Welcome to the Here to the New Year Challenge in Good Cheer Challenge. From now until December 31st I’ll be sharing some short tips to keep you humming through the holidays.
Because I can easily get distracted by shiny and/or stressful objects, I’m sticking with the full alphabet plan as our guide.
Today we start with Plan A.
I did a search on verbs that started with the letter”A” and assembled a few of them here. I used WordClouds to help me create a visual that allows various verbs to capture your attention, depending on where you look. Notice how the words are shaped to form the letter A?
Today’s tip is all about attitude. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to select a handful of these verbs and act on them today. Let them amplify your awareness and align your actions.
For example, some of my favorites are articulate, amuse, awaken, astound, and anchor.
By writing this blog post I’m articulating my thoughts as well as anchoring my intentions for our time together, awakening my curiosity as to how best to convey these concepts, and possibly amusing you and astounding all of us when you share your responses in the comments below as to how this small change in awareness impacts your day.
Make sure to sign up for the challenge here in order to get your free Holiday Survival Guide. You’ll also earn points and get in on other free stuff only available by registering.
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.
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.
It’s Day 27 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge. Today’s challenge is to say what you need to say to whomever you need to say it to in order to do what you need to do next. Do you need to move on, get over it, get on with it, set things right, set things in motion, start a revolution, or continue your evolution? Then let’s get to it and go do it.
Saying what you need to say liberates you to do what you need to do.
Granted, conversations of this nature usually take more than 5-15 minutes. But you can take a small action step and identify which conversations need to take place and with whom, get clear on your talking points, or schedule an appointment with the person in this amount of time.
Because I’m a lover of words, I’m hesitant to say actions speak louder than words in every situation, because the right words at the right time can change a life. However, during our Get Stuff Done 1×31, I’m also about making a case for doing the stuff that moves your life forward. That requires action and, sometimes, doing difficult stuff.
I admit I love to talk my way all around my issues rather than face them head on because doing so would most likely result in a confrontation. I like to avoid these at all costs. However, the greater cost is that the issue continues when I’m perfectly capable of putting the kibosh to it by daring to do what needs to be done, which often starts with saying what I need to say.
As much as I call on my inner badass to get stuff done, harnessing her potential takes some serious practice on my part. That’s why I’ve devoted an entire month to getting stuff done. And by Day 27, I’d like to think we’ve practiced enough that we can confidently carry out today’s challenge.
I’d love to know what you need to say or do and how that will set you free to move on to the fabulousness that awaits.
Share if you dare in the comments below.
And by all means, add this song by John Mayer to your playlist.
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.
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.
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 Ice. Or 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
If you have something to wag about, please share it in the comments below or email me with it at email@example.com.
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.
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 list –if 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.