Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 8: How can I be more spritual(not more religious) and connect to the bigger picture?

Sprituality is something I need in my life. I cannot feel whole if I do not connect with God. This does not mean I am a fanatical religious person. What it means is I take the skills that I have been given by God and use them to glorify Him. I am a normal person that never imposes my religious beliefs on others. My spiritual walk is mine. There are a few things I like to do to keep myself grounded in my faith.

I am answering all of these questions honestly and very personally, so if there is anything I am doing that you do not agree with, you are free to comment, but I will not defend myself. I am simply sharing a piece of myself that normally, I would not make public. 

The first thing I do in my spiritual practice every day is to never start my day off abruptly. Morning is my time for quiet and reflection. I intentionally get up before the rest of my family to have the option to sit and quietly meditate on my intentions.

Many mornings I listen to my favorite Christian speaker, Joyce Meyer. She has always spoken to my heart. Her messages and style appeal to me. She has a way of setting me on the right path and giving me a positive perspective on handling life's challenges from a Godly perspective. You know, what would Jesus do?

All day long, I am trying to practice mindfulness. My goal is to slow down long enough to experience everything as is should be. I try to eat my meals away from my desk, focusing on one thing at a time. I try to make myself aware of all my senses. It makes you feel alive and connected to the big picture. Good positive, life nourishing energy is the end result.

Nature is the absolute best way to connect to that which is so much larger than me. There are so many small miracles in nature. Take a walk in the woods sometime and notice the sound of the wind and the fine cracking of the dried leaves and twigs under your feet. Smell the sweet aroma of the pine trees and the wild flowers or dried vegetation in the fall. Notice a spider web glistening in the sunshine with millions of tiny water droplets making it visible to the eye.

There are so many ways to become connected spiritually. Everyone has their own experience. Each as beautiful as the next. The common thread is the feeling of peace and interconnectedness that having a spiritual life provides.  Nurture this part of you. Take the time to make it a priority and see how different life can be.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 7: How can I make my body healthier so I feel better each day?

Here is the answer, proper nutrition and regular exercise, period. This is the key to a long and healthy existence. Exercise for 30-60 minutes, 5 times a week. Do a mix of cardiovascular exercise and resistive exercise. If you can manage, try exercising first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. It will rev up your metabolism and help you burn more calories throughout the day. 

As for proper nutrition, start by eating breakfast within two hours of rising. Yes, it truly is the most important meal of the day. It wakes up your metabolism. If you view your metabolism like a fireplace, you've got to throw a log in to fuel the fire.  Once the fire is burning, what happens in about 3-4 hours? You got embers right? This is like your body.  You have to throw another log in to keep the fire burning. Think of nutrition in  a different light. Eat to live, do not live to eat.  Nutrient dense food is what you body needs to run at its best. In addition to eating something healthy every 3-4 hours, you must choose the foods that give your body the biggest bang.

Cut out all the whites stuff for starters. If the package states the flour is bleached, don't eat it. Eat your whole grain breads, cereals and crackers. Cakes and cookies should be avoided as a general rule. Stick to fresh fruit and yogurt with some healthy granola.  Eat plenty of healthy, lean protein. Red meat is ok in moderation. Nuts are a wonder source of protein for snacking. There are healthy fats in nuts. It's ok to have a small handful, just don't go over board. Moderation is the key to your success.

Finally, water, water, water. This is essential to your health. Drink at least 64 ounces every day. Your organs will do their jobs much better if you are hydrated. Water helps your body flush out toxins that build up in the body.  Hydration is also necessary to a healthy digestive tract. If you struggle with this, try  using a clear 32 ounce safe sport bottle. Drink 2 daily. The first to be consumed by noon each day and the second prior to the end of your work day. Drink when you are not thirsty. If you feel thirst, you are already becoming dehydrated. Drink in the winter...the air is very dry and lends itself to your body losing vital water.

I know this is a lot to digest. Try picking a couple habits at at time to work on. Set small attainable goals. Give yourself some time to develop new habits. It typically takes 3 weeks to a month to form a new habit or break yourself of an old, less beneficial habit.  You can do this, one step at a time.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day 6: How do I enjoy this moment right now?

Do any of you suffer with "crazy monkey brain"? I sometimes have a hard time slowing down enough to take note of the small, wonderful miracles all around.  This is something I am trying very hard to do, but continue to struggle with all the time. I have no great advice about this subject matter because I have a very busy mind. I think most people might struggle with this in today's society.

There is only one setting in which I am able to be fully present. It is when I am outside, surrounded by nature. It is only there that I can experience all my senses. I have a much deeper awareness and level of enjoyment. This is when I am able to clear my mind and just be present.

Slow down. Stop to recognize what you are feeling, seeing, smelling, and hearing in the moment. That is when you are truly present and mindful. This is a small piece of the calm and tranquility we all need at times.  It is unrealisitc to think we can have this all the time. It just won't happen, but when it does, it makes the experience that much more enjoyable.

Day 5: What do I need to learn right now to help me one year from now?

I think the one thing I can focus on right now that will help me in one year and on-going,  is to slow down and do one thing at a time. I stuggle with multi-tasking because at the end of the day I often wonder what I have accomplished. It all comes down to having more focus on the task at hand. 

