#4  Know Your Ancestry

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#4

Know Your Ancestry

It used to be that people were excited to get their ‘palm’ read – now it’s trendy to have your DNA read. Just by spitting in a little tube, you can identify where your ancestral roots originated. Why bother?

History

Whether it’s a family tree or DNA, your family history is important. It’s the anchor of your ship… the chemical composition of your existence. It offers information about your great-great-uncle Joe or connect the dots between your English and Irish heritage centuries back.

Genealogy

The most elementary part of knowing your ancestry is to record your direct lineage. Your father, his father, his father and so on… Do the same with your mother and hers… Connect those lines as far back as you can. When you run into a stumbling block, try the DNA  route to run the lines as far as they can go.

DNA

Whether you choose 23&Me or another service, researching your cellular structure offers even more information. Instead of learning that your great, great, great, great, Aunt Florence was the first woman to captain a ship out of Naples, you might discover that your Italian heritage is closer to the French than it is to the Baltic even though she was he hero of that port.

DNA even allows you the genetic history of disease influence. No matter if your ancestry stems from Jewish, African, European, or Middle Eastern – the results can indicate propensity for issues carried by others in that gene group.

Story

At the very least, knowing your ancestry is a tool to help you construct your ‘story’ – the story of you and of how you came to be. It’s a more advanced version – a 3D illustration – of you. Knowing a little about the people that came before you gives depth to who you are.

Can you imagine all those souls that were in front of you? Do you know their story? Their contribution to your being? It’s possible that you’ll be forever changed if you only take the time to …

Know your ancestry.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#5 Get Insurance

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#5

Get Insurance

When I first got married at the age of 22, a couple dudes in ties knocked on our front door and spent two hours or more trying to convince us that we needed life insurance. We were young and invincible, expecting our first child and really naive about the realities of the world. We were also broke so they left that day without a sale and we didn’t really think twice.

Hard Lesson

Fast forward two years as I found myself a 24 year old widow with an 18 mo. old baby and no life insurance except for the little bit of money that was automatically a benefit for a Navy Reservist. It was a hard lesson and yet it was a great testimony for the years that I ironically, sat at kitchen tables explaining why people needed to think about life insurance and financial planning.

When to Buy?

You’re never too young for life insurance – in fact, that’s the very best time to buy it because the odds that you’ll die are low – so insurance is cheap. You don’t need much if you don’t have many responsibilities – just enough to cover your debt and burial expense (which, can easily run into the 5 digit range). However, the more responsibility you have, the more insurance you need.

Purpose

Insurance is explicitly for the purpose of covering your behind when life throws curveballs. Whether it’s health insurance, disability insurance, long term care insurance, rental insurance, theft insurance, or life insurance… we never know when we’ll need coverage.

Risk

Technically, you only need to cover those things that you are willing to risk. Certainly, I never considered it a ‘real’ risk that my 23 year old husband would die; nor did he. But it happened. Accidents happen. We’ve all heard horror stories of people who were involved in an accident and many of us think it “can’t happen to me”. How much are you willing to risk?

Consider the risk you’re willing to take and then speak to a trusted advisor about insurance. Everybody needs at least some. Think about your car, your home, your belongings, your income, your health, and your life. You’re likely to sleep better and enjoy a higher quality of life knowing that you’re protected after you…

Get insurance.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#6 Stop Being Defensive

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#6

Stop Being Defensive

In this series, I’ve talked about Identifying Your Triggers, Arguing Effectively, and Emotional Intelligence. They all speak to mastering awareness in your communication. Perhaps the most important and impactful element of this is the ability to stop getting defensive.

Defenses

We experience a sense of needing to ‘protect’ ourselves whenever we become afraid and perceive that we are at risk for losing something. Whenever we imagine that we are in danger of having less of or never having something… we also may feel afraid and we tend to want to fight. When we feel attacked, we want to fight back. Emotionally speaking, we aren’t taught effective strategies very often and unless the other person we are speaking with is also equipped with similar strategies, the communication is sure to break down quickly. The conversation can resemble a war zone.

