Helping stressed-out professional women who are tired of sacrificing their health and happiness to a hectic schedule live bigger, richer, more fulfilling lives... without the guilt!
Riding on the hike and bike path I came across a fallen tree blocking my path. It had been weakened by numerous storms and finally given way. I picked up my bike and carried it over the trunk. Returning, I repeated the process, stepping over the huge obstacle and found myself thinking, "I'm glad this big old tree didn't fall on someone!" Others made comments as they neared the fallen tree: A walker said, "Now here is something to make my walk more interesting!" Another said, "Those lazy maintenance people - don't they do their jobs anymore?"
One fallen tree, a neutral event, and three different interpretations.
Isn't that just the way life is too? How often do we project onto situations and circumstances previous experiences and beliefs? Rain is just rain. To a business woman and her family on the beach for one week of the year, rain can be an unwelcome visitor. To a farmer with a field full of parched crops, rain can be a Godsend.
There is a Zen saying, "The obstacle is the path." What obstacle is in your path and how are your interpreting it?
A big brown stain surrounded the faucet of a bathroom sink. I scrubbed and scrubbed with various cleaning products. I pulled out a toothbrush and rubbed harder... Nothing would make that unsightly ring budge!
While not the biggest priority in my life, I wanted it gone nonetheless. A frontal approach was not working - time for creative problem-solving. I stopped working harder and let my mind wander. I remembered that we have "hard" water that can leave a crust when it evaporates. I thought back to a school experiment when we dissolved limestone with vinegar. I decided to pour a little vinegar int he sink and let it sit there for a few hours and the stain lifted off and was completely gone.
Sometimes when I push to make things happen the way I want, I may not get the outcome I desire. Yet when I let go, allow and apply a bigger perspective, then things seem to go more smoothly.
If I hadn't allowed my creative side to be with the problem I might be still scrubbing that sink! I'd love to hear how you experienced an "out of the blue" insight to a vexing problem.
Does your life seem to be moving so fast that short-term solutions to vexing problems like not enough time or weight gain are tantalizing?
Many of us on the upswing of a yoyo diet lost weight, only to see lost pounds come roaring back, sometimes multiple times since our teen years. Rather than considering that the dieting process may be at fault, we might blame ourselves for not having the willpower to stick with it. We keep trying the same solution over and over but in different guises - high protein diets; low fat diets; low-calorie meal replacements - looking for the quick pay off.
What is this "quick fix" mentality all about and why is it so enticing? I think it promises hope that we can change quickly, it allows us an immediate strategy. It takes our minds off what's really going on. In the words of one of my clients, "I want an easy button!"
If you sidestep the magnetic pull of the "quick fix" and yoyo dieting and look underneath it - what might you find?
If you have a weight issue, you may find a seething cauldron of emotional issues, a lack of self-love and a fear of the unknown. What will life be like at your optimal weight? If you have low energy or feel drained by a primary relationship, struggle with family issues, or work in a job that no longer reflects personal goals - how will your life change if pounds lost stay off?
Here's what I've discovered. If I'm unwilling to look beneath the surface, I will remain stuck, in limbo, and far from the life I have dreamed. However, if I'm willing to dig deeper, access my unique insights and take action, the benefits can be enormous. The solutions that will work long-term are those that come out from your own insights to understand the challenges you face ... and shift them.
Whatever problem you are facing, are you willing to look beyond the "quick fix"? If your answer is yes, what will be your first step?
It's January and the Internet is full of recommendations to manage holiday weight gain and the winter blahs. Are you, as I am, being bombarded by these types of "I know what's best for you strategies on how to lead a healthier life?" Here are some examples of what I've seen. "Set realistic goals", "Shift your thinking", "Cut back", "Keep track of your progress", "Develop a positive attitude", "Watch portion sizes". I don't necessarily disagree with any of these prescriptions in themselves, but two things bother me:
The first - someone is telling me what to do from their particular viewpoint without understanding my particular situation. And the second, it just isn't possible to plunge into such advice all at once. Attempting to make too many changes at one time can be a recipe for failure... and this we want to avoid at all costs.
