Monthly Archive: March 2016

Rainbows in my cloud – Maya

Maya Angelou’s grandchildren recently posthumously published her final bookRainbow in the Cloud. You can hear her talk about why she wrote the book here.

Rainbow in the Cloud is a book of poetry and quotes and words of wisdom from Maya to us.

She had a lot of clouds in her life, and so many rainbows.  Whenever she did anything important, she brought everyone who had ever been kind to her with her, so that she never felt she was alone or had no help. Because she had her own rainbows.

He final message, and the reason for her book, was to encourage us to be a rainbow, a blessing, to someone else’s cloud.

Here’s one that Oprah Winfrey learned from Maya Agelou and passes on whenever she has a chance: When you know better, you do better. It was apparently one of the first things her hero Maya said to her when they met; it freed her from being hostage to her past mistakes, and she wants the rest of the world to be equally freed.

Maya’s grandkid’s message is something Ms. Angelou has repeated over and over:
people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya’s words make me feel that life is beautiful.

Rainbows in the Clouds – Bluegrass version

Quote of the Week
Joy is an important element of happiness.  It is sometimes the difference between striving and thriving.  One must nurture the joy in one’s life so that it reaches full bloom.
– Maya Angelou, from Rainbow in the Cloud

 

 Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly atmaryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Job Loss and Grief

One of the biggest points of my seminars is grief and loss. You may be thinking what does grief and loss have to do with corporate seminars? A lot. When I speak to groups, I am asked about the loss of a promotion or the loss of a job or the loss of a talented co-worker to another company.  The company and the professional team left behind, or the talent itself, is often left with a void and wondering what will happen next. And the unknown tends to bring up negative and fear-causing feelings.

As I tell anyone faced with fear and anxiety over the unknown, facing your feelings is really the best thing you can do to move yourself personally and professionally forward.  Fear and anxiety can overwhelm us and make us professionally or personally forgetful. What I mean by this is the failure to take care of ourselves in the present moment. We can become so stuck in the loss itself, that we take on so much stuff and added responsibilities and allow our physical and mental health to decline.

Let me give you an example; there was a creative ad team who lost their creative director to a competing company. The creative director was a fierce leader who was the backbone of the team. The team ended up feeling fearful because they now had to compete against their former boss and friend. They feared that their company’s business would decline and that they would all end up jobless. They become so immobilized by this fear that their stress levels made them so physically sick that they couldn’t work if they wanted to. Instead of reacting to fear and anxiety, they should have mourned the “loss” of their co-worker so their responses wouldn’t be so mentally and physically drastic, which is what I discuss in many of my corporate seminars.

Allow yourself, or your team, time to accept and deal with the loss of a job or even the loss of a talented co-worker. Go through the stages of grief and accept the temporary discomfort so you don’t become physically and professionally stuck! It is OK. If your company feels like it is having a hard time transitioning from a grieving process to a moving-forward process, please contact me. I can help motivate and merge employees to successfully navigate from job loss, client loss, project loss and grief to a successful future!

Falling in Love with Nature

This newsletter is really about Louie Schwartzberg and what he’s learned from Nature.  In one of his Ted Talks [link to , he talks about what he believes Nature teaches us: that Nature uses beauty and seduction for survival, because we protect what we fall in love with. And there aren’t many of us who don’t fall in love with that beauty, or who aren’t seduced by it.

In a recent interview, he discussed how, through his filming of Nature over the years, he came to appreciate the drive that all of Nature has to survive, to perpetuate life through generations. From this, he has come to believe that Nature teaches us how to live a creative and sustainable life.

The next time you see a bee take nectar from a flower, take the time to see the attraction between the flower and the bee, and how each gives and takes from the other, so that both benefit from the exchange.

Nature feeds our eyes, ears, all our senses. Our interaction with it floods us with dopamine, bringing us a sense of joy and well-being. From 52 Ways to Fall in Love with the Earth, here are a few you might do:

  • Watch through Nature’s eyes. Spend time watching birds as they migrate back for the summer.  Starlings, for instance, surround us. If we suspend judgment about them and simply watch how they flock and sing, their grace can be mesmerizing.
  • Lean against a tree.  Trees communicate with one another through the fungus attached to their roots.  Every forest contains many “Mother” trees that monitor the surrounding trees, regardless of tree type, and send signals to neighboring trees if a tree needs extra nutrients. Trees provide us with so much. What more can trees tell us about living?
  • Dream with the clouds.  Every child does this – spending hours looking at the ever-changing sky; never the same ever again as it was in this particular moment.  Telling us something about possibility and opportunity.

In a new project titled Happiness Revealed, an old man reminds us that every day is a gift; unique and precious.  If we open up our heart to this day, we are offering something precious in return.

Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.

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Quote of the Week
Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.
-Hans Christian Andersen

 

 Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly atmaryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Corporate Stress – 3 Ways to Deal!

When I speak to groups, my focus tries to be on two things, how my talk will benefit attendees personal lives and then how it will benefit their professional lives. We all have personal stress and professional stress. And while it is easy for us to confide in friends, family members, and professionals about personal stress, the professional stress seems to stay hidden. Why? Dealing with professional stress is a very real thing and admitting that work is stressing you out is not admitting weakness.

