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Are You Up, Down, or Both?  It’s Enough to Make You Crazy!

Super Bowl Insanity

I watched the Super bowl a few nights ago and was immersed in the highs and lows of the game.

Feelings of excitement, anticipation, frustration, and huge disappointment all occurred within a 3.5- hour time period.

I even turned into an expert on how to coach a game- after all, I have watched football before! To help ease my pain at the loss of my Atlanta Falcons, I stuffed my face with my husband’s decadent chocolate pecan pie (definitely worth the calories.)
After the game, I decompressed, slept, woke up and did what I always do- my routine.

What Changed
Really, nothing had changed.  I was still Ellen, up and down with the challenges and joys of life.
Day to day, we face uncertainty and fear in our tumultuous world, yet we still go to bed, wake up and do our daily routine once again.
As I write this, it can seem pretty boring, yet there is something comforting about this.

The consistency inherent in my daily routines helps keep me grounded and sane (most of the time!) 

There is something important here- the need for grounding, especially in times of uncertainty.  I think it is the simplicity.  It is a coming home.  When I feel out of sorts, I need to remember to come home.  It might be a breath, a mundane errand, or some other sort of simple activity.  It is an “undoing”, rather than more doing, reacting, or forcing.
There is a book of poems by Danna Faulds that I read from when I teach my gentle yoga class.  The last stanza of a poem is on point:

This life, this extraordinary
imperfection, this moment
just as it is, this is all I’m
here to receive. The infuriating,
limitless simplicity of the day-to-day
living holds everything
I think I’m missing.

My Point

Yes, life is very complex, yet there is simplicity that we can embrace.  I know I am getting more esoteric than usual, but this rings so true. Allow your daily routines to help anchor you.  Stay as present when doing them as you can.  This way, when you go out to engage your world, you will have more of yourself to give.

Warm regards,

 

 

 

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My Anti- New Year’s Resolution  Enough Resolving, Act Already!

I recently read an article written by one of my mentors and she always leaves me feeling inspired.  What I love about her is that she has the guts to stay true to who she is.  That is what makes her

work so darn amazing. In my work, I think of myself as keeping it real as well, and with that said, I have to get something off my chest about New Year’s Resolution newsletters:


I Hate Them! They are boring, redundant, and most are full of nothing and not particularly helpful.

This got me thinking… why do most resolutions not work?
Research Needed:

I decided to research this phenomena, and take a look at the definition of resolution.

Resolution: A firm decision to do or not to do something.  Okay, so it is a decision- let’s look that up.
Decision: A conclusion or resolution reached after consideration. So it’s about consideration- let’s check out that definition.
Consideration: Careful thought, typically over a period of time.

Are you seeing a pattern here? Getting the picture?  Think and consider and decide, Oh my!

Hello, where is the ACTION???

Where is the part where you are actually doing something?

That is what I want to stand up and scream about (Okay, these days there are many things I want to stand up and scream about.)  Do something already!

My work is based on action, not resolution- change only comes from action.  You cannot think your way or get ready to get ready to change.  That, my dear reader is a big cop out and keeps you stuck.
I challenge you to act, no matter how small it is.  One of my actions is to get back to writing.  I love it, it is therapeutic, and I hope it helps others – even it brings a smile to your face.  The truth is, I write for myself- it is good for my soul.

What can you do today that is good for your soul?  Do not resolve to do it, don’t consider it, don’t make a decision-  Do something, anything- not later- Now

Have an Un-Resolution, action-filled New Year!

Warm regards,

 

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My Anti- New Year’s Resolution  Enough Resolving, Act Aleardy!

I recently read an article written by one of my mentors and she always leaves me feeling inspired.  What I love about her is that she has the guts to stay true to who she is.  That is what makes her work so darn amazing.

In my work, I think of myself as keeping it real as well, and with that said, I have to get something off my chest about New Year’s Resolution newsletters:

I Hate Them! They are boring, redundant, and most are full of nothing and not particularly helpful.

