gmhTODAY 11 gmhToday Nov Dec 2016 - Page 84

{ } AGING with an Attitude My S Shadow Knows! Dorie Sugay is the Executive Director of Visiting Angels, a company that provides living-assistance services to seniors and adults-in-need who wish to stay in their own home or receive one-on-one care within a facility. This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It was written independently of Visiting Angels. 84 elf-reflection is healthy. But even those who are comfortable conducting regular self-assessments can miss something. The truth after all, can be tough to accept. Our brains can play the denial game and most of us find ourselves painting a picture of where we are, who we are…that is not so accurate. But why, you ask, do we need to care. After all, what matters most is how we think of ourselves, right? Well, as we get older, the real truth matters more than ever, especially if there is a discrepancy between what we paint as our truth and the real truth. How can you, for example, make healthy changes without acknowledging that you have self- destructive habits? One Friday afternoon, I met up with a girlfriend I had not seen for years. She thought I looked tired and that perhaps I needed to allow myself more time to mourn the loss of my brother and two friends. I dismissed her assessment and assured her that I felt great. I had “mourned enough” — I really had the bull by the horns and could navigate easily through life’s bumps. After seeing her, I went home and took my pup out for a walk. On the way down the driveway I saw my shadow — and no, my mind didn’t think of Judy Garland singing “Me and My Shadow.” The vision of my shadow made me pause and tear up. My shadow looked burdened — sad — exhausted. It was not a pretty picture. Through my shadow, reality had somehow made me see my truth in a non-threatening way. And frankly, it helped me a lot. I knew then that I had some self-reflection to do, and mourning to allow. It also made me realize that my physical presence was compromised by feelings I tried to bury. It was a wake-up call. If I had not seen my shadow, if I had not taken the time to reflect, I would not have come to accept that my girlfriend was right –I have a lot GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 to deal with, and I should give myself permission to humanly face them. Seeing my undeniable reality made me stand up straight, walk with surety and confidence. And guess what? By doing that, it seemed my brain had to go through a change because by the time we got to where we were going, I was in a better frame of mind and I knew that I had some work to do. I gave myself permission to deal with all the emotions that would come up as I dealt with the loss of my loved ones. What is your shadow saying about you? Does it show confidence or doubt? Energy or burnout? Is it a picture that captures who you are, where you are in life, how you are feeling? Have you ever seen the images of a bent senior whose shadow is that of a ballerina, or a cat whose shadow is that of a tiger? Is that what you see when you think of your shadow? If you do, is your lifestyle in line with that vision? You might want to do an experiment and catch a sneaky glimpse of your shadow sometime and see what your shadow is saying about you or your situation. You just may learn something that you could use to improve at least your mood, if not your situation. Sometimes, a little reminder can help us get back on track. Seeing my shadow alerted me to my true reality but sometimes, the messages we get through the day do not help. If you are going through something and the truth does not help you get things back on track on your own, please don’t hesitate to consult with a therapist. They can help you read between the lines and see your truth when life sends you a message. Life has a habit of throwing curve balls our way. Pay attention, open your eyes, listen and feel. I used to work with a woman who would come over and cry about her boss. My son was only four years old and he asked her one day, “Why do you cry all the time?” She told him, “This person I play with is mean” and Derek said, “Then stop playing with her. Now you can stop crying and go home.” After I cringed because he was making it clear her visit was over, we both realized my little guy had a message for her, just like my shadow had a message for me. Does your shadow have a message? Slow down, pay attention — is there a valuable message your are missing?