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Recipe for Resilience

There are times when it appears the tide has washed ashore.  Your boat has sprung a leak. The sun has set in your backyard.

During these temporary dark periods it appears that no matter how quickly you bail out water, paddle up stream, reach for safer ground, you still get nowhere.

You may widely open the window; nevertheless, it is you who refuses to let in the sunlight.  No one else is refusing to count the multiple blessings, nor adopt an attitude of gratitude.

Snap out of it I say. Pronto! Press the reset button. Take action immediately.

Stop watching the same old movie. No more complaining!  Sing a different song. The pity party ends right here, right now!

Instead, laugh yourself silly. Put the spring back in your walk. Get your groove back. Put the smile back on your face. You have the power. It’s sticky.  It will catch up with the rest of you, promise.

Start over immediately. There isn’t a second to lose. Why not start the day with a fresh new attitude?

I was reminded of this and the power of resilience by my children. I taught them that no problem is insurmountable. All issues large or small, simple or complex, common knowledge or private, could be handled collectively. They were raised to believe not much could not be cured at the dinner table, or through my home baked chocolate chip cookies, a pot of meatballs, and a large dose of laughter.

Years have progressed, problems have multiplied and grown in complexity; nevertheless, the rules of engagement, secrecy and comfort via the dinner table still apply. Last week my son relayed a story of such intense magnitude my hair practically stood up on end. My daughter’s reaction: “That is horrible”, visibly shaken. “So sad”, (Compassion)! Next, “We really dodged a bullet.”(No codependency there). Finally, “Pass the kale”. (Movin’ On)

I taught them well.  Be compassionate. Know what is yours. Move on.

Foodie that I am, here is my RECIPE for Resilience. Thanks for the inspiration, kids.

R is for Response, Reaction & Relationships:

Your response and reaction to any given situation makes a world of difference in how things will turn out. Some people love a good challenge. Other people’s reaction: why me?

My rule of thumb:

Adversity = Opportunity

I say seize the opportunity. What is the nugget you can grab to learn, grow or prosper?

Can you turn adversity into a stepping stone for personal growth and greatness?

Connections are the heart of my world. My relationships run deep.

In relationships I used to only show up as my personal best. Now I understand that is utter nonsense. It’s exhausting! It is only by allowing ourselves to expose our imperfections, flaws and weakness, that one can fully explore, gain insight and restore emotional equilibrium.  Love me or leave me I say. That’s how I sort out the excess.

Choose your confidants wisely.

Rule of thumb:

To have a friend you need to be a friend.

You can learn a lot hanging around the playground.

E is for ENTHUSIASM:

I truly have a zest for life.

It has been said that my mood and attitude on my worst days resemble that of the average person on their best.

I dance like no one is watching. I sing at the top of my lungs, anywhere, always.  I have no business singing anywhere, ever. Every song is my favorite, ask my kids.  I dress everyday as if I am going to a party. I always wear matching undergarments, in case of accidents. I will try any, I mean any, exercise craze, check out my basement.  I begin each project with total commitment.  I enter all relationships with my whole heart and total abandon.

This is how I roll. This is how I am wired. This is my genetic default button.

How does this help build resilience?

I fake it till I make it.  I never let them see me sweat.  I set the mood and hope the rest of me catches up. Eventually it does.

There are times in life when you will be presented with obstacles. You can view these as challenges or fight to the finish line. Or sing, dance, and look great doing it. Your choice! J

C is for CYCLES & CHANGE

This too shall pass. What goes around comes around. What seems life altering today will not raise your blood pressure six months down the line.

This is hard to fathom when you are swimming upstream in the muck. It is true.

I have heard it said if you round up your friends, colleagues, and even a random stranger or two; put your problems in a hat, you would most likely take back your own.

It is also likely true that the dream job, home, boss and romances unrequited; were really nightmares and bullets dodged.  We just didn’t realize it at the time.

Change is inevitable. I never like to get too comfortable in life because as soon as I do, boom, disaster.   Nine out of ten times the change is good. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

Chin up. Keep the faith. Retain your attitude of gratitude.

For this I keep a Gratitude List:

Every night before I got to sleep I write down at LEAST three things I have to be grateful for.

Even in our darkest periods, we still can count our blessings. Try it and see how quickly the cycles turn in your favor.

I is for INDEPENDENCE:

You were brought onto this planet alone and you will leave it alone.

The truth is, no one is going to save you but YOU.

