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  • What Are Boundaries and How Do We Set Them?

    Setting boundaries is the cornerstone of cultivating healthy and harmonious relationships. In his book, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, Dr. Henry Cloud emphasizes the fundamental role of boundaries in creating healthy connections. He writes, “Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership.”

    Dr. Cloud’s words illuminate the essence of boundaries – they serve as the demarcation lines between individuals, ensuring that each person has a sense of ownership over their thoughts, emotions, and personal space. When both individuals in a relationship respect these boundaries, it fosters an environment where each person can grow and thrive independently.

    Recognizing the Need for Boundaries

    The first step in setting boundaries is recognizing the need for them. Often, we are hesitant to establish boundaries because we fear it may lead to conflict or distancing. However, as Dr. Brene Brown, renowned author and researcher, points out in The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, vulnerability is the key to genuine connection.

    In essence, recognizing the need for boundaries is an act of vulnerability. It requires acknowledging one’s own needs and communicating them honestly to the other person. This vulnerability, as Dr. Brown suggests, can deepen the connection between two people rather than weaken it.

    Effective Communication

    Once the need for boundaries is recognized, effective communication becomes paramount. In Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, Marshall B. Rosenberg outlines a compassionate approach to communication that can be immensely helpful in boundary setting. He writes:

    “NVC (Nonviolent Communication) guides us in reframing how we express ourselves and hear others. Instead of being habitual reactions, our words become conscious responses based firmly on awareness of what we are perceiving, feeling, and wanting.”

    Rosenberg’s method encourages individuals to express their boundaries in a way that is nonjudgemental, empathetic, and focused on emotions and needs. This approach not only facilitates a clearer understanding between two people, but also reduces the likelihood of defensive reactions.

    Types of Boundaries

    Boundaries can manifest in various forms, and understanding these types is essential in setting them effectively. In Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day, Anne Katherine classifies boundaries into four categories:

    Physical Boundaries

    These pertain to personal space and touch. Communicating preferences regarding physical contact is crucial to ensure comfort and respect.

    Emotional Boundaries

    Emotional boundaries involve safeguarding our emotional well-being. It’s about recognizing our feelings and expressing them while respecting the other person’s feelings as well.

    Mental Boundaries

    These boundaries pertain to our thoughts and opinions. It’s important to communicate when our ideas or beliefs are being encroached upon, while also remaining open to healthy dialogue.

    Time Boundaries

    Time is a precious resource. Setting time boundaries involves establishing limits on how much time and energy we invest in a relationship or a particular activity.

    By understanding and effectively communicating boundaries in these four areas, we can maintain balance and harmony in our relationships.

    The Role of Self-Care

    Setting boundaries is an act of self-care, as it ensures that our own well-being is not compromised in a relationship. In The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time, Cheryl Richardson argues that self-care is essential for healthy relationships. She writes:

    “If you’re not good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.”

    In other words, setting boundaries is an act of self-love, and it empowers us to show up in relationships as our best selves. When both parties in a relationship practice self-care through boundary setting, it creates a mutually supportive environment.

    Overcoming Resistance

    Resistance to boundary setting is not uncommon, and it can stem from various sources such as fear of rejection, or a desire to avoid conflict. In The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You’re Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate, Harriet Lener provides insights into overcoming resistance.

    She writes, “People are more likely to change when they feel understood, not when they feel judged.” 

    To overcome resistance, it is essential to approach boundary setting with empathy and understanding. Instead of passing judgment, we try to comprehend the other person’s perspective and communicate our boundaries in a way that acknowledges their feelings as well.

    Conclusion

    In the intricate dance of human relationships, setting boundaries is the music that guides our steps. It ensures that we move in harmony with others while retaining our individuality and self-worth. By mastering the art of boundaries, we can build stronger, more meaningful connections with those around us, fostering love, understanding, and growth in our relationships.

    Let’s Have a Conversation:

    Have you established strong boundaries around yourself? Do you apply these boundaries in your relationship with other people? Can you express these boundaries clearly without upsetting others?

