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Archive for June, 2012

As I was laying in bed early one morning this week, well before the alarm was to wake me, I simply let my thoughts flow and go where they wanted.

I tried to welcome the thoughts as friends and just observe them.  I say tried because I got rather caught up in on particular thought.

I realized that life is a lot like stepping up to bat in baseball.

I supposed that in this perfect (?) analogy Life would be the guy on the pitcher mound.  I don’t mean to imply that Life is trying to strike you out so much as Life is the one throwing you the curve balls; along with fast ball, gentle tosses, spit balls, lobs and occasionally nails you one in the arm. 

It works because when you step up to home plate, with that bat in hand for the first time; you suck…no offense, we all did.  We had no skills yet, no experience.  We were awkward and we all know that one guy, who forgot to run to first base when he finally connected to the ball!

There is a lot of layers of truth in that last statement.  Some people still can’t recognize what to do when they finally hit the ball!

The thing is some of us had fun anyway.  We lost, we fell down and occasionally we struck out.  We sometimes got called with a bad play or a foul ball.  Sometimes we hit a good one and got on base.  Once in a blue moon we may even have hit it out of the park…or far enough to get a home run anyway.  We all did. 

We also learned that having a team to support us makes a world of difference.  You can’t play a good game by yourself.  A coach, team mates…they all make the game happen.

However, there are many who shrugged and decided it was easier to just be part of the crowd on the bleachers.   Some didn’t see the possibilities that might come with practice; or perhaps they just didn’t see the value in the effort.  Some were told by others they could never make it to the ‘big leagues’ and believed it; so they stopped trying.

Then there are those who kept going.  They played for fun at first sure; but in doing so they built up an affinity for the game.  They learned to judge when to bunt, where the ball was going and when to steal third. 

Did they screw up?  You bet they did.  They got hurt, they were embarrassed and had slumps where I am certain they questioned everything.  But when you know your purpose, your goal you can persist through those times.  You have faith in what you are doing.

They kept their eye on the ball; literally and metaphorically.  Focus,drive, practice and more practice.  Sounds a lot like how life works doesn’t it?

In life you have to keep your eye on the ball and keep swinging.  In doing so you will eventually be able to predict with some accuracy (most days anyway) where the ball will go when you hit it. And you know what I love to say about that.  When you know where you’re going you know when you get there!

You can still get surprised by pitches but you will learn to better and faster adjust on the fly.  You also learn that life sometimes strikes you out and that’s okay. 

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below or leave me a comment on my fan page.

 Am I right about players and the crowd? Are there more ways life is like heading to bat?

Keep Your Eye On the Ball

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It has been a weird sort of weekend and start to the week. 

Nothing terrible has happened, nothing much has been moving at all in fact.  Rather humdrum and routine.

It was kind of freakin me out to be honest.  This kind of lull in the ups and downs of life rarely last this long.  Not that I’m not grateful to have some level ground for a bit but when I actually took notice I started to get nervous.

In fact, I believe the expression is that I was ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop.”  An odd little expression isn’t it?  It got rather stuck in my head as I explored this new awareness of calm that has been around for a while.

I bet lots of you out there in the world feel a lot of the same.  These are old habits for me.  A sense of foreboding starts to creep into daily life when you think  this way. 

I made an odd little connection that created a big Aha! moment for me. (Otherwise known as my ‘holy crap, I can’t believe I never saw that before’ moment).

You see, I was lucky enough this weekend to be in the area of town that has an amazing little bakery. While I try to avoid too many sweets once in a while I do indulge but they have to be really yummy to make it worth while.  The apple turnovers at this bakery are worth every bit of the indulgence. 

I planned on having my yummy treat at home later on.  However, when the evening rolled around and the kitchen and dining table were all cleaned up I hesitated.  After all these turnovers were very flakey which meant crumbs.  This mean cleaning up after again. 

For a moment I almost denied myself the pleasure of this treat, one that I’d been waiting for because I might have to clean up. 

What was I thinking?

Suddenly, it occurred to me that we do this all the freakin time to ourselves.  Just like the feeling of foreboding and waiting for the shoe to drop.  I was busy wasting time on these emotions because something might happen? I might get some crumbs in my life?  Whoa; hold on there! 

Talk about wasting the gifts I’m being given!  Let’s face it..life will hand out the trouble cards whether I am waiting for them or not so what the heck was I doing allowing these feelings to hang out with me?  I was not enjoying the treats, the pleasures of the day…because of the unknowns of tomorrow.  I had to give my head a shake when I connected those dots.

