Do the Necessary Hard Work

woman clenched fist isolated copyspace

Although I love the sentiment behind the notion that if you conceive of an idea and believe in it, you can achieve it, putting it into practice is another matter entirely.

There are many things I’ve been attempting to do lately that I believe are possible.  I’m just not sure they are possible for me.  Take this whole video making business.

The software and other equipment involved in making cutting edge videos, tantalizing trailers, and professional promos seems to be widely available and easily accessible to the tech savvy segment of the population. I am not yet part of that population.

It’s not because I don’t want to be. When I attended the Blogher conference in San Jose a few years ago and was called a girl geek, I was secretly thrilled. While some guys might go to Jared or Tiffany’s to win the affection of their spouse, my guy goes to Best Buy and brings me home a MacBook Pro (another technological leap for this perpetual PC user).

I have the enthusiasm. I have a quirky kind of intellect. I even have the tools.  At this point I just can’t figure out how to make all these things come together in real life the way they do in my imagination.

But I will not give up. I am determined to figure this out. I vow to stay curious and open to new ways of doing what I love – even when I feel like I will never get the hang of it.

It took me 3 weeks to make this 3 minute video. I have 4 more in the wings, waiting for me to learn the technological wizardry required to resurrect them from the scrap heap.

As frustrating as it seems when I’m in the midst of any learning curve, when I emerge on the other side, I am ecstatic.

So to celebrate this small victory, I’ll share the next episode of  A Penny For Your Thoughts with you. I’d love for you to share your struggles – and especially your small victories – with me in the comments below.

Click here and it shall be revealed….

https://spark.adobe.com/video/OfNeMUAxDDsFd/embed

 

Here to the New Year In Good Cheer – Day 1-Plan A

wordcloud

Welcome to the Here to the New Year Challenge in Good Cheer Challenge. From now until December 31st I’ll be sharing some short tips to keep you humming through the holidays.

Because I can easily get distracted by shiny and/or stressful objects, I’m sticking with the full alphabet plan as our guide.

Today we start with Plan A.

I did a search on verbs that started with the letter”A” and assembled a few of them here. I used WordClouds to help me create a visual that allows various verbs to capture your attention, depending on where you look. Notice how the words are shaped to form the letter A?

Today’s tip is all about attitude.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to select a handful of these verbs and act on them today. Let them amplify your awareness and align your actions.

For example, some of my favorites are articulate, amuse, awaken, astound, and anchor.

By writing this blog post I’m articulating my thoughts as well as anchoring my intentions for our time together, awakening my curiosity as to how best to convey these concepts, and possibly amusing you and astounding all of us when you share your responses in the comments below as to how this small change in awareness impacts your day.

Make sure to sign up for the challenge here in order to get your free Holiday Survival Guide.  You’ll also earn points and get in on other free stuff only available by registering.

here_to_the_new_year_in_good_cheer

 

Put the Fun Back in Dysfunctional

Thanksgiving decorations.

There’s one in every family.

In my family, I’m pretty sure I’m it.

The eccentric aunt whose major contribution to any family gathering is Scotcheroos and a wildly active imagination that sets kids and canines alike off on something akin to an out of control sugar high.  Admittedly, it could come from the consumption of said Scotcheroos and scandalously unconventional ideas.

Bringing Bob into the fold has tempered this reputation a bit. Besides giving my nieces and nephew license to say “Bob’s Your Uncle” and run with it, he’s also brought his card sharkiness to the table, rivaling my maternal grandmother and striking fear in my father, my mother, and even my brother.

My devotion to the dogs has doubled as our pack has grown from just one or two to a whole slew. Our new puppy Ruby is beside herself when she gets to meet all of her canine cousins. Well, that, and the smell of so much food.

No doubt about it. Holidays can be harried. With family gatherings there are so many competing expectations and roles we unconsciously slip into. No matter how functional the front we show the outside world may appear, we all know our families are a wee bit dysfunctional.

So, in keeping with my Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge, let’s put the fun back in dysfunctional.

Instead of getting yourself all worked up about things that are out of your control, shake it off. That’s right. Let it go. Ignore it and repeat, “This, too, shall pass.”

Because here’s the thing. It’s Thanksgiving!

You can watch a parade on TV or there might be one in your hometown. If you’re not working in a service business or a retail store that opens its doors at 3pm or 6pm or midnight, you might just have the day off. Bonus!

It happens to be my favorite holiday and by far my favorite Thursday because it’s not about getting. It’s about Giving. Thanks.

