A Little Privacy, Please

Well, here I go.

The past few days blips and bubbles referring to Naomi Osaka’s offending act littered my feeds, but I did not really pay attention until I saw what she did that cost her 15 racks. She said no to some press interviews and cited her mental health as the reason. WTH?

But, then again. Yep. It sounds just about right. Exactly right for a sister trying to make it. And if you can’t see it, then you are truly a part of the problem. Full stop. No mincing my words today because I.AM.TIRED.

I am tired, as a Black woman of this expectation that I am always supposed to be obliging, accessible, and visible (when you want to see me) and content in my inconsequential existence when you don’t. And I am nobody. I can only imagine with misty-eyed compassion for Black women in the public eye, like that Queen Naomi. I mean, DAMN! Can a sister just live?

The answer is apparently, HELL NO. As the privileged vultures swarmed (one a pro-Tennis player who had also been fined for skipping interviews included – the hypocrisy), she then had to divulge even more of her very private and personal mental health battles just to get folks off of her back (they forget she is also half Japanese. So much for that wave of support for our AAPI family) . I have seen this happen my girl Lizzo (I know we would be friends should we ever meet) as everything she does is either praised or ridiculed by the body positivity movement trolls. And for the exact same reasons. I realize they are public figures, but they also entitled to live in private—to hold some things close. If you disagree, GET.A.LIFE. of your own.

No longer are we the mammies that care for you and wet-nurse your babies before our own. Black women do not owe you explanations for their actions when you would not expect them of others. I already know that this post will be misconstrued as some aggressive rant by another “mad, Black woman”. Well, I am a little mad. But mostly just exhausted. Which is part of the reason I needed time off from work (and could do with one more week away). Time off from work for personal or mental health reasons should be enough for anyone. Naomi was brave enough to say it and to me that shows integrity. She is doing exactly what she needs to do for herself in the public and private eye. But instead, her literal peace of mind was stripped away and resulted in her considering leaving tennis for a while. Naomi, girl, I feel that on so many levels!  

But while I am here, let me not forget to dig into the concept of ‘self-care’ and why Naomi made such a ‘radical’ statement by taking time for herself.

The term is everywhere and the pandemic gave it a boost of speed-laced steriods and it is BIG. Big in terms of marketing and soscial media fodder. But, to be clear, it is not this face-mask and wine spa getaway for sisters. Not even a little bit.

Black women have been the caregivers for America for centuries. There has not really been a time, space, or attittude that the workhorses needed time to care for, restore, and perserve themselves. Now, as caring for yourself permeates every corner of capitalism, consider that her refusal simply refuted all that the media purports to be true about Black women. She was not angry. Or loud. Or overly emotional. She just simply skipped out to care for herself and was bashed, hated on, trolled, insulted, and dehumanized publicly. Because this country has been taught that they have an inherent right to all aspects of Black women. So, what was she supposed to do? Subject herself to further degradation when she was already feeling low after a loss? What good would that have done? So, next time when you feel compelled to rattle off stats about high blood pressure, diabetes, black mother/infant mortality rates, or heart disease, remember that effects of STRESS and how you would deny a sister a much-needed mental health day.

Audre Lorde, self described black lesbian feminist warrior mother once wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” I am sure that is how Naomi felt. I have felt that way. This Western culture has made us lose sight and connection to ourselves and our innate wisdom to the point that when we do tap in and listen, the resulting actions are felt as warfare. We all should be honored to self others but the obligation is to ourselves first. How can you fill someone’s cup if yours is empty?

I am luckier than most. I have a mom and other female relatives who have always been about more than working themselves to an early grave. They had each other and a few close friends. They had a sister circle.

These tightly-knit groups have been a part of our culture as a way to get the “community consensus” for acts of self-care. Traditionally, it is during these meetups that women could be themselves, try a new hairstyle, or vent and receive copius amounts of loving “therapy”. Often the only time they could be themselves  and endeavour to reconcile reality and dreams; to feel appreciated and a sense of unconditional support and belonging.

In these times, in Pride month, social justice upheaval, pandemic recovery, and in every day life, I feel that these tight communities would serve us well. They would teach us that what is radical is fighting fiercely for that self preservation. Turning and holding on to each other, our friends and communities so that we all might be uplifted; so that we all might not jut survive, but thrive together and in harmony. That is the only way that it can be accomplished. Supporting the holistic wellness of all people is how communities grow stronger together.

Again, I am a nobody. But I invite you to join in some of the conversations and good old-fashioned support of this little circle—The Sister Cipher. I would be honored to learn with and from you!

I am going to leave you with an affirmation about the power of living in private. If you need to tell someone to mind they business, use these words to help you find your footing, or call me and I will let them know!

I disclose only what feels comfortable to me.

Some of my struggles and my successes feel more meaningful when I opt to keep them private.

It is easy to lose my sense of self when I feel compelled to talk about my life. I prefer to have a clear mind when thinking about building my life. Whenever I feel the urge to get advice, I carefully choose my source.

Today, I happily keep some things in my life private. I achieve greater balance when I create a separation between what is personal to me and what is shareable with others.


Finding Balance

Leave Work Early Day!

Finding Balance Yin-yang Wellbeing Concept

Today, June 2 is observed, for fun, as Leave Work Early Day. There are many good reasons for taking advantage of this holiday to leave work a little early or let your employees do the same.

Consider the importance of:

  • Work-Life balance
  • Being a considerate boss
  • Taking some valuable “me-time” to relax and do what you want.

As the effects of poor stress management and the damaging effects of chronic stress become widely discussed, take the day to do something positive for your health, mental state, and very likely staff morale.

“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.”

Michelle Obama, former First Lady

The Elusive Balance

Can you find balance in your life? Some say you can, while others say there is no such thing if you want to be highly successful.

It’s true that many of the most high-profile successful people have anything but balanced lives. But, many of them are also miserable, too.

You can attain a high level of success and enjoy all the aspects of your life that mean the most to you.

Find balance with these strategies:

  1. Cut back on the non-essentials. If you’re struggling to find balance in your life, a lack of time is the most common issue. Take a look at how you spend your time each week. What are the activities you can do without?
  2. Avoid wasting time. Now, consider all the ways you genuinely waste time. This might include watching TV reruns, surfing the internet, or window shopping. The more time you can find in your life to apply to the things that matter, the more balanced you can make your life.
  3. Set your priorities. Know what balance means to you. What are the most important things in your life? If you know your priorities, you can put your time to the best possible use.
  4. Focus on your health. Giving your health a high level of priority can help to balance everything else. If your health is important, you’ll find the time and energy to eat properly and to exercise. You’ll get enough sleep. Placing importance on your health can help prevent the rest of your life from getting out of control.
  5. Plan your time. Have a plan for your week and each day. Know how you’re going to spend your day before the day arrives. That way, you can make the most of your time. The more you can accomplish with your time, the more your life can be in balance.
  6. Focus on the most important tasks. There are a lot of things you could work on each day, but there are only a few that will make a big difference. These tasks usually aren’t the most fun, but they’ll save you the most time. You can’t major in the minor things if you want to be successful and have a balanced life.
  7. Review consistently. Life is dynamic, so even if you’re able to create a balanced life, it won’t stay that way forever. Keep your finger on the pulse of your life. Look for ways to improve. Notice when things are starting to get out of control again.
  8. Have reasonable expectations. There’s only so much you can do. If you’re trying to create a multi-billion-dollar company and train for marathons, you’re not going to have much family time. On the other hand, if you want to spend every minute with your children and spouse, other areas of your life may suffer.

A balanced life is sometimes hard to master. When you’re a young adult with a family, it’s hard to find time for everything. When you’re older and your children have moved out, it can be a challenge to find meaning in your life. Life is always a challenge to balance properly.

You must decide for yourself what it means to have a balanced life and what works for you. It most certainly looks different for everyone. Some people like to work 60 hour weeks and do not feel stressed while others may balance salary for flexibility. What is important is that you are happy with your life across all dimensions of health. Work is simply one dimension. Life covers the other 8!
Some things to consider are:
Do you handle workplace stress or work-related stress well?
Are you able to leave work tasks at work when you are not there or “on the clock”?
Are you able to ask for help at work or do tackle every little thing yourself?
Are the people in your life feeling neglected?
Do you have feelings of “missing out” on the things going on the lives of those you care about?

As for me, I took the advice of the Former FLOTUS and went high–all the way to the top spot of my ‘to do’ list. It says ‘to-don’t’ go to work at all!

Drop me a line about what you do to maintain work-life balance! And, as always, please follow the blog, like, and share!


Racism and its Role in the Health Crisis

April 7th is observed as World Health Day. The following statement was taken from the World Health Organization website:

On World Health Day, 7 April 2021, we will be inviting you to join a new campaign to build a fairer, healthier world. We’ll be posting more details here shortly, but here’s why we’re doing this:

Our world is an unequal one.
As COVID-19 has highlighted, some people are able to live healthier lives and have better access to health services than others – entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work and age.

World Health Organization

Racism as an Epidemic

As a coach and helping professional, I bear witness to the wide and deep reach that this pandemic, not unlike any other pandemic, has on people. It has been a source of financial ruin, a spotlight on disparity, and the taker of lives. Today, I ask that you consider what I feel is the greatest health risk factor for marginalized groups in America today–racism.

I am not going to turn my little blog post into a white paper, though I could. Suffice it to say that several studies(hundreds to be sure), and increasing in complexity and number, have all teased out the many socioeconomic factors that create barriers and less than desirable health outcomes for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). The verdict of the recent review by PubMed? Racism is at the heart of it all.

You may be wondering how exactly. Consider this. Racism is the foundation of every structure in this country, particularly public work structures like education, the justice system, wealth and resource systems, and the healthcare system. If BIPOC have been and continue to be marginalized, they are not accessing resources at the same rate or depth as whites. It all makes sense. I am not speaking about one offs–I am speaking in general terms. I am aware that there are folks that have transcended some of these systems successfully. But that is where racism steps in.

We have seen that despite education, influence, or affluence racism still persists. BIPOC are still treated as valets at fancy venues, harassed by neighbors in nice neighborhoods, followed by campus police where they are tenured professors, and experience hate crimes at the hands of the police and citizens.

It is the stress that racism causes that is being linked to the dis-eases that plague BIPOC. Hypertension, caused by elevated blood pressure, is one of them, along with mental health issues and dis-eases that result in weakened immune systems borne of the chronic stress such as heart and kidney disorders. Additionally, Blacks in particular, but other ethnicities, also suffer from higher occurrences of Type 2 diabetes and higher rates of infant mortality.

For further example, black children are about twice as likely as white children to develop asthma, health statistics suggest. And racial and ethnic gaps in infant mortality have persisted for as long as researchers have been collecting data. People with diabetes who are members of racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to have complications like kidney failure, or to require amputations. These disparities persist when all other variables have been accounted for. The fact that racism–the missing factor–is now being talked about as a preliminary cause can help illuminate the voices of people who have been rendered invisible.

The Body on Stress and COVID-19

Stress. Stress is known to actually alter the composition and function of a body. Particularly when a body is being bombarded long-term with the chemicals produced as a result of that stress. There is nothing as long-term as your race.

As stress hormones like cortisol circulate in the body, they turn fat into sugar that the body can use to fight or flee. Unused sugars are often then re-stored as fat in the midsection; this makes them accessible for future stress responses but can damage the kidneys, heart, and other organs. Because cortisol is made from cholesterol, many people who are chronically stressed crave fatty foods as a way to replenish their levels, Juster says, which can then lead to other health problems. And the elevated blood pressure and heart rate that prepare a person for conflict can also lead to hypertension and an enlarged heart. 

NOTE: Both of these heart conditions—as well as the diabetes that’s linked to chronic stress—can put people at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. And now we can better understand what the real co-morbidity issue was as the number of deaths for Blacks, which were the highest of any ethnic group, and the disproportionate numbers for Latinx stacked up.

In laymen’s terms, the chronic flooding of the circulatory system–whether it is frequent short bursts or longer periods without proper recovery–with stress hormones creates an overtaxed, overexcited immune system, which is less effective at recognizing a real foe and is prone to attacking the body instead.

In the short-term, stress hormones inhibit damaging inflammatory reactions. But over time the body becomes cortisol resistant, instead promoting the production of proteins from the immune system called “pro-inflammatory cytokines.” People with especially high allostatic load (for example, people from chronically underserved communities who experience severe trauma and racism), can be prone to producing too many of these pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can begin attacking other cells or tissues that aren’t a threat—the “cytokine storms” that have come to characterize some of the most severe COVID-19 cases.


Stress hormones affect the ability to think clearly, preserve memory, and exacerbate other mental conditions. The damage can cross the placenta barrier and affect fetuses when carried by a mother under this type of stress. This widespread damage from chronic stress also leads to a broad premature aging of cells, which have had to divide more often in order to repair damaged tissue. Each one of our cells is built to divide a limited number of times, explains Arline Geronimus, a professor of public health at the University of Michigan. And each time it divides, the caps at the ends of its chromosomes (called telomeres) shorten a little. Once a cell reaches the end of its telomeres, it can no longer divide. This process happens in every body as we age—but not at the same rate. People with chronic stress “have, in effect, an older biological age than other people at their same chronological age,” she says.

Developmental psychologist Virginia Huynh brings this dynamic back to the pandemic, pointing out that “Black people were already at a higher risk for health problems because of racism” and that structural and workplace inequalities have intensified during this time. “It makes sense they’re disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” she says.

Racism at the Cellular Level

Just being in this society, as a Black person or a brown person means the recognition that you are potentially at risk for some sort of negative encounter,” Parker Dominguez says, “whether it’s with the police or elsewhere. Your level of threat perception in the environment is higher.” That threat perception leads to hypervigilance, which leads to heightened allostatic load.

It’s that “pervasive, persistent” experience of stress that is damaging to the health of Black Americans and other marginalized communities, and permeates every facet of life. A BIPOC person, and Blacks more so , are always on edge–waiting to see when they will have to run or fight.

The research of Virginia Huynh  indicates that young people don’t need to be on the receiving end of racist behavior to be affected physiologically, nor does the behavior need to be overt or extreme for it to do damage. In one study, Huynh and her colleagues collected saliva from 300 teenagers over the course of a day to measure cortisol levels. Teenagers who reported experiencing discrimination had higher levels of cortisol that did not decline normally over the course of the day—suggesting that they were not only experiencing more stress but that they weren’t recovering from it fully. In a second study, a cohort of college students experienced increased levels of cortisol after simply witnessing or overhearing a racist comment, indicating that even vicarious discrimination can create a physiological response.

Huynh emphasizes that these daily experiences of discrimination are often less overt and more insidious, the offhand comments or small interactions sometimes known as microaggressions. “Years of being followed around in a grocery store or liquor market—subtle everyday slight insults—convey to people of color and marginalized communities that they don’t belong, don’t fit in,” she says. When it comes to allostatic load, “it’s often cumulative, a lifetime of experiences that affect multiple regulatory systems.”

In this way, subjectivity and individual perception can deeply affect health, she says. The stress of microaggressions reverberates painfully, regardless of original intent. “There’s often a number of explanations [for a microaggression], but ultimately the impact is that you felt it was offensive, racist, or discriminatory,” she says. “If you’re vigilant against someone being rude to you, and trying to figure out if it’s because of your race or gender, then your body is constantly feeling like it needs to prepare.”