I spent the first half of my life waiting for my ship to come in; unfortunately I was at the airport.

There was no knight in shining armor for me.  No quick fix. No magic bullets. No happily ever after. Thank goodness!

That is what built grit. The perfect playing field for transformation. When the hard work was necessary the magic could begin!

You can lean on your family and friends. You can read, download, mainline and listen to self-help audiobooks till you become the foremost authority on inner strength or your eyes and ears bleed. Attend all the latest and greatest “kick life in the butt” seminars and workshops. Do yoga, meditate, and stand on you head till you are centered yet blue on the face. In the end it is YOU who will need to take control of your destiny.

Vow to wake up tomorrow knowing that YOU have all the ingredients YOU need to have a fabulous life. YOU have the power to be and do anything YOU want. YOU will be, and do anything YOU want, provided YOU are willing to do the work.

P is for PREPARATION & PLAN B

You can never be too prepared in life; nor should you be without a carefully drafted backup plan. I fondly refer to this as a Plan B.  Doesn’t hurt to have a Plan C and D just in case.

Don’t wait till the floor drops out beneath you, you are gasping for air, have your finger in the dam, while balancing on the ledge by your pinky toe.  The time to spring into action is now!

It will not help if you wait till you are down-sized to update your resume, Bio, and LinkedIn Profile. Update them today! Keep your coach and recruiters closely on hand too.

Don’t continue to linger in negative relationships.  Take control and ask for what you want. Do the soul searching required. Have the confidence necessary to get what you need, or move on.

Don’t wait to go on a diet. Go back to school. Sign up for the webinar. Update your computer skills, or get a new haircut. DO IT NOW!

Whatever you want to be, do, and have, is in your grasp.   If you are willing to put in the work.

I always have my back up plan at the ready. I pack my parachute with a plan B and C.  I keep a plan D and E tucked up my sleeve and shoved in my back pocket, just in case. Life has dealt me an interesting hand. I revel in it. Think of me as a Resiliency Eagle Scout.

Having a backup plan takes commitment and energy.

I work at it hard. I set challenges and hurdles beyond my grasp. I envision the outcomes. I imagine I have already achieved the goal and initiative. My credo, “Failure isn’t an Option”.  In my case it really wasn’t.  It was a matter of life or death. Eat or be eaten. Feeding your kids or not feeding you kids.

I recommend getting an Accountability Partner.  Someone to share your goals and aspirations with.  Someone to send your weekly goals to, who will hold you accountable. They will listen to you when you lose faith. Steer you back on track when you turn left instead or right. Become your confidant, guidepost and most trusted advisor. Most importantly they celebrate your wins!

Second tip, do three things a day toward your goals each day.  It does not matter how big or small.

What happens when you fail to take action?

Answer: Nothing

E is for ENERGY

Energy is the life force of the universe. Since this is a business blog I will spare you my spiritual mambo jumbo  and hide my Zen a bit.  I will not pontificate on the point.

Simple stated, what you put out into the universe will return. The earth is a cosmic boomerang. Like attracts like. Positive attracts positive.   Kind acts will beget more kind acts.  Compassion and empathy the same.

Careful here folks. In Reverse, evil will attract evil. Negative thoughts will bring on more negative thoughts. Disasterous thinking can bring on catastrophe.

What’s a girl to do? Change you attitude, obviously. Tall order. Difficult at best. Not impossible.

Here’s my trick.  Think of yourself as a bucket of energy.  Grab a piece of paper and make a line down the middle. On one side jot down all of the things that zap your energy; on the other side write down all the things that restore your energy reserves.  The goal is to always keep the bucket balanced. This will restore you to sanity.

SWAT and Guerilla Restoration Tactics

Some weeks are harder than others.  It feels the elements have conspired against you. G-d has thrown down the gauntlet.

For these times you must strap on the heavy artillery. Dig deep into your bag of tricks. Create a recovery Pu-Pu Platter of sorts, if you are to find your way back home.

These are the Sundays I play my Fight Song, dance with abandon, and sing along at the top of my lungs.  Your Fight Song is the song you keep on your iPod that revives your energy stores. Makes you want to pump your fists. You know the one that makes you know you can fight another day.  If you do not have one, get one immediately.  I have a whole playlist!

Take your Fight Song on the road. Walk, run, jump, cycle, spin in circles for all I care, MOVE.  I do yoga till my muscles shake at these times. I breathe, release, I MOVE ON!

