Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's almost Autumn...

Autumn is when people prepare the garden for the quiet sleep of winter and the rebirth of spring. Late autumn has always been one of the favorite times of the year. It's lovely seeing trees ablaze with color, followed by the thick carpet of fallen leaves on the ground. Also, it's lovely to feel the cold and crisp air, along with the earthy smell that is so prevalent right now.

When I was younger, I remember watching movies of kids who were tired and complained of boredom around this time of year, their mum and dad would send them out to rake the back garden. Strangely enough, I loved this chore but almost never managed to finish the job. About the time I would manage to get a pile of leaves together, one of my dogs would show up and we would end up jumping into the leaves and flinging armfuls of them at each other until the garden was once again cluttered.

I have to confess that I haven't jumped into piles of leaves for a long time, but my enjoyment of late autumn has never dissipated. I look for as many opportunities to get out into the autumn environment as I can because it makes me feel alive and renewed.

I hope you are enjoying the nice autumn days, spending time outside when you can. If you have the time, go away for a day to the countryside or a local park for a nice long walk or hike. Even if you can't devote a lot of time, take advantage of the changing season by taking a brisk walk in your neighborhood or at a local park.

Even though the weather may be getting cooler and the days shorter, that doesn't mean you can't partake in the beauty of the season, just don't forget your coat and scarf. Have a nice weekend!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Take care of yourself

This week, I want to focus on the importance of taking care of ourselves. As our days become busier and more hectic, it can be difficult for us to take a needed and deserved break. I am sure that even an aware person like me, has experienced moments when you would have liked to have more time to yourself.

The truth is that even for those of us who are aware and clear on the importance of self-care, it is easy to get caught up in daily routines, events, special projects, and the like, to the point that you forget to take time out for yourself. As a result, you may find yourself feeling tired and out of sorts. However, I have a few suggestions for giving yourself time, slowing down your mind, enjoying your surroundings, and replenishing your energy.

My first suggestion is to walk where you need to go. If you walk to work or to the corner store instead of driving there, you get a chance to slow down your mind, enjoy the surroundings, and get some great exercise to boot! If you can afford it, consider joining a gym and making the commitment to go several times a week. Getting exercise is an excellent way to bring your mind and body back into alignment and boost your energy levels.

Another way to create self-time is to join a group or club that meets on a regular basis. It could be a gardening club, a choir, a photography class or scrap-booking group, or even a meditation or yoga group. The idea behind these suggestions is to have time that is separate from your work and daily activities.

Finally, I have other suggestions for making extra time. Leave work on time or arrive at appointments early, equipped with a favorite book so that you take advantage of the wait time for pleasure reading. Keep a book or magazine handy in your bag or briefcase for when you are unexpectedly stuck waiting for someone or something.

I'm sure, that you can come up with many more ways to take care of yourself than I shared here if you put your mind to it. I hope that you will find my suggestions useful and that you will take some time for yourself this week to have fun, relax, and rejuvenate. You deserve it!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Had any good meal lately?

When was the last time you enjoyed a nice leisurely meal? Do you know that one of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight and a trim figure is to slow down and savor the food you eat? As strange as this idea may seem, it works. Just look at the French! Their regular diet includes multiple course meals with creamy sauces, real butter, desserts, and wine.

On the flip side, consider American eating habits, which more often than not include skipping meals, having fast food on the run, or overindulging at an all-you-can-eat buffet. One might think that staying on the go helps to burn calories, but what it actually does is to create stress, and stress is a big deterrent to maintaining a healthy weight.

Never fear, all is not lost, because any habit that is learned can be unlearned. All you have to do is to slow down at mealtimes, begin to enjoy your food, take better care of yourself, and you can keep a trim, healthy figure without too much fuss or drastic shift.

But that will require some adjustments to your daily schedule. For your first meal of the day, go for something healthy, even if it is just some fruit and/or nuts as you head off to work. Studies show that starting your day with a healthy mix of protein and carbohydrate boosts your metabolism and helps you burn fat throughout the day. And if you have a mid-morning or afternoon snack, keep it light and nibble it a bit at a time if possible. Stretching it out will make it feel like more in the end.

At mealtimes, strive to eat a full, balanced meal that includes foods you like. As your digestive system was designed to break down natural foods, choose foods that aren't loaded with preservatives and chemicals. So that means staying away from prepared fast foods as much as possible. Also, eating more slowly and chewing your food well will help you enjoy the different tastes on your plate and make you more aware when your body is full.

Finally, don't forget to add some exercise to your daily routine. It doesn't have to be something strenuous or lengthy. Studies show that short bursts of activity throughout the day help to maintain an optimum weight. Some suggestions include taking a short walk after lunch, parking further out in the grocery store parking lot, walking to the corner store as opposed to driving, and opting to take the stairs as opposed to the elevator whenever you can. Those extra steps here and there add up, to a trim healthy body and a healthier lifestyle.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Friendships...

I want to share some interesting information I recently read on friendship. But first I'd like you to take a moment to think about your closest friends. Are you the type of person who has one best friend or one who prefers a few close friends? Well, if you answered yes to either of these questions, consider yourself fortunate, because dependable friendships bring some amazing benefits.

It is probably no surprise to you that close friendships are good for us. However, the list of actual medical advantages is quite remarkable. Research shows that our good friendships can help us to reduce our blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol levels, as well as to lower our stress levels. In other words, solid, dependable friendships help us to live a longer, healthier life.

The nice thing about our friendships is that they are ties we choose to develop, sustain and nurture. When we are young, we seek comfort in our companionship, by befriending dogs, cats, dolls and stuffed animals. As we grow into adolescence and later into adulthood, good friends can become more than just companions. A good friend is there through the good and bad times.

A good friend is someone who loves you in spite of yourself. They laugh with you, cry with you, listen to you when you need an ear, tell you the truth when you don't want to hear it and even keep your secrets. And now, you can add the positive health benefits of friendship to that list!

While this information probably won't make you change how you feel about your friends, it may make you appreciate them even more. And may I remind you, that the benefits of our friendships work both ways.

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Desperate?

Have you ever wanted something desperately, but felt you could never get it? I think that many people probably experience this. We all have dreams and aspirations, but not all of us believe we can realize them. I believe that most dreams are attainable, provided that we are able to set realistic goals and take active steps to make them come true.

I want to share a story about one of my friend's that illustrates this. A young woman I'll call Helen came to me for some advice to find out why she wasn't achieving the thing she most wanted in life, to become a voice-over actress. She was frustrated and angry because her dream wasn't materializing, so I asked her what she was doing to realize this goal. She said she visualized every day but admitted that she had done little else, mostly because she really didn't know what to do.

Visualizing can be very effective, but Helen needed to exert physical and mental energy toward realizing her desired goal. I decided to introduce her to the law of attraction and the idea that every action that is focused on a goal actually helps to bring about that goal. After doing that, we came up with a plan to help her achieve her goal.

Helen's first step was to find out everything she could from the library and Internet about being a voice-over actress. Next, she had to research what kind of training she would need, where and how to get it, and how much it would cost. And finally, she had to figure out how much time she would need to complete a program, think of ways she could support herself during her training, locate ways to fund for her education, and then apply to institutions that specialize in voice-over programs.

As you might have guessed, the next time I heard from Helen, she was on cloud nine. She had been accepted to an acting school that specialized in voice-over and she had even found a job that was flexible with her new school schedule.

Helen says that she will be working in a studio within a year's time, earning a pretty good salary and doing what she'd always dreamed of. And this is all because she was finally able to put energy behind her dream by finding out how to realize it and then set about doing just that.

If there is something you have always wished you could do, I hope that Helen's story will inspire you to go after your own dream.

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Like attracts like?"

