Archive for the ‘Tips & Ideas’ Category

by elycefeliz

I know I’ve made mistakes, lots and lots of them. I’ve been rude, given the cold shoulder, let down a friend in need, and not lived up to my own expectations.  I’ve forgotten birthdays, skipped lunch and dinner invitations, and gotten so caught up in work that I’ve gone home tired, headachy and grouchy.

I’ve tried to become a writer, planned to open a store, and didn’t apply for better jobs when I had the chance.  I’ve not exercised, eaten far too much, and skipped cleaning the house when it needed it.

Isn’t it great?  Because all these mistakes mean I’m making progress. At least I’m working.  I’m doing something.  I have found so many things that don’t work for me over the past 20 years.  So I must be pretty darn close to figuring out the whole mystery of life.  (Well one can hope can’t they?)

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
Albert Einstein

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Thomas A. Edison

As every inventor knows, life is all about making mistakes –there would be no new inventions without them. Babies fall down more times than they stand, but they keep trying.  They know the goal is worth the effort – a whole new world awaits if they can just get it right.  Basketball players can miss half their shots and still win the game.  Even when you fail you can still succeed.

Don’t just look at your missteps and errors and not see the accomplishments, skills or lessons you’ve learned. Maybe you discovered you weren’t quite organized enough to run a business and you need to work on that first.  Perhaps you learned to arrive late like your best friend instead of wasting time waiting for her.  Maybe you saw that your passion for writing was not for a novel, but better suited to magazine articles, poems or some other shorter bits of material.

Making mistakes means making progress.  I forget this vital truth from time and time and need to remind myself.  There is relief in knowing that each blooper and blunders is just part of the journey.  The path you’re on may swerve in an unexpected direction – it’s up to you to decide which whether to keep going or not. It’s the adventure of life and we all live it.  Where will you’re adventure lead?


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Picture by revoluzzza

The fear monster is very scary. It can be overwhelming loud and insistent.  That nagging voice that says “You can’t dance.  You don’t know how to paint.  You’ll never be able to write an entire novel.”

We all doubt our abilities and talents.  We fear we don’t have enough time, determination or knowledge to accomplish our dreams.  When in doubt – do it anyway.

Our fears will always be there.  Usually they never amount to anything.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve hesitated to do something new because I might look foolish.  Often, I did look silly, uncoordinated or clumsy.

It’s okay to look like a fool sometimes.  It means we’re growing and learning. I took a writing course since I love books and stories and I’ve always wanted to create some of my own.  I never did any more writing after that course.  It overwhelmed with the big bad world of publishing.

I learned publishing was too intense for me right now.  But I did learn others things; punctuation, sentence structure, and other useful tips that I can use in anything I write.  I learned that I may need to tweak that dream a little to make workable for me. So even though I see the course as a failure, I did learn.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Thomas A. Edison


A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
Albert Einstein

We’re always going to stumble and falter when we try something new.  We’ll feel uncertain and nervous, ungraceful and fumbling.  But our investigations will teach us, sometimes leading us in new, exciting directions.  It’s an adventure worth having.  So if you’re in doubt – go ahead and do it anyway.

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by True_Bavarian

I started this blog to help people.  Myself, friends, family, strangers.  I want the world to be a brighter place.  And at times, it is so easy. Share a little laughter, some fun things from life, and all the willy-nilly topsy-turvy adventures of life.  Joy is everywhere.  A blog article I read recently reminded me of the joy of crunching leaves under your feet in autumn – a secret love of mine.  (Kim you know who you are.)  Something so simple, but just so fun.  The sharp woodsy aroma and the crackling crunching of the leaves is addicting.  So is looking at the sheer varity of shape, texture and color in every leaf.  I saw streaks, blobs, stripes, and all sorts of patterns.  It was highly entertaining.

Even TV can bring enlightenment.  While watching the TV show Deadliest Roads, I was reminded not only of how lucky we are to have safe and convenient roads in the states, but also of the luxury and wealth we take for granted.  While one truck driver was stuck in a traffic jam fuming and late, he saw some nomads camped on the side of the road. He shared a large container of candy he had bought himself for the road and several large watermelon with the hungry children, and spread smiles, laughter and joy.  He rejuvenated his mood and outlook, when he returned to driving suddenly things didn’t seem quite as bad as they had before.

