Some Days My Home Feels Made Of Straw

As I child I remember hearing the story about the “Three Little Pigs” many times.  What I took from it was the obvious – the smart person builds their home with bricks so that nothing will blow it down and for me that meant the elements of nature such as wind and terrible storms.  Much later as an adult I realized that the real meaning of the story is to fortify our “being” homes in a way that nothing can destroy our psyches.  At least that’s my take on it.  And certainly we are given ample ways to fortify with everything from our faith to self-help guru’s we listen to and watch on TV to courses on self-esteem, yada, yada, yada.  Still, I think many of us have days (and many perhaps weeks or months) of times when we feel we could crumble easily – just like the little pig who’s house was made of straw.  The wolf barely blew and down went his house.  I found myself in a home made of straw the day after my last blog post A Better Home was published.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the blogging world and all the details, there are two ways you can read my blog.  One is to stumble upon it on the Internet.  The other is to subscribe to it so that you can get an email alert for each new post.  I get all the analytics on who subscribes and even by the way, who actually reads my posts.  It’s thrilling to say the least to get new subscribers.  It’s also thrilling to view my analytics each day a post comes out to see who clicked on the email link and took the time to read my words.  It is NOT so thrilling when a reader unsubscribes…

I admit that my blog has a lot of touchie-feelie stuff going on. My blog is certainly personal and the words I write flow directly from my heart.  In fact, each time I sit down to write I say abundant prayers and meditations that my words will reach others in the way I hope they will and that those that read my words will somehow benefit from them.  So anytime someone takes the time to unsubscribe, umm, well, it makes my psyche (ego) crumble like a house made of straw.  Especially when the person that unsubscribes isn’t someone you figured ever would.

A kindred spirit I met at the Benjamin Moore store

About a year ago I was in a Benjamin Moore store working on colors for a client.  A woman was in there at the same time trying to decide on a new color for her home office. Of course, I had to offer my two cents opinion.  Excited to get my thoughts, she ran outside to get a panel of her window treatments to show me so that I could give her a better opinion.  One thing led to another and we began to talk about my blog.  She told me she was a writer herself and that her new blog was coming out soon.  We talked for a good 30 minutes and we both left agreeing to read each other’s blogs and to even try and get together the next time I was planning to be in Charlotte.  We felt there was no coincidence that we met each other and laughed about being kindred spirits.  So, I subscribed to her new blog when I was invited to and she subscribed to mine.  Ever since, we have been reading each other’s posts.  After A Better Home came out, I saw on my analytics that she read the post.  But, later that day I saw that she unsubscribed to my blog.  What happened to being kindred spirits?!?  My ego was crushed and truly, a mere puff of wind could have knocked me down.  Yep, my home felt made of straw.  Days later I realized it was a matter of point of view.

Interesting point of view, I have this point of view

I spent days dwelling on this loss I felt when she unsubscribed to my blog.  I think it was particularly crushing to my psyche (ego) because just in the last few months I have been practicing willingness as I expressed in my post, Willingness.  For sure my posts have been more about what lays on my heart.  I’ve been putting myself out there in a way that I hoped would touch others and encourage them to be more themselves.  At the same time, I began speaking more about my spiritual side.  With my spirituality being more inclusive of all creeds than exclusive to a specific creed, maybe I pushed her away.  She writes a Christian blog so did I offend her? Regardless of why she unsubscribed I soon realized I needed to get over the hurt that I had magnified in my head.  This hurt had made me feel insecure in who I was and what I was exposing about myself.  Worse, I took the quantum leap of assuming because she unsubscribed that meant I was a failure.   So I practiced a healing exercise my dear friend and colleague, Jannette Semenic taught me to do.  I call it the “Interesting point of view” game because each time I do it by the end of the exercise I am smiling and laughing at the change that comes over me.  I hope you’ll try it yourself whenever you feel ready to crumble or feel your house is made of straw.  Here’s how to do it:

  • Know the belief you want to use in the exercise.  For example, mine would be the belief that I am a failure as a writer because someone unsubscribed to my blog.
  • Out loud say these words:  “Interesting point of view, I have this point of view that ___________________________.” (Insert in the blank your personal belief.)
  • Repeat these same words again.
  • Repeat these same words again for the third time.

What happens to you when you do this?  Do you begin to see that whatever the belief is that you have about yourself is really nothing more than your own point of view and that you have CHOSEN to have that point of view?  Can you feel a shift in your belief about yourself?

