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.

 

 

 

 

Just Keep Swimming

 

Corals, fishes and diver

It’s Day 12 of our Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge. In honor of the first fabulous fish to join the newly established aquarium at my home away from home, Clinton Community College Maquoketa Center, today’s challenge is to just keep swimming.

Admittedly, not every day is going to be the best day of your life. But every day can be another day in paradise, if you choose to see it that way. It certainly is for our new fish.

Yesterday these fish were just a few in a sea of plenty in a pet store. Today they swim freely  in a 50 gallon tank with gadgets and gizmos a-plenty, and whozits and whatzits galore. Thingamabobs? They’ve got thingamabobs. And everything else under the sea. Okay, my tribute to The Little Mermaid ends here.

But my challenge to you is just beginning. Today I’d like you to think about where and how you are swimming along. What gadgets and gizmos do you need to get where you’re going? Who and what can help you find your voice, make your mark, meet your match, and own your throne?

We used to have a pool at my parent’s farm and I would spend every summer alternately cleaning the pool and swimming in it. I truly did have gadgets and gizmos galore to help me channel my inner Dana Torres  or  Diana Nyad and swim more laps each day in less time.

Sadly, the family pool is no longer around. Fortunately, the Internet is and these are the waters I swim in now. Surfing the web and casting my words out into the world to see what comes back is exhilarating.

Because what comes back is you! You, from around the globe with your glorious goals and good wishes, have joined forces with my Get Your Groove Back group and given me one walloping good reason to continue to dive into these uncharted waters.

Figuring this out together is much easier than figuring it out alone, isn’t it?

And just so you know it’s not always smooth sailing, let me share what’s kicking my butt about this challenge.

These days I spend every waking moment writing or thinking about writing, wondering how to post a video or where the photo I just downloaded is now located on my computer, mortified that I may have posted something with a glaring typo or two, unclear how to share the songs playing in my head, the books vying for my attention, or the latest blog post that rocked my world, or why I can’t seem to post anything before the day is almost over.  Yada, yada, yada.

All these concerns crowd around my regular job,  getting groceries, making meals, running errands, walking the dog, doing laundry, getting stuff done, and spending time with the guy who puts out fires. Even though the challenge increases the intensity of my life, it also infuses it with unprecedented urgency, meaning, and connection.

This is why it’s called a challenge. This is why it’s for a limited time. This is how we learn what we’re made of. And this is why we just keep swimming.

Here’s what Jen Sincero, author of You Are A Badass, has to say.

“So often, we pretend we’ve made a decision, when what we’ve really done is signed up to try until it gets too uncomfortable.”

Somewhere around now, you might be tempted to think this was fun while it lasted but you’ve got other fish to fry (just please don’t mention this in front of the fish).

Stay the course. Just keep swimming.  How you do anything is how you do everything. You quit now, you quit every time you get bored, overwhelmed, or irritated.

This is where it gets interesting. This is where the daily dares start to become healthy habits. I’m asking for 1 x 31, not 31 x 1. This is where the magic happens.

Share your fears, frustrations, breakthroughs, or epiphanies in the comments below.  Or email them to me at penny@wellpower.com.

Say hello to my little friends….

 

 

 

 

Keep It Simple, Santa

Composite image of santa claus delivering gifts with bicycle

It happens every year. I vow to keep calm and carry on. And then the Christmas season comes  upon me with such a clatter I have to continually check in just to see what’s the matter.

What’s usually the matter is I have cluttered up my schedule and complicated things by attempting to do, be, or have too much in a tiny little window of time.

At the end of the year when all I really want for Christmas is enough peace on earth to reflect on a year well lived, I have to resist getting caught up in the buzz of busy-ness that creates a holi-daze.

Of course not everyone loses it this time of year. Some might even suggest it’s the most wonderful time of the year. I suspect they have a strategy. This year I’m going with Keep It Simple, Santa.

A co-worker tells me she limits shopping to four items for her immediate family.  She gets them something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

I also know a few wise men and women who give the equivalent of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This roughly translates to something that recognizes the recipient’s divinity, purpose, and suffering along the way.

Admittedly last week was not one of my better weeks.  The story I was telling myself was not one that made me feel very good about myself or anyone else, frankly.

I’m a coach. I know better. I help people find a way out of their funk all the time. I have a toolkit of tricks, my own set of gifts from the Magi I wasn’t using.

Until I remembered that no matter how hard it is to be kind and generous and believe in the greater good despite any and all evidence to the contrary, it is the only way I want to go through life. I want to believe in good for goodness’ sake.

So yesterday I found my toolkit and took out my #1 tool – gratitude (gold). I started counting my blessings instead of the random boxes of holiday decorations strewn from one side of the house to the other. I told myself I get to make up whatever story I want to about my life and the people, places, and things in it. Why not choose something supportive, even enchanting?

