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Wellness Tools and Balance
By Tammy Mullens

Maintaining wellness in my life involves my whole being: body, mind, and spirit. There’s life and empowerment in everything I see, feel, and hear.

Acceptance and appreciation are keys to living in the present moment, along with acknowledgement of each breathing moment counts towards my wellness. Knowing that every cell in every living thing, talks to every other cell in every other living thing, is a powerful tool to use in keeping the balance of wellness in my life.

During my morning walks, even the stones and dirt on the path become a part of my day, along with the singing birds and the leaves whispering in the breeze. Maggie’s pant and my breath talk to each other carrying on a conversation that can’t be heard with human ears.
 
The trees I pass say hello to my living and dying cells. The stones talk to the cells in my feet, and that travels up through my body, waking, teaching, learning from one another. Exchanging information that only my subconscious hears.

All of my senses come alive with the treasures of what’s ahead of me. Thoughts race through my brain, but I calm them with the smells and sights of the morning air, breathing deeply and feeling the presence of now.  I focus my breath, focus my attention on the clouds, focus on taking one step and another, one foot in front of the other…

I cherish these morning walks for the balance they bring my day. If by chance I can’t take a walk, I find other ways to bring focus and wellness to my day, because with age comes the wisdom that without focusing on the important things, the day makes itself. Personally, I’d rather make my day and I do that by starting with feelings of calm. Starting out steadfast, grounded, and focused makes me ready for what there is to come in the next moment.

Because I work as a police and fire dispatcher, I need the calm I start with at home each day to carry me through my work day, a day that is fairly stressful. I wear jewelry made of different stones to help me maintain this focus and balance. I believe all creations hold a vibration, a life force; certain stones and crystals help serve as a reminder of that life force and bring me back to my center while I‘m away from home.

I also use essential oils for the very same reason. It amazes me how the frequencies of these oils can hold me to that higher frequency in times of high stress. Oils can be measured in hertz and are blended for specific needs for body, mind, and spirit. It still surprises me to know that essential oils can actually be measured in this way, proving they do have a life force all their own.  I can feel the difference in my being within a few minutes of inhaling or applying the oils.   I give thanks to mother earth for each and every beautiful life-giving thing she gives us.  Her wellness is our wellness. 

If you’re looking to find Tammy doing one of the things she is most passionate about you can find her here:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/SacredGeometryGems


 
 
The memories that each of us has as a young person when we were told how pretty or handsome we were, how special, funny, or even important we were, we remember into adulthood. It may not be apparent, but we feel it in our every reaction to a comment made.

Happiness comes in many forms. The difficulty is trying to determine what the factor was that made you happy and tapping in to it. I don't have one particular reason for my happiness. It is this randomness that has made me who I am.  Me: a happy person.  Perhaps it’s because I take each moment and process it with humor. For me laughter is a reaction and a gift. It is my medicine.

I love to make people smile. If by doing so I've made myself look silly, I don’t care. I’m happy that one person who's been trudging around with a frown on their face or deep worry lines across their forehead is now beaming. I've turned a negative into a positive. Laughter equals wellness.

I think it’s important never to hold a grudge. You have to be able to release and forgive those that you are at wills with. It takes much more energy for a person to harbor a grudge than to let it go. Picture all that wasted pent up energy eating away at your body like a fungus creating Swiss cheese. I love cheese but I am not about to become a walking wedge of Jarlsberg.

I take my cue from children. They fall down, shake it off, and then run around again. Sure they run to their mommas or poppas and want “boo boo” kisses. Who doesn't want that?  Of course when you’re an adult you can't live by a child's rules. You have to pick yourself up again, brush the dog shit off your pants, and lick your own wounds.

It's OK to cry, but even better to laugh. So you didn't get that role in a play. Your car broke down on the freeway. The furnace shut down during mid-winter. And your bank account reads sub-zero. It's OK. One day the absurdity will come rushing at you. Resist the urge to cry.  Instead, shake your head and keep going. You could’ve been cast in the role of a Jackass, your car was a lemon anyway, and what better way to have an indoor camp out than a freeze out in your own home.

I work with the general public and I use my happy nature to throw people off. When I meet with an aggressive person, for example, someone who wants to verbally whack me one, I just smile.  Now this often incurs a few responses from my verbal attacker. The first reaction is often outrage at me for being so pleasant; they can’t seem to comprehend that I’m not challenging them.  Their second response is usually shock. They realize that their acidity didn't work on me. And lastly they are dumbfounded. They’d be so confused by my smile and kindness that they no longer remember why they were angry. Of course, this doesn’t always work.

