Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 7 – Plan G

Weihnachtsberraschung - leuchtendes Weihnachtsgeschenk

It’s Day 7 of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. The letter “G” governs our goal of getting from here to the New Year in good cheer today.

It’s gift giving season and grounding ourselves in gratitude for the grasp we’ve got on the good life is one of the greatest ways to generate good cheer. It also allows us to gracefully gear up for giving meaningful gifts instead of grappling with feeling guilty for giving generic ones or goodies that gouge our checkbook

From grandiose gestures to gracious greetings to giddy gatherings, “g” words generate a generous amount of good will and garner glowing reviews as opposed to groans, grunts, or grumbles.

Glamorous words like glisten, glow, glance, glimpse, gallop, gasp, gaze, grin, giggle, gamble,  grimace, and gorge give us plenty to gab about. They grant us creative license to glide from goofy to galvanizing to grand depending upon the guy or gal the gift is being groomed for.

Gift giving can be gratifying or grievous, with no guarantees that the gesture won’t be taken for granted. However, you will grow from giving from the garden of your gorgeous self just as I have been graced with the gift of your time  and attention.

Could I goad you into sharing some of your most glorious gift giving experiences in the comments below? Or if you want to gush about our new logo below, that would be groovy. I will gladly gobble up the goodness I glean from getting a glimpse of what’s golden to you. Go for it!

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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.

 

 

 

 

It’s How You Play the Game

Couple after an argument look in different directions

It’s not whether you win or lose,” the saying goes, “but how you play the game.

This comment is usually offered to the side that didn’t win.

I avoid writing about politics because, given the state of the union, I could easily offend half of you. Please know that is not my intention.

My intention is to write my way out of the aftermath of a game played with so much  disrespect and lack of decency that I feel gutted, traumatized, and heartbroken. Not just because of who won or lost but because of how we played the game.

Families, cities, states were divided in what felt like a civil war, except that there was nothing civil about it. Things were said, threats were made, and stunts were pulled that may work for reality TV, but as the foundation of our reality is truly terrifying.

I want to believe nobody voted for discrimination, exclusion, or hatred. I have to believe we all voted for what we believe in and who we thought could best bring about the change we seek.

But voting is not something we do with our heads.  It’s a primal thing we do with our hearts. Sadly, we can’t fact check the unspoken fears that live in our hearts because in order to control them, we kept them hidden.

Consequently, no one can predict their power at the polls until they surface and surprise us from ballots cast across the country in the privacy and anonymity of a voting booth or safety of our homes.

Clearly, we are unhappy. We are stressed. We are tired of government meddling in our affairs. We’re as mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.

But we also have so much to be grateful for. We have come so far on so many fronts. We seem to have lost sight of that in our rage against the machine and each other.

It’s easy to blame others for our discontent. But when we point a finger at someone else,  four are pointing back at us. We can project the blatant bad behavior on to others, but if we recognize it in others and are willing to be brutally honest with ourselves, eventually we recognize it in ourselves as well.

Because happiness is an inside job, we have to start with the man or woman in the mirror. When we abdicate our own power, we open the door to bullies who are more than willing to use it against us.

While we cannot control what bullies do or say, we can control how we respond.  And that response determines how we move forward.

You can add fuel to the fire of fear, anger, and hatred or you can practice peace, compassion, and decency.

As Stephen Colbert suggested, you can “get back to your life.” And in doing so, recommit to living consciously, intentionally, and with as much love and integrity as you can possibly muster.

It won’t be easy. Especially if you are discouraged, afraid, or otherwise disenfranchised. But I promise you, the world needs your light. When one of us shines brightly, we all do.

I wish our country didn’t need to go to the extremes it did for the past year to collectively learn the lessons this election offered up.

Mistakes were made. Assumptions were interpreted as facts. Unprecedented incivility was unleashed. A lot was at stake and lines were crossed that, as a country, we’ll have a hard time recovering from.

Playing the game this way has left us all bruised and battered.

As we move forward, I hope we will be kind to one another. I hope we can realize we are all fighting the good fight and, despite our differences, we have more that unites us than divides us.

In the days to come I wish you the kind of courage that allows you to speak up, act on your beliefs, cope with challenges, and carry on with conviction. Doing so sets us all free.

I’d love to hear how you will share your light in the comments below.

 

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

Workers people group.

I’m not sure whose idea it was to declare Labor Day a national holiday, I just know I am forever grateful the idea was implemented. According to Wikipedia, some say it was Peter McGuire and others say Matthew Maguire. To me, they both sound like Midlife MacGyver. Go figure.

A well-timed holiday, like Labor Day after the first few weeks of the school year, makes me appreciate all the labor that leads up to it.

Last night, around the time I subconsciously start to stress about another work week, I relaxed into the realization that I have another day to go places and do things – even if it’s just to my deck to watch my puppy chase a hummingbird moth.

All work and no play makes me an edgy educator. I’m all for putting the petal to the metal when the project, performance, or people demand it. But I’m also a stickler for self-care and putting your own oxygen mask on first so you can assist those you set out to serve. You can’t do that if you can’t breathe.

Sometimes all you need to catch your breath is a little time off.

Other times you need full on engagement and involvement in something deeply meaningful.

The best way I know how to explain this is to share this except from David Whyte’s  Crossing the Unknown Sea. David is talking with his friend, monk, and mentor, Brother David.

“Tell me about exhaustion,” I said. He looked at me with an acute, searching, compassionate ferocity for the briefest of moments, as if trying to sum up the entirety of the situation and without missing a beat, as if he had been waiting all along, to say a life-changing thing to me. He said, in the form both of a question and an assertion: “You know that the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest?”

