Stop and Smell the Petunias

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It’s Day 26 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to stop and smell the petunias.  Yes, I know the saying is “stop and smell the roses.” But since my puppy Ruby is particularly fond of petunias and is teaching me so much in a very short time, especially about taking breaks, I took some creative license with the saying.
Too often we look at interruptions as productivity killers, detours, excuses for our short little spans of attention. But sometimes taking a break to get up and walk around or sit down and relax, have a spot of tea, or nourish ourselves with a healthy snack or TED talk can cause epiphanies and unexpected pleasures.
I can easily spend my workday staring at a computer screen or piles of paperwork going over the same information in the same way.  But if I get up and walk around, move some tables and chairs, feed the fish, or water the plants, my energy shifts. By changing my focus for a while, the same situation looks different when I return.
One of my favorite things in my offices at work and at home is my standing desk. Because I spent most of my life as a fitness instructor, the biggest adjustment to life as a college administrator is the sedentary nature of the majority of my work.
To counteract this, I set up a makeshift standing desk where I can easily advise students and give them direct access to the information on the computer screen and hands on access to their information.
I also made sure we had a picnic table and bench outside so students and staff can get some fresh air, soak in the sun, and smell the lilies nearby when a change of scenery and perspective is needed.

I think in our hurry up and get it done world we’ve forgotten that there is a rhythm to life  There is an art to savoring the steps that get us where we’re going.

Today, take 5-15 minutes to do something deeply nourishing to your soul.  Maybe it’s reading that quote or poem from yesterday’s challenge (Day 25) or maybe it’s calling someone you love (Day 8) or maybe it’s arranging some flowers or fresh fruit and a bowl.
Try not to think of today’s challenge as an interruption and immediately look only for a way to return to the task at hand. Think of it as divine intervention sent to support your present predicament.
As always, I’d love for you to share your epiphanies or aha’s in the comments below.
 
 

Get A Quote

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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

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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

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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.
 
 
 
 

Wag More, Bark Less

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It’s Day 19 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge and today’s challenge is to wag more,  bark less.  In other words, find more to appreciate than to complain about.
It’s easy to find things to complain about. Anytime anything doesn’t meet your expectations it can give rise to a rant, a slew of snarkiness, or a cadre of complaints. It can also deplete your energy, darken your mood, and convince you that the world is out to get you.
Wagging, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect.  The reason making a list of  things you are grateful for each day is so powerful is because it shifts your focus from suffering to celebrating.  You can’t feel grateful and irritated at the same time.
Given the choice between communicating with a chronic complainer or a person who consistently gives compliments, wouldn’t you choose the latter?
Sure, some things beg to be corrected. Hairstyles of high profile politicians, for example. However, as I mentioned yesterday, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and personal style. You do you and all that jazz.
Instead of complaining about politics I’d rather applaud Stephen Colbert’s comical interpretation of the day’s events. Finding the funny in what feels futile is a fabulous way to let go of what’s beyond my control.
I used to be a self-help workshop junkie so I know every training trick in the book.  One exercise I really enjoyed was the time a presenter had us working in pairs and telling our partner what we feared and what we loved.
The first go round we could only speak of what stressed us out.  You can imagine what happened to the energy of the room. Get people voicing their greatest stressors, biggest fears, and devastating disappointments and the energy plummets.
The second go round we could only share what we loved. As you might expect, the energy skyrocketed.

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

Before you know it, out comes the sun, rainbows and unicorns appear, and evidence that life is basically good (Day 9) is everywhere.
For the next 5-15 minutes, please tell whoever is in earshot what you love. If no one is around, email me at penny@wellpower.com.  In case you can’t tell, I love dogs!! 
In great anticipation of the newest member of our family arriving on Saturday, Miss Ruby O’Riley the red lab and I encourage you to wag more, bark less.
*She’s also the reason this post is so late.  We had to go visit her and all her brothers and sisters tonight.  Her sister Frankie is in the photo above.  Ruby is in the photo below with Bob.
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If you have something to wag about, please share it in the comments below or email me with it at penny@wellpower.com.
 
 

How Does Your Garden Grow?

 
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It’s Day 17 of Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge and today’s challenge is to plant the seeds of an idea, a project, a goal, or a grand adventure and watch them grow.
No one was more shocked than me (okay, maybe my parents when they came to visit yesterday) to find these zucchinis and cucumbers growing like crazy in the makeshift garden Bob and I rigged up a month ago.
Growing up on a farm,the rhythm of planting and harvesting has been a constant throughout my life. It should come as no surprise that what we planted and dutifully cared for has come to fruition.
What is surprising is how much joy these veggies give me simply because they exist. Their transformation from a handful of seeds stuck in the mud to these enormous, edible specimens is nothing short of miraculous.
Too often I’m detached from all the hands that make it possible for the food I eat to end up on my table. I love frequenting farmers’ markets but often opt for the ease of the big box store that sells the same stuff regardless of the season.
During the eight months of my training to become a certified eating psychology coach, I thought more about food than I had at any previous point in my life. I noticed how it is grown, manufactured to last longer, distributed, stripped of its nutrients,  and “enhanced” to be more appealing. I paid attention to how much food we consume, waste, destroy, and produce. I became acutely aware of how we use food not only to feed and nourish ourselves but also punish and condemn ourselves,  hide our feelings, or protect ourselves from relentless stress.
The fact that I am growing greens on my own makes me confident that I can do just about anything I put on my Get Stuff Done 1×31 listif I give it some respect and attention.
What about you? What seeds have you planted either consciously or unconsciously over the past few weeks or months?  What signs of success are showing up in your world?
If nothing comes to mind, use your 5-15 minutes for today’s task to think about what you’d like to grow in your garden. And by garden, what I really mean is your field of dreams.
(I realize I can get away with the Field of Dreams reference because I live in Iowa, but I really do want you to grow your dreams.  Or at least something you feel is as fabulous as I feel the zucchinis, cucumbers, and soon-to-be-ready tomatoes and peppers are.)
What have you grown from a spark into something spectacular? I would love to hear what you are growing or see pictures of your bounty. Share your favorite gardening hacks in the comments below or email me at penny@wellpower.com.