Saturday, August 3, 2013

How I Use my iTunes to Chase the Blues Away

Everyone has one ... a song or two that they cannot help but sing along to, right? I know I do. No, I don't have the greatest voice in the world. No, I don't know all the lyrics. Yes, once a friend said to me while I was driving him somewhere, "wow I'd be embarrassed to sing in front of anyone if I were you" ... I wonder how long it took him to walk the rest of the way? (just kidding)

All that aside, I feel good when I sing. I feel really good. My future as a karaoke singer is still undetermined but in the car or the shower, I'm a hit.

To intentionally cultivate that "it feels really good" feeling at will ... I created a playlist on my iTunes called SING. It is a list of songs that I cannot help singing along to when I hear them. Thankfully I know most of the words to these songs, and those I don't know I make-up enthusiastically as I go along.

Right now on my playlist are the following songs:
  1. People Are Crazy by Billy Currington 
  2. One Way or Another by Blondie 
  3. I Like the Way by Bodyrockers
  4. Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas
  5. Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen
  6. You're So Vain by Carly Simon
  7. Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood
  8. Oh, Pretty Woman by Chris Isaak
  9. Do You Love Me by The Contours
  10. I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) by Daryl Hall & John Oates
  11. Ah! Leah! by Donnie Iris
  12. One of These Nights by The Eagles
  13. Paralyzer by Finger Eleven
  14. Urgent by Foreigner
  15. Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People
  16. Can't Take My Eyes Off You by Frankie Valli
  17. December, 1963 (Oh What a Night!) by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
  18. Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty
  19. See You Again by Miley Cyrus
  20. Bad Things (The Theme to "True Blood") by Jace Everett
  21. Laid by James
  22. Flood by Jars of Clay
  23. Feeling Alright by Joe Cocker
  24. I Was Made for Loving You by Kissing
  25. Trouble by Lindsey Buckingham
  26. Tornado by Little Big Town
  27. I Feel Lucky by Mary Chapin Carpenter
  28. Sin Rumbo by Otros Aires
  29. Passion by Rod Stewart
  30. Miss You by The Rolling Stones
  31. Cry to Me by Solomon Burke
  32. Follow Me by Uncle Kracker
  33. The Night Chicago Died by Paper Lace
  34. Everything (...Is Never Quite Enough) by Wasis Diop
  35. Somebody's Watching Me by Rockwell
I have some songs I want to add and will download them soon. Try it and see if it helps you chase a bad mood away.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Je t'aime

A friend posted this YouTube video on my facebook page and it is fabulous. Why is it so hard to say I love you to the face in the mirror? One of my newer goals is to do something called "Mirror Work" by Louise Hay. My friend Lisa told me about the practice and the discussion of it caused me to feel choked up. I have yet to begin the practice ... It almost feels overwhelming. Actually, it does feel overwhelming, there is no almost about it.

I watched this video and I realize that I'm not the only one that struggles with this. Why must it be a struggle? Why is it easier to find fault in ourselves? Why is it easier to accept imperfections in others than it is in ourselves? No one is perfect and I would never speak to another person the way I do myself in an internal dialogue. This is certainly one of the learned behaviors I seek to change at this time. As I catch those types of criticisms and thoughts I say to myself, "cancel that ..." and reword it in a more positive manner.

With enough frequency there I will eventually turn the tide and my confidence will grow. Baby steps, because it is a process. One day in the near future I will start on that mirror work.

In the meantime ... this wonderful little video.

Je t'aime,

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vision Exercise

While reading one of the lessons in the Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence class that I am taking at Coursera there was an exercise given to an executive during a coaching session that I liked and decided to do myself.

The exercise is to describe:

My passion
My purpose
My core values
Envision myself 5-7 years into the future
Consider what I really want to do with my life

What is my passion?

pas·sion [pash-uhn] noun
1. any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.

No quick answer here. That must be what makes this an exercise. I am going to equate passion to something that makes me feel invigorated and filled with a zest for more. That said, I feel most alive when I am learning or sharing something I am learning with enthusiastic and interested people. I certainly feel extremely motivated and very engaged when I am teaching other people about healthy ways to live their life through diet, exercise or even changing their outlook. Helping another person, making them feel good about themselves and happier than when they arrived.

What is my purpose? 

pur·pose [pur-puhs] noun, verb, pur·posed, pur·pos·ing. noun
1. the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
2. an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
3. determination; resoluteness.
4. the subject in hand; the point at issue.
5. practical result, effect, or advantage: to act to good purpose.

Again, no strong clarity here but of late my purpose is to become a more authentic person, to lesson the gap between who I am really and who I show to the world. To rid myself of those fears that hold me back from experiences. Fear of being hurt. Fear of failure. Fear of "looking stupid". Is anyone really paying attention anyway? Aren't we all asking the same questions and looking for the same answers as we make this journey?

I do not want to reach the end of my time here and have a long list of regrets and realize that I allowed the opinions of others to outweigh the importance of the opinion I have of myself. As soon as I figure out how to do that without fail at all times, to help others do the same thing. This little picture I found online captures that sentiment exactly ... find my gift, share my gift. I do not feel there is any value in figuring any of this stuff out if I cannot share it and help another human free themselves.

As I see it my purpose here is to be true to myself and experience as much as I can while I am here. I am living my purpose now.  

Live. On. Purpose.

Yes, thank you.

What are my core values?

Core values are rules and set principles that a person or a group of people live by on a daily basis. They are the values they hold to be true and important.

This question is an exercise in and of it's own. I have found there are several in depth exercises you can do online to unearth your core values. Having not done these exercises ... Off the top of my head I am going to choose five things that are at the core of my life.

Love - We all want it and deserve it. You get what you give, so give love.
Kindness - Sometimes I have to reel myself back in and dial down impatience and focus on just being kind. After I do, I feel very peaceful.
Gratitude - It is quite possible this should be number one on the list, but since I did not type it in that order, it will stay where I put it. I focus on what I am grateful for every single day. When something awful happens, like the sudden death of my dog, I still find something to be grateful for. Powerful thing, that gratitude.
Growth - I am convinced my purpose here is to learn and grow and experience all that I can. And then to share it!
Persistence - There are days when it all goes to hell and I go to bed and let it go. I wake up and start over when the new day dawns. No one is perfect, every day is a clean slate ready to be written on. Even for me.

Another time I will do a core values assessment and see where that leads me. You can be sure there will be a blog for that exercise.

What do I want my life to be five to seven years from now?

This is truly the vision part of the Vision Exercise. Seeing a future, creating it in my mind, refining it. I can see that it is an integral part of living.on.purpose. If you do not have a destination, where are you driving to? Typically I do not get in a car and have no destination in mind. It has been a long time since I have looked down the road and charted all aspects of my life. I tend to focus more on finances and career than the other parts.

I do not want my life to be exactly as it is now. I would not trade my life for anyone's however, I am seeking to see some improvements.

