Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan "P"

the-magic-of-christmas8

It’s the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge and today “P” pitches its plan. You might possibly presume for a prolific person like Penny Plautz from Prophetstown, Plan “P” is probably my preferred plan. It packs a powerful punch and promises to pour a plethora of positivity into our peace producing project.

So many words beginning with the letter P pop into this paragraph and prompt me to play with a preponderance of profoundly pleasurable ideas that promote good cheer. It’s perplexing to pick one from the predominant pool of prized philosophies.

Although I pondered plunging ahead with poetry, prevailing wisdom prods me to publish something that may be perceived as practical yet profoundly perfect.

So today I present you with this plan.

Practice being present.Your presence is the best present you can give. Or, as I like to say, the magic of Christmas isn’t the presents, it’s being present for the magic.

I poked around on Canva and created this design for you. Permit me provide you with personal proclamations you can print out and post where your peeps and pals can put them into practice.

Here’s another positive prescription for today.

Pamper yourself with a parade of possibilities for pursuing your passion – from protesting the need to punish yourself for presumed imperfections to pulling off the phenomenal and placing yourself in a priority position. This proves you are preparing to powerfully procure your place as a prosperous player in a promising New Year.

Please leave your comments below and feel free to pen your own “P” plans and share them with the particular planet of prized people who read this blog.

here_to_the_new_year_in_good_cheer

Stop and Smell the Petunias

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It’s Day 26 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to stop and smell the petunias.  Yes, I know the saying is “stop and smell the roses.” But since my puppy Ruby is particularly fond of petunias and is teaching me so much in a very short time, especially about taking breaks, I took some creative license with the saying.

Too often we look at interruptions as productivity killers, detours, excuses for our short little spans of attention. But sometimes taking a break to get up and walk around or sit down and relax, have a spot of tea, or nourish ourselves with a healthy snack or TED talk can cause epiphanies and unexpected pleasures.

I can easily spend my workday staring at a computer screen or piles of paperwork going over the same information in the same way.  But if I get up and walk around, move some tables and chairs, feed the fish, or water the plants, my energy shifts. By changing my focus for a while, the same situation looks different when I return.

One of my favorite things in my offices at work and at home is my standing desk. Because I spent most of my life as a fitness instructor, the biggest adjustment to life as a college administrator is the sedentary nature of the majority of my work.

To counteract this, I set up a makeshift standing desk where I can easily advise students and give them direct access to the information on the computer screen and hands on access to their information.

I also made sure we had a picnic table and bench outside so students and staff can get some fresh air, soak in the sun, and smell the lilies nearby when a change of scenery and perspective is needed.

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

Today, take 5-15 minutes to do something deeply nourishing to your soul.  Maybe it’s reading that quote or poem from yesterday’s challenge (Day 25) or maybe it’s calling someone you love (Day 8) or maybe it’s arranging some flowers or fresh fruit and a bowl.

Try not to think of today’s challenge as an interruption and immediately look only for a way to return to the task at hand. Think of it as divine intervention sent to support your present predicament.

As always, I’d love for you to share your epiphanies or aha’s in the comments below.

 

 

Peace Out

Hope Concept

It’s Day 18 of the Get Stuff Done 1 x31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to find the place of peace within yourself and just reside there for 5-15 minutes.

It’s hard not to be upset, frightened, disturbed, angry, or uneasy about what’s happening in the world right now – from politics to police to poverty to a plethora of man-made and natural disasters. If there wasn’t something weighing heavily on your heart, I’d wonder what world you were living in.

Using violence to end violence never seemed like a sane solution to me. Practicing peace to create peace seems infinitely smarter.

I used to call myself the Queen of Calm. Wellpower, the company my business partner and I started, was all about relieving stress, creating calm, and bringing balance back into the lives of our clients. We made audio tapes, gave a lot of talks, and traveled the country hoping to restore health and wellness to the lives of anyone who would listen.

