I’m on a mission! The mission is to live the life I have imagined: a more purposeful life; a more balanced life; a life with time spent with family and friends; a life with time spent doing things I enjoy like traveling and tending to my small farm; and a life with less worry.
MY FIRST BOOK, Live the Life you Have Imagined! has launched.
On a recent Saturday, our running team was at the local park doing a hill workout … in the rain. You wouldn’t think in such a location and under those circumstances, there would be any life lessons to learn, but there was.
Normally we do learn the lesson that hard work has a pay-off. Our various workouts are timed by Coach Wayne and we use the stopwatch to gauge our progress. This session was no different in that regard.
The weather now presented another obstacle all together. Besides fighting our inner demons of fatigue and wanting to quit, we now had the weather to contend with. It was cold AND rainy. We’d learned to deal with the cold by wearing multiple layers of clothing and gloves. The rain required a waterproof jacket or slicker during the two-mile warm up. But that had to be shed when it was time to rock and roll and coach had his stopwatch in hand.
I silently prayed, asking for a break from the rain and my wishes were granted with periodic sunshine peeking through the clouds and an off and on again subduing of the rain. (There’s a lesson in there about asking for what you want.)
But the biggest lesson I learned that day had to do with the observance of others, and I don’t mean my fellow running buddies or those participating in that weekend’s 5K race or even those out for a morning jog.
No. It had to do with two men I observed when we walked back down our 200-meter hill only to run up it again at full speed, for a total of 8 times! We were on about trip number 5, when I observed the first man crossing the road in front of us with a sleeping bag in one hand and a small duffle bag in the other. Behind him, back about 50 feet, was a second man walking a bike with belongings in the front basket and holding a sleeping bag.
It hit me. They were homeless. They were traveling in the park with their only belongings in tow because the rest of the world had now converged on their abode, necessitating they “move on.”
We were tired. We were wet. We wanted to quit but knew we couldn’t – the rest of the team wouldn’t let us. Our only bright light at the end of the tunnel was that we were more than halfway done, or on the down-hill side of the up-hill work out.
Observing these two men put things into perspective. We were complaining little babies compared to these guys. We knew once the workout was over, we’d enjoy a hot breakfast, a warm shower or bath, and a comfy bed to lay our heads down at night. They would not.
A lump formed in my throat. I tried not to cry, lest the team see me and wonder what was wrong.
What was wrong is that I could see, right before my eyes, how incredibly lucky I was to be living my life versus the one they were currently living. I was thankful and grateful beyond measure.
Once I had this revelation, the remaining runs up the hill, even in the rain and the post-workout cooldown were easily completed, for there is always something to be thankful for.
It bears repeating: There is always something to be grateful for. Just look around with open eyes and an open heart.
Does it exist? How can we get it? These questions and more answered below.
As women we are constantly juggling our work responsibilities with our personal or family life. We were taught growing up that our family was our job and we were privileged to even get to work in a man’s world (no matter if it was at 75% of their pay).
Nonetheless, some of us had to work to help with expenses. Some of us were and are the sole support of our families and/or ourselves.
No matter the circumstances, most women struggle with fitting it all in and the dreaded Work/Life Balance.
You might think you are alone because you just can’t seem to manage the ‘balance’ part of it. Do not despair. First, you are NOT alone. This is something we all suffer from. Secondly, there is no such thing as a perfect Work/Life Balance.
I think the term was developed by same ego-inflated male who desired to make all women feel like failures! Well, maybe not, but do not let the expectation of doing it all in perfect balance make you feel inferior. It is a myth. It might be a well-ingrained myth, but it is a guilt-ridden myth nonetheless.
You might wonder why I use the word “HARMONY” versus “BALANCE”.
To me, that denotes a flow, a contentment, a sense of ease, not a 50/50 balancing act.
The dictionary defines Harmony as the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions having a pleasing effect. To me that is more what Work/Life Harmony is all about – Living your personal and family LIFE in perfect HARMONY with your WORK, just like a well-orchestrated song. Ying and yang. High notes and low notes. Pleasing not only to the ear, but to the heart.
As we travel on this journey through life and learn to juggle the many responsibilities, trials and “lessons” we are given, we need to keep in mind our Work/Life responsibilities will continually change. There is no 50/50 balance at those times for sure!
