Don’t Miss the Bliss

Several years ago I taught a seminar to caregivers called “Don’t Miss the Bliss”. The CDC recognizes that being a caregiver comes with increased health risks documented in data.

https://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/caregiver-brief.html

I wanted to get the happiness, resilience, longevity, and flow information I had gathered as a life coach into the hands of these people that selflessly support others.

Previous posts shared some of that research.

Caregivers tend to naturally put their needs aside but in order to be around longer to take care of children, disabled loved ones, or aging loved ones, self-care should become routine.

The starting point is take an honest look at how you value yourself. Do you value yourself? Do you truly believe that you deserve to eat well, exercise, rest, enjoy entertainment and friendships as much as those you care for? Do you allow yourself any reasonable breaks?

When you value yourself, you will see that taking care of yourself is more than okay— it is how you thrive and continue to be a better caregiver.

Create space that is yours. Even if it is just one room, you need a place where you can relax and decompress.

Allow yourself to have hobbies/ activities that you can be immersed in.

Make time to spend with your best friends and most supportive family members. You need to have a support system, too. We all have to deal with toxic people but do not allow them to dominate your time.

Plan and enjoy good meals.

Allow yourself to sleep.

Finally, take a moment to think about the life you want to create in the next year, next five years, the next ten. There is room for you to dream and work on your goals while being a caregiver.

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls. “ Joseph Campbell

Take Care,

Tracy May, M. Ed

Noticing Beauty

I just got up with my fur babies. I recently added a little black kitten to the family. Frida, my schnauzer was snoring in her bed next to mine as we were awakened by the the meows of Phoenix, our 3:00 am frolicker, and in all hours, a hungry beast kitten. I fed the kitten. I fed Frida. I took Frida out and paused to look up and see the Big Dipper and Little Dipper. It was very early in the morning and chilly but the sky was beautiful. I was happy to be exactly where I was. There are so many moments like this in a day. I love sunrises and sunsets. The sound of coffee being made. The smell of coffee. Good songs. Watching the squirrels outside get fatter fatter as winter approaches. I love seeing real friends talk and joke. I love familiar buildings. I love making homemade bread and sharing it. I love when people are honest about their feelings. I love when people are working on their goals. I love that my schnauzer just returned to her little bed to be by me even though trying to sleep again will likely be interrupted by a lively kitten playing hard next door. It’s nice to have a friend nearby.

Taking time to notice the beauty around us makes us more resilient. It is true that not all is well in the world. Focusing on negatives drains our energy. Taking time to pay attention to what is beautiful empowers us.

There was a movie called “Life is Beautiful” that told the story of a man that tried to help his family endure a concentration camp through joy and humor. It is still one of the most powerful and unforgettable stories to me. If you have not seen it, it is worth a watch.

There are different degrees of trouble in the world but focusing on beauty is is a tool accessible to us in all circumstances. There is beauty all around and if we notice it, and appreciate it, it will help us live well in spite of life’s obstacles.

As I get ready to sleep a little more, and close this blog, I am reminded of a friend from Liberia telling me that each night, even during civil war, her family and friends would gather around a fire, the drummers would drum, dancers would dance, the same stars I observed this early morning hung over them in the sky. For those moments they were engulfed in beauty and peace. They took a break from their trouble and celebrated life.

My hope for my readers is that you will find moments of beauty and know that moments like these can be found anytime and anywhere.

Take Care,

Tracy May

Random Acts of Kindness

Engaging in random acts of kindness can increase your happiness and resilience. We often get stuck in our own muck and forget to look around and see how we can assist others. Helping others is helping ourselves at the same time.

When I help someone it helps me live my personal mission of connecting with others and empowering others. Some of my readers actually do not need to hear this as they have overextended themselves volunteering to help others. For those who tend to avoid helping others, especially helping others you do not know, I would like to challenge you to venture outside of your comfort zone, and look for an opportunity to do this sometime this week and insert your help.

Here are some possibilities.

Provide company to someone that is lonely.

Help with a chore.

Help financially.

Provide a happy surprise— anonymously.

Make something for someone.

For this to be truly a random act of kindness, it needs to be given to a complete stranger for no other reason but to just be kind.

I would love to hear your stories of what you do and how it made you feel.

Here is an article on Random Acts of Kindness that you might also enjoy.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-nourishment/201711/why-random-acts-kindness-matter-your-well-being%3famp

Take care and be kind,

Tracy May

Do Something For No Particular Reason- Take a Break

Recently, I spray painted my mom’s pole barn with the word “hope” and a landscape. I was moving back to my hometown and in the middle of a job search. Why would I stop and take a couple of days to paint when I still needed a job? It is a typical response when anyone does something fun when there is clearly work to be done to question priorities. If we do not take reasonable breaks to do things that light us up, we reduce outer productivity and flow. Doing enjoyable things as a discipline can help us get better results. I am not talking about aborting your mission in life. We all have things we need to do. As we schedule our tasks for work and home, we can allow breaks to just do things that are fun.

We can ward off toxic stress and prevent making poor decisions by having reasonable breaks. When we are stressed we do not have access to our best thinking and therefore; we can’t make the best decisions. When we are calm, we can think creatively and problem solve with more ease.

Are you a parent or caregiver with endless tasks to do? Are you stressed at your job? Are you stressed doing a job search. Are you or a loved one in a health crisis? Are you you experiencing financial or relationship stress? Are you moving? Are you going through a major life transition? Have you experienced a recent loss?

Would you be willing to take a break?

I am not sure what that looks like for you, but here are a few ideas.

Have a great meal with friends that make you laugh hard.

Take a nature walk.

Play with pets or your kids.

Make a new recipe.

Do some art.

Get your nails or hair done.

Dance.

Listen to music.

Read a Book.

Enjoy a fire

Play with a pet

Enjoy TV, going to a movie, or watching a play.

Watch or play a sport.

Learn to do do something new that is interesting to you.

Do a project around the house or outside… only if it is fun for you.

Now I am moved. I am working at the hardware store where I bought the spray paint for the barn, and I am loving it. I have a new perspective and I feel I am right where I am supposed to be. My stress level is much lower. Taking time to paint the pole barn when I was stressed marked the beginning transforming my thinking and figuring out my next reasonable steps.

During November, December, and January, I am offering Creative Discovery Sessions for a greatly reduced rate of $25. I am hoping people will get support during these months that are often more stressful.

Creative Discovery Sessions can be done in person, by phone, and on- line. The initial session will be about 50 minutes. We will identify stress agents in your life, transform some of your stories, and identify three reasonable goals. I will provide three follow up calls about 10 minutes each that you will schedule. This provides some accountability and ongoing support to help you power through the holidays with a little more balance and sanity. Holidays should not be just survived but enjoyed, but it is not always easy.

I can be reached at 651-331-1421 to schedule.

Here is some additional information about your brain when it is stressed. I think you will enjoy this video if you are interested in brain research.

Take Care,

Tracy May

Moving Naturally

I first learned that there was a link between moving naturally and longevity from reading Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. Buettner studied people around the world that enjoyed long lives and looked for patterns. Moving naturally was one of those common factors.

Those that enjoyed a long life, did not just move when they went to a gym to work out, or do an exercise routine, or practice yoga daily. Although, these are great practices, the movement that was observed in this long living super hero group was things like shepherding goats and having to walk up and down mountains, gardening, and carrying water. We have technology that makes it possible to move less. We drive to places we could walk, we use nice appliances to clean, we buy more food than we grow many times, and we miss out on the benefits of natural movement.

Instead of thinking about movement as a punishment, we can think of it as a reward. Moving naturally increases strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance. This can help us emotionally, reduce pain and injuries, and help us be able to perform our tasks with more ease.

People that avoid movement are depriving themselves of health benefits. Living an active life is part of a healthy life. If you have a job that is more sedentary working in movement breaks throughout the day will take some intentional planning but it is possible create some new habits that will allow you to move more throughout the day. It may seem like a waste of time to choose stairs over the elevator, but you might find that the mental clarity you have after times of movement, increases your productivity and focus. Having lunch in a place that requires a brisk walk outdoors can rejuvenate you. Taking your family for a nightly walk instead of having couch and TV time can increase children’s curiosity about nature and get families talking and connecting again. I find I sleep best after having time being active outdoors.

If you have an injury, chronic illness, or disability, try to move more as your body allows. See how movement can help you. Maybe it is hard for you to get up to get things, or roll your wheel chair, or even do things with your hands. How can you challenge yourself? Everyone will have different options, limitations, and preferences, and we create habits that serve us best.

Take Care,

Tracy May, Promising Connections, LLC

How can you incorporate more natural movement into your life?

Express Gratitude

Having gratitude is one thing. Expressing gratitude is bigger. Expressing gratitude is an action that can propel us forward into being more happy and resilient.

There are times when we feel overwhelmed by obstacles of life. Bills, health issues, job stress, job finding stress, moving, business ownership stress, car troubles, home repair issues, children, romantic partners, caregiving, bossy pets, etc. , can make it difficult to stop and recognize what is good in life. There is always something worth celebrating.

Most of the world survives on $1 a day, and most of my readers have not had to survive on this little. Even if I hit bottom today, there are resources, personal, non- profits, and governmental, that I could access in order to still stay alive. I have so much. I am also healthy. Most of my family is healthy right now. How many people would love to say they had no loved ones in the hospital? My car runs. The roof is not leaking. The mouse that came to visit earlier in the week has gone with the help of exterminators. We have food. We are so lucky.

I needed to move to my hometown and find a job recently. It was scary to take that leap of faith and see how things worked out. I just got hired yesterday. It is a nice opportunity and it was such a relief to know that I have that piece of the puzzle in place. To celebrate, and express gratitude, I made whoopie pies and shared them with friends that supported me in the weeks of uncertainty.

My mom was a key supporter, and while I had time off, I cleaned and cooked for her. I felt gratitude and I also expressed it in action. I am looking forward to expressing gratitude to my hometown by actively participating in volunteer opportunities.

When I was in a bad car accident, I bruised a lung, and for weeks following, it was difficult to breathe. I was so thankful when I could breathe easier. Before that I took breathing for granted. In Guatemala, I could not drink the tap water. I appreciated clean water so much more when I returned. We live in a country where we can speak freely and where we can make some choices about our life. Immigrants from countries that do not have civil liberties, who become U.S. citizens, appreciate freedom.

There are things to be grateful for that we might take for granted. Expressing gratitude feeds our positive emotions. When we are going through times of difficulty, it is most important to start identifying what we can be grateful for. It does not stop there, though. How can we actively express gratitude? How can we move beyond the language of gratitude to the action of gratitude?

Here is an article to further explains the benefits of expressing gratitude.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Take Care,

Tracy May

Creative Discovery Sessions $125

To schedule call: 641-331-1421

Practicing Flexibility

You are doing yoga. You feel you have stretched as far as you can. You are sure you cannot reach your toes. Your instructor tells you to take a deep breath, and try again. You take the breath, you stretch as you exhale, and to your surprise, you stretch further than you did before. Practicing flexibility requires us to try to reach in a new direction or try to reach harder in the same direction. Practicing flexibility does not allow us to stay the same.

There are some things that are so alluring about sameness. In many ways, it is nice to have the same predictable work, familiar co-workers, community that is familiar and easy to navigate, cultural norms that do not challenge us, and a sense of safety in our comfort zone.

Is our comfort zone really safe, though? If you have kept everything in your power the same for many years, you may have been able to enjoy the luxury of your comfort zone for now, but changes happen to all of us at one time or another. At these times we have to be flexible or we may break. Basket weavers have to keep adding water to reeds so they will continue to bend or the reeds break. In order to not be caught by surprise, resilient people practice being flexible. It is not something they do only when they have to. It is a way of life. It is a habit that contributes to life long learning, personal development, and being resilient in times of stress.

Here are some ways that you can begin to practice flexibility.

  1. Learn something new.
  2. Have a new experience.
  3. Make a new friend.
  4. Join a new group.
  5. Go to a new place.
  6. Read a book by a new author.
  7. Try new foods.
  8. Research a new topic.
  9. Play a new game.
  10. Create new art.
  11. Listen to new music.
  12. Watch new movies.
  13. Attend new plays.
  14. Try a new exercise.
  15. Make a new recipe.

There are so many possibilities.

What will you do this week to practice flexibility? Are you currently being forced to be flexible and you have been resisting? What can you do to metaphorically, take a breath, and stretch some more? As human beings, we rarely achieve our potential. What could you accomplish if you practice flexibility and stretch yourself?

Take Care,


Tracy May

Creative Discovery Sessions are $125. I would love to be your life coach and help you increase happiness, resilience, longevity, and flow in your life. Call to schedule at 651-331-1421.