Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Let’s Review

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This week might be one of my favorite weeks of the year. Not just because I work in education and get this week off, but also because it gives me some breathing space.

I look forward to this time all year to reflect on the lessons learned, experience gained, relationships rekindled or lost, and the unexpected surprises that buoyed my spirits or broke my heart.

Some of these things were in my control and many of them were not. Either way this year  provided a continually expanding arena for me to rearrange my perception of my place in the universe.

In an effort to become more visible and accessible, I became aware of how small I’ve been playing for a long time and how safe it is to do so.  The minute I risked becoming more visible and having an opinion, an agenda, or an attitude, I risked opening myself to judgment, criticism, and haters.

I can live with that. It appears to be the price of admission to a non-apologetic life.

What I can’t live with is being a writer and censoring myself so as not to offend or otherwise ruffle a few feathers. There were many things that had me worked up this year. It was also the year I embarked on an Integrity Cleanse so not writing about them was not possible.

As a writer, my job is to articulate the emotions underneath the issues so you can feel them in a way you may not have, left to your own devices.

I take this job very seriously. And though I don’t get paid to do it or enjoy celebrity status because of it, it’s the most rewarding thing I do. Because of you.

If reading makes us feel less alone in the world, then writing makes us feel more understood.

The greatest satisfaction I get from writing is knowing that some of you are reading this and thinking,”I know exactly what she’s talking about.” Especially when I describe the crazy stuff or make an obscure reference to something you thought you were the only one who remembered or had an experience of.

After a long day at work, I know I can retreat to my writing room and send something out into the world that will come back with a reassuring, “I hear you, honeyWelcome to my world.”

As I begin my week-long year in review, I want to start with saying thank you for being a consistent source of delight in my world and an incentive to keep pushing the envelope, expressing unspoken hopes and fears, and sprinkling a healthy dose of humor on ridiculous situations.

In between dog walks, reading, and savoring some quiet time at home, today I’m working on a few templates I’ll share with you tomorrow.

In the meantime, please share your highlights from 2016 in the comments below or email them to me at penny@wellpower.com.

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 8 – Plan “H”

Cane golden retriever con cuffia e occhiali

Hey there, hi there, ho-ho-ho there!

It’s Day 8 of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer Challenge.

Headlining today’s tips is the letter “H”.  Put your headphones on and click here to hear them.

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Hark the herald angels sing! Which begs the question, “Do you hear what I hear?” or am I hallucinating? Today I was hankering for a hack or a hook that would help you hoot and holler with happiness or at least hum along to a hassle-free hip-hop house party hit. I happened to hone in on recording this because caroling is out of the question. I can’t sing to save my life.

But I can hurtle through hundreds of “h” words in a horribly halting hammer-time haze. She who hesitates, complicates and hinders her hitch-hiking heros journey home for the holidays.

I’m recording this hurried and hobbled together blog post to humanize my written words. So huddle in close for hidden hints at what hooks the ear and hitches good cheer to the sound of one human humbling hearing and healing another.

I’m fully aware this may hurl me into humiliation and hamper my hopes of hatching a career in voice-overs. However, it’s what we do to help each other through the holidays. What will you hear today that highlights, hijacks, or harnesses your good humor?

I‘d love to hear what you heard in the comments below. If you prefer to hear these tips rather than read them, please let me know and I can make that happen for you. By the time we get to Plan “V”, I might just have some video for you as well. It never hurts to hypothesize!

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 4 – Plan D

 

It’s Day 4 of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge and today the letter “D” will be directing the show.

Words beginning with “d” are drenched with determination as if daring us to do something difficult, daunting, or demanding. 

Let’s face it, Darling, dealing with the holidays can be discombobulating.

So what do you do?

Well, my answer to everything these days (okay, maybe every day since the 80s) is disco. 

Before you dis this idea, don your earbuds or headphones, dive into the video, and discover for yourself how this dazzling display of dorkiness dispels any doubt that dancing develops the necessary dossier to deal with drama. 

A few of my distinguished friends and followers have agreed to be featured in this divine dance with me. Tom, Terry, Bob, and Barbi have demonstrated that disco never dies. I’m sure you will agree they are dynamite.

