Popsicles and Pockets of Joy

Enjoy the little things.

Over breakfast my friend Dominique announced everyday is a Monday. Responding to my quizzical expression she filled in the blanks. Dom, a successful entrepreneur, is in the process of growing her second successful business, Escape Room Palm Springs. This venture means hitting it hard in back-to-back seven day work weeks. Understanding the amount of work that goes into a new business enterprise, I tipped my head in an empathetic nod.

My friend continued talking about her busy life and related how one day while listening to a CD, she discovered a way to keep the pace without spiking her stress level. Adhering to the advice of a female combat soldier, Dom cultivated a way to look for, and take advantage of pockets of downtime. For example, when she has the rare 2 hour chunk of time she heads home to soak in her Jacuzzi. An extra thirty minutes may be used in the grocery store with her headphones on. Dom finds strolling the aisles relaxing as she leisurely accomplishes restocking her pantry. For a mere 15 minutes, she can find a quiet corner to sit still and “just be.” If her pets are around, Dom indulges in doggy cuddle time. (Stroking a dog is touted by experts as a healthy form of stress relief.)

Dom and Dog

 

Author and speaker, Amanda Enayati, is in complete agreement with Dom about mastering “the pause” during a demanding day. In a recent interview, Amanda referred to these portions of down time as “pockets of joy.” Enayati, who authored the book, “Seeking Serenity: The Ten New Rules for Health and Happiness in the Age of Anxiety,” discusses a pause as a way to deal with negative stress. The author recommends not over-thinking a pause. Just find a quiet space to rest and renew, or head outdoors to commune with nature.

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor.

Establishing one of these new rules in your life might take a bit practice. Like Dom, you must develop an awareness and capture those precious moments of “me” time. By setting up these buffers, you can minimize and neutralize your stress level. A word of caution here: Don’t fritter it away thinking you should use the time to knock off a few more things on your “to do” list.

Try it with me. This week I’m committing to my pockets of joy by instituting the 80/20 rule. For 20 minutes each day I’ll close my office door, think of nothing and enjoy my 80 calorie cold-brew coffee pop.

Chocolate popsicles on baking paper with scattered nuts and choco topping

Bye, bye toxic stress!

 

 

Lighten Your Load

Woman Sitting At Window And Looking At Beautiful Beach View

 

It’s Spring and on every glossy magazine delivered to my mailbox I notice a common theme. As Martha Stewart expresses it: “There are few rites of spring more satisfying than the annual clean.” Okay, I get it, and buy into it.  We are in the season to clean, purge and get beautifully organized. It is amazing how much energy we free up when we lighten our load. But beyond material things, other issues need examining.

Think about the emotional clutter you carry around internally.  What issues have you left unresolved? Are there situations you should deal with but continue to tolerate, thus giving away your power? Should you be letting go of something or someone?

Happy woman holding balloons and jumping in the air

Do you keep looking back rather than living in the present moment? Are you tightly holding on to resentments instead of forgiving and freeing this emotional baggage?

Once you have identified these problems, fears and anxieties, the next step is to write down the critical items prohibiting your peace of mind. Then ask yourself…what is the solution? Prioritize the list. Start working on what bothers you most. For example, does someone need your forgiveness, or do you need to be pardoned? Forgiveness can reset our mental focus. The original Sanskrit meaning of forgiveness is to untie. Once you untie the chocking hold of anger you will free your mind and release stress.

Is it time to stop withholding your voice? That means you must face situations by taking your power back.

woman staying on sailboat

Stand up and be heard. Do not allow fear to block possibilities. Be ready to win respect by acting on your convictions. Remember, it is not your job to keep everyone happy. Your mission is to be true to yourself. Have you been playing it safe for fear of being hurt? Reflect on your strengths, and then pick up where you left off before you caved and relinquished your power.

My final word on lightening your load is to stop starting projects on a whim. Should you spend the afternoon creating a gourmet dessert to take to the dinner party,

Chocolate cake, close-up
Chocolate cake, close-up

or make a quick stop at the nearest bakery? Must you really hand knit your son a sweater, or will store-bought do?  Packing those unnecessary jobs into an already overloaded day only adds to your stress level.

Here is my suggestion. Make a pitcher of lemonade and

little girl trying to sell lemonade

settle into a cozy chair on your patio as you stretch out with a good book and breathe a sigh of contentment.

Congratulations, you are on the right path to lightening your load!

Keep Calm and Ever Onward

Happy teen girl  jumping on the beach
The other day I received an email from my very wise friend LaDonna. She stated she owns a ring she wears daily inscribed with the words “siempre adelante,” which means always forward. The ring reminds my friend to “accept life’s inevitable disappointments and changes.” This is a lesson worth remembering. Immediately I created a “siempre adelante” sign and hung it on my vision board.

LaDonna’s communication contained two important concepts. First, being cognizant of the fact that from time to time trouble is going to waltz through our lives totally uninvited. Life excels at keeping us on our toes. We get comfortable cruising along experiencing smooth sailing,
woman staying on sailboat
and then a totally unexpected event occurs to churn the still waters. You know the drill. Disappointment, stress and even a bit of panic might occur when the wind blows our sails in the wrong direction. It’s normal to feel deflated like a rapidly leaking lifeboat. But then what?

My advice begins with not burying your head in the sand. Spending time in denial is futile. There is a quote attributed to Elvis Presley putting setbacks in perspective. “Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t going way.” Accept the reality of the situation. The fact is, it happened, it’s real and it requires a solution. Own it.

Here’s another scenario to avoid. Do not let your emotions rule. Wallowing in anger and worry serves only to zap your energy reserves. Spending time doing the “poor me” moan to anyone with a listening ear is time wasted. Whatever it is, a speeding ticket, a broken relationship, a job loss, or a bad investment, take action and attack the problem. Need help on where to begin? Try rewinding a bit, and take comfort in the past. Surely you have faced downturns before and found a way to soldier on. Once you have regained your confidence, get focused and tap into your creativity. Start brainstorming a way to get back in the game.

Siempre adelante is the second concept in the equation. Engage in some positive thinking. Just as you can rewind to past achievements you can fast-forward to brighter times. Take a breath and imagine your relief when you’ve solved the problem. Next, build up some momentum by putting one foot in front of the other and work your action plan. Where will that take you? In the right direction, onwards, ever onwards!