Create your balance. Design your life.

The Salon: Give Yourself Time To Bloom

The Salon: Give Yourself Time To Bloom

Nov 12, 2014

And you — what of your rushed and useful life? Imagine setting it all down — papers, plans, appointments, everything — leaving only a note: “Gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I’m through with blooming.” -Lynn Unger I had an emotional night with a dear friend. Thankfully, my friend allowed me to cry and get angry and work through my frustration–and didn’t allow me to walk away before it was all settled. The question of the evening was whether or not I should accept more work. For the last six months I have been setting things in motion, plans that are now manifesting themselves. The trouble is, other forces are at work and I am no longer in the same position I was in six months ago! Do I continue working on these “plans” or do I let them go? My friend asked me, “What kind of person do you want to be during all this?” He clarified and said, “Of course you can do it. You are capable of doing it all at the same time. But what kind of person will you be if you do? Do you want to be that person?” Whoa. In my rush to do all.the.things. In my haste to keep all the balls in the air JUST BECAUSE I had put them there in the first place, I forgot to think about the value of personality. My attitude and the face that I present to the world is important to me. I want to be remembered for the positive influence I bring to the table, not for being a raving lunatic B@$%*. If I say yes to all of the opportunities I worked for, I am endangering my ability to calm with my children. I endanger my ability to be present for my spouse who needs my support right now. Perhaps you can identify with #FOMO, or the fear of missing out. For me it looks like this, “If I don’t take this opportunity, even though I have no room for it and it is really bad timing, I will NEVER GET ANOTHER CHANCE LIKE THIS AGAIN! It is the “never” part that grips...

Can Balance be a Dirty Word?

Can Balance be a Dirty Word?

Nov 6, 2014

Do you ever start to feel overwhelmed by reading one article after another (on social media, in your favorite magazine, or even here at the WLBPA) about balance? I know I do. Another tip on how to find five more minutes in my day, or taking a mindfulness break, or knowing my priorities…how to get more done in less time, all the many things to fit into a day…finding and achieving ‘balance’ can become a marathon of effort and another thing I’m not doing enough of or that I’ll get to when I have time. It can become another obstacle in the way of finding peace. There is also a counterpoint – one I hear people make who work in the profession of their dreams and have consciously and systematically created a life that serves them one-hundred percent – that is that balance is irrelevant if your work is your life and your life is your work….and I find myself asking, but what about fun. Fun, yeah, that thing where you do stuff for no reason at all except to laugh. Where you aren’t cataloguing it later to write about it in your blog or wondering if you have too much of it if you’ll have a headache tomorrow, just pure, unbridled, unrestrained, FUN. Remember that one? I think the linchpin in semantics here is the definition of balance. Work-life balance is defined as knowing your priorities for each one, with the key caveat that it’s different for everyone. Working to achieve balance can be similar to struggling to find ease…a little counterproductive and beside the point. Imagine for a moment you are physically trying to balance on something. A chair, a balance beam, the edge of a cliff – literal or metaphoric, it’s up to you. Now imagine that while you try to balance you are wobbling, and stiffening, and trying harder and concentrating, and sneaking a look at other people balancing to see if they are better at it than you. Wow. That is a LOT of work, and I bet your balancing act is consuming all of your attention, leaving little left for anything else in your life. So change it...

In Case No One Told You, You Look Fine.

In Case No One Told You, You Look Fine.

Sep 11, 2014

You look fine. You look like you. If no one has told you lately, or ever, let me. You are fine. You look like you are supposed to look—and it is perfect. Perfect is a loaded word, isn’t it? I could literally HEAR your eyes rolling as you read that line. “I don’t look perfect! I have “x” pounds to lose, my boobs are too “x”, my flab is too floppy.” Etc. But think about it. What if you just lived in your own skin for a day, without thinking about how it is aging, how much it weighs, or what it looks like to others? You look like YOU. You are the perfect you. The Throwback Thursday (#TBT) phenomenon on Facebook is one of my favorites. I love looking at everyone’s past pictures and catching a glimpse of the person they used to be before I knew them, or be reminded of the person they once were. When I look at my own, especially from my last years in high school, I want to reach across to myself and tell her that she is fine. I want to reassure her that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to–that there is an end to her loneliness. Seeing my picture, at 17, reminds me of all the things I was doing to myself to be thinner, prettier, look more like everyone else, be desired—things I hope my daughters never feel the need to do to themselves. What did I need then, and what can I give my children now, that might help them feel a little more sure of their place in their own skin? My parents ached for me. All the tears I shed—face hot and crammed into a pillow–about being overweight, being picked on, or worse, feeling left out, spurred my parents to say, “We just have to work harder. I’ll go on a diet with you. Kids are mean,” or “You have such a beautiful face.” Friends listened and echoed sentiments rooted in their own insecurities. We could easily identify with each other’s flaws and shook our heads in agreement any time they were mentioned. We all felt we needed to change. At no...

