Archive for Life, Work and Balance
By late afternoon my husband, Francis, was done with work. He doesn’t usually finish that early and so he wanted to take advantage of it. His idea was to go for a boat ride on the Chesapeake Bay. And he wanted me to go with him.
I felt I needed to stay home and “be productive” to make up for my rather non-productive day.
It started off lovely and very soon I was so glad I chose to get out of my office. By early evening there were so many boats out on the water. It was beautiful.
But then a storm rolled in. The sky got rather dark and you could hear the thunder in the distance. And it kept getting closer.
We decided to try to get back to the dock as quickly as possible. I have to say, it was rather exciting. We flew through the waves, staying just ahead of the storm, all the while keeping our eyes glued for crab pots. The sky continued to get darker and darker.
We were almost back when the sky opened up and the rains came. And it was heavy. Very heavy! Within seconds we were both soaked through.
Luckily there was no lightning, for which I was grateful. But it rained so hard it was difficult to see. Despite that, when I looked at Francis with water pouring off him I couldn’t help but laugh. He laughed too.
It was still torrential when we reached the dock, so we quickly took care of the boat and ran for the house and dry towels. We both felt exhilarated. I had been transformed from a slug to an energizer bunny. I felt so alive and energized.
It made me realize that we all need a bit of adventure now and then to get us out of our routine. And it doesn’t need to be something huge. For me, a simple boat ride out on the bay did the trick.
Today I still feel energized from it, and, yes, I’m getting things done
So what do you need to do to add more adventure to your life?
Sometimes, it seems like a luxury, but taking time out to renew and revitalize us can actually lead to getting much more done in the long run. And it’s a lot more fun.
Then, just when I was beginning to get the hang of it, the teacher told us to reverse it. Yikes! I barely could get through it as it was, and now I had to switch the whole thing in my head. Every step, every gesture or arm movement that had been to the right was now to the left and visa versa.
I wasn’t the only one having trouble. All around the studio dancers were getting frustrated and there was at least one collision (luckily nobody got hurt).
But then, unexpectedly, and somewhat out of character the dance teacher told a brief but rather funny story of an on-stage collision that happened early in her career. Everyone was laughing.
Then she told us all to try the combination again. This time, everyone did it perfectly…. while still smiling.
Isn’t it amazing how something as simple as a smile can have such a positive impact?
So the next time you are feeling frustrated or stuck, try smiling. It might help you, too.
Let me know how it goes….
And I’m not just talking about the more obvious creative aspects of your work. But also think about your ability to deal with a challenging client or coworker.
Or being able to create enticing win win situations or joint ventures with other professionals.
Or how about coming up with new ways to serve your clients or customers that make you really stand out.
Or thinking up an unusual way of marketing yourself, an idea or a product.
Or even your ability to develop new work habits that make your life easier.
How, well do you do any of these things when you’re stressed out?
One way to open yourself up to being more creative is to simply break out of your normal habits for a short period of time. And a great way to break out of your routine is to bring some playfulness and spontaneity to your work environment. You will find that some of your most creative flashes will come when you are having fun, if you allow yourself!
Ann McGee-Cooper in Time Management for Unmanageable People wrote, “The more we work, the more tired we get, the less creative or open-minded we are, and the less we accomplish, so we get further behind and then we think we have no time for play.”
Isn’t that the truth!
So, think about some of the things that you loved to do as a child? The more wacky the better?
Is there any way you can incorporate any elements of those things into your workday? Especially on days that you know are going to be tough on you.
Taking time out to add fun and playfulness to your day WILL actually re-energize you, and get the creative juices flowing so that you actually get more done in less time. Try it!
Here are some more of my favorite ways to revitalize and renew myself.
What about you?
- Especially if you’re sitting for extended periods of time, particularly at a computer, a few stretches can really revitalize and energize you.
- Take a long, luxurious bath.
- How about a walk in the fresh air. In sunshine is even better!
- Any time you spend in nature can be calming, healing and uplifting. It’s one of the best ways to renew yourself. Think about taking an occasional trip to the mountains, desert, forest, lakes or rivers. And when was the last time you stared at the stars on a clear night?
- Listen to beautiful or energizing music. (In studies, playing Mozart in the background has been shown to help with concentration.)
- Surround yourself with flowers and plants.
- Light a beautiful candle. (This can also be a wonderful ritual to symbolize the beginning of a new project.)
- Sit by a fire.
- Get together with friends. Do you know which of your friends you can turn to for comfort and nurturing, for clarification, for acknowledgement or for energy?
These are some of my favorite ways to de-stress and get in a positive state of mind? And you?
Have you ever tried using aromatherapy oils when you are feeling either depleted and tired or too wound up? Certain oils, for example, lavender, chamomile, basil and rosewood, can be wonderful to reduce stress.
You can even buy specialty blends with names like Relax, De-Stress and Sleep Well. I find that blends like Energize or Concentrate are great alternatives to caffeine or energy drinks.
