Crystal ball…

Do you know who has the ability to imagine the future? Landscapers! Landscapers select and place young, immature plants and trees with an eye towards the time to come. They imagine a distant day where, if Mother Nature cooperates, a harmonious or bold tapestry of color, size, shape, and texture will emerge. It seems a lot to calculate at the start – the knowledge of all things green, the understanding of weather patterns, as well as the aesthetics in multiple time frames – now, somewhat down the road, and then over the horizon. I’m in awe.

I got to thinking about the prescient powers of landscapers while I was walking at my favorite park last week. The newest of the two trails opened up only a few months ago so springtime on the trail is a new experience. Previously unnoticed and unremarkable saplings are now in bloom. One section alternates between redbud trees (whose blossoms are purple, go figure!) and a type of tree with small white blossoms. It hit me that this color scheme was pre-planned (duh!) and then I began to notice, with eyes newly opened, all the other landscaping choices made along the path. Clearly, these designers can navigate the terrain of the future with ease and comfort.

For my part, the future is a mysterious place so undefined that I can’t yet indulge in the pleasure of making it beautiful either in reality or in my mind’s eye. I know that the present is really all we ever have but there is a part of me that wishes for just one quick glance into a crystal ball.

Photo courtesy of https://tdimension.wordpress.com

 

 

 

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30 days of positivity…

  1. Walking and taking photos at Lullwater Park on a cloudy, mild, and damp late afternoon in December.
  2. Detouring down a street I never go down just so I can see the Christmas lights on display.
  3. Making an omelet early Sunday morning before going to work. Taking the time to enjoy my meal and read at the dining room table; appreciating the stillness and natural light coming in through the windows.
  4. Drinking coffee and finishing Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon at Starbucks early Christmas morning. Later, being fully present with my family as we devour incredible homemade (not by me!) Thai dishes for Christmas dinner.
  5. Speechless. Garden Lights, Holiday Lights at Atlanta Botanical Gardens. A fairyland of color and magic while outside on a perfect clear crisp winter evening with my friend.
  6. Lounging on my bed mid-morning, texting holiday greetings to family and friends. Sharing my favorite photos from the Holiday Lights exhibit.
  7. Loving the drive to work when there is no traffic!!!
  8. Unexpectedly running into, and reconnecting with, an old friend and his college-aged son at my place of work.
  9. Sleeping straight through til 8:15am…8 and a half hours. Unheard of! Feel like a new person.
  10. No waiting at the post office this morning when I went to purchase stamps for “Save the Date” postcards for my daughter’s upcoming June wedding.
  11. Taking advantage of an empty gym to do my own upper body and core workout while at work this afternoon.
  12. My annual ritual of replacing the calendar on my home office bulletin board. January’s inscription – “Today is Day One.” But not stopping there. Deciding it was time to take down my 2017 Vision Board. Need space for new dreams and new words of inspiration.
  13. Getting it just right today in a session with one of my wellness coaching clients. Had missed the mark last time. So gratifying to watch her mood elevate as a result of intensifying her workout.
  14. Beginning to develop the eye of a photographer – an old one-speed bicycle propped against a bare tree and a beautiful Asian child poking her head out of the sunroof of a car in the parking deck at Lenox Square Mall.
  15. Going to bootcamp this morning. (It was 16 degrees at 6am! Thankfully we were in the gym and not at the park!) Felt so good to push myself physically and see my friends. Going to feel this workout later for sure!
  16. Wall to wall people at Einstein’s. Writing my goals for 2018. I’m writing each goal using the present or past tense; meaning, as if each one was already happening or had already happened. Empowering…
  17. Being able to go to Yoga class this morning when a window of time unexpectedly opens up. A particularly good class, though I’m not sure exactly why that is. Perhaps  it was the right balance between talking and silence and relaxation and effort. Felt seamless and restorative.
  18. Going to a stranger’s home for a Women’s Circle. Her artist’s sensibility is everywhere. Beautiful light from the many unadorned windows, vibrant textiles, burning incense, fragrant tea, moody/airy music.
  19. So much fun! Corralling my growing supply of skin care products into a simple, wooden tray from Target. This task cascades into a total bathroom makeover. Especially enjoyed repurposing items that I had elsewhere in the house or that had been languishing in a hall closet. Total project cost – $6.99 plus tax.
  20. Arriving at work and unexpectedly being handed a belated holiday gift from my employer/friend. She so clearly spent time thinking about what I might like – The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, a hand-crafted book mark and a beautifully potted succulent which fits perfectly on my recently rearranged bathroom vanity!
  21. Staying 45 minutes past shift’s end to talk with a co-worker who shares similar career goals (and challenges) and who has a unique way of expressing herself that I really enjoy.
  22. Spending the morning with my ex-husband, first touring the Marriott Courtyard in downtown Decatur where our out-of-town guests will stay for our daughter’s June wedding; then peeking through the windows of The Solarium in Oakhurst where the ceremony and reception will take place; and ending with a leisurely brunch at Goldberg’s in Toco Hills.
  23. Wedding planning for an hour over the phone with my daughter – no stress, just taking care of business in a relaxed, collaborative, and anticipatory way.
  24. The thump on the front porch turning out to be the postman, who like almost all visitors, has stumbled on the unexpectedly high top step. His package? The Cup of Tea 2018 Wall Calendar which I unwrap with relish and immediately hang on the refrigerator. Favorite quotes: “I drink tea and forget the world’s noises.” ~ Chinese proverb; and “Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” ~ Hermann Hesse
  25. Walking at Mason Mill Park this afternoon, jittery with excitement about the possibility of snow.
  26. Knowing immediately upon waking up in the early morning that it has snowed over night as light reflecting off the snow is causing a false dawn. I quickly bundle up and go outside to breathe the crisp air and to take some photos but it isn’t long before the warmth of the house calls to me.
  27. Feeling like a true community is starting to form as I participate in our second monthly Zoom call with fellow health and wellness coaches in Atlanta. Getting reminded how important it is for me to learn and grow and be the best that I can.
  28. Singing with my congregation at synagogue during a celebratory (50 years!) Shabbat service. Need to sing more often!
  29. Suddenly realizing that one year ago today I began my formal journey as a wellness coach. Reflecting on the me I was then and now. Filled with gratitude.
  30. Basking in the warm sunshine as I sit on the top step of my front porch. All of Atlanta is taking a collective cleansing breath as we savor our reprieve from the recent frigid temperatures.
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Reframing…

