Posts Tagged ‘Self Care’

The Joy of Saying YES to Yourself!

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How many days do you give yourself permission to follow your heart? To listen to your body? To be in charge of your own schedule? When I am consulting with other business people and creatives, I call this driving the bus. And it sounds great, doesn’t it. Many of us want to yell “Hell yes I am in charge of my own life!” but how many of us really are? Probably very few.

We are taught from a very young age that someone else is in charge of the “rules.” We are expected to meet other peoples’ expectations and deadlines and parameters. We learn that we “should” do a lot of things and that we “have to” be a certain way or check certain boxes or finish certain activities to be accepted, successful, popular. We learn that life is all about achievements and belonging instead of following your heart or your gut.

There is a lot of lip service these days given to being authentic, to “you doing you.” But I don’t feel like we give ourselves or others permission to really do that. And I have to tell you that I am over this masochistic way of living. It takes a toll on your physical and mental health but especially your happiness and joy. I have been a rule follower for about 45 years now. But I am tired of following the rules someone else created for me, or worse, that I set for myself based on achieving some level of success or attaining the approval of others – my family and society.

Whether your personal set of rules and expectations come from your parents and their core beliefs (this is where most of us start our rules), from society, from your professional industry, from your political affiliation, or just from your own super-high standards like I have, it’s time to challenge those rules, to dig deep and have the courage to design a life that really brings joy. It’s time to say YES to ourselves.

I want this more than anything for my daughter. Recognizing now that I am a recovering workaholic – addicted to work and achievement – I have a lot of wisdom to share with her about what an authentic life looks like. I know that no amount of success, accolades, awards, or accomplishments really feed your soul. And trust me, being on this sort of hamster wheel is exhausting. I’ve learned that the things that are truly meaningful in life are about connection – true connection with those you love plus loving and accepting yourself and a whole lot less proving, hustling, and trying to work our way to some level of happiness. Working your way to Joy just doesn’t happen long term.

So as you may recall, I have two resolutions this year – yes only two. That is saying a lot, because this major goal-setting, workaholic mama is crazy about goals and resolutions. I have had years where I had 10 or more. Geez! How did I think I could focus on 10 things at once?!? But this year my two resolutions are find more joy and love myself more.

And loving myself more means saying YES to myself. So what does that mean? It means when I feel like lying in bed all day on a Saturday or even on a Tuesday morning…I say YES and rearrange my schedule! It means when I feel my gut and my neck get all tense and tight because I have committed to something that I shouldn’t have and I ask myself if I can back out of it…I say YES and I make the call to un-commit! It means that if the old version of me is saying I “should” be accomplishing my next big goal or dream and my authentic self says I just want to lay low for a while and rest…I say YES! Saying yes to yourself takes courage. It means ignoring FOMO or “the fear of missing out” in exchange for putting your health and wellbeing first. It means taking a chance that someone will be mad at you, disappointed, or that they will forget you or not ask you next time and that’s scary. But it’s also empowering.

Most of us, especially women, spend a lifetime denying ourselves and our wishes in exchange for doing what makes other people happy. Especially in the South, we are taught to be quiet and look pretty. We are taught to go along with what other people want and don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. We are taught to say yes to everyone and everything but us. We are taught the “responsible,” “admirable,” “appropriate” thing to do is what other people want us to do, or what we said we were going to do. We are not supposed to change our minds. In many ways, we are not supposed to be honest. We are not supposed to cause a problem. We are supposed to suck it up and do what makes everyone else feel good. And I am here to tell you that doesn’t equal health and happiness. That is not a recipe for joy.

So what would it take for you to stop telling yourself you have to, should, must, ought to, promised to and all those other absolutes you are pummeling yourself with, and start saying yes to your heart, your body, and your mind? What would it take for you to have the courage to say I thought I wanted that, but now I want something different? Or to say, that was great for a season of my life but now I am in a new season? Or as Maya Angelou said, when I know better I do better? What would give you the guts to do better with being kind and honest to yourself and saying YES to what you really want?

I know it’s hard, but it’s oh-so worth it. Be true to you before you commit to anyone else. Keep your word to yourself about what is right for you and what you really want. We’ve heard it so many times and it’s so hard to really believe, but life really is short. And it’s way too short to live a life that you dread every day or that sucks the life out of you on a regular basis.

