Category Archives: Daily Habits

10 Ways to Take Up Space in Your Busy Life

If you don’t choose how you spend your time, someone else will spend it for you. -Author Unknown

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I was chatting with a friend recently who shared that she never had time to pursue her art, bemoaning her endless to-do list and all the obligations pulling at her.

I think most of us have experienced her frustration. Life, after all, is busy. Often incredibly so. Daily work, family, volunteering and other commitments can make days and (gulp) years pass quickly, leaving little time for long-dormant personal passions and dreams. This is a familiar mantra for my peers: women with kids/teens still at home and often also running a business or working in a corporate setting. This was different though. My friend’s struggle gave me significant pause because she was in her late 60’s and has been an empty nester for quite some time. Wow…the busyness really never ends, was my immediate response.

What she shared, reminded me (again) how easy it is to be lulled into waiting for the elusive right time to pursue our boldest desires or simply nurture ourselves. And that the truth is that the only perfect life phase for living fully into who we are starts today. If you, like my friend, are feeling squeezed out of your own life, here are some micro-habits to get you started on a path of intentionally taking up space and reclaiming your life:

  1. Express gratitude for one way you take up space today. It doesn’t matter how big or small it seems; identify one way that you express who you are in your life right now.
  2. Make time for brief moments of solitude. Even just a few minutes during the day can help you connect to yourself rather than being caught up in outside forces.
  3. Ask the Big Questions. Begin consciously considering what you want your life to be about, what your passions are, and what you would regret not pursuing. The answers to these questions should drive how you spend your time.
  4. Quit. If you are too busy to pursue what is most meaningful to you (or to take the time to figure out what that is), something has got to go. Evaluate your current optional commitments; begin by cutting out those that drain you.
  5. Create art. Buy a small journal or notebook just for self-expression. It will be one of the best purchases you will ever make. Spend even one minute a day writing or drawing a picture. No directions required.
  6. Make a Rote Response Card. Sometimes we end up compromising who we are because it is hard to say no. Write down on a small card your response to requests for your time or an opinion you are not prepared to give. Doesn’t have to be eloquent—“Huh, I’ll have to think about that and let you know” works.
  7. Initiate juicy, meaningful conversations in unlikely places. Shake things up…be determined to bring big ideas or something you are passionate about into sidelines conversation or while waiting in line at Starbucks. This is life-changing and I guarantee you will feel empowered and see humans differently when you do this regularly.
  8. Re-connect to a childhood passion. Think about what you loved to do as a kid as it can be a clue to your truest expressions.
  9. Express your uniqueness daily. Create a daily practice of doing or saying something that expresses you without regard to its popularity or commonality. It can be an expression of a core value, as simple as a wardrobe choice, or declining a social engagement that will leave you feeling drained.
  10. Make time to do absolutely nothing. Schedule time with no agenda other than to do whatever you want in that moment.

Take 5

Taking up space is meant to be fun and freeing not a burdensome addition to your to-do list. Start by choosing one of the ideas above or try this favorite of mine:

Give yourself room to play. Schedule a date with yourself to do something outside of your normal routine that expresses who you are or simply makes you feel a little giddy. Take photos in the city; Pretend you’re a screenwriter and spend the morning jotting down the characters in your movie; Grab a sketchbook and make a graffiti design; Research an EarthWatch expedition; Go for a run in a strange town…or you name it.  

xo Paula


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Fitting Friendships into Your Busy Entrepreneurial Life

The Reclaim Your Life Series for Busy Entrepreneurs
This is the next of a new weekly series. At the end of each post, look for the 
Take 5 for one easy way to infuse more wellness into your busy life. 


By Paula Grieco

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. …Especially if you are bootstrapping your business and haven’t quite reached that first traction point.

But hard choices have to be made because an entrepreneur’s two big resources – time and money – are extremely limited.  For most business owners, family, business, (and walking the dog) come first, leaving little time for anything else. (Though hopefully because of this series, your own health and wellness, also makes the top three. Cue #reclaimyourlife )

If you have big plans for your business, something has gotta give. And what often falls to the bottom of the list is making time for business and personal friendships.

Even if you lean toward introversion, you know what a bad idea too much alone time is.

Research shows that a business owner’s likelihood of success increases significantly when surrounded with personal support and allies.

