The Road Ahead

Did you ever sit and ask yourself “What next?”  It is often a scary and very difficult question to answer.  As I am nearing my retirement from teaching (the next few years), I often spend time contemplating what I will do next.  I try to get a realistic idea of life as a retired person when we have our extended week vacations, but know that this is not a true view as we often try to squeeze everything in that has to get done into a short time period.  So what if your time is unlimited?  What if it doesn’t matter if you do it today or tomorrow or next week?  How do you stay focused and live life to the fullest?

Big questions like these need real thought and exploration. I often try to picture my life on a daily basis and when I put the activities in each day, I know that it will take motivation, energy and consistency to help achieve a healthy, fulfilled retirement. Having a plan and sticking to it is so important to avoid being home in retirement and saying “what now?”.

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Do I see myself sitting on a beach, volunteering in the community or getting a part time job?  Perhaps for some of the time.  Do I see myself going to the gym every single day instead of trying to squeeze it in after a long day of working with children?  These are all visions that focus me to decide what I want to do next.  Mapping out a typical day in my mind makes it more of a realistic goal.

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I have many friends that have retired and their advice is to plan ahead.  Write a list of all the things you want to do, places you want to go and imagine your typical day.  Think about what you wanted to do in your life that you didn’t because it wouldn’t pay the bills.  Now that you have planned for your retirement and have a good idea of the money coming in and going out every month, what is it that you want to really do to feel complete in your life?

As I ponder and plan for this upcoming change in my life in the next few years, I am always making lists in my mind, in my phone and even in my plan book.  Always reading, I am always making note of something that catches my eye that I want to look into at a later date.  Just this weekend I wrote down two courses at my local BOCES that I may be interested in taking — maybe some computer based learning (programs I am not fluent in) and a cooking class  (a type of food I would like to try to cook but never had time with a work schedule) and maybe a new language

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What is on your bucket list?  If someone told you that you can do anything for one year, no questions asked, what would be on your list?  My list includes going to Italy and Greece, traveling within the U.S. to places like Arizona, Tennessee and South Carolina, and at home minimizing collections that are taking up space and organizing my living space.  These are just a few items from my list.  No matter how old you are, you should always write down your dreams and goals.  That makes them more attainable.

Most importantly I look forward to being more mindful of activities I am pursuing as I will be rushing around less and taking in all that I dreamed of doing since working.   So what is it that you think about every day when you are working? What would you rather be doing?  Start keeping track of your thoughts, save them for the future and you will always be busy in your retirement.  Happy dreaming!

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The Simplicity of Eating

I recently had some sinus and dental surgery that left me having difficulty eating even the softest of foods for many days. The first day should not count at all since all I consumed was jello and protein shakes.

We take so much for granted when we just eat whatever we want. So I’m told I can eat soup but it has to be room temperature. An interesting concept. So you heat up your soup and then have to make it cool down. And the soup can’t have any crunchy components, so soup of choice would be cream soups or broths. My personal preference on these days was Cream of Broccoli and Lobster Bisque.

Even though I always try to eat healthy I was eager to add puddings and cheesecake to my eating. I just figured that before long I will be back to eating those salads for lunch. So I am going to enjoy this pudding while I can. So many to choose from–chocolate, vanilla and chocolate mixed, rice pudding, tapioca and flan.

Well after a few days I tried hard to stick with my healthy diet. My vitamins came back into my daily routine and I tried to plan each meal with more care and thinking of course about limited chewing capability. So dinner plans revolved around salmon and sweet potato, served at room temperature of course.

I am now figuring that I have to continue this type of eating for a little more of a week. So my meal plan expands to include overnight oats with peanut butter protein powder and cinnamon for breakfast. Lunch is still a kind of soup or muffin, no nuts of course. As I start to consider dinner I decide to have good old Mac and Cheese– something I never eat anymore but love, love, love. So I just have to have it because you know I don’t have many choices now (just can eat so much soup and eggs) so I will take the plunge. I make myself the creamiest mac and cheese I can find and eat it very, very slowly. I know this is probably one of the last times I will eat this I will enjoy every morsel.

I have to confess that after eating this I felt full, bloated and sorry. My body is not used to eating like this anymore and I felt uncomfortable for hours. Yes, I did enjoy it but I reassured myself that I gave up these kinds of foods for a reason.

My goal is to get back on track to my healthy eating as soon as possible. In recovery I have missed the gym the most and hope to go back in the next few days. I can say that we all need to binge every once in awhile but make it our business to get back on track to take care of our bodies with the food we eat. Remember, we are not eating only for the enjoyment but to make our bodies healthy, strong and lively. Of course, enjoyment is necessary whenever possible. That is why I always try new recipes with my new air fryer and InstaPot. I hope to share some of those with you soon. In the meantime, I will stick to my soft foods for a few more days while making better choices.

Happy Eating!!

Meditation and Yoga

Practicing mindfulness meditation involves directing your complete attention to sights, sounds, smells, sensations and thoughts.  Concentrate on senses that you do not notice on a daily basis.  Paying attention to your breathing in meditation helps you focus your attention  instead of letting your mind take over and control you.