In five years I see myself with a business as a life coach focusing on the skills I already have and also having acquired those necessary to be a FasterEFT Practitioner. I want to make a difference in helping other people improve their lives, their outlook and their happiness. I want my own home and an income that easily enables me to support that and save for retirement and vacations. I also want a relationship that strong, loving, stable, open, trusting, and filled with appreciation and respect for each other. A relationship that I am confident about, with no doubts about the future or where I stand with this person. While I want to have my own business I do not want to feel that I am working so much I cannot enjoy my life. I want time to travel and again experience and appreciate this amazing world. I want to be active, healthy, and strong. I want to have my friends and family close, and create memories with them. I want to be a very grateful person.

What do I really want to do with my life?

To live it, so that when my time here ends and I leave this body I am not wracked with "I wish I had" and instead I can sift through memories like a pirate would treasure. I also want to help people do the same.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Highs and Lows

This past week was one of really great highs and the lowest of lows. As I try to process everything and make sense of it all, I think writing about it will help. I wonder if any of it will make sense.

Tuesday June 11th my dog Sixto died very suddenly. When I woke up in the morning he didn't seem right, he was definitely off, it seemed like he had a stiff neck. Now I know he was having cardiac distress. I was scheduled to leave for vacation that evening and getting him to the vet became a priority. As my roommate and I were waiting for the vet's office to open Sixto fell over, stiff legged and vomited a world of blood. I knew it was bad, and he died in my arms as we walked into the animal hospital. They were so kind. Everyone was.

Then begins the self-torment. Why do we always torment ourselves, make judgements? How many times have you heard someone say "You are your own worst critic." I have heard that for forever it seems. I don't want to hear it ever again. For that to happen I need to stop certain habits.

Anyway, in grief my brain just went off like fireworks with a million disjointed thoughts, most of them geared towards blaming myself, feeling guilty, feeling selfish. Way to make something awful even worse.

Do I still go on vacation, I wondered? Is it selfish to go away? Yes it would be selfish to go I thought. This trip was set up 6 months ago. Do I stay home and honor Sixto? Is it bad to go away? Is it better to stay home and grieve? How would either option affect the people I was going with? Was there something else I could have done? Should I have noticed something sooner? So many questions I simply didn't have the answers to. I decided to go. That wasn't an easy decision and I definitely felt guilty. I also felt terribly sad and like my heart was just simply broken.

Over the course of the trip though, I had lots of crying jags, but the change in environment helped me to rally as well. Ups and downs.

I squeezed in a couple of guided meditations until my iPod died from lack of power. It helped. Meditation always helps.

While in Havasupai I found the gratitude that alters perspective in many situations. Sixto died while I was still home and in my arms. That is a gift. It is easy to look at the waterfalls, the canyon walls, the sky, the moon, the stars, everything and feel grateful. Finding gratitude in loss was a little more difficult however, even there I had much to be grateful for. I am thankful I was open to seeing it.

That was the low of the week, obviously. Losing Sixto, beating myself up about it, making it worse. Recognizing it, finding the silver lining, that is positive though.

New Navajo Waterfall
One of the highs though was getting beyond my fear of heights and jumping off a waterfall. I think it may be around 25 feet high, but it seems everyone has stated that waterfall to be a different height, as much as 40 feet to as low at 25 feet. Whatever! All I can say is from up "there" it was pretty darn scary and a long way down. Very pretty though from the bottom!

I did it a year before, however barely, just barely. I basically jumped when I realized my legs, that were shaking like Elvis with way too much caffeine, were going to give out at any moment. I plopped into the water, my legs gave out and I was scared to pieces. This year I figured it would be easier. This year I wanted it to count. For some reason because I barely made it off, it just was not good enough for me. That may sound silly but it is the truth.

Well! It was not easier. I bit my boyfriend's head off just before and then lost all my nerve and walked off. Stood at the top of that waterfall for what must have been 5 minutes, turned around, almost fell off, and saw a line of 20 people waiting patiently (ok maybe not so patiently). I felt so embarrassed. Then I started one heck of a nasty internal dialog. Beating myself up. Blaming it on my boyfriend first, then on me. Definitely not one of my finest moments in time ...

Just before biting his head off ...
This was not constructive and I decided to let it go and try some FasterEFT tapping. I'm not sure how long I tapped for, I found a quiet place sitting on a little mini waterfall nearby, alone and somewhat out of sight from people so I wouldn't look like I was completely stark raving mad. Then I worked on releasing that fear of heights and the anger I was directing outward.

Tap away I did. When I felt ready, I walked back to that lovely, scary, high waterfall, found a spot I liked and launched off it. By myself, without anyone holding my hand. Without telling anyone, without asking for encouragement from anyone, and without looking for approval from anyone. Except for my own.

Just before I walked off I had asked my boyfriend to hold my hand and we jump off together. I saw a couple do it moments before and thought, wow I'd love to do that. Knowing my fear of heights he  expressed concern at doing that, afraid one of us would get hurt. Mostly afraid I would get hurt if he pulled me off because I changed my mind. After I did the EFT I could see his side and his concern, I did balk and walk off the first time. He was right to worry. It was not his fault I couldn't jump, so biting his head off was a poor reaction. No reason to get mad at him. No reason to get mad at all really.

However, I am grateful that I put some of my FasterEFT skills to use, was able to let go of the fear and act. Let go of the anger too.

That's me, airborne at last ... 2nd or 3rd time!
After I jumped, when I landed my friend Paul said ... "you have to go up and do it again, I didn't get it on camera." I ran up and did it again. And again. And again. Four times. It wasn't just a fluke. I took that fear of heights and pushed it back a little bit on Saturday.

I think I made some progress this week ... There is something very rewarding in doing something that scares the pants off of you. There is also something rewarding in finding what you can be grateful for in every situation, even if it is the death of a treasured pet. And it feels good when you admit you were wrong and apologize too. I think that is called being an adult, but I'm not sure.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Flipping Resentment to Gratitude

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” -Dr. Wayne Dyer 

 I love a good Wayne Dyer quote. Especially when it sums up a moment in time so perfectly. Yesterday I was faced with a situation that I resented strenuously. I could feel it building too, like blowing a balloon up to the point of it popping right in your face. I was one breath away from whining, ranting and possibly crying from frustration. I dislike it when I feel like I have no choice in a situation. Doesn't everyone?

It all started with trying to have a healthy protein smoothie. Sounds innocent enough. Until Costco recalled my Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend by Townsend Farms. What? Organic berries contaminated with Hepatitis? Seriously, how is that even possible? And of course I found this out a few days after having made myself a nice heaping, delicious, yummy smoothie. Spectacular.

My mind first goes to the pain in the butt thought of having to return them and get a new package. Burning up perfectly good time I could be spending on something else but I can let it go, I'm self-aware and that frustration is just a transient feeling. Really, I've got this.

A couple of days later my boyfriend says I need to get a shot. A Hepatitis A shot. Excuse me? A vaccaine? Oh no, thank you. I'm healthy and I avoid that stuff like the plague. No signs of being sick at all. However, the incubation period is 6 weeks for signs of infection and the shot must be administered within 14 days of exposure to be effective. Plus he said please. Logically, I have to get the shot, even if I wanted to stomp my feet and scream.