Are you familiar with the expression, "Like attracts like"? Recently I had an experience with a friend who was struggling with this idea. He was having difficulty coming to grips with certain emotions he was experiencing. He felt controlled by them and this was creating a lot of tension for him. The more he fought his feelings, the stronger their hold over him seemed to be.

I completely understood his frustration and assured him that his situation was not unusual. I told him that, with a little work, he could overcome this obstacle. I began by introducing him to the so-called "Universal Law of Attraction". According to this law, we attract that which we focus on with the most intensity, and this attraction can create a positive or negative experience depending on its nature. In my friend's case, it meant that when he focused on emotions or feelings that made him uncomfortable, he ended up creating more of those uncomfortable feelings in the process.

Of course, just telling him this wasn't enough. We needed a workable solution. I suggested that he try looking at his unresolved emotions in a different way. Instead of battling his feelings, I asked him to look at them without judgment. I wanted him to focus on the root of his emotional turmoil because, as that point, he would be in a position to make adjustments to his behavior.

My friend took my instructions to heart and began observing his difficult feelings. He told me that life flowed easier when he could refrain from making judgments on his emotions and, as a result, he was soon feeling much better about himself. By just listening to these emotional messages, rather than just getting upset or worried by them, he no longer felt so controlled by them. And, once he could really listen to his feelings, he was able to get a better grip on why those feelings were coming up.

Now, I hope that you will spend some time thinking about the Law of Attraction and the primary focus of your energy. What are you attracting into your life? My hope is that your health, wealth and happiness will provide you with some insights.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Manners & Etiquette

When you think about good manners, some people focus on proper etiquette at the table, but manners are so much more than that. Good manners extend to making eye contact and paying full attention to the person you are speaking to, saying yes, no, please and thank you, avoiding gossip and behaving in a way that puts other people at ease and makes them feel comfortable around you.

I was recently at a gathering where I ran into an old friend who had her two children in town The oldest, a boy, was 7 and the younger daughter was 4. Normally bringing children to a party can be risky, but these two had such excellent manners that one could easily forget that they were youngsters. Both were polite, spoke comfortably with adults and handled themselves appropriately around the buffet.

I commented to my friend about how wonderfully her children were behaving and she thanked me for my compliment, saying that she was very proud of how well her children handled themselves in public. Then she confided that they weren't always quite as well behaved at home, but she expressed great satisfaction about having been able to instill in them a sense of the importance of good manners, as this skill will enable them to function well in any situation as they become adults.

Another good friend of mine works in human resources in a large corporation and says that her company receives many resumes from applicants who can't even be considered for hire due to their poor manners. Some are clueless about good phone etiquette, while others use rude language when addressing the interviewer or speak far too loudly. This lack of basic manners can actually ruin opportunities for potential employees who would otherwise be quite capable.

Fortunately, good manners are something that anyone can learn, so it is very important that we all practice using good manners, especially around those who don't use them. You always have an opportunity to set a good example for others, especially children, by how you handle yourself in public.

We can actually help to make someone's day by using good manners. Maybe it means greeting others with direct eye contact, a smile and a firm handshake, or holding a door open for someone, or hanging up our cell phones when dealing with other people such as cashiers and newsagents. It is all about thoughtfulness in our daily interactions with the people around us.

Good manners reflect tact, diplomacy and consideration for our fellow man. Using good manners is a powerful way to show our respect for others and at the same time feel confident in every situation.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Changes...

Something about the change of the seasons always gets me motivated to straighten and clean my home. I like to begin this project with my closets, because it prompts me to get rid of things I no longer need, while creating new space in the process.

Did you know that sleeping in a room with clutter or overstuffed closets can make you feel restless and disrupt your sleeping patterns? This may sound strange to you, but it shows the negative effect that clutter can have on us. If this is happening to you, it may be a good idea to look at the state of your bedroom as well as its closets. By clearing away the things you no longer need, you give order to your room and create new space in your home, which in the end makes you feel more relaxed and comfortable.

I know that clearing your home of clutter can seem an overwhelming job to take on. Often it's hard to know where to begin. I'm going to share my technique for de-cluttering, which I think helps to sort and clear clutter with relative ease. With a few boxes and a little time and effort, you can be on your way to creating a more orderly, calm, and peaceful space.

First, you will need 3 medium-sized boxes, labeled with the following terms: "donate," "doesn't belong here," and "not ready to let go of yet." You will also need a large trash bag for the stuff that simply needs to be thrown away.

Now, you are almost ready to begin, but first I want to give you some important advice. You'll want to start by going through the items in your closet quickly, deciding how you want to classify each item. In my experience, if you linger over this decision-making, you might not end up getting rid of anything! Here are some questions to help you classify your items: how often do you use it, do you have more than one of the same thing, and if it is clothing, does it still fit? When it comes to memorabilia, only keep those objects that are too important to let go of. If you are not sure about an item, put it in the box marked "not ready to let go of yet."

Once you've finished de-cluttering your closet(s), tackle the clutter in and on your dresser, shelves, and the area under your bed. When you have finished your sorting, you can return the items you've decided to keep to their proper places in an orderly fashion.

Next, put your trash bag(s) in the garbage, your box with items to be donated into your car to be dropped off at your local charity, then take the box with the misplaced items and return them to where they belong. Lastly, set your box with things you "can't let go of yet" aside for a few months, and if after that time you aren't feeling the pull, donate that box, as well.

After you have done this de-cluttering and clearing, you will definitely feel a huge sense of relief. You may even get inspired to do other parts of your home. If that happens, go for it! Your reward will be a home environment that is organized, peaceful, and harmonious.

Friday, August 28, 2009

To be grateful...

How grateful would you say you are? Did you know that your gratitude level can directly affect your wealth and happiness? Now, that may sound strange, especially in light of our current economy. I have told some of my friends whom I felt displayed a need for gratitude to bring about positive change in their lives. And I'm happy to say that those who took my advice to heart have reported a positive shift in their lives and a boost in the things they view as good, including increased wealth.

Even financial experts and abundance speakers agree that gratitude is a vital component for increasing wealth and success. This basic premise of gratitude is to acquire a more positive and receptive state of being. Here is how it works. You begin by being grateful for the smaller and more immediate things like having a place to live, food to eat, and a car to get around, etc. By placing yourself in a positive frame of mind through gratitude, you open yourself to all the good things the universe has to offer.

That is when you can actually begin to attract good things to you, and most of us could certainly benefit from this idea right now. As you become more comfortable with the positive things that basic gratitude brings, you will likely find yourself feeling grateful for even bigger things like being alive, learning hard lessons, your past mistakes, the freedom to make choices in life, and more. This type of gratitude catapults you even further along the path to a successful and happy life. That's because you begin to lose your fear of change or loss and you begin to develop a deep appreciation for the exciting adventure that life truly is.

Once you reach the point where you remain in a constant state of gratitude, you will become a magnet that attracts the positive things to you . . . the things that resonate with who you are and what you desire to do with your life.

So, if you are ready to enjoy more happiness and wealth, I challenge you to take some time every day this week to note those things that you are grateful for, from the smallest little gifts to the bigger ones. And may you attract the most wonderful and beneficial things into your life. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting some good exercise


I love watching my dog, Sheila take her afternoon stretch! She closes her eyes, stretches her paws straight out in front of her, and pushes her hips up as far as she can. There is no doubt that she enjoys this activity immensely. It seems to be a natural movement for cats and dogs.

We humans are also very taken with stretching! I am sure that most of us have probably experienced that wonderful feeling of having a nice long stretch before getting out of bed in the morning, or stretching our legs after a long drive in a cramped car. Stretching is actually very important to good posture and a strong healthy body.

