The Mt. Baldy Lesson of Life: Pause. Reflect. Keep Going.

A Shaky Step is Still a Step

Keep Going
 

Ever heard of Indiana’s Mt. Baldy? This is how Wikipedia describes Mt. Baldy:

Mount Baldy is a sand dune located in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It is the tallest sand dune on the southern shore of Lake Michigan and is 123 feet tall.

This is how I describe Mt. Baldy:

Darn near killed me.

About twenty years ago, my husband and our three beautiful little girls (Emily, Brittany, and Stephany) visited friends in northern Indiana. Someone thought it’d be a great idea to climb Mt. Baldy. After suffering much abuse from this endless sand dune, no one wanted to own up to WHO’s idea it was. Even if they wanted to own up to it – they couldn’t. No breath = no voice.

Along the relentless, steep, upward climb, we paused a few times – probably more than a few, but who’s counting? There were three or four times when I came to a complete stop and actually looked behind me – gauging whether going back down was an option.

Each time, however, I saw how far I’d come and decided to keep going.  The steps I’d accomplished (and lived to tell about) gave me confidence to continue my journey.

When we reached the top, there were just a few little shade trees to be found. Other climbers, gasping for breath were crowded around most of the shade (some were even laid out, like they were making snow angels… but without moving.  My  sweaty, unable to speak, and exhausted little group huddled around the nearest little tree.  There was an incredible sense of accomplishment, in spite of the physical exhaustion.

We’d made it!

It felt pretty darn cool to have completed such a grueling, physical task.  Seriously, you can’t imagine how STEEP that climb was – and in sand, no less! Each step seemed like you were taking about 10 because you kept sinking with each step.

And did I mention it was August? H-O-T!

When I remembered how to activate my senses, I stood up and, with three little girls who I’m pretty sure were laughing at me, looked around at the view. If I’d had any breath, it would have taken it away.

Again.

The view was spectacular.  It’s something I’ve never forgotten – even after 20 years.  I remember how proud I was of the accomplishment and I remember how beautiful everything was –  just like it was yesterday.

Over the years, a lot has changed. Our friends no longer live in northern Indiana…  I believe Mt. Baldy is now closed to the public….  Our girls are still beautiful, but only their father could still consider them “little girls.”

No matter how many things have changed, one thing remains the same: The “Mt. Baldy Lesson” still holds true.

Life, like Mt. Baldy, can sometimes be a steep climb. There are times when we kind of stall in our steps – emotionally wrung out and spiritually exhausted – and wonder how we can possibly take another step.  It’s times like this when we should just pause and look at the progress we’ve made.

The steps we made and  lived to tell about.

A few things we need to keep in mind during the climb:

  • There’s a difference between pausing and stopping. Pausing says, “OK. Let me regroup, then I’ll  continue.” Stopping says, “Done.”
  • No one ever said it was going to be easy.
  • If we stop, we’ll just have to start all over again. Then, any progress will have been wasted.
  • When you pause, look back at how far you’ve come. Use that as motivation to go a little further.  Then, pause again. Look back again. Keep using the steps you’ve taken to fuel the ones you have left.
  • No matter which one of life’s steep journeys you’re on, remember that stopping isn’t an option. The only way you’re going to get there is to keep going.
  • Don’t beat yourself up when you feel tired or “wrung out.”  Just keep going – even a shaky step is still a step.
  • No one else can understand your journey unless they’ve walked in your steps.  If I were to mention “Mt. Baldy” to my husband and daughters, they’d grimace. They walked the walk so they know the talk. If I mentioned “Mt. Baldy” to my favorite cashier at Kroger, she wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about. She might even say something like, “Oh, it couldn’t have been that bad.”   Then she wouldn’t be my favorite cashier anymore.
  • The view from the top is something you’ll never forget.

Again, twenty years later, the experience is still something I remember vividly – just like it was yesterday.

Find your strength. Keep going.  You will make it.

 

Review: Bend Your Brain (From the Minds Behind “Marbles” The Brain Store)

151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (And Grow) Your Mind

Bend Your Brain
Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind has a few questions for you: Want to get your frontal lobe breaking a sweat? Make your blood pump to your cerebellum? Stretch your occipital lobe to its limits?

If you’re as interested in mental fitness and brain health as I am, you’ll answer this question with a question of your own: How soon can we begin?!

Fortunately, you can begin the second you get your hands on this outstanding book. Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind is actually more than a book, if we’re being honest here. It’s more of a workout program for the part of our body that is probably taken more for granted than any other part.  Which is perfectly ridiculous when you consider that it runs the whole shebang.