We don’t need to read the studies to know this; just ask any biz owner that has spent too many days working diligently at their computer in their sweats…and started to go to that dark place. (I am sharing from a friend’s experience;-)

Balance is overrated, but spending time in relationships that are mutually enriching is about more than balance – try sanity, survival, and yes – success.

Street translation: Our girlfriends are everything. And big ideas come to us and deals get done over a glass of wine or coffee.

Whether your dance card is already overflowing with best buds or you crave more meaningful friendships, while you are building your business…here are some ideas to infuse authentic connections into your regular routine:

  1. Follow your authenticity. Many of the woman that I work with share that they felt guarded and were unable to be authentic in their former corporate life and that took a tremendous toll of their well-being. I know that was true for me. Don’t replicate that in your own business though.  Forget “she would be a good person to know”. Instead, reach out to people (those you know and don’t know but admire) based on sincere respect and interest in the person’s work and/or fondness for them personally.
  2. Get personal. Make your business relationships – those with vendors, customers, and advisors – personal. That doesn’t mean hanging out on the weekends with a customer necessarily, but it means working with people that you like, can trust, and that you can be yourself with.
  3. Schedule a soul dates during working hours once a month. If this seems like a luxury to you, we need to talk. Make a list of five people you adore and also adore you. Now email the one that bubbles to the top of the list and schedule a date. Talk biz or kids or the meaning of life; whatever, you like best. I promise you will come up with a solution to a big problem, the next paragraph in your book, or a new business idea at lunch or during the commute to and from your soul meeting. If you don’t have a list of five people because you have been heads down growing your business for a long time, I get it. Start by looking for an opportunity to get to know someone a little better by going beyond, “how’s the weather”.
  4. Use technology to let people know you care. I send texts with little love emojis, etc. to my kiddos almost daily. Why not do the same with business connections and friends? A quick FB message or text with some personal love and encouragement added can make your day and someone else’s.
  5. Don’t be relentless. When it comes to making human connections including professional relationships, I don’t push it.  My general rule is to reach out once, maybe twice as the email struggle is real. If I don’t hear anything, I let it go.

We know girlfriends make our life better, but they will also make your business thrive and make you healthier too.


Take 5

Even though I included five ideas in this post, I know that lists like this can feel burdensome on an already overloaded schedule. So start with this: for the next 3 days send a love text to a different friend or colleague. Continue once a week. You will enrich your own life, may give someone who has been chained to their desk an added boost and who knows…create and cement a new BFF.


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Paula is an Empowerment Entrepreneur and Writer. She works with individuals of all ages and businesses to help them intentional design and achieve a life that reflects who they are and what matters to them. Her flagship program, Reclaim Your Dreams for Busy Women, is offered to individuals, in group workshops, and soon to be online. See Program and Coaching Offerings for information on all of our services. She has published two books Take 5 for Your Dreams for Teen Girls and Reclaim Your Dreams for Busy Women as well as an e-guide Body Brave. Reach her at paula@paulagrieco.com. She’d love to hear from you.

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Listen to Your Body. It’s Talking to You.

The Reclaim Your Life Series for Busy Entrepreneurs
This is the second of a new weekly series. At the end of each post, look for the
Take 5 for one easy way to infuse more wellness into your busy life. 

Guest post by: Laura Chey-Warren, L.Ac., MOSM

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Listen to your body. What is it saying to you?

If there is one piece of advice I could give you to achieve optimum health, it would be to listen to your body.   When I was in my early 20’s, I was deaf to the call.  I was rocking and rolling in the financial world of New York City, trying to climb the corporate ladder and bust through that glass ceiling.   When I felt sick, I took something to cover up the symptoms so I wouldn’t have to skip a beat.   After a few years of this behavior, the colds and flus were turning into allergies and I was getting sick more frequently.  What did I do?  I took more silencers so I didn’t have to slow down my maddening pace. “I’m 24,” I thought.  “I’m invincible.”   Eventually, the symptoms were so jammed up, there was no band-aid big enough to cover what ailed me.

Flash forward to present day.  Having walked this earth for about a half century, I’ve learned to hear what my body is telling me.  For we geezers, it may be wisdom that opens our ears.  Or maybe itsour body screaming louder and more frequently that makes us listen.   Either way, the message is persistent.