For more fun than Dominick the Donkey, drop in on the folks at JibJab  and let them help you make a decidedly different holiday card that will delight family and friends and delineate your card from dozens of others this year.

If that doesn’t drown you in good cheer, come back tomorrow when I dole out more advice with the letter “E” as our guide.

Dare to share your dancing dreams in the comments below. Be sure to click here to register for door prizes and other goodies dispersed throughout the challenge. A link will be provided so you can download your Holiday Survival Guide once you register.

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 3 – Plan C

Curious Dog

It’s Day 3 of our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer Challenge.

I love the letter “C” because there are so many compelling action verbs beginning with “c” competing for today’s tip. We have create, collaborate, communicate, connect, catalyze, curate, caress, consider, commit, coach, consult, conspire, cook, coax, comfort, cuddle, climb, compose, craft, complete, continue, conquer, concede, compliment, contribute, calibrate, cushion, chill, celebrate, chuckle, change, challenge, chant, choose, captivate….

Since it’s complicated to pick just one action, I decided to go with an idea that will inspire continuous action. That idea is curiosity.

Just as this picture captures this sweet little pup’s curiosity, you, too, can benefit from cocking your head to the side and considering something you’ve never thought of before. Or at least not in this context.

The trouble with getting all cranky and crabby at this time of year is that need your sense of curiosity, wonder, and humor now more than ever. It’s the connective tissue that keeps you compassionate and civil when your instinct may be more combative.

So try this.

Every day from Here to the New Year, write down at least one thing you are curious about. Just thinking about it won’t do. Please write it down somewhere every day.

By the end of the year,  you’ll have 35 conversation starters should you happen to be stuck at the DMV or cousin Carol’s Christmas concert. Instead of complaining, connect with a complete stranger and see if you can curtail any criticism or cynicism by starting a captivating conversation about any of the things you are curious about.

I’d love to hear where your conversations lead in the comments below. And if you haven’t officially registered for the challenge, please do so here so I can send you your free Holiday Survival Guide and enter your name for the goodies I’ll be giving away.

“What could those clever concoctions be?” you ask.

Stay curious and continue to check in daily.  I’ll leave clues that will allow you to connect the Christmas cookie crumbs to some sweet surprises coming soon.

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 2 – Plan B

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It’s Day 2 of our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. Leading the charge for today is the letter B.

Today’s tip comes from Dan Pink’s book To Sell Is Human.  It was also inspired by my trip to the pool for a swim on Wednesday.

Become buoyant.

Buoyancy is the quality that allows you to stay afloat amidst a sea of negativity, rejection, discouragement, heavy traffic, crowds, or whatever brings you down.

Reciting the work of a leading researcher on positivity, Pink describes buoyancy as the “calibration between two competing pulls: levity and gravity.”

Levity is that unseen force that lifts you skyward, whereas gravity is the opposing force that pulls you earthward.  Unchecked levity leaves you flighty, ungrounded, and unreal.  Unchecked gravity leaves you collapsed in a heap of misery. Yet when properly combined, these two opposing forces leave you buoyant,” says Barbara Frederickson of the University of North Carolina.

I don’t know about you, but I span the emotional spectrum from levity to gravity every day. Sometimes every hour. Calibrating these pulls can take some practice. Pink suggests three things to help cultivate buoyancy.

The first is to practice interrogating self-talk such as “Can I figure this out?” as opposed to emphatically affirming self-talk like “I’ve got this!” Questioning if something is possible or doable opens you up to more creative options as to how to get it done.

The second is to allow yourself a proper ratio of positive to negative thoughts or comments (3 positive to 1 negative is where people seem to flourish) as you attempt to figure it out. Reality checks keep your dreams grounded. Humor does wonders as well.

And finally, an optimistic explanation of your results – no matter what they are – prevents you from playing the victim or taking rejection personally. That will help you get up and do it again. Amen.

Today as your emotions bubble up, remember Casey Kasem’s tagline, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” 

Be sure you don’t miss a day of  our Here to the New Year In Good Cheer challenge by signing up here. This allows you to pick up your Holiday Survival Guide and other goodies as we go.