Most of the weight loss prescriptions center around food and exercise. These are important aspects for any weight loss program. The challenge lies in following the details of individual daily plans consistently - hard to do. If you have begun 2013 trying to exercise regularly and eat right but are having a difficult time sticking with your chosen regimen, you might want to consider this option:
Since we are multi-faceted, made up of a body, a mind, a spirt and emotions, focusing on just the body doesn't make sense. Instead of focusing on eating a certain number of calories per day, perhaps you might want to consider working with your thoughts and beliefs [mind] and determine what might be holding you back. If you choose to focus on [spirit] you might take time out each day to gain insights by meditating or asking for guidance in your unique way. Alternatively, you might explore how stress derails you when you commit to a healthier lifestyle [emotions].
While it is counterintuitive, sometimes we are so frantic to solve a problem that we get in the way of seeing a deeper meaning. Taking a few steps back gives us breathing room to build a stronger foundation to tackle the stickier problems and find the once-and-for-all solutions. It doesn't mean nothing's going to change! When you take care of your overall wellness you expand your capacity to come up with new solutions and you start to have more energy to tackle your specific challenges.
So, if you often begin a New Year by choosing a program that focuses on food and exercise, but it hasn't worked for you, consider this approach. I'd love to hear about your new insights and solutions.
Burnout is the end product of a long gradual process and can occur at work or at home.
Are you at risk for burnout at work?
• Do you feel overworked and undervalued, with little say in how your day goes?
• Are job expectations unclear, and do they vary unpredictably?
• Is your work monotonous? Or is it rush and rush, with one deadline after another?
• Do you see an unending stream of crises, about which you have no control?
• Are you using alcohol, smoking, drugs or eating as a way to cope?
Are you at risk for burnout at home?
• Do you have enough quality sleep?
• Do you have people you can rely on for emotional support?
• Are you working too much, without time for relaxation, and eating right?
• Do you have too many responsibilities, without enough help?
Reverse the downward spiral of burnout
Recognize the problem, and decide to take action to end burnout. An initial step in the healing process requires that you see the problem as real.
Find or rebuild your emotional support network with people you can rely on to hear you. People who support you unconditionally can be some of the most effective assistance in overcoming burnout.
Slow down, reevaluate commitments, and give yourself time for reflection and centering. Your support network can help you reframe the problem of not enough time to re-evaluating your priorities, not only the immediate ones for your job or your family, but also the long term direction you want your life to take.
Employ stress management techniques. Stress management can be a key to regain balance in your life. Please remember that the most effective approach to stress management addresses the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional aspects of wellness.
Stress…We all know what this is, don’t we. Whether it is happening today, or whether it happened last week, emotional stress seems to be part of the landscape. If intense stress has been going on for a while, we might admit to feeling “stressed out.” But when does stressed out become burnout?
Can we detect warning signs of burnout, before it’s too late?
Stress differs from burnout.
Chronic stress – stress that goes on for months or even years - can exaggerate mood swings, leaving us short-tempered and hard to live with when our “hot buttons” are triggered. Chronic stress impacts how we deal with personal relationships, including spouse, partner, kids, parents, coworkers or even checkout clerks.
Stress keeps us awake at night with worries that don’t go away. It seems as though everything needs to be done at once. Tasks become hard to prioritize, and they all seem important. Often we respond by trying to do more, working harder, longer with the hope this effort will free up time.
Chronic stress harms health.
It increases women’s risks of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, stroke, anxiety, depression and perhaps premature aging. It can worsen pain, and symptoms of fibromyalgia and IBS. The immune system takes a hit.
Burnout – a different beast from chronic stress.
Burnout is stress pushed to the limits. Burnout stands as the far end of the stress spectrum. It is so treacherous because women may reach the end of their endurance without consciously knowing it.
You may be experiencing burnout if:
o Every day seems hopeless and problems seem insoluble – every day is a “bad” day
o The sense of guilt and failure seem overwhelming
o Motivation goes out the window
o You feel helpless and used up. Dreams and hopes vanish
o You feel detached and depressed. – “Who cares, what difference does it make?”
Women experiencing burnout do worse emotionally, financially and physically. Burnout is related to emotional eating, uncontrolled eating, pain and depression and women who are burned out are more at risk for illness and depression.
Are You at Risk for Burnout? [Part II] .... coming soon!
Guidelines to help patients find stress relief
In Part 1, I described the problem of non-adherence: 50% of patients do not follow doctors’ advice. I suggested stress, the daily energy drains that limit what patients can do, create a logjam.
The solution: Seek guidance to tap into own creativity, ingenuity and intuition to deal with stress before loading up on medical advice.
