Butte Glenn Medical Society

Good Vibes

The weekly Good Vibes e-newsletter from Dr. Dannielle Harwood, Chief Wellness Officer, is brought to you in a blog format! Enjoy these positive and uplifting messages in blog entries to get you into good spirits. If you would like to sign up for the e-newsletter, please contact Lisa Le, Project Coordinator, at lle@bgmsonline.org.

Monday, November 28, 2022
Dear Ones!

I hope that your Thanksgiving holiday was filled with family, friends and food or at the very least PIE! Spending mine with both family and friends of quite the variety of ages, life stages, religious zeal and political beliefs provided me with plenty of opportunities to observe interactions and conversations. I noted the skill with which several of my older relatives stayed in curiosity mode, embraced differences or if needed turned conversations in new directions. What an important skill to have, knowing when to step into a debate and when to step back. It reminded me of a recent snippet from Farnam Street blog that goes like this:

Water or Gasoline?

"Something I try to teach the kids: Every ordinary moment is an opportunity to make the future easier or harder.

When they engaged in ineffective behavior I used to ask them if what they were doing is going to help them get what they wanted. Now I ask them if they're using gasoline or water. The visual is a powerful (and often humorous) way for them to pause and ask themselves if what they're doing is making things easier or harder.

Sometimes we pause a conversation or action, and I ask them, "if we wanted to pour gasoline on this, what would it look like?" their responses often give us something to laugh about. Then I ask them, "what would it look like to pour water on this?" Then I hit "unpause!" and step away. They rarely choose to add fuel to the fire.

Here's an example of how it plays out in real life. Last night my oldest stepped on the toe of his younger brother, which started to get heated as the youngest instinctively reacted. I walked by and said, "Pause! ... I don't want to know what happened. Just tell me, if you wanted to pour gasoline on this fire, how would you do it?" I listened and then followed up with, "if you wanted to pour water on this fire, how would you do it?" Then I said, "unpause!" and watched them both choose water as I walked away.

With water or gasoline, you can start a fire, make it bigger, or put it out. The choice is yours."

There is so much of life that this skill applies to, the least of which might be holiday gatherings! As the next few weeks to the coming holidays and ending of year approach keep this thought about gasoline vs water in your mind. Pause to consider as needed!

Monday, November 21, 2022
Dear Ones!

Happy Thanksgiving!

A blessing for you and yours!

“In a world where so many are hungry,

May we eat this food with humble hearts;

In a world where so many are lonely,

May we share this friendship with joyful hearts.“

— Traditional, American

Monday, November 14, 2022

Dear Ones!

With the holidays rushing in upon us it might just be the right moment for a pause. Instead of worrying about how to do big, grand or great things, instead ponder what small, tiny or even seemingly insignificant thing can you do for another human being this week? Take a cart back to the store for a stranger, drop an anonymous appreciation/thank you note on a colleague’s desk or even just let that person with the blinker on into your lane! Spend a week focused on the little things…. the little ways we can show kindness to each other…… the little ways we can ease a burden. Notice the little things all around you as well….. raindrops, crunching leaves under feet, the smell of dinner. Breath in, breath out! Life is in the little moments, acts of kindness, unexpected gifts. These are easy to access with out getting caught in the overwhelm of chaotic holidays and grand expectations.

These thoughts were inspired by the following poem from Rilke that came to me from not one but two sources within 24 hours!

“And so it is that most people have no idea how beautiful the world is and how much magnificence is revealed in the tiniest things, in some flower, in a stone, in tree bark, or in a birch leaf. The grown-ups, going about their business and worries, and tormenting themselves with all kinds of details, gradually lose the perspective for these riches that children, when they are attentive and good, soon notice and love with their whole heart. And yet the greatest beauty would be achieved if everyone remained in this regard always like attentive and good children, simple and pious in sensitivities, and if people did not lose the capacity for taking pleasure as intensely in a birch leaf or a peacock’s feather or the wing of a hooded crow as in a mighty mountain or a splendid palace. What is small is not small in itself, just as that which is great is not—great. A great and eternal beauty passes through the whole world, and it is distributed fairly over that which is small and that which is large; for in such important and essential matters, no injustice is to be found on earth.”​

Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, November 7, 2022
Dear Ones!

This message is going to be pretty short and sweet because I think the real juice comes in just sitting with it and how it applies to your life. From James Clear.

"In some areas of life, value is unlocked by starting. Even a five-minute workout or a short walk can reset your mood and benefit your body.

In other areas, value is unlocked by finishing. It does you no good to build a bridge halfway across the river. You need to complete the project to realize the value.

Do you need to start or finish? Are you building a body or building a bridge?"

And another thought to go along side the larger one above. In general do you tend to be a starter or a finisher? How is this helping or impeding progress toward your goals?

Monday, October 31, 2022
Dear Ones!

One this last morning of October please enjoy this poem by Robert Frost.

O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

Tomorrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow.

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know.

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away.

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—

For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Monday, October 24, 2022
Dear Ones!

Having a difficult week? ( psst…. It’s only Monday) Here are 5 techniques to help you move from overwhelm to on point!
  1. How is your posture? There is a correlation between our body positioning or body language and our mental state. Simply standing up taller, opening your shoulders and physically lifting your chin not only communicates a positive and open state of being to others but also to yourself. For an added boost lift your arms over head and and pump them like you just won a race! Small studies have shown this boosts testosterone levels temporarily and increases feelings of confidence and power.
  2. Where are you looking? Down or up? What has your focus? Current difficult moments or your values and long-term goals? It is easy to get focused on the minutia of the moment and lose sight of the bigger picture. Readjust your focus as needed.
  3. How is your breathing? Take a moment to notice the rise and fall of your chest. Is your breathing shallow? Does it feel difficult to get enough air? Have you been holding your breath? Pause and use this breathing technique from Dr. Andrew Weil to activate your parasympathetic system for more ease and relaxation. Breathe in through the nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 8, then slowly exhale through the mouth for a count of 7. Repeat three times.
  4. Letting go........ what are you holding on to right now that you can release? Guilt? Grief? Stress? Burdens that don’t belong to you? At the end of the day you can only control yourself and your reactions to others. Let go of the rest. It’s OK if later you get to remind yourself to let it all go again, even if just for a moment.
  5. Slow down! Today’s world has become all about business, overcommitment and multitasking. Is your to do list filling with you with joy or just filling up pages? It’s important every so often to look at our lists and our calendars and simply re-prioritize. Give yourself the space that’s needed to enjoy a sunset, roasting a marshmallow or a book of poetry. When you create time in your life or small joys it becomes easier to manage everything else.
Monday, October 17, 2022
Dear Ones!