Of course we all have days where the stress piles up one after.  Too many chores and errands, work that piles up endlessly making us feel like we’re drowning in it, traffic, burning dinner, ripping your favorite pants, or an unexpected car repair.  By themselves, these things are fairly easy to handle.  But add up two or three in a day, and suddenly our normal coping mechanisms flee and we lose our usual self control.

Taking these tips in mind, I think the best defense is a good offense.  Since we never know when stress will hit, our best plan of attack is to have a good game plan.  Some ideas work to help alleviate stress BEFORE it turns from a molehill into a mountain.  Other ideas can aid in the midst of the chaos.  Here’s a few ideas I’ve picked up along the way.

  1. Perspective – is this a big deal? Often we think the stress we are currently in is worse than anything we’ve endured before.  But is it really?  Are these deadlines and setbacks really going to interfere with our life, or does it just feel that way?  Do you even remember the annoying coworker from your last job who drove you crazy?  Did the expensive care repairs from 6 months ago really put you in debt or did you just give up a few dinners out to pay for it?  Most problems seem worse while we’re working to solve them.  The problems I had two years ago seem much smaller looking back now.
  2. Clarity – are you seeing the truth? Is your boss really out to get you?  Does your sister-in-law truly find ways to insult you at every get together?  Maybe these people treat everyone that way.  It’s possible they feel threatened by you in some way.  Are you really trapped at a job you hate?  Or did you choose your current position knowing it would give you job security and a good paycheck until you can find something better?  Could you leave if you really wanted to?
  3. Health – are you having fun? If you’re not taking time to have a little fun every day, something is wrong.  There should be at least a few minutes if not several hours a day, where you are doing what you love.  Doing the things we love bring us joy, passion, energy and peace.  Whether we’re doing yoga, fixing a car, making cupcakes, or reading a book, doing something you enjoy will bring you time to relax, unwind and bring some balance to your life.  You don’t know how busy you are until you make time to slow down and notice.  Don’t let life pass you by.
  4. Health  – mini breaks. Mini breaks are a life saver.  Taking as few as 2-3 minutes to step away from your stress can make a huge difference.  I stood outside the other day and did nothing but look at the day.  I heard the birds, saw the butterflies, the trees changing, the sun shining, the cool breeze, watched people going to and fro.  And I relished every minute knowing that while today is beautiful, tomorrow could be rainy or cold or windy.  Delight in the little things and you’ll be happier for it.
  5. Humor – Laugh at it. Exaggerate your problems.  I named the other day GUOSD “Gang up on Shirley Day.”  That was what it felt like.  Work piling up, problems for my attention and so on.  By exaggerating that everyone in the office was out to get me, I was able to laugh.  Then I could better focus and realize that not everything in the pile had to be done today.  Relieved, I focused on the priority and left the rest for later.
  6. Organize – Prioritize. I use a trick I picked up from some great source that I can’t remember.  I list three MIT’s (most important task) for each day.  Then I add a Pending file of items that need to be done after the MIT’s.  I usually move the Pending up to start my next MIT list, but some weeks the Pending stays the same for several days.  I always know I’m doing what needs to be done most and I don’t forget the smaller things, so I can relax more while I work.
  7. Humor – Nobody cares. This tip is a flip.  Nobody cares about my whining and complaining, just like I don’t want to hear theirs.  This makes me realize that I need to suck it up and deal with it.  Sometimes that means switching tasks, or asking for help, or even wait until the next day when I’m better rested.  My mom used to tease me when I was grumpy,  “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m gonna go eats worms!”  When you can see the humor during your pain, it helps.
  8. Goals – am I getting what I want? Sometimes we get weighed down by the mundane tasks we need to do to reach a goal.  This is the time to remind yourself of why you’re doing things in the first place.  Maybe your job is a way to save for a new house or car.  Maybe you’re working extra hard to earn a promotion.  Knowing why you do something can help you see it in a new light.  You do have a choice.  You can change your course whenever you realize you’re not headed in the direction you want to go.
  9. Goals – change what you can. Sometimes our problems may aggravate, annoy and frustrate us because they’re so repetitive.  Is there something about this habit, task or chore that I like or could change?  For instance, I like to sing and hum while I do the dishes, it helps me pass the time.  Having fun with your task can make it seem easier.  Maybe you could trade a coworker part of a job you don’t like.  Maybe she can type up the report if you do the research – or vice versa.

