Dealing with Fear

Fear. That’s probably something that a lot of us are feeling right now. We are living in a world full of unknowns since the recent outbreak of the COVID-19/Coronavirus. While there is reason to be concerned, we should not let fear overtake and overwhelm us. There are many ways to be prepared and to help prevent the spread of this virus. For the elderly, it is a very good idea to be extra cautious. Elderly are reported to be more at risk to complications from this virus then those who are younger than them.

 

 

Take the steps that the CDC has put into the place to keep yourself safe. Some of these steps are:

While it is good to follow the steps above, we need to make sure that we do not go into panic mode. That panic mode comes from a place of fear. It has been proven that living in fear can have significant impacts on your mental and physical health. Some ways that it can affect you are:

-changes in eating or sleeping patterns

-difficulty sleeping or concentrating

-worsening of chronic conditions or diseases

-increased use of drugs, tobacco or alcohol

 

There are many more ways that fear can affect your body. But I think one of the main things we need to focus on are ways to work through that fear and not to dwell on it. If you are living in an assisted living home, you are probably already being quarantined for your safety. Here are some ideas of how to not focus on the fear and to help with any boredom that you might be experiencing:

  1. Shut off the news, media or even Facebook for periods of time throughout the day. Constantly having your mind bombarded with all the chaos can really cause anxiety.
  2. Take care of yourself. Relax, remember to eat healthy, stretch, take a nap, meditate, pray or read your bible. Whatever it is for you that helps you feel peaceful.
  3. Don’t be afraid to talk to people about your feelings of anxiety. Verbally processing things can help sort out all the chaos going on in your brain. If you already struggle with issues of mental health, this is all the more important!
  4. Try to find activities that you enjoy to take your mind off of the current situation. Reading, doing puzzles, making crafts, sewing, playing games, etc.
  5. If you are living in an assisted living home or nursing home and are experiencing a time where you aren’t allowed visitors for quarantine reasons, this is a great opportunity to call people on the phone or even write them letters the old-fashioned way!
  6. Try to find things that you are thankful for in this season. Even if it’s small, try to find one thing per day. This really helps in changing our mindsets from negative to positive!

Above all else, try to reflect on this acronym for the word F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real. So many times, when we are afraid, it’s because we are constantly going over the what if’s in our minds. Try not to write the script before it happens. Most of the time, the what if’s that we spend so much time worrying about never happen anyway.

 

7 Simple Ways to Help Your Aging Loved One with Diabetes

Let’s talk diabetes. For many, that is a big scary word that most people never want to hear from their doctor. Usually when a diagnosis like this comes, it means that there has to be some dramatic changes in our lives. Most people do not like change, especially people who have gone through many seasons of life. If you have an aging loved one who was recently diagnosed with diabetes, you might be feeling overwhelmed about how to best care for them. Especially if they are living alone or in an assisted living home. How can you help them when you aren’t constantly there to check up on them? Here are 7 ways that you can:

 

 

  1. Open up communication with the staff of the assisted living home and your loved one’s doctor. When you keep communication lines open, it will make you feel reassured that your loved one is getting well looked after, even when you aren’t there.
  2. Go along to their appointments and take notes about anything that the doctor says. Research the disease beforehand, that way you know which questions to ask. If you can’t make it to an appointment find someone that they can trust to take them instead.
  3. Make sure to talk to the nurses at the assisted living home about your loved one’s medication regimen, any diet changes that are needed, and about the level of exercise that the doctor says your loved one should be getting.
  4. Encourage your aging family member in any changes that need to be made to help improve their overall health. This could be as simple as learning how to use a daily glucose test and showing them how to do it. Or helping them understand which medications they need to take and when.
  5. Ask their doctor about which exercise regimen is good for them and either drive them to their exercise classes or PARTICIPATE in it with them. Exercise will help lower stress levels and in turn bring down blood sugar levels.
  6. Another way to help is to get creative with them in the kitchen. With diabetes, doctors usually recommend that they have a good diet full of a variety of vegetables and proteins. Sugary foods and lots of carbohydrates can really hurt a diabetic. This can be a hard one to change, especially if your loved one has spent most of their lives eating processed food. Share the journey of getting healthier with them so they don’t feel like they are all alone in it. Make new recipes together or help them modify some of their old favorites to make them healthier. Another way to help with food is to help stock their kitchen with good healthy snack choices for them to eat throughout the day.
  7. For diabetics having wounds or blisters can really be a cause for concern, especially on the feet. Because their nerve endings are damaged it could be hard for them notice if there is any damage to their feet. If it goes on for a while without treatment, this could lead to serious problems like infection, gangrene or amputations. So please teach your loved one how to regularly check their feet. Also encourage them to wear shoes or slippers that will prevent them from stubbing their toes or falling.

