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Week 8: Adding joyful activities to your life

Monday, November 22, 2010

Last week was week 7 on our 10-week journey toward a healthier lifestyle. We have come SO far... and it's all been in the way of small, baby steps. We took our time and we've used every week to make a small, do-able change.

If you've made ANY of these baby steps into real habits in your life, you have been successful! Success sometimes comes in small sizes, but the important thing is that when it comes, it's REAL. You ARE eating more fruits and vegetables. You ARE drinking more water. You ARE keeping a journal. Whatever step became your habit during this journey, big or small, that's a victory. So congratulations on everything and anything that has become REAL for you so far!

Last week our baby step was to explore spiritually based exercises, specifically yoga and chi gong.
This week, week 8, we are going to be less physical and more mindful and thoughtful, in order to create a healthier life.

About two years ago, I went to see my physician. And I told him about all that was going on in my life. One of my biggest complaints was my that I was feeling very stressed out. Everything, and I mean everything, was a burden. I felt exhausted.

The doctor said to me, "It sounds like you don't have much joy in your life, Pat." I thought about that statement. And the doctor was right. There was no joy! Everything I was doing felt painful. Everything was a drudgery.

My work at that time was INSANE. I was working for a client that must have been spawned from Satan himself. That company was that evil and unforgiving to work for. One of my eyelids actually twitched for weeks because of the stress that I had allowed myself to be placed under. And I have to emphasize the word "ALLOWED."

This wasn't someone else fault. This was MY fault.

The doctor made it clear — I was viewing life without joy. It was a CHOICE that I was personally making. It wasn't that life had no joy in it. It had lots of joy! But I had forgotten a few things along the way of my life.

One thing I had forgotten along the way was the importance of making time strickly for myself.

Only a few years earlier, I had regained that in my life, at least to a degree. I was recently divorced, and my life was no longer about my ex-husband and his life. So I was going out quite a bit, either with my kids or with friends, and enjoying life in a much more full way. I met a wonderful man during that time, and we started traveling a lot, which is something I love to do. In the first six months of our dating, we had taken four overnight trips — including two to Florida and one to Las Vegas. But in a very short amount of time, maybe a year or so, I became, yet again, about everyone else. The economy changed, and I found myself working myself to death to help us maintain our lifestyle. I would spend many late hours at the computer... I would find myself working sometimes until 2 or 3 a.m.; there were even times, I wouldn't go to bed until 5 in the morning, and then would get up at 7 a.m. to help the kids get ready for school!

When I would go to bed on time, I was having trouble falling asleep. Hours would go by, and I couldn't shut off my brain. And none of the thoughts I had were pleasant ones. Anxious and ugly thoughts would pop inside my head.

I had forgotten how to count my blessings. And that was a downright sin, because I had so many! Great parents, a good man, wonderful kids... and a comfortable environment.

And yet, I was fixated on work and worried about finances; I was consumed in fear and anxiety. Nothing seemed to give me joy. I needed a serious attitude adjustment, and luckily, my doctor recognized it and brought it to my attention.

So today's show is going to be turning around that attitude and reintroducing JOY into your life, as I did that year.

The first thing I did was to recognize the situation. As always, the place to start for change is acknowledging the truth at hand. I had to agree with my doctor — I was NOT finding joy in my life. I wasn't doing joyful things, and I wasn't bringing joy into the things I was doing. But now that was going to change.

So to do this, I started exploring resources, because I wanted to gain some support and knowledge on how I would enjoy myself more. At that time, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed, so I thought organization books might be part of the answer, to remove some of the clutter and chaos from my life. In searching for resources, I found and purchased a fantastic book — Hannah Keeley's Total Mom Makeover by Hannah Keeley. From this book came many of the ideas for taking care of myself that I have used in this radio show. One is to get up earlier than everyone else and to set up a bedtime routine as well, to create some "me" time that I could truly love and enjoy for myself. It also helped me organize my life, so it wasn't so crazy all the time.

Then my dear, newlywed husband, Steve, gave me a fantastic gift. I had always wanted to go to an overnight health spa — one where you at healthy foods and exercised all day long, and lived a truly healthy lifestyle... to know what that would feel like. And he gave me the money to do that. That was his wedding gift to me. I used it to springboard into a better life. That was two years ago, and I still think very fondly about the time I spent there... and next week, I'll suggest how we can experience the same thing at home. It's going to be a great show!

Next came one of the best books I have ever found on self-care: Cheryl Richardson's book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care, a book totally devoted to taking care of yourself. Taking care of yourself... It sounds like this book should never have needed to be written... and yet, there was a need, an important need, as we often forget while we care for others to care for ourselves.

Not long after reading Cheryl's book, I found The Artist's Way, the creative methodology to which I adhere and facilitate to others via my workshops. In The Artist's Way, author Julia Cameron talks about how important it is to fill the creative "well" of our soul, to prevent a creative drought. To do this, she suggests what she calls "Artist's Dates" — deliberate time set aside solely to do something enjoyable, purely enjoyable.

So I did! It was summer, and I started to create outings with my husband and my children, just because those outings would be fun. I started to think about doing things simply because they were fun. And I didn't worry about what else had to be done... because right now was FUN time. Just fun time. And when I did enough of those "artist dates," the joy I experienced did indeed fill me up, and it started to permeate the other areas of my life!