Health in the Face of Racism

BIPOC alone should not carry and absolutely cannot carry the burden of coping with racism. Everyone needs to address structural disadvantage, socioeconomic deprivation, and institutionalized racism to reduce discrimination.

However, there is evidence to suggest that certain factors can help people cope with the negative effects of racism, both physically and mentally.

Fostering a strong sense of racial identity is one evidenced-based way to stave off the effects of racism. Studies have found a link between those with a positive self-image and decreased stress due to racism. Helping children and adolescents develop a strong and positive self-image can go a long way in mitigating the long-term affects of racism, which can transcend generations. To this end, Hunyh points to research showing that kids who feel a stronger sense of ethnic identity—whose parents have talked to them about what it means to be Black or Mexican or taught them Indigenous traditions—have lower allostatic load. Parker Dominguez points to California’s Black Infant Health Program, a program that provides social support and connection to resources during pregnancy to women across 20 regions of California and has made significant strides in closing gaps in pregnancy outcomes.

Engaging in critical dialogues about racist experiences, instead of bottling them up, have been proven to help a person process feelings of stress, anger, and frustration.

Having a strong support system to talk to for support, advice, and comfort can help people cope with racial discrimination. It can encourage a sense of security and identity and reduce negative thoughts and feelings, and even depression.  Research on resilience shows that social support, a sense of meaning, and feelings of control are “extremely beneficial in lowering allostatic load,” Juster says. 

Closing Thoughts

In this current climate, where conversations and movement on serious matters are taking place, I felt like speaking on this topic. I see the effects of long-term, or chronic stress, and I can an relate to the heightened sense of stress that I feel navigating American society as a Black woman. I can only empathize with those who have the additional intersection of being BIPOC and LGBTQIA or BIPOC and Fat, and so on. Stress kills and knowing how the stress of racism affects the body it is not a far-cry to say that even when a person is not murdered, that racism kills. This is the single most threatening variable in health care to BIPOC.

I would dare say that BIPOC the world over are experiencing the same kinds of chronic stress-induced conditions.

I stand with the organizations and individuals from all walks of life that are bravely showing up to end systemic racism. I will keep being a listener and an activist. I know that fighting racism will literally save lives.





Break Free from Boredom

Action Leads to Action

We all get stuck in ruts from time to time. You know you’re in a rut when every day seems the same, and those days aren’t very enjoyable. After a while, it’s hard to know the best way to bring about the changes that can make life exciting, interesting, and enjoyable again. Ruts tend to be self-perpetuating and require a decent amount of energy to get back out.

Focusing on the rut is not the way to break free from it! You grow what you focus on, so to get out of a rut, you will need to focus on activities, behaviors, and actions that you enjoy, that get the creativity flowing, or that will move you towards your goals.

But once you get that energy flowing, the actionable steps lead to progress, which will lead to repeated, consistent action. The progress becomes the reward and a motivating bonus is that you will see your goals began to manifest. Boom! Behavior based goal setting! A win-win for busting through a rut and creating your breakthrough!

Rut-Busting Strategies to Get Started

Realize that your discomfort is a good sign.

As humans, we tend to feel uncomfortable when we experience change in our lives. Accept the fact you might have some challenging feelings to navigate as you come out of your rut and get your life back on track.

Find a passion or interest to add to your life.

Now’s the perfect time to take up yoga or the guitar. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint or try out mountaineering, go for it!

  • Your concerns and worries vanish when you’re involved with something that fascinates you.
  • Make a list of the things you’ve never tried, but have always wanted to. Find one or two things that interest you the most and give them a shot.

Schedule your new activity.

Make your new hobby a priority by scheduling it into your life. It should get the high-priority status it deserves.

Look for a new job.

Work takes up a lot of our waking hours, so life is much more enjoyable when you like the field you choose. If you feel like you’re in a rut, maybe a career change is in order. There’s no reason to spend the majority of your adult life in a career that doesn’t interest and excite you.

Get physical.

Sometimes we spend so much of the day sitting and staring at a computer screen that we forget about our bodies.

  • A body can’t stay healthy if it doesn’t get the chance to stretch, move around, and exert itself a bit each day.
  • If you’re not active, consider adding some exercise into your day.

See the doctor.

If multiple aspects of your life seem to be in a rut, it might be time to see the doctor. It’s possible than an underlying health issue might be the culprit of your rut.

Start small.

It can be overwhelming to change every aspect of your life at once. Avoid trying to change too much too quickly.

  • Make a list of everything you would like to change about your life.
  • Start with either the easiest or most meaningful change.
  • Plan the best course of action for you at this time. You can always add in additional changes over time.

Set a goal.

If you’re lost, sometimes a goal is the best tool to refocus. Having a clear target can help you stay on track.

  • A goal provides a clear, measurable, and time-based objective.
  • The key is to pick a goal that will enhance your life.

Go someplace new.

Have you ever noticed you have a different perspective when you’re in an airplane and look down? Life just seems a little different.

  • Experience a new location. The different surroundings and people are bound to alter your outlook on life. You might only have to hop in your car and head for the city or mountains.

These tips to jumpstart your life today and get out of that rut can be applied to any aspect of your life. You can also try some of the additional strategies below tailored to your work life and your personal life, respectively.

Rejuvenating Passions in Your Professional Life

  • Reconnect with former colleagues. If you’re feeling more energetic now that the days are getting longer, use that time to look up people you’ve fallen out of touch with. Strengthen your network. Call up an old coworker to get together for lunch.
  • Learn a new skill. Ask your human resources department about any training programs available in your workplace. Order a catalog from your local community college. Take a course on project management or negotiation skills.
  • Brighten your office. Hang up new wall art or change your computer wallpaper to a new image like colorful birds or a country lane. Pick up a pretty desk lamp at a thrift shop.
  • Switch to a standing desk. Improve your health and boost your energy levels. Stand up while you work. Studies show that you may add an average of three years to your life.
  • Edit your resume. Give your resume the once over. Add in your most recent accomplishments. You’ll feel more motivated and better prepared for your next job search or performance evaluation.
  • Be kind to your coworkers. Helping others is the most effective path to happiness. Offer praise generously. Pitch in when you see a coworker struggling with their workload.

Rejuvenating Passions in Your Personal Life

  • Volunteer. Share your high spirits with others in need in your community. Spend a weekend afternoon sorting cans at a neighborhood food bank. Register for a walkathon for your favorite cause.
  • Exercise outdoors. Take a break from the treadmill. Join a softball league or play volleyball on the beach. Browse online for outdoor tai chi or yoga classes.
  • Update your look. When you look better, you feel better. Treat yourself to a spa day. If money is tight, give yourself some home treatments like a rose water skin toner or avocado hair conditioner.
  • Tend to your garden. Gardening is good for your body and mind. Mow the lawn and prune trees and shrubs that may have been damaged over the winter. Get ready for your pretty new flower beds.
  • Banish clutter. Give yourself more breathing room. Use spring cleaning as an opportunity to discard things you rarely use. List them for sale online or donate them to a charity shop.
  • Go on a double date. See your partner in new light by going out to dinner with another couple. You’ll have fun and discover new ways of interacting. If you’re between relationships, organize a group activity where you can meet new people with less pressure than on a conventional date.
  • Unleash your creativity. Make time for creative pursuits. Visit an art museum and really engage with the works. Tour an art supply store for new ideas for craft time with your kids. Build a birdhouse out of wood or from a gourd you grew yourself.
  • Indulge in spring vegetables and fruit. Seasonal produce is one of the greatest pleasures of spring. Whip up a parfait of mixed berries, granola and yogurt. Sautee asparagus in garlic and butter. Bake a rhubarb tart for dessert or toss chopped rhubarb with raisins and walnuts for an easy salad.

I hope that you can see the light at the end of your tunnel! Get into motion so that you can build the momentum of behaviors, actions, and rewarding progress that will pull you from a rut, sustain your motivation, and propel towards your goals today!


Absolutely Incredible Kid Day!

This is just a short little post to honor all the incredible kids and encourage you to do the same!

There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.

Nelson Mandela
One young Black woman and one younger black girl standing close together wearing matching yellow t-shirts with the black sparkly hearts that say Melanin. There is a cream house in the background.

Absolutely Incredible Kid Day

This fun day of observance was started by Campfire Kids to acknowledge kids and the effect that building their self-esteem and being role models had on youth.

Today, especially, it is nice to have a reminder to celebrate my girls and other children in my life by letting them know how amazing they are!

My eldest daughter is a young adult who is hard -working, funny, and bright. She is still finding out what she wants to do but I love and admire her pluck! Parenting young adult children is all about respect, understanding, and boundaries. Some days I feel like I do some of right, others…weeelll, not so much. My hope for her is that she’s brave enough to live the life she wants and that she loves the life she lives. 🥰

That little one…WHEW! She is all sparkle and sass, sugar and spice. She has the highest self-confidence and is always determined to get what she wants! My hope for her is that one day she will use her powers for good and not evil! 😈

Please do not make this day the only time to give your kids a boost in their self-esteem and confidence. Easy, confidence-boosting practices can and should be done each day! Believe me, I know how hectic our lives and schedules can be. Growing our children into the best possible humans they can be is important and totally doable!

Why Self-esteem Matters

Self-esteem, positive opinion of oneself, is directly correlated to greater confidence. This can results in things like better grades in school, better choices, and better choices in friends! A confident child learns to tackle a greater variety of projects and handle them effectively. They build stronger skills in many areas, including socially. Bonus: They’re less apt to become a target of bullies or to bully others.

Kids with high self-esteem weather failures and losses better. In a word they are more resilient. They’re happier, more content with their lives, look to the future with greater optimism, and grow into happier, more responsible adults. BOOM! Parenting wins all around!

How to Boost Your Kids Self-esteem

  • Go beyond incredible. Admirable. Amazing. Astonishing. Astounding. Awe-inspiring. Brilliant. Extraordinary. Formidable. Gifted. Impressive. Inventive. Marvelous. Notable. Outstanding. Remarkable. Splendid. Stunning. Super. Talented. Unreal. Wonderful. It doesn’t have to be “incredible.” Send a message that’s as unique as the kid you’re encouraging. And highlight more of who they ARE, not just what they do.
  • Be specific about why they are incredible. Sure, it’s nice to be told you’re incredible. But it’s even better to know the details. Remember that we help kids develop a growth mindset when we praise their effort, strategies and progress. Don’t be shy with words that speak directly to the heart of who they are. That is where the real impact comes from, not to mention modeling kindness and appreciation of all people.
  • Make it personal. Why do they matter to you? What difference do they make in your life? What have you learned from them? Is there something you wish someone would have told you at their age that you can pass on? Put some of your own story in the message, and it will mean twice as much.
  • Keep it up. A few simple words of encouragement on a regular basis can literally change a young person’s life. Practice mindful conversations with your child and try to heart what they are really trying to express. This will provide insights on ways that you can continue to build your child’s confidence by valuing what they value or enjoy.
  • Use the platform they respond to the most! For a lot of kids, that is social media. Do they love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, email, or text messages? If you’re on social media, post a photo of the kid you want to praise, and try a caption like this for your post!
  • Campfire reminds us An absolutely incredible kids doesn’t have to be your kid. Don’t have kids of your own? Today is still for you! Are you a teacher who knows an incredible student? Are you a volunteer that has been inspired by the generosity of a kiddo you work with? Are you a social worker? A coach? A neighbor? A sibling? Aunt or uncle? How you know your kiddo isn’t important – it’s how they have impacted your life! Let them know you are honored to know them!

Your words are powerful. Encourage a child. Make an impact.


Focus on Your Passion

We all admire some people’s ability to concentrate, whether they’re training for the Olympics or solving a great societal problem. These folks with great focus have discovered something very important: If you’re focused on a goal, you have an easier time getting where you’re going. This type of motivation, extrinsic motivation, relies on “if-then” logic. It get the job done when the “then” of a situation is a tangible reward. For daily tasks, particularly those that require habit or ritual or less rewarding tasks, this type of motivation doesn’t cut it. What you need here is intrinsic motivation. And you need to be able to generate at will!

Creating more focus in life

Can you really create focus just by willing yourself to have it? Or is this trait a secondary characteristic of something else? I think so. Broken down, caring about something is the foundation of focus. You can agree that more passion you have about something, the easier it is for you to pay attention to it. To get involved with it. To work with it or through it. Focusing on something that holds no meaning to you can be hard. The other thing is that science has proven it. I am not going to bore you with that but consider the following:

Author Dan Pink, in a TEDtalk and book, describes intrinsic motivation as consisting of three parts: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Quickly, to clarify- 1) Autonomy: is the urge to direct our own lives. 2)Mastery: is the desire to get better and better at something that matters. And 3)Purpose: is the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. 

He talks and summarizes some key studies that show how carrot and sticks type of problems are solved most effectively and efficiently with extrinsic motivation. For example, the faster you fold towels, the more money you make. Easy task; many folded towels. However, real candle problems, are not resolved by extrinsic motivators. In fact, more often, the reward hinders the cognitive ability needed because the motivator limits the field of focus too much. WHAAAAATTT? If you are unsure of the what Duncker’s Candle problem is, click here and learn about it!

How we typically try to motivate others and ourselves is an out-of-sync practice, held over from days or circumstances that have skill-based solutions. I posit that today’s struggles are the other kind. 21st Century problems. Technology has made ABC easier, but I am dealing with XYZ-type challenges. Folks are undermotivated and burnout. That is a candle problem. They require intrinsic motivation. That motivation when all things are said and done, thrive on passion and purpose.

Where there is Passion, there’s a way

Reflect on your accomplishments. I am sure that you will see a trend emerge. The things you cared the most about most likely rank among the tasks most often completed. This isn’t just a coincidence. Passion fuels motivation.

Notice the people you know who really struggle with life. They are not happy with anything. Or they are interested and engaged, but it is short-lived. Dig deeper and you’ll likely find that they haven’t found something to really care about. Or worse, they are not confident enough to lean in–more on that to come! If you’re in this position, you can really suffer. However, when you’re able to open your heart and truly find something you’re passionate about, happiness is the result.

A red bound journal that reads The Passion Within on the cover
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I first to university, the pressure form my parents to be pre-med was enormous. I had the grades and the scholarship. I was grateful for the chance and really wanted to make my parents happy. I took the classes with energy and fervor. For three weeks. Then I was could not make myself do the assignments. They were not too hard. But they were beyond uninteresting. Except chemistry for some reason. And English class. Needless to say, my parents did not get their doctor (or lawyer). But to this day, I write (and read a lot!). To this day, chemistry and its applications are compelling reads for fun. I spent years floundering, not in touch with my passion (so I could not connect to my purpose) but fortunately, I made mistakes and learned a lot. But only because one of my passions is learning. Caring puts you into the perfect state of mind; you’re stimulated enough to take real action, but not to the point of feeling apprehensive or overwhelmed. In fact, when you truly care, it’s harder to not take action!

Discovering your passion

Let’s look at a simple process that will help you find your passion, your focus, and ultimately, greater happiness:

  • Make a list of the things that you’re truly passionate about. These aren’t necessarily the fun little things you like to do when you have some free time, though they might be. These are the things that you consider to be most important, the worldwide challenges you would fix if you were given a wish.
  • These should be things that fascinate you so much that you’d gladly spend your life studying them.
  • Organize your list. Put the items on your list in order by the amount of emotion you feel when you imagine yourself being part of each one.
  • If there is nothing on your list yet that makes you cry, keep writing. Don’t stop until you’ve found the one that does make you cry. You’ll know your passion when you see it.

