Taking time for mental health is something often forgotten. While many separate mental and physical health, they are closely linked in my opinion. When something is weighing heavily upon us and we have difficulty dealing with it yet still continue to go about our daily lives, we end up with mental trauma and anguish.
Taking time to ensure we have good mental health is equally as important as making sure our bodies are healthy. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, or anything that is making your quality of life less than ideal, please visit a medical professional. Please do not wait until it goes too far.
If you see a loved one suffering, do not avoid them. Engage them and offer your support. People need to know they are cared for. You might be the one thing that shows them that life is still worth living.
We all, at one point in time or another, have experienced something negative. Something beyond our control that affected us in a less than positive way. Perhaps it was the abrupt end to a relationship or being forced to move out of an apartment before you were ready. Maybe you were released from a job that you were incredibly good at, and still cannot figure out why it happened.
These kinds of things can affect us in a negative way, sometimes leaving us to think that we did something wrong or were responsible for the event, and as such, we take responsibility for the consequences.
But what if we shifted our thinking? What if we reframe those events to see that events can happen independent to us, even though they affect us?
Positive things can happen from negative points in our lives. What if that relationship needed to end in order to see that there was a host of mental and emotional abuse involved, creating a harmful environment to you, but you just couldn’t see it until you were on the outside looking in? What if that apartment that you loved was simply too expensive, but you found a smaller flat closer to work that allowed you to walk there, thereby allowing you to spend less on rent, not have to pay for public transportation, and increased your level of physical activity which not only results in a healthier you, but you also lose those couple of pounds that were troubling you, and you also have extra money in your pocket at the end of the month? Or that job that you loved and were so good at, but you now realize how very toxic that office was that you now, in your new job, feel less stress because there is not the constant talking behind every one’s backs, and your new job has a superior support system where they can see your amazing skills and potential, but not only that, there is also an incredible benefit and pension package that goes along with your new position.
Some say that things happen for a reason. Perhaps that is true. Whether they do or the don’t is beside the point. What we can work with is how we look to these scenarios. We can choose to see the negative, never having closure as to why the people in that office were so hurtful to you and why you never received closure as to why you were let go. But, we can also see that these negative things need to happen so that we can truly and honestly appreciate when something wonderful happens, without taking it for granted, assuming that all things will work out the same way.
Reframing our outlook changes how we view the world. It can make us appreciate the good in our lives, even when there are terrible things happening in our world around us.
This weekend I have had the very fortunate opportunity to spend it with a group of ladies with the same common interest. We have all gathered to learn how to teach meditation.
What interests me about meditation is that while some consider it to be “New Age”, it seems that every culture and religion has some form of meditation; they may just call it something different. Prayer with a rosary, meditation with a Tibetan mala… really, not much difference there.
Mindfulness is a buzz word that has been thrown around lately, but what does it mean to you? Do things with intention. Recognize what it is that you are doing. Mindfulness is being taught in some schools. Being mindful while eating is a tool used for some diet regimes. All forms of meditation.
You can sit to meditate. Lay down to meditate (be careful not to fall asleep, although, that is yet another form…), or walk to meditate. This one is most difficult for me because walking is associated with thinking for me, which is the opposite of meditation.
Nature lends itself to calming and quieting the mind and is a wonderful place to sit and be still. Have you ever tried it? It is blissful. It seems to melt away the stresses of what we do during our daily grind.
In the path of my life, it makes sense that meditation and mindfulness is present. Along with minimalism, where intention of what lives or comes into my space, mindfulness is also present in every decision I make when it comes to consumerism or purging. I become more acutely aware of the disarray in my space and it affects my inner serenity. I wonder, does it affect yours also?
When Gilmore Girls ran from 2000 to 2007, I didn’t pay much attention to the show. At that particular point in my life, I couldn’t relate. I was still married at that point and working overtime consistently. Then had my sons, and I still could not relate because I had sons, not a daughter; I had a husband, although it often felt like I was parenting and running the household all alone.
I have watched the series a couple of times since my divorce. I find that I can now relate to the characters much more now than I could when it first came out. There are a few aspects of the show that I find appealing.
I have five reasons outlined here:
I like that Lorelai is a strong, independent single mother. She stands up for herself and her daughter. She does not back down when she feels that she is justified. I like this tenacity, and it gives me strength when I don’t feel like I have the fight left in me any longer.
I appreciate that Lorelai can be alone comfortably, but that she is not bitter towards men, and still has the hope that somewhere out there, she will find the right one. That goes without saying that the right one was before her the whole time, but she needed to figure that out for herself, and she did. Sometimes we all need that opportunity to find things out in our own way instead of being told by someone else.
I admire that she has been successful in her own right. She worked her way up to managing the Independence Inn, worked herself through college, then embarked upon an entrepreneurial venture with her best friend, Sookie. This shows tenacity in character, one that I hope I can also demonstrate. I know this is a make believe story, and that many do not work this way in real life, but sometimes we need to believe the story to give us the courage to carry forward.
