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Posts Tagged ‘life’

In your quest to live a full and rich life, have you considered using meditation, visualization techniques, or guided imagery?

Recently I had an experience in using Interactive Guided Imagery to explore some personal matters. I was assisted by Emmy Vadnais, a Holistic Occupational Therapist & Intuitive Healer. I was in the comfort of my own home. My session took place over the telephone, with dialogue between Emmy and me as I went through this experience.

Emmy’s prompts helped me to relax and reach a meditative state where I could access my intuitive, inner self. With her assistance, I imagined my own guide helping me discover answers to my questions and providing me with self acceptance and support. The Interactive Guided Imagery session helped me to find clarity on what my next steps should be.

OT TrendsBefore meeting Emmy Vadnais, I had an incomplete concept of what being an Occupational Therapist could entail. She recently wrote an article about  Observations and Trends in this field.  In it she notes that some Occupational Therapists are getting trained in and are practicing Holistic Therapies and others are being certified as Life and Health and Wellness Coaches.

“Occupational Therapy is a remarkable profession that assists individuals to live their best lives,” she wrote. “Occupational Therapists believe that we find meaning in our lives through the activities we engage in.”

I salute this helping profession and the individuals who can help us live full lives and realize our dreams!

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The theme of my blog is “realize your dreams.”  I hope that does not imply that when a specific aspiration is fulfilled that the quest ends, and now we can stop and stay there.  I believe the journey toward our life transformation will always lead us to new places, if we allow ourselves to keep open to the possibilities that are before us.

I recently discovered the blog Aging Abundantly, written by Dorothy Sander. I love her message, and the way she expresses it.  I was especially moved by yesterday’s entry: What Do You Long For?  Read it and take it to heart, as I did.

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Cheers and a standing ovation for people who share their passion for dance, music, and theater by putting on a live show for us!  Yesterday I was delighted to be in the audience of an entertaining performance called Reflections on the Danube “from the Black Forest to the Black Sea.”

Ethnic Dance Theatre, a Minneapolis-based dance troupe that has been creating great experiences for performers and audiences since 1974, brought us along on a journey through the countries of Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. It presented the history and culture of these countries in song, dance, and swirling colorful costumes of embroidered aprons, vests, ribbons, and jaunty caps.

 The show tickets were my gift for my husband (happy birthday, Honey!)  Our friend, Kathryn-Sonja (pictured with me in the lobby after the performance) is one of the dancers.  We love to see the skill and exuberance she brings to the performance.

During the show I was fortunate enough to be seated by a young girl who was bubbling over with excitement as she whispered to me that her mom was one of the singers.  She joyfully sang along under her breath to the songs she had heard her mother practicing at home.  I asked the girl if she was a singer too, and she told me she performed in the children’s choir at a St. Lucia festival in December.  Here comes the next generation of performing artists!

One of the best things about live shows is the interaction between the performers and the audience.  We are in it together!  I encourage those who are interested in the performing arts to indulge their passion—learn it, do it!  The rest of us?  We can support the arts by enjoying a show and cheering on the performers!

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I read with interest a recent posting by Susan Kiernan-Lewis: The One Thing You Need to Know to Have a Great Life.

Sticking with Susan’s theme of referring to popular movies to help craft our personal philosophies, I’ll choose the scene where Glinda, the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz, told Dorothy that she had the power to go home all along. 

We all have the power within us to create the life we want to lead.  What keeps us from tapping into this inner knowledge and direction?  Depending on the individual, it could be responsibilities to others, the distractions caused by the commotion in our heads and in our lives, fear of making changes, or inertia–not knowing how to take that first step.  Sometimes we have to find a place of peace and make a point to listen to that quiet voice within ourselves and believe we have the right to take the first step toward realizing our dreams. 

My journey started when I went back to college (at age 50+) to get my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Studies.  Once I took that first step, I felt empowered.  I am developing my capacity to be my authentic self, and exploring my own creativity.

I believe each individual has a unique path to self-fulfillment.  I’m currently writing a book to inspire other people to take that step and create their own journey of personal transformation.

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The new name “Realize Your Dreams” refers to all of us and our best aspirations—who we are and what we want to accomplish with our lives.  Consider this to be an extension of the previous title, “Midlife Transformation”. 

I want to use this site to explore how we each define ourselves.  Do we know what our purpose is, and are we fulfilling it?  If not, what is stopping us, and how can we do it better?

Beyond that, I want to discuss our individual “Life Experience Lists” (some may call them “Bucket Lists”).  These are the actions and events that allow us to enjoy life to the fullest.  What is on your list – the things you have done and the things you want to do?  Are you taking actions to realize your dreams?

I changed the photograph at the head of this blog to one of my personal favorites.  Yes, that is me, standing on Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands in Australia.  It has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.  I asked my husband to take my picture because “This is what happiness looks like!”  I hope you and I both have future adventures and experiences that can bring the look of happiness to our faces.

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Don’t you just love it when you come across something that just makes you smile and say “Yes!” ?  That happened to me just a few days ago when I read the following:

“A major principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the idea of meridians, along which qi (or ch’i) flows. As carriers of our vital energy, lifeforce or lifebreath, our meridians supply nourishment and connection for our internal organs, and can have a noticeable impact on our health.

I find it interesting to extend the idea of meridians to areas of my outer life, too. I wonder: How is my energy connected to the individuals and community around me? Which of my energetic channels are open and free-flowing? Which channels seem to experience more congestion or contraction? What blocks my energetic self?