And when all else fails, I feign sickness and run. And I have!  

Although there are many other situations where I use smiling and laughter to deflect life challenges, I can’t include them without losing focus. Get over it. There are books out there for this sort of thing. Really.

My current happiness comes from an occasion that exceeds normality. Feel free to laugh at my stupidity and/or lack of knowledge when it comes to simple things.

For months on end I had been sleeping on an air mattress. It was a very sturdy one, and therefore never had to worry. A few weeks ago I noticed that I was starting to melt into the bed. I chalked this up to a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately I was wrong. The leak continued each night until I found myself on the floor. My mattress was one that you plug in and hit a button to inflate so I figured I could deal with it. I was so wrong.

After a few nights of sleepless nights and aching muscles, I gave up. I had to get a REAL bed.  After shopping, delivery, and family helping me get the bed into my apartment, I had a problem. The box spring would not fit up my stairwell. I, being the ever so stubborn one, decided that without my posse to help me I would do it myself. Of course that would be the mark of one of my stupidest and most remarkable moves of my life. 

I was trying so hard to be independent and strong that I fought the box spring into a lodged position.  I had to call someone. I called friends that I thought might be available.  As embarrassing as the whole thing was, my friend Rich came in, pushed the box spring over the wedge it was caught in and then turned to me and smiled. I was done. 

You never know when it’s your time for happiness. Always laugh at the absurd.  I am happy. 
 
~ Lyn Hernandez
http://duckydez-onceupona.blogspot.com/
 
 
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I recently asked people with whom I am connected through various social networks if they would write an essay for me on the notion of wellness.  There were several reasons why I asked for these writings.
     In my desire to grow my business, I felt it was important to create what I knew was missing on this site: community.  I would like this site to be a place of lively discussion, I'd like to see people actively using it as a resource and I'd like it to become a place of safety for them.    
     I also felt that the exercise of writing about what being well looks like to people who I know would enjoy visiting this site would be *useful*  As you may already know, one of my hopes is to teach people through this business that writing is an important way to access your own answers.  Writing is thinking but writing is also freedom.  Freedom to admit things to yourself that you've been hiding away under all the layers of I-can'ts and I shouldn't's and the daily dust of every day life.  I didn't imagine however that it would lead me to challenge everyone who visits this blog to "try this at home" but that is exactly what I'm doing. I've included in my newsletter three wellness writing prompts. 
     Anyway, here is the first batch of wellness essays. I have divided them up to be separate entries so that you can leave comments for each one of them. I hope you appreciate the writing as much as I do.  All I ask is that if any or all of these articles move you, please say so in the comments.  If you see yourself in any of them, I pray you will speak up, or, better said, write in the comments.  This is the way of community.  Enjoy!

 
 
Sometimes, you have to find your lowest point before you can finally start to lift yourself up. About a year and a half ago, I stood in front of a hotel room window in South Portland, Maine, and thought about jumping out. I was five floors above a concrete walkway, and I figured that the impact of the landing would probably kill me. A few weeks before that, I had stood in front of a similar hotel window in Burlington, Vermont, but I was only three floors up and feared that the fall would only render me a quadriplegic.

I had (and still have) a loving husband and two wonderful sons, but I was incapable of enjoying my life because I was holding onto a job that I hated. I was a mid-level manager for a large retailer in a dying industry, which meant that I was under constant pressure to cut costs and to transition to new product lines designed to save the company’s skin. I hated what I had become in that role: a penny-pinching, plastic crap-selling robot. Financially, however, I was in no position to quit.

Enter Steven Slater. A few days into my Maine vacation after I had pressed my nose against that high window, Steven Slater jumped out of the emergency hatch of a JetBlue Airlines plane. Slater was a flight attendant, and he walked off of the job after 28 years in the industry when a passenger cursed him out. He grabbed the loudspeaker, announced his departure, popped open a beer, and pulled the emergency chute. Now, while his actions were not incredibly mature, Slater’s story resonated with me and with millions of other Americans. Although I wouldn’t pull my own chute at my corporate job for another few months, I knew that I had to fight for my sanity.

Before I could find wellness for myself, I had to accept responsibility for choosing my situation. I had bought into the myth that if you align yourself with a nice company, pay your dues and give your best effort, then you’ll be rewarded with financial security and stability. I had the security of a steady paycheck, but I hated getting up in the morning. My schedule made my family miserable. The requirements of the job were not congruent with my values. At the same time, I was choosing to get up and go to that job every day. Like so many other people, I was building and decorating my own prison.