 

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Breathing is essential to successful meditation.  Sit comfortably in a chair or lie down.  You can also stand in a controlled position.  Close your eyes when you first start this process so you can concentrate.  Observe and feel the rise and fall of your abdomen and notice the inhale and exhale at a slower rate.  Make note of your sensations as you inhale and exhale.  Feel your diaphragm expand with each inhalation and deflate with each exhalation.  At first, it is natural for your attention to wander off and this may happen often during the first few attempts at this.

 

 

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When first starting on this mindfulness meditation journey, tune in to your breath at random times of the day and observe your abdomen rising and falling through three or four breath cycles.  Pay extra attention to your thoughts and bodily sensations.

During times of stress, visualization meditation may help relieve anxiety.  Think of your mind as a large body of water.  Imagine riding waves of stressful thoughts and then allowing them to flow away from you.  Allow them to flow away without dwelling on them. Constant conscious deliberation and acceptance of stressful events helps your mind open up to new opportunities.  You will begin to notice the change in yourself as you continue to practice meditation and move away from the feelings of self-pity, jealousy, anger or sadness.  Mindfulness helps us achieve more contentment with our lives.  We accept consequences and explore opportunities instead of being in denial.

By meditating just 15 minutes a day you will see a change in the way you focus on the world around you.  You may see a change in your level of patience and take your day more slowly and comfortably.  This will help you to continue to become less stressed in your daily life.  When feeling successful and letting your mind go, you will take this to other areas of your life.  If you are in a meeting at work instead of getting stressed about an impending deadline you may instead decide to take some deep breaths and plan a step by step solution so that you are not anxiety ridden.

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Also, this may bring about a complete change in your workout routine.  Meditation and mindfulness practice will make you more aware of your workouts.  You will notice more concentration in your Pilates or Yoga classes and less thoughts of the outside world stresses during your every day workouts.  This will make your workouts even more beneficial, not just physically but also improving your emotional well-being.

 

 

 

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I hope that these suggestions have been helpful and that you will find solutions in some mindfulness meditation practices and your everyday fitness and wellness goals.  I would love to hear some of your stories……

Taking the U Out of Stress for 2019

If you are like me, the last few days of the year are spent organizing, cleaning and planning for a new year that will be better than the last.  All of us come to New Year’s with a new hope, dreams of a more successful and peaceful year and we make lists of what we want to accomplish.

So instead of stating my resolutions, my hopes and dreams, and promises for 2019, I have decided to make a list of what I am going to do to have less stress in my life.  Namely, let’s take the U out of stress for 2019.

1. Plan A Time Out for Every Day

Whether it is first thing in the morning or after dinner cleanup at night (whatever time works better for you), plan on spending 5 to 10 minutes with no thoughts in your mind.  Sit  quietly and remove any technology within your reach.  Close your eyes and breath deeply and slowly.  When you exhale, let all the stress of the day just leave your body and give you a new feeling of calm and relaxation.  This may take awhile to perfect but it’s one day at a time and we can only work to make our lives better just one day at a time.

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2. Learn How to Say NO

Practice saying No over and over again…no, no, no , no….until it becomes an acceptable word coming out of your mouth with no regrets.  I am not telling you to say “no” all the time but rather when you don’t want to do something or you don’t have time to help or go somewhere, say it loud and clear:  NO!!!! You can, of course, say “Although I wish I could I have to say No because……”  Practice with minor requests.  Try not to over obligate yourself this year.  Spend  quality time with family and friends without doing three different things in one day!!

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3. Play Your Music Loud

Whether you have Amazon Music, Alexa Echo or Google Home, do not hesitate to request a feel good song when you are in the mood or a very traditional soul-searching tune when you are thinking about chores, jobs and commitments.  Let music become more a part of your life.  We often talk about all the music we love and often we do not listen to it as often as we should.  Music can change a blah mood to a dancing, happy feeling.  Perhaps there are certain times of the day where you need an uplift or boost.  Or maybe just to sing while you are cooking.  While doing menial tasks like cleaning, cooking or paying bills, add some of your favorite tunes to ease you through.

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4.  Sip slowly

At the end of the day or in the middle of a work at home project, make yourself a cup of chamomile tea or hot chocolate.  When relaxing after a long day at work pour yourself a crisp Merlot or fruity Malbec to take some tension away.  Sit there sipping and just release all of the anxiety of the day.  Sip while making dinner.  Sip while in the bathtub.  Sip while on the phone with an old friend.  Sipping slowly adds to destressing that we all need.  Once the holidays pass us and we are back on our routines, we often need to remind ourselves that we need to recharge our batteries and just relax.  And yes, sometimes the calories are fine.

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5. Work It Out

Whether you enjoy a Zumba class, some yoga or Pilates or simply walking the treadmill, moving your body releases stress buildup.  We often need to push ourselves after a long day of work to go to the gym or meet a friend at an exercise class, but once you get there you will reap many benefits.  Your heart will be pumping, you will burn calories and stress will leave your body.  The hardest part is always getting there but once done we feel rejuvenated and feel like anything can be accomplished.  Working out builds self-esteem and heart health, as well as add to our emotional well-being.  So no more excuses this year.

