Writing for the Love of It

It feels good to be writing a blog post again three months after taking a self-care pause from blogging, working on my book, striving to grow a platform for a book proposal and struggling to build my coaching practice. Although the stressors that precipitated the pause are still present, it has become clear to me that I need to start writing again.

Earlier this week, I finished reading Julia Cameron’s wonderful book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond. Its effect on me has been profound, and I believe that it is one of the most personally important books that I have ever read. I have known about Cameron’s classic book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Creativity for years, and, although I skimmed it at some point in the past, I thought her recommendations weren’t really for me. Maybe the time just wasn’t right. I bought It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again about four years ago on Kindle. My reading list is (happily!) long, though, and I just got to it last week. Reading it in the middle of my crisis-induced self-care pause was a fortuitous blessing.

Despite the subtitle, the book is really about crafting a retirement of purpose and meaning. Retirement is still several years away for me, but I am looking toward it and thinking about what I want to create for my future—especially in light of pulling the plug on all my passion projects. Initially, I thought the book might be more applicable a few years down the road, but it is so beautifully written that I kept reading, still thinking that I would enjoy reading it now but would implement the tools in it later, closer to retirement.

While not quite ready for retirement, I recognize that I am at a different kind of crossroads.

Gradually, as I read, inspired by Cameron’s ideas on creativity as a life force, I began to see that I could make her tools my own and benefit from them immediately. On July 5 I began to incorporate my personalized version of her Morning Pages into my life as a writing meditation. Reading and reflecting on her words, I realized that, as a passion, writing is key to my self-care.

Reading It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, doing my writing mediation and riding my bike over the past week and a half, I decided to resume writing my blog, but with no pressure to keep to an editorial calendar. I will write when I am moved to write. I will write for the sake of writing, because I love it, because it heals me—not to build an audience for a coaching practice or book proposal. I have been humbled by the helplessness I have felt in the face of the still-present issues that led me to the pause, so my writing will be introspective and descriptive, rather than prescriptive.

I will transition my website to a simple blog. My emotional energy for coaching or even for my book is depleted. Maybe I will return to the book at some point. Maybe I will use some of the nearly 60,000 words I have written in that manuscript for something else. Maybe it was just meant to move me part of the way down the road on my journey toward becoming the person I need to be to make the contribution I am charged with making in the world. I don’t really know, and I have decided that is okay.

As I return to my blog and reclaim the power of writing in my life, I plan to break all the rules around blogging and building an audience and internet marketing. I’m out of energy for all that. I will write for the sheer joy of writing. Hopefully, my words will bring some good to the world and will add value to people who read them.

Journalist Cyril Connolly said, “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

That’s how I feel at this point. I will write because I need to write.

Reading Cameron’s compelling book helped me to see that the things that make me who I am—cycling, reading, writing, veganism, commitment to health, compassion—are my keys to serving the world. Maybe it is much simpler and much more joyful than I have been making it. I have decided to settle in, emphasize my passions and pay attention to ways that I can make a positive difference.

Julia Cameron conceptualizes God as “Good, Orderly Direction.” The more I sat with that description, the more I loved it. I think that is what I have been given toward the evolution of my blog—Good, Orderly Direction—and I am grateful. I have an idea for a way my blog may grow into something more someday (perhaps in retirement), allowing me to serve the needs of our world in a deeper way. But, again, no pressure. I am writing for joy and healing and hope right now.

Starting today, my website will transition to a simple blog. My new title is: It’s Just Wind: An occasional, evolving blog celebrating plant-based pedaling for health and compassion.

I will keep my current web address (https://justwindcoach.com/) at this time, even though it has the word “coach” in it, and I am no longer working to build a coaching practice. Keeping the same website is easier than changing it, and easy is what I need right now.

Gabby Bernstein says, “Obstacles are detours in the right direction.” Although I really, really want to be finished with the obstacles that are constantly looming in front of me at the moment, I can see that the pause they enforced positioned me to make decisions that leave me with a sense of peace.

In this new evolution of my blog, I will write and publish as frequently or infrequently as I feel inspired to do so. Julia Cameron has such a gentle, encouraging way of nudging her readers toward action. I intend to emulate her gentleness with myself.

I highly recommend It’s Never Too Late to Be a Beginner. For me, it is the right book at the right time, a much-needed spark of hope.

So, I initiate this new phase, trusting that I am guided by Good, Orderly Direction. I believe this blog will help me navigate the uncertain roads I am traveling in this season of life, and I hope sharing my thoughts and experiences will help others and add positive vibrations to the world.

Taking a Self-Care Break

I hope your week is going well!

You may or may not have noticed that I didn’t publish a blog post this past Sunday.