Then I took out tool #2 – movement (frankincense).  I proceeded to do a week’s worth of Say It, Sweat It, Get It workouts and was sufficiently humbled but equally elated by the aftereffects. Doing them as intended for 5-minutes each day wouldn’t have been so shocking to my system as doing them all at once, but I was delighted to discover I still had it in me. I’m now a huge fan of Erin Stutland’s approach to fitness. She keeps it simple. (Not to be confused with easy.) And it was all for free! Now that’s supportive.

And you’re reading tool #3 – expression (myrrh). I wrote and wrote and wrote, slept on it, edited and edited and edited, and finally pressed Publish. Writing is how I make sense of my life. Yours may be cooking, skiing, restoring houses, collecting antiques, square dancing, mixing music, playing cards, whatever brings calm to the chaos.

All of these tools remind me of the first of the timeless truths on my Top Ten Tension Tackling Tunes to Keep You Humming Through the Holidays.  You are only one thought away from a new perspective.

In my grand attempt to end the year on a high note of grace, gratitude and goodwill, the goal is to keep it simple.  Or, as Kris Kringle shows us in Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, put one foot in front of the other.

What about you?  What strategies get you through the holi-dazeShare your favorites in the comments below.

 

Break Up with Your Scale

Weighting scales with  measuring tape. Diet concept. 3d

It’s Day 14 of my 21-Day detox and we’re heading into the homestretch. While the daily discipline required to stay on course is intense, I’m loving the confidence that comes with cleaning out my body and mind while connecting deeply with my soul.

There are as many reasons to do a cleanse, detox, or a purification as there are people who do them. Many people, however, do them to lose weight. And if they diligently follow a particular protocol, they usually do.

Unfortunately, unless they continue with the habits put in place during the detox, the results usually aren’t sustainable. Granted, the first couple of days, no one wants to continue after Day 21. But about half way through when they start feeling better, they might consider it.  By the end of it, they may have lost all desire to go back to their pre-detox habits.

I’m all for breaking up with unhealthy habits. Because breaking up is hard to do, my first rule when detoxing is to Become a Badass. I mean this in the best possible way.

You must be kind and compassionate to yourself and others. But you must be ruthless with the terrible tales you tell yourself about your inability to stick with anything for more than a minute.

Cleansing requires considerable courage. Toxins come in many forms – from the foods we eat to the air we breathe to the people we surround ourselves with.

When I detox, I’m no longer able to tolerate toxins the way I did before. Becoming a Badass is an act of bravery. I have to let go of things I no longer need since holding on to them sabotages my health and well-being.

For example, as my first official act of Badassery, I broke up with my scale. To me it was a liar, a terrorist, a tyrant, and a thief.  I decided to no longer accept its feedback as a measure of success or failure during the detox or any time.

I refused to let the scale diminish anything I might innately know about my body, like how it feels, what it needs, how I nourish it, or how I find pleasure in it. I refused to let an ever elusive number impact my day, my mood, my perspective, or my relationship with myself or others.

I have no need to give my power over to something as fickle as a firecracker. A scale can’t measure if I feel lighter, leaner, or more confident. It can’t begin to measure how much clearer my thoughts or complexion are or how much more emotionally available and spiritually connected I am. It cannot imagine the thrill of embodying fully.

The thing is I’ve always possessed the power to expose the scale for what it is. I  trusted it more than myself when I was younger. But not anymore. I trust my body to weigh whatever it wants to when I am nourishing it well and moving it meaningfully.

As a Certified Eating Psychology Coach, I know the damage a scale and what it represents can have on self-worth and body image.  I’ve seen how it contributes to a multitude of eating disorders.

If you have a healthy relationship with your scale, you may not need to break up with it.  Maybe your issue is with something else. Whatever it might be, call it out.

This is necessary in order to follow my Second Rule of Badassery:  Take back your power from whoever or whatever shamed you or made you feel less than all of who you are.

I’ll leave you with these words for advice. “Never ask if anything makes your butt look big. Assume you look marvelous because YOU are marvelous. You’re a Badass, for goodness sake. 🙂

Who or what do you need to detox from this week?  I’d love for you to share if you dare in the comments below. 

Also, if you are interested in learning more about detoxing, I’m starting a new project called The Detox Diaries.  If you’d like to follow along, let me know and I’ll send you an email when the blog is ready.

Nature Nurtures

Footpath autumn forest

I’m officially 1/3 of the way through my purification process. To celebrate this milestone and the gorgeous weather, my fiancé Bob and my sister Kellie and I decided to take a hike.  We trekked along the bluffs to an amazing overlook and then down to the Maquoketa River.

As we were hiking back through a stunning uphill stretch of trail I remarked, “This is exactly what it feels like in the purification process.  I still have 14 days of an uphill climb.

Bob and Kellie were ahead of me when I said this so they had to turn around to hear me.  From this perspective they could only see behind me and both exclaimed, “But look how far you’ve already come!

As soon as I turned around, I saw exactly what they meant. We had indeed made significant progress.  Because they were with me and I was enjoying their company,  I hadn’t even noticed.

