Stress Management Particularly As We Age

What Stress Can Cause

Stress management is super important for us middle-agers. I’m sure you’ve heard over and over that stress can actually lead to death and I’m here to tell you that I’ve seen that happen. I’ve seen where some traumatic event in a person’s life ended leading to their ultimate demise. And not just once nor twice either. We must learn to manage this killer as best we can.

My Own Recent Experience

I had my own test of stress management as recently as yesterday. I left the office at midnight, got on the elevator to the garage and got stuck on the third floor. The doors were jammed and there was no one around at that time of the morning. At first I was in denial that this could be happening, so I kept pressing the #3 button as well as the door-opening button.

Next, I located the emergency telephone in the elevator which is used to contact their emergency maintenance personnel.  They told told me not to worry and that someone would be there to release me as quickly as possible. I wasn’t sure what that meant so I used my own cellphone (thankfully it was fully charged) to call my building security to let them know what happened. He rushed to the third floor and stayed outside the elevator to keep my company until help arrived.

A half-hour had gone by and no help had arrived so I again called the the people at the elevator company. This time I was being told that help would be there in 20 minutes. I wasn’t happy about that because I had taken “as quickly as possible” to mean some time very, very soon.

I decided to call 911 since it seemed as though things were taking a bit longer than I had anticipated. They told me that since I was not hurt nor in pain and this wasn’t a real emergency, I should just wait for the elevator personnel to come to release. Another 20 minutes went by and nothing happened. The building security guard kept calling the elevator personnel also to sort of push things a little faster. By this time they had become very discourteous and unprofessional and started straight up lying to us about the status of my request. Each time I called for help, I was told:

“Someone will be there shortly”.  “Someone will be there in 20 minutes”.  “Someone will be there in 45 minutes”.  “Someone is just around the corner, should be there shortly”.  “He must have gotten lost but should be there in another 20 minutes”.  “Ma’am, I said he’ll be there in 45 minutes”

By this time, my subsequent calls to them were either disconnected, placed on hold with music playing or simply just went unanswered. They refused to communicate with me at this point. I waited for another 30 minutes and when I called again, a man answered and yelled at me on the top of his lungs “I told you someone will be there in 45 minutes, he’s a ways away!!” That was when I decided to call 911 again and and this time they agreed to come out to get me.

How I handled This Stressful Moment

When I came to the full realization of what was happening, my first thought was – what if I don’t get released until in the morning? This would mean I’m going to die in here! But, I quickly grabbed a hold of myself and said “Hey, worrying and stressing is NOT going to help you right now. Instead, manage this by keeping as calm as you possibly can, so you can strategize your release from this elevator.  Take deep breaths, don’t panic and don’t cry.”  

TweetIt was a small elevator with a capacity of about 20 people and was very cold and stuffy. I took my cellphone out, tweeted about what had happened, called my loved ones and one of my coworkers who had gone past me in the stuck elevator, not knowing what was going on. I then placed a limit on incoming phone calls from relatives to preserve my phone battery life.  I started taking deep breaths, pacing the small floor back and forth to help manage the coldness, and popped a stick of Orbit chewing gum in my mouth. I was never in panic mode – not once, because I know the stress that comes along with that. By this time, it was now 2:52 am. My legs had become tired and frozen and so were my hands. Even with winter boots and a jacket on, I felt extremely cold in this small, stuffy space.

By this time, I had stopped calling the elevator people and they NEVER called me back. My phone battery was now running low and I simply decided to make one more call to 911 Emergency. This time they agreed to come since it was now going to be 3 hours that I had been stuck in the elevator. By 3:03 am they arrived and I finally walked out of my temporary prison. Those were the longest 3 hours of my life!

I know for a fact, that if I had gone into stress and panic mode, the outcome would not have been the same. I kept myself calm with positive thoughts of how to formulate being released and it paid off. The treatment I received from the elevator personnel was enough to send my stress level way up but I chose instead to not let that be the case.

This morning, my daughter reminded me to stay out of the stressful space that a situation of this magnitude can bring.  It’s not healthy, nor is it helpful, she said.

Uncertainty. Do You Embrace the Wisdom It Can Bring?