I recently had a conversation with my boss about setting my personal goals for 2012. When I shared my determination to better manage my time, she suggested listing out the priorities for the day and starting with the first one. She shared one of her approaches is to set a timer for 45 minutes. When it sounds, get up and give myself a 5 or 10 minute break. Stretch, drink some water, walk around or do whatever it takes to rejuvenate. If I have not finished the task, set the timer again and pick up where I left off. I find it rewarding to be able to check off the items on my list as I complete them. Along with work-related activites, self-care should be on that list every day. I will get back to this subject later.  As for my tasks, I prioritize them to help me work toward bigger goals. It is my intension to build tasks into my days that help me attain much bigger long-term goals.  The daily tasks are the stepping stones for succeeding at the bigger picture.

A year from now, provided I work hard at setting easily achievable daily goals, I should be able to meet the bigger expectations I have for myself.  I have several professional goals and personal goals that I plan to approach in this manner. On a personal level, I have found that by remaining physically active, I am more likely to live a happier and more productive life. Even on days when my energy level is running low, I have made a self-proclaimed promise to do something active every day.  This is crucial to my success in all other aspects of my life, not just physically. Exercise keeps me positive and motivated and interested in learning and growing. Getting my heart pounding and the sweat flowing breaths life into my body and my mind. Creativity flows more easily and my energy level and stamina multiplies.  Some days are harder than others, but this year I have to learn to build the very important habit of remaining physically active, no matter what.

What can you be doing this year that will help you one year from now?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 4: How can I change my daily activities in a way that helps me use my talents and gifts and passions more often? Am I in the right career?

Lucky for me, today's question comes easy. I do feel I am working in the field of my passion. I am a firm believer that managing your health and practicing self-care are what it takes to have a greater quality of life.  I feel very blessed to have gained exposure to the preventative side of medicine. I do often miss the clinical aspects of nursing, but I can go to bed each night assured that I am helping my clients potentially avoid the life-altering effects of chronic disease. 

I strive each day to learn and grow, building my potential to be an effective Health Coach. I will continue to educate myself and improve in the areas I need to focus and massage the strengths I already possess. It feels good knowing I can make a difference in the long-term lives of the people with whom I work.

I encourage you to explore your life's passion.  In today's world most of us do not have the luxury of working in the field of our deepest personal interest, but we can find ways to feel like we make a difference. Dig deep. This can take some time and effort. Read up on subject matter that peaks your interest and stimulates your creativity. Volunteer to help those that are less privileged than you. Spend some extra time connecting with your kids, significant other, family and friends. Find a way to do something kind and unexpected for someone today. When you find the answers within, you will know. You will never regret the work you had to do to get there.

These are all things I will be doing as well.  Even though I am happy to say I already work in the area of my passion, I still need to practice self-exploration to find the many strengths and passions within.  Never stop learning and growing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 3: What life draining relationships do I need to leave behind?

I think all relationships add flavor and purpose to our lives. They go through seasons, changing and growing all the time. Sometimes our relationships give us what we need and sometimes they do not. I don't think the answer is to discard relationships that do not seem to be beneficial in the moment. Sometimes you need to step away to gain perspective. When we react to a person and it does not feel pleasant, the answer is not to discard them permanently. In my experience, try to back up a few steps, outside the ring of emotion to gain insight.  If a relationship is sucking the life out of you, briefly take the space you need to regain peace and to ground yourself. 

I can think of a few relationships I struggled with but eventually found myself going back to to rebuild.  Try hard to avoid lashing out when somebody makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Realize you are two different people with differing perspectives and thought processes. Back away to gain composure and insight. You will someday get back to growing the relationship in a positive manner, if they were meant to be in your life. Sometimes the not so comfortable relational situations, when played out without too much emotion, can bring you to a point inner growth that will be valuable throughout life.

This may now be clear as mud, but I hope not.  The gist of what I am trying to say is this; if you cared enough to engage in a relationship with someone, they and it are not worthy of being cast aside. Take the time to let your relationships pass through the seasons of life.  Try to avoid being too quick to remove those who were once important to you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 2: Question: What quality relationships do I need to maintain or grow?

Is this a trick question?  Not all relationships are quality all the time. Sometimes you relate well with people in your life and other times, by human nature, you might struggle to connect. What is important, however is that we nurture the relationships that bring us happiness and fulfillment. Good relationships take work. They take understanding and interest by both parties.

It is my intention to always nurture the relationships I form with others, so long as it brings no harm to either party. I came to a revelation last year. I finally realized that is not the material possessions I own, or the number of degrees I can list behind my name or how much money I make that matter in life. What really matters are the relationships I cultivate over the span of my lifetime. When I go to the grave, will my bank account leave a legacy? The obvious answer is no.  What will have impact, on the world I someday leave behind, are the relationships I cared enough to recognize as important.

Cherish the relationships you have. Shower them with lots of love and attention. As they grow, so will you. That sense of connection is like soul food. Without it, ordinary is just ordinary. Our relationships allow us to share our experiences, to look at things on a deeper and more meaningful level.