What Healthy People Have In Common

Posted in Personal Growth
Rosemary Clark
The strangest thing keeps happening.
Like this.
I have a friend who is in her 60s.  I know this sounds a bit cliche, but truly, she doesn’t look a day over 40.  Folks are amazed and when they find out how old she is. often exclaim  “No way”, they say, “what good genes you have!”.  She smiles and humors these conversations. Truth is, she works at staying young.  She is rigorous in the care of her skin, she’s meticulous in what she eats and drinks, she gets enough rest every night, she’s a regular at her gym, and she is going to find a way to sit on her meditation cushion most every day.  She’s quite serious about taking care of herself – it isn’t a luxury to be pushed aside.  She may have good genes, but most likely she is doing what is necessary to maintain her youthful glow.
And this.
I met a man with a particularly painful childhood.  He endured some awful abuse, but he says the hardest part to endure was the lack of love in his life.  Today, you wouldn’t know he lived through that trauma.  He’s as loving as they get.  In fact, most people assume he comes from as easy a childhood as was possible.  Probably with a silver spoon.  You see, today he has a college degree, financial stability, and a very loving family.  He has worked incredibly hard to overcome his circumstances.  He doesn’t take that loving family for granted and he and diligently works on being present and engaged.  He is an ever present fixture at his kid’s events, evening dinners and homework.  He nurtures his relationship with his spouse with tender care.  Folks often think all the beauty in his life comes easily.  It doesn’t.  He shows up for it.
And this.
I know someone who has chronic pain.  Doctors quickly prescribed narcotics to help manage the agony.  He has every reason to take them.  The pain is ever present and no one would question or call him weak, if he chose to medicate.  He doesn’t take the pills though.  He found the narcotics made him sleepy – he was missing out on too much life.  He struggled to pay attention and he was often depressed on the pills so he rarely takes them.  Instead, he gets up early and stretches for 30 minutes before he tries to get going.  He has learned to still his mind and use his breath to ease his pain.  He often watches funny movies to elevate his mood and the ever present phrase on his lips is “thank you”.  He still hurts.  The pain just isn’t the biggest part of his life.
I keep running into these people.  I call them healthy.  There seems to be a theme in the way they live their lives.  Did you notice it?  They are healthy because they are engaging in health.  There isn’t a sit around and wait for – there is a get up and DO.
I see this every day.
I have some friends I enjoy being around because of the health they radiate.  I keep running into them in yoga class.
I go to the health food store and inevitably see some of the fittest bodies around.
I join a Facebook group for positive living and I find my healthiest of friends are already there.
I talk about meditating with a colleague and she shares with me a similar, enhanced experience.
Coincidence?  I think not.
Show up for your health.  Show up in the smallest or biggest way you can.  Stretch out of where you are comfortable and move into the magic of change.  Yes….you can absolutely do this.

The Secret Behind Resolutions

Posted in Personal Growth

Rosemary Clark

Are you still going gangbusters on your New Year’s resolutions?  I hope you are, but if you are like most, continuing change gets difficult.  You may even be completely off the track.  You are skipping the gym, arguing with your spouse, and ignoring the changes you decided to make.
“I’m not disciplined enough to make the change I want.  It’s only a few weeks into the year and I have already failed anyway.  I don’t even see the point.”
This is why many of us don’t even want to set the resolutions and goals in the first place.  We don’t dare to utter the desires of our heart.  The dreams are too big and our behaviors too ingrained to overcome.  We don’t think we have what it takes.  But maybe, just maybe, this isn’t the truth.
I believe that it is not.
What if we have the idea about discipline and change all kind of backward and it isn’t something only the most elite of athletes can master?
Discipline is NOT
gutting it out
depriving yourself
requiring perfection
the price of unrealistic expectations
something only other people can do
Discipline is simply your ability to still your mind in order to hear your own heart’s desires.  
Let that sink in for a minute.  Seriously.  Pause.
Discipline is all about quieting the noise in our heads and remembering where our intuition has already told us to go.
I’m not saying for one second that discipline is easy.  But I AM saying that discipline, like our intuition, is a quiet, still voice reminding us what we need to do next.
Our heart’s desires are often large and require great leaps of faith and new skills.  And while there is nothing easy about that, please don’t scale down your dreams!  Your beautiful life needs you to keep expanding.
So, if you have fallen off track or even given up completely, get quiet.  Allow yourself to remember why you began in the first place.  Keep going.
You’ve got this,
Rosemary

Happiness is Waiting for You

Posted in Personal Growth

rosemary-clark

“Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you.”  ~Hafez

Have you seen the gratitude jar challenge?  This is where you write one thing a day to be grateful for and place it safely in a jar.  Then, at the end of the year, you pull everything out and savor a year of gratitude as you re-read all the delicious moments you have had.  I have done it.  It’s wonderful.

