From My Inbox To Yours

From My Inbox To Yours

Dear Readers,    Life asks a lot of us. Sometimes getting another email that reads: BOOMER HIGHWAY has a new post, it’s like (cuss word), again!? Too busy, done with that. I understand. Life can get crazy: emails, phone calls, your phone reminding you of appointments. I remember the days of phone calls when the phone was attached to a wall. You’d answer. Some lasted a minute or two, some much longer. And if you had a schedule to follow, you might try to hook the phone under your chin and finish something as you talked, something that was in the space where the cord would stretch. Or you might just sit and give up your schedule, relax with the call. Now with cell phones, it ‘s just different. It’s more constant and connections more various and numerous. So the desire to shut off the phone or stay away from email, at least for some periods of time,  makes a lot of sense.

FINDING CONTROL

The word that comes to mind is control. I get to say. I get to decide. The phone, my computer do not control me, though there are studies that show when your phone dings you are most often unable to resist going to it. We have become Pavlov’s Dog. You can read more about that study here.

That’s why it’s a good thing to take breaks from your phone during the day, allow yourself to circle back to a simpler time. I don’t use my phone when:

  • I work in the garden. Heat is not good for the phone in the first place; gardening allows me to listen, but not to someone talking, but to the birds, the wind in the trees, or infrequently eavesdrop on my neighbors. Once in a while I do have earphones, but that’s to listen to music.
  • I take a 2.5 mile walk. If something untoward happens, my husband has his, but he gets calls. I don’t want to get calls. Again walking is for walking and during part of the time we talk.
  • After six o’clock pm. It’s near me, but I am not picking it up all the time. I’m basically ignoring it: during dinner, watching the news, and later when I am reading or enjoying a film with my husband. My family comes first, so of course if one of them calls, I answer. But it is not my prime concern.

DISCONNECTING

I actually enjoy all these times when I am disconnected. I know some of you meditate and that’s a profound way to calm your mind and find yourself at the edge of a sea or high on a mountaintop, not embroiled constantly with the minute to minute sorrows and anxieties of modern living.

It will be fascinating in the years to come, when scientists know more about computer and cell phone use and how it is affecting us. I know my posts lately have all been on heavy topics (minus Mother’s Day.) And I apologize.

WHAT I WRITE ABOUT

I wrote those posts as my way of being heard at a time when we all need to speak out, share our views, help one another. Others of you are in the trenches: volunteering for the homeless, fighting anti-immigration tactics, teaching, working in medicine or simply listening to someone who needs to talk, to cry, to say WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME–please help!!

WE ARE PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL BEINGS

Moving to the spiritual side of our lives at these times (meditation, prayer) takes us on a journey free of cell phones, television, blatant opinion. We can construct our own thinking and find in our own depths HOW TO COPE.

And speaking of coping, no matter what is happening in the wide world or in the immediate circle that I live in, I lean on: my husband, my children, my brothers and sisters-in-law, my friends. And all of you.

I LOVE CONNECTION

No man or woman is an island. So though I try to space out my cell phone, computer, internet activity during any given day–I love connecting with all of you.

When we moved to Southern California, I left behind many people I love and though living here is good, I have not been able to replace them, to replace you. So thanks My Dear Readers. The connections I have made through My Readers, each of you, through two online groups, Midlife Boulevard and Women’s Fiction Writers Association, have filled up my days and my heart.

Soon, I will be back in my hometown–CHICAGO. I will be seeing my son and his dear girlfriend, oodles of family, staying with old and dear friends, eating pizza and attending a writer’s conference. So your inbox will be empty for a few weeks. Wow–did I hear some heavy sighs of relief?? Even some cheering?

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all the fathers in your lives. I will always miss mine. And HAPPY SUMMER to all. I hope you have some plans that allow you to drop off, chill out and reach out. The clasp of a loving hand warms the heart, often becomes a full-on hug. SO MUCH BETTER THAN A CELL PHONE.

