Saturday, January 22, 2022

WHEN YOU SHOULD SAY NO!

 WHEN YOU SHOULD SAY NO


There have been so many times that I knew I was going to be overwhelmed if I told one more person that I would do something for them. Sometimes it was taking on a responsibility that really was not mine. Just someone needing a little help. Or perhaps it was a special party to go to, and oh yes, by the way please make you 7 layer Coconut Cake for the dessert bar. It could be a simple go out with friends.




In reality, most of us are overworked, overscheduled, overwhelmed and in constant need of self-care. Our time and energy needs to be focused on our very own self-care. Plus, no one should feel guilty about this. I learned that it is ok to give myself permission to say no. There is an art to saying no. We get to set our boundaries. There is a way to say no without sounding grumpy or uncooperative. Simply saying that you are sorry but you already have plans.
  • "That sounds like fun, but I have plans."
  • "Gosh, I would love to come but I have a previous appointment."
  • "Thank you so much for thinking of me but unfortunately, I am unable to attend."
  • "I really don't have the extra time for socializing, so keep me in mind for the future."
  • "I would love to go but I have a golden rule of staying home on Sunday night."
  • "I just can't put one more thing on my plate right now."


Sometimes these simple excuses don't seem to work with everyone and you must get more detailed. Let's be honest, there really are some times that you have to say yes. Such as to your boss (even then there are times that a boss can load your plate up and then it is the perfect time to ask for clarification on which is highest on his/her priority list. They don't always remember all of the jobs they have dished out to others.

Others have been known to tell little white lies such as having a migraine, no babysitter, friends are coming in town, or I must pack for a trip tomorrow. Don't go overboard or a lie can come back to bite you.




You can be considerate and respectful and still say no graciously. Think before you respond. Tell the person that you must check out your calendar and weigh your time options and you will get back to them tomorrow. Accentuate the positive by saying how much you appreciate the opportunity but I still am not able to take anything else on at this time.

I find that it is always good to listen to how they respond to your no answer. It helps to acknowledge that you are aware they are in a bind and that you would help if you could. Be strong and don't give in. It is their problem, not yours.



Less explanation is best. Remember that no is a complete sentence. And that is ok. When asked to give money for a donation and you feel as if you are being pressed then just come out and say that you are on a strict budget and donations at this time is not in the budget. If someone keeps pressing you then remember they are the ones being rude, not you.


 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

SNOW OR DRAMA?

 SNOW OR DRAMA?


When it comes to hearing the "S" word (snow) it really does not seem to matter where you live. Drama happens. And for many different reasons. Where I live now, snow is not a normal winter happening. Ice? Maybe a little more often, which is really more dangerous in my opinion. But even when I lived in the cold and wintry North, there was still drama when snow came in the forecast. 

In Memphis, the temperature leading up to the snow usually makes it close to impossible for snow to stick. But people still head to the grocery for the food they believe they will need since they will be snowed in. (NOT) We went out for our usual weekly shop three days before the snow was to come and the parking lot was absolutely crazy.



People were filling their carts with whatever they thought they would need, that is if the store that they visited had what they needed. With the Covid virus going on, supply and demand is hitting hard. Depending on where you live.





I have seen the very same thing happen when I lived in Pennsylvania. There was no Covid then that caused a supply issue, just people rushing out to get what they thought they would need if the snow hit. Let's be honest...it was more likely to hit up North than down here in Memphis with the bluffs of the Mississippi protecting us from most storms that come through. The storms go north of us. Even though when in the North, they are normally not stranded in their homes for more than a day and the state has the equipment to clear the snow. Homeowners have snow blowers and shovels to clear their driveways and sidewalks. 

Let's not forget that everyone needs to be sure their cars have a full tank of gas. Why? Where are they going? I can see a 5 gallon container of gas for a gas powered snow blower. But really? Think of the difference of a couple of inches and a real blizzard.








