Love yourself first, girl!

Sure wish I had done that when I was younger…

When I was in grad school – in my 50’s – we did an exercise that posed this question:  If you could go back to being 18 years old – knowing what you know now – what advice would you give yourself? I didn’t have to think twice!!

The advice I would give myself? Love yourself first. Definitely. Love yourself first.

Group of diversity alternative young woman enjoying the sunset at the sea doing hearth symbol with hands - people enjoying friendly lifestyle - vacation in friendship concept for females

Let me start by saying that when I was young I did not value myself. I had absolutely no idea of what a good person I really was! I’m not talking about thinking I was better than anyone else. I’m not talking about thinking I was more intelligent. I’m certainly not talking about being selfish and egocentric.  Quite simply, I did not know my true value as a human being.

As a young woman I was kind. I was smart. I was caring. I had so many positive qualities…as I do today.  Sadly, back then I didn’t love myself enough to demand respect from other people and demand to be treated kindly. Honestly, I felt “less than.” I allowed some very significant people in my life to treat me hurtfully – emotionally and physically. Had I loved myself more, I hopefully wouldn’t have allowed that to happen.

In her article entitled Do You Truly Know How to Love Yourself? author Louise Hay said:

…When I talk about loving ourselves, I mean having a deep appreciation for who we are. We accept all the different parts of ourselves—our little peculiarities, the embarrassments, the things we may not do so well, and all the wonderful qualities, too. We accept the whole package with loveUnconditionally.

I agree with Louise. With that love comes so much strength.

Some of you might think that “Love yourself first” is too simplistic to be of any value. Or perhaps no more than a self-help platitude.  Think what you will, my friends!  I, for one, believe that we cannot create “our best life” without loving and appreciating ourselves first. That is the foundation for building healthy relationships, striving to achieve our goals, and so much more.  As I shared in a previous blog post, What matters most is  how you see yourself.

So…what do you think?

♥    

What the heck is Transient Global Amnesia?

Maybe I just don’t remember…

Lovely Puppy PortraitPicture this. Waking up in a room in the ER. Only you haven’t actually been sleeping. You’ve been awake the whole time.  Talking, answering questions, and who knows what else. You just don’t know that…

On April 11th of this year I lost several hours of my memory. At about 7:30 PM that day – without even being aware of it – I called my daughter and said, “Can you please come over. I’m confused.”  She asked if I wanted her to call an ambulance.  I said no. I don’t remember my daughter and my son-in-law rushing into my home and taking me to the emergency room. I don’t remember talking to doctors and nurses; I don’t remember getting a CT scan. And I didn’t know who our president is. (I won’t tell you what my daughter said about that!) All of this time I had no sense of fear or concern because I was totally unaware of what was going on.

I “woke up” about 9:00 PM that evening, still in the ER and still confused.  I didn’t remember that earlier I had gone to teach my evening class at the local community college. I didn’t remember cancelling the class because I didn’t feel well. I don’t remember driving home.

I was admitted to the hospital at about midnight that evening.  It wasn’t until about 1:00 AM that my mind started to really clear. I remembered that I did, in fact, start my class and then cancelled it.  My memory of parts of the evening grew by bits and pieces. However, there were and still are several “lost hours” of which I have absolutely no memory.  In the morning I felt pretty much like my “old self.” After having a normal MRI, I was sent home.

In retrospect the whole experience was and is very scary.  While it was happening I was oblivious, in “conscious unawareness” (my term, not a medical term!) so I was not scared or disconcerted. However, I know that my daughter and my other loved ones were very frightened.  No, I didn’t have a stroke. No, I didn’t have a TIA (transient ischemic attack). I did have transient global amnesia.

Here is how the Mayo Clinic describes transient global amnesia (sometimes referred to as TGA):

Transient global amnesia is a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that can’t be attributed to a more common neurological condition, such as epilepsy or stroke.

During an episode of transient global amnesia, your recall of recent events simply vanishes, so you can’t remember where you are or how you got there. In addition, you may not remember anything about what’s happening in the here and now. Consequently, you may keep repeating the same questions because you don’t remember the answers you’ve just been given. (I did that…over and over and over!)