Notice Defensiveness

First, you must make the effort to understand when you become defensive and how it feels in your body. Does your blood pressure rise? Your shoulders? Is there a tightness in your jaw? Does your heart race? Notice that they are the same symptoms of fear. It’s your parasympathetic nervous system getting ready for a fight.

Step Back

When you feel your body tightening, that’s the moment you know it’s imperative that you step back. Take a deep breath. Count to five. Get Grounded. Remember who you are – who you want to be. Think about something you love or really like about the person in front of you. If it’s a stranger or an estranged individual, remember that by engaging you are giving them YOUR power. Stop.

Back Down

Backing down from a confrontation demonstrates emotional mastery – not weakness. Think about how much intention it takes to get to this point after your fear or fight is activated. It takes great strength to step back and gain composure. Adopt the attitude that you will not engage in a confrontation infused with negative energy.

Once you take the defensive energy out of an interaction, you’ll be amazed at how it dies down – it’s akin to a fire without oxygen. Your confrontations turn into constructive discussions and problem solving when you get to the point where you can…

Stop being defensive.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#7 Develop Your EQ

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#7

Develop Your EQ

You’ve heard about IQ – your Intelligence quotient – for sure. And, unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably heard about EQ which, is the term for Emotional [Intelligence] quotient. There is a segment of psychological professionals that consider it more important actually, than traditional intelligence.

Defined

EQ was popularized in the mid 90’s by Dan Goleman’s book outlining research by Salavoy & Mayer. It is defined by the ability to “recognize, understand and manage our emotions and to recognize, understand and influence the emotion of others.”

Emotions

When we understand and manage our emotions, we are more likely to direct our thought toward positive affect. Unyielding emotions diminish cognition, impede our decision making skills, and interfere with our ability to communicate effectively.

Development

Very few of us have achieved emotional mastery and so we’re likely to benefit from practicing on a regular basis by doing the following as often as possible.

  1. Be super aware of your own emotions. Know them. Label them.
  2. Consider perspective at every opportunity.
  3. Be curious about how others think and feel.
  4. Stop and think before you speak. Speak intentionally.
  5. Stop getting defensive.
  6. Use your voice with respect and responsibility.

Each of these suggestions are to be used in conjunction with one another in as many situations as you can remember to employ them; regardless of the situation. Indeed, it’s when life presents us with the most difficult or challenging scenarios that we must dig deep and practice, practice, practice.

Emotional Intelligence has been touted throughout corporate environments for almost two decades but it’s not yet taught or developed in schools or traditional environments even though it impacts communication in the most positive ways. EQ is a predictor of success and has been shown to improve mental health overall in research. More self knowledge leads to more happiness and that leads to better life satisfaction no matter who you are. Looking for more happiness?…

Develop your EQ.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#8 Make Decisions

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#8

Make Decisions

How decisive are you? Is it easy for you to set a course? To make decisions? To act? If you are not naturally decisive or you struggle to be so, the following suggestions may be helpful.

Information

Information is power. It is the cornerstone to making decisions because we can only act on what we know. The more you know, the more confident you will be in choosing. Do a little research – or a lot – depending on the intensity of the decision.

Pros and Cons

With every decision there are pros and cons, even small ones. Nothing is absolutely perfect. Sometimes, they are almost evenly balanced and its important to see your options clearly so outline them as gradually as possible.

Visualize

Take time to imagine each of the options; or at least the top three. Try to visualize how each of the decisions may play out in your life. Notice which option feels more intrinsic.

Remember

Remember that you’ve made decisions before and even if there are some bad ones in your past, there are more than likely many good ones as well. It’s important to recall that you have the ability to and the history of making good decisions.

Listen to Your Heart

If you can learn to be still and connect to your innermost self, any decision you have to make will be easier. We all have an intrinsic ‘knowing’ – some people call it an intuition or gut feeling. For most of us, it takes practice to connect to it; to feel it. Authentic decisions come from that place.