Stretching is one of the things I have read about practicing Yoga. When you are doing these slow, deliberate postures, you would feel some muscles getting stretched while others are working quite hard. I always wondered how it would feel relaxed after a yoga class. I attribute that to the intense stretching. I have a friend who is a dancer, and she says me that the first half of her rehearsal sessions often focus primarily on stretching to limber up the body and protect it from muscle strain and injuries. Stretching is undoubtedly important to keeping fit.

For those of us who are more physically active, stretching is probably something we do before and/or after exercise. However, you may be surprised to learn that it's good to take time out during the middle of an exercise routine to do some stretching. It helps release tension in the muscles, making your workout more efficient and effective.

For those who are less active or in fragile health or even wheelchair-bound, stretching is extremely important. It helps to increase circulation and improve balance and equilibrium. And stretching under the guidance of a qualified trainer or physical therapist can be a tremendous help to those who are elderly or bed-bound by helping to correct poor posture and hunched shoulders and to alleviate the overstretching of back muscles.

I try to stretch daily in order to maintain good posture. The next time you get out for some exercise, be sure to do some good stretches before, during, and after your workout. My guess is that you'll feel more relaxed overall and will be protecting your body at the same time.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Another year, another birthday...


I certainly don't consider myself "old." To be honest, I am not sure what age qualifies as old today. I think that being old is more connected to a mindset. That said, I am certainly not in my twenties any longer, and my body occasionally reminds me that it is not as flexible as it once was. Getting older is a fact of life. No matter how we much we would like to avoid it, the clock will continue to tick and we will grow older. It's inevitable!

This realization sends some of us racing to the nearest plastic surgeon to nip, tuck, pull, and stretch everything back into something resembling what used to be, while others of us wear our age like a medal of honor. Personally, I hope that I will age gracefully, but I do hope I can keep my mind snappy and youthful.

Fortunately, I've got some positive news about staying young mentally. Apparently our brains don't age the same way our bodies do. In a Harvard study, researchers compared the differences in brain activity between younger and older subjects focusing on the firing between the front and back of the brain in each group. This front and back mechanism is called the "default network" and is activated when we need to use our memory. As you would imagine, the twenty-year- olds had the best responses when it came to this part of the study. The older subjects tended to have a weaker connection in their "default network."

Yet surprisingly, nearly half of the older adults maintained brain activity that was similar to the twenty-year-olds. I was very pleased with this news. Scientists attribute this younger, fit mind in an older body to good old-fashioned exercise, meaning cognitive exercise in this case. And they provided it by putting a group of 75-year-olds through several months of rigorous mind exercise. And after that, the subjects exhibited the memory abilities of people many years, sometimes even decades, younger.

So, in a nutshell, the more you exercise your brain, the better it will work and the longer it will last. According to researchers, when we "workout" our brains through mental exercises, we are actually building cortical tissue that helps our brains last longer. Unlike fat cells, the more brain cells we have, the better. That's because those extra brain cells are like insurance for the mind. If we are able to store up and maintain a good number of brain cells, then this reserve will help us to cope with the natural loss of cells that occurs with age.

Mental exercises that help build brain cells include reading, doing math, and playing games that call for strategy and matching. Your computer is a good source for such material. There are loads of brain boosting workouts available to play online, to load onto your pc, or even to use with a gaming device like Nintendo DS.

You might want to consider adding brain exercises to your daily physical regime. I myself am particularly fond of Sudoku, in addition to my regular physical exercise of brisk walking and yoga. It never hurts to start early when it comes to taking care of yourself. After all, we are born with only one brain and one body. It makes sense to keep them in good shape.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Some tips in "Goal Setting"


Many of my friends complain of feeling powerless to events influencing their life right now. Certainly there are many factors beyond our control that can affect us, such as the economy, our jobs, the value of our savings or retirement plans, our mortgages, etc. So, I have been telling them to regain some sense of control. The first thing you need to do is to work on a vision of how you want your life to be, as well as a clear plan on how to get there. It is surprising how many times I ask friends about the direction they want to go in, only to discover that they are simply wandering along just letting life happen to them, all the while wishing that their dreams would come true.

Why should we sit back, waiting for life to happen as it will, when we have the power to set our own goals and the energy and desire to make our dreams a reality? Setting goals puts you squarely in charge of your own life, and that is a very desirable situation. That is why I have decided to share a few simple tricks I have found helpful in making goal setting even easier and more successful.

1. The physical act of writing a goal on paper helps to anchor it in your mind, so write your goals down every day, and make certain that you keep your goal centered on you and not someone else.

2. Be sure to state your goal in positive terms, as such statements draw positive things your way. For example, "I am always on time" is preferable to "I am never late."

3. Our subconscious only understands present time. So, if you create goals that are set in the future, your subconscious will keep those goals in the future. For this reason, it is best to always write your goals as if they were already happening or had already happened. You will also want to prioritize your goals.

4. State your goals clearly and precisely so that the Universe and your subconscious know exactly what YOU want. Using strong words that evoke emotion and command action helps to call forth the energy needed to move forward.

5. And, most importantly, when you write down your goals, imagine yourself already being, doing, or having the things that you are dreaming about. This will further activate and imprint your goals on your subconscious.

I hope that my tips, will help to make your dreams a reality. It may take some patience, and you may need to readjust your goals to the time, but I feel confident that you can achieve the goals you set for yourself. I just hope that you feel it as well!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Enjoying Summer


While the thought of summer may bring to mind hot, languid, lazy days, in reality our daily life may be far removed from such images. Many of us have to balance demanding working schedules, busy children, and a long list of "good weather" chores to be done around the house. With the likes of such to contend with, a season we expect to be relaxed could actually be quite stressful. However, even with a busy schedule, you can make your summertime a healthy one, and here are a number of suggestions to do just that.

Did you know that having friends can help you live longer, and even more so than your family members? It's true! Research in Australia has shown that people live longer if they have good friends. So if a busy summer schedule has cut into your friend time, why not make a phone call to one or two of your close friends. Schedule some quality time, like meeting for afternoon tea or planning to run early in the morning together to catch up and get some exercise at the same time.

And speaking of exercise, finding opportunities to get outside for some exercise while enjoying nature can stimulate your metabolism, relax your mind, and soothe your spirit. Just a regular thirty minute evening stroll in the park or an early morning walk in the cool air can leave you feeling recharged and ready to face anything that comes your way. Plus, exercising every day will help you sleep better at night, especially if you get yourself into bed at a reasonable hour in spite of the longer hours of light. A good night's sleep can really help you keep up with a hectic schedule.

Healthy, fresh foods are another way to take advantage of the summer. If there's a farmer's market near your home, be sure to stop by for some seasonal treats like summer squash, sweet corn, and tomatoes. Summer is also a wonderful time for berries, which can be eaten fresh or blended into frosty, fruity smoothies. All those antioxidants you will be taking into your body will boost your immune system and help rev up your metabolism, too.

When you are out at the farmer's market, or on a hike, or visiting the beach, remember that the summer sun can be very strong. Be sure to apply good quality sunscreen to protect your skin. And always don your favorite shades to protect your eyes from cataracts and wrinkles.

Summer is one of the best times of the year, so even if you need to make appointments with yourself to get some fun time into your schedule, be sure to do it. Toss out any guilty feelings that you might have about taking time for yourself, and make the most of each and every day this summer.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Lesnar Show


If you may not know it yet, I have been a fan of the UFC ever since I've seen the first season of the Ultimate Fighter, where they had Diego Sanchez and Kenny Florian. And since then, I never missed a single episode, especially if there's an event.

So Brock Lesnar, in the parlance of pro wrestling, had gone straight heel.

After bludgeoning Frank Mir to retain the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight championship at the hyped UFC 100, the former pro wrestling star decided to put on a real show. (as seen in right photo)

Lesnar ran around the octagon flipping off the Mandalay Bay Events Center crowd with both middle fingers. He shouted at Mir as the challenger sat on a stool trying to regain his equilibrium. Mir stood up and they went sort of nose-to-broken nose before Lesnar cackled with laughter.

In the post-fight interview, Lesnar encouraged the booing fans to “keep going” before continuing to taunt Mir.

No one and nothing was spared. Lesnar even turned his attention to the UFC itself, which paid him an estimated $3 million for the fight, pointing at the giant Bud Light advertisement in the middle of the octagon.

“I’m drinking a cooler full of Coors Light, Coors Light because Bud Light won’t pay me anything.”

Anything for the children at home, big guy?

“Hell, I might even get on top of my wife tonight.”

With his clown-show antics, Brock Lesnar just became the greatest villain in modern fighting. From refusing to tap gloves prefight in a sportsmanlike ritual to this over-the-top rant that came right out of the silly wrestling circus.

“Straight WWE,” said a stunned Dana White, the president of the UFC. “Brock went so far over the top tonight I can’t even describe it. I don’t think in the history of the UFC we’ve ever done anything like that.”

Postfight, White pushed his way into Lesnar’s crowded locker room and took the big guy into the bathroom for a private “discussion.” Lesnar himself described it as “a whip-the-dog session.”

“With women in here you don’t want to know what I said,” White said. It worked, Brock showed up at the press conference smiling, supposedly contrite and even drinking a Bud Light.

“First and foremost I want to apologize,” Lesnar said. “I acted very unprofessionally after the fight. I screwed up and I apologize. I apologize to Bud Light. I’m not biased, I drink any beer.”

It was mostly a chance for laugh lines, but it was still an apology. Lesnar said the pent-up energy of avenging a loss to Mir caused him to go crazy. “I’m a sore loser,” he said. “I don’t like to get beat. I believe I gave that fight to him. So there was a lot of emotion in this fight for me.

“Man, I was so jacked up. I’m used to selling pay-per-view tickets. I come from a business that is purely the entertainment business.”

And so that was the excuse. Lesnar didn’t flip, he just flipped the switch back into Vince McMahon’s operation where nothing is too over the top. The UFC, however, is real and it has tried to position itself not as a blood sport but one based on sportsmanship and mutual respect.

Lesnar did the UFC no favors in that regard. And neither did veteran Dan Henderson, who dropped a vicious forearm smash on an already knocked out and prone Michael Bisping on the undercard. Henderson then admitted he did it on purpose to avenge prefight trash talk. The UFC even went on to award him its $100,000 “knockout of the night” bonus. White also gave Henderson a talking to, but Henderson still said it “felt good.”

The damage done to the UFC’s mainstream momentum remains to be seen. While some will be repulsed, others will be drawn in. It’s cage fighting, after all. Things get out of hand.

That this occurred on the promotion’s biggest night, when the numerical significance of the card was expected to bring in a large first-time audience, wasn’t appreciated by the UFC. The night was electric and highly entertaining. And while it is likely to most offend people who weren’t disposed to giving mixed martial arts a chance in the first place, White was aghast at Lesnar’s act. This isn’t what he built. This isn’t what he wanted.

“What he’s doing out there tonight is not real,” White said. “You don’t have to act like something you’re not. This isn’t the WWE. I don’t ask these guys to act crazy so we get more pay per views. That’s not the business I’m in.”

In the meantime, the cementing of Lesnar’s reputation as the promotion’s most hated man is done.

“Brock hasn’t made himself very loveable,” White said. “They hate Brock.” For the UFC, a classic villain is business gold. He’s the ultimate leading man for the organization. Some loathe him. Some love him. No one can ignore him. For those seeking his comeuppance however, there isn’t a WWE storyline that can be written to stop him.

Lost in the antics was Lesnar’s performance, a brilliant effort that showed both his growth as a mixed martial artist and the immense potential. The question becomes, who the heck can tame this mountain of a man from the Minnesota woods?

Shane Carwin? Cain Velasquez? Mir in a final chapter of a trilogy of fights? No doubt they’ll get a chance, and no doubt they stand a chance.

The greatest beneficiary of each Lesnar snarl, however, lives in Stary Oskol, Russia, a man named Fedor Emelianenko who is considered the No. 1 heavyweight (if not pound-for-pound fighter) in the world. If anyone has the knockout power to stop the 6-3, 265-pound Lesnar, it’s Emelianenko.

Fedor doesn’t fight in the UFC though. He’s with its rival promotion, Affliction. He’ll fight Aug. 1 in Anaheim, Calif., in what is the last match of his contract. Affliction is hoping to re-sign him until 2012, but the UFC will come hard after him. More now then ever. And that means money, big money.

“Eventually Fedor is going to be here,” White said. “I want Fedor. We’ll end up getting that deal done and then we’ll do Brock vs. Fedor and we’ll do a huge fight.”

Time will tell, but the pressure to sign the elusive Russian has been ratcheted up. A villain was born and there isn’t an obvious superhero in sight. The UFC brought Brock Lesnar over from the WWE for just this kind of a sensation. And the big man has delivered – the good, the bad and the embarrassing.

Only Dana White has no scriptwriters that can contain him.

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Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist and author of "Resilience: Faith, Focus, Triumph"

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Freedom


I have really been touched by the news this past month of the political turmoil in Iran. The protests and demands for freedom by the Iranian people have both moved and inspired me, probably in the same way that many have been inspired by the labors of those who became the founding fathers of the United States. There are many countries that still fight for even the smallest liberties that many of us of take for granted. Did you know, that out of 103 countries of the world, 43 are still not free? And that actually equals over a third of our world population!

In some of these countries, the population is kept in the dark, denied education and health care, and often left in a constant state of fear for life and limb. In others, women are denied education and live an extremely oppressed existence. And in still others, entire tribes or races are the victims of genocide. If what I am writing seems too terrible to think about, well it is terrible! I have to admit that, when I compare my life to the lives of people in countries who still struggle under the yoke of oppression, all of my personal cares and concerns seem very small indeed.

I certainly don't want to imply, that we should feel guilty about the freedoms we benefit from. On the contrary, we should be joyful and grateful for the many liberties we enjoy each and every day, because any of us could have been born in a country where we might never experience the independence and free will we have now.

We enjoy a number of very precious liberties, including the right to speak freely without fear of being arrested, the right to a free press, the right to practice the religion of your choice, the right to a full education, and the right to vote for your candidate of choice. And because these freedoms have been practiced for a long time, it has become an accepted and expected way of living. I just wanted to take this opportunity in lieu of the turmoil going on in our world to say how fortunate those of us who do benefit from such freedoms actually are.

"Freedom" may be a small word, but it carries a huge significance, especially for those who are still fighting for it and for those to whom it is nothing more than a dim hope. I am sure you will agree that we should greet each new day with a sense of humility and gratitude for the privileges and liberties we continue to enjoy, and that we should never take our freedom for granted.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Feed your mind


Did you know that keeping your mind active is one way to live longer and healthier? Studies have shown that when you "feed" your mind with new information, you are actually building brain cells that can benefit you, both physically and mentally.

And there are plenty of ways to do that. It can be as simple as thinking of a topic that interests you and then researching it. When you research, you expose yourself to a wealth of information. And with today's sophisticated online search engines, researching is much easier than it used to be. That makes it easy to keep your mind active without even leaving home.

And there are other means to find mental stimulation. If you are fond of formal classes, you could look into the curriculum offered at a local learning center, community college, or even a major university. Many universities now offer online classes, which really broadens your learning options. Whether it's a cooking class or a university course in psychology, you'll benefit from learning something new. You can also stimulate your "little grey cells" by visiting a local museum or watching historical, scientific, and other educational programs on television.

And don't forget the easiest and simplest lifelong learning pursuit, reading. A powerful activity for keeping the mind honed and sharp, reading is an inexpensive and pleasant pastime. Studies show that teachers and professors tend to keep their mental faculties longer, and this is attributed to their regular reading habits. So, settling in with a book is good for your health!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Sunshine


For those of you in the northern hemisphere, they are currently in the lightest time of the year. June 21st marked the Summer Solstice, the time when the sunlight is at its peak. From this point on, the Sun will lessen in its strength, but more than ever we need to protect ourselves from it. Oddly enough, regardless of the season, dermatologists recommend our putting on sunscreen when we are out in the sunshine. But it is beneficial and advised by dermatologists to get at least 15 minutes of natural light every single day.

That's right. While we do need to watch our sun exposure and protect ourselves when we are in the sun for long periods of time, our bodies also need full-spectrum natural light on a daily basis. Incandescent lights and fluorescent lights don't produce a sufficient amount of lux (a measurement of light) to provide us with positive health benefits. The most efficient way to reap these benefits is to go outdoors.

Those 15 minutes a day out in the sunlight can do a lot for your body, including positively affecting your endocrine system, reproductive system, and your circadian rhythms or internal biological clock. Light exposure also boosts your serotonin levels to help you to stay awake and alert.

Plus, natural light helps your skin to produce vitamin D, which helps your body absorb the calcium needed for strong bones. Daily exposure to sunlight also helps reduce stress and improve your mood.

How can you be sure to get those valuable 15 minutes of sunlight on a regular basis? Go outside whenever you can. Enjoy your lunch break out of doors, or take a short morning or afternoon walk. All of these are excellent ways to safely get the amount of light your body requires.

So, I hope you will think about your daily dose of sunshine. And now I hope you will take some time to go over your forecast. May it shed light and brighten your path. Have a lovely sunny summer week!

Until next week.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Some ways to keep our body healthy


This morning, I read an article in the newspaper about the negative effect the economic crisis is having on our health. Some people are compromising their health by working more than one job and burning the midnight oil. Others are experiencing anxiety and stress as a result of the financial instability they are experiencing, and still others are choosing to cut back on important health benefits, such as exercise or the quality of food they are eating.

There is no doubt that tough times take a bite out of everything, and it's certainly important to be conservative during periods of financial downturn. However, we need to think seriously about what we cut from our budget, and healthy food choices and a regular exercise routine should not go easily. More practical expenses to cut back on include entertainment costs, such as movies and shows, perks like cable television, and nights out at restaurants and clubs. Now is the time to consider spending more time at home and economizing on gas, electricity, and water consumption.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep your body healthy and fit even when your wallet isn't. With just a few simple shifts, you can continue to eat right and get plenty of exercise while sticking to a tighter budget.

For starters, do things to nip your stress in the bud. Make a point of getting as much rest as you can. This is especially necessary if you have had to take on a second job. Rearrange your schedule so that you can get at least 7 hours of sleep daily. Also, drink lots of water to keep your system flushed. Save money by avoiding bottled waters and purchase a water filter for your kitchen tap instead.

If you can't afford to go to the gym, find new ways to get exercise. Get outside and take advantage of the changing seasons by walking, skating, biking, playing softball, basketball or Frisbee, and swimming or doing some outdoor gardening. If you have to be indoors, you can always plug in an exercise video or put on your favorite CD and dance until you start feeling sweaty. These activities require a relatively small investment, if any at all.

When it comes to groceries, there are a few things you can do to save money without compromising nutrition. Buying fresh produce is great but can be expensive, and it begins to lose its nutritional value within just a couple of days. So buy foods that you must eat fresh, like apples, plums, lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados, and opt to go to the frozen food section for the rest. While some people feel that frozen food is less nutritious than fresh, both types tend to have the same levels of nutrients. That's because frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen at the peak of their ripeness, which actually locks and holds in their nutrients. So, all you have to do is to allow for thawing time when planning meals.

Even though money is tight right now, you can still maintain a healthy lifestyle on a lean budget. It just takes a little planning and adjustment to doing a few things differently. Before you know it, your new routines could become habits that help you save money in the long run.

Until next week... have a great Father's Day weekend!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A weekend walk in the park...


I just returned from a pleasant visit to the park, in Salcedo Village, where I sat on a bench and people-watched. The park is a perfect place for this activity as there are so many people to see: nannies pushing prams, young mothers watching children on the playground, people strolling leisurely along the walks, and professionals taking a break from their office, enjoying their lunch outdoors.

However, in addition to just looking at the passersby, I also was also reading about human behavior. An elderly couple strolled past me, arm in arm, talking, giggling, and seeming to enjoy each other's company. Their giggling was a bit unexpected, but certainly pleasant. At one point, they stopped and he kissed her on her forehead before the giggling began again and they walked on.

Near the playground, a young boy and an older woman were crouched on the ground, looking at something in the grass. The woman, possibly a grandmother, seemed to be explaining something to the child. Other children joined them and, suddenly, a small group was receiving what I imagined was a nature lesson. Then, a teenage girl glided past me on roller blades, grinning wickedly, her long brown hair flowing behind her. Behind her a young woman who was also on skates, but seemed to be having difficulty keeping up, called out, "Wait up!"

As you know, my attention focuses on what makes people tick and how they act with others. I have long been interested in how people behave and interact. I guess you could say that people-watching is one of my hobbies. The best thing is that you can people-watch almost anywhere -- in the park, the local bookstore, a tea or coffee shop, or even a shopping mall. It is a very inexpensive hobby, which costs no more than the price of a cup of tea or coffee.

It can be fascinating watching our fellow human beings. If you aren't already a people-watcher, I invite you to give it a try. You may find that it opens your mind to human nature. And you may even see aspects of yourself in others, as I sometimes do. Regardless, you won't be bored.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The fountain of youth


Are you familiar with the legend of Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer who was supposedly looking for the fountain of youth and discovered Florida instead? Well, he certainly wasn't the first person to be lured by a dream of eternal youth. There are numerous stories about powerful figures in history such as Alexander the Great and Cleopatra who also sought to hold onto their beauty and vitality.

And the search for youth continues. All you have to do is to turn on the television or open a beauty magazine to find advertisements for miracle hair tonics, wrinkle cures, stomach flatteners, etc. It seems we are still looking for a fountain of youth, but this time it is through creams or supplements or health regimens that make extravagant, unproven claims. However, I don't think that is the way to stay young.

It seems that studies done on centenarians – those who've live 100 years or more -- show that they have certain things in common. And that's staying active, having interests, and keeping connected with their loved ones. So it seems that the mind-body connection is what is most important.

Staying physically fit is important, but so also is keeping mentally and emotionally fit. Centenarians who were studied showed they handled stress well and were the type of people who could let go of their worries at the end of each day. Like anyone else, they had their difficult or challenging experiences, but it was their positive response to those difficulties and challenges that enabled them to carry on.

So there may be a fountain of youth after all, but not exactly as we envisioned it. As the "ageless" Sophia Loren has said, "There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age."

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A healing garden



I wish I could share the garden I went to, with you right now. It is in full bloom and I am lucky enough to have a smorgasbord of colors, shapes, textures, and scents. I am particularly taken with the rich colorful contrast of the flowers and foliage. The bright yellows, oranges, and greens dance with the softer hues of pinks, lavenders, and blues.

The vibrancy, freshness, and joy of warm, bright colors meld with the softness and tranquility of the cooler, gentler ones. I know that I get a little excited when it comes to my garden. Of course, psychologists have known for many years that natural colors and scents can have a powerful effect on us, one that draws our interest and greatly influences our moods.

So, I guess it shouldn't be surprising, that the commercial and marketing worlds take advantage of this information. It is very common to see bright yellow and orange decors in fast-food restaurants where the goal is to keep people happy, energized, and moving quickly so that more people can be served. Spas and hospitals often utilize softer blues and magentas to help create a calm and relaxing environment, and health food restaurants and stores regularly employ the color green to remind people of the natural world and healthy growth.

We can all use the power of color in our homes and offices to create whatever sort of mood we wish. For example, dark colors can be used in combination with browns and tans to promote a masculine feel, or softer lavenders and pinks with white to create a feminine energy. Warm and bright colors can be used to energize, while cool colors create a feeling of relaxation and tranquility. For an added dramatic effect, combine contrasting dark and bright colors.

If you are not already doing so, you can easily use colors in this way to decorate or accessorize in order to create just the right mood in your home, workspace, or business. The result can be a happier home, a more serene and productive work environment, and a bustling and successful business. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

On Spending Wisely...


We've been hearing a lot about how many people are in serious debt and others struggle from month to month to pay their bills. So it might seem that the problem is purely about having a certain amount of money. However, an answer can be found in having a positive attitude towards finances and a satisfaction with what we already have.

I know that financial establishments, such as banks, savings and loans, and credit card companies are being monitored right now, and I am certainly pleased about the government's regulatory role in this critical situation. But I have to say that as consumers we have a responsibility for our own money management.

The first step is to reduce any debt. Being beholden to a lender can weigh you down with monthly payments that can drag out for years. The hard truth is that it can take a very long time to pay it off. So, it is essential to develop a plan to free yourself of such a weight.

One way to do this is to pare down the number of credit cards you maintain. If you have several cards, the main objective is to get them paid off as quickly as possible, preferably paying off the higher interest cards first. In any case, getting at least one card paid off and then closing that account will give you a satisfying feeling and encourage you to continue with your plan of getting your finances in order.

You'll also want to curb impulse spending. Before making any new purchase, give it some thought. How important is this purchase to you? Can you get it for a better price? Hopefully by thinking before you buy, you will end up buying far less, thereby saving more. Interestingly, you probably won't miss most of the items that you momentarily craved, and if you do, then you can set aside some money from every paycheck towards buying it.

Another important step is to create a budget to help you choose where your money goes and help you to keep track of your progress. Be sure to put a small amount of money aside for your enjoyment and to reward yourself for your efforts. Of course, the big reward will be when you realize how much headway you have made towards being in control of your money -- and your life.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On having an education...


I was watching the news the other night and heard that those who graduated this year's college was the largest in history. This might come as a surprise to many, considering the current, tough economy, especially as some families have had to bring their kids home from college. However, with the recent layoffs, it seems that more people than ever are looking towards education as a chance for a fresh start in a competitive market.

Colleges and universities are seeing a surge of students returning to school from the workplace or starting college in hopes of securing better employment opportunities in the future. The fact is, that the more you know and understand about the field you want to work in the better chance you will have to be successful at what you want to do. So, even though times are tight, education is the priority for those who want to be employed in a satisfying job that will also bring them that much needed paycheck.

A good education helps turn knowledge into opportunity by building your understanding of the world around you while giving you access to new avenues in life. Education helps you to gain insight into your own life and to turn experiences into a learning opportunity. Plus it can provide you a better understanding of other cultures and civilizations. There is no doubt that a good education is a gift of knowledge that can enlarge your choices in life.

Those of us who live in developed countries may take education for granted. That's because we have easier access to it, especially higher education. In developing countries, a higher education is highly valued and sought after because it promises higher standards of living, better health care, scientific advances, useful inventions and more. In fact, the countries that are taking a stand in the global community are doing so through better education of their citizens, which usually begins with the children and then extends to higher education.

I completely believe in taking advantage of educational opportunities that come my way, be they astrological courses, interesting books and articles or even information to help me to better care for my own body and physical fitness. There is no doubt that continuing my education makes me a better-rounded person and keeps me sharp.

Whether you seek education for work purposes or just because you want to learn something new, you'll always find education to be a way to better yourself and your life.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

World's Happiest Places


Where in the world do people feel most content with their lives?

According to a new report released by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based group of 30 countries with democratic governments that provides economic and social statistics and data, happiness levels are highest in northern European countries.

Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands rated at the top of the list, ranking first, second and third, respectively. Outside Europe, New Zealand and Canada landed at Nos. 8 and 6, respectively. The U.S. did not crack the top 10. Switzerland placed seventh and Belgium placed tenth.

The report looked at subjective well-being, defined as life satisfaction. Did people feel like their lives were dominated by positive experiences and feelings, or negative ones?

To answer that question, the OECD used data from a Gallup World Poll conducted in 140 countries around the world last year. The poll asked respondents whether they had experienced six different forms of positive or negative feelings within the last day.

Some sample questions: Did you enjoy something you did yesterday? Were you proud of something you did yesterday? Did you learn something yesterday? Were you treated with respect yesterday? In each country, a representative sample of no more than 1,000 people, age 15 or older, were surveyed. The poll was scored numerically on a scale of 1-100. The average score was 62.4.

Why did the northern European countries come out looking so good? Overall economic health played a powerful role, says Simon Chapple, senior economist from the Social Policy Division of the OECD, which put together the report.

While the global economic crisis has taken a toll on every nation, the countries that scored at the top still boast some of the highest gross domestic product per capita in the world. Denmark, which got the highest score, is not only a wealthy country, it's also highly productive, with a 2009 GDP per capita of $68,000, according to the International Monetary Fund, The United States' GDP per capita, by contrast, is $47,335. Though the U.S. got an above-average score of 74, it did not break the top 10.

Wealth alone does not bring the greatest degree of happiness. Norway has the highest GDP per capita on the list--$98,822--yet it ranked ninth, not first. On the other hand, New Zealand's happiness level is 76.7 out of 100 on the OECD list, but its 2009 GDP per capita is just $30,556.

According to a 2005 editorial, published in the British Medical Journal and authored by Dr. Tony Delamothe, research done in Mexico, Ghana, Sweden, the U.S. and the U.K. shows that individuals typically get richer during their lifetimes, but not happier. It is family, social and community networks that bring joy to one's life, according to Delamothe.

The OECD data shows that another important factor is work-life balance. While Scandinavian countries boast a high GDP per capita, the average workweek in that part of the world is no more than 37 hours. In China, which got a low score of just 14.8, the workweek is 47 hours and the GDP per capita is just $3,600.

Low unemployment also contributes to happiness. "One thing we know for sure," says the OECD's Chapple, "not having a job makes one substantially less satisfied." Denmark's unemployment rate is just 2%, according the C.I.A.'s World Factbook. Norway's is just 2.6%. The Netherlands: just 4.5%. Many economists concur that a 4% unemployment rate reflects a stable economy. The U.S. unemployment rate is currently 9%.

Source: forbes.com



Thursday, May 07, 2009

Living in the moment...


Are you familiar with the expression "to live in the moment?" This is the ability to be fully present and aware of yourself and your surroundings as you live each moment. Achieving such a state requires observation, appreciation, patience, quiet, and the ability to turn off the clock and put away the calendar.

While most of us don't experience such times frequently, this is when we feel the most alive. In theory, being present involves learning how to pay attention, and the process of getting there is far easier than you might think. There are a few simple things you can do right now to help you stay in the present and pay attention to your life experience in a very positive way.

Start by setting a few quiet minutes aside each day to close your eyes and take stock of what you are feeling, no matter how good or bad those feelings may be. Don't judge your feelings, just allow yourself to become aware of the emotions behind them.

Next, send your attention outward and become aware of things around you. Notice if you feel warm or cold, what your clothing feels like against your skin, the feeling of the air moving in and out of your lungs. Let the sounds around you filter through you and notice the underlying noises that you may have been tuning out. Next, open your eyes and notice the colors and sights around you in this same subtle, attentive way.

By the time you are halfway through this little exercise, you may be surprised at how much you actually notice about your internal and external presence. If you try this, you will probably find that "paying attention" will take on a whole new meaning, and it will be a very nice one at that.

