Are You Trying to Do too much?!

How to Know When it's Time to Dial Back

Quote About Trying to Do Too MuchIf you’re a parent, you know where I’m coming from when I say that, as a mom, I give out a great deal of advice.  If you’re a parent, you also know where I’m coming from when I half-jokingly say, “Sometimes they even listen to me!”  A recent conversation with one of these young people left me thinking about this question, “If I had one piece of UNCOMMON advice that I could give someone, what would it be?“  By UNCOMMON, I mean advice other than my “somewhat expected” mini-sermons like:

  • choose your life partner carefully (because 95% of your future happiness will ride on this choice)
  • spend time with your loved ones and tell them you love them every chance you get
  • don’t nit-pick!
  • develop a close relationship with God and keep it that way
  • eat healthy foods
  • get plenty of rest
  • do the things that make you the happiest
  • never ask someone to do something for you that you’re fully capable of doing yourself

And on and on.

I tired to think outside of the traditional advice box (or off of the traditional platform) and see what I could come up with. The answer came almost immediately and, given the fact that we live in a world that says, “Do this!… do that!… do everything!” AND given the fact that those of us who write about self help are often the ones with these very words on our lips… the advice I came up with may seem contradictory.

My number one piece of UNCOMMON advice, “For crying out loud, don’t try to do everything!

Have you ever fallen in the trap of trying to do too many different things? Or have you ever tried to put on too many different proverbial hats? It’s exhausting at best and unhealthy at worst. Trying to have a hand in too many soup pots and a foot in too many doors leaves you:

a. looking like a perfect fool

b. too busy to truly enjoy life

Ironically, it’s also woefully unproductive.

We’re all only human – we can only give our undivided attention (where the good stuff is conceived) to so many tasks.

The more things we try to do, oversee, or take care of – the more diluted our attention becomes. Diluted attention is the place where mistakes and half-assed results are conceived.  It kind of reminds me of a big batch of freshly-squeezed lemonade I made this summer. The first day, it was out of this world. It tasted like summer and it was just crazy delicious. In an attempt to extend its life, I added more water to the pitcher a few times. Each time, the great flavor was diluted or literally “watered down.”  That’s what we do, in effect, when we have too many things going on.

We take something that could be awesome and add to it until the awesomeness is threadbare.

It’s common sense, really. The fewer things on your “to do” list, the more time you have to devote to each.  When we try to do too many things, we spread ourselves too thin and aren’t able to give our best to anything.  We become watery lemonade without a lot of flavor or oomph.

Many people simply try to do too much and, whether they realize it at the time or not, they aren’t getting the most out of themselves by doing so. These are the same people who search for magic answers on Google  – “how can I manage my time better?” and “time management tips” are popular searches because TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH is a popular mode.

And people wonder why they’re so stressed!

It actually isn’t even a time management issue, when you think about it.  We’d all do well to remember that we’re given the same number of hours in our days and weeks that were allotted to Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King, Jr, Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson…   As Chinese author and teacher Lin Yutang said, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone… The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials,” possibly the difference is these people knew what to eliminate and what to keep.   They had a beautiful clarity and singleness of mind which allowed them to..

  1. get things done
  2. live fully in the moment
  3. change the world

I think we’ve covered #1 and I’m not going to even pretend to know the secrets for #3 – but you KNOW I have to spend a few minutes with the second one.  You know me, I’m way to feely-feely not to want to shine a spotlight on this one, right?  I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve seen the following scenario play out:  I’ll find myself in an especially remarkable place (the mountains of eastern Kentucky, downtown Nashville, the banks of a gorgeous lake, a Julia Roberts movie….) and as I’m soaking the experience up with my every pore, I’ll notice people all around me looking down at their phones, iPods, notebooks, games, or devices I couldn’t possibly name without either a cheat sheet or a 20-something year old.

The moments pass them right by because their next “Status Update” was too important or because they just HAD to know what so-and-so had to say about such-and-such.   And it’s not just kids, either. You’ll see people of all ages looking down when they really, really, really should be looking around. Live in the moment, see what there is to see… THEN tell everyone about it or THEN see what everyone else is up to.

Eliminate the nonessentials.

Rachael Ray is another name that comes to mind when I think about singleness of mind.  This fantastic cook and cookbook author will be the first to tell you that she is a lousy baker. She doesn’t make desserts, she buys them. Why? She has chosen what she considers to be essential and has eliminated the nonessentials.  How do you suppose that’s working for her?

The main reason people don’t get things DONE is because they’re trying to fit too MUCH into 24 hours. 

Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew and, other times, someone throws more onto our plate than we have the time or inclination to handle. What happens more times than not when our plate is too full? We walk away because we either aren’t sure where to start or we feel so overwhelmed that get a headache!

So what do you do when there’s simply too many things for one person to deal with?  Repeat after me, Something’s gotta give!  Oftentimes a good, honest, realistic assessment of everything you’re trying to do will show you the things that can easily be removed… things you’ll never even miss.

Just be careful not to try to pull something into the vacancy a few days down the road.

We could all take a “Lin Yutang” Approach:  Get a piece of paper and a pen. Make one column that says ESSENTIALS and one column that says NONESSENTIALS.  Beneath each, list 5 things that fall under that particular category.  But don’t miss the whole idea and leave out time for things you enjoy under the essentials.  Things that bring you relaxation and bliss are possibly the most essential things of all.

One final thought.  I firmly believe that age is mostly in the mind.  And if someone says, “You’re only as old as you feel,” I quickly nod in agreement. However, let’s  be completely honest and open for a minute.  As we grow older (and each year we all grow older… whether it’s in our 20′s, 30′s, 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, 90′s or beyond) – we’d do well to realize that we need to approach life a little differently.  We may need more sleep than we once did – or we may even require less. There will be some things we can do better than ever and there’ll be some things we simply can’t even think about any more.  When I was in my 20′s, I could work in my flower beds and herb gardens for 4 hours straight and feel annoyed when it was time to come in and get cleaned up to make dinner.

