Happy Sunday, December 29, 2019
I am in the midst of cleaning up from our Christmas celebration. 2019 is coming to a close and the New Year is right around the corner. It is a joyous and exciting time. It can be a daunting time for many other reasons. December, Christmas and holidays have a way of stirring up past or present feelings, create stress or bring grief or sadness. Maybe you did not achieve the goals or resolutions you set for yourself when the year began. New hardships may have occurred that created setbacks in your life. Whatever happened in 2019, it will soon be in the past. If you did not attain the goals you set, do not despair. With the coming of 2020, goals, old or new, and dreams are possible. We have a new year to move forward and pursue our passions. If the time of year brought sadness, please allow yourself to feel it. Release the emotions and pain associated with what occurred. You need to do this in order to rebuild and replenish your spirit. I know from experience it takes time to heal. The journey is not always easy, but it is up to us to make it a blessing. Each new sunrise brings new opportunities and possibilities for us to reach for the stars. It only takes a little effort to make our dreams reality.
It was a busy year for me. I know I did not complete goals I had intended to accomplish. I have been writing and working on a book for years. This year seemed to be the right time, but it just did not come together. Once again it has been shelved for the time being. I know I will refine it in the coming year. I am excited to get it out there for you very soon. It is a memoir of my life, career in law enforcement and what brought me to my present journey. I share what pulled me down, the trauma of my profession and how I rebounded to release my pain. I want to share what life as a cop is really all about. It takes a dedicated and determined person to fulfill these duties. It obviously is not the career for everyone, but am so happy I was able to serve. I am the same person, yet my outlook and heart are much more open and happy. Writing a book has been an interesting endeavor in itself. It has been an education and learning experience about me and who I am. What a wonderful story to discover so much good within you. All I want is to share my insight and path to being a better me.
I had the pleasure of visiting several countries this year, seeking enlightenment and solace. I learned that much of the knowledge I was seeking was right here at home. It just required me to extract the information from my brain. Some of my time abroad was used as an escape from dealing with life. That became clear during my first week away from home. I returned home with an open heart, no expectations and willing to let the universe guide me. It really is amazing what doors and opportunities open to you when you relax and relinquish control. I believed I was great at controlling life and events. It was part of my job at work. Every situation demanded control. Ensuring life and death situations are resolved with peace was my duty. Controlling work encounters does not work for relationships or living your life. Life is not meant to be controlled. Life is meant to live.
As humans we place great pressure on ourselves to excel. We want to achieve success, enjoy happiness and live prosperous lives. This is part of our nature. My career was my life. I was focused and dedicated to the job. I wanted to do good and make a difference in the community. That was my daily intention, while I continued to improve my skills and expertise. There were days I would have stayed at work instead of going home. That all changed when my daughter was born. She created an entirely new dynamic for my life and future. Her arrival gave birth to my life as a Dad. My direction changed, as well as my focus. My career was still important, but my life revolved around her. My role altered further when her Mom and I divorced. Yes, that created stress, but I cherished every moment as a Dad. Knowing I could not be with her every day was tough. I was lucky to have her half the time. I wanted to make every moment count.
The holidays and New Year can be an emotional roller coaster. Our moods vary from happy to stressed, to sad and back again. Often we know and understand the root cause, but it continues to happen. Then there are times we hover like a seesaw back and forth not knowing why. The anxiety builds and our health balance is compromised. As we race into the New Year, take some time to slow down. Relax your mind and check in on your mental status. Get outdoors and enjoy nature. Go for a walk, exercise and get physical. Nurture your spirit. Self-care is self-love. The stress we create, coupled with all the stressors of everyday life, can be quite exhausting and difficult. Hard work, dedication and drive are sought after characteristics, but finding balance in our lives is just as important. For many years I internalized much of the stress and anxiety of my career. I worked out and exercised as much as possible to fend off that negativity. Physical activity is only part of the puzzle to clear yourself of negative toxins. We must make a concerted effort to rid our bodies and minds of stress. Exercise can only resolve a portion of that problem. When we do exercise, it should be something we enjoy. If we do not enjoy it, then why are we doing it.
For me, that enjoyment comes from being outside running. My endorphins really kick in when I am out in nature. Whether I am running by the ocean or hiking the mountain trails, it brings me happiness and peace. When my daughter was young I would put her in a jogger and push her while I ran. I was running with her one day and felt much slower than normal. She tossed one of her stuffed animals, who was along for the ride, on to the street. I stopped to retrieve it when I noticed the palms of her hand were a dirty black color. I began running again when I noticed her arms were spread to each side. She was pushing down on the tops of the rear wheels with her hands. Needless to say, I instantly knew why her hands were dirty and why I felt so slow. She was enjoying the moment, having fun. To this day, I still look back at that story with fond memories. I used to love those moments together and it is an easy way to find some fun in physical activity. It does not need to be running. Find what works for you. Just get out there and have fun. We need to let ourselves be kids again and enjoy life. Do it with a friend!
This is where the third part of the puzzle is needed to bring us back together. Now is the time to focus on our spirit. Self-reflection, meditation or prayer are good starting points. These allow us the opportunity to “be still.” When we can silence our mind, even for a short time period, the benefits are plentiful. There are many ways to nurture your soul and sooth your spirit. I begin my day with a short meditation every morning. This helps clear my mind and set the tone of my day. I concentrate on slowing my breathing. I inhale and exhale with slow deep breathes. When you slow your breathing it relaxes your mind and stimulates the vagus nerve. This can reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. Slow deep breathing activates the vagus nerve enough to act as a break to the stress response.
There are other methods to calm your spirit. Spend quality time with family or friends. This means actually sharing and communicating in a mindful manner. Do something fun that you all enjoy. Be present with them and enjoy the moments together. Make the time about them and your relationship. Life does not revolve around you. Take the time to be humble and kind. Making other people happy can bring amazing joy to your soul. Be grateful every day. Gratitude
You can go on vacation, by yourself or with others. When you travel alone, it offers time to quiet your mind and reflect on your thoughts. It allows you to make new acquaintances, see new things and gain new insight into life issues. Travel is a good way to incorporate a hobby or passion. It can bring amazing changes to your perspective on life. It reminds us we are not alone on this planet. There are many people and cultures with diversity and new ways of life.
I love to travel with my girlfriend. We share many of the same interests and love experiencing new places together. We understand and respect each other, making our relationship very easy and special. It sure helps when you are on the road living out of a suitcase; for a few days or weeks. As competitive as we both are, we put “us” first. There is plenty of conversation and decision making together. Sharing different ideas and thoughts is what makes us great. Being able to travel together brings so many wonderful new things to our relationship. It restores our peace in humanity.
If you are looking for something simple that nurtures your soul, that does not require physical activity or travel; be kind to others. Kindness is a commodity that is boundless. It has an instant impact on those it is bestowed upon. Showing kindness to others is a display of respect. Kindness is a direct reflection of you. Be kind to all living things, the planet and yourself. Share it often and with everyone.
I begin each day being grateful for all I have and thanking God for life. Showing gratitude for all you have, especially life, provides us a base for sharing love. Gratitude means being thankful and appreciating each new day. Every sunrise brings us new opportunities to enjoy life and help others. Make the new day a gift, for yourself and everyone you contact. Reach for your stars.
Be present; living in each moment as it unfolds. Our society creates fast paced lives for us. I was always in such a rush to do or achieve things in my future that I often passed by what was happening in that moment. I stressed about the past and worried about the future. I had no control of either. What I could enjoy was where I am in each particular moment. I tried many times to control the past, present and future. That is both stressful and impossible. When I became mindful, I was able to clear my mind of the past. This allowed me to focus on the present and work toward a brighter future. I cannot control the outcome of where I am or where I am going. I can only strive for the best possible version of me every day.
Be here right now and enjoy life in the present. Make the most of each moment. Your spirit will find the peace in the comfort you provide. Wishing you all a blessed and Happy New Year. Let 2020 be the year you make positive changes, for yourself and our world.
Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more! I will continue the discussion on balancing all aspects of the healthy life puzzle.
Thanks for your love and support! Embrace Life! Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!