I'm sitting in the car as he is driving me to Costco to get the shot, and get information. A cascade of negativity building and I'm feeding it lots of kindling to get the flames high. I was barely even aware of it at the time, I was simply way too busy stoking the fire. From Costco we were on to the Health Department, because Coscto didn't get their vaccine shipment (someone there has some bad karma right now because clearly nothing is going right at Costco). As we are driving to the Health Department I'm about to open up my big mouth and let out a stream of whining "why me" complaints and that's when I witnessed the stew I had bubbling in my head. Oops!

Hmm. Let's think about this. Not only did he find out all the pertinent information, he was driving me all over the place to get this done. Was he complaining that he had to take time out of his day to do it? About how annoying it was? How unfair it was? Send me off to do it all myself? Nope, not a single word of complaint. In fact, he asked if I wanted him to go up to the window and in the back when we arrived.

It was while driving to the Health Department I realized I had a lot more to be grateful for and there was nothing really to complain about at all.

I found out in time to get the shot. I have no symptoms. It was even free. And someone important to me is concerned enough to make sure I was cared for and protected from getting sick. I'm actually very lucky and perhaps, as I said before in an earlier blog, things really do happen for us, not to us.

Half full, half empty ... It really is just a perspective and you can flip it in an instant. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Stress ... Immune System ... Meditation ... Renewal.

As I make progress with Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence, the course I am taking through Coursera, I feel a renewed drive to continue meditating and to make concrete progress with quieting the noise of my mind and the physical stress disquiet results in.

There are some interesting things that happen in the body during stress. Some I have known for a while. Some I have developed a brand new appreciation and understanding of. We all know that stress is a life saving human reaction that releases epinephrine and norephinrine neurotransmitters. This vital chain of events is called the fight or flight response.

Today most of us are experiencing this fight or flight response chronically. Negative thoughts lead to negative physical responses in the body. There is even a term for it: allostatic load strain.

Courtesy of Wikipedia:
"The allostatic load is "the wear and tear on the body" which grows over time when the individual is exposed to repeated or chronic stress.[1] It represents the physiological consequences of chronic exposure to fluctuating or heightened neural or neuroendocrine response that results from repeated or chronic stress.[2] The term was coined by McEwen and Stellar in 1993.[3]
It is used to explain how frequent activation of the body's stress response, essential for managing acute threats, can in fact damage the body in the long run. Allostatic load is generally measured through a composite index of indicators of cumulative strain on several organs and tissues, but especially on the cardiovascular system."
What's really happening in your body while your brain is running amok?

Your sympathetic nervous system becomes aroused and your body goes into a protective state. I think of Star Trek and a red alert here, flashing lights and blaring alarm sounding off. Three hormones/neurotransmitters are released from the endocrine system: epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. Each has it's own little job to perform and unless you are trying to outrun a hippopotamus none of it will do a damn thing for you while you are sitting worrying about paying your rent or car payment, what he or she thinks of you, if you will look good enough in a bathing suit this summer, or if you are going to mess up your presentation in work.

Epinephrine pulls blood from capillaries, fingertips, nose, ears, and extremities and sends it to your larger arm muscles so you can fight. Norepinephrine does the same thing in the lower body and sends the blood to your larger leg muscles so you can take flight. Your brain now has less blood and closes all non-essential neural circuits. Cortisol suspends the immune system making us more susceptible to disease,  inhibits neurogenesis (the growth of new gray matter) and renders older neurons useless by over exciting them. These neurotransmitters are also vasoconstrictors which increase your blood pressure. Your pulse goes up too. Digestion slows down, peristalsis is decreased. Which makes sense because if all the blood is going to your arms and legs, how can you possibly digest food? No wonder so many people are chronically constipated.

Not an ideal environment for feeling healthy, experiencing rational thought or being open and receptive to other people or ideas. This is cranky city here.

I eat healthy, exercise diligently, pursue sleep with a gusto and take supplements. I have gotten sick several times this year and each time I have been completely befuddled. Stunned that it could even happen when I am so proactive about maintaining a healthy immune system. I have blamed it on my menstrual cycle which, due to an increase in cortisol production in the latter two weeks of the cycle, possibly does contribute. The real culprit though is my lack of chronic stress management. I had not associated stress with a suspended immune system until I began this course. Throw that stress switch on and turn your immune system off. That is what I am getting the picture of, finally.

While we cannot avoid stress completely and stimulating the sympathetic nervous system is a natural and protective result of it, we can learn to avoid our own participation in creating chronic stress. One big one that comes to mind for me is re-living an experience, refining it mentally, discussing it with others to gain support, worrying about the future and creating "what if's" about something that has not even happened. We have a lot of control should we choose to use it.

I now understand my thoughts result in a physical response, the body cannot separate what happens in the brain from reality. A thought is real to the body. So it isn't a situation per se that causes stress, it is my thoughts about it and my physical response to them. Since we cannot run from our thoughts or reactions, it may be a good time to consider ways to control them. Or, accepting that I cannot always control my thoughts, to cultivate ways in which to renew myself, ways to recover from the effects of stress.

One way to create a state of renewal is through meditation. During meditation the parasympathetic nervous system becomes engaged. Here we are calm, the immune system functions at peak performance. Neurotransmitters are released to lower blood pressure through vasodilation, your pulse lowers, breathing is easier, and the ideal environment for neurogenesis is created. Neurogenesis leads to learning new things. New gray matter, new connections. All it takes is 15-20 minutes three times a week. Every time we meditate we change the brain. It becomes easier with repetition, as do all things.

Driving was once a challenge, now I arrive at a destination without ever needing to consciously focus on the mechanics of driving. I want to get to that point with meditation. Practice, practice, practice.

Meditation is not the only way to renew yourself though. Yoga, tai-chi, praying to a benevolent God also have the effect of renewal. Showing compassion for others, being in a loving relationship, having a pet you can stroke, having hope for the future, experiencing joy and playfulness. Choose a method that suits you and pursue it. Your immune system will thank you for it!

-Nicola Byrne

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

To You? Or For You?

That is the question ...

Two interesting viewpoints crossed my path this week, one via a blog and the other a comment on Lift when I was logging a habit. I think it was the habit of gratitude ... but right now I am not 100% sure that is correct. It is far more important that I remembered the phrase.

Monday I read a blog that had a strategy for looking at things that go wrong in a different way. It was simple, ask the question "What good can come from this?" and that is not meant to be tongue in cheek. Seriously consider what good can come from whatever event just knocked the wind out of your sails. Chances are it will not happen easily at first, but the subconscious mind works on searching for answers to the questions we ask. Even while we are sleeping.

Over time I have cultivated the ability to replace "problem" with "challenge" or "opportunity for growth" when shit happens. This has altered my reaction to many of life's speed bumps, however this week I have not been doing very well with that. The speed bumps have been coming a little too close for comfort and now it feels like I am on a highway with a ton of potholes. I feel like I am having a bumpy ride.

The Universe to the rescue. Miraculously there are two new approaches that I can choose. They appeared at a time when I was feeling unmotivated and downright cranky. Asking myself the question "What good can come of this" adds a new direction to rerouting my train of thought.

The real gem though was seeing this post:
My problems happen for me, not to me.