Once depleted, I dance barefoot in my kitchen while donning a facemask, in between cleaning out closets. Multitasking is as essential as self-care during times of stress.  I will do this while stirring a pot of meatballs, and baking a fresh batch of cookies.  As the sauce simmers and the sweet smell of baked goods wafts through the house, it further settles any residue stress.  I then calmly prepare for the week ahead. I am ready.

As I gather my family back at the dinner table to share a meal and solve the world’s problems; I am now ready willing and able.  Resilience restored, they can hit me with their best shot.

We have gone full circle my dear readers.

As my son gathers his things to drive off into the sunset, I know all is well in my world.

I hope you too digested this recipe and are full of hope and new possibilities.

 

Staying Cool, Calm, and Collected in the Summer Heat

How to Stay Cool In The Summer Heat!

 

Summer Heat

“Summer time and the living is easy”. That is the tune we all hope to sing in the summer, unfortunately this is not always the case.   Balancing one’s personal life with professional responsibilities can become even more challenging when work loads and work pressures continue to turn on the heat!

Here are my favorite tips for staying cool, calm and collected in the summer months:

  1. Clean up your sleep hygiene– Even the scariest case load becomes easier to face after a good night’s sleep. Cool down the room, lower the shades, cut down on your caffeine consumption and cut off e-mail checks an hour before bed.  (Drops of lavender oil on your pillow can help.)

 

  1. Take a breath– We all over react from time to time. Add heat, stress and a touch of overwhelmed to the pot and it becomes a real pressure cooker! Instead of blowing the lid off the top why not STOP and take a deep breath or two or count to ten. When challenges threaten your composure this will help get your emotions back in check.

 

  1. Embrace the Light– Let’s face it, we all work too late. The good news is that in the summer we can stay at our desks until 7:00 or 7:30 PM and still have an hour of sunlight!  Think of all the great things you can do with this extra hour?  Take a run. Meet a friend or loved one for a drink or dinner at an outside restaurant. Take a walk on the beach. Garden or simply sit outside to finish up your phone calls and work, (if you must!).

 

  1. Stay hydrated– Soda, ice coffee, and ice tea might quench your thirst but they will dehydrate you in the long run. If you are like me, drinking gallons and gallons of water is a drag! Throwing in fresh berries, lemon, or even mint can help water go down easier.

 

  1. Keep it light– Nothing slows down productivity more than a heavy, greasy breakfast or lunch. Keep fruit, nuts and raw vegetables handy to keep temptation down.

 

  1. Turn it up– Nothing lightens the mood better than upbeat music. In the summer months why not turn on Reggae, the Beach Boys or Jimmy Buffet to lighten the mood in the office or at your desk.

 

  1. Take it outside– Instead of eating lunch at your desk why not grab a colleague and eat outside? If you need to work through lunch bring your work outside and handle a task that is less stressful.  Just being out in the fresh air and sunlight will help elevate your mood.

 

  1. Reconnect– Who have you been neglecting during the long cold months of winter? Summer is a great time to reconnect. Everyone is anxious to get out and enjoy the summer months.  Block time in your schedule for friends.  Summer months go by quickly. Blocking the time guarantees you don’t miss out.

 

  1. Disconnect– OK, you’re saying, now you have gone too far! This is the hardest suggestion but totally necessary to regroup and unwind.  Take a dedicated e-mail and cell phone break.  It does not matter if it is for an hour, during one meal, one morning, and one day or even just at the gym, detaching will do you well.

 

  1. Escape! Summer is a great time for a mini excursion.  Take a day trip to the wineries, the Hamptons, the zoo, the city, or upstate.  It doesn’t matter if you check into a local hotel and sit at the pool, getting away for a couple of hours or a day will help you rewind the clock.  If you can’t get away at least grab a good book and escape right on your coach or lounge chair.

 

  1. Pamper yourself. Self Care always elevates your mood, decreases stress and increases confidence.  Get a message, pedicure, manicure, facial, or try a cool new haircut.

 

  1. Layer it- Stress is bad enough, being overheated and stressful is even worse. The challenge of dressing comfortably in the summer is that every office, conference room or restaurant you visit is a different temperature.  You can be hot one minute and freezing the next!  Dressing in layers and carrying a sweater or scarf in your briefcase can help guarantee your comfort at all times

 

Whether you adopt one or two of these suggestions or all twelve even the simplest shift in behaviors can bring about positive change.  Why not find a “Stress Buster” accountability partner in your office or professional network? They can help keep you on track and support you in turning these suggestions into habits.  Make it a great summer, enjoy, and make the most of the months ahead! Remember dessert spelled backward is Stressed,  always “Eat dessert first”!

