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Survive, and Move On

This is one of my most favorite times of the year, March Madness.  Athletes and coaches eagerly awaited their fate to see if they would make the list of 64 best and if so, who their first opponent would be.  This year in particular is a bit more special as I have dear friends, near and far, who made the cut.  In addition, my alma mater has moved onto the Elite 8 for DII.

March is a game of Survive, and Move On.  Scouting reports, film, controlling the controllables, tangibles, intangibles, calling on prior experiences are all part of the process in helping teams to move forward.

This morning, I’ll be sitting down with a group of like-minded people for our second day of a three-day workshop.  Much of the focus is a brain-based training system.  The brain is what makes everything else function.  And the number one job of the brain- survival.

Neuroscientific research has been at the forefront for the last several years.  Understanding the brain is constantly being challenged in environments, both internally and externally.  Examples might be are you reacting or responding to emotions, checking for cars as you cross the street.  Much like March Madness, we call on prior experiences to survive and move on.

After I’ve had a few days to digest all the information from this workshop and taken time to watch my friend’s games on dvr, I’ll follow up with more details.

Until then, Got your 6.

be well-

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Reconnect with Humanity

A few weeks ago I saw many people posting what they were giving up for Lent. While it has been many years that I have set foot in a church for anything other than a wedding or funeral, I chose to take my own 40 day challenge. The only difference, I choose to give, rather than give up. I choose to give more of myself through spoken words, hugs, smiles and the biggest challenge- 40 letters in 40 days.

So far this has been a great experience. I have written and mailed off several letters, spoken to friends and family over the phone with long conversations, and have visited friends in their homes. Doing all of this has provided the opportunity to reconnect in ways other than social media.

Much of our life is over stimulated with work, social engagements, daily/weekly tasks, and most recently, technology; we forget the importance of connection. While technology has provided few tools to make our lives easier, it has also created a sense of separation. Watching people on the subway or walking down the street, nearly everyone has a phone in their hand either texting or listening to music. Companies are choosing to do more Skype and video conferencing rather than meeting face to face. When out to dinner, both parents and kids have some sort of device in their hand.

Take a few moments to watch this video and then go out, leave the distraction behind. Reconnect with humanity.

be well-

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Commit to Change

Over the last several weeks I have had conversations with clients and friends whom are looking to make changes in their life.  Some are towards better eating habits.  Others are to be more active, maybe by counting how many steps they take per day.  These are great starts to making changes to their lifestyle.

It takes commitment to change.  Behavioral changes are completed in a series of distinct steps.  The following is taken from Psychology Today-