I’d love to hear your comments below.

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Wag More, Bark Less

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It’s Day 19 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge and today’s challenge is to wag more,  bark less.  In other words, find more to appreciate than to complain about.

It’s easy to find things to complain about. Anytime anything doesn’t meet your expectations it can give rise to a rant, a slew of snarkiness, or a cadre of complaints. It can also deplete your energy, darken your mood, and convince you that the world is out to get you.

Wagging, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect.  The reason making a list of  things you are grateful for each day is so powerful is because it shifts your focus from suffering to celebrating.  You can’t feel grateful and irritated at the same time.

Given the choice between communicating with a chronic complainer or a person who consistently gives compliments, wouldn’t you choose the latter?

Sure, some things beg to be corrected. Hairstyles of high profile politicians, for example. However, as I mentioned yesterday, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and personal style. You do you and all that jazz.

Instead of complaining about politics I’d rather applaud Stephen Colbert’s comical interpretation of the day’s events. Finding the funny in what feels futile is a fabulous way to let go of what’s beyond my control.

I used to be a self-help workshop junkie so I know every training trick in the book.  One exercise I really enjoyed was the time a presenter had us working in pairs and telling our partner what we feared and what we loved.

The first go round we could only speak of what stressed us out.  You can imagine what happened to the energy of the room. Get people voicing their greatest stressors, biggest fears, and devastating disappointments and the energy plummets.

The second go round we could only share what we loved. As you might expect, the energy skyrocketed.

Turns out talking about what you love is incredibly energizing.  And that energy is contagious. Giving voice to what you love sparks the recognition of more things you love.

Before you know it, out comes the sun, rainbows and unicorns appear, and evidence that life is basically good (Day 9) is everywhere.

For the next 5-15 minutes, please tell whoever is in earshot what you love. If no one is around, email me at penny@wellpower.com.  In case you can’t tell, I love dogs!! 

In great anticipation of the newest member of our family arriving on Saturday, Miss Ruby O’Riley the red lab and I encourage you to wag more, bark less.

*She’s also the reason this post is so late.  We had to go visit her and all her brothers and sisters tonight.  Her sister Frankie is in the photo above.  Ruby is in the photo below with Bob.

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If you have something to wag about, please share it in the comments below or email me with it at penny@wellpower.com.

 

 

Wiggle Room

smiley faces on a pair of feet on all ten toes (VERY SHALLOW DOF

It’s Day 6 of our Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.

Today’s challenge might be the most difficult one yet for you diligent doers. Today’s task is to relax the reigns a bit and give yourself some wiggle room.

What?” you ask. “We’re just getting started and you’re already going soft on me?”

No. I’m just reminding you that we’re all human, stuff happens, and sometimes we have to open ourselves up to the possibility that we might not always have control over what gets done when. I call this moving at the pace of grace.

For example, while my brain had a list of what I would get done today, my body had an entirely different idea.

You see, last night I made the mistake of eating something that didn’t agree with me. At all. I tried walking it off and then sleeping it off, but somewhere around 1:49, 2:37, 4:18, or 5:55, I knew this was not an ignore it and it will go away situation.

Still I attempted to override my belly’s protests and go to work anyway.  A few hours later I found myself back home in bed.

Faced with the reality that I would not get nearly enough stuff done at work or at home, I decided to look at it from a different perspective.

I work at being as healthy as possible. I seldom think about how having an illness or a chronic health issue might hinder my ability to get stuff done, not to mention affect my attitude about having to do it in the first place.

But today, I got to feel what it’s like to try to bulldoze my way through some very specific physical and emotional feedback. It wasn’t one bit fun.

Whatever was going on in my digestive track wasn’t responding to more demands. It did, however, respond most favorably to rest and relaxation.

I am a certified eating psychology coach.  I encourage people every day to listen to and honor their body’s wisdom.

Practicing what I preach was today’s biggest challenge. I might have totally overlooked it if not for today’s forced detour.

What about you? Where might you relax the reigns on your expectations of yourself or other people? What unexpected situation brought about an insight or experience you may not have gained without it? How can you be kinder and more responsive to the feedback your body has for you?

