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My Mouth is for More Than My Foot! Who Knew??

This week I am veering a bit from my regular stress solutions posts to let you know about the expansion of my work.  I realized that I must practice what I teach and do what is needed to stay in balance. There is a stress solutions moral to this story, so keep reading!


The Background
In my wildest dreams did I ever think I would find oral health interesting.  I have always had the attitude, Oh %*!x$, I have to go to the dentist!  I remember the piercing sound of the drill and smell of the dental office from my childhood, and even now though the aesthetics of dental offices have improved I still have the that feeling of dread deep in the pit of my stomach.   If I wasn’t so neurotic about teeth cleaning, I would probably not have gone with consistency.  Then there is the cost- Oy, even when I had dental insurance the coverage was minimal.  I could think of a million things I would rather spend my money on!

So, you might be thinking why I am writing about dentistry?  Well, many of you know what a people person I am and how I have wanted to not only speak and design health and wellness programs but to be involved with another company as well.  It gets too lonely being a solo entrepreneur.

The Story
I was having lunch with a colleague, Dr. Brenda Paulen, who I have known for decades.  We were chatting about how we could support one another and I mentioned that I was looking for a part- time job acting as an ambassador, connector for a small company.   She went silent for a moment and then said- Ellen, we have been advertising for exactly what you are looking to do right now.  We chatted about this as a possibility and what really sealed the deal for me was- No Admin!  My previous opportunity turned out to be my worst nightmare- mostly administrative.  For me, that is torture!
Now, I get to do what I love, do what I am really good at with people I enjoy being with, and still do my Custom Calm speaking and business wellness programs. How cool is that???

The Moral 
This got me thinking- why do we try to do things that are not natural for us?  I know the basics of working with line tools, but that is where it stops.  I love connecting, speaking, and helping others-that is my superpower.  Stress and frustration comes when I sell out- doing a job that goes against who I am. I see too many people hating what they do without any other balance in life.
Life is way too short, so make sure somehow you do what makes your heart sing, even if you have a job you don’t love.

So there you have it.  Check out Dr. Paulen’s Proud Smiles site. I never knew that oral health was pivotal to overall health and that illnesses are detected by looking in the mouth, not to mention chronic headaches.  I have a new respect for the role an advanced trained dentist as an integral part of a health care team.  I also love the cosmetic side too- you deserve a smile you are happy with!

It is clear to me that Dr. Paulen’s superpower is:  Being a rock star proactive, total-health centered dentist who loves what she does.

Think about it- what is your superpower?

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My Zip-Line Lesson: You Might as Well Let Go!


Our vacation
Robert and I had a wonderful Vail and Santa Fe vacation.  Our most memorable activity was our first ever zip-line experience.
While in Vail and Robert had the idea to try zip-lining.  I was shocked at this suggestion as he is afraid of heights and does not have great balance.  I went along with this, hoping he would change his mind.  The control freak in me was not thrilled with his suggestion.  My husband feeling was- if not now, when?

We went to the adventure center (the word adventure was my clue for what was about to take place), and the only zip that was open was the extensive 7 zip excursion.  Yes, zip to zip to zip, with platforms and ski lifts in between.   Well it was a go-big or go-home decision. No turning back after the first zip.

We suited up, walked up the first log ladder and stood there, ready and scared.  We were told to sit back in the harness and allow it to hold us.  Okay, here we go- I went first after one of our guides.  To my surprise I enjoyed myself but held on for dear life.  Robert was next to go and he white knuckled it the entire way.

The zip-lines

After the first zip, I let go, sat back and enjoyed the exquisite landscape, figuring if the line snapped I would be dead whether I held on tight or let go- so why not go for it?  Robert continued to hold on tight enjoying the experience.

By the last two zips, I had totally let go, holding my arms out and screaming in delight.  I appreciated the joy and freedom that came with letting go and fully surrendering to the experience. I also realized how much I love excitement and fun, and in my daily life and do not get enough of it.