Bend Your Brain
From the Back Cover:

Then you need to bend your brain! This first book from the team behind Marbles: The Brain Store, a chain devoted to building better brains, offers puzzles and brain teasers to help enhance memory, build problem-solving skills, and reduce stress.
Since Marbles started helping people play their way to a healthier brain, they’ve sold, solved, and been stumped by more than their fair share of puzzles. Along the way, they’ve learned which puzzles tie people in knots (not in a good way) and which ones make the neurons downright giddy. With the help of their in-house team of BrainCoaches and access to cutting-edge neuroscience, they’ve designed these puzzles to keep your mind flexible and fit.
Arranged in five key brain categories—visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination, and memory—Bend Your Brain offers a variety of puzzles ranging from mind-warming (easy) to mind-blowing (hard!):

·  Connecting the dots? More like working your spatial-orientation skills.
·  Identifying famous smiles? Flexing your visual memory.
·  Taking a closer look at your keyboard? Coding, storing, and retrieving.
·  Word-doku? Summoning cognitive abilities like appraisal, inference, impulse control, and evaluation.
·  Word scrambles? Tapping your brain’s association areas.

Your brain is your most important muscle, so let the brain-building begin! –  Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind

Bend Your Brain
I have to say, I love everything about “Bend Your Brain.”  I know the STELLAR reputation Marbles: The Brain Store has in the mental fitness world.  When it comes to brain fitness, Marbles is “all in.”  They invest their hearts, bodies, and souls into discovering how the brain works, what it needs to keep working at an optimum level, where problems can arise, and what steps can be taken to avoid these problems.  I’d have as much confidence in their teachings on brain health as I would Rachael Ray’s teachings on cooking, Jillian Michael’s teachings on physical fitness, Albert Pujols’ teachings on swinging a baseball bat…

Well, you get the idea. We’re talking about experts in their chosen field.

MARBLES: THE BRAIN STORE is in malls across the country. They’ve been featured in Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, USA Today, and Wired, as well as on the Today show and Martha Stewart Living.  Like I said… experts.

While the book is flexible, the cover is made of a very sturdy material – it isn’t the type of “romance novel” paper covers that dog-ear or tear. It’s ideal for curling up in a comfy chair with a pencil and a hot Chai Tea Latte as you treat your mind to a FUN and STIMULATING workout.  I’m, perhaps, more familiar with brain games and brain puzzles than the average person. Another one of my blogs (“Out of Bounds“) involves mental fitness and brain health.  While doing research for the articles on “Out of Bounds,” I’ve bought and used countless books with “brain stimulating” puzzles.

Frankly, there are quite a few on the market that are outstanding. However, the puzzles throughout Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind are different from other puzzles I’ve seen in other books. Bend Your Brain does a much better job of letting you know WHY you need each type of puzzle.  I also love the fact that the puzzles address the five key brain categories (visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination, and memory).

What good would it be to focus on just one or two?!?!

If I were to recommend one book for the individual who is interested in protecting and strengthening their mind, this would be the book.  The puzzles are a PERFECT blend of challenging, very challenging, and OMG challenging.  What’s more, they’re a lot of fun!

If you’re looking to strengthen your mind and memory, increase self-confidence, and even improve your problem-solving skills, Bend Your Brain shouldn’t just be the next book you buy… it has to be the next book you buy.

Click through and learn more about Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind. Trust me, this is one you and your brain are going to love.

Bend Your Brain Book Review
Note: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. The opinions are entirely my own.

Quote of the Day: Kind Words are the Music of the World

Just In Case You Forgot How Beautiful Kindness Is...

Inspirational Quote about Kindness
Kind words are the music of the world. They have a power that seems to be beyond natural causes, as though they were some angel’s song which had lost its way and come back to earth. – Anonymous

More Quotes About Kindness

Great Quote About the Calming Effects of Tea

There's a Great Deal of Comfort in a Cup of Tea

Quote About Tea
This morning, my trip to the grocery store wasn’t as uneventful as it normally is. Seems my car’s brakes forgot how to do their job.  Thankfully when I first noticed their sudden case of amnesia I was in a parking lot so I was going really slow.  So thankfully I didn’t hit anyone or anything.

Just as it approaches that time of year when my brain begins to think about the holidays, Christmas shopping, and all the wonderful things that come from September – December… that’s when my car says, “You know what’d be cool right now? A big fat Mechanic Shop bill!”

It has such a sick idea of good times.

As soon as I got back home, I did the only thing I could do or needed to do.  I poured myself a big tall glass of sweet tea and everything was right with the world again.

Tea is the comfort food of drinks, isn’t it?  I love it for that.

The quote at the top is from a great book I recently reviewed on my tea blog. The book’s aptly titled Tea Wisdom and it’s absolutely a little beauty.  Click the title to read more about this book and see more tea quotes.

As for me, I think my day calls for another pot of tea.

Occupations with High Rates of Substance Abuse (Infographic)

Based on The National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Occupations with High Rates of Substance Abuse
If you find yourself in a battle with substance abuse, don’t try to fight it alone! Formidable foes (which “abuse” of any kind certainly qualifies for) call for more than just one hero. Contact someone in your community and/or click through the infographic shown above for more information.

When it comes to standing up to any sort of abuse (mental, substance, physical..) there’s power in numbers. Repeat after me: I don’t have to do this alone!

Thou Shalt Not Whine by January Jones

Thou Shalt Not Whine! Advice for Growing Older without Whining From Author January Jones

In the hilarious, yet equally thought-provoking, book Thou Shalt Not Whine, author January Jones reminds us of a pit people tend to fall into as they grow older. They tend to complain (yes, maybe even whine) about their age. They often develop a mindset of expecting others to do things for them…

Why? Because they’re old.

Some expect to be able to get away with rudeness…

Why? Because they’re old.

Many will complain, at great length, to anyone and everyone about their aches, pains, creaks, and… yes… even bathroom visits.

Why?  Oh, you know.

January Jones, in a witty, insightful style that’s all her own, has this great advice for people who complain about getting older: She suggests to simply stop looking in the mirror and to act any age you choose – preferably the age you remember as the best time of your life.

Beautiful.

Read my Thou Shalt Not Whine Review on Self Help Daily.

Thou Shalt Not Whine: The Eleventh Commandment: What We Whine About, Why We Do It and How to Stop is available on Amazon (paperback) and is also available for Kindle – meaning you can start laughing right away!

The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you… If you don’t, life controls you.  – Anthony Robbins

How to Make it Through the First Year of Sobriety (Special Article)

Help for Those Re-Covering from Addiction

Below is an article that’s being shared with Self Help Daily’s readers who, quite possibly, find themselves fighting for a better life.  Sometimes you need a little help when fighting worthy opponents – fortunately, help isn’t just out there, it’s readily available!

How to Make it Through Sobriety      Sobriety Help
The risk of addiction relapse is highest during the first year of a recovering addict’s sobriety. Acute withdrawal from alcohol or drugs may last only about a week to 10 days, but even after acute withdrawal ends, a recovering addict may continue to struggle with feelings of depression, mental fogginess, memory problems and other symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS. These symptoms may last throughout the first year of sobriety.

Recovering addicts may also struggle in their first year of sobriety because they lack the coping skills they need to deal with normal life challenges and stress — and the first year of recovery is a time of high stress. Most newly sober addicts are still reeling from the loss of what had become their only source of pleasure and comfort — substances. In addition, they’re also dealing with the emotional fallout of their addiction and may be facing, for the first time, the emotional pain that first led them to abuse drugs and alcohol.

In order to make it through the difficult and emotionally fraught first year of recovery, addicts need to attend an inpatient rehab program. However, the work doesn’t end when rehab does — in many ways, it’s just beginning. Addicts leaving rehab need to have a continuing care plan in place that includes the 12-Step program, outpatient counseling and a basic understanding of self-care.

Inpatient Treatment Can Make or Break Your Recovery

For the addict who truly wants to get and stay sober, inpatient treatment should be the first step. In order to be effective, a residential addiction treatment program should last at least four weeks. Many programs last as long as 90 days, and some will allow patients to remain in the facility for as long as they and their counselors see fit. A 90-day stay in an inpatient rehab facility can lay a solid foundation on which you can build a lifetime of sobriety. Not spending enough time in inpatient treatment, or skipping it altogether, however, can derail your recovery before it even has a chance to get under way.

Spend Time in Sober Living

You should think twice about heading straight home and jumping right back into your regular routine the minute you leave your inpatient treatment facility. If you’re like many recovering addicts, you’ll be facing the demands of the world while completely sober for the first time in years. You need some time to adjust to functioning in society again in a sober environment where you can continue to enjoy some protection from temptation.

Entering a sober living facility for a month or two will make it easier for you to focus on re-adjusting to normal life, since you won’t have to worry so much about resisting temptation. It will take the pressure off your loved ones, too, since they won’t have to worry about watching you for signs of substance abuse. Many sober living homes also offer some level of addiction counseling.

Participate in the 12-Step Program

One of the biggest advantages of the 12-Step program is its size — no matter where you are, you will have access to a meeting. Many addiction experts and recovering addicts recommend that people new to recovery attend 90 meetings in 90 days. While this might seem like a lot of meetings, it’s an important way to establish a sober support network for yourself, in the form of sober friends and a sober sponsor and begin learning how you can navigate the ups and downs of life without substances. Once the 90 days are over, you can attend less often as long as it doesn’t compromise your recovery.

Stay in Counseling

While you’ve no doubt made significant progress in uncovering the roots of your substance abuse disorder in counseling during your inpatient treatment program, you will need continued counseling to completely resolve these issues. You may choose an outpatient treatment program, where you continue to go to group and individual counseling at night for three to five days a week. Alternatively, you may begin seeing a counselor who specializes in addiction issues one-on-one. The important thing is that you continue with therapy. Many recovering addicts stay in therapy even after the first year of sobriety is up.

Take Care of Yourself

The most important thing you can do to help yourself through the first year of your sobriety is to learn about the symptoms of PAWS and what to do about them if you recognize them in yourself. Even if you do not develop PAWS symptoms, you need to focus on caring for yourself physically and emotionally from now on. Make getting enough sleep, exercising, eating right and making time for the things you enjoy a priority in your life. As a recovering addict, it’s especially important that you rediscover how to take pleasure in normal, wholesome fun again, so make time every day to do things you enjoy. Keep trying out new things, too — you might just discover your next favorite hobby.

The first year of recovery is the hardest. In order to make it through your first 12 months of sobriety, you’re going to need to commit to working hard at your recovery every day. It won’t be easy, but in the end, it will be worth it.