The start of a New Year

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The start of a New Year puts many in the mood for a lifestyle inventory. Looking back on the past year and looking forward to the future. Making resolutions. Some people make impossibly unobtainable goals, many fueled my Madison Avenue’s fire. The message? Be the perfect consumer. However, being the perfect consumer hardly fires me up. What does fire me up however is feeling happy, healthy and empowered as an individual. And that got me thinking of the word DREAM because the word dream is thrown around a lot. Do your dream! Live your dream! The American Dream. But what is a dream? It seems so ethereal, so… out there. That is why I do not prefer that word. I want the thought to be grounded. I want to bring it to the here and now. Bring it down to goals. Goals reached by answering the following questions:

  • What do I want to show up in my life?
  • What actions do I need to take to get me there?
  • What action can I accomplish now?
  • If my goal is bigger than me, who do I need to have on my team to help me reach my goal?

That is how you reach a goal and live a dream. That is what successful people do. Here is where the voice of doubt says “But there are outside influences on my life that I cannot control!” and that is perfectly true. I think this is where many people get lost. Because things don’t happen on the timeline they expected and because of that the feeling is that they have somehow failed. This is where the cliche KEEP TRYING comes in. Because in my experience, nothing happened in the time frame I wished or expected. But it happened or is in the process of happening. To achieve a goal it is important to set deadlines, however it is just as important if a deadline is not met to set another deadline and keep working. Perfectionists that think it needs to be perfect the first time if it is meant to be have got to let go of that notion and must allow steps toward progress to count for something or else there is the risk of becoming paralyzed as any task can become overwhelming when a person doesn’t take joy in the little successes on the way to the larger goal.

So in these sometimes self-critical moments of resolution making remember to choose obtainable goals that mean something to you, create a to-do map of action items that you can accomplish in one day and get to it. It feels great on the other side. Success is addictive!

Happy New Year!

Healthy Choices

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So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being. Franz Kafka

There’s a lot of talk about food lately. It’s strange that humans ever decided to create food that works counter to survival. It’s difficult for many to get into all the fad diet stuff. I’m no exception. Yet, today change came to my kitchen when I put together a pretty good sandwich wrap. It was a busy day and my husband took the kids on an outing, so it was vital to fill the time with writing and other mental activities that are best done in solitude. I was in the midst of a flurry of productivity when my body gave me that grumbling reminder of the limits of mortality and the dire need for sustenance. This bio-alarm inevitably leads to a dash to the pantry a handful of chips or cookies as ransom pay to the growl in my stomach. Then back to work. Not Today. Today instead of grabbing some chips or cookies  I cracked open a can of tuna, a bag of salad I had previously prepared, some Kraft Fat Free Italian dressing and a tortilla. I sprinkled the colorful salad, watching the white circle of the tortilla fill up with deep greens, crisp orange, juicy reds and then added the drained Tuna Wraptuna on top of it. A little shake of salt and pepper, some garlic powder for good measure and a splash of Italian dressing wrapped that baby up and I was in business! That was a great, fast lunch on the go. Most importantly it was a action of self-love and care. Something that is important to a happy life. Those little choice add up. Eat something that brings pleasure in the moment. Take it that next step by making it something that honors the temple of the body, because a body that works well can do amazing things.

Make a list, do your list, make your dreams come true.

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A goal is a dream with a deadline ~Napoleon Hill

Many people have great ideas and very few do anything with them. Ideas are an energy, but like electricity, energy doesn’t do anything useful unless it has a conduit to focus it to complete a task. Unless dreams/ideas are wrapped in the conduit of a to-do list, not much happens with them because the energy is scattered- not focused.

This becomes even more vital for those who are doing work at home, or are attempting to balance parenthood and a career as a freelancer or other home-based business. It’s easy to get distracted by chores, kids, partners and their need to be loved, entertained, and cared for. However, without balance nothing gets done. Enter the to do list.

