Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “L”

happy girl in winter clothes blowing on palms

Let’s let “L” lead the way today in our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge.

Yes, there are lots of “L” words lobbying for the lucky lesson of the day, but sometimes less is more. (Especially when I had the luxury of listening to visiting artist, JM James, last night instead of laboring over a longer post.)

So no lecturing from this language lover. I’m limiting myself to eleven lyrically liberating love notes or lullabies to lift you up when your spirits start to lag.

  1. Listen before you label.
  2. Lavish with love.
  3. Linger longer.
  4. Laughter lightens the load.
  5. Lose your luggage. (Figuratively, not literally. At least not the lingerie or longjohns!)
  6. Launch. Leap. Land. Repeat.
  7. Do what you like. Like what you do.
  8. Luxuriate in the little things.
  9. Legitimize your leaps of faith.
  10. Lean in. Lap up the light,  levity, and loveliness.
  11. Leave a comment below.

 

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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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Create in the Middle of Things

Getting stuff done badge

It’s Day 24 of the Get Stuff Done 1 x 31 Challenge. Today’s mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create in the middle of things.

One of the most important things I learned when I trained with Eric Maisel as a Creativity Coach, was that in order to get anything done, I had to learn to create in the middle of things.

Most creative types yearn for great expanses of uninterrupted time when we can meet our muse in our well-stocked studio and produce the masterpiece that has been patiently waiting for the perfect moment to arrive.

The problem for most of us is that moment never arrives. We’ve got things to do, bills to pay, mouths to feed, puppies to play with, and daily demands that do not allow for sabbaticals, leave of absences, long weekends, or even a day off.

So what do we do? Abandon our creative aspirations?

Heavens, no!

We create right smack dab in the middle of it all.

Arrived early to your eye appointment?  Start sketching. Have to wait for your kids to finish swimming lessons? Create an outline for your ebook.  Dinner won’t be ready for 40 minutes? Dive into your drumming lessons or get out that guitar.

Life hardly ever offers up a perfect stretch of time for you to indefinitely do what you love. Even if it did, I suspect you’d be alphabetizing the canned goods or cleaning the bathroom before you’d face the blank screen or empty canvas.

Creating something out of nothing is terrifying. Resistance and profuse procrastination are part of the process.

You have to coax your creativity into action whenever you can. Then you’ll be able to call upon it at will and it will readily respond.

I love to write. It’s my raison d’être. But writing consistently for this many days in a row requires me to be incredibly disciplined, determined, and dedicated to my craft. Because of that, writing doesn’t disappoint and often delights me.

Most days I feel like I have invisible allies encouraging me to simply sit down and put pen to paper or stand at my treadmill desk and put my fingers to the keyboard.

That’s when the magic happens. That’s when the world starts to make sense. That’s when the ideas hanging out in my head find their way to you and, hopefully, spark something new in you.

Find 5-15 minutes today to do that thing that only you can do.  Maybe it’s tell a certain story to your kids or grandkids. Maybe it’s making a meal that the whole family loves. Maybe it’s designing a badge on Canva like the one above so you have a way to show off your progress.

Whatever it is, create it when you might otherwise check out or default to Facebook or the TV or solitaire on your phone.

Right now, right in the middle of everything else you have going on, create something.  And if you dare, I’d love for you to share it in the comments below or email me at penny@wellpower.com.

 

 

 

 

Shift Happens

Old Typewriter Keys

It’s Day 20 of the Get Stuff Done 1 x 31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to notice where things have shifted for you in the past 3 weeks.

Sometimes it’s a subtle shift.  Other times it’s the kind of shift that jolts you out of bed at 4am with the horrifying thought, “What have I done?”

What woke me at 4am this morning was the realization that by agreeing to add 8 pounds of puppy to my home, I was about to alter the course of my foreseeable future.

It also occurred to me that every time I embark on one of these challenges – whether it be a 21-day cleanse, a 40-day prosperity program, or a Get Stuff Done 1x 31 Challenge  – things shift. Big and small.  Just when I think nothing is happening.