This past summer, I thought I was going to have to call an ambulance after an hour and a half in the garden.  It didn’t make me sad or angry though.  Fact is, when I wondered if it was “socially acceptable” to call an ambulance for yourself, I had to laugh.  But not too much because it would have taken too much energy.  I know I’m not the same person I was years ago and realize that this means approaching life differently.  Heck, after raising three daughters, my husband and I are just thankful to still be alive!

The way I look at it is this: When you pass 40, you’re in an especially beautiful place. It’s a place where you can set your own pace.  Where some people drop the ball is they try to suddenly UP the pace.  They seem to think they have to do all they did when they were younger and then some.

Again…. and people wonder why they’re stressed.

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone… The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.”  Take an honest look at your essentials and nonessentials, you may find that a lot more time, energy, and enjoyment suddenly open up.

 

 

How to Use Positive Affirmations to Create More Positive Energy

And Why It's A Whiz Bang Idea to Do So!

 Quotes About Positive Affirmations

 

No doubt you’ve heard about positive affirmations.  You’re probably even a believer in the power of positive affirmations. But do you actually use them?  Do you give yourself the extra boost that comes from creating more positive energy in your life?

Positive affirmations is more than just a buzz phrase composed of two highly attractive words. It’s a phrase that packs a real wallop – to the tune of having the power to transform your world.

Now that’s a wallop.

Before we get to positive affirmations, let’s think for a minute (but just a minute, okay, because they’re bad news) about negative affirmations. Negative affirmations are equally powerful and pack their own kind of wallop – as in knocking you down, kicking you in the liver with steel toe boots, and then spitting in your face.

I told you they were bad news.

Negative affirmations are those unkind, hurtful, and destructive little things we frequently say about ourselves.  Sometimes we say them out loud but we usually play them for an audience of one, ensuring that we’re the only ones that hear them. Problem is, we’re the only ones that NEED to hear them for them to do their damage.

Imagine, for a scary minute, that someone followed you around all day and all night.  Each time there was a lull in the conversation, they’d lean in and whisper something like, “You’re too fat for that outfit…” or “You look really old, you know that?”  How about the one we all love to hear, “There’s NO WAY you can do this… absolutely NO WAY.”

So long, self esteem. Nice knowing you!

We take on the scary role of this evil stalker every single time we cut ourselves down with negativity.  The sooner we learn to stop in our tracks before any negative venom comes spewing out of our mouths, the better.  What’s the best way to make the negativity stop?

Simple. Replace it with positivity.

Pull the plug on negative energy and fill your life up to the brim with positive energy.

If we train ourselves to get into the habit of practicing positive affirmations, we’ll begin to build ourselves UP rather than tear ourselves DOWN. But notice the words “train” and “practice.”  They’re our cues that this is a pro-active exercise, not a passive mindset.  You don’t tell yourself one day, I’m going to start being more positive, then expect it to happen magically.  That’d be like using shampoo one night and expecting your hair to stay clean for the rest of your life.

When you implement change in your life, you must be mindful of it each day. You have to purposely commit to making a positive change on a daily basis. If you’re one of those who tends to bash yourself regularly, this so-called daily basis may be more of an hourly basis.

So, if the best way to get rid of negative affirmations is to replace them with positive affirmations, where do you start?  Let’s start at the heart of the matter.  What area or areas do you criticize, condemn, and ridicule yourself in the most?  Is it your appearance… your age… your education… your job? Do you have bad habits or shortcomings that you consistently beat yourself up over?  Is there a particular aspect of your life you want  to improve? The answer(s) to these questions will give you an idea of what positive affirmations you need to focus on.

It’ll also put the negative affirmations on notice – they’re about to get a much-needed makeover.

The best positive affirmations are those that are short, direct, clear, and assume the desired outcome has already happened.  For example, if an individual feels held back by shyness and wants to be more outgoing,  a few positive affirmations would be:

  • I’m Outgoing and Confident.
  • I am confident.
  • I am a confident person.
  • I boldly voice my opinions.
  • I stand up for myself.

Experts say that one of the most important things about choosing positive affirmations is to keep any and all negative or potentially negative words out of the mix.  That’s why using an affirmation like, “I am confident” is better than saying, “I am not shy.”  The word shy is the very concept you’re trying to avoid! If you say, “I am not shy” throughout the day, you are still reenforcing the shyness.  Whereas if you say “I am confident,” you are reenforcing the word confident?

See the difference? It may seem small, but it’s actually huge.

Someone may ask, “How about using the words I FEEL confident?”  While that’s still a better choice than “I am not shy,” I personally think it’s still second-best. Why?  Too much wiggle room.  If you say “I FEEL confident,” it kind of implies that it’s a momentary thing.  As in, you’re wearing your favorite blue top, so you FEEL confident.. but when you change back into your white one… the confidence might just bottom out!  Saying you “feel” a certain way isn’t the same as saying you OWN the train and OWN the situation.

Again, it seems small – but it isn’t.

Finally, choose TOP SHELF adjectives.  This would mean going with, “I make great decisions” rather than “I make good decisions.”  Using good rather than great implies room for improvement and, while that may be true, you don’ t want to dwell on that in your affirmations.

So, make your positive affirmations…

  1. 100 percent positive – without a single negative or undesired trait mentioned
  2. direct and to the point
  3. free of wiggle room!
  4. top shelf

A unique approach

I once heard a positive affirmations cd that was filled with positive affirmations in the form of questions.  The man would say things such as, “Why am I so happy?,”  “Why do I make the right decisions?,” etc.  The thought process behind these questioning affirmations was, apparently, that you’d be forced to focus on the answers.  I can see how this approach would be fantastic for a lot of people.

So, now you know the importance of positive affirmations, how can you sneak them into your life?

