Sunday, August 14, 2011

Finding Your Calm in a Stressful World

This last week with 500 point swings in the Dow in both directions seemed like adding a bucket of fuel to our already full "stress buckets".  I believe that the effective management of stress is a key to our mental and physical health.  We all must find the best ways for us to manage the things we worry about, many of which we are not in control of.  Here are a few ideas you might try to see how you can lower your "stress temperature" and find serenity in a world that seems crazy sometimes.

If you don't manage stress, it will find a way to manage you. Stress can be very invasive in your life. It loves to be in the driver's seat and you hand over the keys without fail on a regular basis because you feel defeated by it.

You might blaming the boss, the car mechanic or your spouse for your stress. You can't control what other people do or say, but you can manage some of the smaller irritations in your world in order to reduce your stress.

Here are some stress triggers that you have the ability to bring under management:

Clutter – The more "stuff" you have, the more time and attention it requires to maintain. One way to reduce that demand is to eliminate some of the stuff that you don't really need.

Start room by room and take a critical look at the time demands of your stuff. Pledge to give away or throw away at least two clutter items from every room. And don't just do this once, do it once a month.

Buy Less – You brought that clutter into the house, so don't bring in more. Before you buy a new wok or 26-piece baking set, think about how often you would actually use those items. Do you have any other kitchen equipment that can double for the same purposes?

Magazine Perfect Housekeeping – Unless you can afford a full time housekeeper, you need to accept that clean is good enough. Save the frantic furniture polishing and baseboard wiping for quarterly cleaning or preparing for a party. Remember that rooms in magazines look so great because no one lives there to mess them up.

Clothes Horse Needs Taming – Buying clothes is a kind of closet clutter addiction that can get out of control. Clothing isn't just something on a hanger. You have to wash, mend, press or take it to the dry cleaners.

If you have an over-stuffed closet, it's actually harder to get dressed in the morning. Too many choices become stressful - as does not being able to find the other shoe, so you waste time changing outfits.

Trim down the closet. If you need help, ask a fashionable friend or hire a wardrobe consultant to work with you. These are just a few ways to manage stress by dealing with the things in your home. You can apply the same strategy to the “stuff” in your office.

One other thing that may be helpful is to pay attention to your habits when you feel stressed.  Do you shop or eat when you are worried?  Both of these can cause real damage to your budget and your health, causing more stress!  So, simplify, simplify, simplify to reclaim your inner sense of calm.
What do you do that helps you lower stress?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cracking down on "organic" claims

This article appeared this week, and in my opinion, has been a long time coming!

The terms "natural" and "organic" are bandied about with very little scrutiny...and the buying public has bought into it lock, stock and barrel! Yes there are reputable companies out there who are diligent and honest about their ingredients, but for consumers, it's a real job to sort out labeling requirements and what those ingredients lists actually contain.

Most magazines have feature articles that talk about various beauty routines, but organic beauty tips to promote good health cover more than just the outside of your body. Learning about and using organic products is a way that you can make sure you’re keeping your body its healthiest inside, too.

While most people wouldn’t even consider using toxic materials inside their home and seek ways to go green, they’re unaware that their day to day routine of using mass produced beauty products could be harming their skin and even introducing dangerous toxins into their body.

Every single product you use in your home and for your body should be used with an eye out toward keeping your life the healthiest it can be. Many women (and some men) use facial masks to get rid of dead skin cells and to invigorate new growth.

These masks keep the skin looking younger, feeling smoother and promote internal well being from knowing your skin looks good. However, you can inadvertently add years to your skin by choosing the wrong facial mask - the ones with abrasive chemicals in the ingredients.

Instead, you can opt for a safer and gentler mask by using oatmeal. You can either buy a natural oatmeal mask or you can make your own at home with the ingredients you already have on hand.

All you need is oatmeal, a little bit of honey and some water. You mix the ingredients together until it’s nice and sticky and then apply it to your face. Leave it on for no less than ten minutes and then remove with water. You’ll instantly feel the difference.

If you enjoy painting your finger and toenails, then you especially need to learn about organic beauty tips to promote good health because nail colors contain an ingredient known as nitrocellulose.

This is an acid - and while it’s used in nail polish, guess what else it’s used in? Explosives such as dynamite. Did you know that the ingredients listed in nail polish are poisonous?

Those ingredients are things like butyl acetate, ethyl acetate and toluene. Toluene is a solvent (think paint thinner), which is what gives nail polish that pungent odor. Inhaling the fumes from nail polish can poison your body. What’s the alternative if you want to paint your nails? Look for a water-based nail polish that doesn’t contain dangerous chemicals.

The best way to understand which products are healthy to use is to not only select from organic choices, but to study exactly what you’re putting on your skin and into your body.

You might think that companies would avoid products that could harm you, but they don’t. Even little ones aren’t exempt from dangerous ingredients in products (some diaper creams contain boric acid).

