It’s Day 7 of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. The letter “G” governs our goal of getting from here to the New Year in good cheer today.
It’s gift giving season and grounding ourselves in gratitude for the grasp we’ve got on the good life is one of the greatest ways to generate good cheer. It also allows us to gracefully gear up for giving meaningful gifts instead of grappling with feeling guilty for giving generic ones or goodies that gouge our checkbook
From grandiose gestures to gracious greetings to giddy gatherings, “g” words generate a generous amount of good will and garner glowing reviews as opposed to groans, grunts, or grumbles.
Glamorous words like glisten, glow, glance, glimpse, gallop, gasp, gaze, grin, giggle, gamble, grimace, and gorge give us plenty to gab about. They grant us creative license to glide from goofy to galvanizing to grand depending upon the guy or gal the gift is being groomed for.
Gift giving can be gratifying or grievous, with no guarantees that the gesture won’t be taken for granted. However, you will grow from giving from the garden of your gorgeous self just as I have been graced with the gift of your time and attention.
Could I goad you into sharing some of your most glorious gift giving experiences in the comments below? Or if you want to gush about our new logo below, that would be groovy. I will gladly gobble up the goodness I glean from getting a glimpse of what’s golden to you. Go for it!
There’s one in every family.
In my family, I’m pretty sure I’m it.
The eccentric aunt whose major contribution to any family gathering is Scotcheroos and a wildly active imagination that sets kids and canines alike off on something akin to an out of control sugar high. Admittedly, it could come from the consumption of said Scotcheroos and scandalously unconventional ideas.
Bringing Bob into the fold has tempered this reputation a bit. Besides giving my nieces and nephew license to say “Bob’s Your Uncle” and run with it, he’s also brought his card sharkiness to the table, rivaling my maternal grandmother and striking fear in my father, my mother, and even my brother.
My devotion to the dogs has doubled as our pack has grown from just one or two to a whole slew. Our new puppy Ruby is beside herself when she gets to meet all of her canine cousins. Well, that, and the smell of so much food.
No doubt about it. Holidays can be harried. With family gatherings there are so many competing expectations and roles we unconsciously slip into. No matter how functional the front we show the outside world may appear, we all know our families are a wee bit dysfunctional.
So, in keeping with my Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge, let’s put the fun back in dysfunctional.
Instead of getting yourself all worked up about things that are out of your control, shake it off. That’s right. Let it go. Ignore it and repeat, “This, too, shall pass.”
Because here’s the thing. It’s Thanksgiving!
You can watch a parade on TV or there might be one in your hometown. If you’re not working in a service business or a retail store that opens its doors at 3pm or 6pm or midnight, you might just have the day off. Bonus!
It happens to be my favorite holiday and by far my favorite Thursday because it’s not about getting. It’s about Giving. Thanks.
And about eating some amazing food prepared by some of our favorite people.
As an eating psychology coach I beg you… Please do not obsess over the calories you are about to consume or how much you will need to exercise to work off the 3 pieces of pie you might mindlessly eat to avoid answering intimate questions about your life from meddling members of your extended family or their friends.
Savor the flavor of your favorite foods. Lean into conversations that allow you to learn something you don’t know about someone you think you do.
Take your time with the food that took hours to prepare. Allow this gathering of family and friends to nourish you.
When you do, you’ll find yourself filled up more with less food. You won’t overeat because you will have stuffed your turkey, not yourself.
If you don’t have big plans or can’t be with those you love, then love the ones you’re with. Even if it’s just your parakeet.
Some of my favorite Thanksgivings have been with only a friend or two. When I lived in Santa Fe my friend Kaylock and I would put together a meal of whatever was available, walk up to the Cross of the Martyrs, and head out to a movie.
Another year I was so stressed I stayed in my pajamas all day until a friend showed up at 5pm with turkey slices from Walmart. He knew the best gift he could offer me at the time was breathing space. It was one of the most memorable Thanksgivings because it was so nourishing to do nothing.
How do you make the most of this holiday? If you are feeling frazzled or freaked out, how might you put the fun back in dysfunctional?
If you are a master of making the most of the holidays, I’d love to hear how you do it in the comments below. Plus, I’d like to include your suggestions in our Here to the New Year Challenge that begins tomorrow.
