The home stretch: bidding farewell to 2019

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How’s the year wrapping up in your world? Mine resembles a project still in the works: missing pieces to the puzzle; loose ends, tangled and frayed. Unfinished business: words left unspoken; goals unrealized. As well as one certainty: I don’t want to arrive at the end of my life or the end of next year—or the end of next month—without seeing progress. Although baby steps still mean we’re moving forward, we might fall on our hindquarters, take two steps back for each one we advance or veer off the original course. But we shouldn’t drop to our knees where we are and stop—unless it’s to pray. So as we bid farewell to 2019, I pray for: a clear vision for the New Year, favor to succeed, strength to overcome, confidence in our convictions and the peace that passes all understanding. And that any loose ends or unfinished business or missing pieces to the puzzle serve as stepping stones from one chapter to the next.

Cheers!

Image courtesy of Krishna arts at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Brave enough: finding strength to admit our brokenness

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From the start, my purpose for writing “A nasty word called addiction…” centered on a message of hope and redemption, as well as a way to mark a milestone in my own journey of healing. It’s no secret that many of us suffer in silence from a laundry list of afflictions. Yet, the older I get, the more I feel a kinship with those who hide behind the fake smiles, the false bravado. Because I, too, share the DNA of brokenness. Yet, as I navigate—aka stumble, skip or sidle (depending on the day)—this season of Club 50, I often entertain second thoughts about broaching various “taboo” topics in conversation or my writing. However, if we’re unwilling to allow ourselves the discomfort of vulnerability, then we miss an opportunity to engage in deeper connection with humanity, and ourselves. Transparency, I believe, serves as a catalyst to healing and a collective oneness. And affords us strength when we’re brave enough to admit our brokenness.

Are you brave enough?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Muscle mix up: how to avoid plateaus

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In “Flexing our muscles: use ‘em or lose ‘em,” I talk about unworked muscles and how they lose their strength, and may even atrophy over time. This means any type of muscle—our brains, physical bodies, creative outlets. Which brings me to the concept of “muscle memory” (according to Wiki): that with practice, the execution of a motor task becomes smoother and the muscle activity necessary to the task is performed without conscious effort. However, on that note, it’s also important to practice something called “muscle mix up.” This means to change a routine by stimulating different muscle groups in order to avoid a plateau and/or boredom of any activity in which we’re engaged. Whether it’s hitting the gym vs. the mat or reading vs. Sudoku, or painting vs. pottery or writing a Haiku vs. a screenplay, I believe that stretching our potential challenges us to achieve greater benefits. And we might just find a new passion while we’re at it.

How do you practice muscle mix up?

Image courtesy of toonsteb at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Flexing our muscles: use ’em or lose ’em

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Write every day.
Writing is a muscle
that gets stronger
with use. ~ Abbi Glines

It’s a no brainer, isn’t it? That unworked muscles lose their strength. I’ve witnessed this truth in its extreme: following my husband’s car accident and during the course of his two-month hospital stay, his muscles begin to atrophy from lack of use. Over time, however, through daily PT sessions, he regained a lot of strength. Some days, I arrived at the hospital to find my husband in his wheelchair—pushed front-first against the side of the bed—and his body slumped onto the mattress to rest between sessions. It’s not easy to get stronger. It requires determination and perseverance to overcome in spite of obstacles. Although my struggles with writing are a poor comparison, I know that even if the writing I do today is bad, it’s better than anything I don’t write. Progress only happens with consistent work. Even if that means resting in between.

What muscle do you need to strengthen?

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Strong enough, smart enough and brave enough: all you have to do is ask

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Be strong enough to stand alone,
smart enough to 
know when you need help,
and brave enough to ask for it.
~ Ziad K. Abdelnour

I’m not sure if it’s a Type A thing, or just a fragment of my own personal makeup; however, I feel that the practice of enlisting the help of others is oftentimes viewed as a sign of vulnerability rather than a display of strength. The writing life is typically a solitary endeavor but, after juggling, rearranging and finagling my schedule (see “The price of sacrifice…”), I finally conceded I needed assistance to pursue my vocational goals. This meant approaching my little family and informing them when I would be unavailable, and then pinning my boss down to ask for additional flexibility in my “9-5” work schedule. All it took was a little smarts and a whole lot of bravery to walk away with blessings from all parties. And a renewed sense of my purpose.

