"It is very important that you do only what you love to do. You may be poor, you may go hungry, you may live in a shabby place, but you will totally live. And at the end of your days, you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do."
- Elisabeth Kübler-Ross "The Wheel of Life"My Story of Mental Resilience
Growing up in Baltimore, I remember the Maryland Marathon, whose original route came very close to my childhood home. Experienced marathon runners say there is a point in every race where they hit physical and/or emotional feelings of fatigue so strong they threaten to prematurely end their run. Runners affectionately call this point in most races 'the wall'.
The wall hits ALL runners at some point, even those with advanced training. The wall on the original Maryland Marathon route occurred right after the half way mark. It was the result of a long, slowly rising and winding hilly monster called Satyr Hill Road. Today Satyr Hill Road hasn't changed one bit, other than I wouldn't dare try to ride a bike up it like I did as a teen.
After Satyr Hill, the runners headed back to Perring Parkway, a flat road that led to the finishing line at the old Memorial Stadium (or in later years I believe the finish line was Baltimore's Inner Harbor). Runners knew that if they could get through Satyr Hill, chances are they could finish the race.Does this story remind you of yourself?
I know it reminds me of this chapter in my life and work. If you're like me you've practiced in a career you've enjoyed, even loved. You have worked long and hard for many years, bringing all of yourself to your work. However, compared to many of our moms and dads we are working harder than ever post 50, even as we hit more of our physical and emotional 'walls'.
Many of our moms, if they were lucky enough to have a supportive spouse with a good job and pension, in their 50's were in their 'empty nest' phase, helping with the grand kids and now, in their 70's and 80's, are doting over the great grand kids. Many of our dads worked that great union job and now, in their 60's and beyond are now living a lifestyle of hobbies and activities on a flexible schedule!
The key difference between our generation and that of our predecessors, is that we are finding ourselves in a globalized workforce that has altered drastically the lives of many, if not most workers. Our generation is finding work is more like a marathon, particularly when it comes to income generation. And for many of us, this also means all on our own. Yes, that's right: today, more of us are singled than coupled!
Many of us are also finding ourselves more and more stressed by environmental issues brought on by having to cope with more complicated rules, standards, cultures and crowds. Traffic jams are now seen as 'normal', we too must avail ourselves of the technologies that keep us successful given the 24/7 nature of life today and it's harder than ever to find a quiet place to hear oneself think!Experts say we - every man (and every woman), the everyday 'salt of the earth' worker (remember that term!?!) - haven't gotten a decent raise in almost 40 years! I know I've felt - and lived - that reality too. On top of it all, expenses across the board - especially in health care, education (if we have kids) and housing - have skyrocketed. And all of these social and environmental stressors interact with the internal and outside biological stresses and strains all of us face as we move through our adulthood and the lifespan.
All of this could and can be
a recipe for mental health issues and even mental illness. BUT IT'S VERY POSSIBLE TO STILL LIVE WHAT I CALL A 'SWEET SPOT' KIND OF LIFE!So, just what separates those who thrive from those who don't?
Luckily it's not that difficult to optimize YOUR mental health. But you need to upgrade your understanding and abilities if you want to thrive in today's world. Simply put, optimizing your mental health means to 'make the most of' who you are. Mental wellness has nothing to do with working, playing or living harder, AND EVERYTHING to do with working, playing and living smarter!
Mental wellness has nothing to do with 'being perfect'. In fact, most of us end up in the counselor's chair when
we've been practicing perfectionism!
We are starting to better understand that mental functioning occurs on a continuum and, throughout one's lifetime, it is normal for where you are on the continuum to shift. Why? Because we don't live in a vacuum. We are bio-psycho-social beings. Our minds and bodies interact. We interact continuously with the variety of bio-psycho-social environments in and around us.
All of this makes for a mental status that is always changing.So you can see where it can start to get really interesting!
By the way, one of THE MOST important secrets to mental wellness is a vibrant
sense of humor and you will find me peppering most of what I say and do with lots of it! So you are forewarned, or, as they say in the colleges today: TRIGGER WARNED!
But, seriously, for most of you, building a working relationship with me will be
a safe place and space in your life. I promise...
That reminds me to tell you: there are all kinds of helping personalities out there so it is my duty to educate you that if you don't 'click' with me, keep looking for the help that clicks for you!MY INVITATION TO YOU...
So if you're reading this and you're intrigued enough to investigate further, I would like to invite you to a brief, yet powerful (and best of all: free!) phone call to discuss your mental health.It's easy to get started, just call me at 410-967-3848 and leave me a detailed message as to when you're available and a number where you can be reached. I'll call you back soon to arrange a mutually agreeable time to talk.
I look forward to meeting you,
Barb Elgin410-967-3848 (phone/text)Email me