Can You Imagine?

Can You Imagine?

 

Can you imagine,

waking up to the light of day

and feeling as though you have nothing to say?

 

Can you imagine,

walking past the same room

that you’ve passed every day,

that room that you’d stop by

for a while just to say “hey!” ?

 

Can you imagine,

looking inside that now empty room

as you struggle to accept that everything has changed?

 

Can you imagine,

each morning – whispering “hello”

to a part of you, a remnant,

who was called to go

far away to another space

where serving a higher purpose

could now take place?

 

Can you imagine,

for a minute, closing your eyes

to once again see

that smile that would bring comfort

and make joy materialize?

 

Can you imagine,

the numbness felt each night

as you pass that room again

and once more recall

that nothing is “right”?

 

Can you imagine,

having the worst happen to you,

yet you still feel grace

because your faith is true?

Can you imagine feeling grateful,

because you raised someone special

and that love for your child is eternal

and what helps get you through?

 

Can you imagine?

Can you?

 

By Carol C.M.


 

 

 

 

Feeling is Living

Feeling is Living

“Don’t numb yourself any further with busyness or forced happiness.  Feel what is bothering you so that you can learn to adjust to the change instead of pretending that it doesn’t exist.” – Carol C.M.

10 Things A Digital Detox Can Do For You.

10 Things A Digital Detox Can Do For You.
Computer and social media use have become an ever increasing part of our lives.  I remember when my kids were the only ones in our household who stayed continuously connected to the computer, other digital gadgets, or used any type of social media platform throughout the day.  Well, a lot has changed over the years, as I am sure it has for many other families as well, given that more adults use their computers and smartphones today for a variety of reasons, not just for work.
Many adults today must stay connected to their devices and/or social media for work purposes, but a larger majority stay plugged in to maintain contact with family and friends from near and far or just for sheer entertainment.  Still, young adults are leading the way when it comes to staying digitally connected.
It’s often very hard to not reach for our smartphones when we hear that little signal from our phones letting us know that we just received a like, a comment or a new follow.  Similarly, email updates can add to our “digital anxiety” when we receive an email notification and suddenly feel compelled to see what surprise awaits us in our inbox, or we suddenly realize that there are a host of emails that we need to delete. Furthermore, who has never been enticed to check their phones before going to bed at night? We have become a “plugged-in” society and it seems that, in many ways, this way of life has somewhat removed us from society instead of helping us become more connected to each other. It is funny how something that was originally designed with the intent to make life easier has fallen short of helping us feel more at ease in life. If any of these feelings resonate with you then it might be time to consider doing a digital detox.
A digital detox consists of taking a break from all digital life for a specified amount of time.  The time can be any length of your own choosing and based upon your own unique needs. I usually make an effort to take one at least once a year for a week, but some people have been known to take a much longer break. How you plan your digital detox is all up to you.  I must add that if you are going to do a digital detox and you are online regularly, make sure to let your followers know ahead of time that you will not be posting anything for a while and provide them with a brief explanation of what you will be doing; otherwise they may lose interest or have concerns about your absence. Trust me, they will thank you for it and you will be glad that you did it.      
Here is a list of my top 10 benefits of doing a regular digital detox:
  1. A digital detox allows you to ease through your day, feel less pressured and get a lot more accomplished.
  2. Allows you to live “in the moment” and pay more attention to “the little, but meaningful things.”   
  3. You get to take control of your life once again – even if only for a short time.
  4. You will find yourself with the freedom to eat your meals more mindfully.
  5. You get to set an example for your kids and show them that it is alright to focus on other things in life besides our computers and smartphones. 
  6. You will find yourself  feeling a sense of calm and relief as you unconsciously become “deprogrammed.”  
  7. You will be contributing to your physical health by spending less time near harmful EMF’s (Electronic Magnetic Fields), increasing your change of getting carpal tunnel syndrome and improving your adrenal system.
  8. You will be teaching yourself to become less dependent on digital devices and social media.
  9. You will be contributing to your mental health by reducing the likelihood of depression, ADHD and other conditions that are related to excessive digital device and screen time use.
  10. You will find that you have more time to spend with family or friends and do the things that you thought you would never have time for. 

If you decide to do a digital detox I wish you a happy, peaceful break from being continuously “connected” – Enjoy!

