One of my goals/intentions/hopes is to catch myself when I am heading down a dark hole (catastrophizing or other cognitive distortions) and to stop, breathe, and break the cycle. I was reading a blog post today, and the author wrote that she says to herself: This is not a big deal. I like that. Most of what happens to us is NOT a big deal.
I also don’t beat myself up for letting this happen over and over because my mind has been “trained” to do this. Regardless of what the early little t’s (small traumas) were or how often they happened, they had an impact. It’s an automatic response when the negative voices in my head start in. Today I caught myself, and said, “Susie, this is not a big deal.” Then I went to the kitchen and made blueberry muffins.
What I’m reading/listening to:
Peter Attila’s new book: Outlive (the last section on mental health had the most impact for me)
I’ve been following Jill Bolte Taylor since she had her stoke. Imagine at the age of 37, losing your capacity to talk, read, write, or recall the history of your life. But she recovered. And she has studied her healing every since.
Today I decided to listen to a podcast as I took my afternoon walk. I flipped my finger on my phone until it landed on Ten Percent Happier, a podcast I rarely miss. However, I hadn’t heard this one with Jill Bolte Taylor. Wow, I was so focused, I nearly tripped over a tree root.
She says: Our Four Characters take turns running our life. Our Character 1 goes to work, our Character 2 wants to make sure we are safe, our Character 3 gets us outside to play in the sun, and our Character 4 comes out when we feel grateful and connected to others.
Call a BRAIN Huddle, she says, when we want to make sure we are being who we want to be.
B for Breathe: Our breath is always with us.
R for Recognize: Once you bring your mind into the present moment, recognize which of your Four Characters you were exhibiting when you called the BRAIN Huddle.
A for Appreciate: Regardless of which character called the Huddle, appreciate the fact that you have four different characters and ask them all to participate in the Huddle. (This is particularly important when our fear-based Character 2 has been triggered and could use some support.)
I for Inquire: Invite all Four Characters into the huddle, so they can collectively voice their opinions and consciously strategize your next move.
N for Navigate: Life is made up of sequential moments and once our Four Characters are all in the BRAIN Huddle, we then have the power to choose which character we would like to have come out next. This is how we own our power, and no one can take our power away from us. With all of our Four Characters gathered in the BRAIN Huddle, we can choose moment by moment who and how we want to be.
I have to admit, this brings out my Character #2 in full force and makes me want to take a nap! But her explanation of it on the podcast has given me a reason to learn more.
Practice this 20 times a day, she says. It takes an instant “pause.” Become familiar with the characters. It’s like learning a new language.
I love to read. But I haven’t mastered the art of organizing what I’m learning.
So I often read something, try it, and then forget it’s something I want to do. Like keeping my mouth closed!
Last year I was tested for sleep apnea and discovered I have a mild case. Sleep is much improved if I sleep on my side AND if I sleep with my mouth closed. I actually read the book Breath by James Nestor last year and learned so much about how we should breathe. It’s definitely worth your time.
However, like many things, I tucked the book away (or returned it to the library) and promptly forgot about it. When I was going through withdrawal for my headaches, I remembered that Nestor said headaches were often the result of sleeping with one’s mouth open.
The larger question for me is why I struggle with doing what works. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself as I have developed a morning routing that -for the most part- I am able to stick with. Adding nose breathing back into the mix isn’t so hard. I am even trying to maintain this during my daily walks!
Today I am going to organize thoughts from books I’ve read in the past two years. I imagine I will find myself saying, “Oh, that’s right!!!” several times.
One of my favorite activities growing up in Rhode Island was water skiing. I’d wake up early and head to the pond to catch the smooth water.
The other night my cousin (8 years younger than I) asked if anyone wanted to go skiing. I had a moment of craziness, and thought, “why not?” It had been 6 years since I’d skied, but how hard could it be, I thought. Like riding a bike :)
After agreeing, there was no turning back. His son, my son, and my grandson were in the boat, and I jumped in the pond. Just getting the skies on in the water is an ordeal (they keep sliding up and under you…it takes some effort to get them up in the “ready” position.)
Finally, I yelled “hit it!” I barely got my butt out of the water when I felt the handle pull out of my hands. As I hit the water, I felt a pain in the back of my head, and in short order, I felt nauseous. Nevertheless, I was in, and I attempted once more. No way. This old body just wasn’t going to make it. I’ve spent two days with a headache and sore muscles. It could have been worse.
I really don’t know what I was thinking. I haven’t been exercising as much as I should. And I’m not 17 anymore! Getting old, making the transition to old age, means giving up certain things. I have been spending much time this summer thinking about how I want to live out the end of my life. It may be 25 years or perhaps less. But I’m not kidding myself now– it will be different.
Even so, I can take care of myself so I stay healthy and active. I’ll watch my grandchildren learn to swim and ski on this same pond. And I’ll love every minute of having generations come back to Carters’ Landing, the place my grandparents built for all of us.
When I was about to turn 60, I decided I should start a blog for 60-somethings, a journal of sorts to remember and share what I was going through. I couldn’t believe I was that old! Well, I think I managed one post before I abandoned it.
And now I am about to turn 70, which sounds about as old as 60 did ten years ago. The only thing that’s changed is how I look at the world, myself, and my relationships.
I will continue sharing what I’m learning here. I can’t wait until I am almost 80 to see if my topics have changed. Somehow I envision lots of posts about getting older, and that’s ok because that’s where I am. That 18 year old, sitting by the side of the road in Amsterdam with a loaf of bread and a hunk of cheese, thinking she was all that and more, had no idea how her life would turn out. There have been many dark times, moments filled with regret, days when I wondered if I was losing my mind. And yet here I am, excited about this next decade and feeling grateful for all I have in my life.
Minute by minute. Hour by hour. Day by day.
I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end.–Gilda Radner