Think about when your children are small and require so much more of your time. Think about the times when your husband is deployed on a military assignment, or out of town on business. Think about the times when your parents are aging and might need you more frequently.
And then there are work responsibilities that also have ups and downs for most of us, like when you have an important looming deadline, or a co-worker is out sick, and their workload falls on you!
Think about the times when YOU might be sick with the flu or even a serious illness and unable to handle your normal duties at work or at home.
We have all been there. We have all experienced these circumstances.
There are some ways to make it through after you realize you are not alone, and it is an impossible task anyway.
Learn to delegate, delay, or delete. We really don’t have to do it all. Ask your spouse to help cook or stop at the store for groceries. Ask your children to do the dishes or laundry. We aren’t the only ones who can load the dishwasher correctly or wash the clothes perfectly. The goal is to get the most important tasks done. You don’t get extra credit in life for having everything perfect.
If you are single you can even share cooking duties with a friend. Make double batches of dinner and swap with them. Or better yet, cook dinner together and share responsibilities. There are ways; you just might need to be a bit creative.
Be realistic, too. Some things just don’t need to be done. You might have some things on your imaginary to do list (imaginary because it is too long to even write down). Just face it, some if not all of those items might not ever get done or even need to be done. The guilt is crushing you. Let go of it!
Other tasks can be delayed. Think about the outcome if something really doesn’t get done by your deadline. Is there a big consequence? Is there any consequence at all? Would anyone besides you even notice? You see, maybe rearranging the pantry is not such a big deal anymore. Same goes with sorting out your underwear drawer. Some things in life don’t have to be perfect, they just need to be good enough. These are the things easiest to be delayed or deleted from your agenda.
And even if you suffer from the dreaded Fear of Mother Syndrome – you know the one where your mother or maybe mother-in-law comes over and gives the top of your refrigerator the white glove treatment along with a scowl that says – you missed something.
Or the look of discontent on your mother’s face that says, “you didn’t iron the tablecloth” for Thanksgiving dinner, when you were thinking, “hey, I found a clean one and it will be covered with dishes anyway.”
Don’t let their attitudes make you feel less than. YOU know you are doing your best. YOU know you have given 110%. Remind yourself it is NOT THEIR JOB TO JUDGE YOU!
Distance yourself from any unkind or unsupportive comments. Don’t let those arrows stab your heart! Your children are more likely to remember if Mom was relaxed and happy at the holidays. I guarantee you they will not remember if the tablecloth was ironed.
Work/life harmony constantly changes. Don’t feel like you must fit into someone else’s definition. Create your own harmony. Create your own way. Life is not a one size fits all event!
Allow yourself to be creative in your manner to fit it all together. It is possible to live a harmonious personal life and work life! You just need to learn to do it your way.
Find out more ways to begin living your best life at JanieJ.net.
Your mindset matters! If you don’t know how or why it’s important to harness this ability, I’m about to explain how a simple shift can and will change everything.
Have you ever noticed how some people always have a sunny disposition? I have an uncle like that. He was constantly so cheery that I often wondered if he was wearing the proverbial rose-colored glasses or simply blind to the various family calamities.
While other would have dwelt on the negatives, such as the loss of his wife in her 50’s, the closing of his business or moving from the family home to another town, he did not. While others may have lamented when grown children and their families moved to other towns, suffered serious illness, divorced or experienced financial woes (you know, the stuff ALL families go through) – he did not.
Instead he focused on the happiness and joy in his life: being blessed with more grandchildren, new marriages, new jobs and the many accomplishments of his children and grandchildren.
There is actual science behind all of this. When we look at life in a more positive light, it changes our brain chemistry. It releases serotonin and other feel-good hormones.
Conversely when we feed ourselves negative things, even negative self-talk, like, “I’m too fat,” or “I’m not pretty enough,” or “I’ll never be able to do that,” our subconscious mind takes it to heart and those ideas become our conscious thoughts. Those conscious thoughts shape our reality.
This follows along with the Law of Attraction – “You are what you think” or “You become what you focus on” or even “The Universe will comply with your wishes.”
