C is for Connect

Part  6 in this B-A-L-A-N-C-E Your Life Series.

The Creation of Man by Michelangelo Sistine ChapelThe age-old question, “Why am I here?” can be answered with one simple response: To connect…with all living beings. Balance can be found by exploring the external world around you and also the internal world through your thinking and self-expression. The value of deep connection with all living beings ranks among the top pleasures in my life. Sharing a stimulating conversation with a good friend. Serving a family member in need of support. Snuggling with a loyal pet. Here are four ways that you can connect with the world:

Connect to Others. When you connect with others on a deep – not a superficial – level, it helps you to see the world from a broader perspective. Some of my longtime relationships began with a chance meeting which led to an open conversation. I am the person I am today because of the hundreds of people I have met on my life’s journey. Whether they were strangers whom I met on an airplane or people who I met at a business event, there was a magic moment in time and space that we shared in deep conversation. Who is waiting to share a similar moment with you?

Connect Others to Each Other. Some people are born matchmakers who love to introduce people to each other. They see some commonality that the two people share, like the same profession, personal interest or hobby. When you connect people to each other, it positions you as someone who cares about others’ interests, not just your own. The best part of bringing people together is to see what comes of that connection. Were other introductions made? Was a job position filled? Or did a lifelong friendship begin? To think…it all started with you thinking of how certain people needed to meet each other. Who can you connect to each other?

Connect to Nature. If you spend most of your days indoors, take the time – even if it’s just five minutes – to get outside and “get back to nature” as the saying goes. You may live in the concrete jungle, yet, it is not your natural state. Nature naturally strips away any manmade facade and presents itself in its simplest form of beauty. Whether enjoying a simple act like feeling the breeze on your skin or experiencing a moment of spectacular beauty like a double rainbow, from simple to sublime, nature anchors you in the present moment. It reminds you how awe-inspiring nature is. How can you connect with nature each day?

Connect to Yourself. “I feel so disconnected from my life” is a frequent comment made by people trying to keep up with life’s hectic pace. Is that even possible to be disconnected from your own life when you are the one who’s living it? What you feel is a lack of control over what is happening in your life. How do you change that and feel more connected? Invest the time in yourself every day, even if it’s taking just five to ten minutes, to reflect on where you are and what you need right now. When you take the time to connect to yourself, it will help to keep your life in balance. How can you find that deeper connection to yourself?

Imagine that you are interviewing yourself. What reflective questions would you ask yourself? Here are a few starters:

How am I feeling right now?

What is causing me to feel that way?

What would I have to do to feel like I am more in control of my life?

What’s taking up too much time in my life right now that keeps me out of balance?

What type of support network do I need to help me with smaller tasks that eat up too much of my time?

What minor adjustments could I make to feel more in control and balanced in my life?

Now that you are getting the hang of it, add some of your own questions and have that conversation with yourself. You may experience some mini revelations that could lead you closer to living a balanced life.


Thank You, Robin Williams

(The B-A-L-A-N-C-E Series will resume next week)



Dear Robin,

I remember watching you on Mork & Mindy way back in the late 1970s, asking myself, “Who is this guy?” I had never seen – or heard – anyone like you. And I haven’t ever since. Your unique brand of comedic brilliance captured my heart the moment I laid eyes on you. You touched so many lives – including mine – and I wanted to simply say Thank You.

Thank You for being you. There is no one else like you, nor will there ever be. Your unique world view and your vulnerability drew us closer in to you. You held nothing back. For any person who has ever felt marginalized, bullied, alienated, abandoned or maligned, you reminded us that every person has value.

Thank You for spreading laughter around the world. Your incomparable quick wit, rapid-fire retorts and character impersonations transported us far away from the troubles and struggles of everyday life. You gave us permission to laugh and reminded us to not  take life so seriously.

Thank You for having such a big heart. You donated countless hours of your time to charity functions and social causes, raising awareness and millions of dollars for people in need around the globe. Your selfless acts of kindness have changed – and will continue to change – people’s lives forever.

Thank You for sharing the love. You treated each person as an equal. Even those you poked fun at, you threw those verbal zingers with love. The light that emanated from your eyes touched others who felt that love and energy. Your smile alone made others smile.

And Thanks…for the memories, as Bob Hope said. You stood on the shoulders of comedy’s giants (well, sometimes you took a flying leap from those shoulders) and brought your unique brand of comedy to the stage and into our hearts. Your legacy lives on in your children, in your body of remarkable work and in every person you mentored over the years. You remain in our hearts forever.

Na-nu, Na-nu.

N is for Nourish Your Body, Mind and Spirit

Part 5 in this B-A-L-A-N-C-E Your Life Series.

Public Health Dialogue: mental health and wellbeingOne of the best ways to balance your life is to nourish your body, mind and spirit. Even if you are a selfless person, deriving great joy from serving others, a little selfishness is a necessity to pause and center yourself. You do that by taking care of yourself first – your body, mind and spirit.

Nourish Your Body.  You will often hear an elder say, “Thank goodness I still have my health.” Without your health, you cannot live a full life. Part of that health includes taking care of your body through proper nutrition, hydration, exercise and rest. Take stock of what you put into your body. Healthy dining – and recipes – are readily available and abundant. Most major metropolitan cities and even small towns feature weekly Farmer’s Markets, delivering fresh produce to consumers. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs allow you to purchase a share or half share of a local farmer’s seasonal produce. Farm to table – it doesn’t get any fresher than that.

Now look at what you do to your body. How physically active are you? My father’s generation did everything themselves. They were more physically active completing day-to-day tasks. He mowed the lawn every week. He lived to be almost 88. Today, much physical activity has been delegated to others to do: Laundry, cleaning the house, washing the car, lawn and garden care, interior and exterior home repairs. Back in my Dad’s time, each of those activities brought with it a certain amount of daily physical fitness. Today, that delegation can sometimes mean physical inactivity or complacency.

Last, look at how much rest you need. When you are finished with the day’s activities, are you getting enough sleep? Every person’s needs are slightly different. I learned how to nap when I was in nursery school. The habit of napping carried me through college. It still serves me well today. If you want to know how much sleep your body truly needs, then try this on a weekend: Don’t set the alarm. See how much time your body needs to feel fully refreshed. What new habit will help you to nourish your body?

Nourish Your Mind. Beyond keeping your body physically active, you must also keep your mind alert and active. Keeping your mind active is important to your overall wellbeing, especially as you age. Here are a few of my favorite ways to nourish your mind: Find a quiet place and meditate. Enjoy a stimulating conversation with someone (not just the usual “What did you do this weekend?” question. Discuss deeper issues). Learn something new every day. Activate your right brain (creative thinking, dreaming) and your left brain (problem solving, analyzing). Engage your brain with puzzles and word jumbles. One of my favorite brain health apps is LumosityWhat new habit will help you to nourish your mind?

Nourish Your Spirit. Beyond your human, physical being is your spiritual being, that part of you that puts you in touch with the life force that is bigger than you. Some call it God, Allah, Buddha, The Great Spirit, or simply The Universe. The New Age movement of the 1960s and 1970s pushed open the thinking about blending  science and spirituality to create a more unified, holistic way of thinking and being. For me, the connection to my spiritual side comes from time spent away from any usual day-to-day activities that allows me to spend time alone in retreat and quiet reflection. My greatest spiritual companion is nature. A walk in nature helps to anchor me and remind me about what is most important in life. What new habit will help you to nourish your spirit?

When you invest the time in yourself to nourish your body, mind and spirit, you will live a full, well balanced life.