Wag More, Bark Less

puppies 018
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.
 
 

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.

Saturday in the Park

Spring in Savannah 009.JPG
It’s Day 16 of the Get Stuff Done 1 x31 Challenge and today your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find your happy place and spend some time there.
You may even opt to spend more than the 5-15 minutes on this one since surely it will spark joy. (See Day 15 for more on that.)
There was a study into drug addiction done in the late 1970’s by Canadian psychologist Bruce Alexander known as the Rat Park study* that has come up enough times in conversations lately to make me want to check into it further and share it with you.
I did some research and found a fabulous TED talk by Johann Hari called “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong”. In Hari’s talk, he references the Rat Park study in which Alexander hypothesized that it wasn’t the addictive property of a drug that causes addiction so much as the living conditions that contribute to the struggle.
In a nutshell, given the choice between living in an isolated cage (or otherwise intolerable situation) with unlimited access to drugs or living in a rat “park” with interesting scenery, healthy food, lots of toys, enough space for mating, and equal access to unlimited drugs,  rats who lived in the park choose to avoid the drugs despite their assumed addiction.
This theory was also used to explain how some Vietnam vets who had done a lot of heroin during the war were not addicted or continued to use drugs once they returned home. Or it may explain how you can have a hip replaced and be given a steady stream of morphine while you are in the hospital but not need to head to rehab before you head home.
What does all this have to do with you spending Saturday in the park?

The implication for us is that when we can find our park, our happy spot, our place of personal power and purpose, we don’t need to depend nearly as much on all the those things we may be slightly addicted to – be it Pokemon, shopping, gambling, smoking, sex-drugs-rock’n’roll, sports, social media – to do it for us.

We are wired for connection and meaning. As Hari so eloquently describes it, addiction to the drug of choice may seem like the only answer for those who can’t “bear to be present in their own lives”.
If you can be present for your own life with all the intricate and intimate connections and activities that give your life meaning as well as break your heart, you will most likely choose to do what supports and sustain that, rather than destroy it.
That’s why today I’m inviting you to spend this Saturday in the park, even if you can only go there in your mind. My hope is that you never lose sight of what matters to you and why. Take trips to your “park” any day of the week, so you seldom lose your way.
Feel free to share your happy spot memories or photos in the comments below.
 
 
Today’s photo was taken at Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia.  It’s one of my favorite parks to walk and spend time in when I visit my nieces there.
*Click here to see how Stuart McMillen has brilliantly illustrated the details of the Rat Study  in comic strip form. You can also see how this artist is using crowd sourcing to support his passion. I love it!

Everyday Alchemy

 
Union du Soleil et de la Lune sur champ d'toilesIt’s Day 14 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge. Today’s challenge is to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
While you may not be spinning straw into gold or base metals into unlimited riches, you do have the ability to turn an ordinary experience into an exquisite event.
“Surely this will take more than 15 minutes,” you protest.
Let me just remind you how quickly you have transformed a child’s playroom into a castle, a jungle, a campground, or a pirate ship with just a few props and an ample imagination.
If you’ve ever planned a party, a product launch, a promotional event, or an evening with the in-laws, you know that it all starts with the intent to create something spectacular.
While you may not be able to pull all the pieces together in 5-15 minutes, you can start making a list or sketching out a mind-map or making some calls to reinforcements in order to start the transformation.
Amazon’s 24 hour Prime Day sale is an example of how you can transform an ordinary day into something extraordinary.  What started last year as a way to celebrate their 20th anniversary and promote their prime membership turned into a global event this year that transformed an ordinary Tuesday in July into the biggest sales day on record, outselling Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
Of course there were thousands of details that went into the planning, promoting, and executing of this event, but it started with the idea to make something out of nothing, which is what I’m suggesting you do.
Normally I would not encourage much ado about nothing, but sometimes you’ve got to make your own kind of magic just because you can.
Maybe you want to start celebrating Financial Freedom Fridays to see if you can go without purchasing anything for one Friday a quarter.  Or maybe you want to practice Meatless Mondays where you venture into vegetarianism for a month of Mondays. Or try Tell-a-New-Tale-Tuesday where you rewrite your story with the happy ending you know you deserve. It’s all up to you to decide what you want to do.
Get Stuff Done 1×31 was just a challenge I posed to a few friends last year. This year we’re all in this together and I’m amazed at what people are doing.
How can you turn an evening at home into a something special? How can you make a meal into a memory?  How can you transform a birthday celebration into a brand new beginning, regardless of how old you are? What do you need to alter in order to experience the extraordinary that awaits?
We’re all everyday alchemists. Share  your secrets in the comments below.
 

