4 Steps to Get to Where You Want to Go

This blog post is based on an art therapy exercise I used to do with women’s groups when I was a therapist. So, if you are so inclined, feel free to get out some paper and draw your answers – and yes, stick figures are fine! You could also journal your answers, or just talk it through with yourself or a friend.

  1. Where am I now? This is where you evaluate your current life situation and personal satisfaction with it. Review all areas of your life – personal (spiritual/emotional,) family, friends, social life, self care (diet, exercise,) work or retirement, goals and anything else you can think of. How satisfied are you with where you are right now? There may be several areas where things are great, but also a couple that are not so satisfying.
  2. Where do I want to go? In the areas where life is not so satisfying, where do you want to go? Take a minute to visualize this. Do you have some spiritual work to do? Need more friends? Better family relationships? Think this through and get really clear on where you want to go. If you want to work on a couple areas of your life, it might be helpful to do this for each one.
  3. What’s stopping me? What is blocking you from this ideal life you would love? Good chance there are some limiting beliefs going on. I’m too old – it’s too late – I don’t have the time/energy/resources… the list goes on. What are you telling yourself about where you want to go? We all have our favorite reasons.
  4. What am I going to do about it? Maybe you need to do some reading/research. Maybe you need to journal your way through this. Maybe you need to talk to a trusted friend. Maybe you need to start meditating. Maybe you need to nurture yourself. Maybe you need to make some changes in your self talk. Trying to let go of limiting beliefs can be a challenge. Maybe you need some help just knowing what to do first. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know!

Feeling Invisible?

The great thing about getting older is you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been. – Madeleine L’Engle

It seems that the farther we get into our sixties, the greater the temptation to become invisible. Society certainly plays a huge role in that as it continues to value youth over wisdom and age. Just watch an evening of commercials on television – all the “fun” ones promote youth. Some commercials are about older people but they are usually tied to the person’s medical conditions and what medications to take. The pandemic has added to this. Wearing face masks is another contributor to invisibility. Don’t get me wrong, I believe face masks are very important and wear mine all the time. However, I do believe they contribute to this issue.

So, the question is – what to do about it? I read several interesting articles about this recently that offered some suggestions. One is pay attention to your posture. Stand up straight with chin up. No more slouching and curved shoulders. Try it – it feels strange at first, but good! Also, walk like you are going somewhere – with intention. And practice smiling!

I think that feeling invisible is mostly an inside job. We know what society values in appearance and we don’t look quite like that anymore. There is no denying the physical changes in our bodies. So, sometimes it is easier to retreat into a shell and become invisible. Since our kids are probably grown and out of the house, it is harder to keep up with the latest trends in anything. I know since my son has been living on his own these last several years, I feel like I’ve lost my connection to what is really going on in the world. So, sometimes it is just easier to fade into the background and become invisible.

So, again, what to do? in addition to the previous suggestions. it is so important to pay attention to how we talk to ourselves. It is easy to be critical of the latest wrinkle or saggy thing. Most of the time, we don’t “feel” our age until we let surroundings and circumstances pull us down. I love the suggestion by Abraham Hicks in one of their YouTube videos on aging. They encourage choosing an age where you feel vital and alive and practice those feelings. A lot of aging is a result of negative thoughts and emotions and if we can tune into the times when we felt our best, I believe it will slow the aging process down and we can claim our visibility!

Heart Breathing Meditation

I know meditation is mentioned in a lot of my posts but today I want to talk about a specific type of meditation – Heart Breathing Meditation. It is a very simple technique that can be done anytime and anywhere. In fact, I did it for a minute as I was starting this post because I was feeling frustrated about some IT stuff and wanted to calm down. I have tried a variety of different meditations – guided, music, counting breaths, focusing on something specific and I hate to admit, I haven’t stuck with them faithfully.