Now that really is a twist. To go from victim to recipient of benefit that is most likely unknown at the time. I personally do not want to consider myself a victim, ever. I am very open to growing and seeing a challenge as an opportunity to do so. Perhaps the pot holes life puts in our way are more to direct us like a GPS would as opposed to some unseen force slinging bad luck like rabid pitcher.

It really is stuck in my mind though, "my problems happen for me, not to me." For me implies a gift, a benefit, something good. I don't necessarily feel like I want to keep the gift I'm getting at this time, I really can visualize returning it for store credit and picking out something else but hey, I'm human and I'm still learning.

I will consider that whatever I am currently creating in my life is more a sign of the work I have left in releasing my own self-doubts and limiting beliefs. It is almost as if I am getting a status report, OK you've made some progress here and some really great gains here, but look there's some icky stuff you have yet to address, time to get cracking!

Maybe they really do happen for me.

-Nicola Byrne

Monday, May 13, 2013

Marc, Angel and 95 Questions

I read a blog daily that inspires me. The authors, Marc and Angel, are very wise and they write about life. The name of the blog is Marc and Angel Hack Life "Productive Tips for Practical Living." This particular blog, 95 Questions to Help You Find Meaning and Happiness, strikes me as an ideal exercise for creating more clarity of where I am in my own journey.

It took a while, certainly was thought provoking, and having finished feels darn good.
  1. In one sentence, who are you? A seeker of health, well-being, love, knowledge and joyful experiences.
  2. Why do you matter? Because I am here grow and to inspire others.
  3. What is your life motto? Thoughts become things, choose them wisely - courtesy of Mike Dooley.
  4. What’s something you have that everyone wants? Knowledge.
  5. What is missing in your life? Financial stability.
  6. What’s been on your mind most lately? Understanding the brain so I can improve mine, my life, my habits.
  7. Happiness is a ________? Journey.
  8. What stands between you and happiness? Nothing, I am happy and grateful to be so.
  9. What do you need most right now? To improve my income and finances.
  10. What does the child inside you long for? Love and acceptance. I'm working on giving it to her.
  11. What is one thing right now that you are totally sure of? That I am solely responsible for everything happening in my life and I have the power to change any part of it.
  12. What’s been bothering you lately? Financial stress and occasionally self-insecurity.
  13. What are you scared of? Becoming stagnant, failing.
  14. What has fear of failure stopped you from doing? Having my own business.
  15. What will you never give up on? Learning new things, improving my health, caring for others and seeking to be helpful to people that need assistance.
  16. What do you want to remember forever? Love.
  17. What makes you feel secure? The ability to take care of myself. Knowing I am cared for and appreciated. Accomplishing a challenging task or reaching a goal.
  18. Which activities make you lose track of time? Reading, hiking, talking with fun people, laughing, climbing, cooking.
  19. What’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever made? Divorce.
  20. What’s the best decision you’ve ever made? Moving to Las Vegas.
  21. What are you most grateful for? My life and my ability to accept responsibility for where it is today.
  22. What is worth the pain? Love. Exercise. Growth.
  23. In order of importance, how would you rank: happiness, money, love, health, fame? Health, happiness, love, money, fame. Possibly explains my dismal finances.
  24. What is something you’ve always wanted, but don’t yet have? The ability to take long vacations and travel frequently.
  25. What was the most defining moment in your life during this past year? A very specific conversation with my close, dear friend Lisa about fears and who I would be without them. Visualizing me without fears was the first step to becoming more.
  26. What’s the number one change you need to make in your life in the next twelve months? I want (need) to make meditation and quieting my mind a priority. Without practice I will never achieve it. Without achieving it I limit my ability to change my world.
  27. What’s the number one thing you want to achieve in the next five years? I want to become a life coach;  to focus on inspiring people to change what they no longer want in their life using FasterEFT, coaching skills, personal training knowledge and everything else in my toolkit that may apply.
  28. What is the biggest motivator in your life right now? The desire to grow and be something more motivates me daily.
  29. What will you never do? I never want to sacrifice what I believe in to please someone else.
  30. What’s something you said you’d never do, but have since done? Fly. Climb. Give up pasta.
  31. What’s something new you recently learned about yourself? I can challenge my fears, I can change my habits, I can change my thoughts.
  32. What do you sometimes pretend to understand that you really do not? What someone is saying. Sometimes my brain takes a while to catch on and if I have already asked for clarity a couple of times I just hope it will arrive soon.
  33. In one sentence, what do you wish for your future self? I wish for all facets of my life to be in balance and to feel more fully in control of my own destiny and path. I know it is in my control, however I am still developing some necessary skills to get where I want to be. Or so I think …
  34. What worries you most about the future? Paying bills is my sole immediate worry, beyond that I am highly optimistic about the future.
  35. When you look into the past, what do you miss most? I don't miss the past.
  36. What’s something from the past that you don’t miss at all? All the fears that constrained me, all the insecurities I have left behind, all the drama I didn't realize I was creating.
  37. What recently reminded you of how fast time flies? End of month always does, due to paperwork and sometimes it feels like there is a constant flow of it!
  38. What is the biggest challenge you face right now? Having enough work to support myself.
  39. In one word, how would you describe your personality? Optimistic.
  40. What never fails to frustrate you? People who complain rather than choose to make changes. Change can be a challenge but being stuck seems far worse.
  41. What are you known for by your friends and family? Being happy? My cooking? I'm not actually sure. Please feel free to speak up in a comment and let me know … You know who you are.
  42. What’s something most people don’t know about you? I have 6 toes on my right foot. Just kidding, um I am (or was?) intensely arachnophobic. Spiders don't freak me out as much now.
  43. What’s a common misconception people have about you? Whenever someone sees I have tattoos they are utterly shocked so I guess people see me as someone who would never have a tattoo. I have no idea why. Oh and another thing is that I used to weigh about 160 pounds … Hard to picture now but I have certainly slain my own exercise and diet demons.
  44. What’s something a lot of people do that you disagree with? They don't take care of their health or value the power of food choices to change it completely. Many do not accept responsibility for their choices or their health, perhaps that is a better way of putting it. Coupled with that most people want an instant fix to something that took years to create.
  45. What’s a belief you hold with which many people disagree? The same one above actually. Or that you can change your health starting with what you put in your mouth. Or that you can change your life by looking at things differently.
  46. What’s something that’s harder for you than it is for most people? Not walking into furniture. Math. Spontaneity.
  47. What are the top three qualities you look for in a friend? I can't say I look for qualities expressly but the people I click with and feel close to always have a strong sense of humor, are loyal, honest and fun.
  48. If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? What person? 'Nuff said. Actually I am becoming better about negative self-talk. Now I tell myself to cancel that and say something nice. And I even listen.
  49. When you think of ‘home,’ what, specifically, do you think of? Mountains in Las Vegas, specifically Red Rocks.
  50. What’s the most valuable thing you own? My ability to look on the bright side of things.
  51. If you had to move 3000 miles away, what would you miss most? The mountains, the big sky at day, and the night sky, especially the moon. They are just different out here.
  52. What would make you smile right now? The word smile makes me smile :-) See?
  53. What do you do when nothing else seems to make you happy? I put on a song I like to sing along with and belt it out; or I talk to a friend about what they are doing; or I try to make someone laugh, which in turn makes me laugh.
  54. What do you wish did not exist in your life? Terrorism. Self-doubt. Debt.
  55. What should you avoid to improve your life? Impulse spending. Hmm, impulse spending is a form of spontaneity … Interesting note there.
  56. What is something you would hate to go without for a day? I have difficulty going without sunshine for a day. Connecting with another human would also be something I would hate to go without. I definitely could not do without water for a day.
  57. What’s the biggest lie you once believed was true? That life happens to us and we just have to make the best of it.
  58. What’s something bad that happened to you that made you stronger? Marriage to an angry, unhappy, alcoholic.
  59. What’s something nobody could ever steal from you? My friends.
  60. What’s something you disliked when you were younger that you truly enjoy today? Asparagus.
  61. What are you glad you quit? Eating grains.
  62. What do you need to spend more time doing? Being mindful.
  63. What are you naturally good at? Cooking.
  64. What have you been counting or keeping track of recently? My habits using an iPhone app called Lift. I am keeping track of quite a few habits such as flossing, skin brushing, rebounding, things and people I am grateful for, setting priorities for each day, and so forth. Great way to keep track of things!
  65. What has the little voice inside your head been saying lately? Read and learn. Ask questions. Listen better. Apply. Repeat.
  66. What’s something you should always be careful with? The hearts and feelings of those who love you.
  67. What should always be taken seriously? Dreams.
  68. What should never be taken seriously? Negative self-talk should always be discarded with yesterdays trash.
  69. What are three things you can’t get enough of? People I love, my pets, new experiences.
  70. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you? I would probably sing more often in front of other people. Perhaps I would teach something to larger groups of people.
  71. What fascinates you? Learning new things about subjects that inspire me.
  72. What’s the difference between being alive and truly living? Feeling joy, passion, inspiration and peace.
  73. What’s something you would do every day if you could? Give gifts to more people. Pay it forward.
  74. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive? Every day I feel passionate and alive.
  75. Which is worse, failing or never trying? Never trying is worse.
  76. What makes you feel incomplete? Sometimes I do, and then I remind myself I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this moment in time.
  77. When did you experience a major turning point in your life? When I moved to Las Vegas and felt trapped in a marriage to an unhealthy person. I did not want to ask anyone to bail me out. I realized I had to take responsibility for my choices and find my own way out. So I did.
  78. What or who do you wish you lived closer to? I wish my family lived closer to me :-)
  79. If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? Take care of your health, you only get one body and it has an expiration date. Nothing tastes as good as feeling good feels.
  80. What’s something you know you can count on? My family. My friends. My Self.
  81. What makes you feel comfortable? Easy going, open-minded people.
  82. What’s something about you that has never changed? My eye color.
  83. What will be different about your life in exactly one year? Everything will be different in some way, however all for the better.
  84. What mistakes do you make over and over again? Not enforcing the cancellation policy with clients, overloading my schedule, having a second glass of wine when I know I should stop at one, forgetting to drink enough water when I'm working long hours, taking things personally.
  85. What do you have a hard time saying “no” to? More like who - those I care for.
  86. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing? I am doing what I believe in and want to expand it.
  87. What’s something that used to scare you, but no longer does? Exposure in hiking doesn't seem to be so scary now. Speaking my mind openly is certainly a lot easier than it ever was. Social dancing in public no longer scares me at all.
  88. What promise to yourself do you still need to fulfill? To reach my fullest potential and to close the gap between who I am inside and who I show to the world. The gap is getting smaller.
  89. What do you appreciate most about your current situation? My unlimited potential.
  90. What’s something simple that makes you smile? My cat Trinity.
  91. So far, what has been the primary focus of your life? It has changed as I have matured, but I will say that expanding my horizons is the primary focus now.
  92. How do you know when it’s time to move on? When staying in place is uncomfortable, feels restrictive, sounds unmotivating or looks bleak.
  93. What’s something you wish you could do one more time? Talk to my Grandfather and my Aunt Joni.
  94. When you’re 90-years-old, what will matter to you the most? That my family is happy and healthy.
  95. What would you regret not fully doing, being, or having in your life? I would regret the things I did not do out of fear. I focus on that now and remind myself of it often.
Try it. Write down your answers. Or type them as I did. I think to look back and ask them all over again in a month, six months and a year will be very interesting. No doubt there will be some changes and some "Huh, did I really say that?" thoughts.