So, if it’s in your power to be happier, wouldn’t you want to do so?
It starts with gratitude.
Be grateful for your many blessings. We all have something to be grateful for. If you are reading this now, you have the blessings of eyesight, a roof over your head and a computer (or at least a phone).
Let this positivity bring happiness and joy into your life and the life of those around you. You can greatly encourage the folks around you to look at life differently, just by your example. When you change your mindset, it often rubs off on others.
If they want to continue to have a gloomy outlook, the least you can do is to shake it off like a dusty old coat and refuse to wear it.
Back to my uncle:
He found love again and has been happily married now for over 20 years. He has recuperated from two serious heart issues and is still active. He keeps tabs on the lives of his children and grandchildren despite their living in other towns.
He has defied the odds and is happy and healthy at the age of 92!
Improving our mindset is something we ALL can do. Challenge yourself to make that shift!
As I observed a dear friend I could see in his eyes and hear in his comments – someone had been unkind to him. Who was it – a parent, a lover, or a friend? Someone had scorched his heart in the past, so much so that it left an indelible mark that I could sense.
It was a gentle reminder to me of the unkind words I had said to others in the past. I remember their pain due to my careless words and actions. At the time, I vowed to try harder to be kinder. I found “nicer” words to say or said nothing at all. I learned.
Now I was staring into the gentle eyes of another soul who had been deeply hurt. It drove home the message – be kind to others, lest you create more hurt and pain in the world.
I thought about how we sympathize with the woman who endured physical or mental abuse. Friends encourage her not to accept such treatment. Subsequent lovers vow to treat her better.
This begs the question – how is it we can see the harm done to someone by other people, but we are often blind to how our treatment of loved ones is crushing their spirits, their hope and their lives? How can it be that it sometimes takes “seeing” the pain in someone else’s eyes to realize that we have done the same sort of damage in the past to others?
Next time you recognize the hurt in another, remind yourself to do better, be nicer, be kinder, and choose your words carefully, so you are not the perpetrator of such sadness. Lift them up with a kind word or smile.
I encourage everyone to think more about their actions and be kinder to each other. This is how God would want us to live.
Who would have thought two years ago when I was overweight and just starting my fitness journey, that today I’d be training for the National Senior Track and Field games?
Certainly not me!
Let me take you on this journey and explain how it all happened…almost seamlessly.
I knew I was overweight. If I didn’t know it by the number on the scale, the tightness of my size 12 pants was a sure giveaway. My attempts to attend classes and even hire a personal trainer at the local gym did not produce much in the way of results.
It was just another thing to do on my endless “to do” list. Drastic action was in order – and something that would become a lifelong habit.
It started easily enough with a free trial week of bootcamp. Although the workouts were difficult in the beginning, they were invigorating! I must admit, I wondered if I could really make the 6:00 am class, but it became a habit in less than a week. I was motivated by the caring staff and other “recruits” who were also on their fitness journey.
Additional classes exposed me to Pilates, rowing, cycling, and walking/running.
At first, I could only run a short time, a very short time. I learned there was an “app” to tell you when to walk/when to jog. I worked up from mostly walking to eventually all jogging.
I learned from Coach Debbie about proper form and good posture. I still can hear her in my head telling me to stand up straight!
I asked Coach Heather how to get better and was informed to jog more than once a week, which led to faster jogging.
Then I learned about the importance of core work (aka crunches and various iterations) and how it helps with running. I learned about cross-training and integrated rowing and cycling into my workouts.
Exercise alone will not create weight loss, so I worked on eating healthy and the pounds came off.
In one year, I was down to size 6 pants. I had more energy and was much happier! This required a new pastime – shopping! I never thought clothes shopping was fun, but when you are in a smaller size, it can be! The clothes actually fit and look good. I consciously gave away my fat clothes, knowing I would never wear them again.
I still wasn’t running as fast as I wanted. Then my friend Beth invited me to check out her running group of elite masters track athletes, led by Coach Wayne Morris, a former 800 meter regional Master’s track champion. OK, I agreed; I would check it out.
The workouts were fun. Coach Wayne and the team were encouraging; very encouraging. He said he could help me get my time down and he did: on a 5K, my mile time went from 12:30 to 9:30 minutes in only a couple of months!
This was verifiable evidence that the workouts were helping! I felt stronger. I looked stronger.
Heck, I was stronger!
The team encouraged me to attend the Pasadena Senior Games in June 2018, so I decided to check it out. I placed second in 800 meter and 1500 meter for my age group. Not bad for my first track meet ever!
Remember I mentioned how my journey was “almost seamless?
I pulled a leg muscle at that meet and was required to rest until it healed. Then I made the mistake of trying to run again before it healed completely, which just delayed my recovery even more.
Lesson learned: listen to your body!
But I was happy because placing at the Pasadena regional meet qualified me to compete at the National Senior Games.
Workouts are more rigorous now that I am a national-level competition athlete. Life seems to revolve around track practice. The scenario is something like this: run, hot bath, eat, wash gym clothes and repeat. Luckily, now that I retired from real estate, I’m able to fit it all in.
This may not sound like such a remarkable journey but considering I didn’t run in high school and I’m now 65 years old, it just goes to show ANYONE CAN DO IT!
It just takes the first step towards your goal.
Then push your comfort zone a bit to your next goal.
Keep expanding it and you’ll grow in ways you’d never imagined.
This journey reminded me a bit about my trip to Philadelphia last year, when I visited the famous “Rocky steps.” I ran up all 72 steps! (The only one in my tour group to do so).
I know what it feels like to set new goals and reach them. I envision myself as Rocky when I am running those long 8 and 10 miles on Sunday. I tell myself to keep pushing. (Honest, this helps!)
I am looking forward to the National Senior Games in June 2019 where I’ll be competing as the youngest person in my age bracket. See, getting a year older has its benefits!
When was the last time you enjoyed a “little slice of heaven”? My trip to Wyoming can only be described as just that — a little heaven on earth! It’s peaceful; the views are gorgeous and nature abounds everywhere. There are horses, cattle, birds, flowers, trees, mountains, rivers, clouds and plenty of sunshine! You can fish, hike, ride (horses or bicycles), walk or just SIT and enjoy being outdoors.
After a morning ride out to enjoy breakfast cooked at a camp along the stream, we enjoyed ‘Top Hand’ training where we practiced rounding up cattle. What fun! The gourmet meals are sumptuous and the desserts are to die for. At the very least, both require a looser notch on our cowboy belts!
Meeting new cowpokes from all over the USA is fun too. But the best part by far is just enjoying the great outdoors! Connecting with nature in only a way that a tech-free environment allows. No cells phones or TV, limited wi-fi, and if necessary – we resort to a land-line. This is the life – one more way to Live the Life You Have Imagined!!
What would be YOUR idea of a little slice of heaven? Dream a little…then work towards making your dream a reality.
Do you know what brings you joy? Is it smile on your loved one’s face? The dog wagging his tail and encouraging you to play ball? Or is it the beauty of a fresh bouquet of flowers?
We all have different things that bring us joy and bliss and every sort of happiness in between. It is important to identify YOUR JOY so you can consciously seek out more of it! You are perfectly within your rights to think, do and act upon every little thing that brings you happiness and joy. It doesn’t have to be a BIG thing like a trip on a Caribbean vacation. It could be fresh flowers cut from your yard or baking a batch of homemade cookies.
Think of this as a “quest”, something you are actively seeking. Ask yourself this questions, “If I could have anything I wanted at this moment, what would it be? What would make me happiest? What would bring me joy?” And then go for it!
Many things we automatically rule out are actually easily within our reach, if we just try. Other, bigger ideas might be verging on breaking the budget or seem like just too good to be true! I urge you to ask for it anyway! The Universe has a unique way of bringing things to us that we ask for – so why not ASK?
People are amazed at the things that bring me joy that I have actually asked for and received. A rainbow. A cloud to move so I can finish my yard work in the sunshine. Good weather for outdoor parties. The perfect wardrobe attire. A friendly face when I need it most.
One simple thing that brings me great joy is fresh flowers. I cut roses from my yard when they are available. If not, I buy them weekly. It really lifts my spirits to see them in my bedroom each morning….
Remember to follow your bliss!
