The Sassy Moments Podcast
By Karen Backway
The Sassy Moments PodcastDec 30, 2021
Moment 50 Practice Dreaming
One of my favourite quotes is attributed to Lincoln – “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” What a fantastic concept – create your future. While it is true no one can predict the future with accuracy, why not consciously try? What if you do not have to wait and see what happens in the future when it finally gets here. If you want to create something new for yourself, you need to shift your thinking from past focused to future focused. When I first tried this, I got myself an 11 x 15 sheet of paper and a few colored pens. Ready? What would you like to accomplish in the next 5 or 10 years? Go.
Bah. Blank brain.
I will confess that this surprised me. I write a lot everyday. I work on podcast ideas, I dabble in creative writing and I fill pages and pages of journals with thought downloads. But when it comes to dreaming about my future I was remarkably lost. I barely know what I want for lunch tomorrow, let alone for my life in 10 years. Clearly I had the wrong approach for my somewhat focused and disciplined mind. So, I got a smaller piece of paper and a pencil, and I gave myself permission to dream just a little, something many women have forgotten how to do. Maybe we were never taught how to dream and when we do dream, we sell ourselves short. Women are almost apologetic for wanting more for themselves. Well, let’s stop that nonsense now and forever.
Give yourself permission to dream. Don’t start with saving the planet and world peace. Start simple. If you like to travel, where might you want to explore? If you want a garden, what plants or flowers might you like? If you want to declutter, start with a closet, not the basement and the garage.
If you cannot think of anything, try something familiar but completely new at the same time. That’s how I discovered my new found love for cello. In the past, I played clarinet, a wind instrument. So I decided to study cello, a string instrument. And believe me – they are totally different entities!
Practice dreaming. Make a point of it every day. While you are washing the dishes or folding laundry, dream. While you are brushing your teeth, dream. While you are walking the dog, dream. Doesn’t that sound like a fun and valuable use of your time?
Moment 49 rewrite Your Past
What if I told you it was possible to rewrite your past? Would you believe me or would you have a good chuckle. You cannot change the events of the past - that is a fact, but you can change how you think about the events of your past. And if you change the way you think about the events of your past, you are in essence rewriting your past. And I am going to repeat myself here - you can tell your brain what you want it to think.
A friend of mine that trained in Neuro Linguistic Programming told me about time line therapy. Which according to google “aims to clear feelings that sabotage success and happiness.” Let me be clear, I am by no means an NLP expert but what a great concept. Time line therapy. You can use it to rewrite your past. You can think about an event in your past, one that recurs in your thinking and seems to haunt you, and reframe it. Okay before you start with some very traumatic event in your childhood, let’s start simple. And remember the past includes yesterday or for that matter earlier this morning too. For example, as I have mentioned in the past, I bought a puppy. And the little fella has finally arrived. Chewing on everything, getting into all sorts of trouble and the furniture casualties are mounting. My thought was, this is going to be very disruptive to my writing practise. And with that thought - guess what? He was most disruptive. I decided I needed to reframe this circumstance, or get rid of puppy, which is just not an option I am willing to consider - we will get through this little fella. What if my life needs a little disruption? Or what if my life needs a little tidying up of my priorities? Or what if, I learn to use the undisruptive times - when he is asleep after an episode of the zoomies - more effectively. What if I learn to write a podcast in 2 hours instead of 6? Now there is a fantastic strategic by-product of having a puppy! Amazing. I could go on for months and months taking hours and hours to write a podcast or I can focus my concentration and get ‘er done. So much better way to interpret this puppy busyness and disruption in my life. Instead of disruption he is teaching me to focus.
Moment 48 Free Yourself From Your Past
The past, are you stuck in it? I bet you are, as am I. Without conscious effort, we are all stuck in the past - it is our brain’s default setting. It gathers information, draws conclusions and makes predictions about what may happen on what it thinks you are about to do based on our past experiences and recollections. I’ve no doubt that as a child you learned to look both ways before crossing the street. You probably learned that before you even knew you were learning, it’s very deeply entrenched in the crevices of your brain. Have you ever tried to cross the street without looking? It’s extremely distressing - even when you know you live on a cul-de-sac without almost zero traffic.
Our brain is a prediction making machine with only 2 settings - All good or Red alert/panic mode. It's kinda like your home smoke detector; it only has two settings - All Clear or Fire/Panic. There is no hey-have-a-look-around-caution setting. It is how it is designed - smoke detectors sound off regardless of the source that triggers it - be it smoke from a burned dinner or an actual fire. Quite honestly, my smoke detector sounds off when I make toast. Which is, after all its job - to warn of a possible fire - key word here being possible. So when you go against a deeply entrenched safety rule, your brain sounds off - RED ALERT - and a full on panic mode is triggered. Possible danger imminent. And as a result, you don’t cross the street without looking both ways.
When you are trying to do something new, something you have never done before your brain has nothing specific to compare it to from your past experiences. Chances are it will try to stop you because our brain loves the familiar. And if you’ve never done it before it certainly is not familiar. Familiar good, change bad in the brains overriding default. And bad for the brain means warning, possible danger and triggers a full on red alert, and it floods your system with cortisol and other anxiety-inducing hormones - your heart races, your breathing gets shallow and fast, and you feel a little nauseated. You talk yourself out of whatever it is you wanted to try that was new, you default to the familiar position and whoosh red alert over. And nothing changes - you are stuck repeating the past. You follow your current familiar patterns and well trodden paths and you create more of the same. You have the same thoughts, same feelings, same actions, creating the same result. Same ho-humdrum, nothing changes.
Moment 47 Define Possible
I love the quote by Paul Coelho, “Impossible is just an opinion.” Which in essence says, you get to decide what is possible for you, regardless of what other people think or say.
Guess what? You can define possible for yourself and your future. You can design your own dreams no matter how absurd or impossible sounding to other people. If you want to do something you have never done before, or even more extraordinary something no one has ever done before, go for it. What if you only need to believe it is possible? How incredible would that be?
So since impossible is just an opinion, let’s define it how we want right? It can’t be just some really hard task… train for and run a marathon in 4hour and 30 minutes or less, lose 100 pounds in 6 months or write a bestseller in 6 weeks. Cause well, lots of people set those types of goals and lots of people do not follow through with them. Did you know that you can have ambitious goals that are also fun? They do not have to be drudgery. Now there is an impossible goal - ambitious and fun, not loaded with drudgery. This is a novel, post medicine concept for me and it has taken an absolutely unreasonable amount of time to uncover this delightful fact. You can set goals just because they are fun and just because you want to. You do not have to justify yourself. I have to say that again, you can set goals - ambitious ones - just because they are fun and just because you want to. They should teach us that in high school, or maybe we should reserve it for early retirement - because, then hey, retirement can be a total blast. Goals do not have to be drudgery. Let’s make our impossible goal impossible to not follow through on - ooh that sounds fun huh? An impossible goal inspires you and creates joy for yourself as you pursue it.
What if every goal you set henceforth is a goal to achieve something you would absolutely love to accomplish, something you would love to pour your heart and soul into and something you would utterly, thoroughly and completely enjoy doing? Sounds like you just might be unstoppable right?
Moment 46 Reframe Restarts
Lately I’ve been thinking and writing about goals - visualization of goals, motivation to achieve goals, how to celebrate goals, you know - New Years resolution type of stuff. For the record, at the time of this writing it's not new years, though it is far enough into the year that I have deemed my start to this year a bit of a bust. Yet, there are many more months before the next calendar flip for a new start.
Don’t wait for a calendar flip for a new start. Every Monday can be a new start. In fact every morning can be a new start. Give yourself permission to redefine restart in your life. You get to do that! I get it, there is nothing like a good calendar flip to create motivation. It's true, 2019 - 2020, new year and new decade and even more impressive, 1999 - 2000 - new year, new decade and a new century. By definition, that calendar flip - one that included a new century, should have included monumental, life changing stuff. And yet, I haven’t a clue what my stated goals might have been. Do you?