Let’s switch over to your visit to the doctor’s office.
Ask your doctor 6 questions to help you manage stress --- before accepting a prescription
1. Will you encourage me to identify energy drains? Doctor, the stress I’m under may be related to what you think is my health issue.
2. Will you encourage me to identify strategies I’ve used to deal with this stressor?
3. Will you encourage me to explore what’s really bugging me.
4. Will you encourage me to set realistic goals? [A healthcare provider can help the patient set a realistic goal that she feels comfortable in achieving.]
5. Understand that I may, or may not, act on the goal. Will you respect my choices? [A healthcare provider can encourage the patient to see each choice as an opportunity to learn, never a “failure.”]
6. Will you follow up this meeting? Healthcare providers can offer support, helping the patient recall every victory, and helping lifestyle changes stick.
How did you feel after talking with a physician or with a staff member about your health issue? Did you have time to get your needs met? How do you think doctor-patient interactions can become a healing partnership?
“Insight-motivated Learning: A Model to Improve Stress Management and Adherence in Chronic Health Conditions.” Robert A. Ronzio and Patricia A. Ronzio, Austin, TX. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 2012, volume 11, pages 22-28.
Why medical (and other expert) advice often fails
We face a huge problem: Only 50% of patients follow prescribed treatments for vitally important health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or chronic overweight. Another way of saying this: One out of every two people ignores medical advice when told what they “should” do.
Are you one of those statistics? If you have trouble following a doctor’s orders, maybe it’s not your fault!
Stress may prevent patients from following prescriptions and one-shoe-fits-all advice.
Stress short-circuits the best of intentions… whether at home or at the clinic.
If you are too stressed, too tired, or too preoccupied with daily energy drains – maybe you don’t have the bandwidth to add more information?
So what is the best way to manage stress and plug up energy drains?
Think about it… Who knows your particular circumstances better than you? No one else. Who knows your past victories and challenges. You do. Who carries untapped ideas in her brain? It’s you.
The best solutions live within you, the patient.
You are the genius to manage stress. Your creativity, ingenuity and intuition have always been part of you. Now is the time to help nurture that part of you, neglected far too long.
What does it take to tap into insights and creative problem solving? 3 ingredients to mix (at home or in a doctor’s office):
1 Tsp of free time: Mentally unplug from a hectic schedule to give yourself a little breathing room. -- Creative solutions need room to ferment and grow.
1 Cup of supportive listener: Someone who validates your thoughts and feelings, withholds judgment or personal commentary. -- Compassion and trust are your compass points.
½ Tsp of humor. Flick on the humor switch. -- Most people can think more clearly after lightening up.
Have you found it easier to deal with problems when you are more relaxed, or with someone who is? Does a solution come easier, when you have time to sleep on the problem?
With whom do you feel safest when trying out a new idea? I would love to hear your experience with this.
Watch for Part 2: Insight learning guidelines to prepare yourself for talking with your doctor.
Millie asked me this question when we left the gym. As I thought over possible limitations of getting older, I had a flashback of a woman on a mountain and whose answer would be a definite, “No way!”
We had moved to Houston in the spring, and after a hot, muggy Texas summer we were anxious to return of the mountains and de-stress. The closest mountain wilderness is Big Bend National Park -- our destination.
Eager to see to its acclaimed vistas, we got up before sunrise to begin the South Rim Trial, leading high up into the Chisos Mountains. Eager to reach the highest point, we selected the shortest route from the Basin, though it was steep and rocky. Undaunted by the trail and lifted by an adrenal high, we seemed to fly up the trail.
As we rounded a bend, we encountered an elderly woman steadily climbing up each stone step with the help of hiking poles. Her colorful scarf, white blouse, pants and hat were stunning. Her silver hair looked as though she had stepped out of a beauty salon. We were panting, out of breath, but she was breathing normally.
Our elderly companion shared that she was 80, and that she had been climbing this particular trail for years. Usually a son from Alpine accompanied “Grandma.”
But she today she had decided on the solitude of hiking alone. Among the crags, with views across the Chihuahuan Desert, she said that she felt at home. Her appearance certainly reflected that inner calm and determination.
At some stage we inevitably peer into the future and acknowledge that the body will slow down as we age. But that doesn’t have to mean stopping. Hulda Crooks began mountaineering at the age of seventy, and in her nineties, she became the oldest woman to ascend Mount Fuji.
