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”

Taking Charge of Your Breast Health

by Lila Lazarus

“Breast cancer:  We’re going to wipe you off the face of the Earth!” I screamed at the top of my lungs to a crowd of 50,000 people outside Detroit’s Comerica Park. This was my 20th year standing on the podium at Detroit’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. It’s the largest race in Michigan and one of the largest Races for the Cure in the nation. The crowd of survivors, family members, caregivers and friends come together every year to raise money and awareness to put breast cancer out of business.  We laugh and cry and hear from politicians who make equally big promises.

But the reality is, we’re still facing a breast cancer epidemic. It’s still one in eight American women who will face the diagnosis this year. Despite all the “awareness” and the sea of pink ribbons lining Woodward, three of my closest friends are fighting the disease and, no doubt, several of yours.

You see the fear in their eyes. You sense the dread and despair of their children and the ever-present exhaustion. Medicine is getting much better at beating back the disease, but still, we fear it. (In fact, most women fear breast cancer more than heart disease even though we’re ten times more likely to die of heart disease.)

Your biggest risk factor is just being a woman.  And there’s no one sure-fire way to guarantee you won’t get the disease,  but there are ways to significantly improve your risk profile. Here are nine ways to slash your chances of developing breast cancer:

  1. Stand up. No matter how much you think you exercise, if you sit for long periods a day – more than six hours – you are increasing your risk.
  2. Know your family history. Don’t just look at your mom’s family tree. Trace your Dad’s side, as well.  (Though none of my friends battling the disease had ANY family history. Only about 10 percent of cases are hereditary.)
  3. Know your breast type. If you have dense breasts – more tissue than fat – the disease is harder to detect and leaves you at greater risk. It may  require more than a mammogram, perhaps an MRI or ultrasound, to see abnormalities.
  4. Battle the bulge. The more fat you have, the higher your chances of getting breast cancer, because your estrogen levels are higher. Women who gain 20 to 30 pounds after age 18 are 40 percent more likely to develop breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
  5. Take a walk. There’s proof that walking  two hours a week can reduce your risk by nearly 20 percent. Exercise is a proven breast-healthy habit.
  6. Breast feed your babies. There’s significant research showing that breastfeeding, by temporarily stopping your menstrual cycle, lowers the amount of estrogen in your body and reduces your risk of cancer.
  7. Eat Carrots. Why? Because you need to bolster the amount of carotenoids in your system. The best foods to protect you from breast cancer are fruits and vegetables.  Eat leafy greens and red peppers. And get five servings a day.
  8. Don’t pour a second glass. Limit the amount of alcohol to just one drink or you’ll increase your risk.
  9. Get a mammogram. The best way to beat breast cancer is to find it early.

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Lila Lazarus PhotoLila’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.