As always you are on my mind! How can I improve your day? Your week? Your life? The thing is this....when I work to improve the lives of those around me, either close to me or strangers, I end up improving my own life as well! It turns out that giving to other people feels great!

Here is a little gem of a post about ways to give generously to those around you!

50 ways to be ridiculously generous—and feel ridiculously good.

I realized—many years ago—that when I behave generously, I feel rich. I like to feel rich. So I choose to be generous.....

So which of these easy ideas are you going to try this week? I found the little free library down the street from me and am going to contribute 3 books! I have also decided to tip double for the rest of the month! I will also be looking for the little opportunities to hand out appreciation and compliments to those who cross my paths. Looking ahead I am planning on GIVING THANKS in November by reaching out to someone everyday and telling them thank you for some way in which they have enriched my life. It could be a letter, phone call, email or even a text. It could even be a journal entry or meditation for someone who is unavailable to receive you thank you. Why don't you join me in this challenge? Think on it and I will bring it up again in a few weeks.

Monday, October 10, 2022
Dear Ones!
As a physician I was taught to compartmentalize my feelings and to never let emotions play a role in my decisions. This has worked well in most clinical settings but not always in other parts of my life. Feelings and emotions that are not dealt with over time can lead to loss of sleep, decreased sense of wellbeing, lower resiliency and even physical illness. Learning to acknowledge them, accept them and learn from them has been at times a daunting task. However, I am always up for a good challenge especially if the outcome is growth, improved health, increased happiness and greater personal peace.
Once again I am moved to share from the writer Yung Pueblo. His writings constantly challenge my thoughts and nudge me towards my best self.

On Feeling

The ability to feel is often seen as a burden combined with a blessing. It is not only one of the essential mediums that you use to navigate life and the world, it is the point where your greatest joys begin and your deepest sorrows take root. Heartache and happiness exist on different ends of the same spectrum of feeling. How you react to what you feel is often your greatest source of dissatisfaction and stress. More so, your past and present manifest themselves through your ability to feel. Your conditioning is not just something that is intellectual, it is also experienced through the sensations you feel on your body. How you feel often morphs from something that is meant to inform you into something that dominates the way you think and act. Healing and personal growth are grounded in establishing a new relationship with what you feel.

The default for many is that they let their feelings make decisions for them. This does not always yield the best results, because what you feel often dramatizes the narrative in your mind and leads you to make big decisions based on impermanent emotions. When you let your strongest emotions take centerstage, it becomes easy to feed your own tension – like when you react to your anger with more anger, which simply makes the tension you feel bigger and bigger. We often react to strong emotions by forgetting that the ever-present law of change ensures that what we feel in this moment will not last forever. A storm may be powerful, but no storm is endless.

Giving space to what you feel is always valuable because it is an essential part of healing and letting go, but if you let it take control then it will be too easy to fall into past patterns. Being with it is better than becoming it. There is a subtle space you can become more familiar with, the space where reclaiming your power is truly possible – the space where you can feel a fire burning within you without giving it more fuel.

This spaciousness of mind becomes more available to you when you realize that your first reaction is just your past trying to recreate itself. Left unchecked, your reactions will keep you in a loop where you are looking at your present life through the lens of your past emotional history. If you keep giving your power to your first impulse, then you will keep reacting the same way you have reacted in your past. This way of living leaves little room for growth and for anything new to emerge.

The challenge all people face is building enough self-awareness so that we can actively and repeatedly say no to our past when it wants to take over. Saying no to your past doesn’t mean suppressing it, it just means that you will let yourself feel whatever has come up but you will make the choice to allow your present self to remain as the dominant force.

The days of letting your old fears and anxieties make all the decisions for you are over. A new time has arisen where you are patiently creating room so that your present self can decide what actions will keep you on a path that is truly nourishing and liberating. It is time to let the past rest and fully embrace the present.

Monday, October 3, 2022
Dear Ones,
As autumn brings the shorter days it makes me think of hibernation which then makes me think about sleep!
I want to talk a little bit about sleep and fatigue today. Are you tired? Are you getting enough sleep? The average America needs 7-9 hours of sleep but is often getting much less. There are lots of reasons for this including jobs and school schedules, children, addictions, sleep apnea, depression, pain and sleep disorders such as insomnia. There is also another factor which is often overlooked or misunderstood. There is a difference between being sleepy and feeling tired. Being sleepy is that sensation of eyes feeling droopy, maybe the brain is slightly stuporous, your body might feel heavy and you just want to close your eyes and nod off. This is the perfect way to fall asleep! Being tired is actually completely different. You may not feel sleepy at all but rather exhausted in a mental, emotional or physical way. You may feel checked out mentally, have lack of motivation or perhaps be very distractable. You will often have a hard time being focused and task oriented or you may work slower than usual. Tiredness or fatigue can be caused by any number of things including boredom, dehydration, low blood sugar levels, pain or depression. Going to bed when you are tired but not sleepy often leads to frustration and concerns about insomnia.
So how does one handle fatigue/tiredness? That's the time to really check in with yourself. What it is that I need at this time? Food or water? Perhaps a short mental break or a run up and down the stairs or walk around the block? Meditation or some deep breathing exercises even for just 5-10 minutes can be a real game changer at these times as well. Have a conversation with a friend or colleague or a short reading of a work that inspires you. Don't forget that with our schedules these days you may be needing multiple things to get yourself back on track.
When it comes to sleep itself there are a few specific tips from sleep experts that I will share with you. The number one thing is always ROUTINE! Going to bed near the same time but more importantly getting up at the same time every day is essential for setting our biorhythms for a heathy sleep patterns. We need sunlight/daylight in our face before 11am in order to set the proper schedule for release of Melatonin, the hormone that our pituitary makes that helps us feel sleepy. Controlling your environment for light, noise and temperature as much as possible also makes a big difference for most people. Try using a sleep mask and ear plug or consider using white or brown noise. I have included a couple of links below. Turn off overhead lights in your home as dusk falls and try to limit yourself to lower levels of light from lamps. Avoid blue light/technology/TVs for at least 60 minutes prior to bedtime. Taking a hot shower or bath and allowing yourself to cool down as you dry and dress for bed provides another signal for your body and brain that its time for sleep. Of course avoid alcohol for at least 4 hours prior to bedtime as even though alcohol makes us sleepy it also can wake us up when it wears off and disrupts our sleep cycles that way. Also limiting the activities that you use your bed /bedroom for. Don't use you bed as the place you work, watch movies or engage in stressful conversations.
Finally, have a plan for when you do have difficulty falling asleep or when you wake up in the middle fi the night. This plan might include a journal, pen and booklight on your bedstand or maybe a podcast or some relaxing sleep music. There are also lots of different mediation apps that offer guided meditations for helping with sleep. The CALM app is one of my favorites as it has "sleep stories" which are designed to be just interesting enough to direct your thoughts but also told in a cadence and manner that lulls you into deep relaxation for sleep. If you do decide to read a book or (gasp) open social media, set a timer and try to return to sleep after a set amount of time.
White Noise Black Screen | Sleep, Study, Focus | 10 Hours
Monday, September 26, 2022