Well, no more of that.  Crumbs will happen and I will wipe them up.   Life will happen and I’ll deal with that when it comes.  I will not waste or deny happiness for a second more.

Living in the moment means accepting the joys and reveling in them.  If that is a special treat, time with a loved one or just some calm waters…sink your teeth in and enjoy.  Tomorrow and all the things is brings will come when it gets here.  Let’s stop worrying about what we haven’t got, might lose or problems that may find us.  Instead, I want to focus my energy on being grateful for what I already have, accepting what comes and believing that I will have what I need to deal with the future.

Let’s make it a practice to enjoy today and affirm that good things await us. 

For the record…the turnover was sooooo yummy. Worth every crumb and then some.

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Need a nap?  Then take one!

Mom had it right when she used to give you a look of exasperation and then declare ‘somebody needs a nap’.  Odd how often the someone was implied to be you wasn’t it?

Seriously, naps are good things.  We simply don’t sleep well or enough  in our current society.  While most of us need somewhere between 7-8 hours of sleep there are the rare ones among us who are capable of doing quite well on 5 or so.  As well the opposite, there are some who need as much as 10 hours to get the sleep they need.  These are the few however…well, once you get out of the teen years.  Teens on average need a little more than an adult; around 9 hours to be civil.  Either way, it turns out, the majority of us are sporting a sleep deficit that might rival the national debt. 

Pay attention here…this lack of rest has much more of an effect on you, your life and your plans then you probably realize.

Check these facts out.

A sleep deprived person has been compared to someone who has had a bit too much to drink.  Think about all we put into making sure we don’t ..or our friends don’t drive or make important decisions while under the influence.  And yet…

What are some of the known issues?

  • irritability
  • memory difficulty
  • impaired judgments
  • slower responses both physically and mentally
  • less accurate responses
  • aches and pains
  • symptoms similar to ADHD
  • increased perception of pain and stressors
  • cravings for sugary foods or quick energy which can equate to a poor diet

Longer term effects can be:

  • weight gain
  • depression
  • immune system impairment
  • increased risk of heart disease
  • increased risk of disease in general
  • slows or suppressed growth
  • slows healing process

Suddenly it’s easy to see why sleep is pretty freaking important beyond not nodding off during an important meeting. Your mindset cannot work for you if you are struggling to stay awake and not rip someones head off for breaking your shaky concentration right?

A nap won’t fix your poor sleeping habits but it can go a fair distance to making life livable once again.  Or at least making it easier for us to live with you.

Would it help if I told you that many of our great leaders have been fans of the nap?  Names such as Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy or  Albert Einstein ring a bell? How about Leonardo Di Vinci?

Rumour has it that Winston Churchill first coined the term “power nap”.  Margaret Thatcher is said to have insisted her staff not bother her between certain hours so that she too could have a sleep in the afternoon.   

Researchers at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania have found that dropping off for 45 minutes to an hour helps to lower your blood pressure after a stressful event. 

Sleep has also been found to be linked to regulating certain hormones including possibly ones related to our appetite and feelings of hunger or fullness. 

In fact, have you ever experienced a sleepless night followed by a day when no matter what you ate you never felt full or satisfied? If so, then you have experienced the workings of the hormones leptin and ghrelin.  So, to put it simply when we don’t sleep we often eat way more than we really need to because our hormones are out of whack.  Add in our desire for stimulants (coffee, energy drinks) we aren’t making good, healthy choices for our body.

The best option of course is to work on improving our sleep habits and to actually get enough sleep.  That just isn’t always possible; of this I am keenly aware.

So do naps help with our sleep debt?

The answer is yes according to Gregory Belenky, MD, Research Professor and Director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University.  He recommends naps as a way to make up for lost sleep. He says, “The beauty of naps is that they add to total recuperative sleep time,” adding that “A large number of the world’s people divide their sleep into two blocks (with the afternoon sleep called a siesta in Spanish-speaking countries). It is even possible that divided sleep is more recuperative than sleep taken in a single block.”

Our biological clock actually has two normal dips in alertness during the 24 hour period.  Researchers peg them at about 2 am and 2 pm.  At these times it is more of a battle to be alert; and even tougher for those who are sleep deprived.  Studies show that a 10-20 min rest can help people cope if they are feeling drowsy.

While getting enough proper sleep at night is ideal; it’s good to know that Mom had it right all along.  Powering down and having a nap can do amazing things for you when you are fatigued and drowsy during the day.  You can’t move forward in your personal growth if you can’t think straight!  Get some sleep!

