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!

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