Share if you dare in the comments below.

 

 

 

Get Stuff Done 1 x 31

 

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It’s that time of year again!

July is our Get Stuff Done 1 x 31 Challenge month.

What is the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge?” you ask.

It’s a way to slowly but surely knock out those little tasks that gnaw away at your peace of mind. It’s committing to daily micro-movements that move the action of your life along at regular clip, without getting stuck in the doldrums.

“What do I have to do?” you wonder.

I’ll post a prompt here each day. You just have to read it.  And act on it.

“Why would I do this?” you protest. “I’m already overwhelmed!”

Well, you don’t have to do it. But it’s fun. It’s free. It’s different. It only takes 5-15 minutes of your day. You’ve got support along with some built in accountability. And it feels really satisfying to get even the smallest stuff done.

Here are 7 Rules to Success for this challenge:

  1. The activity will only take between 5 -15 minutes… because who doesn’t have at least 5 minutes? (If you’re into it, feel free to spend more time.)
  2. You have to actually do it, not just think about doing it.
  3. Approach each day’s challenge with an open mind. (“Been there, done that” attitude does not lend itself to openness. Avail yourself to new twists on familiar themes.)
  4. Be present to the task at hand. Save multi-tasking for the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of the day.
  5. Have fun with it. Judging, criticizing, or censoring yourself – or me! – takes all the fun out of it.
  6. Post your responses, reactions, or results in the day’s comments. It’s more fun  when everyone contributes!
  7. Enlist a friend or two or twenty to join you. This will definitely boost your accountability and your popularity as leader of the pack.

The truth is you don’t get stuff done at all once. Overnight success is often years in the making. Your life moves forward decision by decision, action by action, thought by thought.

For the next 31 days, let’s move the needle on our mojo measuring devices so that by August 1, collectively we can feel as accomplished as all get out.

 

You’re Not Getting Older, You’re Getting Better

Colorful sparkler, close-up.

It was the early seventies when I first heard a commercial for Loving Care reassure me, “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better.” At the impressionable age of 7 or 8,  I had high hopes of getting older and better.  However, it’s taken me decades to truly appreciate the wisdom of this bit of marketing.

Contrary to popular belief, getting older does not mean stepping off a cliff into an abyss of aches and pains, memory loss and incontinence, age spots and unsightly facial hair. These things may or may not come with the territory, but they definitely don’t define what I’ve come to see as this grace period I’ve grown into.

I went begrudgingly into my forties. I was attached to being relatively young, reasonably attractive, and readily available. I feared crossing the threshold into middle age would catapult me into oblivion. I assumed I’d immediately become invisible, undesirable, and unemployable.

That was not an appealing option.

The better option was to own my throne and step into a Queendom of my own making. The world needs more Kings and Queens, grown up men and women who know who they are, understand what they have to offer, and are not afraid to contribute to the well-being of the world. Instead of depending on the world to define them, who they are defines the world.

We live in a youth-obsessed society. Letting go of the goodies surrounding princes and princesses isn’t easy. We’ve all grieved our glory days. Yet every age has its upsides. Unfortunately, we tend to focus more on the downsides the further on down the road we go.

As founder of the Midlife MacGyver Movement and an enthusiastic advocate of Getting Your Groove Back, I’m here to put a stop to all the trash talk about aging.

As I settle into my fifth decade, I’ve never felt more confident about my ability to move about the planet, share my ideas, open my mind, inhabit my body, learn from those who are different from me, relax into the unknown, and trust my ability to handle whatever happens next.

I’m living the dream, albeit a very different one than I imagined when I was half my age. If someone would have suggested to my younger self I’d be living where I’m living, doing what I’m doing with the people I’m doing it with, I wouldn’t have believed them. And yet if I connect the dots, there’s no doubt I would be here now.

I recently read an article by Ramit Sethi called Why Successful People Take 10 Years to “Succeed Overnight.”  It caught my attention in part because I’ve always joked it’s taken me 40 years to achieve overnight success. And by “success” I mean the way I measure it these days. This, too, is very different than I would have defined it even a few years ago.

