F Simple and Serene Living: July 2015 09 10
Friday, July 31, 2015


You know what they say about the best laid plans. They often go awry. 

I remember when I was younger I would get upset when plans didn't go the way they were supposed to, but I've learned to go with the flow more as I have gotten older, to live more in the moment. 

I was supposed to be in Atlanta now, hugging on my grandchildren, but just as I was getting ready to leave Wednesday my daughter texted me that she had a very sick child. Soon it was two of the children. A nasty summer virus had hit the family and so I am postponing. I am praying that no one else in the family gets sick. 

I'm waiting daily to be able to leave. My clothes are packed in the suitcase in the trunk of my car. I am hoping for the all clear signal, but I am not stressing out about it. I believe there is a reason for everything that happens and I will be leaving when the time is right.

Surrendering to the flow does not mean that you are being passive, but instead that you are going with the flow of the universe. You are taking what life throws at you without getting angry.

When we slow down, breathe deeply, and realize that we can't control everything that happens, life becomes easier. 

So the next time life throws you a curveball, surrender to the flow. Your body and your spirit will thank you.

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P.S. Find more of the Rewriting Life series here

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Monday, July 27, 2015


"Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer......". 

The days are steamy and the nights are languorous, and I love it. 

I want to wrap it all up in little boxes tied with pretty bows, hide them away, and pull them out throughout the rest of the year. 

Summer lays itself out, like a picnic on a red checkered tablecloth, just waiting for us to sit down and enjoy the feast. 

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Dip your toes into its warm waters.

Turn your face up into its hot sun. 

Smell the soft scents of the colorful bouquets that are flourishing all around you. 

Taste its fresh offerings. 

Summer is like an old freight train. It sneaks slowly into the station, stops briefly, and then speeds away almost before we noticed that it was here. 

I want to whisper softly in its ear to stay forever, but I know that just as it does, year after year, it will leave and I will be left with just its sweet memories. 

In the meantime I will embrace its simple moments. I will bathe in its serenity. 

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Friday, July 24, 2015


This morning as I took my daily walk I thought about how really simple my needs are, and how when I embrace those simple needs I find happiness and serenity.

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We live in a very complex world. 

It's a world where we are bombarded 24/7 by the media and the internet. It's a world where we feel driven to compete. It's a world that focuses on having and being more.

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Do all of those "things" really make us happier? 

I literally wasted two days earlier this week trying to find the perfect walking shoe or sandal. I would find a pair, bring them home, wear them around the house and realize they weren't comfortable. So back they would go to the store, where I would try another pair. 

I eventually gave up, put on my old shoes and set out on my walk. None of those expensive shoes made me happy. In fact the whole process was making me everything but serene. I felt frustrated and tired after two days. 

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I realized that I need to recognize and embrace my simple needs. For me they are quiet spaces, good books, my indoor garden, healthy simple food, and the love of my family.

Maybe as we age we realize that all of the bells and whistles of the world are just not as important as we once thought they were. 

What are your simple needs? Are you embracing them?

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P.S. I am now a regular contributor to Brenda's new blog At The Women's Room. You can find my first posting here.

P.P.S. You can find more of the Rewriting Life series here.

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Monday, July 20, 2015


Summer means that there is an abundance of fresh produce, and the local farmers seem to be everywhere selling it. Buying local produce is always the best option, and we should never undervalue it. 

According to Local Harvest, "by doing so you'll be helping preserve the environment, and you'll be strengthening your community by investing your food dollar close to home. Only 18 cents of every dollar, when buying at a large supermarket, go to the grower. 82 cents go to various unnecessary middlemen. Cut them out of the picture and buy your food directly from your local farmer." 

It takes approximately seven days for produce to arrive on the shelves of a supermarket. During that time the produce is losing its nutrient value. If you are purchasing produce that was grown in another country, the time of transport is even longer. Think of the fossil fuels that are being used to transport all of that produce and what that is doing to the environment. 