For men, especially, the anxieties and stress that comes along with being a professional can really build up. As a result, I want to provide my blog readers with 3 ways to deal with corporate stress. Of course, there are more tips and tools available in my seminars. More than 40 million Americans, chronic anxiety—like obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and social phobias. Corporate stress contributes to this and you are not alone!

1. The first thing you want to do when feeling corporate stress is to identify your feelings and the trigger. Once you address the problem and decide on what the root cause is, you can move forward with step two. Ignoring the feelings of being stressed or encountering a client that ignites internal anxiety isn’t healthy and adds pressure and even more stress to your life.

2. Move your body. When stressed, most people want to sit on the couch and absorb the stress, making room for depression, anxiety and even agoraphobia. The best thing you can do when stressed at work is to get out. Don’t go home and hide. Don’t go to a bar. Instead, right when you feel the stress at work, get out of the office and go for a walk- even if it is just around the parking lot. The movement allows chemicals to release in your body and lets you focus on your breathing.

3. Control your mind. Yes, mind control. By learning to control your thoughts, you can redirect your stress. This tool does take practice, but works wonders when you do master it. Discipline your negative thoughts with a timer, set for two minutes, where you mediate really does help correct stressful thinking. If a deadline is going to be missed, stop the thinking about it. Ruminating over something that is done will not undue it. As you work to finish a project, with a deadline already missed, continue moving forward. When the negative thought about the missed deadline pops into your mind, discipline the thought by setting a phone alarm for two minutes. Sit still for two minutes and repeat a positive mantra or simply meditate. The more you interrupt your negative thinking, the less stress you will become!

How to Have the Time you Need

The hardest thing to deal with for so many of us these days is time.  “I have no time!” has become a daily refrain that blocks out so much.

“I have no time!”, as I run out the door and miss my 10-minute morning meditation, yet again.

“I have no time!”, as I put off the letter I’ve been planning to write my dear friend for the upteenth time.

“I have no time!”, as I grab a 2,000 calorie muffin instead of a salad with salmon, that I can then stuff down as I work through lunch.

For myself, when I hear myself saying or thinking that I have no time, it’s a clear indicator that I’m stressed and focused on future fears instead of present reality, and what’s really important in this reality.

Steve Kamb, in Why ‘I don’t have time’ is a Big Fat Lie, suggests the following:  replace “I don’t have time” with “it’s not a priority”.

Instead of “I don’t have time for breakfast, healthy or otherwise”, reframe it as “Having a healthy breakfast is not a priority for me”;

Instead of “I don’t have time to write my dear friend”, reframe as “Writing my dear friend isn’t a priority for me”;

Instead of “I don’t have time to meditate”, reframe as “Meditating for 10 minutes when I get up isn’t a priority for me”.

Reframing it this way makes it wincingly clear – at least to me – that either my priorities are skewed, or I need to take another look.  Most of the time, I do have time to meditate for 10 minutes, setting myself up in a good way for the rest of the day; I have time to take 20 minutes to sit down and eat a healthy meal, nourishing my body; I have time to write a letter to someone I care about, nourishing my soul.

I do, in fact, have the time I need.

There are definitely days when most of us are short on time.  For those days, and every day, here are 3 things you can use to make the best of the time you need.

  • Decide what’s important to you today.  I like to do this over my morning coffee, after I meditate.  It doesn’t take long, and helps me set my focus for the day on something that brings me joy, or a sense of accomplishment.  There are two kinds of things that are important – those things that feel urgent and those things we know are important.  When something feels urgent, then it may be more emotional than real in importance.  Take a moment to see which it is for you.
  • Chose one thing that’s important to you, and focus on that one thing.  Then once that thing is complete, chose another important thing. I promise you that if you get nothing else done that day, you’ll still feel great at the end of it.
  • Focus on the biggest things you can accomplish in the time you have.

In The Big Rocks of Life, Steve Covey demonstrates why this is a good idea.  Imagine you have an empty quart jar, and a bunch of stones ranging from largish to fine sand.  First, add the sand to the jar, then the larger stones.  You’ll find that you run out of room pretty quickly.  Now dump the lot, and begin again by adding the biggest stones, then the smaller ones, ending with the sand.  It’s great to actually do this to see for yourself that the second method is a lot more effective in containing all the stones than the first method.

It’s the same in life: if we focus first on those things most important to us – the “big” things – then all the rest will be taken care of.  On the other hand, if we focus on the small things first, you’ll never even get to the big ones.

 

Three things I learned while my plane crashed

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Quote of the Week

“The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in 5 words – I did not have time.”  – Franklin Field

 Announcements

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Depression & Your Job

When I speak at corporate events, one of the most asked questions has to do with depression and stress at work.  “How does one eliminate stress and deal with depression at work?” Well, everyone is different and we handle stress and depression in individual styles, even sometimes not handling stress or depression at all. There are some things that are pretty standard to help you start working towards dealing better with depression on the job, and these are the same tips that I expertly give at my conferences and to my private clients.

