Thursday, July 30, 2009

If I Were A Rich Man ...

If you had all the money you could ever need and more, but you had no family or friends and were in poor health, would you still consider yourself wealthy? What if you had a wonderful family, great friends, were in perfect health, had a job you enjoyed but had a lot of credit card
debt and student loans, would you consider yourself wealthy?

With the recession in full swing, layoffs are commonplace and those luck enough to have jobs are holding on tight to keep them. Homes are in foreclosure and many are having a hard time making the ends meet. Now, more than ever we need to take our eyes off the financial prize and count our blessings. Money accounts for a lot but it truly isn’t everything.

Off the top of my head, here are 25 things to be thankful or grateful for:
  1. Your health
  2. Your spouse or significant other
  3. Good relationships with family members
  4. Your sight (and your other senses)
  5. Healthy children
  6. Best friends
  7. Your education
  8. Reliable transportation (even if it isn’t your dream car!)
  9. Laughter
  10. Christmas and Thanksgiving
  11. The roof over your head
  12. Your favorite outfit
  13. Great childhood memories
  14. Favorite television show
  15. Sunny summer days
  16. Long holiday weekends
  17. Birthdays (and birthday cake!)
  18. You survived high school
  19. You survived another day
  20. Grandparents
  21. Computers and the Internet
  22. Good music
  23. Sleeping in on the weekends
  24. Chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven
  25. The promise of tomorrow
There is wealth and abundance all around you, if you just stop to look for it!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Extreme Self-Care: Do It Now!

This is the last in a ten part series called, Extreme Self-Care: It’s Not Selfish!

We’ve talked about the importance of self-care. We’ve also discussed how you can find the time to care for yourself. Now that you have some suggestions and ideas, the next step is to put your ESC (Extreme Self-Care) plan into action. What will you do? When will you do it?

Think about it and write down the options that you can make time for and for which you can afford. Come up with at least five Extreme Self Care opportunities.

The benefit of having a number of options to chose from, is that if for some reason, you can’t do one extreme self act, you can chose another.

Your list could include:
  1. Yoga
  2. Making healthier food choices
  3. Bi-weekly visits to the salon
  4. Find and investigate a new park
  5. Taking extended walks with the dog
  6. Find a nice quiet place to eat lunch

Coming up with a list of options is the easy part. The hard part is putting those options into action. The words aren’t going to come off the page and beg you to do something with them. Instead they will sit there and whisper quietly to you.

In other words, it’s up to you to initiate your own plan. Your spouse or partner won’t do it. The kids certainly won’t do it. Your boss won’t even think about it. And your friends might not understand. It’s okay. While those around you may not understand or appreciate your choice to take care for yourself, they will benefit from your relaxed demeanor and increased sense of self.

Having said all that, I invite you to take the Extreme Self-Care challenge. For the next month, try one of the items on your list. Have fun with this. And if you care to share your experience back here on the blog.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Forget Diamonds

For the past eight years, my number one companion has been Marty, my 10-year-old toy poodle. He’s been with me through several boyfriends as well as one big cross-country move (to California and back). Together we’ve played, we’ve cried (he likes to lick my tears), we’ve slept in on lazy Saturdays and endured many a thunderstorm (he hates those). I think we can learn a lot from a dog.

While he has a long memory, he’s got a very short attention span when it comes to being upset. He gets over things. He’s definitely not a grudge holder. Animals, unlike humans, innately trust their instincts. We let too much ‘thinking’ and second-guessing get in the way. But Marty reacts based on instinct and he’s usually right. He can tell when that dreaded thunderstorm is coming before I have a clue. He knows when I’m upset and is ready with a lick to comfort me.

Before Marty, I could get up and be out of the house (dressed, hair done and full make-up) in 15 minutes flat. Not so much with a dog. The concept of late just doesn’t occur to him. I can rush like gangbusters but time slows down when I have to walk him. He just refuses to rush!

What I like best about him though is that he’s an automatic mood lifter. A hard day or a sad moment becomes a little bit better when he’s around. He’s there with a sympathetic ear (and a head tilt that makes you think he really does understand) or to lick a tear away. He’s always up for a quick game or just to sit on your lap and let you pet him. After 5 minutes with Marty, you will feel better! It’s guaranteed.

His unabashed love and affection are contagious. The groomer refers to him as her ‘boyfriend’ and he arrives at the vet to a chorus of greetings from the vet assistants. In fact, my friend Cindy refers to him as America’s Favorite Pooch.

Life is hard and filled with twists and turns and disappointments. But with a Marty in my corner, somehow I know I’ll get through it all. Everyone should be so lucky.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Extreme Self-Care: In a Crunch

This is the ninth in a ten part series called, Extreme Self-Care: It’s Not Selfish!

It’s great to have an afternoon or an evening to yourself. It’s even better if you can have a whole day or a weekend, but let’s be honest. That’s not always realistic. In our busy lives, sometime, all you have is 30 minutes, or 15 minutes … maybe even 10 minutes. So here is a list of things you can do when you are short on time.
  1. Walk the dog.
  2. Take a quick walk around the block
  3. Take a shower with your favorite shower gel
  4. Sit in the car for a few minutes before going into the office or into the house
  5. Get up 15 minutes earlier and enjoy the quiet before starting your day
  6. Stay up 15 minutes later and enjoy a moment at the end of the day
  7. Use your breaks or part of your lunch to enjoy quiet time (go for a walk, read a book in your car if you need to)
  8. Stop for a quick cup of coffee on the way home.
  9. Call an old friend and catch up while driving.
  10. While running errands, stop into a favorite store and get yourself a little something.
What other ways can you think of to fit a little self-care into your busy day?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cut the Cord

Being connected is great. Email, voicemail, cell phones, Internet, … WOW! I recently joined the ranks of the Blackberry Brigade. Now, I don’t even have to be near my computer to check my email and surf the Net. But being constantly connected has its drawbacks.

