Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 6 – Plan F

Composite image of christmas caroler fingers

It’s Day 6 of  the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. Today’s tension tackling tips focus on the letter “F” and feature five fabulous fingers frolicking and fa-la-la-ing just for the fun of it.

Today is all about freedom, so pick the concept you find most fulfilling, flattering, or fashionable that enables you to forfeit any full-on freak-out during festive gatherings.

If all else fails and frustration sets in, fetch a friend and free yourself from feeling flustered, frazzled, or flummoxed by facilitating a field trip to your family farm.  There you may face fascinating adventures from feeding feathered fowl to following finicky felines as they feign indifference toward their favorite food.

To foster more good cheer you may flirt with flower arranging, or if none are to be found, try arranging the furniture instead for an instant feng shui fix.

If all of this seems foolish, I fear you may have forgotten that time is fleeting and we frequently forgo fresh experiences that allow us to flourish because we are afraid to fumble, fall, or fail.

From Here to the New Year, follow your fascination.  Even if it seems far-fetched, fearlessly forge ahead and let it frame your future. Flamboyantly fake it until you make it, if you must. Just don’t forsake the inner fire that edges you forward.

I love fan mail so please share your favorite “f” experiences with this fantastic flock of followers in the comments below.

here_to_the_new_year_in_good_cheer

 

 

 

The Wonder of a World Series Win

03subcubswin-superjumbo-v2

photo by Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Several years ago Robert Fulghum wrote a poem that became a book called,“All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”

Having watched my share of baseball lately I feel like I could write, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching the World Series.”

I don’t usually pay a whole lot of attention to sports teams or their players, their stories, salaries, stats, or celebrity status. But this year, I was looking for a team, a mascot, or a metaphor for my How to Get Your Groove Back coaching group that would mirror back the challenges we face in our ongoing efforts to own our throne and name and claim our power.

I picked the Chicago Cubs because I’ve spent a lifetime of summers listening, watching, and waiting for them to grow into their greatness. When my dad shared a copy of Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview with four of the Cubs on the cover early in the season, I suspected this could be the year the world would get a glimpse of what Cubs’ fans have believed for 108 years.

Little did I know how well this team would play their part or how much I would learn from watching them.

Here are just a few lessons learned from watching the boys of summer play their way into November.

  •  Start with the end in mind. Name it and claim it.  Know what you want and why.   What are you willing to do or give up in order to be, do, or have what you want?
  • Be all in. Show up and suit up no matter what. When you are attempting the impossible, every day is up for negotiation. Do you have it in you? Is it worth it? Only you can decide. And then you decide over and over and over again.
  • Your body is your friend.  Be in it. Embody. Get so comfortable in the skin you are in that when your body needs to bypass your brain, it knows exactly what to do.
  • It takes a village. You cannot get there alone. It takes a coach, a team, an infinite number of visible and invisible allies, adversaries, and loyal fans to bring out your best.
  • Be a good sport. Be generous. Be gracious. Be kind to all of those who are fighting the good fight right alongside you.
  • You win some. You lose some. Setbacks happen. Comebacks, too. Do not give up until you’re certain the game is over.
  • Stay flexible. Shake it off. Be willing to play whatever position is necessary and take one for the team. You never know when the sacrifices you make will pay off.
  • The better you get, the bigger the challenges. Never fear. You are equal to the task. Remember who you are, what got you here, and what you are capable of.
  • Expand your vision of what’s possible. Each experience opens up the door to another that may not have been possible until now. Why not you? Why not now?
  • Pray Rain. I had heard about this concept before but as I was meditating in my basement in an attempt to calm my nerves during the 8th inning of Game 7, the concept came up again.  The story goes that if you are in a drought, you don’t pray for rain.  That only acknowledges the lack of rain. You simply feel the rain on your skin, smell the rain in the air, and see the rain soak into the earth.  In other words, you allow the rain (or whatever you desire) to come forth, emerge, or manifest. You pray rain. Well, I went back upstairs to finish watching the game and guess what happened? Rain delay! And what happened during that rain delay? Jason Heyward reminded his team of who they were and what they were capable of doing and the rest is history.

Sometimes life is so surreal it’s mind-blowing.  And sometimes mystics disguise themselves as bubble-gum chewing ballplayers.

