Embrace the Silence

Sometimes life moves by so quickly, and we get so involved and busy with things, we don’t take a moment just to live in the moment, or even just sit in silence. Being present for quiet moments is extremely important to our overall well-being especially if your lifestyle and schedule is very active or hectic. Sometimes we think we are tired when we are just overstimulated. Taking a few moments to just let the mind be still, to just enjoy doing, or thinking about, absolutely nothing, is an incredibly healthy thing to do.

This was not a part of my life, ever, until very recently. My childhood was chaotic and loud, my twenties were a blur of work, school, and navigating adulthood, and my thirties and forties were packed with raising four children, homeschooling, community involvement, and a lot of work. As my children grew to young adulthood and started to go into their own journeys, I filled my life with throwing parties and events, returning to school, and lots of time in my gym. I found that I stayed as busy as ever, and because that had always been the norm, I just went with it. I was used to the house full of kids and friends, the dogs barking, the constant chatter, the packed calendar, and the endless conversations about the things my family was passionate about, and I made sure to fill my life with equal “noise” as I approached my fifties.  Silence was not a factor in my life, in fact, it was the exact opposite of my life. Silence made me uncomfortable and anxious, often made my brain go to less than happy places, and pretty much drove me mad. My brain was used to being overstimulated constantly, and I didn’t know what to do with silence.

I sat outside on my deck Sunday, on a way too dark and way too chilly for me October evening, and just sat. Alone. Quiet. I could hear the ocean waves crashing on the shore 4 blocks away, and nothing else. I looked at the stars, and realized, this is what “peace” feels like. I didn’t stop myself from enjoying it, didn’t immediately decide that I had better things to occupy my mind and remove myself, and didn’t feel anxious or uncomfortable. I didn’t reach for my phone or come inside to make myself dinner. I just SAT. In silence. And did nothing. And after a bit-a long bit-I went back into my life and realized-I am so REFRESHED.

When we decided to buy a place at the beach in 2019, I envisioned a place with constant family and friends visiting. There would be drinks on the patio and cornhole in the driveway. We set up guestrooms and bought tons of towels and sheets to host a huge crew and made sure everything was set up for relaxing and great times. I was ready for my calendar to be full and lots of beach fun and activity. But…2020 had different plans for us, and I soon found myself in isolation, alone in our vacation home, for “6 weeks”. I kept myself busy, painting the walls, then canvases, I journaled, I talked on the phone to old friends, I meditated, I started doing more yoga. I stayed REALLY busy. 6 weeks turned into several months, and while family carefully joined me from time to time, I was usually alone with just my dog. Projects were completed, courses were finished, and I started to spend more time just relaxing in the quiet on one of my decks. At first, the silence was too much. It made my mind wander to unpleasant thoughts from the past, thoughts I had neatly tucked away without emotion because I was, of course, just keeping too busy. As I began to study meditation, I learned how to sit with those thoughts, recognize them, and let them go. The silence became easier, it became my welcomed friend.

Sitting in silence is different than meditation. While meditation focuses on intention or focusing on breathing, sitting in silence is just as it is.

Sitting. In. Silence.

I sat today, also in silence, but deep in thought as to how these silent moments can benefit our life and bring a wholeness to our overall wellness.

Sitting with stillness gives you a moment to remove yourself from everything, and just view the world as it exists around you. It opens your mind to things we normally may not observe, or notice. It makes you feel that the vast greatness of the earth and connects you to a sense of being just you.

Being in silence rests your brain and your body. It will refresh you and bring clarity to your life. Our minds can get jumbled with the overstimulation from our daily lives; Silence allows for those thoughts to clear, and our mind starts fresh and anew.

Practicing moments of silence can help you tap into your wisdom. Thoughts, feelings, and ideas that don’t have time to develop in the constant busyness of our daily lives have time to make themselves known, and by recognizing these new ideas, we expand our minds.

For me, sitting in silence is a way to connect with my own self. To listen to my mind and body, and ONLY my mind and body. It is the ultimate in practicing self-care and self-love. In silence, we put ourselves first, completely and unselfishly. We honor our own silence, our own peace, and our own journey. In doing this, we inevitably are more able to honor everything around us with a clear, fresh mind.

I hope you will take a small amount of time to sit in silence this week. Sit under the stars, or cuddle in a blanket in front of a firepit, sit in nature, or simply turn off the tv, put down the phone, shut the door, and embrace a few minutes of silence. If you’re curious about more ways to find total wellness in your life, please check out my 24 page guide to wellness, 7 Days to Wellness. It’s completely free and packed with info and tips, trackers and guidance, to get you started on a wellness journey. If you’ve discovered that you truly want to focus on your total health and wellness goals, drop me a message and let’s chat about setting up the perfect personalized plan for you.

Need a Mood Boost?

