Happy Me Month

by Lila Lazarus

This is the season of holidays for other people. First, I was buying Mother’s Day gifts. Then I’m looking for Father’s Day gifts. There are several graduation days on the calendar and a few wedding days, too. So I’m throwing out an idea for a new holiday: Me Day. Or maybe even Me Month. Hear me out.

Unless we take care of ourselves, we’re no good to anyone.

This probably sounds so selfish or self-centered. And it’s supposed to. We’re so afraid to blatantly focus on No. 1. And when we do, we often feel guilty. But unless we take care of ourselves, we’re no good to anyone. We hear it so often in yoga: You can’t pour from an empty cup. We need to take care of ourselves first. Unless we really give ourselves some true TLC body, mind and spirit—we’re no good at work, at home or in the community. So here’s my suggestion: Take the next 30 days, (yes, a full month!) and focus on you. And in case your me-muscle is as out of shape as mine, here are some suggestions on how to do this:

Get a full night’s sleep every night for a month.  Can you even imagine that? I’d be happy to just get a full night’s sleep two or three days in a row. Your mood, productivity, relationships, waistline, EVERYTHING would improve. So many sleep studies have linked our bad sleeping habits to poor performance at work, car accidents, anger, depression, not to mention heart disease, diabetes and obesity. This one step could change the world.

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That’s me meditating in the Valley of Fire near Las Vegas.
Meditate every morning.  It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes. Even five minutes can change the course of your day by putting things in perspective. I know when I really commit to a morning mediation on a daily basis my day starts off with more energy and balance. I just feel happier. And there are so many meditation apps now that can help you through the process. And you can meditate anywhere.

Move. If you want to transform your body, mind and spirit—go for a walk every day. Stretch, do yoga, go for a run. It will boost your energy and help relieve anxiety and stress.

Don’t move. Make sure you also carve out time in your day to relax and restore. It doesn’t have to be a nap. It’s just a conscious slowing down. This is the hardest one for me. I need to make a conscious commitment to doing less.

Say no. I don’t think I even know how to pronounce the word “no.” But saying yes all the time is killing me. Saying yes is a great excuse not to take care of yourself. So during Me-Month I’m simply not available unless the request aligns with my mission and values. Sure, I’ll still have to work and keep up with responsibilities, but during certain sacred hours: early in the morning, during my normal workout time, and in the evenings, sorry, the answer is no.

Get to the doctor. It’s the last thing we have time for. Too many of us wait until we’re sick to get the care we need. And if you’re like me, you’re overdue for everything. I’m overdue for the dentist, the gynecologist, I still haven’t scheduled my physical, my mammogram (which is months overdue) or a bone density test. Last year my doctor gave me the paperwork for a colonoscopy and I never followed up. It’s on my to-do list every single day and yet, I never make the call. One hour at the doctor could add years to my life and help relieve any worries. During Me-Month all appointments will hereby be scheduled.

If we all get better in touch with ourselves, we’ll be way better at getting in touch with each other. Let me know what you think of Me-Month. I can already envision the Hallmark cards we could send to ourselves:  “In a world of change…open the card…Thank you for being my only constant.” Or just “Thinking of You Me!

Lila Lazarus Photo_resizedLila’s Health Report:
In order to stay healthy, you need to stay active and engaged. In addition to exercise, good nutrition and sleep, you also need a good dose of adventure. So each month I’ll share ways to boost the excitement and passion in your life with adventurous ways to create more wellness in your body, mind and your spirit.

Get Rid of Your Bucket List

by Lila Lazarus

For years I talked about climbing Machu Picchu. I told people,“It’s on my bucket list.” I dreamed about it. I swore that one day I would find the time, the money, the adventurous travel partner, and live out my dream. But year after year, something else came up, or money was tight, or time was limited and it never happened. Machu Picchu became a symbol for me of not living my dreams. And as years turned into decades, I realized time is eventually going to run out. That’s the problem with bucket lists, they don’t have a time limit.

What’s on your bucket list? If you want to live your dreams in this lifetime, you first have to know what your dreams are. That’s what the bucket list is all about. It’s a blueprint of the life you wish you were living. But I no longer have one. Why? Because  a bucket list is a list of things you want to do someday, one day. It should be called “My Dream List.”  It’s a list of castles in the air, pie in the sky, pipe dreams that never turn into reality. I believe in living that list— not dreaming about it. Continue reading “Get Rid of Your Bucket List”

Stay Open, Stay Young…Stay Uncomfortable

by Lila Lazarus

My Mom stopped using the computer. Sitting at the keyboard and constantly trying to remember which password and what website to use became too much for her. It was uncomfortable, so she stopped. Now she has no way to Skype with her grandchildren and can’t remember how to log on to her bank account. It means she’s no longer checking her emails and it’s been so long, she can’t remember how to log on to Facebook. It makes it difficult for friends and family to connect with her. It’s a dangerous decision as we get older. We either open up to learning new things, take on new challenges and push harder to widen our scope or decide to avoid discomfort and watch our world get smaller and smaller. My Mom always loved a good adventure. She was always so creative and so open to a challenge…open to life. But the moment she stopped, everything changed. Life started closing. Continue reading “Stay Open, Stay Young…Stay Uncomfortable”

Some Day, One Day is Today

Someday_Onedayby Lila Lazarus

I’ve been talking about writing a book someday for as long as I can remember.  I always knew that one day I would get to it.  But the moment I sat down to do it,  I saw something really interesting on LinkedIn, or got sucked into an article on Huffington Post or just needed another cup of coffee.  For me there were always eight days in a week.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Someday.  Drum roll please.   I’m done talking.  If you’re reading this now, then something really incredible happened.  Someday, One Day  is Today.  That’s the title of my new book.  How do you like it? Continue reading “Some Day, One Day is Today”

Signs of Aging

by Lila Lazarus

There are certain signs you want to ignore but you can’t. I was visiting my Mom and thought I smelled something burning. Rushing to the kitchen, I noticed a scorched pot on the stove. “Oh that?” Mom said calmly. “I forgot about the oatmeal.”