Using Your List to Your Advantage

Now that you have your list, ask yourself how much discipline would be required to be part of those items. Consider:

  • Would you have to force yourself to focus on them? Or does the mere fact that you care about those items so much simply result in focus? Although each item will certainly involve times when you have to enlist some self-discipline, the big ones won’t take much.
  • If you feel it’s a challenge to focus on your career, relationship, or any other part of your life, that’s a great sign that something needs to change. Go to your list for ideas and options. Try a new career that fills you with a sense of caring and you’ll never have to “work” another day again.
  • Can you continue to focus on the positive aspects of the topic, even if it is hard. Folks do not go the gauntlet in medical school concentrating on the difficult subject matter, long hours, or costs. They focus on their passion of helping others.
  • Bonus: If you don’t have the ability to work in your passion, spend time once a week just doing what you love. It will help keep you motivated, boost your productivity, and increase your happiness!

Focusing on your passion will propel you on the days when you need that push. The energy you generate will separate you from most of the people you know in your social circles or in your professional networks.


March Forth and Take Action

Events in this country require that I inform you that this post is NOT about QAnon’s hope that he who shall not be named will return to power on this day.

Today–a completely made-up day of observance–is based on a play on the words March Forth (4th). It is a day for taking action and this post contains a couple of tips to help you to do just that!

Here we are, already in the third month of 2021. I know from coaching that motivation and focus is starting to wane. Folks are looking at their progress towards their goals and are wondering where the time has gone! Keep reading and get reenergized, motivated, and most of all, down to action.

How to Take Action Consistently

Actions speak louder than words. Talking and planning aren’t enough to make progress with most tasks. Some of us specialize in daydreaming and planning. We might have the best ideas, but ideas without action are a waste of time and mental energy. It’s important to spend the majority of your time actually doing something. Action is the key. Those with control over their lives and their time are able to take action on a consistent basis.

Actions speak louder than words illustration
Actions speak louder than words illustration

Become more action oriented and gain control over your time:

Realize that nothing changes until your behavior changes. Visualization and positive self-talk have their place, but they’re only effective if your behavior changes. You can try to wish your way to a new Bentley, or to make a million dollars by aligning your chakras with the universe, but it won’t happen unless you’re actually doing something different. Understand that a consistent change in your behavior is the key to real change.

Know the outcome you desire.

It’s not easy to take action if you don’t know what you’re attempting to accomplish. Be clear on your intention. Take the time to determine what you want to accomplish. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? What actions can you take today to move in that direction?

Start by taking small steps.

Do you want to jog for 60 minutes each day? Get started by jogging for one minute each day. You won’t get in shape by exercising for only one minute, but you will develop the habit of getting out the door each day. After a week, up the time by another minute or two.

  • After 4-6 weeks, you’ll have developed an exercise habit and can begin to exercise for real.
  • Does it seem like that schedule is too easy? Good! How much running did you accomplish in the previous 12 months? There’s nothing wrong with easy, provided you’re patient and can see the big picture.

Limit your planning time.

Those that are slow to take action love to plan, but the best plans are worthless until they’re executed. While you’re trying to work out the fine details, everyone else is already taking care of business.

There’s no reason to be hasty, but set a limit on how long you’re going to strategize before you actually do something.

Use rewards wisely.

Small, meaningful rewards can help you to get off the couch and get busy. Decide on a few rewards and when you’ll receive them. Get excited and begin taking action. When you’ve earned a reward, enjoy it.

Get started early in the day.

  • If you can accomplish something worthwhile before 9AM, you’ll be motivated to do even more during the rest of the day.
  • If you fail to do anything substantial by noon, you’ll feel bad about how you wasted the morning. Then you won’t feel like doing anything in the afternoon. Then you’ll let yourself off the hook by telling yourself that you’ll get twice as much done tomorrow. Many people make this process a habit. Avoid becoming one of these people.

Take a close look at the most successful people you know. Notice that there’s nothing exceptional about them. They aren’t smarter or more capable than you. But they do manage to get things accomplished each day by taking action consistently. The good news is that you don’t have to be spectacular either.

You only need to learn how to avoid wasting your precious time. Consistent action is the key to wealth, health, strong relationships, and anything else that matters in your life. An additional tactic I would like to suggest is the use of affirmations . They can boost your mood and self-belief, and we all know the adage: if you believe it, then you can achieve it. They have been very helpful to me and I am sure that the strategy is worth a try!

Repeat them until you have memorized them, or jot them on notes to read first thing in the morning. Record them on your phone and replay them during your commute. Additionally,

  • I take action.
  • I put my ideas into action.
  • I hold myself accountable. I live up to the commitments I make to myself. I avoid commitments that interfere with my priorities.
  • I focus on what I can do today instead of rehashing the past or trying to predict the future.
  • I build my confidence. I review my accomplishments and skills. I remind myself that I can handle hardships and deal with challenges. I think positive and focus on solutions. I give myself a pep talk when I need to raise my spirits.
  • I make plans without letting my preparations hold me back. I would rather bring my dreams to life than keep refining them. I stop procrastinating. I make a start right now instead of waiting for conditions to change.
  • I take things gradually. I break big projects down into smaller steps. Each small victory encourages me to aim higher.
  • I give myself credit for making an effort and taking risks. Even if I stumble, I can learn from the experience.
  • Today, I take responsibility for my happiness and success. I swing into action

Self-Reflection Questions:

  • How does taking action help me to overcome my fears?
  • How do I define being a doer?
  • What is one thing that I have learned that I could implement today?

Morning Movement, For the Win!

Man in hair bonnet and bathrobe, drinking coffee with smirk on face, waiting for toast to pop up in toaster. Text on picture says, "Actual footage of me working out."
Robert Blackmon.

I am certain that by now, the above image doesn’t represent any of you! I will admit, I don’t like working out in the morning. The science is out on whether or not it really makes a difference. For me, my mind is firing and I need to do brain work then. I like evenings, when everything is done and I can throw my booty in a happy little circle and not think about email, dishes, and the like. To be sure, I am of the school that believes the workout you will DO and ENJOY is the best one. Hell, it is really the only one you should be doing.

The following three strategies are ways to get you up and going! Have fun trying them all (if you do #1, please comment FOR SURE). The point of this month was to get you some morning motivation so that you can establish routines that support the tasks necessary to crush your goals this year! If you have gotten better about the routine but maybe are struggling to break down the goals, read this.

  1. Awake using the Wim Hof Method. Full Disclosure: I had not heard of this and have NOT tried it. It sounds a little to jolting for me. However, those who do it, rave about it and tout effects like decreased stress and improved performance. Taken from the website, the protocol is as follows: 1. As soon as you wake up, sit in a meditation posture. 2. Do 30 power breaths — inhale through the mouth or nose and exhale through the mouth in short powerful bursts (like blowing up a balloon). 3. Hold your breath until you gasp. 4. Take a deep breath in and hold for 10 seconds. 5. Repeat for three more rounds. 6. Have a cold shower. Meet me at #2.
  2. Rise and Shine 2.0: Years ago, I started following the Fly Lady. One thing she talked about was “Shining your sink” and getting “dressed to the shoes”. Those things have stuck with me and my wake up ritual consists of rising (to greet the day with a quick stretch), smoothing the bed (not making it as it still holds the hubby), and getting dressed and shining that sink while I drink water and make coffee!
  3. Move your body, of course. I know that are some people who will prefer to get their joyful movement in the morning. If that is you, go ‘head with your bad self. If it is not, maybe you can get in the morning magic and get your full on workout later! It does get the blood and thoughts flowing and I do enjoy walk breaks all day!
Man dancing and spinning on a fast moving treadmill conveyor belt.
Man Dancing on a treadmill.

I hope that these posts about starting your day have been useful to you as we start this year! In February–you guessed it!–I will be talking about the basis of love, self love. Cultivating that love is tantamount to you living your best life–now.

Join the free 5 day Self Love Challenge boost your self confidence starting on Monday, February 1st!


Morning Habits That Rock

Witch grumbles sarcastically about hating gorgeous mornings. She is wearing dark cloak and is in a candlelight dark room.
Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus

Today, I have a quick round-up of 5 doable habits to add to your mornings that will boost your mood–even if you are not a morning person!

  1. Get Enough Sleep. This one needs no explanation and is totally underrated!
  2. Get ready for the day while listening to positive or productive podcasts and TedTalks.
  3. Drink a full glass of water. I do prefer mine warm with lemon, while I make the coffee.
  4. If you can, do a brain dump of all the ideas you have and of things on your mind about the day. When you settle in to work, you can review and make sure critical tasks are being completed.
  5. Do something creative in the morning. Work on your side hustle; write a blog (YASS!) or page or two of your book. Sketch. You get the point. It will give start your day with something you enjoy and you can concentrate on work things!

What go-to habits are built into your morning routine? Do they help you or distract you? Drop a comment and let me know how you launch into your day!

College football fan dressed like astronaut, pretending to blast off, jumps and lands in hedge.
SEC Football Fans


Bonus: Take Time To Review Your Morning Routine Regularly

Creating routines and habits for your mornings are a great thing. They allow you to do what you need to do to move ahead without having to spend a lot of energy and time thinking about it. That’s a good thing. It’s can also be a dangerous thing when you’ve focusing on the wrong things and are in the habit of doing things that don’t help you reach your goals.
When we get into a routine, it’s hard to stop and ask ourselves if it’s working as well as it could be. Even more importantly, with a routine and a set of habits firmly established, it’s easy to keep going even when the circumstances changes. That’s why it’s important to take some time every now and again to review our routine and habits, including the new morning routine.
Set aside a little time every few weeks, or even months to review your routine. Put it on the calendar and make sure you do it. It won’t take long and it will be a very valuable exercise in the long run. Our lives and circumstances change. Our routines should change with it. Just because something has served us well over the past few weeks and months, doesn’t mean it will continue to do so. Which brings up a good point…
When you sit down to review your morning routine (or any routine or habit you’ve been working on for that matter), ask yourself this:
Is it working? Is it working really well?
If it is, simply carry on. If it isn’t, it may be time to make some changes and tweak it until you find something that works well for you at that particular point in time.
Another way to look at it is to find what you love and what you hate about the new morning routine. Change it accordingly until you get as close as possible to loving everything about it and still getting the results you want.
Remember, this morning routine will change and evolve over time as you, your circumstances, and the people in your life change and evolve. Embrace the changes and look at them as an indication that you’re making progress.
Keep tweaking and improving your morning routine and don’t be afraid to mix up your goals for it. Maybe you started out by making exercise a priority first thing in the day. As time goes by and you become more fit and make time for it later in the day, your focus may shift to meditation, or learning a new language. Keep evolving, keep changing, and keep using those precious first few hours of each day to establish some positive change in yourself and those around you.


The Importance Of Habits And Routines

With your new morning game plan figured out, it’s time to not only put it into action, but make it your new morning routine. Why is this important? Because you want to make sure your new plan happens every morning without fail and turning into a routine is the best way to make sure that happens.
Before something becomes a habit or a routine, it takes a lot of willpower to things happen. That’s energy that you will need for other things throughout your morning and busy rest of the day. Yes, it will take some willpower, mental energy, and drive at first to create the new morning habits, but once they are set, it will become automatic like brushing your teeth before bed.
Once you come up with a good working morning routine, stick to it for a few weeks. That’s the best way to turn it into a strong habit. Before long, it will feel like the new normal and you no longer have to remind yourself to do each thing along the way. It will have become a habit and a routine you’ll follow automatically. It will take a lot less effort and mental pep-talk to get things done… even if your new routine includes a 30 minute run, or getting up at the crack of down to work on your most important business task for an hour.
Watch out for moments when you slip back into your old habits and routines. It’s going to happen. The key is to catch it early and get back on track as quickly as possible. For example, let’s say you’ve been doing well with waking up 30 minutes earlier and going for a run before you start your day. Then one day you oversleep and can’t make it out there. Or the weather turns too bad, you get sick or hurt, or something else pops up that keeps you from going on that run. That’s life. It happens. What’s important is what you decide to do the next morning.
Your most important job whenever life gets in the way of your new morning routine is to get back on track as quickly as possible. Do what you can as soon as you notice the disruption. If the weather is bad, do a quick workout at home, or head to the gym to run on the treadmill. If you overslept, try to squeeze in a few minutes of meditation or doing something to grow your business before you get back to the rest of your day. Most importantly get back on track with your regular morning routine as soon as possible. Get back into your new habits the next morning if at all possible. Actively remind yourself to get back on track for a few days until it routine is firmly back in place. You’ll be glad you did when you start to see the results you’ve been hoping for.


5 Minutes of Morning Magic

Animated Cinderella turning over in the bed and covering her head up with a pillow.
Cinderella Morning Reaction.

Mornings, am I right?

I only recently became a morning person in the past few years. And not because of some grand, lofty lifestyle overhaul strategy. It was literally the only time my house was quiet enough for me to think.

I started by getting up only 15 minutes earlier than my husband. At the time, he was up at about 6:30am. I didn’t get up until about 7:00am. After the couple of days of adjusting and actually getting a list of tasks together, I realized was how much more I got done in all areas of my life. Over the years, I have worked myself up to a 4:45am alarm (Monday – Friday). Disclaimer: I am in bed by 8:30 on ‘work nights’ and usually get in a 30 minute power nap when schedules may push my bedtime later.

FACT: How we start our morning often sets the tone for our day.

And, more often than not, our busy lives dictate a busy morning!

The Morning Makeover Challenge is about to wrap and if you missed it you can catch the next one here. In the meantime, I challenge you to wake up 5 minutes earlier in the morning and do at least ONE stretch (or yoga pose) and think of ONE thing for which you are grateful. That’s it.

One stretch won’t take you 5 minutes, so you may choose to stretch a little longer, learn a new yoga pose or take a few extra minutes to relax, enjoy your coffee or get ready for your day.

Waking up 5 minutes earlier and doing ONE stretch and ONE gratitude practice is TOTALLY doable. And transformative.

Stretching increases your flexibility and mobility – making movement and daily tasks easier. It also increases body and mind alignment and can also decrease stress.

Studies show that a daily practice of gratitude can lead to increased optimism, satisfaction, enthusiasm, motivation and HAPPINESS.

Consciously choose to think of one thing you are grateful for each day. Honestly, it can be the same thing every day. Just take a moment at the start of your day to be thankful.

Can you wake up 5 minutes earlier for the next 7 days and do ONE stretch and ONE gratitude practice? Leave an emoji or comment if you accept the challenge.