What is the point in this experience?  Change things up, enjoy my day, and most of all to stop the “shoulds” and pressures I put on myself about money and judgment of my productivity. I want to simply embrace and enjoy what I do, plain and simple.

My takeaway and new venture
With this said, in my Custom Calm work, I will still speak and offer programs.

Keeping with my theme of challenging myself and having fun, I am joining forces part-time with a colleague to be her Community Connections Manager.  In a nutshell, I will be doing the activities I love doing:  Promoting, networking, speaking, connecting, writing for a 1-doctor dental practice whose work is in line with mine- health centered with a customized approach (yes your mouth is part of your body!)  This practice works with many patients with chronic illness- one of my specialties as well.  You will be hearing more about Dr. Brenda Paulen of Proud Smiles soon.  It’s a funny story how I came upon this opportunity.  I will save this for my next newsletter..

My challenge to you
Summer is the perfect time to let go a bit more, have fun, and do what you love. Try something that makes you a bit nervous and push your limits.  It is quite freeing.  My zip line experience taught me that holding on tight only brings tension- if I’m going to crash, at least I want to enjoy the ride!  I would love to hear about your new experiences.

Happy 4th!

 

 

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Dealing With Difficult People: Stop Wrestling the Greased Pig!

This morning, as I was listening to the latest fiasco in the news, a previous blog I had written came to mind.  It offers some sage advice about dealing with difficult people and events.

My previous story
I received an email from a friend who was struggling greatly with a difficult person.  At the end of the email she quoted Abraham Lincoln:
If you wrestle with greased pigs, you both will get dirty but the pig will enjoy it. 
I thought about the truth of this statement, but will take it a step further:
If you continue to think about the greased pig, you are still getting dirty and the pig has already moved on!

My previous post- advice reminder
Yes, challenging people show up in our lives no matter how much we try to surround ourselves with harmonious relationships.
When you are in the midst of hearing about or dealing directly with a difficult person you can easily get obsessed in the spiral of trying to understand the persons behavior. What happens is when you constantly think about the situation, you perpetuate the hurt or struggle. Even if you are absolutely in the right, your mind is still in the pen with the pig, not where your feet are planted.  The answer is simple, but not so easy- move away from the pig and get back in your body.

The next time you find yourself thinking about a difficult person or a past or current wrong, move into simple action:

  • Notice your thoughts
  • Get a clear image of yourself in the mud with the swine- (just the image could pull you back into reality!)
  • Get out of the pen and wipe the mud off
  • Take a breath
  • Feel your feet on the floor
  • Notice your surroundings

Remember it is not a right-wrong/good-bad, but your sanity that is top priority.

Hmmm, maybe what I need is to cut out a picture of swine and put a picture of me with it- now that would be a great reminder.  I also might not only have to wipe the mud off, but take a nice hot bath!

 

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Airline Chaos: What the #*&x! is going on???

Every day we see another crazed event surrounding airlines both on and off the plane. Luckily, I have a month to brush up on my boxing skills or buy a helmet before my vacation!

My thoughts
I have been giving this some thought and put it out to my husband.  He feels that it has always happened but now we have the ability to catch it on video.  I’m not sure I agree.

I think the culprit is the tension that is prevalent in our country, triggering impatience and anger..It is a constant low level anxiety, and I for one have been dealing with it on a daily basis.  I am afraid It’s not going away any time soon. So what does one do about it?

Well, as a realist it will take some action on our part.  How do you remain calm (or sane) in the midst of the chaos around you?  It is not about avoiding what is or being asleep and wishing things would be different.

I have chosen to break my silence and write about this- partially to hear my own solutions and partially because it is part of our daily reality.  We are going through a really crappy, turbulent time (to put it nicely) and it has been going on for a few years now- sadly, it is escalating.

Some help
Here are my simple sanity thoughts:  Stay present.  A mindful practice throughout your day will help.

