My Mom and Alzheimer’s

Happy Sunday, February 23, 2020

Good morning on this beautiful Sunday!  I hope you are all doing well.  If you find yourself struggling, not feeling well, stressed, depressed or just not content, then it is time to change your life.  Today is the best time to start living.  Happiness is created within us, for us and by us.  It is not something we buy or receive from others.  It is our responsibility to maintain and share.  It is all up to you to make it happen.  If you need a helping hand, reach out.  I’m here if you need me.

Life goes by so quickly.  Please do not let it pass you by. 

I want to share an Alzheimer’s story.  It is my mother’s current story.  I spent this week visiting my sister, family and friends in the bay area.  Our mom lives in an Alzheimer’s care facility there.  She has been confined to this institution for over three years.  This is a disease that continues to debilitate her daily.  It is extremely sad and difficult to watch her wither away, as it claims her mind and body.  The progression has robbed her of her memory, her ability to control bodily functions and her desire to partake in activities and life.  She still feeds herself, although eating is not a priority.  She is semi mobile with a walker; but walking or going outside to enjoy the beauty of nature is no longer a desire.              

Here is a brief synopsis of Alzheimer’s disease.  It is a disease where brain cells progressively degenerate. Alzheimer’s typically follows certain stages which will bring about changes in the person’s and family’s lives. Because the disease affects each individual differently, the symptoms, the order in which they appear, and the duration of each stage vary from person to person. In most cases, the disease progresses slowly, and the symptoms of each stage may overlap, often making the move from one stage to another quite subtle.

The early stages for my mom seemed quite mild and not immediately evident.  My parents were living in a senior apartment building shortly before my dad died.  I always believed she was the person ensuring everything in their lives was in balance.  It was easy to see after his death that he was taking care of her.  My dad was my best friend.  I saw or talked with him on the phone daily.  I knew his mind was sound and strong until the day he died.  After his passing, I would visit her monthly, staying four or five days at a time.  I would bring our dog and just hang out.  She enjoyed having us there, even though my sister and her family were nearby.  It was easy to recognize that her memory was beginning to change and decline.   She recognized it, but there was little that could be done to delay what was coming.   

Common symptoms include forgetfulness, communication difficulties, and changes in mood and behavior.  People in this stage retain many of their functional capabilities and require minimal assistance. They may have insight into their changing abilities.  As the disease progresses it brings a greater decline in the person’s cognitive and functional abilities. Memory and other cognitive abilities continue to deteriorate, although people at this stage may still have some awareness of their condition.

As my mother’s ability to care for herself decreased, it was easy to see additional care for her was needed.  We hired care givers to assist her during the day.  She began to forget about eating meals, drinking water or taking her medication.  She would talk about the same things or ask the same questions throughout the day.  She began to need assistance dressing and caring for herself.  As time progressed the uncontrollable mood swings began; from anger to aggression.  The changes were subtle in the beginning, then intensified, as she would intentionally attempt to hit other women with her walker.  As these stages evolved, it became evident we needed to move her to a facility that could provide the care she required on a daily basis.  

She did not understand what was happening to her or why.  I would often talk with her, as did my sister, attempting to help her understand.  None of this was ever easy.  I don’t think she fully understood any of it.  It was often difficult for me to grasp the entire concept of it all.  When the decision was made to move her to an Alzheimer’s care facility, she did not want to go and did not understand why.  Once the move was complete, her mood swings became less, as did the aggressive behavior.  The care givers at the facility were amazing.  Such kindness and compassion every minute of the day.  My mom still knew who we were and remembered her past.  As that first year passed, her memory faded further as the disease progressed.   

As Alzheimer’s progresses into the later stages, it robs a person of everything that makes life wonderful.  It has taken my mother’s memory.  It has claimed her speech, ability to communicate and the ability to care for herself.  She still has the ability to feed herself, but eating is no longer a normal thought or priority.  She continues to lose weight and gradually dwindles away.  She requires constant care 24 hours a day.  The cost is astronomical.  She is not confined to bed, but many days she will only leave her bed when prompted by care givers.  This is typically to eat meals.  Lunch is often missed because she refuses to leave her bed.  She often returns to her bed immediately after her meals.  This is truly a heartbreaking way to exist.

The final stages bring an increased level of mental and physical deterioration.  How this evolves and how quickly varies from person to person.  There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease nor can its progression be reversed.  Present treatment options and lifestyle choices, however, can often significantly slow the progression of the disease.  There are so many debilitating and deadly diseases in our world today: including cancer, heart, coronary, stroke, blood, respiratory or lung disease, to name a few.  My Dad fought MDS (a blood disorder) for nearly five years.  The disease morphed into leukemia and ultimately took his life.  

I wanted to share my Mother’s story with you, because there are many people struggling with significant health issues.  Physical and mental health are so important to living a happy and healthy life.  Take care of yourself and do whatever you can to assist others along the way.  Life is precious and often too short.  When I visit my mom, my emotions range from sad, frustrated, helpless, to happy I can hug her one more time.  We can no longer carry on a conversation and I feel lucky if she utters one word or smiles.  This visit there were no smiles, no interaction, no words or connection from her.  There were only her cold blank stares.  There were no hugs, no kisses or love.  There is just the harsh reality of what Alzheimer’s has in store for the future.  It brings with it the sadness of waiting for the inevitable.

Take the time to love yourself and love those close to you.  Express your feelings and emotions openly.  Don’t wait.  Time rushes by far too quickly.  Before you know it your opportunities may be gone forever.  Be happy with who you are, follow your dreams and live a happy life.  Do it today. 

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The healthy life puzzle is always in rotation.  Let’s be healthy and strong mentally, physically and spiritually!

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

How Yoga Revitalized Me

Happy Sunday, February 16, 2020

Happy Sunday!  I hope you are all doing well.  Another Valentine’s Day is in the books.  If you did not celebrate it with another person, you should have at least celebrated yourself with some love and self-care.  I hope you did one or both!  Life is short, enjoy it.  It’s great to be alive!    

I want to share my thoughts about Yoga.  It revitalized my life; mind, body and spirit.  I am confident you can feel energized and empowered by the benefits.  The word yoga means ‘unity’, ‘to join’ or ‘union.’  It is a science of living that has existed for thousands of years.  It is not a religion or exercise.  It is a right way of living.  Yoga has many health benefits physically, mentally and spiritually.  It was first documented in the Yoga Sutras by Sage Patanjali between 500 to 200 BC.  Before that it had been verbally handed down from generation to generation.  Patanjali wrote it down and transformed it into a system.  Yoga was brought to America in the late 1800’s, then re-introduced in the late 1950s.  It was westernized into our society and grew as an exercise or workout.  Understanding the true philosophy of yoga and integrating it into your life, ultimately leads to better health.  If followed, it can clear your mind, bringing you to better decision making in support of health and happiness. 