Overall, just try to be there for your loved one. They might not show you that they appreciate it, in fact they might show you the opposite. But try to keep encouraging them that you are only trying to help them keep their independence longer so that they can live the rest of their lives to the fullest.

Water! Why It’s So Important

Our bodies are made of approximately 50% water. It is a well-known fact that in order to keep our bodies functioning properly, we need to constantly be replenishing that supply. On average, we lose about 2-3 quarts of water a day. This can vary depending on the time of the year, your activity level, and if you’re on medications. For seniors, it is especially important to be maintaining good hydration. As we grow older, it becomes easier to forget to drink water, one of the reasons is because our sense of thirst diminishes. Dehydration is actually one of the top reasons that the elderly end up going to the hospital. That’s why it is extremely important for the elderly to drink, drink, drink! Let’s look at more reasons on why drinking water can better your health.

 

  1. Prevent Sickness and Disease

Being dehydrated can actually be a major contributing factor to a lot of the diseases that those in their later years suffer from. Kidney problems, heart problems, diabetes, arthritis, joint pain, headaches, and asthma can all stem from not drinking enough water. Water lubricates the body, which would help your joints. And it also keeps your digestive and urinary systems running smoothly so you won’t suffer from things like constipation, UTI’s, and kidney stones. Water helps your body flush out the nasty toxins that create the health issues listed above.

 

  1. Gives Your Brain and Emotions A Boost

One of the things that happens when our bodies are dehydrated, is that our cells shrink. When this occurs in your brain, it can cause you to have a foggy mind, memory problems, and not be able to make decisions easily. So, drinking plenty of water can help keep your brain sharp! It will help you feel better mentally and emotionally. Studies show that those who drink more water are often in a way better mood!

 

What if you don’t like drinking water? What are ways to keep your body hydrated? I think we have all been there, where we are just sick of drinking plain water. I totally get it! Here are some tips to stay hydrated in other ways!

 

When living in an assisted living or nursing home, it can actually be harder sometimes to stay hydrated. Different things can contribute to this. If the facility is short staffed, it could be harder for the workers to meet everyone’s drinking needs. Or if the resident has any physical impairments that could cause them to need help to eat or drink, it could be harder for them to get enough fluid intake throughout the day. If you do have a loved one in an assisted living or nursing home, please keep checking up on them to make sure they are staying hydrated. Ask the nurse about how they are doing when it comes to their urine output. And about how much they are eating and drinking each day. The nurse should have it all in their charts. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions and stay proactive in your loved one’s life.

 

 

 

Five Superfoods for the Elderly

Our entire lives we hear about how important it is to eat healthy. For most of us, it’s something we hear and always wish we could improve on, but struggle to have the motivation to do so. Instead of thinking of how hard a lifestyle change can be, start thinking of how much better you will feel when you eat food that will actually fuel your body. This is especially true for the elderly. The common mindset among the elderly is that as you get older, you get weaker. While this is true to an extent, it also has to do a lot with the foods that we are putting in our bodies. It is possible for those who are aging to have strong, energetic bodies. I have a great aunt who lives in the Colorado Rockies, she is 86 years old and still hikes them frequently. I can guarantee you that she did not remain fit by frequently indulging in the processed foods that we commonly eat today. Here is a list of five superfoods that can help you maintain a healthy physique as you age:

 

  1. Avocados

Avocados are probably one of the best superfoods on the market. For the elderly they can help with digestion, as they are full of fiber. Avocados are known to be a heart healthy food that contains potassium which can reduce the risk of heart problems, stroke, kidney failure, and can even help lower blood pressure. They are fat soluble, which means that they help your body absorb the nutrients in other healthy foods that you eat with them. There have also been studies that show that the nutrients in avocados can help prevent cancer, relieve arthritis pain, and promote eye, skin, and hair health. You can eat these plain or in soups, salads, and smoothies.