We are supposed to feel good every day. We are not supposed to be constantly exhausted, stressed out, and overworked only leaving the miserable, grumpy, tired, and depleted version of ourselves for our families to deal with at the end of every day. If you are feeling that way on a regular basis, something is wrong. I’ve been there. And I am so happy to be in a much more relaxed state these days. I’m sure my family is happy about that too! (wink)

If you are creating a ridiculous schedule where your life is so full of noise and very little peace, how can you ever even hear your body or mind when it’s screaming at you that you’ve had enough?

Listen to yourself. Love yourself and say YES to yourself. Remember that no one ever says on their death bed, “I wish I had worked more” but most wish they had followed their hearts.

You deserve it.

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Yin Yoga

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Yin yoga changed my life. About 6 years ago I discovered Yin style yoga. I had been practicing yoga on and off for years but was typically doing flow yoga or even hot yoga now and again. I had no idea Yin even existed. Sadly there is no Yin yoga studio in Little Rock anymore but I now practice Yin at home in my personal yoga studio. More about that in a bit

So what is Yin, you ask? It’s a type of yoga involving super long holds in typical yoga positions…as in 8 minutes in a forward fold. The point of it is to bypass the muscle and get into the connective tissue. You know the connective tissue? It’s that stuff that basically shrink wraps your joints. And as we age it doesn’t remain as pliable or flexible as it once was which can cause all sorts of joint pain, back issues and injuries. If you are a nerd like me and would like to learn more about Yin and it’s benefits, this book, The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga, is for you!

I find that Yin has a lot of the benefits of Restorative yoga too. And I know, I know, lots of “real” yoga peeps think Yin and Restorative are for sissies. Well as Oprah would say “here’s what I know for sure”. I get cardio in my life in tons of ways including walking, hiking, tennis and other intense exercises. So I am not lacking in the sweating and burning calories department most of the time. But where I am always in major need is in the stretching my body and relaxing my mind categories. My personality is definitely Type A and some might say I’m “intense” so instead of adding more fuel to the fire so to speak with hot yoga or something fast paced, what this hard-working mama needs is something that calms me down and makes my body feel oh so good. And I mean YIN FEELS GOOD! It’s truly hard for me to decide if a massage or Yin yoga feels better.

And what I learned about Yin is that it’s sort of like yoga meets meditation. Because trust me, when you are in a hold for 5-8 minutes or longer, it definitely becomes about quieting the mind, especially in poses like Dragon that are super painful. So for me Yin is a double win because it is a major dose of mental work with a super dose of stretching my body.

You can also think of Yin as in the opposite of Yang. Yang qualities are fire, intense, fast, restless, active. Yang isn’t all bad, it is also positive, light and  sunshine. But for me, too much Yang is a problem. And my personality is absolutely way more Yang than Yin. We need to balance our personality with whichever qualities we don’t have. So I am the perfect candidate for Yin yoga because I am definitely high-strung, very active, easily stressed and I also spend a lot of time sitting at work, on airplanes, and in front of my computer so my hips, hamstrings, low back, neck and shoulders get really tight. The difference in my body and my demeanor with a Yin yoga practice is remarkable. Just ask those people who live with me when I’m not practicing Yin (wink!).

I really understood the power of Yin yoga over the last couple of years when I took on a lot of extra things like expanding my consulting company, and 4 licensed product lines, and I let my Yin practice fall by the wayside. Boy did I ever feel the pains of not having this gift of yoga in my life. And my body went from feeling like a 30 something to an 80 year old in about a year’s time. I was actually surprised at how far backwards my health and flexibility went by not making time for this therapeutic form of exercise.

 

So if you are like me, Type A all the way, give Yin yoga a try. I practice every day now and my life is better for it. You can do it right at home with yogaglo.com on your computer, tablet or phone. And if you have Apple TV like me, it’s even easier to stream it on your TV. If you’re looking for peace, health and lots and lots of JOY this year, Yin yoga is the way. Namaste!

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Essentialism

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Have you ever heard the saying “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear?” Well that is what Greg McKeown is for me–a teacher. I am on my second reading of his book Essentialism. I discovered this book last year thanks to a course I was taking online by Hilary Rushford (she taught a great class on doing less by the way!) and this book changed my life.

So now that I have made some MAJOR changes over the last 9 months personally and professionally (we’ll talk about those more soon – I promise!), I decided to read it again. I knew that I would hear things that I didn’t hear the first time around because I am already in a different place thanks to my pursuit of a simpler life and my resolutions to find more joy and love myself more.

