Category: Our good health (page 1 of 10)

Words From The Wise

What is life?

Listen to what these men and women had to say about it, after a life of pain, love, work, disappointment, triumph, and everyday struggle.

“Life is a play that does not allow testing. So, sing, cry, dance, laugh and live intensely, before the curtain closes and the piece ends with no Applause.” – Charlie Chaplin

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”  Helen Keller

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life:  it goes on.”  William James

“All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make, the better.”  Humbert Humphrey

“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you handle it.”   Lou Holtz

“Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep you balance, you must keep moving.”  Albert Einstein

“I have a new philosophy.  I’m only going to dread one day at a time.”  Charlie Brown

 

Life can be hard.  Frustrating.  Exhausting.  But it can also be wonderful.  Amazing.  Healing.  As boomers we’ve most likely seen it all, yet we want more.  When I think of the places I still want to see, the books I want to read, the experiences I still want to have…I’m thankful I’m still here.  Even with all the pinheads that pop up during the day, I want tomorrow to come.

So we get out there.  We try it again.  And we hope for the best.

 

“Life is like a movie:  write your own ending   Keep believing; keep pretending.”

      Jim Henson

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Power of the Labyrinth

Life can take us in many directions, and often on paths we never thought we’d choose.  Sometimes the way ahead is clear.  Other times, (and for me, more often than not,) the path ahead is a bit hazy…I can’t quite see the images…and when I get to that intersection I am really not sure where I’m supposed to go.

It’s like hiking, which has always been my favorite thing though these days my feet don’t want to cooperate.  I hike a trail. I can tell where it’s going.  Then I come to a point where it seems to split into many options.  Obviously only one is “really” the trail.  But the others look kind of okay…are they options?

If I choose one I’ve never done before, will it bring me back to where I am right now?

 Or will I get lost and never find my way back? 

The movies want you to think that it’s easy to figure out moments like this.  There’s a sudden vision.  Or the music changes and the sun comes out and you just know.  More likely is you are tired, distracted and you’d just like someone to come along and tell you which way is which.

file000143069688That whole fantasy about how things get easier as you get older…hmmm…how’s that working for you?  I agree we have more wisdom as we age.  But I’m not sure it always makes things easier.

When my mind won’t settle enough for me to figure out what’s next, or there’s just no peace because it feels like I’ve backtracked and messed up and soon I’ll even up living under a bridge, I try to find experiences that quiet it all.  Meditation is good.  Tai chi is restorative.  Nature is always a balm.

And then there’s the labyrinth.

According to The Labyrinth Society, a “labyrinth is a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological or spiritual transformation.  Labyrinths are thought to enhance right brain activity.”    Labyrinths are considered walking meditations, where your psyche meets your spirit.

Labyrinth enthusiasts believe that as you enter the labyrinth, you release.  When you enter the center, you receive.  Then as you leave, you give back to the world what you have received.

One of the most famous labyrinths is that found at Chartres Cathedral in France.  This labyrinth is 42 feet in diameter and is thought to have been constructed in the early 13th century, though no one is sure.  What is known is that up to 1,000 people have walked the path and the numbers continue to grow.

What is it that pulls so many people to walk this design?  Does it really have a power all its own?

Many years ago I was at a point in my life where I could not figure out what was my inner self giving me direction, or what were the messages I’d absorbed for years from well-meaning but negative people I was around.  I just wanted to clear my mind and get a feel for what my path should be.  I had heard of a large labyrinth laid out at a church near me, and I decided to try it.  A friend had suggested that before I walk the labyrinth, I say a prayer or meditation of what I hoped to find…what answer I was looking for.  And be sure to enter the design with as clear a mind as possible.

Easier said than done, but I followed her advice.  And it was, for me, an amazing feeling.  As I entered the labyrinth, I felt what I can best describe as a force field…an energy that seemed very real and very strong.  I took my time and let thoughts come and go.  What most impressed me was how just as you think you’re about to reach the center, the labyrinth takes you back out to the outer edges, slowing you down, making you revisit where you have come from, not allowing you to just quickly find that golden egg.

In other words, you can’t get where you going without circling back to where you’ve been. 

I find that to be a huge lesson.  We don’t just come out of the rodeo shoot and never look back.  We make progress, we accomplish things, we lead our lives…but we’re always calling upon where we’ve come from.

Some reject this idea, as they have come from places or environments that were abusive or so negative they never want to look back.  I understand that.  But I think even that pain has something to teach us and if we boomers ignore it, it’s just going to keep popping up and block our forward motion.

dioI also noted how once I reached the center of the labyrinth, I felt peace.  I could just breathe and be for a bit.  (How often do we do that??)  Then as I was ready to leave the center, I once again had to follow a path that picked up speed, then slowed, and again, took me literally full circle…to the outer edges and back.

Maybe this all sounds weird.  But lately, I’m in a place again where my inner self is a bit off-balance, where it is easy to give in to the notion that because I’ve returned to an earlier address, I’ve failed or walked backwards.  Yet my conscious mind knows that’s not the case; I’ve just taken one of those spur trails to see where it will take me.

I’ll still get where I was going, but I will take an unexpected route.  And it might be one that for a while doesn’t feel quite right, like putting on shoes that don’t fit or a sweater that itches.  But if I trust a higher force to get me through the dark parts, then surely there’s a vista at the end of this trail that’s far more beautiful than I could have imagined.

I let go.  I receive.  I give back.  And maybe in the process, I return to who I am so I can be even more.