This is called a dusting. Something that happened here last week. We really did not get as much as in this picture on the roads, only a dusting on the grassy parts. Why? Because the day before the snow came we hit a record 79 degrees. Yet schools were closed as a few flurries were flying in the breeze. People rushed to their hardware stores for snow shovels. All one needs is a broom to sweep it away. Or a bag of salt to melt the ice if there is any. 


My prediction (even though I do not have a degree in meteorology) we will NOT see snow tonight or tomorrow, or if we do it will barely cover the grass. I am publishing this blog on a Saturday afternoon, January 15th. The snow drama is building to a crescendo. Our Alexa keeps beeping a notification of being in a Winter Advisory starting tonight at 9 PM. The rain has made it in, temps are to drop fast at 8 tonight and the rain is to turn to snow with an 80% chance heading into Monday. If I need to take off my meteorologist badge because I am so wrong in my forecast then I will put an addendum on this blog. So, be sure to check back just to see if we really had snow or was it the drama of it all. 




As promised, if we did actually get some snow my words I wrote was that I would attach an addendum. Well, after all of the "hoopla and drama" about this winter snow warning and everyone rushing to the grocery to get food that they can't live without, we actually did get some snow. I guess I will have to hand in my meteorologist badge (but just barely). Why? Here is a picture of the snow we received at our house:


In my dreams I was enjoying a quiet and peaceful scene looking out of the window at the winter wonderland with my coffee. It does not look like a winter wonderland with grass blades sticking up through the snow. By gosh, if it is going to snow - then snow!

In all honesty, I only stepped outside of our patio to get the picture. The front yard looked like this also. However, my scientific husband took the ruler out to the swimming pool table and chairs set and measured 2 inches, explaining that is the true amount because the ground and roads were wet and the snow melted before it accumulated!  SMH😜Drama?

Sunday, January 9, 2022

THE SCIENCE OF SMILING

 THE SCIENCE OF SMILING


In dealing with Covid, vaccines, boosters and tests, we all have heard, "Listen to the science." I personally chose to. Others may choose not to. However, I want to let everyone in on why smiling is a science.

It actually turns out that smiling is not just good for your looks but scientific evidence proves smiling is good for our bodies and minds as well.

πŸ™‚ Smiles can lower our stress level. When smiling, the movement of our facial muscles release naturally feel-good endorphins which in turn trigger positive feelings. This can improve our moods and lower stress. I read that the smile does not even have to be real to be effective in order to reduce stress. It is the simple act of moving those facial muscles to release  endorphins. The reason that was cited was that if you really are not feeling on the inside to give a smile, if you fake it outwardly then it will increase the inner smile. It is a mood lifter. 

πŸ™‚ Here is a possible reason to go in to the doctor for an injection of Botox. If you have that injection and it makes it impossible to frown, a research team at the University of Cardiff, Wales found out that on the average, people were happier than those who could frown. Hmmmm, wondering if I should go in and get some smiling injection of Botox? Or should I stick with the quote from Mark Twain who said, "Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been." I will have to think on that one for a while. 

πŸ™‚ Another study showed that both laughing and smiling encourages the release of another hormone called serotonin. Low levels can actually be associated with depression. Smiling can counteract this by increasing dopamine levels. Obviously, we need to raise our levels to improve our overall feelings. Definitely, if depression is a major problem, a doctor needs to be consulted. Walking around with a smile (fake or real) is not going to handle severe depression.




πŸ™‚ Smiling can boost our immune systems. It actually can make us more resistant to illness. Smiling is contagious, so by smiling, we are helping those around us. It is hard not to smile back at someone who is smiling (even a stranger). Just the act of smiling is stimulating to most humans. It can reduce pain and lower blood pressure. This in turn can help people live longer. A study that was done back in 1952 followed Major League Baseball players who had big smiles on their baseball cards. A large majority of those smiling faces lived longer compared to those who only partially smiled or did not smile at all. (5 - 7 years longer)

πŸ™‚ Smiling has been shown to help make for happier marriages, happier parenting, happier, happier, happier. Lives in general have genuinely more satisfaction when we smile more. I know for a fact that our two goldendoodles know the difference when we look at them and smile or if we look at them and tell them, "No," with no smile. If they listen and stop their misbehavior, they know a smile and a reward will come their way. 




