Monday, February 24, 2014

Rest In Peace: A Message For The Living

Over the last few months, I have been somewhat obsessed with the phrase "Rest In Peace." I've been thinking about the implications of how we use that phrase for our dearly departed. Almost every where in the world, people wish dead folks peace. Ripples and ripples of peace wishes pour in instantaneously upon hearing of someone's passing - almost always directed at the dead.

Faced with mortality and death at a very early age, I have to say this fact has always bothered me and I did not know how to communicate my discomfort until recently. My conclusion is this... living people need peace. And we need it much more than dead people.

We should wish that everyone "rest in peace", daily. defines peace this way:
      1.) a state of mutual harmony between people or groups especially in personal relations
      2.) cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension

I love that definition. In fact, over the last few months as I've really examined when and how I wish peace on people.

When someone is faced with a trial or challenge, I send peace wishes their way.
When someone loses someone they love, I send peace wishes their way.
When all is chaotic in a situation and people are flailing about, I send peace wishes their way.

My new phrase has been "Peace, Love and Light." I send these wishes on social media and in hand written notes whenever necessary.  Just writing or saying that phrase lifts my soul and I've been told it does the same to the intended recipients. Many people only have a relationship with peace as it relates to death. I'd like to push that paradigm and shift our thinking to peace in life.

I am in a season of tremendous growth personally and professionally and a key driver of that growth is a shift in the way I think. I see evidence of my thinking changes every single day -  in the choices I'm making, in the interactions with others and in my behavior overall. Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to make a shift in the world based solely on the way we think about wishing folks peace?

So while I am not advocating that we stop using "Rest In Peace" as we do today, I am asking you to consider wishing living folks peace as well.  Find ways to send peace greetings and wishes every day. Resting in peace should be a blessing for the living.

Monday, February 17, 2014

2 Tactics To Keep The Change You Worked So Hard To Implement

Changing the way you think is THE hardest thing to do but so worth it
7 weeks into this new year and it is already kicking my butt. 2014 is proving to be a most challenging year because I set out to do something this year, I've not done so intentionally at any other time in my life - change the way I think.

You see it all over inspirational quotes every where - "change your mind, change your life"" or "change your thoughts, change your behavior." While it is perhaps the most cliche of all inspirational thoughts, it is without a doubt the most difficult change to put into action.

To start 2014, I did a drastic diet, The Whole30 - a  grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, legume-free program designed to change the way you eat. Sipping my black coffee today is evidence that it did indeed change my eating habits but that is not why I set out to do the program. I did the Whole 30 to examine the way I think unconsciously about everything and it worked.  Turns out denying myself all my "favorite" and comfort foods for 30 straight days was a doorway to also releasing some long held notions in my brain.

But releasing them alone was the easy part. Recognizing limiting beliefs and thoughts was easy while I was 100% focused on it due to diet and its natural constraints on my eating. What's been difficult is keeping myself from falling back into the same thought patterns now that I am "back to normal" eating wise. Here are two tactics I'm employing that you can use to implement change in the way you think:

Active Reversal

I made that term up but it is really effective. Active reversal is when I catch myself thinking in ways I was thinking in pre-Whole30, I stop and question myself out loud so I hear the words running through my head. This has been a hoot, especially when others were in the vicinity. Having to explain that I am "catching" myself in an old pattern has been a phenomenal way to break it. Additionally, transferring thoughts into active live words help me to see the absurdity of reverting back. Here is an example: One of my challenges (I'm actively trying to abandon) is building a narrative for others. When someone fails to communicate with me well, most often, I just "make up" what's going on  in their head, in my own head. I could write a whole post on why that is so crazy but let's not digress. Recently, while talking to my husband and he was somewhat unresponsive, my mind started to create the words he was not saying so I stopped and said out loud, "he did not say that or anything, let's let go of your narratives, Denise." Not only did we both get a good chuckle from the insanity of me stating this but my husband got a glimpse of why we have been having conflict and took to heart my need for more clear communication.

Positive Pile On

Just the opposite of my previous tactic, Positive Pile On is when I see myself embracing or being open to a different way of thinking, I do one or more things to keep this going. Sometimes, I commend myself - out loud. Atta girl! or Good thinking! are two of my new self-cheers. I also take a moment to record it -either in a journal or in my Awesome Jar where I record all kinds of great happenings to be read at the end of the calendar year. I also share my triumphant new way of thinking with my closest friends/family. Having those around you see you thinking and behaving differently is a very effective way to keep you moving forward. I can remember vividly over this past weekend texting a close friend about a major shift in my thinking and her reply was priceless - she texted back simply "Wow. That's powerful stuff!" Positive piles ons from others are just as important as you own as it is tangible 3rd party evidence of the change. It is very easy to be insular in our change, that is where we fall into self-deception. Having external reinforcement and accountability makes it real.

Changing your thinking and subsequently your behavior is very hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.  Take heart and remember why you wanted to change your thoughts to begin with and use all the tactics necessary to keep your change alive. It is so worth it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Makeover Your Valentine's Day

We've all been inundated with hearts, pink lace and imagery focused on Valentine's Day since the dawn of this new year.  It can be easy to get swept up in the hype or cocoon away until it's all over. As we barrel down on Valentine's Day 2014, may I give a few suggestions on how to celebrate this commemoration of love.

Call someone you love that you don't talk to often

Send someone a handwritten note - get it in mail today

Do something you've wanted to do for yourself  - this week

Buy a set of kid's valentines and hand them out on Friday wherever you go

Hand make valentines for those closest to you instead of buying them this year

Make a list of all the things you love about your life and nurture them

Start a new tradition for Valentine's Day - solo or with others

Did you notice anything about the above list?

