Time Ticking Away?

 

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This morning on the way to work, that depressing song by Pink Floyd was playing on the radio – you know the one:  Time. David Gilmour sings: “Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time; plans that either come to naught, or half a page of scribbled lines. . . .” (http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/pinkfloyd/time.html)

I can relate. Time is slipping by like sand through a sieve. But what the heck can we do about it?  We certainly can’t stop time.  However, we can: manage it, savor it, and make the most of it.  

Managing time:

Focus Better with these Simple Tips

6 Ways to Set Goals You’ll Actually Achieve

The MindTools website provides 60 time management tools readers can use to “conquer time.”  

Savoring time: 

The Simple Thing that Makes the Happiest People in the World So Happy ( a worthwhile read if you can ignore the annoying pop-up ads at the site) 

 

 

What I’ve Learned from Loneliness

 

Young woman walking in lake

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 32 – 3/16/15

I do believe that friendship and other social relationships lead to vital aging; however, I’m one of those people who also needs some alone time. I learned about what it was like to be lonely as a child. However, in the long run, I also learned about the blessings of alone time. 

I was a solitary kid. It’s not that I didn’t have any friends – I was simply shy and introverted. I kept to myself more often than not.  I don’t remember having friends at my house when I was in elementary school.  My family situation was often stressful. My dad was an alcoholic, and that, along with other dynamics, didn’t make my house a welcoming place.    

I walked or rode my bike to our local library by myself – the library was my haven.  Losing myself in books was a relief and a pleasure. I also wrote a lot of stories and plays; I had quite an imagination in those days. 

As I got older, I broke out of my shell and developed typical teenaged friendships, and also met my two forever friends. Yet there were still times I felt achingly alone – never feeling like I quite “fit in.”   

I’m not looking for sympathy.  It’s what my life was.  While at the time, I didn’t find anything redeeming about loneliness, I realize now that it certainly didn’t scar me for life. Instead, it taught me some things: 

  • I don’t mind being silent at times.  I don’t always need to fill up space with words.  Sometimes it’s better just to listen. 
  • I learned how to be self-reliant.
  • I learned that there’s nothing wrong with eating alone at a restaurant.  
  • I’ve sometimes been lonelier in a group of people than I was being by myself.
  • I hate talking on the phone.  Get to the point and hang up, that’s my motto.  (Really?  That’s a lesson from loneliness?  Maybe not.  Could just be my old introverted self raising her head).  

Way back in 2011, I  wrote a post listing the five benefits I got out of solitude. This hasn’t changed over the years.   Because I’m  more at peace with myself than I’ve ever been, alone time has become more important than ever.  

What about you?  Do you enjoy solitude?  What benefits do you get from that time alone? 

 For additional reading: 

Bella DePaulo (Social Scientist, Blogger, Author and more) provides many links that lead to articles describing what experts have to say about solitude in her article titled. What’s Great about Solitude: Here’s What we Know 

I also enjoyed this article from the Greatist website, which talks about the Joy of Missing Out. 

Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone. (Paul Tillich)

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons to Try Meditation for Vital Aging

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 20 – 2/18/15

 Asian woman meditating.

(1) Meditation may help us sleep better. At least 40% of Americans don’t get enough of the quality sleep they need to function well (Aschwanden).  Many of these insomnia sufferers are women.  Our insomnia is caused by hormonal changes we face in our lives, such as pregnancy and perimenopause.  Bea is one of those women, and she’s ready to try meditation to get her zzzzzz’s back! 

(2) Meditation relieves stress, and can help those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression. 

(3) Meditation provides other mental health benefits:  an increase in happiness, self-acceptance and awareness, concentration, focus and more – as found in this article from The Art of Living

(4) Meditation can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and even increase energy levels, just to name a few physical health benefits.  

(5) Meditation may help strengthen our aging brain by slowing down the loss of gray matter, as described in this article from the UCLA newsroom.

Source:

Aschwanden, Christie. (Nov 2014). Counting Sleep. Prevention Magazine.

