Turning The Tide On Your Healthy Routines

Kids provide such great illustrations!

September is the month to get back to our healthy routines. School is back in session for many who have kids, but even for those of us who don’t, it feels like a time to get refocused. Do you have some healthy habits that went by the wayside over the summer months? Are you ready to turn the tide back in the right direction?

Over Labor Day weekend, I was relaxing around the hotel pool with family watching the kids create a whirlpool in the water. They were having a ton of fun getting the water to move in one direction and feel the current start to pull them along without much effort. What was really fun for us adults who were watching was to see them try to stop and turn in the direction of the current. Their eyes would get really big and the look of surprise came across their faces when they realized how difficult it was going to be, pushing against the tide.

That is exactly how we feel when it is time to get back on track with our healthy habits. We have allowed them to slip a little bit, we have gone along with the current of life, allowing it to pull us long. Now it is time to get back on track, so we turn into the tide.

We have the same reaction my nieces and nephew had in the pool:

  • Their eyes opened up real wide in surprise! I don’t know about you, but when I go back to the gym after a period of time off, I think that I should be able to start right where I left off. Hee Hee! NOPE! Every single time I am surprised by the fact that it feels like I have to start from scratch. Yes, you will probably be surprised when you step back into your healthy habit if you have taken a break for a while, but don’t let that stop you!
  • They actually place one foot behind them to brace themselves against the oncoming current. Because we are starting fresh, it takes a little bit to brace ourselves as we try to get going in a new direction. There will be a time of adjustment, and that is okay! The key is that you are standing firm and not allowing the current to push you backwards. You’ve got this!
  • They leaned forward into the tide. Because you know you can accomplish great things, you lean forward in determination. You look straight ahead with you eye on your goal and you go against the feelings of un-motivation or laziness. You are determined to move forward.
  • They took one difficult step at a time. Your starting to move forward! It is not easy, but you do it! The work is hard, but you feel a sense of accomplishment when you are done!
  • The tide started to turn. Before you know it, your routine becomes easier and easier! You feel the momentum going in the right direction!
  • Watch for tide busters! One of my nephews decided that he wanted to have fun and disrupt the tide the other kids were working so hard to create. They were all having a ton of fun, but it reminded me that there are many things that can stop your momentum. Some are within our control like laziness and excuses. Others are out of our control, like illness. Whatever the tide buster is, the key to success is to get moving back in the right direction as quickly as you can.
  • They turned the tide and so can you! Whatever healthy routine you want to get refocused on, get out there and get going! It might be challenging at first, but you will get back into a great routine and be back on track in no time!

Here’s to having fun splashing around in the tide, but ultimately taking charge of it and turning the tide in the direction you want!

 

Photo by Juan Salamanca from Pexels

It’s Important to Reboot!

Four benefits to powering down

What is our first response when our smartphones or computers start to act quirky or get sluggish? We power them down. You know, you and I need the same thing, and summer is a great time to reboot our lives. Powering down and unplugging allows our minds and bodies to get some much-needed downtime.

Four benefits to powering down:

It allows your mind to rest. I was talking to a friend recently. She set off for a week-long adventure biking across the state of Missouri. She said it took her almost two days to allow her mind to slow down and to not think about her job. She said that once she did, she felt great. It really does feel great to allow our minds to rest and wander. If fact, there is more and more research showing that it is through this time that we allow our minds to wonder and rest when our minds actually grow. Yes, using our mind helps them grow, but over use is detrimental. Using our minds, then resting them, allows them to grow. So many times we forget how important downtime is for our minds, and ultimately, our well-being.

It can be good for your body. So many times, it is during downtime that we find time to do the things that feel good for us. Some of those things can be unhealthy, but some of them can be wonderfully healthy. It is good for your body to take that nap that you never have time to take. It is good for your body to get out on that walk or run that you would love to fit into your everyday life. It is fun to get out and try something that you have never tried before and take an adventure. Reboot your body by doing something that is good for it, even if that is catching up on some sleep.

It can be good for your relationships. Life is hectic and busy. Some days we cross paths with those we love as one is coming and the other is going. Or, like my husband and I, at the end of a work day, we try to put work behind us for the day, therefore we don’t talk much about it. It is during the downtime that we have together that we can really share how things are going, how we feel about things and where we want to go in the future. Downtime is a great time to reconnect with those you love.

It is good for our emotional well-being. I don’t know about you, but sometimes during my work week I really have to hold my emotions together. We all deal with a variety of personalities each day of our lives and boy, they can be challenging. Holding it together at a professional level takes a lot of energy. It is important to remove ourselves from that level of stress on a regular basis. Even more than that, it is important to have fun, be silly, do whatever it is that you enjoy. We all need an emotional break from our day-to-day life.