Why do we think a restart is necessary anyway? Let’s face it, a restart doesn’t actually change anything. Our brain is resistant to change and when you are trying to do something you have never done before it will offer up all kinds of distractions. Cleaning is one distraction my brain offers up often to give myself a restart. The fact that I clean the house, do the laundry and the yard work doesn’t change the fact that I am behind in meeting my writing goals. In fact, historically, I used to clean the oven before I could start studying for exams. My brain, like yours, is a master distractor. Do not listen to it. It is our thinking that needs a shift - cleaning the oven won’t help, in fact those distractions just make things worse. We need to learn to reframe our results, when those results are not what we predicted or hoped might happen.
Moment 45 Empowering Thoughts and Epiphanies
No doubt you have heard the expression…. “You are what you eat.”
And while that may be true, I would argue that you are what you consistently think about yourself.
And yet, thinking about ourselves or even noticing our own thoughts, is not really something we were ever taught. But guess what? We can direct our thoughts intentionally. We can we direct our brain to think thoughts so that we can build vibrant and meaningful lives.
Did you know that we have between 40,000 – 60,000 thoughts per day. That is a lot of random thoughts, many of which are negative and self-directed.
“Where are my keys?” “I am so forgetful.” “I love this song.” “My hair is a mess.” “Traffic is insane.” “I’m going to be late.” “Uh… I hate pantyhose.”
Sixty thousand self-directed, random predominantly negative thoughts. Just imagine how different your life could be if you changed those thoughts. Sixty thousand neutral thoughts. Even better….. Sixty thousand empowering thoughts.
Unlike any other living creature on this planet, by virtue of being a human being, you can direct your brain. You can ask yourself empowering questions. You can think intentional thoughts. And the best part… you get to CHOOSE to think whatever you want. And as I have said before, and will again - Choice is a beautiful thing!
KNOW that you have a brilliant brain, and it will generate amazing results if you ask it the right sort of questions and power it up on intentional thoughts.
Most of us ask negative questions…
“What is wrong with me?”
“Why can’t I lose weight?”
Or have negative thoughts….
“I am so forgetful.”
“Exercising is pointless.”
Instead, ask high-quality, empowering questions and think intentional thoughts. Our brain simply loves to answer questions. It will come up with an answer to negative or empowering questions. The latter answers are so much more helpful. And most incredibly, it will believe the thoughts we choose to tell it.
Moment #44 Consistency is crucial
Nothing is hard when you do it with consistency.
How is that for an opening thought?
When you aim for consistency, motivation is not required - it’s obsolete. Consistency is the true key. Any activity you currently do consistently is not hard. At least it’s not hard now. It may have been when it was first introduced, but the hard bit has been long forgotten. Think about it, all of the things that you love to do, you do consistently. It’s probably equally true that things that you deem important are also done with consistency. You don’t just sometimes feed your kids. You don’t just sometimes pay your mortgage. You do them consistently.
To build consistency you do need some motivation to get started. There is a reason why you want to do whatever it is you want to be consistent with. Chances are the things that you do consistently have a very clear purpose - you pay the mortgage because you want to provide a safe home and environment for your family. The purpose is clear and closely linked to your values.
As previously discussed, motivation drives our behaviour with dopamine. You can consciously trigger a dopamine hit with a check mark and a well done! It’s so simple it might take you back to grade two when you earned gold stars. That's okay because, as far as your brain is concerned, a gold star or a check mark, is all you need.
Motivation is also responsive to feeling as though you are making progress. Notice this - it is the feeling that we are making progress that motivates. You may well be making progress, but if you do not recognize that progress, your brain is not going to offer up any dopamine hits - and no dopamine equates to no motivation. I have experienced this. I did strength training for many years. Though I was disciplined and very consistently met with my trainer, I was not motivated. Not in the least. Why? Because in my mind, I was measuring the wrong thing. I was hoping for weight loss, not gains in strength. And though I was gaining strength, I was not losing weight. So in my mind I was not making progress. And, no progress means no motivation.
Moment 43 Thoughts on Failure
When you set your sights high, you are not setting yourself up for failure. You are setting yourself up for progress. Don’t worry about success or failure, obsess about making progress. Besides, as I've mentioned before there is no such thing as failure, only opportunities for learning. I truly believe that. You are either succeeding or learning. Such a better perspective right? Ask Einstein, he has many, many quotes that reference success and failure…
“A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.”
“Failure is success in progress.”
“You never fail until you stop trying.”
I love the one about the fish
“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life beleiving it is stupid.”
Be uniquely you! Don’t try to be a fish climbing a tree. Swim beautifully, but don’t be afraid to swim upstream.
I felt the eye roll. Cut the rhetoric. No such thing as failure, just learning opportunities… succeeding or learning… ya right. I hear ya! I have found myself face down in the dust on more than one occasion. And when you are in the thick of a failure, it is not fun. But you will find yourself on the other side of failure at some point. Then what? You can pack up your bags and go home or you can choose to learn from the experience. Why choose the former? How is that helpful?
As I mentioned back in a recent bonus moment, I have learned that it’s okay to decide to stop when a self-imposed challenge is not serving me. Deciding to stop is not the same as quitting or failing. The difference lies in the reason behind your decision. Decide to stop because whatever it is you are doing is not serving you.
Moment 42 Stretch 'n Flex
Ah stretching, I love stretching but it took me a very long time to get consistent with it. It's not until you stretch consistently that you really notice the benefit. Please, please, please please, please please start stretching even a little tiny bit daily. Your joints will thank you. Gosh how can I convince you that stretching is paramount? As Nike said, just do it! I truly understood the key importance of a flexible joint after breaking my right wrist. Almost 2 years later, I'm still on the mend trying to get my wrist to full flexibility. Since it’s my dominant hand, I’m starting to worry it's as good as it's going to get. I hope that is not true.
Look after your joints - your future self will thank you! It’s one of the most important things you can do if you wish to promote your own longevity so that you can do all the things you want to do so that you can live a long and vibrant life. Because if you cannot move your joints, you cannot move and when you cannot move you lose strength rapidly. Extremely rapidly.
I practice something called active isolated stretching, which as the name suggests, isolates one muscle group to be stretched at a time. This allows you to focus your attention and ensure you stretch safely. That sounds obvious - to stretch safely, but stretching is so much more than the few warm up stretches you sometimes complete before or after a run or a workout. Stretching is often treated as a skip-it appetizer or an ‘okay if I have to’ task, when to maximize its benefits it is best to treat it as the main course. A 20 - 25 minute full body stretch before bed is a fantastic routine to embrace if for no other reason than to improve the quality of your sleep dramatically.
Moment # 41 Dopamine The Oh Nice Hormone
Motivation. It's something we all search for, sometimes grasp and often lose. It's a really slippery little critter and it's a chameleon - constantly changing. Well it is for me at least. As soon as I get close to wrapping up a project, I either move the goal posts or I cross the line and move on without so much as a head nod, let alone a celebration. A recent example is this podcast. When I crossed the 100 listens mark, I immediately set the next goal to 500… barely even acknowledging crossing the 100 mark. Fortunately I have surrounded myself with a small group of ladies who point out and celebrate my successes, when I trip over them cursing.
Motivation is something we have come to believe is required for success. Yet we wait for motivation to descend upon us, magically, a gift from the universe. There are a plethora of motivational memes out there and while their impact may be motivational, it's not lasting. But here is the best part - we can create our own motivation. So much better right?
About a year ago I set a challenge to cycle for 120 consecutive days for a minimum of 30 minutes. And much to my delightful surprise, I succeeded. I had set similar expectations in the past, and for a variety of excuses, was not successful. This time was different. I am still scratching my neurons together trying to understand why that particular challenge stuck and most importantly, what I can do to repeat it. In fact it stuck so well that I continue the habit to this day. What gives? My best guess - the counting and the checkmark on the calendar. Do not underestimate the power of the checkmark… that little ‘check - done’ gives us a squirt of dopamine and our brain loves it.