 

  1. Blueberries

Blueberries are another great superfood! They are full of Vitamins C, A and K. They are another heart healthy food that can help in lowering cholesterol. Blueberries also contain flavonoids which can help your night vision and keep your brain sharp! They are yummy to just snack on, put in oatmeal/yogurt, or to use in smoothies!

 

  1. Quinoa

This is one of those superfoods that is lesser known. Quinoa is a grain and is a good source of iron, calcium, fiber, magnesium and protein. These nutrients can help relieve constipation, build strong muscles, relax the muscles, increase blood flow, and is good to help your body eliminate disease causing toxins. Quinoa can be used as a side dish, in salads, as a breakfast cereal, in soups, or in baked goods.

 

  1. Pink Salmon

Pink salmon contains lots of Vitamin D, which is good for bone health. And is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids which can lower the risk of heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, and lower blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Make sure you get salmon that is wild caught. It is way healthier and doesn’t contain lots of the toxins that farm manufactured fish do. Salmon can be baked in the oven with olive oil and whatever seasonings you prefer.

 

  1. Broccoli

Broccoli is good for us for many reasons and it’s simple to make, which is a win! Broccoli is full of fiber, helps with metabolism and lowering blood sugar. It can also lower the risk of high cholesterol, osteoporosis, certain cancers and heart disease. It is stocked full of vitamins A, C, B9, and K; all of which will boost your immune system and bones. When you cook broccoli, it is best to steam it so that you don’t lose the nutrients in the boiling water.

 

Whether you are living independently, in an assisted living home or nursing care facility. It is up to you to set the standard for your health. Just making simple changes in what you eat can really help you maintain a more enjoyable lifestyle. If you are a family member reading this with a loved one in an assisted living or a nursing care facility, try to encourage your family member by helping them buy healthy foods and coming up with creative ways to eat them.

Nursing Homes and Loneliness

Okay, let's all just admit it, nursing homes can be rather depressing.  The visitors notice it, the staff notice it, & the clients do not mince words about it.  Long hallways with group dining rooms at each end make one think of hospitals.  Even if there are colorful decorations on the walls, the comparison is impossible not to make.  It is, of course, a nursing care facility.  The clients wouldn't be there unless they had need of that nursing care.  And so, with the holidays in full swing, I want to address the inevitable topic of loneliness in nursing homes.  It is there, if you're brave enough to face it.  But does it have to be? I don't think so.  I'd like to address the staff, families with loved ones who live in a facility like this, and finally the clients who live there because it takes all three of these to make care homes less lonely and more like an actual home.

First: staff.  Your shoulders already carry a great burden.  You walk each day into your workplace knowing that someone you've grown to love may have passed on in the night.  It can be easy to begin to distance yourself emotionally from the patients in order to protect yourself from further hurt, but please don't.  You are often the only smiling face that they see in a day & maybe the only face.  If the faces you see are so limited in number, it means a great deal whether they are wearing a smile, a grimace or a stern frown.  Greeting them and asking about their family is very important.  Remembering the names of some of their grandchildren can mean the world.  Taking five extra minutes to hear a story you've already heard can brighten their day.  Sometimes they know they've already told you the story...they just want someone to be near and they haven't been anywhere in a long time so they don't have any new stories.  Keep encouraging them to write to loved ones, to reach out, to visit with their neighbor lady down the hall, to join in the activities.  We all need connection, and with it, the loneliness ebbs away.