Doing joyful things helps balance out your life and make the not-so-joyful things more bearable. And even with those things, the not-so-joyful things, I tried to shift my attitude, so I would find something wonderful in EVERYTHING that I did. I looked for joy, and more often than not, I found joy!

Because of all of this dedication to becoming more joyful, I started to become a healthier person. I had a true metaphysical epiphany along the way. I started to feel so much better than I had a few short months prior to that day I visited my doctor with all my woes.

And, then... Wouldn't you know it, that client returned — the client from hell, who wanted me again to work under their hell-like conditions. And as hard as this was, because money was tight and I did need the work, I said NO.

No job was worth jeopardizing my health, my well-being, and my joy. I truly believe we all need to provide in someway... that we all are to be a productive and a useful part of society, and serve others in someway. But serving this company, with all of their outrageous demands, crossed the line into mental and physical abuse, and I, in returned, had also crossed a line — into the territory of my mind and spirit that would no longer allow THAT — the agony of working for such a client — to happen to me. I promised myself "never again," and when I stayed true to that promise for myself, that alone felt so good and so empowering! I honored my promise to myself, and I honored MYSELF in the process.

So this week, I invite us all to take an artist's date. Carve out time this week to do something fun just for the sake of doing something fun. It could be alone, it could be with others, but it has to be something enjoyable. Don't tie it to anything practical! Let it just be a fun and joyful event. And moving forward, let's try to do that every week, or at least, a couple of times a month.

And let's also count our blessings and find joy everyday, in everything that we do, so we never lose sight again of the joy that is present in all of our lives.

So let's list just where we are on the journey, so we can continue being accountable and getting results!

We are:

* developing a MINDSET that will keep us focused and motivated to stay on track with our lifestyle changes.
* journaling our eating and our exercise habits on a daily basis.
* measuring and weighing ourselves to monitor our progress.
* drinking adequate water — up to 8 glasses of water a day.
* seeing a medical doctor, and following his or her drug and /or supplement prescriptions.
* getting to bed at a time that allows for around 8 hours of sleep every night.
* watching our calories, staying within our prescribed limits as confirmed by our doctors, and replacing a lot of the white grain-based foods and fatty fried foods with lots of fruits and vegetables, raw or cooked in a healthy way.
* doing cardio exercise, 3 days a week.
* lifting weights, 2 days a week.
* introducing yoga or chi gong... which include tai chi... into our life.
* creating and participating in deliberately joyful events every week, and continuously looking for joy in our everyday activities!

Now, this would also be a great week to also do some self-evaluation. Think about these baby steps we've done so far. If you review my blog, you can see the more about each step, week to week. And ask yourself these questions:

What have you done well? What has become a habit? What are you doing consistently?

What hasn't gone as well? What are you not doing that you really WANT to be doing? Why aren't you doing it? What would get you past your roadblocks so that you would start doing it?

Use these answers to improve on the successful changes you've already made. And again, congratulations on everything you've done so far!

The changes, while they are small, are steady and for me, they are producing results! I still have a long road ahead of me, but I think doing this journey with the rest of you has made an impact on my life. So I thank all of you who have listened to this series. You have kept me accountable, and my life is changing in a positive way because of it. Thank you. You are all a blessing and joy to me.
Now, I have to tell you — you will want to listen to NEXT week's episode for sure, or at the very least, listen to the archive or come here to read the blog. It's going to be such a FUN episode! The activity that we are going to be doing is going to take a lot of creativity and planning to pull it off, but I want you to try to carve out the time for it, because it's so worthwhile and fulfilling.

We are going to create our own, at-home, health spa experience. It will start on a Friday evening and go all the way to Sunday morning. During that time, right at home, you will recreate what a day at a health spa actually feels like. To be honest, it'll be very different and maybe even a little difficult to do, because it tends to jump into the extreme, and up until now we've been in baby-step mode. BUT NOW... it's time JUST for you. You can do this with a friend or your significant other as well, so it can be time just for the two of you! There will be some investment of money, but you won't have to pay the arm and the leg you have to pay when you actually reserve accommodations at the health spa/resort. And you'll gain many of the same benefits, including the teaching of your subconscious of what a healthy lifestyle feels like, looks like, and sounds like... to the point of creating a vision for your mind's eye that can make a healthier lifestyle even EASIER as you move forward. It's a one-of-a-kind episode... I've never seen anybody else try to present such an opportunity — I'm going to teach you and show you how to do this for yourself, and you can do it anytime and as often as you can do it. :)

Don't forget that I am available as a profession life coach to help give you the support you might need in reaching any of your dreams and desires, including the journey that we are currently on!
So if you need that sort of support, you contact me by writing me at I give a FREE consultation to everyone and anyone who would like one.

I invite you all to stop by again on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Central time for my next show, as we continue this life-changing journey to healthier habits and weight loss! The next one is our health spa at home show — do not miss it!

Dream big everybody!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • IAM_HIS2
    Wow...a lot to think about and a lot to gain from your blog!!! Thanks.
    2494 days ago
    2494 days ago
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