Friday, March 22, 2013

2 Tips To Strengthen Your Relationship With Rest

Spring is here!

Every spring brings a sense of renewal and restoration as part of the circle of life. Spring also brings the "break" before we start summer know as Spring Break.

This annual ritual of Spring Break reminded me to revisit my relationship with rest.

Rest and I are good friends for the most part. A voracious sleeper who strives to get a full 8 hours nightly, I rarely have trouble resting.

All bets are off when I hit a stressful patch in life where my normal coping mechanisms fail. Restlessness replaces my restful spirit. Try as I might, but rest eludes me when I need it most - during stressful times. Fortunately, my normal relationship with rest is so good that I am able to endure these times of uncertainty and function on a little less sleep. Additionally, I am able to shut down the worry machine and allow rest to creep back into its normal prominence. But the main reason my relationship with rest is good lies in two techniques I use all the time which really come in handy during the crisis moments.

Breathe Deeply Often

When I am not stressed, I make it a habit to breathe deeply for some many minutes per hour. The full on stop-what-you're-doing conscious deep concentrating breathing. Even if for only a minute or 3 each hour, this technique I've learned in my B.E.S.T. coaching has changed my life. It brings perspective. It allows me to slow down and center my thoughts. Because I do this often already, during stressful times when my coping mechanisms need re-tooling, this breathing saves me. And those around me. I pause more before I speak. I breathe deeply before I respond. It is very inexpensive self-therapy.

Take Real, Full Breaks Away

This has been toughest as an entrepreneur but without question the MOST important task on my to do list. The to don't list. The stop working, stop thinking and just be moments. Everyone needs them. Few actually take them. Because of the intense pace of life I lead, I do this weekly and schedule consecutive days off quarterly and every six months embarks on a full-on vacation. Unplugged. No work. Few gadgets. Even when financially it is rough, days off and vacation are essential. They are the fuel to get you back on track. Your body and mind need time away. You should give it that time, regularly.

Every relationship you have is affected by the relationship you have with rest. If it is strained or non-existent, I challenge you this spring to give it another look. Take a chance and re-kindle your relationship with rest.  Start with the two techniques I reference above and build from there. Ultimately, we all have our own interactions and needs related to rest - it is imperative that you build and maintain a strong healthy relationship with rest. You and people you do life with will thank you.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Salute to My Favorite Women

Women make the world go round!

I have been so blessed with some fantastic women in my life over the last 40 or so years. Of course, if I tried to list them all, I'd miss some and muck it up. So I decided to name some famous women who double as inspirations to me. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of the women who have and continue to move me.

Harriet Tubman
Susan B. Anthony
Jane Addams
Marian Anderson
Bessie Coleman
Eva Carroll Monroe
Madame CJ Walker
Amelia Earhart
Anne Frank
Ella Fitzgerald
Indira Gandhi
Barbara Jordan
Shirley Chisholm
Mother Teresa
Lena Horne
Frida Kahlo
Maya Angelou
Rosa Parks
Oprah Winfrey
Sandra Day O'Connor
Madeline Albright
Mae Jemison
Mama Maggie Gorban
Sonia Sotomayor
Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil

From many eras, many walks of life, many races and ethnicities - all powerful women I admire. My s/heroes one and all.   Some you may recognize, some you may not. If there are any names on this list you do not know - Google them! It will be worth every second you spend getting to know them. Each of their stories has enriched and continues to enrich my life. Take a moment to get a know a few you don't know.

Happy Women's History Month!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Flashback to Flash Forward

Spent some lovely hours reuniting with my college roommates this past weekend.

Kathy, Kathy, Heather, Nicki, Denise and Eilene. We missed Lisa. And that in and of itself is interesting. Because that original list of names is how it all started in the fall of 1991. An overcrowded year at then Judson College where they turned rooms that were designed for 4 into mega suites for 6. Year one was the listed folks and then year two Eilene moved out and Lisa came in .

Those were the days. Fun. Rice Krispie treats. Banana bread. Music. Laughter. Tears. Growth. Bonding.

I could go on and on listing what feelings, emotions and actions that took place during those two years. I'll spare you. But I would  like to look at and unpack one aspect of what this weekend meant to me; how revisiting your past really helps propel you into your future.

It is so interesting to be around people who were intensely close before but live pretty separately now. The perspective about yourself is incredible. Not to mention the perspective of those around you. How did it change? How has it evolved? Or has it not changed? Is it exactly the same? Personally, I love opportunities to reflect on my own growth by being around people who knew me in a specific era of my life. I love to have the rush of memories coupled with all the experiences that have taken place since the time those memories were made. Sifting through thoughts, feelings emotions is a great way to gage where you've been and put into light where you are going.

Revisiting your past can help you have benchmarks for your future growth. With each visit to the past, you can compare your past and present. Are you moving in the direction you would like to be moving? Could some of your old friends and contacts get you closer to where you desire to be? Being around people who knew you well at one point in your life and spending time with them in your present helps shape who you are and would like to become. As I listened to myself update them on my happenings, I can see how I truly value and see the experience Ive had since our time together. It's pretty eye opening. I certainly did not spend a ton of time on the front end thinking about this. I was busy getting ready and looking forward to seeing my old best girls. But in the time since we parted, I've caught myself thinking of what I said about something versus what someone else said.

I've thought about questions I did not ask or topics I didn't bring up but now wished I had. I've thought about what is an appropriate time to regroup since it was extremely refreshing and soul nurturing to come together. It's the happy balance. Of course, I do not want to "recreate" our time together now. We were close for season, for a reason. And now it's more of an exercise on what is the right mix of past and present to take us forward. While I am not sure the answer and really don't have time to work it out today, I am certain that the lesson in this weekend is to embrace your past. Enjoy it. Don't rewrite it or attempt to manipulate it. Learn from it. Enjoy the folks who contributed to it. Use it. Use it to propel you into the future you desire.

I'm thankful for my past that came for a quick visit just at time I needed it!