Being Alive Takes Time

When did you last…
Give yourself time to recover from a loss, a mistake, an illness?
Pause after a big accomplishment to take pride in your work?
Stand still for the sheer pleasure of breathing in fresh air?

AND
What did you have for breakfast yesterday? This morning?
Dinner last night or the night before?

We move fast, don’t we? Who’s got time to take extra time, pause, let alone just stand still when our to-do’s are ever growing and more things are calling to us? Who cares if we can’t remember what we ate before an hour ago?
Does any of this really matter?

Absolutely, YES it does. Taking time to take care, appreciate and take pleasure in simple daily activities such as eating and even breathing matters. LOTS.

One of my favorite authors, Mark Nepo, says “Being alive takes time.”

In his book of daily essays, The Book of Awakening, where he says “Being alive takes time”, Mark is referring to the importance of allowing ourselves time to move through situations and their ensuing emotions. It’s taking time right in the moment when something happens to be aware and feel it for a few moments. And as I’ve learned, if and when it comes back, to take a few more moments to feel it again, decide what action to take, then move on as best I can. It’s an ongoing process of learning and growing.

OR we can choose to let it stack up back there like old baggage that’s never dealt with and lost in the shuffle, but always under the surface affecting other things. It takes time to do our daily tasks AND to fully process through the feelings they give us so we can more fully and healthfully move onto the next thing.

Nepo goes on to say “…I’ve come to see that much of my confusion in life comes from giving my attention to the next thing too soon…”

Have you ever gone from back-to-back meetings or errands in one day, only to wake in the middle of the night wondering if you remembered the most important one? Me too.

Have you ever had a crazy busy week starting early Monday and ending late Friday, only to feel exhausted all weekend before Monday shows up again? Yep, done that.

Have you ever finally taken that long-awaited vacation only to be consumed by what you might have forgotten to do before leaving, thus spending precious vacation time mentally back at the office? Uh huh.

I used to equate my fast pace, high productivity, and amazing ability to multi-task (!!) as a sign of energy, youth, and importance. Funny enough, the older I get, I attribute them to forgetfulness, missing out on important little things like emotions, and overlooking daily gifts like sunrises, cool breezes and savoring my breakfast.

Being truly alive, fully aware, and emotion-honoring human beings who consciously decide what to give our attention to… really does take time.Being Alive Takes Time. Savor that breakfast!

Pay attention. Be awake. Feel. Breathe. Savor that cereal.
Life is amazing.

Choose to have a great week!

read more

The Gift is in the Giving

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill

We all give. We’re all kind and generous. It’s in our nature.
We write the checks, make the donations, watch the kids, pick up the mail.
And then we move on to the next to-do on the list without a second thought or skipped beat.

There’s also a lot of growth to be had in giving, if we’ll only take a little extra time and a slightly different approach.

According to Professor Raj from the Life of Happiness and Fulfillment class I’m taking, we can have an “inner transformation” just by doing a kind and generous act. That means taking time to be fully in the moment so as to fully notice the impact. Not just on our recipient, but very importantly, on ourselves.

“The gift is in the giving”, they say. It works both ways.
Let’s take a closer look …

A friend of mine used to not only buy his morning coffee, but also that of the person behind him. A driver paid her road toll and the driver’s behind her. A man put his trash cans back in place each Wednesday, as well as his disabled neighbor’s. A friend left a basket of flowers and favorite candies on her downtrodden friend’s doorstep.

We’ve all heard about those “random acts of kindness” and how nice people can be to others. I bet you’ve been the giver and maybe even the receiver of some of those kind acts. What if we consciously did more of those things AND paid closer attention to the gifts?

A recent class exercise in the Life of Happiness and Fulfillment was called “Creative Altruism”. We students were to choose a recipient of our action, decide what to do for them, then carry it out, and write a brief report, highlighting the resulting emotions – not just theirs but OURs too.

The little boys, ages 4 and 6, next door love to come over and “scare” us in their Halloween costumes, chit chat in the front yard, and bring Valentines cards. I decided to thank them for being good neighbors in the form of home-made M&M cookies. I delivered the heaping plate of colorful cookies to grateful boys, returned home and felt such a sense of joy. What was that?

Happiness. Satisfaction. Pride. Gratitude. Love.
Good things, GIFTS, we all need more of.

