I have been on a quest to be healthier. It has been a quest for a while now and I’ve made nice progress in some areas, while not a lot of progress in others. I am happier, more content, and more comfortable in my own skin. I’ve realized what brings me joy. But, I am also starting to realize that just watching what I eat and counting calories is not enough to lose weight and tone my muscles.
Mental Progress (Attitude)
This past summer, I went on a quest for joy. I wanted to approach life more positively and take time to appreciate the tasks in which I found myself involved. I read several books on joyfulness and mindfulness. I contemplated yoga and meditation. Most significantly, I stopped multi-tasking. This has led to a return in feeling a deeper sense of satisfaction in what I accomplish because I am able to complete the tasks in higher quality fashion.
I have consciously not dwelt on bothersome issues which I cannot control, which has led to a more restful sleep. I have been careful to choose my words more carefully and more caringly, noting that everyone has a right to have opinions.
During the day, I have taken time to not only read my course material for school, but also take time (about 30 minutes) to read a novel for enjoyment. My gardens have been better cared for by me this year than in the last ten. I know I receive joy from nature and gardening – from watching plants grow, flower, and make seeds. I have planned for and planted spring bulbs that will appear my gardens as the snow is just melting. The sun has been hot on my back while I’ve worked the soil and carefully placed the bulbs. Joy is returning, as is my focus on more of what I feel is important in life.
Emotional Progress (Feelings)
It’s hard to separate out emotions as they are connected to everything we do as humans. Thus, the joy I spoke of above in the section on attitude is actually a feeling that I am enjoying the experience of having once again. I’ve found that stopping my multi-tasking has led to less frustration, anger, and self-imposed pressure. I am happier and more content to be who I am – knowing that I am trying to be the best version of myself that I can be. I am a work in progress, just like everyone else.
I’ve been able to step back and appreciate my boys for being unique individuals, each with something special to offer the world as they enter into it. This is a mature realization that my sons will be successful in what they choose to do. I’ve also realized that I do not have to worry as much as I have about their pathway to that success because it can and does take many forms. Their path, like each of them, will be unique.
These realizations have decreased the degree of anxiety I was experiencing, and have led to a remarkable decrease in my insomnia. Recently, I have gotten some of the best sleep I’ve had in years. This leads to feeling more rested, energetic, and in control of my emotions. Sleep, and whether I am experiencing insomnia or not, is a huge indicator of my mental and emotional status. I’ve learned that if I am having insomnia visit, something is “off” and I’d better try to figure out what is causing it. Right now, I don’t have that problem. Life is Good!
Intellectual Progress (Cognition and Stimulation)
Intellectually, I am a person that has always needed a great deal of cognitive stimulation. It accounts for why I am finishing another Master’s degree when I am in my 50’s! I love to learn. As my coursework ends (in three weeks), I am looking forward to being “done” with classes. However, I wonder how long this will last for me. I am very goal directed and tend to get more accomplished if I am working towards a “goal”. I think the trick will be to set some goals for myself that I can continue to work towards.
I have started to do that but cannot reveal too much. Suffice it to say that I am exploring some projects of my own, so that I continue to have a purpose. While I’d like to be gainfully employed, environmental education does not offer a great deal of opportunities that are not seasonal or temporary or appropriate for someone of a certain age that cannot just jump up and move to a National Park for a summer or a season. And, that’s okay. I’ll find my place, but I’ll have to be disciplined and work towards my own goals.
Physical Progress (Health Parameters & Screening)
Since March first of 2017, I have blogged everyday. I’ve been taking classes since 2014. Most of those classes have involved reading and writing. In other words, I’ve become somewhat sedentary. As I recognized this as a contributing factor to gaining weight, I started monitoring my calorie intake and recording everything I put in my mouth. Still, my weight has not budged. Therefore, I have to exercise. I need to make a commitment to doing this. It’s hard, as person who never had to watch their weight, I find that doing it now requires learning what works for me. Cutting back on my calories has not been enough. I’ve got some work to do. But, I am motivated to start and take it more seriously. It’s time.