I acknowledge that the story shows conflict between Lorelai and her parents. This is realistic as we all have some sort of conflict to contend with. It may not be to the extreme that this make-believe family endures, but it is symbolic nonetheless.
I adore the bonding between Lorelai and her daughter, Rory. This is incredibly important to me as I hope that as my sons continue to grow and develop, that we will also have a bond as strong as the one portrayed between Lorelai and Rory.
When I need motivation to carry forward with the things that are weighing me down in my real life, I find that this show gives me courage to continue on. I gain strength from the idea that I am not alone in the world of single parenting. I recognize that I should not close the doors to potential romantic relationships, but at the same time, continue on as I would without the thought of needing a partner. Every time I watch an episode, it provides me with a little something that I am in need of, and for that I am grateful.
What does it mean to live a meaningful life? Does it mean success in respect to financial gain? Success in a career? A happy family?
Perhaps the definition is different for everyone. We are all driven by different desires and needs. Some feel the need to have a prominent career and work long hours. This may give a sense of fulfillment to that individual, and if it does, that is great. None of us are made the same.
Growing up, we are conditioned from an early age to think about what we want to be when we grow up. How you will make your living is supposed to be the biggest part of being an adult, and we tend to get lost in this concept. We are defined by our jobs. By our titles. When we meet new people, that is inevitably one question that comes up early in the conversation…so, what do you do…and of course we rattle off what we do to make ends meet.
But we are so much more than that. We are not just our jobs. What is it that you will reflect back on and see that your life had meaning? Will you look back and say wow, I made a lot of money and be happy with that? Or will you say wow, I made a lot of money, but I never had time with my loved ones or to do the things I had always wanted to do?
Millenials coming into the workforce have the idea that their time off is equally as important as the time they spend at work. They appear to value their personal time more than GenXers do. At least here in North America…Europeans have had a different philosophy for many years, one to be admired I believe.
A meaningful life to me means that I have left this world better than I found it. That I have touched the lives and hearts of others in even a small way. I find that I can do that in my career, but I also spend my personal time to do more of that. I enjoy my family time and give myself to my children with all my heart. I enjoy my time with my friends, and do what I can to make their happiness a priority too; because when they are happy, so am I. I volunteer. I have my own groups that I belong to that bring me joy as well.
I don’t want to feel that I have spent all my time at work without putting in at least equal the effort to make the rest of my life matter as well. How do you make your life meaningful? Is there something special that you do? Please comment if you would like to share.
Clearing physical clutter is important. It is important not just because it cleans the space you live in, but it cleans your mental space too. Having stuff linger in your space affects many aspects of your life, whether you realize it or not. It hangs over your head. It’s one of those things that you think you will get to…eventually. But when is that? When does eventually come?
I had a garage full of waste. I had a deck that needed work, and the debris ended up in my garage. I didn’t think it through, I just knew that the deck needed to be fixed, and I would deal with the debris after the fact. It was hidden in the garage, right where I should have been parking. But for over two years, that clutter invaded my space and was constantly on my mind. Not only that, I also had debris from some minor renovations I had done inside my home from up to four years ago. It was sitting in my workroom in the basement and sitting on my mind, knowing full well that I needed to manage it at some point.
On an unrelated topic, but still relatable, I have a fantastic friend who pushes me to do things from time to time, in the best possible way. He also needed to remove clutter, so we made a plan. Yesterday, we were able to clear all that debris away for both of us. We both have a clear space and that opens up mental space also. I am able to park in my garage once again, and I have the ability to free up some of that mental space all that debris was taking up for something much better.
Sometimes we do not realize how much space and energy that physical clutter takes up in all facets of our lives. If you consider one simple thing: I had two winters of not being able to park in my garage. That means two winters of wondering how much snow we received overnight, and expending energy to clear snow off my vehicle in order to get to work in the mornings. Had I taken the time to remove that mess when it first was created, I could have spent those five to ten minutes every morning in a more relaxed way.
Clutter is a burden in many ways. This long weekend is a perfect opportunity to tackle some of those burdens. I have taken care of what was burdening me so that I can now appreciate the fruits of my labour. I hope you can do the same.
Vacations are wonderful. You plan and prepare for the trip, decide which sights you want to see and when. You plan every day to be a full as possible so you can fit everything in to your limited time, because if you don’t, you won’t have a chance to do all the things you wanted to do.
But during that vacation away, did you think to take a day to just relax? Maybe sleep in a little, or spend a lazy day exploring the forests or the beaches?
These vacation days create a lot of memories too. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe they create more memories than running from the art gallery to the science centre then to the zoo…you get the idea.