PHOTO: thanks to pexels.com

Make Time Your Friend, A Lesson I Really Need Now!

Make Time Your Friend, A Lesson I Really Need Now!

From the moment we awake to the end of the day, we are constantly employed with the job of living. Depending on how smoothly time flows, our day might go extremely well or it might bump along until we cannot wait to end it, fall into bed! 

No matter what our day contains, how we have planned or didn’t plan a given day, and what our attitude is toward the day’s events—time is passing on. We are aging minute to minute:

• heart continually beating,

• gravity pulling on the body,

• the environment exposing us to damaging elements that could affect intricate organ systems and overall health.

We don’t think about these things as we rise from sleep, make breakfast, check email or simply begin the chores and obligations of the day. They vary greatly depending on whether there’s a job to drive to, a train or bus to catch, appointments and deadlines to keep or children to care for.

But in fleeting moments when we separate from life’s busyness and just consider living, Deepak Chopra has some guidelines to help make time a friend. His rules can help soften time’s frantic pace and lessen the negative affects it has on our physical body. It can also help calm the mind that is often fraught with worry and concern. And that’s where I am right now, the news of this election cycle affecting my mood WAY TOO MUCH. I need to remember the gift of each day. Here are some guidelines:

Rule One: Where the mind goes, the body must follow. If our minds are constantly worrying, then our bodies are constantly being placed under stress. Cortisol runs through the blood stream increasing heart rate in the flight and fight response. We become jumpy and unnerved. Our bodies are following our  minds, aging every minute as we stress out, worry and fret. Lesson to Learn: whenever possible eliminate negative thoughts and relax; work to accept the bumps in the day. Breathe!

Rule Two: Memory freezes time and makes us relive toxic experience. This is a hard rule to follow, because humans love to hold on to things. With two fists clenched and with a mind set in a firm pattern, we go back to things that are finished, things that happened days, months, years ago. We call up hurts, regrets, betrayals, things that mar the calmness of the present. It’s like taking a beautiful beach scene and wanting a tsunami to occur. All the toxic feelings associated with that event come roaring back. Where there might have been stress-free healthy living, now we are experiencing those very same illness-producing feelings from the past. Lesson to Learn: to fight aging, live in the present and let the past go. Breathe!

Rule Three: Aging is rooted in stuckness. Linked to Rule Two, this one reminds us that bad experiences leave chemical residue in our cells. Dwelling on divorce, job-loss, a friend’s betrayal allows the flight and fight experience and the cascade of negative chemicals to reoccur, circulating through our bodies. The heart races, anger rises shutting out pleasant experience. Stop this cascade of responses. Breathe, think uplifting thoughts, cultivate relaxation. This clears negative chemicals from organ systems. We will get unstuck, our minds focussing on the good things happening in life. Lesson to Learn: breathe out tension when stuck. Embrace the present. That’s staying young.

Rule Four: A river never ages. Like flowing rivers, embrace change. In order to stay young, mind and body must accept change. The direction of the change is our choice—are we going to move forward or backward? Are we embracing newness in life as we hear the news or deal with a bank balance; or are we dragging ourselves back into stuckness—angry about what is happening in the world when truly some things are hard to change or worrying about bills when maybe some budget changes can help. We can turn off the news; have a family meeting about spending. These are forward ways to handle concerns. It’s up to us. Lesson to Learn: Creativity brings change; be creative in daily life and let change bring exciting challenges.

Rule Five: Beyond time, the experience of youth can be eternal. Chopra conjectures that someone once said: an ageless body depends on a timeless mind. What is timeless in you? Your soul, your consciousness, your mind freed from memory during meditation? Yes! We need to free ourselves. Immortality is that timeless part of us that we’ll find through meditation. Chopra says meditation and letting go will allow the mind to find truth. And truth is beyond the confines of time. Lesson to Learn: Stop the dirty dishwasher of thoughts. Focus on breathing and find the truth buried within.