Come Up With A New Morning Game Plan

Now that you have a pretty good idea of what you want to do in the morning, what you don’t want to or need to do, and where to find the extra time needed, it’s time to put it all together in a new morning game plan.
The best place to start is with the new set of tasks that are most important to you. Figure out a preliminary time during which you want to get them accomplished. If your goal is to go for a run in the morning, you may decide to do that first thing before getting a shower and having breakfast. If your goal is to meditate each morning, you may decide it would work best after you’ve had a cup of coffee. If your goal is to find some time for reading or your favorite hobby in the morning, you could carve out some time before everyone else gets up and while you enjoy that first coffee. The same goes for wanting time in the morning to work on your business or learn something new.
Then work the rest of your morning chores around these new plans. It may take some shuffling around and mixing up of your current routine, but with a little creative thinking and a bit of flexibility, I’m sure you can come up with a working plan.
Making over your morning and turning it into a new routine isn’t something that comes natural to most of us. It takes a little while to get into the grove of things. We’ll look at this in a little more detail tomorrow. For right now, my suggestion is that you write your new morning game plan down. It’s easy to forget what you’re planning to do. Writing it down will not only give you a reference to refer back to, but also solidify your new plan in your mind.
Put the note, or notebook where you jotted down your new plan on your night table or somewhere else where you’ll see it first thing in the morning. It will serve as a reminder of what you’re intending to do and do differently in the morning now.
Even though you’ve written your plan down, it’s important to realize it’s not written in stone. The well-laid out plans don’t always work when put into action. Adjust it and make changes as needed until you come up with a new morning game plan that works well for you and the rest of your family. Once you have that it’s time to make it the new routine… something we’ll talk more about tomorrow.


Finding Time In Your Busy Morning

Mornings are busy and they can be quiet chaotic. If you have a young family and plenty of people to get ready and out the door, you know this first hand. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way, no matter how busy you think you are first thing in the day. Earlier I shared with you how the first few hours in the morning set the tone for the entire rest of the day. Do you want that to be rushed, frantic, and feeling like you’re constantly running and trying to catch up? Or do you want it to be calm, collected, productive, and with a feeling that you’re in control? It’s up to you and it’s all about embracing two simple concepts.
Get Up Early Enough
It’s tempting to hit the snooze button and catch a few more minutes of sleep, isn’t it? It’s even hard to set the alarm early enough that you have plenty of time for everything you want and need to get done. I get it. If you’re not a morning person, moving up the alarm by 30 minutes to carve out a little extra time can be tough. Trust me though, after the first few mornings it’s not nearly as hard as you think and something you’ll quickly get used to.
Getting up early enough and avoiding the snooze button at all costs is the key to an unrushed morning. Here’s the problem with cutting time too short, or worse hitting the snooze button a few times. It gets you behind from the very start. You have to rush to make it out the door in time and any little problem or speed bump along the way turns into a huge problem. Not being able to find the car keys is suddenly a major crisis because it could cause you to be late for work and the kids to be tardy at school. Remember, your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. If you start it chasing down time and things, that’s likely how you’ll spend the rest of your time.
Getting up early enough on the other hand puts you ahead of the game. You’re in control. You can take care of everything that needs doing in a calm manner and still have time for the important things you want to work on. In short, getting up early enough sets you up for an amazing, productive day.
Restructure Your Routine
Before we wrap this up, spend a little time thinking about your current morning routine and where you’re spending time. Look for things you can change and tweak to find more time for the things you really want to do. For example, if you want an extra 20 minutes in the morning to meditate, look at what you could take care ahead of time, eliminate, or delegate to make that time. If you spend a lot of time getting breakfast for everyone, get in the habit of setting the breakfast table the night before. Get your spouse to get the coffee ready, so all you have to do in the morning is push a button. Teach the kids to make their own breakfast and take the dirty dishes to the sink, rinse them, and put them in the dish washer. Make sure clothes are set out the night before (including yours), and that book bags, purses, briefcases, and car keys have a designated spot and that there where they need to be before you turn in for the night. Small changes like this to your morning routine can make a big difference. I challenge you to come up with a few small tweaks that will save you at least 30 minutes in the morning.


Define Your Perfect Morning

Here is my question for you this morning. What’s most important to you? What is the one thing you really want to do on a daily basis that would make a big difference, but you just can’t seem to find the time for?
In short, what good habit do you want to cultivate that would make a real impact on your life? Think about this for a moment. It could be in any area of your life from exercise and healthy eating to self-improvement or getting ahead in business or at your job. It could be working on your relationship with your kids, finding time for creative pursuits, or getting in the habit of reading every morning.
Once you’ve figured out what you want to work on, what you want to improve, and what’s important to you, we’ll think about how you can make it part of your morning routine. Sit back and imagine your perfect morning. It isn’t stressed or rushed. Most importantly it’s a day when you have time for everything on your list. Maybe it means having time for a long shower. Maybe it’s going for a run before breakfast. Maybe it’s having a few minutes to connect with your spouse over coffee or maybe it’s carving out an hour first thing in the morning to work on your side-business.
That’s a lot of “maybes” but the key is to start with what’s most important to you and think about how you could fit it into your morning routine. Remember, you’re just dreaming and imagining at this point. We’ll work on figuring out where to find the time to fit it in and how to make it all work out later on. For now I simply want you to paint a vivid picture of what your new morning could look like.
I want you to become very clear on what you want that perfect morning to look like. Imagine it in as much detail as you possibly can. Write it down in a journal or on a piece of paper that you can refer back to as needed. In short, define your perfect morning.
Why is this so important? Because you can’t start to make any meaningful changes until you know what your goals are. You need to know your destination before you can start to pick a route and figure out how you’ll get there. That’s what today’s task is all about. It’s figuring out where you want to get to. Don’t stop until you have it figured out and firmly pictured in your mind.


Impact of a Morning Routine

I love mornings. Each new day brings new opportunities and it’s a chance to start fresh and do better. How you start your day, or more specifically how you spend those first few morning hours has a big impact on the rest of it. Think of it as setting the tone for your entire day. That’s why making over your morning is so important. It’s about much more than those first few hours.
I’m sure you’ve experienced this yourself. Let’s use the snooze button as an example. You set an early alarm to make sure you have time for exercise, meditation, or simply some much needed “me time”. You have every intention of getting up and doing whatever you’re setting out to do when you set the alarm in the first place. Some mornings – hopefully most mornings – you get up when the alarm chimes and go for that walk, do your meditation exercise, or read a book for twenty minutes. Then there are those days when you just can’t make yourself get up. You hit the snooze button multiple times, or turn the alarm off altogether and go back to sleep.
Think about how the rest of those days went. Did you notice a difference in how you felt? How much did you got done on the mornings when you got up with your first alarm? Were you able to do all the things you set out to do? How did those days compare to the ones when you hit the snooze button over and over again?
If I had to take a guess, I’d say that the mornings when you got up as soon as the alarm went off went a lot smoother. I bet you accomplished what you have planned to do, too. Chances are that sleeping through the snooze button didn’t just affect your morning, but the entire rest of your day. You set the tone for how your day is going to go first thing in the morning. That’s what the old saying about getting up on the wrong side of the bed is about. Let’s make sure we get up on the right side and start our day off in a positive and productive way.
Over the course of the next seven days, I want to guide you through the process of making over your morning. As we’ve already established, this is an important tasks and a good thing to work on and pay attention to. Not only will you enjoy your mornings more even if the alarm goes off much earlier than you’d like, it will make the entire rest of your day go much smoother.


New Year, Halleloo!

It’s a New Year and a New You – How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Do you struggle to keep your New Year’s resolutions? More than likely, the excitement of starting a New Year wanes away and you find yourself back into your old routines.

Even when you have adequate motivation and the will to change, seeing it through can be damn-near impossible! The trick is to turn your optimism for the New Year into concrete actions. Once you start a routine, it becomes easier to follow through.

Whether you’re making multiple resolutions or wanting to work towards one bigger goal, be sure to pick something that’s achievable within the year’s time frame. And then, break those goals into chunks-or smaller goals that you can tackle in 4-, 8-, or 12 weeks time. I assure you, this is only way to prevent the ‘time horizon’ from getting the best of you.

I outline a few critical actionable steps that you should add to your resolution protocol!

A clipboard with a planner for the year 2021 and shiny stars sprinkled around like confetti.
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Set Achievable and Clear Goals (S.M.A.R.T.)

Strive for making your goals achievable so you don’t set yourself up for future failure. For example, let’s say your goal is to save money. Determine where you stand currently, and then give yourself a goal that can be achieved putting back or cutting about 3-5% of your income a week.

You’ll also benefit from making clear goals. Rather than saying that you want to save, state a specific dollar amount. Then define the “how” as well. Are you going to follow a specific budget? How are you going to cut costs? Are you going to start an account that bears interest?

By now, we are all familiar with SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. This works! With a clear, achievable goal and a set plan of tasks you know you can complete, you virtually guarantee your success! You know exactly what you want and how you’re going to get there. All you need to do now is take action.

Take and Track Action

Taking action is usually where people tend to run into some trouble. It’s easy to get pumped up about an idea, but when it comes down to executing your plan, you might be tempted to fall short which is why smaller, less daunting goals is helpful in avoiding overwhelm and procrastination.

In this situation, you only need to muster up the energy to start. Tell yourself that you’re going to stick to your new plan for one week and then evaluate how it went. On the other hand, if you take everything in all at once, you’ll be less likely to begin in the first place. If it looks overwhelming, just focus on the short term.

Establish Strong Routines

I personally believe this to be key. Rituals or routines can set the stage for success if you develop them when motivation is high. Then you experience lulls in motivation, you will be accustomed to the work part and will be able to power through until you are feeling motivated again. Failing to plan for a lag in motivation is what distracts and derails most people.

For example, in our money saving scenario, paring back spending can be especially tough if you’re not accustomed to budgeting. The early days can leave you without items of convenience and feeling deprived. That doesn’t sound like fun at all! However, those first few days are the worst you’ll endure. You will need to plan for entertainment and expenditures and perhaps prepare meals instead of dining out. After your rituals are established, however, you may find that you are exceeding your savings goal and having a good time in other ways as well.

Reward Yourself

Reward yourself often for your excellent efforts because you deserve it for working hard to change yourself for the better. You don’t need to wait until the end of the year to treat yourself.

Break up your goals into smaller pieces and every time you achieve a milestone, give yourself something that you enjoy. It could be an item you’ve been wanting or maybe a night out on the town.

Rewarding yourself for a job well done motivates you to keep going!

Do It Again!

After your first successful year of bettering yourself through New Year’s resolutions, you can then repeat the process and work on another aspect of your life. Before you know it, you’ll be a perfectly happy and healthy person because of your awareness, perseverance, and hard work!

Join me for the first email challenge of the new year, Establishing Your Morning Routine! It’s free and great way to get a running start on accomplishing your goals!


Moving Towards Oneness

“Othering” is a term that not only encompasses the many expressions of prejudice on the basis of group identities, but we argue that it provides a clarifying frame that reveals a set of common processes and conditions that propagate group-based inequality and marginality.

A photo of a hand of a person of medium brown skin touching the hand of a person of white  skin. Together the hands create a heart shape. The photo conveys the ideal that differences can be overcame to create an accepting, diverse society with all.
A photo of a hand of a person of medium brown skin touching the hand of a person of white skin. Together the hands create a heart shape.

A Complex Challenge

This concept of othering extends beyond mere recognition that we are individuals. Being an unique person means difference. That is not only ok but necessary for a enriching, challenging, and interesting social relationships. It is the expressions of prejudice aspect that is problematic. I am not really here to peel that onion. I merely want to acknowledge that expressions of acceptance and respect of those differences should be the goal of the global society. I am hopeful that we can move towards a society where we are able to care for each other. My work of faith in this regard is compassion for all and a much softened disposition than the days of my more militant youth.

To that end, I would like to invite you to listen to a podcast about Yoga and Removing the Concept of Other, in which, along with two of my colleagues and friends, and I was privileged to be included.

My hope is that the podcast will be a catalyst of reflection and conversation. As I endeavor to continue to move in front and behind the scenes to ensure that all people are able to live a life free to pursue happiness, I look forward to your thoughts, questions, comments, and experiences. Please like and share the podcast which is available on all the major platforms. For your convenience, listen on Spotify here and on iTunes here.

The Socials:

@fiercefitness.atx @innerexploreryoga @dexcellentfitness.


Gratitude: The Single Most Important Emotion

The one thing that holds people back from having their dream lifestyle and connect with other people in meaningful ways, is, in my opinion, a lack of gratitude.

Ingratitude, its polar opposite, leads all of your blessings down a black hole and you are left in a perpetual state of discontent. And the tell-tale signs are all there because genuine gratitude cannot.be.faked.

This feeling of emptiness is one of the reasons why we strive for more- more friends, more money, more status. Because how can you ever have enough if you don’t appreciate what you have?

Most of us, particularly in the “Western” culture, should be grateful for our lives and what is in them in a way that’s borders being apologetic. We, as animals, adapt. We become accustomed to things too easily. This phenomenon even has a name! Psychologists call this concept ‘hedonic adaptation’. We take our basics and our luxuries for granted (especially those we think are basic!). We take the paved streets, cars, public transportation, food and variety of food–all of it–for granted. We take the company and love of our families for granted.

This hedonic adaptation creates something even more dangerous–the false sense that these things will always be here at our disposal or for our enjoyment.

If you have ever lost something you valued, or worse, a loved one you treasured, then you know the truth in how truly fleeting the things and people that enrich our lives are.

Bring grateful is the anecdote!

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson offers a helpful introduction into what practicing gratitude can look like, and I, a reformed ingratiating fool, can attest that while it can feel forced in the beginning, it is like a muscle that builds endurance and ease as it is worked out.

Gratitude is an emotion similar to appreciation, and positive psychology research has found neurological reasons why so many people can benefit from this general practice of expressing thanks for our lives, even in times of challenge and change.

Science Says…

Check out the above link when you a little time to read. There is a growing body of research that is finding ties to mental, emotional, social, and physical health and wellness outcomes when expressing gratitude occurs for the both the person expressing thanks and to the person being appreciated. Endorphins, decreased stress, and increased positivity and happiness to name a few of the recorded benefits. So practice gratitude. Really.

A short list of science-backed benefits are:

  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced blood pressure and inflammation
  • Better quality of sleep
  • Decreased anxiety and depression

Isn’t that cool? In this day and age, all of those are big revenue streams for Big Pharma or expenses for folks. Consider that the power to improve them can be influenced by your and a practice of being grateful! (Please do not stop taking any prescribed medications!)

Positive psychologists have found evidence that practicing gratitude in the midst of grief, troubled times, and traumatic events, decrease pain and increase recovery/coping windows and improves resiliency.

Leslie Says…

What I suspect is that you will see how rich your life is, even in these trying and uncertain times, and you will stop looking at what is missing and began nurturing what you do have.

That is what happened to me. I started to add a few moments to my morning stretch and meditation to think of things I was grateful for in my life. At first, my health, job, and family were those things I mentioned moved on. Then I decided to say one unique them about each of them. Then I found myself driving mindfully and could often think of small details or events that made me smile. I took this with me everywhere I went! I felt better and more positive, even in the face of difficult situations.

I deepened my relationship with y husband and my teenager, my 8 year old seems cuter and less nerve-racking (I assure you-she has not changed AT ALL!) Overall, I feel happier and more optimistic and oddly enough, I sleep better and have keep my workouts sacred (and look forward to them). Funny how it all works out. It started with my sincere effort at being grateful for 2 minutes a day.

Most importantly, I found that practicing gratitude helps develop an abundance mindset and that feeling of contentment brings other things that make you happy into your life! It is the loveliest of cycles! Law of attraction at is finest !

Practicing Gratitude

If you are looking for a way to get started, try the following family-friendly activity. You can start now and to it on Thanksgiving Day, which should be every day. Get you some gratitude NOW!