There is something so convincing about showing up day after day no matter what that sooner or later, people pay attention.  Once you have proven that you can deliver on your promises, the universe can’t help but meet you half-way.

You may have outrageous expectations and delusions of grandeur that if you put in a little  time, you’ll get a lucky break and win big. And maybe you will.

But if Malcolm Gladwell is to be believed, you’re going to need to put in about 10,000 hours of practice before you achieve mastery.

That’s a lot of time to get discouraged.

It’s also a lot of time to learn and fall in love with the nuances of your craft.

Some things provide instant gratification.  Making your bed. Checking an item off your to-do list. Doing 15 or 50 pushups, depending. Preparing a delicious meal. Resolving a conflict. Getting a haircut. Scheduling an appointment. Writing a thank you note. Giving your dog a bone.

But some things mean more because they take time. You can’t lose 20 pounds in a day, train for a marathon in a weekend, or write your thesis in an afternoon.

Fortunately, most days don’t require you go the extra mile- or 26, if you’re determined to qualify for Boston like my friend Ann, who has justifiably earned her nickname, Annspiration. But by going even the extra 1/4 mile, giving just a little bit more than you think you have in you, those miracles are more likely to manifest.

Take 5-15 minutes today to contemplate what actions you’ve taken as part of this challenge that you may not have taken if you hadn’t played along. When have you gone the extra 1/4 mile and how far has it gotten you?

I’d love to hear what you discover.

Share if you dare in the comments below or email at penny@wellpower.com.

 

 

 

 

Peace Out

Hope Concept

It’s Day 18 of the Get Stuff Done 1 x31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to find the place of peace within yourself and just reside there for 5-15 minutes.

It’s hard not to be upset, frightened, disturbed, angry, or uneasy about what’s happening in the world right now – from politics to police to poverty to a plethora of man-made and natural disasters. If there wasn’t something weighing heavily on your heart, I’d wonder what world you were living in.

Using violence to end violence never seemed like a sane solution to me. Practicing peace to create peace seems infinitely smarter.

I used to call myself the Queen of Calm. Wellpower, the company my business partner and I started, was all about relieving stress, creating calm, and bringing balance back into the lives of our clients. We made audio tapes, gave a lot of talks, and traveled the country hoping to restore health and wellness to the lives of anyone who would listen.

Maybe we were ahead of our time. Wellness was not nearly the craze it is now. Or if it was, we had no way of connecting to the world of wellness the way we all can now.

But I have to wonder.  Even with all these tools at our fingertips – apps that monitor our activity, blood pressure, calories, steps, and online support groups and exercise instructors available 24/7 on our phones and computers – are we any less stressed?

The simplest yet most difficult thing to do is to stop doing. Or as those who meditate like to say, “Don’t just do something…sit there!”

I know this may seem like the opposite of what I’ve been preaching for the last 18 days. But as you’ve heard me say before, doing anything from an emotionally charged place of panic or reaction is not likely to get you the results you want.

Yes, there are times when taking immediate action is called for.  When it’s not, putting yourself in a self-imposed time-out can bring about world peace, at least your corner of it.

Remember your park from Day 16? Go there.

Especially when you’re chomping at the bit for revenge, retaliation, or retribution of some sort. Go there when you’re outraged, when you’ve come undone,  when you want nothing more than to make someone else pay for the pain you feel.

On the other side of your primal passion, deep conviction, and unshakeable belief about any issue is someone feeling the exact opposite about the very same thing. And it could be someone you love.  It usually happens in every election that the people in my family cancel out each other’s vote.

But I vote anyway. And I encourage them to do the same.

You can stand firm in your own beliefs and still allow others to stand in theirs.

We all have a right to our own opinions. But I like to believe there is a place where none of those opinions matter.  I think Rumi said it best.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.”

So, my friends and even my foes, peace out. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

Like Sonny had Cher, I’ve got you, babe. And I wish you peace for as long as you can possibly stand it.

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!

 

 

Call Me Maybe

Call me scritto sul muro

It’s Day 8 of our Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge and today’s challenge is to connect with whoever would most love to hear from you.  If you happen to be in close proximity to them, stop in and love them up.

