Common Sense Health: My New Year’s Inspirations
By Maureen “Mo” McDonnell, RN
Why the word inspirations in the title instead of the more typical term: New Year’s “Resolutions”? Basically, the word choice had to do with the fact that “resolution” to me denotes struggle, effort and forcing myself to do something I don’t really want to do. Inspiration, on the other hand resonates in a more encouraging way as it brings to mind a sense of enthusiasm or feeling positively stimulated to take action. It’s a subtle difference, but one that I am more in tune with these days. The result of paying attention to how I feel and acting from a place of inspiration (instead of a self-imposed military-like resolve) is that I am happier, more productive and healthier than I’ve been in years.
I wasn’t exactly raised with an understanding of how, or why to check in with my own feelings and wait to feel inspired before jumping into a relationship, taking on a new job or solving a problem. Instead, I typically just dug in my heels, committed to do something and regardless of how I felt physically or emotionally I pushed through until the goal was accomplished.
I’ve since learned that “inspirations” don’t feel so compulsory or intense. They tend to gently bubble up from a place deep inside causing a sense of eagerness and excitement. When I act on them, circumstances and events turn out to be incredibly positive and affirming.
Another form of inspiration:
Being in tune to the subtle messages our body gives us is another form of inspiration, and the simple act of listening to and trusting our body can be a powerful healing tool. Most of us were taught to deny or override symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, stomach upset and pain. As a young mom, I recall feeling worn out and or experiencing intense PMS and either trying to ignore the signals or taking medication to mask them; all the while discounting the wisdom of my body. There are still times when I don’t stop and listen and I then pay the price. However, when I do slow down enough and ask my body to help me understand what I can do to get back in balance, I most often gain great insight and feel inspired to act on the responses. The message I get back may be to exercise more, take more hot baths in Magnesium-rich-Epsom salt, get a massage, decrease my wine consumption (a tough one indeed), do a gentle detox, eat less dairy, caffeine, sugar or gluten, etc.
So moving forward into the New Year, instead of making a list of obligatory resolutions to: eat healthier, exercise more, get that blood work done, be kinder, more patient (can you feel the self-judgment and intensity building?), I instead want to listen to my body and take more walks, rest when I need to and wait for and act on the subtle whispers that I receive just as I awake.
Not acting until feeling inspired to do so is not lazy, it is trusting in the innate wisdom of our own inner guidance system and to my knowledge that system never fails or takes us down the wrong path. If confusion arises as to which part of you is providing the answers and therefore which answers to trust, know that “The mind shouts, and the heart whispers.”
Pushing against or through something is rarely the answer. Identifying the problems and allowing the solutions to emerge from an inspired place within us feels so much more a relaxed, peaceful and (believe it or not) productive way to maneuver through the New Year.
My New Year’s Inspirations:
• Positive thinking: The simple act of switching the channel when my thoughts bring me down a negative road is probably one of the most profoundly inspirational and rewarding techniques I’ve ever practiced. I never knew I had the option to control and change my thoughts, beliefs, feelings and hence my reality simply by choosing to see the brighter or higher side of a person or circumstance. A secret I’ve learned is to catch the negative thought within the first few seconds before it has the chance to fester, grow and build momentum.
• Super Foods: The more I learn about these interesting, anti-oxidant rich, health enhancing superfoods (such as Cacao, Goji Berries, Maca, Acai, etc.), the more I feel inspired to try each and every one of them. Since I still have a lot to learn about them, I’m also feeling very inspired to research and report back about them to you in my next article.
• Exercise: Don’t ask me why I’m feeling inspired to start jogging again. But, since I’m returning to this activity after years of just walking, I know I have to really listen to my body (especially my knees). Riding on the enthusiasm and motivation I currently feel though, I’m looking forward to getting back to and enjoying this body toning activity.
• Enjoying Life: Whether it’s starting the book I’ve always wanted to write, being fully present while in conversation with a friend or colleague, drinking in a sunset, (or a fine glass of red wine), I want to savor the moments which make up my life.
• Appreciation: Nothing inspires me more than making a list of all the people and circumstances that have truly changed my life, and feeling a sense of gratitude for each and every one of them.
As I mentioned in the opening: The upshot of paying attention to how I feel and acting from a place of inspiration (instead of resolving to change) has resulted in my feeling happier, more productive and healthier than I’ve been in years. So my wish for you in 2014 is that you don’t resolve or struggle to do anything. Instead I hope you’ll make your own list of Inspirations and enjoy the heck out of your life in the New Year!
Maureen “Mo” McDonnell, RN is the health editor of WNC Woman Magazine and is available to speak to small groups on health topics ranging from breast health, healthy aging, natural approaches to ADHD and Autism, and the importance of detoxing the liver for weight loss and optimal wellness. Maureen is the Medical Coordinator of the Imus Ranch for Kids with Cancer in New Mexico, the co-founder of Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet (SOKHOP.com), an Arbonne consultant and owner of Nutritionist’s Choice vitamins. She and her husband have six grandkids and feel blessed to be living in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina.