Last week I promised my “lessons” - from my crazy health journey of having been forced to unplug, slow down and eat clean. I often think of it as forced change. Until I recall online postings I have read of people with the same condition who just can’t not eat chocolate, for instance, and then suffer symptoms of the resulting allergic reaction. I do have a choice. One I make every day. And that choice, ultimately, is to tune into myself and truly pay attention to what I want for my life. As the dis-ease from avoiding that path affects my body. It feels like detour signs go up when I choose a path that causes me stress – even though I may not feel stressed. Somehow my body knows. The mind-body connection I see is SIGNIFICANT.
How I have tapped into this, unbeknownst to me at the onset, is through something called Higher Brain Living (HBL.) Once a week for the past year and a half, I have seen an HBL practitioner located about 30 minutes from my house. Each session is 45 minutes. I lay on a massage table (fully clothed), and through specific touch points on my spine, shoulder area, back of my knees, etc. she helps my body – and ultimately my brain - move from that “fight or flight” survival thinking into a more evolved “higher brain” intuitive thinking. This technique has been scientifically proven to mimic the relaxed and in tune type of thinking that results from years of meditation. During the session I also repeat some “resolutions” I have written regarding what I want for my life, in four different areas. (This is my layperson description of it all, as I understand it.)
Now, if I were you hearing this for the first time – I would probably think I were off my rocker too. So just set aside that thought for a bit and keep on reading... I became interested in this modality after I heard the practitioner present at a business networking group on how the approach calms and heals stress at a cellular level. And since my main histamine trigger, is stress at a cellular level – my open-minded, skeptic self was willing to give it a try. At the first two introductory, trial sessions, my body responded in a way that I couldn’t explain otherwise. Without any conscious effort on my part, my breathing dramatically slowed and moved down to my “belly” – and my body was so heavy it felt like it was pushing right through the bottom of the table. And I felt this crazy calm. It was weird. And wonderful. And I was all in.
I share this, not as an infomercial for Higher Brain Living, but to set up the rest of my story. What happened from there, which I believe with every fiber of my being, is that this higher brain engagement caused me to tap into my own “gut” about what I need, to feel centered, and to be well. The forward momentum felt like a train I couldn’t stop. Over time I was able to dislodge myself in all the areas I was stuck. It started with the clutter in my house. You may recall my big house de-cluttering project the previous spring, based on “the life-changing magic of tidying up” book. I did not choose that project. It chose me. I know no other way to describe it. I then moved on to our finances – and for the first time in my adult life, truly – I have really healthy day-to-day, month-to-month financial habits - and the right tools to suit my personality, to make keeping up with it, realistic. And finally, I created greater ease and efficiency with our meal planning (which saves money too!) You would not believe the calm created in my life after fixing just these three areas. But again, as I continued with the Higher Brain Living, my resolutions and energy evolved. I peeled back the next layer and really took a hard, honest look at myself, my work and some significant relationships – with the help of my therapist. For the record, clutter, finances and meal planning are easier – yet I believe in this case, the harder the work the greater the reward. I now have much greater peace and joy, and at times sadness. Yet I get to experience them all – rather than hide behind a lot of other self-induced life chaos. It’s like I have pushed myself, from the inside – out, to have the courage to really know myself - and create a life more in line with what I really, really want. Which has led me to learn the following three, fore-promised lessons.
#1 The way I see it, in the face of medical adversity, I have two choices… I can choose to be angry and miserable and fight what is, to the grave – OR I can choose to “lean in.” To accept this is my life (different from give up), that these are my physical circumstances at the moment, and so how do I move on, not in spite of it, but with it. Does that make sense? I do have to make accommodations, but how do I find joy in these new things added to my life rather than be forever pissed off and lament what is no longer in the cards at this time.