Moment 40 Scrappy Cat
Last moment I suggested you let yourself be ridiculously ambitious about identifying your top five priorities. Was that a frightening suggestion? Perhaps. But don’t let it take you out at the knees. Why not let yourself dream in 3D, technicolor and surround sound? Why not set your sights high? But be forewarned, when you do that, almost immediately your inner critic is going to run some strategic interference. “What are you thinking?” “Why are you setting yourself up for failure here?” “Let’s temper that down a bit okay.” “No, no, no. That’s not how we do things.” Yep that’s your inner critic imploring you to stay safe and stay stuck.
The problem is our inner critic is not reliable and not only that she is unabashedly fickle. It’s our brain making sense of whatever happens to be occurring in the moment. Think about the last time you decided you wanted to switch up your routine and introduce exercise in the morning. You get everything setup, all you need to do is get up, slip into your clothes and head to the gym. But when the time comes, your brain lets loose with the negotiations. “No, wait until later, it's still dark out and it's cold, roll over hit snooze.” “Later is better.” You listen. But then later, “Hey why did you sleep in, now we won’t have time to get to the gym.” “What were you thinking?”
My inner critic can rebel like a cat having a bath. In fact, I've nicknamed her scrappy cat. She is one determined soul - and she makes certain I know that change is dangerous and not to be welcomed. Her job after all, is to keep me alive and well in a very hostile world.
Scrappy cat loves the familiar and whenever I try something new, she let’s me know, hey this is not how we do things and she is determined to interfere with my best laid plans. Scrappy cat is constantly chattering, evaluating, judging, criticizing and most problematically - exaggerating and confabulating stories.
Moment 39 Important Distractions
It is critical to acknowledge that as we age our priorities change. And they should change. But it absolutely does not have to lead us to a life of frailty, loneliness and forgetfulness as the default. Not. At. All. Let’s make the default a long,vibrant, purposeful, meaningful and joyful life. Why shouldn’t it be that? Meaningful and joyful. Vibrant and purposeful. Everyone should KNOW that. Everyone should believe that without a doubt.
The last several moments have centered around priorities. Figuring them out, making decisions, wanting more for yourself that sort of stuff. Maybe you have thought about your priorities every new year for the last 30 years. Or maybe you gave it up after a few valiant attempts when life kept squeezing out your priorities, replacing them with other more pressing ones. Or maybe you are one of the lucky ones that easily goes with the flow and loves all of it, whatever it may be.
So many women find it hard to prioritize their own dreams. This percolates up in my thoughts often, which makes me think it just might be important. It is. Especially in the 5th and 6th decade of life. What are your priorities? Did you design them intentionally? Have they lost their vibrance, like a blanket faded imperceptibly by the bright sunlight? Is it time for a spruce up?
Moment # 38 Don't Fall
Good morning ladies, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and listen in, this is the sassy moments podcast, moment # 38 Don’t fall!
Balance. No this is not another moment about finding balance in life. Nope. This is actually about balance - as in don’t fall balance. I must confess, I am super cautious when I take Molly for her walk - the winter sidewalks are treacherous. I have learned - through experience, that I break bones when I fall. Which quite honestly I find so unfair. For decades I carried around an extra 75 pounds of fat as extra baggage. Doesn’t that count as weight training needed for building strong bones? So Unfair.
As we age it is really important to maintain our sense of balance. It imperceptibly disappears until, like me, one fateful day you trip unable to recover and it becomes blatantly obvious. If you have foot problems like plantar fasciitis or even a mild peripheral neuropathy, muscle imbalances, hips out of alignment, low back pain or knee pain your balance may be further compromised.
The medical term is proprioception - awareness of the position and movement of the body. Without proprioception you would fall over every time you move just a little in any direction. Within your inner ear there are tiny calcium stones called otoliths that roll around in fluid filled semicircular canals that are lined with fine little hairs that shift direction as you move. Yeah I know anatomy, but inner ear stuff is fascinating. Every time you tilt your head, the little otoliths shift, bend the little hairs and send a signal to your brain that you shifted position, best pay attention and self correct. If you don’t self correct, you may find yourself face down on the ground.
Have you ever thought about how to improve your balance? Probably not - it’s loss is so imperceptible that until you fall, you’ve no idea you have an issue. Do yourself a favour and decide, you have an issue - one that requires conscious intervention starting now. Start to build your balance. How?
To increase your balance, you need sufficient core strength to hold yourself upright and you need proprioception. If you have ever experienced an inner ear infection you know how tricky it is to stand up when your proprioception is messed up - you feel dizzy.
Hopefully, you do not have a balance problem, but as I just suggested, believe you do and take preventive action. Most people think of yoga for developing balance. And that is absolutely true, there are lots of yoga poses that promote and require balance. Most yoga positions also require strength and a certain degree of flexibility. Sadly I have multiple muscle imbalances that make yoga quite the challenge. Fortunately, it is possible to build balance without expensive classes or becoming a contortionist.
MOMENT # 37 Purple hair thoughts and purple passes
I introduced the idea of purple hair thoughts in moment # 30 Borrow Belief. Purple hair thoughts are unhelpful untruths our brain offers up to keep us safe and ultimately stuck. Examples include “You have never believed in yourself” “You never finish what you start” “Weight loss is impossible” and often include polarized language like never, always, impossible. There is no point in figuring out the deep meaning behind these types of thoughts. These are thoughts that are simply not true. I do not have purple hair, let it go, move on. I am not suggesting you ignore these thoughts. It’s important to know that your subconscious is telling you have never believed in yourself. Is that true? Unlikely. Skip the trail down the rabbit hole of negative self-discovery. It’s not helpful. If you feel compelled to explore the thought, explore avenues in which you have believed in yourself. Everyone has believed in themselves at some point in their life. If we don’t recognize such thoughts as untruths and call them out, we cannot move forward.
Purple hair thoughts - unhelpful untruths. Acknowledge and dismiss.
A purple pass is a permission slip… Give yourself permission. You get to do that for yourself. You have authority over your thoughts and actions to give yourself permission, if you choose to wield it.
Moment # 36 On Becoming
Back in moment 25 I suggested it's okay to believe there is nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself. And that is very true. There is nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself. What do you want? What do YOU want, not your spouse or your kids want, what do YOU want.
I sat down one evening and answered that question… and most certainly it started out with stuff. I want a stainless steel fridge to match the rest of my kitchen, I want new blinds for the sunroom so I don’t feel like I am living in a fish bowl all winter long, I want cork floors in the bedrooms, I want a deluxe closet organizer… I was able to list a full two pages of stuff wishes. Then I asked myself a more nuanced but similar question… Who do I want to become? Now that might sound like a ridiculous question to ask when you are closer to 100 than to 1… Haven’t you already become whoever it is you are going to become?
Perhaps but why would you want to stop evolving?
Back in medical school I had one friend - a really bright guy - who struggled to decide between surgery or radiology… Vastly different specialties in medicine. I offered him advice that had once been offered to me. Look at the doctors in those specialties who are 5 - 7 years further along in their training... That is who you will become. Then consider which career direction you might prefer.
If I reconsider that advice - to look at individuals further along on the path you are considering, then what? Hmm… Well, very few doctors manage to retire, let alone retire early. At least I don't know any. So nothing to consider there. I decided to become a life coach. I seriously thought I would be the only doctor wanna be life coach, but I was mistaken. There were several in my training cohort and the number of doctor/life coaches continues to grow significantly. Coaching has a magic to it that medicine snuffs out before you finish medical school. I digress.
Most of us think about our vocation as what we want to become - after all - since you were 6 years old the adults in your life have been asking you what do you want to be when you grow up. At the ripe old age of 6, we start thinking about that. I believe who you want to become is independent of your vocation. I was a pediatrician. That was my vocation. I am no longer practicing medicine… so where does that leave me, in this limited abstraction? Now I am a longevity advocate and life coach but I remain a sister, a friend, a volunteer, a dog and cat lover, a hiker, a cyclist… Lots of things. I am those things, irrespective of my choice of vocation.
Who do you want to become? It’s a tough question, but well worth pondering extensively!