Isn’t this about beliefs and desire?
Please share how you might answer Millie’s question.
Do you think your answer would change 10 years from now?
While waiting as my dear friend Julie got prepped for a follow-up procedure at the regional hospital, I struck up a conversation with two nurses. They were curious about what I do and I responded with my little coaching intro.
How wonderful, said Jane. You actually help women discover healthy lifestyles.
That’s part of it, I agreed.
You know, I’d like to work out, but…(she lowered her voice).. stress is killing me…There just isn’t enough time for me to handle it.
Ann chimed in, Patricia, if you could put a time extender in a bottle, you could sell a ton of it here.
Time extension, the antidote to stress?
These two women were obviously committed to high standards of patient care. That was readily apparent by how they assisted Julie. And they were hard workers. It was getting toward the end of their shift, with no let down.
Too often, the missing ingredient from the stress picture is….?
I considered the nurse’s comment about wanting a time extender, a solution in a bottle. Not surprising, after all, this is a hospital.
Yet it troubled me. In an institution focused entirely on diagnosis, treatment and recovery, employees can believe that they don’t have time to care for their health.
What was missing here? Self-care. Ironic!
So where does stress relief begin?
It beings with Y-O-U.
Stuff happens, and you respond by being stressed out. Maybe not. Work with me on this:
Events, real or imagined, tickle your brain cells. They say, Okay, Ms Computer Brain. What’s next?
Neurons ask for directions.
And you Ms Computer Brain, can tell them where to go. Seriously.
This is so exciting:
You are in charge of how to respond to that neurological input. And that will be guided by your thoughts – beliefs, attitudes, biases—as well as by your physiology. Are you tired or refreshed? Blood sugar swinging up and down like a duck bobbing on big waves?
What can change? Your thoughts. And simple things such as getting enough sleep and eating right, for starters.
Stress relief is an essential ingredient of self-care. Little things-Getting another half hour of quality sleep, or tapering off the caffeinated soda. Recognizing that you are feeling stressed. All are effective places to begin to put the You back into the equation.
I would love to hear how you are putting the You back in ......
Have you ever stopped taking a prescribed medication, or not followed a doctor's recommendation to lose weight or get more exercise? Could stress be getting in the way?
How would your doctor's visit be different if...
a) you had the opportunity to share what's actually stressing you out?
b) your doctor supported you in managing that chronic energy drain before tackling your health issue?
c) your health care provider and his/her staff listened to your concerns?
Bob and I have described "Insight-Motivated Learning", a process to help physicians encourage their patients to handle stress -- before prescribing treatments. This research paper recently appeared in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
We recommend that doctors encourage patients to use their own insight-problem solving abilities to manage chronic stress. And we suggest that when patients handle such energy drains, it will be easier for them to follow doctors' recommendations for treatment and for prevention.
Here is the citation: "Insight-motivated Learning: A Model to Improve Stress Management and Adherence in Chronic Health Conditions." Robert A. Ronzio and Patricia A. Ronzio, Austin, TX. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal, 2012, volume 11, issue 2, pages 22-28.
How would your next visit to your health care provider be different if you had the opportunity to share what's actually stressing you out first?
What is your problem solving profile?
Which of the following statements is the best fit:
a. Do you believe you are good at dealing with problems?
b. Is your ability to solve problems okay -- not great?
c. Or do you feel uncomfortable when faced with solving problems?
Whether you consider yourself to be an effective problem solver, an average problem solver or a problem avoider, you can boost your problem solving skills. It’s easy and it’s quick.
Before looking at ways to accomplish that, let’s work on the phrase, “problem solving.”
“Problem solver” or “Creative problem solver?”
Problem solving sounds…like a problem. Yet we solve problems – large and small – every day, without turning them into “projects.” It happens naturally. So let’s add spice by adding an adjective. Creative problem solver has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Creativity adds excitement to a potentially boring task. Creativity implies imagination, and imagination draws on curiosity. Curiosity reflects vitality--all are interrelated.
Sadly, most educational strategies omit, even penalize, the creative part of problem solving.
Remember when your biology teacher droned on about diploid, mitosis or blood groups? You knew those concepts would be on the test, so you jotted down notes, highlighted sentences in a textbook, and memorized complex diagrams.
Did this nurture imagination and creativity? Not even close.