Chatanooga TNUncertainty can sometimes be a good thing, giving room to open up a whole new world.  This picture of me is an excellent example of how an unplanned trip to Chattanooga, TN turned out to be one of my best one-day trips ever.  A truly exciting trip it was!

This past year went by with quite a bit of uncertainty with many things, the results of which proved to be quite rewarding.  In prior years, my life was just one big having-my-ducks-all-in-a-row circle for pretty much everything I did.

Quote from Dr. Chopra About Uncertainty

Deepak Chopra, MD, founder of the Chopra Center for Well Being once said: “I embrace the wisdom of uncertainty, because if everything is certain, where is the creativity?’

After reading that quote in the May 2015 issue of Oprah Magazine, it opened up a whole new world for me. Such truth! Creativity is a wonderful thing. It means ingenuity. Inventiveness. Resourcefulness. Vision. Innovation. Originality. Inspiration!!

Living your life in a way that everything you do or want to do must be certain, planned or scheduled can be crippling. A really cool friend helped me realize this, as throughout my younger life, that was my normal way of living.

As I age and have now become this 50-plus woman who is a bit more wiser, I leave room for creativity by working very hard to let go of being certain, scheduling or planning every single move I make.  It’s actually working well and it feels great! It has opened up my world!  So many new things have now come to mind. Things I can now do, places I can now go, people I can now see, things I can make, instruments I can and have always wanted to learn to play, activities I can participate in — my cup runneth over!  Lol…

Have I been my own drill sergeant?  It looks that way, doesn’t it?  It’s just that I’ve always loved having almost every aspect of my life carefully planned and scheduled.  So much that I was often teased about it by my close friend.  My profession in the legal field over the years is partially to be blamed. Lol!!  Mind you, there will still be things that do need to be planned, organized and/or scheduled.  I’m actually talking about no longer doing so in every single aspect of my life.  Enough already!

It is now time for creativity!  Yes – the time has come.  Now that I’m approaching my 60s, this is a time when I want to be doing new things and in particular, things I’ve always wanted to use my creativeness and resourcefulness to accomplish.

Dr. Chopra was right and his quote was timely. I most certainly embrace the wisdom of uncertainty.

What are your thoughts on his quote?  Have you been doing that in your life?  Share your thoughts with me.

Good Eats!

Yes, friends.  As I get more accustomed to eating less meat and more vegetables (I’m already a fruit freak), I’m totally enjoying the ride.  VegetariCurryVeggieCookup1an and vegan meals are super delicious, something I thought I would never be able to say!

Take for example this dish of curried cooked-up veggies, rice and kidney beans, avocado and plantains.  Let me tell you!!    This tofu cook-up I did sometime ago was excellent as well.  TofuCookUp

I’m finding that having several meatless days in the week is really helping to keep my weight in check to an extent. In fact I’m only tempted by some good Jamaican-style curried goat or oxtails.  Other than that, the vegetarian way of eating is mostly what is done.

Bravo!  Kinda proud!


Are You Your Worst Critic?

Why are we so hard on ourselves?  Have you ever paid attention to the things you say to yourself sometimes?

 –You may look at a picture of yourself and it may not be one of your favorites and you say something negative about it.

–You may have made a mistake with something and you quickly call yourself an idiot or something similar to that.

 –You missed out on something you should have followed upon and a ton of negative words about how dumb you are comes flying out.

–I’m too fat.

–I’m too dark-skinned.

–I don’t like my hair.

…and these are just a few of the instances of how we become our own worst critic.

Now​, if someone were to treat us in a similar manner, I bet it wouldn’t be well received.  Am I correct?  You KNOW I am!  Then why do it​?

Let’s begin to get seriously positive in the way we treat ourselves by doing the following:

–Don’t criticize photo​s of yourself. Just observe the person in the photo. No judgments.​

–Don’t ever call yourself stupid after you’ve messed up on something.

–Don’t complain about any part of your body–be it your face, stomach, legs, arms, hair…no part on your body!

–Don’t blame yourself for someone else’s actions, even ​if ​it’s your own child.

–​Refuse to go into a depressive state because you lost your job.  Know that when one door closes, another one opens (just listen to Bob Marley). This is an opportunity to let yourself feel hurt and angry, and then to move on to explore your brand new life options!

–Don’t blame yourself because someone treated you wrong; instead, ​consider that it may be their loss.