Moment #35 Decision Paralysis
I have said and will likely say again and again… Choice is a beautiful thing. I believe that. Choice IS wonderful.
But have you ever stood at the grocery store in the toothpaste aisle and felt a wave of overwhelm. Too many choices. Gel or paste? Mint flavoured? Bubble gum flavoured? with fluoride, without fluoride, for tartar removal, for whitening, for gingivitis, antibacterial, to freshen breath or for sensitivity. Do we really need 50 different types of toothpaste?
Many years ago I spent several weeks in Gabon Africa with a friend who was (and still is) a missionary doctor. One of the most striking things I recall, was how the vendors ‘in the jungle’ had everything you could possibly need, in a space the size of a double car garage. Dish soap, toothpaste, string, glassware, vanilla, chopped nuts, cola drinks, cucumbers, mops, and more. If you didn't see it just ask, and tucked away somewhere, poof there it was. The difference? Fewer choices - not an entire row of shelves the length of the store.
We have so much choice these days it’s counter productive. Researchers study these things - it's called choice overload. The tyranny of too many choices.
Choice overload leads to decision paralysis - too many choices to consider, so… no decision.
Odd as it seems, I have been considering buying a TV. I have a TV in my basement - it’s the size of a golf cart and probably heavier! It's a dinosaur of TVs that's been sitting idle for more than a decade. Truth be told, I don’t want a TV, I want a sound system… But that is like trying to find a phone plan without data. Ever fearful of buying what I don't really need - I have not made a decision - in over three years. I have been listening to music - one of my most beloved past times - using my iPhone. Severe decision paralysis.
Moment #34 - Shift Your Perspective
Good morning ladies, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and listen in, this is the sassy moments podcast Moment # 34 A change in perspective
Nonsense notions - that sounds like a really good theme for intermittent moments. I mentioned a nonsense notion back in moment # 32 If it isn’t hard, it isn’t worth doing. I suppose that is one perspective from which to tackle challenges. Sure wasn’t fun though. Head down, keep at it, push through, it’ll be worth it - these were little motivators that I repeated to myself frequently for more than a decade as I ignored the shouting whispers of my heart. Unrecognized burnout is a thing, and if you think you have it, let’s chat okay?
Nonsense notion # one. If it isn’t hard, it isn’t worth doing. But hey with an underlying belief like that - you get stuff done - lots of it, right? Umm… Not really. You might get a lot done, but it sucks all of your energy. Sadly it took me more than 6 months after I retired to even question if I might have burnout. At that time I mentioned in passing to a friend “I think I might have burnout” she looked me straight in the eye without hesitating and said ‘Ya think?’ Dumbfounded by this apparently blatantly obvious realization I naively asked, well how long does it take to get over it? Not sure. But step one is to recognize that burnout is a thing.
Many months and several coaches later, I uncovered that nonsense notion (among several others) and started to consider - what if that is not true? It's such a powerful question. If you are ever stuck and puzzling about some issue, ask “what if that is not true?” It forces your brain to twist and turn and contort around to shift the spotlight. At first it was impossible - my brain was blank. Huh, what? I got nothin… I had equated hard work with valuable. But I kept questioning, tugging and shifting. Is that true? What if it’s not? What’s the opposite? There are many valuable things that I do that are not hard. Like flossing my teeth - it's not hard, I do it every day, and it's valuable, I want my teeth to last for several more decades. Maybe it doesn’t have to be hard to be worth doing. I also do stuff that is easy that’s not worth doing. Scrolling facebook is an obvious example. Total time waster activity. Hmm… Maybe it is possible that doing something valuable can be easy or at least not always hard. Reading - reading can be hard or not so hard or easy depending on the author. Think Joe Dispenza (Break the Habit of Being Yourself) versus Ryan Holiday (Stillness is the key) - very different writing styles… Hmm. Maybe it’s even possible to do something valuable while having fun (read about, think about and write a sassy moment. Huh? It's not true that if it's not hard it’s not worth doing.
Moment 33 Make progress for motivation
Okay this is a mind bender concept. No doubt you have heard that visualization is a great tool for setting goals. And I do not intend to refute that claim - visualization is a very powerful tool that can yield remarkable results. And visualization as a concept aligns very nicely with the concept of the future successful self - something I invoke very frequently. I have conversations with my future self almost daily as alluded to in moment #30, borrow belief. So I am a big fan of visualization.
Here is the controversy - while visualization IS amazing for setting goals it’s not so great for the pursuit of that goal or for keeping us motivated. Like I said its a bit of a mind bender. Setting a goal and pursuit of that goal are two different things. You need another tool to take the steps to achieve that goal.
Recent research in neuroscience suggest that imagining what might go wrong along the way to your goal and why that would be a bad thing almost doubles the likelihood you will achieve your goal. It’s what neuroscientists call foreshadow failure - imagining what might go wrong and why that is bad, underlies and drives our motivation. It’s totally counterintuitive. For example, let’s say you want to get fit so that you can look fantastic in your cute little black dress. You plan to add some upper body strength training to your daily workout. You visualize yourself in a tailored, sleeveless dress with nicely defined biceps and triceps. Perfect, you have set your goal. Now imagine you don’t follow through with strength training because it’s something you really don’t enjoy. The consequence? Droopy triceps. UGH! Foreshadow failure. That self generated concern about droopy triceps acts as a motivator to keep you working at it so that you progress closer to your goal over time.
I will confess I find it hard to believe that predicting droopy triceps is going to motivate me to buckle down on my strength training, even if the neuroscientists on the internet tell me it will double my likelihood of success. I’m truly not convinced.
Moment 32 Fun With Fun
I believe, if you are listening to this podcast, you already know how to be successful. You figured it out. It takes discipline, focus, perseverance, taking risks and stepping into challenges. These are all exceptionally useful skills. Skills you perfected over decades and that you have most likely taken for granted for many years. You set a goal, push up your sleeves, and get to work. Well done.
You are the ladies I want to talk to. The overachievers who keep the world revolving, expecting very little in return. You accept a challenge and it’s as good as done. Am I right? I did that for decades. One challenge after another - continuous challenge, never ending challenge. For me, if it wasn’t hard, it wasn’t worth doing. Please let that notion go if it resonates with you.
Seriously Let. That. Nonsense. Notion. Go.
Instead… embrace the biggest challenge of your life….
Do all of the things you do, just because - it's FUN! Can you imagine doing what you do, simply because it's fun? You don;t even have to change what you are doing, just do it because it’s fun. What difference might that make to your day? How’s that for a challenge - have fun no matter what you are doing. I can almost guarantee you will feel younger as you do it.
Moment 31 Embrace Errors
It's time for another little dose of science… let’s chat about neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to re-organize its neural connections. It’s kinda like rerouting a well trodden path through an overgrown forest. Neuroplasticity is not the development of new neurons - that’s called neurogenesis - more on that some other moment. Neuroplasticity is about forging new and/or more connections between neurons. We have habits - those are the frequently used neural pathways, it's what we do with ease. Most of our habits are well trodden paths in and around the forest. When you want to make a change, you are rerouting that path. Some paths are easier than others to reroute and sometimes its simply easier to start a new path completely rather than try to reroute an old path.
One of our brains' original default programs is to be efficient. And to the brain efficiency is to do the familiar thing - to take the well trodden path. Our brain loves the familiar, even when familiar is not necessarily effective any more. Many of the habits we have were developed decades ago during our formative years and are so deeply ingrained that we are likely not even aware they are deeply ingrained habits. The first path was laid and then reused over and over and over again, shifting slightly at times but never enough to redirect. You may avoid hard conversations because you always lost arguments with an older sibling. You may have been told you were terrible at math in grade 1 - and to this day you believe you suck at math and cannot be bothered to balance the monthly budget. Its a well worn path.
Suffice it to say, neuroplasticity makes it possible to change those underlying, deeply ingrained habits. It’s not necessarily easy, but it is possible.
BONUS MOMENT - A Magnificent Gift
I bought a puppy! And that thought fills me up with a great big inside smile.