The condition most often affects people in middle or older age. With transient global amnesia, you do remember who you are, and you recognize the people you know well. Episodes of transient global amnesia always improve gradually over a few hours. During recovery, you may slowly begin to remember events and circumstances. Transient global amnesia isn’t serious, but it can still be frightening.

That last statement is so very true. However, more frightening to me than experiencing this amnesia is thinking about how scared my daughter must have been to see me in the throes of this episode. I was not “me.” She had no idea if I would ever be “me” again…

I am so thankful that it didn’t take long for me to “get over” my experience with TGA and return to a sense of well-being. While the cause of TGA is unknown, stress is very likely a factor. Since, generally speaking, life causes stress for all of us (!), I am doing my best to handle my life’s stressors in positive ways.

While it’s unlikely that I will ever experience transient global amnesia again in my lifetime, having one episode was certainly – to say the very least – a learning experience. Now, if you’ve kindly taken the time to read this rather lengthy post, you also are aware of this unusual, rare condition.

As travelers on our life journeys, learning experiences abound. Some are pleasant; some not-so-much. Here’s to welcoming all life experiences. Quite simply, those life experiences mean we’re still alive!

Yay life!

Taking The Road Less Traveled…

It CAN make all the difference!

Autumnal trees in sunshine.One of my very favorite quotes is found at the conclusion of a Robert Frost poem.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.

While interpretations may vary, to me this quote very simply means that in this short life we can be happiest and most fulfilled by creating our very own path…whatever that path may be.

In 1978 Dr. M. Scott Peck wrote a wonderful book entitled The Road Less Traveled.  I first became aware of this book years ago through my daughter Michele.  Then, as luck would have it, Michele and I had the opportunity to attend a Road Less Traveled seminar right here in our hometown. I took notes (I’ve always been a big note taker!) and came away with some “nuggets” that I remember to this day. Here are just a few…

•  Our own view of reality is like a map…the “road” in our lives.
•  We should always pay attention to our inner wisdom – our intuition – and combine that with logic (of course!).
Be open to “serendipity” – when something good happens that you’re not looking for.
Grace” is the connecting force in life that shows us how to grow.

I especially like the idea of serendipity, defined in the Oxford University Press blog as experiencing happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. How wonderful! Sometimes the “map” we follow in life is structured, “humdrum,” and we don’t keep our minds and eyes open for serendipity.  We best change that!

Grace is another remarkable concept. While grace is often defined from a theological or spiritual perspective, from my perspective grace is the heartwarming, comforting sense of peace, gratitude and love that comes to us at special moments in time. It can occur anytime and anywhere and can help us truly sense the goodness of life. (I do know I’m waxing philosophical here!) While feelings of grace may be fleeting and rare, my guess is if we were more open to its existence we could experience “amazing grace” much more often in our lives.

I like to think that, as I create my life in however many years I have left on this earth, I will welcome serendipity, open my mind and heart to experience true grace, and then confidently take that inviting Road Less Traveled. I know for sure that will make all the difference!

Care to join me, anyone?

“It is what it is.”

Wait! There’s more to the “story”!

How many times have you heard someone say “It is what it is”? Countless times? That’s pretty much true for most of us.

So…what does “It is what it is” mean to you? While I know what it means to me — I’ll get to that shortly! — I decided to Google the idiom and found that some folks feel very strongly about this little phrase!

In a 2015 article on inc.com entitled The Stupidity of ‘It is what it is…’ author Peter Economy (Is that a real last name??) declared that “It is what it is is especially damaging when used to frame a response to a problem…an admission that the problem is too hard…This all too common phrase has no place in the lexicon of leaders who rely on the intellectual, emotional and creative power of their people.”

Okay Peter, you’re right to a point. However, let’s not just say “It is what it is” and leave it at that. Instead, let’s say this…                                     

It is what it is 2

Now that is about acknowledging the reality of a situation and then making a conscious choice about how that reality will impact us and what we are going to do about it!