Dear Ones,

Last Week was National Physician Suicide Awareness day and so I have been thinking a lot about the pressures and burnout as well as grief felt by so many of my colleagues. Like all things these feelings often come in waves of overwhelm. While there are many tools and solutions that are possible, most of these need to be system led. In the meantime how do we as individual physicians and persons cope and make it through our days? There are a million platitudes that are often tossed about. A dozen inspirational quotes available at Target to hang on your walls. I don't mean to disregard the potential power of positive thinking. However sometimes we also need pause and just acknowledge the difficulty and pain of our current reality. Sometimes life is really really hard! Sometimes life is really hard for a really long time. The only thing that that helps me during these times is knowing that I am not alone. Pain, although perhaps unique in its presentation in my life, is a core human experience.

I found the following from David Marlow, writer, to be meaningful.

I was going through a particularly rough stretch of my life. The expression…if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all…felt like an appropriate descriptor. In the middle of this difficult time, a friend reached out and invited me to lunch. “You’re going through a rough stretch. Here’s something that helped me during a similar time. Maybe it will help you,” he said, sliding a slip of paper across the table. Many people tried to encourage me. One friend gave me the ultimate positive thinking guide, a copy of Norman Vincent Peale’s, ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ hoping to help me out of my funk. None of those hopeful or positive thinking messages had done anything to change my situation or improve my attitude. Now, this friend gives me a handwritten note. “Read it tonight when you have some quiet time.” I shrugged and tucked it into my pocket, and enjoyed lunch. That evening I pulled the note out and read it. It wasn’t a pie in the sky saying like your attitude determines your altitude. The note shared thoughts from St. Paul…

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."

“Yes! That’s exactly how I feel,” I shouted out loud. Hard-pressed on every side…perplexed by circumstances…persecuted…struck down. Then reading it again, the other parts spoke to me. Not crushed…not i despair…not abandoned…not destroyed. Most of what friends shared was positive. This admitted that life happened, and sometimes it sucked. Something about that made me feel better. For much of my life up to that point, I thought everyone’s life was largely problem free. Mine was a disaster, and there was a certain amount of self-judgment that went with feeling this way. Why me?WE are hard-pressed, the note said. Maybe it wasn’t just me. If everybody has issues, maybe there isn’t anything wrong with me after all. Maybe that’s how life is sometimes. Even with all the bad things going on, I wasn’t crushed nor abandoned, and I certainly wasn’t destroyed. Realizing this represented a turning point in my young life.
All of us have been wounded in some way.

We shouldn’t pretend life is easy and nothing ever goes wrong.

Though it is common to all, we can refuse to be held or defined by it.

If anyone is feeling overwhelmed or perhaps chronically underwhelmed by things in their life please do not hesitate to reach out. We would love to connect with you.

Monday, September 19, 2022
Dear Ones!

This past Monday evening I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with a small group of women physicians lead by Dr Aldebra Schroll and explore the world of narrative medicine. Narrative medicine is using story telling, often written but can be verbal as well, to process and heal from events we have dealt with in the world of medicine. Although much of the time these stores are told from our perspective as being the provider or healer and are about the impact a particular patient or situation, narrative medicine is not restricted to this perspective. It can also be about one's experience as a patient or caregiver or even as a parent or partner trying to manage all of our roles and responsibilities. The concept of narrative medicine has been around for awhile now. I first discovered it through a physician based in the Bay Area by the name of Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. when she released her first book called "Kitchen Table Wisdom" in 1996. I highly recommend this book for anyone. There are a number of other resources that I really enjoy as well such as the magazine PULSE https://pulsevoices.org/, which welcomes submissions by anyone with a healthcare story to tell, The Examine Life Journal,

The Examined Life Journal,

Available now! The Examined Life Journal's 2021 edition includes more than 380 pages of great writing from health...

and another favorite called The Healing Muse


One of the reasons I love the Healing Muse is that it also allows space for and encourages other forms of artistic expression as well. If you are interested in storytelling as a more public sharing format please check out the podcast or live events from The Nocturnists a group/format started by Emily Silverman, M.D.

The Nocturnists Podcast — the NOCTURNISTS

Stories by healthcare workers humanizing the practice of medicine, supporting clinician wellbeing, and transform...

They just started a brilliant new series called "Shame in Medicine: The Lost Forest". Many of their events are held in the Bay Area.

If you are considering writing/journaling and feel intimidated I encourage you to just let that go. None of it needs to make sense or be perfect. It never needs to be shown to anyone. The act of writing itself can be a healing discipline.

The writer Annie Lamott says “Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do—the actual act of writing—turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward”.

I got my own start with journaling and storytelling through the book "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. She invites a discipline of writing daily for either a timed 30 minutes or for a set of 3 pages. No more, no less. The point is not what ends up on the pages which are always for your eyes only but to just let flow whatever words come forth. There is no need for them to make sense or for there to be a storyline. You do not need to ever even reread them. Do not even think about grammar. Let your brain tell you what it needs to say and process. When I am stuck and feeling particularly uninspired I will often just start writing lists. My to-do list, gift lists, meal ideas etc. Usually within less than 5 minutes that has opened up a line of thinking and processing about some event recent or remote that has been lingering below the surface unnoticed but clearly still there.

I hope that each of you has an amazing week. Please share your stories. I would love to hear them!

Monday, September 12, 2022

Dear Ones!

“ Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma ~which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinion drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

-Steve Jobs

Part of thriving and resiliency is being able to be true to yourself. In order to be true to yourself you must actually know yourself.

It’s amazing how far one can get in life without truly knowing themselves. Many of us in medicine have spent years of study and focus on mastering the human body but still have never taken the time to truly know ourselves.

Ask yourself these questions; What is important to you? What are your values?

Values are the lenses through which you view yourself in the world. Values help you prioritize and approach the world around you. They help create your “personal truth” which is the foundation of your self-esteem, fulfillment and resiliency.

How do you determine your values? Stop and take the time to write them down. Choose your top 5 to 7… There are plenty of lists available online. Personally I prefer to think about five people that I admire or have as role models/hero’s. What are the qualities they posses that I want to emulate. Take the time to try on these values and see if they are reflected in your day to day life...how do they make you feel about yourself as you examine and enact them. When you know your values and focus on them as you make life decisions you will be less stressed and more aligned with what you really want. It makes the day to day decisions both large and small much easier.

It turns out that our values can change over time. In the past we may have been very adamant about the amount of time we needed to spend in order to be good at our job and we may have really valued how we were viewed in the workplace. At another point in our lives however we may place more value on spending time with family or loved ones. It’s not only acceptable but actually essential to reevaluate from time to time and make sure your priorities still line up with where you are in your life. When our lives get out of sync with our values we tend to become very stressed and quickly burn out. If you’re noticing this it’s often a good time to slow down and examine your priorities and values and realign as needed. Knowing your core truths will increase your confidence and empower you with the ability to make decisions in line with your values. Knowing that you are living a life that has been built around the values you have chosen protects against stress. Knowing your values and putting them in to play in the life you have chosen to lead is a huge part of thriving. You deserve to live a life that is aligned with your calling, purpose and values. You were born to thrive!

Monday, September 5, 2022
Dear Ones!
Lets talk about LETTING GO!
I have had a lot of opportunities over the past few weeks to work on letting go! So perfect that we are officially heading towards the autumn where nature herself can remind us that letting go is an essential part of our growth and renewal process.
Here is a a helpful thought from a favorite writer, Yung Pueblo
"Stress and anxiety are the children of attachment, they are both a form of craving that take us away from the present and into areas of imagination that steal away our peace. Heaviness comes from hanging on tightly to emotions that were always meant to be ephemeral. We want things to last forever or we turn difficult moments into long lasting pain simply because we have not learned to let go. We have not learned that the beauty of living comes from the movement of change. Letting go does not mean that we forget and it does not mean that we give up, it just means that we are not letting our present happiness be determined by things that happened in the past or by things we wish to happen in the future. The accomplishment of all great things in life take effort, especially when it comes to changing and healing ourselves. No one said it was going to be easy, if it was easy it would have been done already, but it will be absolutely worth it and the reward will be greater than the difficulty it took to get there.
Letting go takes training and dedication. Find a practice that brings you noticeable results and use it consistently. When things get tough remember that we are not building something small, we are building a palace of peace within our own hearts and it takes determination to complete something of such beauty and magnitude."
What practices do you use to aid in letting go? What works for you when you need to release attachment to the chaos around us and stand more fully in the present moment?
My favorites include Breathwork and walks in nature! These activities help me to slow my thoughts and to focus on what is real and present for me in this moment.
Monday, August 29, 2022
Dear Ones!
It’s has been shown that babies need human touch to survive, not just thrive but actually survive! Adults also live much healthier and longer lives when they experience daily loving touch such as hugs. Let’s face it, connection and community are essential for our well being. And it goes beyond the physical. We need people in our lives that we connect with on a mental and emotional level as well. I am not talking about an echo chamber of people who agree with us on every detail but rather that group of people who stimulate us and challenge us to be better and who “ get” us and “see” us as the perfectly imperfect humans that we are....... and yet still want to be around us! This community of people are those who can support us when we are facing challenging times and remind us of who we are at the core. They look out for us, acknowledge our ups and down and provide witness to all the milestones of our lives. They show up with dinner, a bottle of wine or just a text ....... but the bottom line is that they show up.

Who is your community? Who do you connect with? Are you nurturing these relationships? Connection helps to prevent burnout and increase resilience so make sure it finds its way on to your priority list.

Take care of your community, they need you and you need them! Now more than ever we all need connection and community to thrive!

Monday, August 22, 2022
Dear Ones!
This week I have been thinking a lot about external versus internal validations of success. It’s is always so nice to get the recognition and accolades especially when one has worked hard and made sacrifices however if this becomes more important than our own internal measures of success it can become easy to lose one’s sense of self. This is a balance that many of us have to examine repeatedly and make adjustments as needed. There are many pressures from the outside to keep us constantly aware of the external benchmarks however we often are less in tune with our internal markers until our health ( mental or physical) is truly suffering. Both are important but in the end as Shakespeare said “To thine own self be true”!
I want to share this great story that got me thinking about all of this, as told by Morgan Housel in the Liestyles blog
“Fifty-four years ago this month, in a push for publicity, The Sunday Times offered £5,000 to whoever could sail solo nonstop around the world the fastest. It was technically a race, but that was an afterthought, as no one had ever completed the feat.

There were no qualification requirements and few rules. Nine men joined the race, one of whom had never sailed. Just one man finished, 312 days and 27,000 miles later.

But it was two participants who never completed the race that generated the most news. One ended up dead, the other found himself happier than ever. Both outcomes came from decisions made at sea, but neither had anything to do with sailing.

The two men, Donald Crowhurst and Bernard Moitessier, are astounding examples of how the quality of your life is shaped by whom you want to impress. Their stories are extreme, but what they dealt with was just a magnified version of what ordinary people face all the time, and likely something you’re facing right now.

Donald Crowhurst was a tinkerer who came up with his own boat modifications. Convinced his innovations could propel him to win the Sunday Times race, he faced just one obstacle: he was broke, and stood no chance of financing the race himself.

Crowhurst struck a deal with an English businessman who agreed to cover the cost of the race under two conditions: They would orchestrate a media frenzy, portraying Crowhurst as a sailing savant. And if Crowhurst didn’t finish, he would owe all the money back.

Crowhurst left Teignmouth on October 31st, 1968, the last day participants of the race could begin their voyage. His boat, the Electron, had been so heavily modified, so weighed down with half-finished gizmos and gimmicks, that it was barely seaworthy for a short sail near home, let alone a solo trip around the globe. Crowhurst knew it. He broke down in tears in front of his wife the night before he left.

Two weeks into the race, as Crowhurst had covered less than half his intended distance, the Electron sprung a leak. “This bloody boat is just falling to pieces due to lack of attention to engineering detail,” Crowhurst wrote in his diary. In the calm waters of the South Atlantic, the small leak posed little threat and could be bailed with a bucket. But continuing on to the treacherous Southern Ocean would bring certain catastrophe.

So Crowhurst seemed to have two options: Continue the race and face ruin at sea, or return home and face bankruptcy and humiliation.

He in fact chose a third option, which was outright fraud.

By mid-November Crowhurst began loitering in the south Atlantic, drifting in circles in calm water. He then began sending fake coordinates back to England, giving the impression that he was still on track, rounding Cape Horn, on his way to circle the globe.

He went virtually nowhere for months, which was the plan: By mid-summer, when enough time had passed to have plausibly circled the globe, Crowhurst hoped to quietly sail back to England, “finish” the race, and hope no one noticed that during his round-the-world voyage he never actually left the hemisphere.

As Crowhurst sailed back to England he realized he did not want to appear to win the race, because if he did the media and judges would scrutinize his logs and uncover the deception, whereas no one cares about the runner-up. After receiving word on the location of other race participants, Crowhurst timed his return so that he would finish the race in third place, which seemed good enough to maintain dignity yet low enough to avoid suspicion.

But then the boat that was in second place sank. And after miscalculating his return time, Crowhurst was suddenly on track to beat the sailor who had been in first place.

Crowhurst was now going to cruise into England with what looked like the fastest time. He was going to win the race. The BBC had a crew prepared to meet the man who defied the odds to become the world’s greatest sailor – which, ironically, is the kind of attention a fraudster desperately wanted to avoid.

On June 29th, Crowhurst wrote in his diary:

I have no need to prolong the game … It has been a good game that must be ended … It is the end of my game. The truth has been revealed. It is finished. IT IS THE MERCY.

Soon after he sent his last fake coordinates to his team, and shut his radio off.

The Electron was found 11 days later, adrift in the Atlantic. There was no major damage, no sign of an accident – and no sign of Crowhurst.

He had presumably thrown himself into the sea.

Left behind were his diary and two log books: one real, one fake.

Three months before Crowhurst took his life, another sailor in the Sunday Times race made an equally astonishing life decision at sea.

Bernard Moitessier was an expert sailor, and five months into the race, he was on track to legitimately win.

Moitessier loved sailing but despised the commercialization of his sport. Or, more accurately, he hated the sport side of sailing. He just liked sailing for sailing’s sake.

The personality required to spend nine months alone at sea selects people who are fine detaching from society. Moitessier was an extreme version of that, and the idea of sailing for someone else’s pleasure – to perform for the press, the race organizers, the sailing magazines, the fans – was so detestable that midway through his voyage he’d had enough.

He wrote in his diary:

I really feel sick at the thought of getting back to Europe, back to the snakepit … I am really fed up with false gods, always lying in wait, spider-like, eating our liver, sucking our marrow. I charge the modern world – that’s the Monster, trampling the soul of men … returning to [England] feels like returning to nowhere.

But being on his boat, Joshua, was a different story. He loved it, loved being on the water. Moitessier later recalled:

There were so many beautiful days on this beautiful boat that it really made time change dimensions … I was just feeling totally alive. And that was just fantastic.

As he sailed around Cape Horn – a position Crowhurst could only dream of – Moitessier began contemplating the unthinkable: Abandoning the race and sailing somewhere else.

Thinking of his family and friends, he wrote:

I do not know how to explain to them my need to be at peace, to continue toward the pacific. They will not understand. I know I’m right, I feel it deeply. I know exactly where I am going, even if I do not know.

On March 18th, Moitessier threw a jerrycan onto the deck of a passing commercial ship, whose captain caught it on the fly. Inside was a note addressed to the Sunday Times’ editor. It read:

Dear Robert, today is March 18th. I am continuing non-stop toward the Pacific Islands because I am happy at sea, and perhaps to save my soul.

Moitessier shouted for the captain to take the message to the French consul.

He then changed course, off the race’s path, and set sail for Tahiti.

Moitessier wrote in his diary:

Now it is a story between Joshua and me, between me and the sky; a story just for us, a great story that does not concern the others any more … To have the time, to have the choice, not knowing what you are heading for and just going there anyway, without a care, without asking any more questions.

He anchored in Tahiti in June, where he remained for years. He built a house on the beach, grew his own food, and wrote a book about sailing.

“You can’t understand how happy I am,” he wrote.

In a twist of irony, Tahiti was so far out of the way and required so much backtracking that, despite dropping out of the race, Moitessier did circle the globe, and set a world record for the longest ever nonstop solo sail – more than 37,000 miles.

There is no mention of that fact in his book. He didn’t seem to care.

Anyone alone at sea for nine months will start to lose their mind, and there’s evidence both Crowhurst and Moitessier were in poor mental states when their decisions were made. Crowhurst’s last diary entries were incoherent ramblings about submitting your soul to the universe; Moitessier wrote about his long conversations with birds and dolphins.

But their outcomes seemed to center on the fact that Crowhurst was addicted to what other people thought of his accomplishments, while Moitessier was disgusted by them. One lived for external benchmarks, the other only cared about internal measures of happiness.

They are the most extreme examples you can imagine. But their stories are important because ordinary people so often struggle to find balance between external and internal measures of success.

I have no idea how to find the perfect balance between internal and external benchmarks. But I know there’s a strong social pull toward external measures – chasing a path someone else set, whether you enjoy it or not. Social media makes it ten times more powerful. But I also know there’s a strong natural desire for internal measures – being independent, following your quirky habits, and doing what you want, when you want, with whom you want. That’s what people actually want.

Last year I had dinner with a financial advisor who has a client that gets angry when hearing about portfolio returns or benchmarks. None of that matters to the client; All he cares about is whether he has enough money to keep traveling with his wife. That’s his sole benchmark.

“Everyone else can stress out about outperforming each other,” he says. “I just like Europe.”

I think Moitessier would approve.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Dear Ones!

I don't know who needs to hear this today but YOU MATTER! Your unique story, your experiences, your perspectives, all make this world a little different than one without you in it. Even when you don't think you are making a difference....you are! So embrace yourself and everything that makes you....YOU!

"Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren't any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn't be here in the first place.
Remember, no matter how overwhelming life's challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world.
In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about.
So be that one person."
-B Fuller

Have a wonderful week!

Monday, August 8, 2022

The Art of Listening

Today I am writing from a beautiful seat outside in the warm humid air of Maryland. I am overlooking a lovely little body of water. The air here literally buzzes with the sound of cicadas and other insects. The amount of green foliage is almost overwhelming for these eyes used to such a dry brown August! As I have spent my time this week connecting and reconnecting with family and friends. I have had time to reflect on the questions we ask each other, the way questions are presented and the answers elicited. When we truly want to know more about a person or a topic we need to practice the art of generous listening. The following excerpt from a blog references not only Krista Tippett, who has written a book called “Becoming Wise” but also a favorite author Rachel Naomi Remen.

Listening is an everyday act, and perhaps art, that many of us neglect."
Listening is more than being quiet while the other person speaks until you can say what you have to say.

Tippett introduces us to generous listening, language she picked up from a conversation with Rachel Naomi Remen, who uses it to describe what doctors should practice. Tippett explains:
Generous listening is powered by curiosity, a virtue we can invite and nurture in ourselves to render it instinctive. It involves a kind of vulnerability— a willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity. The listener wants to understand the humanity behind the words of the other, and patiently summons one’s own best self and one’s own best words and questions.

Of the many reasons we would want to engage and renew our listening skills, asking better questions is near the top.
[W]e trade mostly in answers— competing answers— and in questions that corner, incite, or entertain. In journalism we have a love affair with the “tough” question, which is often an assumption masked as an inquiry and looking for a fight. … My only measure of the strength of a question now is in the honesty and eloquence it elicits.

Questions are the means by which we explore ourselves, each other, and the world.
If I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned this: a question is a powerful thing, a mighty use of words. Questions elicit answers in their likeness. Answers mirror the questions they rise, or fall, to meet. So while a simple question can be precisely what’s needed to drive to the heart of the matter, it’s hard to meet a simplistic question with anything but a simplistic answer. It’s hard to transcend a combative question. But it’s hard to resist a generous question. We all have it in us to formulate questions that invite honesty, dignity, and revelation. There is something redemptive and life-giving about asking a better question.”

So all of this has me thinking about asking better questions but mostly about listening better, with an open curious mind to the people I encounter daily! What thoughts and ideas does this bring up for you? Is there an area of your life or a person in you life where you need to let go of assumptions and listen with curiosity? Maybe that person is even yourself?

Monday, August 1, 2022

Dear Ones!
Lets talk today about choices, decisions, opportunities, and roads not taken.
“What’s an opportunity or pursuit that you passed on earlier in life, but if the opportunity came again, you would reconsider?”
This is in no way to mean that you made the wrong choice at that earlier point in life. You probably made the very best decision given the knowledge available to you at the time. You might have regrets but probably not. Nonetheless, life has many unforeseen twists and turns as well as anticipated seasons and changes. Is there an opportunity or passion that you still think about? Something that has been relegated to the back burner or the hobby drawer? If that opportunity came into your life again would you make a different choice? This can be a great way to consider your current situation at work, in relationships, finances, your location/home or retirement plans.

What is working in your life right now? What gets you fired up with joy and moving in the morning? How is your sense of purpose? Where are you creating meaning?
If you are struggling with these questions it may be time for a reset. If you are burned out then these questions may seem completely overwhelming. This is can be a signal that you need rest and an opportunity to reexamine your current life trajectory and your priorities. Is the life you are living healthy for you physically, mentally, and emotionally? Are you making choices that support your happiness, fulfillment and longevity?
Maybe it's time for a new path or to start a new chapter. What opportunities should be revisited? Would it take going a whole new direction or perhaps just a little detour? Sometimes we can continue toward the same goals but use an alternate route.
Choices, decisions, opportunities and roads not taken...
I know I have shared this poem, by Mary Oliver, before but it often returns to me like a guiding light so I will share it again. The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice— though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. "Mend my life!" each voice cried. But you didn't stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do— determined to save the only life you could save.

Monday, July 25, 2022
Dear Ones!

One of my favorite things about living in California, especially Chico is all of the wonderful local fresh fruit in the summer months. Although I am a big fan of berries and melons my absolute favorites are the stone fruits! You can find me most weekends at one of our local Farmers Markets selecting peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums. In addition to their beautiful colors of deep reds, blushing oranges and golden glows, they taste like sunshine made edible! Nature's candies! Today I am sharing one of my family's summertime favorites, a recipe for peach crisp. I highly recommend that you enjoy it with a creamy vanilla ice cream, even if you are eating it for breakfast!

Peach Crisp


  • 5 cups peeled and thinly sliced peaches about 5-6 medium peaches.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8 or 9-inch baking dish (circle or square). Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine peaches flour, sugar, salt, vanilla. Toss gently to combine, then pour into prepared baking dish, spreading the peaches evenly. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together. Add the butter and stir with a wooden spoon to break up the butter until the mixture is crumbly. (A fork or pastry cutter will work, too.) Sprinkle the oat topping evenly over the peaches.
  • Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the juices are bubbly around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Monday, July 18, 2022
Dear Ones,
I follow a writer by the name of Yung Pueblo and honestly I would love to share almost everything of his that I read. It is so good!
I found this bit on happiness to be especially poignant over the last few weeks. I hope it speaks to you as well!
"Happiness is often confused with perfection; it is seen as a smoothness in external events where everything that you like and love about life remains precisely abundant. The problem with perfection is that it is mythical, it is an imaginary pathway that, with enough time, will lead back to sorrow. Being attached to perfection is not only a refusal to accept the ups and downs of reality, but also a manifestation of the craving to control. Life is not a straight and unbreakable line, it is choppy, unpredictable, and is more similar to waves and the movement of tides. And much of it is out of our control. Giving external events a high degree of importance over how you feel inside will lead you far away from happiness.