Time is a precious commodity. Each morning I will continue to select something I truly want to do during that day–like write this post–and make sure I do it. Time can steal away life before we paint that picture, walk in that garden, tell someone we love them or that we are sorry for something we said. Make Time Your Friend every day. I know I need to truly work on this.

PS MY ERROR: For those of you looking for my piece on HEARING and HEARING AIDS, it was a guest post that I inadvertently published here. It will appear here later this season. My apologies. I would send you to the blog where is appears, but it has not been posted yet.

Photo Credit:as-the-clock-ticked-altered jpeg.

How to Fight Aging: Deepak Chopra Says Make Time Your Friend

http://boomerhighway.org/boomers-is-time-working-for-you/

There is always some good news.

From the moment you awake to the end of the day, you are constantly employed with the job of living. Depending on how smoothly time flows, your day might go extremely well or it might bump along until you cannot wait to end it, fall into bed!

No matter what your day contains, how you planned or didn’t plan a given day, and what your attitude is toward the day’s events—time is passing on. You are aging minute to minute:

• your heart continually beating,

• gravity pulling on your body,

• the environment exposing you to damaging elements that could affect intricate organ systems your health relies on.

None of this is on your mind as you make coffee or cereal, check email or begin a list of phone calls, dress and drive your children to school, or race to catch the train or bus for work.

But in fleeting moments when you separate from busyness and just consider living, Deepak Chopra has some guidelines to help make time your friend. His rules will help you soften time’s frantic pace and lessen the negative affects it has on your physical body. Follow these and you will be fighting aging.

Rule One: Where the mind goes, the body must follow. If your mind is constantly worrying, then your body is constantly being placed under stress. Cortisol runs through your blood stream increasing heart rate in the flight and fight response. You become jumpy and unnerved. Your body is following your mind, aging every minute as you stress out, worry and fret. Lesson to Learn: whenever possible eliminate negative thoughts and relax; work to accept the bumps in your day. Breathe!

Rule Two: Memory freezes time and makes you relive toxic experience. This is a hard rule to follow, because humans love to hold on to things. With two fists clenched and with a mind set in a firm pattern, you go back to things that are finished, things that happened days, months, years ago. You call up hurts, regrets, betrayals, things that mar the calmness of the present. It’s like taking a beautiful beach scene and wanting a tsunami to occur. All the toxic feelings associated with that event come roaring back. Where there might have been stress-free healthy living, now you are experiencing those very same illness-producing feelings from the past. Lesson to Learn: to fight aging, live in the present and let the past go. Breathe!

Rule Three: Aging is rooted in stuckness. Linked to Rule Two, this one reminds you that bad experiences leave chemical residue in your cells. Dwelling on divorce, job-loss, a friend’s betrayal allows the flight and fight experience and the cascade of negative chemicals to reoccur, circulating through your body. Your heart races, anger rises shutting out pleasant experience. Stop this cascade of responses. Breathe, think uplifting thoughts, cultivate relaxation. This clears negative chemicals from organ systems. You get unstuck and your mind focuses on the good things happening in your life. Lesson to Learn: breathe out tension when stuck. Embrace the present. That’s staying young.

Rule Four: A river never ages. Like flowing rivers, embrace change. In order to stay young, your mind and body must accept change. The direction of the change is your choice—are you going to move forward or backward? Are you embracing newness in your life as you garden or make dinner, or are you dragging yourself back into stuckness—angry about weeding chores or grumbling that you’re cooking chicken again. There are forward ways to do both tasks. It’s up to you. Lesson to Learn: Creativity brings change; be creative in your daily life and let change bring exciting challenges.

Rule Five: Beyond time, the experience of youth can be eternal. Chopra conjectures that someone once said: an ageless body depends on a timeless mind. What is timeless in you? Your soul, your consciousness, your mind freed from memory during meditation? Yes! Free yourself. Your immortality is that timeless part of you that you’ll find through meditation. Chopra says meditation and letting go will allow your mind to find truth. And truth is beyond the confines of time. Lesson to Learn: Stop the dirty dishwasher of your thoughts. Focus on your breathing and find the truth buried within.