But that’s not all that gets in the way. Beliefs can also inhibit these attributes:
4 Myths about Creativity
Myth #1 Only successful inventors, artists, writers… are creative.
Let’s go back to when you were a kid. Children naturally apply their creativity to understand what’s going on in a complicated adult world. And as an adult you can still apply your creativity to understand a complicated world.
Myth #2 Creativity: Either you have it or you don’t.
The ability to solve problems creatively is not a genetic trait, like hair color. The human brain is built for creative problem solving. Everyone has this ability.
It can be enhanced however. Like exercising to strengthen muscles, solving problem processes of the brain can be enhanced through frequent use.
Myth #3 Daydreaming is a waste of time.
Feel guilty about staring out the window when you should be “working?”
Research indicates that during the creative process, like a musical improvisation, the region of the brain responsible for keeping you on track --shuts down. This changeover allows new ideas to flow easily, to intermingle and develop into new combinations.
Myth #4 Creativity cannot be taught, learned or improved.
A competitive athlete whether a cyclist or golfer understands that a whole mix of ingredients goes into success.
Factors such as motivation and attitude, the physical environment, like the type and condition of the fairway, play a pivotal role. Knowledge - the extensive array of pertinent facts – goes hand-in-hand with skill.
The same variables, attitude, environment and knowledge are just as important to enhance creativity and imagination.
Five ways to unlock your creativity to solve problems like stress, better and easier and faster
1. Change a negative attitude
The belief you can accomplish a task is referred to as self-efficacy or self-confidence. Successful problem solving of any type depends on this essential aspect of motivation. It is at the heart of a stressful problem.
2. Improve your mood
Feeling blue can slow you down mentally as well as physically. Studies have confirmed common experience: It is harder for individuals to think creatively when they feel tired, sad, depressed or down.
3. Unlock time constraints
Creative problem solving takes time and commitment. I am constantly surprised at how many clients say that they do not have enough time. Be honest with yourself. Isn’t it possible to adjust what you do and when you do it in order to create more “imagine” time?
4. Take care of yourself.
Enough rest? Essential! Eat right? Absolutely! Relax? A cornerstone of self-care and stress relief.
5. Emotional support
A key reason that brainstorming fails? Participants do not feel safe about expressing feelings and ideas. Ridicule, sarcasm, guilt trips – these stop creative thinking in its tracks.
Personal validation helps too. A social environment that supports individual ideas greatly enhances imagination. There is nothing wrong with a pep talk and encouragement when an idea doesn’t pan out.
In a nutshell:
Creative problem solving is a process everyone can do. Creativity, innovation, imagination – these attributes can be enhanced with a can-do belief, a positive attitude, finding time to be creative, and time for self-care, and being with someone who truly listens without judgment.
Do health and healing depend on personal creative insights? I believe they do, in multiple ways.
Creative problem solving, including insight, yields other benefits:
Patient education should include insight learning
Traditionally, patient education focuses on disease. A lot on treatment, some on prevention. But very little goes into patient empowerment.
Insight learning nurtures both self-empowerment and patient self-management. When encouraged in clinics and doctors’ offices, it becomes a win/win for patients and healthcare providers.
Do you think you have what it takes to solve those nagging health and stress challenges?
Share with us your experience in using intuition, creativity and insight to deal with a health issue.
To: Director, Division for Research on Intelligent Life, Galactic Central
From: Earth Saucer #1 Observer
Re: Request permission for Mind Meld
You requested a preliminary report regarding my investigation of the planet Earth, pursuant directive to catalog intelligent life. I report unexpected behavior of a dominant life form, known locally as Humans.
Assessment: Human Adherance
1) Tendency to adhere to perception of "failure"
2) This occurs even though input data indicates success. Illogical!
At a "workshop" I am secretly observing, the speaker delivers an important presentation on the power of "positive thinking" (Ha!) At the conclusion, the speaker receives 153 positive evaluations from the audience rating her performance as "good" to "excellent". A single evaluation rates her as "poor" - boring and off-target.
Chief, look at the numbers... 153 "wins" as opposed to a single negative evaluation. Logic predicts that this human will use the 153 positive outcomes as irrefutable proof of success, right?
Wrong! Her brain locked into a single criticism. I find it utterly amazing that bipeds with such highly developed problem-solving skills obsess about perceived failure.
It is time to defeat mind chatter that perpetuates damaging self-talk.