I hope that you can take some time this week to practice "living in the moment." I feel sure that it will change your experience in "now" time. Enjoy!

Friday, May 01, 2009

How do you visualize things?


I want you to take a few moments to imagine something you really want to happen and then use your imagination to follow it through in your mind's eye. What is it you are dreaming about? Who is involved? How does it play out? Now let's think about the direction your imagination took. Did you focus on the positive aspects of your dream or did you end up thinking about the things that could go wrong?

If you found that you had a constructive mental process, my hat goes off to you! On the other hand, if your imagination turned your dream into a disaster, let's think about why that happened. First off, I don't want you to be down on yourself. You might be surprised at how many of us are in the habit of imagining the worst as opposed to the best, unless our thoughts are directed differently.

It is said that energy flows where the attention goes, and this is the key to getting positive results in any situation. When you can visualize exactly what it is that you want, you fuel the energy of your creation by seeing all the wonderful aspects of it coming into reality. You can see yourself experiencing your desire in detail, imagining the events, sights, smells, and feelings around it. And, if a negative thought creeps in, you can simply erase it, replacing it with thoughts of what you want to have happen instead.

In addition to visualizing, other things can help reinforce the positive outcome you desire. For example, you could keep a daily journal and write what you desire to have happen in your life. This is a very good way to keep your focus. Another technique is to make a picture page with images of what you want, along with good things that are part of your dream. You can cut out photos from magazines or draw pictures. When your little poster is completed, put your page in a place where you will see it frequently. Just seeing these visual suggestions regularly will stimulate your imagination.

By making a point to visualize on a regular basis the positive things you want to bring your way, you will draw wonderful things into your life with surprising frequency. Not only will you experience more success in your life, but you will also feel more confident and in charge of your own destiny, and that should be your goal!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Are you happy with your body?



Regular exercise is very important to our sense of well-being, and in this time of economic crisis, it is absolutely essential. Right now, I am really encouraging everyone in my family and friends to take positive steps to keep their bodies fit and strong by doing whatever form of exercise best suits them.

My preferred choice of exercise is a good old-fashioned brisk walk. Interestingly, walking and running are the two most popular forms of exercise, and both are very good ways to keep fit for very little investment. All you really need is a good pair of running or walking shoes. Some people like running or jogging to burn more calories, but I prefer walking because it offers numerous benefits and I still get to take in the sights along the way.

In many ways, walking is a perfect form of fitness training because it is low-impact and gentler on the body than running. However, don't think that just because it's slower that it's less beneficial. Walking can help us manage our weight, lower blood pressure, lower bad LDL cholesterol, raise the good HDL, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and even boost our moods. Now that's quite a lot of advantages for an activity as simple as taking a long walk on a regular basis.

That said, while walking is an easy activity, it is important to follow a few simple rules that will protect your health and help you gain the highest benefit. First, choose comfortable clothing that is appropriate for the weather you will be walking in. If you will be walking at night, be sure to wear bright clothing or consider a reflective vest or reflective tape to make you more visible to drivers.

Before starting out on a walk, do some leg stretches to warm up your muscles, and start out easy if you are new to walking. Going on a long trek when you haven't built up the stamina could result in soreness that will deter your taking on a walking routine. In the beginning, start with ten-minute walks and build up your time to 30 minutes or an hour three or more times a week.

When things interfere with your walking, as they sometimes do, it is important to pick up where you left off and get right back into your walking regime. Otherwise you could lose your momentum and drop off in your exercise. And it may not hurt to walk with a friend or vary your routes to keep things interesting. Just be sure to let someone know which route you are taking when you are walking alone.

If you are not already enjoying the benefits of walking, I hope you will consider giving it a try. All you have to do is take those first steps, and you'll be on a journey to better health and fitness.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Living the simple life...


Simplifying life is something I hear a lot about lately both from friends and family. And there is no doubt that it is a very important step that demands a concentrated effort. A while back I had an experience and I needed to do just that. I had taken on too much and was feeling overstressed from juggling a busy schedule and too many demands. I have heard the same advice I give to friends: if you want to feel more in sync with life, you need to take steps to simplify it.

First, I thought of prioritizing my commitments and eliminate at least one. Right away, I eliminated one commitment and then later decided to let go of two more. I felt a little guilty at first, but in the end freeing up valuable time was a huge relief.

Next, I took stock of her rather lengthy "to-do" list. Long to-do lists can make you feel like you are drowning in a sea of work that will never end. I decided which tasks I would cross off, as well as what I could delegate to someone else or simply put on hold until later. I knew that shortening my list made it easier for me to complete tasks, and that gave me a feeling of accomplishment.

I also began to de-clutter my physical environment. Clutter creates a feeling of chaos and can prevent you from being relaxed and happy. Rather than trying to tackle the whole house at once, she chose to focus on one drawer, cabinet, or closet at a time. I only kept the things I really loved and used, and then gave away the rest. By de-cluttering my space, even a little at a time, I soon created a more pleasant living space.

I began to feel that much less stressed and more peaceful. If you would take into consideration my suggestions, your quality of life will be greatly improved by having a simplification overhaul. As you would imagine, I am very happy for myself!

I hope you will find this helpful. Most of us can stand to simplify our lives to some degree or can help someone close to us who is in need of doing that.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Enjoy the summer!


In my part of the world, overcast days are quite common. However, the idea of a gray day can apply to more than just the weather. Cloudy, gray days can also refer to blue, listless feelings so that even those who live in the sunniest of climates can experience gray days.

Fortunately, there are things to help combat these "gray day" doldrums. One surefire way that works for me is to go outside, even if it's only for a few minutes, to take in some fresh air. Natural settings can be very calming. And in the summertime, with the new growth and blooms to take in, I find it particularly inspiring.

You can also break the monotony of a dull day by changing your schedule around or doing something out of the ordinary, such as a creative activity. For example, you could record thoughts in your journal, do an art or crafts activity, or take photos of something that catches your eye. This kind of stimulation can have you feeling better in no time!

Another idea is to take an exercise break, because exercise helps your body release endorphins that can improve your mood. When you exercise, you increase the amount of oxygen that goes to your brain and boost your overall metabolism. Having a higher metabolism helps to make you less lethargic.

Of course, if you are experiencing one of those gray days where you really can't get yourself moving, sometimes just a day of plain old rest can be extremely therapeutic and all that you need to get yourself back on track.

I hope that you'll try out my suggestions if you feel the need. You may have your own remedies to combat a gray day. In the meantime, summertime is good for initiating and putting plans into action, and for enjoying Mother Nature, of course!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Do you have communication problems?


Several weeks back I had watched a mother and daughter seek help from Dr. Phil in his show. They were having communication difficulties and wanted a resolution to their relationship. When they first arrived, the two women were already involved in a heated discussion, which ended with the daughter accusing the mother of treating her like a child and the mother telling her daughter that she needed an attitude adjustment.

Needless to say, I thought Dr. Phil didn't really need to do a relationship chart to understand what was going on. Within just a few moments of listening to their conversation, it was obvious that there was a serious lack of effective communication between them. So, in addition to giving them an advice, Dr. Phil spent time sharing ways they might communicate more openly and respectfully. Most of us run into communication problems every now and then, and it never hurts to review how we can communicate better.

In this case of a mother/daughter, Dr. Phil asked them to consider their tone and the clarity of their messages to one another as well as the vibe they were giving off. He wanted them to think about what they wanted to say before actually saying it. For example, instead of the mother saying, "What do you mean by that?" she could rephrase that thought with, "Can you repeat what you just said. I am not sure I understood it all." And instead of her daughter replying, "Just forget about it, you never listen," the daughter could say, "Is there a particular part you aren't sure about or should I just start over?"

