Cheerleader

I heard some crappy news from home today – a former student, the sweetest girl, has passed away. She leaves behind a beautiful 3 year old daughter, and her loving fiancé (who happens to be my most favorite student of all time)- they were due to be married in two weeks. I can’t wrap my head around a loss like this…and I don’t imagine that her family and loved ones will for a long time, either. I came home this evening and hugged my Wee One super-close, and reflected on those that I care for – you just never know what’s going to happen. It’s hard to find the words.

Before I tucked my little girl in, I thought we would cheer ourself by watching some highlights of funny bits from Jimmy Fallon – he and Justin Timberlake do a lot to lighten a mood, as does this little gem:

 

There’s something about how absolutely shameless Will Ferrell is in his tight pants – you just can’t help but smile. :-)

 

Do me a favor and love on those that you hold close – not just tonight, but every night…every moment of every day is a precious gift. Let’s not waste them.

xxx

 

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

I know that we’ve not even hit Labor Day yet, and there’s a lot of miles to go between now and the festive season, but for some reason I have got an awful lot of ho-ho inside of me these days. I can’t stop thinking about Christmas, and plotting what to buy everyone, and thinking of the pretties I want to see under my tree…and it’s the 1st of September!!! WTF?!??! Anyway, in the spirit of indulging my nuttiness, here’s a few things I’m fancying for this festive season:

Moroccan Tea Glasses – love love LOVE! :-) These ones are from World Market! :-)

image
I’m still coveting a record player like mad – I love these Crosleys, available on Amazon! :-)

image

 

image

I want a Hot Pink FitBit….perhaps it’ll motivate my considerable caboose to move it move it!!! :-)

image

 

I am madly in love with Clinique’s Black Honey Almost Lipstick – it’s the perfect fall/winter color! :-)

image

 

New towels! I’m all about these pink and grey ones from H&M! (you can so tell that only girls live in my house, eh? There’s a lot of pink in mi casa!! We love it that way!!)

image image

 

While all of these things are lovely, the real stuff that I’m after for the holidays this year is time with my little one, time away from work, and some peace on earth. Can’t it be Christmas every day? :-)

xxx

Walk This Way

The Wee One and I are taking part in this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, September 19th – More than 5 million American are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, this number may skyrocket to as many as 16 million. If you’re a regular reader of Pretty Thing, you will know that I lost my Dad 11 years ago to this crappy disease…and it’s high time that it went away. If you’re in the area and want to join us for a lovely walk, send me a note and you can join our team – we’d love to have you! If you’re not close enough to walk this way but you want to support our fundraiser, use this link to make a donation…I’m excited to have you join our team!

We are walking in memory of my Dad - I miss him every day.

We are walking in memory of my Dad – I miss him every day.

 

Thank you in advance for your support. :-)

 

xxx

Do Right Woman

Take me to heart
And I’ll always love you
And nobody
Can make me do wrong

Take me for granted
Leaving love unsure
Makes willpower weak
And temptation strong

A woman’s only human
You should understand
She’s not just a plaything
She’s flesh and blood just like her man

If you want to do right all day’s woman
You’ve gotta be a do right all night man

Yeah, yeah, they say that it’s a man’s world
But you can’t prove that by me
And as long as we’re together, baby
Show some respect for me

If you want to do right all day’s woman
You’ve gotta be a do right all night man

A woman’s only human
This you should understand
She’s not just a plaything
She’s flesh and blood just like her man

If you want to do right all day’s woman
You’ve gotta be a do right all night man
You’ve gotta be a do right all night man

 

This song – and this whole movie, for that matter – are EVERYTHING! My agenda for the upcoming long weekend is going to have to include watching “The Commitments”  – It’s been far too long since I’ve seen it…and I love it with all my heart. :-) Maybe I’ll watch “Once” again, too – and make it an Irish music movie kind of weekend! :-) Woohoo!! :-)

What exciting plans have you got, friends? :-)

 

 

xxx

 

