Take a Breather


By Kim Lowman

Wellness Program Manager

Well we did it…Holidays are over. For most of us, that means we are now in waiting mode. Waiting for spring or summer. Hibernating like a bear. If we had a clicker, we could fast forward; but, unfortunately, until H.G. Wells truly invents a time machine, we are stuck in the moment, which I am here to tell you IS NOT A BAD THING! This quieter season can be a good time to go inward and learn more about ourselves and our true wishes, wants and goals. It’s a good time to take a break or “take a breather.” Literally. It’s a good time to focus on breathing.

Survival experts have something called, The Rule of 3’s. You can go 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, and 3 minutes without air. Three minutes. Obviously, there are cases of people surviving longer without food and water, but very few cases of people surviving without breathing for more than a few minutes.

Let’s take that fact and let it sink in. Try holding your breath for a full minute. You go ahead, I’ll pass…that puts me into a panicky feeling. It sure does make you appreciate the gift of air, doesn’t it? So, why are we taking it for granted? We acknowledge every bite of food we take… we even share what we ate with others on social media. I see your pictures. We look forward to that cup of tea or cold drink when we are thirsty. Yet nobody thinks twice about the gift of breathing. That is unless you meditate.  Meditation is the acknowledgment of your breath and this is a perfect time of year to give it a try while you hibernate and wait. Nervous? I get it. I was afraid to meditate when I was younger because I thought that meant I would go “out to space” and lose my sense of control. As a younger person who had panic attacks, I was not very good at letting myself go. I was 100% wrong. Meditation calms those fears and anxieties. It calms the stress triggers and brings you into the moment. Nothing before or after is important. Meditation is a gift to yourself.  There are many ways to meditate and it may take a few tries before you find the one that works for you. Here are a few free and easy ideas to get you started.

Guided meditation: Free on YouTube. Google whatever you want. For example, “guided meditation on how to stay positive” will bring up multiple choices.Narrow it down if you wish, to something such as, “5 minutes morning guided meditation for positivity.” Or maybe, “guided meditation on how to attract financial stability.” It’s your wants, wishes and goals, so you decide.

Guided Sleep Meditation:  Free on YouTube.  Google “insomnia or guided meditation for sleep.” I find Jason Stephenson’s meditations are the best, but you may prefer a female or another male voice. These are great for winding down. You can google a purpose like, “letting go of stress,” so while you sleep, your mind is working on letting go, so you wake up refreshed.

Self-Hypnosis:  This is where you focus on your inhales and exhales as you repeat your desires.  If your train of thought wanders, you just bring it back to the inhales and exhales and your visualizations of success in your goals. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Surely you have 5 minutes.

You will be surprised where your mind wanders during focused breathing and meditation. Goals become clearer. Answers appear. Your day is just better. So instead of just waiting and holding your breath, why not take a breather and get your best life going.

 

 

ReSOLUTIONS Anyone?


By Kim Lowman

Wellness Program Manager

Welcome to the year 2020! Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Me too. So… how’s that been going? Be honest! Are you nailing it every year? Have you even just once followed through on a resolution? Would your nose grow like Pinocchio if I asked you in person?

Sorry if I sound sarcastic, but I’ve been doing this New Year’s resolution thing a very long time and I have come to the conclusion that it means nada, nothing, zilch. It’s more like wishful thinking or hoping for some magical thing to happen. In the moment, we have every intention of “making this the year we will do “it”– whatever “it” is. Then something happens and we throw in the towel and make excuses or worse, start the negative self-talk because we threw in the towel. Why? Why do we throw in that towel? I have a theory. Maybe this year can be different…hear me out.

If you look up resolution in the dictionary, it reads, “a firm decision to do or not do something.” If you look up resolve, it reads, “decide firmly on a course of action or find a solution to a problem.” If you look up solution, it reads, “a means of solving a problem.”

The way I see it is this…. We are so busy making our resolutions and resolving to make a change, that we are missing out on the most important part of the word: solution. It’s right there in the word… we need to find a solution to whatever “it” is we want to resolve to change or not change. We need a plan!

When you decide to go on a trip, let’s say somewhere warm, you research; you decide where, when, with who… it’s fun to think about it and picture it in your head. But, unless you make the reservation to hold your spot, then buy the ticket, it’s all wishful thinking. You will not magically transport to that sunny paradise. You need a plan. Resolutions work the same way.

If you resolve to make healthier lifestyle changes, which is the #1 resolution every year, you need to “buy a ticket”- that may mean joining a group where like-minded people have the same goals as you. Some examples could be a health club, yoga studio, healthy cooking classes, weight loss groups, meet-ups, walking clubs, etc. If you are looking to change habits that are unhealthy, you will need to make that “reservation” with your primary care physician, find a group meeting, hypnotist, therapist or like-minded people to support you through the journey.

The second most popular resolutions are making goals for financial change. Maybe making that big move or buying that car or house. Unless you live in munchkin land, then that house is not going to drop out of the sky. Much like planning the trip to the warm climate, you need to research, decide where, when and with who. It’s not going to magically happen, so you’ll need to make that reservation by contacting the credit companies and bankers and finding out what you need to do in order to buy that big “ticket” item! Motion creates motion, so whatever you start can propel you forward… don’t throw in the towel!

Go big this year! Why not? Make BIG resolutions! Then make bigger solutions, so you have a plan to guide you. A resolution is not a one-week-in-January event. It is a 365-day plan to make 2020 a great year of accomplishments. Frankly, until we discover how to magically transport our wishful thinking into actual productivity… what choice do we have? The year 2020 is going to happen with or without us, so I’m making my reSOLUTIONS and going for the ride…I have a big one this year (ask me and I’ll tell you!) 🙂

 

Finding the Holiday Miracles


By Kim Lowman

Wellness Program Manager

I made a decision this year. I decided not to put up a Christmas Tree. Then came a wave of guilt. I knew I had to make peace with this choice, so I started to think back on holidays of the past, like in the movie, A Christmas Carol. And, you know what… with the exception of maybe 6 of my 59 Christmases, I cannot remember the tree! What I do remember are memories that I can connect to each holiday season. Some are joyful and comforting. Some are tragic but silver-lined. Today I want to share what should have been the worst Christmas and yet I remember it as one filled with miracles and hope.

In 1977, the first week of December, my family home burned down. It was a tragedy of course, and I remember my father telling my brothers, sisters and me that we had nothing “but the clothes on our backs.” Here is why I tell this story… My grandmother had made me a pink and green quilt a couple years prior. I was told not to go into the house once the fire was out, but I did. I went right up to my bedroom which was above where the fire was thought to have originated. My room was destroyed and there was a terrible gray dinge everywhere, except for a tiny bit of pink on the floor in the corner. I went to look and there was my quilt. Undisturbed. A bit charred and smoke stained, but in one piece. It is the only thing of mine that survived, and I still have it to this day- 42 years later. That was the first miracle.

For two weeks before Christmas my family was broken into different places; my brothers to one family friend, me to another, and my sisters and parents living in a hotel. Out of the blue, my parents were contacted. Two families in our town had just combined like the Brady Bunch and they had an “extra” house that was standing empty on the next street over from ours. Exact amount of bedrooms we needed. They offered it to my parents and refused to take any rent. So, on December 21st we all moved into this house. Neighbors and friends brought Christmas gifts and put up a fabulous fake white tree that looked very Hollywood to me. We had a place to call home and my whole family was back together in our own neighborhood. That was the second miracle.

At this same time, I had a temp job doing filing work after school at an insurance agency. There was a “Secret Santa” type of gift giving and I had drawn the name of an older woman named Ruth. I didn’t know much about her except that she had numbers tattooed on her arm and I knew that meant she had been in a concentration camp. I asked around to see what I should get her and a scarf was the popular answer. I suddenly had this intense need to understand what those numbers meant; so I went to the library and researched. I was horrified. Amidst all the anxiety of our house fire, I could not feel anything but fortunate. I wish I had spent more time talking to Ruth but truth is I did not. Yet, she unknowingly put a fire in my belly. I have spent the last 42 years reading every survivor story I can. I learned about Hanukkah and the miracle of 8 days of light with only one day’s oil. It later dawned on me that Ruthie’s scarf was a Hanukkah gift and I likely wrapped it in Christmas paper not knowing the difference. I have since learned tolerance, acceptance, how to always speak up, keep hope and faith alive and to believe in miracles. I think of her often. She was the third miracle of that December 1977.

Holidays can be wonderful. They can be difficult. They can be joyful. They can be sad. However, there are many miracles big and small hidden for us to find if we look for them. As you celebrate your holidays, I hope you find the hidden miracles in the people you meet, places you go and in small patches of pink if the day seems a little grey.

One-Day Pass


By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

It’s that time again. Everywhere you look, there is advice on how to get through the holidays without gaining weight, getting run down, overdoing, feeling blue, etc. And, it all starts with Thanksgiving. The feast of the year. You’ve heard it all before…portion control, moderation, skip the pie, exercise before, take a walk after…blah, blah, blah…. Continue reading

Raise Your Hand


By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

Think back to your first day of school every year. The teacher would call your name and you would raise your hand and say, “here.” You waited impatiently to hear your name called. Hand ready to shoot up. You were on that special list. Being “here” was comforting. You belonged. Our whole life is based on being “here.” So I ask you this…is being “here” the same as being present? It’s something to think about as you go through your day. Continue reading

Easy Way/Hard Way?

By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

As early as I can remember the phrase, “easy way/hard way?” was a daily question for my brothers, sisters and me. Don’t worry, I am not about to share a hardship- not at all… it’s a pleasant memory because it was what our Dad asked us nightly when it was time for bed. We’d all be in our pajamas and when it was your turn for bed my Dad Continue reading

Don’t Buy into it!


By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

As a Wellness Program Manager and fitness enthusiast, I spend a lot of time researching the best methods to stay healthy and the science that supports the trends. Guess what… the science doesn’t support the trends that we are buying into! In fact, many of the newest “health” trends are Continue reading

Turn, Turn, Turn

By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

There is a great song from the 1960’s, when folk rock was born, and hippies were a thing.  The music spoke of the times and the song, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” written by Pete Seeger and sung by the band, “The Byrds” was a hit!   Continue reading

Birthday Surprise!

By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

Birthdays were always fun when I was a kid.  Once a year I could ask for a “bigger ticket” item.  As a kid, I wanted a banana seat bike with those high handlebars and streamers coming from the handlebar grips.   As a teen, it was a FM clock radio.  In my 20’s I wanted stirrup pants (a precursor to leggings, only uglier).  So now that Continue reading

Eat Your Liver!

By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

If you have read any of my blogs over the past months, you know I have been dispensing wise words on how to attain or maintain a healthy lifestyle. A lifestyle I personally follow and love. It’s literally my job! Last month I left you with some news about my newly found high blood pressure and I was awaiting lab results. I have been as excited as you to hear the results! Good news, yay…no kidney issues causing the high blood pressure so Continue reading