I started this blog post idea last week, as a “lighter side” kind of approach to our health, while I was busy working on “bigger, more involved” projects and aspects of my business and life. But then-I hit a wall. I’ve spent much of pandemic avoiding straight on news-which means I don’t watch it on TV, but seek out the happenings of the world through newsfeeds when I feel the need to be a bit tuned in to what is going on outside of my little seaside “bubble”. My normally positive social media seemed less positive, and when reaching out to friends to catch up, the conversations were strained and low energy. My positive mood turned gray, there were some tears over the weekend, and, my attempts to do anything-exercise, write, even make a positive graphic for IG, became exhausting feats. So, my “lighter side” approach to this blog post took a pivot, and, well, here we are.

I’d done quite a bit of reading on “pandemic exhaustion” last year, but as things started to open up, and a new normalcy was being discovered, I thought much less about it. Now, it seems we are back to dealing with much of the same stress, disruption, and even isolation, as new variants take over our lives. Where I live, the rates of illness are climbing higher and faster than ever, and even those with the best intentions of staying away from social spots are finding that the heat has sent them running indoors for days at a time. Taking a beach walk, sitting on the porch with a friend, or biking the neighborhood are things I have gravitated to for the last year and a half-but the 108 heat indexes and blazing sun has made that unbearable. Normally, I’d just throw myself into work, or my ongoing classes, but…My focus waned, my energy took a dive, I was tired, but not sleeping well, and my mood was dark. Trying to drag myself out of this funk only made it worse, and so-I decided to be gentle with myself-because self care is always best. Instead of blogging or working on projects or classes, I spent several days binge watching Virgin River and sipping on bone broth to rebalance my gut. (Rebalancing my gut ALWAYS seems to clear my head clouds and lack of energy!)

There are times when you feel low… times when you feel totally unproductive and of no use to anyone. This is normal in the ebb and flow of life, but the last year and a half have made many feel that no matter what they do to try to pull themselves together, they still find that much of what they are experiencing is completely out of their control. That only seems to make it worse. You are not alone-That I can assure you. So, today, I’d like to offer some healthy suggestions on how to care for yourself if you are finding yourself in this state of mind.

SELF CARE IS CRUCIAL

I can’t say this enough! I have several posts about this, that you can find here, and here, to give you some ideas as to how to better care for YOU, and not feel bad for doing so.

If you’re feeling the affects of being exhausted-the very first thing to remember is to take care of yourself! Many, like myself, find this hard to do. There’s always someone, or something that seems to need your attention-but bottom line-unless you care for YOU, all the rest will suffer as well.

Evaluate Your Schedule

When energy and mood are low, it’s often a good time to take a look at your schedule. Being constantly busy is never good for the soul. Our bodies and our minds need downtime to rest! Take a look at your schedule, see what can be moved, cancelled or rescheduled, and give yourself a well-deserved break. Treat “YOU” as though “YOU” are just as important as all the other appointments and needs on your calendar.

Listen to Music

Listening to music works therapeutically for most people. Whatever your particular taste in music is, listen to that. Load up your Spotify or Apple music, or just ask Alexa to play something for you. Listen to your most favorite song; maybe watch the video if you can. This can cheer you up in a huge way! (For me, it’s The Cure, “Just Like Heaven”. Works wonders!)

Speak to a Friend

Most times, if you just share your feelings with someone, you can do well at managing them. Call the one person you trust more than anyone else and talk. They will listen to you. Do not fear reprimand or ridicule. That won’t happen. If they are your true friend, they will hear you out and maybe even make you laugh, or see a situation in another way.

Go Out for a Walk

If you are stressed, sitting inside and brooding is only going to make matters worse. What you need to do is to go out and let it all out. Take a whiff of the air outside and you will find your problems slowly dwindling away. Most importantly, you can give it some thought and put things in a better perspective. A change of scenery, seeing others going about their lives, a pretty walk in nature, can all do wonders for your mood.

Busy Yourself with Something

When you are trying to work out your stress, the one thing you should try to do is to divert your mind. You have to busy yourself with something that you can put your heart and soul to. This could be your work or do something creative that you were long meaning to do. This can divert your mind in a very profound manner, and you will find that you are slowly but steadily coming out of your stress.

It’s important to be mindful of your feelings and emotions each day, especially if you are prone to feeling isolated or depressed. If you feel your mood, attitude, or energy levels are feeling off, take a few minutes and do a self-check. Sit quietly, explore your general feelings: are you physically tired? Do you feel ill? Are you upset? Are you anxious? Naming the feelings you experience can help you figure out how to deal with them. You may need more rest. You may realize you’ve been eating poorly and feeling the effects. You may need to just change your scenery and shake it off, or you may need to speak to a friend or even a professional. It’s important to practice self-care as often as needed, and to ask for help if you need that as well.

For a little info on “Eating stress away” in a healthy manner, check out this article, or, feel free to contact me to put together a healthy living plan for you.

From my business site Beewell.com

The Third Chapter-Time for YOU!

The “third chapter” is something I speak about often in my health and wellness practice, and that is inspired by MY journey into my own new chapter in life. People generally question the phrase, but upon learning the meaning, are often left feeling enlightened and refreshed. So, today, I’m going to explain the “third chapter” in much detail, in effort to get you thinking about where YOUR life is headed!

In my mind, and in my practice, the third chapter is a chapter of life that is focused on YOU. Chapter one was our childhood and formative years of growing and schooling, and starting our path in life. Chapter two, for many, is the years we spend focused on others, whether it be family, marriage, career, relationships, community, or other outside forces that require our time, effort, and focus. Chapter 3…well, Chapter 3 begins that moment we realize that “self” deserves the same amount of time, energy, effort, and focus that we have given to others-it’s time for “ME”.

This can happen at different times for different people, of course. For some, it may be when they become empty nesters, for others, it may be when they shift from being an employee to a business owner, or even retirement. It may happen after a divorce, or when you send you children to full time school or college, or it may simply happen when you have a the deep realization that you have to reclaim “who you are”. Our time is often filled with schedules, calendars, projects, and people that need or demand our full attention, and after years, even decades of this, realizing that YOU deserve and need to give that same attention to YOU, is a changing moment.

For me, it happened in early 2020. While the world around me became quiet in pandemic, I “locked” myself down at our beach vacation home for what I believed would be a few weeks. After a few weeks of binging all the TV I’d missed in the 25 years of raising 4 kids, I turned off the TV and allowed myself to sit in silence. I walked the waterways, sat on my porch and listened to the waves, and realized-I had not had a silent mind in decades. I spent my childhood in chaos and dysfunction, my 20’s healing from the result of that-while pursuing college, work, and adulthood. My 30’s were spent becoming a mom, dealing with a failed marriage, and endless homeschooling, activities, and all that goes with raising children. I entered my 40’s as a single mom, working, educating my soon to be teenagers, literally waking up each day to check off a long list of to do’s before falling into bed, exhausted at 3am. A decade of my life flew by in a flurry of football games, soccer practices, laundry, meal planning, and even completing a degree and remarrying, and then, one by one, I graduated my children from a lifetime of home education.

Friends congratulated me as I posted pictures of each child, in purple cap and gown, smiling in my front yard as I handed them their diploma, and then proclaimed, “This has been your life!! What WILL you do now???”

At first, I was unsure. I traveled the country a bit, calling it the “ultimate fieldtrip” as I invited my now adult children to Dallas, Memphis, New Orleans, and Atlanta. My youngest son and I road tripped to games and stadiums all over, as I visited places and people from my past. I went back to school and became a certified health and wellness coach, I started a business, I helped make the dream of owning a beach house a reality, and I relaxed-or so I thought.

It was in that beach house, in April of 2020, that having a quiet mind for perhaps the first time EVER, led me to realize-this is MY time. The question was, what would I do for MYSELF?

As a certified coach, with a degree in nutrition and wellness, I knew that very first thing I needed to do was make sure I was as healthy as possible-that, after all, is the foundation for a happy and healthy life! I had suffered from terrible symptoms of leaky gut that had left me undiagnosed and ill for several years. I also had spent some time self-medicating myself with crappy food and wine as lockdowns took over the country, and it had me feeling and looking not so great. I set out to get my health in check, clean up my diet (again!), and cure, finally, my gut issues. Within a few weeks, I felt like a new person! My energy was high, my skin was clear, and I’d dropped some extra pounds. I was walking miles and miles each day, began doing yoga and Pilates, and set new Fitbit goals.

As my energy grew, and my head became clearer, I started to think about things I could do to keep myself occupied, on my island, during pandemic, mostly alone. Within a few weeks, I had rediscovered journaling, reading books that were not texts(!), and even filled my house with art supplies-a talent and hobby I had left long forgotten in my youth. My days belonged to ME; my schedule was MINE, for the first time in a very long time. I was finally taking care of ME. I did the things that were important to me, the things that brought me joy, and the things I had abandoned to take care of everyone else. It was a period of incredible growth, and incredible peace. As family started to join me more often at the beach, they found a new person awaited them; A person who was full of energy, completely at peace, very calm, and very active and engaged in life. I was able to focus more on them and be completely in the moment, because I had grounded myself, made myself important, and had so much more focus, energy and clarity. This, THIS, was the beginning of my chapter three!

As I began to talk to friends, clients, and online followers about this “new chapter” theory, I heard so many stories about the things other’s had “lost” or “forgotten” as they navigated the second chapter of their lives. People had stopped reading for fun, they had given up hobbies, dropped sports and activities, even lost connections with friends because they were just SO busy with all of the responsibilities and schedules in their lives. Many asked, “Where do I start?”