What about you? What lessons have your favorite teams, family members, or adversaries taught you about life?  I’d love for you to share in the comments below.

The Story of My Life

 

Old vintage typewriter

As I was looking for Neosporin in the pharmaceutical aisle at Walmart to help heal the inevitable bites and scratches I’ve incurred as a new puppy mom, I noticed another frazzled mom next to me. After deliberating between a mind numbing array of decorative Band-Aids®, she carefully selected the Ninja Turtles from the shelf. That motion set an avalanche of boxes cascading to the floor.

As I reached down to help her place the Band-Aids® back on the shelf, I heard her mutter in exasperation, “the story of my life.”

I could relate. I’ve been feeling agitated for weeks and wondered what I had done to bring on the onslaught of overwhelm I’d been experiencing on all fronts.

When I got in my car to head home, the song “The Story of My Life by One Direction was on the radio.  Never one to miss a sign when I’m sure I’ve been given one (two references to “story of my life” in twenty minutes), I started to ponder the story of my life.

As a writer, I’m captivated by stories – and signs.  As a coach, I often encourage my clients to tell a different story, write a better ending, or dare to add a new twist to a tired story line.

Without realizing it, by creating and taking on the Get Stuff Done 1 x 31 Challenge, I was writing a new story. Even though it may not have seemed like a big deal, I was taking small, intentional actions every day that set a series of events in motion with consequences I couldn’t necessarily predict.

Some of these actions provided instant gratification. I donated clothes and switched out bulky plastic hangers for slim, velvet ones that instantly provided more room in my closet. Posting something every day allowed me to deliver on a promise and connect with my community.

I also got a puppy.  This is where things got interesting.  Like adopting a child or moving an aging parent into your home, the dynamics of our household shifted immediately.

There is a renewed sense of wonder, curiosity, playfulness, unconditional love and laughter in our home. There is also unprecedented chaos, an influx of puppy paraphernalia, additional expenses, the stress of teaching our old dog a new trick, and an edginess in my temperament that comes from sleep deprivation.

Writers call this an inciting incident, the conflict or change that leads the protagonist to begin the adventure that makes her story worth reading. It’s the challenge that forces her to discover her strengths, grow into her potential, and learn life’s most guarded secrets.

As part of my declaration that I am equal to the task of living this grand adventure, I decided to write down something every day that I will need on this quest in order to call my power back to me.  Name it and claim it, I say!

Like the Get Stuff Done 1 x 31, this daily practice has the potential to set sweeping changes in motion. What I intend to remember this time and want to warn you about is something Martha Beck describes in her blog as the Storm before the Calm.

I’ll sum it up like this. When you ask for things to change, things will change. But not in the calm, orderly, predictable way that allows you to continue life as you know it.  A new world order does not emerge without a little death and destruction – be it the death of an idea, a relationship, a job, or the way you thought it would be.

In making room for the new, what no longer serves you has got to go.

What remains is what you most need to move your life forward. When you get a glimpse of that, the calm returns amidst the storm and you know you are going to be just fine. Maybe even spectacular.

In my case I not only realized I didn’t wear half the clothes in my closet, I also realized I needed to revamp the way I do business – at home and at work. If my puppy wakes up at 5:30am, I need to go to bed before 11pm. If policies are not serving our students, I need to  do what I can do change them.

Ironically, the trick to telling the story of your life is to embrace the parts you’d prefer to eliminate. You are not your questionable decisions, bad luck, or the person who always picks the longest checkout line or looks for love in all the wrong places.

These things add to your character, inform your future decisions, and help you discover want you really want. But they do not define you. You are always free to rewrite.

If the woman looking for Band-Aids® had simply grabbed the first box she saw, I might not have realized she was a dedicated mom willing to endure a little overwhelm to make sure her kids’ “hurts stopped hurting.”

As Gandhi once wrote, “Your life is your message.”

What do you want the story of your life to tell?

 

 

 

 

 

Rhythm is Gonna Get You

Black metronome with guitar and several notes on the wooden background

 

It’s Day 30 of our Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge. Today’s challenge is to notice how rhythm plays a part in how you do things. This is a subtle but essential ingredient to be aware of in establishing the ebb and flow of your days. Not to mention your relationships with other people.