The human body is a finely tuned machine that sometimes get mucked up by unhealthy lifestyle choices.  As far as illness goes, there is ALWAYS a sign.  It can be as subtle as a summer breeze, or as loud as a pissed off toddler.  Either way, if you keep yourself open, you will hear it.

  1. Fatigue
  2. Insomnia
  3. Digestion issues
  4. Skin outbreaks
  5. Change in temperature – feeling hotter or colder than usual
  6. Hair loss or change of texture, luster
  7. Frequent illness
  8. Mood swings or change
  9. Excessive thirst or appetite
  10. Aches or pains
  11. Allergies

Seem pretty obvious, right?  How many times do you wake up tired, or poop out during the day, so you indulge in a stimulant like coffee or sugar?  Then you forget about that feeling of malaise for the rest of the day.  Or maybe every time you eat a certain food, you feel bloated.  Reach for Pepto Bismol or tums and again, fuhgedabowdit.  And that nagging feeling in your low back, what’s up with that? A little Advil. Then…amnesia.

Do you see what I’m getting at?  If you start to see a pattern, there may be a problem.  No need to break out the hazmat and call the surgeon, just listen more closely. Adjust your diet, get more sleep, practice mindfulness and use your natural medicine cabinet. You can change the pattern of the imbalances.  Enlist the help of your acupuncturist and/or medical practitioner if the symptoms persist.

Most importantly, listen to what your body is telling you.  And don’t forget to Q-tip your ears!


Take 5

Me: My favorite point of your blog post is, “Your body is a finely tuned machine…As far as illness goes, there is ALWAYS a sign.” For those of us managing a business, family, and more, how do we start becoming more attuned to what our body is telling us in just a few minutes a day? 

Laura: Begin by stopping for a moment during the day, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and scan/feel your body from head to toe and listen to what it’s telling you. You may notice something when you do that. One common example: Perhaps you have been sitting at your computer for some time and notice some back pain or discomfort when you scan, that you hadn’t noticed before. Listen to your body’s cue, stand up and stretch.  

Want to take it further? Try this body scan exercise .

 


unnamed-5Thanks to my friend and colleague, Laura Chey, Licensed Acupuncturist for sharing her wisdom with us.  Laura is the Director of Balance Acupuncture & Wellness Center, www.balance152.com, in East Rochester New York, which she founded with her husband Ric in 1996.  Laura’s goal is to integrate Traditional Chinese Medicine into everyday wellness.   Along with enjoying a busy clinical practice and chasing around her two teenage children, she is currently writing her first book.   If you would like to read more of Laura’s work, visit her blog at www.laurachey.com.

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5 Scrumptious Tips for Infusing Wholesome Food Into Your Busy Life

The Reclaim Your Life Series for Busy Entrepreneurs
This is the first of a new weekly series. At the end of each post, look for the
Take 5 for one easy way to infuse more wellness into your busy life. 

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Photo credit. Laura Senet. CreativeCommons.

Guest post by: Lisa Mair

Female entrepreneurs are pulled in so many directions that exceptional self care often becomes an afterthought. But if we want to forge ahead, successfully and enjoyably, for many years, in business and in life, self care needs to be the top priority. It’s hard to power on when you are depleted on every level.

As they say on the airplane, put on your own oxygen mask first!

The food you choose day in and day out literally can heal, repair, rebuild, and re-energize you.

It can even help you to feel happy and think more clearly! Who doesn’t need some of that? Below are five of my favorite nutrition “hacks” that make it so easy to amp up the nutrient density of our diets.

#1 Get green! Leafy green vegetables should be a much bigger part of our diets. They are rich in minerals, vitamins, and thousands of other phytonutrients that keep us healthy, lean, young, and strong.

  • Simply throw a handful of organic raw baby spinach into your smoothie, you might see it, but you won’t taste it.
  • Tear apart some organic kale, and add it to your soup or stew. You don’t even have to cook them, because the heat from the soup or stew will wilt the greens.
  • Finally, you can enhance the flavor and dramatically boost the nutrition content of almost any dish by adding fresh superfood herbs like parsley or cilantro.
  • Whenever possible, get organic greens, since the conventional ones are high in pesticide residues.

#2 Don’t forget the leafy greens of the sea! Sea vegetables are many times more nutrient dense than land vegetables, and contain an abundance of thyroid nourishing, metabolism-boosting iodine, as well as many other minerals and nutrients.

  • Grab a bag of dulse flakes (that look like confetti) from your health food store. They are often found near Asian foods. Sprinkle them on your salads and on your meals. Start with a teaspoon and see how you like it, you can always add more.
  • Another option is to buy Kelp flakes that come in a salt shaker, and sprinkle them on your foods like salt. A little goes a long way.

#3 Ramp up the raw. Incorporating more raw (uncooked) produce into your diet will infuse you with raw energy! Cooking destroys nutrients and enzymes, so raw foods are much richer in vitamins and enzymes than cooked food, and are far more hydrating. A do-able and effective goal is 50% raw. To reach that goal, every day try to include:

  • A smoothie with greens, berries, a banana, and whatever other goodies you like.
  • At least one big salad.
  • Fresh fruit or veggies as a snack.
  • Veggies with most meals.
  • Experiment with raw recipes at your meals. They are vibrant and surprisingly delicious! Carol Alt wrote a couple small raw food books with easy recipes that don’t require special equipment.
  • Some side effects of raw foods are off the charts energy, digestion perfection, luminous skin, and exuberance!

#4 Upgrade your grains. Replace empty calorie, allergenic breads and pastas with nourishing whole grains. Quinoa, a crowd favorite, has been sustaining warriors and endurance athletes for a millennium! It has a light, neutral flavor that complements almost any dish, is quick cooking (12 minutes vs 45 minutes for brown rice), and is rich in complete protein. Cook 2 cups of rinsed quinoa according to package directions, and store it in a bowl in your refrigerator. Then you have a fulfilling add-on for almost any meal.

  • For a satiating, anti-inflammatory, gluten free, whole grain breakfast, add a ½ cup cooked quinoa to a bowl, along with a sprinkle of cinnamon, a tablespoon of ground flax seed or hemp seeds, a tablespoon of raisins, a sprinkle of walnuts, a half of a sliced banana, and plant milk to your liking. Vary this recipe according to your preferences and available ingredients.
  • For lunch and dinner, you can add a scoop of plain quinoa to your salad, soup, stew, or stir fry.

#5 Rethink the drink. We often don’t realize how our caffeinated, sugar-laden, chemical infused beverages are depleting us. And most people don’t appreciate how dependant our energy is on hydration. A 2-3% drop in hydration results in a 20-30% drop in energy levels, fuzzy thinking, and problems doing simple math.

  • Start your day off on the right foot with a big glass of room temperature water with a wedge of lemon squeezed in. This will hydrate, alkalize, and cleanse your liver and digestive tract.
  • Instead of a coffee, try an organic green tea or better yet, organic matcha green tea. You’ll get a little boost from the caffeine (but not the adrenal-depleting dose found in coffee) as well as some seriously anti-inflammatory and healing nutrients.
  • Instead of a sugary, acidifying soda, try kombucha! Kombucha is a fermented Japanese tea that contains an energizing array of nutrients, enzymes, probiotics, and more. You can get them in the cold section of most grocery stores, health food stores, and even Target. There are many flavors to choose from. The ones with chia seeds are especially energizing. (Note: Don’t shake up the kombucha!)
  • Sip water all day (about every half hour) to keep your energy flowing and brain working right up until bedtime.

Take 5

Me: These are all amazing tips, but for a mere mortal like me, what one super-easy Take 5 would you start with to infuse your work day with more energy:

Lisa: Oy. That’s a hard choice! I want to go with #1 to get more greens, because most of us do need more, but I think I have to go with the simple suggestion to sip water all day. I chose that one because you will notice that you feel more clarity and energy the very same day you do it. Then hopefully, you’ll have the energy to try some of the other suggestions… starting with more greens.


 

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Thanks to my friend and colleague Lisa Mair for this guest post. Lisa is a Health Coach, Yoga Teacher, Vegan Activist, and All-around Amazing Difference Maker. She has a Masters Degree in Nutrition, is a Certified Holistic Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, a 500-hour Kripalu Yoga Instructor, and co-leads the Ultimate Rejuvenation Cleanse (www.urcleansing.com).

 

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Do All of Those Self-Help Books Make a Difference?

Seven Micro Tips for Reaching Your Goals (from the Best in Personal Development)

During a recent workshop discussion, a participant asked, “How many books have your read?!”