While there are some truly wonderful Positive Affirmations available for downloading and using immediately, you can also come up with your own.   If you use these, just be sure you repeat the affirmations, yourself, and don’t merely listen to someone else stating their affirmations.  That really won’t do you much good, will it?

The best way to have custom, personal affirmations is to make them yourself. In addition to using affirmations for personal areas you want to improve in, use general affirmations such as:

  • I love my life!
  • I love my personality.
  • I have a great sense of humor.
  • I am great at ____ (writing, cooking, your job…)
  • I am fun to be around.
  • I love who I am.

You just have to remember to use these affirmations daily – several times a day, in fact.  Some people have suggested recording yourself as you slowly and confidently say your affirmations and playing the recording several times a day. I can’t say I’ve ever done that, myself, but it seems like a pretty cool idea.

I’ve also read that a lot of people write their positive affirmations on index cards or notes of paper, then leave them in random places where they’ll be reminded to use them.  While I certainly use index cards for motivational quotes, inspirational words, and reminders, I think of positive affirmations as a really personal thing – for my eyes only. However, if you don’t have a lot of other eyes around, index cards could serve you well.

The most important thing is to surround yourself with as much positive energy as possible. Come on, how could that be anything but a great thing?!?!

It’s All in the Attitude, Don’t Bother Looking Anywhere Else

Adjust Your Attitude - Adjust Your World

TractorIf you’re looking for happiness, peace, and even a better life, look no further than your attitude. Your attitude is the driving force in your life.  By the way, the picture of the tractor will make sense in a minute.

When it comes to quotes or stories, I’m ALL about giving credit to the original source. However, some stories and quotes are so good that they’ve been around the world so many times no one knows where they originally came from.

One of my favorite such stories is this one:

A woman woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. She said,  “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” She did and she had a great day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “Well, I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.” She did and she had a wonderful day.

 The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Hmmm. I think I’ll wear my hair in a ponytail today.“  She did just that and had a fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head. “Yes!” she exclaimed, “I don’t have to fix my hair today!

Now that’s what I call a great attitude!

When I sat down to write (well it’s actually typing, isn’t it?) an article about attitude, my mind started sorting through my favorite quotes and stories about attitude.  My aunt’s quote, after she learned she had breast cancer, “I never ask why me, I ask, well…why NOT me?” was the first quote to spring to mind. She was immediately followed by the story about the woman with three dwindling hairs.

By the way, my aunt beat cancer and it hasn’t had the audacity to knock on her door again.

You know how, in life, people tend to give an inordinate amount of credit to certain people – whether it’s credit for things going right OR for things going wrong?  In the grocery store the other day, a man in the cereal aisle read the price of one of the cereals aloud, then followed it with, “Thank you very much, Obama.”  He’s no different than the woman I heard blaming President Bush for a tornado that tore through the Midwest.   I’m certain President Obama didn’t price the cereal and I pretty sure President Bush didn’t summon up a tornado.

People just love to “pin” things on people, don’t they?!

Having said that, I may be just as ridiculous sometimes as these two – not when it comes to blaming people, but when it comes to blaming character traits.  I tend to blame 80 percent of people’s suffering on having the wrong attitude.  Bad attitudes are my “fall guys.”

Before you try reasoning with me, I’ll admit, there are other negative traits or habits that can cause problems.  Sometimes people procrastinate, sometimes they’re hard-headed, sometimes they’re lazy. Heck, sometimes they’re simply as dumb as a bag of rocks!  You don’t have to look hard or branch out far to see that.

However, I maintain that A LOT of problems we face can be handled with adjusting our attitude.

A sour, defeatist, poor-poor-me attitude only increases your suffering. It also pushes people about as far  away as they can be pushed.  If you’re feeling sorrow or grief, by all means express it – just be certain not to wallow in it.

Feel the pain (whether it’s grief, remorse, or a good old-fashioned broken heart), take a deep breath, get up, and get on with life.

No matter what has happened in your life, you MUST have the attitude that the best is yet to come. You MUST tell yourself that, while your yesterdays were great, they don’t even hold a candle to your tomorrows!

Have I ever told you about a baseball pitcher we once knew? When we lived in Louisville, Kentucky, we were season ticket holders for a AAA team – the Louisville Bats (Riverbats before that). For those unfamiliar with baseball (I don’t even know you anymore!), if a player is on a AAA team, they aren’t playing major league ball yet (or making the “big bucks”).  Many are thisclose to the majors, but many are also thisclose to AA.

Anyway, as far as pitchers go, our guy was “okay.”  When he was on the mound for our team, my whole family would practically hold our breath – willing him to be brilliant, simply because we liked him so much.  I’m thinking it would have been impossible not to.  He was the kind of person who you just KNEW got out of bed smiling in the morning, daring the world to knock the smile off of his face.  He always had something to say and seemed, genuinely, thrilled to have the honor of being a part of the beautiful thing we call life.

A lot of baseball players in the minor leagues would have nasty attitudes. They’d snarl, almost seemingly pouting. They wouldn’t sign autographs for fans and they wouldn’t stop to talk to you if their life depended on it.  However, a lot of guys (like our smiling pitcher) were having fun with life and had great attitudes.  One of the nicest, coolest guys to ever come through the system was Adam Dunn – if you follow baseball, I know you’ve heard of him.  His attitude could not have been better.

Leave it to me to get side-tracked with baseball talk. I’m obsessed with the game. Could you tell?

Think of people in your own life who have great attitudes. The people who are so darn happy and upbeat that you get in a better mood simply from being around them. They’re the complete opposite of the vampires, aren’t they? Vampires are, of course, the ones who try to suck the fun out of life. If you aren’t careful, they’ll try to suck as much out of your life as they do their own. You’ve been warned.

I’m going to give you a little peak into an approach I’ve frequently taken in life.  I call it looking for the UP side to any given situation. I’ve had a pretty eventful life and, along the way, I figured something out.  Looking UP is the key to happiness (and sanity!). Looking DOWN is the key to misery.

