Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 4 – Plan D

[wpvideo tK3M9ZKw]
 
It’s Day 4 of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge and today the letter “D” will be directing the show.
Words beginning with “d” are drenched with determination as if daring us to do something difficult, daunting, or demanding. 
Let’s face it, Darling, dealing with the holidays can be discombobulating.
So what do you do?
Well, my answer to everything these days (okay, maybe every day since the 80s) is disco. 
Before you dis this idea, don your earbuds or headphones, dive into the video, and discover for yourself how this dazzling display of dorkiness dispels any doubt that dancing develops the necessary dossier to deal with drama. 
A few of my distinguished friends and followers have agreed to be featured in this divine dance with me. Tom, Terry, Bob, and Barbi have demonstrated that disco never dies. I’m sure you will agree they are dynamite.
For more fun than Dominick the Donkey, drop in on the folks at JibJab  and let them help you make a decidedly different holiday card that will delight family and friends and delineate your card from dozens of others this year.
If that doesn’t drown you in good cheer, come back tomorrow when I dole out more advice with the letter “E” as our guide.
Dare to share your dancing dreams in the comments below. Be sure to click here to register for door prizes and other goodies dispersed throughout the challenge. A link will be provided so you can download your Holiday Survival Guide once you register.
here_to_the_new_year_in_good_cheer
 
 

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 3 – Plan C

Curious Dog
It’s Day 3 of our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer Challenge.
I love the letter “C” because there are so many compelling action verbs beginning with “c” competing for today’s tip. We have create, collaborate, communicate, connect, catalyze, curate, caress, consider, commit, coach, consult, conspire, cook, coax, comfort, cuddle, climb, compose, craft, complete, continue, conquer, concede, compliment, contribute, calibrate, cushion, chill, celebrate, chuckle, change, challenge, chant, choose, captivate….
Since it’s complicated to pick just one action, I decided to go with an idea that will inspire continuous action. That idea is curiosity.
Just as this picture captures this sweet little pup’s curiosity, you, too, can benefit from cocking your head to the side and considering something you’ve never thought of before. Or at least not in this context.
The trouble with getting all cranky and crabby at this time of year is that need your sense of curiosity, wonder, and humor now more than ever. It’s the connective tissue that keeps you compassionate and civil when your instinct may be more combative.
So try this.
Every day from Here to the New Year, write down at least one thing you are curious about. Just thinking about it won’t do. Please write it down somewhere every day.
By the end of the year,  you’ll have 35 conversation starters should you happen to be stuck at the DMV or cousin Carol’s Christmas concert. Instead of complaining, connect with a complete stranger and see if you can curtail any criticism or cynicism by starting a captivating conversation about any of the things you are curious about.
I’d love to hear where your conversations lead in the comments below. And if you haven’t officially registered for the challenge, please do so here so I can send you your free Holiday Survival Guide and enter your name for the goodies I’ll be giving away.
“What could those clever concoctions be?” you ask.
Stay curious and continue to check in daily.  I’ll leave clues that will allow you to connect the Christmas cookie crumbs to some sweet surprises coming soon.
here_to_the_new_year_in_good_cheer
 
 
 
 
 

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.
 
 
 

No Matter What – Day 11

And we’re back for Week 3 of the No Matter What Game.  To find out more about it, see details below the post.

Portrait of an attractive surprised young woman

G: You’re on holiday. You go for a swim in the pool. Later that evening you notice the bottom half of your hair has turned green. What do you do? 🙂

P:  Gillian has been on holiday this past week and I wondered if this happened to her.  She said it happened to her daughter and apparently the antidote is tomato ketchup.

This reminds me of a little incident that happened to Bob just before leaving for Arizona a few years ago.  He has a buzz cut and, curiously enough, when his hair gets too long it starts growing in a pattern that resembles the cut popularized by Julius Caesar.

I insist that he let me cut his hair since it’s my idea of an intimate Patrick Swayze/ Demi Moore making pottery moment like in the movie Ghost.  I’m pretty sure Bob feels like a new recruit entering boot camp saying sayonara to his freedom and any chance of having a good hair day again in his lifetime.

Having said this, he’s pretty trusting that not much can go wrong with the guard on.  And though he asks me every single time whether the guard is on, this day he did not.

His hair was exceptionally long (for him) and I knew we had a problem the moment I took the first swath down the middle of his head.