For the Heart Breathing Meditation, you simply get into a comfortable position and breathe deeply, imagining that you are breathing in through your heart and out through your heart. I am doing this about 15 minutes before bed and anytime during the day when I need to relax and refocus. It is a very simple act, but very calming. I find that it pretty quickly helps me feel more centered. I usually get this warm sensation in my chest that then spreads through my body. I know one of the obstacles to meditating is the constant chatter in. our minds. More than once, in the past, I have stopped meditating because I just couldn’t quiet that voice in my head. With this technique, as I breathe from my heart, I am able to focus more fully on that sensation. I have found that there still may be some mental chatter from the voice in my head, but it fades as I focus on the sensation in my chest. It is that feeling that matters, and I am somehow able to ignore the chatter even if it doesn’t completely stop.

I encourage you to give this simple Heart Breathing Meditation a try. If you haven’t done it before, it may be helpful at first to put your right hand over your heart to stay focused. If you are interested in finding out more about this technique and some other amazing info about your heart, I encourage you to check out HeartMath.org – it’s an amazing site. And, as always, let me know what you think!

Pandemic “Laziness”

If all you can do is get out of bed and brush your teeth, consider that ok. – Ashley McGirt, licensed mental health therapist

This pandemic has been a tremendous physical, emotional and spiritual drain. Nothing about life has been normal for a year now. The pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives causing us to make adjustments that would have been unimaginable in the past. It’s easy to dismiss what a huge stressor this is as we try to cope with daily life. It’s also easy to blame ourselves if we aren’t as “productive” as we used to be prior to the pandemic. I know I have been concerned about myself, wondering if I have just gotten lazy. Then, as I was surfing the net looking for ideas for this post, I discovered that there is such a thing as pandemic laziness (google it!). It is brought on by current conditions and circumstances and is not a reflection of a person’s individual worth or character.

It is so important to give ourselves a break right now. Getting frustrated and making demands on ourselves just makes things worse. If you don’t feel like doing the dishes, buy paper plates and cups. If you dot feel like making the bed, don’t. If you don’t feel like cleaning, hire someone to do it (I know I am seriously considering this!) And you really don’t have to wash your hair everyday! We have to nurture ourselves before we will have the energy for even ordinary everyday tasks.

 

What to do? Here are some great suggestions from an article I found, ” How to Stay Motivated When Staying Home,” by Emily Bouch.

  1. Set an alarm and keep a regular sleep routine – This one is a challenge for me. It is so easy to turn the alarm off and just lay in bed! My work hours are flexible so this is something I can usually get away with but it is not the best idea. We need some semblance of a routine (even if it is looser than normal) to cope with these challenging times.
  2. Get dressed – Since there is nowhere to go, it is easy to stay in our pajamas and somedays, that may be all you want to do. But, it sends the wrong signal to your brain and just makes you more lethargic.
  3. Try to keep some semblance of a routine. Without even a basic routine, it seems to me, life gets a little disoriented and it can be hard to even know what day it is.
  4. Set small, manageable goals. I’ve started thinking in terms of what I can do in 10-15 minutes. That’s how I got the clutter cleaned out of two corners in my bedroom. Let that one accomplishment be enough for now and don’t attach other things to it.
  5. Reward yourself for accomplishing a task. Take a break. Call a friend. Have a cup of coffee and appreciate yourself for what you have done.
  6. Set boundaries with the tv. It is so easy to get lost scrolling through Netflix or Amazon.
  7. Exercise – Ugh, I’m tired already! There is not getting around the fact that exercise is an energy booster. As I have said before, my Fitbit tells me I need to walk at least 250 steps per hour and when I’m sitting at a computer, that can be easy to forget. It’s spring. Take a walk outside. It doesn’t have to be a major exercise routine – just get moving!

All this being said, you may find there are days when you don’t do anything on this list and that’s ok. As Abraham Hicks says, “I am where I am and it’s ok.” Just try to talk lovingly to yourself and appreciate yourself for who you are.

