The New Year - Need a Boost?

My goodness - already! We are almost a month into the new year.  Maybe you made some resolutions, maybe you didn’t, as so many of us have read that “resolutions don’t work”.  You’ve probably at least had a thought or two (or a 5-page manifesto) about how you’d like to improve your life in the new year.

If you’ve implemented those changes and are sticking to them, congratulations - that is awesome!  

If not, here are 7 steps to getting rolling again, right now, regardless of what day it is.  It does not have to be January 1, or a Monday, or the beginning of any month to begin again.  Today is a perfect time.

1. Seek help.  You don’t have to do this alone.  Even if you started great on your own, if you’re finding yourself flagging, get some help.  Hire someone to help - with personal training, housecleaning, wellness coaching, writing, etc.  Find a friend to join you and work on your goals together.  Create or join a group. Set up a text message system with a buddy where you support each other through the tough spots.

2. Master and embrace the small step.  This is the hardest thing for me and for my clients. Why? Because you really want to do your new thing for 30 minutes a day or an hour a day.  You envision a future with all kinds of wide-open time to be able to do this.  You don’t want to start doing a new habit for only ten minutes a day.  How do you write a book in ten minutes a day?  However, the best steps are very small ones taken consistently.  If you had planned to spend an hour a day writing and have only done that twice in the past 14 days, you would have been ahead by 20 minutes of time invested had you just spent 10 minutes each day.  Crazy but true.  And wouldn’t 10 minutes a day have seemed easy?  And then you wouldn’t have had to berate yourself the other 12 days, which leads us to…

3. Have compassion for yourself. Nothing kills a goal-setting program faster than meanness toward yourself.  Just stop it.  Direct all that energy back toward your goal.  See above and take the tiniest little step.  Then do it again tomorrow.  And remind yourself you are awesome.

4. Return to the big picture.  Ask yourself why?  Why did you decide this shift in the new year was important?  Why are you doing this?  What is your long term goal or outcome?  How will your life be fabulously better as you embrace this new routine, goal or habit?  Remember to imagine the long term result of what you are working on and why it is important to you. Imagine it as you drift off to sleep.  Come back to your why.

5. Prioritize your feelings. It is much much much easier to make change from a positive feeling state.  Focusing on your big why can help you get back to that warm feeling of why you were making this change in the first place, and give you some energy to keep going.  Allow yourself to be in a positive emotional place now, while you work toward your goal.  You don’t have to postpone your happiness.

6. Wrangle your thinking.  Your mind has a terrible habit of ballooning any missed day as the end of the world.  It will then throw every other failure in your face.  It will remind you that you are not worthy or capable.  That is OK.  Minds are just like that.  Be gentle with your mind.  It is trying to help you and protect you with these thoughts and keep you safe in “no-change land”.  Soothe your mind with a gentle word or two and then keep going.  

7. Tell the truth.  Your mind also loves to twist around circumstances and blame something else.  The weather.  Another person . An unforeseen circumstance.  Gently stick with the truth.  You can run when it’s 30 degrees.  You can write when it’s dark.  You can stay off social media between 10 pm and 7:30 a.m.  even when you’d prefer to stay up all night watching David Bowie tribute videos. (This one is mine- call me out if you see me on social media after 10 p.m. central!)  Be gently truthful with yourself.  You are capable of making these changes, big or small. You do have what it takes. You are worthy. You are amazing!  

Need a little boost? Email me your tiny daily step (try for something 10 minutes or less), then go do it, then email me when you complete it.  I will be thrilled to cheer you on!

What If You Went Through The Day Like An Angel?

Me as an angel.  Photo: S. Boles

Me as an angel.  Photo: S. Boles

Last night I was an angel. With real feather wings. My group walks each year at the very end of the solemn, candlelit, beautiful 12th Night Joan of Arc Parade--  we are the angels who accompany Saint Joan, in the form of a white dove, to heaven. 

We walked with our gloved hands in prayer position, and as I glided past the throngs of people gathered to celebrate the start of Carnival season, I did my best to think like an angel. I telepathied these words to the people I saw, some with phones held high to record the moment, some directly meeting my gaze: "You are loved." I thought this over and over.  I spread it liberally across the crowds. "You are loved." I had nothing to hand out, no throws to distribute, so I didn't have to pick and choose who would receive my outpouring of love.  I pictured the love simply wafting over the crowds. 

And I thought to myself, what if I did this every day? What if I sent angelic telepathic messages to the people around me - and beyond? After all, angels need not be impeded by distances.    

As I walked along the parade route, in my silvery velvety angel garb, I wanted so to see and send love to each person individually. There were far too many people to be able to do this, at least with my decidedly human and un-celestial senses. Sometimes it seemed overwhelming to behave as an angel would. So many people, each with their own lives, hopes, dreams, worries.  It seemed impossible to share that much love. 

But I propose that we keep trying. 

What if we lived daily like angels?    