Almost 3 years ago, the time had come for Jake to cross the rainbow - he was 13y and his back end was giving out on him. Getting up was tough and often required assistance, he wanted walks but struggled to get far, he had long since stopped jumping on the bed for a snooze and a snuggle, he slipped on the ceramic tile floors if he wandered off the trail of yoga mats throughout the house. Life wasn’t much fun anymore, so it was time. And when it’s time, it's heartbreaking to reach the obvious conclusion. Always sad. Always.
Since then, it’s just me and my Miss Molly. It’s noticeably silent in the house when she is away at the groomer for a day at the spa. And it’s not like Molly is an in your face presence… having said that she often answers a zoom call - probably because I start talking, when I had previously been quietly reading or writing and thinking. Hey-what-ya-doin-kinda-nudges persist for a few minutes, then she’s back to her fav spot on the couch. I cannot imagine my home without a dog. Their presence is mandatory in my view.
Every time one of my beloved pups crosses rainbow bridge, I resist the urge to get another. But, like all urges do, they imperceptibly infiltrate until they have my heart in a strangle hold. And this time was no different.
Moment # 30 Borrow Belief
Let’s revisit the infinity paradox described in moment # 4 - grab a pen and journal and sit down with your brilliant creative imagination and imagine with awe and wonder your future self. To be clear, your future self is not your I-do-everything-perfectly self, but she is amazing. Imagine your future self, who respects self doubt and believes in herself.
Let’s remember before we imagine. Remember a time when you believed in yourself without any evidence to support that belief. When I first started pondering this idea - my brain rebuffed me - “Pffft - you’ve never believed in yourself.” Well that quite simply is not true - it’s an unhelpful untruth. That thought “You’ve never believed in yourself” is what I refer to as a purple hair thought. I don’t have purple hair - it's simply not true, let it go, move on. As a 50-something plus woman, there have been times in your life when you believed in yourself. There is - let go of the purple hair thoughts. Dig around in your memories and find some event where you believed in yourself without any evidence to support that belief.
I applied for a scholarship to study at the School of Fine Arts in Banff - I believed I had talent. I returned to school full time at 27 - I believed it was the right choice for me. I applied for a scholarship to fund my doctoral research. I believed it was a possibility.
Moment 29 Stretch Your Thinking
Hey ladies, have you ever heard of N=1 experiments? If not, listen in, this is stretch your thinking material, and potentially life enhancing information. In research, N=1, means the experiment has one participant. And in this case, you are the one participant of your life, but you are also the study designer - you get to ask a question, guess what might happen, do something, see what unfolds, and rethink, so that you can ask a question, guess what might happen, do something, see what unfolds and rethink… It is a self correcting process.
The trick is to know what question to ask and if the experiment you design can answer that question and create the result you are after. Some experiments are very complicated, others are simple. Sometimes you gather information from experts before you try something, sometimes you just go for it. Some experiments take a long time to see results, others are quick.
Here are six steps to accelerate the impact of your experiments on your life.
Step one - ask yourself empowering questions. Your brain loves to answer questions - it's a super power we all have but don’t use often enough.
When you ask yourself empowering questions you get empowering answers.
For example, if you ask yourself why am I so disorganized, your brain will answer that question - you are disorganized because you’re easily distracted, because you listen for and respond to notification pings, because you don’t have enough storage space for all your stuff, because you allow interruptions from your colleagues. Your brain will give you lots of reasons why you are disorganized.
Moment #28 - A delightful unimaginable future
Caterpillar and butterfly analogies are overused when it comes to transformation stories.
Nonetheless, I have a caterpillar and butterfly story I’m formulating. And if you will indulge me, I’d like to share.
Caterpillars have lots of tiny little legs, presumably for gripping onto slippery wet leaves as they consume the floor that literally supports them. Caterpillars eat all day long and get chubby. They pack on the ounces until their tiny little legs tremble. The caterpillar dreams of stronger legs to help her move along to broader juicier leaves. She hires a coach to help her strengthen her little legs and understand how to coordinate their movement, and most importantly her coach helps her understand that the journey is the most important part. Inspired caterpillar will get strong and share her knowledge so all her friends can strengthen their little legs and together they will all find juicier leaves. The future is so bright, fantastic. Caterpillar hears fantastic stories and rumours about running shoes to help protect all her feet, making the journey even easier. She dreams of running shoes.
The Centenarian Olympics
I've been interested in living long and well for many years. Longevity runs in my family, but so does dementia and it is by far my preference to live long and well with my memories intact.
In my quest to keep my mind sharp for as long as possible, I routinely listen to The Drive Podcast, with host Dr Peter Attia, longevity expert and a self-admitted, over-the-top-in-everything-he-does type of guy.
The first time I heard his brilliant concept - The Centenarian Olympics - I stopped what I was doing and listened, pen in hand, excitedly waiting for a set of criteria. The Centenarian Olympics, fab idea, what are the activities? What do I need to do? But, to my immense disappointment, no answer was offered up.
But no answer was offered up for good reason - it’s a phenomenon that is totally unique to the individual. What I want to be able to do at 100, is likely quite different from what you might want to be able to do at 100.
The centenarian olympics focus on strength and exercise (it is an olympics after all) mainly because when it comes to aging, in most individuals the body fails first. He asks two great questions we could all ponder to our longevity advantage.
The first question is - If I live to 100, what do I physically have to be able to do to be satisfied with my life?
I love this approach because it starts with the premise ‘to be satisfied with my life.’ How important is that to figure out? Because, well… umm… who wants to live long and infirm? The goal is to live long and vibrant.
At 60 something, I’m already experiencing some of ‘the body fails first’ realities - broken bones, muscle loss, and achy joints to name a few.
Assuming I want to live to 100, what do I want to be able to do to be satisfied with my life when I get there?
Exercise to Support Longevity
Good morning ladies, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and listen in, this is the sassy moments podcast Moment # 26 Exercise to support longevity
Exercise for longevity is not about endurance. Truthfully this disappoints me. Disappointed because I have a tendency toward endurance-type exercise. Back in my early 20s, I was a runner - plodder is probably more descriptive - but I used to participate in 10k community fun runs. If you believe the secret of Olga - the 90plus sprinter and a track and field enthusiast mentioned in moment 6. She wasn't running marathons - she was running the 100 meter dash. Track and field activities involve short bursts of energy activities. Though there are women in their 80s running marathons, I believe most of them started marathoning in their younger years. Taking up running marathons at 80, might be possible but doesn’t sound fun to me. If you listen to Peter Attia MD, longevity expert - and over the top endurance athlete enthusiast - he took up endurance swimming during his surgical residency - how crazy is that? He was also a distance cyclist (might still be)… However, as he explored and learned more about longevity - he changed his tune. He now trains to maintain his muscle strength and to keep his joints in tip top shape with a full range of motion. I love this approach!
Exercise is useless for weight loss - I believe that - I do - and I have lost potential clients because of it. It's true - exercise is great to maintain your weight. But exercise was never designed for weight loss… if you read the American College of Sports Medicine Activity guidelines - they never make reference to weight loss as an outcome of exercise - they always talk about exercise as a weight maintenance tool, not a weight loss tool… Here is what they say - and I quote “Being active will help you feel better, move better and sleep better. It’s never too late to start. Stamina, strength, balance and flexibility can be improved into the 80s, 90s and beyond. Regular physical activity: •1 Reduces your risk of falling or having a fall-related injury •2 Helps you stay independent •3 Keeps your brain healthy by reducing your risk of developing dementia/Alzheimer’s and helps improve your thinking •4 Lowers your risk of developing new chronic health problems (such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease) and reduces their risk of getting worse; and •5 Decreases your risk of getting several types of cancer and helps prevent them from coming back. No mention of weight loss. I will leave the link in the description if you want to check it out.