Whether that person is your mother, your lover, your dog-sitter, or a friend in need, you never know how you might brighten that person’s day just by checking in and letting them know you are thinking of them.

Let’s face it. We’re all busy. We’re so wrapped up in our endless to do’s we can forget to take the time to talk to those who would appreciate it the most.

But when we do, people notice.

Especially when we can be present with them without the distraction of our electronic devices beeping and tweeting and seducing us into believing there is something more important than being available to who or what is in front of us.

I know you can spare 5-15 minutes today to check in with someone you’ve been meaning to thank, recommend for a job, set up on a blind date, or give your raspberry pie recipe to but haven’t quite found the time.

Today I heard from a couple of people I didn’t expect to and it totally made my day. Although I have no idea how difficult it may have been for them to contact me, I was delighted that they would take the time to track me down.

So now, I challenge you to do the same. To paraphrase Dirty Harry, “Go ahead.  Make someone’s day.”

Don’t for one minute think that hearing from you would not mean the world to someone else.

I’m thrilled every single time one of you check in with me to report on your progress on the Get Stuff Done 1×31 challenge. It is so easy to believe what we do or don’t do doesn’t matter. I’m here to tell you it absolutely does.

I love this quote by Margaret Mead.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

And how do we change the world?  We get stuff done, 5-15 minutes a day all month long.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go make a call.

And if you want some songs to add to your playlist to go along with today’s theme, check out these:

Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen

You’re Not Alone – Ben Taylor

Sail Away – David Gray

Shower the People – James Taylor

 

The Boys of Summer

ct-cubs-vs-pirates-20160619-022(photo credits – Nuccio DiNuzzo / Chicago Tribune)

Okay, so I’m not usually so interested in the boys of summer, but I have to say if a team ever embodied the How to Get Your Groove Back method I teach, it would be the Chicago Cubs.

Ever since I was little, summers were spent either listening to the lovable losers blaring on our kitchen radio, watching them on tv, or occasionally going into Chicago for a game.

My parents are snowbirds and spend their winters in Arizona. While they love Arizona, they also want to be as close to the Cubs training camp and take in as many preseason games as possible.

As long as I can remember, it’s been the same thing. A sentiment shared by the entire MLB franchise. The Cubs will choke.  If the  Curse of the Billy Goat is to be believed, the team will never win a World Series at Wrigley Field.

But like all groovy gals, guys, teams, businesses, and best sellers, where there is a will, there is a way. In the case of the Cubs, where there is a dream and a team of outstanding people capable of making that dream come true, anything is possible.

Take Wilson Contreras for example. Last night, at this rookie’s first major-league at bat in front of 41,024 fans, he hit the first pitch 417 feet over the center-field to score a two-run homer.

I happen to be watching the game because Bob, like my parents, is a bit obsessed with the Cubs. He and my dad spent Father’s Day salmon fishing in Wisconsin. Bob had just gotten home, unloaded the car, and made it as far as the couch before collapsing.

As I cuddled up next to him he declared, “Honey, you’re watching history in the making.” I asked why. He said, “It’s this guy’s first at bat in the major leagues.

My reply was, “Doesn’t every player have a first time at bat in the majors once in his career? What makes this one so special?

It defied explanation.

Clearly the crowd knew something I didn’t. All 40,000+ of them were on their feet.

And then Contreras stepped up to the plate and in front of all those adoring fans made history.

I must admit, it was wondrous.

How many hours went into making that moment possible? How many people had supported him, encouraged him, created the circumstances that made that moment absolutely perfect?

I will never know the discipline, the training, the sacrifices, the mental toughness that made the quieting of nerves, the calling in of confidence, and the summoning of superpowers possible.

But I do know we’ve all done similar things in our own version of the big leagues.

Whether you’ve delivered a speech, signed divorce papers, buried a loved one, sent a child off to college, into the military, or walked him or her down the aisle, whether you sang karaoke at your neighborhood pub, ran for office, or stood up for yourself in front of your family or organization, I know you possess the kind of courage called for when it’s your turn to step up to the plate.