One of the things I love about shopping from local farmers is that I can talk to the farmer face to face. I can look them in the eye and ask questions like when was this picked and is your produce grown organically or do you use pesticides.

Buying produce directly from the farmer helps to support local families. It puts money back into the local economy and helps to sustain the local tax base. 

The best reason of all for buying local produce is that, not only is it better for us, it just simply tastes better. All in all it is a win win situation in leading a simple healthier life.
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Friday, July 17, 2015


We have all encountered them. They are the people who seem to suck the life right out of you. They steal your energy and leave you feeling confused and exhausted. Are they narcissistic, histrionic, antisocial? They can be any of these. The problem for us is how to deal with them, because it is very difficult to have a serene life while they are so disruptive. 

Some emotional vampires are just plain mean, and we can recognize their behavior immediately. Some, however, are much more subtle and leave us feeling demeaned and less than. They may be controllers who tell us how we should be living our lives, or they may withhold affection if we don't do as they want. They may hog the limelight, always putting themselves first or place the blame on you for everything that goes wrong in their lives. They may live from one emotional crisis to another, dragging you into each and every one. 

So how do we deal with emotional vampires. If they are someone you can remove from your life then that of course is the best option, but it may not always be possible to do that. 

Ways to protect yourself from emotional vampires.

  • If possible limit your time spent with the person.
  • When they start pushing your buttons refuse to engage with them. Remain calm.
  • Don't allow them to victimize you. This is what they want. Instead be confident in the decisions you make for your life. You know what is best for you. You are the expert on you. 
  • Set boundaries. Don't allow them into your emotional space, and don't allow yourself to be drawn into their constant emotional crisis.
  • Be firm in your resolutions to not let them demean, judge, or control you. 
Everyone deserves to lead a happy and serene life. Stay true to who you are and don't let anyone else steal that happiness and serenity from you.

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P.S. There is more of the Rewriting Life series here.

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Monday, July 13, 2015


Just like a thief in the night, it sneaks up on you, that niggling little voice that erodes your self confidence and leaves you wondering if you are doing something wrong or possibly not doing anything right. The next thing you know you are thinking that you will never reach your goals. 

Self doubt happens to all of us, and it seems to love the job it has taken on of tormenting us. It's mean voice loves telling us that we can never be successful or have our dreams. It laughs at us when we make a mistake or take a misstep. It compares us to others whom we perceive as being more successful. 

We don't have to listen to that voice, though. When self doubt rears its ugly head, we have to remember all of the things we have accomplished in our lives. Remember that all of the missteps we took led us down a better path. Remember all of the times we have faced fear and conquered it. 

Some steps you can take to overcome self doubt:
  • When self doubt starts to whisper in your ear take a step away. 
  • Find a place of peace to sit quietly. 
  • Listen to the positive thoughts instead of the negative ones. Meditate
  • Look inside and find your inner peace. 
  • Know that you are the expert on you. 
You are never alone in your self doubting. It is something that we all face in our lives, but remember that you, not that voice of self doubt, are in control.  

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P.S.  You can find more of the Rewriting Life series here and more Inspiration on a Monday here.

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Friday, July 10, 2015


The rain taps against my window panes, stirring memories of days long gone. Steamy days on a front porch where a cacophony rings in my ears. The squeak of an old metal glider. The slamming of the wooden screen door. The bickering of children playing card games as they complain of cheating. The sound of my mother's voice as she calls us to dinner. The rustle of my father's newspaper.

Simple pleasures come from the small moments in life, but we are so often looking towards the large moments that we fail to notice the smaller more pleasurable ones. The sounds of a child's laughter, an early morning bird song, the whisper of the wind through the trees, the sizzle of chicken frying in an iron skillet.

When I look back I remember big events like vacations, graduations, and giving birth to my children, but what I remember most from these events are the simple sounds of laughter on the beach, the cheers as mortar boards were thrown in the air, and the sweetest sound of all, my daughters' first cries. 

