Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Reflection of Myself: A Short Conversation About Physical Appearance

          Here comes another one of those subjects I’ve resisted talking about.  I'm nervous about what the smartest, most articulate way to approach it might be. What if I receive criticism for it? I’ve let this lack of perfection and fear of ridicule stop me from broaching the topic all together. No more.

          During my formative years, how I looked represented the whole of who I was. I was never satisfied or okay with the way I looked. I never regarded appearance as just ONE part of who I was; it completely defined me.

       As I’ve gotten older and matured, both physically and in my head and heart, appearance has faded into the background being replaced by other more meaningful qualities…or so I thought. It resurfaced, however, when I started to avoid doing video blog posts. Did you see the coming attraction of this blog post? It was sheer torture for me to do it.

Marilyn’s Attitude

          What makes people feel attractive or unattractive? What makes us feel like keeping our head down or standing in the back of the room? For every one of us who feels insecure in our appearance, there are equal numbers of people like my friend, Marilyn. Marilyn is 5’10” and weighs 230. She is 60 years old and newly single. Marilyn has, for her entire life, had the attention of men and a large group of loving women friends. Now that she is single again, she is enjoying the company of smart, fun loving men who appreciate the way she is in the world. What is the difference between her and me, for instance, when newly widowed nearly three years ago, I was happy to ‘close up shop,’ feeling less than in the looks department?

          The difference is in her beliefs. Marilyn believes in her attractiveness and that she has a variety of qualities to offer others. I don’t know if Marilyn sees a gorgeous woman when she looks in the mirror or, more likely, whether she has internalized the belief that attractiveness is not just physical appearance. It doesn’t really matter because she is comfortable with herself and that shows through in a relationship.

Me … and You?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Catastrophe or Opportunity? - Guest Blog by Carol Fleming

          We each decide which experiences are catastrophes and which are opportunities. We each decide if every day is a treasure or something to endure. It’s our reality—we get to choose.

           I met a person recently who made the decision to turn a horrifying experience into an opportunity for growth. With his permission, I share his story here.

           He looks like Buddha in quiet repose … serene, calm, quiet, gentle. Nothing ruffles him, but he wasn’t always like this. His outlook on life changed completely after an accident almost claimed his life.

           He works as a commercial fisherman. Several years ago, he was working in the Bering Sea on a small fishing boat with a four-man crew. The boat was a “catcher” boat, one that caught fish in a net and turned the catch over to a processing boat. On this particular day, his boat was towing a net filled with several ton of fish. The boat started to turn but did so too slowly, and the heavy net sank toward the bottom. The engines tried to pull the boat forward but the net became an anchor, and the boat flipped over in seconds.

           It happened so quickly, the men didn’t have time to grab emergency gear. A raft was set to deploy automatically if the boat overturned, but three of the men found themselves trapped underneath the boat, in a pocket of air.

           After a frantic few moments, the men realized that to survive this, they had to leave the safety of the air pocket and swim down, underwater, to get out from under the boat. They were terrified, but they had to do it to survive.

           He has no idea how long he was in the water—it could have been one minute or 30 minutes. Thankfully, all three men made it to the raft and were rescued by another nearby boat. The three men lived, but the fourth man, the captain, did not survive.

           He returned home a changed man. He looked around his hometown and saw people filling their days with anger and strife, men who were sitting on the same bar stools they’d been sitting on when he left—a way of life he no longer wanted.

           His close encounter with death, his fight to survive, put everything into perspective. He had learned life can change in an instant. The things people do or say or how they act that once would have bothered him no longer mattered. Today, he values people, relationships, love. His advice? If it doesn’t bring happiness, it doesn’t matter … it’s not worth your time. His catastrophe gave him the ability to realize what really mattered to him and to release what wasn’t important.

           Just like him, we each get to decide what really matters to us, what we want to invite into our lives. Let’s not wait for a life-changing catastrophe to realize what we really love and want to embrace in our life. Let’s do it now.

You may reach Carol at Aiming4Joy@gmail.com
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

6 Powerful Yet Simple Promises That Will Pump Up Your Life

1. Promise Positive Self-Talk

          I wonder if we all truly know that we are our own worst enemies. No one can be more rigid and more unforgiving of our errors than us. And how many times have we said to a friend, “Gosh, you wouldn’t be as mean to ME as you are to yourself.”?

          It’s a habit that we do this, you know. And like any habit, it can be broken. Make the commitment to catch yourself when you hear that negative self-talk. Listen to CD’s with positive affirmations (Louise Hay), tell others you’re trying to stop talking trash about yourself and give yourself a huge pat on the back when you’re successful.

2. Promise to Practice Patience With Yourself and With Others (my personal nemesis)

          As senior citizens it’s more important than ever to slow down to enjoy all that life has to offer. It’s not the end result anymore as much as the journey. We have nothing to prove about getting to the end in a speedy way. Now’s the time to savor each part of the process.

          Like self-talk, lack of patience is a habit. And, if you're like me, you may have people recommending books to help you learn to stop and smell the roses (Patience:  The Art of Peaceful Living by Allan Lokos).

3. Promise to be Less Opinionated

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Could You Benefit From a Mini-Correction?

          In his press conference before Christmas, President Obama said he was looking to 2014 as a breakthrough year after a rocky 2013.  While the assessment of his 2013 year may have been an understatement, what with his troubled health care rollout and plummeting approval ratings, it has been a less than jubilant year for many folks. But that’s not what I want to focus on in this short post. I’m shining a light on the possibilities of the New Year.

          Like spring, the New Year signals new beginnings. Because I am bored with meaningless resolutions (see How to Escape the New Year's Resolution Rut), I whole heartedly celebrate a repositioning of my attention. I’m waking up, tossing back the blanket of “it’s a lot of bad out there” and jumping into a life of uplifting and meaningful possibilities.  I’m making a mini-correction of my approach to life.
          What are the best ways to make that mini-correction? For me, it’s to get quiet, be open and make a spiritual connection that supports and uplifts. I get quiet by meditating and open myself by listening rather than talking. I maintain a strong spiritual connection with a supportive community of like-minded people. In these ways I move back into the most nurturing and joyous space. From this place I can tackle anything that plummets.
          The negative things will always be there. The doom and gloom of hardships and bad behaving weather are a part of life. If we focus on them and talk about them incessantly they will be a significant part of our lives. Where is your focus in 2014? Do you need a mini-correction? If so, what does it look like?

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