To that, I respond-you have to quiet the mind for just a bit, and listen to your self. I often suggest meditating, or even journaling, to those that enjoy writing, or even making lists of things that they use to enjoy, things they loved to do, things they took part in, but had now gathered dust. One friend journaled a bit and realized that she needed to make a huge move in her life. Another journaled and soon decided to switch careers, giving her more time for activities she wanted to do. One client proclaimed loudly in our third session, “You know what????? Talking care of myself is NOT selfish!!! I know that now!” She planned a personal weekend “recharging” getaway for her self to gain clarity on the idea. Some found the answer in a new exercise program. Several contacted me for advice and guidance on cleaning up their diets to gain more energy. All of them found something new (or forgotten) to bringing them almost instant joy.

This third chapter is not selfish, it is not removing yourself from those that need you-it is simply about making YOUR SELF as important. You deserve to give your self the same love and attention that you’ve been giving everyone, and everything, else. And when you do that-you will also find that your calmer mind, and higher energy levels allow you to be there-not only for your self, but for others.

My third chapter is just beginning. After years of lugging snacks to kids sporting events, and cheering them on from the stands, I am now the athlete on the bike trails, on my kayak on the Intracoastal Waterways, and doing yoga on my back deck. Instead of dropping kids at practices and art classes, it’s ME signed up for Pilates class, and the art supplies are mine! (And very organized, I might add!) I have reclaimed my life, and the joy I have found is simply spreading to everyone around me. The calm and peace I have discovered has enveloped my entire family, and expanded to many of my friends. And, I have taken that joy, that clarity, and all of my education and skills, and placed them into a business that, hopefully, will inspire other to do the same.

If you are inspired to explore your “third chapter”, I’d love to talk to you! Whether it’s getting your health in order, cleaning up your diet, reducing the stress, or finding clarity as to “what’s next”, I’m excited to speak with you!

If you are curious about journaling to find out more about yourself: your dreams, finding clarity, rediscovering “you”, and building healthy life changing habits, Please drop me an email to get updated on my new journal program being released soon! As always-I do not use emails for spam-I only send a few each year when something really awesome is happening!

Meditation for Real People

I recently wrote about getting a good, quality, night’s sleep, and in that article, I mentioned meditation (something that helped me-the chronic, lifelong, insomniac) get some rest. I realized, shortly after posting the article, that the word “meditation” often gets a weird response. Some people envision dancing hippies, or cultist beings, while others just laugh in confusion and discomfort. So, today, in deep respect to the idea and concept of meditation, I’d like provide a little education and info!

Meditation has been a part of my life for a very long time. It took me a very long time to realize that, when it is a regular part of my routine, my life seems calmer and easier to navigate. When I get away from it for long periods of time, I inevitably come back to it after finding myself stressed, exhausted, and very ungrounded. Life gets chaotic, and for me, having 4 teenagers in the house, homeschooling them through graduation, and being very active in their activities and sports should have been a perfect time to practice lots of meditation-but I abandoned it in the crazy schedules! After the last child graduated, and I ventured to the beach for early pandemic, I found my routine again, and it was life changing. It is now a daily routine for me, if only for 10 or 15 minutes.

My youngest, now 20, called me inquiring about meditation a few months back, something I found to be quite fascinating because it’s so not “him”. He was having trouble turning his mind off and getting a decent amount of sleep, and had tried many of my suggestions with little relief. I had suggested meditation several times, but it was his number 1 quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who put it into his head. Rodgers spoke about discovering yoga and meditation during an interview, explaining why meditation has become an important part of his daily routine: “Finding time, without the TV on or the phone, to sit in silence is healing”, he said. “To be able to quiet your mind and have intentions and focus on the things that are important to you and kind of drown everything away. We live in a world where we’re just constantly being distracted and we need stimulation.” This spoke to my son, and he began a journey of meditation to quiet his mind, and ultimately, better sleep and a clearer head. (Thank you, Aaron!)

Basic meditation is simply about finding stillness, quieting the mind, and calming the body-and who doesn’t need a little of that in our lives?

There are so many science-based benefits of meditation! Literally, many of the daily anxieties, mood swings, stressors, and aches and pains most people experience can be lessened or removed by a short daily practice of meditation.

Benefits include:

*Focus and redirection of thoughts

*Generates a positive mood

*Helps with habit building

*Develops discipline

*Helps with pain tolerance

*Promotes stress relief

*Controls anxiety and feelings of anger or fear

*Promotes emotional health

*Enhances self awareness

*Lengthens attention span

*May reduce age related memory loss

*Generates feelings of kindness

*Improves the quality of sleep

*Decreases blood pressure

As you can see, the benefits of meditation are varied and amazing! I have experienced just about every benefit on this list, and more. It is a practice that is easy to learn, requires very little to get started, and has immediate impact on your wellbeing.

So-if you’re ready to get started on a simple habit that will change your life quickly, I’m ready to teach you how-all you need to do is find at least 10 minutes in your daily life to follow through. Perhaps it will be when you wake, or during a work break, or even right before bedtime-but PLANNING to do it and following through is the only small obstacle keeping you from reaping ALL the benefits that await you! You can do this just about anywhere-sitting on your porch, visiting your favorite place in nature, while bathing, or simply just by putting down your phone, turning off the noise, and enjoying some peace in your day.