-Nicola Byrne   

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I Can and I Will!

The line between client and friend can become very blurry for me. I love people and connect easily with them. Then when I begin to tell a story sometimes I don't know what to say. Do I say client or friend? Or both? Does that sound weird? Oh well! I'm going off on a tangent now.

Anyway, while I was training my client and good friend T. this week she quite literally made my day by telling me that my blog from Sunday (Rock Climbing and Seeing Myself in Others) made a difference for her. This is no small praise. T. is a tough cookie, she calls it like she sees it and often tends to see what can and will go wrong as opposed to what can go right. She worries and is very fluent in it. When I attempt to point out the positives or express the strong emotions I have about doing so she usually looks at me very indulgently and smiles like I am a little daft.

At this point in T's life she is facing several challenges that a weaker personality would absolutely struggle with and more than likely fall into negativity like a heavy object would into quicksand. T. is made of sterner stuff though and somehow my blog triggered an awareness of her thoughts. It is that awareness I value and celebrate so strongly having recently acquired it myself.

As T. was warming up on the treadmill before her session she said to me that she was researching all the things that can go wrong with what she has approaching in future. She thought "I can't do this." and she heard that thought in her mind and said "Wait a minute. I can and I WILL!"

Hearing T. said that was one of the highest points for me. It truly elated me and inspired me. When I told her I wanted to write a blog about it she said "You want to write a blog about you inspiring me inspiring you?"

Absolutely. I think inspiration comes at us from a myriad of directions if we only were to keep our eyes, ears and minds open to it.

-Nicola Byrne

Friday, May 10, 2013

Meditation and Me

Meditating has been a struggle for me for many years, at least the past six. Part of it stems from inconsistency, another part frustration at my wandering mind. One cannot tame or quiet "monkey mind" or change the brain without consistently sitting and meditating however. Just do it, right?

I have a great many guided meditations in my iTunes, several favorites actually that I come back to again and again. Not with enough consistency to make a difference though.

This week I tried something new and different after several different things clicked into place in my mind.

First, I tried a guided meditation from Omvana that I disliked immensely. It was a guided meditation for relaxation and renewal. Honestly the man's voice annoyed the heck out of me and I continually wanted to end the meditation, which I eventually did prematurely. Certainly not a state for relaxation or renewal. Scratch that one off the list forever.

Second, I checked off the habit as completed in Lift. You can give fellow Lifters props by clicking a button, and as I was doing that I saw that a fellow Lifter completed "100 Breaths Meditation." That sounded interesting - off to Firefox and the computer I went. After reading about it I decided it was something I could actually do and planned to try. Surely I can focus on breathing for 100 breaths. I breathe all day long after all.

