NUTs!!

They can certainly make us feel that way, those NUTs – a bit crazy and discombobulated, stressed out, anxious and just all around irritated.

NOT the wal- and pea- nuts, nor the pecan, pistachio or kukui type. This is a different, yet all too common variety, these NUTs…

Nagging Unfinished Tasks – NUTs that yes, make us feel a little… nuts ourselves.

 

Dr. Oz says they are “often very simple to fix but if you never get around to them, NUTs create a subtle underlying angst that can undermine your health.” Author Jack Canfield calls them “messes and incompletes” and says they “rob us of valuable attention units”.

This variety, these Nagging Unfinished Tasks, are most definitely NOT good for us. They cause not only mental stress, but eventual physical stress. Who needs ‘em?!

Well, unfortunately, I bet we all got ‘em. Those hanger-on projects, tasks, and to-do’s that just seem to never go away. They are those uninteresting, challenging, boring, tedious little things we simply don’t want to do.

So how to handle them and move on to and make room for the things we DO want to do?
Here are some ideas:

Use a simple time management principle: “Do it, Delegate it, Delay it, or Dump it”. The moment you’ve got a task in mind to add to your to-do’s, make a decision on what to do with it… right then and there. Maybe it doesn’t even need to go on the list.

Make a list of all the incomplete tasks and projects in your life – professionally and personally – and review each one with the question, “What will it take to get this NUT outta my hair?” Then, determine action steps and a manageable time frame – 2 hours each afternoon, 1 whole Saturday per month, every Tuesday morning, etc. and then commit to it. Get it in your calendar, plan it into your schedule, and be on the way of getting those NUTs out of your mind AND out of your hair.

Review that list every so often because some NUTs drop away on their own and are no longer even relevant. We like those kind of NUTs.

The good kind of nuts, not the Nagging Unfinished Tasks!

NUTs – the good kind!

What’s the upside?  Moving this type of NUT out of your way makes room for achieving the goals and dreams you want in your life. Complete the tasks of the past so you can fully step into the present with open arms and an open mind. Alleviate stress by dumping those NUTs now and bring on more happiness!

Thank you dear friend CB for reminding me about these annoying little NUTs and sharing this article about squashing stress AND belly fat. What could be better than that??

Choose to have a great week!

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And Who are You Again?

As you catch your reflection in a mirror or window, ever been taken off guard? Ever been so caught up in life’s happenings that you forgot to look into your own eyes… follow your own dreams… put yourself first once in a while?

Do you ever forget to remember… who you really are and what truly makes you happy?
Me too.

On occasion, I unconsciously do things, go places, eat stuff and absorb information that does not serve me. It’s just not being true to that better person inside, the one who knows the Truth about me, that “inner guide”.

We all have one, this Truth-knowing aspect of ourselves, and it’s too often ignored. It takes introspection, a little time and willingness, and being honest with ourselves to tune in and listen.

Get out your pen and paper. Get quiet, alone, comfy and peaceful.
Now answer these questions from your heart:

What makes you happy?
Where do you like to go?
What do you like to do?
What are your talents?
What are your strengths?
What are your most favorite things in the whole wide world?

Put all those honest answers together and you have a snapshot of YOU, the true YOU that often sits on the back burner while the “shoulds” take over. It happens to all of us and becomes our default setting at times. And yet, the more we can get clearer on the Truth about ourselves and follow that path, the more joy in life we will have.

Checking in with ourselves with questions like those above are a great start.
There’s one other sure-fire way to get to get clear about what’s true and authentic for you.
By paying attention and honoring your feelings. Think about it.
Do you remember how you felt…
… after listening/reading a lot of negative news?
… after saying “yes” instead of the “no” you wish you’d said?
… after taking someone else’s advice and realizing too late it was all wrong for you?

Mark Nepo, one of my favorite authors, says in his Book of Awakening to “keep turning toward what we feel is real”. To honor those feelings and let them out. Be ok with being scared, sad, hurt, or disappointed so we can get to their opposites more and more often. There are lessons to be had in all of our emotions.

How about this approach:
Before starting a project, saying “yes”, purchasing some thing, eating a food, replaying an old tape, buying into someone else’s beliefs, STOP.
Take a breath, notice how you feel about the situation.
Walk away, sit down, take a moment to think (and feel).Live your True Authentic Life

THEN while being true to YOU and your feelings, reply confidently and KNOW you’ve done right by YOU.

Life is precious. Time moves fast.
Grab hold of each and every day. Feel it. Live it fully. Do what’s true for YOU.

Choose to have a great week!

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Wag More. Bark Less.

Purr more. Grumble less.
Relax more. Hiss less.
Chirp more. Screech less.
Snuggle more. Stress less.

Lessons learned, and available if we choose to heed them, from our furry and scaly friends.
This week, an ode to our animal companions and appreciation for what they give us.

Whether dog, cat, hamster, rabbit, piggy, bird, horse, lizard and yes, even coatimundi, they are our connection to nature, to that Big Thing that is bigger than us.
Whether in your care as your pet or as a backyard visitor, they are amazing examples of beings just… be-ing. Without our interference! What a concept! Is it even possible?!

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” (Anatole France)

Remember in weeks past, I’ve mentioned how slowing down and taking time to notice helps us make better decisions and is healthier for both mind and body? Longer, happier, peaceful life… anyone??

Our pets and other animals are good reminders and help us do these very things.
THOUGH ONLY IF, we will but take a FEW MOMENTS to notice, to listen, and then to appreciate their gifts. AND THEN feel the feelings associated with them. A few moments out of your busy day. That’s it. A few little moments.

They help us live life a little differently, better, more positively. They help us feel connected to what matters most.

I am currently pet-less as my house is being revamped and reorganized. We’ll adopt a canine fella (or 2) in the coming months. In the meantime, backyard birds, lizards and rabbits are entertaining me and giving that all important connection to the natural world.

They eat the seeds and peanuts I give them…or not.
They chirp and sing with or without my presence.
They hop and run and fly and perch and do what they do.
AND they teach me to pay attention, find joy in the simple things, and to be easy… thoughtful… and natural myself.

A friend recently lost a beloved pet. This is the only downside I know of to pet stewardship. We outlive them. They leave us behind after their lives are spent and what’s left? Yes, broken hearts most times. Even the backyard world of survival of the fittest can hurt our feelings. After our personal fogs lift, we can look up once again and feel the gifts they left us. Those invaluable, intangible, life-changing gifts. Reminders to take it easy, have fun, slow down, savor our food, and be happy.Wag more. Bark less.

Wag more. Bark less.

Choose to have a great week!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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