Love, in my opinion is active and all my suggestions encourage you to act out your love. It is very easy to say we love someone but showing it can be the tricky part. And this is especially true for expressing our love for ourselves. In order to give any love, to anyone, we must be adept at demonstrating our love for ourselves. The people around us take cues on how to love us by the way we love ourselves. Depending on your relationship with love, Valentine's Day can be a complicated or downright painful experience. We think if you take intentional steps to change the way you view and celebrate this day, you can make it enjoyable regardless your relationship status.

In our house, we celebrate our love for one another every February with a special Valentine's dinner and cap the evening with our own hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberries - we started this tradition when my oldest child was 3 years old and have kept it going strong for the last 9 years. Even if we have to celebrate it on a different day due to travel or move the celebration to a restaurant. Some years we exchange gifts, most years we do not. It is a given that we celebrate.

When I was single, it was only slightly different. I made a point to have dinner with a single friend and go to a movie every Valentine's Day. Some years it was a guy friend, other years it was girlfriends but I never stayed home alone on Valentine's Day. I did the kid valentine suggestion every year. It was so fun to see the face of the bank teller or the cashier at my regular lunch spot when I handed them a valentine and wished them a grand day. It was also a way to mend fences with folks at work I may have rubbed the wrong way - nothing cures ill feelings more than a Charlie Brown valentine attached to a dum-dum sucker. Even year's when I felt anxious or sad and believe me there were a few, I always made myself keep the traditions.

Valentine's Day, much like our lives in general, is what we make it.

Take time this year to change your relationship with Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 3, 2014

5 Outstanding Things That Happened On The #Whole30

My new best food friends!

Yesterday,  I ended my first diet ever, the #Whole30 challenge. I mentioned this a few weeks back as I planned to use this diet to ignite more creativity and change my life. As a non-dieter, who had no apparent food issues going in, I learned so much about all my habits, rituals and actions plus got visibility to some HUGE areas of opportunity as it relates to my eating. Check out the 5 things that happened along the way.

Disruption Accomplished

My initial reasoning for doing the #Whole30 was to disrupt my life. To shake it up and look at how I do things overall and you've heard the saying, "how you do anything is how you do everything," so examining my eating habits jumped to the top of the list as way to drive change overall. And change I drove. The very preparation and research of the #Whole30 proved to me from the start that I needed to do this. Why? Because in the earliest moments of this journey, it almost didn't happen at all. My very normal modus operandus had me researching the diet and in en route, I found a better (and shorter) option - a 21 day Sugar Detox. My B.E.S.T. coach commended my diligence but gently and firmly pointed out how I  - before I even STARTED - had used my "normal"way of thinking to adapt what she suggested to my own way. Forced to face this fact, I conceded and pushed forward with the Whole30. Too many examples of this to list but you get the idea. I was way out of my comfort zone the entire 30 days. And I am grateful.

Tangible Bonus Results

I cannot stress enough how I did not do this diet for health or weight reasons. In fact, to weigh myself at the beginning and end, I had to go to a neighbor's house as I do not even own a scale. So what'd I lose? 12.4 pounds and close to twelve inches from my top to bottom - with 5 of those lost inches in my very fleshy middle-aged woman thighs - my ONE potential spot for insecurity.  I want to say, I was very happy with the way I looked before I started this challenge but I am loving how this challenge slimmed me even though I did no extra physical activity. Can you imagine what would have happened if I did this in my running season that starts in 5 weeks?

Scrumptious New Recipes

Because I had to plan my meals so diligently with so many restrictions, I was forced to find new recipes for the duration of this challenge. And while I did not force my family to go gluten, dairy, sugar, legume and grain free with me, I did ask that they join me in the main meat course I had to make for myself. Chorizo Chicken, Dry rubbed Ribs and Ginger Chicken are just 3 of the slam dunk new additions to our rotation. GUYS - I know I am not the only one who got lazy in introducing new dishes into my family's dinner routine. Thanks to Whole30 - I've got some great new resources and ideas on how to mix up our menu and cook healthier for us as a family. Bonus.

Where You Focus Matters

Around Day 18, I had an epiphany. The recurring thought that kept me up at night needed to leave my mind for good. I have been so very focused on the aspect of my business that I have the least control over. Really. I can never control timing and volume of my project portfolio. Never. Now,  there are many things I can do to enable a flow that is timely but I don't OWN those things and focusing there is really a big miss for all this great energy I have. However, focusing and becoming crystal clear on the result I want IS in my control. And when you think about it - what a better way to spend your energy? Focusing 100% on what you want,  giving your mind and body freedom to move all its talents and energy toward what you want. I saw instant evidence of this shift of focus. Instantly.

Invincibility Of My Own Spirit

I can do anything. Now as a believer in Christ, this should be a no-brainer, right? Who doesn't know the Philippians 4:13 power verse? The question is how many of us actually live and believe that we can do anything. My guess is very few and you can now count me in that elite bunch. You see, at the start of this challenge - I did not wholly believe I could give up sugar, dairy,  AUTONOMY of choice of foods for 30 days.  Always clinging to my "everything in moderation" mindset coupled with my downright non-compliant heart and spirit, I doubted I could last 30 days. But I did. Now I believe I am capable of anything. ANYTHING. That is scary and exhilarating all at once.

So anyone out there want to move mountains in your mind, heart, body, soul and/or spirit? Get yourself a food challenge STAT.