Monday, August 30, 2010

Tips to weave exercise into your life and be fit no matter what!

If you are a woman, I’m sure that you find countless roadblocks every day that prevent you from keeping in shape and eating healthy. If you are a mom, even more so!

It is important, however, to weave exercise into your lifestyle because, besides making you look grand, it also improves your mood and increases your self-esteem.

Consider that every time you set impossible goals regarding exercise and you fail to accomplish them, you feel worse than before you even started. That’s why I believe in setting reasonable goals and making exercise organic, adaptable but ever-present in your life, instead of something you do frantically after Christmas and before the summer.

In order to be successful in this area, you must think less and act more and make it a habit, just like brushing your teeth.

When I was very young, I had an eating disorder that turned eating, not eating and exercising into an obsession. Fortunately with the passage of time I was able to make it a pleasure and also be creative when it comes to keeping in shape during the demands of life, work, pregnancies, post-partum, motherhood and a lot more.

What helps me:

I set reasonable goals. I practice some form of exercise three times a week, whenever possible. The key is to make it a lifestyle. Three times a week for my whole life is not bad. It’s a lot better than hitting the gym daily for two months and then not moving a muscle for two years.

- I adapt to my circumstances. I’ve always been a runner at the core, but when I became pregnant with my firstborn, I took up swimming. When she was born, I pushed her stroller all around the city during her naps. And when I had my second, I rode my bike, pulling them both on a trailer, while they slept!

- I know that the main piece of equipment to keep in shape is the commitment to do it. Walking, swimming, running, Pilates, yoga and a lot of other sports require no equipment. The only requirement is to do it.

- When I lived in a city, I walked everywhere, either alone or pushing my kids’ stroller. Now that I live close to the ocean, I drive there and then I walk on the Beach. It’s free!

- Now that my kids are 9 and 6, I play racquetball with them or swim or even play on the Wii-Fit, which is a lot of fun when the weather is not so good.

If you have any other tips, please share!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

5 Tips to Improve Productivity and Motivation in Your Workspace, by Michael Schnippering

Are you as the owner of a business looking for new ways to improve employee morale and boost creativity? Do you ever wonder if adding features like Jacuzzi tubs and tennis courts will help?

When it comes to improving the productivity of employees there is no right answer. The key is great leadership! Management needs to constantly find new approaches to motivate employees with what they say and do - furniture and decor is just one part of it.

Many company owners have asked us if redesigning an office in a more unconventional way will improve results. Managers believe that productivity will increase just by adding entertainment areas, just like Google did in their main offices. This is not so.

Recently we designed a sales department in Dallas, Texas according to the principles of Feng Shui for offices. After we did the complete Feng Shui consultation based on the Sitting and the Facing of the space we knew which Feng Shui colors and materials to introduce, and even more important those we need to avoid, in order to create an environment conducive to success.

Based on a variety of energy-enhancing aspects, we had individual conversations with each top producer of the organization. We used their input to create a customized workplace for each of them.

If you want to create a productive environment, it is far more important to involve each individual employee and ask them for input and ideas to create a sense of 'ownership' for best results. When you hire a Feng Shui Consultant you are not just hiring an interior designer to turn an office into a game park - though interior design based on Feng Shui Principles definitely works!

5 simple tips on how to make Feng Shui work for you at the office:

1. De-Clutter: Cleanliness is very important. Any space you are spending the majority of time in has to be clean of dust. Of course, you do not have to be the perfect office organizer to achieve these tasks, yet you do need to create some sort of order. Clear our all things in your workspace that serve as distractions. Keep around you only those items you need to get your work done in an orderly manner.

2. Adjust Lighting: When you have enough natural light it will lift your spirits and help you become more productive. If your office has a window, try to keep the shades up to let natural light in. However, keep in mind that too much light can have the opposite effect. Find the right lighting balance.

3. Desk Position: Avoid positioning your desk so that you are sitting with your back towards the door. This will make you feel vulnerable and has a negative impact on your ability to concentrate. If you feel uncomfortable working while sitting facing a certain direction, do not hesitate to move your desk if possible. We all have four good supporting sitting directions. If you find your best direction you will quickly realize that your concentration level goes up which will make you more productive.

4. Avoid Sharp Angles: If you find yourself sitting at your desk and have the sharp angle of a wall or cabinet acting as a knife pointing at you - camouflage this angle by placing an indoor plant in front of it. Sharp angles are considered "Metal Sha" and these negative energies can have a piercing effect on you. A plant is a good way to soften the angle - again, you will be more productive and reduce the risk of restlessness.

5. Color: If you have the choice to paint your own office, choose a neutral color. Avoid extreme colors like red tones. The color red belongs to the Fire element, and without a complete Feng Shui Consultation you may do more harm than good for your office's Feng Shui energies. Play it safe!

Michael Schnippering is Chief Executive Officer of Feng Shui at Work. Feng Shui at Work is an international company that provides onsite and online Feng Shui Consultations worldwide.