Wow,” I remarked.  “This seems super short.”

Then came the question, “Do you have the guard on?”

“Interesting that you should ask.  Oddly enough, I do not.  I’m sure i can just blend it in.”

I’m sure you can’t.  But I can wear a cap.  No problem.”

Spoken just like the guy on The Bachelorette who let the girl do some whack job hair cut on him and then acted like he didn’t mind having it broadcast on national television.  (Not that I watch that show, but my niece does and happened to be visiting when that episode was on.  I think I needed so see it to remind me I have the real deal with Bob.)

Had the situation been reversed, like the time I got a few moles removed from my face right before going to a Michael Bublé concert, leaving me with Band-Aids all over my face so when Michael came down from the stage and into the crowd and saw a woman with Band-Aids all over her face he was temporarily shocked into silence, I might have reacted differently.

It’s unsettling when the outside image doesn’t match what we know to be true on the inside.  That happens to me frequently.  I feel all frisky and perky like I’m twenty-something and then I happen to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wonder, “Who’s that woman?

But here’s the deal.  I love being the age I am, no matter what I say to the mirror on those days when I haven’t had enough sleep, fun, or fiber and it shows.

I love the wisdom that comes with having been around for a while and understanding how things work, how quickly things can change, and how I can choose to accept things or let them completely freak me out.

I will now answer the question because when Bob was proofreading what I wrote so far and gave me permission to print a story that involved him, he pointed out I hadn’t  answered the question. So, here goes.

If it really upset me, I would find a professional to help me remedy the situation. Of course, being on holiday throws a kink into the mix.  We all know how long it takes to find a hair stylist who gets us and how much longer it takes to trust them to color our hair.

However, in this case, I’d have to trust someone.  Either the person on Wikipedia who posted the ketchup antidote or the stylist at the nearest salon.  I’d go with the stylist.  Unless his or her hair was also green.

************************

I’d love to hear your comments below.  If you’d like to play along just answer the prompt in your own words and leave them in the comments below or keep them to yourself in a journal.  If you’d like the world’s best coach Gillian to send you your own set of daily prompts, contact her at www.gillianpearce.com.

The Nuts Are Complimentary

bob and penny up close laughing

My all time favorite joke goes something like this.

A guy walks into a bar…

Instead of the usual grief, he’s hears, “Hi there, Handsome,”  “Well, aren’t you a breath of fresh air?”You work so hard, you deserve all the respect and success you have earned and then some.”  On and on it goes, everything he’s ever wanted to hear.

Imagining he must be dreaming, he says to the bartender, “What’s going on?”

The reply?  “Oh, that’s the nuts.  They’re complimentary.”

I love that joke for many reasons.  It’s funny, it’s clean, and like the nuts, it’s complimentary.

Who wouldn’t love to walk into a place where everyone knows your name and the very things about you that make you extraordinary, endearing, valuable, and lovable?

With this in mind I am on a mission to surround myself with things and people that complement my life. Easier said than done, of course.  But this is the impetus behind the relentless removal of that which does not spark joy.

In the past month I have deleted over 1,000 emails from my Inbox, 7 boxes of books, 9 bags of clothing, 3 boxes of pantry items, a truck load of miscellaneous garage and basement stuff, and I’m just getting started.

Although Bob is generally elated about this, when he saw me eyeing my shoe collection, he thought about calling my family for an intervention.

Shoes are sacred territory in my world.  If they went, he feared he might be next. But shoes, by their very nature, are made for walking. Bob is one of those complimentary nuts I want to keep around.

At this time of year I’m usually in full flower frenzy. This year, however, a clean sweep is in order.

My first clue that I had some cleaning to do was when my computer refused to function. Apparently it had been quietly accumulating updates and all kinds of miscellaneous clutter over the years to the point that my hard drive was full.

If it had been attempting to inform me of this all along, I didn’t pay any particular attention.  Freezing up and holding all my content hostage, however, did get my attention.

After a few choice words, I had to laugh at the literal perfection of this predicament.  After a year and a half of non-stop training, learning, and accumulating knowledge there was literally no place else for the download of information to go.  My cup runneth over.

Knowing how dramatically two dietary detoxes within a six month period could improve my health, I decided to apply the same principles to my home, my office, my bookshelves, and a few relationships.

