The last few years of my life have been full of life changes. BIG changes. Life changing events. This coronavirus pandemic is yet one more event. And through it all, I’ve felt at peace in challenging times and have had people say to me, “How do you do it. You seem so happy and so optimistic. You bring a calmness to life.”
So how do I do it? I’ve learned to put myself and my well-being first so I can fully show up to serve. When you put yourself first and commit to taking care of your well-being, then and only then, can you truly share your full self and your gifts with your loved ones, friends and community.
I have been taking time to center almost daily for a few years and it is absolutely one of the most powerful and important aspects of my well-being.
These centering practices are timeless. It is a skill that will help you bring peace to almost any life circumstance, now and in the future. I’ll talk about how to incorporate self-centering practices below, but first, let’s look at the types of life events that occurred in just a few short years that led to the development of my skillset, my secret sauce per se, of how I bring peace to my everyday living.
Recent Life Events that Taught Me How to Live in Peace
Any one of the following events or circumstances can be a lot to handle on top of your day-to-day responsibilities. But what I found, was that as each new challenge stacked upon the last, life got easier. Life got better. My level of peace increased, and I experienced more joy. It seems counterintuitive, but it makes perfect sense. Life teaches us what’s important, it helps us prioritize… if we only stop and listen.
These are merely my recent ‘big’ events. You can read through them, using these events to prompt the recollection of your own events, or jump directly to the next section to learn how to begin living a more centered and balanced life.
- Major move to support health: We sold, donated or otherwise got rid of 75+% of our belongings, closed my storefront, sold our house, bought a new house sight-unseen and moved 1,000 miles to support my health.
- Career change: My husband left his career of 23 years, with no job in sight, not knowing what he would do.
- Changing responsibilities: I quickly grew my marketing business from a supplemental income to our only household income in order to 100% support us.
- Caregiving: I made the hard decision to pull my marketing business back to 50% so we could be caregivers for my father. This was one of many hard financial decisions, but we were there at his side when he passed on. This was a gift.
- An end of an era: We helped my mother get settled in a new town, managed taking care of the family home of 66 years, distributing all the household contents and preparing and selling the house. We said goodbye to my hometown. I have moved many times, lived in many states, and this was the only goodbye that opened the floodgates. Why? Because there were so many wonderful memories, not only with family, but with several families that we grew up with. I even wrote a short book of contemplative essays I quipped “A Summertime of Goodbyes.”
- Started a new business: I worked hard for over 2 years to start this coaching business and to develop the BalanceUP® program to help individuals with chronic health issues create a life that supports their work and health. I’ve poured everything I have into this. It is my heart and soul.
- Helping my husband start… and stop a new business: I recently helped my husband start a new business. It was perfect for him! However, we just made the decision to stop his business to protect my health, as it entailed going into people’s homes. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are choosing to live in lockdown and are prepared to do so for the long-term because I am high-risk on multiple levels and have multiple lung issues. The regular flu can be life-threatening to me.
- Hurricane evacuations and other stressors: We’ve been through three mandatory evacuations. I’ve been in and out of the hospital multiple times, but MUCH less than before we moved. There have also been a few new health issues that were quite serious, which with the help of my wellness team, we overcame.
- A new sustained lifestyle: We largely social distance every flu season and have had basic disinfecting processes in place for years. I rarely go to the grocery store during flu season and I limit my contact with people. Family and friends know that if they are sick or potentially sick, to let me know so I can avoid contact. Year-round, if we go to a restaurant or any event, I always have an exit plan because being around the wrong perfume or cologne for even a few minutes can quickly result in breathing difficulties. I also manage my ‘out’ time based on weather. Too hot, too cold… you’ll find me inside (or at the beach in the car with the air conditioning or heat on, allowing just a little warm or cold air in). I’ve learned that air travel is not safe for me, and neither is visiting places of altitude. I’ve had to pass on attending weddings, funerals and other important events as a result. It is a constant learning process, one that we embrace.
- Manage my wellbeing: All the while, I’ve been managing my own health and well-being. Without going into specifics, I have multiple autoimmune disorders, chronic lung issues and have significant neck and back injuries from a bad fall, that make it hard for me to use my arms at times. In fact, doctors told me I would be in non-stop pain and constantly miserable. Thank goodness they were not correct! And here’s the thing, during these last few years, my health has continued to GET BETTER. My body is stronger. My immune system is probably the strongest it’s been since my early twenties or younger. And my lung function is better than 30 years ago (no, I never smoked!).
Choosing How to Live: Peace in Challenging Times
I’ve lived long enough to know that the last few years are not ‘normal’ busy. Thankfully, life changing events can teach us that ‘busy’ is a choice.
Busy is chaotic. Busy is how we CHOOSE to live.
Life challenges, on the other hand, as challenging as they can be, need not bring chaos. In fact, they can bring peace, much peace. And this is where taking the time to center comes in. The choice is yours. Will you choose to allow the ‘busyness‘ of life to drive your every action? Or will you choose to live fully, with peace, through life?
Living a Centered Life
What does it mean to be centered? When you are centered, you are balanced in mind and spirit, you are better able to experience inner peace amidst life’s challenges. Heightening your inner peace gives you more space for joy.
The good news is that centering need not be challenging. You don’t NEED to do anything fancy. You don’t need to buy anything; nor do you need to change your spiritual practices or fill your schedule full of selfcare activities. Simply take a little time each day and experience it in your own way. Even ten minutes a day will make a difference! If you enjoy new experiences, try several different activities to see what you like the most. Switch things up.
Here are a few ideas to help you start your centering practices today:
- Practice a short meditation or compassion exercise. There are a lot of free options online.
- Read and ponder over a few pages of a book that brings meaning into your life.
- Sit in nature and simply allow your mind to relax.
- Do a meditative task such as weeding, gardening or knitting.
- Practice gratitude. Take time each day to think about what you are grateful for.
- Breathe. Simply take a few moments to focus on your breath. Slowly inhale and think about peace. On the exhale, release your worries and all that does not support a peaceful life.
- Incorporate basic wellness treats and activities, such as a hot Epsom salt bath, pondering over a cup of hot tea, or a yoga session.
- Make time for the spiritual practice of your choice in solitude or with others.
Choosing to Come Together
We are currently all experiencing the same disrupter, the coronavirus pandemic. We get to choose how we respond to this event. We get to choose whether we react in fear and panic or lean in, learn and transform. We can choose to become stronger and more resilient. We can bond together to make this world a better place through compassion and by focusing on new priorities. The choice is truly ours, and every day is an opportunity to enforce the choice we make. And my wish for you, is peace in challenging times and beyond.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy my article 7 Gifts of Embracing Your Hardships. I wrote this article this past summer, the summer I dubbed ‘The Summertime of Goodbyes.’ In it, you’ll learn not only how to embrace your challenges, but also how to learn, grow and transform through the challenging periods of time in your life.
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