  • The Benefits of Strength Training as We Age: A Guide to Staying Strong and Independent

    As a personal trainer specializing in maintaining strength and independence as we age, I thought it would be fitting to start by discussing the benefits of strength training as my first article for Sixty and Me. With age advancement, our bodies undergo various changes, particularly during and after menopause. For me, the primary reason to stay strong is to ensure that we can perform daily tasks with ease for as long as possible.

    The Importance of Strength Training

    Strength training offers numerous benefits that are especially crucial as we age. Here are some key reasons to incorporate it into your routine:

    1. Maintain Bone Health

    As we age, our bones become more fragile due to the loss of calcium and other essential minerals. This can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition where bones become weak and brittle. Strength training helps to maintain bone density by stimulating bone growth, which can significantly reduce the risk of fractures and other bone-related injuries.

    2. Preserve Muscle Tissue and Strength

    Similar to our bones, our muscle fibers diminish in number and shrink in size as we age. Muscle tissue is replaced more slowly, and lost muscle mass is often replaced with tough, fibrous tissue. Strength training helps to maintain and build muscle mass, which is vital for overall strength and functionality. This not only improves physical appearance but also enhances our ability to perform everyday activities with ease.

    3. Enhance Balance and Coordination

    With age, you may find yourself becoming a little unsteady on your feet, which can lead to falls and serious injuries. Strength training improves balance and coordination by strengthening the muscles that support your joints. This can greatly reduce the likelihood of falls, making it easier to stay active and independent.

    4. Improve Mobility

    Regular strength training exercises help to keep your joints flexible and improve your range of motion. This is particularly important for maintaining mobility and being able to move freely without discomfort or pain. Improved mobility can make a significant difference in your ability to perform daily tasks and participate in activities you enjoy.

    5. Burn Calories More Efficiently

    Strength training boosts your metabolism by increasing muscle mass. Muscles burn more calories at rest compared to fat tissue, so by building muscle, you can improve your body’s ability to burn calories more efficiently. This can help in managing weight and reducing the risk of obesity-related health issues.

    Real-Life Benefits of Strength Training

    You might wonder how strength training translates to everyday life. The answer is simple: increased strength makes daily tasks easier and more manageable. Here are a few examples of how additional strength can benefit you in your daily routine:

    Lifting Grandchildren

    Whether it’s picking them up or playing with them, strength training helps you engage in these joyful activities without strain.

    Reaching for Hard-to-Reach Items

    Strengthening your muscles makes it easier to stretch and reach items in high cupboards or shelves.

    Getting Up After a Fall

    Improved strength and balance can help you get up more easily after a tumble or, better yet, prevent you from falling in the first place.

    Picking Things Up from the Floor

    Whether it’s a dropped item or something you need to move, strength training makes bending and lifting easier.

    Walking Longer Distances

    Enhanced muscle strength and endurance allow you to walk farther without getting tired.

    Carrying Shopping Bags

    Stronger muscles make carrying groceries and other heavy items more manageable.

    Getting Started with Strength Training

    This all may sound daunting to some, and you might not know where to start. However, you don’t need to dive into complex routines or heavy lifting right away. Your body is a weight in itself, and you can begin with simple exercises. Here are a few to get you started:

    Bodyweight Squats

    Bodyweight squats are excellent for strengthening your legs and improving balance. You can start by using a chair for support. Sit down and stand up several times, focusing on your form. If this becomes too easy, add a small weight such as a tin of beans or a light dumbbell. Remember to breathe in as you descend into the squat and out as you push up.

    Press-Ups

    Press-ups are great for building upper body strength. They can be modified depending on your fitness level. Beginners can start with wall push-ups, standing a few feet away from the wall and pressing against it. Alternatively, you can do knee push-ups on the floor. Ensure your hands are directly under your shoulders, and breathe in as you lower your body and out as you push up.

    Walking

    Walking is an excellent full-body exercise that engages your muscles, improves balance, and boosts your cardiovascular health. Aim for a brisk walk every day, gradually increasing your distance and pace as you get stronger.

