Revive your relationship this summer

I am enjoying “The Power of Moments” by Chip and Dan Heath this summer and love so many of their tips for personally and professionally enhancing your life. One of their free resources tips for spicing up your marriage or relationship is a fun one, and I thought this summer might be a great time to take advantage of their advice.

Art Aron had couples engage in a date a week for ten weeks. One group did a standard date. For example a couple that habitually went to dinner and a movie would have dinner and a movie. Another group did something different than what they would normally do. If they normally see romantic comedies, they might take in a horror film or an action/adventure. If they normally ate Italian, they might try Vietnamese. The biggest increase in marital satisfaction was among the novelty group.

Any type of change will be good for your hearts and souls, and you don’t have to commit to ten weeks to feel the benefits. Whenever you “Break the script.” by trying something new, you increase the odds of creating a memorable moment.

  • Pitch a tent or picnic in the backyard under a tree. If you are sightseeing, trade-in your shorts and tops for a great summer dress and you may become his favorite site!
  • Plan to watch the sunrise or set as part of your travels or from a special vantage point where you live. Add in some finger foods and a bit of bubbly or ice cold beer and sit, sip and savor the moment together.
  • Enjoy a staycation and treat yourselves to a nearby B & B or hotel with room service.  One of my sisters is still talking about the surprise trip her husband planned a year ago just an hour from their home. She loved it, and when she describes the details she’s still smiling inside and out. She had so much fun, she got me smiling about the memories and I wasn’t even there! (Thank you, Deb!)
    • If your hubby or significant other isn’t a planner, surprise him or her with something they would love and instead of keeping score over who has done what for whom, sit back, watch and truly absorb the fun they have enjoying your surprise. (If their response isn’t as positive or thankful as you had hoped, don’t let it get you down. Focus on the fun you had planning it and know that not everyone shows their excitement or appreciation as easily as others.)

The goal is to get started thinking of new and different ways to bring joy and memorable moments to your lives, all of which can strengthen the bond between you. Your options are endless, the choices are yours, and a cool summer evening or breezy sunny day will make every memory just a bit sweeter.

 

Are you ready to create the life your really want? Start today! 

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“30 Days New” – Days 20-26

So many days, so many “News” 

I truly lost track of my “News” this week while hosting guests. I did not manage a “New” each and everyday, which was “New” for me! But I am happy to say that by not holding myself to strict a standard while spending time with my wonderful friends, my week was much more relaxing! Cutting myself some slack on a public commitment was “New” for me, and easier than expected because the pay off was so rewarding – fun with friends!

One friend was visiting from abroad and another from Colorado. I met both while serving in the United States Peace Corps from 2006-2009 in the country of Macedonia. Oddly enough, because of her travels to the U.S. and mine to Macedonia, I have seen my Macedonian friend many more times than my American Peace Corps pal!  It has been nine years since we all have gotten together, so coordinating their visit was a definite  “New”.

One of the joys of reuniting was realizing and talking about how lucky we were to have met. It is astounding to consider all of the twists and turns our individual lives took to connect us originally and the many choices we have made to keep in contact since we first separated nine years ago.

Nine years laterTo celebrate gathering again, we recreated a photo we took in the tiny, remote village of Dupeni, Macedonia, which was one of the last times we were all together. Recreating a photo was another “New” for me! My husband very patiently juggled our phones until we agreed that one of the many, many new photos he took was flattering enough for all three of us – thank you, Dan! Our quiet, peaceful Long Island backyard was the setting for our new photo; we agreed it had some of the same relaxing characteristics of my friend grandparents’ villa in Dupeni, and also agreed we should not wait another nine years to gather again – somewhere in the world.

One line a dayAnother “New” this week was learning from my American friend about her “One Line A Day” habit, which began with the gift of a five year journal in which you simply write “One Line A Day.” She has passed the one year mark in hers, so she is now enjoying having past year thoughts at her fingertips as she adds her new ones. She shared some of the insights she has gained from writing and comparing her thoughts from year to year, which inspired me to buy a similar book. As soon as it arrives, I plan to start a new way of journaling – “One Line a Day”, which will be “New” for me.