When I used to live alone and work from home, I didn’t notice rhythm much. For the most part, I moved at the pace of grace.  I call it the Goldilocks gait –not too fast, not too slow. Just right.

But when the firefighter moved in, with his lightening quick reflexes and urgent call to action impulses, I became acutely aware of the tortoise and hare situation we had on our hands. I also knew that rhythm was going to get us and lead to our demise if we didn’t learn to adjust to each other’s approach to getting stuff done.

I’m not saying we’re dealing with the sloth situation in Zootopia, but I’m sure it feels that way to Bob sometimes. On the other hand, because of slow and steady progress (1×31), the tortoise did win the race in Aesops’ famous fable.

I’m the first one to admit there are times when time is of the essence. There is a need for speed. The sooner the better. Fast and furious. Now or never. Life or death.

Just rapidly writing those words stressed me out a little.

Because what I’ve learned and what Erin Stutland has incorporated in her ingenious workouts is this.

What you seek, is also seeking you. What is meant for you will not pass you. Broadcasting fear or scarcity does not bring you peace or abundance. Consequently, my motto is to act with intention and do with deliberation.

If you’re not sure what I mean, experiment. Trying pushing yourself to do things at a faster or slower speed than you normally would. Try adding more things to your schedule or taking a few items off your list. How does this make you feel? Anxious? Irritable? Accomplished?

Sometimes we need to adjust our rhythm or our pace to work effectively with a team. Sometimes we need to adjust it when we’re touring with a group, taking a family vacation, involved in a special project, or participating in a Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.

Some days you may not even know what leads to your undoing. For me, it usually comes down to time and space. I need breathing room and I need time to just be, create, observe, marvel, write, read, learn, laugh, and process what just happened. When I over-schedule myself or allow my world to get too cluttered, I get cranky.

You’ve just given yourself the gift of 30 days to discover how you get stuff done. With just one day left in our challenge, what do you really want to get done without pushing or forcing or “shoulding” on yourself?

I’d love to hear how rhythm impacts you and what your favorite thing about this challenge has been. Share your comments below or email me at penny@wellpower.com.

Oh, and don’t forget to add this to today’s playlist. 🙂

 

 

It’s All Fun & Games

huskerdu

It’s Day 28 of the Get Stuff Done 1 x 31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to boost your brain power with some memory games.

Every Sunday morning when I was a kid we’d go to my grandmother’s house after church.  Once there we’d watch cartoons, All Star Wrestling, and movies that none of us kids understood but introduced us to the likes of Mae West, Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Mickey Rooney, The Three Stooges, and others.

I was too young to know the the cartoons were sexist and violent, the wrestling was staged, and the movies were classics, but I did remember the commercials. Especially the ones selling games, cereal, cigarettes, shampoo , showing us the consequences of littering, and asking us to take personal responsibility for preventing forest fires. 

What I remember most was a game called Husker Du.  The advertiser would always announce in a booming voice, “Husker Du! Do you remember?” I had no idea what the game was about. I just loved repeatedly asking with my brother and sister in my own impressively loud voice, Husker Du?

Clearly, the advertising worked. It was “sticky” as Dan & Chip Heath would say. Forty years later I still remember it. Slick trick for a memory game.

concentration

I also used to love playing Concentration at home to mimic the game show I’d faithfully watch on TV. I knew early on it was important to focus, remember, connect the dots, and make connections that might otherwise be overlooked.

These days, of course, there’s an app for that.  Games like Lumosity, NeuroNation, Brain Metrix, and FitBrains are just a few examples of websites and apps to train your brain.

While you can easily get through one of these challenges in 5-15 minutes, the real challenge is to not spend an hour or two once you get started.

But even if you did, it’d be good for you. It’s too easy to let our brains be lulled into a trance by all kinds of incoming and unquestioned media.

Take time out today to think for yourself, test your memory, and give your brain a run for the money.  As another ad I remember warned, “A brain is a terrible thing to waste.”

I’d love to hear how you train your brain and keep your wits about you.  Share, if you dare, in the comments below.

 

 

 

Take Stock of What You’ve Got

kids in autumn park counting and choosing leader

It’s Day 15 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge and today’s challenge is to take stock of what you’ve got.