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….
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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
 

Wiggle Room

smiley faces on a pair of feet on all ten toes (VERY SHALLOW DOF
It’s Day 6 of our Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.
Today’s challenge might be the most difficult one yet for you diligent doers. Today’s task is to relax the reigns a bit and give yourself some wiggle room.
What?” you ask. “We’re just getting started and you’re already going soft on me?”
No. I’m just reminding you that we’re all human, stuff happens, and sometimes we have to open ourselves up to the possibility that we might not always have control over what gets done when. I call this moving at the pace of grace.
For example, while my brain had a list of what I would get done today, my body had an entirely different idea.
You see, last night I made the mistake of eating something that didn’t agree with me. At all. I tried walking it off and then sleeping it off, but somewhere around 1:49, 2:37, 4:18, or 5:55, I knew this was not an ignore it and it will go away situation.
Still I attempted to override my belly’s protests and go to work anyway.  A few hours later I found myself back home in bed.
Faced with the reality that I would not get nearly enough stuff done at work or at home, I decided to look at it from a different perspective.
I work at being as healthy as possible. I seldom think about how having an illness or a chronic health issue might hinder my ability to get stuff done, not to mention affect my attitude about having to do it in the first place.
But today, I got to feel what it’s like to try to bulldoze my way through some very specific physical and emotional feedback. It wasn’t one bit fun.
Whatever was going on in my digestive track wasn’t responding to more demands. It did, however, respond most favorably to rest and relaxation.
I am a certified eating psychology coach.  I encourage people every day to listen to and honor their body’s wisdom.
Practicing what I preach was today’s biggest challenge. I might have totally overlooked it if not for today’s forced detour.
What about you? Where might you relax the reigns on your expectations of yourself or other people? What unexpected situation brought about an insight or experience you may not have gained without it? How can you be kinder and more responsive to the feedback your body has for you?
Share if you dare in the comments below.
 
 
 

Third Time's a Charm

Glck - Symbole
Never fear, your Get Stuff Done 1 x 31 prompt is here!
Today we’re looking at the list you made on Day 1 and reviewed on Day 2 for the third time so we can chunk it down into doable deeds.
Remember on Day 1 when I said your list could include a couple “wouldn’t it be nice if...” items?
Well, despite your inability to get these items done in 15 minutes or less or even 31 days or less, there is a reason these things made your list. It’s the same reason they show up as New Year’s Resolutions every year. Against all odds, you still want to accomplish them.
Whether it’s lose 20 pounds, write a best seller, give a TED talk, start a garden, adopt a child, or donate your work clothes to Dress for Success, these things are possible.
They are, however, going to require a different strategy than the one you’ve been using for your New Year’s resolutions.
You know when someone says, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,”  and they usually follow it up with, “It’s all small stuff?
Well, the secret to any big project, dream, goal, or desire is to break it down into the small stuff. You will most likely not be able to achieve this goal by August, but you can be 31 days closer to it than you were in June. It’s up to you.
You’ve heard it a hundred times.  Rome wasn’t built in a day. The journey of a thousand steps starts with the first one.  The way to get impossible stuff done is to consistently take the smallest, easiest, least intimidating task on your road to Shambala. Then, one day, without even realizing it, you’ll be leaping tall buildings in a single bound.
So, get your list and let’s break it down.
Okay…

  • How many things on your list are absolutely intimidating?
  • How many things overwhelm you just looking at them?
  • How many things excite you?
  • How many things are you looking forward to doing?
  • How many things require an elaborate plan?
  • How many things are neither dreadful nor desirable but just need to get done?
  • How many things have to do with your health and well-being?
  • How many things have to do with money?
  • How many things have to do with relationships?
  • How many things have to do with your business?
  • How many things do you honestly feel you will do?