The point of this exercise was that the most rewarding, inner-growth inducing gestures are those that make us, the Givers, feel good too. We must be kind and generous to ourselves while doing the same for others. This healthy kind of generosity triggers an “inner transformation”.

How about your own little exercise in “creative altruism” this week? Choose your target and your action, then get going!
Here are 3 simple rules for maximum inner transformation:
1- Include yourself in the generous act – make sure you’re being kind to yourself too – make it easy and within your budget, for instance.
2- Notice the impact of your generosity and feel the rewarding emotions – notice the recipient’s reaction, and pay attention to yours just as much.
3- Have fun in the giving – make your generous act something you enjoy doing anyway and for someone you enjoy helping.

The gift is in the giving. Truly. Those feelings from your giving bring about more happiness to be experienced and then easily shared.
Gifts. Giving. Growth.The Gift is in the Giving
Let’s all have some more of those!

Choose to have a great week!

read more

Old Dogs and New Tricks

“You gotta be kidding”.
That’s what my previous old dogs were surely thinking when I commanded a new behavior, presented different food, and especially when introducing a new canine companion. “She’s gotta be kidding, right?.”

Reminds me of my own reactions when something new (scary/unfamiliar) comes along. “You want me to do… what? You gotta be kidding. There’s no way. I can’t do that.”

“You can’t teach old dogs new tricks” – an old adage we tend to believe as true.

But is it? True about your old dog? Possibly true about you?
NOT that you’re an old dog, but I bet you’ll agree that sometimes there seems to be no room or desire to learn anything new.

I think you CAN teach old dogs new tricks anytime, anywhere, if you offer them…

…treats! (brownies always work for me)
More importantly, treats like freedom to adjust, time to adapt, opportunity to ask questions and speak up, unlimited support AND permission to make mistakes.
When something new to do is introduced with goodies, most old dogs will surely give it a try.

Do you ever feel like you can’t take on one more software program or app, policy or procedure, one more rule, how-to, or piece of advice? That brain periodically feels filled up with no room for anything new, doesn’t it?

But when someone comes along offering the aforementioned goodies, “well maybe I can fit one more thing in there”, you might say.

Here’s an example:
I recently joined a team of webinar presenters and had to learn a new presentation platform. I’m familiar with 2 others and funny enough, had very little training on them, and whiz right through with no problems. Here comes this new fancy one with structured training sessions, practice time and a manual even! “This must be a big deal! Yikes! Can I handle this? I’m feeling a little scared! Bawww.”

I must say though, with each goodie – training sessions with a live trainer, feedback, practice time and manual, I got to feeling much more confident. “This is pretty easy and straight forward! I CAN do this!”

The icing on the proverbial brownies, the real goodie for me, was the team leader’s support and accessibility and this comment: “Debbie, give yourself permission to make a mistake. You’ll learn and get better with time.”

His support, belief in my ability, and that comment in particular made a world of difference. “I CAN do this, for cryin’ out loud!”
Permission. To make a mistake. To learn from and go on. What a concept!
And I don’t need HIS permission. I need my OWN permission.

SO… what new thing will you tackle this week/month/year?
Tap dancing, PowerPoint, Public speaking, Money management, Getting along with so and so, Pottery, Home maintenance, Cheese soufflé, Twitter?

Learning new things creates a stronger brain, they say. Creating new pathways and connections, helping us be healthier and more resilient. Continuing to learn and grow helps us to move onward and upward with our lives.

SO…let down your guard, be a little vulnerable, throw caution to the wind even. Give yourself permission to try something new AND not be perfect at it! Make mistakes, learn from them and try again. Baby steps matter. It’s all a process, this thing called Life.

Teaching old dogs new tricks

An old dog named Sam

Choose to have a great week!

read more

How Tall was Your Grandfather?

Well, it really doesn’t matter because as President Abe Lincoln said,
“You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.”

“Bummer. Can’t I just get to a certain point and stop? Can’t I just coast for a while and stay the same?”

Nope. You can’t. You gotta keep growing, moving, living.

And you know one of the best keys for growth? To get you and me heading toward being better and better?

Good old inevitable, uncomfortable, and mostly unwelcome… CHANGE.

It happens with or without us – CHANGE, that is. The weather, seasons, relationships, work situations, personal upheavals, families, and on goes the list. Change happens anyway. Ready or not, here it comes.