I tried it ... that night and another time the next day in the afternoon. I could not even get to 10 breaths before I caught myself off on some random train of thought. I reigned my thoughts back in and started again, and again, and again and then I think I fell asleep. Not a very auspicious beginning. Undaunted I tabled it to try again later.

Third, while listening to an audiobook on neuro-linguistic programming, which has a lot to do with observing eye cues, the author mentioned that when our eyes are fixed on a specific object we cannot think. The eyes are switches that trigger thoughts in the brain. This is how a person can be hypnotized, picture the pendulum motion of a pocket watch. Then the author mentioned meditation gazing at a candle which enables the brain the detach from thought. Click!

Fourth, I added some binaural theta meditation music by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson to gazing at a candle app on my iPhone, turned out the lights and began. I counted to 100 breaths without my mind wandering significantly and I did not lose focus on breathing a single time. That is not to say that there were not some thoughts intruding ("Wow I'm almost at 100" and "Jeez my shoulders are getting tired sitting this way") but I did it. Long deep breaths one-hundred times ...

Afterwards I went to sleep and slept like a proverbial rock. This morning I woke up so early, very well rested, and set-up to do it again. I timed myself and it took 11 minutes to reach 100 breaths. It seems I have found, through sporadic persistence, what method works for me. At last!

Here are some of my favorite meditation audios:
  1. Lisa Guyman's Mystic Waterfall - Chakra Balancing Meditation
  2. Aimee Rebekah Shea's Chakra Healing: Guided Meditation and Creative Visualization
  3. Dr. Jeffrey Thompson has a fleet of meditations to choose from!
  4. Dina Proctor's 3x3 Meditation on Omvana
  5. Probably the Best Music for Relaxation and Meditation
Binaural indicates that headphones are necessary for the full benefits of the music. It is different from something being in stereo and will not work with stereo speakers.

 -Nicola Byrne

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Practice Doesn't Make Perfect

Did that get your attention? It got mine many years ago.

One of the most inspiring people I have ever had the privilege to meet, learn from and work for is Vincent C. who runs a personal trainer certification course. Up until I met Vincent I would, as I am sure most of us have, use the phrase "practice makes perfect." One day in a lecture I heard Vincent say "practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect." Of course that made excellent sense then and it still does today.

There are many things I am learning and many things to practice perfectly in order to make perfect but today I want to wrap my brain around when and how to stop myself from in train of thought and reroute to another.

Utilizing the tools I have at my disposal to stop re-living and re-experiencing a moment of negativity, increasing its life span and stripping away my positive energy is paramount. Whatever "it" was is just a memory and I am recreating it and the energy disturbances as a result. I understand it is my own doing when I add fuel to the fire in order to go over, in my own mind, something I am not happy with. It seems like waste of time. A rather Titanic waste of time in fact. Unless I use it as a springboard to visualizing how I want something to happen next time. To change it and focus on a do-over. I know that positive visualization is a far more useful way to engage my gray matter and that actually has a payoff. Stewing in my own pity party probably does not have much of a pay-off at all. Not even a cool party hat.

My top ten tools to use once I have become aware my energy feels negative and my thoughts are on a useless tear:
  1. Meditation - quieting my mind is a surefire way to leave negativity at the curb with yesterdays news
  2. FasterEFT - tapping out any unpleasant memory can rid you of it's power
  3. Laughter - surely it would take work to feel bad when laughing
  4. Gratitude - every day there are a great many things we can all be grateful for
  5. Blogging - this tool is a little like journaling as a friend pointed out to me and a great way to relieve stress
  6. Rebounding - much like a child joyously jumping on the bed rebounding adds a dose of playfulness and fun that can effectively turn a mood around
  7. Exercise - endorphins, 'nuff said
  8. Reading - lots on my list of things to read however my topics seem to always gravitate to improving the self, my mind, success, motivating myself and others.
  9. Talking to Someone - about their day, not mine, is a great way to reroute my focus
  10. Music - signing along to an energizing song is a surefire mood lifter. I love to sing along to Blondie, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Miley Cyrus and quite a few others. I apologize in advance if you are within earshot!
I like to read quotes as well as a book or a good blog ... and here are some quotes that resonated with me today.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
W.B. Yeats
“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.”
Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
Wayne W. Dyer

Yes. I'm working on it! Baby steps, one day at a time! On thought at a time ...

-Nicola Byrne

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rock Climbing and Seeing Myself in Others

Today I went rock climbing with five lovely ladies and an awesome man. I slept so little last night I was even more quiet than my norm. Virtually mute actually, however that in itself was an amazing opportunity to observe and process the conversation going on around me. In light of yesterday's blog, specifically limiting beliefs, it was really quite riveting to hear what I was hearing and to realize how I have personally altered my own dialogue.

I am now acutely aware of any instance that "I can't" manages to sneak out of my mouth. It is almost as if an alarm goes off and I then strive to think "cancel that thought and put it another way." I actually ask myself "how can I say that better?" and by better I mean in a more empowering and optimistic way. Then I focus on that thought, the empowering one. I try see the end result,  visualization takes a little more work for me. I am getting better at it though!

These fun and energetic women I went climbing with were forecasting how little they would do, where they would fall, when they would fall, where they would make it to, and that wasn't to the top. Believing as strongly as I do in the Law of Attraction stating that I will fall or won't make it to the top is simply not an option. Thinking it isn't even an option. I don't assume I will make it to the top, I only promise myself I will give it 100% and do my best, whatever that means on any particular day.

It was challenging to only observe even as it what was meant for the day. I wanted to start saying stop forecasting what you won't do, stop even thinking "I can't!" If someone had said that to me five or ten years ago though, I would not have even understand what the heck they meant. It would have been Greek to me. Instead I listened, I sifted through everything I heard and processed it and was very pleased with my ability to do so.

And then I climbed ...

-Nicola Byrne

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Self-Sabotage, Limiting Beliefs, and Change

Do you sabotage your progress after setting a goal to make a change in your life? I've done it myself ...  I see it frequently with my clients. Setting a goal feels empowering. In that instant my vision is as clear as a memory of a sunny day and my fuel tank of good intentions is completely full.

What happens after that? Why do we run out of gas and stall before getting where we want to go?

No one tells you from the start that change is downright uncomfortable. Change is like a tight pair of shoes you can't wait to take off at the end of the day and switch to your comfortable slippers. It is easier to stop and fall back into the familiarity of the known.

We've all said it, most likely without meaning it, but nothing easy is worth having. It is common sense, however it is not common practice.

The key is to persist. That little voice inside that says "I'm too tired" or "I'll start tomorrow" or even the one I hear all the time regarding diet and exercise "I'll start Monday." What the heck is it about Mondays?! The most tiring and difficult day of the week to get going and we set that as the ideal day to being a new way of being or doing? Yes, that's a great idea!!!! What it really is ... is procrastination. In the past I even did it myself hundreds of times. There are days I still procrastinate and I am quick to nip that in the bud.

Persistence is to continue to wear that tight fitting pair of shoes. Eventually you wear the darn things in and they in turn become the most comfortable shoes you own! Sound familiar?