No judgment here. I just want you to be realistic about this challenge. If you don’t think you will do it, don’t want to do it, don’t have to do it, or don’t need to do it, cross it off your list. If you have no emotional incentive to do it, you won’t.
I don’t know about you, but in my world, more stuff gets done the day before I leave for vacation or on Friday afternoons between 4:30-6pm when my staff and students have gone for the weekend than any other time. I have written more since I’ve had a 40++ hour/week job than I ever did when I set my own schedule.
As much as I rail against deadlines and structure, nothing lights a fire under my feet faster than knowing I can no longer procrastinate, the buck stops with me, and I will pay the piper for dilly-dallying.
Which is why even though you have 11 other months to get stuff done, you and I are going to get stuff that matters to us done every single day this month.
Okay. Let’s review.

  1. You’ve made your list.
  2. You’ve checked it twice and uncovered your motivation.
  3. You are going to chunk it up, break it down, and take a small step or two on the most doable action items on your list.

For example, a couple of years ago, I got my groove back, lost those 20 pounds, and now have a lot of clothes that I hope to never wear again that are taking up significant storage space. I am determined to donate these clothes to the local Dress for Success organization this month.
The logistics of laundering, labeling, and lugging these clothes to the donation site an hour away on the second Saturday of the month from 10am-2pm are a bit daunting.
But I desperately want to reclaim my storage space and I’m committed to donating these clothes to people who can use them.
The only way for me to get this done is to chunk it up.
Here’s what’s happened so far.  Day 1 I read the article about Dress for Success.  A week later I called to ask  some questions. I talked to someone who told me to email a staff member who would help me set up an appointment.  A week later I emailed that person to set up an appointment. Since appointment times are during my work day, I need drop the clothes off on the second Saturday of the month. Since that is coming up quickly, this week I need to pick out and label the first round of clothes to go. Taking all of them at once is too overwhelming since I’m not exactly sure what they will take.
Do you see how one item on your list may take all month?  Five to fifteen minutes at a time.

Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. Yard by yard, it’s hard.

So, what’s on your list that you need to break down?
Does it make sense now why it was important to establish your why on Day 2?  This isn’t easy stuff.  If is was, you would have done it already. Knowing your “why” will get you through the “how“.
And remember, you’ve got the support of the group.
Share your questions, suggestions, ideas, or lists in the comments below.
 
 
 
 

Making a List, Checking It Twice

To Do List transformed into New Year's resolutions
Ho, ho, no!  It’s not Christmas in July.  But it is Day 2 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge and today we’re building on what we did on Day 1.
I trust you made a list of stuff you’d love to get done in the next 30 days. Remember the list doesn’t necessarily have to be reality based. It can be a wish list of sorts. However, I’m guessing a few things found their way on to your list that are not only doable, but may already be done.
Being the go-getter you are, I’d be surprised if you did not immediately do one thing just to cross it off your list. For that reason alone, I’m glad you joined the challenge.
Today we’re going to take a deep dive into what our list is all about. Call it what you will, a to-do list, a bucket list, a wish list, a grocery list, a laundry list, a just following the rules lists, you name it (literally).
I’m guessing many of you made a numbered list with a column called “To Do”. Okay, so a few of you went wild and created color-coded mind map. You maybe even jotted your list down on the back of a napkin. However you designed your list is perfect-o.
iphone 6 861
What I’d like you to do now is to expand your list and add two more columns to the right with the headings“To Have” and “To Be” so you end up with a total of three columns. You may need to start over so you have enough room.
Your new list should look something like this.
iphone 6 860
 
One of my favorite quotes by Michael Hyatt is “We lose our way when we lose our why.” Today’s challenge is all about uncovering your why.
To the best of your ability, see if you can figure out what all the To Do is about. Is the reason you want to get the stuff done in Column 1 so you can have something (Column 2), be something (Column 3), or both?
Hopefully this little adventure in list making helps you get clear on why you want to get certain stuff done. When the time comes to get it done, you’ll know what’s at stake if you don’t. Maybe it’s your reputation. Maybe it’s your self-esteem. Maybe it’s world peace – or  your corner of the world. Maybe it’s the simple satisfaction of a job well done.
Whatever it is, find your motivation.
Since this may take longer than 15 minutes, you can just pick a couple of items on your list for the deep dive. Of course, if you have time, I encourage you to do them all.
If you prefer, talk this over with the friends you’ve recruited to join you in this challenge. Just remember to write down what you discuss, so you can make it happen.
Okay, have fun.  Feel free to post your encouraging words below.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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