Make a habit of correcting your point of view when needed

Our point of view on anything and everything is our own choice.  My hope is that in sharing this story of myself with you that you will look inside yourself and see if and where you have any parts of your “being” home that need fortifying and if your point of view needs correcting.  If so, I think that means you’re human.  I also hope that in sharing this healing exercise with you, you have a new tool to use whenever you do need strengthening.  Please let me know if you try this and of course, if it works.  After all, we are all on this road of life together and we need to lend each other a helping hand whenever we can to make our world a better home to live in.

To living in perfect harmony…

Making Exercise An Equation

At the conclusion of my last post, I commented that exercise programs are made up of 2 parts.  What I left out was the end result of these 2 parts also known as its “function”.  I realized this while studying an article on finance that discussed finances as an equation of function.  Bingo, the light came on in my head and I connected the same theory to exercise.

Consider this Part I of your journey to an improved self!

The ideal exercise program should be balanced on both sides of the equation.  The equation becomes a function of three parts.

  1. R.O.M.- Known as “the movements”.
    1. Joint Flexibility
    2. Tendon Strength
    3. Core Strength (i.e. functional abdominal strength, back muscles, iliopsoas muscles, glutes, hip muscles)
    4. Stabilizers

    Jennifer McNally core exercise

    Jennifer McNally. Photo credit: Hector Benetiz

  2. Strength- The emotional will and patience to logically march forward towards accepting where and who you are physically, emotionally and mentally.  The strength to accept that the tides of change are difficult… but well worth the salty water coming off your brow as you conquer every wave no matter how high or violent as you come closer to your destination.  Keep paddling!!!

    Jennifer McNally working out

    Jennifer McNally. Photo credit: Hector Benetiz

  3. Balance- The satisfaction of overcoming your fear by completing one set of jumping jacks, one set of sit-ups or push-ups, one “Nike Shox” step-up, one mile walking or running, stretching… one at a time.

    Jennifer McNally stretching

    Jennifer McNally. Photo credit: Hector Benetiz

Think outside the box.

I have learned through the years of working with clients that have varying health or lifestyle concerns that there isn’t one way to work out and get in shape.  The options for exercise are endless.  Just think creatively.  For example, all the exercises you see in the pictures above can be done in various settings.  Case in point, the first exercise can be replicated at home or in the office simply by using a chair.  The last photo can be done on your bedroom floor.  You simply need to adapt your environment to suit your needs.

I have learned this well through working with clients like Jennifer McNally.  Jennifer struggles daily with R. A. (Rheumatoid Arthritis).  In fact, just a few short years ago Jennifer was house bound and crippled over in pain.  Her husband, Sean used to have to carry her up the stairs to bed every night.  Her pain was too severe to do it on her own.

Look at her now!  She is a perfect example of someone who chose, “Fight over Flight”.  In other words, she chose to fight her condition instead of fleeing and living a life of incapacitation.  What an honor to work with her and others like her such as another client, Sammi Blake who also struggles with a chronic health condition.

I have learned more from them than they have learned from me.  We work in concert with one another, each learning valuable lessons.  I love my job!!!

Change your point of view.

Look at exercise as more than a chore.  Look at it as an equation of function.  The equation is balanced (the mental part) because you have incorporated physical aspects as well as emotional.  By looking at your exercise (program) in this way, you will certainly loose weight, reshape your body and become healthier overall; but, most importantly, you will feel full of life and empowered.  This feeling of accomplishment and empowerment will trickle over into every other facet of your life.  Go for it!

Get moving, one step at a time…

Downsize Your Work Stress

Where there’s work, there’s stress.

Deadlines, meetings on top of meetings, difficult bosses, unpleasant co-workers, they all can put a little stress in your life.  Try incorporating these changes into your day to help remedy work stress.

