Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"Oh, it was nothing" and other ways to Celebrate your Success

Many of the women I know are quiet about their accomplishments. Ask them how they managed to pull together their company's most profitable project in three years and I am likely to hear that it's all in the teamwork. Do you know women like this who feel more comfortable shining a light on others rather than verbalize their own achievements? In the fiber art community of my profession, female artists often explain their amazing needle art expertise by pointing out that their mother, grandmother and aunts all inspired them with their simple homemaking skills like sewing clothes or embroidering tea towels. I know how this works because I have done it myself. The real hero in our life always seems to be someone else.

American women are often raised to be polite, humble and modest, and this leads women to view accepting praise as a form of bragging. Are we selling ourselves short? In order to deflect a robust statement about the value of our accomplishments, do we have to engage in a version of negative self talk? "Oh, it was nothing" may sound humble, but does it actually undermine our confidence or demotivate our future efforts? I believe that all people, male and female alike, should practice a few techniques to celebrate success so that their full participation in life is acknowledged and their anticipation of future success is enjoyed!

Awesome Efforts deserve Vibrant Recognition
1. Pat someone else on the back. Because I am an artist and so enjoy looking at art, there is not a week that goes by when I cannot find a fellow artist who has made something that inspires me. When I contact them and offer my sincere praise, you might think I am doing this for their benefit. That is only half of the story. Talking about others' accomplishments helps normalize the behavior, making it even more likely that I will mindfully appreciate my own victories.
2. Take a trip down memory lane. At the end of the week, after you have given your daily life your best shot, take a quiet moment to review your actions. Think about three specific ways your accomplishments made a positive difference in this world. Thinking about specific actions like this requires your rational brain to do more of the thinking work than your emotional brain, which means that you can more easily override your early polite-girl training to be humble and quiet about awesome abilities. Luxuriate in your thoughts of contribution.
3. Practice asking for what you want. We've all thought it from time to time. Women who are blunt when asking for stuff get called not-so-nice names. This cultural habit does not serve us well, and even keeps us from verbalizing our needs. If something you want is related to an accomplishment from your past, say stellar performance on the job, how hard is it for you to speak up and ask for an appropriate reward? Have you ever felt passive about life as you wait and hope for the acknowledgement you deserve? I know I have. It almost seems like praise from an authority figure or another person whose opinion I trust (like my husband), is something that should come my way unbeckoned in order for it to be legitimate. Here's the skill I am practicing to boost my confidence in this situation: ask for advice. "I am trying to figure out the best way to be included in the Main Street Art Festival in September. Do you have any advice for me?" This approach allows me to get closer to asking directly for what I want, and every step in that direction increases my chances of getting what I want more often.
4. Ritualized Mini Celebrations. Are you the kind of friend who notices when your girlfriend's child receives an award? Do you call her up and help her feel special about her special little girl? Why is it easier to get pumped up about another person's success than it is to get pumped up about your own? Jessi L. Smith, Ph.D. says it is due to what's called "negativity bias," which causes our brains to look at what goes wrong before it looks at what goes right. This little protective devise helps us survive, I suppose, but I vote that we should thrive more than survive! So the next time you accomplish anything, truly anything, give yourself 20 seconds to mentally Happy-Dance. Who knows, this might even lead to actually moving your body around in a little jig. Now wouldn't that be a fun-loving way to enjoy yourself?

Looking at feminine accomplishment and applauding it is something this old world of ours needs. And sometimes, this is an inside job. When we take the time to notice our efforts and give ourselves the positive credit we deserve, and then that naturally leads to an embodied experience of joy, you can bet that our motivation to succeed in the future will be heightened. All of our awesome efforts do deserve vibrant recognition, because that, my friend, is no small thing.

Thanks for stopping by,

P.S. I would love to have you follow my blog! I invite you to do that because the content I offer here is awesome. Getting to know you through comments and such simply fills my heart with joy. Thanks!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Average Age of American Widow is 55, and other Shocking Travel News

Are you the kind of wife who makes plans for retirement vacations? If you are any one's wife at all, and you are still happy to explore the world in your 50s, a few extravagant vacations can likely come to mind. I know they do with me! That is why I read with shock the statistic in Parade Magazine's recent issue that the average age of widowhood in the United States is 55.

I am not ready to retire yet (thus elaborate travel is still in the planning stage), and my 55th birthday is a few months away, but this piece of trivia really got my attention. I decided to do a little research to see if this statistic was real, and I did find some governmental statistics that quoted figures of "average age of widowhood" at 55 to 58 years old. I think we need to talk.

Why does this headline get my attention, and perhaps yours as well? I have been in the process of implementing a Live a Vital Life in Our 90s Protocol at the Holland House since 2008! That was the year I made up my mind that with specific lifestyle choices and putting my growing health knowledge into action, I would be able to live a vibrant life well past 90. In fact, this little "program" of mine has snowballed into a full-fledged career as a Holistic Health Coach! It is just fascinating to me how the simple choices I make every day can add years to my life as well as life to my years. My husband has enjoyed the lifestyle changes that have progressively happened in our home for the past six years, and his health has never been stronger. Each book I read on the topic of longevity and wellness has a magical way of ending up in his reading stack, and we are having lively discussions about all the pros and cons of expert advice and the latest health and wellness research results. I truly believe that my husband and I will outlive the statistics and dance at our anniversary party in 2050.

If I think about all the ways in which we have improved or tweaked our daily choices to live longer and with more vitality, I would have to claim the following as the changes that make my Top Ten list. How many of these efforts are part of your healthy lifestyle?

1. Be an Artist   Creativity is a healing human endeavor and expanding our vocabulary by expressing ourselves with our art is a superb way to stay young. Do you believe that your creativity is valuable? There are as many ways to be artistic as their are people on this planet.
2. Move to Monaco   Did you know that the average life expectancy in Monaco is 89.68 years? I am thinking of adding this destination to my retirement travel plans. I want to see first hand some of these vibrant folks!
3. Choose Wonderful Friends   The feelings of isolation will age the human spirit almost as fast as overeating donuts. I use the word Wonderful to be crystal clear about my feelings regarding Ruthless or Apathetic friends, whom I plan to avoid.
4. Cook with Joy   This lifestyle choice has morphed into a larger effort which is giving us great results, and that is to cook whole foods with joy. The energetics of eating mostly produce and making 90% of our food at home is a lovely habit. I also feel joyful every time I see my husband chopping salad vegetables.
5. Buy Better Mattresses   The importance of a good night's sleep is not some future-tense sort of benefit. Being well rested is great for longevity, as well as being great for this very day. I believe it is the foundation of optimism.
6. Drive with Care   This could also read, Don't Get in Car Accidents. It could also read, Ride your Bike more often.
7. Find Reasons to Laugh   I try to laugh every single day. A real belly laugh is my favorite core workout.
8. Sit Less and Garden More   Set a timer when you sit down to read or use the computer. When it rings, go garden or take a walk. I seriously do this. I am not saying I have the luxury of time to take a long walk or plant for an hour, but I am saying that small bursts of bending, moving, stretching and squatting are awesome ways to add functional fitness for my future well-being.
9. Cherish my Spirituality   Embracing my connection to the Divine and my place in the universe is primary food for me. Taking a moment to quiet my mind and center myself is not only a spiritual activity; it is also a stress reliever that lowers my blood pressure and comforts my body.
10. Take Great Vacations   And thus, I have plans for retirement vacations! There are many lovely places that my husband and I want to see, and many of them are in my home state of Colorado. Good thing we have 40+ years to explore.

Thanks for stopping by,