#22 Interview a Person You Admire

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.

#22

Interview a Person You Admire

The point of this suggestion is to take some time to ask questions of a person whom you deeply admire. It may be a high profile person, a town celebrity, an old teacher, an executive of your company, the pastor of your church, or it could be an elderly Aunt that you’ve never ‘really’ gotten to know.

Life Lessons

The goal is to garner information that you may not yet know about living a good life. How did they become someone worthy of admiration? What are their takeaways from their own experiences? What perspectives helped them through tough times?

When we take the time to listen – we learn. Sitting with someone with whom you’d like to emulate offers a tremendous opportunity to get into the life lesson fast lane. While their experiences are undoubtedly different than yours, the perspective and skills may be generally applicable.

Tips for Success

I’ll make the assumption that most of us will be interviewing someone who has had some success either in their professions, in their spiritual journey, or in their relationships. How did they do it? What goals did they set? What steps did they actively take to reach those goals? How did they handle the challenges? What attributes allowed them to persevere? Did they fail? What did they learn from failure?

In this era of instant gratification, I know many of us don’t want to work through all the kinks that learning presents. We want to be successful now. Knowing how others accomplished the pinnacle of the mountain you’re climbing may offer a more clear path to the top. Take the time to learn the tips and tricks they used to get there.

Lifelong Student

I don’t see this as a ‘one and done’ kind of activity. Because our lives are always changing, there will most certainly be people in our lives frequently with whom we can have these conversations. It may be a great tradition to practice annually. Choose someone in your life with potential to ‘teach’ you and invite them to lunch or dinner. Pick their brain and then record the essence of that conversation for inclusion in your own life plan. No matter where you are currently in your own journey, there is someone there you may learn from. Take the time to look around and…

Interview a person you admire.

TTAH

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

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

#43 Create a Romantic Road Map

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.

#43

Create a Romantic Road Map

Did you have a year end review with your boss? Did you review goals and set new ones? Do you have a workout plan? Have you made a commitment to work out or lose weight? Are you in school? Do you know exactly what classes you need to complete in order to meet your objective? These are common ambitions at the beginning of the year and yet I find that very few people turn the same attention to their romantic relationships.

Long Term Growth

Your relationship is a long term objective. It requires nurturing and effort and as such, it will benefit from all the energy you commit in designing a plan for its own specific growth and development. Indeed, those that are ignored rarely flourish.

Making a Road map

Where do you see yourself as a couple? What do you have in common? What are your individual growth aspirations? How are you supporting one another in achieving them? When do you spend time together and what do you do? How have your needs changed? Do you have savings goals? Projects to complete? All of these questions can be a springboard in helping you design your relationship road map.

Togetherness

Of course, in designing this road map, you’ll want to do it together. You may want to individually craft some ideas to save time and then blend them together in a more organized manner that moves you toward a common theme. The most important element of the road map is a clear plan to GROW your relationship. Defining dedicated time together is perhaps, the most common mistake that couples make and it’s apparent when the show up for relationship counseling.

Follow the Map

As with any effort of getting to a new place, we seldom end up there randomly. It’s important to have a plan and follow it – even if you get sidetracked. In fact, it’s helpful to have a plan B or some contingencies that will offer some breathing room for you to get back on track. We can’t always plan for the things that life dishes out but knowing that we’ve dedicated some energy to knowing how to stay focused on the end game is helpful.

Grab your partner, a tablet and pen, a cuppa coffee or glass of wine, and devote a few hours to designing the map of your romance. Keep it alive and well by…

Creating a romantic road map.

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

#73 Hire a Physical Trainer

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.

#73

Hire a Physical Trainer

Are you a faithful gym goer? Are you completely sure your workout is the one that best fits your body and goals? For a trainer to work with you and establish a set of exercises that will help you reach your goals and efficiently develop your muscles, you will spend anywhere between $40 and $90 an hour. Considering that a trip to the emergency room can run in the thousands, a trainer makes more sense.

Accountability

Perhaps one of the most beneficial elements of paying for a personal trainer is that he or she hold us accountable for reaching the goals we establish. On those sets where we can’t seem to bring ourselves to finish – the trainer is there to encourage us and help see us to the finish line.

Variety

When we get used to a routine, it’s good for awhile but then it can become boring and when something is boring – we’re less likely to pursue it over time. Additionally, a trainer is versed in a number of different workouts that work the same goal and can help us change thing sup so that our goals are achieved without the workout becoming mundane.

Stubborn Fat

Trainers are experts in knowing how to get those spots on our body that remain resistant to self motivated reduction. Whether it’s belly fat, arms, or the small back rolls that pop up with a few extra pounds – a trainer may have a trick or two that can address those problem areas.

Self Care

Hiring a trainer is an ultimate form of self care. Its demonstrating that you are important enough to invest in yourself. It’s not only the professional advice, but the dedication to pursue a workout that helps you to reach your physical health goals.

No matter your age, indeed – at every age – an expert directing your workout can provide benefit beyond what has been mentioned. Give yourself a boost to any New Year’s resolutions you may make about getting to the gym and commit to …

Hiring a personal trainer.

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

 

Gratitude Always

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ~ Meister Eckhart

Today is Thanksgiving, 2016. I’ve been writing for sixty-seven days consecutively and I can hardly believe it. I am so very grateful for the words as they flow. It seems apropos to spend a minute speaking about gratitude. I talked about Positive Psychology couple of days ago and Gratitude is a fundamental concept in the practice of positivity. Research on this construct is definitive… people who practice gratitude regularly report more joy and happiness in their lives. They are less lonely, have lower blood pressure, stronger immune systems and demonstrate more compassion and generosity. The ‘science’ of gratitude has grown by leaps in the last decade with researchers proving by results of fMRI’s that just ‘thinking’ grateful thoughts highlights areas of the brain involved in the experience of happiness.

With all of those benefits, it seems like a no-brainer to devote a part of every day to the expression of gratitude and I’m not simply suggesting remembering to say “thank you”.  Gratitude is more than expressing thanks. According to the website Gratefulness.org –

“Gratitude is essentially the recognition of the unearned increments of value in ones’ experience.”

I love this definition because it speaks to the concept that all of our experiences – the good, the bad, and the ugly – are springboards for gratitude… even those that we didn’t ask for.

I attended a day-long seminar about Gratitude a few years ago as part of a continuing education effort and it was a bit of a lazy class for me because I already ‘bought into’ and practiced the methodology that was presented. The concept wasn’t a particular challenge for me. I will admit to only half listening as the presenter challenged us to be grateful for EVERYTHING that had ever happened in our life; I looked up. What? I found myself listening more closely and thinking this guy didn’t know ‘my’ life. No way could I find appreciation for the crap that I had gone through…

He challenged me to consider my experiences and pains and to offer a silent moment of thankfulness for them. I browsed through my memory banks and thought back to divorcing Hubby… all of the toil and trauma that was associated with that relationship and then I went even further to the death of Rocky… I had no words. How does one say “I am grateful that my husband died?”

I sat in that big room full of other therapists and helping professionals with a blank stare directed toward a man who was asking something of me that felt impossible. I momentarily felt lost and scared, it seemed as though I was about to do something wrong and then – I understood.

I didn’t have to express gratitude that Rocky died or that I went through tremendous pain due to Hubby’s actions but I COULD say – without hesitation – that I was deeply, profoundly, grateful for the lessons I learned as a result of those situations.

Every. Single. Thing. that has ever happened in my life has offered me an opportunity to see myself differently, to garner insight or wisdom unavailable to the unaffected. Until you find yourself in a parlor of caskets attempting to figure out which one fits the personality of the man you had married, you will simply not truly know what it is to be a widow.  Until you are gravely betrayed by a family member you intrinsically trusted, you will not understand the inclination to build barriers of stone around your heart. Personal testimonies offer us insight that can only be achieved by feeling, doing, and being a part of a scenario.