Saying yes to yourself
Good morning ladies, pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and listen in… this is the Sassy Moments Podcast. Moment 25 Saying yes to yourself
What’s important to you? Do you know? Could you list 10 things you do everyday that support those important things? Seriously make a list. Ten things you did in the past 24 hours that support the most important things in your life. Can you even make a list of your priorities? Hit pause and actually made a list. It's okay if you didn’t - for all I know you are driving. At some point soon, take time to sit down with yourself with a cup of coffee and a journal and a pen, and make a list of your priorities… and then make a list of the things that you did in the past 24 hours that support those priorities… and then make a list of the all things you did in the past 24 hours. How do these lists compare? That in itself is an illuminating exercise. Next, take the list of all the things that you did in the past 24 hours and cross off all the things that you did for your kids, your spouse, extended family and your career. What’s left are the things you did for yourself. What’s on that list?
Interesting exercise if you actually do it. That last list is the list that matters for your future. Your kids are going to lead independent lives - if they aren’t already. Your spouse will do his own thing. And your career is likely to change or windup in the next decade.
As we age our priorities change. And as far as I am concerned, must change. There is nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself. Let me say that again. There is nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself. So true right? What might that look like for you? Wanting more for yourself? Here’s a better way to ponder this puzzle… what does saying yes to yourself look like? Let’s get out of our head on this one okay. What does saying yes to yourself look like - what will you do… Actually do daily if you say yes to yourself? How will you know you said yes to yourself?
For me, the initial answer was easy - keep active. I want to be active for the next 30 or so years.
When I first started to think about this, I was thinking active as in exercise, moving the muscles and the joints, breaking a sweat - that sort of active. That is very true - exercise is important to me… But I want to spend the next 30 years exercising for 2 hours daily so that I can… Ummm… so that I can…. What. Exercising is the tool not the objective. Exercise is a central pillar to longevity- exercise increases expression of BDNF a neuropeptide that increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus of the brain, enhancing memory; exercise preserves our cardiovascular health; exercise builds our muscles and if done properly preserves our joints. Exercise is a good thing to incorporate into your life. But the truth is, this body is going to fail me like every body does. I want my brain to remain active and engaged too. I want my brain and my body to ‘go down’ together. That is the goal. To keep BOTH my brain AND my body alert and active, brain and body in step with each other all the way to the end.
BONUS MOMENT Gifts from a cycling challenge
I was a somewhat avid cyclist during my years of personal training - mostly indoor at the gym before I met with my trainer. I worked my way up to 30 - 60 minutes 3 times per week, naively believing it would help me lose weight. But I rarely cycled independent of training, so when training ended, so did cycling, and my fitness - both cardiovascular and strength, faded with remarkable speed.
That was several years before I started this cycling challenge. Initially it was a 120 day challenge but it morphed and I simply continued. And.. I just finished one year of daily cycling. 365 days though I will confess I missed 11 days - 5 because I was feeling unwell and 6 because I was away from home visiting friends. Not bad though huh? Not bad AT ALL. So I thought I would share a few lessons and gifts I created for myself with that challenge that extend well beyond cardiovascular fitness.
Lesson # 1 - Consistency makes motivation unnecessary, though you need motivation to create consistency. I am uncertain when my morning cycle became an identity habit, but it is - I cycle every morning - it’s just what I do with consistency. No brain negotiations required. To know that it is possible to free yourself from relentless unnecessary brain chatter… What an unbelievable gift - worth every drop of sweat!
Lesson # 2 - Exercise is for me, not for weight loss. I imagine I annoy many allied health professionals that tout exercise as an effective weight loss tool. It’s not. If you want to lose weight, get your nutrition cleaned up. Exercise is for your heart and lungs, for your muscles and joints and for your brain. And exercise is a mental health tool that must not be ignored - and it does not have to be expensive - in fact it can be free.
The never ending to do list
Good morning ladies, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and listen in, this is the sassy moments podcast…
Do you have a never ending to do list? I was never very good at keeping a running tally of ‘to do’ tasks though the infamous to do list was key to success residency - there were just so many nitty gritty details to track. I kept them in a quite haphazard fashion and managed, though my fellow residents may have been picking up the dropped bread crumbs behind me. For that I thank them and apologize for my pervasive loathing for to do lists.
I am thankful I no longer need to do lists. Though there are still times I think I should resurrect the tool, especially when I see how productive to do lists can make my super organized friends. Getting ready for a canoe trips - to do list… grocery shopping - to do list… Ugh everything has a to do list! Maybe that is why I feel so unproductive most of the time. I do not get the satisfaction of crossing some activity off the list. Ive been known to make a list of activities Ive already done just so I can cross them off the list. How crazy is that… such is the power of dopamine in soothing the brain. Crossing off that item - with flair, tada! Small squirt of dopamine - our brain’s well done! reward hormone… Just about everything we do that we believe will make us feel better is in pursuit of that little dopamine squirt. More on that some other moment.
Moment # 23 Random Flash Thoughts
Good morning ladies, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and listin in, this is the sassy moments podcast Podcast #22 Random flash thoughts
Have you ever just rammed into an Aha moment? Blinded sided by some random thought your brain offers up in response to who knows what? Our brain does this. Nuggets of brilliance tossed up randomly from our subconscious mind. And if we are lucky we notice it in the sea of random thoughts and brain chatter that drones on perpetually the background.
This happened to me this morning during my daily pedal, sweat dripping off my nose. “Your whole day is yours you know.” Um what? Some Beethoven piano concerto was playing in the background - no idea what might have triggered this thought. I stopped cycling, and wrote it down, then returned to my sweating. I’ve learned to capture flash thoughts - they can spark insight. “Your whole day is yours you know.” Hmm. And of course, my brain kept ‘noodling’ on this apparently important revelation.
Hmm. “Your whole day is yours you know” - my brain pointing out the obvious - you know - as if I didn’t already know that. Your whole day is yours you know. Then the Aha moment hit me… I actually have a belief that “mornings are mine.” It's true - I am very selfish about them. Mornings are my favourite part of the day. I cannot understand my nighthawk friends… I believe they are morning larks and they just don’t know it yet… I love the still of mornings. I think clearer. I write better (or so I believe)... I get more done before 9am than I do between 9am - 5pm. So I claim mornings for myself. Mornings are mine.
Moment # 22 Eating to feel younger longer
Good morning ladies, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and listen in, this is the SassyMoments Podcast, moment # 22
Hey ladies… Today I want to talk a little bit about eating. Our society is built around eating. I imagine that is steeped in evolution - the hunt was a whole-village thing, and when successful it was party-time. To opt out of a feast when food was scarce, was unfathomable for our ancestors.
Fortunately, we no longer live in a famine-just-around the corner world, which is a really good thing. These days, we don’t even need to leave the comfort of the couch to eat - we can get dinner delivered already prepared. No hunt. No energy expenditure. Please pass the remote and another piece of pizza.
Inactivity coupled with overeating is a recipe for disaster. And it is playing out in society. Obesity, Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease are epidemic. If we want to live vibrant long lives we must initiate strategic counter - measures. Evasive maneuvers are required.
The 21st century is a food a-plenty world. Not only that, the food available is hyperpalatable and calorie dense. When it comes to eating, we need to restrict - voluntarily.
I love the approach to healthy eating outlined by Dr Peter Attia - longevity expert and over-the-top exercise fanatic. He divides it up into calorie restriction, nutrient restriction and time restriction. And to be most effective you need all three. Calorie restriction - is when your energy input is less than your energy output. It's an energy thing, not a food thing. Nutrient restriction is a food thing. This is when you restrict certain food groups - vegan and vegetarian diets; the mediterranean diet; ketogenic diets. These recommendations restrict some nutrients - carbohydrates, animal protein or fat to varying degrees. And finally, time restriction limits the hours during the day during which you choose to eat.
Moment #21 The Brain's Board of Directors
The human brain is quite the thing huh? Doctors and psychologists have been trying to unravel it’s puzzle for centuries. Yet despite their ongoing efforts, there is still a lot we don’t know. Maybe we shouldn’t know. That is an interesting debate, but for now at least researchers continue to try to understand the mystery of our neurons.