Someone asked me the other day if I thought a gratitude jar made any difference at all.  If so, what would it do?

I usually am a good listener and allow folks to get their entire thought expressed without any interruption, but I didn’t do so well with that question.  Before she was able to get all her thoughts articulated my response was a huge YES.  We laughed at my over eager response and then I elaborated.  When we are grateful, there is only room for present moment, satisfying, feeling good…happiness.  Seriously.  Gratitude is an absolute game changer for mood and overall life satisfaction.

Because here’s the point…. You deserve a life that is full of gratitude.  Imagine for a second… if you always felt gratitude.  How you might interact with others in your life.  I’ll bet you would be more loving, more kind, more flexible and open to change.  You would be a better listener, more in touch with others, and truly, deep down, you would be a happier soul.  You deserve that.  You deserve big heaping doses of that.

I must admit that I am not doing a gratitude jar this year.  I am participating though!  I am logging my daily gratitude in a date book.  I’ll review it on New Year’s Eve and let my heart remember how beautiful 2017 was for me.  I’m starting before the year gets going.  There will be challenges for sure.  That’s what life is full of and that’s OK.  I’ll be busy looking for the little moments to say thank you for.  And that will change my entire outlook on whatever may come.

Join me.  Get a jar, journal, whatever you want to use to record the gratitude.

Let’s let happiness catch us,

Rosemary

New Beginnings

Posted in Personal Growth
rosemary-clark
Hey there – it’s me….  I haven’t written here in a while.  I could give you all sorts of reasons why and, trust me, they are valid.  But the truth is, I haven’t been present for my blog.
Believe it or not….  it’s a heart’s desire of mine to write.  I overcome ego and fear each time I hit the publish button.  And I absolutely LOVE engaging with others about the topics I am writing about.  A blank screen, while daunting, is also an open invitation to carve out thoughts and ideas.  I feel settled and somehow all sorted out when I’m finished.  (Hint, try journaling and you’ll get what I’m talking about.)
Still, I haven’t shown up for what I love.  And truly, that makes me sad.
Do you ever do that?  Do you have something that matters oh so much to you, but you blow it off for “more important” activities?  I often hear from others how distracted they are and how much they miss their time together as a couple, or maybe their favorite hobby, or hanging with their kids. We seem to easily get blown off course.
We get distracted from what matters most to us – from those things that make life feel good.  We decide the feel goods aren’t as important as the crisis of the moment, because joy seems like the whipped cream on top.  But, joy isn’t the topping.  Joy is the meat and potatoes of life.  Without the satisfaction of being present for what we love, life gets hard. I start using phrases like “everything feels stale” or “I need some sparkle” or “oh my goodness, I’m tired”!
So here I am.  Doing what makes life sparkle for me.  I hope you will engage fully in the activities that make your soul sing.
If you have gotten off track like I have, let’s begin again.
Rosemary
rosemary-clark-love-notes-lets-begin

How to Live With the Hard Questions

Posted in Personal Growth

 

Rosemary Clark

Have you ever had a question you just INSISTED be answered?  Maybe it was about why the horrible breakup happened, why your body or mind won’t stop hurting, why the job didn’t work out as planned, or a plethora of other life situations you want to understand.

Well…. I have.  Many times.

And with the question “WHhhhhYyyyy???” came a hypothesis or two.  Maybe, I figured, it was because it was all my fault anyway, life was just painful, other people would hurt me if I let them, or I didn’t deserve any better.  There are lots of wild thoughts that can run through our brains when we are focused on the why.  I’ve created quite a few doozies in my day…

Our imaginations begin to ping pong those ideas around in our heads.  Truly.  Those thoughts can rack up a high score on the toughest of internal pinball machines.  The game isn’t fun or entertaining though.  It’s agony.

I’ve tried to be a good student in life school with this concept and perhaps there are some reasons why the head games we play need to stop.  Maybe there are some valid reasons to stop needing to understand.