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

image

For whatever reason, I never watched “Gilmore Girls” when it was on – I’m not sure if I didn’t get the channel in Canada or what, but…the entire thing went right over my head. I know that I didn’t see it on British TV when I lived in the UK, and by the time I moved to the US it was nearly over, so…totally missed the boat. Over the years (and especially as my Muppet has gotten older) many people have commented on how the Wee One and I have a relationship that’s not that different from the one between Lorelai and Rory. I hoped that this was a compliment, but was never entirely sure – until a few weeks ago. During a particularly raucous bout of cryptospiridium poisoning (which is nowhere near as fun as that flashy title sounds), I was stuck at home for days. I wasn’t chained to the pot in my bathroom, but things were pretty damn close. I did nothing but lay in bed, wishing to perish a quick and painless demise – it was vile. I passed the time by finishing all five seasons of “Alias” (another show I had missed out on – what fun! Bradley Cooper was so dreamy!!), the “Wet Hot Summer” series on Netflix (featuring the ageless Paul Rudd, that bugger), and the first few episodes of “Gilmore Girls”. And…I’m hooked. I friggin’ LOVE this show – it’s so awesome. I want to move to the town of Stars Hollow yesterday, and I could become very accustomed to having the lovely Luke make me my coffee every morning. Lorelai and Rory’s relationship is kind of similar to the Muppet antics that go on at our house…while I hope that I am slightly more mature and responsible than Lorelai, I do certainly think that my attitude towards things with the little one is not that far off from hers. I am crazy for this show – so awesome! :-) Even though I’ve never seen it before, there’s something so familiar about it…it reminds me of home. :-) (Plus, I’m mega-nostalgic for the 90s these days for some reason, so….yet another reason to binge-watch!)

image

I’ve been feeling really homesick lately, and longing for small town life…words I never thought I would utter. The traffic here in San Antonio has absolutely plummeted down the shitter this summer, and it’s wearing me down. I’ve taken to planning my social life around traffic patterns, which is a practice I absolutely loathe – and something I swore I’d never do again after my years living in traffic purgatory (AKA Washington, DC/Northern Virginia). The start of the school year has not helped our already craptastic traffic patterns, as every fool (and their dog) are on the road at the same time, and nobody is getting anywhere. It’s terribly frustrating, and really cramping my style – I’m over it! I told someone the other day that I want to move to a small town, work at a school there, and have livestock be the only traffic barrier that I contend with….wouldn’t that be nice??! :-)

image

 

The other alternative is move to a metropolis, put the car in storage, and go public transportation all the way. While grocery shopping would take some major adjustments, I think I could SO adapt to this way of life. I love having other people drive me places (probably because it rarely happens), I like looking out the windows and watching the world go by. I love being in cities where you can walk everywhere (which never friggin’ happens here in San Antonio – things are so far apart, and since it’s hotter than the depths of hell here for half of the year, walking isn’t an option), I love sitting on benches and people watching…all of the things that I bet I could do if I moved to a bigger urban center. My beloved New York would be nice!!!! :-)

image

However, despite my longings for new beginnings and change, I guess I will have to stay here for now – wandering is tough when you’ve got a Muppet in tow. Time to pretend that San Antonio is just a slightly overgrown Stars Hollow (I wish!).  I wonder if the longing to roam and wander will ever leave my system…highly unlikely, I imagine – but I think I’m pretty okay with that. :-)

xxx

I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing

The start of a new school year is an exciting, chaotic time….I tend to lose myself in all of the excitement of new students and new notebooks, rarely stopping to take time to smell the roses or the aroma of the binding on said new notebooks. However, I took a five minute time out today, sat under my desk (it’s my happy place :-) ), and thought about a few of my favorite things these days. Here you go:

1) The song ‘S.O.B’ by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats:

This song is EVERYTHING. EV-ERY-THING. Love. :-)

If your hiney isn’t up and dancing, then you need to consult a medical expert…there’s clearly something wrong with you.

 

2) These shoes:

image

I ordered these babies from Italian shoe campany Tipe e Tacchi….at least I think I did. I fell in love with them when Kat from Rock’n’Roll Bride shared a picture of them on Instagram, and I knew that I HAD to have them. The damn shopping site is only in Italian, and while I can holler ‘gelato’ and ‘manicotti’ with the best of them (think Kevin Kline in “A Fish Called Wanda”), I still remain uncertain if I did indeed order them or not. I check the post hopefully each day…because those are some seriously fab shoes that I think will be perfect on my feeties! :-)

 

3) Speaking of awesome things, behold my new Betsey Johnson bag:

image

Yep…it’s a hot pink typerwriter bag. With chain straps. It’s AMAZING!!! I love it with all my heart! Yaaa!!! It really doesn’t take a lot to have me excited, does it? 😉 (NOTE: This is the annual First Day of School picture of the Wee Muppet and I – could she be more gorgeous??! I doubt it!!)

 

4) My Bando Agenda:

This thing is everything for a planner nerd like me – I love it SO MUCH:

image image

 

I’ve always delighted in a good planner, but man alive is this one ever a life changer. I don’t know how people survive without a good planner!!

 

5) This:

image

I’m a graduate again! Yaaaa me!!! :-)

 

What are you excited about these days?

xxx

A Change Would Do You Good

image

A couple of the things that I’ve always thought of as fun, cute little ‘quirks’ in my personality have really started to get on my nerves lately…and I’ve concluded that I need to make some changes. For example, I don’t know when it happened, but I have become very awkward in social situations, and I just don’t get it. I used to do fine around other people, but not anymore – I think I’m okay when it’s people that I know very well, but man oh man do I struggle when it’s folks that I don’t really know. I find it so hard to strike up random conversations with people, I feel irritated by others far too easily (apparently my tolerance for stupidity has REALLY changed, as I am willing to do just about anything possible to avoid conversations with the idiots that walk amongst us)…something has got to change and quick – and it has to be me.

The greatest mystery is how to facilitate that change, though…I am trying to think a positive thought and acknowledge that realizing that I have an issue is the first step. However, where to go next? I Googled this (because I Google everything), and came across this article – and I think it’s pretty great:

image

Do you have some personality trait, quirk or habit that you would like to change but have yet to succeed? Well I know the easiest and fastest way to change anything about yourself. That sounds way too good to be true, but I guess you’ll have to keep reading if you want to know for sure.

Step 1: Decide what you want to change

Examples include confidence-level, speech impediments, ability to converse with the opposite sex and other sources of insecurity.

Step 2: Lie to yourself

I know this sounds stupid at first, but hear me out. You need to tell yourself that you are exactly what you currently are not.

If you are very shy, then tell yourself that you are considered by most to be “the life of the party” and that you love addressing entire groups of people. You are a magician with words and have a special knack for social interaction that others admire. Yadayadayada.. you get the idea.

Step 3: Imagine the change in yourself

Create a minute-long movie in your head of yourself after the change has been made. Get as detailed as possible and remember to also feel the emotions of that moment while you imagine it.

It’s almost like you’re planting a false memory in your head. So just as with any other memory, you should be able to be somewhat transported back to that moment when you think about it. Just ignore that voice in your head that says this never happened. Logic isn’t important in this exercise!

Step 4: Become a method actor

You need to emulate the person you want to be as if you already are him/her. Keep telling yourself that you ARE that person and continue to act like him/her as often as possible. Play the character at the grocery store, at work or with friends.

Body language, diction and actions should all reflect how that changed version of you would act. But remember, you are actually being the person, not just acting like him/her. In your head, your thoughts should read “I am confident!”, not “I’m acting confident!”

A really effective option is to choose a character from a movie, TV show or someone you know well that has the trait you wish to attain. This way you have a visual example of how you should be acting instead of having to make it up. My go-to characters are James Bond and Tyler Durdin from Fight Club.

Step 5: Believe

All of the previous exercises are meant to get you believing that you are already that changed version of yourself. Heck you already act like this person on the daily anyways, so what’s to stop you from believing you are him/her?

If you’re still not buying that you ARE the changed version already, go back and practice steps 2-4 more until you do. I guarantee that this will heed faster and more satisfying results than anything else you read about.

But remember, it’s like Peter Pan: you have to believe.

image

 

Good stuff, eh? I like the idea of fakin’it ’til you’re makin’ it – I have applied that theory in my professional life more than once, and I’m perfectly okay with giving it a whirl for my personal life as well. On a somewhat related note, give this one a quick read – it’s about being happy at every age, and I LOVE it! :-)

In a world where everything is quite literally at our fingertips, we can have almost anything we want instantaneously. However, the advent of modern technology and its many luxuries hasn’t made us any happier than we were in the past—it may even have created a disconnect between us. New research suggests that wealth doesn’t improve our happiness either. So if money and technology can’t lift our spirits, what can? According to a Psychology Today report, researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky from the University of California states, “40 percent of our capacity for happiness is within our power to change.” Jeannine Morris—founder of health, wellness, and lifestyle site JMEdit and studying health coach—agrees. She believes you can “train your brain to think happy.” Want to learn how? Scroll down for more of Morris’s simple secrets to happiness.

Change Your Thoughts
Have you ever thought about how you think? Did you know that how you speak to yourself plays a huge role in your mental and physical health? According to Morris, your thoughts control your feelings, and in order to become a happier person, you need to think happier thoughts. “While it seems simple, it actually takes a lot of practice because you need to retrain your brain,” she says. “A good example that I find a lot of people can relate to is the thought or idea of not being enough—not skinny enough, rich enough, smart enough, and the list goes on.” She adds, “When you begin to tell yourself—and realize—that you are enough, you can experience abundance.” Morris explains how to train your brain to think happy on her website.