I say move forward in spite of the little voice whispering limiting beliefs to you. What is a limiting belief? We all have them. It is a thought that puts limitations on your abilities, future, progress, looks, dreams or goals.

"It is hard to earn money"
"I can't"
"I'm not smart enough"
"There's never enough time"
"I don't have the energy"
"I've always been this way"
"It's in my genes"
"Nothing ever goes my way"
"I'm not good at that"
"My whole family is like this"
"It's too hard"
"I have the worst luck"
"It will take too long"
"I'm too busy"

Enough of those little words in the mind will derail any train of good intention chugging along the tracks. Life does from time to time throw some challenges in front of us, sure. It doesn't help however if we become our greatest obstacle to succeeding in change or reaching a goal. They are just thoughts. Thoughts that can be changed.

Becoming aware of the broken record in your mind playing limiting beliefs is the first step in pruning those thoughts like weeds in a garden. Watch your thoughts instead of being controlled by them. We create our thoughts. Those thoughts create the landscape of our lives. Period. Feel the emotions they generate. Do you like that emotion? If not pull out the weeds and plant some new thoughts. Awareness is the foundation of this. Does that mean I don't have bad thoughts? No, it means I now sit back and sift through my thoughts and decide which ones I want to water and which ones I want to yank out and compost. I'm thinking them for Pete's sake, that means I truly do have control over them, regardless of how habitual some thoughts may be.

We all can. We all have the energy. Just because we were "always this way" does not mean we cannot adopt a new way. It's just your mind working to maintain status quo because change is uncomfortable. Break in a new pair of shoes and kick the old ones to the curb. I find it very rewarding to make progress here.

-Nicola Byrne

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New Year Resolutions

Yes ... You read that correctly. I have decided to take a look at the goals I wrote for myself for 2013 and refresh them. How many times have we set New Years Resolutions and come the first week of January forgotten them ... Until January 1 rolls around again almost a full year later?

That's why I do not really think of my goals for the coming year as resolutions in the first place. I do not want set and forget them. I choose to see goals and to periodically evaluate my progress on them.

I wrote them down and took a picture of pages to review:

These are the goals I wrote down for this year.

This is the first time I have reviewed my goals and my progress towards them.

1) To be a FasterEFT practitioner and to complete the Ultimate FasterEFT Course this year. I am still working towards this goal. I am very close to beginning to work with people on FasterEFT, I have yet to get the course and complete it however. Basically I will begin practicing the FasterEFT on friends, family and the like. As I progress my skills I can move into taking the course and become certified as a practitioner. Incidentally I work with a FasterEFT practitioner named Laura who is helping me work through my own challenges and who is teaching me at the same time.

2) I'm not going to say much about the finances as this is a struggle, however ... Baby steps. I have a budget, I am adhering to it and this little corner of my life is improving, even if only at a glacially slow pace.

3) Clearing clutter is an ongoing process. I am absolutely making small leaps forward though with this one. This weekend there was a garage sale that helped clear clutter and ever so slightly bring in money. Win win!

4) I have a car payment still, but it is a cay payment to own the car and not lease the car. I do consider this progress! A lease is temporary, buying a car isn't. Car payment or not, driving a Mini Cooper is fun and I am grateful for it every time I sit behind the wheel.

5) Tapping applies to FasterEFT. For a couple of months there I was anything but diligent or consistent. This is improving rapidly. Actually thanks to Lift, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. It is a habit I am tracking, which means at the end of the day or during the course of the day I have a simple reminder.

6) To have my own personal training business. Honestly, as is the way of most resolutions, I completely forgot about this one and obviously cannot have made any direct progress here. Good thing I am revisiting my list of goals.

7) This one I basically have already experienced my entire life. There are many people I love and that love me. Maybe it is cheating to put in a goal I don't really have to strive for. And maybe it is more of a reminder of what I want to appreciate and be grateful for in my life. It can even be a little bit of both.

8) I went to Brian Head in January. That's it on this list so far! It was a great trip though.

9) To be grateful ... I do practice this every day. Diligently. It makes a difference in each and every day. Even a day that feels like it is unraveling faster than a ball of yarn, to stop and hit pause and focus on what exactly I have to be grateful for adds a different perspective. I try to avoid the typical "I'm having a bad day" mantra, even if I think it at times. I prefer to minimize the "bad" to moments and focus on a bigger picture. This takes practice though. Old habits be very stubborn.

10) As a personal trainer I know what works. There are times when I become very frustrated with clients who are not yet able to dive in with both feet and give things a try. They can be very resistant to change, as we all can in certain situations. At these times I have to remind myself to take a deep breath, focus on compassion, try to see where they are at and be patient. It took me time to learn everything I know and it can very take a long time for some people to be ready to try new things. All good things come to those who wait.

11) My favorite way to pay it forward is to take my extra coin change and put it in the water vending machine at work. I never know who goes up and has a surprise when they go to buy a water, but every time I put the change in there, I smile and it lasts a while. Going forward I do want to find some new ways to pay it forward.

12) This was more of a mantra, even as it is a goal. When I wrote my goals I intended to review them monthly (oops ... OK so I think this may be the second time I have re-read them).

13) No, I did not even come close to this one. In fact, I forgot about it. Time to regroup and get it done. That's why I wrote these things down. That's why I am reading them again! Time to dust off this set of DVDs and get it done. Tomorrow. Just kidding.

14) No, I have no managed this one either. In fact, I have been working my way through one book in particular since January! This is a dense book, it requires focus and I need to pay attention. I want to read it and be done so I can apply what is in the book, but progress is slow. I can honestly say that when I read this book it is an empowering experience. That keeps me coming back for more, even if it is taking me too long to finish reading it. Oh and the book I am reading is "Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself" by Dr. Joe Dispenza.

15) I'm not sure why I put this down a second time, beyond the fact that I really want to learn to easily do for others. I'm not doing it every day. I am not writing it down every time I do something I consider "paying it forward'. I actually don't see a reason to do that, so I think we can safely say this goal has been re-evaluated and found unnecessary.

16) Slow progress in blogging but obviously I am doing it!

and last but not least ...

17) Write what I am grateful for and put it in a jar. Everyday. Yes and no. The jar idea came from Facebook, and a picture of it is included below. The jar wasn't intended to be filled with notes of gratitude, the spirit of it is to fill it with good memories and experiences of the year and then revisit the prior year in a positive way ... before bringing in the new one. I love this idea. So yes I am filling a jar with the fun memories I am making as the year progresses (the bottom of the jar is covered with notes!). I am also writing down what I am grateful for, I am using Lift for that however. A very clever iPhone app ... I wrote about here:

 That's the long and the short of it. Some successes, some reminders, some revisions. At least they were not all forgotten the first week of January though!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Breaking the Habit of Multi-Tasking

I have been focused on cultivating new habits that benefit me. Over the course of the past week I have discovered a habit that it would benefit me to break: that of multi-tasking. It is slowing me down, breaking my focus and interrupting my ability to stay present. Who wants that? I don't. I didn't even realize how often I am doing it though. Start project A ... and an hour later realize I'm midway through three different things with absolutely nothing completed. Where did the time go?