1 – There is no healing until the thoughts slow down.  Yep, you heard it right.  Think about the moment when your thoughts won’t stop and one question leads to another question.   As those thoughts move around so does your body’s response.  Anxiety rises, depression increases, anger blossoms, despair and hopelessness grow.  This is not the space where healing occurs.  We heal in a slower, softer, kinder, gentler place inside ourselves.

2 – The answer will never be sufficient for the question.  There are just some questions that can’t be answered. There will never ever be an answer that satisfies why someone hurt you, broke your heart, took advantage of you, didn’t stick around.  There is NOTHING that can be explained away to a shattered heart that makes that OK.  Answers like that don’t exist.

3 – I’m not ready for the answer.  Sometimes we can’t understand all the pieces in front of us because we couldn’t handle the answer if it showed up.  We may not be ready for the accountability piece, the very necessary part of healing where we don’t accept blame, but we do accept our own behavior – our part in this perfect storm.

4 – There is no way to understand all that may come later.  I’m not a big believer in “all things happen for a reason”, but I do know that just because life is a hot mess today doesn’t mean that it will be tomorrow.  And, I really really really believe that the toughest moments in life can teach us the greatest lessons.

5 – There is a different lesson I need to learn right now.  Here’s where you and I are powerful.  Really powerful.  What if the question doesn’t need to be the wailing “why” but rather “what can I learn about myself right now”?  When we move out of needing to understand events – the content of our life – and into our internal process…. well…. that’s an awesome place and it’s exactly where healing ignites and flames.

There is healing in your questions,

Rosemary

 

 

 

 

I am White and I was born in Selma, Alabama

Posted in Personal Growth

Rosemary Clark

The horror of the past few days has touched a place of despair in me.  I can’t turn on the news.  I can’t bear to even read my Facebook feed.  The divide between the people I love seems insurmountable.  And it breaks my heart.  These people that I love with so many different colors would truly like one another if they really knew each other.  I have seen the beauty in each of them.
This despair leaves me feeling vulnerable and I would rather be defensive and angry.  Anger is easier to deal with than despair.  But, anger is what is driving this divide in our world.
“We were shouting angry and screaming all night but we finally understood each other’s position and compromised,”  Said no one ever….
Anger has gotten us here and holds us prisoner.  I am so tired of the story – the hatred, the fear.
Like many people, racism feels personal to me.  You see, I was born in the way down deep south and I grew up embedded in the history (pain) this region of the country carries.  I showed up in the world at the height of the civil rights era to a mother whose deepest desire was for me to understand equality. (A HUGE thank you to my mama.)  It was never ok with her to judge a person based on their color.
Unfortunately, the culture of racism was too big for my mother to be able to spare me from its lessons and it was a very real part of my life growing up.  Like most cultural norms, racism was simply accepted as “normal”.  It was just the way it was.  We didn’t talk about it a lot and we certainly didn’t act on it regularly.  But, it showed up in very real ways like the local high school having a white homecoming queen alongside a black homecoming queen to avoid racial tension or the city white recreation center and the city black recreation center.  It showed up in the ways we spoke about race and in the color of the people we all surrounded ourselves with.  It was an unconscious part of our way of life.
I left the south in my early twenties in search of adventure and a burning desire to leave the stench of racism behind.  I raised my daughter in a sea of color.  I have silently cheered the birthday parties where there was no one color dominant at the table and every child understood they belonged right where they were.  There is such simple truth in watching children.  They are so accepting.
That concept of racism / rejection / separation / inferiority / fear we are all talking about now?  It is learned.  And all things that are learned can be unlearned, relearned, changed. modified.
Learning requires a conversation.  It requires us to get quiet and listen to the other side.  Not listen to argue but listen to understand.  There’s a difference between the two.  It requires us to be vulnerable to the fact that we may not like what the other is saying.  We don’t have to like it, but can we make space for the fact that others don’t think and feel like we do?  Can we accept that our thoughts aren’t the only ones with validity?
My personal journey with racism has taught me many life-altering truths.  
People are more alike than they are different.  But, the differences are real and deserve a place in the relationship.
Mamas and Daddys can teach their children about love and acceptance and change this whole thought process.
Everyone I know longs to be accepted, loved and happy.  
Anger is a defensive posture.  When I soften in the presence of that emotion others have permission to soften also.
My life is so much richer and deeper with people of every color, race, religion, sexual orientation, and political belief in it.
Your pain is real.  My pain is real.  Love is stronger.
My culture also has a stereotype.  I learned what it was and decided to be different.  
Intellectual pontification about right and wrong does nothing.  We change this world one relationship at a time.
We have come a long way.  It isn’t far enough.  But, it will take every last one of us to keep moving forward.  The past is too painful for any of us to do over again.
Life lived open and accepting feels better than a life lived defensive and guarded.
Talk to someone you normally wouldn’t.  Ask about their life.  Decide to be the one who starts change in your world.
Love is greater than hate.  Always.
Rosemary