Set Daily Intentions
What’s the first thing you do every day before you get up? We bet that most of you reach over for your phone and check it for work emails or scroll through social media. Well, if it’s happiness you seek, Morris has a different approach. “Each morning before I get out of bed, I meditate for 20 minutes and set an intention for the day,” she notes. “Sometimes it’s as simple as ‘Today is going to be a great day.’ Starting your morning off on a positive note, with an intention, will help guide you through the rest of your day in a similar positive manner.”

Treat Yourself How You’d Treat Your Pet
We all love our pets, and a study has proven they make us happier and healthier, too. So just imagine how happy you’d be if you put yourself on the same pedestal you put your pet on. We dote on them with constant affection, only feed them the best produce, and spoil them with treats. Morris says we should mimic this behavior and treat ourselves the same way. “Your health and happiness is in your own hands,” she adds. “What are you eating? Are you making time for relationships, fitness, and pampering? Well, it’s time you did.”

Learn How to Emit Your Own Frequency
This tip can be summarized in one quote by inspirational speaker and best-selling author Barbara Marciniak: “Everything changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you, when you start imprinting your intent on the universe rather than receiving an imprint from existence.” It might seem a little evangelical, but Jeannine says we (human beings) are composed of energy, just like everything around us, and “it’s important to understand that our energy (our soul) is living a human experience and can emit its own frequency.” She adds, “Too often, we pick up the negative energy of others and can easily become absorbed by it. You know the Kendrick Lamar song ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe?’ Well…”

Forgive, Forgive, Forgive
We’re all accustomed to the usual form of forgiveness, where you excuse someone for any wrongdoing against you. But what about when you need to forgive yourself for something? Morris strongly believes this simple act is the “ultimate secret to achieving peace and happiness.” She notes, “Whether you need to forgive yourself or someone else, it’s important to recognize that until you can forgive, you’ll never be fully liberated and able to live life to its fullest.”

Donate Your Time to Those in Need
We’re all familiar with clearing out our wardrobes and giving our old clothing and belongings to the local thrift store, but how often have you donated your time? We understand how precious this is, but if we want to experience true happiness, Morris urges us to give back. “It’s one of the most rewarding things we can do on this earth,” she says. “We’re conditioned to think of time as money, (and in many cases… yeah, pay up!), but you have more than 10,000 minutes in a week. Taking an hour out of your schedule to help those in need is a humbling and fulfilling experience.”

Unplug and Tune In
We’re all a little addicted to our social feeds, but too much scrolling can impede our happiness as we start to lament over the things we don’t have, or how our lives lack the glamour or fun compared to our favorite influencers. Morris begs you to quit comparing yourself and remember that Instagram is a just a well-edited version of what’s really happening at home. “Stop spending so much time on social media platforms. Unplug and go create a life of your own,” she says.

image

Practice Mindful Eating
Have you ever stopped to think about the food that’s on the end of your fork? Food is the best form of medicine—with the power to heal you from the inside out—and if we feel better, we’ll feel happier, too. “As Americans, most of us grew up not paying attention to the food we consume, and that needs to change in order for you to feel your best,” she says. “Each time you sit down to eat, look at your plate and make sure everything on it has nutritional value. Food fuels our body and keeps our systems running properly, so imagine what’s happening inside when we’re full of sugar?” Jeannine explains more about using food as medicine in her post “6 Steps to Healing Yourself.”

Learn How to Meditate
The powerful benefits of meditation, including health and happiness perks, are well known and proven, so if you haven’t tried it yet, maybe it’s time you did. “Meditation helps to relieve stress, allows the mind to explore deeper levels of thought, and clears any irrelevant thoughts, making you able to focus,” says Morris. “I practice transcendental meditation, which is 20 minutes of repeating a mantra twice a day, but even if you sit for five minutes repeating an intention, or focusing on your breath each morning, you’re helping yourself.”

Keep a Gratitude Journal
There’s been a lot of buzz around gratitude and its impact on happiness, but just what is it exactly? Angela Simson of The Gratitude Project says, “It makes everything you have, all you need.” Morris believes that recognizing and expressing gratitude are very powerful activities. “Without gratitude, you’ll take things for granted, so before bed, I try to think of three things I’m grateful for that day,” she says. “I’m old school, so I like to practice journaling in an actual notebook. I like to write them down, but you can also keep a running list in the ‘notes’ section of your iPhone.”

image

 

I’m so crazy about this list! I’ve been a huge fan of gratitude journals, but with my crazy busy work-life schedule, I don’t have the time anymore to sit down and properly journal every day. Sad trombone! However, I’ve started jotting down three things that I am grateful for each day in my agenda (as tech savvy as I am, I still use a paper agenda…and I am madly in love with my new one from Bando – LOVE it!!), and seeing those cute little entries is filling me with happiness. Yaaa! :-) I should have done this ages ago!!! Woohoo! :-)