First, don’t let work take precedence over recovery or even seeking help.  Work is important, but it is only one aspect of your life.  What is most important is your health, including your mental health. Even on the busiest of days, remember that recovery or connecting with the best help resource is your top priority. The rest of it comes secondary to your health.

And, as cliche as it may sound, don’t let the past define today or tomorrow.  It is hard for us, as humans, to realize that problems caused by your symptoms in the past will not necessarily repeat themselves, yet many of us who battle and deal with depression feel like failure is unavoidable.  Know that no one is perfect and we all have setbacks and room for improvement. A total lack of energy that once caused you to miss a crucial deadline doesn’t mean you are unreliable or that you have a pattern of missing deadlines. When we feel blue, it is hard to keep things in perspective, but it is something we have to remind ourselves to do- even if we have to write it down on our ‘to do’ list each and every day.

Schedule better. I tell everyone this as life is hard as it is, bad scheduling makes everything feel worse! Make sure you schedule time to find time and energy to devote to managing your depression.  Reflect upon your daily or weekly schedule and look for activities, both at home and at work, that could be delegated to others.  Involving coworkers in shared responsibilities and asking family members to help with chores is a way to help manage your depression. By scheduling help, you can make time to get some help with a support group, online counseling, in-person counseling, or just time aside to do something that you like!

Depression at work can be hard to manage, but there options to help you move your treatment plan forward without adding stress to your current situation.

Living in Insecure Times

There’s a facebook entry going viral where Rick Hanauer, a billionaire who became rich from investing in Amazon in its early days, talks about the growing gap between the rich 1% and the rest of us.  From his point of view, the rest of us have it pretty tough. He believes the biggest difference between the wealthy and us is being free from worry. Worry about: “Am I going to be able to clothe my kids?” “What happens if someone gets sick?” “Am I going to be homeless and lose my stupid, crappy job?” “Can I say no to a supervisor who is forcing me to work overtime and not paying me?”

He believes this growing separation creates a high-stakes environment where there isn’t any social or economic alternative to striving to be rich (and secure) because we feel if we’re not rich we’re “basically screwed”.  Even though Rick has a valid point, it may not be as bad a picture as he paints.

It depends on one’s perspective. For the bottom half, it’s indeed tough.  Yes, most of us are concerned for our future and the future of our families.  Some of us take on jobs we’d rather not have; most of us are heavily in debt; and most of us probably long for the days of our parents when the cost of living was way more manageable.

Because of these burdens, we turn to things that help us feel good about ourselves and our lives – yoga, art, hiking, working out, movies, even meditation.  These are all truly great, and good for us.  But if they’re not what we really need to feed and support our true spiritual hungers, if we use them instead to stave off feeling fearful and insecure, then they only end up giving us false security.  You know this if the good feeling they give you doesn’t last very long; if you need to turn to these activities again and again to get back the good feelings, and avoid feeling like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Like me on days when I’m feeling stuck and meditate to escape feeling that way (… meditating for better reasons on other days).  Like my brother who, when he smoked, was heavily into organic living in an attempt to make up for hurting himself, unable to give up smoking because he felt too much under pressure all the time.

Compared to the days of our parents, insecurity is real: everything costs so much more, jobs are scarcer, and wages haven’t really increased for decades.  Adam Baker in his Ted Talk Sell Your Crap. Pay your Debt. Do what you Love talks about how our fantasy of the “American Dream” is no longer real.  Instead, what we end up buying into is a mortgaged home, a mortgaged education, and the prospect of years of paying for it. Nigel Marsh nails it when he says, “There are thousands and thousands of people out there living lives of quiet, screaming desperation working long, hard hours, at jobs they hate, to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.

The good news is there is a way out of this seeming impasse. The challenge is that it requires a shift in our expectations and approach.

Mooji, a spiritual teacher from Jamaica, makes the point that we are only truly free to pursue what moves and feeds us spiritually when we let go of concern of what others think, need and want from us.  This isn’t a new idea, but perhaps it’s something we often forget. Or simply don’t allow ourselves to consider because it seems too impractical. Too unrealistic.  However, there are some steps we can take to can begin to incorporate this wisdom into our everyday lives that works and helps us begin to live freer of worry and burden.

  • Know what’s important to you.  Take 10 minutes in the morning to reflect on what is most important to you for today.  It might be to spend time enjoying the company of your daughter, your spouse or partner, your pet; it might be to take advantage of a beautiful day; to repay a debt.  Any thing or activity that is meaningful to you and brings you joy or a sense of fulfilment.
  • Choose one thing only.  On other days you might choose something else.  This is important: if what you deem important has to compete with other important things then there is a danger that none of them will be actualized.
  • Make time for that one thing, then do it! Commit to the time it will take for today – be it 10 minutes, an hour, or longer.  And then make sure it happens.

Simply doing this one thing every day will begin to help you refocus on what is most important to you, and everything else will simply be the means you chose to accomplish this one thing.

Trust in Life and You will See – Mooji, a Story

Quote of the Week
The regular man will do everything to live, the spiritual man who is searching for the truth will take every opportunity to die. – Mooji

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co