Re-Motivate Yourself In 3 Steps (and Stay That Way)

Re-Motivate Yourself In 3 Steps (and Stay That Way)

Aug 25, 2014

Have you lost the zest? Has your original fire dulled to a single ember? It happens. Motivation is the machine that powers your thoughts, words, and actions. Starting a new job, workout, or hobby can be an exciting rush. After a while, the excitement wanes and it becomes a chore to complete the same tasks you were recently thrilled about! Why is that? Pick The Brain contributor, Stephen Guise, recently published an article offering insight on what kills motivation and how to get it back.  Here are the best ways to get your motivation back and keep it: 1. Don’t let temporary thoughts or feelings interfere. This one is paramount! How many times have we let a short-term change in circumstance, attitude, or emotions get in the way of our own success? For me, many. Guise posits, “You can want something in general, but not want it in any given moment… .” Avoid letting a negative thought chain, feelings of doubt, or worry about a recent situation sabotage your overall goal. Remember, you wanted this! You ARE excited about your goal OVERALL. A temporary fluctuation is just that–temporary. Guise warns, “It only stops people who confuse how they feel as being the same as their long-term desires.” 2. Remember WHY you are working towards your goal. Question yourself. Why did I want to get in shape? Why did I want a new challenge at work? Etc. Keep site of not only the goal itself, but the reason behind the goal. Take a second to reconnect, on an emotional level, to your goals. Guise advises using a “vision board” to stay mindful of your “why.” 3. Break goals into smaller, manageable chunks. Getting in shape, for example, is a big goal. It’s easy to loose steam or feel overwhelmed. If you take a inventory of the components of your goal, break it into manageable pieces, it will be much easier to accomplish. Plus, the excitement of completing a goal and crossing it off, generates more energy to complete the next one–it also becomes more habitual and routine. Here’s an example of one way to dissect your goal into smaller chunks: Large Goal: Get In Shape Reason: To...

Know Your Value

Know Your Value

Jun 11, 2014

Simply take this second to focus on one of the many values you bring to the world. What is it? What skill or trait can you lock on to this second? Appreciate, nurture, and promote this trait. Let your understanding of your own value inform the decisions you make for the rest of the day. Maybe it will usher in the change you are looking for. If you have been feeling like your personal “well” has run dry, take this opportunity to appreciate your unique abilities. I ran across this quote in a charming book about simple pleasures in life–giving solid, actionable solutions to happy living. Immediately, I was reminded to fill my own “well” that has been running dry of late. Now that you’ve been thinking of your own value, take a second to refill someone else. Who can you email, call, or message (right now)? Remind someone of their value. Share this:RedditPinterestFacebookLinkedInTumblrTwitterGoogleEmailLike this:Like...

My Swim Life: Finding Family and the Courage to Live Out-Loud

My Swim Life: Finding Family and the Courage to Live Out-Loud

Jun 5, 2014

By Mo Breden If you asked me eighteen months ago, would you ever join a swim team, I would tell you NO! If you asked me eighteen months ago, would I put on a fashion bathing suit and swim cap and walk out onto the deck of a YMCA pool, in all my glory, in front of athletic swimmers, I would tell you HELL NO!! If you asked me eighteen months ago, would I get in the pool to be evaluated by a professional Master Swim Coach, I would ask you, HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND??? And yet, I DID ALL THESE THINGS, and MORE. It’s the more I want to talk to you about today. My life has been enriched immensely, by the MORE. The more begins and ends with my lane mates and coach. They are all shapes and sizes, all levels of swimmers, but all with the same goal, to swim better, to swim faster, and to push themselves to those ends. I am always encouraged when I look across the lanes and watch them push themselves even while I am struggling to push myself. It makes me work harder. On Open Waters Swims (OWS), they are always looking out for the slower swimmers; to make sure they are bringing up the rear, and managing their swim well. To be honest, it is not all hard work; as a matter of fact there is a tremendous amount of fun and camaraderie that goes along with the work. One night, my lane mate, I’ll call him, Ro, who was in the lane next to me; looked over at me, and in his best Forrest Gump voice, said, “Mo, why don’t you love me, I know I’m not a smart man, but I do know what love is”. This, at right about the time I was scheduled to take off from the wall…. I did take off, but I am telling you, I was laughing out loud, under water, the entire 25 yards of that set. This is just one of the many stories I could and maybe will tell you in the future. A lot of swimmers use the term “swim family”, and...

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