Second: family.  You're exhausted from having to deal with all of the medical emergencies and financial difficulties of your loved one who has gone into care.  It requires almost a full time job just to sort all of the paperwork involved.  You probably haven't even started fully sifting the emotions of watching your loved one lose their independence.  If you have, that can be even more painful than the paperwork involved in finding the help they need.  You may be tempted to call them less frequently, or stop in less often because they might very well be angry with the world (and you) for the situation they find themselves in.  Don't.  If anything, call more often and visit more often.  Especially during the holidays.  The feelings they are having are acute indicators that they still have fight left in them.  Let them know that they're not forgotten because they moved addresses.  Also, help them to re-discover some of what made them who they were before they went into nursing care.  If they were always caring for others, it can make it very difficult for them to sit back with nothing to do.  Find outlets for their creativity, their talents and their love of others so that they don't lose heart and so that they don't lose purpose.  It's important for all of us, but especially for them as they struggle with feelings of uselessness. Keep brainstorming until you come up with something they'll really enjoy.

Third: clients.  Despite everyone else's best efforts, no one else can make you feel better if you are determined to close off your heart.  It hurts to care.  It hurts not be able to do what we once did or see who used to see regularly, but if you open your heart to the new people around you, you might find a great deal of purpose in your life.  Some of the nurses caring for you might be going through a painful divorce.  Some might have severely handicapped children at home.  Some of the other residents might have extreme and chronic pain. There may be people in your new circle of acquaintances that would really benefit from a shoulder to cry on or at least a listening ear or a smiling face.   Those who are younger might very well be willing to listen to some sage advice from someone who has trodden the path of life for many years and has far more experience.

This life is tough.  It's tough for you and it's tough for them.  If we all allow our hearts to open to one another, however, we might find the loneliness begins to subside and a real family atmosphere begin to develop, even in nursing homes.

Community

Most people are aware that community is healthy for elderly citizens.  Our article on loneliness discussed some practical ways that seniors can combat the routine loneliness that tries to overtake them.  All of those ideas are important, but the community aspect of senior life is one of the most important because without at least a small community, many people fall through the cracks.  So, if you are a senior citizen in a smaller, rural community, this article will give you some ideas of places to go where you can meet  others  and help cultivate an appreciation for others in all generations and also establish  contact that will benefit you and others around you.

  1. Farmer’s Markets. These lovely little pop up markets are common to smaller towns.  They are full of a rich variety of people offering great food and produce.  If your town or area has one, you could benefit nutritionally from above par produce, but you could also benefit if you return regularly by meeting and establishing relationships with the same vendors week after week!
  2. Art Guilds. If you are from a smaller community, there are generally established art guilds in the area that encourage certain artforms, such as quilting, spinning, wood-working, etc.  If any of those things is within your interest area or expertise, it is work looking into.  Once there, you’ll find others who share your talents and interests.
  3. Extension offices. Most states have these offices and they have information on all kinds of activities to get involved with.  There are often classes and particular clubs that meet in your area that focus on everything from homemaking to agricultural or gardening interests.
  4. Co-ops. Whether they are food buying co-ops or other types, co-ops are a great place to meet people who are like-minded.

5.  If you’ve never been a church goer, you may not realize the incredible sense of community that comes from being surrounded by those who care.  Churches are a great place to cultivate relationships that are long lasting.

6. Gym or exercise classes. Try your hand at a gym or health club membership, especially if they offer classes for other seniors that have programs that are specific for the elderly. It’s possible to get in shape and make friends all at one time.

7.  Community theatre or music. If your town has a community theatre organization, they may love to have your talents on display for their acts, or they may benefit greatly from your other skills in costuming or even for practice reading lines.  If this interests you, try out.

8.  Festivals or celebrations. Most small communities have at least a few festivals per year.  Find out how you can be involved, even if it is acting as Santa or Mrs. Claus for the local children at Christmas! If your community has a parade, find out if there’s someone who needs a volunteer to throw candy from a car or float.

Instead of focusing on things that you cannot do, think about what you COULD help with and look for opportunities to get involved.   It might be an inspiration for other generations, and also for those from your own generation as they look for community of their own!

 

Remembering Forgetfulness

 

 Forgetfulness seems to be a problem in the aging population.  Honestly, it’s become a problem in people much younger than ever before.  Things like stress, lack of sleep and underactive thyroid can be underlying issues when it comes to forgetfulness, as can alcohol use.  In this article we’ll be talking about common forgetfulness, not the deeper & more serious issues like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  If you suspect these might be playing a role in your own forgetfulness or that of a loved one, please seek help from a medical professional right away.  There are some promising things coming out in that field, and the sooner you get help, the better it is for treatment.