Whichever way you face… you go.

When I lost my father (who was far too young to have died), I held on to the thought that he was in Heaven now and would never be sick again.  I also kept reminding myself that I’d never have to go through losing my dad again and would never see him sick or hurt. Years later, I would have to rely on the same approach with my mom when she suddenly decided to move on to Heaven. When my oldest daughter got married and moved out of the house (what was she thinking?!), I refused to think of how much I missed seeing her beautiful face each day and thought, instead, of how good her new husband is to her, how much he makes her laugh, and how much I love both of them.

Would feelings of sadness creep in from time to time? Of course!  But when they did (or do), I immediately focus on the positives.  Sometimes you have to really, really, really look hard. In fact, sometimes all you can say is, “Well, the sun’s shining…”

Years ago, I taught Sunday School for little bity people. My class was made up of 4, 5 and 6 year olds. I was talking to them about always being thankful and about telling others how thankful and happy they were. One ridiculously cute  little boy happened to be (shhhh, don’t tell anyone) one of my favorites.  He wasn’t the best behaved, mind you. In fact, he never sat still and didn’t hesitate for a second to say what was on his mind.  What can I say, he amused me and kept things interesting. His name was Zachary and I’d have taken 20 of him. As they were coloring pictures after our story about thankfulness and happiness, he raised his little hand. I thought, “Here we go…” after asking him what was on his mind.  He said something about having a bad day and not feeling happy. No doubt, he’d been in trouble with his dad that morning – Heaven only knows what’d he’d gotten into!

I told him that he should think about something that makes him happy when he felt upset. Something that he was thankful for.  I asked him to name something that made him smile – because that would be something he was thankful for. He thought about it for a minute, went back to coloring (obviously still thinking), then looked up with a smile on his face. He said tractors made him smile and that he was thankful for tractors.  His grandparents were farmers and his dad, no doubt, had a tractor too. They obviously meant good times to this little live wire and maybe even represented a favorite loved one.

I looked all week for a coloring book with pictures of tractors, but when I put the picture of a tractor in front of him with his crayons, his face lit up so brightly it made the work more than worth it!

We all have things that make our faces light up. We all have things that make us smile – from the inside, out. As much as is possible, always try to focus on these things – especially when you’re going through a rough patch.  When having a rotten day, think of the woman with three hairs, then two hairs, then one hair, then no hair!

Don’t let bad situations get the best of you – they don’t deserve it. Turn the tables on life by turning the dial on your attitude.   Remember, you GO in the direction you’re facing.  Don’t look down… look up!

Your Thoughts, Actions, and Words Write Your Life’s Story

Are You Victimizing Yourself?

Quote About Life

A few days ago, I found myself thinking long and hard about baseball. Something, admittedly, I do a lot.  That’s one of the things that you should know about me… I’m completely obsessed with baseball. For me, there are two seasons: Baseball Season and Withdrawal Season. We’re in the latter, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still think about it.  I guess you could say I’m a “student of the game.” Not because I ever play baseball, or even have a desire to do so.  I grew up playing softball (every year from the age of 8 to 18), but I don’t even feel the call to play softball – let alone baseball.

A fact my knees (and feet, back, arms…) are grateful for.

I love to dissect aspects of the game of baseball. The pitchers, hitters, stats, ball fields, match-ups, etc.  To give you an idea of how eaten up I am with baseball, the other day I heard an announcer on the radio mention a particular team and my mind immediately pulled up the following information:

  • the city in which they play
  • the name of their stadium
  • their best starting pitcher
  • the name of their manager
  • their infield
  • where they hold spring training
  • their chances for 2013… zilch

I am, for better or worse, just as big a student of the game of life.  A philosopher without the degree, prestige, and title. I believe that’s one of the reasons I was drawn to writing in the first place.  It provides a release for all the thoughts, analogies, and conclusions my mind creates. If they all stayed inside my brain, there wouldn’t be any room for anything else.

One of the thoughts bouncing around recently was this: There are two kinds of people in the world.  There are the kind who say, “Look at everything I’ve BEEN through!” and there are those who say, “Look at what I SURVIVED!”

This occurred to me when I heard a woman ranting about 2012. She literally said the words, “God PUT me through….“  and as the words came out of her mouth, I thought, “You’re looking at it all wrong. Say, God BROUGHT me through…

Sometimes just one word makes all the difference!

Our thoughts, attitude, and even our words create the story of our lives.  We’re the author of our life’s novel and, personally, I’ve always wondered why anyone would want to portray themselves as the victim. Isn’t it much cooler to be the hero?

Words and thoughts like the following cast yourself in the victim’s role:

  • I’ve been through so much…
  • I have too much on my plate…
  • God put me through…
  • Someone hurt my feelings…
  • Someone broke my heart…
  • This is more than I can handle…

Not only do they make you the victim, the words themselves scream, “I’m weak!”

Words and thoughts like the following cast yourself in the role of the hero/heroine:

  • I’ve overcome so much…
  • My trials have made me strong…
  • I’m actually thankful for the weight I’ve carried because they built muscle and character…
  • God has brought me through a lot of tough times…
  • This made me stronger…
  • I can handle that…
  • Hey, Life… bring it!

I’m reminded of one of my daughters, Brittany, when she was around 7 or 8.  She was in the yard playing with her sisters and a couple of their friends. I was working in one of my flower beds and, like all over-protective mothers, I had two eyes on my kids and two eyes on the flowers. Only mothers are equipped with these magical extra eyes.

Brittany – who has always known one speed, TOP speed – fell while running. Smack right on the patio. Before I could even get up to see about her, she was back on her feet and running. She shot me a look that said, “THAT never happened.” I stayed put and went with her version of the story.

