Reading is my favorite hobby. It supports my quest to be a life long learner and it fills up my proverbial cup. Reading is also a way I learn how to be a better coach, a more skillful parent, more compassionate human and less stressed 21st century woman.
I know I read a lot, but even I was surprised by my finishing 25 books in the first two months of the year.
My favorite social media meme right now is “I wish I could be the person who bought all this produce.”
Good intentions, right? This always gets a laugh because you know the weeks where you do your meal plan, shop from your grocery list, make one meal and then ten days later realize you have drawers full of rotted produce.
I have been there. Many, many times.
Until I made one small change.
I decided to make what was once invisible, visible.
I took my produce out of the refrigerator drawers and put it on the top shelf at eye level. I use baskets to keep it neat and what can be left on the counters stays out.
Now every time I open the refrigerator, I see the produce first. I am greeted by celery and carrots and spinach. As I walk by the dining room table and kitchen island I see bowls of fresh fruit.
What I see, I eat. What I don’t see, rots.
Since it is always my intention to actually eat the fruit and veggies I buy (and up to 9 servings daily), I need to see them to remind me to eat them.
Another way to do this is if you’ve got a desk job put a bowl of fruit for the week out on Monday and challenge yourself to finish it by Friday.
Are you a visual reminder person? Would you try making your veggies and fruit visible?
Happy Valentine’s Day! There are still five weeks of winter and this is the time of year when I start questioning my sanity. You too? So many Monday holidays in the winter which is hard because didn’t we just finish winter break?
So if February feels endless, it’s because it’s still winter.
Which brings me to winter self-care. Each season has it’s own needs. Winter definitely has it’s own set of self-care needs especially around rest and quiet.
One of my favorite ways to make sure I am thriving in each season is to evaluate my self-care needs and then making sure I get what I need.
Questions I ask myself to assess my seasonal self-care:
How is my energy? Do I need to build in more time to sleep, nap, rest and nest? In the winter, the answer is undoubtedly, yes.
There is a certain surrender to caring for your needs seasonally. Take a look outside. The trees have shed their leaves and are in dormancy. This is because nature has built in rest as a way of healing and getting ready for the next busy season – spring. But here in February, we’ve got another month of dormancy.
We’re sleepy in the winter because we are still biological creatures. The light and circadian rhythms matter.
In order to gather more energy in the darkest months I started using a dawn simulating alarm clock about 20 years ago and it completely changed my relationship with winter mornings. I now wake up to sunlight no matter what time of year. (Every one I recommend this to says it is a life changer)!
Using a light box for the last few years has also helped me get more “sunlight” into my body and helped me increase my winter energy levels without more caffeine.
What am I doing to fuel and nourish my body? Am I eating warm, cooked foods? Am I eating what is in season? What ways can I get more seasonal fruit and vegetables in my body?
I am a huge fan of shopping at the farmer’s market and the natural foods coop to get lots of seasonal produce. I use this as a starting point for searching for recipes. I’ve got a bunch of tried and true recipes here.
What am I doing to quiet my mind? Meditation is a great practice to take up during the quieter winter months.
I’ve been using the Headspace app for years and highly recommend starting this life changing practice now.
What am I doing to move my body? Despite being a season of rest, we still need to move our bodies in the winter months. I have found walking early in the morning or at lunch outside – dressing for the weather — helps me keep my mood steady and my sleep sound.
Happy Compliment Day! Yes, it is a real thing. Today is the day to throw compliments around like confetti and yet if we aren’t careful our well-intentioned compliments might stunt our growth and that of those who we love the most.
Let’s talk about how what we compliment matters. And the subtle ways compliments can stunt growth if we aren’t careful.
She said if you want a student to work hard, praise hard work. If you want students to work toward solving ever challenging problems, praise effort toward that end. If you want students to rely on their own inner guidance rather than look to you for praise, remind them that their hard work matters to them.
Did you know that when kids are complimented on their smarts, it can lead to them to a fixed mindset? Did you know that people with a fixed mindset would rather not try a challenging problem than to be seen as anything less than smart?
This was exactly what happened to me as a child. Teachers and adults in my life always told me I was smart and such a good girl. This lead me to do whatever it took to keep others believing that about me even though I did not.
I had a fixed mindset. It wasn’t until I started my career as a teacher and learned how and what we say to students can have a lasting effect on their lives well into adulthood.
Those with the fixed mindset believe that you are either born with it or not. They spend a lifetime trying to keep that belief rather than growing.
When we compliment kids on their effort or work within the framework that our brains are muscles and get stronger with each challenge, kids develop a growth mindset.
People with a growth mindset will keep trying new ways to solve problems, work harder, start over and keep coming back at problems until they have solved them.
Praise the deed, not the doer.
Complimenting appearances is another place where we mean well, but the well-intentioned message can be misinterpreted.
Again, what we notice is what kids come to believe is what matters.
If we want to raise kids who show initiative, tell them you appreciate that they noticed a job that needing doing and they got it done. If kindness is an important trait, notice when your kids have been gentle and helpful (the definition of kind) and tell them you noticed.
Sometimes kids don’t need more than a sincere thank you to feel encouraged. A genuine thank you goes way further than a hollow “good job” any day of the week.
All these go for adults too.
Next time you want to compliment a friend or colleague, notice something about them rather than their appearance.
Some examples are:
“Noticed how you spoke up in that meeting and I was cheering for you.”
“Thank you for showing me what hard work and dedication look like. I really admire you.”
“You look really happy.”
What kind of mindset do you have: fixed or growth? What kinds of compliments to you give and receive?
ACES, or Adverse Childhood Experiences study, looks at childhood experiences like divorce, neglect, abuse, loss and trauma and the connection to long term adult health problems like heart disease, cancer, depression, autoimmune disease and more.
One of the comments I got from a client last summer in a group coaching program is that I “took away the stigma” from seeing a mental health professional because I talked so openly about my own relatively high ACES score.
I am lucky in that I have been in and out of therapy since I was 10 years old and realize how much better off I am because of that experience. I feel it really saved my life and I’ve been able to heal so much of my ACES experience and build up my resilience.
The long and short of it is if you’ve had early trauma and you haven’t yet dealt with it, now is the time. There are long term health consequences that might lead to early death.
Watch this TED Talk from Nadine Burke Harris — she breaks down what ACES is and what the study is finding long term. She also brings up the point that many people write this off as something that happens to other people’s kids ie the poor kids.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. People across all races, socioeconomic backgrounds, genders have high ACES scores.
If you’d like to find out your own ACES score and learn more about what it means, click here.
If you’d like to learn 8 Ways People Recover from Post Childhood Adversity Syndrome, click here.
I have done 7 of the 8 practices mentioned in the article: taking the test, writing, yoga, meditation, therapy, EMDR, building community are all part of my healing.
There is hope. We can heal from our past. But first we must admit that we bring our past into our present.
What practices will you do to help recover from your ACES?
I teach 100% guilt-free self-care to busy women who want to drop the story that self-care is selfish and start feeling powerful and strong as the leader in their own life. All without them feeling overwhelmed or breaking the bank.