How to Meditate

~Setup your space and check your surroundings. Your meditation space should be quiet and peaceful, and remain that way for at least 10 minutes. Close doors, turn off your phone, and plan to be in a quiet space for the time allotted.

~Wear comfortable clothes, or loosen any clothing that may be restrictive or tight. You may want to remove your shoes, belts, hats, etc. Be as comfortable as possible.

~Relax, sit comfortably with your feet on the floor, or find a comfortable position where your legs are relaxed and at ease, or even lie down if you like.

~Breathe deeply to relax, focus on your each individual breath, breathing in through the nose, deep into your lungs, then slowly release through the mouth. Find a rhythm in your breathing, and place your focus on the sound.

~Allow eyes to close, gently. This will help you focus on the breathing, and remove distractions from the mind.

~Check in with yourself. Are you comfortable? Do you need to adjust your position? Remove your socks? Is the tag in your shirt itchy? Notice your senses, bring awareness to your body, and adjust as needed.

~Scan your body, make sure each body part is relaxed. Wiggle your toes, circle your neck if it feels tight, etc. RELAX and BREATHE.

~Simply breathe and BE. Be still, be quiet, be calm.

Upon Finishing

~Let it go, release yourself slowly, and allow yourself to sit with our thoughts for a moment.

~After completing your time, avoid sudden movements-bring your body out of this calm state slowly, be kind to your body, and gentle in your movements.

~Hold yourself with loving kindness for the positive being that you are, let go, walk forward, live with a true heart, and go on with your day.

I hope that this article has inspired you to take a few moments to meditate each day, and perhaps even start a journey into deeper, more intentional meditations to change your existence in your life. Meditation as a regular practice can have a huge impact on everything that you do, and as you learn more, and practice more, you will see amazing things happen in every aspect of your life-mentally, physically, and spiritually. If you would like to explore meditation more in depth, or are interested in finding a personal wellness plan to works for your life and goals, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to talk about your health and wellness journey!

Ending the Year with a Little TLC

As I write this, I sit looking out over the Atlantic on a warm, but slightly gray, gloomy day. I sit, searching the waves for the whale that has been teasing my island coastline for the last few weeks, but there’s no sign of him. I came to my beach today hoping to find some energy, a spark of inspiration, anything to bring me out of a week-long funk. But, there’s no sign of that here either. I’m very…tired? Unfocused? I can’t put my finger on the exact word, but I’m feeling very out of sorts.

I imagine others are feeling the same way as the holidays approach, and others have reported feeling this way for months, as this year of 2020 rolls out our patience, plays with our emotions, and leaves many of us feeling exhausted, helpless, and anxious. 2020 has been the year of needing self-care. Like no other year we’ve experienced, this year required an absolute sink or swim grounding, just to pass the days and weeks away. Early on, I watched social media as people baked bread, colored their sidewalks, and created ways to connect and lift others into some small ray of happiness. As weeks turned into months, people got busy figuring out, and carrying on, their “new normal”; schooling at home, working at home, balancing too much. And now, as winter and the long dark nights await us, we also face new or continued restrictions to round out a full year. Many people are exhausted.

I preach self care constantly to my clients, to my friends, to my family, and I practice it often to keep myself in a positive and balanced mood. I also approach my relationships, social media, and daily conversations as upbeat and positive as possible because I truly believe that it breeds more positivity-something much needed in 2020. So, when I found myself in a complete funk most of last week and this week, I was confused. Nothing I did helped. I slept more, checked my nutrition, dragged myself out for long walks, took days off of work to recharge, and even treated myself to a massage. My dark funk only deepened. I knew I needed to take some time to really evaluate what was going on, because I’ve been able to shake this off in the past with just a little rest and self care. So, I sit on this beach as the wind picks up around me, watch the waves, and just allow myself to think.

I realize that I’ve placed huge burdens on myself this year. I allowed myself to be the life-raft, if you will, to many, many people. I tried to be the beacon of hope, the ray of sunshine, the person who always listened and lifted those who were not handling things well. And, perhaps, in turn, It helped me to see through the confusion, uncertainty, and worries that this year has laid at our feet. It gave me purpose, and kept me focused as we all simply woke up each day and put one foot in front of the other. But, I think at some point, I just hit a wall. As a HUGE holiday person, I sat quietly and watched Halloween pass by with no children at the door…Thanksgiving brought only one of my four adult children to my table…And the idea of this “new normal” Christmas is rather tiring. I truly think my funk started with attempting to decorate the tree-I mean, who will even see it?? Now, as I write, I realize “I” will see it! And now that it’s up, the sight of it each dark evening really does make my heart full. And that, THAT is a little self love!