  1. Don’t Bring the Ring – Designate a chunk of your day to interruption-free time.  Turn off the cell phone, mute the ringer on your landline and log out of email.  The silence will be sweet music to your ears.
  2. Go Out to Lunch – Instead of grabbing a snack from the vending machine and working through lunch, take a break.  Give your mind a rest and your body a chance to refuel.
  3. Manage Your Time – If you give up your free time to get work done, you might pay for it with stress-related symptoms such as an upset stomach, backache or headache.  Schedule your work time to get regular work done, plus handle any unplanned projects that might crop up.  Then be just as vigilant toward planning in free time.
  4. Get Physical – Exercise can alleviate stress and it doesn’t have to be strenuous.  Think you don’t have time to exercise?  Yoga at your desk can make a difference.  Light yoga exercise and meditation can do the job.  It will help to relax the mind and energize the body.
  5. Talk it Out – Find a friend to laugh, cry and complain with but preferably not a co-worker.  It’s hard to carry the burden of your feelings all by yourself.  You will feel lighter by unloading some of your concerns with others you trust.
  6. Learn to Say “No” – Most of us want to be the nice guy but sometimes enough is enough.  If you don’t have time to do something, speak up.  Don’t commit because you feel you have to help others.  Learn to say “no”.  Listen to your feelings.  If it feels like a burden to you, it probably is.  Tell yourself, it will take time to do this, but you can do it.

Try these tips for yourself.  Not only will you reduce stress at work, but also you will be calmer, happier and more energized to enjoy the time in your home after a long day at work.

Stone lantern in meditation garden

Photo Credit: David Solganik

Think calm…

Our Bodies are the Homes to our Souls

“Watch this!” Steve exclaimed with sheer delight, “I haven’t been able to do this in years!”

I had met Steve less than an hour before when I offered him assistance with a treadmill in the fitness center that my husband owns and operates. As a head custodian in a local public school, Steve was participating in a program geared towards helping at-risk students, faculty, and staff make healthy lifestyle changes. He had told me upon our initial greetings that he was so thankful for what my husband, Ché, was doing for him and the other participants. Now, after having completed his work on the treadmill, he was bubbling with the joy of meeting a couple of his top goals. His first: to walk a mile “without stopping”. He quickly let me know that not only had he achieved this, but was now jogging a little “here and there” throughout his mile so that he could eventually run the whole thing. His second, which he proudly and promptly demonstrated: to bend over to pick something up off the floor. “Two weeks ago I would have had to put a knee on the ground and then do some work to stand myself back upright, but now, look, I can do this all day long,” he went on, beaming with pleasure, as he repeatedly squatted to pick up some imaginary object from the floor. “It might not seem like much to some people, but believe me, it makes a big difference in my line of work!”

The Ultimate Homespace

With the newfound abilities and functionalities of his body, Steve had experienced a sense of accomplishment that is incomparable. Our bodies are the homes to our souls. Throughout our time on this Earth they are our primary and permanent homespaces, if you will. It is disheartening that in this age of obesity and innumerable other life-threatening illnesses we focus so little on the cultivation and maintenance of our health. Don’t get me wrong, we are overly concerned, some even obsessed, with the outward appearance of fitness and wellness. How many people do we know whose goal every New Year is to get back in shape to look good in a bathing suit for the upcoming warm season? I admit, the thought of prancing around half-naked in front of family, friends, and strangers alike is enough to motivate anyone to cut out some sweets and give the gym a few visits! The disappointing part is that we are often setting ourselves up for failure. When we focus on the superficial aspects of fitness… looking good in a bathing suit, losing just 5 more lbs., we inevitably set immeasurable goals and choose methods to reach them that we know we can’t maintain for any substantial length of time. Are we really going to eliminate all carbs for the rest of our lives? Never again eat sugar? Is it reasonable to commit to several hours a day in the gym? Forever? Not likely. So why do we continue to do this to ourselves? What if we begin to see the maintenance of our ultimate homespace, our body, as an outward expression of our soul?

walking on trail

Photo credit: Lindsay Torry

When we focus on the spiritual and profound implications of a healthy body, we experience changes that are indescribable. If we approach nutrition and exercise from our inner selves and focus on the functions of our bodies, health and fitness become authentically integrated into our lifestyles. Ask the 80-yr-old man who just walked up a flight of steps for the first time in ten years, the 50-yr-old physician whose exercise halted her menopausal symptoms, or the 25-yr-old who was just taken off of medication for high blood pressure. Setting and reaching fitness goals will inevitably change your physique for the better, but the real change in your appearance will be in your spirit. It will light up your face with joy, you will radiate positive energy, you will approach life with determination, you will exude confidence. And you won’t quit! How many people do you know who train for one 5k and then never do another one again? Not many, because when the motivation is from the inside, it grows and multiplies. As you approach meeting one goal, like Steve, you will already be planning your next goal!

What’s your goal?

Young girl climber

Photo credit: Lindsay Torry

So the question is, where do you want to start? Swim 100 meters? Walk a mile? Run 3 miles? Bike 10 miles? Set a goal for yourself! Make nutritional changes to help fuel your body to reach it. What if you replace 1 soda a day with a glass of water? What if you add an extra fruit or vegetable to one meal a day? Yes, your body will change, but MOST importantly, your life will change!

Happy training!

 

Toddler on excercise equipment

Photo credit: Kelly Walsh

Creating Balance Through Exercise

My first experience with exercise outside of elementary school play period was a show on TV called “The Arty Levin Show”.  I loved it and I loved the feeling of stretching my body.  Then,  exercise in my early adult life included walking, hiking, tennis and all sorts of indoor aerobic classes.  As a mother of young children, my kids and I exercised by dancing to Marlo Thomas’s album, “Free to be you and me”.  Little did my children know that in dancing for fun they were also exercising both their bodies and minds through the lyrics of this wonderful album.  If you have young kids yourself, check it out!

Also, I was a runner for years (in fact, quite obsessively so for the first few painful years of separation and divorce) and ran so many miles some days that I felt like Forrest Gump- my legs just needed to run and run and run.  For years come rain, sleet, hail or snow my running partner Susie (and my dearest friend) and I ran every morning.  It is amazing how many problems of the world and most importantly, your own that can be worked through with each step you take. 

Trauma-drama looks very different when viewed through the haze of exhaustion from exercise.

(If you know Susie ask her about her fall and subsequent trip to the hospital after completing a few more miles!!!)

So, I believe it was no coincidence that after pounding the pavement for more miles than my body shape could probably handle I succumbed to health issues.  Running, tennis and a few other choice activities became a thing of the past.

I first met Hector while embarking on a fitness-training program for myself in answer to these changes.

I needed a trainer to put me on the right path of combining exercise with weight training to give myself a healthier routine.

Hector and his fellow staff met my needs.  Today, he works with many people I know that have very specific needs as well. He knows how to tailor each of their programs to meet these needs.  But, over and above that- Hector is passionate about teaching everyone the joy of being physically fit.  He is passionate about bringing exercise into every home he can.

Remember, “Everything begins in the home”.

I am honored to have him join my Blog as an expert in his field.  I hope his words, pictures and videos will empower you.

I sat down with Hector to do a Q&A to introduce him to you readers.

Please read on…

A Conversation with Hector Benitez

What was life like in your home of origin?

Born and raised in sunny south Florida, I grew up spending afternoons and weekends at the beach.  My family life was full of birthdays, cousins and friends.  I also grew up watching and participating with my mother in exercising, drinking protein shakes and hanging out at fitness clubs watching her wrap a leather belt around her hips because the vibration was supposed to induce fat loss!

How has it impacted your career choice today?

The impact that my upbringing had on me towards my career choice is empowerment.  The career path that my adolescence carved out for me wasn’t fitness or training.  The choice for me involved the path that would allow the best way for me to help people realize how much control they truly have over their emotions, thoughts and physical well being.

Explain the importance of physical fitness as you view it.

The importance of physical fitness as I view it has to do with feeling balanced. Physical fitness like painting, drawing, music, writing, or Interior Design is another way for people to express themselves through physical exertion, emotional accomplishment and imagination.

Are there ways to incorporate physical fitness in the home on a daily basis?

Examples of how people can incorporate exercise into their homes are as easy as rearranging furniture using proper lifting techniques, jumping jacks in the living room, push-ups in the bedroom before bed and in the morning before starting your day, and stretching in the shower under warm water.

What is the message you would like to give readers?

The message I would like to pass on to readers is EAT, LOVE, STAY ACTIVE!!!!  Participate in your life and don’t watch it pass you by while sitting down.  Embrace it and hang on to it through healthier-balanced choices.

What future topics will you discuss?

I’ll be discussing the 2 goals of EVERY Physical Conditioning Program to fine-tune the beach body.  I’ll also be discussing the Phases that every exercise program should include and when to incorporate them safely.  These 2 examples will assure that all will be ready for Summer of 2012.  Other topics will include everyday exercises to use at home, family fun exercises and exercises for senior living.

Welcome Aboard Hector!

One thought:

A healthy body makes for a healthy mind.

Get up on those feet…

Jamie's New Cruiser

Jamie’s new wheels for decorator sleuthing. Photo credit: David Solganik