This morning as I was transferring my shirts from their bulky plastic hangers to their luxurious slim velvet ones, I realized I had an opportunity to take stock of what I’ve got. How many shirts do I really need?  How many of them spark joy?

A year ago I read Marie Kondo’s wildly popular book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and took her advice to heart. I ruthlessly cleaned my closet, kitchen, garage, basement, bathroom, and office using the “Does it spark joy?” question as my guide.

Although I felt quite successful then, it now appears as though I need to go through the whole process again.

Taking inventory is an essential task that dictates the action that is to follow.

Although I’d like to think I have a fairly accurate idea of the people, places, and things in my life, the reality is my perception is skewed. Especially when it comes to my favorite things.

I seemed to have lost sight of how many journals, pens, books, scarves, shoes, dog toys, exercise equipment, Buddhas, bracelets, containers, and now hangers I actually have. So, it’s time to give some of it the heave-ho.

The thrill of getting rid of my stuff now rivals the thrill once reserved for getting it in the first place.

The paring down, the letting go, and the shedding of my skin that seems so insistent during these 31 days of Getting Stuff Done prepare me to move more mindfully and purposefully in the months ahead.

As an educator, August and September feel more like the beginning of a new year to me than January.  All of this last minute sorting, stewing, inventorying, and doing in July helps me sort out what stays and what goes as I move forward in my life, get my groove back, and become the badass I keep telling myself I am.

Taking stock of what I’ve got helps me come clean as to who I am and what I need to succeed. Knowing this has huge impact on how I proceed. Because I am not the same person I was a year ago. What worked wonders for me then may not work for me now.

And that’s the amazing thing about being alive. You just never know.

In my latest attempt to understand and appreciate the male species I was listening to Sam Keen’s excellent audiobook, Fire in the Belly.  In it Sam talks about having a conversation with his friend Howard Thurman who said, “There are two questions a man must ask himself: The first is ‘Where am I going?’ and the second is ‘Who will go with me?’  If you ever get these questions in the wrong order, you are in trouble.”   

As you take stock of what you’ve got, may your answer to these questions spark the kind of joy that helps you discard what you no longer need with the greatest of ease.

Share if you dare in the comments below.  Or email with your stories at penny@wellpower.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save

Everyday Alchemy

 

Union du Soleil et de la Lune sur champ d'toilesIt’s Day 14 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge. Today’s challenge is to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

While you may not be spinning straw into gold or base metals into unlimited riches, you do have the ability to turn an ordinary experience into an exquisite event.

“Surely this will take more than 15 minutes,” you protest.

Let me just remind you how quickly you have transformed a child’s playroom into a castle, a jungle, a campground, or a pirate ship with just a few props and an ample imagination.

If you’ve ever planned a party, a product launch, a promotional event, or an evening with the in-laws, you know that it all starts with the intent to create something spectacular.

While you may not be able to pull all the pieces together in 5-15 minutes, you can start making a list or sketching out a mind-map or making some calls to reinforcements in order to start the transformation.

Amazon’s 24 hour Prime Day sale is an example of how you can transform an ordinary day into something extraordinary.  What started last year as a way to celebrate their 20th anniversary and promote their prime membership turned into a global event this year that transformed an ordinary Tuesday in July into the biggest sales day on record, outselling Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Of course there were thousands of details that went into the planning, promoting, and executing of this event, but it started with the idea to make something out of nothing, which is what I’m suggesting you do.

Normally I would not encourage much ado about nothing, but sometimes you’ve got to make your own kind of magic just because you can.

Maybe you want to start celebrating Financial Freedom Fridays to see if you can go without purchasing anything for one Friday a quarter.  Or maybe you want to practice Meatless Mondays where you venture into vegetarianism for a month of Mondays. Or try Tell-a-New-Tale-Tuesday where you rewrite your story with the happy ending you know you deserve. It’s all up to you to decide what you want to do.

Get Stuff Done 1×31 was just a challenge I posed to a few friends last year. This year we’re all in this together and I’m amazed at what people are doing.

How can you turn an evening at home into a something special? How can you make a meal into a memory?  How can you transform a birthday celebration into a brand new beginning, regardless of how old you are? What do you need to alter in order to experience the extraordinary that awaits?

We’re all everyday alchemists. Share  your secrets in the comments below.