Basically, she fell and – in one motion – got back up again.  I guess it’s odd that this scene from life has stuck with me all these years but I just thought it was cool.  Make no mistake about it, the fall hurt. Both knees were scrapped and one hand was scuffed up.  However, acknowledging the fall would have meant that, unlike the other girls, she slipped.

“THAT never happened.”

If there’d been such a thing as “Pictures with Captions” back then, I’d have labeled her reaction, “Life, you hit like a girl!

The next time you find yourself heaving deep sighs or rolling in complaints – and long before you pick up your violin – ask yourself if you want to be the helpless victim or the conquering hero/heroine.

Let’s face it, one’s infinitely more attractive.

 

 

Like It Or Not, Priorities Shape Our Actions

These Actions Go On To Shape Our Lives!

Funny, isn’t it, how oftentimes the answer to our problems is ridiculously simple. As you know, I work full-time from home as a web publisher.  My husband has a full-time job, but as for my own personal income – what I make online is it.  I may never be rolling in it, but I’m wild about the whole coffee in my pjs until the mood to get dressed hits me thing and my cats consider the arrangement the deal of a lifetime.

Nine lifetimes, even. Priority vs Option

I recently had an issue with one of my websites.  I won’t bore you with the details because my website and I aren’t what’s important here.  You are. And if you can glean anything from our hassle, then the hassle would have been worthwhile.

I was starting to get a little stressed out over this particular website and felt like our relationship was about as strained as a jar of baby food.  When I have something on my mind and want it resolved quickly, I always do one of three things:

  • I take the problem to the shower with me.
  • I take the problem for a walk.
  • I Swiffer the house as the problem rides shotgun.

It was cold outside and I didn’t want to get wet (a given in the shower), so I shot my computer an “I’m out!” look and headed for the Swiffer Wipes.  Without fail, when I concentrate on something menial, like walking or cleaning (me or floors), my mind figures things out for itself.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” - Stephen Covey

The weird thing about my mind is that when it comes up with the solution, it doesn’t speak to me in long, poetic prose.  It seldom even adds pictures to its message.  Truth be told, the answer I need is very often simply a short sentence or even just one word.

As I pushed and pulled the Swiffer across the kitchen floor, wondering how I ever lived before these things were invented, it came to me, “If you want something to be as good as it possibly can be – you have to make it a priority, not an option.”

I literally uttered the word, “Ouch.”

I hadn’t really been making this particular website a priority.  I guess I really hadn’t been making a lot of websites a priority if we’re being totally honest.  The holidays have this effect on me.  All I seem to want to do around November and December each year is bake, look for new recipes, bake goodies, watch Christmas movies, bake more goodies…  You get the idea.

Basically, I was expecting everything to be sparkly and golden without putting in any elbow grease.  What can I say, sometimes I’m a very clever girl.

After finishing the floors, I sat back down at my computer and vowed to make the website a priority. I’ve done so for a while now and our relationship has improved by leaps and bounds and, wouldn’t you know it, the website is now performing exactly how I wanted it to.

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This same common sense approach can solve just about any type of problem you can think of.

  • relationships
  • weight
  • health
  • work
  • school
  • housework

Taking any of these from bad to good or even from good to great may be as simple as making it a priority as opposed to an option.

Priorities shape our actions and our actions shape our future. – This Side of the Swiffer

You May Not Find Them in a Medical Book…

But Don't Even Try Telling Me These Don't Improve Your Life!

Janie in a box

Health Prompt for the Day: Write about your favorite thing that is not health-related but likely improves your life.

It’s no surprise that when it comes to writing about something that improves life, I choose animals as one of my subjects. If you know me, you know that animals light my world up.  The little black beauty in the pictures in this post is “Janie,” my oldest daughter and oldest son-in-law’s baby. She’s a character in every sense of the word!  Janie was a shelter kitten who needed them as much as they needed her. Instant laughter. Instant love. Instant family.

Some of the “prompts” for this health blogger’s challenge have been tough. Really tough.  We were given an tiny pool of “alternate” questions to choose from, if needed, and I’ve already dipped into the pool a few times. Problem is, their topics are also tough!

I’ll let you in on a little secret, though.  I love it! The extra little challenge it’s adding to my daily work routine is palpable.  I can feel my brain cells buzzing and trying to band together to come up with posts that are appropriate for my self help blog, my voice, and most importantly,  my readers.   I can see lot of the “prompts” deliciously fitting other voices, blogs, and readers – they simply don’t jive with any of us here.  Other prompts do, and those are the ones I use on most days. However, a few times, I’ve chosen a prompt that’s “dangerously close” and kind of worked with it, like clay, until it does fit me, Self Help Daily, and the most important part of the equation – you.

I’m excited about this particular prompt, because it’s a challenge in a different sort of way.  I have far more answers than I need!

Instead of choosing one of my answers and writing, at length, about it – I’m going to mention each one and write a few sentences about how they improve my life.  Naturally, my life isn’t the one you should be concerned about when you read through these.  I offer my experiences in the hope that they (or similar activities) can benefit your life as they have and do mine.

Self Help Cheat Sheets for Life!
Naturally, when most health or self help bloggers write about anything involving themselves, it’s only done as an example to the reader.  If we write about our lessons in life (the ones where we mucked something up or the ones where we actually got it right), our habits (good, bad, indifferent), or other activities – it isn’t done to throw the spotlight on us, it’s done to tell others what we’ve found that works.  It’s as though life’s some incredible game – with the largest game board imaginable! Those who write about it are simply trying to show other “players” where they may run into trouble and – if they do – “tricks” that’ll help them back out.