Until the next post,


 

Take care + be well,

Carol

How I Fell in Love with Hiking

How I Fell in Love with Hiking
My first hiking trip was taken on a whim.  It was an idea that arose from a discussion between my husband and myself regarding what we should do for our upcoming Anniversary.  My husband can be quite accommodating when it comes to letting me chose a locale for a trip or a night out, but the idea that I had in my mind at that time was one that I wasn’t sure that he would be willing to agree to. Yet, much to my delight, he agreed, albeit his agreement was not without some hesitation.
I wanted to visit the desert for a considerably long time.  It’s a landscape that I am often drawn to and have always had a fascination with. Although I would have also loved another quintessential night on the town, complete with a delectable dinner at a lavish restaurant, that option could not contend with a trip to the desert. More specifically, a trip to Joshua Tree National Park or the Mojave Desert – Not this time. I guess you could say that the desert was calling me and I could not say no.
After further discussion about our choices, my husband expressed that his less than enthusiastic response to my request, (at first), was because of his disinterest in desert landscapes. This just happened to also be when I learned that he’s more of a forest kind of guy. We laughed at a few of his jokes about there being absolutely nothing in the desert to do or see and I begged to differ.  He acquiesced,  I smiled and then we proceeded to make our trip reservations for Joshua Tree National Park.
I think people thought that we must have lost our minds when we told them what we planned to do for our Anniversary that year, and maybe for a second, we too, began wondering whether we were making the right decision. Who wants to jeopardize spoiling their Anniversary? We had never been hiking before. Nor had we ever done anything outdoorsy for any special occasion, so this was something that was unusual, but I really wanted to do something different and my husband agreed that maybe it was time for us to start trying things that were different. We were definitely up to the challenge and looking forward to discovering what the desert had to offer.  Little did we know at the time that we had just made one of the best decisions that we have ever made during our many years together as a married couple.
We conducted a bit of research on the park and learned that Joshua Tree National Park is considered to be a highly spiritual place. We were skeptical, but still very curious to know if this held any truth.  That element alone played a big part in making this trip exciting.
We went during the spring, so the weather was hot, being that it was the desert, but it was also moderate and not as hot as it would have been had we went during the summer. This made for a comfortable visit. Going during the springtime also made the desert seem more like a desert oasis because we got to see a lot of wildflowers, the bright colors of the flowers on the cacti and the landscape was a lot more verdant that we expected due to the previous season’s rains. My husband was surprised to see that it did not seem like the typical desert he had in his mind and I was amazed at how beautiful everything was. It could not have been more perfect.
The first trail that we ventured to was the Split Rock Loop Trail. I was in awe of the rock climbers and we were both so fascinated with their skill and bravado that we had to stop and watch them for a while. Moments later we decided to try the 2 mile loop trail there which was very invigorating. That was the moment that we began feeling like we were suddenly hikers.
Next we visited two popular spots known as Skull Rock and Elephant Rock. Skull Rock is exactly what it sounds like. The trails here are relatively easy to hike, but they are filled with large boulder like rocks that we spent a lot of time climbing to the top of to enjoy the many gorgeous views of this area, especially during  a sunrise or sunset.   These became one of our favorite spots and we revisited this area several times that weekend. Not just because of the views and attractions, but it was one area that we felt the most spiritual energy. The energy here was magical.
I love nature, so I had to stop at the Arch Rock Nature Trail.  This trail has one of the most unique rock formations in the park. The namesake Arch Rock is a slab of rock shaped like an arch or a bridge. This is also another popular spot in the park and is often quite crowded most of the time. We weren’t able to get a good view of Arch Rock during that visit but we did get to enjoy the other sights of other odd rock formations as well as the .5 mile hiking trail.
The last trail that we ventured through was the Cap Rock Trail.  This was a short .4 mile trail loop with extensive views of Joshua Trees. It was quite picturesque during the twilight time during the spring, and it presented us with more stunning views of wildlife and wildflowers.
As you can see, we chose to hike short, easy trails during our first hiking trip. We did this because of our inexperience and because we wanted to take it easy until we were able to learn more about hiking and hiking safety.  Initially, we had the impression that hiking is very much like walking, but it isn’t.  Especially when you are exposed to the elements and wildlife that you would not ordinarily be exposed to on an average walk. We also, at the time, were not prepared with enough supplies should we had made the mistake of wandering too far out into the desert and lost our way back to where our car was parked.  That would have been devastating, not to mention irresponsible on our part. Safety is key when hiking.
Still, that trip back in 2016 inspired us so much that hiking has become a favorite pastime for us.  It is a way that we’re able to spend quality time together and stay healthy as we grow old together.  It has also been a very helpful outlet for us during our bereavement, so we are both very glad that we took on this hobby before losing our son.
What I love the most about hiking is the way that it makes me feel. I love how it centers me. I love the way that it reminds me of how connected we all are to everything. It is exercise for the mind, body, heart and soul. It’s also the only exercise that I can think of that is mentally, spiritually, visually, audibly and kinesthetically stimulating while also being relaxing at the same time.  If you’re looking for a way to stay healthy that doesn’t feel completely like exercise and that allows you to also enjoy all the beauty of nature and life, I recommend that you try hiking. Get out in the open, enjoy the fresh air and discover all the ways that this form of adventure can excite and inspire you.
Until the next post,