While I was on my bike on Sunday, it became clear to me that I needed to take some pressure off myself. This is proving to be a very challenging season of parenting. Between that and working way too many hours in my full-time job, I felt like I was reaching a breaking point.

There is so much I want to share about creating mind-body synergy in our lives and about living powerfully from that place, and writing has always been joyful and energizing for me. It still is, but everything else is just too much right now.

The saying that we teach what we need to learn probably applies here. Although the practices that I teach and use make a significant, positive difference for me—and, I believe, for others—the pressures of the rest of my life are wearing me down.

I have written nearly 60,000 words of my book, and I am teaching the final week of the Spring into Action Move for Your Mind class. There is so much more I want to share, but I recognize the need to give myself some grace right now.

So, I am taking a self-care break from blogging, coaching and pursuing a book deal. I’m not quitting those things. I’ll pick them up when the time feels right.

This was a choice that I didn’t want to make, but I felt a sense of peace on my bike on Sunday when I suddenly knew this was the right thing to do to take care of myself. My bike is where I have my best ideas and make my best decisions. I trust the insight and inspiration I receive there.

I don’t know how long this break will be. I sincerely hope that life feels better soon. I have some things to figure out and some decisions to make, but, for now, I will take this pause and try to keep listening for insight on my bike and in my meditation. Take care of yourselves! We have to do that before we can be of any useful service to our world.

5 Teas for Healthy Mind and Body

I drink water. Lots and lots of water.

However, around a decade ago, I read that echinacea was good for the immune system. I had been getting a lot of colds and laryngitis, so I added a daily cup of Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus tea to my regimen. I noticed a dramatic improvement in my immunity and became a believer. I have continued that practice every day, and I have recommended it to friends and family, who have also found it to be a beneficial addition to their self-care practices. To be fair, results are mixed in scientific trials of echinacea for immunity, but my experience has demonstrated that it makes a difference for me.

Over the years, the tea shelf in my cabinet has become fuller and fuller, as I have learned more about the potential uses of herbs and spices for health. I decided to share some of my current favorites here.

Traditional Medicinals has continued to be my brand of choice. I have no affiliation with that brand, but it is where I started, and years ago, I read about potential contamination risks with some tea brands. Traditional Medicinals got a clean report, and that stuck with me.

In additional to Echinacea Plus, other teas that have helped me with mind and body include:

  • Ginger Aid: Ginger is great for settling the stomach and for reducing inflammation. If I ever have digestion issues, I drink a cup of Ginger Aid, and it helps. I also use this tea to help with body aches or headaches. I have found it to be highly effective for these purposes.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint tea can also help with tummy troubles, in particular with bloating and intestinal discomfort. It is fragrant and soothing.
  • Cup of Sunshine: I have been needing a mood boost lately. My bike is the best boost, but I am working really long hours at the moment and can’t get out on my bike in the middle of a long, challenging day. Cup of Sunshine contains kanna and honeybush. I was familiar with neither when I purchased this tea, but the name gave me hope. It has proven to be a good choice. It’s a subtle lift, not agitating, but I notice that it does help to brighten my mood.
  • Stress Ease: This has also been a recent addition to my cabinet. Containing skullcap, cinnamon bark and licorice root, this does take the edge off anxiety for me. I can feel the butterflies in my stomach settle down with a cup of Stress Ease.

There are other teas I use on a regular basis, including assorted green tea blends. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and is so good for us that Dr. Michael Greger recommends drinking three cups a day in How Not to Diet.

I hope this short post gives you some easy ways to enhance your well-being with tea. I am neither an expert nor a connoisseur, but Traditional Medicinals tea has helped me, and I wanted to share those benefits with you.

You can connect with me on my JustWind Coaching Facebook page.

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Guest Post: Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

by Dianne Waltner, Author of Evolving into Wholeness: A Journey of Compassion

No matter what kind of growth or change we desire to create in our lives, it is necessary to step outside our comfort zones—whether dipping a toe outside that cozy space or plunging all the way into the scary unknown with a swan dive or cannonball. Today we are treated to a guest post by my good friend Dianne Waltner. Dianne published her first book Evolving into Wholeness: A Journey of Compassion last month. In it she highlights her own dips and plunges outside her comfort zone as she followed her heart and the voice within to evolve into a life of authenticity, sharing her journey in order to help others find courage to live into their own whole selves. We are privileged today to learn from her reflections on stepping out of our comfort zones. Enjoy! Sheri

“The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure. You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Growing up as a bullied child, I seldom felt comfortable around others and preferred to spend time alone. I often sought refuge in my room, surrounded by books, which were my comfort. I didn’t want to be seen or heard. I never wanted to stand out or to call attention to myself. I just wanted to blend in, to conform, to hide in the shadows. I certainly never wanted to make a scene or cause conflict.

As a highly introverted adult, interacting with others was often draining and difficult.  I never wanted to make waves or challenge the status quo. I would have liked to stay in my comfort zone. Until that itself became uncomfortable.

At various times in my life, I’ve become too uncomfortable to stay where I’m at; times when I’ve felt the calling to change, sometimes for personal health and wellbeing, sometimes out of concern for others. 

Going vegetarian (and eventually vegan), quitting smoking (and eventually quitting drinking), and publishing (and promoting) a book all required me to do things I didn’t initially feel comfortable doing. They all involved big steps outside of my comfort zone. Each time, I tried to ignore the inner voice that was encouraging me to make changes or to speak out. But I couldn’t shake it. And it forced me to make some of the very best and most important decisions of my life – decisions which helped me become a better person.

Living in alignment with one’s values often involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone. That was certainly the case for me. It was difficult going against societal norms. However, I found that, once I gave in and listened to that inner voice, I felt a profound sense of inner peace and joy. Although uncomfortable, I knew that I was doing the right thing.

“To be compassionate, you have to forget your own comfort zone and live well because you live beyond yourself.” ― Sunday Adelaja, The Mountain of Ignorance

I knew that I could never make the difference I wanted to make by playing it safe and staying comfortable. I needed to be willing to be vulnerable and follow my heart. It’s not always easy, and I make plenty of mistakes.

Over the years, I’ve learned several important lessons about leaving our safe place and taking risks.

It’s important to be gentle with ourselves, to forgive our mistakes as we learn, knowing that we’re doing the best we can.

We can give ourselves permission to not be perfect. We can be proud of ourselves for being willing to step out of our comfort zones. We can celebrate our successes and our willingness to take chances. And it’s so important to be compassionate with ourselves. We can become our own best friends.

And remember – At the end of your comfort zone is where adventure begins and life dances with trembling joy.” ― Debasish Mridha

You can connect with Dianne on her author website and her author Facebook page.

Her book is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats.

You can connect with me on my JustWind Coaching Facebook page.

You can join the dynamic JustWind Community private Facebook group for a dose of daily inspiration and the current free class Spring into Action Move for Your Mind.

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3 Ways to Strength Train at Home Without Breaking the Bank or Taking up a Whole Room

I had a different post planned for today, but there was a request for this information in my Spring into Action Move for Your Mind 30-Day Kickstart Class. (It’s not too late to join. We just started yesterday. Click here. It’s free.) I decided it was a useful topic for everyone.

Strength training is important for all of us, not just those who want to build massive muscles or to be able to flip a tractor tire. We start losing muscle mass in our 30s, and doing what we can to maintain it is important for quality of life as we age. It can affect our ability to take care of ourselves, to walk up and down stairs and to maintain a healthy weight. Weight-bearing exercise is a crucial component in preserving our bone density—a major factor in healthy longevity.

You can add strength training to your home fitness routine or spice up the strength training you already do without spending a fortune or taking up a lot of space. Here are three great options:

  • Resistance Bands: These are highly portable and take up minimal space. They are suitable for all ages and come in a range of resistance levels, so you can progress as you get stronger and so you can use appropriate resistance for each muscle group. Here is a good basic starter set. This set has loops, which add some versatility. If you want something with handles and the ability to close it in a door for a fixed point, this is a great set. Here is a terrific 20-minute full-body TheraBand™ routine demonstrated by a former Wichita State University volleyball player and student of mine, Jackie Church. Although she is using a version of TheraBand™ with loops, these exercises could be done with a basic band, as well.
  • Kettlebells: Kettlebells are a fun and effective way to add weight to your training program without taking up a lot of space. The set I use is no longer available, but here is a good basic set that is appropriate for beginners, but also allows for progression. Kettlebells are terrific for developing core strength and stability and are a lot more versatile than they may look. Here is a nice article with 22 exercise options. You could get started by choosing 5 or 6 of them.
  • Power Yoga: Body weight can be an effective strength-building tool. My very favorite online yoga teacher is Kassandra Reinhardt. This is her YouTube channel. When I am using yoga specifically for strength, I do one of her Power Yoga practices. I also love her Hatha, Yin and Vinyasa practices. Scroll down on her channel to find Power Yoga, and try out the other styles as well for flexibility, restoration and release.

Strive to include strength training at least twice a week. Be sure to take at least a day off in between unless you are more advanced and breaking your training into separate muscle groups on different days. For someone training for overall fitness and functional strength, the full-body strategies I have linked in this post can be very effective.

If you would like some extra support and motivation, join my FREE Spring into Action Move for Your Mind 30-Day Kickstart Class. You set your own movement goal, and I provide weekly lessons in mind-body synergy, visualizations, journaling exercises and other support, within my JustWind Community.

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Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash