#187 Swing on a Swing

A mental break is often just the thing we need to interrupt a stress response and/or regroup our energy.

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.

#187

Swing on a swing

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a poem called “Up in a Swing” and published it in A Child’s Garden of Versus in 1885. It was one of the first poems I recall memorizing and I cannot hop on a swing – even today – without thinking of that poem.

Remember

Most playground swings will fit adult behinds and there is a certain charm to partaking in the childhood delight of moving through the air. Close your eyes and imagine for a moment the sensation you remember from the last time you played on a swing. Do you remember how you learned to ‘push’ your legs to gain height? Do you recall jumping off the swing? Seeing who could jump further or from the highest point?

Flying

Swings may be one of the first opportunities that humans had to experience movement off the ground. The freedom we feel as the swing moves through the air, pushing it against our face and lifting us up and across the ground may have been the inspiration for bigger and more industrious flight.

Auto Mode

In those few moments that you allow yourself the childish delight of swinging, you allow your mind to take a break. It will automatically settle into auto mode and recall the body movements you learned in childhood to lift and push the swing across the ground. It will automatically flashback to youthful memories of play and simplicity; perhaps offering you a much needed mental break.

Mental Break

A mental break is often just the thing we need to interrupt a stress response and/or regroup our energy. This is another suggestion that will get you outdoors in the fresh air – good for your body and spirit. It will induce pleasant memories and perhaps laughter – increasing serotonin levels. The soothing movement will help reduce cortisol levels – good for your mind and body.

If you find yourself passing a playground, remind yourself to take a few minutes to give yourself a short mental break and …

Swing on a swing.

 

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

#222 Let Something Go

Visualizing this process of elimination, destruction, and emptying of the things we ‘hold onto’ is a powerful way to let go of unwanted thoughts, memories, and pains.

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.

#222 Let something Go

What kind of excess baggage are you holding on to? What are you trying to manage and/or control that isn’t within your realm of change? What do you continue to think about that has been over and done for a while now?

One Story

Pick one of the things you thought about as you read the above questions and write it down. Write down as many details of this thing you want to let go of as you can think of. The goal here is to imagine or remember it clearly – but from a distance; with limited emotion as if it is a story that belongs to someone else.

Destroy the story

Once the story is complete, take the paper in your hands and crumble it up, tear it into pieces, or burn it (safely of course). Embed the action of destroying this story into your mind – taking time to be very present and mindful of the paper’s destruction. Imagine that the story is evaporating, fading into fog, and becoming blurred.

Open Hands

As you dispose of the paper (or ash) – do so with great intention and acknowledgement that the story is now gone. As you move the paper into a trash receptacle and drop it… see your open – empty – hand. Fingers open, holding nothing.

Visualization

Visualizing this process of elimination, destruction, and emptying of the things we ‘hold onto’ is a powerful way to let go of unwanted thoughts, memories, and pains. Once the activity is completed, you can replace the unwanted memory with the memory of eliminating it. Your mind will ‘remember’ that you’ve destroyed this undesirable thought. It may be necessary to remind yourself that you’ve gone through this process and make the connection by observing your open hands.

This technique can be very powerful for those times when you make the decision that it is time to…

Let something go.

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

#251 Share a Secret

Unloading it from her head into the space in my office and hearing how normal it may have been gave her tremendous relief and in her words “changed my life”.

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.

#251

Share a secret

Rational thought needs to be utilized here as we don’t want to share a secret that belongs to ‘someone else’. The idea is to share one of OUR secrets… one of the things we’ve been keeping hidden for fear that someone will judge us harshly. Perhaps something that causes shame for us.

Sometimes, secrets hurt. When we hold on to a secret, we may be holding shame which, is a non-productive, harmful emotion known to be the culprit for many maladaptive behaviors. Shame can be cancerous… the longer it sits there, the more bigger it gets. Sharing the ‘thing’ that you are trying to keep hidden releases some of its power.

Be discriminate.

Letting the proverbial ‘cat out of the bag’ to the wrong person may not go well. If you are hesitant to share your secret with someone you know there are a couple of options…

  • Talk with clergy. Either your own pastor or another. Everyone in this position I’ve ever been acquainted with has an open door policy and will talk with anyone, regardless of faith.
  • Talk to someone on a ‘helpline’. There are National Helplines for almost any topic one can think of. Generally, the people there are trained to listen well and can direct you onward if you need additional support.
  • Talk with a Therapist. A psychotherapist that is… someone trained and licensed in mental health. Some therapists do not accept health insurance so ask before you schedule the appointment.

All of those professionals are guided by ethical guidelines and confidentiality unless you indicate you are going to hurt yourself or a child. They are secret keepers, dumpsters, vaults, etc…, dumping grounds for the things that we don’t want to hold on to any longer.

Live Lighter

Once you relieve yourself of the secret, chances are you will feel lighter almost immediately. A secret only has power when it exists inside. Once we share it – its power is reduced and we can seek resolution for any additional stress or negative emotions that arise. Sometimes, we just need a little perspective about the issue at hand and once gained, the energy of the secret is greatly diminished.