There are many way to use essential oils. You might want to try roll-on bottles, room sprays, in a bath, in an aromatherapy lamp, or simply wearing them.
Do make sure that you use pure oils from a reputable company and not a cheaper imitation or fragrance. High grade essential oils can be expensive, but are worth it.
Stop right now and notice your breathing? Are you taking nice full, deep breaths? If you are like most of us, the answer will be no.
Simple deep breathing is a great way to still an overactive mind and calm you down, or uplift and energize you.
And yet most of us tend to breathe on the shallow side. And when under stress we often hold our breath without even realizing that we’re doing it.
So here’s a great exercise to help bring your awareness to your breathing.
- Put one hand on your belly and one hand one your solar plexus.
- Take a nice long inhale through your nose, and as you exhale through your mouth, imagine you are cooling a hot bowl of soup.
- As you inhale, feel the belly gently expand into your hand, and as you exhale feel it soften. Also, with each breath, feel the solar plexus relax.
- With each breath make the inhale and exhale a little longer.
- If you are feeling tired or sluggish and want to energize your body and your brain, focus on the inhale and make it twice as long as the exhale.
- If, on the other hand, you want to calm and relax your body and mind, focus on the exhale and make it twice as long as the inhale.
If you need regular reminders to breathe, simply text the word “breathe” to 313131. You’ll get the occasional text message reminding you to take a few deep breaths. Or you can find out more by visiting www.breathetext.com
In dance our core muscles are the deep muscles at the center of our being. By engaging them, everything else can be fluid and relaxed. You can hold a balance, or move with great speed when you are connected to your core.
What’s your core?
I believe it’s the essence of who you are. It’s the part of you that is always steady, even in a raging storm.
It’s that quiet place deep within where you are fully integrated with your values in every area of your life. And you are alive with a sense of purpose. Where you listen to your heart first and head second, and you allow your authentic brilliance to shine.
When you connect to that core, it’s easier to keep your balance, no matter how turbulent life gets.
So the core muscles of a balanced life are your purpose, your values and your natural gifts. That’s your true powerhouse, and just like the muscles of our body, they are all connected. When you base your on life these things… that is the ultimate secret to success.
When you live life connected to your Core Brilliance you experience tremendous joy.
I believe that’s because joy IS the essence of who we are. It’s our natural state.
People often think that joy is a feeling, an emotion. But I believe it is a state of being. And that you can experience a state of joy no matter what external circumstances you find yourself in.
I was once dancing on a cruise ship, in a very wild storm, and there were two talent scouts in the audience from a national television show looking for dancers. It was the most important performance of my career, but all I could think about was how on earth I was going to keep my balance and not fall flat on my face. Talk about stress!
But then I remembered that all I had to do was breathe, and stay connected to my core and I’d be fine.
And I didn’t just mean my physical muscles, although that was important too. I also had to connect to my sense of purpose, my passion for dance, the things I valued (in this case being the very best that I could be, no matter what) and expressing my gift of dance in order to make the world a better place.
When I connected to that core, balance was no longer even an issue. And I danced magnificently despite the circumstances.
What challenging circumstances do you face in your life? And what could you do to connect more to your core to keep your balance?
When you fully manifest your Core Brilliance in your life you will be amazed that not only will you keep your balance, but you will experience joy and enthusiasm no matter what external circumstances you find yourself in.
No matter how turbulent life gets and no matter what situation you find yourself in, you’ve a lot more control than you think. It begins by letting go of the things you have no control over, and by putting your attention on the things that you can control.
Because every day you’re faced with choices. If your life feels out of balance, you’re feeling stressed out, or you’re running on adrenaline you can choose to incorporate activities into your day that will break that cycle.
For example, without a doubt some form of physical exercise is one of the best ways to break the stress cycle. Exercise pumps up your endorphins (feel-good hormones) and decreases your stress hormones.
It also reduces chronic muscle tension, helps you sleep better, and decreases anxiety. Exercise is also a natural way to increase your energy level, alertness and concentration, so you can cut back on the coffee and energy drinks.
But in addition to simply increasing blood flow, and hence oxygen to the brain, did you know that physical activity actually helps create new brain cells or neurons, and helps them connect better with each other!
But not all exercise is created equally. When it comes to super charging your brain, the best forms of physical exercise are the ones that also involve focus and concentration. So learning a new sport, for example, is a fantastic way to take care of your stress levels for the short-term as well as boost your brain for long-term health. Try it!
I’ve always prided myself on my ability to multitask, but now I’m thinking it might be a bit overrated. It seems that in some situations the more my attention is divided, the more stress it creates, and the less I get done.
Now that may not be true for you, but I would suggest that you pay attention the next time you are multitasking and honestly ask yourself if you’d get the work done faster if you just did each task with full attention.
You also might just find it less stressful like I did.