There will be times that it is not appropriate to go around with a smile on your face. Think about life circumstances and I think you will agree. Only to a certain point. Example: someone lost their job...are they going to walk out of the building smiling? I think not. They will take time to reevaluate what happened and maybe why...then it is time to pick yourself up and put on the smile and go forward. 


Sunday, January 2, 2022

PERSEVERANCE

 PERSEVERANCE


Each New Year I choose one word to focus my mindset on to help me achieve what I want in many areas of my life. My word this year is Perseverance. First of all, it is defined as doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Some synonyms for my word would be: persistence, tenacity, determination, resolution, purposefulness, dedication and commitment. All of these are positive in my eyes. 

It does sort of border on a stubbornness about sticking with a goal or intention against the willingness to let it go. The way that I prefer to look at it is to let another door open in order to accomplish my intentions. In a study by Carol Dweck on the growth of mindsets found that those who treat challenges and limitations as opportunities  to develop and learn, tend to perform better in the long run. By persisting when challenges are placed in front of them, the rewards tend to be deeper and wider in their skill set.


Another benefit of perseverance is that none of us know when our luck will turn. It usually is very random. It just happens, like a hot streak. Just imagine all of the authors, artists, songwriters and performers worked with dedication and then they made it big time. The general public usually thought they were an overnight success while in reality they had been hard at work and tried different methods to achieve what they desired over an extended period of time.


There are some studies that show perseverance may have a harmful downside. It was shown that some people fixated on long time cherished goals which meant they ignored better alternatives. If one remains under the magical spell of their dream, they may be unable to explore other options that may be more viable. For some it can be bad for their mental and physical health because of the stress level. This is most definitely the time to be aware of the fact that some tweaking must take place. 

When I ask myself whether to stick with my intentions or to let them go, it is time to weigh the potential to continue developing in small steps and march forward with my stubborn perseverance despite the slower progress. The key to success is action and the essential in action is perseverance.




To me, this expression helps to make my thoughts on perseverance come alive:



Sunday, December 19, 2021

TIME TO JUST QUIT

 TIME TO JUST QUIT


You may be asking quit what? I have come to the conclusion that in reality, my life will be happy and I have made a choice to be joyful if there are 5 things that I remember to quit doing. Sounds easy. I can attest that it is not always easy. If I remain aware of them, it does help. So, I thought that I would share. 



Who knows the exact key to success? It is different for most of us; however it is a for sure thing that the key to failure is trying to please everyone. It simply can't be done. If I just believe in myself and do what I know is right for me, then I know it makes me a happier and more positive person. If others don't like it, then let them be. As I have stated before, happiness is a choice. Life is just not about pleasing everybody.


There seems to be a fear of the unknown and of being judged which leads to being shamed. It is a good lesson for me to stop regretting past choices. They are over. There is nothing wrong with asking others for help if I need to have a sounding board to talk out where I am and where I want to be. 



Really, I have to state to myself to remain happy then live in the present. Forget the past and as for the future, that is something to work and look forward to. If I ground myself in the present and stop putting myself down for what I have perceived as past mistakes then I am a much happier person. To dwell on the past is a way of just overthinking which I can tell you is a way to go in a downward negative spiral. I like to call it decluttering my mind and focus on the present.

A very good way that I use to visualize staying grounded in the present is to look at this illustration below:



I do not want to hold the honor of creating problems that really were not there to begin with. 

Nothing is wrong with thinking through my situations, like the statue of The Thinker. Where it all goes wrong is if I decide to plop myself down and overthink my situation. Mindset shifts will take me out of there. I like to find things that make me laugh. It can be a story, a book, something on social media...really the list goes on forever. Just like finding what I am thankful for. Most of the time these gratitudes are right under my nose.

Learn to laugh!