For Further Reading: 

Want to try Guided Meditation?  Bea downloaded a guided meditation album onto her Ipod, but there are free options online as well:  

 UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center 

If you search YouTube, “guided meditations,” you’ll also find some good options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.medicaldaily.com/mental-health-benefits-meditation-itll-alter-your-brains-grey-matter-and-improve-319298

5 Reasons To Love Solitude

Silent Snowfall

The other day, I offered to shovel out the driveway for my hubby, giving him a break from what is normally “his” task (yep, he does “outside the castle” stuff, while I’m the “inside of the castle” queen).  This was a couple days after our so-called “snowmaggedon,” and with no warning at all from the doppler radar weather gurus, we got a snowfall that added several inches to our already white carpet of snow.

While taking a break from the shoveling, I just stood there and listened to the winter silence. Don’t you love how the snow muffles the sound of the world?  Then, in the distance, I heard the mournful sound of a train whistle, a sound I’ve always loved, for some unknown reason. Just being outside, alone in that quietude, I felt at peace. 

The Joy of Solitude

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved those times of solitude.  I often walked to my elementary school alone, and one of my favorite solitary treks was to my hometown’s library, which was about a mile from my house.

As I got older, I enjoyed bike rides by myself and would also travel by car to my dad’s house in the upper peninsula of Michigan, an eight hour drive. 

Nowadays, I like the quiet of the house on Friday evenings, when my husband is at bowling and I have the house to myself. I leave the television and computer off, and just read. After a day at work, with phones constantly ringing, work interruptions by co-workers, and other distractions, it’s nice to simply be alone with my thoughts.

How Solitude Has Helped Me

  • Solitude helps clear my mind of everyday clutter and helps me focus.
  • Solitude de-stresses me.
  • Solitude ofen helps me find a solution to a problem, or at least gives me some temporary distance from the issue.
  • Solitude helps me come up with ideas for my writing.
  • Finally, solitude helps me learn more about myself and what I want to accomplish in my life.

I’m not a hermit, by any means.  I enjoy my friendships, and know I benefit from them.  I’m happy in the company of my husband, and I sometimes miss my Friday evening dinners with my daughter (she’s away at college), but I also find that solitude can be a joy, and enhances my feelings of wellness.

What about you?  Is finding solitude a necessity for you?  What benefits do you reap from it?

Further Reading:

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits writes about the lost art of solitude.

Bea’s Six Ways to De-Stress Before the Holidays

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...Image via Wikipedia

Photo by  Malene Thyssen, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Malene

 The holidays are coming fast!  Are you still running out for last minute gifts?  Stressing over how much you’ve spent?  Trying to figure out a menu that satisfies everyone, even your fanatically vegan sibling?  Worrying about what Uncle Bob will say when he’s had a couple of drinks?  Hoping that your sister doesn’t bring over that tatted up guy with the earrings in his eyebrows?  Yikes! 

Well it’s time to take a deep breath and unwind a little bit. 

Here’s what Bea does to de-stress before Christmas:

  • Takes a walk.  Bea took her dog for a walk while the snow fell today, and there’s nothing like the lovely silence that snow creates, andf the stark beauty of white snow on bare tree branches, surrounded by white sky.   Even the wind that hit her when she turned that corner toward home felt invigorating.  Too cold or too hot in your town to walk outside? Try a walking DVD in front of your TV. 

  • Watches a holiday classic movie on television.  You just can’t beat The Christmas Story, which weirdly enough, seems to last all afternoon.  (Oh yea, it’s that marathon they usually do of that movie!) And Elf is another favorite.  If you’re looking for an oldie but goody, what’s more satisfying than “It’s A Wonderful Life?” 

  • Spends the evening wrapped in a blanket, reading a book (fiction, memoir, inspirational – she loves ’em all)  by the fireplace. Simply watching the fire can be very relaxing.  Adding a nice cuppa coffee with a little bit of Bailey’s Irish Cream added to it?  Heaven. 

  • Takes a car ride with the hubby to check out the Christmas light displays people put up.  Bea and Mr. B. usually vote on the best and the most pitiful.  (Ever see that program on television that highlights holiday light displays around the country?  Some of these folks are obsessed – it’s like a full time job for them)

  • When that Christmas tree is finally decorated and its lights are glowing, there’s nothing more peaceful than lying on the couch with the lights off, simply looking at that tree and thinking about the real meaning of the season.  Oh yea, and don’t forget the Christmas music in the background – one of her favorite CDs is Josh Groban’s Noel.