Detoxing is difficult because unlike writing, I often use food to numb out, soothe, or go unconscious.  I use writing to do the opposite.  I write to awaken and become present to my life, to feel my way around my head, and articulate that experience so it makes some kind of sense.

I get twitchy when I don’t write.  I get hangry (hungry + angry) when I can’t eat the comfort foods I’m accustomed to.  The good news is my definition of comfort food changes each time I detox to healthier options. (My current comfort food is toasted coconut chips.)

The best news is eventually this discomfort prompts me to write, cleanse, have  fierce conversations, or do any number of things to move my life, my health, my relationships, and my career forward.

I first published the following post in February of 2014 when I was working on a writing project. I decided to dig it up and re-post to get me through the next 14 days and keep you on course doing whatever you may have agree to do during the No Matter What game.

……..

Every now and then it’s important to remind myself why I do what I do.  It’s especially helpful to create a manifesto when I set out to improve some part of my life or break a destructive habit or resolve to do something I’ve not succeeded in doing up to this point.

The Paradoxical Commandments written by Dr Kent Keith in 1968 as part of a booklet for student leaders has been on my mind lately.  This seemed like the perfect piece to adapt to serve as my writing manifesto and see me through the times when I wonder whether all this reinvention is really necessary.

Here’s what I came up with today.  I share it with you to serve as an example of something you might create for yourself, substituting the obstacles and resistance you face on a regular basis along with the thing you resolve to do anyway.

To read the original commandments, click on the link above.  To read the version that has been attributed to Mother Teresa, click here.

Create one for yourself, then as always, share if you dare below in the comments.

Write Anyway by Penny Plautz

Forces may conspire to squelch my creativity,
be still and write anyway.

My muse may refuse to inspire,
log on and write anyway.

Exhaustion may convince me I’m too tired to take this on,
rest and write anyway.

Drama may attempt to declare dominance over my day,
keep calm and write anyway.

Rejection may unleash a lifetime of doubt,
ignore and write anyway.

Others may not read, agree, appreciate, or approve of what I write,
accept it and write anyway.

The pain may appear to be too terrifying to articulate,
trust the art of the heart and write anyway.

I may have said it all before and have no original thoughts,
repeat and write anyway.

I may be exposed as inconsistent, slightly irrational, or overly emotional,
risk and write anyway.

There may be 10,000 tangible things on my to-do list,
honor the intangible and write anyway.

I may need more training, guidance, editing, or research to succeed,
seek support and write anyway.

There may be millions of writers reaching for the same dream,
join them and write anyway.

In the final analysis, we all are trust fund babies of the Great Creator.
To claim my inheritance, all that is required is to write anyway.

No Matter What – Day 9

father applying sunblock cream on daughters shoulder, sun protection

Gillian is on holiday right now and had this to say about today’s prompt.  “Right now I’m sitting by the pool in Gozo trying to get my daughter to put on some sun cream which made me think of today’s prompt. 🙂 “

G:  You know that song – always wear sunscreen by Baz Lehrman?  What 5 things would you have in your version of that song?

P:  I didn’t know the song, but I Googled it and added a link on his name (above) so those who don’t know it can listen to it.  Even before hearing the lyrics, it sounded like a commencement address to me.  Since I’ve given and listened to many such addresses in my academic career, I realized I had heard snippets of this one before.  It’s definitely worth sharing.

A few years ago when I graduated into a new decade, I wrote a commencement address of sorts.  I called it my Midlife Manifesto and tried my hand at making a video.  If you’ve got some headphones handy and 3 minutes to spare, click on the video below to see my version of “always wear sunscreen.”

If you don’t have time right now, no worries.  Come back later when you do.  In the meantime, here are 5 new ideas to add to the mix.

1) Put your own oxygen mask on first. You can’t save anyone if you aren’t alive.

2) Move at the pace of grace.  Don’t just do something, sit there. Go when you know. Act with intention.  Do with deliberation. Let grace be your guide.

3) Put your whole self in and shake it all about. Do what you love.  Love what you do. You are one thought away from a new perspective. Why not choose the cheerier thought?

4) Always trust your cape. Believe in your Superpowers.  “She did not know she could not fly, so she did.”

5) Create. No. Matter. What.  You know the drill by now, yes?  Begin again.  And again. And again.

Want to share your version?  Please do so in the comments below.  To have Gillian send you daily prompts, email her at www.gillianpearce.com. Thanks for playing the No Matter What Game with us.  Gillian sends me prompts each weekday and I do my best to answer them no matter what.  I encourage you to do so as well to get your creative juices flowing.

The Cost of a Midlife Crisis

At this time of year it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the hassles of the holidays and costs of Christmas gifts, parties, and travel arrangements.

To keep this in perspective, I thought it would be interesting to look at the often untallied costs of what might commonly be called a midlife crisis.

A few months ago Daisy Barton was kind enough to share this infographic as a way to illustrate those often misunderstood course corrections many are compelled to make at midlife.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let the graphics do the talking. However, I’d love to hear your comments below.

Midlife Crisis Costs
Source: Accounting-Degree.org