I once had a client who confessed during a session that their greatest shame was lust for a neighbor. She said that she had spent years fantasizing about him but had never behaved inappropriately – only in her thoughts. Unloading it from her head into the space in my office and hearing how normal it may have been gave her tremendous relief and in her words “changed my life”.  While not every shared secret will change a life, it will allow you to live more authentically. Think about it and then…

Share a secret.

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

#340 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

By the time we are adults in our own homes, raising children, working jobs, and trying to maintain our relationships – the list of ‘should’s’ is longer than the day is long. We are striving to meet demands and expectations which have piled up through the years, without questioning…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#340

Turning should into could.

From the moment we become aware, rules guide us. We learn about standards, values, and expectations before we learn to talk. These elements become the list of ‘should’s in our life.

I should make my bed every morning

I should eat breakfast

I should finish my dinner

I should do my homework

I should be nice

Etc.

These should’s establish the base from which our life is guided and some of them are quite central to ‘who’ we are.

The problem with should’s is that many of them fail to make sense outside of the environment in which they were originally established but we continue to hold on to them.

One of my favorite stories is of a woman who began preparing dinner one morning while her mother – who was visiting – sat in the kitchen to keep her company. The woman was readying a large roast for the crock pot. She cut a healthy slice from each end, threw them away and placed the roast in the pot. Her mother, looking wide-eyed questioned the action “why would you throw away perfectly good meat?” The woman, looking perplexed at the inquiry explained “that’s what you always did…”. With a stout laugh, the mother quickly responded, “but honey – that’s because my pot was too small.”

This story exemplifies the all-too-familiar behavior that many of us are affected by from day to day.

By the time we are adults in our own homes, raising children, working jobs, and trying to maintain our relationships – the list of ‘should’s’ is longer than the day is long. We are striving to meet demands and expectations which have piled up through the years, without questioning their validity for this period of our lives, this day, or this hour.

Of course, we all have responsibilities and obligations that are important to us and we want to accomplish them. However, instead of commanding yourself to do something because you SHOULD…. First examine where it is coming from.

Are you taking down the curtains and washing them because it is important to YOU? Or is it something your mother did because she lived on a dirt road and the windows were open all spring?

Are you making a casserole for your sick neighbor after work today because that’s what the other gals who are at-home moms did? Or because you want to help your friend?

Are you saying no to lunch with a friend because you ‘should’ stay home and get the laundry done?

Rephrase your ‘should’ to ‘COULD’.

I should do the laundry today instead of having lunch with my friend.

I COULD do the laundry today instead of having lunch with my friend.

When you rephrase the thought with COULD… does it have the same pull?

When you use the word COULD – your brain understands it as if you are CHOOSING something rather than engaging in a behavior which is expected.

The psychological difference is dynamic. You’ve created CHOICE in your life instead of an expectation that is not authentic to you just by …

Turning should to could.

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

#345 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Years ago when I had an estimate for house cleaning, the woman said she had to charge me more for all of the ‘chotchkies’ she would have to dust. Ummm. That’s a fair disadvantage to collecting random baubles.

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#345

Declutter

Minimizing is a thing these days. From the tiny home craze to the amazing success of Marie Kondō’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up… we are beginning to connect to the concept of ‘less’. Retiree’s are ‘downsizing’; families are embracing a ‘minimalist’ lifestyle; and an entire industry has risen on the concept of ‘decluttering’. After decades of acquiring mentality people are finding peace in the concept of ‘letting go’.

Reducing clutter relieves anxiety. We simply feel better when things around us are in order. Indeed, less stress about our environment allows us to sleep better, particularly when the decluttering is in the room where we sleep. The benefits of decluttering include increased happiness… when we are happier, we are more productive and creative.

Years ago when I had an estimate for house cleaning, the woman said she had to charge me more for all of the ‘chotchkies’ she would have to dust. Ummm. That’s a fair disadvantage to collecting random baubles.

In order to successfully declutter we have to be conscious of what we truly need. How many junk drawers do we have to have – really? Take a good look around at all those knick-knacks you’ve been collecting in the pursuit of making the cover of Good Housekeeping and assess their importance. Are they things you’d grab in the even of a fire? Would you miss it if it was gone?

Start small. Clean out the drawers you rarely dive into. Try the back of the closet and thin out the clothes you didn’t wear this year. Do the basement, the attic, and the garage. By the time you get through those spaces you will have more discernment and can attack the main living spaces.

Think of how much time you’ll fee up when you don’t have to dust/clean all those nooks and crannies after you…

Declutter.

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

#361 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

My goal, for those of you who are curious, is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#361

Open your hands and let it go.

Coping literature and psychological dictates frequently make suggestions that are parodied into concepts which, insist we “just let it go”, “forgive and move on”, or “get over it”, to name a few. The idea/concept is great and truly I think most of us attempt to follow any advice that implies we will move away from something that instils emotional pain.

I’ve talked to hundreds of people over time that have certainly heard and/or read that advice but have failed in finding peace. Eventually, the question is raised “so how is it done? How do you ‘let go’ of something?”