Like changing my eating habits, changing my environment would require an undeniable reason to do so and a fool-proof plan.  These came in the form of a little book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  and an understanding that in order for new things to come into my life, I must release what’s over and done with.

While there is a certain amount of melancholy that accompanies the letting go of unexpressed potential, there is great joy in surrendering to who I am now.  A quirky coach who can help people get their groove back. The only real requirement was that I do the work first and get my own house in order.

Although I have gotten my groove back, I still have some tidying up to do.  And if I do it right, I will free up enough room on my internal hard drive for life’s latest upgrade.

What about you?  What’s spurring you into action this summer?

Share if you dare in the comments below.

Top Ten Tension Tackling Tunes to Keep You Humming Through The Holidays

Christmas card
It happens every year. We start out the season with visions of Christmases past when we were younger, things were easier, and our lives were manageable. This year we vow to re-create the magic. We’ll shop early, get organized, entertain lavishly without gaining an ounce, attend every school program and office party, and enjoy all the pleasures of the season.
This vow lasts until the reality of relentless schedules, impossible expectations, extra activities, and crowds at every corner bring this vision sharply into question. Then the question is no longer how will we celebrate but how will we survive?
The good news is we always survive. The bad news is we don’t always utilize the stress management techniques we perfected by the end of last holiday season. However, this year we have a new strategy.
It’s called tunes and tips. When you hear the tune, let it trigger the tension-tackling tip. And what better songs than Christmas carols to keep you humming through the holidays?
1. ‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly…
If you’ve lost your sense of humor, find it immediately!  Stuff happens and you need to keep your wits about you.
Create a stress relief kit that contains anything that conjures up calm for you. Suggestions include a foot massager, a packet of herbal tea, island getaway brochures, funny photos, your favorite music, or an emergency clown nose. Or find an app for your phone that helps you relax and is at your fingertips when you need it.
You are only one thought away from a different perspective.
2. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let it Go…

