I realized something this morning as I was cleaning out the junk that is that is the Purple Palace (yes, I actually named my bedroom that)…I have fallen into the same trap that society foists upon us. I have focused way too much of REAL Woman Wednesday upon the physical…size, shape and beauty.
But I of all people know that is only scratching the surface. As a spiritualist, I know that our bodies are intricately connected to our minds and spirit. As a health educator and former personal trainer, I know the importance of adapting a holistic approach to health. Even the World Health Organization (in all its Big government excellence) defines health as:
A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Pretty big order of business? Is it any wonder that we struggle in this modern world to achieve even a semblance of that?
So today, rather than focus upon the external elements of beauty, I want to spend a bit of time sharing with you just five of my secrets for staying young, keeping in balance and maintaining my physical and mental health as much as possible. These are, of course, in addition to the standard…eat well, rest and exercise.
1. Learn to listen to your body. Have you ever been driving down the road when your ‘check engine’ light came on? Were you one of the smart ones that pulled over and did just that? Or did you foolishly think…stupid light must be mal-functioning? Our bodies too are miraculous. They tell us when we are hungry, when we are tired and even give us advance warning when we are getting sick.
The problem is…too few of us actually listen any more. Eat when you are hungry. Nap when you are tired (this one was a HUGE lesson for me). Slow down when you are stressed. This truly is the first step to health.
2. Don’t under-estimate the effect that your environment has on you. I am not just talking hot or cold, wet or dry. I am talking about things like noise level, order and location.
Granted sometimes you cannot do much in the short term about this one. I know that living in a big city is not good for either me or PanKwake. But it is not possible to just load up the covered wagon and head off for the Wild West. We are not nomadic and able to follow the rains. But knowing this and setting the goal of getting the hell out of the city as soon as possible is first step.
An equally important one is making the best of the space that you find yourself in at the moment. Now, admittedly, we have a tiny London flat crammed full of PanKwake. At times I feel like we are a bad episode of ‘Hoarders’ (my older kids certainly tell me we are often enough). Then the other week a friend cat-sat for me. He actually is a hoarder. And my poor kitty went feral. FERAL, folks! That really emphasized the point to me.
So this morning when I should have been writing, I spent four hours re-organizing the Purple Palace. Because it had gotten to the point that the clutter was actually affecting my ability to write/work. Is it gonna make Better Home & Garden? Hell, no! But it is better than it was. I can walk around my bed. I can sit here an type without feeling overwhelmed. And that is what matters…for now anyway.
3. Connect with others, but always make ‘me’ time. Seven years ago when I was battling depression and anxiety following the miscarriage, one of the things that really saved me was getting out. Finding the mental health day center and connecting with other people.
Even now when I find myself slipping back into the spiral of stress, anxiety and depression I force myself to reach out to others. Sometimes online friends and some face-to-face ones. PanKwake is a real blessing in that sometimes. Forcing me to get out, to take her places, to see friends. Of course, with her own autism, she too can have times when she just wants to retreat to home base. But that is all right too. We all need quiet moments. Time to ourselves…or alone with those closest to us.
Going back to the environment one for a moment…that is why I always try to make our home a fortress and refuge. The one place where we are free to be ourselves…no apologies. I remember one time that illustrates this perfectly.
PanKwake had her friends over. They had been over for quite a while actually. I knew that she was getting tired and anxious…I was too. My beautifully autistic child came out into the hall looked at the Mom and said…it’s time for you to go now. I know that society tells us that is impolite…but fuck it. That is a perfect example of why autism should be spelled…AWE-tism. And no, I did not and will not ‘correct’ her on that one. Her home…her rules.
4. It’s okay to say ‘No.’ Speaking of hard ones to learn/do, especially for women it seems. This one has been and still is one of the hardest for me. I had a friend call earlier aking if I could watch her sick child so she could work. PanKwake was still asleep. The living room is destroyed. I was still working in the Purple Palace. And we are just recovering from a cold ourselves. All wonderfully logical reasons for saying…No. But I was still swamped with guilt. And am.
Honestly, saying ‘no’ or setting any kind of limits is something that I am just now learning…as in the past few months. Sometimes like today it is a straight out ‘no.’ Other times it is setting firm limits…yes, BUT.
But this is ESSENTIAL. It is so incredibly easy to get burned up or out if you don’t. Then you won’t be any use to anyone…those friends…the ones closest to you…or yourself. It may only be two small letters…N-O…but damn are they important. At least sometimes.
5. Life is a great balancing act. Those are the words from one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors (probably my MOST favorite). The book is Oh The Places You’ll Go and the author/philosopher is Dr. Seuss. I can’t think of a better way to end this blog than his words…
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes, You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 per cent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!