8. Get ready
When you start your day pick out your clothes, style your hair and whatever else you need to do to feel proud of how you look. Putting some effort into making you feel good about your appearance may seem silly, but you'll carry yourself well.
9. Try something new
Push yourself out of your comfort zone by trying a new food, reading a book, or spending time with different types of people. Once you've realized you're safe doing new things, your horizons will widen.
The creation of memes has been such an incredible source of laughter for so many people. Laughter releases stress. Take a few minutes every day to laugh at things, yourself...whatever it takes.
There is no life without some opposition or obstacles, but doing these simple things every day can help build the resilience you need to overcome. them. May 2024 be a year of simple pleasures and peace for us all.
Dating online can be successful, but it takes extraordinary measures to ensure it goes well. Your mental health must be in good working order for starters. I have a very good friend who met someone online, but she approached online dating as entertainment instead of putting all her emotional energy into the search. She had a formula that worked for her so she didn't get emotionally attached, but she still did have a lot of unpleasant encounters as well.
She is in a happy relationship now with someone she met online, but she didn't have any expectations. Her formula was to get to know someone through texting and eventually a phone call to better understand their intentions. Only when she was comfortable with their interactions would she agree to meet. There were some men that she met that tried to rush her. She knew that they weren't thinking clearly, and quickly put them in the infamous friend zone where she started with everyone. Instead of allowing lust to control her thoughts, she tried to see if she was genuinely attracted to her potential partner first.
Her method was effective because she is logical and her mental health is impeccable. It doesn't work for everyone. I, myself, do not enjoy online dating. I have an active imagination and can create some pretty wild scenarios in my head, but this fantasy-thinking gets me into trouble. I had to stop. I would rather meet someone in person out doing something I love where I'm already producing happy chemicals, than live in a fantasy world.
There are pros and cons to online dating, and dating people you meet out as well. If I could give anyone one piece of solid dating advice it would be, just get out and live. Go dancing, sing, help people in need. But most of all don't take life so seriously.
Since writing this blog (today is January 16, 2024) I have taken another shot at online dating with a different perspective. It occurred to me that when your calendar is full of responsibility and obligations, a non-traditional approach to meeting people is sometimes warranted. I jumped on a different dating app, Hinge. I'd used it before in passing when I wasn't really ready to meet anyone.
I was pleasantly surprised by the way this app works. The company states that "Hinge is built on the belief that anyone looking for love should be able to find it. It’s also built on an acclaimed Nobel-Prize-winning algorithm, so we can succeed in getting you out on promising dates, not keeping you on the app." So far in my experience his has been an accurate statement.
The first thing I liked about this app is the ability to verify your account. I had one person try to convince me to give him my phone number right away, that is a glaring red flag you're dealing with a scammer. I asked him to verify his account and he skirted my request, so I just ignored him. His account was deleted pretty quickly from the app and the company even notified me of the potential for him to have been a fraud. It was a refreshing change from other dating apps that I've tried.
I feel like the "matches" that it produced were quality and more-closely aligned with me. I've taken a "friendship-first" approach and so far the results have been positive.
The love that oozed from her being, was often misunderstood, even feared. Those who knew and loved her, didn't always know what to do with her.
She was an anomaly in the world of men. But, to me, she was my best friend. My eccentric and beautiful mother who gave me her heart and soul even when she thought she was broken. She listened to me, even when I didn't make any sense. She loved me her way. She gave me my singing voice, my penchant for words, my smile, and a strength within me to love even when it's hard. She gave me memories, a little bit of her magic, and all of her love.
There are days when you wake up...and your heart beats with the pure joy of being alive, your inhales pulling the corners of your mouth upward into a grin...and you marvel at the fact that you have yet another day to experience what it means to be alive.
I'm grateful to be feeling this way today. There are days that do not feel like this at all. So when it comes...for what seems like an unexpected delight...take it all in.
I started my professional journey on January 9, 1997 when a close friend decided he wanted me to move to Chicago for his birthday. When he asked me to pack my things and be ready for him, I didn't take him seriously. Much to my surprise, he showed up six hours later with a friend and convinced me to take a leap of faith.