I think the biggest gift from Greg’s book is this:”If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.” WOW! Talk about a litmus test for what to allow in your life! And I don’t know about you, but I think I have a harder time dealing with some of the small things like whether to go out with my girlfriends on a weeknight vs. staying home and getting a good night’s sleep than I do with big business decisions sometimes. But whether the decision is big or small, this concept makes the choice crystal clear. If you waiver at all, the answer is no. What a relief that is to me in so many ways. It stops the conversations in our heads, the guilt, the waffling. What a lot of time this one concept can save in our decision making and in our lives in general. Time that we can spend doing something truly meaningful.

Greg and I have a similar vision about people. I love to help others find their passion and purpose, live their best life, find happiness and joy in their businesses and in their homes. And I see so many people doing things because they think they “have to” but not because they want to or like to. And I have definitely felt that way at times. But the truth is this…

Very few things are essential. There are so FEW things that we really must do to be happy or profitable. This is completely in line with my mantra “Say no to the good so you can say yes to the best.” What stresses us out, overwhelms us, makes us want to escape work and life, is saying yes to all those non-essential things that we somehow can’t say no to. How many times I have heard people I am consulting with on their businesses say “Well, they aren’t my ideal client but they were a referral from a friend so I HAVE to take them on.” No you don’t! Or what about when people say “You know, I don’t want to offer that service, I don’t even like doing that, but I feel like to be in this business we have to have that service or people will not hire us.” Ok, so they don’t hire you – you don’t like working that way anyway! The list of things that I hear people doing daily that they don’t want to but “have to” is endless and if we are perfectly honest, it’s also a lie. We DON’T have to do it. We have a choice.

Oh wouldn’t life be so beautiful and people so happy if they had the courage to live a life that is true to themselves. I want this for my daughter, heck I want this for me!  I want this for my niece and nephew, my husband, my mom, my brother, my friends. I want this for our world. A life of authenticity, to truly be who and what you want to be. That would be the most refreshing and inspiring world I could possibly imagine.

I can’t say enough things about this book by Greg McKeown and how this way of thinking has changed my mindset. And it builds so beautifully on other great books I have read like Tim Ferriss’ idea in The 4 Hour Work Week of making as much money as you can in as little time as possible so you can spend the rest of your time doing what you want. Yes, that definitely fits my idea of the essentialist lifestyle and it’s a plan I am putting into place more now than ever.

I don’t know about you, but hitting mid-life made me re-think what I want for the next half of this life. And I definitely want more listening, pondering, meditating and enjoying the most important people in my life. One of the most interesting things in the book to me was discussion of priorities. The word “priorities” only became plural in America in the 1940s. Prior to that is was priority, singular, because really you can only have ONE MOST important thing. But in the ’40s, Americans started trying to do more and be more and at work we were expected to accomplish more.

And now in our lives and businesses we talk about priorities and the list could include dozens of things. DOZENS! Then we wonder why in the world we are so tired, so overworked, so confused and so ineffective all the time. This way of thinking is a sure-fire way to fail every single day. And I don’t know about you but I feel like that often. I rarely feel like I win when I go head-to-head against my to-do list.  But if we had one true priority every day, could we really hit that? I suspect we could. If we removed all the non-essentials from our to-do list, it would probably be really short.

So I want you to know the JOY I am finding in Essentialist thinking and in the quest to move closer to this way of living. It is definitely what helped me find more Joy in Quitting and I know that the more I practice the “Disciplined Pursuit of Less but Better,” the more Joy will surely come into my life and the lives of those I love. Cheers to Essentialism!

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

The Joy of Quitting

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Yes, you read that blog title right. Sometimes it is a JOY to quit things–to just decide you will not do some things in your life anymore. Whether it’s things on your to-do list or your bucket list or maybe it’s some of your business services or social media–quitting can feel great. And oh my yes, don’t we want to quit social media sometimes?! Being a part of too many things is exhausting. I so relate to the quote above. It’s funny but for me, it’s also very true!

There are many things that most of us need to quit. And believe it or not, sometimes it’s relationships…the toxic and draining ones that only take and don’t ever fill you back up. Or maybe even ones that aren’t really taking anything from you much, but you feel guilty for not being able to give them more time. Anything that brings guilt needs to be reconsidered. And then there are all those hobbies and exercise classes and social groups and bible studies and charity boards and the PTA. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you shouldn’t be an advocate, a philanthropist, a friend or be spiritual or religious. I am just saying that it’s time to take a look at the particular groups or activities you are currently in and see if they are still the best fit for you.