What do you do to make yourself happy? What things are important enough to you that you want to focus on changing? For me, this social awkwardness crap has got to go, as do a few other things (trying too hard with people who don’t give a shit about me, taking things that others say entirely too personally…I could go on). I’m going to really work on this, lean the hell in – I’ll let you know how it goes. :-)

xxx

 

We Are The Champions

As we get ourselves ready to embark on a new school year, please watch this short video from educator Rita Pierson….and, even if you aren’t a person who makes their livelihood by teaching the minds of tomorrow, adopt her philosophy and apply it to your encounters with those around you – she was a smart woman, that one. :-)

 

xxx

Shake It Off

Taylor Swift sure knew what she was doing when she penned the catchy little ditty “Shake It Off”… that’s wise life advice that I seem to have SUCH a hard time learning. When something irks me, which has been known to happen approximately 4,279 times per day (seriously – I need to learn to quit getting so irritated by things…it doesn’t help me in the least), I get massively annoyed – and I can let one idiot and their stupidity put a cloud over an entire day! What a waste! Why I do this, I can’t even begin to explain…I need to learn to embrace the idea of letting go, and just letting the nonsense of the day wash over my shoulders until it is poof! gone. But how?

Heehee!

Heehee!

I have often asked myself the question, ‘Is this the hill that I choose to die on?’…and take it from there. Usually, the answer is no (I have very little interest in perishing on a hill, it seems)…and that helps me to get up and get over it.  The thing I need to realize most is that letting go and moving on doesn’t mean that I don’t care anymore – it just means that the only thing in life that I can control is ME…and that moving on is a necessary (and critical) part of adapting to the inevitable changes that happen around us.

Give this article from CNN a read – it’s full of good advice on not sweating the small stuff:
Blowing up over small things takes a strong physical and emotion toll over the years
Research suggests that we can train ourselves to not sweat the small stuff
When the cable guy is a no-show, reframe the situation in a positive light
If you feel anxious about something, think about ways to solve the problem
There are two types of people in this world: those who swoop up their accidentally dropped keys with no complaints and go along their merry way and those who, more often than not, can’t pick them up without cursing or letting out a big, miserable sigh.

An insignificant occurrence, yes, but it’s often the mundane incidents (a whining child, an on-the-fritz printer) that reveal how vastly different human temperaments can be, says Michael D. Robinson, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at North Dakota State University.

Some people take life’s small slights and setbacks with a shrug, while others freak out, blow up, or fly off the proverbial handle in a loud huff or with silent seething. Why such a yawning gap in behavior? This is a question that scientists have only recently recognized as being significant to health.

Just as life’s most challenging experiences can flood the bloodstream with stress hormones, the smallest hassles can take a toll as well, says Nancy Nicolson, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

“The changes are small — a 10 to 15% increase in cortisol levels in response to typical daily annoyances, as opposed to a 100 percent or more increase during very stressful events,” like a college entrance exam. But these small fluctuations “happen more frequently and can have a cumulative effect,” says Nicolson.

Feeling chronically stressed increases the risk of heart disease and weakens the immune system. It can also compromise some types of memory and learning, says Carmen Sandi, Ph.D., the director of the Brain Mind Institute at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. If we could all be more even-keeled (so we didn’t sweat the small stuff), we would enhance our physical and mental health.

Recent research suggests that we can train ourselves to not sweat the small stuff. To be a more even-keeled person, first you need to think like one, says Rosalind S. Dorlen, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in New Jersey. That means using mental strategies that exercise the region of the brain that’s responsible for reasoning, so that it isn’t overwhelmed by the part of the brain that’s involved in emoting. To do that takes practice. Consider every irritating incident as a chance to work out the reasoning area in your brain and you’ll realize that what constitutes a stressor is subjective and that little set-backs will ruin your day only if you let them.
Real Simple presented a few everyday nuisances to experts in the field of emotional regulation and asked, “What would an even-keeled person do?” Here are their answers.

You feel: Inconvenienced

The situation: You put off your errands. You canceled your lunch date. All so you could be home for the cable guy between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. He never shows up.

How to stay calm: Reframe the circumstances. “Thinking differently calms down your brain’s emotional region,” says James Gross, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Stanford University. For instance, if you spent your morning lingering over coffee and the paper while waiting, try to view this as a rare, unexpected luxury instead of a waste of time.

