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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The Wonder of a World Series Win

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photo by Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Several years ago Robert Fulghum wrote a poem that became a book called,“All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”

Having watched my share of baseball lately I feel like I could write, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching the World Series.”

I don’t usually pay a whole lot of attention to sports teams or their players, their stories, salaries, stats, or celebrity status. But this year, I was looking for a team, a mascot, or a metaphor for my How to Get Your Groove Back coaching group that would mirror back the challenges we face in our ongoing efforts to own our throne and name and claim our power.

I picked the Chicago Cubs because I’ve spent a lifetime of summers listening, watching, and waiting for them to grow into their greatness. When my dad shared a copy of Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview with four of the Cubs on the cover early in the season, I suspected this could be the year the world would get a glimpse of what Cubs’ fans have believed for 108 years.

Little did I know how well this team would play their part or how much I would learn from watching them.

Here are just a few lessons learned from watching the boys of summer play their way into November.

  •  Start with the end in mind. Name it and claim it.  Know what you want and why.   What are you willing to do or give up in order to be, do, or have what you want?
  • Be all in. Show up and suit up no matter what. When you are attempting the impossible, every day is up for negotiation. Do you have it in you? Is it worth it? Only you can decide. And then you decide over and over and over again.
  • Your body is your friend.  Be in it. Embody. Get so comfortable in the skin you are in that when your body needs to bypass your brain, it knows exactly what to do.
  • It takes a village. You cannot get there alone. It takes a coach, a team, an infinite number of visible and invisible allies, adversaries, and loyal fans to bring out your best.
  • Be a good sport. Be generous. Be gracious. Be kind to all of those who are fighting the good fight right alongside you.
  • You win some. You lose some. Setbacks happen. Comebacks, too. Do not give up until you’re certain the game is over.
  • Stay flexible. Shake it off. Be willing to play whatever position is necessary and take one for the team. You never know when the sacrifices you make will pay off.
  • The better you get, the bigger the challenges. Never fear. You are equal to the task. Remember who you are, what got you here, and what you are capable of.
  • Expand your vision of what’s possible. Each experience opens up the door to another that may not have been possible until now. Why not you? Why not now?
  • Pray Rain. I had heard about this concept before but as I was meditating in my basement in an attempt to calm my nerves during the 8th inning of Game 7, the concept came up again.  The story goes that if you are in a drought, you don’t pray for rain.  That only acknowledges the lack of rain. You simply feel the rain on your skin, smell the rain in the air, and see the rain soak into the earth.  In other words, you allow the rain (or whatever you desire) to come forth, emerge, or manifest. You pray rain. Well, I went back upstairs to finish watching the game and guess what happened? Rain delay! And what happened during that rain delay? Jason Heyward reminded his team of who they were and what they were capable of doing and the rest is history.

Sometimes life is so surreal it’s mind-blowing.  And sometimes mystics disguise themselves as bubble-gum chewing ballplayers.

What about you? What lessons have your favorite teams, family members, or adversaries taught you about life?  I’d love for you to share in the comments below.

You Must Be Present to Win

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photo by ASSOCIATED PRESS

I must admit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do I have a choice?” you might ask.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s All Fun & Games

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It’s Day 28 of the Get Stuff Done 1 x 31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to boost your brain power with some memory games.

Every Sunday morning when I was a kid we’d go to my grandmother’s house after church.  Once there we’d watch cartoons, All Star Wrestling, and movies that none of us kids understood but introduced us to the likes of Mae West, Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Mickey Rooney, The Three Stooges, and others.

I was too young to know the the cartoons were sexist and violent, the wrestling was staged, and the movies were classics, but I did remember the commercials. Especially the ones selling games, cereal, cigarettes, shampoo , showing us the consequences of littering, and asking us to take personal responsibility for preventing forest fires. 

What I remember most was a game called Husker Du.  The advertiser would always announce in a booming voice, “Husker Du! Do you remember?” I had no idea what the game was about. I just loved repeatedly asking with my brother and sister in my own impressively loud voice, Husker Du?

Clearly, the advertising worked. It was “sticky” as Dan & Chip Heath would say. Forty years later I still remember it. Slick trick for a memory game.

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I also used to love playing Concentration at home to mimic the game show I’d faithfully watch on TV. I knew early on it was important to focus, remember, connect the dots, and make connections that might otherwise be overlooked.

These days, of course, there’s an app for that.  Games like Lumosity, NeuroNation, Brain Metrix, and FitBrains are just a few examples of websites and apps to train your brain.

While you can easily get through one of these challenges in 5-15 minutes, the real challenge is to not spend an hour or two once you get started.

But even if you did, it’d be good for you. It’s too easy to let our brains be lulled into a trance by all kinds of incoming and unquestioned media.

Take time out today to think for yourself, test your memory, and give your brain a run for the money.  As another ad I remember warned, “A brain is a terrible thing to waste.”

I’d love to hear how you train your brain and keep your wits about you.  Share, if you dare, in the comments below.

 

 

 

No Matter What – Day 21

It’s the end of week four of the No Matter What Game and since I posted a bonus piece on Saturday this also brings us to Day 21, which is where I leave you.  Not because you’ve been anything but supportive, but because next week I start my dietary detox. If you’ve ever done one, you know I’ll need all my wits about me to manage the civil war between what my mind wants and what my body craves.