You don’t have to wish for that fluffy white stuff to perfect the holiday picture. But it is wise to acknowledge that there are certain things that are out of your control, like the weather. What is in your control is your reaction to events.
Letting go of your expectations of how events should unfold, how people should behave, and what should happen allows you to be present to what is actually going on.
3. Dashing Through the Snow…
Movement is essential to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Since Santa supposedly has your new exercise equipment, now may not be an opportune time for you to start a fitness program. But you can easily incorporate movement into your day.
Having to park three miles away from any place peopled with shoppers gives you an excellent opportunity to squeeze in a little aerobic activity. Carrying your purchases back to that same location might be considered strength training.
There are a myriad of ways to work in a workout.  Get creative and have some fun sprinkling your day with activity sprints.
4. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire…
Too many of those nuts, candies, and homemade delights can tip the scales out of your favor. Notice how you eat, drink, and be merry. If you are eating Christmas cookies to handle your woes or drinking Jack Daniels to prevent Jack Frost from nipping at your nose, the combination of indulgences could wreak havoc on your health.
People tend to put on an extra pound or two over the holidays, which isn’t a big deal if it comes off in the New Year. Unfortunately, for many it becomes the new set point that inches up year after year.
To guarantee that you don’t become one of those weight bearing statistics, plan for party temptations by eating a healthy snack before you go.  Once there, fill up on food for thought instead of food from the party platter.  Pay attention to the decorations, check out the entertainment, or visit with the bearded man and his little friends.
5.  Making a List and Checking It Twice…
Don’t expect your already overloaded mind to remember any more than your way home and the names of your immediate family members. Count on lists to remind you of those things you have determined you must do. Make as many lists as necessary and review them before taking action. Prioritize, organize, scrutinize, and compromise, if necessary.
Even if your superpower is finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list and you love to mix and mingle with the masses, make sure to shop when you are well-rested and well-fed. Shopping when fatigued, famished, or  frazzled can lead to costly buyer’s remorse.
6. Deck the Halls…
Surround yourself with things that bring you joy. Designate a room, corner, or cupboard as your own. Then decorate that space as only you know how. Bring a bean bag elf to the office or hang mistletoe in the cafeteria. Your spirit needs nourishment and encouragement. Be sure to give yourself the time and a place to celebrate what is sacred to you.
Many people use this time of year to reflect on the current year and make goals, set intentions, and strategically plan for the new year.  Be sure to schedule some down time amidst all the hustle and bustle to envision, dream, think, contemplate, relax, pray, or hang out in nature.
7. I’ll Be Home for Christmas…
Many families are spread out over the country. This can present not only logistical challenges, but financial and emotional ones as well when you attempt to make it “home” for the holidays.
Determine if the benefits of being home are worth the stresses you may encounter getting there – especially if you are organizing this pilgrimage for your household. If home is where your heart is, then may the force be with you in your travels! But if traveling makes your heart weary, know you can create the feeling of home wherever you are.
By volunteering your time at a shelter, visiting a nursing home, or helping serve meals at a community center, you might help create the feeling of home or family for someone who no longer has one.
8. All I Want for Christmas Is…
What do you really want? What will having this item do for you? How will it satisfy your soul? What about those on your list? What might they really want? Can you give it to them in a more authentic or direct way? Is it possible for you to make something or do something that brings them more joy than the buying an expensive gift that busts your budget?
Gifts of listening, laughter, and sincere compliments are always appreciated but not always afforded to others.  When you really listen and don’t interrupt, daydream, or plan your response, the gift of listening is priceless.
Same for the gift of laughter.  Clipping cartoons or sharing articles, blog posts (like this one!), tweets, or funny videos lets your recipient know how much you value the times you laugh together.
When a compliment is simple, sincere, and specific to the person such as, “You really worked hard on this project and it shows in your client’s feedback,” or “That was a hilarious interpretation of The 12 Days of Christmas,” it benefits the giver as well as the receiver.
However you say to another,  “I see who you are. I get you. I’m glad you exist in my universe,”  is a gift indeed.
9. Silent Night …
I know what I’m about to write is a radical suggestion, but for your own good, I’m going to write it anyway.  Unplug from your electronic devices for one night and plug in to the gifts of the season.
From the sound of carolers outside your window to the squeals of small children on Santa’s lap to the brightly colored lights decorating the streets where you live, sense the beauty that surrounds you. See, hear, taste, touch, and smell the sensations of the season.
Sometimes all you need to do this is a silent night.  Remember, you have the right to remain silent.
10. Joy to the World…
In the end, it all comes down to attitude. Maybe you harbor an inner Scrooge who threatens to declare, “Bah humbug!” on all this festive frenzy. Keeping him in check may require reframing your beliefs about what you “should” do, “must” do, or “have to” do as a choice, something you “choose to” do.
Although you may be a creature of habit, you are also an evolving creature.  What gives you meaning and brings you joy one year may not the next. You may decide some traditions are simply not worth the energy it takes to carry them out and invent new ones to suit your lifestyle.
When life becomes a choice instead of a chore, the world looks a lot brighterand you have more energy to spread that joy around!
BONUS CUT:
As much as I’d like to end this post on a Joy to the World note,  I do want to acknowledge that the holidays can be a very difficult time for many people.  For years, I dreaded them.  Here’s a tip for those of you who have a hard time with holidays for any number of reasons.
I’ll Have a Blue Christmas Without You…
Despite the festive feel of brightly colored lights and pretty packages under the tree, the holidays can bring up intense feeling of loss, longing, not belonging, depression, and wanting something other than what you have.
You may feel guilty for not enjoying the holidays or for being here when others are not and consequently overspend, overindulge, or over-schedule yourself to escape your feelings.
However, denying your feelings causes them to come back and bite you when you least expect it. Give your feelings the time and attention they deserve. Find someone to talk to or write in a journal. You don’t have to go through this alone.  Connect with others who share your struggles.

I wish you whatever you need or desire to feel loved and appreciated this holiday season.

Please share this with anyone who could use some stress reducing strategies to get through the holidays.  And feel free to share your tried and true tips in the comments below.
 Thank you for reading.   Happy, Healthy Holidays to YOU!

