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Finding Energy, Awareness, Focus and Wonder

Finding Energy, Awareness, Focus and Wonder

By Iris Ruth Pastor

Through circumstances not altogether pleasant I found myself in the waiting room of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City on Super Bowl weekend.

Trying to distract myself from the myriad of tests my husband was having on his spine, I started reading the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal I had picked up at the airport just hours before. Page by page, I patiently perused the book section.

What a wealth of information I was treated too. And I’m eager to share.


Ever gritted your teeth in chest tightening pain as you attempted to endure your daily morning run? Author Alex Hutchinson says that “the feeling that you can go no further is just that – a feeling.” Hutchinson notes that if you change your perception of a task’s difficulty, you can change your actual results. Hutchinson demonstrates this by citing a 2006 analysis by South African scientist Ross Tucker, who analyzed the pacing patterns of sixty-six races dating back to the 1920’s. The last kilometer was either the fastest or second fastest pace in every case but one.

His conclusion: the sight of the finish line – and the knowledge that you can soon stop – automatically reframes your brain’s interpretation of your body’s signals. And you discover that you’re not quite out of juice after all.

I’ll remember that the next time the elliptical machine begins to beat me down three quarters of the way through.


Ever thought when it comes to parenting, that MORE is always BETTER?

You may want to re-think this assumption. Jennifer Wallace, a free lance writer in New York, wrote about the perils of over-discussing your child’s problems and that it often can do a child more harm than good.

Wallace notes that “when children routinely engage in what psychologists call ‘co-rumination’ excessively re-hashing and speculating about problems with a parent…it can amplify stress, impair judgment, and increase the risk of them developing anxiety and depression.”

Wallace cites a study by Dr. Amanda Rose, a psychology professor at the University of Missouri, who says one of the most effective ways for parents to break the co-ruminating habit is to be aware that they are doing it. And to share with their child that they want them to feel good and not get stuck thinking about the negative.


Ever since I’ve raised my five boys – a process that seemed to go on forever – I’ve puzzled over my frantic pace to write, tell stories, do public speaking and learn about as many new things as I can. It seemed so counter intuitive. I kept telling myself that now that my nest has emptied, I should be vacationing, reading more, lunching with my friends, shopping at the mall. Why was I pushing myself so hard, for so long, so relentlessly to create?

I think I have found the answer.

Melissa Schilling, professor at New York University Stern School of Business, notes that a single-minded life of invention is hard to combine with family obligations. She talks about rushing around her apartment one morning at 6am getting ready to fly to California to teach an innovation workshop. Her ten year-old son looks at her with sad eyes and asks, “Why are you always busy?” Her heart begins to pound and that familiar knife of guilt and pain twists in her stomach. She concludes that “the need to connect with our children does not prevent women from being successful…but it may get in the way of having the almost maniacal focus” that famous innovators exhibit.

Schilling concludes that mothers can be important innovators, but their years of intense focus might start later. Got it.


So have you ever sat next to someone at a dinner party who knew just as much as you do about novels, but was also knowledgeable about opera, and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the English Civil War and French wines? And then did you feel an anxiety that nudged beyond the envious and begged the question: “How does she find the time?”

Essayist and author Zadie Smith had that exact experience. If she, who is so mightily accomplished, gives into this type of existential angst, then I truly know I am not alone. So I can write. Can I rattle off the Latin names for my wild array of houseplants? Certainly not. Can I pinpoint the exact years of reconstruction after the Civil war? Hardly. Do I know how to play the piano and the flute and speak three languages? Tee hee.


I love newspapers.

Not the online ones. The paper ones. The ones where the ink smears, articles get ripped out of and they don’t need batteries to charge in order to get the latest breaking stories. They inform. They instruct. They enlighten. And they make me feel better about myself.

Tell me what does that for you? 

Editor’s Note: Iris is an ongoing contributor to Booming Encore and we are delighted to announce that her new book entitled The Secret Life of a Weight-Obsessed Woman: Wisdom to Live the Life You Crave has just recently been released. Congratulations Iris!

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Iris Ruth Pastor is an aging baby boomer, wife, mother and grandma. She is the author of the book The Secret Life of a Weight-Obsessed Woman - Wisdom to Live the Life You Crave . Along with being a successful author, Iris also writes a column entitled “Incidentally, Iris,”. As well as writing, Iris also spends time delivering motivational speeches on all topics related to mid life and baby boomers. Iris is available to speak on a variety of topics, focusing on self-help, self-improvement and self-empowerment and is currently delivering a talk on The Secret to Living Happily Ever After.