The oldest part of our brain is known as the primitive brain, because structurally we share it with other species including reptiles, that’s why it's sometimes hear it referred to as lizard brain. It’s the part of our brain that keeps us alive, without us really thinking about it. It keeps your heart beating; and your breathing automatic; it directs the removal of toxins from your blood; it fights off viruses and bacteria and heals itself. And it does all of this without you giving it any directions whatsoever or understanding what it needs to do what it does. It truly is remarkable.
The less critical, non-survival related functions of the brain - things like imagination - evolved over the centuries and are located in the upper and outer layers of the brain.
This division is artificial and incorrect but it provides a framework to help us understand a little bit about the inner workings and priorities of the brain. It ‘chooses’ survival first - the fight or flight mentally reigns supreme. “Get out of here, figure out what it is later.” This default program kept us alive when we lived in a very hostile world and sees danger everywhere. It sees snakes not sticks and assumes vicious predators lurk around every corner. Except now, at least for most of the developed world, it’s rarely snakes anymore, and it’s highly unlikely you will encounter a vicious predator on your way to the kitchen in search of breakfast tomorrow morning.
Yep we have an absolutely brilliant brain that is out of date, with no upgrade insight.
Moment #20 Mind Management
Today I want to briefly introduce thought work, managing your thinking. For centuries mankind has been grappling with the notion that while you cannot always control your circumstances, you can control your response to your circumstances. As described by holocasut survivor and psychiatrist Victor Frankl, there is a space between stimulus and response. In that space is our power to choose. The ancient Greek philosopher Seneca, one of the early Stoics, wrote about apatheia - peace of mind - that is only available through discipline and focus of the mind. Popularized by author Ryan Holiday, the Stoic philosophy, I believe, got it right. We must learn to manage our mind. In his book Stillness is the Key, Ryan explores how to pin down this elusive inner stillness. I love his writings, I highly recommend you check out his stuff.
Thoughts come and thoughts go. It is estimated that we have between 40,000 - 60,000 thoughts rambling through our mind over the course of any given day. How they counted this I have no idea. Even if it’s half that , it’s still a lot of thoughts. Our brain drones on narrating, evaluating and commenting on the events of the day. It’s what it does. Oh there’s John. I wonder if he finished that report that was due last week. I need to check my schedule. Dentist appointment next week. Do I have something in my teeth? He looks frazzled. Don’t like the scruffy unshaven look. Nice sweater. I need a new sweater. No time. Gosh I'm late. Where is that report? Text from Susie - again. Now what. Our brain drones on.
Moment #19 The Power of Friendship
I don’t think anyone would argue that friends and friendship aren't important. They feed our soul and fill our heart.
Philosophers have been debating the meaning of and need for friends and friendship for centuries. Aristotle, circa 350 BC, mused that friendship is a necessity for happiness. More recently friendship has been described as a voluntary social relationship.
I disagree with the idea that friendship is voluntary. Whom you choose as a friend may be voluntary, unlike your family, but having friends is essential to our health and well-being. As I’ve said before, we survived as a species by belonging to a tribe. We were able to rise to the top of the food chain in a hostile eat-or-be-eaten environment because we learned to cooperate. The need to belong, that crucial relationship that extends beyond the family unit, was selected for over the millenia. It’s in our DNA.
Moment #18 Selfish Courage
You know what ladies? This is hard. It’s really hard to go against the tidal wave of societal accepted norms. Right? You know what's even harder. Going against the accepted norm of your inner circle. I did that when I chose to leave medicine. Don’t get me wrong, leaving medicine was the absolute right decision for me.
Improving a bad thing is easy, but messing with a good thing? That is terrifying. I don’t know who first captured this sentiment but it’s how I felt when I chose to leave medicine against the advice of just about everyone I knew at the time. Messing with a good thing - that’s terrifying.
I’m not sure if my colleagues were baffled, dismayed or envious.
Significant change is like that, and takes courage because it involves risk and potential failure.
Moment # 17 Sleepy messes
How’s your sleep ladies? Mine ranges from not dreadful to really dreadful. Naps are impossible for me - it takes me 2 hours to fall asleep for a 20 minute nap. I've been that way for as long as I can remember and medical training with its sleepless nights didn’t improve the situation. The more I read about the importance of sleep and it’s far reaching impact on our brain health I shudder. “What have I done?” So many years of sleep deprivation. My sleep is a mess.
To be fair, our need for sleep, as dictated by our circadian rhythm, changes as we age. This is most apparent with kids. Babies sleep most of the day. Toddlers are more wakeful but still need a midmorning and often a midafternoon nap or there might be hell to pay. As teens, sleep is completely wonky and they are awake until the middle of the night and asleep until noon or later.
Sassy Moment BONUS - Introduction to Intermittent Fasting
Good morning ladies, grab a cup of coffee, pull up and chair and listen in, this is the sassy moments podcast, BONUS MOMENT - Fast, a four letter word to boost your energy.
Boost my energy by not eating? What nonsense is this? I know, it’s totally counterintuitive. But, I believe the single most powerful thing you can do to boost your energy and increase your health span, is to fast nightly for a minimum of 12 - 14 hours. I know, I know. Fast is the other four letter F-word in some social circles. Fasting is a concept that is in complete contrast to the currently accepted societal dogma that we must eat multiple, small, low-fat meals all day long or risk hunger or overindulging when we do decide to eat. I would like to suggest you set that aside and consider this: we all fast every night for however long we sleep, about 7 - 8 hours.
To fast as a concept is simple and easy to understand - don’t eat. In practice, it’s not so easy – mostly because of that societal dogma. Since the early 1980s, with the introduction of the ‘food guide’ we have been taught high fat is bad, and that we must eat multiple small, low fat meals throughout the day to avoid hunger and to avoid overeating. But our body is not designed to eat that way.
I am not talking about multi-day fasts; I am not talking about starving yourself; Not at all.
I am talking about completely changing the way you think about eating. Completely.
Our body, like our brain, was designed many centuries ago when vicious predators were everywhere and food was scarce. Back in the day when we were hunter – gatherers, we certainly didn’t eat three meals a day plus snacks neatly dispersed throughout the day. Our ancestors fasted most of the time. Sometimes for weeks. They feasted occasionally after a successful hunt and grazed if berries or tubers happened to be in season - protein with fat and limited carbs. They didn’t eat every day, all day. And guess what? They survived to tell the tale!
Now we eat mostly refined carbs, in the form of sugar and flour, with processed protein and if you follow the food guide, low fat alternatives. It's backwards and it shows up on our butt and/or belly as fat and it’s killing us! Since the introduction of the food guide, obesity, type two diabetes and dementia have skyrocketed. Frightening!
Moment # 16 Life's Imbalance
Life balance. It's a tricky business right. I wonder if it's a 21st century luxury? Or curse. Hmm. We have so much more choice now than our grandmother. And that is a very good thing. Women are incredible - we are leaders with great compassion.
However, we are in the messy middle of this transformation from doting grandmother baking cookies to entrepreneurial CEO. We expect ourselves to do it all - have the babies, raise the children, support our partner and their dreams, all while building a career of our own. While the balance in career life is leveling out, the brunt of family life remains on women, who historically have been the caregivers. This bears out in medicine. In 2019, 50% of medical students were women as compared to 4% in 1914. And though 50% of medical graduates are women, only 36% of practicing physicians are women. This work force attrition is largely attributed to the family-work conflict facing women physicians, according to a 2020 American Association of Medical Colleges survey. I somehow doubt this work-family attrition is unique to medicine. So many women are caught in this “do everything trap.” So luxury or plague?
Moment #15 The power of no
So many of the women I coach have a really hard time saying 'No,' even when they are fully aware they are overwhelmed and sleep deprived.
The power of saying 'No,' is not a new concept. Nor is the idea that when you say 'yes' to an activity you are also saying 'no' to another activity.
But… How can you say no gracefully? Learning how to say no is a really crucial skill to develop if you want to have a joyful and meaningful life. Back to one of my fav quotes from Socrates - beware the barrenness of a busy life. How can you say no to so many good things? Only by knowing yourself and your unique gift and your own priorities.
