Out of the Shadows: Keep On Keepin’ On

I’m just back from the high country of Arizona – specifically Flagstaff – where I was doing a little dog and house sitting. I got away from the desert heat and was surrounded by trees, was in the altitude, and was able to have doors and windows open without A/C use. The time away from my usual surroundings give me time to take on some new challenges as I am not distracted by the usual. The change in scenery also allows me to reflect on progress and on what still needs some work.  

Over the past couple of years, I’ve made a lot of significant, albeit gradual, changes in my life that are leading me to what I believe is constantly a better version of me. It’s amazing how a few tweaks in our lives can make a significant difference, both mentally and physically.

A few months ago I watched the documentary, HEAL, which supported the quest I am on as I have some cancer genes in the family which I am hoping will not get turned on if I can help it. HEAL (not an affiliate link, by the way) is a great rental if you want to learn about how stress and our mindset affect our bodies and how the power of the mind can also help to heal us in many ways.

I believe you don’t need to radically change your entire way of existing in the world to make a lasting and potentially significant impact on your health. Some people succeed with this, but I have found in my years of nursing and medicine that most patients do not operate this way. I also tend to do better with making small changes, testing the water, and then going forward. You have to know yourself and do what is right for you.  

I’m sharing one tip in each of these categories which may not be earth-shattering, but maybe they will be of help to those who are struggling to start with that “one thing” that may lead them down to better health and well-being. I know my patients think that they have to make huge changes and feel this is quite overwhelming so they fail to get started altogether.

My opinion is to just take it one step at a time. These are my own views and changes, and they may not work for everyone (and if you’re changing anything that may affect your health, definitely speak with a healthcare provider first to make sure it’s right and safe for you, and also, you may have a health condition that may require drastic changes, so heed the advice to talk to your doctor or medical provider…). I also want to make the disclaimer that “change” – yes, your own change – can alienate some people in the process as they are not ready to see you make the changes or move on to a better you. Know that you’re doing the right thing for you, and that is what counts….  

      Relationships: I have let go, truly let go, of those who bring negative energy into  my life. While I realize that I am also part of the relationship and some of it may have been me, I needed to do this, and continue to be selective. Honestly, when they don’t add anymore but subtract, one has to consider their tribe. And yes, this included family with whom I don’t share any longer. Harsh, I know. But I’m a big girl, and I know what feels right and wrong. I have zero regrets…only maybe to say that I wish I had done it sooner. Time for putting on the “big girl” (or big guy) panties, right?!

     Work/professional: I recognize now after some years of trying to fit into a routine office setting, fraught with confusion, massive noise, and harried interactions, that I do not belong there. It stifles me. I smother under the gossip, the chaos, the pressure for more and more productivity to make someone else money, and the potential compromise in the kind of care that I want to provide. I am doing my own gig, making less income, allowing me to explore other avenues, and am much happier. Working the “rote” 8-5 which actually never ended up being “just” those hours, is not for me.

     Nutrition: When I was younger, I allowed myself to be okay with eating what I wanted and not worrying about disease. I was only worried about weight and came from a family who policed food intake, forbid snacking, and controlled what happens at the dinner table. When we were kids, we also had to finish our plate. No longer. Now I feed myself about 90% wholesome, nutrient –dense foods, and I do what feels right for me at the time with me controlling what’s going on my plate and in my mouth.

     Physical Activity: I push my body a few days a week, and pretty hard, with HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and weights. I do enjoy this, and I know it’s good for me. The rest of the time, I do activities that are complementary, like hot yoga, walking (love to walk and could walk miles and miles every day), and biking. Nothing fancy; again, I do what feels good. I stop when I am “done.” I am prone to overtraining symptoms (primarily lack of sleep, mood issues like irritability, and fatigue), so I have to monitor this carefully.

     Self-care: I say no. A lot. And I feel no guilt. I make self-care about everything a priority. I think that self-care is knowing what you can tolerate, what makes you thrive, and what gives you motivation. Filling the tank and trying to keep it pretty filled (or at least aware if something is depleting me) most of the time are the ways to keep going through the muck and challenges of the day.

     Spirituality:  I am working on this. I have attended formal services but don’t attend any now. I think there are other things that connect you to a higher deity, like meditation or just spending quiet time, practicing some gratitude.

     Connection: Animals, nature, candles – I allow myself to enjoy some simple, cheap pleasures to take some deep breaths while trying new candles all the time, to connect to animals who don’t demand a lot of me (I dog-sit a lot and love it), and to rejuvenate with the outside. Easy. I think there’s nothing better than trees, mountains, and water.

You’re always on the path to a better you. If you don’t like the path, change it. If it doesn’t feel right, change it.

Allow yourself to absorb and learn what you need to learn to grow. You’re always leveling up and expanding you. You’re never stuck; you’re testing the waters. The beauty of being a human is we can change our minds and change our lives. It’s cool that it works that way. I think we stay in place until we’ve learned lesson and until we are ready to move on.

Some final tips that I find useful include these:

  • Create magic in your world, and let this look the way you want it to look. It’s your world.
  • Be intentional with creating some boundaries.
  • Be focused with the intentions you set and then avoid the distractions that lead you down the rabbit hole.
  • Be ok with taking the time it takes to finish what you need to accomplish, to be satisfied with the results, and to move forward. 

What are you doing for yourself?

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Entry 11 of 30.

Photo: Mt. McKinley, AK (south peak)

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