I also realize that, although I am a “strong” person who likes to project positivity and resilience to others, I am, indeed, also very sensitive, as well as quite human, and it’s OK to let my guard down on occasion. It’s OK to say, “Hey, I’m not OK!” It’s healthy to ask for help and simply say to the world, “I hit the wall, I’m in a funk. I need you to carry me for just a bit.” And, I prove this to be true simply by writing this blog post. 🙂

If you have found yourself feeling out of sorts as this crazy year draws to a close, I encourage you to take some time for extra self care. Treat yourself to a guilty pleasure, say “no” to the things that don’t bring you joy, be a little easier on yourself, cozy up and nap, binge watch, or read. Tell yourself that you deserve it-because you DO…Because-2020. Give yourself a break, allow yourself to feel your feelings and recognize them for what they are. Take care of yourself as needed, and don’t be afraid to say, “Hey, I need a little help over here!”

The mental health industry has coined this “pandemic fatigue”. The symptoms are anxiety, depression, sadness, and fatigue or exhaustion. Anxiety is the result of losing control, and feeling as though things we hold dear have been changed or even threatened. Depression can be a response to a feeling of loss-lost time, lost money, lost relationships, lost traditions. We have all experienced loss this year, to some degree, some greater than others. Fatigue or exhaustion can be derived from many sources this year-overworking, home educating, isolation, balancing out the constant stream of news and responsibilites that just seem never-ending. It’s important to have support, and also to know when it’s time to ask for help. Please, if you find that you are in need of serious help, contact a health professional.

Early on this year I read a beautifully written article about “what we were feeling”. In short, it summed it up as being grief. Grief over losses, grief over change, grief over lost control of many facets of our lives. With grief, comes many emotions, and you’ve likely seen them played out on social media this year: Shock, denial, anger, depression…The final stage of grief is acceptance. Perhaps, that is the stage we all need to allow ourselves to embrace as 2020 falls away from our calendars. Accept, and be able to move on, to a better year, full of possibilities and hope. Acceptance may be the best first step in your self care toolbox right now.

Other self care tools to help you work through the end of this year: breathing, meditation, a little extra sleep, being kinder to yourself with less expectations, spoiling yourself a bit, giving yourself a break, making sure your nutrition is balanced, getting some movement and fresh air into your day, and finding a bit more support in your life. To help with that, I invite you to join my little Facebook group for just this purpose. It’s free, there’s no sales, and it offers support while also offering self care techniques, food facts, recipes, and fun conversation. I’d love to have you join us as we enter into this brand new year. You can join HERE or search BeeWell Healthy Hive on Facebook.

It’s been a hell of a year. I think back to last New Years, with it’s fireworks and dancing, champagne bottle popping on the boardwalk, and a video of me, almost in tears of joy, anticipating the year to come with elation. I think back to mid-march, explaining to one of my out-of-touch-with-current-news children what might possibly happen in the weeks going forward (and realize now, I couldn’t have even imagined the reality that followed). I think back to all of the incredible challenges that were thrown into our lives this year without much warning, without much time to prepare. And I think every one of us deserves a huge pat on the back, a huge “well done”, and a huge BREAK. We actually made it. Here’s to a New Year!

You Deserve It!

The last couple of weeks have been exhausting! I completed classes, did the legalities for my business, set up my website, spoke with clients, made a bunch of fun graphics for social media, had photo sessions, and wrote a ton of articles. In keeping with my own health journey, I also logged a consistent 20K+ daily steps on my Fitbit, did Piyo and yoga, prepped food, and tried to spend as much time outside in the waning last days of warm weather here in beautiful southeast North Carolina. Sunday, at noon, I just crashed. I found myself looking at my pile of notes, my books, picking up my computer only to put it right back down in exhaustion. I gave myself permission to rest, feeling a bit guilty, and turned on the football game-only to doze off. It was really clear-I needed a day off.

For many of us, it’s really easy to just check out and take a day or weekend completely off of life and responsibilities. I’ve seen people spend endless hours binge watching a series, or just napping the day away blissfully. For others, it is not so easy. I’ve known people that simply never stop. They work on vacation, they carry a running list of what they need to do with them at all times, they use their breaks to switch up projects, and they never stop moving. I realized, as I sat, Sunday evening, writing this blog article after promising myself a day off-I am usually that person.

Often, when we begin a new journey in our lives, we get so excited, our energy is boundless, and we just want to keep moving, perhaps for fear of losing momentum. This is particularly true when we become focused on our health; that post workout euphoria, that site of the numbers moving on the scale, the sense of our body getting stronger and healthier. Hitting 10 thousand steps each day on your Fitbit was such an accomplishment-why not aim for 15? Adding 10 reps to your weight routine was exhilarating, so why not go for 20? It’s very easy for many to get pulled into the concept of one-upping ourselves, but, inevitably, over time, it wears us down. Everything, when overdone, only leads us to exhaustion.

