Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Me Time

My favorite me time is, after bringing my daughter to elementary school, and then my son to middle school, and then my teen to high school, (whew!), I have time to have breakfast in peace. Mostly at home, where I prepare my perfect cup of coffee and maybe my own-made bread and some butter or cheese.

The highlight of the breakfast is the leisurely reading the newspaper, scanning it entirely from cover to cover, without so much of a hurry, or so much of a whiny noise anywhere around!

And then comes 11am when I have to get my preschooler ready for her mid-day shift in school.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mission: Be Kind to Myself for a month

I dare to be kindest to myself!

Acts of Kindness to Thy Self by Carole Fogarty:

20 Simple Acts Of Kindness To Get You Started:

1. Be kinder to your intuition. Too many times I hear people not trusting their gut feeling or intuition only to realize it when it’s too late. Be kind to your spiritual well being by trusting that little voice inside.

2. When your thinking feels over crowded be kind to your body by releasing the pressure from your head with a few gentle deep breathes, a stretch, child yoga pose or some potent hand yoga.

3. Be kinder to your stomach, digestion and get maximum nourishment out of all your meals by promising yourself to never eat whilst walking, standing up or doing something else at the same time.

4. Be kind to your largest organ - your skin. Treat your body to a daily body brush to improve the removal of waste from your body.

5. Treat yourself to a massage. You know you deserve it. Touch is one of the most healing and nurturing gestures you can offer your body. Be kind to your body.

6. Before rushing off in your car, sit quietly for 60 seconds, take a few deep breathes and ground yourself. Be kind to your thoughts and actions as you drive. Don’t get caught up in driving stress. Create breathing space between you, stress and the traffic before you leave your drive way.

7. Be kind to your ears. Turn off the noise. Let your ears hear the peaceful sound of silence. Switch off the man made sounds from your phones, TV and mobiles. Soothe your soul with peace.

8. Be kind to your nervous system. Stop rushing through your day on full throttle. Add pockets of “down time” to give your body a chance to unwind and de-stress. Create 2 mintues of “priority you” time every hour.

9. Be kind to your feet. When was the last time you thanked your feet and offered them some kindness with comfortable shoes, a relaxing foot bath or a fabulous pedicure.

10. Be kind to yourself. Monitor your thoughts and reduce the negative chit chat you may have about yourself. Grab yourself an affirmation to replace your negative conversation with “ I am happy healthy and whole” A Louise Hay affirmation.

11. Make your morning teas simple acts of kindness. Enjoy your cuppa or drink away from your desk, the phone or TV. Make sure you throw away that chipped mug and enjoy your cuppa from a mug or cup that you love to look at, touch and sip from.

12. Be kinder to your restful sleep. Rejuvenate the energy in your bedroom. Make sure your bedroom is not a multi purpose room. Calm and relax its energy.

13. Be kind to your appearance. Spend an extra 5 minutes making yourself feel better with what you wear, how your hair looks, your jewellery or your make up. You deserve to look and feel special, every day, no exceptions.

14. Be kind to your sense of smell. For me personally I love putting 4 drops of pure essential rose oil each morning on my face. The smell is nothing short of divine. Better still fill your home or office with smells that uplift your spirits.

15. Be kind to your hands and sense of touch: Show your hands how much you love and appreciate them. Treat them with a special hand cream. Massage the palm of your hands or place an eye pillow over them.

16. Be kind to your eyes. Don’t stare for hours at a screen, treat your eyes to natural light, circular movement or rest by closing them.

17. Be kind to your spine. Lie for 5 minutes on your yoga mat, eyes closed, arms relaxed and eye pillow on. Focus on your breathe and feel with each exhale your muscles unwind and relax.

18. Ground yourself by connecting with nature. When was the last time your feet weren’t standing on a floor, concrete, car park or shopping centre. Hug a tree, sit on the grass, let your bare feet touch the earth. Connecting to nature is a wonderful way to bring more kindness and well being back into your body.

19. Be kind to your body by moving it more. Go for a walk, enrol in a yoga or tai chi class, buy a push bike or dance when you clean your home

20. Be kind to yourself by inviting more play and fun into your life. Don’t take life too seriously. When was the last time you were spontaneous? When was the last time you ate ice cream or chocolate for breakfast?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Climbing out of burn-out

Burn-out is a physical and mental state you turn into by placing your body under severe strain until all resources and energy more or less is consumed, and the body can not recover without prolonged restitution and other necessary actions.

You don’t get burned out over night. The symptoms of wearing out come very gradually. Burn-out is not an own diagnosis. The doctor will instead use for example Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I am old enough to have suffered burn-out. I suffered maybe 2, in fact. The first was when I held a job that I so did not like. to make things worse, I was not even earning enough as a single mother to buy my son's milk, without help from relatives. I chugged along because I was trained to die committed to duty and to never quit.