The next thing I knew I was working as a temp, learning my way around the city, and getting used to taking public transportation. He and his partner lived in an area of Chicago called Uptown, just off of Lawrence avenue. They were gracious hosts and allowed me to stay with them until I could get on my feet. It was one of the greatest gifts of my life.
While staying with them, I took the "L" train downtown to various locations in the city where I was assigned. I walked past the infamous Green Mill that was once one of the favorite spots for Chicago's notorious gangster, Al Capone. Across the street from the train platform was the Aragon Ballroom where I was fortunate to enjoy several music venues.
My first experience with public transportation was brutal. The cold wind causing my eyes to tear and both the condensation from my breath and tears stinging my face as they froze. I was not adept at dealing with the cold and I'd not been without my own vehicle since I was 16-years-old. I contemplated many times if the move was worth it, but I told myself over and over again if I wanted to get anywhere in life I had to take some calculated risks.
It was during the dot.com boom that I moved, so I was fortunate to always seem to find work. Chicago being the third largest city in the U.S. had its advantages as well as its disadvantages. One of the first things I learned while taking public transportation was that there was a lot of homelessness, alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution, and desperation that was exacerbated by the harsh conditions of city life and extreme weather. No matter where you go, there are risks.
There was a homeless shelter just down the street from the train station. There was a drug rehabilitation center just down the street from the train station. As a sensitive person, it was heartbreaking to see the level of suffering that was obvious. Many people didn't see it. They didn't see the people pandering for money at the train station. They didn't see the homeless people dirty and disheveled that were very obviously, mentally ill. They didn't see the addicts that were having seizures in the alleys. Most people learned to tune it out, but I noticed.
One day on my way to work at PR Newswire sometime in May, I got on the "L" as usual and sat down next to a nurse in all white. She was reading a romance novel. A platform full of people had gotten onto the train with me. There were plenty of seats, which was rare. A man had gotten onto the train with me. He was obviously different dressed in suspenders, bowtie, jeans and rotund. He sat directly across from me and stared at me, holding a brown bag directly under his chin.
When the train approached each stop, the conductor would call out the stop. "Next stop, Addison, next stop, Addison." The purpose of the announcement was to help people who were too caught up in their distractions to get off on their correct stop. When the train slowly pulled to a stop at Addison, the stop that is next to Wrigley Field, the man jumped up from his seat pushing down his brown bag lunch to his waist. He walked up to me quickly and yelled "May I call you for a date?" and hurriedly exited the platform. When the doors closed I was in shock. My heart was racing and I wasn't sure if I should be concerned or not. No one seemed affected at all. I turned to the nurse next to me and asked her if she had seen what had just occurred. She broke from her book, looked up at me and replied, "Oh yes, nothing to worry about. I know him. He has Tourettes. That's actually the nicest series of things I've ever heard him say." And she reopened her book and ignored me for the rest of the ride. That was my first unusual experience with public transportation.
During the time I took public transportation in Chicago I had my wallet stolen, got propositioned, my life threatened, witnessed men masturbating, and fought off a man who tried to put me in his car. My small-town innocence and naivety was quickly replaced with street smarts. I was really grateful that I had spent time during college learning martial arts, it gave me a sense of confidence that allowed me to respond to danger appropriately.
Despite all the madness of the city, I learned a lot about myself and I grew both personally and professionally. I learned that I enjoyed writing more than anything. I got my editorial beginnings at PR Newswire. If I hadn't gone to Chicago I don't know where I'd be today, but I definitely wouldn't be here.
Every day is a new adventure. Live life fearlessly. Love endlessly.
Life has its ups and downs, that's why the rollercoaster is such a good metaphor. You get in line. You're forced to wait (sometimes for hours) for an experience that lasts for maybe a whole minute if you're lucky. The anticipation builds, a feeling of both fear and excitement. The closer you get to the platform the more you start to question your judgement. Do I really want to do this? You get into your seat, you buckle up...and you're off.