The Gratitude Jar Activity

The gratitude jar is a stunningly simple exercise that can have profound effects on your well-being and outlook. It only requires a few ingredients: a jar (a box can also work); a ribbon, stickers, glitter, or whatever else you like to decorate the jar; paper and a pen or pencil for writing your gratitude notes; and gratitude!

Step 1: Find a jar or box.

Step 2: Decorate the jar however you wish. You can tie a ribbon around the jar’s neck, put stickers on the sides, use clear glue and glitter to make it sparkle, paint it, keep it simple, or do whatever else you can think of to make it a pleasing sight.

Step 3: This is the most important step, which will be repeated every day. Think of at least three things throughout your day that you are grateful for. It can be something as benign as a coffee at your favorite place, or as grand as the love of your significant other or dear friend. Do this every day, write down what you are grateful for on little slips of paper and fill the jar.

Over time, you will find that you have a jar full of a myriad of reasons to be thankful for what you have and enjoy the life you are living. It also will cultivate a practice of expressing thanks.

If you are ever feeling especially down and need a quick pick-me-up, take a few notes out of the jar to remind yourself of who, and what, is good in your life!

Kindness Challenge for November

Another way to try your hand at gratitude is starting with its sister, kindness. Kindness goes hand in hand with gratitude! At times, being grateful can be tough but you can always be kind–even if just with your self. Try it! People will or won’t appreciate it, but you will feel better and when you do receive thanks, you will grateful that you were able to make someone’s day! Click HERE for the challenge calendar!


Where is Your Passion?

Eeeek! It is almost National Novel Writing Month! #NaNoWriMo https://nanowrimo.org/

Living a Life that is Passion-Filled and FUN!

What are activities or things that you enjoy that are purely for fun? In this day and age where folks are hustling and monetizing their hobbies, it can be a challenge to simply enjoy something for enjoyment’s sake.

For me, that activity is writing! I have written a romance novel and have started the editing, but I do not like that part, lol. I plan to write the sequel this November during the #NaNoWriMo challenge. So, I would like to challenge you to 30 days of participating in your passion projects or activities! Yay for you!

The Benefits of Passion Projects

There are a few reasons why you should indulge in a passion project or passion activity.

  • Passion projects can help develop character and relationships. As you get involved in your project, you will become more positive and this will run over into all areas of your life.
  • Cultivating passion can help you cultivate success. Time for your passion project is a built in reward system that can encourage to tame time-sinks and become more productive and focused so that you can get to what you love.
  • Passion is a pusher; it is an emotional catalyst that fuels drive and intrinsic motivation. It can sustain you through rough times and dips in progress.
  • It will make you happier. “Happiness is about learning how to cultivate the mindset and behaviors that have been empirically proven to fuel greater success and fulfillment,: says leading Positive psychology researcher Dr. Shawn Achor. He explains that even a quick shot of happiness can go a long way. Passion projects should be fun and have a happiness factor for you.
  • Add creativity and broaden the way you express yourself.
  • It is a way to express your talents or to develop them!

I have a friend who loves to write. Not novels, poems. His goal is to write a two poems a day during #NaNoWriMo. You can a children’s book or series. A cartoon. A memoir. Stories from family elders. Or not write at all. But jump in to the challenge to live a little more fully this month!

Passion projects should encourage and motivate you daily! They can add a challenge, but should be fun. After all, this is not a work assignment or school; you are choosing the project, scope, deadlines, timelines, all of it!

You need only decide what you want to get out of the project, what kind of project or activity you are going to participate in, commit, and start on November 1st! See you on other side–happier, no doubt!

Please comment about your passions! Will you do the challenge? Have you joined the #NaNoWriMo challenge? If interested, it is here!

To your increased happiness!


My Daughter is a Blessing…Plain and Simple

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Technically, they both are. But today, I am writing specifically about the youngest one, Yani.

As October and all of the observances that were shoved into these 31 days draw to an end, I want to talk about the fact (increasingly becoming wide spread) that October is also Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Not to be confused with World Down Syndrome Day (3-21).

Our Yani boo has Down Syndrome. It was an undiagnosed surprise so that is all I can say about that. She was born healthy and then we brought her home. At her one week checkup, her pediatrician said she wanted to have her chromosomes analyzed and I was like, thank goodness. She seemed surprised. I told her I suspected but no one in the hospital said anything but I stayed for three days and I could not figure out why I had needed to–no c-section, all-natural delivery. I did not press the issue because I was resting! No housework, etc. She informed me that the notes from my ob/gyn indicated I stayed due to my severe anemia! The baby had been free to go but my ob/gyn thought I would not stay if she had left, so he did not say anything, just came by to pretend to look in one the baby while checking on me! Smart doctor!

Admittedly, I think I had already worked it all out in my head so the diagnosis was merely a confirmation. After all, this was the second child I had birthed that had down syndrome. My son, who died suddenly at age two years, had broken down all ego or judgements or any need to grieve. I understand all of that intimately. I am frequently questioned about it and will cheerfully answer any questions if you reach out.

People with Down Syndrome have some general characteristics and those are only generalizations. The same amount of variety and individuality abound in them. After all, they are just people. They are stereotyped for being sweet, friendly, gentle, and cognitively delayed to varying degrees. My little girl is all of that. She is also a genius at getting out of trouble unscathed, inciting her sister to fits, has the heaviest hands on a little person if she is hitting you, and is functions in both English and Spanish (although her expressive skills in English are much stronger). She is sturdy and strong and very flexible. She loves dancing but is lazy when it comes to walking.

It was a new experience for my husband, who was not my son’s father. He had not known any one with this chromosomal arrangement and was terrified he mess her up. Fast-forward eight years. She let’s us know daily the things we did right and wrong with her. DAILY.

She is full of spunk and fire (right – although I am not sure how much we had to do with it!) She is loved and she knows it (right). As a result, she is confident and lives free from fear that punishment for writing on the walls or pouring out the soap into toilet (wrong!). Don’t get me wrong; we have tried to correct these displays or missteps, but no method we know of is effective. For real, folks, REACH OUT! She is social and accepted by peers and adults whom she views as extended family (right) and may leave with any one of them (WRONG!) if they meant her harm. She is playful and humorous (right) curses a lot (wrong-but she is contextually accurate and creative). Most importantly, she confirms how much of an blessing she is through teaching us about ourselves. We get daily lessons on forgiveness, why boundaries are important, having fun, the joys of family, what real hugs are like, the uselessness of pride, and unconditional love.

We adore our Yani boo. She is learning and teaching us every day. And of all the fears and doubts, the only one we have is whether or not we deserve her.


3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Immune System This Winter

What We All Should Know…I hope!

Good Hand Hygiene is Your Best Line of Defense Against Cold and Flu (and COVID-19) and Avoid Getting Sick by Keeping Your Distance

Hopefully, you and your family have mastered these two basics of health. But running a three-way tie behind them are easy and just as important!

Eat Plenty of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

All systems of your body work best when they are properly fed. This includes your immune system. Stick to a mainly whole foods based diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you feel like you might be a little under the weather or suspect that you may have come into contact with someone sick, increasing your intake of Vitamin C may help as well. Eat a few citrus fruits. Broccoli, cauliflower, and kale are other great options.

Avoid eating processed foods. It takes a lot of time and effort to digest them and you don’t want to weigh your body down with extra work when that energy could be used to boost your immune system, keep you from getting sick, or help you get well sooner.

Get Some Exercise

In addition to eating well, get out there and get regular exercise. For best results, work out in the fresh air. Something as simple as a daily quick walk can help you stay well and strengthen your body. It has the added benefit of helping you to de-stress. I don’t have to tell you that you’re more likely to get sick when you are stressed out. Use daily exercise to destress and stay well. It will also help you with the last way to boost your immune system.

Make Time for Sleep

This last tip is easy to skip over, yet it is the most important one for most of us and the one that can give your immune system a great boost. It’s getting enough sleep. Make the time to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Practice good sleep hygiene. Don’t let the word scare you. It means turning off your phone and other screens a few hours before bed. Keep your bedroom calm, quiet, and at a temperature that encourages sleep. It also includes establishing and sticking to a bedtime routine. As an added bonus, you’ll feel more energized for everything else you have to do all day.

We all have times when we could use a little extra boost to our immune system. Cold and flu season are certainly part of that time, or the long winter weeks when we’re stuck inside in close quarters, our hygiene gives way to comfort and we are more likely to catch something. It’s also important anytime you board a plane for holiday travel or when your kids start school. The above are three simple things you can do daily to strengthen your immune system.

Stay tuned! I will share some easy recipes that will boost your immune system and satisfy!


Goal Challenge Check In

So, How is Going…REALLY?

I am doing great, thanks for asking!

For me, and the folks I coach, I find that weeks 1 and 2 are fueled by sheer excitement and potential! Which is great! Experience has shown that when motivation starts to wane it is discovered that the either 1) the goals are too big and a sense of overwhelm and panic at the time horizon sets in or, 2) the lack of rituals fail to get one over the hump of important/mandatory, but tedious tasks.

Today, let’s tackle the first pitfall before we get there.

One of the biggest issues regarding setting goals is to keep them at a high level. We all want to accomplish things in life. But setting goals that are too general (read BIG) is going to make it difficult to accomplish them. It’s also going to be difficult to measure how you are doing. The best approach is to break big goals into chunks. Give your smaller goals a second look and see if the scope exceeds the 12 week framework. If so, break it down so that each week you are moving the needle. Also, make sure that your goals are not too small and you are spinning your wheels. Just right-sized goals take time and can change based on weekly accomplishments and RITUALS. This is where the 12WY really shines. It helps you with this hard part so much!

Think of the chunks as action items. These actions are measurable units that you put to milestones. You need to set them up in a way that holds you accountable. Otherwise, they won’t get accomplished.

Write your goals and action steps down on paper. Put it in a place where you can view it every single day. It’s okay to record them electronically as well, although some people find it difficult to keep both the paper version and electronic version in sync. It’s personal preference. If you feel you can succeed with just one or the other, that is the way to go.

It’s okay to dream big with your goals but be realistic about accomplishing them. When you break your goals down into action steps and find they are not within your ability or skill set to accomplish within the specified periods, rework them until you find the right mix of actions. Making the goals and actions too difficult will set yourself up for frustration when not being able to accomplish them. Also, a the scoring practice of the 12WY helps you with this other hard part!

For me, I scored a 95% on Goal One, which was great because mid-week I realized one of my smaller goals was too vague to really measure progress. So I clarified it by making it into two smaller defined goals, but rated myself 0. I have four little goals that roll up into the one big goal and the average was 95%. The second goal, which was a weight loss goal of 1 pound a week was 80.25%. I did lose the pound but most likely due to increased workout intensity and length. The late night dinners got a 4 got me out of the 7 days. I am still in it to win it!

We will be back next week and I will share my tracking system and talk about rituals as an effective tool for building habits and persevering when motivation dips, which it will!


Flex Your Productivity Muscle

End Procrastination with the October Goal Challenge

We’re all guilty of doing it, more often than we’d like to admit. Procrastination may not be just about turning in your work project at the last minute. It can be putting off important life decisions like whether or not you should ask your boss for that raise he promised last month, or whether you should join a gym, leave your boyfriend, have a baby, etc. Choices are endless, therefore, the opportunities for procrastination are endless, too. The up side? The opportunities to choose action are endless as well so let’s get to the tips to help you develop action-based muscle so you can progress in the accomplishment of your goals!

1. Turn Redundant, Non-Urgent Tasks into Habits

We all have enough willpower to get about 3 or 4 tasks done each day. Habits use other parts of our brain rather than the prefrontal cortex which is associated with rational thinking. So, when you train yourself to do something out of habit, rather than look at it as a mundane task, you think about it less which means you’re using less willpower and you won’t fall into the procrastination rut.

Things like brushing your teeth or making your bed have all become daily habits which you automatically perform without even considering putting them off. Why not turn healthy eating, daily exercise, or turning in reports ahead of time into daily habits as well?

After that it becomes easier, but you still have to keep yourself motivated and inspired. Procrastination is all about taking that dreaded first step. So why not ease into it with the knowledge that after a certain amount of time, or once I’ve finished X, I can watch videos on YouTube or go get a cup of coffee. Make it pleasant for yourself because the reward is the part that the brain assimilates to gauge your enjoyment level. If you’re happy, then your brain slowly turns this task into a habit which you look forward to, instead of something you dread on a daily basis.

2. Break work tasks into chunks.

Instead of cleaning out the entire garage, do the right side first, take a break, then do the left side, take a break, then finish off the rest. At work, big tasks may seem daunting when you look at them as a whole. The answer? Break it down into smaller tasks. Make an outline of the entire project, and then divide it up into smaller tasks.

Working in 30-minute increments also helps break down tasks into smaller chunks which are manageable and not so intimidating. After the 30 minutes, take a break and assess your work. Seeing how much you’ve accomplished will give you that boost of confidence you need to keep at it.

3. Remove distractions.

Checking your email every 5 minutes isn’t doing you any good. So, once you’ve committed to doing the job, limit distractions by putting your away. You can find apps that help you stay on track, but some will say that’s completely missing the point.

The important thing is that you set up a certain time for checking emails or your social media, and once you’ve started your task, you avoid the urge to take a sneak peak.

Another serious distraction is multi-tasking. Even though it may seem that you’re being productive, the truth is it’s a complete waste of time and energy. Think about it, it takes your brain about 20 minutes to completely focus on one task and give it 100%, and then you bring in another task which means you decrease your focus level by half, bring in a third task and the focus drops even lower. So even though you’re working more, your end results will be below average.

4. Work during your peak hours.

We all have certain times during the day when we’re most alert. Some of us are morning people, some are night owls, and some have more energy during the afternoon hours. Find out what your peak hours are and tackle your most difficult tasks then. You’ll be more of a powerhouse then with your brain working at its maximum capacity.

We all have the ability and power to make positive incremental steps–build those daily habits! After all, Coaching Legend Vince Lombardi once said “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” Get into gear this week with the October Goal Challenge!


Make the Plan, Plan to Work

Hey, there! Is your vision clarified? Milestones identified? Great! But, if not, start here. If so, then let’s get into firming up the plan and the plan of attack!

Bye-Bye, Comfort Zone

In digesting and implementing the 12 Week Year by Moran and Lennington, I found the next steps to be the hardest to do but they made the biggest difference. They were a challenge for me as they spoke directly to my comfort zone. I had done relatively OK in my life with minimal effort. I had not grown because when I set a goal, especially an annual goal (New Year’s Resolutions ring a bell?), I stalled due to lack of urgency and the mindset that there was always enough time to “get it together”. When the time horizon was upon me, and I could accomplish what I set out to do, then I did. When it was not going to happen without some type of discomfort, it didn’t. And subconsciously, I made the requisite excuses (to myself in 99% of the occurrences) and vowed to do better. But make no mistake. There was no Vanessa Williams singing to me. It was clear that my comfort zone was too small to accommodate my desired progress. We humans do not generally like discomfort. But once I decided to build that muscle, some real grit, things shifted. Hopefully, you are comfortable with accountability; this method for goal setting accomplishment forces you to embrace it. And you will like it.

Step 3: Defining Goal Metrics and Controlling Time

Note: The book discusses these concepts as tactics and process control.

Picking up where we left off, we have our lofty vision clarified and some milestone goals that serve as stepping stones. For me, I am going to tackle two goals, to build my email marketing list and to lose a 12 pounds (1 pound per week). Looking at the first goal, it needs some refinement. Goals need to be SMART: Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. For the 12WY, they should also be positively stated and assigned to some one for accountability (personal goals are ALL on you. If you have a professional goal or want to apply this methodology at work, then teammates would be assigned a specific sets of tasks.)