 

 

How to Stop Worrying

How to Stop Worrying

Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe. – Mark Twain

With all the uncertainties around us, it can be hard to stay grounded. If our minds gets stuck in a worry loop, it can be hard to find balance. We may even believe worrying will help avoid bad things from happening – if we just worry enough. Or maybe we justify worrying because it helps us prepare for the worst, Or maybe we think if we worry enough, we will figure the problem out. Maybe we think it is the responsible thing to do or the only way to not miss something. If we think worrying helps in some way, that makes it a hard habit to break. I caught myself worryingthe other day about something trivial and decided it was time to write a post about how to stop worrying.

There are lots of ways to worry. Do you recognize yourself in any of these?

Catastrophizing – expecting the worst thing to happen. “The pilot said we are in for some turbulence. The plane is going to crash!”

Minimization – downplaying the good things. “The presentation went well but it was just dumb luck.”

All or nothing thinking – interpreting a situation as either all good or all bad. “If everything isn’t just right, I’m a total failure.”

Overgeneralization – believing that having one negative experience means that everything is negative. “I didn’t get this job – I’ll never find a job!”

Negative attention – focusing on the things that went wrong instead of the things that went right. “I missed the last question on the test. I’m so stupid.”

Rumination – continuing to obsess about something negative.

Mind Reading – assuming we know what someone is thinking without asking. “I know she is mad at me.”

How to Stop Worrying

  1. Emotions create a physical reaction in our bodies. Maybe worrying creates a tension in your chest or an upset in your stomach. My favorite way to stop worrying is this. When I notice my “worry feeling,” I immediately label it for what it is and step back and become the observer, recognizing that I am not my thoughts and let it go.
  2. For some people, it helps to create a “worry period.” This is a designated time during the day of 20-30 minutes where you sit down and go over all your worries. Write them down if that helps. Then, when time is up, step out of the worry zone.
  3. Of course, meditation is going to be on the list. Even a simple exercise where you focus on your breath for 5 minutes – or even 1 minute can help to clear your mind.
  4. Learn to distinguish between solvable and unsolvable worries. Take steps to solve the ones you can and let go of the ones you can’t.
  5. Get busy doing something. Exercise if you can or take a walk. Being outside can be very calming if you focus on your surroundings.

The little voice in the back of your mind can always find something to worry about. Try one of these suggestions and remember, you are not your thoughts!

 

Psychology Today – How to Stop Worrying in Five Steps by Tchiki Davis– 9/7/20

Help Guide – How to Stop Worrying

The Benefits of Laughter

You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.  George Bernard Shaw

Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh? Whether it’s by yourself or with a friend, a good laugh is uplifting. But did you know that there are more benefits of laughter? It has positive physical and emotional benefits that go far beyond the moment of laughter.

In doing some research for this post, I came across some wonderful resources. One of them is Laughter Wellness. Their philosophy is “We believe in playfulness that leads to personal growth, joy filled techniques and exercises that promote a deeper level of awareness, and positive and empowering human connections that foster social harmony.” What a great philosophy and laughter contributes to all of it!

Studies have shown that laughter therapy can improve the quality of life for people over 60. It can increase blood vessel function, relieve stress and tension, improve memory and boost overall happiness. Laughter provides a boost to the immune system. It can also lower blood pressure and cholesterol by increasing blood oxygenation and helping circulation. It can increase levels of endorphins which help reduce pain levels in the body. It also increases stress reducing chemicals in the body making it a great stress management technique. You don’t have to go to laughter therapy to reap the benefits of laughter. Clearing the negative chatter in our minds so we can be present in the moment and open to opportunities to laugh is a start. Also, smiling more with your mouth and your eyes is an invitation for laughter.

I know it has been a rough year with the pandemic and there have been days when there seems to be no reason to laugh. But with all the benefits of laughter, I think there are a few things we can do to create an atmosphere to let it in. Watch less news on tv and certainly not before you go to bed! Watch fewer police and medical dramas. Watch more comedies. Practice the steps in my post on How to Get Happy. If you have a pet, play with it more. I know my kitty certainly can make me laugh! If you are interested in finding out more about the benefits of laughter, check out Laughter Online University. It has lots of great information and even some exercises to help you start laughing!