    Conclusion

    Strength training significantly improves the quality of life and keeps you fitter for longer. It helps maintain bone and muscle health, enhances balance and coordination, and makes everyday tasks easier and more enjoyable. By starting with simple exercises and gradually progressing, you can build a routine that supports your independence and well-being as you age.

    Remember, it’s never too late to start strength training. Whether you’re new to exercise or looking to enhance your current routine, the benefits of strength training are undeniable. So why not give it a try and experience the positive impact it can have on your life?

    Stay strong and stay active!

    Let’s Have a Conversation:

    Do you know about the benefits of strength training? Have you started a routine? Which part of strength training do you find easiest?

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  • 5 Vacation Planning Tips for Dynamic Older Travelers

    So, you’ve just booked your fantastic holiday or family vacation – now what? Getting ready to leave is much more complicated than just packing.

    There are so many arrangements that need to be made before leaving home. It doesn’t matter if it is for a few days or a few weeks, there are some things you need to remember to do.

    Years ago, I would wait until the last minute to begin planning for an upcoming trip. It caused so much stress, I couldn’t really enjoy the experience and ended up exhausted before I ever left. I already had a great packing list that helped me remember what I wanted to take on the trip, so I began to add other things I needed to do before I left.

    Now, I don’t worry if I’ve forgotten something because I know it’s all on the list. This way I can just relax and enjoy getting ready for my new adventure.

    Here are a few of my favorite vacation planning tips. I hope that you find them useful!

    Personal

    I like to have my haircut and nails done before I leave on my trip so I book that and any other personal appointments a couple of weeks before my departure.

    Documentation and Communication

    I make a copy of my essential information (passport, itinerary, credit cards) and email it to myself as well as to an emergency contact. That way, someone always knows where I am and can help me if my documents get lost or stolen.

    I contact my phone service provider and check what coverage I will have at my destination. I always switch my phone to manual updates while I’m traveling to save on data charges.

    Also, if I am going to an expensive coverage area, I will put my phone on airplane mode and just check when I’m in a free Wi-Fi area. I also notify my bank and credit card company of my travel plans so my cards stay active while I’m away.

    Shopping

    I make a list of any special clothing items and travel supplies that I might need (bathing suit, sunscreen, toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, medications, clear plastic bags for airport screening, etc.), snacks and some type of frozen or non-perishable food to eat when I return home, so I don’t have to shop right away.

    Household

    Stop mail, newspaper or any other home deliveries and set light timers. You can also have a friend come in to water plants, take any flyers off your door and open and close blinds occasionally.

    I always keep a few ice cubes in a plastic dish or baggie in my freezer. That way, if the power should go out for any length of time, you’ll know if the food you have frozen will be safe to eat after you return.

    Just before I leave the house, I turn off all the water, set my thermostat to an appropriate temperature (warm during winter, cool during summer), unplug all small appliances (coffee maker, toaster etc.), clean the refrigerator and take out the trash.

    International

    If my trip will be out of the country, I add some additional items to my list. I verify that my passport is valid for at least six months past the end of my trip; check any visa or immunization requirements and purchase an electrical adapter for the country I’ll be visiting.

    I take paper copies of any maps/guides/translation information that I need as phones don’t always work in all areas. I also double check that my credit/debit cards will be accepted and purchase a small amount of the local currency before I go.

    Special Items

    Since the pandemic, travel has changed somewhat. Wear and carry several facial masks if you don’t feel comfortable traveling without them. Check any vaccination restrictions and testing regulations both for the country you are visiting and for coming back home. Take only the necessary wipes and hand sanitizer quantities.

    One List Will Do

    I used to arrange my lists by the type of trip I was taking, but I realized that it is much simpler if I stick to one basic list and just modify it for whatever clothes or special items I may need.

    I also purchase duplicate travel supplies and keep them separate from those that I use at home so I’m not stuck if I happen to forget my hairbrush or toothbrush after getting ready the morning that I leave.

    It doesn’t matter if I’m traveling by car, train or plane, for a weekend getaway or an extended trip, I use the same list and just modify it to accommodate my needs. I love knowing that I can easily plan my trips and don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I want to go away.