Sometimes the nicest thing that we can do for ourselves is to sit quietly in the moment, close our eyes, and just listen to the sounds that surround us. When I close my eyes today, I can hear the cicadas in the trees, the swish of tires on the wet pavement, the whir of the ceiling fan above my head, and the rain hitting against my windows. These sounds calm me and bring serenity into my moment. The worries of the day slip away, and just like the memories I have of earlier times, I save this moment in my mind as a memory for a future day. 

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P.S. This post is part of the Rewriting Life Series.

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Monday, July 6, 2015


It's summer, the time when you want to jump in a pool or the ocean and start swimming. Maybe when you get to the pool you see how crowded it is with other swimmers and you stay out of the water because it seems like there just isn't enough room for you. Or maybe you are standing on the beach at the edge of the ocean and you are afraid to go in because you are afraid that you will be eaten by the sharks. 

Life is like swimming. We can be afraid to dive in because we are afraid that there are already too many people doing what we want to do, or we are afraid of the human sharks that may attack us if we try.

The things is, we can never succeed in life if we remain standing at the edge of the pool or the ocean. Failure happens when we stop trying. I know that in my life I have had many times when I have seen myself as a failure, but I realize that the only times I actually failed were the times I stopped trying. When I learned from my mistakes and kept swimming I was never a failure. 

There is always going to be a bully in the pool that splashes water in your face and pushes your head under, or a wave in the ocean that knocks you over, but if you get up and keep swimming you will never be a failure because the act of trying equals success.

So come on in and keep trying. The water is great.

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Friday, July 3, 2015


Today I am launching a new series titled "Rewriting Life". This series will feature ways that each of us can make positive changes in the way that we choose to live our lives now and in the future. As a counselor I encountered many people whose everyday lives were being negatively impacted by things that they had the power to change, but who did not know how to go about making those changes. This series will focus on those topics and will also contain links and resources for each topic.
We all have big stressors in our lives that are hard to avoid and can increase our cortisol levels by 100%. While small everyday stresses may not raise our stress hormones up to the levels of major stressful events, their constant occurrence in our lives can wreak havoc on both our physical and emotional well being. You can find more about how stress impacts your health here.

What type of person are you? Are you someone who can laugh off small inconveniences like misplaced keys or being stuck in traffic, or are you someone who gets stressed out and lets these things ruin your day? If you are in the first group you may not need to read any further, but if you are in the second group there are ways to change the way you react.

mental health stress sweating the small stuff solutions

1) Recognize that small annoyances are a normal part of life. They happen to all of us. Know that the amount of effort you put into worrying over these small annoyances really isn't worth it. 

2) Find a new perspective. Most small annoyances are just that. They are not life altering and if you think about them in comparison to events that are life altering, you will see that they aren't worth the amount of worry you are giving them.

3) Change how you look at the event. For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic instead of feeling angry and yelling at them rethink why they may have done it. Maybe they had an emergency they were trying to get to. Smile and be happy they didn't cause you to get into an accident. At the end of the day it probably doesn't matter that you were one car behind.

4) Stop and breathe. When we get worried and anxious we tend to take very shallow breaths. Stop and breathe deeply. Slowing down your breathing can be used along with meditation to calm and relax you. 

5) Problem solve in advance and after the fact. I had a real problem with misplacing my keys. Very common for many of us. So I have now made it a habit to always put my keys in one place. It has really saved me from a lot of the stress I felt every time I couldn't find them, and on the rare occasion that I forget to put them there, I have a backup set that I always keep in a drawer. A little problem solving can go a long way in keeping that stress level down. Leave on time for appointments, smile when someone frowns at you, etc......

Changing how we react to the small stuff can help to give us all a happier and healthier life. Do you have a way to avoid stress in everyday situations? I would love for you to share your solutions with us. 

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P.S. You can find the page for Rewriting Life here.

Disclosure: As a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program I receive compensation for any purchases you make through links from this site.

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