Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It Just Makes Sense...

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Okay, so you may be wondering about the title of this post, my delay in posting for this month's theme (SENSING), and my choice of picture above...

This is a photo collage I made from my dad's recent college graduation. In addition to focusing on the joys of motherhood (Mother's Day) and life as a military spouse (Mil Spouse Appreciation day and Month of the Military Child/Family), this month of May is typically a time when we recognize the dedication and achievements of various types of graduates. My son, for example, just graduated from Kindergarten the other day (YAY!!! Photos to follow...).

My dad's graduation, captured above, represents the culmination of approximately 40 years of diligence, tenacity, and an inspiring love of learning that I am so proud to be a part of. The celebration of this special occasion was truly a feast for the senses. Whether it was your own graduation ceremony or that of a loved one, can you recall the intense emotions that were stirred within you when you:

*HEARD the processional music, HEARD your name or loved one's name called, HEARD our national anthem played as you stood facing our flag and perhaps sang along,

*first SAW the hundreds/thousands of students and families gathered together in this (perhaps large and somewhat overwhelming, perhaps small and intimate) space, with various emotions (love, joy, pride, relief, etc.) displayed on their expectant faces,

*SMELLED the congratulatory flowers decorating the auditorium stage or given to you by a loved one, or the crisp clean paper of your new diploma, or the surrounding air that just somehow seemed different on that day ("the SMELL of success?),

*experienced through your body senses (TOUCH, kinesthesia, vestibular) those congratulatory handshakes, loving hugs/kisses/pats on the back, walked across the stage to accept your degree, moved your tassel to the other side of your graduation cap (and tried not to eat it while posing for photos),

* and TASTED the delicious, nurturing, energizing food at a celebratory meal following the event?

Whenever I attend the graduation of a loved one, I notice that I take in a lot of energy through all of my senses. At the same time, positive memories of my own graduation experiences are triggered, along with corresponding emotions. If not at a graduation, you may have experienced something similar at weddings or other special occasions...SO POWERFUL!!!

If you'd like to share, I'd love to hear about your experiences with this as well. If you have not fully taken in and appreciated a life event with ALL of your senses, I encourage you to make a fun experiment of it the next time you have an opportunity to do can even be something as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood.

Why is all of this important and worth mentioning here? Quoting Dr. John Travis and Ms. Regina Ryan from The Wellness Workbook (2004), "Vast amounts of energy are received from our environment and channeled by our physical senses...and they serve as our most basic form of communication. It is through the senses...that we come to know and enjoy the world (p. 45)."

If we are not staying present in the moment (a very common challenge for most of us) and remaining fully aware of how we are taking in sensory information, then how much JOY are we really able to get out of our lives???

Food for the Soul...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

Taking a moment today to reflect on the local and national tragedy of the massive damage done by yesterday's tornadoes and dangerous storms that are still moving across the country toward others I love and care about...BE SAFE, please...

I am so grateful that my family was not in the direct path of this storm (though I went to sleep with some anxiety in my chest about the high winds, thunder, and lightning flashing outside our windows, praying to not hear the sirens we have recently heard multiple times), and at the same time my heart aches for those who lost their lives, loved ones, homes, etc. Sending prayers and positive vibes out into the universe for all who are affected by this (which, in reality, is everyone to some degree, when we truly understand our interconnectedness).

Thinking about all of this brings me back to the first dimension of Wellness, SELF-RESPONSIBILITY and LOVE (Travis, J.W. & Ryan, R.S., 2004). Please allow me to explain:

According to their definitions...SELF-RESPONSIBILITY means (among other things)

*"Making choices and living courageously in the midst of uncertainty"

*"Expressing yourself-both your ideas and feelings-in ways that effectively communicate to other people who you are and what you know"

*"Engaging in projects that are meaningful to you; being supportive of others; and respecting your environment"

and LOVE means (among other things)

*"Listening to your own heart-treasuring your inner wisdom"

*"Responding to life's challenges as opportunities for growth, rather than as problems"

*"Realizing your connectedness with all things and acting in a way congruent with that."

With this in mind, I felt moved to share some of the resources I am looking into to attempt to help others and move forward in a positive way in the midst of the know, yin yang and all that balance "stuff." I may be a military spouse, but currently this is my HOME. This could have been US. People nearby are hurting.

If any of y'all are looking for information or ways to help, please check out the following:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rosy Outlook

I had a fabulous time this morning at the Joy To Life Foundation's 10th annual Walk of Life 5K! Almost 5000 runners/walkers...breast cancer survivors, children, dogs in pink tutus, family members with pink hair, face painting, rockin' music, and more! I feel so blessed to have been able to walk with some great friends and in honor of my gram, aunt, and a very special college friend. After last night's heavy rain, lightning, and tornado sirens, the warm sunshine, blue sky, and cool breezes in downtown Montgomery, AL today were a welcome change of pace. Between the fire department's pink shower and confetti, local Gospel group serenade, sky writing, good food, etc...I think I can safely say a good time was had by all while raising money for a worthy cause. Here's a picture showing what was done to all of the public fountains around the city: (Pink fun is that???!) As I'll discuss more when we cover the "Moving" dimension of Wellness, I often like to combine my exercise and charitable efforts with time outdoors, socializing with friends, and honoring friends and family members who have demonstrated great strength and courage in the face of challenging health issues. I see this scenario as "Win-Win-Win-Win-Win!" Covering so many wellness dimensions at the same time feels wonderful...sort of similar to the feeling I get when I can get a really great deal on something I'm shopping for, but even better. :) So, though my legs are a bit sore, my weekend is off to a pretty fantastic start...Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you fully enjoy it!