So it’s important to make informed decisions rather than taking someone else’s word that what you’re buying is good for you - especially if that someone else is making a profit if they convince you to buy. There’s nothing wrong with making a profit. There is however, something very wrong with making a profit at the expense of the public’s health.

As in all things: be a smart consumer! Read those labels, and know what they mean!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Is There a Therapeutic Remedy For Aging?

Is There a Therapeutic Remedy For Aging?

So far as anyone knows, there is no magic pill to keep your youth intact forever – but there is a lot of hype out there about how taking a pill will restore your energy, build your muscles and help you lose weight.

Don’t believe the hype. All you’ll get for your money and time is the possibility of developing a real health problem.

But while there isn’t a single remedy to reverse the effects of aging, there are ways to help keep the aging process at bay and improve your health and lifestyle. If you’re hoping to turn back the clock, talk to your doctor and do some research yourself before taking a pill or drug that’s said to be a sure-fire way to regain your youth.

The Evidence is In On Anti-Aging Therapies

While there’s no tried and true method of warding off the aging process, there are proven therapies that can preserve your general health and extend your life expectancy. Below are some therapies that you may want to check out:

• Hormone Therapy – Hormones are natural chemicals produced in your body. As you age, hormonal levels decline and the aging process becomes more pronounced. Restoring those levels with therapies such as DHEA and HGH (Human Growth Hormone) may slow aging, boost immunity and improve cognition capability.

But hormone therapy can come with its own set of problems, such as liver damage. Check with your doctor before you begin any type of hormone therapy.

• Antioxidants – “Free radicals” (the substance your body produces as it process the food you eat) can be one cause of aging and diseases. Antioxidants such as the vitamins and minerals contained in the food you eat can neutralize these free radicals and prevent diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

If you aren’t eating a balanced diet, you might benefit from vitamin supplements such as Vitamin B6, C, E and A.

• Restrict Your Caloric Intake – Recent studies have found that reducing the number of calories in your diet can help you live a longer, healthier life. But you must be sure that you’re getting enough nutrients such as those found in fruits and vegetables.

There are many factors involved in the aging process – and what may be effective for one, might not be healthy for another. Be sure and talk to your doctor before you begin any type of therapeutic remedy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Becoming the CEO of Your Own Life

In today's rough economy, I meet so many people that feel out of control of most everything. I frequently hear comments like "I'm spinning in so many directions, I'm not sure where to turn" or "I feel like I have so much to accomplish I don't know where to start". I think all of us have had these sentiments at one time or another. Juggling the demands of family, career, personal obligations, perhaps starting a second job or business, it is no wonder we feel overwhelmed. One fact remains through it all: we have choices. We have control over both large and small decisions ever day that ultimately are the fabric of what our life looks like.

If we could look at how we run our lives like a CEO runs a company, what would we find? A CEO must successfully direct every single day these things:
Human Resources
Furthermore, a CEO has to juggle most of this simultaneously...just like we do: career, family, relationships, financial management, household and community responsibilities, health, and recreation.

It seems like a good place to start to feel more in control may be shifting our perspective from "I'm just a passenger in the car that is my life" to "I'm in the driver's seat, and I'll determine where it is I'll go".

So what does it take? First, getting really clear on what we value is key. If we can succinctly define what we value most, it is the building block that everything else must rest upon. Our decisions must reflect our values. Secondly, we have to prioritize those values-based decisions. What are your top priorities?
Career advancement
Increased income/profits
Reducing Stress
Getting Healthy
Finding meaning and fulfillment
Whatever we value, we have to choose the activities that put our top priorities on top. For instance, if I say my top priority is increasing my bottom line profits, but I spend the majority of my time doing $10 hour admin work, my priorities are not straight. It's the question that must be asked every day: Is what I am doing right now, advancing my top priority? This leads to the last important point: the ability to be brutally honest with ourselves. If we state one priority but find ourselves consistently spending time that will not produce a result...can we be both willing to tell the truth about that, AND be willing to change?

Willingness to change will be a topic for another day....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Managing during the great recession: everyday pampering!

Anyone who is paying attention, can sense there is much turmoil, in our cities, our country and all over the world. When we contemplate the "big issues" of cash flow, debt and terrorism it is very easy to become overwhelmed. I thought it might be helpful to put together a list of suggestions to help us all cope with big change. Here are the things I think may help:

1. Pay attention to the basics: a clean diet, fresh air and excercise and SLEEP. These things we have in our control every day...and we must fight the impulse to load up on junk food, become sedentary and let insomnia steal our sanity. Think of your body as a machine...if you put continual demands on it without proper maintenance, what happens? I fight these battles every day, just like you. But stepping outside with a brisk walk (no matter the weather) preparing a good meal and healthy snacks and guarding my sleep has kept me sane. When so much in our world that stresses us is not in our direct's important to know these things we can control, and will benefit directly, daily from good practices here.