Happiness is also confused with the sensation of pleasure. Whenever we come in contact with something agreeable, a subtle pleasant sensation will move through the body and we react to it with craving. The problem with pleasure is that it quickly becomes an endless chase, where we keep trying to place ourselves in situations that give us the feelings we are attached to. The unpopular truth is that the unbalanced pursuit of pleasure is a pathway that leads to dissatisfaction and sorrow. Pleasure is so fleeting that it is not reliable enough to have it be the center of our lives.

Solely seeking pleasure or perfection does not make for a fulfilling existence, it actually creates the conditions for superficial interactions, and it functions as a barrier that can stop you from getting to know every part of yourself. If your attachment to pleasure is very high, then you will have a hard time sitting with the hurt/traumatized parts of yourself. Being attached to perfection or pleasure can limit your ability to be vulnerable with yourself and other people, because you'd rather be immersed in something that is pleasant. Anything pleasant is incredibly temporary, which will leave you with an unquenchable thirst for more.

Healing yourself is an opening to true happiness. Letting go of the mental burdens that you carry from the past will help your mind become clearer and more aligned with the natural flow of life. Often the hurt that weighs you down functions as a wall that stops you from fully engaging with the present moment. Unprocessed hurt also limits the flow of compassion because too much of our energy is focused on surviving one day at a time – this directly hinders the ability to deepen interpersonal connections. The happiness that is derived from being able to exist peacefully in the present moment is a quality that needs to be intentionally developed. Happiness does not just happen, you need to tend to your inner garden, remove the weeds and plant the right seeds.

Happiness is a product of equanimity, meaning mental balance and the ability to be calmly objective. From this space of clarity and composure, the real essence of happiness can develop, which is inner peace. A type of peace that is not controlled or defined by external events, one that can move with the waves of life without getting overwhelmed or tossed around. Happiness can multiply and enhance the finer mental qualities that make life beautiful, like being able to love yourself and other people or being able to see more perspectives than just your own. At its core, happiness is accepting reality and appreciating the miracle of the moment without getting lost in craving for more.
Monday, July 11, 2022

Dear Ones,
Deep breath in...hold.....now let your breath slowly out. Take a moment's pause. This year is already at the half way point, flying by with little regard for health, plans, travel or connection. Its up to you to create the moments.

Let July be July by Morgan Harper Nichols

Even here, you are growing. When August is approaching and you feel a little restless thinking about how this month might end and how this year might end and how you are supposed to start again, you are growing, you are growing, in grace courage strength.

And it is okay if it does not feel like it. It is okay if there are moments where you cannot see the way you have grown, because far beneath the surface the seeds have still been sown. The ground beneath your feet is still a bed for new beginnings.

So much is changing around you but you are changing, too.

You are so much more than the brokenness that you were certain would define you.

It has not been easy for you. You have worked so hard to be the positive one. You have given your best in areas of your life where the effort was not returned. And this has made it so hard for you to keep going, and there have been days where you were not sure if it was even possible. But after everything, here you are, just a little stronger, holding on a little longer, and you still found room for hope.

So take heart breathe deep you are still becoming who you were meant to be.

Let July be July. Let August be August. And let yourself

just be even in the uncertainty. You don’t have to fix everything. You don’t have solve everything. And you can still find peace and grow in the wild of changing things.

Monday, July 4, 2022
Dear Ones!

Want to share a little patriotic knowledge with family and friends this Fourth of July? Read on for holiday fun facts:

  • During the Revolutionary War, Congress was forced to move and convene in different cities. Our country’s forgotten capitals include Baltimore, Princeton, N.J., Annapolis, Md., and Lancaster, Penn. (for just one day!).
  • The first Independence Day was celebrated in 1777. However, it was not declared an official federal holiday until 1870 (along with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day).
  • There have been 27 different versions of the U.S. flag. The current design has been in use since 1960.

No matter how you choose to celebrate, I hope you enjoy the holiday.

Monday, June 27, 2022
Dear Ones!

Fresh back from a wonderful vacation and carrying both souvenirs and COVID, I have had a few unexpected extra days at home. There is nothing quite like combining jet-lag and illness to keep one feeling not only malaise and annoyance but a certain degree of disorientation as well. If it were not for the love and care of my family and friends this past week would have been very difficult indeed.

That leads to this great article from Julie Beck about what it takes to sustain friendships over the years. She states that in her many years of studying friendships and interviewing friends that 6 concepts have stood out for her as what it takes to create and maintain relationships over time. Those 6 forces, as she calls them, are accumulation, attention, intention, ritual, imagination and grace. Reading this article helped me take another look at some of my friendships, the strong ones and those that have faltered along the way and see the opportunities to improvement, repair or just plain gain!

Please enjoy!

The Six Forces That Fuel Friendship

Monday, June 20, 2022

Dear Ones!
I am back with more investment advice! Forget about investing in Merck or Aetna and stick with the type of healthcare stock where you can actually make a reliable impact, your own health! The best part is that the gains are very predictable. Furthermore, much of this type of investment is not only free but can provide considerable financial savings down the road. Over 50% of bankruptcies in the USA come from health care costs. This alone should be enough to motivate most of us. Even those who do not end up needing to file bankruptcy may be adversely financially affected by the monetary costs or because of missing work.

What are some of these FREE ways to invest in your health, mental and physical?

1. Exercise. Honestly, this is probably the number one thing you can do for longevity, disease prevention, stress management and mental health. It will also energize you and improve your sex life! Who doesn't want that?

2. Sleep. I know what you are thinking...if you could sleep better, you would! But, are you really following the sleep hygiene techniques we all talk with our patients about? Turning off electronics an hour or more prior to bedtime? Using blackout curtains? Avoiding stimulants? If the answer is really yes then please go see a sleep specialist. Losing sleep equates to years off your life.

3. Spending time with those you love. Cannot say this enough, but connected, loving relationships improve your overall sense of well-being and lower stress hormones.