This got me thinking… why do most resolutions not work?

Research Needed:

I decided to research this phenomena, and take a look at the definition of resolution.
Resolution: A firm decision to do or not to do something.  Okay, so it is a decision- let’s look that up.
Decision: A conclusion or resolution reached after consideration. So it’s about consideration- let’s check out that definition.
Consideration: Careful thought, typically over a period of time.

Are you seeing a pattern here? Getting the picture?  Think and consider and decide, Oh my!

Hello, where is the ACTION???
Where is the part where you are actually doing something?

That is what I want to stand up and scream about (Okay, these days there are many things I want to stand up and scream about.)  Do something already!

My work is based on action, not resolution- change only comes from action.  You cannot think your way or get ready to get ready to change.  That, my dear reader is a big cop out and keeps you stuck.
I challenge you to act, no matter how small it is.  One of my actions is to get back to writing.  I love it, it is therapeutic, and I hope it helps others – even it brings a smile to your face.  The truth is, I write for myself- it is good for my soul.

What can you do today that is good for your soul?  Do not resolve to do it, don’t consider it, don’t make a decision-  Do something, anything- not later- Now

Have an Un-Resolution, action-filled New Year!
Warm regards,

 

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Good Riddance 2016: Don’t Let the Door Hit You in the Butt!

 

This has been a very troublesome, painful year and we were all impacted.

Personally, I retreated from just about everything and am now crawling (okay, blasting) back out- yes, I am alive and well. My decision not to write and work with clients was a symptom of what was going on personally and worldwide.The truth is, I had nothing to give.  The political climate turned me into an angry, sad, fearful, person and all my practices were not enough to fix it.

This got me thinking…
I need for it to be okay to feel crappy, angry, sad, frustrated, scared, and confused.  My resistance to what I was feeling and my judgment of myself as a professional was pulling me down even more.

This too got me thinking
It is okay for me to ride the wave of all my feelings and still be the upbeat, proactive person I know myself to be.

Still more thinking (too much time off gets me thinking a lot)
It is time to shake things up.  To stop doing what is no longer working and make space for what is to come.  Here are a few first steps:

1.  I will write blogs again twice a month to start. I promise to keep it real.
2.  After February, I will no longer be teaching my evening class at the Cancer Support Community.
3.  I have taken a 10 hour per week job helping a non-profit coordinate their events. Stay tuned.
4.  I will only spend my time with those who are in alignment with my core values.
5.  I will no longer put myself out to those people and organizations who take me for granted.
6.  I will build my business in a way that feeds me.  No more focus on $$$ and more focus on what makes my heart sing. Stay tuned.
7.  I will be politically active- I will not “get over” prejudice and injustice, but do something about it.

One last thought…
These changes are just the beginning. I am cleaning house- no more clutter in all areas of my life (Robert and the kids, you can stay!)
I will not be a victim of our chaotic world.  I will take action and get back to being the powerhouse I know myself to be.

Wishing us all a peaceful, proactive, and joyful New Year.

Warm regards,

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Your Vacation: Leave yourself home and it will be great!

 

 

Yeah, Summer Vacation is Here!

Your vacation is around the corner and you are anticipating time filled with play, filling up, and chilling out. You leave your troubles behind- no work, no worries, no business calls (???)  A change of scenery and recharge is around the corner.   You plan, pack, buy new clothes, get your toiletries and  are finally ready to get in the car, or get on the plane to your well planned destination.

There is nothing in your way, except…  Yourself!

YOU are the only thing that you must take with you. This is a problem because there is no escaping the way you deal with life.  A coach once told me- how you do anything is how you do everything. You do vacation the way you do life.  Here are a few examples:

  • If you are perfectionist- you will want your vacation to go perfectly.
  • If you are a complainer- you will complain about the weather, traffic, delays, food, etc.
  • If you are a doer- you will be a busy bee with little down time- after all, you don’t want to miss a thing.
  • If you are in a planner- you will miss out on spontaneity.

