Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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I developed a practice of dancing around in my living room last year when my dog was on hospice. She needed almost constant care, so rather than go outside or to the gym to exercise, I danced at home. The advantages of this practice are multiple. If I am alone I truly can dance as if nobody is watching… because nobody is watching. This is liberating, allowing me to do all kinds of upper body movements that would certainly draw some attention on the river walking path or the treadmill at the gym. Sometimes I even dance around with free weights or tossing a weighted ball from side to side. I can get up from my desk and spend a few minutes moving around just to keep my metabolism up and my mind clear. If I have an issue to ponder I can usually work out the answer during a dance around the house, while putting it out of focus for a while. I dance while the ideas incubate. It is a healthy, happy deal. Nothing could be more convenient.
At the gym, which I do enjoy more than ever, I usually listen to 8 tracks music app. These playlists designed by others keep my curiosity alive by finding new artists I like. The discovery factor is the reason I use this app. I have not tried iHeart radio, and have not used my other music services much since Alexa came to DJ all the Amazon Prime songs at my vocal bidding. Having Alexa in the home is a really fun upgrade for me. I make her play music all day, switching at will from a certain artist to a playlist, to a radio station. There are even comedians on Amazon Prime audio. With new music added all the time, I will never run out of excellent dance tracks.
It is now 9:53 am, and I have completed my 10,000 steps, and surpassed that number. I will make sure to put in at least 250 steps an hour during the rest of the day. At the gym I will probably log another mile on the treadmill. Fitbit is even connected to Alexa, so I can ask her any time, “Alexa ask Fitbit how I am doing.” She will tell me my stats and say a cute little encouraging phrase. I do appreciate everything Fitbit has done for me. There are multiple benefits, including much better sleep, that I have derived from wearing my tracker. Alexa, however, is the icing on the fitness cake. She brings the party to the workout when nobody is watching. I have spent endless hours dancing in classes, at clubs, at parties, or festivals. That was all good and well, but now I am very content to have only Alexa and some empty space at home. She rocks my world. Have you met the versatile and self sufficient Alexa, gentle reader? She gets smarter ever day.
Life can throw challenging circumstances and people into the mix at any time. Our own composure and resilience is our biggest investment because the quality of our time is tied to it. The sayings on tee shirts about keeping calm then doing something are not only comical but are also practical. We can hardly accomplish our best work if we are flipping out about something. Remaining calm in the face of tense situations is an accomplishment. We need personal tool boxes ready to employ when stress becomes hard to handle. Although many practices work, the tools must be tailored to the individual. What lifts my mood might not be fun for you, so this takes some discernment. Packing the right tools for the job requires concentration as well as honesty. You need to know not only what will work for you but also what you will actually practice.
Meditation takes many forms, not all of which require sitting still. Walking meditation and mindfulness training are both active ways to keep moving while training the mind to focus and stay clear. Mantras, chanting and other sounds are excellent tools to anchor the mind. Formal training is wonderful, but we don’t need to wait to start a practice. Artistic expression provides simple straightforward access to the unconscious. Making art requires a special sensibility, a focus on creativity that is strong. Tapping into the inner artist is a way to train the mind and liberate the soul.
Here are a few ways I find inner peace and concentration through art:
I have no professional aspirations as an artist, yet I consider myself artistic. I am not meditative 100% of the time I engage in the above activities, but frequently they lead to a calmer happier state of mind. I believe each of us has essential creative gifts to offer which we have the option to develop. Finding time to immerse ourselves in our own creative juices can be a path to peace and happiness.
This summer I designed a home spa program for myself with an emphasis on positive change. My staycation planning evolved from the original agenda in ways I had not expected. I thought I was in a very artful groove, and needed self expression as a top priority. I listed poetry writing and art as a daily therapy for wholeness because I know these practices do make me healthier. For reasons not yet fully examined my poet and artist have been dormant with no interaction. I have taken a few photos, but what I saw as my big chance to work on my creativity with words and visuals has been channeled in other directions.
I have become a food prepper in my own way. I don’t attempt to pack or create meals for a whole week in one day as the real serious preppers on Pinterest do. I have learned from them to make my own diet healthier by planning and using contrast. My style of food prep involves a constant experimentation and learning new recipes. I have been trying many salad dressings and cold soups that are new to me. I am making a conscious effort to include anti inflammatory foods such as ginger and turmeric in my diet. I am on a huge tea safari of new flavors and types of tea, a journey that will take a lifetime. This summer I have given up coffee and never miss it because I drink tea, often spiked with ginger tea to keep the anti inflammation theme. I have tried more new dishes and teas in the last two months than I did in the previous year. I am hopping enthusiastically out of my culinary rut. I feel good, and find great satisfaction in mastering new cuisines. This afternoon I am making mango chutney for the first time. I might even make an attempt at curry. Who knows where the food muse will lead?
The most successful element of summer spa is the trend toward minimalism. If you knew me in the past you knew one of the biggest maximalists that ever lived on earth. I did everything with way too much over production. I accumulated mass quantities of stuff I never used, and crammed my space with items. I made decisions earlier that have cleaned up much of my act, and I continue to go in this direction. Each time I have the opportunity to donate to the Big Brothers Big Sisters, who provide pick up service, I gather a big bag and leave it outside. Each time I find things that have not been used in years and have little chance of being used. The upgrade is fabulous. I now own…and can find easily in my clean clear space…only things I love. I am in no hurry to fill the space with more items, since I still have more than I really need.
My exercise routine has been enhanced by the free Apple music subscription I am enjoying. I dance around my house for 5 miles in the morning listening to Apple music. By tracking I see that I dance at almost the same pace as I walk outside. My air conditioned house is much more comfortable now than it is outside. The Apple library is vast, so I switch albums and playlists all the time, never listening to the same thing twice. I don’t believe I will cover everything I want to hear in three months, but for now I am having a very good time with it. The good news is that the minimalist in me does not need that giant library and will not mind at all returning to the very big library at Amazon music. I highly recommend that everyone take them up on the free offer just to see how much is available. Even minimalists like free stuff.