A foot injury kept me on Long Island this week as my friends headed into New York City on the train for a day of sightseeing. Admitting I could not join them was tough and a “New” for me, I usually push myself no matter the circumstance. But as their plans solidified, I knew I had made the right choice, and I smiled throughout the day, knowing I was comfy, cozy at home and doing the right thing. Smiling about a limitation was definitely “New” for me!

Teddys PorchAnother “New” this week involved a fashion choice – not the most earth shattering “New” but stepping out of my comfort zone into a seersucker dress was “New” for me. The dress will not make it into my regular summer rotation – it’s a little too old school for me, but I was happy I gave it a try, and have lots of photos commemorating it’s debut! Here is one of us relaxing on Teddy Roosevelt’s front porch at Sagamore Hills. Posting the photo is another “New” – it is not my most flattering photo, but the moment and circumstances surrounding it make it special to me and sweet to share.

This very special “New” is from a wonderful friend and Wishful Thinking Works reader, who shared how “30 Days New” inspired her to develop “News” of her own. I love her “News” and the fun she is having creating them:

I have loved reading your “30 Days New”. I haven’t managed it every day, but I definitely made a start. 1) I learned to make goat kefir 2) learned to make kombucha 3) learned to actually LIKE the kefir and kombucha 4) learned I can take my grandkids 2&4 to the swimming pool without them drowning or me having an anxiety attack :-) 5) learned how to create and use Event Brite for an organization I work with 6) learned to make almost professional looking greeting cards 7) learned to make 2 other fermented probiotics, but still trying to like them.

What is “New” with you? Have you tried anything out of your comfort zone lately? How did it feel? Feel free to share your experiences with us, we’d love to hear about your success!

To read more about how my “30 Days New” habit got started, click here.


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30 Days New – Day 18 & 19

“30 Days New” – Day 18 & Day 19

I am still focusing on my watery goals of being in the moment each and every time my hands touch water.  Loving that my “New” practice is expanding to other moments in my life. Once my mindfulness habit kicked in, I began slowing sown and savoring more daily experiences.

I have started giving myself mini-hand massages when they are soft and soapy and it feels great!  I don’t know anything about the art of hand massage, but I mimic the movements of my wonderful manicurist and even a minute or two feels fantastic.

I have also become more aware of my steps! Throughout the day I have been walking with awareness, and enjoying it. Focusing on how our feet and legs feel as we walk can be very relaxing.

I learned how to do meditative walking many years ago with a monk at a Thai Buddhist Temple in Florida, and have used the practice at one of my retreats, but as with many things I had forgotten to integrate it into my daily life. I had forgotten to integrate it into my daily life. It is a simple way to bring serenity to each step.

You can begin a meditative walking practice by simply noticing the movement of placing your foot on the floor. Where do you feel contact first, then next? Breakdown the action in your head and pause to feel where the sensation goes in your body. We are so often on automatic pilot, we forget we are placing our feet and pay no attention as to how our bodies complete the action.

feet-2683898_960_720To add to the sensations of the moment, go barefoot on the grass in your yard or on the sand at the beach. Pause to really absorb the moment after each step. If the experience inspires you to try a more formalized meditative walk, check out this meditative walking post I found.

You might also want to read this Wishful Thinking Works post for a meditative look at how calming walking in circles can be!

Day 18 & Day 19  Results – Amazing reminders and awareness of how many quiet, peaceful moments our bodies can provide us with, if we simply slow down and tune in to their movements and sensations and tune out of our heads! Being more relaxed and finding new ways to release the stress and strain of everyday living can be found from the tips of our fingers to the tips of our toes.

“New” Idea for Fun

The first person who posts a photo of their feet during a meditative walk, will receive a free on-on-one, 60 minute coaching session on the topic of their choice. 

The first three people who post a meditative walking or hand-washing related photo on the Wishful Thinking Works Facebook page, will receive a free 30 minute, one-on-one coaching session on the topic of their choice. 

Since this type of offer is new for me, I am planning to count it as my Day 20 “New”.  I hope you join in the fun and you might be part of my Day 20 Results!

To read more about how my “30 Days New” habit got started, click here.


Are you ready to create the life your really want?

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30 Days New – Day 17

“30 Days New” – Day 17

What a difference a day makes!

After posting yesterday, I remembered to “be in the moment” about 85% of the times my hands touched water,  a huge improvement over my previous day’s attempts. My watery reverie felt wonderful and I quickly began to look forward to the moments.

bbq-500547_960_720We had dinner guests last night, so I spent a bit more time in the kitchen than normal. Washing my hands became a sweet break in the action while preparing dinner for five. Cleaning the peppers, onions and mushrooms for grilling and rinsing the kale and blueberries for a salad truly felt relaxing each time I allowed myself to be in the moment.

Day 17 Results Not only was I enjoying the sensation of the water cascading over my hands, I also began listening to the sound the water made while rushing from the tap. That awareness led me to notice the different sounds it made while adjusting its flow and when it splashed against the various fruits and veggies being rinsed in the strainer. Paying attention to the subtle differences became a satisfying experience.

The experience was similar to the moment in meditation when you focus on your breathing and you are suddenly aware of the sounds it makes and how your breath feels against your upper lip as you inhale and exhale. You quickly realize that the sensation and the sound of your breath had always been available to you, you were just too pre-occupied to notice. (Which, coincidently is now philosophically linked in my mind to the question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound. My new philosophical quandary is “When I am breathing but not listening to my breath, does it still make a sound.”)

No matter the answer to either question, the rest of the world and all its demands and desires instantly fade away the moment we focus our attention on our state of being and the sensations we are feeling, which leaves us feeling alone and yet overflowing with our oneness with all things. It feels as good as the coziness of slipping into a warm bed on a cold night, enjoying the first satisfying sip of a cold beer on a blistering hot day, or the first delicious bite of our favorite dessert – all is right with the world in those moments, and luckily the feelings those moments bring are ours for the asking, any time we fully focus on the sensations we are experiencing.

Try it now, Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply in and out through your nose. Did you feel it? Did you hear the sound? Taking three deep breaths in a row with awareness can reset your brain and relax your body. 

It might sound silly to be talking so transcendentally about simply washing our hands and paying attention to our breath, but any form of awareness is relaxing for our bodies and refreshing to our souls. Each moment of awareness is also a gentle and rewarding reminder of its benefits and hopefully encourages us to return to the practice. (And, because I know I need extra help focusing, I will keep post-it-note reminders in plain view!)

I hope your Saturday is filled with relaxing, rewarding moments. If you would like to join in my “New” awareness practice and challenge for this weekend, click here. I think I will go wash my hands, just for the fun of it!

To read more about why I am developing my “30 Days New” habit, click here.

Are you ready to create the life your really want?

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30 Day New – Day 16 & a Weekend Challenge for You

“30 Day New” – Day 16 – When folks ask me how they can tell they are “in the moment” I often tell them to start by  focusing on the water and soap when they are washing their hands. This simple task draws you into the moment and out of your head.  For yesterday’s “New” I decided to be in the moment each time my hands touched water.  I truly thought I had this one, no problem. 

IMG_1189Surprise!  I think I remembered to focus on the gentle and comforting sensations of washing my hands about 20% of the time. I was so often in my head that I didn’t even remember my commitment until much later in the day, even though I started the day off reminding myself of my goal. I was amazed at how many times I finished tasks involving water before I remembered what I was supposed to be doing.

So my “New” today is replay of yesterday to help me develop my awareness. I have already failed at least 4 times, which means I am on auto-pilot way too often; I have my work cut out for me.

Day 16 Results – I am now committed to further exploring my auto-pilot dependency for the entire weekend. I am giving myself today, tomorrow and Sunday to refocus my attention on this task.  Wish me luck and, please feel to join me.

All you have to do to accept this gentle mindfulness challenge is to commit to trying to fully focus on being in the moment each time your hands touch water this weekend.

Here are a few of the ways I plan to be more mindful . . .