    Let’s Have a Conversation:

    What are some other things that you always do before leaving on a trip? Do you use a travel or packing list to help you prepare? Do you enjoy planning for your time away? Share your experiences and join the conversation!

  • 10 Steps to Overcome Shame After 60

    Do you know what the #1 obstacle is to having your dreams, desires, and goals fulfilled after 60?

    The stigma of shame and blame.

    Without being aware of how shame and blame influence your choices in life, it is common to feel perpetually stuck in a revolving door of disappointment, disempowerment, and distressing circumstances.

    These distressing emotions not only prevent you from taking inspired action on your innermost desires, but they can also get in the way of thinking there is a way out of such misery.

    Having experienced and overcome intense degrees of shame and blame in my own life, I can confidently say that as dark as those moments were, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

    That light is you.

    This is the seventh of an eight-part article and video series on Being Enough After 60, that will focus on illuminating the light within you by overcoming shame.

    What Is Shame and Blame?

    Shame and blame are introduced to most people through traumatic experiences as a child.

    Creating a fear-based reality that is reflected back to you in the outer world, the stigma of shame and blame often turns you against yourself, establishing a foundation for low self-esteem and unworthiness.

    When your self-worth is attacked and diminished by others, without the proper help, you become unconsciously conditioned to distrust your inner, authentic self as an adult.

    The most effective way to overcome the intensity of shame and blame is by repeated acts of self-love. How do you do this? By learning to trust the voice of your true, authentic self.

    The Voice of Your Authentic Self

    For any of us who have suffered through shame and blame, we unknowingly develop a lack of trust in our authentic voice. In fact, we have likely relied on the guidance of our inner critic for so long that we mistook it for our own true, authentic self.

    By having the voice of your true self disrespected and discounted as a child, you may have grown into an adult not feeling empowered to speak up and be heard, seen, and valued when and where it matters most.

    A lack of trust in your inner, authentic voice stems from hopeless experiences as a child in the face of being shamed and blamed into submissive silence by authority figures.

    But as an adult, when you are far removed from those early childhood challenges, how do you learn to trust your authentic voice and overcome these traumatic effects?

    10 Steps to Overcome Shame and Blame

    Overcoming the effects of shame and blame is a life-transformative journey that fosters self-love, self-compassion, and emotional healing.

    Here are 10 steps that many women over 60, including myself, have used to navigate these emotions and move towards greater well-being:

    Self-Awareness

    Recognize when shame and blame arise. Identify triggers and situations that lead to these feelings and create pattern interruptions that mitigate their influence and effects.

    Challenge Your Negative Self-Talk

    Pay attention to internal dialogue. Counter self-blame and self-criticism with loving, kind, and compassionate self-talk.

    Practice Self-Love and Self-Compassion

    Treat yourself with the same love, kindness and understanding you would offer to a loved one in a similar situation.

    Understand What Triggers You

    Explore the origins for feeling shame or blame. Uncover past experiences or beliefs that contribute to these emotions. This is not to relive the trauma but to finally look at it through the eyes of love and maturity.

    Reframe Limiting Beliefs

    Challenge distorted, limiting beliefs that fuel the fires of shame or blame. Consider more emotionally balanced and empowering beliefs.

    Your Inner Child

    Connecting with your inner child nullifies the effects of shame and blame. It is the pathway to self-love and releases your authentic voice from years of being constricted through fear, anxiety, and self-doubt.

    Release Perfectionism

    Embrace the idea that nobody is perfect. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them without judgment.

    Forgive Yourself

    Acknowledge past mistakes or regrets with the understanding that they helped you grow into the beautiful person you are today. Practicing self-forgiveness towards yourself and others plays a huge role in this.

    Set Boundaries

    Establish healthy boundaries to protect yourself from blame or shame imposed by others and especially your own self. Surround yourself with supportive individuals.

    Seek Professional Help

    If shame and blame are deeply rooted and affecting your well-being, consider seeking therapy or counseling to work through these emotions.