Time is a precious commodity. Maybe each morning you select something you truly want to do during that day–and make sure you do it. Time can steal away life before you paint that picture, walk in that garden or visit with someone you love. Make Time Your Friend every day.

Fighting Fear: Everyone Needs A Barbara

Fighting Fear: Everyone Needs A Barbara

The combination of night, the Dan Ryan, a disabled car and me alone–not good!

I was fighting my fear. Something wasn’t right. Midnight, snowstorm on the Dan Ryan Expressway, my van making some unidentifiable sound above the whine of rushing wheels, above hundreds of cars weaving and lane changing at jet speeds–so many people going somewhere in the depth of the night.

Barbara had taught me about mantras. I was using a new one—help me get home, please God, help me get home—my fingers gripping the wheel. And then my back left tire blew. I was skidding and riding on the metal rim, struggling to keep control, to slow down—finally seeking the safety of the shoulder.

I slammed the car into park, my hands flying from the wheel like frightened birds.    Shivering in the hot blast from the car’s heater, I plunged into my nursing bag and pulled out the cell phone.   As I punched in numbers I was noting my locked doors, watching traffic zip by so close my car groaned and dipped in their wake, like the response of my heart now unloosed inside my chest.  I listened to the ringing.  I couldn’t remember whom I had called.  Icy sleet pelted the windshield.  I was alone, 22 miles from home.  Then my husband’s groggy voice.  He would come right away, he would call roadside assistance.

Moments later I was standing in the slushy snow of the shoulder, staring at my blasted tire.  I thought of the spare, the tools buried somewhere—could I do this, get myself out of here?   A frantic laugh moved inside of me and I looked up, spoke to the halo of the vapor lights—“ Thanks, Barbara, because of you I’m here right now!”

A car was pulling off onto the shoulder, maybe 30 yards behind me.  A long beat-up old junker.  I hurried back, locked myself in the van, waited, watching the slow progression of the car through my rearview mirror.

Disquiet had ridden with me nine hours earlier when I drove into the hospital parking lot to begin my 3-11 shift in Labor and Delivery. The van just wasn’t riding right. My first patient presented with a prolapsed umbilical cord and we did an emergency C-section. I told myself that at the end of the shift I’d deal with the van, I would pray to God to just help me get home. Please help me get home. A new mantra—Barbara would have been proud of me.

I met Barbara when I was in my tentative early 30’s and she in her secure 50’s. She came into a neighborhood party greeting everyone and emanating an intense presence, her brilliant blue eyes bringing people out of corners, her full-throated laugh cheering the room. I watched as she waved her drink in the air with crooked fingers and twisted joints, moved about with a slight limp. But it was her smile. It broke through conversation pulling everyone in. I just stood and watched as the gloomy rain-washed day succumbed to her light.

Barbara radiated a charge. And with sincerity she readily shared her world of elation and her experience with grief. In time she made me want to do the same, tell her everything, including my private fears. Barbara became a gift to me.

In her late teens, Barbara had developed rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that inflames the joints. This crisis happened when she was falling in love with her work in the fashion world and then with her future husband. Three children later with a house in the suburbs and car pools to run, Barbara could hardly walk, bone rubbing on bone. The medical world was there for her–prescriptions, surgeries, over 30 stays in the hospital.  And her family was wonderfully present.

But they couldn’t live her life. And so often Barbara was alone–with her pain. For a while she clung to the quiet recesses of her home. And maybe in those bleak hours she thought of giving up. Then one day she found she was able to will herself to another place–for seconds she traveled away from the boundaries of her body. And while she walked beside an ocean or floated in a balloon above the mountains, she was freed from the clutches of her pain. That transforming moment became the basis for everything that came after–“If I can elude my pain for five seconds while meditating on something wonderful—then I know I can get away from it for five minutes, thirty-five minutes, even five hours.”

Over time Barbara did just that. Her doctors were amazed.They couldn’t believe that she could walk without pain, take care of her family, travel. Questions flew about. What was really happening–a new drug, a radical remission in the disease?

What was happening was Barbara—total belief, total strength, and the power of the mind.  A scientist could measure the fabric of a butterfly wing or predict the demise of a fragile ecosystem more readily than state what Barbara had discovered deep within herself. It could not be labeled. When I learned about Barbara’s life and how she was managing it—things changed in mine.

For there were days, when despite all her efforts, Barbara’s pain took over. Movement was difficult. Then she used the phone. Often she’d call me for long talks during late afternoon when I was struggling to make dinner and keep track of my two young daughters. This was before cordless phones—I was chained to the wall. But I needed Barbara. I thought I was in control of my life. I had dreams of being a writer and the very best mother that I could be.

But maybe I was different from other stay-at-home moms, or maybe it was just the times and places I lived in: a couple stopped and murdered off the expressway near our home; a woman abducted from the local gas station, gang raped and murdered; a child abducted  from her secure bedroom, raped and strangled. I read too much. I read every article about these cases and more. Then I’d be frantic—how could I save my children from such dangers? They lurked everywhere. I’d keep reading, deciding that if I knew how these attacks had occurred, what the attackers were like, how the victim had been caught unprepared—I could learn something, save myself and my daughters. It was a circle with no end. My fears locked me inside my home.

The best thing I did was reveal these fears to Barbara. Calmly but firmly she told me I had to stop such thoughts immediately: I was sending out bad signals; fear glowed around me; my mind was using so much energy to conjure rape and danger that I might draw trouble right to me. Just as Barbara used her mental energy to block out pain, I was using mine to bring negatives into my life.

I listened, struggled to change. After all, Barbara’s life was about vulnerability. She had learned to throw aside fear. I transformed mine to logical concerns, holding fast as my panic and apprehension slowly lifted. Barbara really gave me back my freedom. Her little shove improved my prayer life and my faith in life’s joyful experiences. Now I could put the negatives of life in perspective. With renewed belief in God’s protection and my own inner guidance, I was no longer afraid to journey out into life and take some risks.

I had a healthy baby at 42. I went back to school, started a new career as a registered nurse, working at a tertiary care center in downtown Chicago. And now tonight, I was stranded on the Dan Ryan.

As I watched a man walk toward me from the beat-up car, the frightening newspaper articles were buried deep within, outside my reach. I was a nurse at an inner city hospital.  I had met people who lived and worked in the trenches of life. I could keep my head.

He came up and I spoke to him through a crack in the car window, mentioning that my husband was on his way. He said right out that he wasn’t there to hurt me, he just wanted to change my tire, make some extra money. His gloves were torn, his coat ragged. I weighed my options. I said thank you, but no. He nodded and walked away. He lingered by his car for a few moments and then came back. The snow was heavier now and I ran the window down a little more to see him, to talk to a man who was everything I would have been terrified of before Barbara.

“I work in Labor and Delivery at Mercy Hospital,” I told him, revealing myself as someone he could trust—I worked in his neighborhood.

“Do you know Nadine?” he asked right away. “She works in dietary.”

And so the conversation moved on and again he offered to change my tire—it would be done when my husband arrived. Cars whizzed past. No one else had stopped. I clicked the lever, opened the back of my van to this stranger. He changed my tire. Barbara, my mentor, helped change my life.

It was important that I be there that night—a defining moment for me. Subsequently, my children have claimed the world for their own, being sensible, but living lives of freedom.

Barbara died a year before that anxious, snowy night. But as I fought my fear, she was there, showing me that by using common sense and extending trust to a fellow human being there are many wonderful ways to get home again.

Thanks to Google Images

Fighting Fear: Everyone Needs A Barbara

I found that the community at the hospital moved far out into that night.