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Starting week four of Shelter in Place, I feel like I’m handling it pretty well. When the order first came down, one of the first things I did was to load some library books on my Kindle so I would have plenty to read. The first book I read was A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It proved to be especially appropriate. It is the story of a Russian aristocrat who was placed under house arrest during the Russian Revolution. He had been staying in a hotel in Moscow and was ordered not to leave the hotel for the rest of his life. Instead of the nice suite he had been inhabiting, he was relegated to a small room in the attic. His philosophy was no matter the circumstances one finds oneself in, make the most of it.
He had few personal belongings but he took a few to the attic to make it feel more like home. He took the high quality sheets he was used to and made up the small bed in the attic. Quality soaps were also acquired. He started his day with good coffee, dined well, dressed and kept up his daily grooming, keeping to a normal routine. His next strategy was to make himself as useful as possible to the hotel employees and was befriended by a little girl living at the hotel. The child’s curiosity was infectious and he willing joined in the games of exploring the hotel.
My take-away from the book, was I can’t control what is happening right now, but I can to make the most of it. I now have time for a long, leisurely bubble bath. I stocked up on the Starbuck’s French Roast I love and have even reacquainted myself with cooking and baking.
There is no excuse not to spend time writing, meditating and reevaluating where I’m heading in life.
Exercise is a priority. I’m still able to take walks while social distancing and do some kind of strength workout a few times a week. A website that has great, free workout videos is Fitness Blender. They have something for every level using equipment or no equipment.
I strive to eat healthy but don’t get restrictive. I’m monitoring my weight more diligently than during normal times and when I see it start to creep up, eating a lighter dinner does the trick.
This may be the best time to get out the good china and put some candles on the table—all those things we save for a special occasion. This virus has taught me that every day I’m healthy and alive is a special occasion.
Tomorrow I may even do something really radical and put on makeup.
This time of year it’s time to make resolutions for 2020. I am a master planner, goal setter and resolution maker. The lists are written and vision board for the new year started.
In reading the Letters of Seneca, I was hit square in the face with this 2000 year old wisdom. “The fool…is always getting ready to live” and “It’s easier to plan than to do.”
Too often for me, the planning gets in the way of actually executing my plans and living life the way I choose. Fear holds me back.
My resolution for the new decade, is to start spending more time doing than planning. Having a plan and a goal is important but it can’t get in the way of moving forward and taking action.
This decade will be my time to plan courageously and execute fearlessly.
Are you a diet-oholic? There are strategies that we can implement to help us overcome the “Diet Addiction”.
1. Eat mindfully. Be aware of what you are eating and make each selection you “choice”. Don’t beat yourself up if some days the selection is better than others. Aim to eat healthfully 75% of the time. Take responsibility that the choice is always up to you.
2. Learn what healthy eating really is. Eat a variety of fresh, real food.
3. Eat real food. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. The best food choices don’t have a label. Our bodies are made to use food, not chemicals. I read the ingredient label first. If the label takes up half the package, it probably has a lot of junk in it.
4. Never eat anything with the word “diet” on the label. This is another way of saying this product is loaded with crap. I recently saw “Diet Water” on the store shelf. As opposed to high calorie regular water? Reading the label, I found that it was loaded with artificial sweetener, artificial flavor and other chemicals.
5. Never eliminate a food group from you diet. Fat, protein and carbohydrates are called “essential nutrients” because they are all essential for good health. Any diet that eliminates or extremely restricts any one of these groups is not a healthy diet.
6. Don’t make anything off limits. If you’re like me, if someone tells me I can’t have something, I want it all the more. Give yourself permission to have the occasional treat and you will be surprised the cravings aren’t nearly as great.
7. And the hardest one of all–don’t read the latest diet book from this weeks popular guru or turn on the TV when the newest “miracle” weight loss plan is announced. You will only receive conflicting information, mis-information and end up more confused in the long run.
Food is to nourish our bodies, repair our cells, give us energy and most of all it is to be enjoyed. If we can ignore the media and eliminate the “diet brain”, we will all be healthier and much happier.
“What’s your five year plan,” the doctor asked Helen.
“What do you mean, my five year plan, I’m 80.”
“Everyone needs a five year plan. I think you need to start strength training.”
“WHAT! I’m 80!”
“No excuses–let’s find you a trainer.”
That’s how I came to do strength training with 80-year-old Helen. Helen had accepted that frailty, disease and disability were a natural part of the aging process, but Helen had a can-do attitude and was willing to give it a try. I came to love and admire Helen’s spirit. Helen and her husband traveled the world. She had gotten to the point that if there were stairs on a tour, she would sit on a bench and wait for the others and bypass the cathedral or whatever site was on the agenda. It was a shame she had to always be on the sidelines because of the limitations of her body.