Top Ten Tension Tackling Tunes to Keep You Humming Through The Holidays

Christmas card
It happens every year. We start out the season with visions of Christmases past when we were younger, things were easier, and our lives were manageable. This year we vow to re-create the magic. We’ll shop early, get organized, entertain lavishly without gaining an ounce, attend every school program and office party, and enjoy all the pleasures of the season.
This vow lasts until the reality of relentless schedules, impossible expectations, extra activities, and crowds at every corner bring this vision sharply into question. Then the question is no longer how will we celebrate but how will we survive?
The good news is we always survive. The bad news is we don’t always utilize the stress management techniques we perfected by the end of last holiday season. However, this year we have a new strategy.
It’s called tunes and tips. When you hear the tune, let it trigger the tension-tackling tip. And what better songs than Christmas carols to keep you humming through the holidays?
1. ‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly…
If you’ve lost your sense of humor, find it immediately!  Stuff happens and you need to keep your wits about you.
Create a stress relief kit that contains anything that conjures up calm for you. Suggestions include a foot massager, a packet of herbal tea, island getaway brochures, funny photos, your favorite music, or an emergency clown nose. Or find an app for your phone that helps you relax and is at your fingertips when you need it.
You are only one thought away from a different perspective.
2. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let it Go…

You don’t have to wish for that fluffy white stuff to perfect the holiday picture. But it is wise to acknowledge that there are certain things that are out of your control, like the weather. What is in your control is your reaction to events.
Letting go of your expectations of how events should unfold, how people should behave, and what should happen allows you to be present to what is actually going on.
3. Dashing Through the Snow…
Movement is essential to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Since Santa supposedly has your new exercise equipment, now may not be an opportune time for you to start a fitness program. But you can easily incorporate movement into your day.
Having to park three miles away from any place peopled with shoppers gives you an excellent opportunity to squeeze in a little aerobic activity. Carrying your purchases back to that same location might be considered strength training.
There are a myriad of ways to work in a workout.  Get creative and have some fun sprinkling your day with activity sprints.
4. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire…
Too many of those nuts, candies, and homemade delights can tip the scales out of your favor. Notice how you eat, drink, and be merry. If you are eating Christmas cookies to handle your woes or drinking Jack Daniels to prevent Jack Frost from nipping at your nose, the combination of indulgences could wreak havoc on your health.
People tend to put on an extra pound or two over the holidays, which isn’t a big deal if it comes off in the New Year. Unfortunately, for many it becomes the new set point that inches up year after year.
To guarantee that you don’t become one of those weight bearing statistics, plan for party temptations by eating a healthy snack before you go.  Once there, fill up on food for thought instead of food from the party platter.  Pay attention to the decorations, check out the entertainment, or visit with the bearded man and his little friends.
5.  Making a List and Checking It Twice…
Don’t expect your already overloaded mind to remember any more than your way home and the names of your immediate family members. Count on lists to remind you of those things you have determined you must do. Make as many lists as necessary and review them before taking action. Prioritize, organize, scrutinize, and compromise, if necessary.
Even if your superpower is finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list and you love to mix and mingle with the masses, make sure to shop when you are well-rested and well-fed. Shopping when fatigued, famished, or  frazzled can lead to costly buyer’s remorse.
6. Deck the Halls…
Surround yourself with things that bring you joy. Designate a room, corner, or cupboard as your own. Then decorate that space as only you know how. Bring a bean bag elf to the office or hang mistletoe in the cafeteria. Your spirit needs nourishment and encouragement. Be sure to give yourself the time and a place to celebrate what is sacred to you.