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Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. I’m especially grateful for you.
“It’s not whether you win or lose,” the saying goes, “but how you play the game.”
This comment is usually offered to the side that didn’t win.
I avoid writing about politics because, given the state of the union, I could easily offend half of you. Please know that is not my intention.
My intention is to write my way out of the aftermath of a game played with so much disrespect and lack of decency that I feel gutted, traumatized, and heartbroken. Not just because of who won or lost but because of how we played the game.
Families, cities, states were divided in what felt like a civil war, except that there was nothing civil about it. Things were said, threats were made, and stunts were pulled that may work for reality TV, but as the foundation of our reality is truly terrifying.
I want to believe nobody voted for discrimination, exclusion, or hatred. I have to believe we all voted for what we believe in and who we thought could best bring about the change we seek.
But voting is not something we do with our heads. It’s a primal thing we do with our hearts. Sadly, we can’t fact check the unspoken fears that live in our hearts because in order to control them, we kept them hidden.
Consequently, no one can predict their power at the polls until they surface and surprise us from ballots cast across the country in the privacy and anonymity of a voting booth or safety of our homes.
Clearly, we are unhappy. We are stressed. We are tired of government meddling in our affairs. We’re as mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.
But we also have so much to be grateful for. We have come so far on so many fronts. We seem to have lost sight of that in our rage against the machine and each other.
It’s easy to blame others for our discontent. But when we point a finger at someone else, four are pointing back at us. We can project the blatant bad behavior on to others, but if we recognize it in others and are willing to be brutally honest with ourselves, eventually we recognize it in ourselves as well.
Because happiness is an inside job, we have to start with the man or woman in the mirror. When we abdicate our own power, we open the door to bullies who are more than willing to use it against us.
While we cannot control what bullies do or say, we can control how we respond. And that response determines how we move forward.
You can add fuel to the fire of fear, anger, and hatred or you can practice peace, compassion, and decency.
As Stephen Colbert suggested, you can “get back to your life.” And in doing so, recommit to living consciously, intentionally, and with as much love and integrity as you can possibly muster.
It won’t be easy. Especially if you are discouraged, afraid, or otherwise disenfranchised. But I promise you, the world needs your light. When one of us shines brightly, we all do.
I wish our country didn’t need to go to the extremes it did for the past year to collectively learn the lessons this election offered up.
Mistakes were made. Assumptions were interpreted as facts. Unprecedented incivility was unleashed. A lot was at stake and lines were crossed that, as a country, we’ll have a hard time recovering from.
Playing the game this way has left us all bruised and battered.
As we move forward, I hope we will be kind to one another. I hope we can realize we are all fighting the good fight and, despite our differences, we have more that unites us than divides us.
In the days to come I wish you the kind of courage that allows you to speak up, act on your beliefs, cope with challenges, and carry on with conviction. Doing so sets us all free.
I’d love to hear how you will share your light in the comments below.
I’m not sure whose idea it was to declare Labor Day a national holiday, I just know I am forever grateful the idea was implemented. According to Wikipedia, some say it was Peter McGuire and others say Matthew Maguire. To me, they both sound like Midlife MacGyver. Go figure.
A well-timed holiday, like Labor Day after the first few weeks of the school year, makes me appreciate all the labor that leads up to it.
Last night, around the time I subconsciously start to stress about another work week, I relaxed into the realization that I have another day to go places and do things – even if it’s just to my deck to watch my puppy chase a hummingbird moth.
All work and no play makes me an edgy educator. I’m all for putting the petal to the metal when the project, performance, or people demand it. But I’m also a stickler for self-care and putting your own oxygen mask on first so you can assist those you set out to serve. You can’t do that if you can’t breathe.
Sometimes all you need to catch your breath is a little time off.
Other times you need full on engagement and involvement in something deeply meaningful.
The best way I know how to explain this is to share this except from David Whyte’s Crossing the Unknown Sea. David is talking with his friend, monk, and mentor, Brother David.
“Tell me about exhaustion,” I said. He looked at me with an acute, searching, compassionate ferocity for the briefest of moments, as if trying to sum up the entirety of the situation and without missing a beat, as if he had been waiting all along, to say a life-changing thing to me. He said, in the form both of a question and an assertion: “You know that the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest?”