Moment # 14 Time Bandits
Back in moment #12, busy badges, I mentioned in passing the concept of time bandits. I want to talk about these little critters more today. I first encountered the concept of time bandits during my nutrition coach training through Precision Nutrition. They have a lot of really creative thinkers in that organization. One of the chief coaches refers to herself as the Chief of headspace rearrangement. I’m still in touch with my coach from that training program, which was - well, long enough ago that his then toddler is well into elementary school. He was instrumental in helping me wrap my brain around the idea of leaving medicine. I digress again this time down memory lane - sorry - back to time bandits.
I love this concept and the visualization it conjures up. There are endless virtually invisible time sucks in our day and if we don’t consciously hunt for them we won’t find them. Time bandits have evolved with society and they have deeply and imperceptibly infiltrated our psyche. Our most common excuse for not prioritizing our health - “I don’t have time!” These sneaky thieves sell busyness and hustle camouflaged as dedication and determination. But they are bandits - they steal our time.
Moment # 13 Homework for life
True to my past self, I am an academic and I am giving you homework. The best kind of homework. This is an idea I stumbled across and fell in love with in the book, Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks. I highly recommend the book if you have any interest whatsoever in creating a life full of joy, meaningful relationships and purpose. I picked up this book because I am keen to figure out how to tell better stories to illustrate the academic points I want my readers/listeners to remember.
I had to face the truth that women over 50 are not that interested in the neuroscience of neurogenesis and the related neural growth hormones and peptides that offer up protection against mood disorders and cognitive decline. I’ve learned to recognize the blank stare when I drift into medspeak. So instead of talking about the impact of exercise on neurogenesis and quality of life in the latter decades of life, I share the story of Olga the 90-something track star and the secret to her longevity - break a sweat with friends. So much more helpful right?
Moment #12 Busy Badges
I absolutely believe that no matter where you are in your career or family life, you must make yourself a priority. As is stated so obviously by commercial airlines, put on your oxygen mask first, then assist others. As outlined in Moment # 1 A bit about me, I learned that the hard way. Doctor heal thyself is one of the most ridiculous statements in the English vocabulary. No time for that can’t you see, I’m busy.
Busy badges. Have you earned one?
Moment #11 Design your ideal day
Have you ever stopped and thought about your ideal day? Knowing that there is truly no such thing and there certainly is no universally ideal day, if you could design your ideal day, what would it entail? It's a thought experiment - I love thought experiments. How would you approach it… for you. Design your ideal day.
You could start with your successful future self’s perfect day. You could ask her how she starts her morning, and finishes strong at the end of the day. I am working on the latter part, to finish my day strong. I struggle with that concept since I am very much a morning person. I get more done between 5am - 9am, than between 9am - 5pm, and well, after 5pm I am pretty much as useful as a pumpkin after halloween.
All of this obviously depends on the state of your life today - because, if Sassy at Sixty has anything to do with it, you will be a better version of yourself in one year, and an even better version in 5 years. My future self is not of pumpkin energy and mentality after 5pm.
Bonus Moment - Celebrations!
Woohoo celebrate 10 podcasts broadcast - statistically, I just broke through the first glass ceiling of podcasters… Many start - not so many reach 10 episodes... Apparently there is a really high attrition rate for podcasts… So whoop whoop I am celebrating. So thrilled and I’m having a ton of fun at this. I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am. Even more importantly, I hope listening to my moments enhances your day and offers up something worth thinking about.
Maybe you could do me a favor and spread the word I’m here… There is a lot of podcast chatter out in cyberspace - which is a great thing, but it means my message is one of several million and hard to find. I cannot shout louder, but you my friends, can create a megaphone. Please share an episode with all your friends. Get them to share with their friends.
Feel younger longer. This is our legacy. We can fundamentally change the societal dogma that we will end up lonely, frail and forgetful. Rejuvenate your mind… Feel younger longer… Dare to dream. Dare to become the best version of yourself.
Moment # 10 The trouble with nudges
Dreaming is something kids and teens love to do. They are always dreaming about the future… when they are 10 and get to play on the school baseball team, when they get into middle school and get to play in the school band, or when they get their driver's license, or when they get into college.
But somewhere along the line we set our dreams aside and they wither. Especially for women - the dreams of others choke out our dreams. The dreams of our children, or our spouse can muzzle the whispers of our heart and soul. After all, women are responsible for the survival of the human race, we are busy raising children into competent adults - who has time for dreams? While this is a common experience, it doesn’t have to stay that way.
I believe our dreams are not withered and forgotten. They are dormant, waiting. Every once in a while they nudge up a thought up into your mind.
Moment # 9 Gifts to your future self
As we age, we fall into patterns. Behind these patterns are habits, and truthfully one of the focuses of my current attention is to create healthy habits that get to be so deeply ingrained, that even if I develop dementia in my future, those habits will be my default routine. No snacking after 6pm. Get up when you first wake up after 530am. Cycle every morning. Lights out by 10pm. Read 60 - 90 minutes every day - even if reading doesn’t help with neurogenesis. Write daily. Play cello daily.
Those are the gifts to my future self. Working on it.
I love the idea of giving gifts to my future myself. I talked about the future self as a wise advisor for our present self in the episode 4 The Infinity Paradox…
Imagine your successful future self - the future you want to create for yourself. She is you and you know you better than anyone else. What advice would your future self give your present self? She won’t lead you astray. Assuming you want to create an amazing future for yourself. This is the power of the infinity paradox: The best way to predict the future is to create it, and the best way to create it is to imagine it. And if you are going to imagine it, make yourself the hero. Love your life now, not eventually.
Moment # 8 Ten strategies for feeling younger longer
How can we combat aging? Here is my list of strategies to feel younger longer. Do these today today and every day for a brighter, livelier, and interesting future.
Moment #7 Mindset Shift
We are not breaking into unchartered territory here. It is possible to live longer, happier lives - it is possible to feel younger longer. The first step is to choose to believe that - it's a mindset thing. Mohammad Ali described it beautifully - “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.” If you do not believe it is possible, you are quite right, it is not possible, for you at least.
We must not submit to the lowest common denominator when it comes to our future and the legacy we are creating. When it comes to longevity - we want our lifespan - how long we live, and our health span to be roughly equivalent. We want to live as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Moment #6 Connection
Love your life and love your future. This is our legacy - to change the societal view of aging. Can you imagine where a shift in perspective might end up? I can’t but I know it is better than believing we will end up lonely, frail and forgetful. The woman who pushed over the lead domino to create a spider and little critter free home could not possibly have imagined air conditioned luxury condos. But that's where it got us.
What is the bug free luxury condo equivalent of aging brilliantly? I think it will end up with women entrepreneurs ruling the world with kind firm clarity of purpose. No drama, no hyperbole, just love and service to ourselves and others from a place of abundance. Because once we learn to love ourselves as much as we love others, ain’t nothin stoppin us. We will create a world that is spectacular beyond our wildest imagination for future generations to come.
Coach Karen is a certified life coach, nutrition coach, weight loss coach and mindset coach. It's time to reject the societal notion that we will end up lonely, frail and forgetful and redesign aging for ourselves and for future generations. This is our legacy ladies - our gift to future generations. We can redesign the way we view aging and live a long and meaningful life full of purpose and joy. Insist on it.
Moment #5 Love Your Life
Love your life. This. Love your life. Is foundational to longevity. Love your life every day. Who wants to live long if you’re grumpy all the time? If you had no choice but to live to 95 or 100, would you change your current choices to impact your future? If you’re 50 and you are gaining 5 pounds a year - which is not uncommon (sorry for that ladies!). Well after another 10 years (let alone 50) that might pose a bit of a mobility problem.
Coach Karen is a certified life coach, nutrition coach, weight loss coach and mindset coach. It's time to reject the societal notion that we will end up lonely, frail and forgetful and redesign aging for ourselves and for future generations. This is our legacy ladies - our gift to future generations. We can redesign the way we view aging and live a long and meaningful life full of purpose and joy. Insist on it.