I’m no super genius, but these ideas have helped me and hopefully they could help you too.  If you have better ideas to share – feel free.  I will happily give you credit.  I’m wise enough to showcase people smarter than me.  :0)  Thanks for stopping by.

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AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by WTL photos

In the middle of a savage zombie invasion, your heart beat increases, adrenaline flows through your body, and your muscles stiffen in anticipation of a possible impact to the body.

Luckily for most of us we won’t face the zombie apocalypse anytime soon.  But sometimes we can experience this same stress response in our daily lives.  One big problem, or a barrage of smaller ones, add up and overload both mind and body.  While we can recover from a day or two of such stress, week after week of “fight or flight” can leave us feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.

Why does this happen?  I know I’m not the only one waiting on hold forever, in endless line, or getting their paperwork wet in the rain that curses the fact that they got out of bed this morning.  On days like this, I don’t laugh off my over-reaction to muddy dog prints on the floor, I yell at the dog and angrily wipe them up while silently contemplating if anyone I know would like a new pet.

Recognizing this build-up before it gets to the blow-out point can be a lifesaver.  A good way to do this is to teach yourself to take a break each time you notice the worry, frustration, and anxiety are building up.  When you feel too busy to stop, that’s a good sign you need to slow down.

Like any other skill, it takes practice. There are several strategies you can use to do this.  One is to set times during the day to check in with yourself and see how you’re feeling. If for example, you notice at your 10:00 break that you are feeling worried, overwhelmed or upset, you can take a few minutes to do some deep breathing, put on some fun music or take a walk to change your focus. If you’re feeling fine, you can simply continue with your day.

You can also teach yourself to stop for a few minutes whenever you feel stressed. This is harder to do, as you have to consciously realize that you are feeling stressed.  Once you recognize the signals – shallow breathing, stiff shoulders or back, headache, tired eyes, etc, you can take a few moments to recover. Close your eyes and simply sit still for a few minutes.  If your mind is racing too much, count backwards from 50 to 1 or 100 to 1 until you are breathing deeper and feeling calmer.

Amazingly even 1-2 minutes of deep breathing can improve your mood. You’ll find longer lasting relief by taking a 10-15 minute break, but any break at all will help you refocus your attention, breaking the cycle of worry, complaining and anger you feel.

Because it’s hard to think of ideas to break your negative thinking while it’s happening, here are few ideas:

  • Relax. Close your eyes.  This rests your eyes and your mind.  In the fluorescent jungle the lights can dry our eyes and cause eyestrain bringing on a headache.  Taking a few minutes to rest can stop a headache before it starts.
  • Refocus. Keep some pictures, quotes or other inspiration material around.  Take a few minutes away from what you’re doing.  Let yourself just “be” for a moment.  Even 5 minutes of refocusing time can make a huge difference.
  • Change perspective. Play some music.  Classics can be soothing and calming, while rock, pop or disco are upbeat and energetic.  Chair dancing to some fun tunes can liven up almost any task.
  • Wake up. Get some air.  It’s surprising what a little fresh air can do for you.  You’ll breathe deeper, blink a little in the bright light, get your blood flowing by walking around and go back to work feel much more refreshed.
  • Fun. Do something fun for a few minutes.  Talk to a coworker, share a joke, read the comics or watch a cartoon on your MP3.  Doing something you enjoy can lighten your mood and when you return your hurdles won’t seem insurmountable anymore.
  • Get some support. Talk to a friend.  Give them a call or send an email.  Hearing a friendly voice or venting a little can take the stress down a level.  Knowing someone cares helps you feel loved and reminds you of your strengths.

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Picture by Express Monorail

Where does inspiration come from?  How does one find motivation, stimulation or encouragement when they need it?

Having lately felt very un-inspired and about creative as a block of cement, this was a topic of interest.  So I started with what I already knew – where inspiration isn’t.  It doesn’t come when you’re tired.  You won’t feel excited or motivated when you have a headache or feel distracted by pain or illness.  And inspiration doesn’t show up if you are overwhelmed, or don’t have any room in your schedule to stop and breathe.

Luckily, inspiration is like the sun – even when you can’t see it, it’s not totally gone; it’s just hidden behind the clouds. Ideas, creativity, and innovation come from everywhere.  You can see a red sports car drive by and appreciate the sleek lines and color.  It might inspire a sleek red satin dress design or a manufacturer to produce a shiny red TV.  (Why are TV’s all black or silver anyway?  Wouldn’t a bright blue TV look cool?  What about a yellow color to match your kitchen?  It’d be fun right?)

Inspiration comes when you’re relaxed and comfortable.  During a long hot shower, right before bed, or while cloud-watching lying on the grass.  Creativity is a state of mind. It’s when you relax your point of view enough to allow a new reality to emerge.

A choreographer could see a new dance move in the swaying of tree limbs in the wind, a photographer could see a new vantage point while cart wheeling upside-down with his kids.  It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing – inspiration is all around you.

Some other things that hinder inspiration are:

  • Narrow boundaries or thinking.
  • Too much noise or interference from the outside world.
  • Stiffness in body and mind.
  • Looking for only ONE right answer.
  • Listening to your critics.  (Or believing that they’re right.)
  • A serious frame of mind.

Some things that help inspiration are:

  • A light frame of mind.  Open up and be playful with your thoughts.
  • Substitution.  Thinking outside of the bos.  (Using a butter knife in place of a screwdriver.)
  • Seeing the forest past the trees.  Keeping your possibilities open.  There is more than one path to success.
  • A notebook.  You’ll get more useless ideas than good ones, but keeping track of them can help see connections important to making your project work.
  • Flow.  Letting your mind drift from one thought to another.  Another word for this is brainstorming.
  • Lots of outside stimulation and activity.
  • A quiet space to sit and contemplate.  (Whichever works for your purpose.)

Places to find inspiration:

  • TV.  Try watching some commercials with the sound off. See if you can figure out what they’re selling.
  • Nature.  Look at the sheer variety of creatures.  Birds alone go from small songbirds to majestic eagles and the over-size ostrich.  The colors in a simple leaf can vary from pale yellow to deep green.  Just sitting in your yard can provide hours of contemplation.
  • Music.  Let you thoughts roam as you listen to some instrumental music.
  • The opposite.  Try thinking of the exact opposite of whatever doing.  See if trying to accomplish the opposite goal gives you insight on how to achieve your true desire.
  • Children.  Ask a kid how they would do something.  Even if you can’t use it, it’ll probably open your mind to new ideas.
  • Movies.  What advice might Shrek give on this idea?  How about Sherlock Holmes or Chuck Norris?

What are your favorite tips for finding inspiration?  Share your thoughts in the comments section and help others GET INSPIRED!

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Head Over Heels Originally uploaded by Ryan Brenizer

Recently I’ve begun exercising again. I like to exercise because my body feels stronger and more limber after a workout. But like many people, after a long day of work the idea of a workout can be overwhelming.

For me exercise is hard to stick with because if it becomes too boring, repetitive or even just too hard, I tend to skip it. Once you skip one session, then you skip another and another and before you know it a month has gone by and you haven’t done anything.

Luckily, this time I had a real excuse. I got a severe sinus infection that caused me to be sick for several weeks.  The first week was a killer with fever, headache, sneezing, and my lingering symptom – coughing.  Unfortunately my cough lasted for an additional 3 weeks. I couldn’t work out without having a serious coughing fit for almost a month.

Now that I’m feeling better, I’m energized and ready to make my body stronger than ever. Evidence shows that a fit body has a better immune system than a couch potato, so I hope to help fend off any more future infections before they start.

Here are a few tips and ideas I use to stay motivated and interested in my workout.

Don’t pay attention to the scale. This can be a trap. For instance I worked out for a month, and only lost 10 pounds. I felt bad at first like I should have lost more, but then I realized that in the first month it was more important to work out every day and be consistent, that it was to lose weight. And I wasn’t dieting. I was eating the same things as before. Sure I could lose it faster if I dieted, but sticking to a daily workout is my main weakness, not my diet.

Add some variety – watch TV infomercials. One easy way to add new moves to your workout routine is to watch exercise infomercials. You can record them on your DVR and play them at your convenience. Try a few of the moves and see if you like them. You can try 3 or 4 moves from each ½ hour spot and make up an entire 30-minute routine of new moves. For me this also inspired me to buy some new DVDs which gave me some fun new dance workouts that I really enjoy.

Start with 10 minutes. Sometimes I would skip a workout because I felt like I didn’t enough energy or time for a 30 minute workout. Now I tell myself to just do 10 minutes. I figure doing a little is better than doing none. To my surprise, I often start feeling those exercise endorphins and get a rush of energy that lets me keep going for the entire 30 minutes – or even longer!

If you fall, get back up again. I used to think that if I could barely keep up with the workout or if I stumbled through the moves that I should just give up. Surely if I can only do a quarter of a routine, I might as well quit? But I was tired of not fitting into my clothes, and sometimes aches and pains would keep me up at night. Once I stuck with the routine for a solid week, I learned the moves better and didn’t stumble or fall. Even if I still couldn’t complete the routine, I could do more than the first day. Also, watching infomercial workouts gave me the inspiration of knowing there were others who were able to overcome the same obstacles and succeed. It was like a 30 minute pep talk.

Don’t overdo it. Sometimes when you’re out-of-shape you feel the urge to push through the pain and do more. We’ve grown up hearing “no pain – no gain.” And sometimes we foolishly believe it. But when you feel pain, enough to where you want to stop, it’s a signal telling you to quit doing that. Switch areas. If you arms hurt, start doing leg lifts. If your knees ache, try a sit-up or some arm punches. Don’t let pain stop you from working out. Instead stop the pain and try moving something that doesn’t hurt.

Have Fun. This tip is the best advice, but most overlooked. Workouts may never be easy. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyable. Try imagining all your stress leaving through each kick. When you punch, imagine knocking out your troubles and pummeling them into submission. Put on lively music and time your punches to match the beat. Vary your workout routine until find several that you like the best. For instance I don’t like Pilates very much, but I enjoy Yoga and stretching. Also, I alternate dance workouts with weight lifting and cardio routines.

And remember to make good health your number one goal. Weight loss is great, but remembers to look at the overall picture.

Here a few overlooked benefits of exercise:

  • Better sleep.
  • Groceries are easier to carry.
  • Warms you up when you’re cold. Better than a blanket.
  • Improves blood flow. May get rid of cold hands and feet.
  • Increases oxygen. Fuels your brain. (Seriously trying working on something complicated an hour after you workout. You’ll have better concentration.)
  • Gets rid of aches and pains. (Sure you may be sore from time to time, but nagging muscle aches and a sore back often go away after just a week or two of working out.)
  • Releases stress and tension. Exercise endorphins release feel-good chemicals that lift your mood while you develop your body.

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Picture by Tracie Taylor Photography

I have a problem.  A serious problem.  I am too serious.  And I don’t like it!  I like to laugh, joke and smile through my day.  I enjoy debating the latest book I’m reading, a cool TV show or the newest movie.  I like to be full of energy, enthusiasm and feel ecstatic throughout my day.

I recently realized anew that I am full of childlike wonder and sense of fun.  I just had to dust myself off and look at my habits to find that humor again.  If you want to join me in giggling, wiggling, dancing and prancing through your day, then keep reading.