  • Every December there’s a special Girls’ Night Out with her best buds – a nice dinner, women’s only conversation, and giving each other small but thoughtful gifts to show we care about each other.  We all know, ladies, that “Ya gotta have friends!” 

These are just a few of Bea’s favorite things to do to get ready for Christmas.

What kinds of things to you do to de-stress before your holiday

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Complainer? Me? No Way

For about a month now, I’ve been trying to live a complaint-free life. I got motivated to do this when I was going through my bookshelf for a good book to read. I ran across “A Complaint Free World,” by Will Bowen, a minister at the One Community Spiritual Center in Kansas City, Missouri. 

I bought this book back in 2008, when I began to change my inner life and become happier and more optimistic. The book has been collecting dust ever since.

“Well,” I thought to myself as I blew the dust off the book cover, “I’m really not much of a complainer (yea, right), but what the heck – maybe I’ll take the 21-day challenge.” For 21 days, I can’t complain, criticize, or gossip. (On second though, what am I getting myself into?? I won’t be able to talk at all!)

Now who’s with me on this? 

Here’s the drill: 
(1) You order a purple bracelet from the complaint free world website (in 2008, those bracelets were free; now they cost $10 for a box – but I’m not complaining, mind you; just letting you know)
If you don’t want to pay the ten bucks, simply start the day by putting a rubber band on one of your wrists.

(2)  When you catch yourself doing one of the bad things: complaining, criticizing, or gossiping, you switch that rubber band to your other wrist.  Then start the process again.  Believe you me, that first day you’ll be switching so much your head will spin!

(3) You keep doing this until you reach 21 consecutive days without complaining, criticizing, or gossiping.  According to Will Bowen, you’ve now developed a new habit – a habit of a complaint-free life. 

Then, life will be hunky-dory for you.  Things will be swell.  You’ll find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 

Okay, that probably won’t happen. 

However, according to Pastor Bowen, and the 21-Day champions who he writes about in his book, your life will be happier.  You won’t spend time moaning about silly things that just aren’t all that important anyway!  You will become more optimistic and enthusiastic about life.  You’ll gain a sense of contentment.

So anyhow, I’m going to keep on working toward that 21 days of complaint-free living. I want to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be and if it’s not, I’m going to write Pastor Bowen and give him a piece of my mind. And I’m not going to pay for a $10 box of bracelets.  No way.  That’s just ridiculous.  Oh my gosh, I’m complaining! Got to stop that, right now!

I’m never gonna make it 21 days.

It’s Summer Vacation Time!

Mr. and Mrs. Boomer are leaving town as you read this, going on a long overdue vacation. North Carolina, here we come!

Why Bea loves going on vacation:

  • When she’s out of town, work is just a very, very, dim memory.
  • She gets to eat out every day.
  • Exercise routine? What exercise routine? (Nope, she doesn’t even go to hotel fitness centers)
  • Bills, housecleaning, laundry, ironing Mr. B’s shirts. . . who cares?

She can read trashy magazines, or a good book. She can just relax. She can walk around barefoot. All mind clutter seems to disappear. She can eat an ice cream cone at midnight if she wants to.  She can sit on the porch of that cabin in Cherokee, NC, watching the fireflies and sipping on a Bailey’s on the rocks. 

Now this is living.  It doesn’t take much to please old Bea.

Vacations are good for our health and wellness, in fact, they’re necessary! And we don’t take enough of them, according to CBS News.  Here are some good reasons to take vacations.

If you’re gonna give Bea the line that you don’t have time for a vacation, then try a “stay-cation” with these ideas from Better Homes and Gardens.

But, please just do it!  Find time to relax, refresh your body and mind, and enjoy life.  Hey, in these tough times, vacations or stay-cations are more important than ever!

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Put on the Brakes!

A simple, but not always easy, thing we can do to enhance our well-being: put the brakes on. Slow down our crazy-paced lives. This is one of the most difficult lessons Bea has had to learn in life. How to take it easy and savor it.

In her youth, she rushed through life – always in a hurry to get somewhere or do something – not realizing she wasn’t really enjoying it; and often not really getting anywhere.

She’s always eaten fast, walked fast, at times acted impulsively (often regretting that later). Always trying to do two, or more, things at once. Which often led to haphazard results. 