Helen had also given up going places by herself because if there were stairs, she wasn’t able to manage them. As Helen became stronger, she lost her fear of going places by herself and became much more independent.
After strength training for two years, Helen slipped and fell and broke her hip. The doctors were amazed how much muscle she had in her hips and legs. In fact, they said any other 82 year old would probably be dead from such a fall. But Helen was a warrior—when life knocked her down, she got right back up.
Helen called me one day very upset. “They kicked me out of therapy,” she said. “What do you mean–they kicked you out of therapy?” I replied. “The doctor approved me for twenty sessions and they kicked me out after only two sessions. They said I met all the criteria of activity for an average 82-year-old.” I had to laugh, “Well, Helen, they don’t understand that you’re not the average 82-year-old.”
When Helen was 84, she and I and two of my friends went and stayed at a villa in the south of France. There was no more sitting on the sidelines for Helen on this trip! She kept right up with the rest of us, even though we were all a good 30 years younger.
“Thank you,” Helen said at the end of our trip, “I never thought I could have so much fun again at my age.”
No, Helen, thank you. You proved that even at the age of 80, a warrior doesn’t give up.
At 85, the doctor once again asked, “OK, Helen, what’s your five year plan?”
Everyone needs a five year plan—what’s yours?
Did you ever have one of those dreams that when you woke up you weren’t sure if you had been dreaming or it was real? I recently woke up feeling frustrated at my inability to hit a golf ball. What was surprising is that I’m not really a golfer.
In my dream, I couldn’t hit the golf ball at all. I then realized that I was using a left-handed club (I’m right-handed) and I was attempting to hit the ball with the back of the club. No wonder, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hit the golf ball. Everything was ass backwards.
Dreams usually have something to say about real life, so what did this dream mean, I wondered. What in my life isn’t working because I’m using the wrong equipment the wrong way? What am I doing ass backwards?
What do I need to change to fulfill my dreams, ambitions and goals? What does the right equipment consist of–taking classes, making connections, attending events and networking? Maybe it’s asking for help when I need it and building a support group.
I’m not a golfer but I am a warrior. Life works much better when you choose the right equipment, use it the right way and stop trying to succeed at life playing ass backwards.
I have felt broken and shattered at times and have ofent been told that shattered pieces that are not whole and need to be put back together. Even mended, there is still the image that we are weaker and scarred. The pieces can be glued back together, even when arranged into a beautiful stained glass, we are still broken.
“I am making all things new.” Rev. 21:5
When a new construction is being built, you never hear that it is being made out of broken pieces although in reality it is. When an old construction is being demolished to make room for the new and the rubble is being cleared away, instead of lamenting the old debris, it is understood that the new construction will be stronger, beautiful and more useful than the old one.
The lumber used to build the new construction is not a whole tree but in reality, it is pieces of a broken tree. Lumber is not referred to as broken trees but new material to make a new, strong construction. The bricks or stones used to lay a new foundation are not considered broken, damaged goods.
The tiles used to make a beautiful floor or wall is never lamented for being broken pieces put together but rather admired for their beauty.
Although I’ve felt shattered and broken and lamented the pain it caused, there would have been no room for a new construction without clearing away the debris. I am not broken pieces glued back together or a pieced together stained glass, no matter how beautiful.
I have been rebuilt into a new construction; stronger, useful and beautiful. This new construction can be put to any use I decide. It can provide shelter, be a sanctuary, a place of worship, a place to conduct business and provided services to others;a retreat and place of solitude.
Whatever purpose I decide to use the rebuilt me for, it will be nothing like the old. Life has changed me and I now have the freedom to decide what the new construction of my life will look like and be used for.
My intention is to die young—at around 102. “How can you do that?” you may ask. I plan to stay active and engaged in life as long as possible. There have been numerous studies done on people who live active lives well past 100 from all over the world. What is their secret and what can we do to live young all our lives?
Defy what you’ve been taught about aging. Be a rebel who doesn’t go along with the beliefs on aging.
Find likeminded people to hang out with. Your friends have an impact on your health and longevity. Take stock of who your friends are. Don’t hang around “old people” (those old in attitude) but rather look for people who make it easy to be happy and healthy.
Stay physically active. Taking the stairs can decrease your chance of early death by 15%. Walk a mile or more a day at a good clip. Fast walkers have been shown to live longer than their couch potato counterparts.
A terrific sense of humor along with a strong survival instinct will help insulate you from negative emotions such as depression and anxiety. Stay optimistic and smile.
Enjoy a daily pleasurable daily ritual like a glass of wine, a cup of tea or a brownie.
Know why you wake up in the morning. Have events and new challenges to look forward to. Live in the present and look forward to the future.