#2 How do I really listen to myself, and TRUST myself? Rather than try to control the world and everything in it – how do I know that I am going to be okay - that I have in me what I need? And that if I just slow down and LISTEN, my energy will spark where I need to focus. As I said, I didn’t choose to tackle my clutter, it chose me. I was trying to focus on finances, but was so stressed and distracted by the mess I couldn’t concentrate. So I let go of what I thought I needed to do, and went with what kept pulling me - and I cleaned up the clutter. And wouldn't you know - I then had the energy and focus to look at the money. It’s kind of like how if a tree has a dead branch it grows better once you cut it off, because until you do all the energy is focused on trying to revive the dead branch, rather than grow the healthy ones.
Two things here: A) I thought the pull to clean out the clutter rather than finances was a lack of discipline, an avoidance tactic, when really I knew what I needed to do. I just needed to trust it. B) Do you see the connection to my physical health? With my energy consumed by stress over clutter, money, meal planning, work, relationships – how can I heal my body? I can tell the more I am able to heal my stress triggers, the better I feel, as stress contributes to inflammation. Mind-body. Get it?
#3 Plain and simple – life is too short to live half a life. I choose to live this one, in its entirety, to the best of my ability. Period. Exclamation point. Amen.
So, in summary… lean in, listen and live the life you want. Be done playing small. Choose you.
P.S. If you want contact information for my Higher Brain Living facilitator, please send me an email. I would love to share her info.
Well, it's good to be back... Late last January, I took a week off to let my body recover a bit... Which turned into two weeks... Which turned into nine months...
It's kind of a roller coaster of a story. If you are a past reader of my blog, you may recall I live with a histamine disorder - which, in short, makes eating a challenge, but also exposure to heat, exercise, outdoor/indoor allergens, chemicals in products, lack of sleep and stress.
Over the past few years I had found my equilibrium a bit, within these new parameters. I have learned to appreciate the shade, slower walks, restorative yoga, clean products and an earlier bedtime. A pretty healthy arrangement, really. But for reasons, frankly, still a mystery to me and much of the medical community, added to the list of offenders are now technology: computers, wi-fi, cell phones, cordless phones and microwaves. As you may or may not be able to imagine... this is a harder pill to swallow - a more difficult acclimation to make, especially when your livelihood is to coach by phone.
After nine months I can now use a speaker on a corded phone for 15+ minutes at a time, use a laptop with an ethernet cable (no wi-fi) for 1-2 hours on a good day and go shopping or into a group of people with little incident. My kids have had to give up their iPads (not all bad) and my husband keeps his iPhone on airplane mode when I am around. I print out maps for driving directions. I use a paper calendar and address book. I write letters and send cards. We heat food up on the stove. With a pan!!! In other words, we live in 1980. (Try it for one day. I dare you.) :)
For awhile, I waited for it to pass. After about four months, I began to adjust my life. For example, I am writing this blog on paper rather than online, and will quickly type it up once completed. (Speaking honestly, I was pretty discouraged about no longer being able to write my blog and otherwise, until it occurred to me: there were books before computers! Go figure.)
Funny story: In about April, looking for ways to occupy my time and interest, I took a seven-week course at my church on how to grow a prosperity (vs. lack) mindset. Each week there was homework. Two to three weeks in, the assignment was to make a list of all the people you may need to forgive - and then one-by-one, do that work. I started at the easier end of the list (can you blame me?) and got about half way through, prepared to show up to class with my assignment incomplete. That very morning, I had a doctor appointment before the class - with the very progressive kind of MD who doesn't bill insurance - and exiting the restroom, I missed a step and landed in the ER with a very sprained ankle and dislocated accessory bone in my foot. I missed class that day, needless to say, and on my couch, foot iced and elevated with crutches at the ready - I started to laugh and said, "OK - I hear you now! I get the message!" First, I can't be as active as I want. Then I can't use technology. Now I can't walk. OK, OK, OK - I will do the work!! So I pulled out my class notebook and completed my assignment. Then I worked with my therapist and really went on a journey of self-forgiveness, awareness and gratitude.