 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

TAKING GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS

 TAKING GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS


The holidays can be as warm and fuzzy as you want them to be or they can be a horrible nightmare full of stress. I have come to the conclusion that I am over allowing our holidays (talking about Thanksgiving through the New Year) to add stress to our lives. Looking ahead and planning is the key. It can be easy to lose yourself in the shop till you drop syndrome and bake until you have everyone's favorite dish completed for the major holidays. You may be asking yourself, how did I manage this?

Actually, the idea formed in my mind throughout the pandemic. The times that we could not get together allowed me to see that it is ok to allow more "me time" and do what I want. Why? Well, actually there was no one to stop me? The vaccines had not been out and we could not be together. A new plan and way of thinking came forward.

It was just my husband and our two dogs. We used the phone and FaceTime to communicate. Along with shipping gifts to one another and opening while on Zoom. FINALLY! We had what I consider a close to normal Thanksgiving this year. We had just the two of us for the actual day that is Thanksgiving. Steve and I did none of the cooking. We ordered from a wonderful place that makes traditional Thanksgiving meals that actually (in my humble opinion) were as good as I could make them. We purchased small amounts and it was so worth it.



The next day, our daughter and granddaughters who live close by came over with our one son who lives nearby. Everyone had been vaccinated. The granddaughters' Dad worked the night shift at the busiest package delivery company in Memphis so he needed to try to sleep some before the next shift. Still, I chose to take the stress off and enjoy everyone. I put together a charcuterie board.


The board had things that I normally keep in the fridge, plus with a little thought of my grocery list, I was able to add some items that I know everyone would like. The major thing to note is that there was no cooking involved. I did need to put the brie in the oven with the fig and walnut topping in for a few moments. No big deal.

I think this was the most relaxed Thanksgiving we have had in years. Not a lot of dishes, pots and pans to keep someone in the kitchen washing and scrubbing. It was delightful. At some time in the future, we may end up with larger groups of our family and that will be fine. There still will be prioritizing how to make it work so that I am not stressed. Many dishes will be bought in larger portions and other things will be made ahead at our own time. It is a great way to keep negative feelings at bay. It means do not set unrealistic expectations for myself. 


  • Get the sleep that I need 
  • Stop for a cup of tea 
  • Eat as healthy as possible 
  • Take those vitamins
  • Schedule those spa days
  • Do those workouts 
  • Close my eyes and meditate  
  • Write in my journal reflecting on what I am grateful for
  • Read and paint 
  • Keep the smooth jazz playing on Miss Alexa
  • In other words, be creative

Dashing through the snow does not happen often here in Memphis at this time of year but I think you get my drift. Dashing off everywhere to pick up this and that...just adds to the stress. Why dash off anywhere? I try to shop locally and have it delivered and do it at my speed. Not the shop till I drop mode:


Wrapping as we go and writing down what has been received is a positive way to keep track of what has been purchased, has arrived and has been wrapped.

Also it is a matter of good planning from last Christmas. All of the Christmas decorations are in one easy location that the two of us can manage. Plus in boxes that are not too heavy to lift. This includes the wrapping paper, cards, bows and tags. It was a breeze this year. I must give some credit (most of it, actually) to one daughter who helped take downstairs the boxes that I pointed to that would be needed. What a trooper she is! Plus, when all was down, Steve and I could take our time to decorate. 

 


One more method that I incorporated on taking good care of ourselves through what could be an otherwise stressful time is that we BOTH have December birthdays. This year we decided to splurge and NOT buy gifts for each other. Instead we went to a fabulous dinner place and watched the sunset over a lake. Treated like royalty. The shrimp and grits and crab cakes with corn brulee were delicious. Then, because it was our birthdays, they brought out two small ramekins of a raspberry creme brulee with candles. How special!

Then to top it all off, the next day we had reservations at the famous Peabody Hotel for High Tea. Again...treated like royalty. Started off just walking around looking at everything. The lobby, as always, was full. When we made it over to the restaurant we seemed to have received the best seat in the house. A curved bench seat for two facing out at all of the other tables. Perfect!

My ending question is:
Do you have a plan to take good care of yourself through not only the holidays but for the New Year?