Below are some of the things in my life which aren’t “health-related” but definitely improve my life:

1. Doing something I love. I work from home as a web publisher (a cool word which means that I am a web designer, web host, graphic artist, writer, affiliate marketer, blogger, and virtual assistant for a several business blogs.)  I never have to leave the house unless it’s a trip to the grocery store, Starbucks, or Subway. If I want to knock off early and watch a couple of Andy Griffith reruns with my inside cat, Alexa or go outside and watch birds with my outside cats Hannah and Fatima – I do. I’m able to “be” what I always wanted to “be” when I was growing up:  A wife, mother, and writer.  I never have to clock in – or out, for that matter. When it’s time to create a graphic, it’s like arts & crafts for me. When I need to write an article on one of my websites or blogs, it’s an opportunity for expression and creativity.  When I need to research a topic or topics for an article or post, I’m transported back to the library in high school. Except this time I don’t pass notes back and forth with my friends – I actually research, read, and learn!

No doubt you’ve picked up on the passion I have for what I do. That’s what I’m driving at.

What I do is not for every body.  I’ve seen some people completely lose it while trying to whip words into shape, figure their way around html, or creating graphics.  I once built a website for a man and the experience nearly cost both of us our marbles. He honestly obsessed over the shade of a particular color. I can’t tell you how many links went back and forth over this color.  When we moved past the shade of color, he obsessed over something else.  The man was a nightmare. At one point he finally said, “I think I should stay completely out of my businesses website operation. I’m not built for it.” I had to agree. He’d been such a handful that, although  extra money is always nice, I blew him off.  In his final e-mails  to me, he was basically saying, “I’ll just pay you and you do what you want with the site each month,”  I told him that he was 100 percent right about leaving the website details to others and that his time was much more valuable elsewhere.  Then I told him I was certain he could find someone to help him – and that’d I’d even help him find someone if he needed it.

It was a polite Southern gal’s way of saying, “Don’t go away mad, just go away.”

I have the luxury of telling people to “bugger off” without being called into anyone’s office. None of my cats have offices, so I’m safe.

What I do isn’t for everyone, but it is most definitely for me.  I absolutely love it – even on the most hectic days.

If you think about the number of hours you spend working each week, it won’t take long to realize how important it is to do something you absolutely love.  It’s good for you psyche, your emotional health, and your physical health.

I also love the fact that what I do for the better part of my weekdays stimulates my brain and encourages creativity.  I am unbelievably thankful that I don’t spend most of my days doing something that would permit my brain to just kind of rot.  Gross way of putting it, but you know what I mean.

Brain Atrophy
If your job doesn’t stimulate your brain or encourage creativity, be sure to include extra activities in your life that do. Take up sports and/or hobbies that require creativity and logic. Always learn new things, and never stop trying to grow, mentally. Read often, watch educational television programs, and always be mindful of… well.. your mind.

Janie and Mouse

Janie with a toy mouse I bought for her. Janie’s silky hair might be the softest thing I’ve ever felt.

2. Happy Marriage and Family Relationships. I have a very happy marriage and my relationships with my three beautiful daughters and two sons-in-law are excellent. I also find that I’m on excellent terms with my furry daughters (cats) as well.  My family is filled with a cast of characters so loony you’d think they came from a sitcom’s casting agency.  We all just blend together beautifully – with no judging, back-stabbing, or ill will. There’s tons of laughter and very, very, very little drama.

When given the choice between comedy and drama, we choose comedy every time.

When I hear about couples who bicker and fight all the time, I always think, “How miserably unhealthy!” Mentally, physically, and emotionally.  Strained relationships – when one person practically walks on eggshells for fear of triggering the other’s anger, ridicule, and/or mouth – are harder on the heart that most imagine. The constant stress, the high levels of anxiety, and the complete inability to simply relax and be yourself – it all sounds like hell to me.

When people find themselves in this type of situation, they need to realize that something has to change – something has to give.  If it’s a relationship that can’t be broken (say, you’re kin to one another!), then you MUST find a way to make it work.

As beautiful as the word PEACE is, the PEACEFUL life is even more beautiful.  And it’s so healthy!

3. P.E.T.S! Having pets is one of the healthiest choices you can make.  They fill your life with so much joy, love, and happiness.  Not long ago, my e-mails with a friend I made through Self Help Daily were centered around one thing: She wanted, desperately, to know how to deal with empty nest syndrome.  Her sadness and loneliness came through each line. I told her, early on, that she needed a pet or two!  She knew she was dealing with a bonafide animal lover and said she expected me to say that!

About 2 weeks after her initial e-mail, she and her husband went to their local animal shelter and brought home three  kittens who lost their mom.  They went with the intention of adopting one baby and walked out with three because they couldn’t stand leaving two behind.  I asked her, “Do you even know how much I love you right now?!?!”

I had seen her last sad e-mail. She’d, from then on, talk about…

  • how wonderful it is to see the three of them slide across the linoleum floor when she came home from work
  • how she and her husband loved to buy them special treats and toys at the store
  • how her husband (a “dog person”) instantly became a “cat person”
  • how it’s fun to see toys lying around the house again
  • how her cats are like having a houseful of toddlers

Last I heard, she was looking forward to seeing how they react to her Christmas tree this year!

When I read her e-mail about bringing their babies home, I had tears in my eyes.  Not only did they save three precious animals and give them a “forever home” and “forever family,” the cats pretty much saved their new parents as well.  They made a home come alive again.

That’s a specialty pets have.

These are just a few of the things in my life that I know benefit me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  How about you? What things in your life aren’t necessarily health-related, but you KNOW they affect your health positively?  Is it your job, pets, family, hobbies, or something entirely different?

Is there anyone who feels that “where they live” benefits their health?

Janie

Emily walked into her dining room one day to find Janie falling asleep in a serving bowl. Because she is her mother’s daughter, Emily’s first thought was… I have to get a picture of this! Who falls asleep in a serving bowl?  Janie does, that’s who.

Activate Your Abundance by Kim Caldwell

Overcome Negativity and Open a New World

Activate Your Abundance Remembering Your Power to Create What You Want - Kim Caldwell - Paperback

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” – Wayne Dyer

Whenever I’m in the middle of a great book, I always think of one of my favorite quotes, “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”  I’m honestly not sure who originally said it, but I’m certain I’d love to sit down with them for an afternoon, drinking coffee and talking books.  Or tea, if they’re British. Tea… coffee… I go either way.