  • Notice what is going on around you, without judgment
  • Notice the tension in your body
  • Notice your thoughts at any given moment
  • Notice your feelings
  • Do not try to change how you feel
  • Do not try to make sense of what is happening
  • Hang out with people that share your values and talk about positive topics
  • Balance any proactive activities you are involved in, with the rest of your life
  • Add something uplifting to do or read on a daily basis.
  • Remember, there is only so much negativity you can handle before it seeps into your cells. Been there and it is not pretty, so take care of you!

  In any given moment

  • Pause before you do or say anything.
  • Take an inhale and a slow exhale
  • Get in your body: Feel your feet connect to the floor and look at your surroundings.
  • Make eye contact with someone who is struggling.  We all need some compassion.

Change it up
No matter how evolved you are, it is a time to increase whatever you do to keep yourself spiritually fit.  You might even have to change up or add to your routine.  For example, most days I try to get still and follow my thoughts in a mindful way.  On some days my thoughts take me into the gutter, so a different practice is needed.  Maybe simply sitting outside and noticing nature and feeling the air against my skin will be my practice, or maybe a quick walk is needed.  To force or expect yourself to do what is usually effective, will be counterproductive.

It is t time to be kind to yourself.  Give yourself a break and Lighten Up. If you are planning a vacation, make sure to fill the well.  Of course, if you are afraid of the dreaded air travel, go ahead and drive- you might get there faster!  Stay safe and be well. .

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Kid’s & Stress: Need I Say More???

May is almost here!  Many of us are breathing a sigh of relief that our children or grandchildren are graduating.  Then there are some of us with young children who never think the day will come.  We love our kids, but there are days that we want to scream (and sometimes we do!)

Been There, Done That
I’ve been there, done that and in spite of myself, I am blessed with two awesome adult children.  There are still times where I scratch my head after blurting out my unsolicited advice, only to get a snarky reply.  After all, I know better and they should what to listen, right?
With it all, I know I did a great job (right kids?) but there were words said and some behavior I wish I could take back.  I know that I am not alone- well have all acted out when at our wits end.  What happens?  Our stress escalates and we feel guilty and angry at ourselves for losing it. There is no rewind button.

So What’s the Solution?

I am not an expert at solutions beyond what I teach but I would be remiss if I did not introduce you to my colleague parenting extraordinaire, Randi Rubenstein– Randi is the real deal, tell it like it is powerhouse.  She helps parents stay calm, cool, and connected during heated moments with their kiddos. Attaching one of her articles Here.

Even if you are not a parent of a school aged kid, this is a great read.  I am sure you know someone who needs to read this!

 

 

My Request:
For those who have had the rug pulled out from under them…

STRESSED OUT TRAILBLAZER WANTED
for taking charge, enjoying life- even when life has flipped you the bird,
patient with the process, and willing to try new ways of doing things,
teachable, and knows quick fixes don’t work.
Gutsy enough to take on what life has thrown at them, no hiding, no disappearing,
ass-kicking ready to move forward, no matter what.
Here are some comments from a few private clients:
“I feel that so much of what you taught me has become hardwired. I am so thankful for your guidance and friendship – you truly changed my life”
“I will tell you that I have enjoyed working with you immensely and credit much of my growth to our sessions together. Your help has been invaluable.” 
“I now incorporate Ellen’s “Custom Calm” techniques in my daily life knowing that sickness, sadness, & stress will still come into my life-but I am equipped with the tools to tackle the situation and live a good and happy life.” 

Interested?  READ MORE

If you are serious about hearing more, please answer these few questions and send your answers to:  ellen@customcalm.com

  1. What the heck is going on?
  2. How is it impacting your daily life?
  3. What have you tried to help yourself? How did it work for you?
  4. What are you are hoping to receive by us working together?

 

Warm regards,

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Stressed Out Trailblazers: We Want You!

Yea, it’s springtime!  You know what that means?  Holidays, spring cleaning, change, newness, and fun (let’s not forget Atlanta pollen too!)

Been Thinking…
I am ready for some newness of my own. Time to shake things up in my work. As I pondered what that newness might look like, I began to think about my previous clients and what really solidified lasting change.  Slow, steady, easy, breezy practices and concepts.  Then I asked myself the question, what helped to hardwire the change?  ACCOUNTABILITY!

My Light Bulb Moment
Ahhh, the light bulb just went off. How much more fun and effective it would be for clients if I worked with them in a semi-private setting.  Yes, accountability is the key and what better way to gain accountability than have a buddy to keep you on track.

So, here is what I am looking for: Two sets of private clients to work in a semi-private setting. It can be with a buddy or not. Are you one of them?
If I were writing a newspaper ad to find you, it would look like this:   Help Wanted:

STRESSED OUT TRAILBLAZER WANTED
for taking charge, enjoying life- even when life has flipped you the bird,
patient with the process, and willing to try new ways of doing things,
teachable, and knows quick fixes don’t work.
Gutsy enough to take on what life has thrown at them, no hiding, no disappearing,
ass-kicking ready to move forward, no matter what.

 

Check out a few comments from a few private clients:
“I feel that so much of what you taught me has become hardwired. I am so thankful for your guidance and friendship – you truly changed my life”
“I will tell you that I have enjoyed working with you immensely and credit much of my growth to our sessions together. Your help has been invaluable.” 
“I now incorporate Ellen’s “Custom Calm” techniques in my daily life knowing that sickness, sadness, & stress will still come into my life-but I am equipped with the tools to tackle the situation and live a good and happy life.” 

Interested?  READ MORE

If you are serious about hearing more, please answer these few questions and send your answers to:  ellen@customcalm.com

  1. What the heck is going on?
  2. How is it impacting your daily life?
  3. What have you tried to help yourself? How did it work for you?
  4. What are you are hoping to receive by us working together?

My thoughts
In my heart of hearts I know that working together you will achieve tangible results that keep you rocking and rolling with positive momentum.  Whatever you do, stay connected and keep yourself accountable in every area of life. It’s more fun that way!

P.S. For those who come to the Cancer Support Community in Atlanta, I will  be teaching a workshop on April 18th and every Saturday in May, except Memorial Day Weekend.  Join me!

Hope to see you soon.

Warm regards,

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Perfection is Overrated: That’s Great News for Me!

The back story
A former client sent me wonderful comment about my last newsletter. If you have not yet read it, check my blog.  She wrote:  I LOVE S’mores!  I feel that so much of what you taught me has become hardwired. I am so thankful for your guidance and friendship – you truly changed my life. 

Now, that is an amazing testimonial, wouldn’t you agree? You would think I would take that in and kvell in the gift she gave me.  I did for a moment and was grateful for her response.  But then, I took a turn-  I replied and thanked her, then added a comment that I had made a typo on the title (no looking back please J)  Oy, why would I do that?  A compliment can be difficult for many, and I see I am still one of them.

She gave me a perfect response: Perfection is overrated.   

My thoughts
We tend to be tough on ourselves when we make a mistake.  We also tend to dismiss a compliment pretty darn quickly.  I wonder why this is?
There is some odd notion that we must do things perfectly or we look “less than.”  Think about it.  The feedback she gave me was a gift, yet my focus was on letting her know I made a mistake.  Really Ellen?  The awe of improving someone’s life vs. an extra letter in a word.  Hmmm, that is a no-brainer, yet I got caught in the trap of perfection.

The concern about my error (that she did not even notice) clouded my ability to take in the lovely affirming note she wrote about my work.  I took what was an opportunity to really appreciate my gifts and chose to focus on my small error.

  • I get tripped up in trying to look a certain way and to make a mistake makes me seem less professional.  What the heck is that about?
  • Even though I am getting much better, it is still my tendency to dismiss a compliment.