Never fear, I’ll be blogging again in no time.

Old vintage typewriter, close-up.

G: Which prompt was your favourite and which one did you learn the most from?

P:  In my way of answering without really answering, I will say they were all my favorite because I learned something from every single one of them.  Whether it was what I felt like writing about at the end of a very long day at the office was debatable.

In the end, it came down to showing up and practicing my craft.  Nothing would get done if I waited until I felt like it, had the energy, or was inspired to do it. Having a coach and the accountability that blogging daily provided made a huge difference.

I love to write, it’s true.  I write every day no matter what regardless of whether I’m blogging or journaling.  Journaling helps me metabolize life. But blogging helps me bravely find my voice.

Before we started the No Matter What Game, I was convinced I needed to figure out a way to quit my day job in order to write full time.  Now I know the key is not the amount of time I have to write but simply that I write. No. Matter. What.

It’s also not about writing something that goes viral or gets lots of likes and attracts thousands of raving fans.  (Although I’m open to that experience.)  It’s more that I write the right words for the right person at the right time.

I recently had an experience writing a few greeting cards for Cardthartic.  I was thrilled to see my words alongside of beautiful drawing of a sunflower.  I sent the card to a dear friend who said it meant the world to her, not just because I wrote it, but because of the words held special meaning for her and her son.

At that moment I let go of the desire to write a book that gets made into a movie that wins awards and surrendered to the sweet success that writing a few good words can bring.

I have “met” many of you because you read one of these posts, liked it, and invited me to check out your site. You are amazing and incredibly inspiring!  This makes the whole thing worthwhile. It motivates me to write no matter what because it really does matter to all of us.

As artists we no longer need to feel isolated unless we want to. Creative communities abound and our tribe often looks much different than we imagine.  Mine is now wonderfully diverse and global.  And we never would have found each other if we were unwilling to be vulnerable, visible, and vocal.

Thanks to all of you who have followed diligently or just read what interested you, left a comment, or liked a post. And thanks to the world’s greatest coach Gillian for sending prompts no matter what. Even though I’m done writing daily for a short time, you can still ask Gillian to send you prompts at www.gillianpearce.com.

My world is infinitely better because all of you are in it. Thanks for playing along.

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I’d love to hear from you.  Please your feedback or share your favorite prompt in the comments below.

No Matter What

Happy child playing with toy wings against summer sky background. Retro toned

This morning my friend Gillian and I were having the kind of conversation one would expect two people adept at coaching others would have. We have no problem quickly and easily identifying how to help other people get where they want to go.

We do have a problem applying the same practices on ourselves.

For example, we talked about how we wanted our lives to look and feel.  We also asked each other what we would do or what businesses we would create even if we never achieved “success” as defined by the superstars leading most of the seminars we attend.

My answer was I’d write without any concern over building a list, selling a product, or attempting to influence anyone to like, follow, promote or partner with me.

She said she’d coach her friends, her family, or anyone who showed up in her life in clear need of her coaching but not willing to admit or commit to it.

Gillian is a master of creating games as an imitation of life and encouraging clients to play them as a way to learn about themselves and their particular dilemma.

She suggested we play a game called “No Matter What.”  It goes something like this.  Monday through Friday she’ll send me a writing prompt and I will post a response no matter what.

Having done 21-Day Detoxes and 30 Day Challenges, I’m a big fan of the benefits that come with committing to focused periods of time with very specific outcomes in mind.  But even that did not stop me from throwing all kinds of “reasonable” resistance into the conversation.

Because I know how much better it is to do difficult things with group support, my first response was, “We should get a group together to do this!” Believing more time and more information would be necessary, my next line of resistance went something like this, “Maybe we should wait until the first of the month?”  “Maybe I should research it a little more?” 

On and on it went.  As I exercised every excuse in the book as to why I couldn’t begin now, Gillian’s reply was simply, “Or I could just send you a prompt tomorrow and we could get started.”

So tomorrow we start the No Matter What game.  Because writing keeps me sane, makes me happy, and sometimes sparks joy in others, my commitment is write.  I will respond to her prompts and post them no matter what.

Gillian’s is coaching.  Yours may be painting, running, singing, writing a haiku or two, welding art objects, playing the cello, acting, creating videos or mixed tapes or who knows what.

I only know that the world needs our collective creativity.

Because creativity takes a lot of courage, most of us convince ourselves we are simply not creative.  We spend a great deal of time consuming someone else’s creativity – going to movies, watching tv, going to concerts, attending plays – and seldom cultivate our own.

So here’s my challenge.  Join the game.  Pick your baby, your thing.  Name and claim your creative superpower and then, like me, dust it off and practice it for the next month. There are no rules about how you do it, only that you do.

What’s in it for you?  Well, that’s the risk, isn’t it?  At the very least you will have given your attention to something you profess to love for 30 days. Now let’s find out if it’s true love or merely infatuation.

Yes, it will demand your time.  It absolutely vie for your attention.  And you will want to forget the whole thing some time within the first 24-48 hours.

But stick with it, Grasshopper.  I promise you’ll learn something that just thinking about doing this won’t teach you.

To get started, let me know what you’re “No Matter What” commitment is in the comments below.