Take care + Be well,
Carol

Balanced Healing

Balanced Healing

“The waves ebb and the waves flow, and yet I never tire of watching from the shore, the way the waves rhythms show their intensity, then inactivity; as if to remind me of what I already know in my heart and in my soul, which is that to life there must be balance, and happiness is empty if sadness we must forego.”

– Carol C.M.

15 Ways to Conquer Those “Blues”

15 Ways to Conquer Those “Blues”

When I stepped outside and onto my front porch this morning a cool breeze brushed against my face. I also felt a bit of warmth from the fall sun; and both sensations were very soothing.  I turned around to close my front door and while doing so I could hear a group of leaves bustling down the street behind me.

Naturally, I didn’t have to turn around to know that they were leaves that had recently fell from the neighborhood trees.  In my mind I called upon past memories of the season and I thought to myself, “this only happens once a year.”  This was fall in full effect and as I turned around to face the street, all of the leaves began to then scatter to different areas of the street and into yards like little colorful children laughing and playing a game of tag.

It’s always the little things that capture my attention, and where I find some of the most intriguing things to be grateful for.  Practicing gratitude allows me to readjust my focus so that I am always able to find “something” good in everything.  Even those things that I normally would not find pleasing – like cold weather months, for example.

When fall arrives I know that I will now have to try to plan my outdoor walks and hiking trips a bit more carefully for the next few months, if at all, and this alone contributes to my “blues” along with grieving and missing the sunshine.  However,  the cooler months also bring with them the opportunity to sit or lay by a fireplace fire, and if I keep looking on the bright side and maintain an open mind, I will also be able to appreciate the fact that I can still perform other exercises and activities indoors. Optimism is a beautiful thing. I guess that is why we as a society celebrate it.

A big part of conquering the “blues” involves maintaining a positive outlook once the weather changes. Yet, as I have discovered, this isn’t always easy to do especially if the shift to cooler weather and shorter daylight hours are affecting you while you are grieving. There are a few things that anyone can do to help make this time of year more pleasant and more manageable and I have listed fifteen tips below that I have personally tried and that seem to be helpful.

  1. Practice gratitude – Find something in every day, no matter how big or small, to be grateful for.  Begin by noticing something good about the changes that come with both the fall and winter seasons.
  2. Get a pet.  Pets can help keep you stay healthy by encouraging you to stay active. It may also help to care for something else other than yourself.
  3. Open your curtains or blinds as often as possible to allow the sun to shine in and keep your mood positive.
  4. Exercise or find another way to keep you body active for a few minutes a day.
  5. Take up a new hobby or start a fall or winter craft. This can be especially helpful in easing any grief.  Try creating something in honor of the person who has passed away or create something that sparks your interest. Either way, creative expression is good for managing feelings and emotions.
  6. Find an exercise buddy to keep things exciting and for accountability.
  7. Eat healthy and don’t feel bad about treating yourself to a favorite treat once in a while…think balance.
  8. Volunteer or donate to a cause that you care about, or that your loved one cared about. When we help others it can give us insight and remind us that things aren’t as bad as they may seem.
  9. Join a club such as a grief group, book club or hiking club, or any club that sparks your interest. This is a great way to maintain social contacts and prevent feelings of isolation.
  10. Create fall or winter rituals such as decorating for the holidays, cooking holiday meals, baking desserts, (especially those that your lost loved one enjoyed), or burn  candles and make a fire in the fireplace. These things can help you enjoy the “warmth” of the season.
  11.  Avoid negativity  – Surround yourself with positive people and positive environments.  Negativity can be stressful and may trigger unfavorable emotions and memories.
  12. Look forward – Create something special to look forward to in the coming year such as a memorial event,  or a solo or family trip or vacation.
  13. Stay social – Spend time with family and friends, share family memories and create new ones, or simply get together with friends to watch a movie or have brunch or dinner out at a restaurant.
  14. Play music – Listen to your favorite music regularly in your home or car to give your mind a break.  You may also enjoy playing a little holiday music during the holidays to add a little cheeriness to the gloomier seasons.
  15. Create a morning and evening ritual – such as practicing meditation, yoga, prayer or journaling as these practices can help with maintaining a positive outlook.
Thankfully, seasons change, and “the blues” will too, but until the seasons actually do change and bring back the longer, brighter days with the trees and other foliage beginning to show hints of a less monochromatic world  we have just a few months in which we can savor the beauty that fall and winter bestows us. Let’s enjoy it together. Shall we? Happy October!