 

Forgetfulness seems to become more prevalent after we have a few years under our belts, but there are things that can make it worse than you’ve noticed before.  Let’s start with lack of sleep.  During the process of sleep, our bodies are not just resting.  This is the time period when things in our short-term memory are being transferred to our long-term memory.  If your sleep is interrupted too many times, this working process is not completed and it is impossible for those memories to “stick” in long term memory.  Be sure you’re getting adequate amounts of sleep by sticking to an evening routine.  Turn off devices with light emitting from screens.  Be careful of what you eat and do right before bed to be sure it will not upset your sleep.  If you continue to have trouble sleeping, talk with your doctor about other things that you can do to help overcome the insomnia.  You will most likely see an increase in your ability to remember as soon as your sleep issues are dealt with.

 

Forgetfulness can also be increased in people with heavy amounts of stress.  Stress can be caused by good or bad changes in your life.  If you have a large amount of stressors in your life, do not be surprised if your memory is compromised.  If you’ve moved, gotten a new job (even if it’s a good shift) and had a loved one die in the past few months, your stress levels will go up and your memory will likely be affected.  If you have enough stress that you are feeling out of control & unable to cope, be sure to talk with a counselor about it so that you can get the help you need to move forward.

Forgetfulness can also point to other health issues.  If you are feeling like your brain is foggy a lot of the time, it may be pointing you to look at your thyroid.  Especially if the brain fog is accompanied by extreme fatigue, weight gain and hair loss, you should have your thyroid levels checked.  Once you know whether it is an issue or not, you’ll be able to choose a course of treatment that will work for you.

Multitasking is another, often overlooked cause of forgetfulness.  When we multitask, our brain is not allowed to put things into our short-term memory securely.  We switch to the next task before the thought is allowed to sit.  If we add to that sleepless nights, our brains do not have a chance to take those short-term memories and transfer them to long-term storage.  When we multitask, we are, in effect, training our brains to forget just as quickly as a task is performed.  If we do this often enough, it becomes the standard by which our brains operate.  If we are consistently checking our phones, for instance, in the middle of another task at five minute intervals, our brain will automatically make allowance for that and switch off to check our phone even if we were not planning to do so.  Brains thrive on habit formation.  Make your little habits work for you instead of against you.  Set a time or two each day to deal with messages that might come through on your phone or email.  Decide not to check them other than that.  If someone urgently needs to reach you, ask them to call you so you know it’s important.   Force your brain to attend to longer and longer periods where you’re working on only one thing at a time.  You’ll notice that it is difficult, but it also feels great!

Lack of hydration can cause a decrease in your mental awareness. B-12 deficiencies can contribute.  Lack of exercise can slow you up enough to decrease acuity.  There are a wide host of things that can contribute or cause forgetfulness.  Be sure to address your health from an overall health perspective.  You may be amazed at how much all of those small changes can add up to huge life change! Most importantly, remember forgetfulness!  Forgetfulness is your body’s way of screaming at you to let you know that there is something that is not right within your functional and cognitive systems.  It is something that you need to fix in order to be healthy.  Do not neglect it!

Finding Adventure Later In Life

Adventure is necessary to mental health.  Don’t believe me?  Why do we read books?  Why do we watch movies?  There may not be extreme adventures, but there is almost always some bit of adventure that makes the story appealing to us.  We love stories, because we long for that adventure, even if we are simultaneously a bit fearful of it.

It is perhaps common as we age to notice that our sense of adventure fades a little.  We begin to think about the inherent risks in each activity we undertake more than when we were in our twenties.  We think about the repercussions if the risks were realized.  That may be good on some level.  With age wisdom can come to us.  But, there is a greater risk than those that we think of avoiding.  We run the risk of losing the sense of adventure.  Aging doesn’t do that, we choose that.  There are plenty of ways that we give up that sense as we age without realizing it.