Practice

If you are are attempting to build your decision making skills, start small. Make decisions about dinner or what restaurant to go to. Build up to more permanent decisions like paint color or furniture purchases. Be prepared to make mistakes. Take small risks and reassess as need be.

Acceptance

Remember that once in awhile, you are likely to make a poor decision or one that you become dissatisfied with. It’s likely to be ok in the grand scheme of things. Forgive yourself and try again.

Learn not to be afraid and build your confidence about …

Making decisions.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#9 Go on a Retreat

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#9

Go on a Retreat

How many times have you wished you could get away from it all? Have you fantasized about sitting in silence or dedicating time and attention to your spiritual, physical, or emotional health? A retreat may be just the thing for you.

Abandon

A retreat is an opportunity to temporarily abandon the typical distractions that become a part of our day to day life. It’s an opportunity to deeply relax and allow enough time for an inner change to take place and be sustained. Generally, a retreat differs from a typical vacation in that it focuses on a developmental purpose. The examples include Yoga, Meditation, Massage, Spiritual, Mindfulness, Food, and Fitness; there are dozens of options.

Focus

Imagine a week of de-stressing in a relaxing atmosphere where your only concern is may be literally feeding your body, mind, or soul. A retreat can be effective even if it is for a weekend. The concept is getting away long enough to fix your focus on something healing.

Options

From websites like Retreat Guru to Google searches such as “retreat centers in [your region]”, there are literally thousands of choices around the globe that offer get-a-ways to recharge you. Depending on your budget, you can go local or halfway around the world.

Self-Care

A retreat is a kind of self-care on the next level. It takes you beyond a good night’s rest or an evening with friends and dedicates an entire period to individual care – much of what you do on your own (meditation, yoga, spiritual) but with the time and space to accomplish what didn’t happen at home.

When life is too much or preferably before it is overwhelming, do yourself a favor and …

Go on a retreat.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#10 Know ‘Your’ Colors

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#10

Know ‘Your’ Colors

In the early 80’s, there was a product line distributed at first via the home party platform, called “Color Me Beautiful” based on the book of the same name by Carole Jackson. The principle of Color Me Beautiful is that each individual can wear any of the colors but the richness and undertone (warm or cool) is better on one skin color over another. The idea was that you could have your skin tone assessed and that would direct the color of your makeup, lipstick, and wardrobe colors; because when you wear the ‘right’ colors – it highlights your natural beauty.

Take the Quiz

I haven’t heard of anyone hosting those parties in recent years but many women know what ‘season’ of color best suits them and the information is easily found on the internet by answering a few questions about your skin tone, eye, and natural hair color.

Season Schema

Once you know your ‘scheme’, it’s suggested that you prioritize those colors in your wardrobe and base your makeup selections accordingly. For example, if you are an Autumn – you would want to keep things in the green/rust/brown arena. Springs would choose red, lavender, and teal. Summers lean toward blues, yellows, and pinks. Finally, Winters might choose purple, burgundy, and emerald green.

Additionally, the colors are broken into the categories of warm or cool; winter and summer are cool while spring and fall are warm. As stated earlier, it’s the richness and tone of the color that either does or does not work with your individual coloring.

Why It Matters

There’s plenty of research telling us that when we feel attractive we stand taller, smile more, and engage more fully in our communication. What could be easier than working with the base pallet we were born with? Most of us probably have an experience of wearing a particular color and notice that when we do, the number of compliments about our appearance is elevated. Maybe people don’t say “I like that color on you” but the comment about how pretty you look or how nice you look. They may notice that you look happy or simply “good”. It may be helpful to see if there is a correlation to the increased comments based on a color you wear.

Color Palette

The color palettes are readily available online and once you’ve taken the quiz to determine your ‘season’ – buy the palette and carry it in your pocketbook or keep it in the car so that when you are out shopping, you are matching your purchases to the colors determined to be a best match to your skin tone. It’s as easy as that to look your best once you…

Know your colors!

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#11 Ask For Help

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#11

Ask For Help

Far too often I find myself talking with people who are overwhelmed because their life has turned temporarily chaotic and they do not stop to ask for help. Frequently, it’s because they think they ‘should’ be able to handle it and asking for help feel like a weakness. Other times it is because they don’t want to ‘bother’ people.

A Village

The phrase “It takes a village” is an African proverb speaking to the concept that an entire village is involved in the rearing of its children. I think this phrase is appropriate for life as a whole… sometimes, just getting through major life stressors – takes a village. When a catastrophe happens, it takes a village. When an illness strikes, it takes a village. When a move is imminent, it takes a village.

And yet, we tend to deny ourselves the village support by not asking for help.

Major Disturbance

If you are in the middle of a major challenge and someone says “let me know if you need anything” – let them know! If they were just being polite they can assume responsibility for setting their own boundaries. I find that generally, people mean it when they offer help and are happy to provide assistance. When life takes a disastrous turn, it’s hard enough to maintain the simple elements of our daily routine and personal composure, let alone managing the major responsibilities of daily living.

Minor Disturbance

Sometimes, life’s challenges are minor and mostly a nuisance. Your furnace goes out on a day when you have an important meeting… You get stuck in a traffic jam and can’t get home in time for the school bus… You have a family emergency in the middle of the night… All of these experiences are unpredictable and mostly out of our control. In those moments, it’s imperative that we reach out to those people in our village to fill in the gap.

The Village

In an era where people are much more transient that ever before in history, it’s important to recognize that many of us don’t have family down the street or around the corner. Our ‘village’ takes on a different identity than we may have imagined. It becomes our neighbors, our children’s friends parents, our co-workers, or our church family. Remember too… it takes being a friend to have a friend who steps up when you need a hand although, it may not be the ‘same’ friend. Karma doesn’t travel in a liner line.

Remember, it’s not just about building the village – it’s about USING the village and making sure that when you need to, you…

Ask for help.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#12 Argue Effectively

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#12

Argue Effectively

In January, I dedicated a post to ‘Stop Arguing’ but in a relationship, the idea that you may never argue is too idealistic. When you live with someone, you’re bound to run into conflict and the solution isn’t to avoid the confrontation, but to approach it effectively.

The following eight suggestions – when followed – will allow disagreements to be addressed with respect and maturity.

  1. Use “I” statements only. Explain your position, your role in the conflict, and your expectations. Identify your triggers, explain your needs, and describe how you will work to bridge the gap in the conflict. Concentrate on your perspective here and work hard not to engage in finger pointing or blaming.
  2. Step back from your ego. In supportive partnerships, it is important to embrace our differences with respect and develop acceptance for the ways that our partners are different. There are mostly differences between us – not always rights and wrongs. If you feel you need to fight for being ‘right’ about something, ask yourself “why?” If it is only ego based, drop it.
  3. Be present.  Don’t focus on the past (unless you are reflecting for the lesson it is teaching you) – or worry about the future.  Try and stay right there in the present moment and what is happening there. Don’t allow your baggage to overwhelm the issue at hand.
  4. Pay attention to the issue. Try to understand why it is important to or distracting you. Is is a failed expectation? Something you didn’t know? Are you defensive? Why? Exactly what are you feeling and why?
  5. Don’t interrupt your partner. You can’t be a good listener if you aren’t allowing their complete thought to be articulated or expressed.
  6. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. If necessary, restate what you hear – paraphrase it – based on your understanding so that you get on the same page.
  7. Remember that most of us have good intentions. Try not to jump right to the conclusion that your partner is being an ass. Consider that they are experiencing frustration and give them space to talk about how they feel.
  8. Do not raise your voice or walk out. If you need a break from the conflict – honor that it remains unsolved and ask for a time out. Don’t threaten. People who feel attacked or threatened will get defensive almost immediately. Once that happens, the discussion is doomed.

Communicating with respect is probably the most critical aspect of a healthy relationship. Remembering that we each come into a relationship with different experiences, worldviews, expectations, and methods will go a long way. Resolving conflict is more easily accomplished when you know how to …

Argue effectively.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.