You might be one or all of these.

The Sichel Vacation

My husband and I recently took a vacation to Maine and Nova Scotia. We planned and booked our flights, our B&B’s, rented a car, and off we went.  My husband has trained me that vacation begins once the door to our home closes (such a wise man.) The trip to airport, the drive to hotel is all part of the vacation.  I have chosen to take that philosophy as well and it works beautifully.

My personality is one of a bit of a combination from the above vacation approaches, and I constantly strive to do it differently.  Here are a few examples:

1.  The weather was not good for most of the trip.  I had to constantly remind myself to let go of how I thought the weather would be and remind myself that the weather is not personal.  Actually, the weather did not get in our way of what we wanted to do and my holding back on complaining (for the most part J) allowed us to have much more fun.

2.  My “doing” personality was forced slowed down- we visited many beautiful sleepy towns.

3.  I must add on an extra perk- The Food!  Seafood… Memorable, delicious, and for the most part healthy. I think I took more pictures of the food than anything else!

4.  Trip home- this could have really have put a damper on the last part of our vacation.  We were delayed over 6 hours and did not take off from a small airport until 11:30 pm.  I could have gotten frustrated, but instead I got out my Fit Bit and got someone’s child to join me and we walked over 3000 steps. His mom,brother, and my husband eventually joined us.  I met some great people and joked and laughed. Delta, brought in pizzas and could not have been nicer.

So what does this have to do with calm living?  Since you cannot leave yourself home from your vacation, you can give yourself permission to shift one small habit. You will catch yourself in old behavior, which will give you a choice to make a shift. Maybe a simple breath is all that is needed when you catch yourself.

Take a moment and notice how you show up to life. Find one area from my list (if you are the perfectionist, please only pick one)  See what small shift you can make. Let me know how it goes.

Bon voyage!

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My NY Bagel Debacle:  Never Again!

 

Recently both of my daughters and myself flew to NY to spend Mother’s Day with my mom.  It was a treat to have us all together with my sister and brother and their families.

Of course no NY visit would be complete without NY Bagels.  If you are from the south and you think the bagels here at the chains are good bagels- you are mistaken.  Most of their bagels are baked and I refer to them as “rolls with holes”.  They are yummy, but not a true bagel.  Bagels are boiled, not baked and what makes NY bagels superior to a real southern bagel is the water they are boiled in.

NY Bagels can even be colorful- a perfect match for my younger daughters hair!

Enough about your bagel lesson.  What I want to share is a lesson I learned about the power of the bagel.

Before we left we visited our favorite bagel shop to purchase bagels to take home.  My daughter was giving a dozen bagels as part of a house warming gift.  All together we bought two dozen.

Since two dozen bagels are quite heavy, I got the bright idea to wrap them very well, pack them, and send them through luggage. All went well and our precious bagels arrived safely in Atlanta.

The problem arose when I opened my suitcase.  The smell of the well packed onion bagels satiated every last item in my bag, including my bag!  I had to take the bag out of our bedroom as it was stinking everything up.

I proceeded to wash everything, even my raincoat.  Still a mild smell.  I wiped out my bag with a surface wipe which did not help.  Still onion smell.  The icing on the cake (or bagel) was what happened the following morning when I went to open my makeup case, which smelled of bagels.  When I applied my foundation, there was an odor coming from my makeup brushes-onions.

OY VEY!  Big mistake.

Today I went to the store and bought heavy duty Mr. Clean- success at last! I can finally store my suitcase.  As for my makeup brushes, a quick washing will hopefully work.

If you are around me and smell something mouthwatering, it is my new scent- Ode de NY Onion Bagel.