We did all of the planning. I had every day scheduled with where to go and what to see. In the end, what my children wanted to do won out. We peeled away one activity for another. We didn’t do all the things we had planned. We spent way more time sitting on the beach watching sunsets and looking for crabs instead of going to the sights that we had on the schedule. We took a morning and strolled through a forest and created a fairy home at the base of a giant redwood tree.
We created memories.
Yes, we did a lot of the scheduled stuff and hit the highlights. But in retrospect, the highlights really were about exploring nature that was new to them. About seeing the glimmer in their eyes as they discovered something they had never seen before. It was about their pure excitement and joy the first time they dipped their toes in the salty ocean water.
These are the things that will create the memories that they will remember for a lifetime.
It’s easy in life to get into a routine and keep within that place of ease, where you know exactly what to expect. You can anticipate situations and outcomes and be prepared for them. But what happens when the rug gets pulled out from underneath you? When life changes suddenly?
Anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows that this has happened to me. Divorce is a rug being ripped out from underneath you and then falling through a hole in the floor under that rug.
There is a lesson here that I have learned, and continues to be reinforced often. Life is more exciting and interesting (but sometimes frustrating) when you live outside that comfortable life. Five years ago, I would not have done what I have done today.
Living outside my comfort zone has helped me to grow as an individual. It has helped me discover my independence and has even created an urge within me to continue to do things I would not have considered before.
Don’t let life pass you by, wishing you had done things.
Do the things. Live. Enjoy. Life outside your bubble is going to give you greater satisfaction, and perhaps you too will discover a little something about yourself that you never knew either.
Summer days are meant for doing a certain amount of nothing. It rarely seems the case these days, as I watch my friends and their children rushing to summer hockey camps, day camps, intensive swimming lessons, and a plethora of other activities to fill their summer days.
What happened to just having nothing to do? To the days of going to the park and playing, or reading? What happened to just being a kid?
This isn’t a popular perspective where I live, and I would wager it isn’t where you live either. These days, everyone needs to be scheduled to the hilt, because if you aren’t busy, you are wasting your time, right?
There is so much benefit in just allowing yourself time to be. Time to sit and just watch the day go by is so mentally therapeutic! Being busy does not equal being productive. This is something I have learned after years of having too much going on in my life. There is still too much going on, but I am still a work in progress too. I am officially on holidays for two weeks, and while my time clock may be stalled, work wise, my actions have not. I still have lists of things I wish to accomplish during my time off, but I know full well that there are too many lists and too little time. Where do I fit in time for me?
It’s ok to let the dust settle in the corners once in a while, or for the dishes to wait until morning. We all need to recharge our batteries once in a while so that we can function optimally. Don’t forget to take time out to relax and do nothing. There is so much value in just being.
It is important to me to remember that we all have our own journey that we must travel, but along the way, we have companions that enter and exit our lives. Their stay may be long or it may be brief. It helps me to think about the philosophy of a reason, a season, or a lifetime. We all have people who, when they left our lives, hurt us in some way. Others may have passed by quietly, perhaps relatively unknown, yet there is something to be learned from each and every one of them.
There are those who are there for a lifetime. These may be your siblings, parents, best friends, or even a romantic partner. These people are meant to be in your life long term. They can teach you many lessons, just as you can also teach them. These people grow with you, and they can be some of the most fulfilling relationships you will have.
There are the seasons as well. People who are there for as long as you need them, or as long as they need you. Once that passes, ways are parted and each goes along their journey separately. These types of relationships may end on happy notes, or perhaps not. Perhaps it was the first relationship after a divorce, where it taught you that you can move on and learn to love again. Perhaps it was a teacher that you had in school who taught lessons beyond the curriculum about life in general.
Those who are there for a reason may be simple or complex. Perhaps you are a service provider, and once the service is rendered, the individual goes on their way, perhaps never to cross paths again. But there are also other relationships that the reason keeps you connected with them for longer. These reasons are usually lessons to be learned, and the longer it takes to learn the lesson, the longer that person is connected to you. One of the lessons I had learned was to treat everyone with compassion for we do not know what happens in their personal lives. This comes from my experience of hiding things for over two decades. The realization that if I can hide many things from those around me on a daily basis, then it is also easy for others to hide similar, or even worse things too. We do not know all the intricacies that make a person behave how they do. Compassion is key. It took me longer to learn that lesson than expected, but along with that one, there were many other very valuable lessons that came from that twenty year reason. I use that example often as I consider how to manage my interactions with others. I believe that my compassion and empathy for others are directly relatable to the lesson I learned over those many years.
When you have someone who has exited your life perhaps unexpectedly, consider what purpose they had for you. What lesson was being taught to you for them to be there? What lesson did you learn after they were gone? Can you take that lesson and apply it to your life to make your life a more positive influence on those around you? Can you make someone else’s life a little bit better? Because to me, that is what this life is about…being a positive influence on the world around us.