So, to correct my goal of building my list, it will now read: Grow subscriber list from 17 to 75 in the period beginning October 5 and ending Sunday, December 27th. For the weight loss goal: Lose 12 pounds during the next twelve weeks. Both are written in action-oriented verbiage, are specific, measurable, attainable (although not comfortably but I won’t DIE), realistic, and time-bound. Let’s GOOOOOO!

Time Control

This is where we develop the time management and process control piece. 12WY teaches three time blocking strategies and I use them in the way described! 1) Strategic, or deep work, blocks for at least two or three hours daily. Covid-19 has changed my work so much that I have a one two hour block there and one 90 minute at home. This is the nose-to-the-grindstone, only interrupt me if I am on fire, concentrated highly-productive work block; 2) the buffer block, where you deal specifically with flow interrupters like, emails, calls, sticky notes, and little fires that pop up. I have one of these 60 minute blocks at my job, and one 30 minute one at home as I work on my business. I typically sit to do light tasks as my family waits until then to interrupt. Then I give them the block and get the little to bed and then have my deep work block late; and 3) the breakout block, where you step completely away from all work. HA! This is the family time block where I help with school work, dance with the little, cook and workout! My husband works long hours so and the big girl is a ghost 19 years old, so it is usually me and the little and this works for us.

Within the blocks, you have your tactics or daily tasks and activities that prioritize and drive the movement of the goals. So for my weight loss goal, my tactics could be a) weekly weigh in, b) eating a salad lunch daily to decrease calorie intake, c) 3 cardio and 2 strength workouts weekly. The premise of the 12WY is that if I do my tactics at a rate of 85% or better, I can reach my goal by the end of my 12 week period. For the list-building goal, tactics could be a) create opt-in content to gather emails, b) create and sell ads for the opt-in landing page or website , c) create email sequence to welcome and nurture those new subscribers, and d) track engagement analytics.

Here are SEVEN free resources that you can use to help you track progress. I am using only two and they are enough. I am using the Asian Efficiency Scorecard and the Weekly Road Map! The last post will talk about taking score and the weekly accountability meeting! And, then we are ready for the 5th and a full launch! If want to know what you can do next may I suggest, calendarizing your time blocks and checking out the weekly roadmap. It has proven to be instrumental in moving me in the right direction with the least discomfort!

For both goals, I know what I will be doing on a weekly basis to reach the goal. Those deep work blocks could be used for development of the opt-in content, or for a workout session. It is tougher to get the time for personal goals but not impossible. Do you binge Netflix? Are all the teams your teams and you can’t miss a game? What comfort would you have to give up to move closer to your vision? Like, Follow, Comment!


It’s Fall, Y’all! – Goal Challenge!

The Autumn Equinox debuted on September 22 at 10:21 a.m. ushering in the official beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere. One of two days with 12 hours daylight and dark, National Geographic tells us that even split in the day is linked to the reason that the Earth has different seasons and cycles of weather. I really enjoy learning about the lore and actual influences of nature’s cycles in our lives and energies. As I have gotten older, I try to rely more on the wisdoms that have stood the tests of time and Mother Nature reigns supreme.

Whether you prefer the Southern sun all year round, or find solace in the huge snow drifts of Wyoming or Vermont, the seasons do change. I’m one who has learned to find peace in the changing of the seasons. In Texas, I grow tired of triple-digit heat ALL DAY, with air that has a palpable weight. Autumn brings crisp air (AIR!) and a rejuvenates my mind and body. The transitions and energies of each season is unique and special, but to be clear, Fall is my favorite season–hands down.

As creatures of nature, not just habit, we can tap into both the subtle and striking energy changes brought on by all of nature’s cycles, particularly at the onset of Fall. The second half, moving closer to winter has it own energy!

With fall, comes a time where usually parents are sending kids back to school and the comfortable routines resume. It is a time that can bring energy to tackle projects before winter sets in and can be a natural catalyst to accomplishment. I am going with this energy full throttle this year! Come along!

The Challenge!

If you have not read the 12 Week Year by Brian Moran, please do! He says a lot but my take-aways and I use it are simply:

“the number-one thing that you will have to sacrifice to be great, to achieve what you are capable of, and to execute your plans, is your comfort.”

Brian Moran

“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” —Henry David Thoreau”

Brian Moran

So, I have been plagued with being busy but stagnant and I wanted to change it. A deeper look at why lead me to the realization that it was simply comfortable made me angry with myself for wasting the one resource I could ever get back-time. That, naturally, highlighted the first quote for me and I made the conscious decision to move out of my comfort zone by expanding it to a new level, a level that included productivity over busyness.

The book is awesome, lots of resources abound on the web and on the author’s website. This is not a sponsored post nor am I an affiliate so moving on. READ: I will be talking about my take and how I use it to increase my personal and professional productivity only.

In talking about this book to friends who have not read it (but BOTH read my blog!), I decided to try my hand at breaking it down for them.

Steps 1 and 2: Clarify Your Vision and Goal Setting (Milestone)

This week our task will be two-fold: 1) to clarify our visions for the next three to five years. The uncertainty of life (i.e. PANDEMIC) has undoubtedly got you thinking about what you want from life. This week, write those visions in specific terms like, “I want to scale my business to $10k monthly” or more intentionally aspirational like, “I want to live comfortably enough to not worry about income and also give back”.

Then 2) chose only one milestone goal that will take about 12 weeks to complete. This was by far the hardest part to get the hang of. Babies have a vision of walking. You can see it in their eyes as the stare at your expensive or irreplaceable items on tabletops and shelves. Being on two feet is where the action is. But, alas. First, they have to sit, then crawl, then stand. These are milestone goals that are necessary to accomplish before they are able to actualize their vision. Identify your milestones to your vision. We are going to tackle the first one in this 12 week year.

For me, my vision is to replace my work-for-somebody else with income from my online coaching business (which I launched about three months go. Short story long–not a clear plan, spinning wheels, ready to progress). Milestone goals include creating a suite of courses, creating digital content for residual sales, build email marketing list, monetizing my Youtube channel, and recreating the process for another person. Whew…chile. The only goal I can actually accomplish is to build my list. The other goals all have some other milestone goals within them. Building my list can be accomplished with some weekly tasks and metrics for success. And the great thing is, doing it will help the other goals. For giggles, I am going to tackle a second goal. I would like to lose a pound a week for 12 weeks. Next time (two days), I am going to talk about good goals and we will set the weekly tactics. Then we will be ready to start our 12 week year on October 5th!

Are you feeling frisky this fall? What would you like to accomplish this quarter?


Love in the Time of Corona

For me, watching coupling trends or items of the like are of interest to me. I mean, real trends, not gossip. For example, China reported a record-high number for divorce filings in March, after their nation exited lockdown. This was timely and interesting to me as I found the report just as we entered sheltering-in-place protocols in Texas. I have always held the adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” as a universal truth, particularly given my own personalities and needs for time alone. For me, this applies to the kids, too! Albeit, in smaller amounts or time increments. So, I have held the opposite to be true as well. Too much time results in somebody getting on someone else’s nerves, and the pandemic protocols begged the questions: Why? Can I prevent reaching the breaking the point? Will I still want to after the smoke has cleared?

What is it about closeness, and specifically lots of time spent together in close quarters, that is so damn hard. I started to look for answers before the proverbial shoe dropped so I could arm myself. My mom is widow, so this was one reason I did ask her. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who is older and married. He and his wife have been married for 50 years and are both retired. He takes a dance class with me. He does this without his wife, who is really a lovely person. I reached out via facebook and he responded enthusiastically.

Basically, he said when it is just the two of you, you hyper-focus on the things you don’t like about a person. The trick is to tick off the things you do like as well. Make it a mental exercise. Also, you have got to do something that is yours. For us, we both love the Y. She swims while I dance. We have mutual friends there but may not see them together all of the time.

Ahh! I felt like I could help keep the scales balanced. Any time a light was cast on a what I considered to be a personality flaw, I would say, “but he is/also does _____”. No problem, right?

When I tell you the scales were broke, busted, and I was disgusted in a matter of days, please know I mean it. Things like the way he slept or breathed while he slept had really started to be all I could focus on. Like, how is he even sleep already? But about 10 days in, I realized that I was the only one who was feeling like this. Why? My husband got to leave the house. His business is essential and he got to leave the house-daily. While I was inside with an invisible teenager (except when the meals were ready) and a super-attached primary school child with diverse needs (hint all of her needs required physical contact at all times with –in her mind).

So, before I filed for divorce, I reached out to the teenager and told her she needed to step up and entertain her sis more so I can have some alone time so I do not commit homicide. I hinted that I might start with her. This special time , which I have come to call Quarantine Squared, is a little quarantine within the bigger overall quarantine, and it made huge difference. Everyone in our family has called a Q2 time-out. The concept was then explained to the husband and I told him where I needed him to step, too.

Immediately, some pressure was released. In addition, we both tried to find some ways to do couple things. The following are things that you can try, even now, as many are still living pretty restricted lives, as we are.

  • Talk about what we miss from our former lives and how it makes us feel. Restricted movement patterns/freedom, loss in finances, or even loved ones to this illness are all things that may need a compassionate ear. This alone helped us a lot. As racial inequities have been highlighted and exacerbated (especially in my day job) talking about it really helped!
  • Relive fond memories and day-dream about when this is over…
  • Enlisting a friend to be a sounding board for the usually harmless vetting that needs to happen at times. I know I have a married friend and we serve on each other’s personal board of directors in this capacity. We don’t belittle the spouse or divulge personal or sensitive details. It is just girl talk about if I find one more unmatched sock… NOTE: Take care if this person is family! Will vetting change their view of your spouse if you stay together?
  • Use the time together to get to know each other better. Hands down, this was my favorite thing. We have been married ten years and I have learned quite a bit about him during this time. Little things about his family, pre-us memories, small things, big things. It certainly explained some things and I ended up with an even deeper connection and appreciation for him and his perspective on things. I also taught him a thing or two about me! LOL!
  • If these don’t help, please don’t hesitate to try teletherapy. Sadly, I have witnessed some marriages end during this time, and likely there were pre-existing issues or resentments. Either way, the help of a professional can help give you the tools to resolve them or at least get to a healthy place emotionally so that there is no baggage in a new relationship going forward.

Every relationship a person had was likely tested in a variety of ways during the sheltering in place. For me and my husband, we are no longer in the strictest phases and have survived not just in tact, but better off, relationship-wise. It was not a breeze. Nerves were stepped stomped breakdanced on. But the single most important thing I learned was a true gem I gleaned from an article I read. In a marriage, or partnership, you must play to each other’s strengths. Me whining about doing more housework or juggling the little’s school and therapy demands is not likely going to change. But I am also not going to lug 100 lbs. back and forth as we move boxes for my mom (I could but it is infinitely easier for my husband), worry about all the vehicles, security and other things that have fallen into his realm of duties. These delineations are not all based on conformity to stereotypical gender roles either. They are where our strengths lie. He is physically stronger. He carries the heavy stuff. He is a carpenter and builds homes. He fixes stuff. I am a former elementary educator. I do the school stuff. We promised each other that we would be a helper and partner to the other. Sometimes, it is not equal, but it is equitable. I do the things that help him do the things he is good at and vice versa. He does this unwaveringly and without complaint. I learned that this is my biggest struggle and I have a new perspective on our partnership. And, things have never been better.

What are ways that you relationships have or are weathering the storm of the pandemic? Please drop a tip, comment, or question!


Healthy Snacks for Thriving Students

Whether your kids are going back to school this fall or taking virtual classes at home, one thing that won’t change is their endless need for after school snacks. Parents, like me, have been fighting a variety of battles of wills during the sheltering at home. Many I have talked to have admitted that nutrition and food choice battles were some of the ones most frequently dodged or exchanged for a little ease and peace and quiet.

This ferocity of the battle can be amped if there are other factors, like not great habits by adults or household influencers, or like in the case of the Little one, diverse abilities that can affect sensory processing or sheer willpower. My girl, as I have said, has Trisomy 21 and that girl is stubborn. I have had not had to “Mommy Dearest” her, but I have learned the hard way that I have not set a great example and while I have cleaned up my act to the tune of 25 pounds lost since April, she is not as easily influenced by my choices. It has been tough and often she repeats her desire for chicken “luggets”, “fench fies”, and soda for HOURS. No exaggeration. Eventually, she takes the food I offer out of sheer hunger. Often, I have to feed her a few bites to get her to try it. Almost at a 100% rate, she will eat what was handed to her, report she liked it, and we do battle again the next meal. It does not carry over, at least not yet.

I have basically tried to fix her dinner meals. If I can get some consistency here, I plan to tackle lunches as she is at work with me right now for virtual school. She will go back in two weeks (GAH! PLEASE!) and then I will gladly leave it to school lunches and peer pressure. She had really started to eat better at the beginning of the year and then WHAMMO! The pandemic brought a lot of her progress to a sudden halt.

As adults have put on a few pounds during this time, it is time to tighten up for ourselves and for kids. After all, they do as they SEE and not what you SAY. Keeping this in mind as well as the fact that the parents control supply lines, you can help your child get back or track or start to develop the kind of eating habits that well serves them well throughout their lives.

For me, my girl, who is a grazer by nature, is content to eat the same snacks. She likes fruit sauces (I make them), and smoothies (I make these too!) and baked veggie chips, yogurt, some fruits. I try to her snacks pretty unprocessed but am having no luck shifting items from the snack list to meals. So, we are all, in this together!

So how do you get your children to eat healthy snacks?

Studies show that children need to be offered a new food anywhere from 10 to 15 times before they will readily eat it – and enjoy it.

That means that it may take awhile!

But consistently offering healthy snacks, fruit, vegetables, and whole foods will pay off.

Instead of allowing your kids to choose their own snack from the pantry, plan to set out the healthy snack that you want them to eat each day after school.

Whether that means putting berries in a bowl, slicing an apple or celery sticks with a side of peanut butter, or preparing a healthy snack – put the snack on the counter in the same place each day.

If your child doesn’t want the healthy snack, that’s okay. He or she will survive without a snack.

Eventually (maybe it will take 10 – 15 times!!!), after understanding that the presented snack is consistently the only option, he or she will most likely come around and start munching!

Here are 5 easy snack ideas that kids can help prepare as well as enjoy!

  1. Baked Sweet Potato Crisps- slice (mandolin or spiralizer), season, and bake!
  2. Yogurt Parfaits – provide fruit, granola without added sugars (or make your own), and yogurt. Kids can do their own layers–may not be pretty but it may help the kids try their own creations.
  3. Humus Dip with dippers – Cutting the tahini is an easy way to lighten up humus, which is really just pureed beans. You can experiment with chickpeas, black beans, edamame and a variety of seasonings, add veggies or crackers and BOOM!
  4. Ants on a log – A Classic! Cream cheese, peanut butter, and raisins or any other dried fruit can be a fun way to tweak this classic to your child’s tastes.
  5. Peanut Butter Fruit Dip – a little peanut butter mixed with Greek yogurt can be used as a dip for fruits or even veggie or crackers! Lots of possibilities

If you have favorite healthy snacks that your kids love or tips and tricks to help encourage to try new foods, please drop a comment!


