Negotiations With Myself; 10 Tactics to Stay the Course

It seems like the hardest negotiations I have to have are with myself. This realization came tonight while I was having a conversation with Adventure Sister, Emy. We are great at talking ourselves out of doing things, but talking ourselves into doing things is a whole nother story. What can we do to be successful in negotiations with ourselves?

I am a world champion justifier. If you are not good at justifying something let me take a swing at it. Maybe this gift is a part of my Susie Sunshine Personality, where I can find the good in anything. But like the grinch, it doesn’t matter if this is because my shoes are too tight or my head is not screwed on just right. Being able to justify my way out of everything down not help me embrace healthy habits. Right now I am busy justifying that I don’t need to get my 10,000 steps a day because it is cold outside.

I have negotiated things with others through out my life. Many of these negotiations have been quite successful. How can I use these techniques to negotiate healthy habits with myself?

1. Be firm and set the expectations. That inner couch potato will want to have it their own way. Having a firm line and setting the expectation with yourself will help when your mind starts making up excuses.

2. Have a prepared response. Since we are talking about negotiations with yourself, you probably have a pretty good idea what excuses you will come up with. Be prepared with reasons why these excuses are just not good enough to set your healthy habits aside

3. Keep the goal in mind. Having a clear picture of where you are heading makes it easier to stay the course. This is true no matter if the goal is weight, career, financial, romantic, or whatever.

4. Stay excited! Having a goal can be very exciting, especially when you see progress. Celebrate small successes along the way to help keep the excitement flowing.

5. Ask for a little bit more time. Your inner critic may try and tell you this isn’t working or that you aren’t benefitting from this initiative. Convince that inner critic to keep trying, just a little bit longer. A break through may be just around the corner.

6. Remind yourself that you are worth it. This is such an epidemic of people not feeling worthy. Remind yourself your are worthy have having what you are working toward. You are good enough, you are strong enough, and you deserve success.

7. Ask yourself for advise. When you start hearing the we don’t have to do this anymore voice in your head ask it what it needs to keep going. Sometime just acknowledging the voice will be enough to help you push on. Other times a little inner dialog about what inspiration is needed will give you the power to get over the hump.

8. Use logic. Remind yourself of all the good reasons why sticking with this will help you in the long run

9. Be aware of your emotions. Emotions can pop up when we least expect them. Especially when we are working toward a seemingly difficult goal. (Most goals are achievable with persistence). When those emotions pop up, acknowledge them. Do not try to minimize them. Once you have acknowledged them, allow them to move through you. Release them, do not hold onto them.

10. Push past objections. Sometimes there is no convincing the inner Negative Nelly. Sometimes you will just have to ignore that part of yourself and just keep going. You can do it!

Good luck winning those negotiations with yourself. I believe in you! You can achieve your goals and live the life of your dreams. Keep going.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you effortlessly continue to move in the direction of you dreams, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in Zagreb, Croatia

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Who Inspires You?

I was with a friend yesterday and she was talking about something her dad used to say. “A friend or a partner should make you a better person” ~ Don Ortmann. That struck me as some very wise advise. Do the people you surround yourself with make you a better person? Do you help your friends and lovers be better people?

We all touch other’s lives. Although no one can make us behave a certain way, we all have those friends who challenge us to be a better version of ourselves. These magical people inspire us, not by telling us how to be, but by just talking the talk and walking the walk. My husband is one such person. His kind and generous soul inspires me to be the best person that I can be. He never criticizes my behavior or says I need to step it up. He inspires me just by being himself. I am also blessed with other friends who, simply by living their lives, have inspired me to be and do better.

My elementary school had a secretary who had reinvented herself with the name, Henrietta Peach. She was a peach! This was back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. She would make copies for the teachers to use as worksheets in the classrooms. The “Ditto Machine” had a round drum where the original was placed. As the drum circled it would copy the content of the original, in purple, onto the waiting papers. As the drum circled it made a rhythmic “chuchunk, chuchunk” noise. Henrietta Peace would do deep knee bends to this, saying she was “exercising”. This woman would not have said she was a role model. She was just living her life and having fun at work. She played the organ in the balcony of the church. She climbed those stairs, often multiple times in one day, even into her 80’s when cancer was sucking the life out of her. She was an inspiration to others. She would sing out loud in the school office and even had a song just for me. Sometimes at the end of mass I would hear that song being played on the big church organ. A little secret sign between the two of us. When I left that school at the end of the 6th grade, I named her as the person I looked up to. I am sure I was not alone. Ethel Mohn aka Henrietta Peach, was an inspiration. Knowing her made me a better person. She taught me to have fun at work. She taught me to share my talents with others. She showed me how making a difference in the life of a child leaves a mark on this world that grows and grows. I am a better person for having known her.