You might be wondering what this has to do with stress (or maybe you’re not.) The lessons here are:

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Have fun and laugh
  • Stay open to learning something new every day
  • Laugh at yourself even when you make some bad choices

For me, I have gained even more respect for the NY bagel.  They do not skimp on the onions!
Warm regards,

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Waiting for the Time? BIG Mistake!

The past few weeks have been very difficult for our family.  My brother-in-law passed away unexpectedly.  In addition to grief and sadness, something else got my attention.  My husband’s sadness was compounded by the reality that he waited to go to his dentist brother to fix his teeth. He kept putting it off partly because he hates going to the dentist and partly because he felt he could do it any time.  Sadly, anytime will not come. This brings to mind an experience my mother had when her friend died- she regretted not having her to her house for a visit.
She kept putting it off.   Unfortunately these are not isolated incidents – we all do this.
We not only wait on planning events with others, we wait on everything- both serious and mundane:

  • We wait to feel better to do something uplifting.
  • We wait until our kids leave for college to do what we want.
  • We wait to sell our house that is way too big and costing us a fortune in upkeep – that was one of ours and when we sold it, it was as if the shackles came off.  (Now we have wash and fold, trash pickup, no maintenance – Yes, life is easy. )
  • We wait to get the dishes we saw at Costco – and when we go back the next week, they are gone (another one of mine – silly but we all do this.)
  • We wait for a better time to take a vacation.
  • We wait to take the class we have wanted to take.

You get the picture…
Let me sum up waiting:  You snooze, you lose! 

Warm regards,

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Uplifting, Fun, Humbling, Exhilarating, Inspiring & Exhausting: All Rolled into One Great Weekend!

You might be wondering where I went on vacation.  No, this was not a vacation but an Ataxia Conference.

Many might not know about Ataxia.  I didn’t until I spoke at an Atlanta chapter support group meeting.  I am amazed by how many serious chronic illnesses there are that go unheard of.  Ataxia is a set of symptoms caused by a dysfunction in the cerebellum.  It causes uncontrolled, uncoordinated movements in gate, arms, eyes, or speech.  There are many different types and effects both young and old. Check out this short video clip recorded by Dana Mauro, the partner of someone who has Ataxia.

I had the honor of participating fully in this event: Speaking to 500 people (it was a blast!), running a support group, training the support group leaders, and leading an adaptive yoga class.  Guess I am a woman of many talents!

At the conference, I saw many in wheelchairs, scooters, using service dogs, canes, and walkers.  I saw smiles, laughter, community, fun, families, support, appreciation, and joy. Both loved ones and those with the illness chose to embrace the weekend keeping the focus on solution, rather than the problem.

This reminded me of a Viktor Frankl quote: “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” That is exactly what I noticed at the conference. The choice enjoy the conference and work around their limitations. Their illness did not define them, but was part of who they are.

What also struck me was how vital it is to have community support and simple solutions in daily life.  This was the main reason many took the time and made the effort to be part of the conference. Ongoing community support is something greatly needed throughout the year.

The importance for support and community is not only for those with chronic illness, but for all of us.  We are not meant to travel the path alone.   I tried it for some time and it is much more fun to be part of, rather than apart from.

Take a look at who is in your circle of support.  Are they living in the solution or focusing on the problem?  Notice if you are a part of community or separate.   If you are in need of more support, take one small step to reach out.

This is the reason I am launching a new virtual program.  I finally set a firm launch date (guess I should read the chapter of my book on procrastination!)

You will find the full scoop here about how to cut through the B.S. can learn some downright useful tools. If you are interested in learning more, shoot me an email.  If you already know you need to be part of a group committed to living in the solution, then go right to the details.

Warm regards,

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Symphony or Soloist? You Get to Choose!

Recently my husband and I attended the Carol King songbook symphony.  My husband looked around the room and joked that the audience looked like the same group as the recent Bruce Springsteen concert (we baby boomers have great taste!)