Many people use this time of year to reflect on the current year and make goals, set intentions, and strategically plan for the new year.  Be sure to schedule some down time amidst all the hustle and bustle to envision, dream, think, contemplate, relax, pray, or hang out in nature.
7. I’ll Be Home for Christmas…
Many families are spread out over the country. This can present not only logistical challenges, but financial and emotional ones as well when you attempt to make it “home” for the holidays.
Determine if the benefits of being home are worth the stresses you may encounter getting there – especially if you are organizing this pilgrimage for your household. If home is where your heart is, then may the force be with you in your travels! But if traveling makes your heart weary, know you can create the feeling of home wherever you are.
By volunteering your time at a shelter, visiting a nursing home, or helping serve meals at a community center, you might help create the feeling of home or family for someone who no longer has one.
8. All I Want for Christmas Is…
What do you really want? What will having this item do for you? How will it satisfy your soul? What about those on your list? What might they really want? Can you give it to them in a more authentic or direct way? Is it possible for you to make something or do something that brings them more joy than the buying an expensive gift that busts your budget?
Gifts of listening, laughter, and sincere compliments are always appreciated but not always afforded to others.  When you really listen and don’t interrupt, daydream, or plan your response, the gift of listening is priceless.
Same for the gift of laughter.  Clipping cartoons or sharing articles, blog posts (like this one!), tweets, or funny videos lets your recipient know how much you value the times you laugh together.
When a compliment is simple, sincere, and specific to the person such as, “You really worked hard on this project and it shows in your client’s feedback,” or “That was a hilarious interpretation of The 12 Days of Christmas,” it benefits the giver as well as the receiver.
However you say to another,  “I see who you are. I get you. I’m glad you exist in my universe,”  is a gift indeed.
9. Silent Night …
I know what I’m about to write is a radical suggestion, but for your own good, I’m going to write it anyway.  Unplug from your electronic devices for one night and plug in to the gifts of the season.
From the sound of carolers outside your window to the squeals of small children on Santa’s lap to the brightly colored lights decorating the streets where you live, sense the beauty that surrounds you. See, hear, taste, touch, and smell the sensations of the season.
Sometimes all you need to do this is a silent night.  Remember, you have the right to remain silent.
10. Joy to the World…
In the end, it all comes down to attitude. Maybe you harbor an inner Scrooge who threatens to declare, “Bah humbug!” on all this festive frenzy. Keeping him in check may require reframing your beliefs about what you “should” do, “must” do, or “have to” do as a choice, something you “choose to” do.
Although you may be a creature of habit, you are also an evolving creature.  What gives you meaning and brings you joy one year may not the next. You may decide some traditions are simply not worth the energy it takes to carry them out and invent new ones to suit your lifestyle.
When life becomes a choice instead of a chore, the world looks a lot brighterand you have more energy to spread that joy around!
BONUS CUT:
As much as I’d like to end this post on a Joy to the World note,  I do want to acknowledge that the holidays can be a very difficult time for many people.  For years, I dreaded them.  Here’s a tip for those of you who have a hard time with holidays for any number of reasons.
I’ll Have a Blue Christmas Without You…
Despite the festive feel of brightly colored lights and pretty packages under the tree, the holidays can bring up intense feeling of loss, longing, not belonging, depression, and wanting something other than what you have.
You may feel guilty for not enjoying the holidays or for being here when others are not and consequently overspend, overindulge, or over-schedule yourself to escape your feelings.
However, denying your feelings causes them to come back and bite you when you least expect it. Give your feelings the time and attention they deserve. Find someone to talk to or write in a journal. You don’t have to go through this alone.  Connect with others who share your struggles.