We all face difficulties and disturbances of all kinds in our day.  Sometimes these problems build up without our notice, leaving us suddenly fearful, angry or overwhelmed.  When your life conspires to suck all the fun out of your day, fight back!

Start by assessing what you enjoy.  Although the ideas I give here may not be your cup of tea, I hope they shake up your thinking and help you discover what brings you delight and joy.

I have many strategies for adding fun (and I’m always looking for more.)  Here are a few of things I do to bring a little laughter, foolishness and chuckles to my day:

  1. Party cups. These are the plastic cups they have for children’s parties at Wal-Mart, Toys R’ Us and other stores.  They are generally from the latest children’s movie or cartoon.  I buy them and keep them in my cabinet to add a smile when I get a drink.  Characters like Spiderman, Sponge Bob, Winnie the Pooh, Iron Man and Star Wars Clones.
  2. Humor folder. This is full of fun, creative things to do.  It could be silly signs for work, knock-knock jokes, brainstorming ideas, meaning of life quotes, lists of way to improve your mood, using humor at work, etc.  Obviously you can see that I need humor more often at work than at home.  But all the ideas in the folder can be used almost anywhere.
  3. Wallpapers. Not the kind that go on your wall, but the kind that goes on your computer, phone, or other electronic device. Put a picture of a dog in a wig, or a smiling cow on your phone where you’ll see it every time you text or call.  A kid covered in spaghetti sauce can make a great humorous computer background.  Even though these are small things, they can add a smile to your day.  Anytime you’re smiling is a good time.
  4. Talking toys. Recently I was in a thrift store that had a talking Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean.  The sayings weren’t even that great, but when you’re bored and press the button the funny accent makes you laugh.  It was a great investment for a few dollars.  I’ve had talking Buzz Lightyear, a cool Terminator, and the hilarious Tuck and Roll interactive dolls from A Bug’s Life.  All were great conversation pieces, and even better, they made me laugh each time I touched them.  (Note – talking toys that laugh and vibrate at the same time will really get you laughing.  Check out this hilarious Laughing Dog Toy (love the name – Chuckle Buddies.  Note the chimp is on sale for 1/2 off!)
  5. Ipod videos. This can be a great source of entertainment.  Whether it’s a comedian routine like Eddie Murphy or some You Tube video of a kid dancing, these are great stress busters.  Take an hour or so once a week and load 2-3 on there.  When you’re stuck at the airport, in a traffic jam, or in a really long meeting, pull that sucker out and have a good laugh.  (Just be prepared for the funny looks from people who have no idea what’s so funny.)
  6. Music. Music is a great mood lifter.  It doesn’t matter what you like, it can break up tension.  Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, Country, Motown and more.  I use music to relax, to exercise, to clean and to stop boredom.  Try a variety for different moods.  Add a few music videos too.
  7. Funky clothes. Wear t-shirts with funny sayings, polka-dot socks, character ties or colorful underwear.  Wear all purple today, on put on a bright yellow shirt.  You can wear sparkles; add iron-on decals, pink shoelaces, a glow necklace or a smiley face pin.  Clothes can definitely change your mood, so a playful wardrobe can bring out a playful mood.
  8. Pens, post-its and paper. We use these things every day, so why not spice them up so you look forward to using them?  Try colored pens like purple, turquoise and jade.  Buy post-it notes with funny sayings or characters like Maxine from Hallmark.  Use colored copy paper whenever you have a chance, it will really add pizzazz to those memos.  If you insert a joke into your memo as well you’ll really find out who is reading them.
  9. Make scents. Use scents to liven up your environment.  Essential oils can be relaxing or invigorating.  At work try lemon, orange or eucalyptus.  To relax try rose, lavender, chamomile or some other light floral scent.  Experiment with lotions, pillow sprays, air fresheners and more.  Even changing up your laundry detergent can brighten your day.  Clothes smelling like a garden are infinitely more enjoyable than those smelling like bleach.
  10. Doodle. Try to revive the lost art of doodling. Letters, numbers, shapes, colored lines, whatever catches your fancy.  Doodling gives your hands something to do, and can actually spark creative ideas.

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