According to wellness expert Peggy Hall, to keep our brains healthy and active, we must do things in a way we normally don’t. She suggests occasionally using the non-dominant hand for everyday tasks. Learning something new or doing something routine in a different way stimulates the brain and creates new neural pathways, improves coordination and mental focus, increases learning and memory, and wakes up all the senses.
Today, I decided to be left handed, instead of right handed. To remind myself not to use my right hand, I wore a bright blue band on that wrist. Tasks that I normally don’t think much about, like brushing my teeth and applying make up, required extra concentration today. I found that if I consciously allowed my left hand to lead the way, I could flow with it and accomplished what I needed to. Except for writing. After one attempt, I decided to save writing in my journal for tomorrow. Since I use two hands to type, that was not a problem. Texting, however, I do with my right hand only. Switching to my left slowed me down but I managed. I also struggled with opening doors for clients today, as the keys just didn’t feel “right” in my left hand!
Several family members are left handed and I have a new appreciation for them. Our world is oriented for righties, not lefties! I asked my sister, Debbie, what challenged her most growing up left handed and what was the most fun. Challenges included writing in a spiral notebook and on a chalkboard. However, she liked the uniqueness and creativity that came with being left handed, and the surprise tactic of shooting with her left hand in basketball.
I’m relieved to go back to being right handed, although I can imagine all the new pathways that formed in my brain today! The additional benefit with switching hands was that I slowed down, raised my awareness of each moment, and focused more on each task before me. I had a lovely day.
Today’s first was supposed to be a visit to a vintage shop in Siloam Springs, AR. I’ve driven past the store several times and today was the day I intended to stop in. I did visit and while the shop was attractive and the merchandising well done, I was not inspired.
I was inspired though by a sight I have never seen. Just north of Siloam Springs, in fields and trees near the highway, were American Bald Eagles. Not just one or two. Half a dozen of the huge, majestic birds perched in trees and swooped low over the ground. And one beautiful eagle splashed in a massive rain puddle in one of the fields. I have seen one or two American Bald Eagles before, on rare occasions, and the sight never fails to awe me. I have never seen so many in one location and have never seen one on the ground, frolicking in water. His white, “bald” head was obvious and as his feathers ruffled while he splashed in the puddle, his white tail feathers were noticeable too. I couldn’t get a decent picture with my phone’s camera. The picture with the post is one I googled, and the closest I could find to what I saw.
I am amazed at how this journey of firsts is unfolding. The desire to experience new things each day has raised my awareness and has opened a door of opportunities that far exceeds what I have arranged. I love that even though I have a plan, unplanned firsts are showing up, too, to surprise and delight me!
Today was a double first! For the first time ever, I am 56 years young today! And to celebrate I chose to have an informal dinner at Five Guys Burgers Restaurant. My family joined me there and it was a noisy, fun gathering!
Five Guys Burgers is new to Joplin and this was the first time my family and I have been there. The burgers were delicious. The atmosphere was bright and friendly. We had a wonderful time together, capping off an amazing day! Happy Birthday, Me!
This is not my first vision board. I’ve been creating vision boards for 10 years. However, this is my first vision board for 2014! I have never created this particular board before, at this time in my life.
I love vision boards. The process allows me to tune in to my desires for the upcoming year. As I hold that vision and begin looking through magazines to find a visual representation of that thought, I am amazed at how the images show up. It’s fun for me and inspiring and at the end I have a board to hang in my home office that I can look at multiple times a day.
My boards have changed over the years, as I have discovered more about who I am. My early vision boards focused primarily on business and business goals. There’s nothing wrong with that and this year’s board has a corner devoted to real estate. Gone, though, are the goals that specified number of transactions and volume. My focus has shifted to personal growth and my vision boards the last couple of years have reflected that. What I found last year, was that being intentional about my personal growth caused my business to grow too.
I’m excited about this year of moving beyond my limitations and boundaries….and my new vision board that captures that intention!
Wildcat Glades Conservation Center is just south of Joplin. The Audubon Center is there also and there are paths to explore that parallel Shoal Creek and meander through the woods and climb up onto the bluffs. I’ve walked there many times….in spring, summer and fall. I’ve never walked there during winter, and certainly not with snow on the ground. It was not my intention to walk there today. I had a different “first” picked out. But the woods called to me, strongly. I was considering changing my plans and driving to Wildcat when I opened a magazine and saw a header on the first page which read, “A Stroll through the Woods”. I laughed. When I picked up a second magazine and opened it to a little article called “Winter Meditation”, which was about walking mindfully in snowy woods, I said okay! It seemed my first for this day chose me.