It’s also helpful to think of the big picture. As Dorlen puts it: “What’s going on and how you end up feeling depend on where you point the lens.” Perhaps the cable guy simply had more assignments than he could humanly keep up with. This is not to say that you should let it go. You absolutely should call the cable company and express your frustration. But by readjusting your perspective, you can voice your displeasure in a less angry way and still get results.

You feel: Defeated

The situation: You’ve prepared for a presentation for weeks, but you end up blanking on key points. Back at your desk, you’re about to break down in tears as you replay the episode in your head over and over again.

How to stay calm: Focus on the present. After all, “it’s never the stress-inducing event that you’re freaking out about,” says Steven Berglas, Ph.D., a life coach in Los Angeles. “It’s what you’re afraid might happen because of it,” whether that’s being reprimanded by your boss or laughed at by your colleagues.

But that’s not real at the moment; what’s real is that you can take control of the situation. Quell the angst with an impromptu meditation session. Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in San Francisco and the author of Hardwiring Happiness, suggests quietly taking a moment to breathe in and two slow moments to breathe out. “Inhaling speeds up the heart rate,” he says, “and exhaling slows it down.”

At the same time, say to yourself what you feel (I am upset), then let that label disappear from view. “Naming your emotions as you’re feeling them reduces the activation of your emotional brain and engages your reasoning brain,” says Hanson. Now you can focus on fixing the problem, which could be as simple as sending out a recap memo on your presentation that includes a summary and the points that you missed.

You feel: Anxious

The situation: Your husband is running late (though he swore he would be on time). Now you’re going to be late for your appointment, and your toddler just wiped his nose on your skirt.

How to stay calm: Problem-solve. If even-keeled people rarely appear stressed, it’s because they’re too busy looking for answers. A tardy spouse and a soiled skirt aren’t catastrophes to be cursed at but circumstances to be fixed. Dorlen suggests asking yourself, immediately after the offending incident happens, How am I going to solve this?

“Once you phrase the question in your mind, you have awakened the reasoning portion of your brain and put yourself in a position to find an answer,” says Dorlen, the clinical psychologist. “You’re no longer the victim of your emotions.” Next, pretend that you’re a coach with a game plan, such as pulling on a clean skirt, taking your child with you, and texting your husband to meet you at your appointment. Now take action.

You feel: Disrespected

The situation: Somehow, your offer to bring back coffee for an office mate has turned into an order for six complicated lattes. As you rattle off the list to the barista, you notice that she is rolling her eyes.

How to stay calm: Speak positively. To understand why this is important, it helps to know a little brain anatomy. The brain is made up of cognitive and emotional parts, and the emotional part is composed of various circuits, says Andrew Newberg, M.D., director of research in integrative medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in Philadelphia.

These circuits include the reward system, which reinforces positive experiences, and the sympathetic nervous system, which connects the brain to the body and issues a fight-or-flight response when you feel stressed. Positive words (which we grew up associating with something pleasant, such as caring teachers) activate the reward system. Negative words (which we associate with something unpleasant, like playground bullies) spike angry or sad thoughts.

So, if you’re not willing to let it go, say, with a good-natured laugh, “I know this long order is annoying. I wish I had a shorter list, too,” as opposed to “Hey, you’re rude!” The words will calm you, and they will also put the other person in a more generous frame of mind. “Our emotional states reflect those around us,” says Newberg. If you speak pleasant words in a calm tone, chances are, the other person will reply with pleasant words in a calm tone. Starting the exchange in a peaceful way increases the chance that you’ll be sipping on your espresso sooner rather than later.

You feel: Disappointed

The situation: You’ve been planning this cocktail party for weeks. Now that the big day is here, it’s snowing. Heavily.

How to stay calm: Embrace optimism. “Behind every setback, there’s an expectation that things should be different,” says Dorlen.

Even-keeled people are no different, but when things don’t go as planned, they feel hopeful that circumstances will get better. Which in this case may mean thinking, “with fewer people, our gathering will be much more intimate and relaxed. And who doesn’t love that on a cold winter’s night?”

Optimism buffers the effects of stress—not only for everyday hassles but also for life-altering challenges,” says Madelon Peters, Ph.D., a professor of experimental health psychology at Maastricht University. Optimism is also associated with resilience. That’s why optimists are better able to bounce back after difficult times.

While it’s tough for natural-born pessimists to don rose-colored glasses instantly, they can condition their brains so that it gets easier to do so over time. In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, women who participated for two weeks in an imagery and writing exercise in which they imagined an optimal future reported a sustained increase in optimism compared with those who wrote about random topics.