Think about the people in your life. Who are the ones whose actions pull you up to better yourself? Do you think you do this for others in your life? I am sure in many ways you do. Perhaps you would be surprised to realize how your actions inspire those around you. Whether you realize it or not, people are looking to you to inspire them.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you inspire others to be the best version of themselves, as if by magic.

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12 Tips to Help Decrease Holiday Stress

It’s holiday time. Do you love this season or does it cause you stress? Are you worried about where all the money will come from to buy everyone that perfect gift? Are you worried about people not liking your gifts? I love the general good cheer in the air but with a renewed focus on our financial goals, the holidays can be a potential step backwards. Here are some tips to help you live within your means, enjoy the holidays, reduce your stress, and still show others you care.

Set realistic expectations for yourself – No one can be it all, do it all or attend it all. Be realistic with yourself, your time, your energy, and your money. Do not sign up for more than you can take on. In the past, I felt I had to be the best entertainer, prepare the yummiest meals, decorate until not a corner of the house was untouched, give the perfect gifts and attend all the events. Age and wisdom have taught me that is not only unrealistic but also unhealthy. Be gentle with yourself.

Make a budget– I love giving as much as the next person but buying someone a more expensive gift does not change how much I love them. Decide on a reasonable dollar amount to spend and stick to it.

Start saving now for next year– put a small amount into a Holiday savings account each payday so when the next Holiday season rolls around you will not have to go into debt to buy gifts.

Talk to people about gift giving– for years my brother and I would exchange gift cards in the mail. We finally spoke and decided to each get ourselves something from the other, rather than shifting money back and forth in the mail. Buying a gift for you may be causing stress for another, so by having a conversation, you may alleviate their stress and financial burden too.

Handmade happiness – there are so many beautiful handmade gifts that you can make to give others. Depending on what you are making to give, you may have to start early in the year to get them done, so not to cause yourself extra pressure to meet a short deadline. Do you knit, make “out of this world” fudge, write poetry or do cute crafts? All of these things can be very sweet and special gifts.

Initiate family gift exchanges – talk to family about drawing names for gift giving instead of a gift for everyone or agree on gifts only for people under a certain age. Be creative and communicate.

Make coupons for services– you can make coupons for gifts of services. Some ideas are, making a home cooked meal, shoveling snow, pet or child sitting, raking leaves next fall, painting a room in their home. Be creative and listen to the things they are wanting to get done. You would hate to hurt someone’s feelings by offering to fix something they don’t feel is broken. This isn’t about you telling them what needs to get done but rather doing something for them they have been wanting to get done.

Share the gift of time– talk to friends and family and ask about sharing the gift of time. Get together for a meal, a cup of tea, volunteer to help a local charity together or a visit to a favorite location. Set a date for after the Holidays and both promise to make it a priority. What better gift than the gift of time.

Meditate – the holidays can be stressful with commitments, planning, shopping, and cooking. Meditate to find your center and remain mindful in the midsts of the extra pressure you may feel.

Remember the reason behind this time of year– the holiday season means something a little different to everyone.  So remember what it means to you. Connect with that heartfelt space and take some deep breaths when you feel anxious.

Reach out for help – If the stress of this time of year seems overwhelming or loneliness is breaking your heart, talk to someone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. If you are missing a loved one, find a support group or person who can hold the space for you and just let you talk. Support groups, AA or other similar programs are a couple of places you can go to find support when it all seems too much. Remember you are loved, even when you don’t feel like it and you are not alone, even when it feels like you are.

Have fun! Find the joy in this time of year. There is a lot of it to be had. Live in the moment and enjoy seeing loved ones you don’t always get to connect with. Notice the good cheer in the air, all the extra seasonal events and the generosity that seems to flow through humanity. Look for the good and you shall surely find it.

Wishing you a most happy and loved filled holiday season. Take a deep breath and enjoy all that this time of year has to offer you!

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your holiday season be joyous and filled with love, as if by magic.

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Keeping Up With Healthy Initiatives When the Seasons Change

Healthy initiatives can seem energizing when you first start them. They give you hope of a better tomorrow and the good feeling in your heart of really doing something important for yourself. When Mother Nature sees fit to make changes in the seasons, it can throw a curve in your plans. Also seasonal holidays can seem like an excuse to no longer stay the course. Having a plan to combat these changes is the best way to not let them derail your progress.

If you follow my blog you probably know I have a number of healthy initiative all going at once. Taking Care of Me; Step By Step, is the blog that lays them all out if you are interested. My husband and I have been doing an excellent job getting our 10,000 steps in a day. We’re getting up and walking before work, then after work and again before bed, if we still need some more steps. This week we got snow here in MN. I wasn’t expecting it and upon waking discovered 3 inches of the pristine white stuff covering everything. I found it hard to want to get out an walk. I did eventually bundle up and head to the grocery store. I could have driven and it would have been quicker and warmer, but why not take care of 2 things at once. It was a nice sunny day. The bright sun reflected off the snow and I reflected on how to keep up with all that we are working on, despite time marching on.

I am a wonderful “justifier” and snow seems like a great reason to justify skipping a walk. Having a plan in place helps keep you on task. Just like with the intermittent fasting that we are working on. There is always a justified reason to not stay the course; family in town, a special gathering, or an appointment that throws a kink in things. Recently, when my brother visited, we met him early each morning for breakfast. I always look forward to this annual visit and our early morning breakfast and conversation. As his visit neared, I started to fret about what to do about the intermittent fasting and the fact the fact that I wait until 10am before I break my fast. In the end I had a conversation with my brother, who was gracious and understanding. I still met him for breakfast and I enjoyed a nice cup of hot tea, while we had our usual time together and great conversation. Having a plan helped me stay the course. I have so far lost 15.4 pounds by sticking to the intermittent fasting.

Finances is another healthy initiative we are working on. The holiday season is fast approaching. This is the time of year when people often try to spend money to show someone how much they love them. Buying someone a gift, that they may not need or want, will not necessarily communicate your love and appreciation of them. I encourage you to come up with a plan on how to handle this time of year. Start a savings account that you add to throughout the year. Set a budget for gifts and holiday groceries and stick to it. Find innovated ways to show your love and appreciation for those you care so dearly about. Start a conversation with your friends and family about other ways to celebrate your love and appreciation like agreeing to volunteer together as a family. Make an understanding about gifts and a cost limit. Give homemade gifts infused with good intentions and lots of love. There are so many options.

As soon as you decide to focus on a healthy initiative, something will come up to throw you off course. Try to think about what these things may be. Make a plan for them. Remember that healthy initiates are not things we do just for today or tomorrow. These are things we incorporate into our life an become our new standard of living. To ensure success at improving our life, we need to think about how to remain faithful to ourselves. We need to make ourselves a priority by having a plan to keep our momentum moving forward.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May all your plans come easily, so that you stay the course, and reach the goals you set for yourself, as if by magic.

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I Am Determined to Make 21 Days Complaint Free

I recently started off on a new adventure. I decided that I would take up Will Bowen on his challenge to go 21 days complaint free! I initially thought it would be easy. I thought I was a person who didn’t complain much at all. Sure, I knew I had my occasional rant about this or that, but surely I could just stop doing that and move easily through this adventure. Well friends, I am here to tell you it is really about the journey and not the destination. This adventure has taught me so much about myself and it has also taught me about the person I want to be.

I started on this adventure in early September. I have yet to go one day without complaining. The principles behind this, is to bring complaining to the front of our mind, so that we can make a conscious choice before we let the words flow out of our mouth. Thoughts do not count, only things we verbalize. My blog from September; Can You Go 21 Days in a Row Without Complaining?, will tell you more about it. I was shocked that I complained so much and could not get past day 1, so I bought his book and wrote a second blog. I found out that I was normal in my initial performance.

