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.

Don't Stop Believing

Game of Inner Lines
With a name like Penny, I’m all about small change.
I’m really not a fan of the Hurricane Matthew kind of sweeping change that has the potential to leave devastation in its wake.
I much prefer the almost imperceptible shifts that first take hold of my mind and grow into consistent, small acts of courage that eventually become the habits of a new practice. As much as I’d love to call them “habits of a highly effective new practice,” I know better.
In my experience, practice seldom makes perfect. But it does make me appreciate the nuances of learning something new and understand the reason 10,000 hours of practice are necessary for achieving the mastery Malcolm Gladwell writes about.
Today I’m sharing my Resolve to Evolve presentation at a student services conference.  The one thing I know after all the prepping and practicing to deliver this speech is this:

Catapulting myself out of my comfort zone and into my evolutionary zone is not an option. It’s a mandate from my soul.

To work and stay engaged and involved in a business that runs on the same schedule year after year, my curiosity cannot afford to be quenched.  To write, coach, and attempt to inspire others, I must first be inspired.
As Winston Churchill once said, “Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself, believe.”

No matter how often I’ve been there, done that and convinced myself I’ve seen it all before, there will always be something I’ve yet to see, hear, or do.
There are really so many experiences to be had, I can’t imagine how many lifetimes it would take to get bored with it all. And yet people get bored with their lives, their jobs, and their relationships all the time.
This is why I’m calling for an evolution revolution. The way I see it, if we’re still here, we have work to do.  And despite the notion that “we gave at the office,” the truth is we have so much more to give. We just may not know it yet. Or know how.
After I divulge the secrets to thriving instead of merely surviving with these student services professionals, I’ll spell out the specifics here with you since my message will evolve just by sharing it.
Because like a boomerang, if we dare to send our message out to our tribe, it comes back to us better than before.
What will you send out today that you’ll be curious to reconnect with?
 
 

Rocky Mountain High

 
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Today I’m trying my hand a flash fiction because as John Muir said, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”  Like six word stories, they pack a powerful punch in just a few words.  Here goes:
In the midst of a month of madness, she was plucked from the pressures of puppy parenthood and advising anxious students who only recently realized their imminent return to school required registering for and funding their education, and drove across the country to Colorado attend the nuptials of her fiancé’s  niece.
Despite the availability and legality of certain mind altering substances, the only thing she needed to experience a Rocky Mountain high was to walk among the aspens, breathe in the air, and respond to the call of the wild.
 
 
 

Go for Your Own Kind of Gold

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The Olympics are here! This song has been running through my head since the opening ceremonies, so I thought I’d share it with you.
Since I only knew the first line, it was high time for me to Google the rest of it. I discovered this fabulous video of Peter Allen and his pink pants, maracas, and joie de vivre that screams of all things Rio – at least in my imagination.
The Olympics are a grand global get-together. They allow us to be a part of something spectacular, break down the barriers that separate us, and for a brief time intricately connect us to the stories, hopes, and dreams of those who live all over the world.
It’s thrilling to be alive in times when humans are faster, stronger, smarter, and more determined than ever.
The competition compels everyone to perform better. Even the caliber of the commercials rival that of Super Bowl Sunday.
But on the other hand, it seems to bring out this unchecked need to grab for the gold. The time or points between first and second or even first and seventh are so minuscule, and yet the difference somehow declares one person a winner and another a loser.
These athletes have all made it to the Olympics, for goodness sake! If they feel bad for not getting a medal, imagine how the rest of us feel for not getting off the couch.
Of course, no one expects us to perform physical feats like an Olympian. However, I suspect we all have Olympic expectations of ourselves in fields where we could be contenders.
For example, it isn’t enough for me to write a blog post. To go for the gold, I should also write for O magazine, More magazine, the Huffington Post or other trendy publications. I should also have a book on the New York Times best seller list and be booked on several talk shows. At the very least, my followers should number more than a few friends and family members.
Or so I’m told. Personally, I feel like I win every time I connect with you.

How do we let Olympic achievements guide and motivate us to become our best? How do we write our own stories based on what we’ve learned from theirs? How do we go for our own kind of gold, silver, or bronze and know that is enough?