It Is What It Is

Posted in Personal Growth
Rosemary Clark
My mother says this should be inscribed on my tombstone.  I say it often.  I don’t mean it in any sort of flippant, hair flinging, foot stomping, hand-on-the-hip kind of way.  When those words come flowing out of my mouth they are acknowledging something I cannot change.  Something that it is time to accept.
There are many circumstances I haven’t wanted to accept.  They range from small to large.  I don’t always want to accept the fact that I am facing a challenge, that something is hard, that I need to engage more, that I need to engage less, that something isn’t fair, that I’m doing something that I struggle with – again…., that someone I love is no longer in my life.
This concept of acceptance doesn’t come easily to me.  And it is easy to confuse it with giving up or in.  Weak.
Acceptance is none of those things.  In fact, acceptance is just the opposite.
Acceptance makes room for healing, for feeling better, for confidence, for empowerment, for all the emotions we long to feel again.
Here’s a simple example of how this process of acceptance works:
You wake up one morning knowing that you have gained weight (as evidenced by the tight pants you wore yesterday); you decide to brave the scale and see what’s really going on.  Fact – the number on the scale is up.  You have a choice.  You can argue with that number, give it meaning about who are are in your soul, pretend you didn’t see it, deny that it matters, rationalize why it is up.  You can fight that truth.  And you will be miserable.
Or, you can accept that the number is what it is.  You can accept what’s there and cut yourself some slack, make a plan for how to manage it, share some love with yourself and be grateful you caught it.  You can let it feel better.
That doesn’t mean you don’t ever do anything about your weight.  It simply means you accept what is in front of you at this particular time.
And, that?  That’s called strength.  Strength to get moving, make changes, create a new reality.  It’s all kind of powerful.
Acceptance allows us to stop insisting on our own (the only) way and to be open to all that life has to offer.
It is what it is,
Rosemary

Why Your Desires Matter

Posted in Personal Growth

Rosemary Clark

Those dreams and goals you have for your life?  They are both beautiful and necessary.  They keep you focused and moving toward the good morsels of life.  Goals motivate us to get our rear ends off the couch, to eat healthier, lose weight, save for retirement, manage our emotions, create meaningful relationships.  Good stuff, right?  Until they get too hard….
Goals are bold and exciting while we plan them out and then often in the undertaking they begin to feel impossible.  How many times have we started a diet and by dinnertime we were pitching in the towel because the hunger just wasn’t worth it.  The goal, the prize, that smaller size was beginning to cause some discomfort.  In my house we describe those moments with “sh*t just got real”.  We all give knowing looks with a deep understanding of how hard something has just become.
That’s the moment of choice…   quit or keep going
The shallower parts of me can be almost giddy with excitement when it gets hard.  “See, you can quit” those voices say.  “Whew, I was thinking I wouldn’t stick with this for long.”  “You always want too much anyway.” What is left out in those statements is that the quitting also costs me the joy of the dream.
I work hard (sometimes more successfully than others…) to turn the volume down on the internal critic and to listen to a deeper place inside myself.  A quiet and still place, a place where my heart’s desires reside.  Where my intuition lives.
This place remembers why the goal does matter.
So we are left with the fact that dreams and goals hold value and that they are also difficult.  Interesting bedfellows for sure.
And that means that sometimes (most every single time) movement toward your goal will be hard.  You will hit roadblocks, obstacles, you are going to hear “no”, the timeline will be off, readjustments will be necessary, many apologies will need to offered (to both yourself and others), you may go off course, backwards, you may stall.
And that dream of yours? It is still worth the effort.
Rosemary
rosemary-clark-love-notes-you-are-free-to-choose