  • Be aware of the water, the way it looks and the intensity of the flow, how it feels as it cascades over your skin.
  • Pay attention to the way the soap glides over and suds up on your hands. 
  • Watch liquid soap drip. Notice its color, the way it reflects in the light.
  • Pause for a moment after washing your hands and notice how they feel when they are wet. Slowly reach for the towel to dry them.

Post it (2)I have posted notes by my sinks to remind myself I want to slow down and redirect my thoughts. (After yesterday and this morning, I know I need all the help I can get, and that is okay. )

Mindfulness matters – moment to moment, minute to minute. Each and every time I am successfully “in the moment” the rewards are amazing. It feels like a taking a deep breath outdoors on a cool morning, a mini vacation or the relaxation of a comforting spa treatment. It’s refreshing and a great way to center myself and my thoughts and to give my brain a much need break.

Let me know how it goes for you! Don’t worry about doing it right, any time we savor the moment we are ahead of the game. Enjoy.

 

To read more about why I am developing my “30 Days New” habit, click here.

Are you ready to create the life your really want?

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“30 Days New” Day 14, Day 15 & More

“30 Days New” – Day 14 & Day 15

I woke up feeling terribly guilty that I was behind in my “News” and also in posting about them. I was feeling embarrassed that I started the project and wasn’t keeping up with it. I also was beginning to find ways to justify my lack of follow through. (Step 2 in the rationalization process – Step 1 one is to admit a problem/situation has occurred, Step 2 is to figure out a way to blame circumstances or someone else for our failure!)

When I realized I was ruminating ad nauseum about the situation, I decided to occupy my mind elsewhere for a bit and began creating a mental to-do-list for today. The minute I switched gears I felt lighter and after making a few mental notes, I started to laugh at myself.

I had solved my own problem. I know beating-up on myself leads to no good end, and if I kept it up I would simply fall further behind and probably begin adding other lapses to my life to confirm to myself that I really had “failed”!  Misery loves company and I had to admit I was already inviting imaginary and very unlikable guests to my personal pity party. (You know, those voices in our heads that never have anything nice to say, but we listen to them anyway.)

I decided that instead of filling my head and my heart with my real and imagined failings, I would simply get started planning what my “New” would be for today. It took me less than a second to come up with it. Stop back tomorrow to read my results.

Day 14 & Day 15 Results – A kinder, gentler me – to myself, and an increased ability to swallow a good dose of humility to soften my judgmental rough edges.

Forest for the trees

awareness that I could not see the forest for the trees. I had done lots of wonderful things on Day 14 & Day 15, including re-doing some of my “News” and expanding on others, but I was so focused on the project that I discounted the benefit of those things, simply because they weren’t “New” enough.

To read more about why I am developing my “30 Days New” habit, click here.

Are you ready to create the life your really want?

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30 Days New – Day 12 & Day 13

“30 Days New” – Day 12

Easy peasy, second day of new qigong practice! I am counting it as a “New” because it is the first habit I have chosen to create as a result of “30 Days New” practice. That’s a first, which is just as good as a “New” to me.

Day 12 Results –  Sense of peace and calm while doing the practice, and curiosity as to what it will add to my life.

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“30 Days New” – Day 13

Day thirteen turned out to be very lucky for me. Today I meditated for an hour.  It seemed like about 3 hours, but no matter, I did it!

I have been wanting to try meditate on my own for an hour for more than a decade. (Who knows why it took me so long, but seriously not important at the moment.) I use a variety of 25-30 minute guided meditations, including Yoga Nidra and self-hypnosis, both are very satisfying and I will continue to use them, but excited that today I took the leap to 60 minutes on my own.

I can’t honestly say I loved meditating for an hour and it was not an earth shattering experience, but it took commitment and a great deal of patience. I like that. I also like that since I have meditated for an hour, 30 minutes on my own is much less daunting. I know I can do it regularly and that makes me very happy.

Day 13 Results –  Sense of accomplishment, mixed with pride and the overwhelming urge to give myself a sticker of some kind! Woo-hoo, I gave it a try and I did it! 

To read more about why I am developing my “30 Days New” habit, click here.

Are you ready to create the life your really want?

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