This realization stems from watching a video on how how to succeed in taking a course. Any course. The points made are:
  1. Cultivate a growth mindset - When studying or learning anything there will eventually be setbacks, stumbling blocks, confusion or some form of speed bump. How you look at these influences how well you proceed. If you adopt a fixed mindset and assume you just are not good at the subject matter and cannot succeed, you won't. If you adopt a growth mindset and understand that your brain is not fixed, you can persevere and learn and grow new brain cells, get better at something ... then you will simply do better. 
  2. Knowledge is constructed not received - Knowledge is a process you build, from the ground up so to speak. Lay a foundation and then build upon it. Don't start on the 10th floor when learning. Learning is a process from the bottom up. When you look at it that way, it seems so simple and makes a lot of sense. I'm guilty of wanting to make progress and learn something immediately, myself, and this is a great reminder to take baby steps.
  3. Embrace the struggle - The professor shared a great quote from Einstein here: "It is not the result of scientific research that ennobles humans and enriches their nature, but the struggle to understand while performing creative and open-minded intellectual work." Acquiring new knowledge is not always easy, be it a new dance step or a new concept. Accept the challenge and enjoy it as you go. The alternative is to feel defeated. I prefer to feel empowered, don't you?
  4.  Practical Tips - No how-to video or list is complete without practical steps to apply.
    1. Take notes: The process of writing words down enables them to stick and get into our brains.
    2. Visualize: Create pictures in your mind. Personally I find this very challenging, though I am making progress here.
    3. Repeat: Watch video clips over again within 24 hours and your retention is increased by 40%. I should think this applies with reading as well. Not sure I always have time to do that but it definitely explains why I learn a line dance and don't have a clue what I am doing the next time I go out. More than 24 hours has always elapsed by then ...
    4. Test yourself: Rehearing is not as effective as testing because it does not engage the brain as much. In the past I have spent more time re-reading my highlighted material to study and going forward I will look for ways to take quizzes as an alternative.
    5. Do not multi-task: Here it is ... the habit to break. To achieve this, it is going to require putting my phone in another room, I am almost incapable of not looking at it when it vibrates or dings or pings or chirps or whatever. I can make a decision to not check email, it is not a challenge for me to stay off of Facebook. The phone is my downfall even as it is my personal assistant in so many ways. The Pomodoro Technique was suggested as a way to manage multi-tasking as well. Set a timer for 20 minutes, dedicate your focus to your topic, task, whatever for the 20 minutes. Then take a 5 minute break. Resume. I have been doing this and I do find it to be successful. As long as my phone is not in close proximity.
  5.  Festina Lente - Last thing was a quote, Latin, that translates to "Make haste slowly". That sounds a bit like a contradiction. The spirit of the phrase is not to get ahead of yourself (remember to build knowledge from the ground up...) and to practice what you are learning.
This taught me a lot and gave me some great food for thought. Now where is my phone? Just kidding!

-Nicola Byrne

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Aging Backwards

It is interesting to experience what it feels like to get younger. Most people lament aging, they simply hate getting older. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say getting old sucks I think I would be driving a Mercedes instead of a Mini.

I am overjoyed that at the age of 44 I feel more like 24 than I think I did at 24. And 24 is a random number, I could have just as easily have chosen 23 or 22 ... but you get the point.

We seem to have this mindset that with age comes pain, discomfort, loss of looks, health, energy and motivation. That the good times are behind us. I have never believed this to be written in stone. I'm fortunate to posses a liberal amount of know how involving the importance of food, nutrition, exercise, positive thinking and gratitude. Some of it is newly acquired, some I have been working on for a long time. As with everyone, I am most assuredly a work in progress.

I believe I look younger now than I did five or ten years ago. I know I feel younger, I am stronger and can do things I couldn't do years ago. I move better. I think happier, more optimistic thoughts effortlessly. My skin is better. I can see each day is filled with opportunity and I am much less prone to look at my day as a long list of must do's and rushing around.

Things I do to feel my best:
  • Eat Clean - I eat a Paleo diet which in short means to avoid grains, processed foods, sugars and focus mainly on eating healthy fats, lean animal protein, and lots of vegetables.
  • Exercise Wisely - Shorter, higher intensity workouts with ample recovery time, lots of walking, stretching and even bouncing on a trampoline. We don't need to work out more as we age, we need to work out smarter.
  • Focus on Gratitude Every Day - Every day is a gift after all. If things do not go right or smoothly, find the lesson. It is there. Ask questions, evaluate ...
  • Keep Learning - Turn off the TV, close Facebook and get out and learn something new. I take dance lessons and keep my brain working. Think of standing water ... it needs some fresh flowing water to prevent it from becoming stagnant. If you aren't out making new memories, learning new things ... you end up sitting on the porch reliving your glory days. I want to keep stacking those memories up. My best days are ahead of me, they are most certainly not behind me.
  • Challenge your Limits - There is no greater feeling of accomplishment than the one after overcoming a fear. I am afraid of heights, or I was, and I am learning to rock climb and scramble. My fear of heights is evolving as a result. What once would have made me tremble I barely notice now.
  • Do Things for Other People - I like to look for opportunities to pay it forward. It has begun to feel like my own little selfish guilty pleasure because I get so much out of doing something nice just to do it, with absolutely no agenda or desire for reward or acknowledgement.
  • Take Care of Your Body - Oil pulling, dry skin brushing, rebounding, flossing are a few other ways I nurture my body and keep it feeling its best.
The end result is I feel younger, look younger and enjoy life so much more than I ever did. This is enough positive reinforcement to make everything worthwhile.

-Nicola Byrne

Friday, April 19, 2013


There is an amazing app for the iPhone I have been using since approximately March 10th. It is called Lift and there will be a web version available soon for those that do not have an iPhone. 

This is an application that allows you to create habits, change habits, track habits, and receive feedback and motivation from others for your progress. You can also encourage others and leave them feedback as well! This little app is enabling me to be more productive and has had a real snowball effect in achieving new and more consistent habits. I have even resurrected some old habits I wanted to cultivate and dropped the ball on. It is a free app!

The habits I am currently tracking on Lift are:
  • Blog More (ta-da!)
  • Meditate (ok I have zero entries here but it is still on the list and I will begin meditating again, I know it)
  • Stretch
  • Wash Face Before Bed (I have been so much more consistent now that I'm logging it)
  • Weigh Yourself (I still average once a week or less and I am ok with that)
  • Be Grateful for Someone or Something (it pays to be grateful, every single day)
  • Dance
  • Floss
  • Oil Pulling
  • Pay it Forward (it feels so good to do something for another person just to make their day better)
  • Rebounding
  • Set Priorities for your Day (goal setting ... a great idea)
  • Skin Brushing
  • Write Three Positive Things About Today (this is one of my favorites)
My days feel more productive, more meaningful and I appreciate the things I am doing. One great aspect of Lift is that it takes what may seem like an arduous task and makes it fun. There is a tremendous sense of accomplishment in ticking off habits and adding notes about them. The feedback from others is a great pat on the back too. There is a sense of camaraderie from it.

Great job to the makers of Lift!

-Nicola Byrne