Today, as I write this, it is 7:30 am and I have already had to move my bracelet from one wrist to the other, (this is done when you complain to help increase your awareness). I realized today I need to change my focus a little. Instead of looking at the whole objective and feeling overwhelmed, I need to take it more bit by bit. I have already complained once today so perhaps my goal is to have no more than 3 complaints today. I sometimes do not notice my complaints until a while after the fact. I great bite sized goal, would be to be fully aware of my complaints as they happen. Last night, as I socialized with friends, I removed my bracelet fully intending to dive into one of my favorite complaints. In the end, I changed my mind and put the bracket back on without uttering that particular grievance.

I have noticed that, from September to now, I am better about staying on the positive side of a conversation. I am aware of when I need to move my bracelet more often. I am starting to learn when to keep my mouth shut. I am far from perfect but getting closer to being a better, more positive version of myself. If you are interested in improving yourself, I encourage you to jump on the band wagon. Remembering that what we put out in the world is what comes back to us and this is a great way to increase the abundance in our lives. Let’s replace our complaints with gratitude. Let’s be the best and most positive people we can be. Please join me on this adventure and let’s change the world by starting with ourselves.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your life be full of gratitude, as if by magic.

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7 Tips to Help When You are in a Dark Place

I saw a meme that my niece posted on Facebook. It said, “When you are in a dark place you sometimes tend to think you have been buried. Perhaps you have been planted. Bloom!” When you think about that, I mean really think about it, that is so true. I believe this! Those dark places that life takes us to, causes us stress and pushed us to change! It helps us transform from who we were to who we are becoming. You may be saying that, this is all great in spirit, but going through this type of transformation is painful and really stinks. How can we nurture ourselves through these dark places? How do we keep putting that one foot in front of the other while we are moving through these times? What can we do to keep our spirits up while our world is falling apart? Here are some thoughts to help you keep looking for the silver lining in these difficult, sometimes even terrible situations.

  1.  Listen to upbeat and motivational music. Remember the song from the play Annie? The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow! Whether upbeat songs from musicals, pop culture, or your favorite local band; music can be a great way to change your mood, remind you of a brighter tomorrow, and just help you keep going.
  2. Meditation. When things are falling apart, it can be hard to imagine they will ever be whole again. It can be hard to imagine that you will ever be whole again. It can be easy to dwell on the past and imagine a dismal future. Meditation is about being “in the now.” Just staying present in this moment, can help you step back from past regrets and future fears, at least for a little while.
  3. Do kind deeds. Sometimes when things seem bleak in our own lives, we feel we need help and it is easy to get stuck in this feeling of need. By doing kind, random acts for others, whether they be strangers or friends, can help our self-esteem and give us a chance to feel valuable in the life of others.
  4. Pet Therapy. Play with puppies, pet a cat, or cuddle a bunny. I personally do not have any pets and I am very happy in my pet free existence. But there are few things as stress relieving as the unconditional love of an animal. When I go on walks, I will often ask to pet the dogs. My friends’ dogs are usually happy to see me come visit because they know I have lots of love to share with them. Studies have shown that animals help reduce stress, anxiety, pain and even blood pressure when interacted with. You don’t have to have your own pet. I bet you know someone who has one that you could share some love and affection (and scratching) with.
  5. Feel your emotions. Feel your emotions and realize you are safe to have these feelings. I think this is one of the hardest parts for me. Touching those painful emotions seems so scary. I wonder if I truly allow myself to feel them, will I ever be able to come back from that precipice. Remind yourself that you are safe! You can stick your toe into the river of emotions and feel the cool wet water without having to get washed away by it.
  6. Journal. There are many different journaling techniques.
    1. There is Free Writing, where you do not sensor, just let whatever comes, flow out of you and onto the pages.
    2.  There is a technique referred to as the Divine Witness Journalling. This is one of my favorites because you can see your own wisdom (the advice you give your friends) come back to you. In this type of journaling, you give your wise-self a name, then you write notes back and forth. You write your question or whatever you are struggling with, on one page to that wise part of yourself. Then on the next page you allow that wise person to respond to your note. You will be amazed at the the wisdom that pours out for you.
    3. Gratitude Journaling is another that can really help change your mood. It shifts your focus from what’s wrong to what’s right. There is always so much to be thankful for. Looking at the positive things in life can help shift you towards a more positive tomorrow.
  7. Get out into nature. There is just something about being in the forest, hearing the birds sing, and watching a creek gently meander amongst the trees; that is so refreshing. Depending on where you live, “nature” may look very different. It may be hiking up a mountain, riding your bike in the desert, walking on the beach, cross country skiing, or sitting on a park bench near some roses. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to be with nature. I remember driving through downtown Minneapolis one morning and seeing the sunrise reflected on all the skyscrapers. I realized then that nature is all around us. From the vegetation growing up through the cracks in the sidewalk and pigeons landing near the sidewalk bistro tables, to the squirrels racing up and down the trees along the street. Nature is always there for us, even in the city. We just have to notice her. Find a quiet corner of your city or a peaceful place in the country and allow nature to refresh your spirit.