- We start to drive only on paved roads.  Remember being young and taking your vehicle down some shady dirt roads that led to who knows where in a jalopy that was prone to breaking down?  Of course, I’m not advocating that you do that!  The only reason we did it when we were young is that we were short-sighted and could walk long distances without tiring.  But, as we age, generally, our vehicles become more dependable.  We almost always have a map of the area that we’re in.  We also travel with GPS and cellphones regularly.  With all these extra measures of safety, why wouldn’t we take a side route on a gravel road.  You can go slowly if you’re worried about your paint job, but you are much more likely to see wildlife, find hidden away pockets of culture and perhaps even an out of the way gas station or café that you’d love to frequent.  It’s a beautiful thing to have the time and freedom to do this, so take the opportunity and run with it!

It is perhaps common as we age to notice that our sense of adventure fades a little.  We begin to think about the inherent risks in each activity we undertake more than when we were in our twenties.  We think about the repercussions if the risks were realized.  That may be good on some level.  With age wisdom can come to us.  But, there is a greater risk than those that we think of avoiding.  We run the risk of losing the sense of adventure.  Aging doesn’t do that, we choose that.  There are plenty of ways that we give up that sense as we age without realizing it.
- We stay in temperature-controlled environments far too often.  When we were young, we’d go to the swimming hole or lake when it was dreadfully hot & sometimes even when it was dreadfully cold and made our lips turn blue.  We’d play in the snow until we were soaked through our outdoor wear.   As we age, we get a lot more particular about the weather that we’re willing to endure, and consequently, we see a lot less of the world around us and even appreciate our shelters a little less because we do not realize what they are protecting us from.  Start out small if you feel like you’re becoming a little too comfortable indoors.  When it rains next time, grab an umbrella, put on some rain boots or old shoes and go outside to stomp in the puddles.  Go wading in the lake.  Have a picnic at the park.  You do not need to go to extremes to enjoy your life more, little steps will get you there. And, the adventures will keep you young at heart.

- We give up getting together with friends.  Over the years of raising families, and then doing our own rounds of elder care, our friendships can get shoved to the back burner.  It’s far easier to stay home than to arrange to get together with people.  It requires less of us to socialize.  We do not have to worry about weather conditions, food choices or talking points.  But with this choice comes a great deal of monotony, loneliness and boredom.  Even if you go out for the night and spend time with someone who annoys you terribly, you’ll have something to think about the next day.  It’s more likely that you’ll go and spend time with someone that does not annoy you and you’ll have pleasant memories to carry with you later in life.  You’ll also feel your spirits lightened and maybe a few new jokes to tell!

Adventure does not have to mean that you set out to climb Everest.  It doesn’t mean that you have to swim the English Channel, although if you do, please let me know so I can cheer you on!  It only means that you need to keep reaching out, keep exploring, keep learning and growing no matter the season of life that you’re going through.  If you are house bound right now, your sense of adventure might mean that you ask for a laptop to learn a new skill like coding or speaking a different language.  If you are unable to lift over 10# perhaps you can begin learning piano and taking longer walks than you’re accustomed to.   Whatever you have as a limitation, work within that, but always keep growing in other ways to compensate.

We only have so many days here on earth.  Let’s not regret our use of them!

Beginnings

It is a new year.  With all things new, we tend to have our hopes set very high.  It is common, especially when the year is at it’s start to have high hopes for the things that will change in the coming year.  The bad habits that we’ve formed over the past years, we hope to discontinue.  We also hope to somehow work our way toward a healthier & happier life in the year ahead by forging new habits with some sort of immense willpower which has, until January the first, alluded us.  Our expectations may be unrealistic & our efforts laughable, at times. After having no exercise routine for years we suddenly hope to run 5 miles a day, 6 days out of the week.  After drinking soda daily since we were teens, we hope to drink only water, herbal tea and probiotic rich drinks.  But, just because we sometimes set unrealistic goals for ourselves does not mean that new habits are futile to try to attain.  On the contrary, new  & wholesome habits are important and worthy goals set.  There are better ways to go about it, however, than strictly by grunt-force willpower.