Last month my Alaskan cousins came to Atlanta for a short visit. It’s been a while since I’ve had house guests.  As I welcomed them to my home, something made me say, “Hey, if you have any ideas for rearranging the living room, I’m open to suggestions.” I explained that while I liked all the objects in there, both large and small, it just wasn’t working as a room. Proof? Despite having a small house, I rarely choose to spend time in there.

A couple of days later, while I was at work and they were hanging out, my cousin sent this text, “Can we move some furniture? We’re inspired!” Without hesitation, I gave her the green light. Though I tried to keep my expectations low, I was abuzz with anticipation. I couldn’t wait to see what they would do.

And I wasn’t disappointed! When I came through the front door a few hours later, I was greeted by what felt like an entirely different room. The chairs and couch were no longer flush against the wall and window, but were now at gentle angles creating a social grouping. I could easily imagine family and friends occupying these seats and chatting comfortably with one another. Smaller things – an end table, floor lamp, candles, photos, baskets – now had slightly different homes. The TV had been moved to one end of the cabinet so it was no longer the focal point of the room. Instead, the two large canvas wall paintings now occupied center stage, as I had always intended but had never quite pulled off. Additionally, the new layout guided one’s vision beyond the room towards my home office where another large canvas painting hangs, drawing your eyes towards that spot as well. An abundance of riches!!!