We realize at some point that we can’t avoid this unwelcome guest, so we learn to adapt (sometimes kicking and screaming) and adjust (sometimes not too prettily) and go on with life (sometimes hanging on tighter hoping the next change won’t happen). It will. We might as well accept that it is a permanent resident.

What if we let go a little and stop resisting? Maybe even open the door a crack and welcome it? “Come on in, Change! …I think.”

Sounds crazy doesn’t it? From teaching workplace Change Management and experiencing many changes myself over the years, I get loud and clear, that the majority of us do not like it at all, especially when it happens without our consent! We hate that! We just want to stay status quo.

However…
… sometimes you gotta shake things up in order to grow and improve your life. And that means opening up to Change, if even a small bit.

Ever felt bored, stagnant, and unexcited about most anything? A little Change can… change all that and for the better.

I find myself in a little rut once in a while, peeking up and out wondering “now what? It’s kinda boring down here.” After the flurry of the holidays and family visits and year-end activities for instance, some days can feel a little blah. Time for one of those Changes, an opportunity for some growing.

Nothing too dramatic is required. Start out slow and comfortable, then push out a little further to where it feels new, and yes, even exciting and fun. Here are some ideas:

• Take a class
• Add something new to your morning routine
• Find new people to hang with
• Read a DIY book
• Take up a hobby
• Volunteer
• Visit a new place
• Meditate and listen
• Decide firmly on a new approach
• Ask lots of questions about an unexpected change until you better understand it

Welcome Change!

Welcome Change!

Change your thinking. Discover how small changes can change your life. A little change can lead to somewhere incredible you’ve not yet imagined!

Thank you Abe Lincoln, for that quote and reminder that we’re in charge of our own growing, regardless of our grandfather’s height, and the best way to do that is to put ourselves squarely in the path of CHANGE.

Choose to have a great week!

Got some ideas on implementing little changes, shaking things up and growing? Please share them in the comments below!

read more

Take Care

I sign off from emails, phone calls and handwritten notes with that saying all the time.
I frequently use it like others use Fondly, Best, Warmly, Sincerely, Cheers. It’s symbolic of sending good wishes to my recipients.
It’s also a gentle command.

“Take good care of yourself throughout the day” or
“Watch out! For those doorknobs and sharp corners in your office or home “or
“Pay attention! To those other drivers who may not be as alert as you” or
“Wash your hands! In case your fellow gym goers didn’t wipe down the ab cruncher handles”.

In other words…
Take care of YOU.

I was laid up with a horrendous cold last week and spent practically all week inside the house reading, watching, sleeping, coughing… As each day passed, I begrudgingly cancelled appointments and lunch dates knowing full well staying inside and keeping my germs to myself was the right thing to do. After a few days of this, I realized I was actually heeding my own gentle sign-off, “Take Care”.

I was finally taking care of myself, after all these years of soldiering on through the work weeks not feeling 100%. Finally. Taking my own advice. Finally. Taking care of me.

Along with all the coughing, sneezing and napping, I also did some reflecting:
Being sick should NOT be the only cue for taking care of oneself! We should be doing this all the time, with absolutely no guilt and not even a special reason. We each have one life, one body, and one chance to take good care of this very special vehicle we move around in all day, every day. Take care of it. Take care of YOU!

Changes of plans, busy days, mean people, accidents, sad news, not enough, too much… can get overwhelming and prompt wallowing. Feeling good, balanced, excited, joyful, in love… can overflow us and prompt forgetting to do the maintenance.

We easily take care of others without a second thought. How about putting yourself up there on the priority list more often? For no special reason, other than that you require it on a daily basis, make a choice to do something gentle and caring for yourself. We can best care for others by first caring for ourselves.

Maintain that very special vehicle, the YOU model, and do some self-care each day:
Read good words, watch uplifting shows, be inspired by positive people, nap, eat and drink good stuff, slow down and enjoy, and by all means… think good thoughts. They’ll make you feel better, I guarantee it. Count your blessings, appreciate your friends and loved ones, remember your achievements, wonder about the magnificence of life…the magnificence of YOU.Take care of you so you can better care for others

Whatever little act of self-care you can do today, go ahead and do it. No cost, little time, alone, together… as simple as a walk, a laugh, a cup of tea, a conscious moment to notice something new.

Be nice to YOU today.
Take care. Take GOOD care and choose to have a GREAT week!

read more