But I have to tell you, quitting is one of the hardest things for me at times. It is often harder than saying no to new opportunities. As kids we were taught not to quit, right? You’ve heard all the sayings…”Don’t be a quitter”. “Winners never quit, and quitters never win”. But you know what? That is a myth, and a dangerous one at that. It is often the reason that we become overloaded, stressed out and unhappy. Because we keep adding new things, exciting things, things that seem like they will make our life better, but we don’t quit things to make room for the new. So we just cram it all in there like our days are going to magically become longer than 24 hours if we just keep stuffing more into them. Surely they will have to stretch like our stomachs do when we keep cramming food in, right? Ha! But unfortunately, our days never do.

I have learned that I have a lot of core beliefs from childhood, from my parents, from teachers, from society that are not healthy for me. It’s not that people didn’t have the best intentions when they were teaching me these ideas, it’s just that they are outdated thoughts. They don’t fit my grown up life or my goals or my health plans. They are beliefs that have become obsolete, but for some reason, we don’t get new beliefs when they stop working for us like we get newer models of cars, TVs, phones and computers. Think about it, how effective would we be if we were still using a phone or computer from 1970 or 80? Not very, right? And how many of us would look our best if we are 45 and still dressing like we are 16 or 20. Probably not many of  us. But we will continue trying to make beliefs, ideas and life lessons from our childhood or youth fit where we are today. That just doesn’t make any sense.

Not being about to quit is one of these outdated rules for me. It no longer serves me well as a core belief. I think that is true for many people including children today. When we were told not to quit, we didn’t have a schedule like a high powered CEO at age 10. But children today are expected to act and work like an adult, keep a schedule that would exhaust any grown up and they have so many choices of activities it makes their heads spin, but we still associate failure or embarrassment with quitting. So they just stay over-loaded or we let them quit, but shame them for it. Why? Why not let our kids, or us for that matter, sample something–try it on for size–and see if they/we like it? And if we don’t, then why not quit and keep looking until we find the right sport or interest or school or career or relationships that are a good fit?

As I continue on my quest this year for my 2 resolutions…1) finding more joy and 2) loving myself more, I am realizing more than ever that there are a lot of things I need to quit to be happy and healthy. And this doesn’t mean I will quit being a consultant or a designer or a mom or a wife, but there are parts of each of those things that I need to quit if I want to be the best version of me. And it doesn’t mean I will quit every group I am in or quit eating, but there are some things in my life and diet that definitely need to go if I want to feel good.

I love how Arianna Huffington says in her book Thrive that she decided just to take a bunch of pressure off of herself by simply striking a ton of things off her bucket list that she really didn’t need or want to do. She realized if they were that important to her, she would have already done them by now. What can you wipe off yours? There are several things that I am striking from my bucket list this year and a ton of things off my to-do list, and I feel great about it!

I have to remind myself that some things run their course in life and that’s ok. Some relationships come to an end and that doesn’t necessarily mean they were a failure, they just ran their course.  Some careers or business services had a great run but now it’s time to do something different with your time and resources. That’s not a bad thing. In fact its a good thing. Some exercise routines or hobbies you have tried to make stick for years need to go. They aren’t right for you or you’d be a pro at them by now.

I think back to when some of my favorite TV shows (Sex in the City, Castle, Downton Abbey) went off the air and how sad I was. But it was always better for them to go out on a high note leaving me with fond memories instead of waiting until the last possible minute, far past their prime, when they really left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth or mind. So what in your life or your business is like that? What are you tired of? What has run it’s course? What do you find yourself dreading every time you start to do it? What needs to end so you can make room for new, exciting and better offerings to your family, your friends or your customers? What should go so you can create things that are more in line with the season of life you are in right now? Again, my list is pretty long and it will take courage and guts to make changes. That’s true for us all, even when we know it’s the right thing to do, it’s hard to change.

I’m here to tell you, there is a lot freedom and a lot of JOY in quitting. Scary? Yes! Worth it? Absolutely.