I’d love to hear what events you’d be competing in if you participated in an Olympics dedicated to all the things you excel at.
For example, would there be a trivia contest, a baton twirling with fire fest, a dog walking decathlon, a poetry slam, a bubble bath battle, a coffee drinking debate, or a clothes changing charge?
Which of these events – if not all – would you be favored to win? Which would you be delighted just to get to participate in?
Your Olympian efforts matter. I’d love to play your anthem and hear about your achievements in the comments below.  Or email me at penny@wellpower.com.

Begin Again

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So what do you do after 31 days of getting stuff done?
You begin again.
You get more stuff done. Just keep swimming. Or writing. Or working on your projects, relationships, fitness goals, wedding plans, dream vacation, degree, or whatever your thing may be.
Because life isn’t just a sound bite of the sensational or a slice of nice, consistent progress. It’s the whole enchilada. It’s a series of fits and starts. It’s one step forward, two steps back. It’s continuously changing the toilet paper roll.
I keep this Begin Again stone on my writing desk to remind me that no matter how many words I’ve written, every day is an opportunity to write more and improve my craft.
Just as you would never expect one meal, one night’s sleep, or one workout to fuel you for life, you can’t expect to do a difficult thing once (like a 31 day challenge) and be good to go indefinitely.

Challenges catapult you out of your comfort zone and into your evolutionary zone.

This is where things get interesting. This is where the ordinary becomes the extraordinary because you have become extraordinary in the process. You may not have noticed the transformation because it occurred in the context of your ordinary life.
But somewhere along the way, the discipline, desire, and doing became ingrained in your brain. Not doing what your new habits dictate now probably feels stranger than doing them did in the beginning.
I have to admit, on Monday I felt a bit like our new puppy Ruby feels when she goes in her crate and Bob or I disappear for awhile. Although my house, my hubby-to-be, and my dogs were happy to have my full attention once again, I was feeling some separation anxiety from this community we’ve created together.
So this morning when Ruby woke up at 4:55am, I decided to use her wide awake time to begin again and write. Ruby also informed me that she would like her own blog, Pinterest page, or Instagram account. Stay tuned for The Life of Riley (Ruby O’Riley). A zen dog with a blog, Pinterest page, or Instagram account.  🙂
Habits are fascinating things. They shape our lives for better or worse. If you’d like to learn more about them, here are a couple of resources I recommend.

If you participated in our Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge, I’d love to hear what new habits you formed.  If you didn’t participate but have some insights or experiences with learning new habits or breaking old ones, please share in the comments below.
 
 
 

Some Like It Hot

Spiegelei auf Strae
It’s Day 21 of the Get Stuff Done 1 x31 Challenge.  All I can say is someone turned up the heat around here!  Today’s challenge is to stay cool literally and figuratively when the heat is on.
When I stepped outside into the sweltering heat and humidity at 8am, I could have sworn I was experiencing a Savannah summer or, at the very least, a Dallas one. It was definitely not a dry heat like Arizona or New Mexico.  And I’m pretty sure I saw that egg frying in our newly-covered-with-black-asphalt parking lot at work.
Maybe you are someone who thrives when the temperatures rise? If so, you are about to have a run of really productive days. You may even be tempted to get 31 things done in 1 day.
If you are not, now is the time to channel your inner Elsa and learn how to chill.
And yes, it is possible to chill in 5-15 minutes. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Get yourself a glass of ice water or your other favorite beverage and sip it slowly.
  • Run under a sprinkler or find a pool, pond, or public fountain.
  • Seek out some shade and fan yourself with whatever is handy.
  • Slow down for a second, catch your breath, and imagine standing inside a refrigerated truck.

The mind is an amazing tool.  If it’s possible to convince it to walk on hot coals without a problem, it’s possible to convince it cool down on demand. Where the mind leads, the body follows.

For example, if I ask you to recall something stressful from your day, your heart rate and pulse may quicken, your palms may get sweaty, and your stomach may get queasy just thinking about it.
The same is also true for harnessing your mind to create instant calm.
Instead of asking everyone, “Is it hot enough for you?” repeat after me, “I’m as cool as a cucumber.” ( Just to be clear, I’m referring to the cucumbers nestled comfortably in my air-conditioned kitchen and not those hot ones outside in my garden.)

If all else fails and you can’t beat the heat, sing about it. I recommend this song by Vanilla IceOr this one by Robert Palmer and The Power Station. Or this one by Glenn Fry. Or this one by Buster Poindexter.
I’d love to hear your strategies or share your favorite heat-themed songs in the comments below.