What do you need to ask for help with?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Staying power: what it is and where it comes from

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staying-power

While nursing a reflective mood recently, I scrolled upon these Facebook gems:

Burning desire to be or do something gives us staying power—a reason to get up every morning or to pick ourselves up and start in again after a disappointment. ~ Marsha Sinetar

True strength doesn’t come from loving yourself when you have your sh*t together, true strength comes when you can stand courageously in your darkest, messiest and weakest moments and still find the strength to love yourself beyond all circumstance and definition. ~ Jannine Murray

Give. But don’t allow yourself to be used. Love. But don’t allow your heart to be abused. Trust. But don’t be naive. Listen. But don’t lose your own voice. ~ Anonymous

I’ve been a little naïve, used, my heart abused. I’ve forgotten how to love myself, and I’m searching for the voice I’ve lost. But my passions afford me strength, staying power—disappointment after disappointment—because I have a reason to rise every day and begin anew.

What gives you staying power?

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

5 Things Hiking, Life Have in Common

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hiking-life

I never cease to learn or experience something new during my hikes in the mountains, and this past weekend was no exception.

  1. If you want the trails to yourself, you must make tracks: the early bird still gets the worm.
  2. Not every hiker is on a mission to burn calories or achieve a cardio workout: be patient with those in the slow lane (you might end up there).
  3. When you focus less on the ‘mountain,’ you appreciate your bite-size accomplishments: take it one step, one goal at a time (and hydrate often).
  4. Life is about the up (hills), the down (hills) and, sometimes, the smooth sailing: don’t get too comfortable on the latter terrain because this is not where we commonly grow.
  5. You will never know how strong you really are if you don’t push yourself the extra mile: choose a life filled with ‘oh wells’ rather than a life of ‘what ifs.’

What have you recently learned while enjoying a favorite pastime?

Healing a broken heart

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Healing a broken heart

[Image credit: fotographic 1980]

Time can heal a broken heart
but it can also break a waiting heart.
~ Unknown

The box thing (see Outside of the box) isn’t working so well. It’s just not in my nature to compartmentalize my feelings. In fact, I wear pretty much all my emotions on my sleeve. And now I’m nursing a broken heart. I’ve known heartache over the years, but never at this magnitude. While I wait for time to heal it, it continues to break as it waits — for healing, for dreams to come true, for promises to be kept. For time to pass. In any case, time has slowed to a crawl for this grieving heart. “They” purport that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But what about the part of you that dies as you keep on living? The part no one can see? I wish there was an easy fix, but apparently time is in no hurry and the journey isn’t over.

Has time healed or broken your heart?

Word-of-the-month: efficacy (n.)

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Word-of-the-month

[Image credit: Arvind Balaraman]

When my daughter was over the other day during what has become a rare visit, I mentioned to her a talk I had with the pharmacist about the efficacy of an expired inhaler.  She gave me an odd look and repeated the word efficacy, at which time I asked if she knew what it meant.  She responded yes, but she’d never heard anyone use the word before.  Pronounced ˈe-fi-kə-sē, this noun means power or capacity to produce a desired effect; effectiveness.  Synonyms for efficacy include efficiency, competence, value, strength, usefulness, potency, productiveness and success.  A sample sentence other than the one I used above includes: Patients were concerned about the safety and efficacy of the season’s new flu vaccine.  Incidentally, when speaking with the pharmacist I learned that in the case of an inhaler, it’s more about the bacteria that can grow inside it following the expiration date versus the medication’s efficacy.

What is one thing in your life that has proven its efficacy time and time again?

One day at a time

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Only 30 days

[Image credit: renjith krishnan]

Tomorrow is my final day of the 30-day Bikram Yoga challenge.  It’s also the end of my resolve to avoid sweets, alcohol, caffeine and anything non-vegan.  People have told me I’ll feel amazing afterward, and it’s true.  They’ve also asked if I’m going for 60 — and what I plan to do once the challenge is complete.  I’d like to keep going.  I’ve toned and trimmed some trouble spots.  I’ve improved my strength, balance and determination.  My IBS symptoms are better than ever.  My skin is cooperating.  And I learned I can do anything for 30 days.   However, I may swap out a day or two of Yoga for the gym a couple of times a week.  Maybe add a cup of coffee back into my diet.  For me, it’s become more about living one day at a time, while accepting where my body and mind is on any given day, rather than making more commitments.  So I’ll decide on Monday.

What have you done for only 30 days?

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