I could go on and on, but you want to read a blog post, not a dissertation. I hope this post will allow you to see the importance of downtime and allow you to give yourself permission to fit some into your calendar. It is good for you and those you love.

Here’s to some great downtime this summer!

P.S. Start scheduling downtime now for the fall and winter too!

 

The Not So Pretty Side to Busyness

And How to Change it!

We are all very busy, there is not doubt about it. Some of us enjoy the busy lifestyle and others don’t like it so much. I am starting to see a new trend that comes along with our busyness, that is becoming the new “norm” in our world, and I don’t think it is a good thing. I think we all want to do better!

Our busyness is turning us into not-so-nice people. I know we don’t have any intention of being unpleasant, but when we are busy, all we can do is focus on our world. People outside of that world can be treated poorly and we are too busy to even notice. To top it off, we are teaching our next generation that this is normal.

I want us to think about a few scenarios, and I want you to know that I am pulling right out of the Jen Regan play book. Most of these things I have found myself doing in the midst of my busy life, and they simply feel wrong.

I have been harsh to someone because they mildly inconvenienced me. I drop off my dry cleaning once a week early in the morning so that I can pick it up that evening. I get off of work at 5:00pm and that is when my dry cleaning is scheduled to be ready for pick-up. One night, the delivery person was running late to the dry cleaner and my clothes were not there. I became very frustrated and took it out on the very sweet young lady on the other side of the counter. You might, say “Jen, you had every right to be mad!” Maybe I did, but that is not the type of person I want to be. I want to be patient, just as I want people to be patient with me when I mess up. I looked back on that night and I was trying to fit too many things into a short amount of time. I did not leave any room for inconvenience, so when it hit, I blew up. I want to do better!

I have rushed around the grocery store with a scowl on my face, not caring who I walked in front of to get to the toilet paper isle. Again, I’m very busy and I have a number of things that I need to get done on my way home from work. I’m too busy to let the person walking in with me, go in front of me, so I just barge my way in first. I am in my own world, needing to get in and get out,  that I don’t even realize the people I walk in front of. Then there is the race to the check-out line. I have to tell you, I am kind of embarrassed to admit this stuff, but I have done it, all when I am simply too busy.

I witness on a daily basis a driver whip across three lanes of traffic, almost causing an accident, because they forgot they needed to run by the Pharmacy on the way home. When I am driving, my brain is thinking about a million things. I have driven past my destination numerous times because my mind was somewhere else. Unfortunately, many people remember at the last-minute, swerve across traffic and put many other people in danger in the process. It is not polite at all.

I know this is not my normal positive post, but we need to think about the people that we really want to be. We need to think about the next generation that we are teaching through our example. I think we want to be the smiling, loving, generous people in our world, and busyness is keeping us from living that out many times.

I encourage all of us to think about the kind of person we want to be, slow life down, and be intentional about being that kind of person. I know this post has hit home for me and I need to make some changes. I hope you will join me, too. We all want our world to be a better place, so let’s start with ourselves.

Here’s to slowing down, opening the door for someone else, making their day, and making our day in return.

It’s Good Medicine!

During the ups and downs of life, it important to fill our lives with good things. Many times, we have to be very intentional about adding these good things to our lives, because they do not happen on their own. One of those “good things”, which brings contentment to our lives, is gratitude. It is good medicine!

I do not know what your life looks like right now. You might be going through some really tough stuff. I have found that it does seem easier to feel grateful when life is going well. Although, it is in the midst of the hard times of life where we can find glimmers of peace, joy and contentment in gratefulness.

I encourage you today, wherever your journey has taken you, to take a few minutes to think about the following area, and the blessing you have to be grateful for.

  • The important people in your life. Family, friends, significant others, co-workers.
  • Your mental, emotional, spiritual or physical health. The health of those close you to.
  • A roof over your head and comforts like clean water to drink, heat, running toilets, transportation, etc.
  • Your job and income to meet your needs.
  • Blessings that are special only to you.

There is much to be thankful for and gratitude warms our hearts. It is worth the short investment of time.

I am thankful for you! Enjoy your week and the blessings that are all around you!

Opportunities!

What Is Your Heart Saying?

Life presents so many opportunities every single day. Opportunities at work, for your children, opportunities for your significant other, opportunities with family, friends, church, and your community. We live in a time of such great opportunity that it is hard to say no. We do not want to pass up the many opportunities we are given. As a result though, is the quantity of our activities interfering with the quality of our lives?