I recently told you about a great book by Kim Caldwell, How Green Smoothies Saved My Life (click the link for the review, if you missed it).  I just finished another book by Kim called Activate Your Abundance: Remembering Your Power to Create What You Want.

“Listen for the magic word of motivation and you will hear it. Then the sky is the limit.” - Norman Vincent Peale

I talk on a regular basis to a lot of authors and publishers about books and book reviews. One asked me a few years ago how I approached a book review. I told her that I let the book, itself, lead the way…. then I try very hard not to get IN the way.

Some books need to be guided along in a review – I’ll feel the need to explain certain concepts because they aren’t truly clear until you, yourself, have read the book.

However, with Activate Your Abundance, no guided tour is necessary.  I could honestly say something like, “This is the book that can serve as a spark plug to your self confidence and fuel to your success (in all the ways you define success).  Activate Your Abundance will act as a broom to sweep away the cobwebs of negativity in the corners of your mind and life.  If you want to release yesterday, embrace today, and improve tomorrow, make this the next book you read.

That, and that alone, could be the review because it truly sums it up.  However, it doesn’t seem fair to sum up such a wonderful and potentially life-changing book with one paragraph.

Besides, we all know I am not a gal of few words.

[Read more...]

8 Overlooked Factors to Overcoming Failure – in Sports, Business, Relationships, and Beyond

A Guest Post from Author Garret Kramer

Failure quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald

When it comes to this wild and wooly game we call life, have you ever stopped to wonder why some people “make it,” while others stumble?  More mystifying, of course, is the question, “Why do less talented and seemingly less gifted people sometimes go further than those who are infinitely more gifted?”

As you know, my husband and I are huge sports fans. It never fails to amaze us when a less-athletic, less-coordinated, and less-gifted athlete outperforms one who was, seemingly, touched by God, Himself.  There are some athletes who it would appear God favored with speed, agility, strength, and a multitude of strengths.  So why is it that, sometimes there’s a little guy who it appears God overlooked with a better on-base percentage an stats that make the bigger guys green with envy?

Those of us who watch a lot of sports know that this sort of thing happens a lot.

Naturally, the same situation is found in every walk of life – on the field and off. I’ve had nurses who seemed to know twice as much as the doctors who held them accountable.  I’ve met housewives who know more about what’s going on in the world than any 5 people you could pluck off the street.  And we’ve all met people who are working for a boss and wondered, “How is it NOT the other way around?

Do those who are steps ahead of others know more than the rest?  Is the awkward little baseball player who’s batting .500 a better athlete than the mountain of a player who’s trying to get to .200?

Obviously these people have something going for them.  Personally, I’ve always thought that it comes down to one thing: They work harder. If a baseball player is 5’5″ (on a proud day), weighs in at 145 and happens to be slow, he KNOWS there are bigger guys, faster guys, and stronger guys.   So he works harder.  Maybe, deep down – in  an inward desire to prove himself – he wants it more than the big guys with little to prove.

[Read more...]

A Quote of Biblical Proportions

Stop Circling the Mountain and Make a Move!

Pine Mountain, Kentucky

Ye have compassed this mountain long enough; turn you northward. - Deuteronomy 2:3 (KJV)

You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north. – Deuteronomy 2:3 (NASB)

The above verse (the bottom one) accompanied an edition of an  inspirational newsletter I subscribe to.  The newsletter was about an actual mountain and an actual situation of losing track of where the path was. Sounds like something I’d do, if we were to be honest. My sense of direction is akin to bat’s sense of sight.

The quote really resonated with me.  I grabbed my Bible, just out of curiosity to see how it was worded in the King James Version. It resonated just as strongly and, at least in my opinion, sounded even more lyrical.  Both versions of the verse are now written on a large index card and hang over my computer desk along with a few other quotes that I find to be exceptionally inspiring and motivational.  Another card nearby says, “Nothing will work unless you do. – Maya Angelou”

I can’t tell you how many times Dame Angelou has kicked my butt with those words.  I’ve been know to literally say, “Yes, Ma’am,” as I get back to work.

The beautiful mountain verse is also incredibly inspirational.  The words serve as powerful  reminders to know:

  • When it’s time to give up.
  • When it’s time to try a new approach.

When it’s Time to Give Up

I know it may be strange to see me, the queen of “Fight! Fight! Fight!” mention the words giving up in a positive light, but let’s face it. Sometimes it’s time to give up! For example, some people hang on so tightly to the PAST or to their Pre-conceived vision of the FUTURE that they waste today. There are few things in the world any sadder than wasted time or un-cherished moments.  I hear from people almost daily who are sad becuase…

  • Their marriage has ended.
  • Their “nest” is empty.
  • They lost their job.
  • They can’t have children.
  • The face they see in the mirror isn’t the one they saw 1o years ago (isn’t that a pip?)

The list goes on, because unfortunately none of us make it out of this world unscathed or unburdened.  The first thing I always tell people is that they have every right in the world to feel sad, disappointed, angry.. or any other emotions they feel.  We can’t help how we feel, after all. BUT, we can help how tightly we hang on to these feelings.

The spouse who’s marriage has ended who keeps looking at old photographs and listening to old songs, for example.  They hang on to the past so tightly, they’re squeezing the life out of the present – and nothing leads to a dead future faster than that.

How about the empty-nester who keeps wanting her children to be little again?

A. That’s not going to happen.

B. Why in the world would you want it to? They can change themselves now!

On a smaller scale, think about the baby boomers who are still trying to look just like they did when they were in their twenties?!  I’m the first one to say that a woman or man should wear whatever they darn well want to wear. All I hope for is that they aren’t tacky – and if they are, that they’ll stay out of my line of vision.  However, there’s a lot (a whole lot, actually) to be said for dressing in a manner that’s becoming to you.  If someone sends you a memo saying that the 70′s wants  its clothes back or the 80′s wants its mullet back… you might not be as becoming as you are just becoming a joke.