Case in point: I’m 70 now. (Yes, indeed, it is what it is!)  And…I choose not to bemoan the fact that I’m not younger. I choose to embrace the fact that I’m still waking up in the morning, have people to love, and can still make a contribution to this world. I choose to accept responsibility for my attitude…and I choose to be an optimist.

It is what it is, my friends!

Give hygge a try, y’all!

We’re talking coziness, warmth, contentment and well-being…

drinking hot coffee  outdoor with some books and nature blur backgroundCountless articles have been written about hygge over the last couple of years; some might say too many articles have been written. Well, I’m jumping on the hygge bandwagon.  I simply can’t resist exploring this Danish way of living!

So what is hygge? The Oxford English dictionary defines hygge as “A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being…” I don’t know about you, but that sounds more-than-wonderful to me!

Hygge House tells us that “Hygge (pronounced hue-guh…) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment. It can be alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary but is always cosy, charming or special. It literally only requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but to recognize and enjoy the present.” Hygge just keeps sounding better and better!

In an article in Harper’s Bizarre entitled What is Hygge and is it really the secret to happiness? we learn that “hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) promotes the idea of enjoying and indulging in the small good things in life – whether sitting around a table with friends and family or drinking a hot mug of tea by candlelight…And the results speak for themselves – the Danes have been named the most content people year after year…” I love the reference to the “small good things in life.” Those are what make moments in our lives special.

Whether you pronounce it hue-guh or hoo-gah, hygge is a mindset — or perhaps a lifestyle — that promotes a sense of contentment, warmth and well-being. It requires us to slow down and be very aware of the precious moments in our lives, alone and with our family and friends.

Let’s all give hygge a try. Can’t hurt!

Shhh…What’s that quiet voice whispering to me??

Oh! That’s my intuition!

Clouds Hope IntuitionWhether we describe it as a passing thought, a hunch, nudge, a gut feeling, a sensation or a sixth sense, my guess is we have all at one time or another heard a little whisper – a “secret voice” – telling us that something was right…or it was wrong. Maybe we listened. Maybe we didn’t.

A really simple example comes immediately to mind.  Were you ever about to say something when a little voice inside your head told you not to say it? That has happened to me many times over my lifetime!  Sometimes I listened to that little voice. When I didn’t, I usually regretted it.

In any event, what I’m describing is our intuition, our “inner wisdom” that can give us a sense of direction. Oxforddictionaries.com defines intuition as “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.”  I do like that definition!

In a HuffPost article entitled 10 Things Highly Intuitive People Do Differently, Sophy Burnham, author of The Art of Intuition, defines intuition as “the subtle knowing without ever having any idea why you know it.” I like that definition even better. Sounds like an “Aha!” moment to me!

Perhaps you’ve read or heard this wonderful poem entitled The Voice by children’s author Shel Silverstein.

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you – just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

I think Mr. Silverstein is encouraging us to listen to our intuition and let it help us make choices that are right for us…not right for someone else.

Let’s take up that challenge! We’ll start with an open mind, listen with our heart, pay close attention to our “secret voice,” and then trust ourselves to make good choices.

Are ya with me??

Learning from “The Oak Tree”

“The Oak Tree” by Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr. reminds us of our strength.

nature red forest leaves
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let me just start by saying that I am definitely not a cryer.  While I often feel like crying, for whatever reason (not to be explored here!) I don’t often experience that luxury.

The other day I did cry. What brought me to tears was hearing this poem for the first time.

                   The Oak Tree
            by Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr.

A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke.
How can you still be standing Oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs, and make me sway

But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me

Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
I’m stronger than I ever knew.

As I read this poem again, tears threaten. Something tells me that, like me, you have at times felt “at the end of your rope,” wondering how you could possibly face another minute, another hour, another day. Isn’t it wonderful when we recognize that we have strength we didn’t realize we had? And isn’t it also wonderful that, when we need it most, a friend will reach out to help us be strong?

Just one more thing. Let’s never be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help when we need it is a sign of strength rather than weakness. Fellow travelers on this journey of aging are within reach, ready and willing to help. As the Beatles reminded us a few decades ago, “I get by with a little help from my friends!

Choose to be The Oak Tree, my friends!

Care to share??