My first introduction to yoga came in January 2010.  I attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico Virginia.  I lived in a dorm room for three months during my stay at the FBI training facility.  The National Academy is an amazing and once in a lifetime experience.  Law enforcement executives from all over the world attended this prestigious training.  The Monday through Friday training is filled with classes, fitness and some socializing.  The weekends were mine to complete class papers, explore, have fun and relax.  The gym always is a good place to relieve stress and gain some muscle.  The winter was cold and snowy that year.  There was so much snow, the entire base closed for a week.  That is a lot of snow!  Running in the cold and snow was so much more fun and exciting; especially for a guy from southern California.  They announced an FBI agent would be teaching yoga early weekend mornings.  I was intrigued to say the least.  I knew next to nothing about yoga.  I shared the belief of most men, that yoga was for women.  After my very first class early that Saturday morning, my entire thought process changed.  There were three men in that class; and our female instructor.  She took great care with us, explaining the philosophy and working us through each posture.  I attended classes every weekend they were offered.  At the end of my three month stay, my muscles, joints, body felt better and stronger.  My mind was clear and focused.  What an amazing transformation in a short time period.

I returned to my fast paced career and life in Los Angeles.  I took a handful of yoga classes over the next five years.  In 2015, I met my girlfriend and my life changed.  She re-introduced me to yoga and a new life.  I attended classes regularly.  I mixed a variety of yoga classes, presented by different instructors.  The variations included vinyasa, hot yoga, slow flow, yin, restorative and others.   The better my body and mind felt, the more I wanted to learn about the yoga and its philosophy.  I read books, talked to instructors and gained further insight from my girlfriend.  The quest to better myself, physically, mentally and spiritually lead me to seeking out yoga teacher training.  I completed my 200-hour training in Bali.  It was an incredible, amazing and enlightening experience.  Two Indian Yoga Masters lead the course and training.  They are inspiring, spiritual and gifted men.  We shared many conversations, laughs and tears.  They opened my heart to the philosophy and purpose for yoga.  It is interesting how the western world bent yoga into a new shape.  As with most things, we have commercialized the yoga industry.  There are amazing teachers and blissful studios out there.  You just have to seek them out.  Doing a hand stand is not required.  

Being shown a new path by two men who had grown up with yoga was an awe inspiring experience.  They are my yoga gurus.  I learned so much more than poses, postures and how to make them flow.  These men shared a philosophy, spirituality and practice handed down from their ancestors.  I discovered the benefits of proper joint alignment and the stimulation of internal organs.  Meditation, breathing and just clearing the mind became a new source of bliss and enlightenment.  I learned what is most important and significant about life and myself.  As much as this was a journey of learning, it really was more about my pathway to self- discovery.   Yoga is often misunderstood by many, and I can understand why that has happened.  It is much more than something to benefit the body.  Yoga is a misrepresented science that has become a part of our western workout regime.   That is not the purpose or why yoga was created.  Strengthening muscles and clearing the mind to discover bliss during meditation is the foundation of yoga.          

Attending yoga training in Bali provided an extra benefit I never dreamed imaginable.  I met the Balinese people.  I shared their culture, food and graciousness for a month.  They are a wonderful society bound in kindness, humility and love.  They have little (in possessions) as compared to the overabundance of America, yet their happiness is vast.  They cherish and value life, including everyone and everything around them.  They are spiritual; with their souls rooted to the earth and universe.  Everywhere I went, people approached me interested in saying hello and talking.  Initially, my background and attitude made me hesitant.  I quickly discovered there was no hidden agenda or purpose.  They are honestly friendly people; curious and seeking to know more about you and what your world is like.  I enjoyed and welcomed the many conversations.  Happiness is not based on what I have.  It is formed internally by my own state of mind.  I am responsible for my happiness.  When you become aware and responsible for yourself, the world is a better and happier place.

My month of training, plus several more weeks abroad, brought me home in a most relaxed state of peace and harmony.  My mind, body and spirit have reached new heights of energy, flexibility and strength.  Yoga brought balance to my mind and body.  It works in unison, improving and complimenting my workout routines, including weight lifting, running and biking.  Meditation is now much easier and relaxing; allowing enlightenment and mindfulness.  I am able to think more clearly and resolve problems with new solutions.  Stress, anxiety and depression are non-existent.  I have become more focused on living in the present.  I discovered my new bliss.       

I spent so much time conditioning my physical body during the past, that I neglected my mental and spiritual health.  I have been guided in a new direction the last five years.  The journey has forged a clear path to imagine a new and better me.  Now I am achieving a balance with my physical, mental and spiritual well-being.  I engage myself in the moment and live fully as life unfolds before me.  I have not forgotten the past, but I do not dwell on it.  Instead of trying to create my future, I am content to allow it to unfold while working toward new dreams and endeavors.

My nutrition is better, as I make healthier food choices, while still having fun and enjoying good food.  Living healthier brought new vitality, better health, more energy and an overall better feeling for me.  My life flows with a vibrant boost each day.  There will always be life issues to deal with along the way.  Now I am much more relaxed and capable of dealing with each one as it arises.  There is little to no stress or anxiety in my life.  I am able to remain focused on me, self-care, self-love and be happy in each moment.  This has empowered my relationships with those I love.  Imagine yourself happy, just because you are. 

We are all aware many more women attend yoga sessions than men.  I now know men can benefit from yoga just as much as women.  I also know why it is difficult to get men into a yoga class.  Yoga was traditionally male dominated when it began thousands of years ago in India.  When it was introduced to western society, it was packaged in such a way as to draw more women.  In the 1950’s and 60’s there were many more ‘stay at home’ women; often raising children.  Men participated in physical activity that shared an athletic or competitive appeal.  I do not believe stretching or flexibility was a major concern discussed by men back then.  Guys were busy being tough and displaying that macho attitude.  Why would a ‘manly’ man be caught in a yoga studio filled with women and a female instructor.  It just didn’t happen.  

As yoga and society has progressed, so has the view about its benefits.  It is evident that the rewards, physically, mentally and spiritually are real and lasting.  My body and mind were beat up from life and nearly 34 years of police work.  Once I put aside my ego, competitive nature and opened myself to the practice, the benefits began to pour into my body.  I do not concern myself with what others are doing in practice.  I only focus on me and what I am doing and can do.  I learned to calm my mind and body, mostly by controlling my breathing.  I could only reach my shins in a forward fold during that first class.  My back was tight and sore; as was most of my body.  When I bend forward now, in a standing position, I can place my palms on the floor.  There is no more back pain, joint or muscle pain.  I am much more flexible and free feeling.  I am focused on maintaining a health spine and back.  That keeps me standing tall and happy.

My advice to anyone just beginning yoga (or any exercise regime) is to start slow with the basics.  If you have not exercised in some time, you may want to check with your doctor before you start.  Do your own research.  Talk to people about studios, classes and instructors.  Begin with a slow flow, restorative or Yin class.  Let the instructor know you are new.  Tell them about your goals and share any physical issues (injuries) or pains.   Be guided by their instruction.  If you need help or do not understand, ask questions.  This is your practice.  Practice at least twice a week, more often if you can.  Results only happen when you make it a routine.  You are always welcomed to reach out and ask me for advice or assistance too.  I am here for you.         

Yoga is not a workout, exercise, course, retreat, training or religion.  Yoga is a way of life; loving and living the true meaning and blessings of your life.  It isn’t about going to a yoga class once a month and expecting results.  Commit to your health investment.  It is about making minor alterations in your lifestyle.  The physical yoga practice will increase your strength, allow more joint flexibility and boost self-esteem.  The mental practice will reduce stress, improve concentration and stimulate your immune system.  The spiritual practice will bring calmness and a sense of well-being.  That is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  It is all about you, how you treat your body and how you treat others.  Make it about a better life for you.  In turn you will view the world in a new and brighter light.