I also had to prepare to lose everything. One day, before my shift was scheduled to start at my corporate job, I sat in my car and called President Obama’s mortgage relief helpline. I thought that if I quit my job, I would probably lose my home, and I wanted to try to prevent that from happening. I talked over short sales and foreclosures with the financial counselor as I baked behind the windshield in the hot summer sun. At the end of the conversation, I knew that I was willing to lose my home and my corporate respectability in order to save my soul. I understood that my family needed me more than they needed that bi-weekly direct deposit.

Fortunately for me, the story has ended well. My finances are cobbled together with spit and duct tape, but so far I have managed to both stay above water and keep my home. I have also found the joys of self-employment. My paycheck is not as steady as it used to be, but I have learned to live with less money. In exchange, I have gained my compass.

Working for myself has given me the chance to walk my oldest son to school every morning and to pick him up in the afternoons. I’ve also had a year and a half at home with my youngest son. My husband and I have “date night” once a week so that we can reconnect with some alone time. My corporate schedule didn’t allow for these simple pleasures. Now, I don’t know how I lived without them.

Having the freedom to determine my own path according to my own values, for me, defines wellness. Instead of standing on a window thinking about jumping out, I’m looking ahead at my late 30s, 40s and the years beyond feeling excited for all that I will experience. I’ve learned that caring for the soul leads to caring for the body and the mind. I have yet to find perfection, but I have found wellness.

Jackie Lee
Jackiesrandomthoughts.com

 
 
My view of wellness includes an emphasis on exercise and maintaining an active lifestyle, something I never did until I turned sixty.  My advice?  Don’t wait until you are sixty.  And, if you are sixty, or over, get started now.  It’s never too late. Be as active as you can be.

My birthday, in February, 2008, was a turning point for me.  Not only was I turning sixty, but I was unhappy, overweight, and experiencing a lot of stress at work and at home. My father had died when he was fifty- nine of heart problems.  I knew I needed to do something.

 I decided to start exercising by taking advantage of the student recreation center at the university where I worked.  I didn’t even know where the gym was located, even though I had worked at the university for twenty- nine years.  I had never been to any gym.  I wasn’t sure I could do this.  I thought I would feel awkward and out of place; a middle aged fat woman amongst all those twenty something physically fit students. My inner voice kept telling me this would probably not work, but I was desperate. I wanted to be healthy.  Somehow, I walked through the door.  It changed my life.

After a few months of riding an exercise bike (the only piece of equipment I could really manage), I realized I liked being at the gym, didn’t feel out of place, and wanted to make more progress. The bulletin board over the drinking fountain showcased a poster that proclaimed “You DO NOT NEED TO DO IT ALONE.”  It was an advertisement for working with a personal trainer, and, even though I thought it might be too intense for me, I knew I needed help, and signed up.    

 I had the good fortune to be assigned a wonderfully talented trainer, Alex Miller, a student in exercise science. He worked with me for the next three years, patiently, and professionally, helping me take on the challenges of treadmills and stair climbers, pushups, leg presses, Romanian dead lifts, squats, walking lunges, the TRX, battle ropes, and even boxing.  Before working with Alex, I never knew what most of this was, let alone think I could do any of it.  I had always accepted a self-imposed limited view of myself. I was not very athletic. I was not a gym person, not a runner, and certainly not a weight lifter.

Through it all, my trainer always supported me, encouraged me, and challenged me to do more. Gradually, through hard work, I lost weight, got stronger, and learned a powerful lesson. I was not the person I thought I was.  I have athletic abilities. I can do things I never let myself imagine I was capable of.  This knowledge has transformed my life.

As of today, I have lost eighty eight pounds, and am working on losing the last two.  I recently ran in my first 5K, and am working towards running in a 10 K.  I work out every day, lift weights, take group fitness classes, continue to work with a trainer (I’ve been fortunate to work with three very talented trainers so far).  I have more energy, am stronger, and have dropped 6 sizes in clothes.  Even more astounding to me, is that I now find myself looking at my life very differently, pursuing different interests.   I joined a memoir writing group, and I’ve decided to become a personal trainer. I want to learn more about how the body works, and I’m thinking about earning a degree in exercise science.  I see myself with new eyes, and I realize that I can be more than I thought I could.  This is empowering. This is wellness.   Exercise brought me to this point, and it can for you, too.         

Sherry Williams is a contributing author to the book entitled "Voices of the Great Plains: A Collection of Short Memoirs" edited by Jerry Masinton & Nicole Muchmore available here for purchase.
 
 
When I think of wellness, I think of the movie titled, “The Road to Wellville” which starred Anthony Hopkins, Matthew Broderick and John Cusack.  It centers on the life of clean-living advocate, John Harvey Kellogg and takes place at the start of the 20th century at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan.