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In the past I’ve had a little habit that I suspect many people also have. 

I negotiate with my self.  Yup.  I make crazy deals with myself. We all are in that game from time to time I think.  What we need to realize is sometimes this is okay but sometimes it can be a tactic based in self-destruction!  Most of us are aware of our inner dialogue but sometimes there is a quite a conversation going on.  Often it’s a form of negotiation happening. 

Sometimes, it is used for a bit of motivation.  I suppose you could call it a reward but it all truth it was pure self bribery.  As a teacher I am fully aware of the difference lol.  It’s actually a pretty effective means of getting my butt in gear and getting moving on things.  I’ll be honest I still sometimes use this method when I am faced with a task I find really unpleasant and I’m okay with that. 

You know…okay when I do XYZ which you really don’t want to do and you can grab a cafe mocha afterwards.  It gives me something else to focus on beside the nerves or yuck factor and helps me tie up those feelings after the fact.  This I don’t mind too much.  Sometimes we just need a boost or a kick in the pants right?

However, there is another type of negotiating I’ve used in the past that I’ve worked really hard to recognize and eliminate.  That is the kind I use when I want to get ‘out’ of doing things or procrastinate rather indefinitely. 

I used to find methods to pretty much excuse myself from things I found uncomfortable or icky this way.  I’d tell myself I’d to this or that instead and it would be okay then, to not do what I really needed to do.  For example, I might use this method on something simple like taking out the recycling.  Well, I’ll organize it and when the trash bin is full I will take it then; why make two trips right? This allows me to not have to deal it right now, but not feel bad about it.  It would excuse my not doing what I know needed to be done.

This is just a form of self sabotage via excuse building.  I’ve learned the hard way to recognize this nonsense and when I do I stop and listen.  I ask myself What is really the problem here? I have to take some time to explore and to find out where the real resistance is coming from and deal with that rather than try to find a work-a-round. 

Even the silly recycling was a resistance that wasn’t just a matter of two trips. It was how much I disliked the icky factor of dealing with the bins.  (I live in a condo so they aren’t just mine).  I really have issues with how dirty they are, how difficult it is to read the bin labels and the room is rather claustrophobic inducing.  Reality check for me to look at my own personal issues.  (yes, I am this close to being a bona-fide germaphobe).  So, I was avoiding them.  Once I looked at this honestly I made a plan to deal with it. I found little plastic bin shelves and separated the stuff right away so I didn’t have to do it in the dark room.  I also combine taking it all down there with walking Charlie so that I feel like I’m not wasting a trip…no more of that excuse!

How often do you negotiate with yourself over little things like this?  The thing is, when we do it for little things we more easily will buy into our subconscious’ negotiating tactics over bigger things too.  It becomes a habit that can really hurt us.

Working on self-awareness and asking those questions around where all this is really coming from, will help you learn to change the plan and stop negotiating with yourself in ways that stop you and get you stuck…or worse.

What about you?  Do you negotiate with yourself ?  About what?

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I think sometimes my brain has a thought process all of it own.  I was pouring myself some coffee (shocking I know) and somehow found myself thinking about what advice I would give my younger self had I the opportunity.  I think it may all stem from the focus I’ve been putting on the Coffee with Soul series, new blog and such.  It’s all about figuring out life and sharing the lessons with each other. There may be a connection there. 

Well let’s see..some of the thoughts that came about were kind of funny (don’t buy that outfit because someone will take a picture of you wearing it and you’ll be the butt of jokes til the end of time lol).

Some were a bit more serious like that guy isn’t any good for you; he’ll just break your heart or don’t trust that person they will steal your stuff.  Then again, after thinking it over I recanted that.  Those experiences while unpleasant, gave me wisdom and built up my resilience.  I also wouldn’t have met one of my good friends otherwise…so yeah..the heart ache stays.

The more I got to thinking about it I realized how many blessings in the form of upset, pain and loss were given to me.  Some were unanswered prayers that you can later look back on and to realize how what you wanted so badly wasn’t what was good for you.  Some led me to better understanding, patience and the ability to fulfill the calling and the journey I am on right now.

And to be perfectly honest…I know me. I probably would not have learned those lessons all that well without the impact that the actual experience had, so what would I share with my younger self?

So I kept thinking about it..and kept thinking about it.  Seriously I was driving myself nutty (I know..short trip right? lol)

If I had opportunity to give some advice to my younger self what would I say?  I of course, made it even tougher because I limited this to one thing. 

