Just Start…

A few years ago, I had the privilege to hear Soledad O’Brien speak at the Bay Path College Women’s Leadership Conference. I’m paraphrasing, but she said when you look around you and see so much wrong with the world and you’re overwhelmed by where to start, just START.

Start by helping the person in front of you.

Even if only in a small way. If we all do that, those small actions will turn into something much bigger, stronger, and good for our planet.

 

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Xtine’s Law of Perpetual Energy

I have this theory and the more I tested it, the more I realized it was not just a theory. I decided to make it a law. (My second law, at that.)

And it’s just this:

You can keep your productivity (and enjoyment of what you’re doing) very high by:

1. Working where you’re inspired

2. Switching gears when your productivity starts to lag. This literally FRESHENS your energy.

Example: I’m a CEO, a door-opener, a designer, a mom, a wife, a writer, an athlete, a dabbler at piano, a person who enjoys mowing lawns, “straightening things” and vacuuming, and more.

When I’m doing a lot of “thought work,” I will find it restful and energizing to write a blog post, or design a marketing flyer. OR, I might enjoy reading a book to my kids.

Often, after a long day of work when I’m tired, the first thing I want to do is go dig into an insane cardio workout. To the outside observer it looks like, “Damn, she’s still going!”

But actually, because the new activity uses DIFFERENT parts of my brain, body and being, it rests my tired parts. And it gives way to the energetic parts of me that are bursting to be used.

I call it Xtine’s Law of Perpetual Energy. And while it does require supplements of good nourishing food and periods of sleep, it’s pretty self-sustaining in all other ways.

 

 

Website Example of a “Human” User Experience

precision_nutrition

Several months ago, at about the time my Eating Lean: Step by Step article went live on Easthampton’s Fitness Fusion website, I came across several articles on fat (what is fat, what are good fats, etc.)? I saved a link to one I wanted to come back to.

Just last night, I actually DID go back to that article. This is what I saw when I got there (screenshot above). There’s a few reasons why as a web designer and a user I love that Precision Nutrition handled the link this way:

  1. The first thing that caught me is the playful tone they use to “say what they gotta say.” Nice human touch… I’m listening.
  2. Now on to the message in terms of the “facts.” These are a.) The article I’m going to is not the most up to date and b.) Precision Nutrition has newer information published on their site. These things are helpful for users to know.
  3. Lastly, let’s look at the message conveyed in terms of the “impression.” These are the impressions I get: a.) Here’s an outfit who’s on top of their game. Why? When someone heads deep into their site, directly to an article, they don’t let it be a dead link (page not found), they don’t just hijack the user and take them some place else (that newer information), instead they own up to it and make it easy for me to decide what I want to do. b.) This also gives the impression of an honest, organization run by people who care, and who have a degree of humility (to ADMIT that information is not the most current).

Well done.

Feeling “Guilt” Means You Have a Decision to Make

Years ago, I heard this really awesome speaker talking about all sorts of “tools” for living a happy, healthy and productive life.

When he talked about “guilt” he made a bold statement that I immediately thought was a crock. But later I came to realize he was absolutely right. He said, if you’re feeling guilty, it means you have a decision to make.

I wasn’t the only one in the audience with a furrowed brow and a mumble of disagreement ready on my lips. He explained further…

A person feels guilty because they have done something (or haven’t done something) that they shouldn’t (or should). Sometimes it’s a big thing. Sometimes it’s a small thing. Guilt involves a conflict of the person’s actions or emotions going against their view of what they should be doing instead.

A person might feel guilty because they are not the type of person who would do <insert thing here that they did> and it’s agonizing them.

How do you break free of guilt?

The bottom line is you DO have a decision to make. You have to own up to how you feel (your moral compass) and face that. And then you have to handle it.

EXAMPLE: If a person feels guilty because he is cheating on his girlfriend, then he has to face the decision of, “Do I really want to be in a relationship with my girlfriend or not?” And then he needs to have the tough conversations that go with that and face the consequences. That can be hard and scary. But it would be necessary to free himself of the guilty feeling.

Or to take a more mundane example, if a person feels guilty because they are trying get fit and they just binged on junk food, then they need to come to terms with their goals and their commitment level to them. How do they honestly feel about their fitness level? What’s an achievable exercise and nutrition plan that will get them to their goal?

It’s not always easy. But it is possible.

 

“Rooting Down” So You Can Thrive

Life Work and Family BalanceIN YOGA

In yoga, they teach that you have to root down with your feet (or hands or any part of your body that’s touching the ground), to give yourself the strength, stability, and FOUNDATION to reach higher, hold a pose longer, to go past what you thought was possible for yourself.

You spread your toes. You feel the earth below you. That connection is powerful!

It’s also… necessary.

Without it, you fall down. You come apart. (Hopefully only to pick yourself back up and go for it again, a little wiser this time. Ya know… thinking about the root connection this go-round.)

IN SINGING

Want to hit those higher notes? It’s the same deal. Root down.

You’ve gotta support with your breath, and breathe deep into your lower abdomen, so those lower tummy muscles can support you. Yeah, foundation again. A common mistake of the untrained singer is to try stretching their neck up to reach a high note. This doesn’t work. It sounds strained and not good. Relax the neck. That’s just the space that air should easily flow through.

The real power comes from the opposite direction. From below.

IN LIFE

2013 was an amazing year for me in many ways. I did cool new things that I never dreamed possible a year earlier.  I broke through my comfort zone in many ways that are so meaningful to me.

But it was also a thoroughly distracting year in other ways. To do the “new”, I (unknowingly) let key foundational areas of my life get too outta whack (such as family, work). I did manage to correct course along the way. But not enough in all areas. There’s more to do.

Now I’m in a period of stabilizing by rooting down to the key priorities for me which are:

  1. Self (Basic Needs)
  2. Spouse
  3. Kids
  4. Extended Family
  5. Financial Stability & Work

Note that the priority level of these doesn’t mean that they are where I spend most of my time. It just means that I have to have them handled. For instance, “Self” being #1 does not mean being a self-centered jerk. It just means that I gotta take care of my basic needs (like sleep and decent nutrition and a reasonable amount of “down-time”) because this is my foundation for the rest. If I’m not taking care of my basic needs, my relationships, my work, everything else will suffer.

#2 – Spouse – My relationship here is the foundation for my family and for being successful in all other parts of my life.

#3 – Kids – I go to work during the day and my kids are in school or daycare. But, there are family things that are just higher priority. Figuring out what those are and making time to fit them is very important.

Etc.

My goal for 2014, is to restore my foundation. Then my hope is that I can figure out how to fit some of the best pieces of 2013’s amazing things (or else new amazing things that integrate the foundational stuff) into this year while still keeping the foundation strong.

Please notice that it’s not enough for me to say that I don’t want to lose the foundation. I want better than that. I want it to be STRONG.

Rooting down now. It’s good.

Eating Lean: Step by Step

healthy_eating_nutrition_and_fitness_in_easthampton_northampton_holyoke_southampton_westhampton_areaIn July 2012, I joined a studio gym in Easthampton, MA call Fitness Fusion (known for specialized group training and personal fitness training). After years of working out on my own, doing everything from swimming, biking, YMCA elliptical, African Dance class, and p90x, joining this gym was the PERFECT thing for me. Why?

  1. Creative, fun and challenging workouts
  2. Really great gym community – nice people, hard-working, supportive, no-judgement… have become good buds.
  3. Head trainer – super approachable, expert, fun, all around cool.

In January 2013, I started experimenting with lean eating. Being the person I am, I reflected on my learnings and turned them into an article. Very pleased that this very article was published in Fitness Fusion’s blog.