When cell phones and laptops started becoming so popular, I saw it for what it was – an insidious plot to keep you working all of the time. You can be reached in the evening, on the weekends, on the road and even on vacation!

People expect to be able to reach you all the time. If you aren’t answering the home phone, then try the cell. It doesn’t matter where you are: movies, shopping, driving in a storm, you should always be connected. If you can’t phone, then at the bare minimum, you should be textable. I’ve had people text me from the movies and even from church! Now we can Twitter, so you can let your followers know exactly what you are doing every minute of the day in banal detail – from bathroom breaks to what you are having for breakfast.

But there is something to be said for being occasionally unavailable.

Have you ever left your cell phone at home and secretly savored the thrill of being temporarily off-line? Admit it, you have. It’s nice to be away sometimes. This is why I advocate occasionally going completely off-line sometimes - even if it’s just for an hour or two.

I go half-way offline when I am writing. I don’t answer my phone but I do keep the ringer on. However, on those evenings where I feel completely spent and overworked, I turn off the Blackberry, the computer and the ringers on my phones. I have Caller ID, so I won’t be missing any calls and 9 out of 10 calls aren’t all that important anyway.

You can even take it a step further and turn off the television. Read a book. Take a bath. Just sit there. Enjoy the silence. Enjoy the peace.

Disconnect from the world and reconnect with yourself.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Extreme Self-Care: Partners in Care

This is the eighth in a ten part series called, Extreme Self-Care: It’s Not Selfish!

You are not alone. We all need to take time for self. Yet, sometimes you need some help in getting that time for yourself. Enlist the help of your spouse, your friends, your kids and your co-workers and help each other make the most of self care.

Have your partner take the kids out to the movies or to the park if you need a few hours to yourself. You can watch the kids later, if he wants to go to a sports bar or if she wants to go shopping with friends. You need self-care but so does your partner and working together to make sure both of you get your downtime can make your time together even more important.

If you are raising your kids on your own, it’s even more important that you have some time to yourself. You can reach out to family and friends to work with you to make sure you get that time to yourself. You can also make use of any time that you get to yourself … while the kids are in school or with friends or at their lessons.

Spending time with friends is a way of indulging in self-care. Self-Care doesn’t always need to be a solo experience. A Girls/Guy’s Night Out can be a fun way to let off steam and relax. Grab a friend and go out and do something you love to do together: hiking, swimming, shopping, lunch, spa visits, sporting events.

The important thing isn’t what you do or who you do it with but that you do it. Invest in yourself. Care for yourself.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Same As It Ever Was

I remember it like it was yesterday – even though it was six years ago. I was sitting at my desk in my cubicle at work. I had just hung up the phone with my boyfriend. A chill ran down my spine as I had a true epiphany.

I realized, as I put down the receiver that a year from that moment, I could be in the exact same place – same job (with no promotion), same boyfriend (not fiancĂ© or husband), living in the same apartment (no closer to owning), pretty much living the exact same life. And it could be the same the year after that and the year after that.

“What if nothing changes?” I thought.

The answer is that I wouldn’t be miserable but I wouldn’t be happy either. I would be … the same. Few thoughts have scared me more. It was a real internal wake-up call. I knew at that moment, if I didn’t make a change, nothing would change. It was all on me.

I asked myself several other hard questions. What do I want? What am I willing to do to get it? Over the next 6 months, I answered those questions and I took action.

I decided that the relationship was never going to get me where I wanted to be, so I ended it. There was no where for me to go in my position so I started circulating my resume; I also seriously started entertaining the idea of moving to California to pursue my screenwriting career.

8 months later, I was a very single girl unpacking the few bags I had in Los Angeles, California. A lot has happened since then – wrote a short film, moved to Charlotte, bought a house, embarked on a new career. Yet it all started with a couple of questions.

(Hard Questions + Honest Answers) x Action = Results

Monday, July 6, 2009

Extreme Self-Care: In the Office

This is the seventh in a ten part series called, Extreme Self-Care: It’s Not Selfish!

We spend the majority of our waking hours consumed with work. We are there five out of seven days. On those five days – we get up and spend our mornings preparing for and getting to work. We stay at work at least eight hours. Then we spend time commuting home from work, trying to leave work at work and then preparing for our next day at work. We spend more time with co-workers than we do with families. So finding out how to care for ourselves at work is critical.

On the Commute: Listen to your favorite CD or radio shows on the way to and from work. Maybe just enjoy the silence before you get home to a loud house full of kids! You might even want to use that time for a little prayer and meditation (of course, you don’t want to close your eyes while driving!).

During Lunch: Of course, you should have something health. But I say you should also have something yummy that you look forward to eating. Make the most of your lunch by eating it away from your desk and with co-workers you enjoy. When I worked in DC, I found a nice little park to steal away to and eat my lunch. It was great to have a peaceful and beautiful outside experience in the middle of my day. I also have had a favorite restaurant close by I can go to and enjoy.

During Breaks: I am a big proponent of getting away from the desk, or the cube whenever possible. I get a big boost when I take a short walk during my breaks. You can also use breaks to talk and reconnect with work friends.

During my Coach University training, one of my instructors gave me a great way to remember to take care of yourself. Use the ESC key on your keyboard as a reminder to engage in Extreme Self-Care!