Relationships can also make people dig their feet in deeper when they should simply move on. Bad, dysfunctional relationships rob your life of positive energy, fun, and its very breath.  Some people waste years trying to make a lousy relationship un-lousy when lousy is all the relationship can be.

You have to know when it’s time to turn north. Going in circles doesn’t get you anywhere.  It just keeps bringing you right back to the starting point – the very definition of insanity and the picture of  wasting the life you’ve been given.

When it’s Time for a New Approach

Oh, geez. Time to tell on myself. I hate when that happens – but I get into so darn much stuff and make so many mistakes that I beg to be used as an example! Due to a thyroid that no longer exists (literally), I have to watch my weight like an obsessive hawk. Problem is, I’m not an obsessive hawk.  I’m more of a laid-back dove – and one that’s very, very fond of eating.

Imagine the trouble that gets me into.

The problem was under control for the most part until the past few years. Until recently, pounds would creep up and I’d simply walk further and more often until I was back in fighting form.  However, for some reason (it couldn’t be age, could it? Surely not.), the routine just isn’t working as beautifully as it once did.

This dilemma was in the forefront of my mind, actually, on the morning when I read the verse.  It jumped off of the computer screen, got in my face, and demanded, “So. Just how long are you going to keep doing the same thing, while expecting different results? How long are you going to keep dialing the same number and expecting a different answer each time? How long are you going to keep circling the same mountain?

After writing the verse down on an index card, I immediately began to go over every single thing I ate and drink.  I researched the number of calories I was actually burning during my 30 minute walk each day. Turns out, not nearly as many as my feet thought we were. They had me convinced we were “torching calories” when, in fact, we were just kind of slapping them on the wrist – and not very hard at that!

I’d been, literally, leisurely walking around a mountain – again and again.  It occurred to me that it was more than past time to turn northward.  Then, and only then, would things begin to look up.

Spend a little time with this verse and see if there’s an area of your life it wants to discuss. If it does, you’d be wise to listen.

Ye have compassed this mountain long enough; turn you northward. - Deuteronomy 2:3 (KJV)

You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north. – Deuteronomy 2:3 (NASB)

>>>> The picture at the top was taken on a recent trip to gorgeous (gorgeous!) Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Kentucky.

Expectations, Bar Setting, and Baseball Fields

How Wild Are Your Expectations?

Quote About ExpectationsMy husband and I are regular gad-abouts on Saturdays.  (You know I don’t believe I’ve ever written or typed out the word gad-abouts in my entire life… and it’s such a cool-ish word.)  Anyway, rarely do we ever just sit still – even during the height of mowing season, Michael always leaves time in his Saturday for our little road trips.

On a recent Saturday we… how do I put this kindly… came across bonehead after bonehead.  A man who had no idea how the car wash worked, a woman driver who gave the rest of us a horrible name, etc. They just kept piling up. As we talked about how SO many people seem to struggle these days with simple (and I mean simple) functions, we batted around reason after reason…

  • Television
  • School Systems
  • Internet
  • Washington (you have to always give them at least a look when searching for a place to toss blame)
  • Diet

Oh, yeah, we picked up every conceivable rock looking for the “answer.”  After a while, we put the loonies out of our mind and settled in to listen to a baseball game on the radio – a favorite pastime.  The previous subject was completely out of our minds as Michael drove around the streets where he grew up – his old stomping grounds.  He pulled up to a school and began pointing out the things that were different.  To the side was a baseball field.  He remarked that the only thing different was the fact that they’d moved the fence in… “way in.”

He gestured to the place where the fence was when he played. He was right, they had moved it “way in.”

As we drove off, everything kind of came together in my brain.  When a fence is placed on a baseball field – it’s put at a distance to mark “expected” home runs.  It’s a goal for every batter who steps to the plate. We all have expectations and goals in our lives, whether we’re on a baseball field or not. Part of the problems we face today may be the fruits of too many fences moved in.  The majority of people, today, seem to think of “good enough” the way people once thought of “excellence.”

And it shows.

Schools lower test score requirements, parents lower standards, managers lower expectations, and the government tries to place everything on the bottom shelf.  Everyone seems afraid of over-expecting anything from anyone. They think that expecting LESS will cause people to succeed by making them feel good about themselves.  After all, we can’t have people getting down on themselves, right?  Problem is, when you expect LESS, you get LESS.

Conversely, when you expect MORE from people, very often they reach further than they ever thought possible.  Lowering your expectations so others can meet them sounds like the punchline to a bad joke.

We’ve become experts at lowering our expectations to MEET other’s (or our own) performance.  We’ve become proficient in saying things like, “It doesn’t matter if you messed up. Tomorrow’s another day. Let’s be happy!” Michael got off the phone with our internet provider a few nights ago and said that the man admitted to making a mistake – and he laughed about it as he owned up to it!  Failure has become, not just acceptable, but entertaining.  Wow.

“High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation.” – Charles F. Kettering

If the fence on the baseball field had stayed at its original position, the bats would have kept swinging – but the batters would have been swinging harder.  Kids today are made the same way they were years ago… what makes them any less capable of hitting the ball as far as their fathers and grandfathers did?

It isn’t fair to look at them and say, “Less is expected of you.”

It doesn’t matter if it’s a romantic relationship, a parent-child relationship, a work-related relationship, or the relationship you have with the person in the mirror – never, ever, ever lower your expectations.    Think of your “bar of expectation” as a fence on a baseball field. Keep it where it is, or even move it even further from you. Never make things “too” easy on anyone, including yourself. Character isn’t built when things are too easy. And character is something we’re sorely lacking these days.

Keep your expectations where they are and swing for the fences!

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