If that question just brought a tinge of pain to your heart, I want you to rest for a moment and think about this for a little bit. The first thought that might jump to your mind is “but I have to keep doing all that I am doing, that is just the way it is.” I want to encourage you right now that you do not have to have this pain in your heart, there is an answer. It might feel impossible today to change something in your life, but I promise you, you can!

While you take just a short moment to think about that pain in your heart, what one area of your life comes to mind? What are you neglecting that makes you sad? Your significant other? Your children? Your health? Your dreams? Your home? You might say “all of the above, Jen!” For now, choose one.

What little itsy, bitsy thing can you do right now to prioritize that one thing?

Do you think you can prioritize that one itsy, bitsy little thing for the rest of the week?

I know you can! If you are like me, it might slip your mind in the busyness of life. Right now, set an alarm on your phone to remind you all week. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. You want to know the amazing thing? You have just moved forward on one thing that you would not have moved forward on before you read this blog post. You are moving forward, and I am proud of you!

All it takes is one itsy bitsy step! You got this!

I’ll see you next week, and we will talk about why we love saying yes to all of the opportunities in life. It feels so good to say yes doesn’t it? Al least in the short-term.

Take care of yourself! You are amazing!

Lovingly Saying No To…”I Should”

How often in your day do you think “I should be doing…”? How many times, when you take a moment to sit down, do you feel guilty and think of all of the things you “should” be doing? How often do you think back on your day and feel like you “should have done something, but didn’t”? When we pay attention, our lives are filled with “I shoulds”. They can torment and bring us down. It’s time to lovingly (or maybe even a little forcefully) put the “I shoulds” in their place.

When you find yourself unsettled in life, what “I shoulds” are responsible?

  • There are many unhealthy “I shoulds”.
  • There are some “I shoulds” that do need to get your attention because they are the right things for your life.

How do you know the difference?

It all comes down to what is most important to you. Defining what is most important to you at this stage in your life will help you differentiate between the things that you hold dear and all of the other clutter that tries to intrude into your life. Defining what is most important to you is one of the greatest exercises and investments of time you can partake in. It will shape your life into exactly what you want it to be.

I have a simple resource that is designed to help you do exactly that! I have used it in my Life Planning Classes, and I just recently had one of my former students pull his out to share with his co-workers. He shared how this tool was life changing for him and how it has shaped his life into what he wants it to be.

Click here for your free resource: Live the Life You Desire – Define What Is Most Important To You

Once you have defined what is most important to you, you can compare your “I shoulds” to your list of “most important things”.

  • If your “I should” is on your list of most important things, it should get your attention. You should find a way to prioritize it in your life.
  • If your “I should” is not on your list of most important things, you can lovingly say “no” to it, knowing that spending time on it would pull you away from what is most important.

No longer allow the “I shoulds” to torment you or bring you down. Say “YES” to what is most important to you, and lovingly say “NO” to the rest.

Here’s to leaving guilt behind, knowing we are living the life we desire!


Action Steps:

  • Ask yourself: When you find yourself unsettled in life, what “I shoulds” are responsible?
  • Download: Live the Life You Desire – Define What Is Most Important To You and start to work on your list of most important things.
  • Improve the lives of others: If you have someone in your life who could benefit from the free resource, please pass it on to them! We are all in this together!

 

Is It Contentment That I Seek?

I have been asking myself lately, “What is it in life that I want? Do I seek happiness? Joy? What is it that I want?” Both Happiness and Joy and wonderful things, but they did not seem to be enough or realistic on an ongoing basis. Then the word contentment came to mind. Finding contentment in my life, as much as I can, sounds really nice.

I don’t quote the Bible very often in my blog posts, even though I am a believer in Jesus Christ and rely on the Bible as my source of direction in life. In Philippians 4:11, Paul says he has “learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Wow, I am far from that, but I would love to get to the point where I felt that way. As I was thinking about the concept of contentment, I took some time to think about what brings me contentment in life. When do I feel at peace? I found this to be an interesting exercise that might be worth giving a try. Here are a few things that I wrote down:

  • I feel content when I am strong (physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually)
  • I feel content when I am doing things for other people
  • I am content in the quiet
  • I am content living and working at a moderate, steady pace
  • I am content in the warmth
  • I am content in the presence of a positive, can do attitude
  • I am content in a clean, simple and organized environment
  • I am content when I am living the life God wants me to live

It would be great for each of us to live in this perfect world of contentment, but reality can be loud, fast paced, disorganized, negative and cold, right? I am not yet sure how to find contentment when life does not go my way, but this exercise of identifying what makes me content helped me out in one big way.