And about eating some amazing food prepared by some of our favorite people.

As an eating psychology coach I beg you… Please do not obsess over the calories you are about to consume or how much you will need to exercise to work off the 3 pieces of pie you might mindlessly eat to avoid answering intimate questions about your life from meddling members of your extended family or their friends.

Instead, feast!

Savor the flavor of your favorite foods. Lean into conversations that allow you to learn something you don’t know about someone you think you do.

Take your time with the food that took hours to prepare. Allow this gathering of family and friends to nourish you.

When you do, you’ll find yourself filled up more with less food. You won’t overeat because you will have stuffed your turkey, not yourself.

If you don’t have big plans or can’t be with those you love, then love the ones you’re with. Even if it’s just your parakeet.

Some of my favorite Thanksgivings have been with only a friend or two.  When I lived in Santa Fe my friend Kaylock and I would put together a meal of whatever was available, walk up to the Cross of the Martyrs, and head out to a movie.

Another year I was so stressed I stayed in my pajamas all day until a friend showed up at 5pm with turkey slices from Walmart. He knew the best gift he could offer me at the time was breathing space. It was one of the most memorable Thanksgivings because it was so nourishing to do nothing.

How do you make the most of this holiday? If you are feeling frazzled or freaked out, how might you put the fun back in dysfunctional?

If you are a master of making the most of the holidays, I’d love to hear how you do it in the comments below.  Plus, I’d like to include your suggestions in our Here to the New Year Challenge that begins tomorrow.

Please sign up here to receive your daily tips along with a Holiday Survival Guide created just for you.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.  I’m especially grateful for you.

 

 

 

 

You Must Be Present to Win

heyward-mlb

photo by ASSOCIATED PRESS

I must admit.

I’m overly identifying with the Chicago Cubs this year so the spectacular four-run ninth inning rally that secured their win over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night was more meaningful to me than most playoff games.

You see, early on I adopted these boys of summer as mascots for my How to Get Your Groove Back class. Jake Arrieta in particular seemed like the perfect poster guy for getting one’s groove back. He almost gave up the sport altogether when his pitching coaches couldn’t quite find his groove and released him from Baltimore.

Fortunately Chicago was able to help him find it. And then Jake was able to show the rest of the team how to find theirs. (It might have something to do with that Pilates reformer.)

After a lifetime of summers spent listening to the “lovable losers” on the radio, this summer I watched and learned from the victories and defeats of the Cubs like a vigilant den mother. And one of the things I learned is you must be present to win.

You don’t win by checking out, dwelling in the past, or projecting into the future.  If the Cubs had gone into the ninth inning on Tuesday night plagued by what had transpired in the previous eight, they wouldn’t have been open to the opportunities the ninth inning presented. They clinched the series by seizing every one of them.

That takes an unflinching commitment to being in the moment. That is deceptively difficult.

Last week I spoke to a student services group about resolving to evolve. The first of four actions I asked them to take was to embody. 

What does she mean by that?” you might ask.

I mean to be fully present in the skin you are in and to be open and aware of what you are feeling and to allow your body to provide you with all kinds of information.

Do I have a choice?” you might ask.

Yes and no.  If you’re reading this, you are in a physical form that you move around to do your brain’s beckoning. You feed it, clothe it, take it to work, and allow it to rest. So in one respect, you have no choice but to embody.

But anyone who suffers from aches and pains and a general distrust or disgust of their body will tell you how preferable it is to live life from the neck up. Their choice is to check out of their bodies as often and in as many ways as possible. They might choose to medicate or obliterate with food, alcohol, drugs, or their vice of choice in order to spend as little time as possible feeling what it’s like to be in their body.

As a certified eating psychology coach and fitness instructor, I see this a lot. Most of the people I work with have a very complicated relationship with their bodies. My desire to understand this relationship is what led me to become a writer and coach.

Here’s my take-away. The present moment is all we’ve got. It’s the only time and place where we can make things happen and move forward in our lives.

This means we need to be open to receiving feedback and support from all our faculties, not just our brain. Because I don’t know about you, but my brain can be a bully.

It can have me believing all kinds of things that are just not true because it’s feeling threatened or scared. That’s why I need an entire team of truth tellers located in my heart, my belly, my back, my legs, or anywhere that might get my attention.

I do not want to be stuck in the eighth inning where I might be down 2-5 with just my brain calling the shots. I need my body on board to rally and earn a shot at the World Series.

