Breath. Listen to your own breath… let it be like the sound of ocean waves… coming in… going out.
Move the tip of your tongue to the beginning of the soft pallet…breath in through your nose and let the air flow directly into the lungs…pull the air deep into the lungs by pushing out the abdomen and expanding the lower part of the rib cage…then release the abdomen and allow the air to naturally flow out …do not force it out, just let it go without effort. Hold for a count of 2, 3 or 4 then push out the abdomen again and draw in another breath into the bottom of the lungs where the richest supply of capillaries can perform their gas exchange through a single file of amazing red blood cells.
Give your stress and acidity to the trees and the grass and the flowers that need it as much as you need the oxygen they are releasing to you. Let your thoughts leave the past and the future…allow your thoughts to notice the present…for a few moments let yourself become one with the universe. Embrace quiet patience and allow the chemical reactions to take place in your body this very moment. Give them time and you will experience the neutralizing effects.
Become aware that the physical elements that make-up the universe are the elements that make-up your physical being. All of the molecules of the universe know where they want to be. At this moment you are exactly where you are supposed to be…doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing. Let the muscles of your face relax…release your shoulders…release the tension in your arms…your hands…your fingers. Let the tiny core muscles between each vertebrae contract and bring you into neutral spine.
For a few moments take the job of holding yourself up, away from your face, your jaw, your neck, your shoulders, your arms, your hands…wiggle your fingers and feel the tension you are holding escape into the universe that needs it. Wiggle any tense joint and let go of its tightness…release the acidity and allow the ocean rhythms of breath to remind you that the birds fly and follow the seasons without worry or contemplation ...they are a creature…you are a creature.
Let positive words come into your mind…do not associate them with anything …just allow the words to drift through your thoughts…acceptance, forgiveness, peace, tenderness, release, love, beauty, gentleness, softness, peace. Let your mind be quiet for a while until you are ready to say …I’m prepared, I’m ready, I can do this…I’m ready …not for the future, but for this day, for this hour, for this minute…I’m ready…Only when you are ready release your last breath and open your eyes if they are closed…You are ready.
Half of 9- and 10-year-old girls say they feel better about themselves if they are on a diet, and 81 percent of them are afraid of being fat. And this body image issue does not get better as we get older. The average woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds, yet many wish they looked like the average model, who is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 117 pounds.
It seems that many women are permanently unsatisfied with themselves. 50 percent of all women are on a diet at any given time, and 90 percent of teenagers diet regularly. It is estimated that between 15 and 25 percent of women struggle from disordered eating.
We try so hard to mold ourselves into some image we hold in our imaginations. But wanting to reshape ourselves stems from feelings of dissatisfaction, shame and negativity, so is it any wonder that all our diets leave us feeling miserable? An unhealthy ideal sets us up for pain, and discontent nurtures self-loathing rather than positivity and change. Shame may spur us into action, but it cannot enact lasting transformation.
Rather, what we need to transform is our attitude toward ourselves. We do not have to accept all aspects of our bodies and health forever, but we do have to love ourselves. When we learn to nurture our bodies and emotions, we learn to view ourselves with love and acceptance.
When we cultivate positive self-talk, reach for healthy goals rather than restrictive ideals, and view ourselves with love rather than with hate, we feel good. We begin a routine of healthy action toward ourselves. Thoughts of love and care means that we turn to healthy foods that make us feel good and begin the first steps to nourishing our bodies and minds correctly and without deprivation.
There is no need to crush our bodies into a mold someone else fitted for us. We are all unique and different, and there is much happiness to be had in learning to appreciate the infinite facets and capabilities of our unique form.
With love and acceptance comes positive, lasting change that is easy to continue. Which aspects of your lifestyle could stand to change for the better? What could you learn to accept? What habits could be modified for a healthier, better cared-for you?
Life Is Not A Dress Rehearsal
Have you ever experienced an “ah ha” moment in your life? One of those moments when all things in the universe suddenly make sense? I had one such moment when I turned forty. I started to look at my life in a way I hadn’t in the past. I suddenly realized that a large portion of my life was behind me, and it was very, very important how I spent the next forty years. I started to honestly evaluate every area of my life, relationships, finances, education and many other areas. I didn’t get far into the process before I realized that over time, I had developed a very bad habit. I had formed the habit of putting off until tomorrow what I could have enjoyed today.
I had never considered this a particularly bad thing. I was attempting to be wise and forgo immediate gratification for a potentially better outcome later. The problem, I realized is that “later” didn’t come in some areas of my life, and I had missed out on so many opportunities to do things I would have enjoyed.