“The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest,” I repeated woodenly, as if I might exhaust myself completely before I reached the end of the sentence. “What is it, then?”

“The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”

He looked at me for a wholehearted moment, as if I should fill in the blanks. But I was a blank to be filled at that moment, and though I knew something pivotal had been said, I had not the wherewithal to say anything in reply. So he carried on:

“You are so tired through and through because a good half of what you do here in this organization has nothing to do with your true powers, or the place you have reached in your life. You are only half here, and half here will kill you after a while. You need something to which you can give your full powers. You know what that is; I don’t have to tell you.”

Six years ago I spent seven glorious days in the Lake District with David Whyte and an amazing group of individuals who had traveled from various continents to spend their mornings in quiet reflection with the great poet and their afternoons in a moving meditation, soaking in both the beauty of the place and the sacredness of the spoken word.

Having this extraordinary experience with an incredible group of people in a gorgeous location was possible because I had spent years preparing myself for precisely this kind of opportunity. Even if I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time.

No time, no energy, no money, no relationship, or no experience is ever wasted if it prepares you for your next adventure.

The next adventure for me is diving into a new project that will help me create experience products as opposed to information products and deliver them in a very real and rewarding way. You’ll be experiencing more of this in the next 8 weeks.

You can allow yourself to burn out or you can ignite the light that can only be lit from within.

Do whatever it takes to stoke that fire. Read some books. Watch some videos. Attend a workshop. Go to the mountaintop. Head to the beach. Work out. Take a nap. Nourish yourself with food, family, or friends.

What you may discover is this:  the fruit of your labor is often the labor itself. And doing the work – the work that only you can do – is indeed worth celebrating.

I’d love for you to share the work you are celebrating in the comments below.

 

 

 

Stop and Smell the Petunias

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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.

 

 

Get A Quote

quotation icon. quotation vector illustration

It’s Day 25 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge. Today’s challenge is to find a quote, a poem, or a saying that inspires you and commit it to memory.

It can be something short like, “Fleas. Adam had em.” Or something long like the Gettysburg Address or the The Man in the Arena quote by Theodore Roosevelt that has served as the foundation for Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability and leadership.

You may already have a quote that you know by heart that has served as a beacon of light during dark times. Or you may know some famous words that have gotten you to the finish line or helped you complete your degree. Undoubtedly these encouraging words have inspired you to do what you needed to do, when you needed to do it.

Like an anthem or a playlist (see Day 4), quotes and poems transport us to a place of possibility. A place where we can do, be, or have all that we’ve been striving for.

I love to  find a quote or a poem, type it up in the font that captures its essence – or find it on Pinterest– and print it out, and then put it in a place where I’ll come across it when I least expect it.

For example, I have Zen pictures and quotes scattered about my desk drawer, my sock drawer, my glove compartment, my laptop bag, my pencil case, my wallet, and my luggage. I purposefully forget where I put them so when I do come across them, I’m delighted to discover a moment of Zen.

Today I came home to find a package on my step that was held together by packing tape that declared, “You are adored.”  It really didn’t matter what was in it after that. Just seeing that message on the outside made me feel adored.

Inside I found a few magnets to adorn my refrigerator. They quickly became the catalyst for today’s post. (Because I can’t write about my new puppy every day.)

Because you are getting a lot of stuff done 1×31 this month, I’ll leave you with this quote from Mike Dooley.

“The one thing all famous authors, world class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors, and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journeys when they were none of these things.”

Take 5-15 minutes today to look up a quote or poem and commit it to memory.  Like knowing at least one clean joke, knowing this can make your world a brighter place.

Share your favorites in the comments below.

Don’t know any great poets?  May I suggest David Whyte, Heidi Rose Robbins, Mary Oliver, Hafiz, Rumi, Derek Walcott, or Pablo Naruda?  Or you could read one of Roger Housden’s Ten Poems series of books that introduce you to various poets.

 

 

 

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Gather Evidence of Good

Summer 2016 017

It’s Day 9 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge. Today’s task is to gather evidence that the world is basically good.

You know how when you purchase a copper colored car and suddenly you notice copper colored cars everywhere? Well, it could be that there is a sudden influx of copper colored cars on the road, but it’s more likely that your reticular activating system has now put copper colored cars on its radar of important items.

Your reticular activating system is a small part of the brain with a big responsibility. Its job is to filter through the infinite amounts of incoming information and determine what is most important for you to know to stay alive and reach your goals.

The reason you need to know about this is so you can harness its power to help you gather evidence that the world is basically good, life supports you, and you have ample resources  ready to help you achieve whatever it is you are willing to commit to.

You already know there is more than enough evidence to convince you the opposite is true.  All you need to do is turn on the television, read a newspaper, look on the Internet, or relive a few of your favorite failures to “prove” it.

But today I challenge you to do the opposite. Counter every negative with a positive. For every insult you hear, offer a compliment. Should someone slam a door in your face, open one for someone else.

I guarantee you this will be challenging. 

But it will also be uplifting. And if you write it down in your optimist’s journal or take pictures of your findings as I suggested earlier this week, you will be blown away by all the goodness gathering around you.

Don’t believe me?  Just try it.  Make it a game. Give it a go. Actively seek out the silver linings.

It’s all in the way you choose to see, hear, or experience something.

As they say in metaphysics, “What you focus on expands.”

So let’s focus on the fabulous, shall we?

Leave your evidence that the world is good in the comments below and/or send me your suggestions for today’s playlist.

 

Here’s one that’s on mine.

Tell Me Something Good – Rufus and Chaka Khan – Gotta love the groovy outfits!