1. One at a time. Habits are formed through doing them, not by resolving to do them. For this reason it is best to choose one habit at a time to work on.  It takes a great deal of energy to make the decision to do something new each time you must do it. For instance, if you do not have the habit of walking each morning, it takes just as much effort to decide to put on your gear and get out the door as it does to actually do the walking.   Once the effort of decision is less, you can move on to more habits that you’d like to form, but not until then, lest you abandon the progress you’ve made on the first habit.

2. Specific, Measurable, attainable, reasonable, trackable. You’ve probably already heard of making goals that are “S.M.A.R.T”.  Remember to make your goals each of the things listed above.  It is better to say, “I’m going to eat at least 2 green vegetables a day,” than “I’m going to get healthier this year.”  If you can measure a goal, you’ll know whether you’ve reached it or not.  If you cannot measure a goal, you can easily fool your own mind into believing that you’ve attained it, even without evidence.

3. Once your goals or habits have become easier, move on to solidifying them in such a way as it will be difficult to break them in the future.  Try to be sure you do them 21 times in a row, without pause.  Notice how much easier it is each time.

4. Wagons & Trains. You’ve probably heard habits described as ruts in a road that makes it easier for a wagon to find its way with ease. They’ve also been described as putting down track for a train to later follow on easily.  Whichever way you look at it, habits are the pre-cursors that we follow on, often without thought.

5. Good or Bad. Because it would require too much effort to think through each action, habits are actually little blessings throughout our day. If you had to pay heed to things like tying your shoes each time that you did it and decide to do it a different way each time, your mind would be full of that action & unable to think ahead to some of the heavier decisions that had to be made throughout the day.  One thing is certain, we are forming habits all throughout the day, every day.  Not making your bed each morning is just as much habit as making your bed.  Eating sugary cereal and coffee is just as much habit as eating veggies and eggs.  You are laying down rails through habits.  Is the railway taking you where you want to go?

Newness

If you are lucky enough to live in a place where the snow falls across the landscape periodically in the winter, you know what newness looks like.  For those of you who do not, you’ll have to use your imagination.

Imagine the fall season, when everything looks beautiful for awhile.  This quickly gives way to a season of brown, a season of sleep and of death.  The landscape becomes colorless and rather uninspiring.  Many times the paths become muddy, adding to the ugliness after fall.  You begin to wonder whether you’ll ever see signs of color again.

 

Seasons of our lives are like that too, devoid of color, of life & of hope.   The most important thing to remember during times like these is that it is only a season.  Sometimes the season seems to last a short while, and we are grateful.  Sometimes the season drags on until you’re not sure you can stand another minute.  Seasons are wonderful, because they are limited.  The brown time after fall does not last forever.  Neither do the ugly times we walk through in life, or the hectic times, or the times when everything around us seems to be losing life.

When snow comes, it has not really purified anything.  It hasn’t cleaned up the ground.  It hasn’t yet put fresh water into the springs.  It hasn’t fixed any of the things that need to be fixed.  It simply covers everything, insulates it and causes life to slow.  It changes the view you have on life because it changes the landscape around you.  It forces you to pause, and to reflect on what is possible, what is feasible and what can wait.  If it was not terribly important before the snow, it will be less so once the snow has fallen.  It sharpens perspective and priorities. And it gives our brains a time of rest to hope and to dream.  You cannot plant a garden, but you have a spot of longing to dream about the garden.  You cannot fix the roof, but you can prepare for the task on the next lovely day.

  In life, we all need the different seasons that we walk through.  Many people resent winter, but I’m an advocate of it.  Winter in life might seem as though everything is on hold, stuck, slow and cold.  But winter also gives time for rest, reflection and the dreams of hope to begin.  It insulates us for a bit so that all of life is not sadness or busyness.  It covers things with white so that we can change perspective and come again at life from a different angle and with a better strategy.  Just like newly fallen snow.  If you’re in a late autumn or winter season of your life, I recognize that it is sometimes very unpleasant. When those times come, try accepting it as a gift to slow, adjust, sleep and finally dream. There will be time enough to be busy once spring hits.  For now, enjoy the newness of freshly fallen snow.

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