    Overcoming shame and blame is a gradual process. Be patient with yourself and celebrate the progress you make along the way.

    As you apply these 10 steps, in addition to others you come up with, you can cultivate emotional resilience, improve your self-worth, and foster a healthier, more loving relationship with yourself.

    I invite you to join me in the video where I will share five additional steps you can take to overcome shame and blame. I will also guide you through three inspiring journal prompts and ten empowering affirmations to help you integrate what you are learning.

    Let’s Have a Conversation:

    Have there been moments in your life when you suffered from shame and blame? How did you overcome this pattern?

  • How Quickly Do We Judge?

    Last month, I wrote an article for 60 and Me that was centered around the idea of establishing boundaries around other people for the purpose of protecting our own emotional health.

    I talked in the article about how I had been thrown into the role of caretaker for my mom with whom I have a complicated relationship. I described events that led to my decision to set boundaries and also discussed some of the mindset difficulties that can arise as we go about actually respecting the boundaries that we have set.

    This article prompted a LOT of comments, mostly very supportive. But, there were a couple of comments that although delivered in a very kind way, were judgy. The opinion expressed in these comments was that our parents should take precedence in our lives over our children and our grandchildren. That I would regret my decision to respect the boundaries that I had set around my mom. That I wouldn’t want to be treated this way by my own children.

    As I said, the comments were worded in such a kind way that I was able to receive them and consider them. I understood that they likely came from someone who had a very loving mother. But, the comments also got me thinking about how quickly I pass judgement on someone else when they are living their own lives in a way that is not aligned with MY values or priorities. And how often each day do I do this?

    If I’m being honest? Less quickly than I have in the past, but still too quickly. And more often than I would like to admit.

    Unless I have walked in that other person’s shoes, passing judgment on any life decision that they have made is not only detrimental and limiting – it can be harmful. To me. And to them.

    Harmful Effects of Judging Others (And Ourselves)

    Judgement can serve us throughout our day. It can help us to make healthier decisions and to avoid possible dangers. The judgement that I’m talking about here is that which we pass on others’ choices, decisions, and how they may be living their lives.

    Judgment Takes Away Trust

    As our loved ones watch us formulate negative opinions about ourselves and others, it can whittle away at their trust, creating negative mindsets in those around us. It may make others hesitant to express their opinions and feelings around us for fear of being not heard.

    Alternatively, if we are creating an environment of acceptance and learning, those around us will likely feel safer and less concerned about vulnerability.

    Judgment Prevents All of Us from Considering Another Side of Things

    I can remember years ago, watching my sister raise her children. As a mom, I was a control freak and our family was on a schedule. We had scheduled bedtimes and mealtimes. We had to have a green veggie of some sort with meals. We got outside every day.

    My sister took each day as it came. If they were out and the kids were hungry, they ate. It could be 2:00 in the afternoon or 11:00 at night. If they were out and having fun, the kids could sleep in the car or fall asleep when they got home. There was no schedule and seemingly no rules from my vantage point. I shook my head, not understanding how someone could live like that and raise kids under those “conditions.”

    But, my sister raised two great kids. Who are sweet. Who know how to treat others. Who love their families. Who work hard. So, who is to say her way is wrong and mine is right? And, as I look back on my parenting, it would have been healthier for all of us if I had been a little bit more relaxed. Less regimented.

    Instead of judging her, I could have watched and learned. Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. We all have lessons to learn from each other. So, rather than watch someone and judge, we can watch them, take what aligns with our values and priorities and leave the rest!

    Judgment Is Unhealthy

    Studies show that judgment can increase our feelings of stress and depression. This, in turn can affect us physically, especially on this side of 50.

    We need to turn this around and lean into compassion. Empathy. Kindness. Towards ourselves and others.

    Along with an openness to learning a new or different way of doing something. Walt Whitman encouraged this when he said, “be curious, not judgmental.”

    Let’s Have a Conversation:

    Do you think that you lean towards being judgmental? Are there times where you’ve watched someone do something differently than the way you do and you took something away from it that you might be able to incorporate?