What’s interesting is that the actual changes were not all that dramatic in and of themselves. A simple shift in orientation created the biggest impact. Suddenly the space worked; for the first time there was energy and flow and, well, life. Intuitively I had always sensed that while the room was wrong, it wouldn’t take much to make it right. I just didn’t know how to get there. At times, I feel the same way about myself – close but not quite there; stuck in habitual ways of thinking and feeling. Close to feeling freer, but not quite there yet.

Choosing to have a different perspective – changing the lens just a bit – can be powerful and liberating. Actually doing it, though, can be challenging. Sometimes, you need help.

To E. and J. – with love and gratitude.

 

 

 

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Yoga mat…

Yoga mats

In bootcamp, we do lunges, go up and down stairs, flip tires, and feel the air rush around us as we run around the track. Through it all, we’re embraced by the limitless predawn sky.

In yoga class, the world becomes more intimate. Our space is cave-like and instead of stars for illumination we have soft, dim lights and the quiet cadence of our teacher’s voice. We think about balance, we focus on breathing, and flow between downward dog and plank. Our muscles shake as we attempt to hold each pose. Our bodies heat up. Finally, we are rewarded with Savasanna, and can let go, this time embraced by our mats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“About” revisited…

My story begins four years ago while I was attending a conference in San Diego. I was sitting in a breakout session, and despite the fact that there were over 5,000 attendees in all, I was feeling incredibly lonely and isolated. What’s more, my 60th birthday was four months away and its approach was horrifying. Was it possible that I was about to become old? And, if that was true, did that mean that I had already experienced the best of what my life was going to be? I can’t put into words how disappointed I felt. “I should have done better!” were the words that kept crossing my mind. Sitting in that impersonal, windowless room, I felt the most stuck that I had ever felt. I found myself praying for guidance, something I had never done before.

Desperation can be highly motivating. So with two images in my mind, a giant “60” neon sign and an hour glass, I started to take action. I began seeing a therapist, joined a gym, began working with a personal trainer, and started losing weight by making small changes. I started looking and feeling better. Then I pushed myself to get out of my comfort zone more often and to make more of an effort to connect with people. I started feeling even better. Then my dad had a stroke and passed away. A few days later, I found myself sitting on his bed packing up his belongings. I was flooded with emotions as I did this but all of a suddenly I knew with certainty that it was time to give notice at my job of 17 years. Life was short and it was time to leap into my new life even if I had no idea what that new life would look like.

So, I leaped. Boy, was I in free-fall for a long time! I took long walks. I started this blog. Slowly things came into focus. I went back to school to become a health coach. It felt right to integrate my personal and professional lives; to help others on their wellness journeys while I continued on mine. I exchanged financial security for a life of authenticity. I finally felt alive and awake. Or, so I thought.

Then I began gaining weight back and panicked. At the same time, a new idea was coming into focus. While I was working on my health coach certificate, I learned that the opposite of disease was not the absence of disease. The opposite of disease was optimal health – to thrive. I no longer wanted to be motivated by desperation which was what I felt when I noticed the pounds creeping back on; instead, I wanted to be motivated by my biggest life possible which included being as healthy as I can possibly be. And I would need help to accomplish this.

So, I found a wellness coach of my own and a program with the mission of helping people become as healthy as possible, starting with quick weight loss but then building on that success to address all the other aspects of wellness so that each of us can, in fact, thrive. Nine weeks later, and I am amazed at how far I’ve come. I’ve lost 17 pounds and am almost at goal weight. But achieving this is way bigger than a number on the scale. Accomplishing this has transformed my perception of what is possible and what I am capable of accomplishing.

I used to wonder what I would think about once I no longer worried about my weight. For so many years, this area of my life took such a disproportionate amount of my time and cost me so much emotionally. I now know the answer to this question. Once you no longer worry about weight, you can think about anything you want! You can take your new-found self-confidence and use it to shatter your previous perception of what is possible with your life.

Now, when people ask my age, I sometimes have to pause for a moment to think! Because I no longer feel like I’m any particular age…what I feel is alive and awake.