  1. Precontemplation. In this stage, we’ve either literally never thought about needing to change a particular behavior or we’ve never thought about it seriously. Often we receive ideas about things we might need to change from others—family, friends, doctors—but react negatively by reflex. After all, we’re usually quite happy with our current stable of habits (if we weren’t, we wouldn’t have them in the first place). However, if we can find our way to react more openly to these messages, we might find some value in them. Remember, they aren’t sent with the intent to harm.
  2. Contemplation. Here we’ve begun to actively think about the need to change a behavior, to fully wrap our minds around the idea. This stage can last anywhere from a moment—to an entire lifetime. What exactly causes us to move from this stage to the next is always, in my view, the change of an idea (“exercise is important”) into a deeply held belief (“I need to exercise”), as I discussed in an earlier post, Cigarette Smoking Is Caused By A Delusion. What exactly causes this change, however, is different for everyone and largely unpredictable. What we think will produce this change isn’t often what does. For example, it may not be the high cholesterol that gets the overweight man to begin exercising but rather his inability to keep up with his wife when they go shopping. This is the stage in which obstacles to change tend to rear their ugly heads. If you get stuck here, as many often do, seek another way to think about the value of the change you’re contemplating. Remember, it’s all about finding and activating a motivating belief.
  3. Determination. In this stage, we begin preparing ourselves mentally and often physically for action. The smoker may throw out all her cigarettes. The couch potato may join a gym. We pick quit days. We schedule start days. This mustering of a determination is the culmination of the decision to change and fuels the engine that drives you to your goal. I firmly believe that human beings possess the ability to manifest an unlimited amount of determination when properly motivated by a deeply held belief.
  4. Action. And then we start. We wake up and take a power walk. Or go to the gym. Or stop smoking. Wisdom—in the form of behavior—finally manifests.
  5. Maintenance. This is continuing abstinence from smoking.Continuing to get to the gym every day. Continuing to control your intake of calories. Because initiating a new behavior usually seemslike the hardest part of the process of change, we often fail to adequately prepare for the final phase of Maintenance. Yet without a doubt, maintaining a new behavior is the most challenging part of any behavior change. One of the reasons we so often fail at Maintenance is because we mistakenly believe the strategies we used to initiate the change will be equally as effective in helping uscontinue the change. But they won’t. Where changing a strongly entrenched habit requires changing our belief about that habit that penetrates deeply into our lives, continually manifesting that wisdom(and therefore that habit) requires that we maintain a high life-condition. If our mood is low, the wisdom to behave differently seems to disappear and we go back to eating more and exercising less (this isn’t, of course, equally true for all behaviors, especially for addictive behaviors we’ve long ago abandoned). In a high life-condition, however, that changed belief will continue to manifest as action. When you’re feeling good, getting yourself to exercise, for example, is easier because the belief that you should exercise remains powerfully stirred up and therefore motivating. The key, then, to maintaining new behaviors…is to be happy! Which is why it’s so hard to maintain new behaviors.

By recognizing which of the five stages of change you find yourself in at any one time with respect to any one behavior you’re trying to change, you can maintain realistic expectations and minimize your frustration. Focus on reaching the next stage rather than on the end goal, which may seem too far away and therefore discourage you from even starting on the path towards it.

be well-

 

 

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Care with Compassion

I have a very soft spot in my heart for the older generations and for their caregivers.  As kids, we spent many Sundays walking through the local nursing home, getting to know some of the people who would call that place home.  My mom worked as a nurse there for many years.  When we had the opportunity to visit her, that gave us an opportunity to visit them as well.  As an adult, I have had the great pleasure to work with many clients in the same age category.  I still have files on two of my first clients when I first came to Boston.  They had just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary when I began working with them.  Since then, I have attended both funeral services.

Today, one out of three people in the United States choose hospice care when they are dying.  Hospice is a concept of care designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families.  I have visited family and friends in hospice in their homes, in a unit at a hospital and even a special residential facility.  The idea of hospice can be done anywhere.

Sometimes in the final days of life, it may feel fears are exacerbated due to doctors poking you with needles, calling for more tests, giving patients and family a sense of loss of control.  Hospice can give back some control over someone’s final days through its compassionate focus on treating pain and helping both the dying person and the person’s family emotionally grapple with what’s to come.

A person’s hospice team develops a care plan that helps control pain and symptoms. The team also will:

  • Help the patient and family members deal with the emotional and spiritual aspects of dying.
  • Equip the patient’s home with needed medical supplies and equipment.
  • Coach family members on caring for the person.
  • Provide quick-response care on an around-the-clock basis when pain or symptoms flare up.
  • Make bereavement care available to the patient’s surviving family and friends.

When choosing hospice, there are many things to consider.

  • How many levels of hospice do you provide?
  • Are you certified by the Joint Commission?
  • How do you measure quality of care?

I have seen firsthand the compassion hospice caregivers offer to patients and their families.  To me, this is a fine art and skill that few are authentically able to offer.  Finding the right fit for all is important in one’s final days.

be well-

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Think-Live-Be Well

Before my yoga class on Tuesday afternoon there were a few snowbirds catching up with each other from their winter getaways.  It was apparent they were talking about how they felt on all levels.  One of them said, “I’m wealthy because I’m healthy.”