If you need help deciding, read this great little book by Seth Godin called The Dip, when to quit and when to stick.  It even tells you that there are some things you should quit and quit fast! Don’t linger. And I agree. Every day you wait you are keeping yourself from more joy. And the good news is most things aren’t absolute. You can usually go back in some form or another, and maybe even a better version if you quit and regret it. So don’t let fear hold you back.

Happy Quitting, friends. I hope it brings you as much peace and JOY as it is bringing me. Think of how happy we will all be with all those weights lifted from our lives!

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

The Joy of Listening

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Listen carefully because I need to tell you something really important…We don’t listen. Yes! It is so true. None of us (or very few) truly listen to each other or to our bodies. We often don’t even listen to the small voice inside–you know the one you may call intuition or your gut that is your innermost guide to what works for you.

We don’t listen to our spouses, our children, our families or our friends. We don’t listen to clients. We don’t listen.

As a part of my course in Nutrition at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, listening is taught as a very important concept for both personal wellness and coaching others. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So why don’t we do it?

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Well we all have our reasons. Usually it’s because we are thinking of ourselves or thinking about what we are going to say next. Often it’s because we think we are smarter or know better than the person that’s talking. Sometimes it’s because our minds are wandering or fretting over all the things on our to do list. It may be because we are distracted with social media (put your phone down please!) or television or our kids or our dogs. I mean seriously could we have any more distractions in our lives?

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So I am going to be brutally honest here—isn’t listening the only way we really learn and help others? As I really started to think about the reason that I personally don’t listen the way I should to my family or my clients I learned that for me it’s a matter of time. I’m always in a hurry. I never feel like I have the “luxury” of listening. And I think that is really sad. It goes back to my post last week on “having my plate too full”. I realized I feel this constant pressure to get things done and so every meeting, every encounter whether with friends or family or my business associates or vendors I am in a race against the clock to blurt out all the important things that I feel must be said before that imaginary buzzer in my head sounds and tells me it’s time to move on to the next thing. And I wonder why I always feel so stressed!! Living in this self-imposed fight or flight mode has the cortisol pumping 24-7 in my body and the repercussions on my health and relationships is detrimental.

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Then I started thinking about the JOY that comes with listening. And I am depriving myself of that connection with others when I am harried and on a deadline for every conversation. It is most evident when I think about my pre-teen daughter. I want more than anything else to stay connected with her as she grows like my mom has connected with me. And I’ve now had the light-bulb moment about listening and I realize this means clearing my plate so that I have time to listen to her. Real time. Eye contact. Being fully present.

And that is not semi-listening while on my laptop. It’s not pseudo-listening while I am cooking dinner. It’s real listening maybe while we go for a walk, or drive in the car or head out for a frozen yogurt and sit across from each other and smile. I have been drawn to a quote for a while that says “Time without attention is worthless”. These are powerful words. I think it goes to the heart of idea of quality time. But I feel like quality time has become one of those things that Americans give lip service to, don’t you? Most of us consider it “time with family” if we are in the same room or house with them while we multi-task on a million different things. And then there’s the problem of not listening to ourselves.

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Yes, there is the whole debacle of me not listening to my body. Seriously, could it scream any louder when I am out of balance. I suspect some of you can even hear it screaming where you are right now, ha! But all joking aside, when your joints ache and your pants don’t fit and your feet hurt and your brain is foggy, wouldn’t an intelligent and logical person listen? One would think, but so few of us do. That’s why we are all overworked, sleep-deprived, stressed out, and depressed. It’s why we need alcohol and anti-depressants, mindless TV and Facebook to numb us from hearing that persistent voice inside telling us exactly what we already know, but don’t want to hear. For me the message is SLOW DOWN! DO LESS! RELAX! It’s saying please, please, please I beg of you to go up to your yoga room, or take 20 minutes and meditate, or go out for a walk and breathe all that fresh air! What message is your body telling you?

listen to your soul

So I am turning my focus now not to listening (ironically), but to getting things off my plate. My need to open up whitespace in my life, to prioritize and say no. I need to remove more deadlines and stress and quite honestly to love myself more. This is the only way I will be able to listen—truly listen, to those precious people and clients and colleagues that are most important to me. And it is definitely the only way I will ever hear myself.

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I know in my heart and in my gut that listening is one of the things that can bring me the most JOY this year. I want to listen to my heart, my loves and my body more than ever before.

Will you join me in finding the Joy in listening? Tell me your answer—I’m listening.

Joyfully yours,

Tobi Signature