If you are one of those people, you may have a hard time giving yourself a break. I know that I do! I’ve never been much of a “do nothing” kind of person, but it’s SO important to give our bodies and our minds a break. I take time each day to mediate, but I have to really force myself to just do “nothing at all”. Maybe it’s linked to a sense of accomplishment, maybe it’s about being obsessive, maybe it’s just something in our personal make up that leads us to be so goal focused, we can’t slow down. But “rest” and “doing nothing” is crucial to our health.

Rest, or down time, gives both our body and mind permission to recover, to rejuvenate, to prepare for a fresh start. Resting the body gives our muscles a chance to repair, gives our joints a break, and gives our mind a chance to wander outside the box of checklists and schedules. Often, simply taking a break leads us to see things clearer, and to be able to find the solution to problems and challenges much easier. Often, a well-deserved break gives us a new lease on focusing on our goals, and the ability to begin again, fresh and inspired.

I started this post on Sunday evening after feeling guilty of not getting much done in my haze of exhaustion, but three paragraphs in, the process of confronting my own inability to take a guilty free break worked, and I closed my computer and climbed into bed with a new show to binge watch and soon fell asleep. I awoke much more refreshed and clear-headed, ready to get some major projects completed on Monday morning. So….Rest worked!

If you find yourself being a goal chaser, like me, and having a hard time “turning it off”, take a few minutes today and examine that. Why is it hard to rest and relax? What can you do to make sure that you do make rest and recovery an important part of your life? What are some things you can do to make this process easier?

One thing that I have decided to do, being so “goal oriented” is to actually set a goal for what I will call “pamper time”. My pampering won’t be bubble baths or spa treatments, but simply time to not focus so much on my many lists. Time I will spend simply NOT focused on work, or chores, but on being lazy and enjoying some guilty pleasures of a Netflix series, or simply sitting on the beach watching the waves (in contrast to seeing how many steps I can get). I’m putting this on my schedule-actual scheduled time to do NOTHING, so that my mind will think it’s a requirement, and I can check it off!

If you are feeling run down, tired, unfocused, or exhausted, I strongly encourage you to plan some time to decompress and renew. This has been a monumentally difficult year for many, and the struggles have been very real even to those of us who were blessed enough to be about to handle it well. We all deserve a break, a really good break! I hope that you will take some time to take care of yourself in a fun and relaxing, pampering, guilt free manner, and know that while you NEED it, you also DESERVE it. Schedule some “me” time for yourself right now-it’s as important as anything else you have on that schedule!

reposted from my website BeeWell.com

Self Love for the Win!

You’ve got you meals all planned out, your water bottle filled, and your exercise schedule is going really great. This time around, you’re really going to make those changes and reach the goals you’ve dreamt about for so long! But, a few days or weeks into your healthy lifestyle change, you find yourself tired, losing motivation, and stressed. It’s happened to all of us; we start out so focused, on the top of the world, so determined, so proud of each little accomplishment, but than reality sets in, and we slowly find ourselves sliding downward, into bad habits and just simply lose our momentum. But, there’s a fix for that, and it’s called self-love, or, self care. 

The average adult is TIRED. Family, work, and responsibilities-all fill almost every second of our day, and for many, especially women, finding and taking any amount of time for ourselves is so difficult. Everyone NEEDS something from you, all the time, and saying no, or taking a step out for your own self can seem selfish, right?

WRONG! It’s not selfish at all. Think about the process of preparing to fly; the flight attendant tells you all of the emergency procedures, and the most important one is to put your oxygen mask on FIRST. Without taking care of yourself first, it may be impossible to take care of those you love when needed. This applies to your entire life! Without taking care of YOU first, there is little energy to take care of others properly.

Now, I know-you say you are too busy. A work project is due, dinner has not been planned, the kids are climbing up your leg, your husband can’t find his keys, your phone is buzzing, and the dog just peed on the floor-WHAT THE HECK IS SELF LOVE???

I’ve been there; I’ve SO been there, and I honestly didn’t find time for self-love. I woke early to find four kids needing every second of my day, a house to constantly clean, homeschool lessons to be done, and a schedule so full of soccer, football, basketball, art class, co-op, and music lessons, there was simply not a single half hour block left in my planner. I was tired, stressed, and not the most patient person. My energy levels were spent by 2pm, and I found myself moving from one activity to the next without really noticing what was going on around me. Life became one long to do checklist.

In 2006, I suddenly became a single mom of four, determined to continue homeschooling, looking for a job and a place to live, completely and totally stressed to the max. Surely, the idea of self-love was not anywhere in my thoughts. This was a mountain to climb, and I had no clue how high it was going to be. But then a friend took my kids for a few hours-I’d never had a sitter (11 years, no sitter!) and I had a few hours to myself. For the first time in 11 years, I sat on my front porch, alone in silence, and did absolutely nothing. It was absolutely awe-inspiring! A few months later, my children started spending weekends with friends and their dad, and I found myself able to spend more time on myself, reading, writing, planning, and daydreaming. My patience level went up, my sleep got better, and my energy level improved. Although I was now working more than fulltime, still homeschooling, and doing 100% of the child rearing, my life was suddenly better that any moment before. I began to blossom into a new person, a happy person, a calm person. I had found some self love. 