I wish more people would have this attitude.  Too many of us take for granted our health until we or a loved one falls ill.

We each experience a different journey towards health.  And what health means to me could be very different from what it means to you.  Below are some simple, yet effective ways to improve your health.

  • Eat Right- Choosing to eat whole foods, fruits, and veggies instead of processed food reduces the risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
  • Be Active- Taking part in daily physical exercise such as walking, jogging, biking, yoga or strength training helps to build strength and endurance.
  • Manage Stress- Incorporate quiet time a few minutes every day.  Turn off technology, close your eyes, focus on breathing.
  • Maintain Healthy Skin- Quit smoking, use sunscreen, wash your skin gently.

The choice is yours.

be well

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Who am I to judge…

In the hustle and bustle of work, life, and training for a marathon, my own yoga practice seems to have been put on the back burner.  So when I decided to take my first public class in several months,  I was eager to get on the mat.  Just a few minutes before walking into the studio I had walked by a local firehouse that lost two extremely brave men in a house fire less just a few blocks away.  After taking a moment to pay my respects, my practice that night would be dedicated to those two men and all of their fellow brothers and sisters.

I was a little early to class, so I set everything up, did a bit of stretching and practiced a little meditation.  From the moment the instructor walked in, I was irritated.  There were a few things she did and said that got under my skin.  Friday night was the first time in ten years I almost walked out of a yoga class.  Rather than go on a rant about all the reasons, I’ve had a few days to think about the whole experience.  At the end of the day, who am I to judge?

We all have good days and bad days.  Maybe deep down I was more emotional than I thought after walking by the firehouse.  Maybe she was trying to impress a class that she was subbing.  Society is quick to judge others by social status, clothing, race, gender, education.  The list is endless.

Reasons we Judge Others-

  • we are insecure
  • we are scared
  • we are lonely
  • we are seeking change

What Judgement Does to Others-

  • hurts other people
  • makes us feel worse about ourselves
  • perpetuates stereotypes
  • creates negativity

Ways to Stop Judging Others-

  • monitor your thoughts
  • look for the positive
  • focus on your own life
  • remember how it feels

 

be well-

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Call it what you Will

When I was in sixth grade, all of the students sat in a classroom listening to different sounds and tones from a variety of musical instruments.  This was a test to see which instrument best matched us.  I remember this being very difficult for me because I struggled hearing very soft and high-pitched tones.  When the results came back, the tuba was my match.

This should not have been a big surprise because it has a very forceful sound, in my opinion.  But there was no way I was going to carry such a big instrument around.  I gravitated toward the percussion section.  The heavy beat of a drum made much more sense.  I only lasted a year or two.  Music just wasn’t my thing.  There could have been a number of factors as to why.

If I were to relive those middle school years, I wish I had stuck with playing a musical instrument.  I now understand that- Music is a science.  Music is mathematical.  Music is a foreign language.  Music is history.  Music is physical education.  Music is art.

I enjoy listening to music and have a pretty eclectic library on my computer.  Everything from classic rock and roll to folk to easy listening to reggae to latin to soul and more.  Although, I would encourage no one to ask me to be on any sort of trivia team that needs to identify songs and/or artists.

In October of 2012 I walked into a used music shop, picked up a few guitars to get a feel, and walked out with a great purchase.  I’ve been taking lessons for almost one year now.  When doing a little research about my instructor, one of the things that stood out was his teaching style.  His website said he’ll teach to your best way of learning; auditory, kinesthetic or visual.  Perfect, I didn’t need to have the “ear.”

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Studies have shown that playing an instrument can:

  • sharpen your concentration
  • improve reading and comprehension
  • enhance coordination
  • increase capacity for memory
  • relieves stress
  • provides a sense of achievement

While I will never play Radio City Music Hall, playing the guitar has offered a new-found passion with great benefits.

be well-

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