2. Unplug regularly. Everyone is working so hard these days out of necessity. But commit to at least one 24 hour period you are "off". No phones, no email, no bills, nothing but "me" time. What you do with that time will differ, but find that slot somewhere. It might be connecting with your important relationships, doing something creative, meditating or spiritual practice, socializing with people you love...but depriving yourself of a period of time to re-charge your inner self leads to burn out. I struggle with this one..but see that the weeks I get it done are WAY more productive than the weeks I don't do it.

3. Find small ways to pamper yourself: what do you absolutely love? I deal with the highly charged world of personal and business finances, so I learned these things by having to do them! I re-charge by making soap and luxurious bath products. I love the creativity, a complete departure from the demands of the day. It restores me in a way nothing else can. I'm a big believer in the power of soap! It's something we use every day, and it can be beautiful, artistic, colorful and fragrant. I look forward to my shower and using a "fancy" soap every day. It's an inexpensive way to feel luxurious and I take luxury seriously! Nothing relaxes me like a bath with a fragrant and moisturizing bath bomb, a luxury soap and then a follow up with a lotion bar. My skin never gets dry in the winter if I do this on a regular basis...and feeling good physically helps keep me upbeat mentally. Would love to hear your ideas on how you recharge, and how you pamper. What do you do to recharge, relax and restore?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Success in 2011!

I'm more excited about this year than I've been in several years! As our economy makes strides to stablize, I see so many positive signs and changes in people, and how they have adjusted to economic hard times. Here are the top five changes I see in my practice, in my clients and in my community, as people have made changes in response to the challenges we've all faced:

1. Many people have changed their "evil" ways and have stopped frivolous, deficit spending and started saving money. This seems so simple, but when the collective mindset has been "I must have every gadget I possibly want right now" to "I must find a healthy balance between enjoying my life right now and also being responsible with my future" something good has happened!

2. The former common wisdom of "I don't need to save for retirement because all this equity in my house will BE my retirement" has exploded. People now finally understand that a house is something you buy to live in, that you can comfortably afford, and it is not an ancillary ATM card that I can finance a lifestyle above my means. This real estate change is permanent: houses are what we buy to live in, not speculate with.

3. People are figuring out that their "jobbie" job may not be there next week, or next month, and entrepreneurism is at an all time high. The age of "work for 30 years for a company and you will be rewarded with a gold watch and a pension" has been gone for decades. What a great thing that we can start a little business in America, and pursue it vigorously!! It requires great things of us: learning new skills, working hard. But many people are figuring out that if they work as hard for themselves as they have been willing to work for someone else...great things can happen!

4. We can save ourselves. We can get help to repair and rebuild our nest egg, we can start a business, and we can get involved in our community. I believe great change can happen right in our neighborhoods...and in our communities. If each one of us donated just a few hours a month giving back...many of our foundational issues could be solved. I teach two free classes each month: one for women facing divorce, and one in simple financial literacy. It's a way to give back in the hopes it can help lift someone else up. Another way I like to contribute is to donate packets of personal hygiene items: soap, toothpaste, skin cream to our local churches and homeless shelters. This is a way my "hobby" business can give back too. What are some things you can think of that you could do right in your community?

5. We can realize we have great resources that we've gathered along life's journey and we can learn. We can learn a new skill, a new business idea, and new behaviors. This is the best news of all in 2011...we humans are infinitely capable, resourceful and courageous...and we can look beyond ourselves into the world around us to see what we are really here for: find the purpose of our life and offer it selflessly and endlessly to those we come in contact with.

Please help us by posting your ideas here for giving back in your community...someone else might see your idea and say: I can do that! Ready...set....GO:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Updates!

I've been working on refining my business plan as this year winds down. It seems to me each year goes faster and faster! I jettisoned my skin care line in June, as it was apparent it was not profitable. This is forever the challenge of the entrepreneur....we follow our dreams and passions, create some way to serve the public and run good business practice, but sometimes you must be able to discern when to throw in the towel, without throwing away your dreams. Here is how I did it:

When I did careful bookeeping and could see that the time and money spent on ingredients, formulation, packaging, labeling, FDA changing requirements and landscape the math just did not add up. I felt a mixture of both a little sadness, and also relief. It was my opportunity to re-define what I wanted PureBliss Essentials to be about.

The first step I took was to clearly define the parts of the business that really excited me. For me, it was clear, the artful/creative development was the "buzz" I was seeking. As I looked at this carefully, I could see that doing innovative soap desgin, that could change season by season was where the satisfaction was. So it was clear: I had to drastically cut my line, and specialize in what I loved the most.

One thing I'm still grappling with, is that I have a number of absolutely dedicated customers who are really upset that I discontinued the skin care line. I've reached out to them and communicated, and have tried to see how else I could help or direct them. At the end of the day, a successful business has to be profitable, satisfying and it must serve customers well.

What process have you used to establish, or re-define your personal or business goals? What process works for you?