Write out all that comes to mind when you ask “What needs to be done today?”. It can become an extensive list. Now go through the list again asking “What are the consequences of this item?” Meaning, if it doesn’t get done today what would happen? Some things hold little consequence like a chore that doesn’t happen, some holds great consequence like not making an important business call when the client is expecting you to. Write these high consequence items on a small magnetic dry erase board and place them somewhere you go to get distracted–say the refrigerator–if it is a work environment, place it in line of sight. Write the top five things that need to happen on the dry erase board and remove each task as it is done. Make sure this top five happens every day. If it absolutely can’t happen –extenuating circumstances–add it to the top of tomorrow’s list and get it done. This feeling of accomplishment encourages more accomplishment. Especially for long projects and for chores like dishes and laundry that are eternal, it feels good to be done, at least for now :)

By structuring the day into the conduit of a to-do list, with consequences and deadlines things get done. There will still be occasion to look back at the end of the week and say “Where the heck did that week go?” Only with a to-do list done, that feeling comes with a sense of satisfaction about all that was accomplished during that time. Todo List

Coming Home

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Like many Americans I am returning back from a Memorial Day vacation. This time, as I returned to the daily routine of my day I have chosen a more mindful approach when enacting the activities of my day. Taking a personal inventory to ask questions such as “What did I truly miss while I was away or who did I miss when I was away?” are important questions to ask. Of course everyone has things in her or his daily routine that may not be enjoyable per say, however one can agree that if the activities improve the life experience overall, it is worth keeping such actives in the daily routine. For example, doing dishes and laundry,  or taking coursework in a subject that is not one’s strength, are activities that person may not want to return to however, she realizes that they need to be done.  Especially if that person enjoys eating off of clean plates and having clean clothes to wear.

The important part is not to mindlessly return to a routine after vacation. Ask if the typical actions of the day are producing the results that bring feelings of progress, fulfillment, satisfaction, and yes JOY! This life we have is so short and precious if it has become constant drudgery and compromise, instead of being fun and interesting most of the time, than something is out of balance and needs to be addressed.

So As you return from vacation or the stay-cation of a three day weekend I invite you to mindfully reenter your routine and make it a more satisfying one in order for you to have a happy life.

The secret to a happy marriage

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My husband and I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary yesterday. I noticed, during my Facebook morning newsfeed scan that a few others were celebrating their anniversary as well. So I thought to myself what have I learned? This last year has been particularly tumultuous for us and our marriage. Yet, we are still together, in some ways stronger than before. That comes from a decision to stay together. Now, the younger me might have been more resistant about making compromises to stay together more likely to say “If you’re not happy just bail and find someone you can be happy with.” With age comes patience and the ability to step back and say “Is this problem temporary?” Many times it is. I have a three-day rule. If I am really mad I cannot make any permanent decisions for three days. By the third day I often cannot remember what I was mad about, but if I can remember, I am calm enough to talk to my husband about it without being so overly emotional that communication is no longer possible. I focus on what specific behavior or incident bothered me and luckily I am with a man who is willing to listen and who also wants to stay married so we work it out.

This is not to say that we don’t blow our top from time to time. However, one thing we know how to do is to say, “Hey, I was out of line and I’m sorry.” That is an important skill to have, in any relationship, especially in marriage.

The final, piece of advice I’ll write about today that really came to my attention this morning when I asked myself the question “What is different in the way I relate to my relationship now, compared to when my husband and I first started dating?” I wanted to isolate that which makes someone so wonderful in the beginning and then at some point I find my husband reminding me that he “is not the enemy. We are on the same team.” I think this happens a with women who have children and responsibilities around the house in addition to what she had before she came into a relationship. She has career responsibilities for example. Women can begin to feel overloaded and overwhelmed, especially when children are very young. It is the constant demand to place others first and share monetary resources which happens in a marriage and not during dating that can wear on a relationship. It’s important to be vigilant and not let these little things pile up in a memory bank that gets played over and over because it’s not healthy for the relationship. In the beginning the couple looks only for the best in one another and gets amnesia about the negative things. After a few kids it seems to be the other way around, and the couple gets amnesia about the good while focus turns to what the partner isn’t doing “as expected”. That is where marriages start to fall apart. But it’s simple to fix, just start concentrating on the good things again.