A strong sense of family and community helps us stay connected whether through a church or other religious organization or your biological family or friends.
Maintain a healthy weight. Include plenty of nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.
And my favorite
Age is just a number—don’t let it define or confine you.
“When one door closes, another one opens.” Have you ever gone through security doors where the one behind you closes and locks before the one in front of you opens? The door behind clicks shut but there is no sign of the one in front of you opening. You trust the mechanics of the doors, the company that manufactured the door, its mechanisms and the people who maintain the door. There is no doubt that the door in front of you will open.
Too often, though, there seems to be doubt when one door in life closes that another, better door will open. You feel stuck in the middle, wondering what next? Going back is not an option; the door behind is closed and locked. You can only move forward even though door in front is not opening as quickly as you would like. If you can trust the mechanics of the door, why not trust the Universe to open the right door at the right time; the one that will bring joy, happiness, abundance and success beyond our wildest dreams.
The house had a beautiful facade—what the Realtors like to call “street presence”. The landscaping was immaculate and the flowers were in bloom.
Walking through the front door, the foyer was warm and inviting. “What is that strange odor?” Proceeding farther into the house I notice many closed doors. These rooms seem to be off limits. Approaching the rear of the house, the odor becomes stronger. “What in the world could be causing such a stink in a beautiful home?”
Reaching the back door expecting to see a continuation of the lovely landscaping in the front, instead I find the lawn strewn with garbage. Piles and piles of garbage. “Why in the world would anyone pile up their garbage in the backyard instead of carrying it to the curb so the garbage man can haul it away?” I find the homeowner rummaging through the piles of garbage.
“Poor me,” she replies. “I have so much garbage that I just don’t know what to do with it.”
“But why are you going through it? Why not haul it to the curb so it can be hauled away?”
“That seems like an awful lot of work. Besides, I might need my garbage. Other people give me their garbage as well.”
“What are those rooms closed off in your house?”
“Those are full of the garbage I haven’t had time to deal with yet. I’ll get to it one of these days. In the meantime, I’ll just pretend it isn’t there. The garbage piled in the backyard is the garbage other people have dumped on me.
“Why have I allowed them to dump it on you?”
“It’s really not my fault. I’m the victim here. You should feel sorry for me. None of it is my responsibility.”
How ridiculous! Then I take a closer look at the homeowner and realized that she is me. I have a nice facade I show the world. I present the image of being happy and successful. I may invite you into certain rooms that feel warm and inviting but if you look beyond those, you will see the closed doors—the areas of my life I’m ashamed of, afraid to expose for fear you will judge me. Some are just too painful to look at.
There are the trash bags of the hurtful words, old resentments, guilt and fear. If I go back and open those bags once in awhile, I can justify feeling angry, hurt and resentful. I’m not responsible. It’s the fault of the garbage, what other people have dumped on me, expecting me to take on and fix for them.
The garbage weighs me down. It’s time to let it go, haul it to the curb and let the garbage truck haul it away. I don’t need it any longer.
After unexpected setbacks, I’m finally back on track.
To celebrate, I’m offering “F*ck Old Age” at 1/2 price to kick-start my comeback
The book was written and published. Taking the leap, I was flying. Soaring, I felt free and light. I was on my way ready to run forward until I hit the bend in the road and got stopped in my tracks. The landing was rougher than I anticipated with bumps and setbacks I never imagined. I’ve always been healthy and I took my health for granted. Getting sick was the last thing I expected.
I was on the floor checked out. Waking up with the paramedics hovering over me, I had no idea what had happened. At the ER they could find nothing wrong so it was easy to ignore the warnings I was getting and pretend that everything was fine.
The second time it happened, it was in public at the farmer’s market. I got lightheaded and the next thing I knew I was on the ground. As people gathered around there was no longer any possibility of pretending everything was fine. It was obvious that I had a problem.
Another trip to the ER,and I was once again told they could not find any medical reason I had passed out even after multiple tests from a brain scan to a heart scan.
It was time to ask myself “what was so painful to face in my life that going unconscience seemed like the best option?” How much more of a wake-up call did I need? Lying in the CT machine, I heard a message loud and clear. “You’ve been knocked flat twice, what more is going to take for you to wake up and get your attention? This is your life. Live the life you are meant to live and fulfill your destiny.”
I couldn’t see what was ahead and had to slow down to take the curves in the road, rest, evaluate and find the lessons. “What would a warrior do,” I asked. A warrior knows setbacks are temporary. It is a time to breath, regroup and regain her strength, connect with her tribe and troops and plan a new strategy. A warrior will overcome her setback and I AM A WARRIOR! The bend in the road isn’t the end of the road.