One day soon
One day, I too will get new behavior around this issue “hardwired” as she has.  Even when I get tripped up, I will remember her wise words:    Perfection is overrated…
Thank you my student, friend, and teacher. You are one smart cookie!
Write your comments on my blog. I love to hear from you.  Also, stay tune for some exciting new programs.

P.S. For those who come to the Cancer Support Community in Atlanta, I decided to share the Saturday yoga class with another instructor.  Will see you on April 1st– no kidding!

Hope to see you soon.

Warm regards,

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What Gives You Relief from Our Crazy, Chaotic World?  Yes, You Heard Me Correctly- S’mores!

I planned to write a funny post about a recent experience, but after hearing about Wednesday’s terror attack in London and the killing of a Jewish Family in Paris this week, I am not really in a playful mood.  One of my daughters just left London, so it hit home even more.

My heart is heavy from the hatred in our country and world.  I do not want to turn into the fear based, angry person I had become just a few months back.

I ask myself, what do I do now?  How do I help heal the world besides donating time and money to causes I care about? How can I write a solution based post, when feeling this way?

The answer is- practice what I teach (boy, that’s annoying!)  I need to find a way to fill up though out my day, even when I have no time- and so do you.

My S’mores experience is an example:

I was at a bonfire event this weekend. For those who do not know what a S’more is, you are missing out.  Marshmallows roasted over a campfire (a fireplace will do), a chocolate bar, and a graham cracker.    I could have slapped it all together and wolfed it down, but chose not to.  This is what I did:

I got my ingredients, picked out a good stick, put two marshmallows on the stick, put stick over the fire, watched the marshmallow get bubbly and a bit burnt (that to me gets the marshmallow gooey in the middle), take the graham cracker, break it in two, put my chocolate bar on the cracker, and then take both crackers, make a sandwich, and squeeze the marshmallow in between until it comes off.

Yes, quite a production. Now for the best part- take a bite, (rather than putting it all in my mouth at once-tempting I know), chew, get messy marshmallow all over my face, and continue the process.  When finished, lick all the goo off my fingers. This brought back childhood camp memories.  Now that is a meditative, uplifting experience.  As I sit and write about it, my heaviness is lifting.

 

Simple, lifesaving moments

We need this level of simplicity.  Life is challenging and at times chaotic and frightening.  Everyone is affected. It is not about avoidance, but about balance.  Without the mundane moments of enjoyment, it is easy to get pulled into the muck and tough to crawl out.

It is all happening now

My feeling of sadness over the terror in London, memory of my S’mores experience, the sound of my dog chewing her bone, the smell of my lunch, is happening right now- got the picture?

So, my point? Make a decision each day to be aware of things that you find uplifting- even for a moment.  The moments add up and give you the balance you need to find some joy or sanity each day.  Simple- yes, Challenging-yes, Practical and Possible- Absolutely.

And if you have not yet indulged in S’mores, give it a try! 

Leave a comment about what you find uplifting in your day

Hope to see you soon.

Warm regards,

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Controlled Chaos:  Now That’s What I’m Talking About!  

Ellen Sichel:
Controlled Chaos Personified

I admit it- I am a Shark Tank fan.  One episode I watched two women in the beauty industry pitch their product: Controlled Chaos-  It gives those with curly hair a softer curl, controls frizz without the stiff product feel.  They were passionate, real, fun, and a bit chaotic- they eventually got a deal. I loved the founders and product name and can totally relate (way beyond my hair!).  I too can be chaotic and am sure you can too.

As for my hair, it is basically curly when cut properly, yet most of the time I blow dry the curl out.  I do not enjoy this chore at all (even when trying some mindful drying!)  Why, you might wonder do I participate in this hot, annoying ritual?  To look a bit tidier and more professional, especially when I speak.  I was raised with a more conservative look- neat and controlled.  Hmmm, this sounds really nuts to me as I write this.