I think this is why the tradition of anniversaries continues. To remember the day that we wanted to get married. To remember how beautiful she looked, how handsome he looked, the magic of the day. To get back to that time when our partner could do no wrong. It’s a good thing that keeps a marriage healthy. We re-create that energy and bring it into the present day. That practice is what makes marriages last as intended.

Life isn’t always happy. Plan moments of happiness.

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Happiness and hard times can coexist like cactus and daisies.

 

It may not be shocking news to many of you that life is not always easy. There are times when circumstances of life avalanche a person in challenges leaving them feeling overwhelmed. Many reasons are presented why not to be happy, at peace, to live instead in emotional pain. I am not suggesting that we must numb or hide those feelings. It’s just that at some point a decision must be made because why live a miserable life? To me that seems like wasted time. I don’t want to be miserable do you? To dig myself out of the avalanche I plan moments of happiness.

Plan a small moment of happiness everyday. Make it a ritual. The whole world can go to heck in a hand-basket with things that are out of my control but I will have 5  minutes of happiness darn it! For me I have my morning hug with my youngest daughter. She comes and gives me a big hug and we check in with each other and talk. This is always a moment of happiness for me. We both look forward to it. After a grueling week this week, I loaded up the kids in the car and my cousin in-law came along too and we went to one of my favorite places in Northern Arizona. A place I tend to always feel happy. The picture above came from that place and the idea came to me that life doesn’t have to be one or the other, happiness and times of great challenge can coexist like the cactus and daisies do in this picture. It is possible but sometimes you have to make that happiness happen with planned moments of happiness.

As a side note about this place I learned from a park ranger there that scientists from the local university found that this area is located on a lay line. A lay line is a line of electromagnetic energy in the Earth that causes the ions of the air to become positively charged. These positive ions react with the body and make it feel better, think better, and work better. There was work done to prove this, which I will go into more detail about at another time. The point I’m making here is that by taking action to go to this place, I knew I would feel better. Find a similar place that you can go to. Do an activity you love to do. Be with people that you feel accepted, comfortable and at peace with and hang out. Get some good vibes and create a happy memory, a happy moment. Just one planned moment of happiness can go along way.

Until next time…

 

It’s really simple, but it’s hard.

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My house the night of the fire

My house the night of the fire

Some readers follow me on the social network scene may know that there was a fire at my house last month.

News coverage of fire at my house

My meditation brought me to the place in the Christian Bible, which says “Ye shall know them by their fruit.” and my fruit was pretty good. Because although something bad, scary, completely unfair and wrong happened to me. I was okay, no one was hurt, and I was able to go on thinking in a positive and healthy way about the situation. Now I can share with you what I learned.

Worry. When something happens that is scary, wrong, unfair, and often completely unexpected, a person can take this as an opportunity to worry the rest of their life away. Now here comes the simple, but really hard part about life, especially life after tragedy… (drum-roll please) Are you ready to take notes? Ok here it is…. Live in the moment. Live in right now.

Oh man! How many times have you heard that before? It even comes on cheesy little plaques and everything. The thing is, it’s true. It’s exactly true. And here is another little bit that came to me and this is how it goes:

Several years ago my high school Psychology teacher Mr. Mason asked us a very important question “If something really bad happens to you, how much of your life are you willing to give to it?” I am not willing to give my entire life to something that happened in 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours, 1 day, or 1 year. If the bad incident is actually happening in that period, then it is happening and it is out of a person’s control. The question is how much EXTRA beyond the time it took to happen are you willing to give the incident?

This is something a person has to ask themselves BEFORE a bad thing happens, so that when the fear, anxiety, anger flares up inside, when you are human it will flare up inside. The mental mechanism is there to say, “I won’t let it have any more of my life.” Take a deep breath and go back to now. Now is work. Now is hugging my kids. Now is enjoying a beautiful day. Now is doing the dishes. Whatever Now is I go back there and time moves on and things get easier, maybe not easier all the time, however life goes on I survive and even thrive with planned moments of happiness. This is how, despite bad things happening I can still live a satisfying life.

Planned moments of happiness is something I’ll talk about next time.