–Don’t blame yourself if a loved one walked out on you.  It means they were not meant for you.  Instead, ​grieve, but don’t let it consume you. Make it your priority to remember that you can move on and say…NEXT!!

–Don’t dress to suit anyone but yourself.  Be comfortable in your own skin.  Experiment with new colors this fall! Post the pictures on your social media accounts and celebrate yourself!​

As you begin to be positive and comfortable with your own self and not depend on the thoughts and opinion of others, you find that you exude more confidence and that it will even show that you’re doing just that.

In my younger years, I was guilty of being my worst critic because I cared so much about what people thought.  Now as a middle-aged woman, I’m a work in progress and I’m definitely not as hard on myself as I used to be.

Go ahead and work on yourself if you need to.  You know the saying…better late than never.




We Must Save Our Own Lives

It’s really sad, but I have found that once you’ve hit 50-plus, you begin to hear more than ever, of acquaintances, friends or family members who have become very ill or who have passed.  I agree that the cycle of life must continue and it’s for this reason that at this time, you begin to hear much of this sad news.

I’m finding that several middle-aged people have become seriously ill and have passed away from what seems to be age-related illnesses.  That is why it is of utmost importance for us to start taking care of our bodies at an early age.  Even if you have to begin in your 40s, 50s or 60s–go right ahead with eating right, exercising, minimizing stress–any activity that can lengthen your life-span.

With regards to stress, I am now learning of yet another middle-aged person I know who is now suffering from stage 4 cancer, has been transferred to Hospice Care and have been given a few months to live.  I also know that she had been having quite a bit of stress in her life lately.  I’m positive that this is the main contributor to her illness right now.

I lost a friend just under 6 months ago to the very same thing–a stressful marriage, which led to stage 4 cancer and to her ultimate and quick demise.  These are not the only 2 people I know of either.

I can’t emphasize enough that we MUST choose ourselves in every situation.  We cannot let life issues and circumstances break our bodies down, leading to our own demise.  I know that we can sometimes be genetically predisposed to certain illnesses, but there is no hard and fast rule that it will in fact happen to us.  If we take charge of our lives, it may very well skip us.  If your job or business is stressful – change it; if your relationship with your loved one is stressful – get help or get out; if you are inactive or lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle – get on your feet now and start moving.  We MUST save our own lives.  I’m seeing too much of this happening lately.

My mother is going on 93 years old and has no illnesses whatsoever.  She has always been active–walked to just about anywhere she could, never let anyone or anything cause her stress – she simply got rid of whatever the situation was, and mostly ate a plant-based diet or meats from animals she or someone she knew raised.  See what I mean?  That right there is your recipe for longevity.  Hello!!!!

Middle-agers, 50, 60 and 70-plusers let’s begin to save our own lives!!!

Being Nervous and Fearful Does Hold You Back

ValerieHeadshotHave you ever had a day when everything went…right?  When everything you did and said just turned out right for you?

Today was such a day for me.  Nothing planned, just flowed with the tide of each thing that I did and by golly, I got the exact results I wanted.

I’m finding that as I get older, if anything I do is done without fear, tension, nervousness, apprehension, concern, the thought of what others will think…all that negative “stuff”, I get great results.  I’ve gotten bolder and couldn’t care less about what others think.

One example is being interviewed for any reason.  I HATE interviews!  I would get nervous, fearful, tongue-tied, forget the questions I planned to ask, and sweaty palms.  Well, I had an interview for a project today and it was one of the easiest ones I’ve ever done.  I did a quick review of the company online before going in and had in mind the questions I was going to ask.  I didn’t even bother writing them down like I normally would.  I walked in, sat down, chit-chatted with the interviewers as if I knew them before, they volunteered information and I simply asked questions along the line of the information given…really vibed well with the ladies.  At the end of it, I thanked them both, shook their hands and left.  I felt great!

I got out of the building and was still on my way home when I received a call from their office, saying how much they loved me!  That I made them comfortable and that they didn’t feel like I was a person they were meeting for the very first time.  I thought “wow, it’s so much easier being yourself and not try to change into this fearful, nervous soul in everything I do.”  It worked for me!

Wish I had adhered to this way of thinking earlier in my life.  Anyway, better late than never.  Right?