Well, times have changed.  I am now committed to going curly- apply product, shake, and go.  I will even get my haircut to maximize my curls.  I have included a selfie (not my best.)  You might be wondering where I am going with this blog and what this has to do with stress management and calm living. Okay, here goes…

Control does not work
It creates rigidity just like a sticky and unnatural hair product designed to make hair behave.

Chaos can be fun when it doesn’t take over
Chaos can look natural and playful.  I have been trying (not too successfully) to behave- to keep some reserved air about me- after all, I teach calm living- right?  Boy,that too sounds lame.

This is why Controlled Chaos appealed to me.  It is the perfect combo.  Control without the edge, without the rigidity, without forcing-  It is natural and relaxed, mixed in with some play .It is both anchored and free.

You do not need curly hair to relate to this. Take a look at how you show up to life.  Are you showing up as-is, or are you running your life from a place perfection and frustration.  This is much of what underlies stress.  Fighting who we are.

Yes, I am still in my Inciting a Riot phase of life.  I will be a bit curlier, but know if I feel like it I can choose to style my hair (I am beginning to sound like a Barbie commercial- curly Barbie, dressy Barbie- Oy.)

Now it’s your turn
I hope you can come along and put a bit of Controlled Chaos in your day. For those of you who love the chaos, go ahead- after all calm living is not about being this Zen flower.  It is more about learning how to mix the two- tame your chaos, don’t get rid of it.

For now, notice where you are trying to stay socially acceptable or feel embarrassed when you try something a bit out of your comfort zone.  What stops you?

I would love to hear from you.  Leave a comment if you would like.
P.S.  More curls to come after my next haircut and yes, I did order the product!

Warm regards,

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I AM INCITING A SELF-CARE RIOT!  For Good Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Back Story

I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of caregivers and professionals who are dealing with high stress events in their lives.  As I was teaching and listening to their stories, what came to light was the unyielding demands many have upon them.

When I asked one women what she loved to do that she can no longer do, she said: I loved to cook.  You might be thinking, that is easy enough for her to do- you are wrong.  This woman work is taking care of an Alzheimer’s patient throughout the day.  Now you might be thinking, well she can cook when she gets home- wrong again.  She comes home and takes care of her three children. Barely time to breathe.  This, I am sad to say is the reality for many.  Work all day in a demanding job, only to come home to a full evening of responsibilities.

When I responded, what I did NOT say was – you must find time for yourself.  That is what we hear over and over again and frankly, I am sick of it.  It is not helpful and leaves people feeling hopeless and unheard.

Realistic Response

I asked her if she goes to the market to shop for food.  She said yes.
I asked her if when she goes to the market could she go to the produce aisle and take a moment to look at the colors and textures of the fruit and then smell their aroma.

I went on to suggest a few other actions:

  • To pick a piece of fruit that she had never had before and purchase it.
  • To take a moment and walk by the flowers, look at the colors, and smell the aroma.
  • When home to put on the cooking channel, even if she has no time to watch, she can hear the sounds and conversations in the background.

You get the picture?  She did, and said yes she could and would do what I suggested.  As she said it, I noticed her eyes were a bit brighter.

In other words, when at the market, be at the market.  For this woman, that might be her only opportunity for her to enjoy what she loves- maybe not in the same way but still filling the well even just a bit. Think of it as taking a short vacation at the market!

Simplicity works.  Simplicity is effective and simple opportunities occur throughout the day, every day.

My Riot

This is the riot I want to incite.  A riot of stopping the useless fluffy suggestions that are given to people who are dealing with high stress or dealing with daily health issues of their own to “take time for themselves.”  Get clear- they do not have the time!

I am ready to take on and transform what we think self-care looks like.  I want to teach people how to fill up bit- by-bit, drop-by-drop in a way that works for them.   All it takes is a bit of willingness to consider the possibilities- and there are lots of them.

Hope to see you soon!

Warm regards,

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