It made me realize that I want to fill my life with as much “contentment” as possible. There are a lot of things that are out of my control, but there are a lot that is within my control too. As I finished up the above list, I reflected on my life, on my list of “things I want to do” and compared them to the things that bring me contentment. Most of the things that I want to do in my life fit well with the things that bring me contentment, but there were a few that did not fit real well. I suddenly realized that I could use my “contentment list” as a tool to help me determine my future pursuits. I do have some control over bringing contentment into my life, and so do you.

Now, for those times when life is loud, fast paced, disorganized and cold, I am going to have to find a way to find contentment and peace in the middle of it. I am not real sure how to do that yet, but I have a lifetime to figure that one out. In the meantime, I would love for you to join me in creating a list of things that bring you contentment. Use that list to intentionally bring more contentment into your life. Life is one big experiment, right?

I would love to hear from you and your thoughts on finding contentment. Thank you to each of you who have commented or sent me an email in past weeks. You are all an inspiration to me! Keep the thoughts coming, and I am sure to incorporate them into future posts.

Here’s to adding more contentment into our lives in order to live our BEST!

An Ordinary Wek

I am writing this blog post on Wednesday night, the night before it is to be posted. My original plan was to share an article that I had saved quite a while ago, but just got around to reading this week. When I went to find for the article online, it apparently is so old that it is not longer available. I am sitting in my recliner thinking about what I am going to share with you this week. Hmmmm. It’s been a pretty ordinary week.

pexels-photo-196649

I read an interesting article today and it make me think about the next “step” in the process of baby steps. So far this year I have been thinking about and taking just the next baby step. Life has been crazy busy and that is all I could handle. That is ok, in fact that is great and better than no steps at all, but this article suggested thinking about and planning out the next two or three baby steps. I realize I cannot do this in all areas of my life, but I think I am going to start to try this in at least one area that I am trying to move forward in. I will let you know how it goes.

I have been trying to read more articles this week. The articles I am reading are focused around one of the areas that I want to grow and do great things in the future. Monday morning I read one and today I read one. It has not been a huge thing, but it is more than what I had been doing, and they have really enhanced my week. I am going to try to keep it up.

I have spent time with some great people. Sunday I spent the day with my parents, sister and her family. I have taken some nice evening walks with my husband, John. Tonight I had dinner eating some yummy ribs with a dear friend, and I have more great times with great people planned for the rest of my week. Oh, and I can’t forget my cuddle time with my puppy.

I also have to share that I was quite cranky Monday and Tuesday of this week. I don’t want you to think that my life is all rainbows and bunnies. I did not have a good attitude for a few days.

I guess my point to this blog post is to let you see that I live a pretty ordinary life, but I still plan to do extraordinary things. I try to keep learning. I keep taking baby steps. I spend time with great people. I even get cranky. Whatever you want to do in life, no matter how ordinary it might look, be proud of it and go for it. Be true to who you are, be kind to yourself, and keep going!

I hope you have a great rest of the week! Good or bad, we will keep plugging away, right? Here’s to living our BEST ordinary life!  

P.S. An amazing lady named Beth takes time each week to edit my blog posts. Since I am writing this the night before, she will not be able to do her magic on my post. Sorry for any spelling or grammar mistakes, and thank you Beth for always making me look good and for making my weekly blog post a positive experience for everyone. I plan to be back on track next week, but Beth has heard that many times from me before. : )

Be Energized!

I like to look at the energy that we have for each day similar to how we see money in a bank account. Sometimes we make deposits, sometimes withdrawals and sometimes our balance stays steady. If I had to guess though, I would say most days, our energy bank accounts experience more withdrawals than deposits. The question is, how can we deposit more and withdrawal less to live our best?

Pig BankIn my day job, I work within my strengths most of the time. I am very fortunate that my energy bank account does not get depleted there. I do have to admit though, that my day job generally does not make deposits in my energy bank account either. I end up with a pretty neutral balance. It all changes when I start to add in all of the “stuff” before work, after work, and on the weekends. I can suddenly find my energy bank account plummeting. How do we take control and produce more energy for our lives?

Identify withdrawals. What are the things in your life that drain you? These areas are specific to you. Pay attention to the times in your life that you feel drained. What is causing it? Identifying these withdrawals from your energy account is the first and most vital step.