If you are in a dark place right now, I am sorry you are experiencing this. I hope these ideas may help you push out of the darkness and force your beautiful, authentic self; up into the light. We all spend some time there, so know you are not alone. I love you and I am proud of you for continually moving forward, even on those days when it seems next to impossible. We are with you in spirit. You are not alone.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May your life be happy and joyous, as if by magic!

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How Are You Improving Yourself?

I am always trying different things to improve myself. Are you also obsessed with becoming the very best version of you? I have multiple ways that I am working on myself at any given time. Some are very successful; others take more effort and require that I try again and again. I often think about the goals I have set for myself. Which ones are realistic and which ones are more grandiose ideas.

Currently I am working on going 21 days complaint free. Despite the fact that I have been working on this for several weeks I am still on day one. But with this I am finding that I am becoming more aware of my complaining. I am finding that, depending on who I am around and what I am talking about, makes a huge difference in how many times I need to change my bracelet. To learn more about this, please read my blogs: Can You Go 21 Days in a Row Without Complaining? and OMG! Read This Book! It will take you places you didn’t know you need to go. (An update on my Complaint Free Adventure)

It is the first of October as I write this and I am thinking of writing a blog every day in October, sounds like a great idea, right?! This maybe one of my more grandiose ideas for a couple reasons. Blogging everyday takes time and that is not always a luxury I possess. Another is that, Adventure Sister Emy and I make sure not to post blogs on the same day. This avoids overwhelming our readers and helps make sure both of our important messages are heard. But what would be realistic number for me? To write 20 blogs in October? That certainly seems reasonable and I can write them without posting them. Just save them for a day when I don’t have as much time but need a blog. Okay – that is “now” my goal for October.

Continuing to improve my health with intermittent fasting is another. Somedays I do better with this than others. It remains my goal to start eating somewhere between 10 and noon and complete my caloric intake for the day by 6pm. It is a worthwhile goal to me and I have lost somewhere between 10-20 lbs. doing so.  I remain horrible about keeping track of my weight but maybe that is not such a bad thing.

I’m also trying 28 days without having an alcoholic drink. I feel this is also a worthwhile goal. I like the way a glass of wine helps me relax and causes the stress of the day to role off my shoulders. I like the way I can decompress and the stress seems to melt away after a glass. Specifically, because of the way wine helps me not have to deal with my things, is precisely why 28 days without it is a great goal. To remind me that I don’t really need it and by working through the lessons of my day is really better for me.

Another goal I have is to start running again. I cannot say I am currently really working towards this goal… unless you count reading How to a Lose  Marathon by Joel Cohen. I keep planning to start training again but so far it is all just talk. I need to overcome the fear that my knee injury is permanent.

Doing a really great job at work is always a goal for me too. I want to continue to improve my skills at my job, learn more, and be more of an asset to my co-workers and boss. Sounds like a lofty goal perhaps but one I feel strongly about.

With all of these goals, I move forward little by little, step by step. I can make big strides in one, while the others may stay stagnate for a time. At other times I move all goals forward in someways. Of course I have many more goals than those listed here. I wanted to convey to you that it is “okay” when goals do not go according to our plan and that when it comes to being the best version of ourselves, we can work on several things at once.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you make progress on all you goals, as if by magic.

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