Until the next post,


Take care + be well,

Carol

1-800-273-TALK(8255)

1-800-273-TALK(8255)
September was National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  I know… my post is a little late considering that we are now a few days into October, but the truth is, I wanted to wait to post this because oftentimes we tend to forget about the causes that we support the moment that the cause’s awareness month has ceased.  So, in a way, this is my way of reminding myself and others to remember that suicide is something that we should not just think about every September.  Suicide is something that we should be aware of year round.  This is by no means because I think that it is more important than any other cause; but because I think that it isn’t thought of as often as it should be considering that it appears to be a considerable, perplexing and somewhat mysterious problem affecting many individuals, their families and friends.
The topic of suicide is often something that people find uncomfortable discussing despite the fact that is such an important issue.  People, who for whatever reason, ultimately reach a point in their lives where they feel so despondent that they eventually feel that continuing their lives is no longer an option must be hurting, immensely, and beyond anything that anyone else could ever imagine…(I, of course am postulating here.)
We have witnessed celebrities and people who seem to have it all chose to end their lives and we are left to wonder why? Many of us have also witnessed people who lived less extravagant lives make the same decision again leaving us to contemplate what happened.  It is evident that there are many people hurting and suffering in silence – all while leaving their families, friends and others with the impression that everything is fine and normal as usual.  Yet, those are only appearances. Appearances that we tend to inaccurately assess; or perhaps maybe it is that they are just more adept at ensuring that no one ever gets a glimpse into that nebulous side of them – again for whatever reason.  Let’s think about that for a second. Really let it soak in.  You can’t help consider that something is terribly amiss here; but what is it?
From what I remember from my psychology courses when I was working on completing my degree a few years ago and through my own research, there aren’t any known actual causes of suicide.  However there are a few risk factors which include the following:
  • Family history
  • Mental illness such as depression or bi-polar disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Difficult relationships
  • Extreme hardship
  • Grief and loss
  • Extensive emotional and/or physical pain, and
  • Having had attempted suicide previously
Moreover, individuals considered at risk may
  • Seem extremely sad, withdrawn and hopeless
  • Lose or gain weight
  • Appear to be tired all of the time
  • Behave in an unusual manner 
  • Seem to avoid their usual activities or lose interest in them.
  • Talk often about life insurance and wills, suicide, or other things related to death and dying 

One important thing to remember is that it can be difficult to detect the symptoms associated with suicide, namely because they tend to hide their true feelings of sadness, by trying to appear “normal” by preoccupying themselves with work or other busy tasks.  They may also exhibit an abundance of energy or excitability and any of these can lead someone to miss the hidden signs of despair.
If you know someone who might appear to be exhibiting any of these signs. Consider reaching out to them because they need to know that someone is by their side.  They need to know that someone cares. Sometimes the reason that they don’t reach out to anyone themselves is because they were once taught to believe that feeling sad, depressed and hopeless is just weakness. Some were also brought up to believe that seeking mental help is also a sign of weakness or unnecessary when there are other sources of help such as through attending church for example. Yet, being that the cause could be medically related that belief is not very helpful. What is more helpful is listening to the person and trying to help them find the good in life again. What is more helpful than that is assisting them with finding a medical professional to help them in ways that no one else probably can.  Lastly, I’ll end by writing (typing) the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Number one more time, you know, just in case you forgot it.  1(800) 273-Talk (8255) Pass it on.
Until the next post,

Take care + Be well,
Carol