The symphony was accompanied by three wonderful Broadway vocalists.  As I listened and watched the full scope of what was happening, I was mesmerized.  What struck me was how much there was to notice at the same time.  When the vocalists joined in, the experience was exhilarating.

You might be wondering what this has to do with my work in pain, and chronic illness.

Think about how much there is to notice each and every second.  Every moment there is a full symphony of sounds, smells, sensations, thoughts, emotions, and so on.  Often we get caught up in focusing on only one thing, shutting out the rest, and leaving us missing out on most of what is in front of us.  If I had only been focused on the pianist, I would have missed everything else.

This relates to mindfulness – the ability to stay anchored in the present moment, expanding your awareness to all that is happening- without judgment.  For example, at this very moment I am writing this newsletter, aware of fatigue in by body, my dog making noises, the cars passing by, my stomach rumbling, sensation in my hip, my mind wandering to the sunshine outside, my feet on the floor, and my fingers pressing the keyboard.  I am sure there is more to notice, but you get the idea.  If I got into judgment about any one of these, I would be missing most of my experience, because my mind would be somewhere in the future or past.

So, there you have it.  You get to choose your experience.  Do you want the full symphony or only the percussion?  I want the symphony (percussion included.)

It is a constant daily practice of noticing it all, anchoring yourself in the present moment.  Let me be clear, it is noticing it all at the same time, not a game of ping pong – going from one thing to the other.

Spring is a great time of year to begin to cultivate this approach.  Take in the smells, colors, sounds, and sensations. When you are outside, engage your senses and see for yourself how much richer your experience is. Who knows, maybe you will notice an Easter egg hiding somewhere.

Happy Spring!

Warm regards,

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Help… I’m Drowning in the Muck!

When life get difficult and is filled with constant negativity, at some point you feel as if you were hit by a Mack truck.

This is especially true for those dealing with chronic illness, difficult life changing events, or caregiving responsibilities. I would venture to say, everyone has experienced this from time to time.I experienced this recently. This past weekend I visited my mom and new great nephew in NY.  AT 95, my mother watches all of the debates and reads the NY Times daily. She is amazing (and no, I do not have her great genes- I’m adopted!). I spent a lot of time keeping her company as she watched the debates. I also read more of the paper than I am used to.

I noticed that my reactions to small frustrations escalated. The political climate is oozing with negativity and I was above my quotient. I was allowing myself to be “slimed” by negativity- if you watched the movie Ghostbusters, I wanted their de-sliming solution! I needed to find creative ways to cultivate a positive attitude, especially since I was not in the comfort of my home.

The question is:  How do we balance life when there is negativity looming around us? Escaping to a desert island sound compelling, but not practical. I am not advocating avioding or numbing – it is more about learning how to fill up while dealing with negativity. No matter how hard we try, constant negativity will get to us.

The truth is, negativity breads negativity.

Here is what I did:

  • I realized I was feeling negative-naming it is a big key
  • I took a walk, even in the cold NY weather (yes mom, I wore a hat!)
  • I upped my meditation time
  • I added more Loving Kindness meditation to my practices and repeated the phrases from time to time during the day
  • I ate warm fresh NY bagels and nova lox – yum
  • I held my adorable baby great nephew-very effective for a quick joy boost
  • I made a phone call to someone I trusted and talked about it.  This kept me out of isolating- it is very important not to isolate
  • I read an uplifting book by my favorite author of wholehearted living- Brene Brown
  • I laughed and joked- humor goes a long way
  • I helped my mother and went grocery shopping
  • One big area that helps me on a daily basis is doing or focusing on what I love.

I focused on my upcoming presentations:

When the focus is on what makes my heart sing, negativity quickly transforms to joy and gratitude.

Creating my newest program is my way of helping others to live in the solution and I have a blast teaching that.

Remember this – no matter what is happening in your life or the world, bring your focus back to small steps to embrace what fills you up.

I would love to hear what works for you.

Warm regards,

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