Want to find out more ways to live your best life, then check out my first book, “Live The Life You Have Imagined”, available at Amazon.com. Click Here:
Recently I enjoyed a week in a new city and did, well, pretty much NOTHING! This is a rather new activity to me, one which I am endeavoring to learn. In my previous life, before self-discovery and starting to lead the life I imagined, vacations (few as they were) were spent racing from one well-known tourist attraction to another. It was a great way to see many sites in Europe and I do not regret it, but now I appreciate another way of travel.
I remember quite clearly when this shift began. A dear relative had passed away and several family members and I were in San Francisco for her funeral. Before the church service and ‘Celebration of Life’ party, we drove around to see a bit of the city. During the drive, my roommate mentioned going on vacation to our homeland – locations in the former Yugoslavia. I asked her what sites they saw. She mentioned a few non-touristy places with more of a local interest to our distant relatives. Mostly they spent time visiting, eating, drinking, and repeated those activities during their entire stay. I was dumbfounded! The thought had NEVER occurred to me to pay all that money, travel all that way, and DO NOTHING! What sort of a return on your investment is that?
Now I get it. I finally get it. Vacations are for rest and relaxation. It is time to recharge your batteries. (No wonder mine were running on empty for years!) Sure, site-seeing is fun and educational, but even those trips can include more R and R, so I have learned.
So when I went to Arizona to check out some property and see a friend, there was not much on the agenda. I went to Key Hole Mountain, the Herd Museum, Old Town Scottsdale, and enjoyed some nice restaurants. Most of the time was spent in the lovely pool at my AirBnB. It was a very nice pool, but I have a nice pool and yard at home too. What was the difference, I pondered. The difference was I could actually RELAX somewhere else. There was no need to check emails, prune the shrubs, or water the grass. I was at someone else’s home where I was only responsible for paying the nightly charge. It was a revelation to me! I was truly able to relax.
My goal now is to translate that experience into my everyday life. When I am floating in my pool, with the water fall gently running, I intend to be carefree and enjoy every minute of it. Someone else can be responsible for the emails and the yard work. This IS MY TIME!
Are you a beach-lover? I most certainly am! It started when I was young and went to the beach with my parents to Morro Bay, California to go “clamming”. I remember being around 11, dressed in my “jams”, which were quite popular at the time. If you are too young to remember, “jams” were comprised of a halter top and knee-length shorts, in a wild Hawaiian pattern. It wasn’t very sexy, but for a young in’ not yet interested in boys, it was considered stylish! Jams were for swimming, but wet suits were required for clamming.
Before dawn, we would go to the shore, dressed in our black wet suits. We walked out in the water as far as we could and still expose our heads above the water. We used our special pitch forks and pushed them deep in the sand, hoping to hit something hard, hopefully a clam, and would dig it up in between the waves knocking us down, to check if it met the required size limit. Afterwards, we enjoyed a hot shower and fresh clam chowder. Oh, those were the days…
Now my trips to the beach are comprised of walking or jogging along the shore, soaking in the sounds of the sea gulls and crashing washes. It is a precious time for reflection, soul searching, and soul-soothing. It is a way to work out problems or just let them go. It is a time to listen to God, the Universe, and to yourself. I swear I can feel my heart rate slow down.
My last visit to the beach was to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Kure Beach, North Carolina. Both are lovely places to visit. Myrtle Beach is no longer the sleepy beach town from years ago. High rise condos line the beach. There is plenty to do besides golf, for which it is well-known. They offer some great seafood restaurants, shows and venues for family entertainment.
From South Carolina, I took the ferry across to Kure Beach, North Carolina, in my rental car. I laughed when Google Maps said, “keep going for one more mile.” Apparently, it thought I was driving! Kure Beach IS still an unpretentious beach town where the standard attire is flip flops and a bathing suit. You can wear shorts and a shirt if you really want to dress up! They have a lovely beach, great restaurants and many special events such as outdoor music throughout the year. The best part was meeting up with old friends! When you are a solo-traveler, it can be a welcome break to see a familiar face or two.
For those who have never gone to the beach, I highly recommend it. Save your pennies, dimes and nickels. Save your lunch money, coffee money, or whatever is necessary and find a way to visit the nearest ocean! Your soul will thank you.