Seven Steps to Finding Life Purpose After 60

“After 60, people begin to search for meaning in life all over again.” Awais Aftab

And why do we start to search for meaning in life again after 60? Is that something you are searching for? At this point in life, the kids are probably grown, you may be retired or considering retirement, so what now? When our purpose in life is no longer defined by the roles we play, how do we find meaning in life after 60? Here are some steps that might help.

  1. Go within – Finding purpose is really a spiritual exercise. Our Higher Power is always available for guidance and support if we just take the time to listen. I know I mention meditation a lot, but clearing your mind and being open to the Universe is a great way to receive inspiration. To me, this is the foundation to finding purpose in life. The rest of the steps build on this one.
  2. Identify activities that give you a sense of purpose and keep track of what they are. What do you enjoy doing? What makes your heart sing? If you are at a point where you’re not even sure what that is, check out the next step.
  3. Explore what it means to create – art, music, cooking, crafts, gardening, writing or just sitting quietly. You never know what new interests you might discover!
  4. Continue to learn new things – Our brains love it when we learn new things. (See my post on Your Ageless Brain.)
  5. Take care of your body and your health – This one may not seem to be related, but taking care of your health makes it possible to explore these other steps more freely.
  6. Accept your body and love yourself- Our bodies have changed. When I look at myself, I sometimes wonder where my 30 year old body went. But I have learned to accept my body as it is now. I have also learned a lot about loving and accepting myself the way I am. This one is important because if you have a lot of negative chatter going on in your mind. it will be harder to hear the voice of inspiration.
  7. Make new friends/socialize more – Connecting with others is important. It adds to the sense of fulfillment and purpose in life.

The thing I have concluded is that our purpose now may not be as well defined as it used to be but that’s ok. I actually believe the bottom line to finding purpose in life is to be happy. What do you think?

How To Get Happy

“I have chosen to be happy; it is good for my health.”  Voltaire

This post was originally going to be called happiness after 60. I had some thoughts and had done some research but I was having a really hard time getting this post to come together and was feeling pretty frustrated. Then it occurred to me that it’s going to be pretty hard to write about happiness when I’m feeling unhappy. So, I decided to see what I could do to improve my emotional state and find out how to get happy.

  1. Accept how I’m feeling – I remembered the exercise from a previous post, Resistance, about accepting what I am experiencing. So, I said to myself, I accept that I am experiencing frustration and that’s ok. I had been struggling against this feeling which only made it worse. I was trying to do some research so support my somewhat vague ideas, and the more I searched, the more frustrated I got. Nothing was coming together and I had been “stewing” about this now for a couple of days. Once I realized what I was doing, I decided it was time to accept it and let it go. Finally, some relief from the struggle!
  2. Be present in the moment – Then, I realized that I certainly wasn’t being present in the moment. All kinds of negative chatter was going on in my mind. I decided to take a step back and be the observer of these thoughts which helped me to detach from them.
  3. Look for something to appreciate – I had clearly been focusing on lots of negatives so I decided to try to find something to appreciate. Spring is almost here and I can now hear the birds singing outside – that is always uplifting for me. Also, I got my first covid vaccine so life is one more step to some kind of normalcy. I thought of several other positive things and found that I was feeling much better – actually happy!
  4. Nurture that feeling – This is something that is easy to forget. When you are able to move yourself from a negative place to a more positive one, it is important to soak that feeling up and to nurture it. That helps to reset your perspective and allow the new, more positive emotion to “stick.”

I believe happiness is a state of being. Certainly, things happen and we can’t realistically be happy all the time. But, if we can remember these four steps, hopefully we can bring ourselves back to a more positive state. Try it and let me know what you think!

Can We Stop and Reverse the Aging Process?

