At The Well

A weekly Health and Fitness podcast
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In the past two weeks, two people we know committed suicide.  The Church that I was brought up in used to refuse funerals for such souls.  Thankfully, so much has changed, including compassion, love and support for the family of the deceased.  What hasn’t changed, however, is that people you and I have known somehow find themselves at a place in their life where ending it seems to be the only solution.  As a life coach, I rarely speak to the level of emotional duress or psychological pain- that’s for professionals, but even they cannot always reach someone. So what can we do?  Besides love and support as I already mentioned, not judge.  As Ryan Holiday said in a recent podcast, we have no idea what people are going through.  As an example, he mentioned “the tragic and premature death of Chadwick Boseman, [whereby] pictures showed him to be alarmingly thin and haggard. In comments sections and meme accounts, people joked at the effects of a few months of quarantine. Others called him Crack Panther, implying that drugs were to blame for his radical change in appearance.  Of course, we now know why he looked that way. He was dying of stage four colon cancer. He had only a few more days to live.” We have no idea what most people are going through- the neighbor who puts on extra weight; the zoom mate you’ve been working with over the past year starts making error after error. The angry driver.   Even the Karen who is melting down at Target captured by iPhone. Who knows what private struggles people are going through, what kind of pain they are bearing or unable to bear.  The truth is that we have the option of having no opinion.  If you know someone struggling with life and they reach out to you, by all means help them in any way you can.  Otherwise, let’s all mind our business.  Our criticism helps no one, nor does pointing out faults or highlighting failures.   The truth is that we have the option of having no opinion.
I subscribe to Instructables, an open-source website that features projects made from scratch or with ordinary objects lying around.  It never fails to amaze me how creative and productive people can be when they see something different than the rest of us. My uncle Bob was such a one.  Ever resourceful, he could fix motors and machines.  On weekends, he descended upon yard sales to haggle and buy "broken" things only to repair and sell them for a handsome profit. Alice and I also marvel at how imaginative designers get on home improvement shows.  One of our favorite TV couples is Ben and Erin Napier from Home Town.  It's not uncommon for them to reclaim wood pulled from a demolished wall and convert it into a window box garden or porch swing.  Back to Instructables... one of their bylines is "A Happy Place" and reads: Making things makes people happy. We can't prove it, but we know it to be true. Find your happy place... Where's your happy place?  I don't mean an address or location... rather, what do you do or love that promotes your inner joy?  May I suggest that if it's not coming from within, it probably won't last long.  Perhaps some of the trash of these trying times might inspire you to consider a hidden treasure that was there all along.
Who could have imagined last year that we’d still be wearing masks and physically distancing at this time? It’s easy to understand the reactions of people who feel robbed of time and events, lonely because of isolation, financially strapped due to loss of income.  We know of a family of five who have survived well only because of separate rooms and a robust internet for each device being used. Hope, like Spring, is the air with now-familiar names such as Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.  Memes of masks have been replaced by pics of vaccine cards. In a sense, all of these last 12+ months have felt like a somber, sterile Lent and now there is light at the tunnel’s end.  Easter might not yet boast of packed churches and proud choirs, but normalcy inches toward us with every age group allowed to be jabbed. Isn’t that a funny concept which, with each flu season, we can easily take for granted?  To be healthy, we must be jabbed.  We get protected from…because what is to be feared OUT THERE is now inside, telling our body how to fight off the potential threat from outside. Imagine if that were true for positive thinking and proactive living?  The Good News is that it is!  This Easter, no matter what your religion or spirituality, could you embrace the idea that once you’ve been INNOCULATED with the knowledge of your original goodness and authentic grace, nothing and no one—no personal issue or problematic relationship—can sicken you anymore.  We’re not saying things won’t bug you ever again or you that you’ll never have to re-assess the way you think or say or do what you do; but what you can be confident about is that your inner alignment is true and trustworthy.  With the Risen One,  fears and falsehoods have been crucified between yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s torments; in a sense, as St. Francis has it:  you have died to your old self in order to be born to eternal life. Happy Easter.  Amidst the eggs and chocolate bunnies, the meal and music… we wish you and those you love health, joy and much love.