Still, I had a bit of trepidation about walking at the conservation center today. Our side streets are still mostly snow covered and the road winding into the park goes downhill. And it was 32 degrees out, which was much warmer than yesterday, but still chilly. I layered up, donning wool socks, boots, mittens, stocking cap and a scarf and headed out, a bottle of water in one pocket of my hoodie and my camera in the other. This year is all about pushing beyond what I feel comfortable doing, right?
I pulled into an untouched parking lot, not far from Shoal Creek. Snow covered the ground…and the path! After a few moments of searching, I found the path and headed toward the river. Once there, two sets of footprints appeared, coming in from another path and disappearing into the woods….and coming back out. A good sign! I followed that trail into the woods.
It was beautiful! I had the woods to myself. The snow softened the path and muffled sound. There was only the gentle sigh of the breeze and dry oak leaves rattling on their mostly bare branches and off in the distance, a lone woodpecker attacking a tree. It was peaceful and restorative and although the air was crisp the sun was shining and I was warm beneath all my layers. After half an hour I headed back. A huge oak tree near the path caught my eye and I rested both hands against it and closed my eyes, feeling the subtle hum of energy beneath my palms. As I patted the rough bark and turned away, a strong breeze suddenly sprang up and all around me, trees swayed and their branches danced and tossed. I laughed and waved goodbye to the trees as the trail left the wooded area and my car came into sight. It was a joyous, magical time. I’m so glad I heeded the call.
I saw this idea on facebook: blowing bubbles on an extremely cold day. Having a 5 year old granddaughter, I had a supply of bubble solution. And today, the high in Joplin, MO was 9 degrees, with a wind chill in the negative numbers. Perfect conditions for creating ice bubbles. I’ve blown bubbles many, many times, always on pretty days full of warmth and sunshine. I’ve never stood shivering in the freezing cold, trying to create bubbles. It was harder than I thought it would be to get one to take a picture of! Most of the bubbles blew away in the stiff, cold breeze. The few that swirled around me were slower to pop than normal but pop they did after coming to rest on the snow. One lone bubble drifted gently to the snow piled up on my deck and rested there delicately. I was thrilled! The icy bubble remained for a couple of hours and then became a ring of shattered ice. Such a simple, beautiful First for this day. It made me smile.
Today’s First was selected to take me to the edge of my comfort zone and beyond. When I was four years old, I decided not to cry any more. It seemed pointless. And so just like that, I turned off the tears and have very rarely shed any since. Over time it became difficult, even painful, to cry even if I wanted to. And so I learned to avoid sad situations and sad movies, so that the struggle to cry could be avoided as well. I’ve missed a whole genre of movies. As a child and youth, I’d leave the theater during a sad scene, such as Bambi wondering where his mother was . As an adult, I just refused to go if I knew in advance that the movie was sad. I got tricked into seeing “Titanic” and thought my chest would burst at the end, from repressed emotion.
These last few years, as I’ve sought to integrate all of who I am into a whole person, my avoidance of negative emotion became an issue that I’ve wanted to deal with. I knew this was a First that would address my reluctance and definitely take me beyond what’s comfortable for me.
At both my daughters’ recommendations, I selected “My Sister’s Keeper” for the first sad movie I’ve ever deliberately chosen to watch. It was a beautiful movie. And it was sad. It was also powerful and poignant and I connected with it. I felt for the family as their whole existence revolved around saving the life of Kate. And I admired Kate’s courage in letting go and making it okay for her family to let her go. I loved her “book of everything” that so intricately captured her life journey. Tears trickled slowly down my cheeks. Sometimes the fear or dread of something is much worse than the actual event. My chest didn’t explode. I can see that crying can be a wonderful form of release. It’s not a sign of weakness. Kate said “There’s no shame in dying”. There is no shame in crying either.
There are thousands of blogs about every topic imaginable! I decided to join in and create a blog primarily so that at the end of this year, I can look back and easily see where I started from and how I moved beyond in my journey. I can also flesh out the posts if I want, since I don’t like putting long posts on facebook. So feel free to pop onto my blog each day to see what’s new for the day! I’ll be providing a link.
What goes wonderfully with Scottish Shortbread? Lemon curd from MacKays, of Scotland! Thanks to my cousin Mindy Davidson, who gave me a jar, I got to sample lemon curd for today’s First. We Americans hear “curds” and think of cottage cheese or curdled milk and this is nothing like that. Prepared in small batches in copper pans, lemon curd more resembles the filling for lemon meringue pie. Its tangy flavor is delicious paired with the shortbread.
In case you didn’t know it, I have Scottish roots. And although I have not visited Scotland yet, my homeland haunts me, calls to me. I’ll have several Firsts this year that relate to Scotland and here is what I am leading off with! Easy to make, and it tastes wonderful. I had bagpipes playing on my iPod as I kneaded the dough.