 

Photo Credit

About the Author:  Joan Axelrod Siegelwax is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture.  Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specialing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.

 

What are your 10 greatest hits?

What are your greatest hits?

I recently gave my mentee and assignment to outline her 10 greatest life accomplishments. Here is the catch; I tasked her to create two lists, one for her career and one for her personal life. It was a rewarding experience for her, and gave us great material for a fabulous coaching session.

So if I asked you to do the same thing what would your list look like?

Could you create two lists? Would one be longer than the other, and if that is the case what does that mean? What if you couldn’t create a list at all? What is the hidden meaning there?

If one list is longer than the other, then it might be an issue of work life balance. Now I am not saying it is wrong to be slanted in either direction, and quite frankly neither direction is wrong.

Chronology may play a role? Being single or married? Having children or not? They all factor in. Whatever your life situation, and whatever slant your list takes, it definitely prompts further examination.

I remember the days early on in my career when I was still raising young children. If I was still at the office, I felt as if I was missing out on time with my family. If I was at home with my family I felt like I was neglecting my career. I always had to make difficult choices, and I am sure sometimes I chose wrong. In the end it was a wash. My career prospered, my children thrived, my marriage remained in tact and we all have successful careers. (I think my husband was hungry a lot)

Fast forward 20 years and nothing has really changed If I am still at the office in the early evening, I feel like I should be at home. If I am at home in the early evening I feel that I should still be at work. I no longer feel like I am neglecting my children because my son lives in Philly and now that my daughter is our receptionist every day is take your daughter to work day.  Lastly, my husband now knows that if he wants dinner he had better figure something out.

What are your greatest hits?

Work Life Balance 2

My list is equally balanced with accomplishments at work and personal achievements. I continually add personal development goals that will tip the scales in both directions.

What’s on your list? How do you tip the scales?
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Your presence is a present

In today’s crazy 24/7, cell phone, social media, multi-tasking, and over scheduled worlds, are we truly listening to our spouse, children, co-workers and friends when they are talking to us?

 I profess to be guilty as charged.   Recently I made a vow to be “Present when I am Present”.  This sounds easy in theory but not as easy in practice.

 Interestingly, this request came for my husband.  My husband makes no other demands on me whatsoever; no cooking, no cleaning, no scheduling activities.  I mean nothing!   One would think that fully listening was an easy request.  Well, let me tell you, it took work!

 The bottom line is we are programmed to multi-task and many of us have made listening to one another just another item on our to do lists.  What I have learned through this experience is that even if you are listening while doing the laundry, paying the bills and unloading the dishwasher; you may be taking in the information, but does the person you are listening to feel like they are being heard?

 I have started to examine this behavior to see where else in life I am making the same mistake. 

 At work, how many of you have said to a co-worker, while typing and e-mail, “Go on, I am listening”?  Meanwhile, you never look up from your computer screens. How many of you are on conference calls with people in the same office on separate phones, while continuing to do your e-mails?  Not to mention the remote attendants who are doing g-d knows what?! Come on raise your hands, we are all guilty.  Are we really taking in all the information being said?  Are we making our co-workers feel heard?

0511-0703-0118-4212_Businesswoman_Multitasking_clipart_image

 Now that my children are grown, out of the house (well kind of) and have their own lives, what I would not do to have the time back that I wasted doing my chores instead of sitting down on the couch and really listening to what they had to say!

This behavior also affects our friendships.  Texts and e-mails are just no substitute for a good old fashion girls’ nights out, walk on the trail, movie date, glass of wine or cup of coffee!

 I now take my vow to be present when I am present very seriously.  I come home from work, throw down my briefcase and enjoy a nice glass of wine and great conversation with my husband.  I schedule one on one time with my son when he is in from college and continue to have Saturday nail dates with my daughter.  Weekly, I schedule phone calls with my remote team.  I do this when I am not in the office, so I can give them my 100% undivided attention.  I now never miss a weekend without at least one opportunity to spend time with a girlfriend.

Wine Drinking

 I must admit that my life is a lot fuller and the world has not come to an end having not sent out one e-mail or failed to fold my laundry before going to bed. 

 I hope you have learned something from my experience.  Thank you for listening!

 

Turn your “To Do List” into a “Can Do List”!

