Tag Archives: joy

Elusive Pleasures: Aging with Erroneous Beliefs

Standard
Elusive Pleasures: Aging with Erroneous Beliefs

 

Last week I wrote about sprinkler heads.

Why would anyone stop to read about sprinkler heads?

Because it’s really about pleasure, and adapting to changes that block pleasure.

Maybe for you, it’s the sound of rain on the roof. Or perhaps you’re drawn to the beach, where the rhythmic splash of the surf and the caress of warm breezes relaxes your soul. Some prefer the mountains, with the scent of pine, and expansive views. Still others are drawn to the city, where light and movement dance all night. Wherever you’ve found yourself prone to relax, forget your stressors and relish the moment, that’s the spot.

That’s the spot I’m writing about.

I’m writing about our brains associating sensations (like the sound of the sprinklers) with pleasure. But then something happens to that spot:

  • The sprinkler heads need replacing, and the new ones make a different sound
  • Construction of a ten-story condominium interrupts your favorite spot at the beach
  • A stuffy nose blocks you from the aroma of pine trees on your mountain hike
  • The building across the street hangs a huge neon sign that blocks your view of the city

And the pleasure is gone.

That’s what I’m writing about!

We all relate to pleasure. We want pleasure. We need pleasure. Without pleasure, life is drudgery.

So how do we find pleasure once it’s gone?

(That’s why you’re reading an article that started out being about sprinklers!)

This five-part series can get you back to pleasure.

Today, I’m going to share with you a little more in depth about an obstacle I’m facing that is more challenging than changing sprinkler heads. It’s an obstacle that has been steadily crimping my pleasure for several years now, and one that I think many of you can relate to:

Elusive Pleasures: Aging with Erroneous Beliefs

Aging. Dang it! I was going to knock around the tennis ball with my husband well into my 70’s. I was going to be that 80-year old still running the 5-K. I was going to dance in sexy high-heels well into my 90’s. I was going to lift bags of potting soil and bend over to tend the garden perhaps to 100.

Something ordinary and un-interesting blocked those pleasures well before their time: aging. In this aging body, they’ve labeled it many things: fibromyalgia (which I called the boogie monster in this article), arthritis, bone spurs, bulging discs and even a non-bony union of the subtalar joint. (Geez!) Whatever they’ve called it, it’s been one thing after another, and it’s left me with a choice between:

getting to do the active things I love           or

check feeling good enough to function in daily responsibilities.

I fought it for a while. When my right shoulder hurt all the time, I taught my left arm to swing the racket. Then my left shoulder hurt. With both shoulders, a hip, low back and ankle hurting, I finally left the tennis court.

gif funny tennis game over aging pleasure
Credit senorgifcom

 

 

Eventually, even less strenuous activities like ballroom dance, yoga, biking, walking and gardening produced more pain than pleasure.

For many people, this is “just part of aging.” They don’t talk much about it. They just don’t do as much as they used to do.

But hold on. . . Does aging have to mean life without pleasure? Is aging a slow process of peeling back the layers of pleasure until, at last, we’re ready to say goodbye to this cruel world?

I stepped back to think on this. Does aging have to equal lack of pleasure?

Elusive Pleasures: Aging with Erroneous Beliefs Be sure to read this second in a five-part series designed to help you restore pleasue after losing it! This is not just for the aging, it is for anyone who is experiencing a loss of pleasure!

(Selah)

If pleasure is associated with sensations and neural connections are involved, and I’ve associated being an active elder with pleasure, can my brain connections be changed?

What is it about my hope of being an active older person that gives me pleasure?

Is the pleasure response from activities like running, playing tennis, dancing, yoga, biking, walking and gardening only from their associated sensations? Is it just from the proprioceptive feedback from pounding of my feet on the pavement? Is it just from the cardiovascular exchanges and the toxic release of sweat rolling down my face as I dart side to side across the clay to reach the yellow ball? Is it just from the visual and vestibular feedback of seeing the same houses as I bike around our neighborhood day after day? Is it just from the tactile and olfactory signals from the gentle breeze on an evening walk, or the texture of the soil between my gloved hands as I plant a new flower in the yard? Certainly those sensory-neuronal connections release chemicals that produce pleasure, but is that the only thing about it that brings pleasure?

Could that pleasure response also come from something I perceived or believed about those activities?

When I think about the pleasure response that comes from the idea of being an accomplished, active senior, it isn’t really so much about the sound, or the scent, or the tactile input, though they each have their value.

What is it, then?

A new question arises in my mind. Could the idea of being active well into my senior years produce a feeling of pride of achievement? Do I find pleasure in being better-than-average? In beating the odds?

Hmmm.

I have to admit I’ve enjoyed that feeling since childhood. As the fourth of six children, affirmation and attention didn’t come easy for me. As a young child, I found affirmation and attention from being the smart one, the honor roll student, the best and the fastest. I could recite the alphabet before my school-aged brother when I was two years old. I could out-spell all of my older siblings by the time I was eight. I did algebra from my brother’s 9th grade textbook when I was ten, and, by the time I was thirteen, I could cook, clean and budget better than my mother (Sorry, mom). No one would call me lazy! I got positive attention from dancing, from taking care of myself, from being up and ready on time. In short, from outshining my sibs.

Hmmmm. Maybe I’ve held an erroneous belief all these years, and didn’t ever notice it.

(Note: Erroneous because pleasure never should have been from feeling better-than-average in the first place, but that is another story!)

My experience with aging is just one example of how loss of pleasure can be related not only to a change in physical ability and sensations, but also to underlying perceptions or beliefs.

Maybe you’ve had to stop and examine yourself, too. Maybe a challenge you faced persisted to the point that you had to look deeper into yourself to question why you struggled to adapt to your loss. Maybe you didn’t even realize you held erroneous perceptions or beliefs, until you had to stop and examine the matter.

Yet, here we are: a change in sensation, a change in some bodily function, a change in something beyond our control, a change that keeps us from achieving that which we believed would make us feel good– and pleasure eludes us.

What can be done? If aging—and its associated decrease in strenuous activities and impressive performance—continues this way (as it likely will), then where can pleasure be found? And what about you? Whatever it is that you’ve been believing but isn’t working out for your pleasure, can it be changed?

How can we get our brains to release that much-needed pleasure response again? Can changing our underlying beliefs help us find pleasure again?

That’s where we’ll pick up next.

(Click here for part 3 in this 5-part series Elusive Pleasures)

In the meantime, I hope you’ll join this conversation by commenting below (in orange, where its says “Leave a comment.” What changes in sensations, or functions, or other losses seem to rob you of the pleasure response in your brain? What underlying perceptions or beliefs have you identified when you more closely examine your childhood associations?

-Joan

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11, AMPC

 

Elusive Pleasures: Sprinklers in the Garden of Life

Standard
Elusive Pleasures: Sprinklers in the Garden of Life

Comfortably settling into my spot on the back porch for Sunday morning coffee, I notice it.

It doesn’t feel quite right. Something is missing. What is it?

The cushions and pillows cradle and support me as always; the velvety plum-colored pillow fits perfectly on my lap, softly snuggling my hands as they curl around my coffee mug. The coffee is its usual perfect color, aroma and taste as I savor a sip.

I look up. The garden sports more than its usual splendor of blooms. The squirrel, in its ritual leap from the tree to the squirrel-proof bird feeder, cleverly clings to the wire mesh and bounces to get the seeds to fall out. Birds glory in their announcement of another beautiful day. The sprinklers, as timed, emerge for my enjoyment of their rhythmical dance across the lawn.

Yet my usual Sunday-morning-on-the-back-porch-peaceful feeling eludes me. What is it? Read the rest of this entry

Passing

Standard

Untimely for we who stay,

Torn in sore lament–

Time and distance

Ne’er to be breached again;

Not from our doing.

Resigned unto eternity

Or waiting to be joined again Read the rest of this entry

Has Anybody?

Standard

 

“Has anybody told you today?”

“Well, just in case, I’m telling you again: I love you.”

It was his trademark; his brand, calling card. If you saw Mickey, you could count on hearing these words. You could count on a hug and a smile. If not from him directly, from many around you, as he facilitated groups and classes to “get up, tell someone you love them, hug a neck.”

He was the Cowboy Preacher. The Drunk Preacher, some called him. He’d chuckle. I doubt he’d ever had a drop of alcohol in his life.

He sought out drunks, with a purpose, to share God’s amazing love. Read the rest of this entry

ROFLMAO

Standard

I can’t remember the last time I actually rolled on the floor, laughing my ass off. Maybe that would explain the slight but ever so definite widening of this writer’s derriere?

This week’s DP Challenge from WordPress prompts us to remember and share the last time we had a “real, authentic, tearful, hearty belly laugh.” Perhaps the editor is in need of a good laugh. Apparently, so am I!

It’s funny you should ask, WordPress. Just yesterday, I wondered aloud (to a confidant) if I may be getting depressed, maybe need a little medication. I’ve been pushing my mind toward gratitude, happiness, enjoyment, and it keeps sliding back into the gutter where sludge hangs out. Sludge like the PLOM’s (poor little ol’ me’s), BLAHS’s (Boy Look at Her Stuff’s) and the POINTY FINGER’s (Projecting Out In Negative Thinking: Your Fault I’m Not Getting Everything Right!).  There’s been a lot of stress in life in the last year, oh, actually make that in the last fifty-six years (yes, I’ll be fifty-seven soon! Maybe that’s reason enough!). Stress, they say, can lead to depression by depleting the serotonin levels over time.

The prescription, so kindly returned, included practical things to improve my mindset, such as mentally rehearsing all I’m grateful for (check), getting enough sleep (un-check), exercising regularly (getting better, check), making time for friends (yeah, right), and, last but not least, laughing.
“Rent a comedy you’re sure will really make you laugh: belly laugh, can’t stop laughing, rolling on the floor laughter. It’s really good medicine!”
I slumped on through the day, the next morning, and then saw the WordPress challenge for the week. Maybe there’s something to this idea, twice in two days coming at me.

So, dutifully, I Googled movies that are sure to make me roll on the floor laughing.

Reading their reviews, I noticed something odd. All, without exception, had a dark side, a tragedy or relationship struggle, a cancer to battle, you know, really un-funny stuff, blended with “hilarious” antics. It made me wonder, Is it funny because we need something to be funny at that moment? Would it still be funny if you take it out of the context of contrasting misery? They say most comedians come from grossly abusive and dysfunctional families, you know. Anyway, I’m not sure that’s the sort of comedy I need right now. None the less, I selected a few that seemed lighter than most. Here’s my list:

Midnight in Paris

Greenberg

Kick-Ass

MacGruber

Seven Psychopaths

Sleepwalk with Me

This is 40

What do you think? Will any of these actually take me there? What funny movie or show do you recommend?

Hopefully at least one of these movies will get me ROFLMAO. Real. Authentic. Tearful. Hearty. Belly Laughs. Then I can tell you why it’s funny.

In the mean time, something happened to remind me that someone around me may need encouragement more than I. It only took a minute to give that person some positive feedback. Guess what? I feel better, for two days now. I think she does too.

So for now, I’ll be happy with feeling better, but I won’t turn down a hearty laugh as soon as it finds me.

Thanks, WordPress!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9_fjZHcs2bY

©Joan T. Warren

Reblog of my Daughter’s Amazing Post Today

Standard

You’ve read here about my daughter a bit, and you’ve seen some of my daughter’s photography. Now, be blown away with her most recent post:

http://theopenbench.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-yellow-brick-road.html

©DenesiaChristine on Instagram, View from Yellow Brick Road

©DenesiaChristine on Instagram, View from Yellow Brick Road

She is amazing. I love her so much–I am spilling with clichés to try to tell you, but I guess you can imagine, if you read this.

© Joan T Warren

Hope, Joy, and. . . Chores? A Blog Event!

Standard

153530199Surfing around WordPress and the blogging communities, one occasionally stumbles upon a pearl of great price. Pearls that delight the soul, engender camaraderie and inspire creative joy! One of the beauties of blogging is sharing these pearls. In that light, this post is a Blog Event, so that we can share pearls of encouragement with one another.

So, here is your challenge: Write about a time when you needed encouragement and then stumbled upon a pearl of great price. Try to stay within the topics hope, joy and/or expressing love in the mundane (i.e., chores). Your comments should include your story (or a link to your story) and a link to the site that you feel is a pearl. The list will grow and we’ll have a read-a-fest that’s sure to encourage!

Here are a few blog posts  that lit me up this week–just click on the orange links to read them:

http://reowr.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/the-treasure/#comment-5059

http://lenarigby.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/oh-afflicted-one/comment-page-1/#comment-3

http://belasbrightideas.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/making-the-bed/

image

Shape.com and belasbrightideas.wordpress.com

©JoanTWarren

Birth of a Blog: Heart to Heart

Standard
Somewhere around my fiftieth birthday I started thinking seriously about what I could still achieve in the fifteen to twenty years I had left in the work force, and hoping I’ll have many healthy years after that to pursue leisure, creative and volunteer activities. I set goals, then made some tough decisions and changes to help me reach those goals. As of this writing, five years have passed since then. Sometimes I feel I am no closer than I was, that unforeseen challenges have blocked progress. Time to stop and take stock.
What was I thinking? In these five years I started and finished a master’s degree, started my own business while maintaining my annual income, kept up a large percentage of maintaining our home and daily life, helped my husband’s business through four months during shortages of office manager, front desk and phone system meltdowns, managed the stress of helping a teen stepdaughter through some serious challenges (that shall remain confidential unless she consents to my sharing them), and gave a large portion of my time to nurture and care for my live-in step-granddaughter! Whew, and, now that I think of it, all while battling fibromyalgia and menopause! Not too shabby after all.
This brings me to why I began this blog. About twenty years ago I felt a Read the rest of this entry