A number of months prior to the injured foot incident I spoke with a woman who has had a similar technology issue who said - part of the path to health was a personal one, work on herself. That somehow there is an aspect related to inner energy and toxic emotions. ??? She referred to the journey in hindsight, as a "beautiful time." Though messy in the middle, I would now, too, concur.
Recently, my financial planner asked me about my biggest lessons from this whole experience. It made me pause a bit. And I decided, it sounded like a perfect topic for my next blog. So stay tuned for that topic, next week.
P.S. A couple quick updates: 1) I was on crutches for nine weeks, in a boot for six weeks and am still going to physical therapy and acupuncture, never so grateful for my ability to walk. 2) The best way to reach me is by email at Gretchen@OptimalLifeCoaching.com. 3) My landline is 952.403.9891 (sorry no texts.)
I would love to hear from you - and sincerely hope you are well.
Let's think about this in a different context. What if you were in debt - and continuing to go in debt, spending money more each month than you made. What would it take to right that ship? Would it require some changes? Would it happen overnight?
In the millionaire book I talked about last week - there is also a wealth test in addition to the personality profile. The level which I just described above, where you spend more than you make, is the first level. What it takes to move from the first level to the second level, breaking even - no longer going in debt, but just making ends meet with nothing left over in savings - is to first, know how much you are overspending each month,. Second, make a plan for what you can cut back to close that gap. Third, have a way to track your spending so you know you are staying within those parameters. And fourth, put your support system in place. Who can help you with this who is farther along than yourself? For instance, you don't want to team up with your friend who is also in debt, to help you out of debt - but with someone who is closer to where you want to end up.
Not rocket science. Yet so many people are stuck in that spot - for various reasons - would would prefer not to be. (Similar to the majority of the country being medically overweight or obese, who would rather be at a healthy weight.) What I thought was really interesting was how to take that first step. The thing a person has to be willing to do, to move from level one to level two - to go from going in debt, to breaking even - is to be willing to give up their "freedom." The freedom to have or do what you want, without financial parameters. You may want to be free of debt, but if you are still spending more each month than you make, that likely means your desire to have freedom to spend is greater then your desire to be out of debt. (Hmmm... kind of like how we want to be healthy, but still want to be able to eat X, Y and Z. )
If you are at this lowest level, where you are working each month in order to go backward, it takes an honest look in the mirror about that reality. Then it becomes time to take some drastic action. This is not time to just "try" harder - or choose the plan that tells you what you want to hear... get out of debt without cutting back! (Lose weight and still eat everything you want.) And that the motivation to do so is not in the "why" but the "who." Finding your "WHY" right now is kind of the new big thing - but really is it about they why, or is it about the who? The why is still focused on you, where the WHO is about service to others. Who do your choices affect? If you stay on this path, how will your financial health play out for you and for those you love. How will continuing to go backward affect your children's ability to afford college? Or their ability to have experiences such as summer camp, or family vacations. Or how will your financial health affect your spouse and his/her ability to retire and for you both to travel. WHO do your current habits and choices affect? And in the WHO is where you find motivation. Kind of like how much healthier a woman is sometimes willing to be when pregnant, when she is doing it for someone else other than herself.
So - in terms of physical/nutritional health - WHO does your health affect? If you look at the two paths you can take - to stay on the current path, or make changes to get healthier - how does each play out? How does your health affect your ability to have fun and be active with family and friends.... be a role model to your children.... be around long-term for your spouse... And this only touches on the physical part - what about the confidence you will gain, as you lose weight and create better health?
Then, what "freedoms" will I need to give up short-term, to gain much greater freedom long term. What is my starting point... how much greater is my intake than what my body needs? What is my plan? How will I track it? And finally, who will be there to offer support and hold me accountable who is already where I want to be? It isn't always easy to be this honest - to take this hard look in the mirror - but the rewards of feeling better about yourself, being more active with your kids, getting up the stairs easier, feeling more in control at social events or in private, knowing you are going to do it this time.... it is all so worth it. So, be DONE playing small. Take the first step. Decide you want more, because you want to show up better, healthier for the people in your life WHO matter most.
Do you ever run across something that totally blows your mind? That two days later you can't stop thinking about it. And you keep reading as much as you can about it? Because it has given you so much clarity in life, about yourself - why you succeed in some places and get stuck in others?
Oh my gosh!!! I'm seriously about to burst out of my seams here... from excitement, not because my pants are too tight. HA HA! Ok here's the story. The other night I was not feeling well at all. The in bed by 6:50pm kind of not feeling well. But I couldn't sleep, so I decided to peruse my Nook for something very easy to read to distract myself from feeling like crap. I downloaded a couple cheap fiction samples and then ran across this book how to become a millionaire. Normally this would not my thing at all, but for whatever reason I clicked on the description and it talked about finding your "type" in order to be successful. Well, though I may not gravitate toward millionaire books, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE little surveys where I can learn more about myself. So I downloaded the free sample. About 10 pages in, I was totally hooked on his story. But it said before going further I had to use the access code in the front flap of the book to take the survey, then I could learn about my type - which helped me none, since I didn't have a hard cover book. So I went on to find a fiction book that kept me occupied and entertained. Clearly only the beginning of my story...
The next day, feeling better enough, I was still so intrigued by this book so I looked it up online to order a hard copy. And to my delight I found you can now take the test for free at his website. So long story short - I took the test for free, then spent the next couple of hours watching all six of his free videos - and have since been having insight after insight and idea after idea to the point of where I am about to burst with excitement!!! And I haven't even read the book yet! I did download on my Nook and plan to read it this weekend.
Here is the gist... this guy has come up with four types and descriptions of those types, how they work together, leadership attributes of each, strengths and limitations... yada, yada, yada. Which I realize sounds like a lot of other popular assessments I have taken before, but for whatever reason this is different. For starters it is specifically for entrepreneurs - which I am - but you wouldn't have to be. It helped me see in a couple of hours what I have missed for 20 years of my career. I could clearly see why certain jobs worked and others didn't. Some of these things I knew intuitively, but I didn't have the framework to put my finger on it. Others I am just seeing now. It also helped me see clearly where my husband is and how we could communicate better and solve a few things in our household regarding chores and finances in a different way, that neither of is good at. And it helped to see why - so we can stop being frustrated or blaming the other and just figure out a better solution. And I now see VERY clearly why certain things work in my business now - and why I keep banging my head against the wall in other areas. SERIOUSLY!!! What an empowering thing!!! His whole thing is that no one fails because they are a failure - you just need to understand yourself, and then get the right people or resources around you - and in the right order - and then know how to communicate, etc. More than anything else I have this feeling of not needing to beat myself up for not being good at certain things and what I need to put in place to be successful instead. Which is a very big deal.
Beyond myself though I see implications for weight loss. For how - based on your specific type - you could narrow in on what motivates you, what gets in your way and how to better solve - to achieve success. How to customize success. So... I need you to trust me on this one here and help me out. I want you to stop right now and take two minutes to take the quiz, find your "type" and send me the results.
Here is how you do it: First... go to www.mygeniustest.com, click "Log in," then scroll down and click on "No Account? Sign Up." Provide your info and the first question will appear. Second... once you have your type click here to send it to me.
Then, if you want of course you are welcome to continue on and watch all his videos and read all his descriptions and even order his book, but regardless - take the three minutes to find your type and send it to me. My plan then is to see if there are common trends regarding each type and weight loss motivation, challenges, etc. - and to figure out if there is a way to better, more specifically address each. Oh my gosh - this is SO exciting!!! Thank you in advance for helping out. And if you take the time, I think you will find it to be very eye opening as well.