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The healthy life puzzle is always in rotation.  Let’s be healthy and strong mentally, physically and spiritually!

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

Mindfulness

Sunday February 9, 2020

Happy Sunday!  I hope you are all doing well and enjoying a fantastic week.  I am still reeling from the amazing day last Sunday!  I enjoyed a fabulous training run with my girlfriend to begin the day.  We watched the Super Bowl game, commercials and half time show.  All were fun and entertaining.  It was a wonderful day. 

Sadness still lingers in my heart from the tragic events over the last several weeks.  So many deaths and heartache.  What hurts the most are the line of duty deaths and suicides of our military, law enforcement and first responders that garner little attention.   There is much to process, but I am still here living.  I move forward mindfully into each new day.  I am thankful to be here, sharing life and wonderful times with the people I love.  I begin each new day with gratitude and respect, knowing that life is perishable.  It is a true gift not to be wasted or tarnished with anger or hate.  Love and kindness should be our focus.

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching.  It will be upon us this coming Friday.  How do you feel about celebrating the day?  You may or may not be a fan of this heartfelt occasion.  It is not at the top of my list when it comes to holidays.  It’s not at the bottom of my list either.  Whether it possesses social significance for you or not, it still retains importance in relationships and love.  The commercial aspect always tears into the heart, soul and importance of each of our holidays.  It is not about the candy, gifts or dinners out.  It’s a day to cherish and celebrate those we love.  In the past, society seemed to make it all about couples.  I believe it is more about honoring the people we care about most in our life.  I enjoy bringing some happiness and joy into the day.  It is a time to show love and gratitude to those special people.  I do relish sending cards, giving flowers or just spending quality time with the people who are important in my life.  Sharing those moments or letting someone know they are special and in our thoughts is an uplifting experience.       

I suggest taking the time to show those important people they matter and are loved; whether it is your partner, kids, parents, siblings or friends.  It is an amazing feeling making someone smile, especially when there is love at the foundation of your sentiment.  Whatever I can do to bring joy, makes me happier too.  It is quite amazing what sharing some love and affection can do to ignite others, as well as yourself.  I will definitely be sharing my love with my girlfriend, daughter, sister, family and a few others on this day.  Whether they live in the same house, around the corner or across the country, it is so easy to reach out and bring a smile to their face.  I hope you take some time to do the same with those closest to you.     

The end of this week also means the month of February will reach the halfway mark.  Does it feel like the year is off to a flying start?  It sure seems like the days are ticking away quickly.  I have plans for some travel in the coming months and later this year.  I am excited for each event and am trying my best not to wish it here too quickly.  I would love to slow the pace down a little.  What I need is more mindfulness added to each day to accomplish just that.  I want to be here in the present and enjoy each minute of each day.  I realize time will flow at its own pace, but the more I can do to savor each moment the better it will be.  

Mindfulness is about calming the mind and body.  I focus my attention on being in the present.  I live and enjoy each and every moment.  When I achieve this, I become more aware of my mind, thoughts, feelings, body and sensations with each experience.  Morning meditation is one way I can begin my day being more mindful.  I clear my thoughts, then focus my attention on the positive aspects of life.   I think about what I want to accomplish for the day.  If other things arise during that time, I can adjust accordingly.  I follow my path with an open mind and heart.  I do not allow anger or negativity to alter my course.  I immediately shut down false stories my mind tries to make up.  Is this always easy?  For me it has been a long journey and has involved work on myself.  It does take conscious effort at times, but as I become more mindful and present the easier my life flows.  It is amazing how your own positive and loving energy can influence your contacts and life with others.       

Take the time to slow down from the busy world.  I know we all so have much happening in our lives.  Life can seem hectic from relationships, career, kids, family and so much more.  Just dealing with traffic and crowds can be a stress filled chore.  If we can alter that pace to release stress and anxiety, it makes a positive impact on our mental and physical health.  Anytime we can reduce stress and anxiety, it is a winning situation.  Try to set aside some time to be outside.  Maybe you get out early in the morning, during your lunch break or in the evening.  I say just get outside and enjoy some nature.  Take 15 or 20 minutes to relax, close your eyes and just breathe.  Consciously focus on slow, long and steady inhales and exhales.  Slow deep breathing in and out of your nose will help in calming your mind and body.  Breathing through the nose has significant health benefits.  The nose filters, warms and helps purify the air.  It provides our sense of smell and can improve our resistance to disease.  This healthy boost will re-energize you.  The more you can relax physically and mentally, the better you will feel.

Mindfulness includes self-care.  This means treat yourself well and with love.  I talked about self-care a bit last Sunday.  It really is quite magical and wonderful.  Life can be rushing by at a frantic pace.  We attempt to maintain that speed so we don’t fall behind.  In actuality we should be setting our own pace and our own rules.  Who said we need to rush to do anything?  I have found that often times I have been the one placing undo stress on myself to get things done.  Many times I have tried to do or pack too much into one hour or one day.  Why do we place that burden upon ourselves?  Are we just trying to keep up?  Is this really living or what life is all about?  I don’t think so.  Slowing down is the key.  Take time to enjoy what you are passing by.  Take the time to enjoy your family, friends and activities you love.             

Be guided by your spirit and not by your ego.  Take the best part of you and share it with others.  Mindfulness and ego ensure our security and survival.  Unfortunately, some people allow their ego to falter, making everything about themselves.  When you consider the enormity of the universe, we truly are insignificant specks.  My suggestion is to live life with some humility and kindness.  Let us lift each other, while lifting ourselves. 

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The healthy life puzzle is always in rotation.  Let’s be healthy and strong mentally, physically and spiritually!

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

Self-Care

Happy Super Bowl Sunday and Groundhog Day, February 2, 2020

Good morning and happy Sunday.  The helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others is a sad tragedy.  It forever changes the lives of five families.  The effects and unknown possibilities for them and others are endless.  The losses are immeasurable. 

The grief and trauma extends beyond the immediate families, relatives and friends.  The first responders; police, fire, paramedics and associated personnel, will live with their pain forever.

The loss of life is truly sad and significant.  How often do we take into account the duties of first responders, or do we just take them for granted?  They work tirelessly to provide protection and service.  The trauma they deal with is ongoing throughout their career.  Last Sunday was a difficult day for so many, including all of those that responded to the call.  I share the grief and sadness felt by all.    

Kobe is a personality known worldwide.  His untimely death has saturated the news.  The social media coverage has been endless.  The presence of all nine victims will be gravely missed.  My heart aches for them all.  Think about how many tragic events and deaths occur each day without news coverage or concern.  Our military, law enforcement, first responders and their families garner little attention.  They deserve so much more.  In the line of duty deaths are tragically increasing, while suicide rates have doubled.  Where is the outcry?  People all over the world suffer similar fates, yet little recognition is received.  We each deserve so much more.  Our time here is limited, as we will never know when fate comes to call us.  Tragic events like these have no clear meaning.  We feel the pain, grieve and move forward into each new day.  Life is a precious gift, not to be taken for granted.  Enjoy each moment.  Live life in gratitude and thankfulness.  Be kind to others and let’s build a better and happier world together.  All of our lives matter.  I send my love and prayers to you all.

On a light hearted note, it’s a fabulous day for Super Bowl Sunday!  I am not an avid sports watcher or one to sit in front of the television all day.  I would much rather be outside enjoying nature and life.  I do however, enjoy this time of year.  The beginning of the year usually has some good college bowl games.  The professional football league playoffs culminate with the big game today.  I have amazing memories going to Rams games at the Coliseum with my Dad when I was a kid.  We shared plenty of Sundays watching games together on the couch at home.  We even made it to several Rose Bowl games, especially if Ohio State was playing.  Those were the days when the first place teams in the Big Ten and Pac Eight would play on New Year’s Day at the Rose Bowl.  Great memories and fun times with my Dad, never to be forgotten!

I have some crazy memories of working the Raider games when they were the “LA Raiders” (late 80’s / early 90’s).  The Los Angeles Coliseum would be packed.  There would always be the drunk fans creating chaos.  The alcohol induced bravado typically led to fights in the stands.  Tossing people out was easy.  Getting to them to break up the fights was a chore.  My uniform would be drenched from the beer thrown at us (the police).  I was happy to see the team return to Oakland in 1995.  Wishing them well as they will kick off next season in Las Vegas.

The NFL playoffs always seem to bring out the best in football and intense games.  The Super Bowl can be great entertainment or a serious drag.  This is true for several reasons.  The primary reason is of course the game; only when there are fun teams playing.  The half time show can go either way.  I am hoping for a hit this year with the female entertainers.  The commercials can be just as fun as the game; sometimes even more!  For me, the day revolves around family and friends.  It’s an afternoon of sharing fun, often missing the on screen action to actually catch up on life. 

I plan to begin my day with some self-care.  This is so easy to do.  It is really just taking some time for you to enjoy and pamper yourself.   It can be whatever you decide you need on any particular day.  It could be a spa day, massage, sitting somewhere beautiful to read or anything you don’t normally treat yourself too.  Make it a day of relaxation for your mind, body and soul.  Be the champion of your own physical, mental and spiritual health.  Eat and drink healthier foods that cater to your well-being.  Be more positive and live in the present.  Nurture your goodness and be grateful.  You are in charge of you!  Make it happen.  Self-care equals self-love. 

My self-care will start with quiet time to meditate.  I try to meditate every morning when I roll out of bed.  Typically, a few minutes is all I need to calm my mind and set the tone for the day.  Even when I know there is lots to do or accomplish, beginning my day with a peaceful brain is so amazing.  Being thankful for the new day and sharing that gratitude can create great joy.  I really do feel better and am ready for whatever the day brings my way.  Clear out the negative and let the positive thoughts flow.

My girlfriend and I will meet early for a fun (semi difficult) run through the hilly trails above San Clemente.  We are training for a Ragnar trail run in July, among other activities this year.  Our early prep work will pay off with huge fitness dividends.  Cardio is a necessary component when working on building your physical strength and endurance.  Breathing and lung capacity are a much needed start to our foundation.  My girlfriend has other endeavors she is training for, while I enjoy training to stay fit and healthy.  Longevity is my goal, along with a few event’s thrown in here and there.  We both include weight training and yoga to balance our fitness regime.  Eating healthy, while still maintaining a balanced level of fun keeps us on the right path.  One awesome factor of finding an amazing partner, sharing likes and dislikes.  We both share a love of food, health and life.  

Fall in love with your own self-care.  You are worth it.  When you’re happy with you, life is yours to enjoy.  Your success and happiness is up to you.  Believe in yourself.  We’re all in this together.  Enjoy your day, the Super Bowl (Go 49ers) and live your life!  If you’re not a football fan or the game is boring, make it an amazing and fun day!  Life is a gift not to be wasted.  Get up, reach out and help others along the way.     

A quick shout out to Punxsutawney Phil!  Happy Groundhog Day!  If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.  No shadow means an early spring.  Enjoy a fun filled day!          

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The healthy life puzzle is always in rotation.  Let’s be healthy and strong mentally, physically and spiritually!

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

Wellness

Happy Sunday January 26, 2020

Greetings on this beautiful Sunday!  Thank you for joining me today!  I had the privilege of taking part in the Desert Refuge Family Wellness Conference this past weekend.  The event was specifically designed to offer information and insight for law enforcement, military, first responders and their families.  Presenters discussed topics related to mental and physical health; including stress, trauma, suicide awareness, relationships, marriage and overall wellness.  I was honored to be included as a presenter for this important event.

The Desert Refuge originally blossomed in Joshua Tree, California, as a haven designed by Father Mike McCullough.  He opened the space in the 1950’s, as a place for solitude and healing.  He wanted to create a safe space for members of our military and law enforcement seeking to “foster personal and spiritual awareness.”  He has long served as a Chaplin to law enforcement and military personnel.  He recently retired from the duties of day to day managing of this organization.  Father Michael Cooper now oversees the operational control and facilitating of events for the Refuge.  Both Father McCullough and Cooper are spiritually guided men, seeking the best in mental and physical health for all people and their families.  They remain closely connected to law enforcement, first responders and our military.  There are dedicated and amazing people volunteering their time to assist in the process.  All are truly committed to facilitating better health and wellness for all.  I look forward to collaborating with them in the future.  We all can benefit from more “wellness” in our life.               

We live in a fast paced age, filled with technology, change and stress.  Everything seems to be geared to make our lives simpler and faster.  I truly wish it was all that easy.  As the speed of life and connections increase, so does the associated stress and anxiety as we try to maintain pace.  We communicate and live via our hand held devices.  We can order and buy services, products, rides, food and more by the touch of a button.  Entertainment, learning, exercise, banking, news and communication are done without speaking with another person.  It is quite incredible what we can do and accomplish with these cellular tools.  They have the ability to engulf our complete attention.  Focusing our sight and senses on these can cause accidents (resulting in injuries and death) when we pay too much attention to them.  It really is safer not touching them while driving a vehicle, operating machinery or even walking.  I would much rather keep my attention and focus where it should be; life and health.   

I too find myself caught up in the social media hype from time to time.  I relate it to eating foods filled with sugar.  Once you start, those cravings just seem to grow stronger and stronger.  It really can become like an addiction.  At some point you just have to break it off.  My past experience and knowledge tells me to stay away from foods laden with sugar.  They are not good for me or my health.  So too, I need to limit the use of that device.  Similar to sugar and unhealthy food, I try to limit my daily exposure to that screen.  Think about what is best for you, especially your mental health and wellness.  I would rather sit at the beach, in a forest or somewhere beautiful, than stare at that source of blue light.  Yes, they are great for staying connected, but connected to what and for how long?  I appreciate the ability to communicate with family and friends living miles away.  For that I am thankful.  I know that focusing on social media sites will not solve my issues, or the problems of the world.  It will not bring me better health and wellness; although there are some sites that will lead you to believe they can.  I do not believe everything I read or hear.  I prefer to make my own assessments based on facts.  I know what is and is not good for me.  I believe overindulgence in most things are not good for anyone.

What I do know is; mental, physical and spiritual wellness are the key ingredients to a healthy and happy life.  The old saying, “attitude is everything,” is so true.  Our brain, mind and thoughts have the ability to control us.  What we ingest (food, liquid, drugs, etc.) have an impact on our bodily functions and decision making ability.   The sensory perceptions of our body; including sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch, movement and body position can assist in maintaining balance or throwing us into an unhealthy state.

The best plan is to maintain a healthy balance and recognize when something does not feel right. That is when you need to make those immediate corrections to remain in healthy balance.  Remember that our mental and physical health are intertwined.  There will be times we may need to make small corrections along our path.  Being able to recognize those times is the key.  I relate it to speeding on the freeway and missing your exit.  We need to take the time to slow ourselves down so we do not miss those opportunities as they present themselves.  When we slow down, it provides us the chance to enjoy life and what it has to offer, rather than passing it by at 100mph.  We are often so eager to get to an end result, thus missing so much of the fun and love along the way.  Slowing our lives, taking time to take care of ourselves, breath and relax will lessen the stress and increase the happiness.  Be grateful for life and what we have.  We never know when that day will end.  Slow down and enjoy the ride.  Together we can make a difference.               

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The healthy life puzzle is always in rotation.  Let’s be healthy and strong mentally, physically and spiritually!

Thank you for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

Sources that influence Nutrition and Health

Good morning on this Sunday, January 19, 2020

January 2020 is off and running.  Thank you for tuning in with me today.  It is always amazing how quickly each week ticks away.  My mission is to enjoy each and every moment.  Time definitely flies when you are having fun!  Staying fit mentally and physically is an integral part of my life.  Make 2020 an incredible and amazing year!  Be there for one another and always be willing to lend a helping hand.  

Maintaining great health is such an important factor in our lives.  Our bodies are finely tuned organisms.  They require a balance of our mental, physical and spiritual structures to operate properly.  Each part of the puzzle should be in balance, so we can enjoy life at maximum capacity.  If we begin fueling it with less than optimal additives, our performance levels decrease.  This is true when it comes to health.  Food and water are a vibrant source of our nutrition.  They are an important resource for sustaining our life.  There are other sources that have a significant influence on our health and mental well-being.   

How do other sources we ingest with our mind, body and senses impact our health and nutrition?  Eating junky food or drinking unhealthy liquids, has a negative effect on our physical and mental well-being.  Our body always seems to know best.  You feel bad, sluggish, your mind feels cloudy or you just do not feel “right.”  The end result, your mind and body operate at less than maximum capacity.  If you have ever overindulged in food or drink, you know it is not a good feeling. 

Similar results are possible when we ingest (medication or illicit) drugs.   These substances are not a natural source of nutrition, nor are they part of our bodies normal function.  While there are medications associated with maintaining life, most drugs typically treat a symptom and not the root cause of the problem.  Drugs typically create “side effects” which are an undesirable secondary cause of the medication.  These have the capacity to create other, and sometimes even more significant issues within us.  The negative secondary effects are not good for our health.      

What you expose your body to, ingest, see, hear, feel, smell or taste; can influence your over-all health.  The type of music you listen to can impact your mental health.  If the music is loud, has lyrics of death, destruction, violence or sadness, it can alter your mental state.  The same can be true watching movies, videos, TV or social media; when violence, horror or sad situations are depicted.  The emotions and images projected have the ability to influence on our wellness.  Listening or watching forms of entertainment can create soothing feelings of happiness too.  What our senses perceive become part of our world.  Their influence may last briefly, or they may bring on more serious or long lasting feelings.

I dealt with years of violent, traumatic and horrific situations during my career in law enforcement.  These incidents had an impact on me mentally, physically and spiritually. The vast majority were never processed by my mind.   I was not able to allow a release of my emotions.  During these incidents my feelings remained in check, in order to process and deal with each situation safely.  Holding emotions in, while being immersed in each event; never allowing my brain to adequately process the pain, creates trauma.  With each new incident the pain and trauma continued to manifest and grow within me.  There were times it made me physically sick.  My relief did not occur until years later, when I found Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.  This therapy allowed my brain to process and release the trauma and toxic thoughts.  My brain processed the events and stored them properly, not to cause me harm again.  

When the brain does not fully process a traumatic incident, it retains each memory, continually replaying it over and over in the mind.  The trauma creates negativity and toxic thoughts.  The  pain associated with each event, is sometimes created unknowingly.  It manifests as stress, anger, anxiety, depression sadness and guilt.  The agony and frustration you feel are real.  Your health declines, as it has a serious impact on your mental health and well-being.  The struggle to maintain balanced mental and physical health can be significant.  Make a conscious effort to recognize when there is an imbalance.  Do not spend time worrying if your balance is off.   

There are many outside sources that create stimuli that have the capability to influence the health of our mind and body.  Traffic, crowds, disasters, social settings and so many other situations can bring on uneasiness.  I wish there was a simple solution to resolve each challenge we face.  The best advice I can offer is what I have found that assists me.  Each day I wake up with gratitude and thankfulness in thoughts.  I am more mindful and present with my life, loved ones and everyone I encounter during my day.  I strive for balance.  I may not always achieve it, but that is my goal.  I listen to softer music when I need it.  I am very aware of the violent world around us, but do not engage in violence or the media sources that display it.  I know there will be traffic, crowds and unruly people to deal with, it is a fact of life.  I eat healthier foods and drink less alcoholic beverages.  I focus on what is good in my life.  I breathe slower and release the anxiety.  I say hello, hold doors open, smile and make people smile back.  I am friendly, kind and maintain a positive heart.  There is pain and suffering in the world.  For now, I am making an effort to bring joy into our world.     

How much time each day do you spend looking at your cell phone?  This time should include seated in front of a computer or any visual screen or monitor.  What are the effects these create on your eyes, mind, brain and body?  Does the artificial light they emit impact us in a good or bad way?  Add our seated commute travels into this equation.  We spend so much time seated, driving, riding, at a desk, on the couch or holding our cell phone.  We typically have our shoulders tight and hunched forward, our teeth clinched and our body rigid.  The combined tension creates stress and anxiety.  It can affect our mental and physical wellness, which can lead to negativity, fatigue, sore muscles and agitation of our mind.  Do you believe this activity impacts our life?  Our mental and physical health are important for longevity and happiness.  Do not let them slip away.     

My career in law enforcement took a toll on my body, mind and spirit.  My body got beat up and broken.  My mind was filled with trauma and pain.  My spirit, sometimes shaken, never doubted what my mind and body were capable of doing.  The factors that kept me from going over the edge were, I was strong mentally and physically.  You have to believe in yourself; I did.  I always worked on building my own self-confidence.  My spirit and soul remained positive, even during negative times.  There were times in my life I was not my happiest.  I struggled with incidents of anxiety and depression, but I always kept a positive outlook.  There were moments in my life that opened doors.  I was happy I recognized most of them and changed my path.  I suggest you slow down a little in your life, so you can recognize when those opportunities and doors appear.  You have to be aware of those chances when they present themselves so you don’t run past.  I am much more mindful and present in my life.  When the universe presents an opportunity, I am ready.  Will you be?  Be open and willing to change.  It really is an amazing thing.  Change can bring the nutrition of life at its finest.

When we achieve that balance of food, water, air, sun, exercise and rest, our minds and bodies transform into amazing and beautiful beings.  We are truly unique and incredible creatures. Finding and maintaining that balance takes work and effort.  This is especially true in today’s age of technology and fast paced living.  The challenges are real, but our will and strength to succeed is even greater.  We are in control of our own body and mental attitude.  Make the conscious effort to change for the positive.   The moment I decided to change, my life changed for the better.  It really is amazing how a positive attitude can alter our lives.  A calm mind brings relief to your body.  Live and enjoy a happy and healthy life.  Happiness is up to us.   Be the change you want to see the world become.  Life is a blessing and privilege.  Don’t waste it.

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The healthy life puzzle is always in rotation.  Let’s be healthy and strong mentally, physically and spiritually!

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

What is healthy Nutrition

Good morning and Happy Sunday January 12, 2020

Greetings friends!  I hope you are all doing well; keeping your mind calm and body strong.  We are nearly two weeks into 2020 and there is plenty occurring in the world.  It may be a new and exciting year, but life continues to happen.  My question is, what are you doing to process and deal with everything that comes your way?  Is it causing new stress, pain, anxiety or trauma?   The reality of the world and life events can create stress and bring on depression.  Together, we have to remain strong and healthy; physically, mentally and spiritually.  Stay positive, keep your negative thoughts in check and focus on happiness and longevity.

Enjoying health, happiness and love brings so many rewards and benefits.  Less stress, peace of mind, a healthy body and gentle spirit are all amazing.  Physical strength, self-confidence and positive thinking are highly desired too.  All these begin with a balance of several key factors.  Food, exercise, sleep, nature, self-care and love are key components to the balance.  I want to focus on nutrition in maintaining the healthy life puzzle.  So what is nutrition?  Most of us immediately think of food, right?  Yes, food is a major component of it, but there is more.  Nutrition encompasses everything we put into our bodies.  Whether we ingest food, liquid, drugs, smoke, music, visual images, sights, sounds and emotion; all have an influence on our health.  It really encompasses all of our senses, including physical, mental and spiritual.  What we fuel our bodies and minds with, sets the course for much of how we feel, what we do, think and say.   Good health and nutrition is not a fad or a diet.  It is about living a healthy lifestyle.

Maintaining good health should be an investment in yourself.  It should be something you take seriously every day.  We save money by putting it into bank accounts, investment or retirement funds.  Why aren’t we doing the same with our health.  We should be banking on our good health at every opportunity.  It should be one of our top priorities.  If you eat junk or unhealthy food day after day, don’t exercise and aren’t coping with stress, your mind and body will suffer.  The accumulation of stress and poor health will impact you mentally, physically and spiritually.  This will potentially create health issues with harmful consequences.  I realize we are all different physically and mentally.  Our bodies process changes differently, but negative influences will ultimately impact you adversely.  I want to be around as long as possible to enjoy life.  Life is far too short not to enjoy the people that we love and cherish!  I want to be here to walk my daughter down the aisle and play with grandkids someday.  Every day spent negatively impacted by increased stress, lack of a healthy life style and lack of inner happiness is causing you harm.  It’s time to turn that around and move into positive territory.  I know dealing with a stressful life day in and day out takes a toll on us.  I lived that life for far too many years.  I ultimately learned how to deflect stress, get healthy and happy again.  Now I feel energized and vibrant.  It’s amazing how happy you and your life can be with just a few simple adjustments.  Your health investment needs to start now.

When I was growing up, my Mom cooked relatively healthy, or so we thought.  Along with all the Italian favorites, my Dad enjoyed meat, potato’s and vegetables.  Processed food weaved into our diet in the 60’s.  TV dinners were the rave and a treat.  Now I am well aware of all the processed additives that go into those meals.  Yuck!  I know it was fun for us at the time, but not so healthy.  Happily, those days are in my past.  I learned to cool and refined my skills as I grew. 

Now fast forward to my career in law enforcement.  It is after midnight and my partner and I have been running our butts off from incident to incident.  We are exhausted and have not had the opportunity to eat since we began our shift nearly eight hours ago.  At this hour in Los Angeles food choices are limited, especially for cops.  We are near downtown, so we drive into Rampart Division and stop at the Original Tommy’s Hamburger.  It is a popular spot at any hour for many people.  We both opt for a double chili cheese burger, chili cheese fries and a soda.  Our dining table is the warm hood of our police car.  Standing in the middle of a parking lot eating is not my first choice.  Our food disappears in a matter of minutes!  My body tells me I will regret eating this.  I feel the effects the next day.  It was a poor choice and my body obviously knows best.  Unfortunately, poor food choices occurred often, especially when selection is slim.  As the years pass I realize, I am in control of what I put into my body.  I begin to make adjustments, make better choices and opting for healthy food.  My body rewards me with better health and mental clarity.  Food can be a crutch without us realizing it.  This is when we need to recognize what choices we make and what we put into our bodies.  Healthier is better.  Eating fresh healthy foods builds our body, fuels our mind and enriches our soul.  Food is such an important part of this balancing puzzle.  I am a firm believer eating healthy food is a top priority to a better life.  Food coupled with exercise, self-care, rest, nature, mindfulness and love lead us along a path of happiness and longevity.

When my daughter did a semester abroad for college, she lived in Florence, Italy.  She enjoyed how different shopping for food and eating was there; as compared to here in the United States.  Food for meals was shopped fresh each day.  The farm to table concept was a reality.  Typically, that isn’t the case in the U.S., where so many foods may be shipped across the country or from outside the US.  There were also far fewer processed foods in Italy.  Here in the U.S. we have entire sections of the grocery stores devoted to frozen, canned, bagged, bottled or boxed processed foods.  I’ve had the pleasure of visiting parts of Italy on three different occasions. Meals are much less rushed and more enjoyed by friends and family.  Yes, fast food chains have invaded Italy; and the world; but luckily most people still realize the importance of eating healthy.  My daughter and I can now laugh about some of the foods we consumed when she was young.  One such item, and yes there were a few, was Entenmann’s donut holes.  She loved those things; except an entire box was a bit much for a young girl over several days.  I was always there to assist and help with the donut holes seeing their demise.  Yes, it is a good thing I was younger then; ran and worked out regularly.  Fun times to remember, laugh about and definitely not do again now.  My daughter was great incentive to eat and live healthier.  My goal now is to eat as healthy as I can.  I am happy she picked up healthy living skills too.               

When it comes to eating healthy, there are so many unhealthy choices out there.  Fast food has to be one of the worst.  I did eat quite a bit in my younger days until I finally realized how poorly it made me feel.  There are so many foods today filled with chemicals, preservatives and additives that can cause negative health issues.  Pesticides are often used on fruit and vegetables.  Many foods are being genetically modified.  There are so many things associated with the production of our food we do not have the ability to control.  Foods cooked or fried in vegetable or refined oils are not healthy.  In addition, those foods are typically loaded with other unhealthy additives.  My suggestion, make healthier choices when eating at restaurants and avoid fast food joints.  I avoid products that are labeled “low fat” or “heart healthy.”  I have nearly eliminated all sugar and many processed foods from my diet.  Sugar and added sugars under various names, has to be the single handed worst additive.  I suggest you read ingredient labels before you buy.  Added sugar is in just about everything.  It is not good for you or your health. 

What we can control is educating ourselves and making healthier choices.  Today, my diet includes plenty of fresh, organic and non-GMO foods.  Vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, grains and many types of fruit are always included in my diet.  I have slowly been reducing the amount of meat I consume; especially red meat.  When I do eat meat (including fish and chicken), I eat specific cuts that are organic, healthy and fresh.  I still enjoy cheese, but have eliminated most dairy products.  I use coconut or almond milk for healthy protein shakes.  A good quality olive oil is best, as is coconut oil for cooking.

Water comprises approximately 60% of the body.  Keeping our bodies hydrated each day is of paramount importance.  Water is the key component.  My body lets me know when I am not drinking enough to maintain good hydration.  I typically feel sluggish and begin to get a headache.  Drinking water throughout the day is significant in maintaining proper bodily functions.  There are many energy and hydration drinks available.  They can provide benefits at the right time.  Many contain large amounts of sugar or other additives that can have a negative effect as well.  Be cautious as to how much you consume.  My suggestion is to always read the label for contents.  Be better informed as to what you are putting into your body.

Alcohol and spirits are another source of sugar and added chemicals.  We tend to drink alcoholic beverages for enjoyment or to influence our mental state.  I used alcohol as a crutch for many years.  In college it masked my pain from anxiety and self-confidence.  In law enforcement it masked my pain from trauma and depression.  When my daughter was born, I grew in many ways.  I eventually drank alcohol less and less.  I learned I did not need the crutch.  My body felt so much better, alive and vibrant.  I do enjoy a glass of wine, so opt for organic, biodynamic and clean-crafted wines.  I use one particular company for my wines purchases.  If you would like more information, please feel free to reach out with a comment or message.  I am happy to divulge my source.

I want to live healthier and longer.  There are so many amazing things life has to offer.  There is no time like the present to make a positive change in your life.  Don’t wait!  Don’t procrastinate!  This is the time for action!  Set some goals for better health and eating habits.  Write your goals down on paper.  When you do this it is like making a blue print in your brain.  Goals can be simple, like trimming your waist, eating more plant based foods, walking a little more, better communication or clarity.  It can increase your ability to follow through and achieve success.  I enjoy planning things out.  It makes them visible to strive for. 

Many times the unhealthy habits we indulge in are a result of the stress or depression induced from a life event.  These events could be something significant like the death of a family member, a relationship issue or a work situation.  There are many variables that can cause these feelings and emotions that push us to the edge.  This is when we reach for a way to cope.  If we do not know or understand how to cope or deal with these correctly, we may reach for unhealthy self-cures that only mask the issues and feelings for a short time.  This is the time you need physical and mental stimulation to get yourself aligned and moving forward.  This is your life.  Make it what you want it to be.  I know it is not always an easy or pleasant process.  There can be pain and sadness along the way.  I know you can get through it.  Together we can stay strong and focused.  Never doubt yourself or what you are capable of achieving.  This is all about creating change and making a better, happier and healthier life.  We can do this!

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!

Empower yourself into 2020

Good morning and Happy Sunday January 5, 2020

I wish you all a blessed and prosperous New Year!  Here we are, already five days into 2020.  What will the new year bring for you?  How will you make great things happen?  The year is yours to mold and the opportunities are endless.  I know it will be an amazing year; we only need to open ourselves to the possibilities.  I never envisioned myself writing a weekly blog, yet here I am on my eighth post.  It is fun, fulfilling and insightful for me, not only to write for you, but for me to learn more about myself.  When I began my journey to opening and healing, I knew I wanted to share it with all of you.  Thank you for taking the time to read my words and follow my life.   My dream is that sharing my story may help someone along their path.  Whether you gain some insight, find new strength or pass this on to someone who can use it, then my dream becomes a reality.

My life’s journey has been a long road, filled with twists and turns.  When I graduated from college, I did not have a vision for my life, what it would be like or where it might take me.  As life goes, it has not been without pitfalls and trauma.  It has also been filled with lots of goodness and happiness.  My career in law enforcement was amazing and fulfilling in so many ways.  I know I touched many lives along my path; not only people in the community I served, but within the police ranks as well.  In the grand scheme of the world, I believe my contributions were small.  I know my words helped comfort, console, mentor, boost, energize, facilitate, build, empower and change lives.  I was extremely lucky to have some amazing people and mentors in my life, beginning with my Dad.  He shared and instilled in me great qualities and character traits.  I learned many lessons along the way and crossed paths with people that would impact my life.  Some offered words of wisdom and insight, while others helped pull me back up when I was down.  Those are the times that create vibrant hope.  Those situations gave me the strength to see beyond where I was and know I could overcome those feelings of helplessness or frustration.   

My career offered me the opportunity to work alongside some great officers and supervisors.  There were several supervisors that went above and beyond in mentoring me.  They shared  insight, training, expertise and encouragement.  They went out of their way to help me develop and grow.  Their efforts energized me to build and believe in my skills.  When I became a supervisor, I wanted to return the favor.  I had the rare privilege of working with and leading some amazing men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department.  Their dedication and service go beyond measure.  Working long hours, under all conditions and often in dangerous situations, never hindered their desire or strength to complete our mission.  Their resilience, loyalty and passion invigorated my fortitude and drive.  As a leader, I was there to support them; ensuring they were physically and mentally prepared.  I managed their duties, but facilitated their development, safety and mental well-being.  I wanted them to reach for their dreams, while looking out for them too.  I understand how the demands and stress of work can tear you down.  Law enforcement, first responders and our military have a difficult job; to say the least.  They believe in and represent the forefront of our freedom.  They risk their lives so we can live in a safe and free society.

I know and understand how the stress of these and other professions impact our daily lives.  These particular professions are integrated into our life 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  You never really turn them off and are free.  Your family becomes part of that life every time you walk out the door together.  You have talks about what to do and how to stay safe in a critical situation.  The job creates stress, can bring on depression and induce negativity.  You learn how to manage it, while you internalize the stress and trauma, so you can keep fighting every day.  I lived that life for nearly 34 years.                

I know stress and anxiety have a way of invading all of our lives for a variety of reasons.  I know because I have felt the grip of anxiety.  I have felt powerless; using alcohol as a temporary fix.  I was so happy when I felt the urgency to break that spell and realize I was in control.  It is easy for those that are not experiencing anxiety or depression to say, “Just be happy.  Feel better.  Get yourself together”, or so many other meaningless phrases.  Words only take us so far.  They can provide comfort, but not the help we actually require.  For those of us who have dealt with anxiety or depression, and for those of you fighting it now, you know there is not a simple fix.  It is a true daily struggle.  As much as we need to put in the work and effort to help ourselves, we often need the help of others to pull us up.

The New Year brings with it wonderful opportunities and possibilities.  Now is the time to empower yourself.  I know coming into the new year can create fear.  This is really anxiety and uncertainty for the future.  The problem is, there will always be an amount of fear in your life.  The positive is being able to set it aside or remove that perceived threat and the anxiety it creates.  Do not surrender yourself, allowing negativity to creep into your mind.  The more you can eliminate it from your thoughts, the better your life becomes.  This is the time you can set the standard for making positive change.  You are in control of your thoughts.  Sometimes it takes a conscience effort to maintain positivity.  I share that struggle.  Once you condition your mind it becomes easier.  Take the necessary steps to prevent or stop those thoughts that can paralyze you. 

Build habits that move you forward in a positive direction.  Let me share a few of mine that help keep me focused and healthy.  The first is meditation.  I typically meditate for approximately five minutes every morning as soon as I roll out of bed.  This quiets my mind and helps set the tone for the day.  This practice is excellent for controlling your thoughts.  It will help free your mind from anxiety and fear.  Meditation is wonderful for easing stress and bring calmness to you physically, mentally and spiritually.  It is something you can do nearly anywhere or anytime of day.  If you feel stress or anxiety creeping in, meditation and controlled breathing can bring relief.

My next habit is exercise.  It can be as simple as doing a stretching routine, walking, going to the gym, out for a run or hiking.  I have always found great benefits from getting some sort of physical exercise first thing in the morning.  I have read several health studies that detail the positive effects, physically and mentally, of morning exercise.   Get up, get out and get your blood flowing, enjoy the release of endorphins and energize yourself for the day.  This is also a great way to start a routine and build those habits.  Research shows it takes approximately two months (depending on the person) to create a new habit.  This is when that new routine transforms into automatic behavior.  If I do not follow my meditation or workout routine, I just feel like I missed a big part of my day.  I always feel better after a workout.  It sets the tone and prepares me for a fabulous day.       

Journaling or writing down your goals, dreams or desires has great benefits, too.  It is a great way to clear space in your mind.  Goal setting is, for the new year or your future, so important to designing your path.  Goals (especially written ones) provide direction and encouragement.   Write down your fears, too.  When you put them on paper, they can become clear and easier to understand.  When I put them on paper they often do not seem as big or unsolvable.  The visualization can assist in ways to resolve them as well.  Process them and know that you can achieve success without fear.  Think about what you want to accomplish in the first month, middle of the year and by end of the year.  Then build a plan for how you will reach each goal.  There is always time to re-evaluate along the way; that is okay.  Do not give up.  If you need help, ask.  There are so many resources out there willing to help, including family and friends.  Encourage and push yourself.  Tell yourself, “I can do this.”  Unless there is a huge hungry predator standing between you and your dream, you can do it.  If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.

We all experience adversity and pain.  It is an unescapable part of our journey.  Resolving issues, dealing with sadness, pain and trauma allows us to appreciate all the great things in life.  Yes, we will have to face fear and grief along the way.  We all will have pain.  The question is how much time will you spend suffering.  Face your challenges, do not fear them.  Allow yourself to move forward, even if you begin with small steps.  If you need help, ask for it.  Get out there and live!  Life is yours to experience and cherish. Start with gratitude and add a dose of thankfulness.  We are in control of our own happiness.     

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!

Be Present and Kind

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!

The physical aspect

Good morning and happy Sunday, December 22, 2019

Yikes!  Christmas is just a few days away.  I am sure you are all busy with final preparations for the Holiday and celebration.  Christmas has different meanings for many of us.  It is a religious celebration for some people.  For others it means celebrations all their own.  Whatever your culture, heritage or faith; December is a joyful time of year.  For many of us, this month can create increased discomfort, stress and anxiety.  Pressures and emotional tensions can increase during the holidays and through the new year.  They uncover emotions and resurface grief.  The heaviness and sadness can come from past events or current situations.  

Whatever brings you pain or suffering, acknowledge it.  Feel the emotions and let them out.  Do not mask or hold them in.  Release those feelings, sharing the expressions from your heart.  I share those feelings too.  I understand what many of you are experiencing.  I lost my Dad this month several years ago.  He fought a long battle with what became leukemia.  I was lucky to have him for many years of my life.  I spent the last days of his life by his side.  I miss him every day.  During this month the feelings that surface are vibrant and relived.  It does not make his passing or absence any easier.  While I celebrate his life, December will forever be a month with sadness attached to it.  I am always grateful for all I have, especially his great memory.       

It was not my intention to discuss death during this season, but when is it appropriate?  Death remains a difficult subject of discussion.  When it occurs, words are never enough to fill the void it creates.  It is inevitable for us all.  It is something we refrain from talking about.  I feared death, so never wanted to address the topic.  During my career as a police officer, death was all around me.  I was witness to it with death investigations, homicide scenes, suicides and brutal murders.  Being next to people as they breathed their final breath brought me even closer to this complexity.  Witnessing death brought clarity and insight.   When I reconciled myself to understanding it, I no longer feared it.  Like most people, I want to live and enjoy life as long as possible.  The fact remains, we never know when our time here will end.  I want to make the most from every moment I have on earth.

It does not matter what time of year it is, death and sadness occur.  However, during the holidays, sorrow can make these days a bit more difficult.  This brings me back to openly and freely expressing your emotions and feelings.  Whether it is death, sickness, relationship, career or something else; take the time to make sure you are caring for your mental, physical and spiritual health.  Experience your feelings, let them out, share them and then focus on your own well- being.  Bring yourself back to the present.  If you need help, do not be fearful to reach out and ask for the assistance you desire. 

Asking for assistance or comfort is not a sign of weakness.  Reaching out for a helping hand means we are human.  The support of others is an amazing resource.  Even if you do not know who to ask, there are “help” lines and support always available.  Text or call the hot lines and they will assist you.  If you aren’t sure, I am available to assist and listen too.  Our mental health is a vital part of our existence.  Having a good support base is a wonderful beginning.  Nurturing your own mental health is a must. 

Physical health is the next part of the puzzle.  It plays an important role in the balance of mental health.  Since I enjoy staying fit, this aspect kept my body strong.  My strength and determination kept me pushing forward even while my mental health was decreasing.  When I began Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy I was in good physical health.  This made balancing my mental health so much easier.  It took effort, but years of trauma saw relief. 

When I talk about physical, for me it means just that.  Physical exercise means getting up and moving.  If you are not into exercise, then it is time to get off your butt and move in other ways.  If you have not done any exercise in years, then I suggest you visit your doctor first and ensure you are in good health.  When you are ready, exercise is as simple as walking from twenty to thirty minutes a day.  Cardio exercise is the place to begin.  Gradually build your strength, stamina, lung capacity and heart.  There is no rush.  We want to do this right and not hurt ourselves in the process.  Please be smart and patient with what you do.  Results will be seen with consistent movement within a short time.

The best exercise is done in nature!  You can walk, run, cycle, skate, hike or do whatever excites you.  Go to the beach, mountains, desert, a park or in your backyard; all these provide a boost in health benefits.  Vitamin D from the sun (at least twenty minutes a day) is an added bonus.  There are so many options combining exercise and nature. To keep your body healthy physically, there are other ways to exercise too.  Joining a gym, bootcamp, pilates, crossfit, or other studio can offer many benefits as well.  Indoor classes such as spin, yoga, dance or training facility offer a variety of exercising options.  You may even have equipment in your home to get fit.

Exercise is an amazing method to help reduce stress and anxiety.  It was always my go to choice when I needed to release the pressures from a long day.  The addition and best part, it has awesome health benefits.  It can provide physical, mental and spiritual relief.  Walking, running and hiking are great and cheap choices to getting exercise.  All you need is some good footwear and off you go.  Give yourself a twenty to thirty-minute treat.  Your body and mind will thank you when you do it regularly.  Self-care and getting outside into nature brings peace of mind.  Yoga is wonderful way to build your muscular strength, while focusing on relaxing your thoughts.  You can even find outdoor yoga! 

As much as I enjoy going to the gym and lifting weights, there is nothing better than being outdoors.  Soak up some sunshine, breath the air, drink plenty of water and enjoy the beauty of nature.  Even better; take your spouse, partner, friend and share the experience.  If nothing else, put the kids (or grandkids) in a wagon and go walking.  The benefits to your mental and physical health will be tremendous.  The best part is there are so many options, so much to do and enjoy.  Once you begin, you won’t want to stop.  Change your frame of mind and make it a habit.  Be physically fit and well as mentally tough.  It does not take physical strength for either, just a little determination.  Be happy my friends.  That starts within and spreads to others.

I am grateful and thankful with each new day!   

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  I will continue this discussion on the mental, physical and spiritual parts of my healthy life puzzle.

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!!