So this month, I invite you to notice and explore the multitude of meridians in your life. Creativity. Friendship. Prosperity. Gratitude. Kindness. Health. Service. Love. How might you reduce or eliminate any obstructions, and open to the fully-realized, incredible life you deserve?”

 That piece was written by Elke of Harbin Hot Springs.

I am very familiar with the concept of Qi, and I love Elke’s perspective on applying the concept of energy flow to other areas of our lives.

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Tonight NBC News featured a “Making a Difference” segment about midlife women serving in the Peace Corps.  As youngsters in 1961, many of them felt the call when President John Kennedy announced the formation of the Peace Corps.  At the time life led them in other directions, but now they are ready and able to fulfill the dreams of their youth.

 At age fifty-plus they bring their professional and life experience to their new positions, according to reporter Chris Jansing.  She concluded the report by noting that these volunteers, working with families to fight malaria and other diseases, are “helping children live to be adults – not bad for a second career.”

I briefly had the Peace Corps dream as a teenager – I thought it would fulfill a desire to see the world while helping others.  But the idea was too big — it scared me — and I never seriously considered it.  I admire those who did serve – then and now. I am inspired by women my age who are willing to trade a comfortable life for one of working to improve conditions in poor areas. 

The Peace Corps is looking for more middle-aged volunteers.  Was that your dream in the 1960’s? How about in 2012?

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Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef

Working out – we all know we should have exercise in our lives, but it can be a challenge to make it happen consistently.  When I make the effort to work out often, my body is revved up to help burn extra calories – even between the sessions — bonus!!  Since I am always struggling with my weight, I have to make sure exercise fits into my life.

I enjoyed reading this online article about revving up metabolism (eating, exercise, more). Overall, I think the optimal arrangement is to discover what kind of healthy activities we enjoy doing – then integrate them into our lives wherever and whenever we can do so.

“I would be happy if I could go hiking in a National Park every day!” I told my husband when we toured Glacier National Park several years ago.  Unfortunately, that is not an option in my every day world.

Perhaps the closest I ever came to that goal (so far) was four months ago when my husband and I spent three weeks in Australia, which has 516 National Parks… many more than we could handle!  During our time there, we visited at least seven areas that were designated as World Heritage sites, National Parks or both. 

We spent hours walking: in the Daintree Rain Forest, in the outback at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and checking out the Sydney Opera House and other sites around the Sydney Harbour area.  In the gorgeously scenic Blue Mountain National Park we hiked along a steep, rocky path. I thought the occasional signs that said “Landslide” referred to the trail’s name —  until we came to an actual landslide area! We scrambled over it, and I felt as nimble as a mountain goat. We also went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef several times.  In Australia the natural world surrounded us and we cherished every moment we could fully experience it.

Unfortunately, I can’t integrate snorkeling into my everyday life. *SIGH*.  But I think my regular workout of choice helped me get to the place where I have enough agility and stamina to handle those kind of more extreme activities when the opportunity arises. That workout program is called Silver Sneakers®.  I specifically like that the routine focuses on Muscular Strength andRange of Motion. 

Two or three times a week I go to my local fitness center where the leader takes a group through a wide variety of activities that provides a good overall body, mind balanced workout.  This program is offered to older adults at 11,000 participating centers nationwide.  It is an enjoyable and valuable exercise program, and it helps keep my body revved up to burn calories.  This is my regular routine, but I still love to go hiking in National Parks (and snorkeling!) as often as I can manage to do so!

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Watercolor Painting Class

I’m at home – inside looking out at fluffy white snow – the perfect way to spend a January day.  I am enjoying this opportunity to work on my own projects and develop my artistic interests. 

On Monday evenings, I take a watercolor class at White Bear Center for the Arts.  Here is my version of this week’s class project: a painting of a water lily. Our instructor Lisa Fertig creates the original painting, demonstrating how to do it in segments for the class. When she gets to each stopping point, we paint it on our own paper.  I am amazed that although everybody in the class sees the same original, each of us creates our own version which is very different from the others. All are beautiful in their own way!

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There was an interesting segment on the CBS Sunday Morning show today about charisma.  Reported by Susan Spencer,  it was mostly about charisma in the context of assessing modern day presidents and presidential candidates.  Somebody who is charismatic can be defined as one with charm or personal appeal.  I’d rather have a strong sense of character than something so superficial. But I realize that charisma goes deeper than what we see on the surface.

The program introduced us to Joseph Nye, professor at the Harvard Kennedy School.  He describes certain people with charisma as having a “personal connection”, and ability to “project warmth and personality.”  Aha, so it is a communication thing, and I am all in favor of clear and positive interpersonal communication.

But I wonder if charisma something genuine if it can be quantified and taught?  Professor Alex Pentland from MIT and his team say the have found a way to measure charisma. (Why didn’t I become an academic researcher of charisma? It sounds like fun and probably pays well, too!)  What their device actually measures is whether a person is energetic. The show also features John Neffinger who runs workshops to teach people how to have charisma. He says the key factors are “strength and warmth”, as projected by a smile and body language.

What does this all mean to me?  I believe it all starts with what is inside, so it is up to each of us to let the energy and love of the universe into ourselves – and develop our own qualities such as humor, adventure, and integrity that define our character.  Then, when we use that energy from within to smile, look somebody in the eye, to listen and react to what they have to say, we are doing so from an authentic center.  It is essential to make this kind of connection with other people.  Character or charisma? My vote: have both, but the character comes first.

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