Chief, drastic action is needed. Yes, I propose a Mind Meld with this individual so she can help women defeat stress-inducing rumination.
Proposed Class 2 Mind Meld to contain coaching steps:
1. Acknowledge clients' disappointments. Not everything works.
2. Help celebrate clients' successes, no matter how "small" they seem. Critical to nurture self-confidence and self-esteem.
3. Encourage clients to identify long-range outcomes. Maintain this focus.
Follow Up: Coaching Mind Meld... a success!
Who can you talk to about self-confidence? Maybe, it’s somebody like “Gwendolyn.”
Let me share a little about her…
I arrive at the hotel in Corpus Christi early, to check out the room and technical arrangements for my breakout session. The coordinator had emailed me to expect 25 attendees, tops. So imagine the shock of discovering a cavernous meeting room seating several hundred people. Stage, full screen video, the works.
It’s unexpected. That’s when I hear from Gwendolyn.
Yes, Gwendolyn, my twin who lives in my head. At times I hate her. This is one of those times.
“Patricia, you’ve messed up. Again! All set for two dozen people? Hah! Now you have to deliver in a lecture hall! Dummy, why didn’t you read the page about schedule changes?”
Things like that.
Gwendolyn …Ever so ready to pounce, triggering guilt and self-doubt. She holds onto a glitch and converts it into a cliff-hanger. Oh, there’s so much more to Gwendolyn. She tells me what to eat. She wants me to hold a grudge and blame…
If Gwendolyn is such a pain, why keep her around?
Believe me I’ve tried to forget her, to drown her out with gingersnaps. I’ve yelled at her. But Gwendolyn won’t go away.
Two things counter the self-doubting Gwendolyn.
First, she is part of me. (To get rid of her, I’d need a frontal lobotomy.)
Second, she lives in a very tight place – fear and loss of love.
Gwenny, let me hold you in Gram’s squeaky chair.
Rocking, rocking, back and forth.
I look over the lecture hall. Plenty of time to run off extra handouts. That’s why I got here early.
I can distribute them before things get started.
I’ll get off the stage and mingle with attendees.
I know how to read the audience.
Flash drive works fine. Darn good stuff.
Yes, Gwendolyn and me…Like it or not, we are together in this.
Do you have a Gwendolyn who drains your self-confidence?
When does she check in? I would love to hear how you acknowledge your “Gwendolyn”.
Aunt Nan is on the other line. She says, “Talk a little louder, honey”. (She doesn't like to wear her hearing aid).
So I repeat a question that’s bugging me.
Aunt Nan, did you ever have trouble being assertive?
"Land sakes, whatever do you mean?"
It’s not about being in somebody’s face, or about having it all one way.
Nan, it’s like this. I went to check on a massage studio that opened last week. The masseuse began with soft music in the background. A warm towel on my back. Effleurage. Every muscle so relaxed.
I sank into that yummy place. Only to be jolted awake by a monologue about a new boyfriend. He’s always late..He didn’t used to…blah, blah.
Nan, I wanted to say Stop talking! I felt so frustrated, because I just wanted the good part to keep on!
"Honey, it’s like deciding whether or not to bring home wormy apples"
Aunt Nan described what she meant:
"I got a new pie recipe from Mildred and wanted to try it out. I drove over to the supermarket for organic apples. Wouldn’t you know it. The only ones I found were banged up and plain wormy. I could take them home and cut out the bad spots…. Or, I could try to get good apples.
I showed one of those ugly apples to the produce manager. Sir, I said, these apples are not acceptable. Poor thing, he looked like he was 20. Anyhow, he started telling me it’s the wrong season for apples.
I decided to stick to my guns. I told him, I know for a fact that decent apples are being shipped out of New Zealand, and those are what I need for my new pie recipe.
Goodness Gracious, do you know what he did? That nice young man went to the storeroom himself, and came back with some of the prettiest Fuji apples I ever did see."
4 keys to assertiveness… according to Aunt Nan
1. Nan isolated the problem.
2. She was clear about what she wanted.
3. Nan understood that she had a choice. She decided to state her needs, clearly without anger or recrimination, to the individual responsible for the situation.
4. And she persisted with her message until she got results.
By the way, the pie was delicious.
Assertiveness is such a powerful concept. Would you agree that it should be encouraged in girls and young women? Does being assertive help you stress less? Who is your assertiveness role model?