To try this technique, imagine yourself 10 years from now under the best possible, yet still realistic, circumstances. Write down specific details. (Where do you live? What do you love about your life?) Then spend five minutes each day visualizing these details. “Imagery can create vivid and, in this case, positive emotional responses. These images and associated emotions end up living in your memory almost as if they were real,” says Peters. In the short term, compared with the world created in your mind, the once unbelievably aggravating everyday letdowns may become small and surmountable.

The biology of chill

Anyone can become more even-keeled using the mental strategies on these pages, but naturally irascible personalities might need to put in a little extra effort. Temperament, after all, is partly genetic. Think of the brain as a seesaw: On one side are the frontal lobes, the region associated with reasoning; on the opposite side is the amygdala, where emotions, both good and bad, are generated. In between, where the imaginary fulcrum sits, is the anterior cingulate, which mediates the opposing forces.

In each person, one side is inherently more influential than the other, explains neuro-scientist Andrew Newberg, M.D. What results is a person’s temperament (an internal balance or emotional tone), which can shift further to one side or the other depending on external forces. These forces can be traumatic (a divorce), annoying (traffic), or health-related (poor-quality sleep, inadequate nutrition—both of which can trigger chemical changes that compromise brain activity).

For a hotheaded type, whose brain already seesaws toward the emotional side, negative events can exacerbate imbalance. For an even-keeled personality, the brain may tip over to the emotional side only ever so slightly. No matter which group you fall into, just a small push toward the reasoning area of the brain can mean the difference between a run-in with a colleague that ruins your entire weekend and one that you can leave at the office without a second thought.

image

Great advice, right? I know – yet, I also know how hard it is to remember these things in the moment. I so need to work on this, and remember that I can only control myself and my own actions…everyone else is not my concern. Words to live by! 😉

 

This article is somewhat related, and I love it! Let’s consider 8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Life:

1. Don’t Put Off Things Until Tomorrow
We all say, “Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow!” What you should really be saying is, “Oh, I’ll do that right now!” Living in the moment and getting things done now are great habits to have regardless of making the most of your life or not.

Living for the now is even better if you want to make the most of your life. It is indeed quite helpful. Give it a try. Leave that procrastination far behind.

2. Get Engaged With Your Community
Whenever you do something, do it with all your heart. Even if you don’t want to do something, give it your heart and soul. You don’t want to regret what you could have done. Get engaged in your community.

Do some activities offering to help in the church, cleaning in the park, or helping the elderly. I’ll tell you, these kinds of things make you feel so special from the inside. The feelings they bring you are so indescribable.

3. Enjoy Yourself At Every Opportunity
Regardless of how you feel, enjoy each moment you are in. It makes life so much easier and valuable when you actually cherish each breath you take on the planet of Earth. You need to be grateful.

When you are grateful for things around you, everything seems so much better. Life seems like a sort of gift from heaven. Do yourself a favor and enjoy yourself at every opportunity. Be grateful for the life you have been given. I am telling you that you will feel a hundred times better than you felt yesterday! Really, it feels great! I can tell you from personal experience.

4. Show Appreciation
Appreciate all you have instead of reaching out for more. You always should, even if things don’t go your way try and appreciate whatever is around you. This can be family, friends, your home, food, or even pets.

Respect these things as they are hard to come by and have no price tag. Appreciate everything you have been given. I guarantee everything will work in your favor. You will start living the life you have always dreamt of. It will make you feel lighter, brighter, and much more happier. I tell you this from personal experience! Give it a try yourself.

5. Be Grateful
Always be grateful. You should be grateful that you have one more day on the face of this Earth. Some would die for just one more single moment on Earth. By appreciating these little things, you can make your experience of life a billion times greater.

There is no greater feeling than being grateful to all that you already have. Some people don’t even have the basic necessities to live life. However, you are lucky and fortunate enough to have the things you already have. So, be happy and glad of the life you have been given. There truly is no greater feeling than gratitude.

6. Help Others In Need
Helping others in need is the primary goal of humanity. In other words, helping people is acting human. Living your life to the greatest has to incorporate and include this goal. Help people whenever you get the chance. Make the most of the life you are living.

If you see that someone you know needs help, offer them your kind help. You know, karma is a major factor in today’s world. What you bring to others you usually get. If you help someone then you too will receive good. Just wait. Your time will surely come. Just have a little patience on your side and things will fall into place.

7. Do Activities You Find Pleasurable
Do activities that truly give you happiness. Go out and do whatever brings you joy, whether it be horseback riding, fishing, partying, or going to a friend’s house just to hangout. Pursue whatever it is that makes you happy every day.