One item I have identified that will drain me almost immediately, is to be forced to rush.  When I am forced to rush out the door or from one place to the next, I can feel the anxiety rise and the energy drain.

What are the things in your life that drain you of energy?

Reduce withdrawals. Once you begin to identify these areas that drain you of energy, it is time to ask yourselves if and how you can reduce these withdrawals. In my example of not wanting to be rushed, I have learned to build in a buffer in my day as much as possible which gives me time to move at the speed that works for me. Yes, I am forced to rush at times, but most of the time it is within my control to slow things down to the pace that works for me.

How can you begin to take control of the areas that drain you to reduce their draining effect?

Identify deposits. On the opposite side of the coin, what are the things in your life that replenish your energy? These things make you feel great when you are done. I am an introvert. What this means for me it that I fill my tanks by having “me” time. I have found a number of things that I can do by myself that replenishes my energy. You might be able to relate with me, or you might be the opposite and feel replenished by being surrounded by as many people as possible. Identifying the things that make deposits into your energy account is a great step towards living your best life.

What are the things in life that energize you?

Increase deposits. I think this is an obvious next step, right? Do as much as we can to add energy to our lives, but it is easier said than done. Life is filled with a lot of obligations and many of them zap our energy. The reality is that it is hard to find the time to add these positive things into our day. It is also hard, at times, because we tend to take care of everyone else and give ourselves what’s left over,  if there is any. Increasing the things that bring us energy in life will be a process, but remember we can do amazing things if we just focus on one small step at a time.

What small step can you take today to start to increase the positive, energy giving deposits in your life?
Learning to live our best life is a journey. An important things to remember is that we are in the driver’s seat. We have control of the breaks if we need to use them, we are in control of the accelerator, the steering wheel, but most importantly, the gas tank. Let’s make sure we are doing what we can to fill up our tanks so that the journey of life is the best it can be!  

Don’t Give up on Your Dreams!

Life is not easy at times, and it doesn’t always play out like we envision it to. Through the years we dream of fun trips, ideal careers, dream homes, and so much more just to find those dreams buried in all of the other “stuff” of life. How do we tap back into our dreams and make them a reality?

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I have a bunch of dreams. I have dreams of becoming a bestselling author, of buying my dream bike and taking week-long trips on rails-to-trails around the U.S. I have dreams of taking a train trip through the mountains of Canada, and so much more. But all of these dreams take work and effort to make them a reality. I don’t know about you, but life can get in the way of my dreams and sometimes they feel like they start to slip away.

Many times our dreams take time to come to fruition. What can we do to ensure that they become a reality?

First, let’s write them down. There is something important about taking the time to pick up a pen and paper or sit down at our computer and put our dreams into words.

Second, it’s important to keep our dreams in front of us. That may mean taking what you wrote down and putting it up in your office or on the refrigerator. I also like to find pictures that represent my dreams and keep them in front of me. I love John and my home, but we have dreams of having a house away from town and in the quiet countryside. I have pictures of my dream house on the desktop of my computer. Just the other morning when I had a few minutes I opened them up and found myself excited about the possibilities.

Third, make sure you share your dreams with the important people in your life; some compromise may need to take place. I have always dreamt of going on a cruise, but John has no desire to do that. It’s funny, many couples that I have talked to about this have one for and one against going on a cruise. I joked for years that I was going to gather all of my friends who wanted to go on a cruise and go, and you never know, I might still do that. But I started to think about trips that both John and I would enjoy and that is when I came up with the idea of taking a train trip through the mountains of Canada. Even my dream of writing a best-selling book will impact my loved ones. It’s important to dream together and stay on the same page.

Forth, don’t allow anyone to discourage or tell you it can’t be done. Sometimes going after our dreams can be lonely. Others do not have the same passion that we have and therefore, may not think it is all that important. Some dreams take a lot of time, effort and investment and others may lose interest along the way or think you can’t do it. My book writing adventures have taken a long time, and they are going to continue to take time. Many people have written off the idea that I am going to accomplish this goal, but I have not. It may take me 5, 10, 15 more years to make it happen, but I am going to keep going.

Lastly, keep taking baby steps forward. A bunch of small baby steps will take you a long way. One of my dear friends is writing a book too. As she moved forward in the process she decided to go back to school. People wonder if she has given up on her dream of writing her book. From the outside there is no evidence of her moving forward, but each class that she completes teaches her amazing things and brings her closer to making her dreams and book a reality. She is taking one small baby step at a time.

What are your dreams? Don’t let anything stop you from dreaming and making your dreams a reality.  Here’s to big dreams and baby steps to make them a reality!