Often Bea’s need to be in a hurry led to impatience with others – not one of her better traits.

Now, as she ages, she’s finally realized the beauty of slowing down, focusing, savoring. Simply because she wants time itself to slow down! 

In his post “The 10 Essential Rules for Slowing Down and Enjoying Life More,” Leo Babauta states it very succinctly:  “Let’s rebel against a hectic lifestyle and slow down to enjoy life.”

Bea couldn’t agree more.

Why I Read Zen Habits

I recently found a great blog written by Leo Babauta. It’s called Zen Habits, and Leo describes it as “about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives.” I like the blog’s crisp and clean layout, which underlines Leo’s commitment to this simplicity. I also enjoy Leo’s writing style. 

Leo includes a “Beginner’s Guide to Zen Habits,” where he points out the most popular posts on his blog.
 
I printed out Leo’s “Simple Living Manifesto,” because life often seems to stressful, so filled with stuff to do – that I start wondering what’s important and what isn’t! Why am I running around like a hamster on a wheel?   
 
Leo’s “short list” from his Simple Living Manifesto mentions just two items:
 
1.Identify what’s most important to you.

2.Eliminate everything else.
 
And his long list identifies how to do those two things.  Since the list is long, (72 ideas), Leo suggests choosing the ones that apply to your life, and focusing on one idea at a time. 
 
I’ve also referred to Leo’s post that talks about motivating your way out of a slump, when I’ve suddenly hit a brick wall and can’t think of a single thing to write about mindset.   
 
So if you’re looking for a little inspiration, a lesson on how to simplify your life, or simply some good reading, you might want to give Zen Habits a try. 
 

Give Life Your Presence

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. (Prince Gautama Siddhartha)

Each today, well-lived, makes yesterday a dream of happiness and each tomorrow a vision of hope. Look, therefore, to this one day, for it and it alone is life. (Sanskrit Poem)

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. (Henry David Thoreau)

Some life lessons Bea has learned during her 50+ years on this earth:

  • Mindless speaking leads to inane or stupid comments.
  • Mindless laughing makes people think you’re crazy.
  • Mindless eating leads to weight gain.

And the most important lesson of all:

  • Mindless living leads to missing out on real life.

Why is living a mindful life, experiencing the present moment, so important?

If you’re older, like I am, you realize just how quickly time goes by. A brief moment ago, I was holding my daughter in my arms and wondering (okay, worrying) about what the future would bring.

Suddenly, she’s in her second year of college. What in the heck happened? In a blink of an eye, her childhood was gone.

While we’re rushing through our lives and jumping from one activity to another, our lives are passing us by and somehow we miss the important moments – at times, simply small moments: marveling at the curve of your new baby’s foot, listening as your spouse tells us about his or her day, truly watching as your child walks commencement . . .

A scenario of our current time which saddens me:

I watch as a mom walks through the park with a toddler beside her and another child in a stroller.  Mom is on the cell phone.  She doesn’t speak to her children. It’s as if they’re not there. This mom is missing an opportunity to be present for her kids in that moment. 

I’ve been guilty of moments like that over the years.  Moments that are forever gone.

The practice of mindfulness, which can be defined as living in the present, stems from Buddhism.  This About.com article, written by Elizabeth Scott, M.S., describes mindfulness and its benefits, as suggested by research studies.

Simple tips for living mindfully:

  • Start paying attention to the here and now. For example, if your child is trying to tell you about her day, give her 10 minutes of your uninterrupted time.
  • Focus on doing one thing at a time. For me, multitasking doesn’t work – trying to do two or more things at once often leads to doing them carelessly.
  • To avoid mindless eating, don’t eat so fast! Eating slower allows you to really taste the food you’re eating and helps your stomach realize it’s got food in there, so you’re less likely to overeat.
  • To feel more relaxed, try deep breathing, the benefits of which are described here.
  • Stop and think about the little things that make you feel happy in your everyday life. In other words, take time to be grateful, even if life isn’t going just the way you planned.

This U.S. News and World Report article talks about five ways to live mindfully.

Here are ten more tips from an article by Susan Moore at Associated Content.

And finally, a good article written by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., about how to “weave mindfulness into your workday and life.”