Posted by: Brenda Kula | August 14, 2008

Mental Stretching Exercises


I know this is a rather strange photo above. It is me looking through a set of windchimes in my yard. I had a thought while I was framing it. These snapshots are absentminded that I take almost daily. They are random. But sometimes they teach you something you just need to know. This shot, once I had it in the camera frame, said, “When you’re looking at something in life, note what’s in the background. Because that is part of the story. In essence, it is also part of the answer you are seeking.”

Last night I stood in the darkness at my front gate, arms folded over it, and stared up at the full moon through the pine trees overhead. And the thought occurred to me: “You are in the full moon of your life.”

And so I am. I am 51 years old. This was ripe with meaning for me.

I have been dealing with chest pain and asthma for a good month. When you find it hard and painful to take a deep breath, you all of a sudden realize that those easy and painfree breaths you take day in and day out are everything. I don’t know if this was coincidental or not. But last night, after that thought, I began to relax. And I realized that I’d been holding my body tight as a stretched rubber band for who knows how long now. Anticipating events that may or may not happen. And that’s just not really living to the fullest.

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I’ve been perched on the edge of my seat, awaiting what might come with dread and anxiety. And forgot all about the moment.

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I have been doing stretching exercises for my back twice per day for over eleven years now. To help with the pain. And this keeps my body relaxed, and less prone to injury.

I thought, maybe that’s what I need to do with my mind. Make myself stop, breathe in deeply, be fully in the moment, and enjoy it. Yes, what may or may not come to pass in this relationship may not be affected by this. But I will be taking back control of my life. My mental health. My emotional survival.

You hurry along, and miss the snapshots that can be beautiful in their simplicity because you try to get the whole visual in perspective. You want to show viewers what you see. But by focusing in on the smallest of details, you find something you never even noticed before.

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And quite frankly, it’s all in the way you frame the shot. It’s all in the way you live in the moment. Because all we really have is the journey. And at the end of that journey, if we haven’t enjoyed the everyday ride, then we have missed the entire event.

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I tell everyone else to “stop and smell the roses.” But I haven’t been doing it myself. I’ve been looking past today and what’s in the camera frame right now, and worrying and pissing it all away on what may happen tomorrow.

I truly am glad to be the age I am. I’m not embarrassed to tell how old I am, and I’m not going to do a thing about those wrinkles becoming more evident every day. Because with age comes a certain wisdom. A slowing down. And all the quotes you gather over the years; you realize that those people were just trying to tell you: “hey, this is what you’ll learn, as I have.”

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I leave you today with sage words from Anna Eleanor Roosevelt:

“Life was meant to be lived, and curiousity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”

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Responses

  1. Yes! You are so right, we do need to enjoy the journey, and not be hung up on “what ifs”. I am guilty of that, and trying to change is so difficult! I think I’ll try setting aside some time each day for mental exercises, too.

  2. You have made me stop and think Brenda. What happened in the past is over. We can’t control the future. Why not just enjoy each day and see where it takes us and celebrate our little victories.

    Hugs,
    Gretchen

  3. What an inspirational post today. We all could benefit from this sage advice. What a lovely poem by Eleanor Roosevelt.

  4. very neat. I have been debating upon what angle to take with my post for tomorrow. I have been thinking about the e-mails we’ve shared about “being real, honest & upfront”. I finally thought, I would just go with the cute little post… but now, after reading this, I’m back to debating. 🙂 thanks for making me “think” so much. xoxo, Joanna

  5. Hi Brenda,
    Nice to meet you.
    You have a very nice blog!!
    Thanks for visiting me.
    Rosemary

  6. Great post . I need to do just that… stop and breathe…..

  7. Absolutely wonderful, thought provoking post!

  8. Excellent post Brenda. I sure hope your anxiety attacks lessen with your mental exercising. I am glad to be reminded of this valuable lesson.

    A counselor once told me that I had to realize that the only thing I can control is myself. Nothing I do will necessarily change the course of someone else’s actions. Happiness comes from doing what you know is right …… acting not just reacting.

    Love your observation and the chance to reflect.

    ((hugs)) Rosie

  9. Excellent post Brenda. I sure hope your anxiety attacks lessen with your mental exercising. I am glad to be reminded of this valuable lesson.

    A counselor once told me that I had to realize that the only thing I can control is myself. Nothing I do will necessarily change the course of someone else’s actions. Happiness comes from doing what you know is right …… acting not just reacting.

    Love your observation and the chance to reflect.

    ((hugs)) Rosie

  10. Excellent post Brenda. I sure hope your anxiety attacks lessen with your mental exercising. I am glad to be reminded of this valuable lesson.

    A counselor once told me that I had to realize that the only thing I can control is myself. Nothing I do will necessarily change the course of someone else’s actions. Happiness comes from doing what you know is right …… acting not just reacting.

    Love your observation and the chance to reflect.

    ((hugs)) Rosie

  11. Another though-provoking post. With a sick loved one, I have learned to embrace joyful simplicities such as taking the time to pet the cats, started reading books again, and last Sunday, I made it thru the day without touching the computer!

    Have a lovely evening. It’s cool here in RI due to rain. It feels like fall!

  12. What a very, very good post today, Brenda. Thank you for sharing. And thank you for stopping by today to say hello. Thank you for being such a strong support and encouragement for/to me. *hugs*

  13. How many times have we heard that old saying about taking time to smell the flowers, but still most of us, don’t pay attention. We are mind, body and spirit and if we neglect our mental health, our body and spirit will suffer. We need to keep all three healthy.

  14. Amen to you sister. You got it just right.
    Many Blessings, Virginia

  15. Brenda,
    Just the reminder I needed as I return to school for my 21st year! I do tend to get pretty uptight trying to get everything done! I hope you feel better too!
    Blessings,
    Lorilee

  16. Hi Brenda,
    This is a beautiful post. I am guilty of not taking the time to live the moment…always feeling pressured to do this or that.

    Thanks for this sweet and poetic reminder that we need to live and enjoy all of lifes moments.
    diane

  17. Hi Brenda!!
    I am back and I am so tired but a good tired.I love the new bathroom soooo pretty !!
    And yes you are right stop and smell the roses and what ever delight is around you, remember to do something that makes YOU happy every day.I will put up pics soon, too tired right now.Just wanted to give you sign of life.
    Diane

  18. Brenda, you are not alone! Love the message you sent as you must enjoy the response to your heartfelt post. Each precious moment is a gift, that’s why it’s called ‘the present’!

  19. That is what I tell my family all the time! But even then, I need to be reminded to stop, slow down and take another look.
    Thanks Brenda. It’s always a pleasure visiting.

  20. Brenda, What a wonderful post! I keep telling others much the same thing–enjoy the moment–but find I don’t always do the same. It is important to stop and enjoy the here and now or one day we will find that life has passed us by.

  21. I know how you feel. Being able to breathe is a major thing in life. This summer has been very hard for me. The smoke has made my life miserable with treatments every 3 hours most everyday just so I can breathe. Its been hard but I just keep plugging away thinking tomorrow will be better and the air will be clear. Well its clearing here but now I am going back to work. More stress and less time to visit with friends here online. So I am having a hard time breathing for more then one reason. I have to remember to let it go and just relax. Thanks for posting this(-:

  22. What a beautiful, affirming post, Brenda. I love the idea of being in the “full moon of my life.” And by the way, those wind chime photos with the palm background are wonderful.

  23. Brenda, You say you’ve not been following your own advice? Me too. I try to encourage others not to become discouraged but then I remember a saying I heard a long time ago that makes so much sense:
    “WE TEACH WHAT WE NEED TO LEARN”. I think that sometimes, when we are encouraging others, we are seeding the throughts in our own minds and spirits and hoping they’ll take root. I’m so glad I found your blog. You have a lot to say, you’re a very deep and introspective and kind person and your photos are a window into how lovely your thoughts are.
    Diane

  24. Good morning Brenda 🙂

    Beautiful post. It’s harder to take our own advice than it is the advice of others I think. I hope you really have found the peace your are looking for within.

    BTW, a mutual friend (hint: resembles a disney character) had the baby, but I’m keeping it quiet because of certain relatives of hers, but I wanted you to know they are both fine and doing well 🙂

    hugs,
    rue

  25. What wonderful thoughts, Brenda. Good advice too. Thanks for causing me to take time to think about my life today.
    Hugs, Rhondi

  26. Wonderful post, Brenda! I’m 43 and my hubby’s 57 and yes, we need to stretch and savor the moment far more than we do. I think we’ve relaxed in a lot of ways simply because we’ve had to, or else 🙂 I love your posts, even the rants about society (actually, I ESPECIALLY like those, ha!) because they are from your perspective of a place of wisdom. I think we have opinions when we’re our ages because of things we’ve learned from the prior years, and those thoughts are valuable. I’m so glad you share yours! Thank you 🙂


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