“The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest,” I repeated woodenly, as if I might exhaust myself completely before I reached the end of the sentence. “What is it, then?”
“The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”
He looked at me for a wholehearted moment, as if I should fill in the blanks. But I was a blank to be filled at that moment, and though I knew something pivotal had been said, I had not the wherewithal to say anything in reply. So he carried on:
“You are so tired through and through because a good half of what you do here in this organization has nothing to do with your true powers, or the place you have reached in your life. You are only half here, and half here will kill you after a while. You need something to which you can give your full powers. You know what that is; I don’t have to tell you.”
Six years ago I spent seven glorious days in the Lake District with David Whyte and an amazing group of individuals who had traveled from various continents to spend their mornings in quiet reflection with the great poet and their afternoons in a moving meditation, soaking in both the beauty of the place and the sacredness of the spoken word.
Having this extraordinary experience with an incredible group of people in a gorgeous location was possible because I had spent years preparing myself for precisely this kind of opportunity. Even if I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time.
No time, no energy, no money, no relationship, or no experience is ever wasted if it prepares you for your next adventure.
The next adventure for me is diving into a new project that will help me create experience products as opposed to information products and deliver them in a very real and rewarding way. You’ll be experiencing more of this in the next 8 weeks.
You can allow yourself to burn out or you can ignite the light that can only be lit from within.
Do whatever it takes to stoke that fire. Read some books. Watch some videos. Attend a workshop. Go to the mountaintop. Head to the beach. Work out. Take a nap. Nourish yourself with food, family, or friends.
What you may discover is this: the fruit of your labor is often the labor itself. And doing the work – the work that only you can do – is indeed worth celebrating.
I’d love for you to share the work you are celebrating in the comments below.
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 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!
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
A few weekends ago I got to spend an amazing weekend in Austin, Texas, participating in a Gathering of Wayfinders with Martha Beck.
I felt pulled to the event the moment I read about it. That didn’t prevent me from coming up with dozens of reasons why I shouldn’t spend the money, take the time, or trust the call of the wild that insisted I make my way to the Lone Star State.
Fortunately, reason can’t hold a candle to instinct.
My desire was to find my tribe, those people who “get me” without explanation. As I stepped into a room filled with 500 coaches, I knew I had found them.
Conversations were immediate and intimate and none of us let the other get away with anything. We are, after all, trained to help others see what is hard for them to see in themselves.
We are also trained to know “if you spot it, you got it.“ Whether it’s something we love or something we loathe, we respond to what we recognize.
We won’t heal the world by fixing it. We fix the world by healing ourselves.
I watched Martha work with person after person. She took their greatest challenges or frustrations and turned them around to find the places within themselves that were suffering the same fate.
“What should be done about it?” became, “What can I do about it?” The answer was the directive. “Start here.”
The relief of knowing I don’t have to save the world was quickly replaced by the responsibility of saving myself. The best way I know to do this is to let my freak flag fly.
It doesn’t mean putting all my outrageousness on display at all times. But it does mean trying to blend, when I was born to be different, will eventually snuff out the brilliance that begs to shine through at the oddest moments.
Flying your freak flag takes tremendous courage.
None of us want to risk the social disgrace of being outed as unusual, eccentric, strange, weird, cra-cra, or unhinged. But really, who among us isn’t? Who hasn’t had thoughts or experiences that those who know and love us advise to keep to ourselves?
I suppose what happens in Austin should stay in Austin, but what happened to me was so subtle, I could easily have missed it. I connected the dots that led me from one leap of faith to another until I found myself at the JW Marriott, cavorting with my tribe like I knew the way home all along.
The truth is, I did. And knowing that changed everything.
Try as I might to convince myself I’d been lost for years and didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, that was simply not true. I cleverly sprinkled clues throughout my life to remind me where I parked the mother ship. I also managed to find my fellow trackers in the trickiest of terrains. I remembered I had superpowers just in time to activate them. And all the while I’d write and share these stories when I dared.
Then I’d forget everything and go back to blending.
But in Austin,the more I allowed myself to believe impossible things, the more likely they were to happen. The weekend was a series of synchronized connections and coincidences. If I needed to know something, someone would tell me. If I needed to meet someone, she would show up. If I needed an Uber driver, he was already at my location. All I had to do was to suspend my disbelief, be present, open, and willing to trust.
Okay, that last line may have rolled off your tongue as easily as it flowed out my fingertips, but it’s taken me a lifetime of practice to even begin to master. Being present and open and trusting when I’m in a new city is as hard for me as not trying to blend when I’m in a small town.
But it can be done. Especially in Austin. The music, the mood, the food, the warmth, and the water will work their magic and you’ll have no choice but to surrender to it all. At least that’s what happened to me.
Of course, the real test of any trip is how I return to my regularly scheduled programming. This time instead of pretending nothing had changed, I acted as if everything had changed. When Bob picked me up at the airport, I said, “Hi, honey. I’m home.” And then I added, “You may want to strap in. It’s going to get interesting.”
Bob, being quite familiar with my freak flag, he just laughed and said, “Welcome home. I missed you.”
It’s Leap Day!
Following in Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes footsteps, this Leap Year I’ve decided to say yes to any reasonable opportunity to expand and grow, despite its power to terrify and send me into a full blown panic before, during, and after the opportunity.
For me this means doing anything that involves public scrutiny of my less than perfect performances. Whether those performances include speaking, leading, teaching, or seizing my fifteen minutes of fame, the moment I have an audience is the moment I doubt the dazzling idea that came to me in the shower and insisted I share it publicly. It’s the moment my heart beats faster, my mouth goes dry, and my voice gets a little shaky.
I’m determined to manage this and train my butterflies to fly in formation. I’ve pondered Eleonor Roosevelt’s suggestion to, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Because that idea instantly overwhelms me, I’ve amended it to doing one thing every month that scares me.
Because here’s what happens when I get too comfortable. When I finally do venture out into what I call my evolutionary zone, I have to summon up every ounce of courage and grit from my previous expeditions. If it’s been more than 21 days, I’ve more than likely lost my mojo and have to start all over again.
To save time and energy, I’ve decided to just keep putting myself out there. Instead of retreating back to the safety of base camp, I plan to keep climbing and set up temporary shelter at higher altitudes.
For example, last Friday I did something nine years in the making. I collaborated with a co-worker to present a session at our Staff Development Day. I know what you’re thinking. No big deal. You may have to do this kind of thing all the time.
The reason it was a big deal to me was because I used to train and speak to groups for a living prior to taking this job. When I put on my college administrator hat, I put away my stand-up comedienne/trainer hat and hoped the delusions of grandeur would subside.
Watching others do what I am perfectly capable of doing or, worse, witnessing people fail to do what needs to be done, catapulted me out my comfort zone. “Be the change you seek,” means nothing unless I act on it.
For me this meant volunteering to lead the kind of session I would like to attend on Staff Development Day. It also meant submitting a proposal a year ago to speak at Beyond Rubies, a fabulous women’s conference at Kirkwood Community College, this Thursday and Friday, March 3-4. (If you happen to be in Iowa, please join me Friday morning and learn How to Get Your Groove Back.)
I don’t do this for the money. In fact, there’s usually no compensation involved in these kinds of gigs. The payoff for me is who I become in the process of facing what feels like either a potential public execution (one that ends my career) or an evolutionary experience (one that moves me forward).
Who I become regardless of the outcome is a voracious reader, devouring anything remotely related to my topic. I become incredibly curious and open as I scout for examples to backup my theories. I become bold and daring as I try out new material on anyone who will listen, my dog and houseplants included. And I’m forced to relax and put all the things I’m preaching into practice so I align my words and actions and authentically walk my talk.
When I do that, something remarkable happens. I become the change other people are seeking and enthusiastically share my secrets. The nerves fall away, the worry about what might come out of my mouth disappears, and I am present, having fun, and connecting with the most amazing people.
I made some rookie mistakes on Friday because it had been awhile since I had presented. I was aware of them, my co-presenter was aware of them, and maybe even my friends in the audience caught them. But no one let on. Everyone acted as if attending the last presentation on a Friday afternoon was a seamless segue into a well-deserved weekend.
This Leap Day you have an opportunity to say “yes” to new beginnings. Or you can say”no” to what needs to end. Name and claim, tame, or reframe whatever you want to bring into being. Then do the one thing that’s scariest of all – act on it.
I’d love to hear about your leaps in the comments below.