Friday, April 15, 2011

So What???

Welcome to my blog! :)

You may be wondering why I'm blogging or how in the world this blog may be of interest to you...good questions.

My intention is to create, through this blog, a monthly forum for fun, lively, interactive discussion and information/perspective-sharing that has its foundation in WELLNESS.

What is "Wellness?" So glad you asked! Many definitions exist, but the one I have chosen to focus on in this blog was developed by John W. Travis, M.D. and is featured in the "Wellness Workbook: How to Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality" (2004): "WELLNESS is a CHOICE - a decision you make to move toward optimal health. WELLNESS is a WAY OF LIFE - a lifestyle you design to achieve your highest potential for wellbeing. WELLNESS is a PROCESS - a developing awareness that there is no end point, but that health and happiness are possible in each moment, here and now. WELLNESS is a BALANCED CHANNELING OF ENERGY - energy received from the environment, transformed within you, and returned to affect the world around you. WELLNESS is the INTEGRATION OF BODY, MIND, AND SPIRIT - the appreciation that everything you do, and think, and feel, and believe has an impact on your state of health and the health of the world. WELLNESS is the LOVING ACCEPTANCE of yourself." Personally, I cannot think of anything better to strive for than that, can you? As an organizing structure for posts, I will utilize Dr. Travis' Wellness Wheel, which consists of the following 12 Dimensions: 1. Self-Responsibility and Love 2. Breathing 3. Sensing 4. Eating 5. Moving 6. Feeling 7. Thinking 8. Playing/Working 9. Communicating 10. Intimacy 11. Finding Meaning 12. Transcending Each month, therefore, we will focus on one of the 12 dimensions in turn, sharing ideas and experiences, resources, etc. that specifically relate to the featured wellness wheel dimension. I will have a Reader POLL posted on my blog (visible at the bottom of each page), with a question related to the wellness dimension of focus for the month. Please jump in and share your ideas, preferences, tips on what works for you, etc.! That is what really makes this process come alive. I will update posts at least monthly regardless, as this is what I am passionate about...but it adds to the fun for me to also hear about others' ideas and experiences that we can all learn from together. So, pop in, say hello, share a comment, etc., whenever you feel moved to do so... I welcome you to come along on this Wellness Journey with me, and look forward to our joint discovery of what will evolve throughout the process! Thanks so much for stopping by... ~Gail

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Just Breathe"

Easier said than done at times, yes?

This month's wellness area of focus is know, that thing we do every day that keeps us alive but we typically pay very little attention to? Yeah,, what's the big deal, anyway? Why should we care about this? Let's take a moment to reflect with some relevant quotes:

"Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts." ~Thich Nhat Hanh

*So true! Let's think about this...breathing supplies our blood/brain/bodies with oxygen and sustains us physically. At the same time, it enables us to think more clearly and act more productively. Many spiritual practices incorporate breathing the breath truly is a unifying force to be reckoned with!

"There is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted. Then, there’s another way: a breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity." ~Rumi

*Have you ever noticed how shallow and constricted your breathing is when you are anxious/fearful/stressed/etc.? When you panic, how clearly can you think? On the flip side, can you think of a time when you took a wonderfully deep cleansing breath in (while walking outside, practicing yoga, etc.) and immediately felt more relaxed/at ease/calm/powerful/connected to something larger than yourself? I have experienced both sides of this coin, and can say with certainty that I prefer the latter!

Here's a good one that speaks to the value of breathing and living fully and richly: "Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?" ~Mary Oliver

A final thought: "A lifetime is not what is between the moments of birth and death. A lifetime is one moment Between my two little breaths. The present, the here, the now, That's all the life I get. I live each moment in full, In kindness, in peace, without regret." ~Chade Meng, Taoist poet

Friday, March 25, 2011

Get Your Spa On!!!

Hey! It's Spa Finder Wellness Week...did you know? Up until this Sunday, March 27th, you can get $50 services or 50% off of various types of pampering and stress-relieving services at spas around the check out their website and enter your zip code to see what's out there! There's no better time than the present to take good care of yourself!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pampering our Home Front Heroes

Like to get pampered??? (Who doesn't?)
Check this out: Area Military Spouses Honored WSAV TV

The news article above highlights the combination of two of my main passions and purposes in writing this blog...wellness and the military community! So often, the times when we most need to practice good self-care are the times when we are busiest and most overwhelmed by numerous responsibilities that compete for our precious time and energy. You certainly don't have to be a military spouse to relate to this concept, but the spouses of our deployed military personnel experience this quite intensely on a regular basis. I know, because I have been in their shoes. As I will discuss throughout my blog, self-responsibility and self-love forms the foundation for all wellness. The status of our self-care sets the stage for the quality of our interactions in every other area of our lives...personal relationships, professional performance, etc. If you want to be able to care for others to the best of your ability, remember to take good care of yourself FIRST!!! Follow the lead of these folks and go practice tai chi, get a massage...local spas will often offer huge discounts (50% or more) on such services via sites like GroupOn. In fact, I took advantage of this deal just the other day, per the recommendation of a fellow local military spouse, and got my appointment set up for tomorrow. Ahhhh...I feel much better already! :)