You simply need to summon it on a regular basis.

It doesn’t happen without practice.

When I was startled out of sleep this morning at 1:30 am by my dog’s disagreeable dinner choice, my thoughts drifted back to the game instead of dreamland. Suddenly I was wide awake as I replayed the emotions of watching someone do precisely what he was born to do. It was thrilling to witness what love of the game, love of the work and discipline, love of the fans, love of the players and coach, and love of team made possible.

It made me think about the following.

  • What would be possible for you if you had 40,000 fans on their feet supporting, encouraging, and believing it you?
  • What would stepping up to the plate look like for you?
  • If you hit it out of the ball park, what would that mean to you?

These questions kept the sandman away for a good two hours. Maybe they will stir something up in you as well?

I love hearing what matters to you. You may even surprise yourself when you jot dot the first thing that comes to mind in the comments below.

Batter up!

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Stream of Color

A few weekends ago I got to spend an amazing weekend in Austin, Texas, participating in a Gathering of Wayfinders with Martha Beck.

I felt pulled to the event the moment I read about it. That didn’t prevent me from coming up with dozens of reasons why I shouldn’t spend the money, take the time, or trust the call of the wild that insisted I make my way to the Lone Star State.

Fortunately, reason can’t hold  a candle to instinct.

My desire was to find my tribe, those people who “get me” without explanation. As I stepped into a room filled with 500 coaches, I knew I had found them.

Conversations were immediate and intimate and none of us let the other get away with anything. We are, after all, trained to help others see what is hard for them to see in themselves.

We are also trained to know “if you spot it, you got it. Whether it’s something we love or something we loathe, we respond to what we recognize.

We won’t heal the world by fixing it. We fix the world by healing ourselves.

I watched Martha work with person after person.  She took their greatest challenges or frustrations and turned them around to find the places within themselves that were suffering the same fate.

“What should be done about it?” became, “What can I do about it?” The answer was the directive. “Start here.”

The relief of knowing I don’t have to save the world was quickly replaced by the responsibility of saving myself. The best way I know to do this is to let my freak flag fly.

It doesn’t mean putting all my outrageousness on display at all times. But it does mean trying to blend, when I was born to be different, will eventually snuff out the brilliance that begs to shine through at the oddest moments.

Flying your freak flag takes tremendous courage.

None of us want to risk the social disgrace of being outed as unusual, eccentric, strange, weird, cra-cra, or unhinged. But really, who among us isn’t? Who hasn’t had thoughts or experiences that those who know and love us advise to keep to ourselves?

I suppose what happens in Austin should stay in Austin, but what happened to me was so subtle, I could easily have missed it. I connected the dots that led me from one leap of faith to another until I found myself at the JW Marriott, cavorting with my tribe like I knew the way home all along.

The truth is, I did. And knowing that changed everything.

Try as I might to convince myself I’d been lost for years and didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, that was simply not true. I cleverly sprinkled clues throughout my life to remind me where I parked the mother ship. I also managed to find my fellow trackers in the trickiest of terrains. I remembered I had superpowers just in time to activate them. And all the while I’d write and share these stories when I dared.

Then I’d forget everything and go back to blending.

But in Austin,the more I allowed myself to believe impossible things, the more likely they were to happen. The weekend was a series of synchronized connections and coincidences.  If I needed to know something, someone would tell me. If I needed to meet someone, she would show up. If I needed an Uber driver, he was already at my location. All I had to do was to suspend my disbelief, be present, open, and willing to trust.

Okay, that last line may have rolled off your tongue as easily as it flowed out my fingertips, but it’s taken me a lifetime of practice to even begin to master. Being present and open and trusting when I’m in a new city is as hard for me as not trying to blend when I’m in a small town.

But it can be done. Especially in Austin. The music, the mood, the food, the warmth, and the water will work their magic and you’ll have no choice but to surrender to it all. At least that’s what happened to me.