This movie led me to research John Harvey Kellogg and the Battle Creek Sanitarium.  What I found was a man and a facility that was years ahead of its time.  Both bring new meaning to the phrase "holistic health".

“The Road to Wellville” is categorized as a comedy-drama and, although we laugh at the antics of Matthew Broderick's character when he is getting his first colonic, we now know that colonics can be a great way to safely rid the body of its toxins.  Even Princess Diana was known to have had colonics on a regular basis.

For me, wellness is a journey of discovery on my own road to Wellville.  I was raised in a home where western medicine was embraced and encouraged.  My father was a registered pharmacist and my mother was a registered nurse.  If you had a medical issue, you went to the doctor and asked for a prescription.

It never occurred to me until I was an adult that more prescriptions did not mean you were healthier.  In fact, I learned it was the opposite.   Wait a minute!  This seems like a contradiction.  If this is so unhealthy, why does our society embrace this? To further the irony, I work in an Intensive Care Unit at a metropolitan hospital.  That is the epic center of prescription medication in action.  It is perhaps the other end of the extreme.  And, yes, sometimes these medications save lives.

This is where I have learned that wellness is not about medication or the lack thereof.  It runs much deeper.  It is about wholeness, happiness, gratitude and anything that makes your heart sing.  That which touches your soul will also touch your heart and your mind.

wellness is more than just healthy eating and exercise.  It is more than balancing my work life with my personal life.  It is finding those things which bring me peace, solitude, and knowing and feeling that I am loved.

Writing allows me to work creatively.  I love words and I love to put words to work.  I feel my best when I am writing.  In addition to writing I love to swim.  I feel supported by the water and swimming becomes effortless.  It is a form of communing with nature.

I also love music.  I have always wanted to learn how to play the piano.  This year I received a keyboard for Christmas.  Now I can take my love of music and learn to produce it myself.  It is another layer on the self-actualization pyramid.

My road to Wellville also includes volunteerism.  When we serve others, we also benefit.  I find that volunteerism keeps my juices flowing and I become a better person.  This year I am offering my time and talents to the "Stamp out Hunger" campaign.

I have always said that if you cannot love an animal, you cannot love a person.  Pets show us what it is to be loved - unconditionally.  Last year, I had knee replacement surgery.  My cats, Truffle and Micro were by my side from the minute I came home from the hospital.  They took turns sleeping in shifts next to me.  When one got up, the other took his place.  The humming sound of their purr was comforting. Pets can help fill empty holes in our hearts.  Whether they provide companionship for the lonely, or help to protect a family, they play an important role.  Whether it is walking the family dog or playing with a kitten, animals enhance our health and our lives.  There is nothing like a puppy or kitten to make you feel like a silly child again.

Every facet of our life impacts our journey to wellness: our thoughts, our actions and our emotions.  For what we think about, we bring about.

Wendy Doherty
http://wendydoherty.blogspot.com/

  

   

 
 
    My idea of wellness used to mean eating healthy and working out as a teenager and a young adult. However, when I became a mama my idea of wellness drastically changed. Wellness to me is still eating healthy, in fact I eat raw. I still work out, but wellness has become so much more than that. It is holistic and spiritual in nature for me. It includes working inward, too. We can't look at ourselves as fragments. We are whole beings. I began to examine the whole self, the whole body, and the whole soul.  

    I continue working out and eating healthy but I expand my consciousness to practicing Kundalini yoga and meditation. And I have not been limited to just that, in fact, I didn’t limit myself at all!  That is what wellness is about, not placing limits on living your life with joy and love!

   Wellness is doing what you love to do, what speaks to your heart, your passions. For example, I am passionate about yoga, art, writing, music, holistic education, and healing. Every day I weave into my busy mama life a little bit of these jewels.

   I am also passionate about my spirituality. I am a psychic medium, energy healer, spiritual teacher and coach. I'm also a certified teacher and learning consultant. And yes! I'm a busy home school mama of two! All of these aspects mean wellness to me. They make me whole and nourish my soul.

    Another way I weave wellness into my life is through my children. Children are amazing teachers of joy, freedom, abundance, happiness, and love!  I just watch and listen. They have taught me to go with flow of life and not to resist. They have, by example, shown me how to open my heart and unconditionally love.

    They show me what they are passionate about; it is so exciting because they do not see themselves as separate from the world like us adults do!  For example, my son and daughter say that they see fairies, they build fairy houses, they speak to them, and they leave blueberries out in the woods for them. I encourage them to express whatever they see or know to be true. I nourish them by allowing them the space to weave in their own beliefs and passions.