Bulleye # 3

Over the years my life and responsibilities may have changed, but starting my day off at 5 AM with a cup of coffee and a pad and pen has not.  Each morning I review my calendar and create a To Do List. 

Most days my list is scary, and often overwhelming.  I have now made a conscience decision to look at things in a different way.  I now view each task with the “end game” in mind.  What do I hope to accomplish? Why is accomplishing this goal or task important to me? Who else will benefit? Will it benefit the greater good, my family, or make someone else’s life a little bit better? These questions help me prioritize and keeps me focused on what I need to accomplish and why.

 Now “Do I really need to put on my sneakers and go to the gym at 5:30 am?” becomes, “If I go to the gym at 5:30 AM I can check it off my list.  I will be in a much better mood all day, and look and feel great”. 

 If I am really motivated, I can turn on the dishwasher and throw in a wash before I go.  My bonus round can be picking up my dry cleaning on the way home!  Check, check, check!!

 When I get to the office I take the same approach.   “How am I possibly going to get this all done?” becomes, “What must I complete today to do my job efficiently”, “What is my team waiting on and what tasks or system can I put in place to make Love and Quiches Gourmet our company more efficient”?  “How can I help my teammates achieve their goals or check things off their to do list”?  My motto is “worst first” (taking the task that is the hardest or that you dread the most and get it out of the way).

 Then there are the things on my list that are not a must but can surely make my day better, like talking to a friend or mentor. Since we are all busy and time is a commodity I find first thing in the morning and in the car on the way to work best for a catch up chat.  Four out of five days getting ready in the morning or afternoon chores can become mentoring or catch up with friend sessions. Now that is multitasking with meaning!

 There are many things on my list that will not change my life one way or another if I complete them myself.   For instance cooking dinner after work can be nice, but so is ordering in.  A clean house is great, but having someone help is even better.  Making the bed is important, but no one comes to inspect if you skip a day, do they? 

 I never forget to schedule in some time for fun, and laughter, especially on the weekends. (Read next week’s blog for more on this)

 Throughout my day I always keep my “end game” in mind.  Sitting on the couch with my husband drinking a great glass of Red Wine!

 I end each day in my yoga room meditating, and reflecting on what I have accomplished that  day.  What still needs to get done?  What needs to get put back on the list for tomorrow?  What might have gone wrong that day? Lastly I reflect on what went right.

 I then set the alarm, get a good night’s sleep, and prepare to press the reset button!

 Buleye 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Years Eve Is Not The Only Time For Reflection and Goal Setting!

Labor Day is my second favorite time of year for reflection.

Most people only think of New Years in this way. The perfect time to reflect, set goals, resolutions, and push the restart button. For me it is also Labor Day.

I love Labor Day weekend. The slight chill in the air, time for back to school shopping and new pencils, putting away the lounge chairs and sun tan lotion and getting back to business.

Most people get thin in the summer and put on weight in the winter. For me it’s the opposite! Too many barbecues, dinners out, and ice-cream. Long weekends and vacations surely don’t help. So Tuesday marks “the first day of the rest of my life”. Alarm off at 5, back to the gym, carrot sticks and hummus packed and ready for lunch, my iced coffee to be replaced with green tea.

It is also a great time to clean out my closet both physically and metaphorically. Now I know, if you’re as busy as me, your closet is a mess like mine. You may ask yourself, what have I been putting off and what still needs to be done? What do I need to do to complete my goals and resolutions that I so seriously crafted on New Years Eve?!

IT IS NOT TOO LATE!

There are still four months to put these things in motion.

I am about to go into my busiest time of the year. This is make it or break it time to meet my career objectives and budget goals. What do you need to do to complete your goals and finish strong?

My childhood girlfriend and I started this great tradition when we were 13. We used to take our lounge chairs down to the beach, put our toes in the water, and feel the sunshine on our faces for the last time until next June. We would plan out our first day of school outfits, decide how to ace our classes, and brainstorm on how we were going to finally get the guy. “She always reminded me to take in this wonderful feeling because tomorrow it is back to reality”. I have not broken this tradition to this day.

So this morning after my morning walk in Fire Island I went down to the beach, took off my sneakers, placed my toes in the water and put my face to the sun. I took one last deep breath and savored my last few moments of summer.

Tomorrow when I open my eyes, I will remember this wonderful feeling and I will jump out of bed with a renewed energy. I WILL BE READY TO SEIZE THE DAY AND FINISH STRONG!

Women on beach