8. Learn New Activities Too
When you learn new activities you push the boundaries to what you already know. You can push the boundaries by learning a new language, traveling the world, or exploring new places. Whatever it is that brightens your horizons is what counts. Just get out there and see what the universe offers you. There is so much out there! Just open your eyes, buddy. You will find the world at your feet. Keep your eyes wide open all the time. But, also… don’t forget to sleep once in a while!

image

I love this list! :-) It’s so important to do the things that you love, to learn new stuff, and to – above all – be grateful. Our lives, while we may find it sporting to bitch and complain a whole lot, are really not so bad. Be grateful….express gratitude, and even more good stuff will come your way. :-)

 

xxx

 

In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” – Deepak Chopra

 

 

Austin

I spent some time in Austin recently…there aren’t words to express how much I love that town – it’s so awesome!! :-) Here are some highlights from my trip:

I stayed at the Hotel Ella, a place that was SO BEAUTIFUL I cannot recommend it enough – gorgeous! The staff were outstanding, the place was stunning, there’s incredible artwork all over the property…I could have stayed there forever. Love. :-)

 

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

 

Don’t you want to just sit on that veranda and drink cocktails all day long? I know…me, too! :-) I did some amazing eating (and drinking!) while I was gone – I visited The Salty Sow, which was really great…and The Odd Duck, which I absolutely LOVED!!! I can’t remember having a meal that I enjoyed so much! Delicious!!!! :-) Here are some highlights:

image

Bangers – one of my absolute favorites in Austin!

image

Isn’t Bangers pretty at night? :-)

image

My new favorite summer drink…Crispin Apple Cider with a splash of raspberry! Yum!

image

Poutine – my very, very favorite :-)

image

Duck and fig sausage – heaven in casing!

image

This was antelope and venison sausage…I can’t recommend it enough! So good!!!

 

image

This sign makes me happy :-)

image

No visit to Austin is complete without visiting the bathroom at Craft Pride! Woohoo!

image

Sitting on the patio at Shady Grove

image

Tamale Pancakes from Shady Grove – ridiculously delicious!

image

Truffle Devilled Eggs from The Salty Sow

image

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese – SOOOO GOOD!!!! :-)

image

Pork Belly – should get in my belly more often!

image

Smashed new potatoes

image

Bananas Foster Beignets…a highlight of the weekend!

A Moroccan dish from the Hill Country Food Truck Festival in Luckenbach

A Moroccan dish from the Hill Country Food Truck Festival in Luckenbach

Parker House Rolls stuffed with pig face - that's what the menu said, so I had to order them. You don't walk past pig face, friends.

Parker House Rolls stuffed with pig face – that’s what the menu said, so I had to order them. You don’t walk past pig face, friends.

Meet the pig face!! It was INCREDIBLE!!!!

Meet the pig face!! It was INCREDIBLE!!!!

Eggplant fritters in house-made ricotta...delicious!

Eggplant fritters in house-made ricotta…delicious!

Grilled okra - I'm not much of an okra fan, sadly.

Grilled okra – I’m not much of an okra fan, sadly.

BBQ shrimp - divine!

BBQ shrimp – divine!

Twice baked potato with cheese fondue and goat - holy crap for yummy!

Twice baked potato with cheese fondue and goat – holy crap for yummy!

This is the business - it's a pizza with jalapeno, red onion, mango, and lamb bacon on top. You read that correctly - lamb bacon. Who even knew that was a thing? It was friggin GORGEOUS - so yummy!!! :-)

This is the business – it’s a pizza with jalapeno, red onion, mango, and lamb bacon on top. You read that correctly – lamb bacon. Who even knew that was a thing? It was friggin GORGEOUS – so yummy!!! :-)

 

If you’re assuming that all I did in Austin was eat, you would be assuming correctly…the food there is magical! I am not a lover of chain restaurants and generally do all that I can to avoid them – and doing that was super-easy in Austin, as there was a wealth of great choices to pick from. I can’t recommend the above dishes enough – yummmmmy!!! :-)

I did a few things other than eat and drink while I was there (not much, though) – I went kayaking, which I absolutely LOVED, acquired a new tattoo (woohoo!), and visited the art gallery at UT Austin. There were a few exhibits there that I was interested in, and I loved the museum a lot! :-)

My foot!

My foot! :-)

Isn't this cool?

Art is cool :-)

LOVE :-)

LOVE :-)

 

I don’t know why I don’t go to Austin more often (probably because I whoop it up a lot when I’m there and that gets costly!)…but I need to visit more often. I love that place – and, I can’t be certain, but I think that Austin loves me, too. :-)  What’s not to love, eh?

xxx