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6. Talk to A Friend

At the end of the day your spirits can be lifted just by chatting with a friend and catching up on life besides work.  You get to re-establish your connection to each other and also realize that the rest of the world has the same kind of day that you do. Hearing that familiar, non-judgmental voice at the end of the phone boosts your ego and spirit.  This is a refreshing end to a long, hard day.  Often, we get so busy and make excuses to not be connected.  Make it a priority this year!!

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7. Remind Yourself How Important You Are

Every day when getting ready for work, go over the day in your mind and remind yourself why you are important part of this day and what you want to accomplish.  Remind yourself of your qualifications, your dreams and what you see yourself doing a year from now.  Smile at your reflection in the mirror and then you will smile at whoever you run into during the course of a day.  Forget that it’s Monday.  It’s just another day to be grateful for and live to the fullest.

So many of us will go on and on with resolutions but think about you this year.  Less stress, more devotion to important parts of your life, and more dedication to taking care of you this year.  I wish all of you a Happy and Healthy 2019.  May you find your inner strength to grow this year and to appreciate yourself and all that you are grateful for.

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Me First – Elaine Gallagher

The Unsanity

We are so accustomed to doing things for others without a second thought, but when it comes to ourselves we just keep putting it off.  That was me my whole life until I started to feel walls closing in and realizing I needed to make some positive changes.  I had gained weight, stopped exercising and had gotten into some unhealthy habits.

So I decided to change.  First of all, I started a new healthy eating regimen, after my doctor told me I needed to even though I was on cholesterol meds, because of my family history of heart problems, I decided to listen to his advice.  This coupled with the fact that my daughter was getting married and I wanted to look and feel beautiful that day.  So my new journey began….

First, I started cleaning my eating completely.  No more junk or processed foods.  It meant more planning of…

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Classic Rock Mornings

Classic-Rock-Mornings-Koral-Dawn (1)

Hello everyone! I’m Koral Dawn, a social media manager and marketing professional from Washington, USA. No, not Washington, DC; the other Washington on the west coast by California! You can find my blog here. But if you prefer to find me elsewhere, my Instagram is where I spend most of my time: @willowedawn

I’ve been recently going through some rough times with depression and anxiety after being laid off from my job that I moved 2800 miles away from home for. I had less than 24 hours’ notice that I didn’t have a job, and my manager didn’t even know until I did, about 10 minutes before. I think you’d be a little off if you were in my situation as well. Things could be worse… we all say that. 

To make this story even more unfortunate, the following day, we were supposed to have our inspection of our new home that we had put an offer in on and actually won. We had to back out of everything. No more house, no more mortgage approval, almost lost our earnest money we had put down because we really wanted that home… nothing. Everything was gone, and we had to make a decision to stop the home buying because we didn’t know where we were going to be in a week, let alone 3 months. 

Most days we spent it in bed after this happened. Laying there. Tired, unable to move. No motivation to really get up and do anything for a good solid 2 weeks. We didn’t know what to do. We had a planned vacation back home to PA coming up in 3 weeks, and no one was going to want to hire us if we were leaving for almost 2 weeks to spend with family. We were going to have to wait until we came back from that to really start the hunt for jobs. At that point, I was the most miserable person of myself that I have ever been.

Fast forward to now, I have not landed a job yet with an employer, however, my fiancé has. He finally got a call for a job interview and is now selling cars at the Ford dealer a few towns over and is so far winning at it. So the good news is we can stay in WA for now… and hopefully buy a home next year instead. It’s a little more complicated since we’ll be married by then but that’s okay – we’ll work it out! 

So, what I’ve done is compiled a playlist that helps me wake up on Sunday mornings when I’ve had a rough week or even just a rough day: Classic Rock all the way! Now, I wasn’t born in the 70’s or 80’s but my mom lived through it, and this is the music I grew up listening to day in and day out and it reminds me of the good old days with no worries, no responsibilities and no problems to care about except what to wear to school the next day. (Don’t we all wish that could be the main problem in our lives now? Adulting sucks.) I hope you enjoy it and can find some relaxation/good memories in the songs as well. 

For those of you that have Apple Music – I’ve made my playlist shareable so you can download to your iPhone and listen along with me Sunday Mornings. Find it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/sunday-morning-classic-rock/pl.u-2aoqq0eUVppqNV

 

 

1. Travelin’ Man – Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
2. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
3. Slow Ride – Foghat
4. Riders on The Storm – The Doors
5. Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
6. Crazy Love – Van Morrison
7. Peaceful Easy Feeling – The Eagles
8. My Home Town – Bruce Springsteen
9. Jack and Diane – John Mellancamp
10. Rocky Mountain Way – Joe Walsh
11. Lay Down Sally – Eric Clapton
12. I’m Alright – Kenny Loggins
13. You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon
14. This Is the Day – The The
15. Paradise by The Dashboard Light – Meatloaf
16. Here Comes My Girl – Tom Petty
17. Long May You Run – The Stills-Young Band
18. For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield