Avocados, Oatmeal, and Hot Yoga— Bikram Style

Hiking for better health

You may wonder, what do these three things have in common?

Five years ago, after a physical, I was told my cholesterol was too high.  I went on statins which helped to reduce the bad Cholesterol. Later, a good friend of mine suggested a book, “Cholesterol Down” which I’m staring at now. It remains unread. He also suggested that I eat an apple a day, almonds, avocados, and oatmeal, to reduce my cholesterol and get off the statins. I didn’t ask or read the book to find out why.  Instead, I ate an apple, once. I even made avocado toast for a couple days, and had oatmeal once or twice but it gave me gas, so I stopped.  Frankly, the convenience of popping a pill once a day, just seemed easier, far less embarrassing, and the proper protocol to avoid public pollution.

  Three years later my doctor retired, I changed jobs, and had to find a new doc, which also meant another physical. I told my new doc about my high cholesterol and asked her what her thoughts were on statins. “Oatmeal.” She said. “Eat oatmeal. As much as possible. And add flax seed oil to your diet. How much exercise are you getting?” She then asked. Sheepishly, I replied, not much.  “You should exercise at least a half an hour a day, 3-5 days a week,” she said directly.

From that point forward, mostly on weekends over the past five years, I have hiked 70-75% of the Point Reyes National seashore from the Tule Elk Preserve at Pierce Point Ranch, to Alamere Falls, and miles of shoreline between and further south to Tennessee Valley in Mill Valley. Nature is where I connect with my inner spirit and fill my lungs with healing salty air. I also joined a gym and have been playing basketball regularly (2-3x a week) for the past 2 years. All have helped improve my health, lower my cholesterol, and made me feel better about myself.

Fast forward to today. I’ve heard of hot yoga and have had several friends who swore by it. I frequently pass a place called Bikram Yoga Petaluma aka Yoga Hell that was calling my name like a siren at sea. That and the fact that my wife had recently started doing yoga from home again and was extolling how much better it made her feel, led me to go to my first Hot Yoga class.

I could’ve saved a few bucks and tried it at home, watching a video on our TV, but, for me, this coming year is about resilience and stretching my own comfort zone. I needed to feel the HEAT; Hot Yoga was the perfect ticket.

I showed up somewhat apprehensive. The place smelled like the inside of a teenage sneaker and the yoga room was sweaty hot. I found a spot in the back of the room and waited.  Looking around I was one of the oldest guys in the class except for the instructor, who looked to be in his 60’s, but to me, age didn’t seem to matter. I was there to get flexible and increase my lung capacity and maybe help keep my cholesterol down.  Inside, thirty or so men and women, most fit, many young and limber seemed to stretch and breathe with ease. I, along with a few others likely in their 40’s and 50’s seemed to keep pace and do their best.

Sure, I wanted to be able to have perfect form and flexibility but that comes with time. Everything and everyone start at the same place—the beginning. Not once did I feel shamed or judged. I was there. Sweating my ass off and doing it. I wasn’t on my ass in bed watching Netflix and that felt great.

Here’s to you and your healthy goals for 2020. To you becoming willing to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Whatever it is that motivates I encourage you to, at the very least, do something new in 2020. You will be glad you did. It’s been 3 years since I gave up statins.

I recently started eating more avocados, and oatmeal and now, I’m trying out hot sweaty yoga. My cholesterol is back in the safe zone and I feel terrific.

Happy New Year. Happy New You.

Feed your dreams, not your fears

My step father once said,
“What are the dots in your life?”
As in, I did x dot, dot, dot then y dot, dot, dot.

I didn’t fully grasp it at the time but now it’s a little more clear.

What he was saying is to pay attention to the pauses in life—the thoughts, moments of mediation, reflection and of being not doing. Sage advice. Thank you, Dave O’Connor!

As he and my mom age I am reminded how very short this life we have is.

In November last year, my mother took her second big fall. This time she was partially paralyzed and forced to recoup in nursing home for five weeks. Meanwhile, her ninety-year-old husband of twenty-eight years and my stepfather was battling age related memory loss and required a caregiver to assist with meals and meds. To top it off his son attempted to assert control over David’s health and finances. It was a nightmare, but we survived.

My wife graciously cared for my mom for six weeks after she was released from the nursing home and eventually moved in with us for four months. When the six weeks leave of absence for my wife was up, my work was generous enough to allow me to work from home, so I could care for her until we were able to sell their house and find a new place for them.

For four months, I was not able to break free to recharge. I was unable to make time to feed my soul. I desperately needed to hike the coast, to be in nature, to reconnect with my spirit. I needed to pay heed to the other dots in my life. Once their house closed escrow and we got them all settled in one of the first things I did was take a long hike along the West Marin Coast.

Even though I battled fears my mom would never be able to live on her own again, I trusted everything would work out the way it was supposed to. Fortunately, it did.

In hindsight, everything happened exactly as it was supposed to. My mom and Dave are now in a place in Petaluma where they can maintain their independence while having meals and cleaning services provided.

Though I did the right thing, those few months sapped my soul to the core. Now, I make it a point to carve out time for me to rekindle my inner spirit. To dream again. This year has been a challenge but despite it all me and our family have been blessed beyond measure. I don’t take anything for granted and am even more intentional about investing my time on the important things.

The past three years my wife has chosen a word as a focal point for something she wanted to work on that year.  It worked. Last year I watched her whole life transform as she lived out her word, confidence. My word for 2018 was focus. I have accomplished virtually everything I set out for myself and more. When it is all said and done, my relationships are stronger, my faith has grown immeasurably, I joined Toastmasters and even pushed myself to go back to school.

I am feeling pulled to grow even more in the year ahead and that is both frightening and exciting. I know in my soul that I need to dream bigger. So big, in fact, that I must rely on the divine forces of the universe to do for me what I cannot do for myself. I am growing to trust my higher power even more. From a logical standpoint, there is really no reason to live in fear or doubt. I could list hundreds of experiences where I was given exactly what I needed, despite any of my best laid plans.

2019 will be a milestone year. The events and blessings to come from faith, effort and my willingness to grow will set the course for the rest of my life. The dots will be many. I will walk through every moment of fear with a quiet certitude that there is a plan for me and my only job is to seek and trust that inner voice which guides me— my responsibility is to put one foot in front of the other and march forward into the vast unknown. In so doing, my prayer is that the dreams I live and achieve will ignite many others to aspire to whatever change they seek.

I am more determined than ever. This year, my word is commitment.

Feeling Stuck?

Ever feel like you’re a human doing instead of a human being?

Are you caught in the rat race of life feeling like there is never enough time to do all you want to do?

I don’t know about you but I go through seasons in life where things seem to be clicking and all is falling into place as I would like.  I am happy and content, and then something shifts.  I say yes to too many things. I become over-extended. I want to do it all yet there never seems to be enough hours in the day. I come home exhausted, burnt-out, and have nothing left for my family.

Fortunately, there is hope and resources to help. You can learn how to “leverage your thought life to live your best life.”

It takes a concerted effort to break out of the Home-Work-Sleep routine to live life fully as, I believe, we were all intended to.

I have been invited to participate in a “Master Your Mindset” web interview series with Darcy Lubow and 8-12 other coaches, trainers, and thought leaders from around the world.

If you feel stuck and want a way to break through some of the limiting  thought patterns, false narratives, and feelings that may be holding you back from your dreams and goals then you’ll want to sign up for this free event.

It will be live July 5-11. Click below for details and to sign up…registration is FREE.

Free Master Your Mindset Web Interview Series

I hope you can join us.

In the meantime, if you’d like to receive future updates about goal setting, and achieving all you we’re intended to, please join my email list.

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Thank you for your support and encouragement.

We are all destined to leave this world a little better than it was when we came into it. Let’s do it together by starting with ourselves.

Shawn

Vulnerability takes courage, so does creativity.

Why is it so hard to be ourselves?

Have you ever thought, what if so and so knew that about me, what would they think? What if they knew I was judging them, or didn’t like them?

Letting down our guard is risky. It takes vulnerability. How do we respond when we are in a funk but someone asks us, “How are you?”

“Fine. Doing fantastic. Never Better.” We smile our best smile, hoping they don’t see through our facade.

“How about you?” We may ask, merely out of politeness, really not giving a rip about the other person because deep inside, we’re really not fine. We may be struggling to make ends meet. The car might have just broke down. Or, while rushing to get to work on time, we spilled coffee on our shirt when we slammed on the brakes not seeing the back up in front of us. Then, we do our best not to get more angry, even though we want to scream, ( Sometimes I do – It’s safe in the car with the windows up and the stereo blasting!) as we crawl along the 101, stuck in traffic for an hour and a half  to drive a mere eighteen miles!

To protect ourselves we don masks. Sometimes, they are necessary. After all it’s probably not a good idea to waltz into the office and dump our crappy day on everyone else. Instead, we arrive at the office with a painted Monday morning smile, “We’re fine.”

We pretend to be OK even when we had a lousy day. I get it. If we really aren’t doing fine, we don’t want to bring everyone else down especially if we are having a really shitty day.

Now I am making an assumption that we have all had to put on a happy face from time to time even if we really didn’t want to. But somehow we have to deal with that stuff inside that gnaws at us.

That’s why I am grateful that I have a couple close friends and a community that I can go to when I am walking through some challenges.

My struggles today are gold-plated compared to what they were 30 years ago. Nonetheless, I find it incredibly helpful to talk with others whom I trust to walk through some of the stuff I am going through. Case in point, I am in the midst of putting together my next book  on goal setting. Yet I keep getting stuck. My friend suggested I map it out. How ironic that the book I am writing is about planning and walking through fear, change, and setting goals, and that I have to apply what I am trying to write about BEFORE I can write about it.

So yeah, when I’m going through change and out of my comfort zone, I get cranky. Today is one of those days. It will pass.

As Oscar Wilde said, “Creativity Takes Courage.”

So does vulnerability. For now, I’ll keep on keeping on.

Hope you days are good and filled with joy.

More to come soon.

Shawn