My first really memorable rollercoaster experience happened in May of 1984 during my eighth grade class trip. We took a school bus to Six Flags Over Mid-America in St. Louis, Missouri. Our adventure extended for two days and two nights. Our class was small and our fundraising abilities, extraordinary. We made so much money over the school year we even got $100 spending money a day while we were there.
I've always been, cautious. It's just a general part of my nature. So I was selective about which rides I would experience. On top of my cautious nature, I have a crippling fear of heights. A gift from my mother along with a fear of spiders.
The most famous ride of the park was the Screamin' Eagle. A large wooden roller coaster that the Guinness Book of World Records listed as the largest coaster at 110 feet (34 m) high and as the fastest coaster at 62 mph (100 km/h). Every one of my classmates took a turn or several on this majestic, historical coaster. I was going to take a pass, but two of my friends convinced me that I had to give it a chance, so I got in line with them.
When I got up to the platform everyone had someone to sit with, except for me. They got onto the train in front of me and when it was my turn, I was on my own. I got into the very back car. I have to admit I wasn't paying attention, because when they told us to push our bar into place mine didn't securely fasten and there were no seatbelts. At the time, I weighed in at about 105 lbs. soaking wet. When the car started up the hill, I started to panic. I couldn't get my voice, I couldn't scream. I was tragically silenced during a time when my voice was desperately needed.
Once we got to the top of the hill I managed to get out two words "Help Me." The couple in front of me noticed right away that my bar was not secure. The male was large and strong and managed to hold himself into his car with his legs, while he and his girlfriend held me tight so I didn't fly out of the cart to my death.
Fast forward to a few years into the future when a good friend of mine invited me to join her and the high school German club for an outing at Six Flags. I agreed to go as long as I wasn't asked to ride the Screamin' Eagle and after telling her what had happened to me, she agreed we didn't have to ride it.
When we arrived at the park, Mrs. Pyrtle, the German Club sponsor and high school German teacher gave us three rules to abide for a successful trip. The first rule was to use the buddy system. We were to be with another student at all times. The second rule was to return to the school bus at promptly 6 p.m. and the third rule was to simply not die.
The day was absolutely beautiful. We could not have asked for better weather and the park was not packed because it was during a school day. We rode rides over and over again. There was lots of laughter and happiness. It was getting close to time to leave the park and my friend asked me if I would ride the Screamin' Eagle. I was overwhelmed with dread and disappointed that my friend had asked. I had a very hard time saying no to people, but this time said "no" immediately.
My friend went into a long speech about why I should give the ride another chance. No one had ever died on it before. People had been riding it all day and no one was even mildly injured. I remember her saying "You can do this. Conquer your fears. You'll be glad you did." So I got in line with her. She promised she would ride the ride with me. She wasn't going to abandon me to ride it alone and we didn't have to sit in the very back or the very front.
We positioned ourselves carefully so we could sit in the very middle car. She climbed in first and I sat next to her. We made absolutely sure that our bar fastened. My heart was racing and I was sweating profusely even though it wasn't very hot outside. She made me laugh and reminded me that everything was going to be okay.
When we started up the hill the car was jerking. It was making unusual noises and there seemed to be a faint smell of something burning. It took more than 30 minutes for us to make it to the top of the hill. When we did get to the top we sat there for another 30 minutes or so, but it felt like an eternity. I turned to my friend and said "I think we're going to die." In her very calm and soothing manner she turned to me and said "Mrs. Pyrtle is going to be terribly disappointed."
A helicopter and men in harnesses came up the side of the coaster and removed us two at a time, slowly down the side rail that was maybe a foot across.
I remember gripping the railing so tight that when we got to the bottom of the hill my hands were blue from the paint. The train had derailed, but we survived.
I don't think I'll ever get on that coaster again, but I think there's a lesson in this. Even if we think our lives have derailed, we can survive it. Be strong. Be courageous. Take chances but know when it's time to say no.
"Resignation is defeat and acceptance is victory."
