A New Day to Hear…and Listen

Every day I wake is a gift from above; with it comes the promises of Him who made the sun to rise, and together with the brilliant rising sun He says…I AM here for you. Today my prayer is that I will not only hear His voice, but that I will also listen and learn. This morning I seem to hear Him say:

Walk with Me! But when you walk, keep your eyes open, your head up. Do not lose sight of Me. Seek after Me, Keep up with Me! Dawdle if you must, but dawdle with Me in view. Run if you must, but run with the joy of your inner child. I AM never far from you.

Just Breathe

Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! (Psalm 150:6 ~ Amplified Bible)

Sigh, without making a sound in the vocal cords, and imagine an all-compassionate presence of Yah. Imagine that each breath is itself a blessing. Yah holds and embraces us, Yah is our inner source of strength, and in each breath, we bless Yah for as long as we live, which is our “forever.”
(Ecstatic Kabbalah ~ David A Cooper)

This is the air I breathe, This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread, This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me

And I ~ I’m desperate for you
And I ~ I’m lost without you

(Breathe ~ Lyrics: Michael W Smith)

Focus your attention on your lungs, as if only your lungs exist. Feel the pleasure when your lungs expand to fulfill the biggest need of the human body – to breathe. Take a deep breath and feel the air as it fills your lungs. Feel how the air is nothing but love. Notice the connection between the air and the lungs, a connection of love. To breathe gives us much pleasure. Just to breathe is enough for us to always be happy, to enjoy life. Just to be alive is enough. Feel the pleasure to be alive, the pleasure of the feeling of love…
(The Four Agreements ~ Don Miguel Ruiz)

Build Muscle Before, During and After Menopause

As a personal trainer specializing in the ‘Over the Hill’ demographic, I’m often asked by my clients what the best exercises are for women of mature years. I used to tell my clients that they should engage in so much aerobic, strength and flexibility training so as to realize continued fitness into their senior years. But I have noticed that most, if not many, of my clients struggle to be physically active regardless of what they know they should be doing.

So I have changed my answer to this often asked question by saying that the BEST exercises for EVERY WOMAN are the exercises WHICH SHE ENJOYS doingoften. For women on the precipice of menopause, a physically active lifestyle is highly protective against the traditional weight gains and muscle losses associated with the menopause years. If middle-aged women who still have regular menstrual cycles or are on hormone replacement therapy can discover or create ways to be physically active during these transitional years before menopause, they can set themselves up for less weight gain and muscle loss during the menopause season. From my personal experience, I would have  I have gained my best fitness outcomes (strength/endurance) from adding weight training and high intensity interval training to my exercise regimen. Unfortunately, many women my age shy away from these types of activities and view them as behaviors which only men or elite-athletes engage.

So this is why I standardize my response to that most asked question and resort to the standard conventions for exercise prescription. By this I mean that 2 to 3 days a week  should be devoted to strength training together with 3 to 5 days a week of aerobic exercise with a minimum 30 minute duration. Clearly, the key to staying this active is in discovering those activities which provide a measure of fun and enjoyment for you. Remember, if your exercise routine doesn’t put a smile on your face, then your exercise routine becomes a stress inducing activity rather than a health inducing activity.

Finally, don’t discount the value of trying something new when planning your  fitness program. You may even want to re-visit exercises or activities you learned to dislike in your youth.  When you have a say in how or when you engage in your exercise, you may discover that you could actually enjoy the rigors of team sports or group fitness compared  to the requisite ‘gym’ class you were forced to attend during your school years. And if you’re the type of person who enjoys a more social approach to your exercise, then by all means enlist your friends to join you in your fitness endeavors.

You  might like to read the brief article about Ms. Willie Murphy (pictured above), a 77 year old grandmother who took up weight training not too long ago. I think her story perfectly illustrates the fact that you are never too old to try something new and get fit too!

Tell Me a Story…For Brain Power

No matter our age, most everyone likes to hear or read a good story. Whether we read the story to someone or narrate as storyteller, these activities are powerful medicine for our brains because these behaviors activate neural pathways which might otherwise not get mobilized. Some might argue that reading to ourselves is just as effective as reading out loud to others, however, silent reading is similar to watching television in terms of the amount of mental energy utilized by the brain.

So remember, if you want to sharpen your intellectual edge and build some brainy muscle, then gather together a friend or two and tell or read them a story. You never know, but your doing so could spark creative inertia  among your group of listeners; your story telling might just be the catalyst which inspires another person to write and tell a story. Perhaps their story is just waiting for a reason to be told.

Life must be lived with a writer’s courage. Just as a blank page cannot be improved, nothing can be done with an unlived, untried life. To dare to live will involve mistakes and missteps. You and I will end up with choices we regret, opportunities we missed, words we wish we could go back and say or leave unsaid. Perfection is impossible. But a rough draft, no matter how flawed, sits within reach of an artist’s redemption.
Michele Cushatt ~ Undone, A Memoir

Live, Laugh, Love

The Sound of Silence

It is a holy thing, is it not? The sound of silence. It can clarify my murky thinking if given ample time in this place. Silence. It brings to brilliant relief those thoughts, ideas, attitudes, and feelings of mine that need to be examined and reduced to their most base elements. Silence. If I will only allow the quiet of silence to settle on me, like a misting fog, so that it may wrap me in its enveloping Presence. Silence. In the quiet, if I will linger for awhile, I may be delighted again, to hear the faint whispers of the Divine; his Breath as healing and loving kindness to my inmost being; like a flower’s fragrance of which I want to inhale deeply. Silence. His quieting Essence draws me out from myself; from the nooks and crannies of brokenness and into the light and life of Being.

The sound of silence invites me to intimacy with my former self, to the place of my beginning…my first residence where I was knitted together in the invisible realm; where the only sounds known to me were of heartbeat and breath; the sounds of love and life. Silence. To this place which I am drawn, my pursuit of quiet oneness. Because it is in this place that I become aware of communion with the One. I can hear the Heartbeat, I can feel the rhythmic Breath cradling me back to life; I am keenly exposed, yet not undone. It is in this place of beginning, that I find I am remade and renewed.

Silence. When I listen and soak to the full, I learn and re-learn how to live in the other place, in the outside, noisy world. But for now, I will delight in this quiet place; I will settle down into myself and into the company of the One. Yes, this is the place I will take myself to, run to, expectantly, and often, when I am in want. Silence. Because this is the place where I find and meet again, the Maker of me. In the quiet and still I will be hushed and comforted by his Presence; after all this I know, the sound of silence is a holy thing.

Forget Me Not

It’s Mother’s Day and I’m fortunate enough to have my mom yet alive so as to celebrate this day with her. There have been times this past year when her health brought her mortality into sharp focus. While she is currently living in remission, this too is a gift because this reprieve of disease is a reminder to all of her family, that each day is a gift to be lived to the full.

But I’ve also noticed that when life settles into dull routines, minus the urgencies of life-threatening drama or stress, it is easy to get lazy about cherishing the gift of life and the gift of those precious people God has put in our midst to love.

This is why it is a special comfort and delight to know that our Maker, the Designer and Engineer of Mother-Love, has no capability or capacity for forgetfulness. The proof of His abiding love for all of us is in the indelibly engraved love note in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus.

Can a woman forget her nursing child?
Will she have no compassion on the child from her womb?
Although mothers may forget, I will not forget you.
I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
(Isaiah 49:15-16 GOD’S WORD Copyright © 1995)

Wind and Rain

I had to kick my butt out the door this afternoon for today’s run. Not having a race on my calendar to train for really makes it easy to stay indoors, especially when the weather is threatening rain with gusty winds. It’s not that I haven’t run in the rain before or that I’m afraid of getting wet. I ran earlier this week on a morning that looked less rain-ful than today and I ended up getting hailed on before I finished the 4-mile out and back. Rain is one thing, hail is much more hurtful.

Thankfully, the rain held back for me this afternoon, and the temperature was perfect (50 degrees +/-) even with the gusting wind. Today’s run put 30 miles on my legs this week, and they felt a little weary and my breath too came in heaves because I was running at mile high elevation this afternoon. But all in all, I am glad I got over myself, and got out the door and moved myself down the trail and back.

Word as Bond

In the old days, a trustworthy person could be described as one whose ‘word was their bond’. In modern times, ‘our bond’ has been greatly depreciated. It has been replaced with credit scores and background checks. I wonder what our society, our communities, and our families would look like if we valued the power of spoken words more than credit scores. What if we spent our words carefully each day, speaking those things that are only needful and helpful for others? What sort of dividends could we amass as a society and personally if we only spent our words as currency of love and truth?

“Be Impeccable With Your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.” Don Miguel Ruiz

DEFINITION: Impeccable: faultless; flawless; irreproachable

That’s heady stuff; to be impeccable with my word. That means I would have to think before I speak. I would not veil what I mean with empty fluff; I would not seek to harm or reduce another with my words. How often am I impeccable with my words? I hate to admit, but not very often. Maybe, on a very good day, once or twice in the course of my waking hours could I be accused of speaking with impeccability.

Jesus too, the WORD incarnate, taught this about communication: “Say just a simple ‘Yes, I will’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong.” Matthew 5:37 TLB

What indeed would happen if I had it in my mind to only do my very best whenever I opened my mouth to speak. What effect would that have on those with whom I communicate; with those who overhear my communications? I can only imagine…

Running…How To Do It

“I told him I’d started running, and I wasn’t sure if I knew how to do it. He said there wasn’t all that much to it, aside from remembering to alternate feet.”
Step by Step ~ Lawrence Block

This quote made me laugh when I first read it and I knew I wanted to share it on my blog one day soon. I just finished reading this book and enjoyed Mr. Block’s memoir; running and walking was (and I hope still is) a prominent feature of his life’s story.

Tomorrow I’ll be running my first 10K of 2015 and I’ll probably be smiling while I think about this silly little quote about alternating my feet. The Dr. Gann’s Cinco de Mayo 10K is in it’s 35th year, but tomorrow will only be the second time I’ve run this race. It’s an out and back mixed, hilly route which thankfully ends with the last 2 miles downhill. Should be nice and warm too, around 70 degrees at 7am.

I’m not as trained this year as I was last year, my schedule was full of work and caretaking for a sick parent, so tomorrow’s race is for the pure pleasure of running, simply because I can and I have no where else to be at 7 o’clock in the morning. I hope to at least run the same pace as I did last year, but if I’m feeling fresh and strong you can count on me to push the pace up a bit too. So here’s to tomorrow’s race and to how to do it!

You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving. ~ Anatole France