When we are going about our routines and we see strangers, we often judge. This homeless person looks young and capable. Why isn't he working? This person is frowning. Why are they being so angry? This person looks like they are not taking care of themselves.  Why don't they choose healthier food or exercise? This person isn't using their turn signal.  Why don't they learn to drive properly? Any time a voice like this enters our heads, it doesn't even feel like us. It's as if the disembodied chants of some judge-y Greek chorus entered our heads and shocked us with their nastiness. Those voices lead us to reserve our love as if it is a limited resource, like a handful of Mardi Gras beads, only to be distributed to the deserving. 

What if we remembered that love is infinite and never depleted? 

What if we behaved like angels, sending out the simple words, "You are loved." To everyone. Whether they're managing their finances properly or not as we eye their checkout items, or making the right decisions about their wardrobe and hair, or whatever other external thing catches the attention of the inner judge-y voice that doesn't even belong to us. 

Try this in traffic. Try it in the store. Try it at the mall. Try it on Facebook. "You are loved." 

Extra credit: Try it in the mirror."You are loved." Look that beautiful human in the the reflection. Spread that abundant love over yourself and then over everyone else. Let's all be like angels for a day.

Me with the other angels. Grateful for this photo by S. Boles

What Matters, What To Do, How To Feel Grounded, Safe And Happy

What matters, what to do, and how to feel grounded, safe and happy... 

I'm writing this from a cozy cottage where my sweetheart and I get away for a couple of nights this time of year. We go hiking. We eat food. We just spend time together. And all is well. We just walked on a woodland trail as it got dark, hearing deer snorting in the distance, and then watched the moon rise through clouds.  For me, this is the surest way to connect to what matters and to feel safe and happy. Even though it was dark and muddy once we turned back,  I felt wonderful. The woods smelled amazing.  Warm breezes followed us the whole time.  

You may be experiencing something completely different. You might be with lots of people this time of year - it's the holidays after all - or you may be on your own. Either way, you can create what you need to feel good. Pay attention to ways you can turn toward love, peace and groundedness. If you're having trouble, go outside, look at the sky and breathe. Then touch the ground and breathe again. Slow down. Put your hand on your heart. Come back to yourself and marvel at this incredible collection of atoms that is you. Go forth and love. 

If all of this is a little too ethereal for you, here are two favorite blog posts from my archives- one if you're craving alone time during the holidays, and one if you're craving more connection. Check them out for practical tips: 

9 Ways to get quiet time during the Holidays 

7 Ways to connectmore during the Holidays 

And if you're still doing last-minute rush around things and you find yourself dropping hundreds of dollars in the 24 hours leading up to the big day, you might like this one:  

8 Last-minute Holiday Money Traps and how to avoid them 

Still feeling spinny? Breathe. Really. 10 slow breaths. Count them. While you breathe, you can say to yourself, "May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be well. May I be peaceful and at ease. May I be happy." 

Ahhh.  That's better.

Why Everything Is Ok Even When It Seems Otherwise

If you're already feeling that odd pressure of too much - too early decorations, too many things to think about now that the holidays are nearly here, too many lists and things to consider, I invite you take a break, relax for a few minutes and let's figure out together how OK things really are.  

Too much to catch up 

When I was in college, I corresponded with friends with letters. Snail mail was the only kind of mail there was, and I loved seeing a handwritten envelope waiting for me in my little postal box in the student center.  

I was better at receiving than sending mail. I would start a letter with the best of intentions, then new things would happen and situations would change, and what I'd begun no longer applied in the same way.  So I'd begin again.  Or recompose in my head. If a month or two went by, there was so much to catch up on that the whole task became daunting. Intellectually I knew I could jump in anywhere, but emotionally I wanted my friends to have the whole story.  

This still happens to me.  Papers, correspondence, dishes, clothes - things can go from just fine and practically organized to "too much to catch up" in one or two days. 

 I solve this by jumping in, not worrying about what's already passed.  Once I begin, tasks that had grown Everest-sized in my mind are easy to complete and don't take as long as I thought they would.  I'm re-energized and everything is indeed OK. 

 I've also learned (about a million times) not to wait until it's perfect.  I'm so close to having everything ready on a new website that I can share with you with a pretty new email design to match.  But it's not yet ready, so this interim "designed by me the non-designer" will be more than OK. 

Try this right now with one thing you've been putting off that's grown large and overwhelming in your mind. Figure out the first small step you can take, set your timer for five minutes, begin, and feel your energy surge.  Ahhh. Everything is OK. 

Here's What I Want You To Know Today...

No matter how I slice it, it really never seems to all get done.  I still hold this vision in my mind of a magical future time where I will do all the things I put on all those little lists.   

But more and more I find I just don't want to play that game.  I want a life with fewer to dos and fewer lists.  One with way more nothing, but in a wonderful, savoring, relaxed, ease-filled way.  Stillness that's chosen, not stolen amidst all the doing. 

Are you craving something similar? 

You'll hear more soon.  Meanwhile, here's all I want you to know:

You are wonderful. 

No matter whether you get it all done today or not. 

The most important thing is being present.

I've got no links for you today. Nothing to click.  

Just a call to slow down, look people in the eye, make a soul connection, and breathe.  That's all you need to do.