Of course, the real test of any trip is how I return to my regularly scheduled programming. This time instead of pretending nothing had changed, I acted as if everything had changed. When Bob picked me up at the airport, I said, “Hi, honey.  I’m home.” And then I added, “You may want to strap in. It’s going to get interesting.

Bob, being quite familiar with my freak flag, he just laughed and said, “Welcome home. I missed you.

 

 

 

Take A Hike, Valentine

Penny's iphone 2016 824

Asking my Valentine to take a hike was the best thing I could have done this Valentine’s Day. Now, before you think this is the reason I’ve been single all of my life, let me explain.

Over the years, I’ve found that taking a hike with someone you love is a natural way to bond with them. Getting outside, moving your body, and connecting with the earth has a way of grounding a relationship and opening up conversations to new perspectives, insights, and influences that may not be present in familiar, indoor environments.

A few weeks ago I realized the stress that had been accumulating since December definitely needed to be diffused. I have a couple of presentations coming up at the end of the month that require me to be fully present and aligned with my message. Stressing about it only makes me less available to “aha” moments.

Knowing the state I can work myself into prior to public speaking, I decided the best thing I could do was to head to my power place and relax into the upcoming challenge.

For me this place is the Southwest. The solidarity of the mountains and the solar power of a high desert sun recharge my batteries like nothing else. Rekindling my love affair with the landscape and the architecture does wonders for my spirit.

Listening to the urgency of my insistent soul, I set my sights on St. George, Utah. Then I told my Valentine to take a hike – with me, of course!

Maybe it was all that male bonding he’s been up to lately over activities I want no part of that made him eagerly agree to accompany me to the desert. Or maybe we both need to escape Iowa winters in February. Whatever the case, an amazing thing happened on the way to Utah.

First, I lost my iPad. Or so I thought. This led to a meltdown that left me in tears from Cedar Rapids to Denver. Luckily I still had my iPod with me and could console myself with Snatum Kaur, whose music I can only describe as transcendent.  I needed something to lift me as far from my funk as the plane was from the ground. Snatum is a Sikh which means I don’t always understand what she is singing about. But she sings like an angel and her voice was the antidote to my angst.

I imagined her words translated to some variation of the following: “Let it go. Not just the iPad but the stress and all the accumulated hurts and slights and disappointments. Let go of  your expectations that it should have been any different or that people should behave differently than they do. Let go of the striving and relentless drive to prove yourself.” Because her voice radiated love and understanding, it produced ongoing waterworks.

This was followed by a reminder from Michael Bublé that I needed to say something other than, “Take a hike!” to my Valentine. As Michael and Naturally 7 belted out “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” I took the ear pod from my left ear and stuck it in Bob’s right ear.

Fearing that the meltdown might have had something to do with him, he visibly relaxed when he realized the crying jag had come to a conclusion. Just as we had left the cold and snow in Iowa, I had checked my stress and presumably my iPad at the gate.

As we made our connection in Denver to St. George, the laughter and lightness returned along with the excitement that we were headed someplace spectacular. We arrived to sunny skies and warm temperatures and a van waiting to take us to our dream destination. Admittedly, my dream destination – Red Mountain Resort.

Greeted by a gracious staff, incredible views, and the most delicious and nutritious foods that we won’t have to prepare ourselves, I’m pretty sure we landed in heaven.

I love labyrinths and discovered one onsite within the first hour. As I circled around and back I thought of how few trips around the sun we get to make. Life is really too short to get so worked up about stuff I have no control over. Sometimes I simply need a little distance from it.

This morning we took a remarkable hike into the Snow Canyon State Park and explored the red sand dunes and Snow Canyon trail. I had a record 14572 steps before noon. We got back just in time for a delicious meal and afternoon guided meditation.

This, of course, led to an afternoon nap for Bob while I wrote. This was followed by stretch class, an exquisite dinner, and a gathering of new friends at the hot tub.

So now, my funny valentines, I must leave you.  As naturalist John Muir said, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”  Zion National Park awaits.

I will, however, leave you with this Valentine suggestion, which I say with love. Please…. if you know what’s good for you… take a hike!