Busy, The Devil’s Playground

My father infamously created projects to keep my brother, sister and me busy in the summer time. Was plucking chickens a good life lesson? I can almost conjure up the nose-flaring stench today. Pew. The smell when one singes feathers off is truly distinctive, unforgettable. In our eulogies at Dad's funeral, my brother and I shared some Dad’s-crazy-project-tales. We mused that Dad completely bought into the biblical saying, “idle minds are the devil’s playground.” We divided up the stories, my brother and I, to make sure we both got laughs: Raising geese for Christmas dinner; Picking a field-full of jalapenos; Sawing wood to last all winter…and more. The funniest parts of these make-work-to-keep-kids-busy projects? Geese can be vicious creatures. They’re able to chase and peck with lightening speed. I’d arm myself with a tennis racket and practice my forehand when it was my turn to feed them. No one in our family—except Dad—actually liked to ingest geese so the leftovers eventually went to the dogs. Burning mouth syndrome. Dad said “don’t eat them” so I promptly stuffed a couple jalapenos in my mouth—in the middle of the field—and ran faster than Usain Bolt to get to a … [Read more...]

5 Gentle Happiness Reminders

His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that “the purpose of our lives is to be happy.” Martin Seligman, considered the father of positive psychology, theorizes that 40% of happiness is really up to us – 60% is determined by genetics and our environment. So what do we do with our 40%? How do we live in state of more purposeful happiness? Here are five gentle reminders, happiness tips drawn from research and life... Get your Zzzzzs Earlier this week on a work call, I heard my colleague’s 3-year old daughter saying, “Don’t be talking on the phone, Mommy, you need to be coloring.” Funnily, within a couple of minutes I could no longer hear her fevered “let’s color” pleas. She’d fallen asleep. Her Mom explained that typically, her daughter gets pretty loud and wound-up just before crashing. I had to admit—so do I! The director of sleep medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Dr. Raymonde Jean, says that a good night's sleep can really help a moody person decrease their anxiety. That’s not just true for 3-year olds, it is definitely true for me too. Let’s allow ourselves more pillow time so that in our waking hours, the choice is be happy is an easy one. Use your gifts … [Read more...]

Paying Attention

It is hard to decide what to pay attention to these days. Even as you glance as this post, you may be checking Facebook, jotting your “to-do” list, or otherwise splitting your thoughts and intentions with numerous competing forces – many, perhaps, of the technology-driven kind. I get it. Despite my firm belief that “show up and be present” leads to better relationships and a more fulfilling life, I find myself struggling daily with the blurring of boundaries and ample competing noise that interferes with my intent to live more mindfully. This blog is called “inCourage Reflections” for a reason. It serves as a weekly marker—perhaps selfishly—for me as much as you, dear reader. A reminder each week that pausing and thinking upon something different, something that might even be worthy of dinner table conversation or a chat with your best friend, is important. Important enough for us both to stop and breathe and well, reflect. Tom Chatfield’s “The Attention Economy,” stopped me in my twitter-feed-checking-tracks this morning. He asks two questions: What kind of attention do we deserve from those around us, or owe to them in return?” What kind of attention do we ourselves … [Read more...]

Do You Meditate or Pray Daily?

Americans are the most anxious people in the world. About one in five Americans suffer from anxiety disorders, the most common form of psychiatric ailment. According to the World Health Organization, 31 percent of Americans are likely to experience from an anxiety problem at some point in their lives – more than any people anywhere in the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, American women suffer from a number of anxiety disorders -- including generalized anxiety and panic attacks -- at a rate twice as high as that for men. Is it American culture generally or our individual Superwoman approach to ‘doing it all’ (breadwinner, caregiver) that has led to more U.S. women suffering from anxiety disorders, higher rates of heart disease, and more chronic conditions like fibromyalgia? Women & Our Solid Center A Missouri woman I interviewed named it:   many of us American women are living “fractured.” She explained: “Everyone has a limitation on time and I wish we’d stop wasting our energy, our powerful gifts by being fractured. It feels like we’ve lost our core – we’re so busy and our busyness depletes us. Transformational energy is not a spurt, it requires not just commitment. … [Read more...]

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