He also advised them to consider the best time to approach heavier or more sensitive subjects. For example, if you need to bring up a touchy subject, pick a time when all parties involved are able to give their full attention to the topic. Creating appropriate time and space for important communications is a necessary step. For example, talking over a cup of tea will certainly produce better results than a rushed conversation during a hectic day.

The last point, he coached the mother and daughter on was to listen to one another without interrupting. Finishing someone's sentence or breaking into the middle of their statement with a counterargument can be extremely frustrating and cause even a minor communication to escalate into a nasty exchange. At the end of the show, both mother and daughter agreed they had work to do. And Dr. Phil is happy to report that they have apparently made progress on their communication skills.

A little patience along with a willingness to listen and plan for important discussions can go a long way toward improving communication and building closer ties. We can all stand a little help at this every now and then. Enjoy your week everyone and let us all contemplate this Holy Week.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Life's Small Pleasures


Today, I'd like to bring up one of life's small pleasures that actually provides quite a bit of satisfaction: the houseplant. Have you ever noticed how houseplants make a d├ęcor more warm and welcoming? There's something pleasing and comforting about them.

The Chinese have long believed that houseplants generate positive energy, and modern scientific studies support the value of having plants in homes, offices, or environments such as hospitals, schools, and other institutions.

Actually, there are many benefits to having plants around us. As plants take in the air around them, they actually remove some of the airborne toxins and replenish the environment with oxygen. Peace lilies, bamboo, palms, and spider plants are thought to be especially effective at clearing the air of unpleasant toxic chemicals. In addition, studies have shown that plants also have a positive physiological effect on us, by providing relief from anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and adding to a general sense of well-being.

Plants in school and work environments have been credited for boosting productivity, shortening reaction time, increasing spatial perceptions, and building concentration. Students who study with plants nearby are more likely to be in regular attendance, while people who work in offices surrounded by plants tend to enjoy their jobs more than employees who work in more sterile environments.

Personally, I think the nicest thing about plants is the simple fact of having these living, green organisms growing in my home and office, not because I love gardening and flowers; maybe you might think I encourage to do some gardening too. I hope you are already enjoying the calming and pleasant benefits of these houseplants. But if you haven't been exercising your green thumb, maybe it's time to get your hands a little dirty!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Can Money Change Your Life?


How we think about money has a direct effect on how money works for us. One of my friends, is an excellent example of how changing the way you think about money can change your life. A while back, he came to me complaining that he never had enough money and that he just couldn't get ahead. He had been raised to believe that money was the root of all evil and that rich people were snobby and unfriendly.

His relationship with money came from his subconscious belief that because money was bad, he shouldn't have it. Interestingly enough, his situation is not unusual. The difficulties that many people experience with money are a result of their hang-ups from past experiences. This can be difficult because we need money in our day-to-day lives and to survive in the world. In fact, if we want to be comfortable and live in harmony, we really need to have a good relationship with money.

So, it was clear to me that he desperately needed to change his attitude and feelings about money and I set about helping him to do that. First I reminded him that money is just a tool and that using money to pay bills, buy groceries, and keep his car maintained are all ways she expresses love and care for himself and his family. And as providing love and care for one's self and family is a good thing, money becomes the tool that helps us to accomplish this good thing.

He also needed to develop an "attitude of gratitude" for the money he did have, even if much of it was going to pay the phone company, car payment, and electricity bills. The fact that he had a place to live and was able to pay for his rent, electricity, water, and phone meant that he was already in better shape than many other people on the planet. So I asked him to thank the universe for meeting his needs every time he wrote out a check.

And finally, I challenged him to seek some opportunities to share his wealth with others, whether through a charity, at his church, or simply buying a meal for a hungry person. Giving to others with gratitude and willingness attracts even more back to the giver.

As you might guess, the last time I spoke with Jake, he was feeling much better about his money situation. By changing his attitude toward money, he was finding it easier to attract what he needed. Fortunately, he no longer felt cheated by the universe and no longer craved unnecessary purchases. I am pleased to say that he received special recognition at work and even a small promotion that included a slight salary increase in these trying times. Jake says he is grateful for what he has and now feels good about having money.

Money definitely has an ebb and flow like the tides. Sometimes there is more and sometimes there is less, but like the ocean there is always plenty to be had and many ways to find it. I hope that Jake's story will inspire you to think about how you view money so that you can attract all that you require with ease and grace.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Did you sleep well last night?



It seems that many of us are feeling so stressed that when we finally do get into bed for a little shut-eye, we just can't sleep. With the current economic environment and concerns about foreclosures, company stability, and job security, it is no wonder that many people are losing sleep.

This vicious cycle of stress and sleeplessness is very hard on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. When we don't get enough sleep, we are more likely to be accident prone, short-tempered, and susceptible to illness. We all need to take special care of ourselves during periods of uncertainty and stress, and there are things we can do can do to encourage good sleep, no matter what may be going on around us. This is what I want to share with you this week.

Many people are under the misconceptions that vigorous exercise or a nice glass of wine before bed will tire out or relax one enough to sleep. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Alcohol before bed can actually disrupt your deeper sleep cycle and exercise in the few hours before bed may make you feel tired but it boosts your metabolism and energy levels, so it, too, can disrupt your sleep. And, of course, drinking caffeinated drinks before at bedtime does not encourage shut-eye.

Restful sleep requires a comfortable, quiet, and pleasant environment. If your bedroom isn't relaxing, do what you can to make it feel like a safe and serene oasis. And, it is best to refrain from watching TV just before bedtime, as the hormones released by the bright lights can keep you awake for hours afterwards. If you do happen to have a television in your bedroom, Feng shui experts recommend covering it with an attractive piece of fabric when it is not in use to make your sleep less distracted and more peaceful.

Hopefully, you are getting plenty of restorative and healthful sleep in spite of these uncertain times. However, if you are experiencing sleep difficulties, give these tips a try to see if they help you to sleep more soundly. Right now you need to wake up with the energy to cope with anything that comes your way.

Until next week -- and sweet dreams!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

What you see is what you get...


I'm sure you have heard the expression, "What you see is what you get." This is a strong phrase when it comes to attracting the things you desire in life. That's because what we choose to see and focus on is likely to come to pass! I have heard people talk about the value of visualizations to increase health, attract wealth, and improve relationships. In these difficult times, I thought that it would be a good idea to bring this up.

The idea of using visualization to attract desired items or situations is not a new one. Visionaries like Norman Vincent Peale, Dale Carnegie, and Zig Ziglar understood the power of visualizing what you want and where you want to go. They shared this message with the public, and over time their knowledge bore fruit for many who tried and benefited from their techniques. As a result, visualizations have become a popular, simple, and effective method for manifesting what you want to come to pass.

Many goals can be achieved through visualization, and it is a relatively simple technique to undertake. You just need to take the time on a regular basis to imagine things you want to have happen in your life as if they have already come to pass. And you can combat pesky, negative thoughts by replacing them with visions of what you desire to create.

The more detailed you make your visualizations, the more powerful they will be. Begin by picturing what you want in your mind's eye. Once you have achieved this step, extend your creative visualizations to include sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings associated with the object or situation you desire. This last step will dramatically increase the effectiveness of your visualization.

Let me give you an example. If you want a new car, visualize the car in your mind's eye or picture it in your driveway. Then make your visualization more effective by imagining yourself in the driver's seat, feeling the luxury of the seats, enjoying the fabulous sound system, smelling the new car smell, and enjoying the feeling of acceleration and handling of the vehicle. By making your experience as full and complete as possible, you will be sending out many messages to the universe to fill your order for a new car.

And be sure to thank the universe before you have already received what it is you desire. Acting as if you already have it and expressing gratitude actually increases the power of your visualizations even more.

I hope you will find these tips on visualization helpful and that you'll give them a try. I feel sure that as you apply these ideas you will be pleased with the results, bringing you the many things you deserve in life.
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