Dream On

Posted in Personal Growth
Rosemary Clark
Do you remember your childhood dreams?  Everything was possible, wasn’t it?  And all the possibilities came without judgment.   I remember playdates where my own dream of traveling was equal to my friend’s dream of being a homemaker, or another’s of becoming president.  We didn’t call one dream better than the other.  Somehow we understood the sacred qualities of a dream and we honored the process for each other.
As we age our dreams tend to get more rigid and practical.  We want the job, the car, the savings account, the exercise routine…
There’s no doubt this list is important.  It also comes with expectations and judgment.  We start quantifying our efforts with “success”, “failure”, “importance”, “necessity”.  And as logic follows with this “all or nothing thinking”, we take away the magical possibilities found somewhere in the middle.  It’s easy to get focused on a goal and become so fixed on what the finish line is supposed to look like, that it looks too hard to even get started.  However, I don’t think that’s the point with goals.  They call us forward to action in our lives, and as we get deeper into them, we may realize that we need to change to a different course of action.
Maybe your goal is to run a marathon, or to increase your education for promotion possibilities.
Perhaps preparing for that marathon turns into a love of half marathons, or just regular running for fun, and not wanting to participate in official races.  Or, the return to grad school morphs into a second major in a different field.  We would miss out on these opportunities if we stayed fixed on what we just had to achieve.  Flexibility keeps us moving into new and satisfying places.  Doors open to new possibilities we didn’t even know existed before we began.
If we insist that the initial goal is what we “should” do then everything else is a failure. Really?  Think on it.  Would you call someone who runs regularly a failure because they did not participate in marathons?  Or, someone who was pursuing their education a failure because they were getting a different degree, or going part-time rather than full-time?  I certainly wouldn’t. This judging we do keeps us from becoming the person we aspire to be. It keeps us from living the life we long to live.
That sort of judgement tells us we aren’t capable.  The voice taking center stage declares “I don’t have what it takes.  I can’t do this.”  Sometimes it even shouts out in dramatic fashion “My dreams are ridiculous.  This is too hard.  I should be content with less.”
Your dreams are where joy is happening!  Our dreams are often enormous and hard.  And that is so ok. Because something doesn’t come easy, doesn’t mean it isn’t the path to be on. More on that next week…
Here’s to the dreams you have for your life.  I hope they inspire you to try, to begin, to engage, to change, to move, to become, to risk failure, to show up BIG in your life,
Rosemary
rosemary_love_notes_take_time_to_dream

Don’t Sweat the Big Stuff

Posted in Personal Growth
Rosemary Clark
I have been a collector of quotes for as long as I can remember.  I tuck them into pockets, scribble them in notebooks, create folders in my email, pin them in social media accounts…. pretty much saving them wherever I can find a spot.  I find comfort and inspiration in the written word and I realize when someone else has felt what I’m feeling, and even felt it deeply enough to write about it.  Reading the quotes often feels like coming home to the truth of a good friend, and I relax in the pause while savoring the words.
I found one of my old quote notebooks recently.  It was pushed way back in a desk drawer.  I was smiling as I opened it – eager to read something that had felt good before and probably would  again.  I met this old friend on the first page:
I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘if this isn’t nice, I don’t what is‘.  ~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
And a few pages later there was a gratitude list.  Gratitude for the small moments in life – the moments that every day life is made of.  Allowing gratitude to be for what is rather than what I want it to be.  It is truly these ordinary acts of magic that sustain us and our joy.  The highs come and go, but can you find something to be grateful for right this second?
In my old journal, I had written about a sweet text with a friend, a full tank of gas, licks from my puppy, the smell right before it rains and a regular ole Monday night dinner with my family.
This process of gratitude can be hard, right?  Those things that are going wrong can feel So. Very. Big.  And the little moments can feel quite small when trying to measure up.  Allowing yourself to focus on small moments of gratitude can feel ridiculous and like a luxury we can ill afford.  The negatives can be seductive and greedy in their need for attention, as if, when we notice them more, we get closer to a solution.  But we don’t.  We simply continue to feel bad.
Would you like to learn a different approach?  Try this.
Find something small to notice.  Maybe it’s the taste of your coffee, the check out line with no wait, the smile you share with a stranger, the places in your body free from discomfort, the meals you will eat today, or the inhale of a pleasant fragrance.  Let it be small and then let it become grand.  Follow up with a thank you to whatever feels natural to you.  You can thank your higher power, life, yourself, others, whatever resonates with you.  Just say thank you.
Can you sink deeper into gratitude today?