If you are like me, it's sometimes hard to appreciate special times, especially when worries intrude.
Surprisingly, help came from a children’s book.
There I was, cycling along the greenbelt. I couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful day. The sky a robin’s egg blue and a soft breeze caressing my face – and what occupied my mind? Problems. Thinking about a budget due that week, ruminating on less than happy conversation with a relative, and worrying about a rattling noise from the front end of my car.
The following evening while looking for another book, I happened to glance at our collection of children’s stories tucked away in one of the bookcases. There I found “Whitefoot the Wood Mouse” written by Thornton W. Burgess in 1976.
On the first page he wrote:
“Whitefoot believes in getting the most from the present. The things which are past are past, and that is all there is to it.
As for the things of the future, it will be time enough to think about them when they happen. If you and I had as many things to worry about as does Whitefoot the Wood Mouse, we probably never would be happy at all. But Whitefoot is happy whenever he has a chance to be…”
Yes, little mouse, you’re onto it!
On the next bike ride, I resolved to look and listen. How many different trees line the path? Tiny flowers sprinkled across a field. Ripples in the pond from the plop of a fish. A caterpillar winding its way across the path. Be careful, little caterpillar!
Staying in the present may not be easy sometimes. Nature to the rescue!
What do you think of Whitefoot’s lesson? Is there a children’s story that still rings true for you?
As though on cue, my brain begins a download like this:
• Run the dishwasher
• Send a quick e-mail
• Forgot the mayonnaise
Rapid-fire thoughts like these jangle my nerves.
An antidote to idle mind chatter
What is the opposite of this sort of silly mind chatter? Maybe it's slowing down, hitting the pause button. When I do that, it's as though I step outside myself and look in. Does this ever happen to you?Rather than giving mind chatter airtime, ask, “What is truly essential.” Nope, no emergency, I don’t have to call 911. Nothing has to be done immediately – not even putting the frozen items in the freezer! In fact, what I need after most shopping trips is a few minutes of quiet time.
Okay, Mind, you can talk away, but I am going to sit down in that comfy chair, take a deep breath, look out the window and enjoy the garden.
So, what has been your experience with mind chatter? I’d love to hear how you deal with it.
Do you want to stay focused on your lifetime goals? Make a Vision Board (Dream Board) to reinforce these ideas with images and words. By looking at it frequently you can trigger the same feelings as when your vision has been fulfilled. "A picture is worth a thousand words!", then 20 pictures might be worth a small book!
To start a cut and paste project:
Buy a large piece of white poster board at a craft or hobby supply store. Collect pictures and phrases that illustrate salient features of your vision and some as reminders of what you desire. Magazines, newspapers and graphics from the Internet are logical sources.
You’re looking for images that match your vision. For example, a basket of fresh, organic vegetables illustrates the healthy lifestyle I strive for. As a young adult, I wanted to travel. My vision board included photos of Paris - Guess what my first destination was when I left for Europe!
Create a collage of images and phrases. Add appealing affirmations - and voila - you have a vision board.
A vision board can also help your creativity, allowing your intuition to guide you. Place it where you can see it each day, as a steady reminder of the person you want to be and the life you want to have.
Your subconscious can work with the remembered images. Often you will awaken with fresh ideas to help make them a part of your life.
As an alternative to cutting and pasting, you might want to explore free websites featuring dream boards including www.oprah.com. Remember that you don’t have to limit yourself to a single dream. I have two vision boards that complement and reinforce each other.
Have fun with this project and let me know how it goes!
Our oldest grandson was five when he stood with me in the playhouse in the backyard. He spied a trail of ants winding its way across the planked floor. I immediately made a grandmotherly sweep of the area to determine if these were the fierce fire ants that we have in Texas.
Jeff, on the other hand, crouched down in wonder at those tiny, marching creatures. He then looked up and asked, “Do ants love each other?”
Startled, I decided to ask him what he thought. He said, "Maybe." We talked about what loving each other meant. Jeff pulled my hand, coaxing me to see the ant trail close up. I got down on my knees to view the world from two and a half feet. Yep, the ants were touching their antennas to each other before taking another step forward. Fascinating!
Jeff helped me in two ways:
Can you return to the sense of wonder you experienced as a child? If that seems difficult, try exploring your immediate environment on your hands and knees.
What do you think? Do ants love each other?