Clearly, I mentioned quite a few books that evening. I wasn’t being an excessive research quoter (really, I wasn’t). But – yeah – I have read a lot of personal development books over the last couple of decades and currently read on average 2-4 books a week. It’s easy for me to read that much because I I love non-fiction, Self-Help being among my favorite genres. (And easier still thanks to listening to books via Audible on my phone while driving to a biz meeting or walking my dog or waiting for my kids to come off the field from a practice.)

As a pragmatist, the next day I panicked  wondered about what good all that reading has done for my self-improvement and contribution to the world. There is no way that I could implement successfully every method that I learned from hundreds of self-help books. In the case of personal development – unless it has helped me – um – develop personally, what’s the point of it all?

Just to test it out, I brainstormed (no cheating so from memory) two lists – one micro tips and one macro impact – lessons gained from some of my favorite self-help books that I continue to use regularly. Here is a sampling of long-lasting, simple tips that I use as I pursue goals and dreams that matter to me:

  1. Make a list of people whose opinions matter to you on a one inch square of paper. If you have ever worried too much about impressing others, then try this tecunnamedhnique from Brene Brown’s Rising Strong (audio). Write down the names of everyone whose opinion about your dreams should be of concern to you on a one inch square piece of paper. If you can’t fit everyone on the square, shorten your list because it’s too long. Always important, but particularly powerful when setting out on new goals and dreams where your confidence may be unsteady. (Side note: This is the best book I have read on developing authentic relationships including with oneself.)
  2. Start every new project by clearing out a drawer. This tip from Cheryl Richardson (a Life Coach before coaching was cool) and NYT best-selling book, Take Time for Your Life only takes about 10 minutes, but can yield immeasurable positive impact on outcome. It will keep you organized even if you do mostbook_ttfyl of your work online. More importantly, it sends a clear message to the Universe that you are taking your dream seriously by intentionally making physical space for an important goal.
  3. Incorporate a new habit by reducing your need to think about it. In Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath share how a corporation finally improved its safety record by changing the location of a dispenser to the entrance of the door all plant staff walked through. Although technically a business book, this tip is relevant to personal improvement too. Often new goals and dreams require new habits. Whenever I start on a new project, the first question I ask myself is what simple, effortless changes can I implement so that I can set my day up for success. Writing a list the night before, clearing your desk of everything but a pen and index cards, and setting a timer for writing are some examples.
  4. Ride the wave of fear for 90 seconds and then onward. Abby Seixas, Author of Finding the Deep River Within: A Woman’s Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Lifeshared this secret (which she credits to Pema Chodron) in her book and it has been life changing for me. Fear is part of the building and creative process because our brains can’t differentiate between the threat of a lion running toward us and writing your first blog post. The good news is that feelings won’t last if you ride them out. By simply sitting with the feeling of fear for a 90 seconds rather than attempting to push it away, the feeling may dissipate. (Important note: This is meant for regular old variety fear, not clinical anxiety or other mental health issues.)
  5. Spend a few minutes daily free writing to reduce self-doubt and increase creativity. You may feel perpetually confident and fearless, but if not, spending a few minutes everyday in what Julia Cameron, author of the Artist’s Way calls “morning pages” will help free you from the negative self talk that interrupts creativity. I use the Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal which provides one lined page per day for morning pages with inspirational quotes from Cameron interspersed throughout.  morning pages journal
  6. Complete the essential first. Essentialism is not about being particularly efficient; it is focused on doing what’s most important. Before you start your work day, ask yourself this question to determine what task to focus on from Greg McKeown’s Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less:”What is the highest possible contribution I can make towards my goal?”
  7. Create a “no” index card. Life is constantly vying for your attention. The bigger your dream, the more you have to say “no” to competing interests (for a time) as you work toward it. Keep an index by your phone or computer and travel with it. Write on the card your polite but clear “no” with your own version of: “I would really like to help you out, but right now my schedule is completely full.” or “I can’t make it, but thank you for thinking of me!” This trick is not from a self-help book, but from Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution (Testimonies from our Imprisoned Sisters)
    (Ironically the reason he ended up teaching a writing class to female inmates he quips is because he didn’t have his “no” index card by his computer when he was asked. Good thing he had it with him the other 100 times so he had time for this one.)

Phew – all of those reads have been more than just for fun – they actually improved my daily habits! Next time, I will cover what major impact I have seen in my life thanks to the best in self-help.

How about you? What habits do you still use that you learned from a favorite book?

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