Sethi talks about the underappreciated power of sequence and using the domino strategy to take one small step.  Like dominoes, that first small step is followed by a little bit bigger step and so on, creating the momentum that can ultimately move mountains, or at least very large dominoes. He explores the invisible scripts that run and often sabotage our lives, and how the treadmill of disappointment can derail us right when we’re on the verge of a breakthrough.

If you’ve lived long enough, you’ll recognize where you’ve succeeded and where you’ve strayed. And if you’ve learned anything, you’ll know without a doubt, you’re not just getting older. Fortunately for all of us, you’re getting better.

Today I embark on another trip around the sun, chalking up another year to experience. Of the many things I’m grateful for, one is getting to show up in your inbox unannounced and share stuff that catches my fancy.

Thanks for reading and allowing me to do the thing that makes me feel the most alive and the most vulnerable.  Open a vein and let the words pour out.

 

 

 

No Matter What – Day 11

And we’re back for Week 3 of the No Matter What Game.  To find out more about it, see details below the post.

Portrait of an attractive surprised young woman

G: You’re on holiday. You go for a swim in the pool. Later that evening you notice the bottom half of your hair has turned green. What do you do? 🙂

P:  Gillian has been on holiday this past week and I wondered if this happened to her.  She said it happened to her daughter and apparently the antidote is tomato ketchup.

This reminds me of a little incident that happened to Bob just before leaving for Arizona a few years ago.  He has a buzz cut and, curiously enough, when his hair gets too long it starts growing in a pattern that resembles the cut popularized by Julius Caesar.

I insist that he let me cut his hair since it’s my idea of an intimate Patrick Swayze/ Demi Moore making pottery moment like in the movie Ghost.  I’m pretty sure Bob feels like a new recruit entering boot camp saying sayonara to his freedom and any chance of having a good hair day again in his lifetime.

Having said this, he’s pretty trusting that not much can go wrong with the guard on.  And though he asks me every single time whether the guard is on, this day he did not.

His hair was exceptionally long (for him) and I knew we had a problem the moment I took the first swath down the middle of his head.

Wow,” I remarked.  “This seems super short.”

Then came the question, “Do you have the guard on?”

“Interesting that you should ask.  Oddly enough, I do not.  I’m sure i can just blend it in.”

I’m sure you can’t.  But I can wear a cap.  No problem.”

Spoken just like the guy on The Bachelorette who let the girl do some whack job hair cut on him and then acted like he didn’t mind having it broadcast on national television.  (Not that I watch that show, but my niece does and happened to be visiting when that episode was on.  I think I needed so see it to remind me I have the real deal with Bob.)

Had the situation been reversed, like the time I got a few moles removed from my face right before going to a Michael Bublé concert, leaving me with Band-Aids all over my face so when Michael came down from the stage and into the crowd and saw a woman with Band-Aids all over her face he was temporarily shocked into silence, I might have reacted differently.

It’s unsettling when the outside image doesn’t match what we know to be true on the inside.  That happens to me frequently.  I feel all frisky and perky like I’m twenty-something and then I happen to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wonder, “Who’s that woman?

But here’s the deal.  I love being the age I am, no matter what I say to the mirror on those days when I haven’t had enough sleep, fun, or fiber and it shows.

I love the wisdom that comes with having been around for a while and understanding how things work, how quickly things can change, and how I can choose to accept things or let them completely freak me out.

I will now answer the question because when Bob was proofreading what I wrote so far and gave me permission to print a story that involved him, he pointed out I hadn’t  answered the question. So, here goes.

If it really upset me, I would find a professional to help me remedy the situation. Of course, being on holiday throws a kink into the mix.  We all know how long it takes to find a hair stylist who gets us and how much longer it takes to trust them to color our hair.

However, in this case, I’d have to trust someone.  Either the person on Wikipedia who posted the ketchup antidote or the stylist at the nearest salon.  I’d go with the stylist.  Unless his or her hair was also green.

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I’d love to hear your comments below.  If you’d like to play along just answer the prompt in your own words and leave them in the comments below or keep them to yourself in a journal.  If you’d like the world’s best coach Gillian to send you your own set of daily prompts, contact her at www.gillianpearce.com.