Well, life taught me another lesson. It taught me when to quit. My body gave in: I had fevers for a week (only at night), and then my hair fell off. I freaked out and took a leave of absence to discern what I had to.

What I had to do was to re-assess my life choices. I had to earn a living, true. But I had to be passionate (or at least, alive) about it. My spirit was dying and my body was close behind.

I gathered my guts and did what was then unthinkable: I resigned from the job. To be uncertain and out of a job was way out of my usual orientation. But then again, it was the only way to unlearn the over-achieving traits I had clung to for so long.

My burn out taught me so many things. One, I have to be kinder to myself, expecting less, pleasuring it more. There are things beyond my control and even after my best efforts, I cannot predict anything for sure. I have to regularly stop and check out my emotional and spiritual gauges and make sure that I am still alive and that my resources have not been depleted for the sake of duty.

Two, I have to train myself to cognitively see the positive side of the present, instead of being jittery about the future, or depressed about the past. It takes time to see the blessing in disguise, the silver lining of the storm cloud. But the time spent is all worth it as happiness is a matter of perspective and a matter of choice.

I am now in the middle of my life and I have once again burned out, taking in things bigger than I can chew. The symptoms were familiar: fatigue, depression, and then fever, allergy, conjunctivitis--all signaling my body's weakened defenses.

I cannot write, though I have been a writer by profession. My old hobbies are not interesting at all, and I just sort of lost my mojos. I am going through the motions and I am just blown around by the currents of midlife.

But I stop and get a grip: Instead of looking the present recession, I will see the fact that I am in one of the most prettiest cities in the world, where the weather is just beautiful. I have legal papers, my children are happy, healthy and thriving, and I have a job in the midst of a million lay-offs.

Instead of making mukmok at home, I will see the fact that I haven't been to the coast of Point Reyes, I plan to take my family on an RV to Grand Canyon, and maybe take that cruise to unwind. There are so many joyful things to do and I must no waste my time getting burned out nor depressed.

Ergo, Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

I will run, I will crochet--even when I don't want to. And I will write, even if I feel I don't have anything to say.

On this second burn-out of my life, I recognized the symptoms early and I will summon all my will to climb out of it.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Reason to Run

I have been running here and there, mostly in the gym, on the treadmill, for some of last year. This year, I ran more. . and more. When I felt depressed, I ran. When I felt anxious, I ran. When my husband was in Manila, it got quite lonely and unsettled. I ran. When I lost my job, I ran.

Instead of ruminating on thoughts of midlife torture, I put on my running shoes and just took off, hoping to run away from everything. After 30 minutes of running (which is really a speck in real time), I find that my mind and spirit are clear, albeit my body is achy. But since physical pain is secondary to emotional turmoil, I ran again.

Everything hurts when you start to run--the knees, the shins, the feet, the back, the neck, the upper arms, even the head. There were times I would feel sick, sore, and limp the whole day after. "What's wrong, mommy?" asked my younger kids.

"Head, shoulders, knees and toes," I would say, and they would giggle.

"You look like you've been hit by a truck or something," noticed my older boys.

Something magical happens after a third of a mile, specially when running on a trail. The body is warm and loose. Thoughts drift away from feet, to head to spirit. There is just you. I become one with the crisp air that hits your face, the sound of my feet on the trail, the smell of pine trees, and Rihanna's Disturbia. Wonderful as the surroundings seem to be, that too, fades out into thought. The body is in auto-pilot and the mind is free to wander away from mundane constraints, to a land far, far away.

"Mom, are there video games in heaven?"

"Everything that will make you happy is in heaven," I said.

In real life, the mind counters the body, doubting it. My spirit is very shy, prone to conflicts between my distorted and learned mindset. ("You can't do this, you can't do that.") That magical portal happens when the mind, spirit and body are running as one. To get all that trinity in unison is a powerful thing. No one doubts the other, lest they feel the physical pain.

The body is forced to release endorphins, the "runner's high," better than cigarettes, sweeter than coffee, very much like deep and personal prayer--a feeling of connection with your Creator. It's like a peaceful walk in the park, on a sunny day, when you feel loved, and you are just you, like all is well in your heaven, no worries. And that feeling of happiness and peace is a piece of heaven--my reason to run.

And though some days, I feel nauseous when I see my sports bra, I know that in no time, I willfeel better. I have signed up for my first 5k "fun run," which was really not fun to train for at the start. But, just like it is after the first mile, most things are a matter of mind over body, and with spirit in unison, think of the possibilities. . .