“Methinks the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”     

       Henry David Thoreau

 

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New Bodies for Boomers

I went to a large hardware/home maintenance store that has lots of aisles and products and stuff…yet now if you want keys made, you walk up to a machine.  Really.  You push buttons and choose designs and get your keys.

Okay.  Kind of sad somehow, but okay.

I got to thinking…after having a weekend of being busy in the yard and other places and wondering why it’s become so hard to get up of the ground and what in the world is going on with my knees….what if we baby boomers could walk up to a vending machine and order new body parts? 

How cool would that be?

Knees creaking?  Hit button 2.  Arms wearing out?  Button 3.  Eyes going?  Hit buttons 4 and 5 (don’t worry, they’re in large print.)  Why would I want to do this?  Well let’s see.

Let’s take a look at the baby boomer’s guide to our bodies.

  • Feet. If you’ve reached 60 and you actually (a) still wear open-toed shoes, (b) do not have to get up in the morning and immediately tape your toes or heels, or (c) can wear high heels or cowboy boots for more than 3 hours without beginning to have pain-induced hallucinations, you are lucky.  Good on you.  For the rest of us, we’d be choosing new feet with no plantar fasciitis or planter plate failure or bad toes or high arches or any other joys of aging.

Imagine…wearing those cute shoes again.  Dancing again.  Sandals.  Sigh.

  • Arms if you raise your arms, do you feel like you have two ornamental flags flying? The joys of aging.  Michelle Obama has the arms we want.  What we generally have falls a bit short, though my personal goal is to go sleeveless and not care.  Not there yet.  But if a machine would let me get them, I’d be all over it.
  • Eyes. Can you read this without sitting across the room?  Have you had cataracts yet?  Do you have a pair of glasses in every room of the house?  Congratulations, you are a boomer.  And you get bonus points if you have ever looked for your glasses for more than 2 hours and they were on your head the whole time.
  • Ears. Want me to speak up? Television loud enough?  Please.  For the sake of those around you, see a physician.  Really, it’s okay.
  • Joints. When did it get so hard to get up out of a chair…and off the floor? It could be added to the Olympics.  It’s not fair.  But it is what it is.   I recently bathed my dog…it was an Olympic event.  Some of you know what I am talking about.
  • Brain. Please put this machine in the nearest gas station as soon as possible. Let’s see, why would we need a new brain?   where are the keys.  Where is the car.  What day is it.  Where did I put that.  Have I paid that bill.  What did she just say?  Did I RSVP for that.  I used to know the words to that.  How old am I…wait, I’ll check….

Okay, it’s too much to hope for.  Meanwhile, we will just keep going with what we have.  And new machines will keep being added to what used to be the old-fashioned hardware store.

Maybe one day.

You never know.

 

“There are no gains without pains.”

      Benjamin Franklin

 

 

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Being Where We Are.

Are you here?

Right now, are you here…or are you somewhere else?

 Maybe you are really back in school, wishing you had made a different choice in what you studied, wondering what career you would have now. 

 Or maybe you see yourself sitting in a car with a boyfriend who has just asked you a very big question.  What if you had answered differently?

 You could be at the beach, at that great vacation you took so many years ago, watching your wife and smallest child romp in the waves, so sure that life held so much promise for you and your family, not knowing the sadness that lie ahead.   

 If you are somewhere else in your mind, you are not here.  It sounds obvious.  Yet we can spend so much of our lives in this mental limbo, which is unfortunate as our lives go quickly enough.

Studies show we spend more than one-half of our waking hours, and one-third of our lives, daydreaming. It can make us more creative.  But it can also churn up a lot of anxiety and regret.

Why did I move there?  Why did I not go on that trip?  What would have happened had I gone to the doctor earlier?  Can I not hit a reset button and take back those awful things I said?

We daydream less as we get older.  This is primarily thought to be because so many daydreams are about what we want to do in the future, and there is simply less of that.  (The flip side is in many cases we have done those things, or at least now have the ability to do them.)

Stress can increase daydreaming.  Sometimes our subconscious uses this to give us solutions to problems that are vexing us.

In itself, daydreaming is not inherently bad for us. But constantly second-guessing ourselves and fretting about whether we made a wrong turn can make us feel lost, scattering our thoughts until we feel like we are unraveling.

 Professor, Director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center, and On Being columnist Omid Safi offers this:

“So much of our lives are spent in a fractured state of heart. We are, too often, scattered. We speak about being scatterbrained. The truth of the matter is that the scatteredness is much more systematic. We are scattered at every level: body, soul, mind, spirit.

We do this to ourselves. We throw ourselves to the past, often clinging to a past pain and trauma. Or, we hurl ourselves towards the future, attaching ourselves to a hope for the future, or fear of losing something. We are in the past, or in the future, everywhere but here.

 To pray with the heart, to have presence in the heart, is a remedy. It is a healing, an un-scattering. Presence is simply to have our heart be where our feet are.”

So much energy spent on things we cannot control.  Things that have already occurred.  Or things that will go the way they should, regardless of what we do.

Wherever we are, it is good because it is where we are.  We have to find some peace with it.

Breathe.

Quiet the mind.

Feel the earth beneath us.

Let the heart rest.

Then, perhaps a new way will open that will take us where we want to go.

Or a door to the past will close that will let us heal.

But it all starts with now.  Right here.

Safi also says:

The inner and the outer are reflected in each other.

When we are internally divided, we will be externally divided.

If we wish to be united as a human community, we have to strive for unity and healing at the heart level.

 We need the prayer of the heart.

By whatever form we pray, we need to become whole.

May it begin one breath at a time.

May it begin with me.

“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment, fully alive, fully aware.”

   Thich Nhat Hanh

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