When I am alone and I can hear myself think, spirit whispers truths to me. I woke up a little after 4 a.m. with spirit gently nudging me to wake up and listen to myself think. I began to think about the difference between resignation and acceptance. The difference is subtle, but profound.
Resignation is fear-based. It is passive. When we resign we have given up. We have lost faith in the voice within us. The voice that is spirit talking. The part of us that is eternal. This happens when we are overwhelmed by the noise of everyday life. Our environment, the conversations we have, the shows we watch on television, the social media feeds which we subscribe, the music we listen to and the books we read. We can easily become the product of other people's fear if we're not paying attention. These things form our beliefs and fuel our subconscious. Naturally we feel the urge to fight them, because they don't come from a higher perspective. The perspective that is our own soul. This is how we get out of alignment. This is why we're exhausted. We're using our energy to continually battle the false beliefs that keep us from moving forward.
Acceptance is love-based. It is active. It is allowing. It requires us to remove ourselves from the noise of other people's fears and beliefs. It is an act of faith. It requires us to take responsibility for the direction we're moving, for our thoughts, and how we respond to things that oppose our subconscious programming. It requires us to listen. It requires us to turn inward. It requires us to reflect in solitude.
We are naturally social beings. We do need one another. Learning how to be a part of the whole is one of the reasons why we are here. That itself is something to hold in awe and wonder. We are often told that in order to be happy we must be alone, but I believe this is just more contrast. It is just more extreme thinking.
We need to find that balance between solitude and community. When you're finding yourself reactive it's time to reflect. It's time to remove yourself from the noise and go within. It doesn't mean isolate yourself from the world. It means take all the time you need to listen to yourself think. So you can respond from a place of love and not resign to your fear.
Art: Surrender by Leslie Shrader-Fagnan
I woke up this morning amused. I went to bed asking myself why I felt so hopeless. I did just lose my primary income source. The death anniversary of someone I loved is right around the corner, but I had never felt this hopeless before.
When I woke up I knew the answer. I wasn't being mindful of my environment, the food I was eating, what I was watching, nor the conversations I was having. I had been binge watching The Walking Dead on Netflix. I had been spending all my energy on distractions and not healthy ones.
When you're in a transition state, it is so important to be mindful. The Walking Dead is a really well-written TV series, but the overarching message is "you're not safe." If you're in a transition state or have recently experienced some type of loss this can overpower your psyche.
So when I woke up, I had to laugh at myself. No wonder I was feeling hopeless even with all the love and support I have been blessed to receive. Be mindful of what you're taking in every day. Especially if you're in a vulnerable state. I have shifted my energy into focusing on those things that make me feel good, genuinely. Like my morning cup of coffee, the robust laughter of my son and his friends, the mischievous acts of my two adorable feline companions, and the beautiful people who reach out to me every single day.
I'm reminded to eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, move my body in ecstatic joy, listen to music, and read inspiring stories. Life is too short to not do what we love.
Art: Becoming One, Vladimir Ilievski
As I ponder my life and listen quietly to that voice inside me I can hear spirit clearly. It is gentle, loving, and accepting of me exactly as I am. Spirit said to me this morning…
…why do you try to swim upstream? Have you mistaken yourself for a salmon? The direction you are meant to go will never drain you of your energy, your happiness, or your vitality. Surrender to the energy of what is meant for you. Let yourself flow with the current that will always take you where you need to go.
Trust what you have learned. Eat whole healthy foods. Drink water. Rest when you are tired. Move your body in celebration of it. Laugh and play. Swim with the current and you will get to your true destination.
Nothing done with force will ever be able to sustain you. Find joy in the journey. Love everyone you meet along the way. Be present. That is the gift.
Image: Cumberland Falls, Kentucky
It's Monday morning on this side of the world. Coffee pots are brewing, people are frantically getting ready for work and school. For just a single moment, pause. Just be. Connect to yourself. Give yourself a big hug...look how far you've come.
You've overcome loss, heartache, fears and failures. You've experienced joys, laughter and happiness.
Pause for a moment and take it all in. You're doing amazing and the best is yet to come.