So, what IS self-love, or self-care? Self-love is doing things deliberately and regularly for your physical, emotional, and mental well being. The most important word in that definition is “deliberately”; one needs to be absolutely aware of one’s well being in order to achieve a true sense of self-love. Being aware leads us to a sense of clarity and acknowledgment to the fact that we are, indeed, taking care of ourselves. It leads to a super healthy relationship with your own self, at which point, it easily translates to those around you. In short-you become the best version of YOU, and those around you benefit from your energy, happiness and joy. 

There’s so many things that we can do for ourselves to begin a journey of self-love and care, the important thing is that start with something small, and begin that journey now. How can you begin the journey? Here are some ideas:

*The Power of “NO”

One of the biggest changes I ever made in my life was learning to say, “no.” “No” is a complete sentence; it does not require details or excuses, or even an apology. 

As a young mom, I wanted to be accepted, admired, and liked. I took charge of everything-and I mean EVERYTHING. I ran classes, wrote curriculum, hosted activities in my tiny house, coached sports, brought the snacks, rallied the other parents to help…until one day when I realized that my hand was subconsciously going up in the air all by itself-even before the person asking for help even finished their request! At that point, I was already known as the “do it all” lady, and I did upset a few people with my first action of saying “no.” I moved to a new state soon after, and used “no” quite easily once the expectation was gone. I only said “yes” to those things I truly wanted to be involved in, and in return, was able to enjoy things far more easily. Instead of running things or “working”, I was able to build new relationships and be more truly in the moment of what I was involved in. 

Learn the word “NO.” Again, it is a life changing complete sentence!

*Make Your Physical Health a Top Priority

Exercise is a love/hate thing with most people. We love it and do it, or we hate it and don’t do it. Or, in many cases, we do it, find we love it, and still find times when we hate the idea of it. When we find time to do it, we find that we love the way we feel when we are done. We feel accomplished, strong, and healthy. But, for most, that feeling is short lived, and getting the inspiration to do it again is not so easy. 

Find some form of exercise that you LOVE. Something that makes you want to move, something that makes you happy. Maybe it’s dancing while you clean, or taking a long walk each day before the family wakes up. Maybe it’s a team sport, or a line dancing class where you can socialize. Find something-anything-and, as Nike says, just do it! Exercise gives us more energy, helps our blood pressure, clears our heads, and gives us body confidence. Just do it!

*Sleep is Your Friend

The Sleep Foundation reports that 35% of Americans rate their quality of sleep as “poor”, and 20% of Americans stated that they had not woken up refreshed a single day for the last 7 days. Sleep is not friendly for many, many people. Poor sleep leads to a myriad of physical and mental issues including obesity, depression, anxiety, heart disease, and more. Some of the culprits for lack of sleep are: using screens before bed, caffeine or alcohol use, eating heavy meals before bed, lack of exercise, worry, and poor health in general. It’s important to look at the factors that may be keeping you from getting the rest you need, and take action to make change. 

*Be Grateful!

It’s time to change your mindset and start looking at what it is that makes your glass more than “half full”. Negative thoughts weigh us down, create depression and anxiety, and even make us eat more and exercise less. 2020 has been an enormously emotional year, and people have handled in in very different ways. HOW they approached this crazy year’s ups and downs is what seemed to make all of the difference.

I did an informal poll in a Facebook group comprised of mostly women, asking them how they handled the pandemic. 500 people responded almost immediately, and added comments about their personal situations. 

~21% said that their experience of lockdown has been awesome, and they were doing really well. Commenters spoke of enjoying their time with family, working out more, spending more time with children while home educating, and taking up new hobbies. 

~50% responded that they had been “up and down, and in survival mode” Reasons included uncertainty about jobs and difficulties with home education.

~23% stated that they were either essential workers or had already worked from home, and they did not experience much of a change.

~3% said their lives had changed quite a bit, and they were still working on living within those changes.

~3% were not shy to report that they simply were not doing great and had pretty much “lost their minds”.

There’s a lot of factors that play into this scenario, of course, but after reading the comments, it seemed that those that did really well were the people that took some self love into consideration, and really made themselves conscious of making sure they were doing ok. They found new ways to enjoy their family, made home education more creative, got more exercise, and developed new hobbies to fill the extra free time they had in recent months. This is “being grateful”. “Grateful” beats out anger, boredom, frustration, and uncertainty, and it leaves us with a feeling of joy, instead of despair or defeat.

These are just a few things you can start to focus on in your journey to find you wealth of self-love/care. Self-love is a deeply personal endeavor, and holds great rewards, and what works for one person, may not work at all for another. Find things that inspire you, excite you, and make you feel alive, and then be sure to take the time to be present for them. Make a commitment to yourself, just as you do for others, and then show up for your own self. Go, and live your best life!

from my site BeeWell.com