Life has a way of slipping by. Days turn in to weeks, months and years. Before we know it, we are looking back wondering where it all went. I have realized something very profound, yet incredibly simple. Life is not a dress rehearsal. It is the stage that we live upon. We only get one performance, and our time will pass. How sad if we spend our entire lives putting off until tomorrow what we could enjoy today.
Today, make the time to enjoy some small thing that you may have passed up yesterday. Something as simple as drinking your coffee on the deck while listening to the birds sing may fill your heart with joy. Take the time to take a deep cleansing breath in, and just be thankful for life itself. Laugh more. Dance in the kitchen with your loved ones. Tickle your children. Play, even though you’re all grown up.
When you wake up tomorrow morning and your feet touch the floor, remember that you are trading a day of this precious thing called life for whatever you fill your day with. Make it worth the trade. Life is not a dress rehearsal!
Parks and Recreation
In a world centered in technology, it is difficult to find reasons to pry ourselves away from the television or computer. Facebook has become the tire swing tied to a tree of the newest generation. We have become engrossed in video games and our smart phones and forgot about the world around us. I must admit, I’m guilty of falling into the charm technology has. It takes a great strength to turn off Ellen DeGeneres! However, I feel the sunshine on my face as it comes through the window and I remember how much I truly love being outdoors.
One of my favorite things to do is to grab a friend, football or Frisbee (or both!), a book and a blanket, and go to a nearby park. I could spend hours and hours simply passing a football or Frisbee and reading a good book while lying on a blanket. During those moments, I feel nothing but pure bliss. One of the unique aspects about going to a park is the atmosphere. Everyone seems just as happy as I am. Even if I am not in a particularly positive mood, it is impossible not to get swept up by the positive energy. It is impossible not to look around at everyone else smiling and laughing and not do the same.
One reason everyone might seem so happy at the park is the sunshine itself. Studies have found links between sunshine and happiness and have concluded that sunshine raises serotonin (a natural anti-depressant) levels in the body. A specific study found a direct link of higher serotonin levels to longer duration of sunlight on any given day. All you have to do to feel a little happier in any given moment is step outside and enjoy the sunlight! So step outside, everyone! Soak up that vitamin D, smile, and know that for this moment in your life, you are a little happier than the moment before.
When eating at a restaurant, people often order salads in an attempt to choose something healthy. Salads are an excellent way to increase fruit and vegetable intake, but are they always the healthiest option? Many restaurants offer salads that are loaded with excess calories, saturated fat, and sodium. Be aware of calorie dense items such as shredded cheese (1/4 cup =100 calories), pecan halves (10 = 85 calories), oil (1 tbsp = 120 calories), and craisins (1/3 cup = 140 calories). If you are not careful, a salad can easily become the highest calorie item on the menu! Follow these tips from eatright.org to keep your salads healthy:
- Stick to lean protein like grilled chicken or tuna in salads, instead of fried chicken, bacon, or shrimp.
- Order salad dressing on the side to cut down on calories and avoid excess dressing.
- Allow one "high-calorie" topping like cheese, nuts, or noodles; because adding all of them will rack up calories and fat.
- Ask for extra vegetables and replace iceberg lettuce with romaine, spinach, or arugula.
Below are a few salads that you may want to think twice before ordering as your healthy entree.
First, let me share with you that I grew up in a small town just north of Boston, in Massachusetts. I moved to Tennessee eight years ago. Boy, was I in for a culture shock! It took a lot of getting used to, but I have come to really love Tennessee. One thing I noticed is that most kids in Tennessee do not grow up on Fluffernutter sandwiches.
Every day when I was a kid my mom packed a Fluffernutter sandwich in my lunch. Apparently it is now called “marshmallow cream”. I guess we could compare it to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. First you spread marshmallow Fluff on one piece of white bread and peanut butter on another piece of bread. Slap them together and voila! A traditional Fluffernutter sandwich!
Almost every kid in school at lunchtime was marked with the marshmallow fluff face. It's nearly impossible for a child to wipe off with a simple napkin. Fluff sandwich mustaches require wet wipes! The gooey sticky white fluff oozes out of the sandwich with every bite and sticks to each child’s face like glue.
I must say that at any given moment there are always two or three tubs of the deliciously sticky marshmallow cream sitting in my cabinet. I will admit to indulging in a few savory nostalgic spoonfuls of fluff on an “as needed” basis. I guess we could call it my way of self-medicating! A home-sick remedy. Brings me back to my New England roots! We also use spoonfuls of fluff in hot chocolate on cold wintery days.
Fluff was created on May 14th 1920 in Lynn Massachusetts by H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower, both veterans of the United States Infantry in World War I. Since its invention, it has continued to be a New England staple. Fluff isn’t just for sandwiches! Other Fluff recipes include: candies, frosting, fudge, cookies, sauces, shakes, salads and side dishes. These recipes can be found on the official fluff website at www.marshmallowfluff.com
Willful or Willing
How would you describe yourself? If you were asked, would you describe yourself as a person who is helpful, generous, and willing to help others? Or, would you have to honestly describe yourself as someone who looks out for #1? Are you willful and stubborn in your dealings with others?