Maybe we were ahead of our time. Wellness was not nearly the craze it is now. Or if it was, we had no way of connecting to the world of wellness the way we all can now.

But I have to wonder.  Even with all these tools at our fingertips – apps that monitor our activity, blood pressure, calories, steps, and online support groups and exercise instructors available 24/7 on our phones and computers – are we any less stressed?

The simplest yet most difficult thing to do is to stop doing. Or as those who meditate like to say, “Don’t just do something…sit there!”

I know this may seem like the opposite of what I’ve been preaching for the last 18 days. But as you’ve heard me say before, doing anything from an emotionally charged place of panic or reaction is not likely to get you the results you want.

Yes, there are times when taking immediate action is called for.  When it’s not, putting yourself in a self-imposed time-out can bring about world peace, at least your corner of it.

Remember your park from Day 16? Go there.

Especially when you’re chomping at the bit for revenge, retaliation, or retribution of some sort. Go there when you’re outraged, when you’ve come undone,  when you want nothing more than to make someone else pay for the pain you feel.

On the other side of your primal passion, deep conviction, and unshakeable belief about any issue is someone feeling the exact opposite about the very same thing. And it could be someone you love.  It usually happens in every election that the people in my family cancel out each other’s vote.

But I vote anyway. And I encourage them to do the same.

You can stand firm in your own beliefs and still allow others to stand in theirs.

We all have a right to our own opinions. But I like to believe there is a place where none of those opinions matter.  I think Rumi said it best.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.”

So, my friends and even my foes, peace out. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

Like Sonny had Cher, I’ve got you, babe. And I wish you peace for as long as you can possibly stand it.

No Matter What – Day 1

The white flag is an internationally recognized symbol of surrender, truce, or a desire to parley.

In case you missed what the No Matter What Game is all about, you can read about it here. All you really need to know is I will be posting my responses to random prompts by coach Gillian Pearce (who would be glad to do the same for you). By doing so, I get to practice my writing, she gets to practice her coaching, you get to see the creative process in action, and hopefully, you will be inspired to do a similar practice where you __________ (fill in the blank) No Matter What.

For some of you that may be to meditate for ten minutes or wait five minutes before responding emotionally to an email. It could be to that you walk the dog no matter what, play the fiddle, eat your veggies, wash the dishes, say I love you, read to your child, call your mother, the list is endless. You decide.

I decided to write no matter what. So here’s my response to Gillian’s prompt.

G: What are the pros and cons of surrendering to what is?

P:  Ah, surrendering to what is … because it is what it is… and all that.

I had carefully crafted, saved, and sent a different response to myself earlier today. Thinking I’d only need to add a few lines and make a few edits this evening, I waited to open the attachment.  When I did, most of what I’d written was missing.

Was I happy?  No.  Did I want to forget I thought this was a brilliant idea?  Yes.  Did I instantly remember why public challenges are so challenging?  Absolutely.

And then it occurred to me it was the perfect way to illustrate the pros and cons of surrendering to what is.

I have a couple of choices as to how to proceed. I can painstakingly recreate what I wrote before.  I can write something completely different.  I can not write anything and lament an unfortunate onset of writer’s block.

Whatever I had planned for the perfect post has now morphed into something that simply shows I wrote no matter what happened to the first draft or how tired and frustrated I may be.

By surrendering to what is I open to myself to what is going on right here, right now.  Whether I like it or not, I honor it and myself by feeling it, allowing it, and letting it go. If I look close enough, there is always a gift.

Where I get stuck is complaining about what is, judging it, wishing it were anything other than what it is. It’s also where I tend to overlook the lesson I could be learning.

I once heard someone say you can’t hate or resent your way out of anything.  You can only love and accept your way out.  The best way I can do that – maybe the only way – is to surrender to what is.

And there you have it.

If you’d like Gillian to send you prompts to help you play your version of the No Matter What Game, please contact her at http://gillianpearce.com or https://www.facebook.com/GillianPearceCoach/.

Thanks for playing along with us!

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!

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.