    Another example I would like to share is about my daughter. Since she was very young, she would say that she hears music all of the time and must compose. I would encourage her to just play anything as a musical instrument and "write down" her songs, even when she could not read or write. She wrote that music down and now plays the violin, guitar, kinderlyre, and glockenspiel. She has the most beautiful creations and she is seven years old. She truly is passionate about music, singing almost all day! It is her creativity that is wellness to her. It nurtures her soul. 

   Another example of this is the way my son creates his stories. He will build amazing structures using tree blocks or wooden blocks and tell me stories! He will draw or paint pictures and create a play from his pictures. He is often found illustrating a book that he created and will share with our family. Writing, telling stories, and drawing seem to be his passions and he is only four years old! He shows me that our passions are fluid, they move and change and that is a great lesson to me with the idea of wellness. 

    Another large part of our family's idea of wellness is being out in nature. There is not a day that goes by that we are not outside, even for just a little bit of time. I find that all of our creativity, happiness, that passion for life is nourished by the outdoors. We create art outdoors and explore. Even with nature, it is always fluid and moving; sometimes we love to be at the beach, hike in the woods, or take a trip to the mountains. I would say not only individually but as a family, it is this energy from various settings of nature that help nurture our souls and make us whole. It recharges us and creates beauty and appreciation of life!

    Wellness to me is a balanced life and it has no limitations. When I weave all my passions and excitements in throughout my life each day, I just find joy, love, excitement for life, and happiness in almost everything and anything I do. I feel connected to others. I find this is what nurtures my soul and is my spirituality. As long as I am joyful, feeling nurtured, loved, and fulfilled in anything I pursue, I then have a sense of wellness.  But ultimately wellness to me is being fully present and loving life!

Maria Ferrara Weinert
http://www.earthdream.biz/

 
 
Wellness is living in the Now ….

“Nothing is worth more than this day.” –Goethe

In [this year], I am going to be here now.

When you unpeel it, 37days is all about now, but I find I don’t live in now very often. I live in then, or when, or one day.

I want, instead, to live in Now. This moment. What does that look like? I think it looks like a lot less time on the computer and a lot more time playing Candyland with a four-year-old or making vegan cupcakes with a teenager or raking leaves with Mr Brilliant. I think it looks a lot like paying attention. I think, for me, it looks a lot like writing or being creative every day. Maybe it just looks like breathing deeply every morning before flinging ourselves into the whirling stream of our lives. It is far too easy to be swept into the competing currents.

As Thich Nhat Hanh has written, “Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.”

Pema Chödrön has reminded us that Now is the only time. That how we relate to Now creates the future. That what we do accumulates and that the future is the result of what we do right now.

I asked Billy Collins (you know, we talk constantly) if death is the main chord of all poetry. “Yes, it is. But poetry isn’t a consolation for death, for the reality that you will die. Instead, it is an expression of gratitude that you’re alive. Poetry italicizes experience or brings it into sharper focus. It provides a fuller immersion into life.” Poetry is about seizing the day, but we only need “carpe diem” if we realize we have a limited number of diems.

A friend who plans conferences told of a speaker who is in his early 50s and whose keynote speech is about something he did when he was eighteen. The impulse to point to that One Big Thing in The Past is too great, isn’t it?  What about now?

"My first book was a Fortune magazine best business book.” Or “I crossed the Sahara Desert barefoot when I was a toddler." Or "I invented bread."

It doesn’t matter. What matters is what you’re doing right now. Not what you will put on your resume from this moment, but what you will put in your heart. This will become clearer on our death beds, I’m sure. Yes, I’m sure of it.

Time is not money, it turns out. Time is life.

“Live this day as if it will be your last. Remember that you will only find ‘tomorrow’ on the calendars of fools. Forget yesterday’s defeats and ignore the problems of tomorrow. This is it. Doomsday. All you have. Make it the best day of your year. The saddest words you can ever utter are, ‘If I had my life to live over again.’ Take the baton, now. Run with it! This is your day!

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet, friend or foe, loved one or stranger, as if they were going to be dead at midnight. Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and kindness and understanding and love that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” –Og Mandino

Now.

Nothing is worth more than this day when you are dying.

And you are.

Intentions: I’m going to take a positive pause in [2012], look to the long now, and then be fully here now. I’m going to start slow, so as not to startle myself, by learning to simply breathe more deeply. Let’s go back to ourselves in the present moment.

Patti Digh is author of “Life is A Verb,” “Four-Word Self-Help Book” and “Creative is a Verb.”
http://www.37days.com

(I received permission from the author to post an item from her blog.)