I wish you all the optimum of happiness in your experience.

Until next time…

I’ll live for you

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 Some songs throughout the ages, as well as poems and sonnets speak of a love so strong that someone says to another “I would die for you.”  It is indeed a strong declaration of love, to place his or her life in harm’s way in order for one’s beloved to live. At the same time and in some ways a more grandiose gesture of love could be to say, “I will live for you.”

A promise to preserve health to the best of one’s ability and to say I will take care of my health so that I may be with you for many years to come when you need me most. I will live so that we can face what the world has to offer––good or bad, together. I will live for you.

There are challenges offered by life that can make living seem like more of a challenge than dying. Getting up everyday trying to figure out the little nuances of life, the questions of life like “Where’s the food going to come from today?” “How is the myriad of things that must be done going to get done?” This reality coupled with the stresses of life that can be so prevalent today that makes living for someone so much more of a declaration of love than dying for them.

This is not to take away from the awesome sacrifice made by a soldier or first responder. People that place themselves on the front-line to protect those they love or die for honor. Yet to forgo the indulgence of destructive vices and excessive behaviors rather than to fight for one’s health in order to be there for those you love when they need you most also holds the hero’s reward that comes with acts of courage and fortitude.

So, if you really love someone, perhaps saying “I’ll die for you” is not the greatest proclamation of love. Maybe that greatest oath of love a person can make is “I’ll live for you.”

More “YES!” moments

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The first week of January. A new year 2012. Turn on the television to all of the weight loss, quit smoking, financial planning and tax preparation ads. Thinking about a resolution. Mine this year is simply more fun, less bs. Yet it wasn’t until a moment ago that I could really pinpoint what I want. I want a tremendous amount of “YES!” moments in my life. Those moments when my fist unconsciously pumps in the air and I yell out “YE-S-S-S!”.  That one magical moment when the Universe aligns in my favor and the harvest comes in for time invested. In order to have YES! moments one has to sew the seeds. Have a goal, place action into it every day, invest in making myself who I want to be.  Making myself who I want to be involves education, attention to the goal and focused action. This is the structure in which the YES! moment flourishes. I want to be happy. I want a satisfying life. I want as many YES! moments as I can have in this lifetime. I haven’t had that many yet, so I must make up for lost time. It is possible though. As a somewhat related side note I would add this little ditty that was posted on Facebook. Nothing is impossible. For if you look at the word itself it says I’m Possible.

Whatever your resolution is, if you even resolve not to have one, remember that all is possible.

Everyone is capable of living a satisfying life.

Happy New Year from Summary of a Happy Life! :)

 

 

Don’t let it go to waste.

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After I finish this post I’m going to eat a slice of the pumpkin pie I have in the fridge, with plenty of whipped cream.

It’s been sitting there for two days now, untouched. There’s nothing wrong with it, I’ve just been waiting for the right time to eat it. I placed a plethora of rules onto the experience. Some are internal some ingrained from growing up.

The rules of law for pumpkin pie eating include but are not limited to:

  • Not too early in the day
  • Not before we  eat a nutritious meal first (can’t fill up on pie before dinner)
  •  Oh now it’s too close to bed, don’t want to eat it right before bed.

So this goes on until, if I don’t act on it, the pie will mold in the fridge and I’ll have to throw it out. It becomes a missed opportunity to have an enjoyable life experience.

Now it’s wasted.

The reason why I bring all of this up to you is that I thought to myself, do we place too many rules on our pleasures of life, so much so that our life wastes away without enough of these enjoyable moments.  Rules like, I can’t play with the kids until this or that is done, now they are napping, now it’s time to start dinner. Or  I was going to snuggle with my husband but that article still isn’t written and I haven’t checked email all day, maybe something important I’m missing, now he’s on to something else that he needs to do. I have these blessings before me but if I don’t take the time to engage them, those precious opportunities can also be wasted, just like the pie, they are perishable.

It’s good to be mindful about enjoying the good times when they present themselves, it seems they can be too few and far between many times. The more of these small moments we seize and make the most of, the more satisfying memories will be available to reflect on in the end. Now, for some pie.