Feng Shui for offices:

• Feng Shui at work

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Happy Birthday to me and Happy Life to You!

When I was a little girl I would calculate how old I would be in the year 2000. 37 sounded so old that I felt a pinch in my stomach.

Today I turn 47 and I don’t feel old at all. I feel, well – richer and fuller and, somehow, lighter than ever before. I am younger at heart than when I was in my 20`s. What dark days those were …

I recall older friends telling me how terrible it was to approach 50 and I feared it. Now that I’m almost there, I wonder why they were so upset.

I had my age-crisis when I turned 25 and felt that I was a quarter of a century old. Now I see I was but a child. I’m nearing half a century and I don’t give a damn. I know life is getting shorter, but today, now, this minute, I’m alive.

I no longer compare myself with Taylor Swift, but to Vanessa Redgrave. When I saw “Letters to Juliet”, I admired her in all her splendor.

There is something about certain older women that is not only beautiful, but grand, solemn and light all at once. I think of Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn and today Diane Keaton, Catherine Deneuve and others like them. They become more striking, more elegant, more of a presence the older they get … I aspire to that. I will keep my hair long, even when it’s all grey. I will continue to grow as a person.

Instead of being angry about getting older, I am grateful that I am alive. A good friend who shared my birthday would have turned forty-some today, but he is dead. An extended-family member who was my age died of cancer two years ago. So, what is left but to celebrate life?

47 is just as good an age as any other. I hope to be able to say one day: "87 is just as good an age as any other" with the same energy of today. Then, my daughters - with me in the picture - will be the age I am now.

An age to keep on loving, laughing, writing, parenting, learning, dancing, running …. And living.

Happy Birthday to me and Happy Life to YOU!

Monday, August 23, 2010

7 Tips to Create a Space of your Own

Everyone needs to have a room of one’s own, as V. Woolf said. Of course it doesn’t have to be a physical room. It can be a mental, emotional or spiritual room. It can be an apartment and it can be a house.

It can be a cabinet, a shrine, the bathroom, or a deep breath while you stand before the ocean.

In order to succeed at life, in order to find balance, to follow your calling, to step back when the moment so requires and reflect … you need your own space. Only by embracing solitude can we also fully embrace relationships and all their intricacies and nuances. And by relationships I mean professional, intimate, parent-child, love, friendship, family, casual and more …

7 tips to create that space:

- Set time aside daily or weekly at least to be alone with your own thoughts and feelings.

- Take yourself on a date. Nobody else should be with you. Go to a bookstore, a thrift store, a museum, the movies, whatever tickles you.

- Turn off your phone, computer, doorbell, and read a book for a half hour.

- Go for a long walk or a run, alone.

- Tell your children, your significant other and your family members that you need a few minutes of alone time.

- Take up a manual activity – carpentry, beading, knitting, drawing … This frees your mind.

- Write in your journal, or work on a vision board.

Solitude can be nurturing, replenishing, energizing, reflective and many more things. It soothes the soul.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How to Keep your Spirits up During Tough Times

A good friend of mine was left by her husband after almost 20 years together and is on her own with a kid, and a clinical depression. Another friend has lost his job, been denied unemployment and broken up with his significant other all in one week. Someone else has been diagnosed with skin cancer …

How to survive tough times?

I’ve been there too one way or another, and I will share just a few things that helped me get through what seemed like endless dark nights of the soul.

- Embrace the situation and grieve no matter how dire your circumstances. I’m not just saying it. I’ve done it, and it helped to cry, to feel the pain and the desperation before I could actually be open to learn from it and move ahead.

- Make a list of everything you can be grateful for in a day. If you have no money, no job and you are sick, your list may include apparently minor things such as that someone smiled at you or that you were able to get yourself out of bed. Sometimes, that’s enough.

- Strike a balance between alone time and support time. I go into recluse mode when I need to recoup from a blow in life, but I discovered it was in my best interest to reach out for help too. Sometimes all I needed was a sounding board.

- Brainstorm, both alone and with others, to find your way through your problem. Be open-minded. Now is not the time to be stubborn!

- Pamper yourself. You may not have money to go get a professional massage, but walking on the beach or in the park is free. Take time to read, to meditate, pray or whatever brings you comfort.

It may seem trite and obvious but remind yourself that this too shall pass. It always does. One day you will look back, as I do, and wonder how you survived that dark night in your life. You will feel so much stronger ...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Can we be happy, self-sufficient and successful all at once?

Nobody has it all figured out all of the time. That’s the beauty of life: we can learn from one another, if we are open to it, every day. It helps to be reminded of the important values in life and I was reminded by a friend a few days ago.

I don’t have much to add to his words, so I asked his permission to share them verbatim.

Here they are, excerpted from a longer e-mail:

“Being self sufficient and successful can be lonely. Success takes a lot of time and self. Success doesn't mean personal happiness. Success means that you reached your goals. That's all. Happiness also means that you can share your success with that special person, not ony with your children or dad or sister. Find a way to be self sufficient with somebody you share your bed with. How many successful people sleep alone? Probably too many. Success is overrated and happiness is unappreciated.”