 

 

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4 days…

stepping off the cliff

half a moment before the ground

growing wings

Source: One Out of the Comfort Zone

What keeps us stuck? Is it excess weight? The wrong job? Health challenges? Too little money? Dysfunctional relationships? The stress of modern life? I’m starting to think that the answer, for me, can be found in a single word – ME! I have been the one true obstacle and barrier to living the kind of life I want.

For three and a half years I worked out and lost weight slowly. I began to look and feel better. My health and outlook improved. But then my weight began to slowly creep back on. I’m talking only five pounds but those five pounds felt huge. I was panic-stricken. After all, what chance did habits created over the past three and a half  years have against those created during all the many years that came before? So I decided to try a radically different kind of eating program based on nutritionally balanced, portion-controlled meal replacements. Even now, writing those words, I can’t believe I chose to do this. (See my previous post, “Being bold…”)

And here’s what happened…four days into the program I lost those five pounds. I went from my highest weight in many months to my lowest weight in decades. That’s what it took – four days. Was it challenging? Definitely! (Though not as challenging as I thought it would be.) I was a little bewildered by this turn of events. How could so much despair evaporate in just four days? And what herculean effort had been required to push through to the other side? Simply needing to recognize a deep and profound desire to live a life full of health and vitality. And then making a commitment to do what was needed to get there. I had to make it a priority. I had to get out of my own way and just do it!!!

Two weeks later and I’ve now lost a total of nine pounds. I’m ecstatic about the weight loss but that hasn’t even been the best part. The best part has been beginning to see, for the very first time, all the ways I’ve been holding myself back. Because the flip side of knowing that I’ve been getting in my own way is knowing that I could choose not to. Now that’s mind-blowing…

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Being bold…

Some people have the ability to imagine the future. I’m not one of those people. When I want to make a change, whether it be a small one like redecorating or a large one like changing professions, I need to take one step at a time and then regroup. So I buy a new painting for my living room, hang it, and then pause before making additional purchases. Or I get a part-time job as a wellness coach at the Y and give myself time to settle in before I decide what to do next to earn additional money in a meaningful way. Whatever change I make, I need time to live with it, to see how it alters things, to see how I feel about it. Only then, and slowly at that, will I have a sense of what I want to do next. And then the process begins all over again.

Awhile back I wrote a testimonial for my personal trainer. It ended with the following:

Even though I got a late start, I’m now in the best shape of my life. I’ve got a ways to go to meet my goals but for the first time I truly believe I’m going to attain those goals.

I know now that I was lying to myself when I wrote that last sentence because I didn’t actually believe that I was in it for the long haul. Deep down, I was pretty certain that I didn’t have the determination or discipline needed to get to my ideal weight, whatever that might be. What I expected was that at some point I would become content enough and then I would stop trying. In truth, I had no clear picture in my head of where I was headed at all. Any progress I made was fueled by my desire to get as far away as possible from where I had been when I first started changing my life around. It was about running away…from being overweight, from not inhabiting my body, from not being authentic, from feeling numb, from being on automatic pilot. And running away is different, very different, from running towards something that you value.

Don’t get me wrong. Running away has fueled many positive changes over the last few years. But I’m finding that I’m now in want of a new energy source. I want to run away less and strive towards more. This means being motivated less by fear of gaining weight back and being motivated more by wanting to give my body what it needs to function well. If this is what I want, two questions come to mind: what changes am I willing to make to get there; and, will I be content to proceed at my usual cautious rate? Much to my surprise, I’ve discovered that the answer to the latter question is a resounding “no!” So, in a move that is uncharacteristically bold for me, I’m committing myself to following a well-balanced but regimented eating plan for the next 30 days. I’m plagued by doubts about my ability to adhere to the plan – what if I end up being hungry all the time or find that I can’t socialize with people the way I want to because of my restricted diet? What if I’m no longer the “me” I’ve always known because suddenly I have a different relationship with food? On the other hand, what if I’m successful and make significant progress towards getting to a healthy weight and feel fantastic in the process? I don’t know which outcome scares me the most. But I want to find out. Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

 

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