The perspective one achieves through experience is priceless if we seek to understand and in turn, grow. We get to choose what we do with these outcomes. Choosing to be grateful for the enlightenment acquired offers far more benefits that other options.

I am eternally grateful for my life even though I haven’t ‘liked’ many of the moments in it. Truly, there are far more fabulous ones that those I might trade in and so I practice appreciation for them all.

What does it mean to “practice” gratitude? Is it as simple as a few thoughts or written words? It can be if it is consistent and habitual. I will recommend to people who are new at this to start with just one thing… Get a notebook and at the end of each day, write down one thing that you are grateful for that day. It might be only that the day is over and you still stand. In the morning – read what you wrote. At the end of the second day, write another thing you are grateful for from that day. On day three you will read the two things you have written and so on… at the end of a month, you will have a list of thirty things that you are grateful for. Everyone I know who has engaged in this effort has reported feeling better at months’ end.

In addition, I encourage the expression of appreciation. It dawned on me one day that in all the couples counseling I do, no one has ever come in telling me how appreciated they feel.  In fact, it’s been the opposite one hundred percent of the time. Couples in crisis, don’t feel appreciated. It’s also important to note that when we ‘do’ feel appreciated, we are much more tolerant of the little things that add to our dissatisfaction or frustration. Once, each and every day, turn to your partner or a family member and tell them you appreciate something about them or something they might have done for you at some point in time. The expression of appreciation to someone else helps you both.

I have a few little gratitude habits that I find myself engaging in without much thought these days and they are minuscule in contrast to where I would like to be but I’ll share nonetheless.  Whenever I find a close parking spot I say a word of thanks for the ease of parking. When I can’t find a close one, I automatically say thanks for the exercise I will be getting. I say thank you when a new client calls for the prospect of helping someone and the income it will generate. When someone cancels, I say thanks for the time to do other things. It doesn’t matter the scenario or the situation, I find something in it and express thanks.

Utilizing a Gratitude journal has never been easier. Not only can we utilize an old-fashioned notebook and pen but there is also a myriad of app options for smartphones and tablets ranging from free to just under $5. We have no excuse really…

Today, I am everlastingly grateful for not just the experiences I’ve had but also for the people who’ve been there with me both past and present some of whom are… Mom, Dad, Trish, Barb, Allysen, Patrick, Mike, Jim, Monique, Carole, Ruthie, Suzi, Cathy, Emi, Glenda, Tim, Norm, Debbie, Dee, Diane, Denise, Joyce, Anne, Rocky, Greg, Dorothy, Jack, Jane, Frank, Elizabeth, Linda, Martha, Anna, Charlotte, Jim, Chuck, Ron, Charles, Greg, Kim, Michele, Sherry, Amy, Judy, Marianne, Debbie, Diane, Lise, Renee, Kim, Bill, Debbie, Jill, Bob, and Rosemary.

Most especially … Francis, Sara, Erin, and Emily – you all… are the reason I breathe each day.

And finally, … H. I appreciate you more than I have words.

Looking at Layers

“I’m like an onion. You can peel away my layers, but the further you go, the more it’ll make you cry.”  ― Laura Carstairs-Waters

I really connected to this therapist and it turns out that a ‘connection’ with your counselor is vital to your healing. I tell my own clients this all the time; if there is no rapport, find a new one! Of course, one of the first things she wanted to know about is how my child hood was. I recounted the many moves, my parents’ divorce, my sibling connections, how I was a primary caregiver, etc., and praised the job my mom and dad did overall. I talked about how great it was to grow up in a small town and to see my parents happier with the partners they chose the second time around. I talked for almost the whole hour and her eyes got bigger and bigger as the clock ticked. I really do laugh about this today but then – I was dead serious. I thought I had a great childhood!! I was completely oblivious as to how my childhood shaped my thoughts, feelings, or perspective about the world. I just hadn’t ever given it a second thought. I was who I was and I had an image of who I needed to be. I strived to be that person regardless of the obstacles of distorted cognition’s that developed in childhood.  [We therapists are not looking back to BLAME anyone but to understand who the person on the couch really is – so many clues!] Nonetheless, she was wide eyed and I was smug. When I said, “it was great”, she said “well, OK then.” Little did I realize she was probably thinking about how much work there was to do!

I began to learn about myself bit by bit as she ‘peeled back’ the proverbial onion. I realized that I was a caregiver. Something that was blatantly obvious to many others was just being awakened in my consciousness. I knew that I always jumped in and took care of people but I never thought about why. I also learned that I took care of these people without regard to what I needed. In fact, I wasn’t aware of how to discern what my needs looked like and really wouldn’t for several more years. I realized that I did very little for myself and resentment of it lived in my subconscious, leaking out in the form of passive aggressive behavior more often that I would have liked to admit. I learned that I thought people would not like me if I said “no” to them. I had lots of thoughts really that were fairly misconstrued, some of which were based on ideas in my mind that were just plain false and others that I had due to some assumption that I had made over time. More on the specifics of these – later.

Most importantly, I learned how many of these things impacted my ability to be a good partner to my husband. I love to argue a point. I cherished my time on the debate team in school and probably should have become an attorney. I enjoy defending a position, especially if I feel like I am educated on the topic. In fact, my father and brothers are very much like me in that regard and I grew up in an environment where debating was the way that we communicated with one another on various levels. Well, Hubby did not. In actuality, Hubby felt like each time I entered into debate mode I was simply trying to be right, to run him down, to be better than or ‘one up’ him. That’s not what was happening in my mind – ever – but with counseling, I was able to see how my ‘debating’ behavior could have been interrupted in that manner. I never really cared to be right – only engage in the argument. Although, I will admit that I rarely entered into a full on debate unless I was certain of the information and the odds that I was ‘wrong’ were quite low.

I learned that having children was all consuming for me. I loved those kids to the moon and back – more really. They started my day with love and even though I was usually really ready for them to go to bed by eight, I tucked them each in with hugs and kisses, full of gratitude for their sweetness and genuine naiveté. Francis was growing into such a great young man, so self-sufficient and helpful. I was incredibly protective of him, often to the demise of Hubby’s discipline because I thought there was too much responsibility placed on him. Hubby was tough. He never had time to ‘grow into’ fatherhood – it just happened with my six-year-old. I believe that his interest was in developing character and integrity but our values on how to foster those qualities varied significantly and I often disagreed with his approach. As such, I became a defender and interfered perhaps too much (although I may do it again under the same conditions). The dedication with which I embarked on mothering used the majority of my ‘giving’ energy and generally left little for Hubby. On many occasions I recall asking him to be ‘an adult’ about this – that the children were only young for a while. In retrospect, I needed to assimilate ‘balance’ into this area of my life as well so that Hubby time was also a part of my day.

I learned also that I am a fast processor. I am quick on my feet to render information, decipher it, and respond on point. This, generally was in contrast to Hubby who had to think and consider what he heard before he could constitute a response that felt appropriate to him. Essentially, this made me ‘hot headed’ even though I didn’t have a temper per se, I sought a response quickly and would ‘chase’ down an answer. There was more than one occasion where I literally followed behind him demanding resolution with tone and frustration. It also was not perceived in the way that I intended but I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I took my responsibility for change seriously. I knew that I had to learn how to give in ways that I hadn’t before. I was all geared up to be better, to be the wife that would be hard to walk away from, to be ‘all in’. It was possible that I had been ‘holding back’, unwilling to be completely and totally vulnerable in case something happened. I needed to be more open and emotionally available. I know I didn’t ’cause’ him to behavior poorly or cause him to be disrespectful but I was one half of this partnership and I wanted to own my part.

We learned about ourselves and about one another in so much as we were open to hearing. One can only absorb so much at a time. We both knew that we had to individually change some behaviors if our relationship was going to progress. I saw what I needed to do and I clearly communicated what elements I needed from him; fidelity, honesty, and respect. I think he tried, but it wasn’t meant to be.