It’s Hard Out Here – Pimping or Not (Part 2)

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Let’s resume our conversation.

Last time, I used an all-too-common example, a lost job. A lost job, no matter the why, is an opportunity for new enterprises — a new business, a trip, time off to spend with family and friends, continued education, and more. Training our minds to look at adverse or undesired situations in this way is the trick.

Well, here comes a bit of bad news–I cannot tell you how to do for you. Only you should train your brain. This makes sense. Think of how folks refer to cults and organizations, or even relationships that seem to rely on a sort of brainwashing to control the other person. No one says, “Sign me up for that. I do not want to be in control of my own mind”. This is really just a scenario where one person forfeits their power, for a plethora of reasons, and the power person then trains their brain for them, usually to their benefit. Pavlov’s Dog, plain and simple.

Difficult situations are going to happen despite intentions, preparations, or purity of heart. Knowing this is inevitable, we can be confident that on large and small scales, we will have ample opportunity to practice our brain training.

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it

Margaret Thatcher

When Disaster Strikes

It is healthy, and quite necessary, to grieve the loss or change that feels like loss. But it’s also important to take responsibility for every stage of our lives and take a proactive approach to every situation. Only then, can we find meaning in our lives and minimize uncertainty. Taking the responsibility with acknowledgement is where we hold on to the power to choose our next steps.

Luckily, the hard task of introspection is not the only way to find meaning in difficult times.
When hardships come, it’s easy to over-think the situation. However, focusing at least part of your time to giving to others helps putting life in perspective.

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth

Muhammad Ali

When you give away your time and energy to help others, you create a connection with others. Life is no longer something that happens to you. Instead, it becomes a network, which you can influence in a positive way. When disasters strike, it is very easy to get wrapped up in fixing whatever you need to fix. When we hyper-focus on our selves, we forget about the connectivity we have with others. Service brings perspective.

Finally, difficulties are part of life. Trying to avoid them is not only futile, but it also prevents you from focusing your energy in purposeful, selfless work when appropriate. Therefore, if difficulties cannot be avoided, you should face them with patience and compassion to yourself and others, including strangers.

Every situation leaves a mark on you. That means something. It means you’re growing, building your own path of self-acceptance and compassion. You have the power to take control of your life by reflecting non-judgmentally, accepting each situation as an opportunity, and working with and for others.

Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others

Booker T. Washington

To Multi-task or Not to Multi-task

Multi-tasking often means less productivity and more stress written in white letters across a blue and black background.
Multi-tasking often means less productivity and more stress written in white letters across a blue and black background.

Does multi-tasking affect your health? It may seem like it is increasing productivity and saving you time and energy, and many women are proud of their multi-tasking abilities. However, ongoing research has confirmed that multi-tasking can have negative effects on levels of productivity and overall brain health in some cases. Furthermore, very few people are actually capable of multi-tasking at the same level when they single task (although most people think they do!).

Multi-tasking Is Safe Only If Different Stimuli Are Used

Experts agree that multi-tasking is safer if the tasks involved do not use the same stimuli, such as reading a message from the laptop while listening to music. Our brain is not designed to deal with the same stimulus challenge at the exact same time.

That is why driving a vehicle and texting on a phone at the same time is considered extremely dangerous. You are using the same visual stimulus. They are both competing for the same limited focus. Although it appears you are multi-tasking, you can only be actively engaged with one or the other.

So instead of doing two things at once, you are actually rapidly switching from one to the other, and back again. If your attention is attracted to the phone for a second too long, the job of consciously controlling the vehicle ceases, and catastrophe can follow.

Another example is when you are attempting to listen to multiple conversations around you. It is impossible to listen to two people who are talking to you simultaneously, because your auditory stimulus becomes overwhelmed.

In our society of busyness it is no wonder that every where you turn, you see ads for mindfulness and being present. I know. As a convert to this way of being, let me tell you—join us, friend! Savoring the small things have made me happier and undoubtedly easier to be around when there seems to be a million things to do! Easy does it is the way to go!

Multi-tasking Can Harm Your Memory Ability

If you find yourself multi-tasking, each task that your mind is engaged in will drain a part of your mental energy. As your mental energy drains, you become more absent-minded. This is because your mind begins to drift.

Even if you could complete the two tasks successfully, you will quite probably not recall how you completed the tasks. This is because our brain does not have the ability to fully focus on two or several tasks at the same time.

Each time you multi-task, your mind becomes a juggling act. When you multitask, you are diluting your mind’s investment towards each task.

It makes total sense. When your computer is running 12 high-memory applications or programs, things slow way down. The first thing you do is start closing things running in the background and scrambling to save unfinished projects. Your brain behaves much in the same way!

When Multi-taskers Think They Perform Better

A study headed by Zheng Wang of Ohio State University showed that people who were text messaging while being asked to focus on the images displayed on a computer monitor had decreased levels of performance.

What makes this finding even more troubling is that those subjects who were asked to multi-task using the same visual stimulus, believed they performed better, although the results showed the opposite.

Their ability to focus on images displayed on their computer monitor plummeted up to 50% even though they thought they were performing perfectly. The same study participants were asked to multi-task using different stimuli, such as visual and auditory, and were found to have reduced levels of performance as much as 30%.

Professor Wang stated that performance level perception when multi-tasking is not the same, as the results proved. Researchers have also found that media multi-tasking increases your risks of developing impaired cognitive control.

As a woman, I found it interesting to discover that most men who are high performers pride themselves on being effective at only one thing at a time. In the corporate world, they are viewed as highly competent and are promtoed more frequently. So Sisters—stop running yourself ragged trying to be a hero! (Note: I am guity!) Show yourself some compassion, save your brain and your peace of mind, and do the one thing in front of you well. Then move on to the next! Admittedly, this was a tough habit to break but it paid off big time in decreased stress and in productivity at a higher quality!

The Jury is In

The most current research is confirming that multi-tasking means “performing multiple tasks sub-optimally”. Unfortunately, in addition to productivity losses, there is a compounding, taxing burden placed on the mental and emotional faculties. This results in accumulated stress, which is already a very real problem for many, if not most, to some degree.

Although technology today makes it difficult for us to avoid multi-tasking, just make yourself more aware of when it is happening and try to remove the overload on your mind as much as possible.

Do you frequently try to do several things, or even just a couple of things at once? How well are you doing them, really? If you try to single-task and notice a difference, please let me know what you discover!

As always, like, share, and comment!

On the Job Stress

Asian Woman biting a pencil while looking at a laptop computer screen.
Asian Woman biting a pencil while looking at a laptop computer screen.

It is easy to discern that today it is the norm for people use medications to treat ailments, including their workplace stress and anxiety. However, there are ways you can lower stress naturally and in the long term can help you even prevent the effects of stress from becoming an issue. Learning these natural coping mechanisms and integrating them into your daily life can greatly alleviate the stress you feel at work, and in other areas too.

Stress in and of itself should not become an illness. We should look closely at what the stress events are (which will happen!) and then at our reaction to them. How you react to events can make a big difference in whether your work time is enjoyable or miserable. A positive attitude can go a long way toward lowering stress, but there are also other techniques you can use to feel more relaxed as well.

I have typically had a good slew of go-to tools for mitigating the effects of stress. But in actuality, it has really been my techniques for reacting to stress where I have found the most success and pleasure. My favorites are dancing and laughing (for me, they frequently go hand-in-hand!) As I have gotten older, setting myself up for a good day has been key. I have tried to teach my girls that a great day starts at night. My eldest was able to put this to practice when she went to college and back home in the pandemic, still uses it!

Anatomy Of A Really Great Day For Your Wellness

Wholesome health does not only entail responsible eating habits and maintaining a physical workout routine. Without an enabling attitude to life and a positive mental disposition, most days will be doom and groom stealing the fulfillment that comes with hard work.

Sustainable Sleeping Patterns

This is by far the hardest for me to accomplish! It is also where any stress that is not fully dissipated or addressed shows up for me. Insomnia! Sleep cycles have to be consistent for your body to be invigorated before embarking on your daily routine. Without enough sleep, your vital organs get into overdrive which leads to fatigue and loss of mental sharpness. This makes you ineffective in any work environment and a couple of hours end up feeling like a lifetime. Ahhh. I know this to be true all too well.

Poor sleeping patterns often cause people to binge eat leading to complications like obesity, diabetes and heart diseases in the long run. It will definitely show on your physique with visible bags under your eyes, grogginess and premature aging. A good night sleep for a minimum of 7 hours goes a long way to set your day straight. And your life. For real. Just go to bed. I have learned that I need to get off of the electronics two full hours before bedtime. I have a strong journal (read: Brain dump) practice before bed that has made a real difference quickly!

Morning Stretches

Not everybody is a morning person and for most people, they struggle to wake up and when they do, they are like zombies around the house. Stretching is beneficial for different muscle groups and joints. It also improves blood circulation to the entire body and stimulates a pleasant mood.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, stretching lets you start your day with a burst of energy, makes you more flexible and also enhances your coordination. Stretching is an instinctive response for all human being and helps you attain a great posture. DO tHEM!

Wholesome Meals and Hydration

How you feel through the day is greatly influenced by the food you eat. Balancing between proteins, fiber, nutritious carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins readily found in fruits will sustain your energy levels all day. If your hours only allow for one complete meal a day go for a heavy breakfast as it will keep you full for the better part of the day.

It is Important to plan ahead for meals to avoid fumbling over menus or stuffing yourself with junk food. There is no nutritional value in eating processed food and due to their high salt content, they leave you susceptible to high blood pressure. Junk foods, on the other hand, overwork your vital organs and make you feel hungry and fatigued after a short while.

Your healthy diet should include proper hydration throughout the day. Drinking 2-3 liters daily is not only refreshing but also elevates your moods. All organs depend on water to function smoothly and great days demand efficiency from all your systems. Another gem dropped. It really means a lot.

These are a few things that you can do that can help you out in the morning. Try them one at a time if needed. Build a habit with the one strategy that is easiest to implement and track your mood and other changes.

Managing Stress

Anyone will tell that the COVID-19 pandemic and its deep, rippling, fallout has only increased stress. Some of that stress has fallen squarely in the employment sector, including entrepreneurs, with increased competition, increased demand on leaner staffs, parenting/educating kids from home while working, and on the relationships in the workplace as people are all coping differently and bringing it to work.

Physical Ways to Treat Job Stress

When you want to handle your job challenges better, getting physical can really help out.

Try these activities:

  1. Hit the gym either before or after your workday.
  2. Go for a walk on your lunch hour – you’ll burn off some worry and see new things.
  3. Squeeze a stress ball or rub a worry stone to give yourself something to focus on.
  4. Take a long, hot shower or bath when you get home and let it wash your cares away.
  5. Take a moment to take some slow, deep breaths whenever you feel stressed. The extra oxygen will relax your muscles and give you greater clarity in your thoughts.

What alleviates your job stress might be different than what works for someone else. Experiment with different techniques to determine what works best for you. Once you see what works, you can use it regularly to keep your job stress to a manageable level.

Practice with more than one technique so you always have a variety of stress-relieving choices, regardless of the situation.

Mental Ways to Handle Job Stress

Consider using these mental stress-relievers:

  1. Read a lighthearted and enjoyable book.
  2. Watch a movie that makes you smile and laugh.
  3. Talk with a loved one about a happy time you shared. Reminiscing can be very good for you.
  4. Pray or meditate about your concerns and how to deal with them.
  5. Recite positive affirmations to yourself each day, before and after work.

Staying positive about any challenges that you’re facing at work is a great help in times of worry and anxiety. While you may not be able to change the circumstances that you’re involved in, you can change how you choose to react to them. When you consciously choose to display positive reactions, you empower yourself to move forward in your life.

Sometimes, medications for stress-related conditions like anxiety and high blood pressure become necessary. However, you may be able to avoid needing these if you use healthy techniques to manage issues at work.

By practicing stress-relieving activities, you may not need medication at all, or may be able to reduce your dependence on it. Of course, if you’re already on medication, it’s important to talk to your doctor before making any changes to your prescribed regimen.

Finally, taking action to move forward toward your goals and dreams will also help lower your stress levels. Aligning your passion with your purpose is the best thing that you can do when you want to alleviate job-related stress. When you have strong goals and something to work for, you can focus on thinking positively instead of ruminating about stressful situations at your job.

Stress: Don’t Let Your Trash Pile Up!

“Stress is the trash of modern life-we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.”  Danzae Pace

South African man dressed in business casual attire sitting with his head in his hands under a bridge.
South African man dressed in business casual attire sitting with his head in his hands under a bridge.

Thoughts for today, National Stress Awareness Day:

Just like the trashcan inside your home, you can’t continue to stuff garbage in it without eventually emptying it. Some of us generate more waste than others. This is an accurate analogy for stress. And if you’ve ever watched that TV show, “Hoarders”, you know what accumulated garbage can do to a person’s life!

Stress also can accumulate little by little so you don’t notice until it has taken over. Sometimes, we all let the pace of this modern life infringe on time that we should be taking for self-care (READ: stress relief!) Sneaky symptoms start to show up and we attribute the tight neck to a bad night’s sleep (when that poor sleep could be a sign of chronic stress itself) or the appearance of acne to foods we ate and so on.

Do you have a plan to ‘dispose’ of this type of trash and empty your ‘stress trashcan’?  It’s all about being aware that stress, or your reaction to it, is not meant to become a chronic condition. Sure, the stress response gives you a boost of energy to get things done. In some instances, it actually is a survival mechanism when you call are able to tap into the adrenalin rush in a true ‘fight or flight’ situation. Immediately after, though, your body needs to rest, relax, recharge and restore to a normal energy state. You get into trouble when you ignore that need to restore and rejuvenate body and mind.

Life in the modern world is stressful. Acute and chronic stress is the result. Beginning a conscious, regular practice to reduce your stress hormones, restore your energy, and renew the body for the next day is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. This is how you’re able to dispose of your stress trash and empty that stress trashcan.

Some examples of activities that when done regularly (read that daily!) will help you empty your stress trashcan:

  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Positive self-talk
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Regular physical exercise
  • Control vs. no-control exercises (hint: let go of those things that are not within your control)
  • Regular sleep patterns and adequate hours in the sack!

To get you started, enjoy this breathing exercise, courtesy of Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach and 500 RYT Annick Masseteau :

What does your stress trashcan look like these days? Is it overflowing or regularly emptied without effort?

Health: It’s a Laughing Matter

Two Black women laughing together in front of a white background.
Two Black women laughing together in front of a white background.

I love quirky and whimsical observances. I am not the only one. Lots of digests and calendars describing today is National Margarita Day or Take my kids to work-PLEASE days! For me, these are interesting and fun little reminders to make the most of each day; they add levity and much-needed lightheartedness that break up the solemnity of day-to-day life.

Enter two interesting observances that fall closely together: International Moment of Laughter (April 14th) and National Stress Awareness Day (April 16th). I could not believe these two gems had been coasting along under my radar! Laughing is one of my go-to cure-all techniques ( the other being dance of course,) and is particularly excellent for relieving stress. I am utterly baffled that I was unaware of these days before last year. I just wasn’t blogging as regularly then! Thanks, Corona!

How Laughter Can Improve Your Overall Health

Laughter can be infectious. When you hear the sound of laughter, you can’t help but laugh yourself. When laughter is shared among others, it causes a binding between people and increases both intimacy and happiness.
It is well known that laughter triggers healthy bodily changes and healthy changes in the mind. Laughter can increase your energy level, lessen pain, strengthen the immune system, and protect you from stress. Laughter is the best medicine because it is free, fun, and easy.

Laughter is Strong Medicine

Laughter can be a strong antidote to conflict, pain, and stress. There is nothing else that works more dependably or quicker to bring your body and mind into balance than laughter. The use of humor can lighten your burdens, connect you to others, inspire your hope, and keep you focused, alert, and grounded.
With this ability to renew your health and heal you, laughter can be a great resource for whatever problems you may have. It can also strengthen your relationships, and can support your emotional and physical health and wellbeing.

How Is Laughter Good For Your Health?

In today’s super busy times, we often do not find or take time to laugh enough. Laughter can do many things for your health. Laughter is relaxing. A wonderful laugh can relieve you of stress and physical tension so that your muscles can be relaxed for up to 45 minutes following laughing. Laughing for 20 minutes or more releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s feel-good hormones. When your endogenous endorphins are released, you feel a sense of well-being and a reduction in the sensation of pain.
Additionally, laughter can help the heart. Laughter can increase the ability of the blood vessels to nourish all parts of the body. It can increase your blood flow, which in turn can help prevent heart attacks and other types of heart diseases.

Overall Benefits Of Laughter

Laughter is known to have many health benefits, including physical, emotional, and social benefits. Some of these include the following:
• Decreases your stress levels
• Increases your immunity
• Relaxes your muscles
• Protects your heart
• Lessens pain
• Lessens fear and anxiety
• Relieves stress
• Adds joy to your life
• Enhances your mood
• Improves your resilience
• Attracts other people to us
• Promotes the bonding among group members
• Improves teamwork
• Strengthens relationships

Laughter Can Help Your Emotional Health

Laughter simply makes a person feel good. This good feeling persists even when you are done laughing. Laughter helps you maintain an optimistic, positive outlook so you can better get through situations of loss, disappointments, and other difficult situations.
Laughter is more than just a protection against pain and sadness. It gives you the strength and courage to find other sources of hope and meaning. Even when you find yourself in the most difficult of times, laughter or even a smile can take you far when it comes to feeling better. Laugher really is a bit contagious. When you hear someone else laugh, it primes your brain and sets you up to join that person in laughing, too.

Laughter And Mental Health

Laughter is associated with better mental health. Some things laughter can do to improve your mental health include the following:
• Laughter allows you to relax. A good laugh can lessen stress and increase your energy levels so that you can remain focused and get more things accomplished.
• Laughter can lessen distress. It is hard to feel sad, anxious, or angry when you are instead laughing.
• Laughter shifts your perspective. It allows you to see things in a less threatening and more realistic light. Being humorous helps create a psychological distance between you and stressful events so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed.

Social Benefits of Laughter

When you use humor and engage in playful communication with others, your relationships become stronger and you trigger positive emotions and an emotional connection with those you are laughing with. A positive bond develops—one that can act as a powerful buffer against disappointment, disagreements, and stress. When you laugh with others, this is a more powerful thing than when you laugh alone.

Creating Opportunities To Laugh

There are things you can do to increase your chances of laughing. Here are some you might try:
• Attend a comedy club
• Watch something funny on television
• Watch videos of funny animals there are tons on YouTube, or just add the search term “funny” into the YouTube search bar
• Read the comics in the newspaper
• Be with people who are funny
• Share a funny story or joke with another
• Read a funny book
• Sponsor a game night with your friends
• Play with your pet
• Play with children
• Do something you think is silly
• Engage in activities you consider fun

Laugher can do a lot to help you feel better on a physical, emotional, and cognitive level. Don’t be afraid to share a good laugh with others for all around better health.

Grow Your Personal Power

Anyone can attain personal empowerment. It depends more on your actions than on the size of your bank account or the title on your business card.

Do you want to be successful and experience more control over your life? Learn more about the meaning of true empowerment and run down this list of 10 simple things you can start doing today to build your competence and confidence.

Confident Anglo Lady walking boldly through a grassy meadow in a white flowing dress.
Confident Anglo Lady walking boldly through a grassy meadow in a white flowing dress.
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.com

General Principles of Self-Empowerment:

  1. Set realistic goals. Small victories provide motivation. Aim for targets that are within your reach. If losing 50 pounds seems overwhelming, start with one diet tweak at a time, like putting less sugar in your coffee.
  2. Strengthen your skills. If you’re willing to keep learning, you can expand your potential. Read self-help books and take online courses on communications or coding. Talk with others about their areas of expertise and teach them what you know.
  3. Manage your emotions. Going beyond your comfort zone can be scary. Acknowledge your feelings while making decisions that serve your long-term interests. When your emotions are intense, think them through or talk with others who can help you sort things out.
  4. Believe in yourself. Challenge the assumptions that have been holding you back. Think positive and focus on what you have to gain.
  5. Gather support. Empowering yourself can enhance your relationships with others. Surround yourself with family and friends who boost your self-esteem. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for help when you need it.

Simple Ways to Empower Yourself:

  1. Respect your time. Treat your time like a precious resource. Clarify your top priorities and devote your energy to them. Limit distractions that would pull you off track.
  2. Protect your privacy. How do you handle intrusive questions? Set healthy boundaries and be assertive about maintaining them. Give yourself permission to end conversations that make you uncomfortable.
  3. Meditate daily. Self-knowledge makes it easier to empower yourself. Observe your thoughts through meditation or other methods like keeping a journal. You could also take personality quizzes online and ask others for feedback.
  4. Practice self-care. Honoring your needs is an important part of valuing yourself. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and aim for at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
  5. Follow a budget. Putting your finances in order will help you to feel more secure and increase your capacity to take on meaningful projects. Create a sound plan for your savings, spending, and investments. Consult a professional advisor if you need more guidance.
  6. Share housework. Are you satisfied with how you and your partner divide household chores, as well as parenting responsibilities? If you want to achieve more balance, initiate a conversation about making some changes and track your progress.
  7. Gain recognition at work. It may take more than excellent performance to make you visible at work. Keep your boss updated on your achievements and share credit with others to build teamwork and cooperation.
  8. Resolve complaints. How do you handle issues with customer service or your apartment management? Instead of seething silently, ask for the outcomes you want. Be tactful and direct while standing up for your rights.
  9. Use affirmations. Repeating positive statements to yourself can help you to overcome challenges and deal with stress. Visit affirmation websites or use your own wording.
  10. Check your posture. Body language has a major influence on how you feel and how others perceive you. Stand up straight and hold your head high.

Personal empowerment means taking responsibility for your life so you can enjoy more happiness and success. Trust yourself and make positive choices that bring you closer to achieving your goals.

Three Fast Action Steps to Feel Better About Yourself

Let’s face it, we all have days where we feel less than perfect about ourselves. Our hair just doesn’t seem to fall right, or our clothes are ill-fitting. Although the occurrence of viewing ourselves in a less than ideal manner is natural, the feeling shouldn’t linger.

Sadly, thousands of individuals, unfortunately, feel negative about themselves; albeit their appearance or current circumstance.

In fact, Dr. Joe Rubino, the author of The Self Esteem Book, reported that over 85% of the world’s population suffers from having a low self-esteem. This statistic leaves us with a world full of beautiful people who are unable to see their beauty for themselves.

Are we all doomed to live and die in an unhappy state? Fortunately, the battle of esteem can easily be won. Humans are creatures of habit. How can you overcome a pesky habit? By taking action.

Negative self-thinking is a learned habit that can be conquered by changing the way you think. With a few tips and tricks, you’ll be able to heighten your opinion of yourself and live a life of purpose.

Repeat Daily Self-Affirmations

Self-affirmations are an excellent way to identify your strengths. In fact, a research study found that individuals who practiced positive thinking after receiving a serious diagnosis of an illness were able to process the information and develop positive coping strategies.

One excerpt reads, “Two recent sets of research findings suggest that positive beliefs and experiences increase attention to useful self-relevant negative information and thus may facilitate effective coping.”

If positive self-thinking can assist with life-altering illnesses, surely it can help you to develop a positive self-image.

Handwritten Note on note paper, taped to mirror.
Handwritten Note on note paper, taped to mirror.
Photo by Skylar Kang on Pexels.com

How do you practice self-affirmations?

It’s simple, repeat to yourself reasons why you love yourself. Many like to stare in the mirror and list their positive qualities daily. Others find success with writing down five to ten of their favorable traits in a notebook.

The key here is to focus on what you appreciate about yourself; not others. Once you’ve gotten into the habit of feeding your mind with positivity, you will find that the previous negative voice will be silenced. Changing your thinking is crucial if you want to raise your self-esteem. You have to believe you are great in order to exude it.

Live Well

Living well isn’t limited to engaging in exciting activities or making tons of cash. It’s a deeper connection to your body, mind, and spirit. The foods you consume have a lot to do with your moods. In fact, foods high in dairy and processed sugars are recipes for disaster if you’re trying to think positively. Being mindful of what you put into your body will make you glow from the inside out!

In addition to eating well, engaging in some sort of physical activity is beneficial to your overall health. Getting outside and taking in the sun will boost your serotonin, also known as, the happy chemical in your brain. When you take care of your body, you’ll see changes in how you view yourself. You’ll become stronger both mentally and physically.

Choose Your Company Wisely

Self-esteem starts from within. However, surrounding yourself with positive people will only encourage you to continue to think happy thoughts about yourself.

Choosing companions who honor your strengths and acknowledge how great you are creates a healthy space. The danger in attempting to improve your self-esteem while surrounding yourself with negative people is that their mentality will eventually rub off on you.

You’ll begin to live in that space of negative thinking without even realizing the repercussions. People who inspire you, motivate you and challenge you are friends that will support your esteem. They respect you, so they would never intentionally attempt to taint your character. After you’ve established a firm hold on how you view yourself, it will be easy to attract likeminded people who think similarly.

You have to live with yourself for the rest of your life. Why not make the experience a great one! We all have so many unique talents and opportunities to give to the world. It’s only right that we see the beauty we possess within ourselves.

By making the above tips a form of habit, you’ll be well on your way to improving how you see yourself and living a purpose filled life.

Mindfulness Practices for Modern Lives

Mindfulness is the practice of being present. By focusing your efforts on staying in the
moment, you are able to fully enjoy and experience your current situation. Mindfulness
can help anxiety in a variety of ways.

How Mindfulness Can Help Relieve Stress

Practicing mindfulness, the art of directing one’s focus to the present, is a strong aid in the battle against stress. Mindfulness can take many forms. Yoga, meditation, going for a walk and deep
breathing exercises—these are all stress-relieving practices that anyone can do on any
given day of the week.

Anglo woman lying on yoga blanket with her eyes closes
Anglo woman lying on yoga blanket with her eyes closes.
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

Mindfulness helps combat stress by improving one’s ability to concentrate on, confront
and control thoughts about stressful situations in a productive and beneficial way.
Rather than attempting to ignore or suppress feelings of stress, mindful
acknowledgement and management of one’s concerns and frustrations is the key to a
healthier life.

Putting Worries Aside

Many people who are anxious tend to dwell on their worries. It’s a normal thing to do.
But when that worry overcomes your ability to enjoy other things, it becomes a concern.
One step you can take to help ease anxiety is to put your worries aside and focus on
the task or event you’re participating in. By consuming your mind with what’s right in
front of you, you won’t be able to focus on your worries.

Prioritizing Concerns

A big tip for maintaining mindfulness is to prioritize your efforts. If you have many things
to do, you should create a list and dedicate time to each task. Make sure to prioritize
your list in order of importance or deadlines. As you go through your list, remember that
the other tasks aren’t going anywhere. You can only do one thing at a time. So focus on
the task at hand and find peace in prioritization.

Set Intentions

If you frequently feel haunted by something you did or didn’t do, give yourself
permission to hit the reset button. Set your intention to achieve the goal you want to
accomplish. Intentions help you focus. Some ideas of an intention for someone with
anxiety may be to become more confident or resourceful. Remind yourself daily who or
what your intention is to be. Envision and embody it.

Open Your Mind

You may be anxious because you feel like you need to have control, or you may feel a
lack of control. Or perhaps you feel the opposite. No matter how you feel, opening your
mind can help you deal with anxiety. By accepting other perspectives you may get a
fresh look at your own struggles. Be open to what others have to offer and how they
may help you in life’s journey.

Be Kind to Yourself

Mindfulness does not always come easy. Be kind to yourself on this journey toward
peacefulness. You may struggle with staying in the moment, but practice will help you

6 Steps To Build Self-Compassion

A pair of hands holding a rainbow paper heart
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

When the voice that’s inside your head starts to become your most prominent critic and worst advocate, it may be time for you to learn a little self-compassion. Learning to care about yourself and be compassionate toward your feelings and needs is a sign that you value yourself and want to nurture your happiness in life.

Consider what it would be like to be stranded on a deserted island with one other person. Would it be important to you that you and that person cared for and supported one another along your trials and journey? Would it be worth the effort to learn how to get along with each other and create a positive relationship? Well, that inner voice is your partner on the island of your life, so it’s time you started making friends with one another!

Ways to Build Your Self-Compassion

  1. Be Kind to Your Inner Child

No matter your age, you can still feel hurt, disappointment, and shame. When you recognize these emotions in a child, you understand they need kindness and compassion. So why, when you see those same feelings in yourself, do you deny yourself the same consideration? Treat yourself as you would any small child in need of caring and support, especially when things are hard.

  1. Write Yourself a Permission Slip

The basis of self-compassion is allowing yourself to be flawed and imperfect, just like every other human on the planet. While you may not be perfect, no one expects you to be, so why do you expect it of yourself? Write yourself a mental permission slip, and the next time you make a mistake, cash it in without regret. Recognize that it’s ok to slip up now and then, as long as you continue to learn and grow from the experience.

  1. Forgive

Punishing yourself for your mistakes and flaws is a sure sign you lack self-compassion. When you punish your future for mistakes you made in the past, you are only setting yourself up for more disappointment and heartache. Start by forgiving and moving on from all your past transgressions. If it helps, write a letter to yourself expressing your forgiveness, to help you move on and let go.

  1. Be mindful.

Listen and pay attention to that inner voice, that harsh self-critic that is always offering his or her opinion. Become mindful of when that voice chimes in and the words it uses. Becoming aware of that inner critic is necessary if you want to truly silence it once and for all. The next time you hear it, fight back. Argue instead for why you are worthy or capable. Demand to know where that voice gets the right to be so cruel and heartless toward you.

  1. Embrace Challenges

Every obstacle and setback in your life is a chance to learn more and become better. Adopting a growth mindset, one that views failures and challenges as learning experiences rather than mistakes to regret, is key to developing a more compassionate attitude toward yourself. Find inspiration in your mistakes, which are helping you to grow stronger every day.

  1. Be Grateful

Instead of focusing on the negative, try embracing gratitude. Acknowledge your strengths. Pay attention to the many gifts and blessings of your life. Focus on what is going well, and you will start to feel more loving toward yourself for the bountiful life you have.

Final Thoughts

Learning to comfort yourself, nurture and care for your body and mind, and express your appreciation toward yourself are all beneficial for building your self-compassion, as well. Learning to love yourself will have an immense impact on your relationships with others but, more importantly, it will allow you to have a healthy, loving relationship with yourself.