Suddenly, I realized what was the biggest lesson, the most important and hardest won lesson I had to impart.  The one that shifted my entire belief system (and still on occasion tries to speak up from my subconcious..sigh..it’s a long process in some cases). 

And it was this.

Don’t bother looking to others around where you should be in life.

We each have our own journey and must start where we are and with what we have right now, today with a grateful heart. 

So, at the risk of making you down two cups of coffee, and taking a long walk in order  to figure it out, I ask you for your best and only bit of truth you’d impart to your younger self.

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There is no other basic lesson around mindset that you need to know or that I can teach until you understand that your mindset precedes your level of achievement.  Every single time.

It doesn’t really matter what activity you are taking on.  Your mindset plays a very big role in your level of achievement in that task and how you think you performed it.

If you begin something; be it an everyday minor activity or a brand new, exciting role; your mindset plays a big part in how you begin and you will end. 

Good or bad; your mindset has a hand in it all. 

Mr Napoleon Hill had this one bang on.  When you think about it and believe in it you can achieve just about anything you set out to do.  And the opposite is also true. When your belief system tells you that ‘failure is where you’ll end up anyway’ and that ‘it will be hard’ and on and on…you begin to believe this to be the truth. It’s call a self-fulfilling prophecy (You can learn more about that in my book Shine On!)

And this is all independent of any sort of reality. The important thing to understand here is that you can alter what is true for you with your determined belief. 

Most people I think believe that a good attitude will make things easier and a bad attitude will make things seem even more yucky than they perhaps have to be.  I rarely get anyone challenging that.  However, I get good and challenged on the deeper understanding of how powerful our mindset and belief system are.

The most common jab I get?  Well, if that’s true can’t I just really believe I can fly and just start flapping my arms?  Or something along those lines anyway.

I’ll be honest, I first thought these same kinds of things when I started my own journey into my spirit.  It took some time and reflection and I realized someone already DID that

Remember the Wright brothers?  It took them 4 years of trying, experimenting and failing (yup..failing) before they had their belief rewarded with that first delicious success of a flight! The flight lasted only 20 seconds and went 120 feet.  Not much by today’s standards but amazing none the less.

My point is…yes you can believe and learn to fly.  Maybe not by flapping your arms…but you can certainly learn to fly.  But first, you have to choose to believe you can!

Share with me a time when your beliefs either held you back or propelled you forward.  Hey! Shifts happen!

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We’ve all had our moments right? You know the ones where we fly off the handle, blurt out something stupid we wish we could take back or feel the opportunity rising in us to act without thought. This is pure lower consciousness and emotional reactions taking us over. Our lower consciousness (or Id according to Freud) is a real brat when upset.

We usually regret this later…even if we don’t want to admit it.

You can see this in just about every forum on the internet. People who lose their minds over grammar or spelling or someone disagreeing. (You know they’d most likely never act like that in real life.)

Or how about the road rage I’m sure some of us have been witness to on occasion. It was this insanity that got me to thinking “what is wrong with people?” I could feel the annoyance rising in me as I watched this fool cutting people off, slamming on brakes and weaving in and out of traffic. Is it a lack of consequence? I’m sure there is a lot of research being done around the phenomenon.

Curious, I was able to observe with my higher self how I was getting really peeved. I had to remind myself how stupid it would be to fall into line and start pushing the accelerator. I was also able to clearly notice what I did to shift my emotions and mindset. I took back control.

You know me…once I get to thinking it rolls on and on! We all do things or say things out of immediate reaction and emotion. I am certain we have all blurted out something in the heat of an argument or emotional situation we regretted or wished we could take back.

Okay…so how to keep from doing or saying stupid things?

1. Pause Give yourself a moment before you move or open your mouth. Just pause. Sounds easier than it is trust me but it’s super important to take a couple of seconds.

2. Breathe During your few seconds take a few deep breaths and choose to let go of the emotions driving you. Release, breathe, release. Calming breathes with serve to get rid of the cloud over your better judgement.

3. Then act

Giving your self those few seconds for a breather can make a huge difference in whether you spend the day regretting and trying to fix a bigger problem or solving the actual issue you have.

Think it doesn’t work? Try it. Or look at my example of the road rage. We can either allow ourselves to be overtaken by emotions and have them run away with us. This only serves to feed the emotion making everything bigger than it really is. Or we can put our emotions in its place and be in control of our self.

As Brian Tracy put it “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”

Which do you think will result in less regret and more problem solving?

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