"It is easy to be bleak about the human race, but there are people who have proved to me that we can be better than we are,"" writes Dr. Peniel Joseph.  After the mass shooting in Boulder, CO yesterday, Alice and I continue to look for and draw inspiration from people who remind us of our best and highest.   Proofs of human goodness are everywhere and always outnumber instances of cruelty and hatred. How is it possible we are 3 months into the new year already?  How relative time is, no?.  I've heard parents of young children say that sometimes one minute lasts an hour and a year is like a day.  The author of a memoir I read in January agrees: ""'The days are long but the years are short,' some say about the early years of child rearing.  I remember some days being almost gelid in their slowness when Solo was a baby.  I had never experienced time so consciously. Collapsed on the bed with him in strong afternoon sunshine, holding him up to the light and watching the light inside of him, listening to his birdsong.  Time moved as though through honey."  -Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World: A Memoir   We are only three months into this new year and there are still all sorts of possibilities.  It's almost like a blank slate.  We have the ability to re-start (or course correct) at any time, any day or even this hour. And there's something very rich and perfect about a RESET- ask any gamer or people who play video games.   And there is no time like April- the first full month of Spring-to do this. How about some possibilities?  Go to our website, and click on the link that’s flashing at the top called, what else?  April Powers… may a shower of ideas whet your appetite for a better you!
Happy St. Paddy’s Day!  In June of 2010 I was in Limerick Ireland giving a week of talks.  Good timing because while I was there they completed and opened the tunnel which runs under the River Shannon.  There is something so amazing about knowing that millions of liters of water are flowing just above.  The confluence, may I say, of human ingenuity, the force of nature and structural engineering is a thing to behold.  After walking the 2,000 feet of tunnel, I bought a scone and sat on a bench overlooking the river.  From above all you can see is the flow of water.  If you told ancient Celts that people were walking beneath the river, they would have ridiculed you with a shillelagh. All which brings me to ask, what are the invisible currents going on in your head?  Is the flow of thoughts in your mind mosquitoey and constant?  Are you able to stand under (understand) that you are not your thoughts, nor your feelings?  You have them and that’s better than your thoughts having you!  No, YOU have them and can notice them and let them go.  Just as I saw a herring gull riding the current on the River Shannon, watch your thoughts flow downstream and observe them. You can also be moderately interested in them- curious might be a better word, but don’t let them pull you in.  Don’t drown in yesterday’s could-have-beens or tomorrow’s might-bes or even today’s why-is-this-happenings.  The water, whether flowing slow or swiftly, is not your speed.  You are not moving…you are on the shore….still.  No need to let what is floating by move you.  This is not so much stoic as sensible. Jon Kabat-Zinn says When we are able to find stillness within an activity, we touch moments of freshness, insight, and an awareness that allow us to see what’s right in front of us in completely new ways—when the mind gets out of its own way. Perhaps an ancient Irish blessing might guide us today and for many days:   “May God give you For every storm, a rainbow, For every tear, a smile, For every care, a promise, And a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, For every sign, a sweet song, And an answer for each prayer.”
An elderly friend called some time ago.  Recently, because of stability issues, Patrick relies on the help of a cane.  He told me that the nurse had to instruct him by saying, "Don't look down when you walk!" It must be quite a change:  80 years walking without assistance, putting one foot in front of the other... and you wake up one day and have to learn to lean on a stick for mobility. I can't remember the first time I skated, but I can imagine how often I looked down at my feet.  When my father took the training wheels off my bike, I was ecstatic; but I was apologetic and embarrassed when I slammed into the back bumper of a parked car on the street because I was looking down. At times we'll ask someone who appears sad, "Why are you looking so down?"  When I was taking counseling classes, some fellow students would make fun of psychology as "navel-gazing", or looking too much inwards. But perhaps there is some truth to that.  What I've learned from Life is that there is so much to miss if you don't look up and around. Sure, there's a place and time for looking down (at your self) and behind (where you've come from).  But Life is so full of teachers and lessons, gifts and surprises, new experiences and constant reminders... looking down can--well--get you down! The ostrich may never see unpleasantness, but she doesn't see reality either.  A wise teacher once wrote:  "How you see is what you see."  Do you see?  If not, look up!
"Have you ever experienced the frustration associated with installing a computer or smartphone update which touts improvements and "fixes", only to find out it's maddeningly difficult to get accustomed to and navigate?  Apple and Microsoft often want us to upgrade the software versions of our hardware. All this leads me to ask, What version of your life are you on?  Come on- you can't still be living out of the version you were when you were a child or teenager or even young adult?  For sure there are tones and hues from those days, but you have radically changed. So...what ""fixes"" have chiseled you to be the person you are now?  What are you still working on?  Carl Jung once wrote, ""You are what you do, not what you tell me you do."" Are you living your best life now?  Is your operating system set on the highest volume of Integrity and Passion? Cheryl Richardson, life coach and best-selling author, says that your mission is not where you currently are, but where you want to be.  Whenever I watch basketball or soccer I'm impressed when a player simultaneously does three things while on the move:  controls the ball, evades a defender and--because he snatches glimpses of the playing field in front of him--knows which teammate he'll eventually pass to.  His eye is on a goal, but the next smartest move might be to give it to someone else. To be a good player you have to have a wide view, determination and patience. What are your goals?  What have you been kicking around these past few years?  What would be your next move and why?  The third month now into this new year, take a moment and realize that if you don't act on life (choose what YOU want to do), then life will certainly act on you. Isn't it true?  How often do we let someone else's mood or another driver's carelessness change us?  Why do we give away our peace so easily?  And what can we do to maintain peace in the face of circumstances that challenge it? The first step is to recognize the fact that we're dealing on the level of thought.  And then to understand:  I can choose to think differently despite how I feel.  Once you recognize this freedom, know that YOU are the director:  you can write the script of how your day will go- at least internally. Years ago, perhaps on a gloomy day, Robert Frost penned these words: The way a crow Shook down on me The dust of snow From a hemlock tree Has given my heart A change of mood And saved some part Of a day I had rued.   Imagine if the rankling remains of this pandemic is what awakens us to be the best version of ourselves? 