I wish you whatever you need or desire to feel loved and appreciated this holiday season.

Please share this with anyone who could use some stress reducing strategies to get through the holidays.  And feel free to share your tried and true tips in the comments below.
 Thank you for reading.   Happy, Healthy Holidays to YOU!

Top 10 Take Aways from a 21 Day Dietary Detox

good food, health and life
Sometimes life demands that we push ourselves way beyond our comfort zone. We can accomplish incredible things or even fail miserably but learn the lesson of a lifetime in a relatively short amount of focused time.
In the fitness world we call this “burst training” or Tabata training. Tabata training involves going all out for cycles of 20 seconds of intense activity followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes. It’s proving to be more effective than the traditional thinking that would have us spending hours at the gym or on the treadmill.
My personal version of “burst training” during the last month included a 21 Day Dietary Detox, creating an e-book, starting a coaching program, and holding down my day job. While we all juggle projects, family, and jobs, when I mentioned detox to anyone their immediate reaction was, “I could never do that!
I get it. I had the same sentiment six months ago when my functional medicine doctor told me I needed to give up sugar, flour, wheat, pasta, and essentially everything I relied on to get me through the day.
Admittedly, I went kicking and screaming into this new world order. But as I started to experience the benefits of adopting these guidelines and read the science behind it, I became convinced this was a better strategy than continuing on my current course, which left me feeling fat and fuzzy.
In my effort to sustain this new way of eating, I initially allowed myself some leeway to eat a few of the “forbidden foods ” without guilt or judgment. My results were good but I was not making the great strides in svelteness I had been lead to believe I could achieve.
In their fabulous book, It Starts With Food, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig explain it like this. Imagine you are allergic to cats and have 9 of them in your house. If you find a new, loving home for 7 of them but still keep 2, you’ll still experience an allergic reaction to cats.
When our bodies are unable to tolerate certain foods, we have to remove the usual suspects completely in order for the body to heal. They can be gradually re-introduced one at a time. But at the beginning, we have to eliminate all of them to pinpoint the culprits.
Usually when we think of food allergies we think of someone who can’t eat peanuts or shellfish or consume dairy products without causing immediate distress. But many of us have reactions to foods we aren’t even aware of. The top allergy producing foods are gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, and citrus.  Who knew?
Consuming these foods once in a while will probably not kill us. But consuming them on a daily basis and often times at every meal can keep us in a constant state of inflammation. We may think feeling bloated, experiencing indigestion, or feeling gassy, just comes with the territory. Or better yet, age.
I’m here to tell you it’s not normal. You can and deserve to feel great at any age.
Am I suggesting you run out and get tested for food allergies? No. But if you are curious, you can become your own detective.
This is where detox comes in. Now I am not suggesting you detox immediately.  In fact I wouldn’t suggest detoxing until you are completely prepared to do so and have medical or nutritional support people to oversee the process.
I had been working with my doctor for three months before I had the guts to detox.  I also have a peer coach in my Dynamic Eating Psychology program who is a certified nutritionist and she cautioned me about the downside of detoxing if I was not prepared.
For 21 days I basically ate vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and poultry. Days 8-15 all animal products were eliminated. This forced me to discover all kinds of new veggies, hummus, and other exquisite foods that I had never acknowledged before. I also ate really interesting things for breakfast. (Peas, poultry, and pears, anyone?)
The result was I felt better, lighter, leaner, or more in tune with my body than I had in decades. Admittedly, a couple of days, I also felt hungrier than I’d felt in decades.
Bob’s perspective may have been different. Like the 30-day 500 Words a Day Blog-a-Thon in January, he’d probably say results varied depending on the degree of difficulty and amount of deprivation I was experiencing sticking to the plan. For the record, my meltdown happened on Day 9.
In the next series of posts I’ll share with you one of the following Top 10 Take Aways from 21 Days of Detox. Because they each deserve their own blog post, I’ll be serving them to you in bite-sized, digestible portions over the next couple of weeks. For now, I’ll leave you with a sneak peek:
1. Freedom through discipline
2. Eat high quality foods.
3. Less is more.
4. Trust the process.
5. The way out is through.
6. Your body talks. Your job is to listen.
7. Hunger happens.
8. Sleep solves most problems.
9. Invoke the sacred. Accept grace. Give gratitude.
10. You are what you eat. (All we are saying is give peas a chance.)

Ten Zen Seconds

It’s official.  I’m overwhelmed.
Basic math suggests adding things to my schedule without subtracting anything results in a crowded and cramped life.
But as the former Queen of Calm, I plan to dig deep into my toolkit and pull out a few tried and true tension tackling tips.
The best strategy for me is to slow down my racing, negative thoughts and breathe slowly and deeply.  Last night I assigned my mind to figure a few things out while I was sleeping.  Sure enough, when I awoke, Ten Zen Seconds was the first thing that came to mind.
The irony of meditating or contemplation is we like to think we don’t have time for it.  But taking a few moments to question the voice of panic and listen for the voice of clarity can save a lot of mindless activity.
It also helps to know we’re not alone.  Since I’m guessing I’m not the only one who might be feeling frazzled, I wrote this for all of us.
In this riot of activity
find an oasis of calm.
Breathe deeply,
slow down the thoughts,
ask for clarity,
and focus on the one thing
that flows from this moment.
Trust that finishing this sentence
is the best way to be here now.
Honoring the present moment
is the only guarantee
we’ll even be aware
of our future.
Ten Zen Seconds
is all it takes…
I am equal to this task,
to my life,
to all I have chosen to take on now…
despite the part of me who wants to dispute that
and do nothing more than watch tv and consume carbs.
But the wiser part of me knows better,
knows I can do this,
I can make informed nutritional choices,
manage my time,
and focus my energies.
Other people handle far more than I do every day.
Even though comparing myself to them
doesn’t diminish my load,
it does remind me that
I can figure this out and
I chose to take this on.
Breathe in compassion,
breathe out judgment and criticism.
Breathe in openness and spaciousness,
breathe out fear and constriction.
There is enough time, energy, money, love, forgiveness, understanding.
Breathe it all in.
Breathe it all out.
Then
just
breathe.
Peace out.