“Some of the profiles of success come at a cost to those who succeed. And most of the time their success comes from a need or a crisis. So they have succeeded at that task, but nowhere can anybody know that they are happy. Now they can pay their rent and more but they can also be just as lonely before their success. But, you know this already.”

“Being self sufficient is a fine value. But, be both happy and self sufficient at the same time. Compromise.”

Thank you for sharing, friend!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Day I Sold my Gold ...

When I was 15 years old I sold all my gold jewelry and bought myself a pair of boots with the money. The boots were worn and eventually worn out, and I later regretted having sold the jewelry of my baptism, first communion and gifts from my grandparents. I wished I had kept them to give to my own children. I vowed never again to sell my gold, unless I found myself in dire straits.

Time went by and 30 years later I found myself in dire straits – a single mom with two young children and little or no income, as my profession as a writer and a translator hit the wall when the recession hit the country and then – the world. At 45, I again sold all my gold jewelry, but this time, to pay the rent, buy groceries and pay bills.

I felt a little of my heart go with each piece of jewelry that my grandmother had given me, every gift my sister had presented me with, the huge ring my grandfather was wearing the day he died, the medallions my girls were gifted when they were born, my wedding ring and so much more. Each piece meant something – held a memory, a bit of my past which I had hoped to pass on to my girls someday.

I bled a little when I walked out of the store with the check and minus the gold. The only piece I kept – and still have, but don´t wear – is a fine gold ring with a red garnet surrounded by pink diamonds, which belonged to my Spanish great-great grandmother. A family heirloom.

My grandmother who is now 93 always said that she wanted to give her gold away to her grandkids while she was alive and not on her deathbed. That´s how I was able to tell her what I had to do with her beautiful and expensive diamond rings and hefty 18-karat earrings. My grandmother told me not to worry, that memories are in your heart and not attached to objects. In fact, she´s sold most of what she had left too.

I no longer wear gold. After having lost everything material, I learned that in fact I had it all: health, great kids, good friends and family, strength, resiliency and determination. And faith that things would get better … It wasn´t easy, it still isn´t all the time, it may never be … but, a year and a half later, it´s certainly a lot better.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

10 Tips to Successfully Work from Home

Whether you are a free-lancer or have a home-based business, working at home has its peculiarities. As a free-lancer, over the years I´ve learned to adapt to doing my thing in different situations, to include a party during which I wore earplugs and sat at my computer to meet a translation deadline!
It may be difficult for others who hold regular jobs to understand that just because you don´t go to an office you are not always available. This can include members of your own family of course. If you have a home office you can shut the door to, that´s great – I´ve had it and it´s pure bliss – but if you don´t , join the ranks of people determined enough to lie down in bed propped up with pillows, while we get the job done.
1.- Block out hours on your planner during which you need to work
If you´re a freelancer and your work-load and your deadlines fluctuate, you may need to do this on a per-project basis.
2.- Dress the part even if nobody else will see you
While it´s great to be able to work in your PJs I find that I have more drive when I´m dressed and groomed and I'm more assertive when I need to be on the phone for work.
3.- Get out of the house!
Some people prefer to work in the same place because it helps them get in the frame of mind to concentrate. However, at times I prefer to go to the library, a Starbucks or the local bookstore, because there I cannot get side-tracked into cleaning or taking a nap!
4.- Turn off your e-mail and phone alerts. Better yet, turn off the phone!
Checking your e mail and answering the phone can be very distracting, and it takes time to get back into gear every time you take a call.
5.- Schedule breaks during your working time
By scheduling regular brakes every hour or two, I find it easier to stay on task
6.- Schedule free time
“Free” is the whole point of free-lancing. Free-lancers and home-based entrepreneurs may find it difficult to completely shut off work. But it's healthy to take time away from the computer or from your business, so that you can enjoy friends and family and recharge.
7.- Pace yourself
When I was younger, I was afraid of turning down free-lance gigs, so I took them all on and finished them even before deadline, even if it meant no going on little or no sleep. Now I realize that it´s ok to tell a client that I´m booked for the next two weeks. Most of the time, they can wait and I´m less frazzled.
8.- Explain your work to your kids
Your kids may not understand that your work is just as important as that of the other parent who has a regular job. Explain to them what you do for a living and if they are very young and you must work around them, tell them how long you need to be left alone for. When my girls were younger, I would say “Mommy needs to be on the computer (or the phone) for as long as three Dora the Explorer episodes”. Now, they get it.
9.- Work during your peak hours
If you are lucky enough to be able to choose, I suggest you work during your peak hours. I´m not a morning person and I´m a lot more productive later in the day, but I cannot always take advantage of that, being a mom of young kids. I can, however, get twice as much done in the same time if I write or translate starting at around noon.
10.- Keep in touch with other free-lancers or home-based entrepreneurs
And if you have any other tip to add to mine … please share them!