Questions like those above should make us pause and examine our hearts. “Am I willful or am I willing?” Willing hearts are those who take the time to consider the needs of others. They think of themselves as a part of a group or team and understand that they are not islands unto themselves. They value the opinions and feedback of others. They are willing to reach out to be of assistance to those around them. They look at how their individual behaviors can move the group or team closer toward their goals.
Willful hearts are often arrogant. They seek their own individual gain without regard to what is best for those around them. They assign little value to the thoughts or opinions of others, and do not usually accept the feedback offered to them. Willful hearts can make working as a group or team almost impossible.
The truth is, we all have a bit of willfulness and willingness within us. We sometimes swing from one side to the other. Our goal should be to be conscious of the motivations of our hearts. Are we behaving the way we are because we are being willful? If we are, we should examine ourselves and make the necessary effort to choose to become willing hearts instead. Being a willing heart may take extra awareness and effort, but it leads to a life full of beauty and relationships that are based on a sense of giving and love.
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘change’? Does it bring to the surface feelings of anxiety and worry? Or, does it bring feelings of excitement and exhilaration? One of the certainties of life is change. We all experience change throughout our lives. This change may come in the form of a new job, a new baby, or the ending of a significant relationship. Change almost always brings stress with it. Even changes that are viewed as happy and wanted are still quiet stressful at times.
Sometimes when we anticipate change, we find ourselves consumed with “what if” thinking. “What if” this change doesn’t go the way I’d like or how I’ve planned? “What if” I am unhappy with the change? There is nothing wrong with thinking through the possibilities of what an anticipated change may bring, but if the “what if’s” cause you to avoid the change; you may be over thinking a bit.
Consider this. Where would you be today if you had not experienced multiple changes in your life to get you to the place you are today? Would you be in the relationship you are in today? Would you be at the job you are at today?
Change is not our enemy. It is often the catalyst that forces us in the direction we are intended to go. Instead of avoiding change, why not view it as an opportunity to learn and grow? Life is full of changes. It is our choice whether we will view them as positive or negative.
Our goal should be to live in and experience the moments of our lives. If one door closes, choose to look for the open window that will inevitably be there waiting. If we try we can begin to see change for what it is, an opportunity to experience something new.
For the Love of Music
There have been many studies that prove how music has a wonderful and transformative effect our mood, alleviates stress, and improves our health. Some of these health benefits include decreased blood pressure, ease of muscle tension, a boost in immunity and fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Personally, I am drawn to listening to classical piano music in order to help myself relax. When listening to classical piano, I find myself so engrossed and fascinated by the melodies and harmonies that I very easily forget about my daily burdens and stresses. Often times I even fall asleep! However, this is not to say that any music that soothes the soul cannot be relaxing for someone. Many people find it difficult to connect to classical music because of the lack of lyrics. The next time you have a challenge in your life, I encourage you to take a couple minutes (if possible) to stop, listen and connect to your most beloved songs, then return to your challenge with a hopefully now clearer mind.
My suggested playlist for relaxation:
- Sergi Rachmaninov-Op. 23, No. 4 Andante Cantabile in D Major
- Frederic Chopin-Nocturne In E Flat Major, Op.9 No.2
- Franz Schubert–Moment Musicaux #6
- Claude Debussy–First Arabesque
- Johannes Brahms-Intermezzo No. 1 in E-Flat Major
- Ludwig van Beethoven-Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73
The Rewards of Nursing
Nursing is often a thankless job. Hours of hard work, tired feet, full bladders, and empty stomachs. Being a nurse means holidays spent away from family, missed school plays, and sporting events. We nurses accept all of this knowingly. We are nurses because we love our work and the people that we care for.
Several years ago, when working a local hospital, I took care of a patient for an entire month. This was unheard of on my unit as most patients stayed two to three days or a week at the most. Night after night I took care of the needs that she had. After a month she was discharged to another facility. I fully expected that I would never see her again.
I did in fact see her when she returned to our floor to say hello to the staff that had cared for her. She shared with us that she had changed her major in college. She had planned on becoming a pharmacist and now she wanted to be a nurse. She told us that she wanted to make a difference in someone’s life, the way that we had made a difference in hers. This became a defining moment in my nursing career. I knew then that I had chosen the right career path.
Brookhaven Retreat is staffed around the clock with highly educated, trained, and caring nurses. We all have different backgrounds in nursing which creates a very well rounded staff. We are passionate about our work and assisting our clients in any way that we can with their healing journey.