Bob likes to remind me it’s just a game and whether my team wins or loses, my life will be the same. He may have a point. Every team and every sport have come-back stories and heroes’ journeys stories and a hundred reasons why their epic victory is destined.

But I know on the days the Cubs win my world seems a little bit brighter or more hopeful. Not just because they’ve broken a curse or done the impossible or because my Grandma would be grinning from heaven to see her Cubbies win it all, but because of how they played the game. They model for me how to be all in and present to win. That’s something I can rally around.

Who does that for you? Share if you dare in the comments below.

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. 🙂

 

 

Stop and Smell the Petunias

ruby 029

It’s Day 26 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to stop and smell the petunias.  Yes, I know the saying is “stop and smell the roses.” But since my puppy Ruby is particularly fond of petunias and is teaching me so much in a very short time, especially about taking breaks, I took some creative license with the saying.

Too often we look at interruptions as productivity killers, detours, excuses for our short little spans of attention. But sometimes taking a break to get up and walk around or sit down and relax, have a spot of tea, or nourish ourselves with a healthy snack or TED talk can cause epiphanies and unexpected pleasures.

I can easily spend my workday staring at a computer screen or piles of paperwork going over the same information in the same way.  But if I get up and walk around, move some tables and chairs, feed the fish, or water the plants, my energy shifts. By changing my focus for a while, the same situation looks different when I return.

One of my favorite things in my offices at work and at home is my standing desk. Because I spent most of my life as a fitness instructor, the biggest adjustment to life as a college administrator is the sedentary nature of the majority of my work.

To counteract this, I set up a makeshift standing desk where I can easily advise students and give them direct access to the information on the computer screen and hands on access to their information.

I also made sure we had a picnic table and bench outside so students and staff can get some fresh air, soak in the sun, and smell the lilies nearby when a change of scenery and perspective is needed.

I think in our hurry up and get it done world we’ve forgotten that there is a rhythm to life  There is an art to savoring the steps that get us where we’re going.

Today, take 5-15 minutes to do something deeply nourishing to your soul.  Maybe it’s reading that quote or poem from yesterday’s challenge (Day 25) or maybe it’s calling someone you love (Day 8) or maybe it’s arranging some flowers or fresh fruit and a bowl.

Try not to think of today’s challenge as an interruption and immediately look only for a way to return to the task at hand. Think of it as divine intervention sent to support your present predicament.

As always, I’d love for you to share your epiphanies or aha’s in the comments below.

 

 

Are We There Yet?

nio con maleta en la carretera

It’s Day 23 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge. Today’s challenge is to practice persistence. The way I see it, life is an endurance event. It makes sense to train accordingly.

At some point in any trip someone – maybe even you – is bound to ask, “Are we there yet?”  It can be as soon as you leave town or within striking distance of your destination.

Whenever the question is raised, the challenge is to stay engaged enough in the journey to recognize when the ordinary becomes the extraordinary (see Day 14), shift happens (see Day 20), and your accumulated small changes (see Day 13) add up to something significant.

Many years ago I attended a 12-week workshop based on Julia Cameron‘s creed for creatives,  The Artist’s Way. One lesson that really stuck with me was about creative u-turns and the tendency to give up just when a breakthrough is imminent.

The problem, of course, is that we can’t see that the tide is turning because we’re exhausted or discouraged. So just when a final push is required, we close up shop, declaring our future dreams futile.

With just 8 days left in our Get Stuff Done 1x 31 Challenge, I implore you to stay the course.  Put in the effort for no other reason than to say you did it. I know you may not fully understand how satisfying that will feel, but let me tell you from past finishes, it feels fabulous!

Yes, there may be circumstances that prevent you from going on. But if you are not in such a situation, then I encourage you to do what I suggested you do on  Day 12, just keep swimming.

The first time I did a 30-day blogging challenge, it totally kicked my butt. It also turned me into the blogging fool I am today and earned me the right to call myself a writer.

I can’t say what these 31 days are doing for you. I can only say I’m incredibly proud of you for coming this far, doing your best, and putting your own spin on things in order to make these challenges meaningful to you.

Today it would have been so easy for me to play and coo non-stop with my new puppy Ruby (see below), my nieces, and mom who came over to welcome her into our world. And to help Jake adjust to the tiny intruder in his dog world.

But it’s Day 23.  No, we are not there yet. But let’s finish this thing strong, shall we?

Leave your comments or words of inspiration in the comments below.

IMG_8076