Your body will absolutely follow the rhythm of your mind” – Abraham-Hicks

According to the National Science Foundation, we have 12-60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive. I have also seen studies that suggest we only have 6,000 thoughts per day. Either way, we. are having thousands of thoughts per day. If 80% of our thoughts are negative, how is that impacting our stress levels and our bodies? And if 95% of our thoughts are repetitive, it would seem we are stuck in a rut. Given these statistics and what we know about the power of our thoughts, it would seem this could be a huge contributor to the aging process.

How much do our beliefs contribute to how we age? What have we learned from observing others about the aging process? According to Abraham-Hicks, the very. phrase, the aging process, exhibits a belief in decline. We are vibrational beings and our vibration is directly impacted by what we think and feel. It’s not very realistic to expect ourselves to stay on top of the thousands of thoughts we have per day, but we can pay attention to how we feel. Negative emotions cause stress and tension on our physical bodies, which Abraham-Hicks calls resistance. The more negative the emotion, the more intense the resistance. It’s kind of like trying to drive your car with the emergency brake on. That creates a lot of resistance for the engine which over time, wears it down. So, it would seem that the more we are able to release resistance, the more we align with our true selves and Source Energy (or God.) Again, according to Abraham-Hicks, the key to releasing resistance is “going to the well (Source) for refuelment on a regular basis.”

As my opening quote suggests, our bodies follow what our minds believe and thus, we feel. What if the real cause of aging is emotional resistance? There are studies that indicate that one of the. major causes of disease is stress/negative emotion. Given that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience, doesn’t it make sense that negative emotions would cause stress that would seem to create a gap between who we are now and who we are eternally? And doesn’t it make sense that the more we are able to release resistance, the more we will be in alignment with our true selves and thus be able to at least slow, if not stop and reverse the aging process?

One last thought, a study by Yale University suggests that people who feel good about themselves as they get older live about 7 1/2 years longer than the glass half empty types. For more thoughts on how to release resistance, see my posts on keys to happiness and things that may extend your life – and let me know what you think!

 

5 Keys to Happiness After 60

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

I believe happiness is a state of being. Sure, things are going to happen that make us unhappy, but once we have the skills, we can come back to that state of happiness which often leads to a longer, more satisfying life. People who feel positively about getting older tend to live longer than those who feel more negatively.

 

1 Savor the moment – It is important to be present in the moment. It is so easy to get caught up in something bad that happened yesterday or to worry about what might happen tomorrow and then we lose the precious present moment. If you catch your mind flying off in all directions, take a deep breath and come back to the present moment. Meditating, even for a few minutes, can also bring you back to the present moment.

2 Practice gratitude – Regardless of what is going on around us, we can find things to be grateful for if we try. And they don’t have to be big things. How about that hot shower you took this morning, or that first cup of coffee or the compliment someone gave you? I am starting to hear birds singing again in the morning which is a sign that spring is coming and I am so grateful for that. It can be helpful to keep a gratitude journal and write down three things you are grateful for every day. Looking for things to be grateful for increase the feel good chemicals in the brain.

3 Have a sense of purpose – Having a sense of purpose gives meaning to life. Certainly our purpose can change over the course of a lifetime but I believe there are some consistent core aspects – the things you are most passionate about. Maybe it’s art or music or creating or teaching or helping others. The form that our purpose takes may change, but I believe it is driven by our passions.

4 Take care of your health – So much has already been written about this but I had to include it here. Regular exercise can keep your cells healthy and your brain happy (see my post on Your Ageless Brain.) Also, check out my post on 14 Things That May Extend Your Life.

5 Build strong social relationships – Studies show that people with a strong social network tend to live longer than those with fewer friends. This is more of a challenge now due to the pandemic, but it always helps to call a friend or have a meeting on zoom. Pets can help here, too. When you can’t hug your friend, hug your pet! I am definitely grateful for my very affectionate kitty!

Do you have other practices that enhance your happiness? If so, I’d love to hear them. I know there are challenges to maintaining this happiness mindset and I will deal with some of those in my next post.