When I was in college, one of my classmates shared the fact that he suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.).  For years, as autumn turned to winter his moods would swing, his energy would sap and he'd have low-grade depression. Some people talk about the "winter blues", a seasonal funk that kidnaps motivation or displaces energy.  For sure, dark late-afternoons that limit time outside can deprive you of outdoor exercise, gardening or other COVID-safe experiences. Maybe this is why Christmas lights, decorated trees and holiday TV specials get us in a good mood- they counterbalance the gloomier feelings. But unless you are sidelined by these feelings, what if you took the time and created the space to listen to them?  I hope you know feelings won't kill you, even if they could disturb you; sometimes inner disturbance isn't a bad thing:  it often offers vital information.   C.S. Lewis once wrote: You have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life … All the things that have deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it– tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest– if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself–you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say "Here at last is the thing I was made for." Rather than a dark, dreary disposition, experiencing the fullness of this season could open up all sorts of possibilities and opportunities. Hear the echo from your deepest, truest self- a place that is always filled with the most brilliant light and sacred goodness.  THAT'S the place where there can never be SADness nor meanness.  Negativity is ultimately incompatible with the truest you.  Know this and live this. If you are looking for some ways to fight loneliness this winter, click here. Have a good day and make it a good day for someone else!
While Alice is in charge of doing most of the research of quotes and posting for "Daily Dose", every now and then I come upon a maxim that speaks volumes by itself and yet invites application for today. For instance, recently I came upon this quote from Henry David Thoreau: "What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals."  It makes me think of how often people make resolutions (at New Year's, when turning 30 or 60, etc.) and what happens when the goal is thwarted by some distraction, weakness or "second thought." What's vital is to remember that the process of goal-setting can be truly liberating.  You are in a real sense seeing beyond what you are now into a future that looks and feels better- otherwise, you wouldn't be setting the goal in the first place.  You are... becoming.  In evolutionary terms, we've graduated from lizard brains to the limbic system to the amazing 3 lbs that we have now between our temples .  Trouble is, the lizard brain doesn't know what delayed gratification is and the limbic system is all about emotions and memory. But when you place a good higher than other things, your "stretching" for that goal becomes you.  In a nut shell, this is what coaching is about: holding up the best of you reminding you it is true and real and then assisting you in formulating concrete steps to reach your goals.
We are now one month into this new year.   With the promise of COVID-19 vaccination (we know a few people who have received their first ""jab"") and increased production and shipment, hope is in the air. There's a house for sale in our neighborhood.  Out front is the usual sign with the realtor's name, number and agency. But underneath the sign is an alluring message inviting people to take a look around, boasting:  ""I'm beautiful inside."" How many of us believe that?  I can assure you that if you live knowing yourself to be beautiful and worthy of love, you probably have less stress than most, need fewer pills and take more risks.  If you operate from a deep certainty that you are lovely inside and out, chances are you don't worry about what others think, cannot bruise easily and find it easy to accept others' imperfections. The new year is still young and this week has just begun.  If you've made some resolutions and have slipped, start again after asking yourself what happened?  If you haven't articulated any goals yet, consider this (from a blog I receive) as you write them: What you say matters less than what you do. New goals won't get you different results. Different actions can. Change what you're doing to change where you're going. If you want to see what really matters to you, look at how you spend your time. Let's make these years the Roaring '20s.  Not wild or unruly but filled with joy and expectancy and gratitude.  Disease, disaster, dissension or disagreements will not define us.  We are made for more than these- higher and brighter. If a house for sale can proclaim itself to be beautiful, what is stopping you? Alternatively, near the gas station is a placard that says ""I buy ugly houses." "Beauty is in the eye of the re-builder."
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Podcast Details

Created by
Daniel Francis
Podcast Status
Jan 28th, 2021
Latest Episode
Apr 14th, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
3 minutes
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