There are plenty of strategies but the one that has worked the best for me when necessary and is reported to be a successful option by many of my clients is the practice of holding your hands open flat when imagining that you are letting go (literally) of the thing that you wish to disappear. I must admit to the absence of any scientific evidence validating the efficacy of this gesture and yet I know enough about the way our minds organize rational thinking to believe that it simply makes sense.

In a closed position, our hands are capable of ‘holding’ something. In an open position, they are not. Our brains just don’t make the correlation of ‘holding on’ if we imagine it in our open flat hands. One caveat… letting go is not a one and done thing. The trick is to open your hands EVERY time a thought / feeling you are attempting to diminish, presents itself.

Thought arrives > vocalize “let go” while opening hands.

As often as that thought shows up. Try it and let me know how you do!

Just open your hands and ‘let it go’.

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

Photo by Jlhopgood on Foter.com / CC BY-ND

A Letter to Myself Series – Age 30

This older version of you is laughing at how hard you tend to make things! EASE UP!! Chill out!!

Third in the series A Letter to Myself

I remember thinking that if I hadn’t ‘made it’ by the age of 30, my opportunities would be gone. For some reason, I had developed the notion that whatever impact I was going to have on the world, would have to have begun before the age of thirty. Consequently, that particular birthday was notably difficult as I hadn’t yet influenced the world in any significant way.

I greatly admire and applaud the energy that young people step out into the world with. I am in awe of the motivation and dedication new college graduates bring to their first job and far too often I see the light get sucked out of their spirit because life does not unfold the way that was anticipated. It’s another problem with expectations that we conjure along the way… our neglect of developing realistic aspirations or the ability to combat disappointment. If we are going to have one – we must have the other.

I’d like to think there is a way to encourage tenacity so that it overshadows disappointment; to promote endurance and patience in the pursuit of those amazing visions we have in our early years. It’s also important to allow for a change of direction because not everything is what we thought it would be and/or we encounter a split in the road that calls to us more strongly. Here is what I would want my thirty-year-old self to hear and heed…

Hey Lady,

Another decade in the dust and what a whoosie it was. I’m so sorry you had to endure those hardships but hey… look at you now! It’s like life is giving you another shot. See… in some ways it’s like adulthood is just beginning for you and truly… you have no way to imagine what is in front of you! In the scope of your life – you have just started.  All the stuff behind you – well, it sucks for sure but by now you know that good things can come from bad ones so keep that front and center in your life.

I am happy to see that you’ve realized that dreams get fulfilled even when they look differently than you had imagined – it’s only the beginning of that too! What I really want you to know right now is that there is so. much. more. Have I already said that to you? It’s really important to know that every moment is to be enjoyed so try and tuck away the fact that you have time to enjoy this!

Look at what a good mom you are. Through all those challenges, you stayed focused. Good for you – that had to have been hard. See… self-compassion isn’t that difficult! I want to encourage you to learn that now instead of later in life. You are going to have more children and I won’t spoil the surprise this time but they change you – they change everything about you – for the better. We’ll talk more about that when you turn forty but for now, know that there is much to look forward to.

Going forward, you will be served well to trust your heart more. It speaks to you frequently but you aren’t listening. Learn to pay attention! Yes, your life will be hectic and there will be less time for you to sit and be still – make it! Don’t let your ‘inner self’ take a back seat. You will always be a better mother, wife, and neighbor if you take care of yourself FIRST. It’s not selfish – it’s self-care and it would be better all-around if you don’t wait another twenty years to figure it out!

Oh – and let’s talk about your body. So… you’ve developed more body acceptance, that’s great. Now you have to take care of it!! You have some bad habits that need addressing – you know what they are. Again, make those changes now instead of years down the road and even though you ‘hate’ to exercise – please. Please. Please. Do it. If there is any single change that this older version of you wants you to change now – it’s this part. I know, I know…. Everywhere you turn people are telling you to ‘get healthy’ – it’s a buzz phrase for all of the 1990’s and it would be good if you could get on the bandwagon. If you don’t – you never will and your body… well, you are not going to like it!

I know people everywhere are giving you advice and like most everyone – you really haven’t listened. Are you aware of how stubborn you are? Why do you feel you must reinvent everything you do? Why not take advantage of the lessons people in front of you have learned? This older version of you is laughing at how hard you tend to make things! EASE UP!! Chill out!! You don’t have to do it all right. Let yourself make mistakes – try new things – experiment but don’t be hard on yourself. Let go.

You don’t physically change very much in the next decade but your whole perspective on life will change – it’s all good. As I said, motherhood changes you dramatically in really special ways and you will redesign your vision of yourself – that’s good too. Go with the flow – feel the vibe – the current – and relax on it. In part – it is your instinct… your intuition… and it’s authentic so it won’t let you down. Your only trouble happens when you are bucking the flow – did you hear me?? When you are not floating on your ‘authentic current’ – you will be unhappy. You eventually figure it out – but why wait??

That guy you just met… he’s part of your life lesson. No, he’s not going to die – you will be together for a long while but he is in your life so that you can learn. It will be up to you to find the lessons; the good and hard ones. It’s his children that bless you the most.

Keep going …

Me

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