It wasn’t just the oatmeal. She was becoming more and more forgetful, confused…foggy.  I didn’t care about the oatmeal or the pot. I was hurting for my Mom. This beautiful woman who has always been so vibrant, energetic, creative and upbeat was changing so rapidly. Or maybe I just had been ignoring the scorched pots and pans, the messy – actually dirty – countertops, the overgrown garden, the piles that seemed to be growing in every corner of the house, a mountain of bills, papers and unopened mail on her desk. The home she had lived in for so many years was in rapid decline. It’s one of nearly a dozen things people should take note of when they’re visiting parents and grandparents—especially those living alone.

So this holiday season, when spending time with aging loved ones, here’s a list of things to notice beyond burnt oatmeal: Continue reading “Signs of Aging”

Before You Check Facebook…Read This

by Lila Lazarus

Slow down. Don’t read this like you read most articles—skimming, barely taking it in.   No, read this article with the aim of changing your entire life. Really. Just by slowing down and mindfully reading something word by word, you can change your whole experience. Suddenly you let go of anything that might be distracting you and fully engage with the words on the screen.

Every moment is an opportunity to be mindful—to be aware. It’s a chance to pay more attention to what we do while we’re doing it. And every day more research reveals how beneficial that kind of mindfulness can be for reducing stress.

Words hit us 24/7. They slide across the bottom of a newscast, parade across the screen on our smartphone or jut out like a billboard on a Facebook post. And every time a word pops up at us, we have the choice to let it bounce off us or take it in. Every time you click on a post or a blog you have the chance to practice being mindful… being present.   When you’re reading mindfully, you’re reading word by word. You’re noticing the tablet, phone or screen the words are on. You’re noticing how the light of the screen hits your eyes. Take a moment to feel your eyes guiding you to the right and then back to the left again. Continue reading “Before You Check Facebook…Read This”

The Mess of Stress

by Lila Lazarus 

If you want to know my stress level, look at my closet. Seriously, it’s the best gauge of my mental state. If you see Mt. Wardrobe—that huge pile of unfolded but clean laundry in the corner—I’m stressed. And if it looks like a bomb went off, chances are my anxiety level is really off the charts.

And while I’m not always sure which came first, the stress or the mess, I do know one thing:  Change my closet, change my life. I’m not kidding. Organizing the closet is truly an antidote to anxiety along with five other techniques I’ll share with you. But let’s stick with the closet for now, as it is often the most neglected de-stressor. Continue reading “The Mess of Stress”

Mom, We Gotta Talk

by Lila Lazarus

I’ve said it a dozen times, but I still don’t think my Mom has heard me.  It’s not because she’s hard of hearing, she just doesn’t want to listen.  The conversation goes like this:

“Mom, we should really go see a lawyer and talk about granting me power of attorney for your property and also your health.”

“Why would we do that?” she asks, as though we’ve never had the conversation before.  “I’m perfectly healthy.”

At 85, she is remarkably healthy, though her speech and memory are not the same. She’s slowing down and, frankly, I’m scared and don’t want to wait too long.

My Mom, on the other hand, can’t understand why we have to have this conversation again. She wants to wait until she’s old. So again I attempt to get her to agree to the appointment, saying it’s not because she’s old, but because no one lives forever. And it’s so much easier to get through this process before there are any serious changes. It will be a lot more difficult to navigate the process if we’re under stress or overly emotional or if we’re trying to make it happen from a hospital bed. And a lawyer will know the right questions to consider and the proper documents to complete. She’s not having it. Continue reading “Mom, We Gotta Talk”

Aging Parents: What to Expect When You Move Your Mom

by Lila Lazarus

I’m sitting in my mother’s basement and I’m crying. I’m surrounded on all sides by boxes filled to the brim with photographs and birthday cards, old cameras and record albums, plaques and certificates — remnants of a life well-lived. I’m holding a wedding invitation I just found from 1974. I don’t recognize the names, but there’s also the card with directions just in case my Mom still needs them. I’m completely overwhelmed.

Last month, I finally convinced my mother to move into a senior facility. Living alone in a big house was just too much for her to maintain and, frankly, not safe for her anymore. For years I had begged her to begin the difficult process of donating, selling and disposing of her life’s treasures. But she never did. She just didn’t want to face the idea that she wouldn’t be able to live independently and couldn’t hold on to her things forever. I know this is hard for her. I know she feels like her life is spinning and there’s so much loss, including loss of control. Continue reading “Aging Parents: What to Expect When You Move Your Mom”

Yoga Brings Peace in Stillness

June is my favorite month in Michigan. It brings long, glorious days with warm breezes. And on the 21st of the month, the summer solstice officially rings in the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year. The word solstice is from two Latin words. Sol meaning “sun” and sistere meaning “to stand still.” So the summer solstice is all about the sun standing still. It’s a moment to pause before the days get shorter again.

Each summer solstice, I invite people into my backyard to do yoga at sunset. We start by standing still and taking in that moment when the movement of the sun’s path as we see it from Earth comes to a halt and then reverses direction. In these days of constant distraction and multitasking, it’s a joy to stop and stand still, breath and feel the breeze.

Time goes so fast. Yoga helps slow things down. So as we enter another fabulous Michigan summer, let me give you a few reasons to get on your mat and do some yoga: Continue reading “Yoga Brings Peace in Stillness”