4. Sex. Sexual activity makes you healthier and happier! Some studies indicate that it lowers blood pressure, reduces risk of prostate cancer and decreases the sensation of pain. It can count towards your exercise quota as well!

5. Meditation. Another free but very effective way to improve your health! This can increase focus, decrease pain, lower cortisol levels and even improve emotional management skills.

6. Get outside. Sunlight and nature are great health helpers. Sunlight helps provide Vit D which an important immunity booster.

7. Gratitude. Not only does practicing gratitude regularly make you feel better, it is associated with lower cellular inflammation levels, better sleep, less fatigue and greater satisfaction with life!

So there we have it! Investment advice that is reliable and safe even when the market is tumultuous! Better yet, its all FREE and will add not only years to your life but happiness and satisfaction as well.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Dear Ones!

This week I'd like us to focus on this quote from an article by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about Health Work Burnout.

Causes of Burnout

Workplace systems cause burnout among health workers, not individuals. There are a range of societal, cultural, structural and organizational factors that contribute to burnout among health workers. Some examples include: excessive workloads, administrative burdens, limited say in scheduling, and lack of organizational support.

Workforce Shortages

Physician demand will continue to grow faster than supply, leading to a shortage of between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians by 2033. The most alarming gaps are expected in primary care and rural communities. (Source: The Association of American Medical Colleges, 2020)

Differential Impacts on Health Workers

Burnout, resource shortages, and high risk for severe COVID-19 infections have unevenly impacted woman and health workers of color. This is due to pre-existing inequities around social determinants of health, exacerbated by the pandemic.

Health Worker Burnout Harms All of Us

If not addressed, the health worker burnout crisis will make it harder for patients to get care when they need it, cause health costs to rise, and hinder our ability to prepare for the next public health emergency, and worsen health disparities."

To read the rest of this article and delve deeper into these points, please visit https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/priorities/health-worker-burnout/index.html

Monday, June 6, 2022

Dear Ones!

If you are anything like me the state of the market and my retirement accounts has caused more than a few sighs, stresses and perhaps even an exclamation or two! I know there is a lot of advice out there from qualified financial planners who remind us that you can't time the market, keep putting your money in so that you are buying low, and then next week even lower, change your portfolio ratio etc.

Don't worry, I am not going to play at being a sage financial investor, however, I can tell you about a few very wise ways to invest no matter what the state of the markets! This is a great time to focus on investments that you have some control over like your health and your relationships!

The quality of relationships in your life is more highly correlated with your happiness than any amount of money! That is great news! Your happiness both now and in the future has nothing to do with the size of your retirement accounts. So what are some key (and free) ways to invest in your relationships?

1. Invest time. Create some openings in your schedule to spend time with people that are important to you. Make that lunch date with a friend that you never seem to get the chance to catch up with. Do a date night with your spouse. Plan a family outing like a picnic or a hike.

2. Check in with people more regularly. Text, voice mails and short phone calls go a long way toward relationship building and letting people know that they matter to you. It doesn't take much effort or energy to place that call while driving to work.

3. Work on your communication skills. I highly recommend the book "Crucial Conversations" by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler as well as the book "We Need to Talk" by Celeste Headlee.

4. Work on your listening skills. Arguably even more important than the speaking side of communication. Are you present and attentive? Are you listening to understand and empathize or actually thinking about your response while they are talking?

5. Be curious. Even if or maybe especially if you have known the person for a long time. We are all in a constant state of evolution and you may not know them as well as you think you do. Give your relationship a chance to grow with both of you.

6. Be open to new activities and people. You may deepen a relationship by taking it in a new direction. That cordial work colleague might make a great pickleball partner or you might find out that you enjoy baking as much as your cousin if you are open to making scones together.

7. Be intentional. Know why you investing in the relationship and why this person is important to you. That might seem obvious but slowing down and actually thinking about it and perhaps verbalizing it to yourself can be very helpful. "I want to know this person better because I admire their leadership skills" or "I want my daughter to feel like she is truly loved and supported by me" or "my friend was really there for me during a difficult time and I want to be sure they know that I am there for them".

Every single relationship investment is an investment in your future happiness! This is pure gold!

Next week we will spend time on the other essential investment...your health!

Until then...

Peace & Blessings!

Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Dear Ones!

Today's thoughts are all about perspective.

Some of the definitions from the Webster dictionary include 1) a mental view, 2) a visible scene, 3) the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed, 4) the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.

So what is your perspective these days? Your perspective on your career, your family, your goals, your life? How is the view? Are you satisfied? Malcontent? Lost?

Probably just as important of a question is how are you arriving at your perspective? Where are you standing to get your view? Do you have a guide? A map? Or are you going at it alone?

How often to you pause to check in with yourself on your perspectives? Is your perspective working for you? Does your perspective bring you joy or unhappiness and fear?

Do you need to challenge or change your current perspective? If yes, then I highly recommend getting outside and into nature as one of the easiest and surest ways to gain a new point of view. Nature, in all of its glory reminds us of the vastness and the infinite smallness of the reality in which we live. Nature has the ability to wake us up and "still" us at the same time. So get outside! Pause and BE in the moment! Pay attention to the sensation of the sun on your skin, the rustle of the breezes, the dapple of sunlight on water (even if its just a puddle) and the horizon with all of its infinite potential. YOU are a part of all of this glory!

By Mirza Ragib

Just ten minutes,

Can the world stay silent for ten minutes?

So that I can gather my thoughts,

My feelings,

And myself,

In all this noise.

Okay, just five,

Just five minutes of bliss,

So that when I close my eyes I hear nothing,

And lose myself in this quiet-

One with universe as I was meant to be.

How about just one minute,

Just one minute for me to be alone with who I want to be,

And not have to listen to opinions that mean nothing,

Of people who feel nothing,

And love myself for everything I am,

And not everything I supposedly ought to be.

Okay, a second,

Just one second?

Just give me a tiny tick where I don't have to look at a watch

And worry about the passing time.

But, rather stay transfixed in the beauty of its stillness,

And in the vastness of it's entirety.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Dear Ones!
This week is another wonderful guest blog from Dr. Jeralyn Brossfield. I hope you enjoy her wisdom as much as I do!
Often we use the word “balance” to describe the illusive horizon of a happy, healthy life. When our priorities are out of order, or we are feeling drained of energy, we think, “I need more balance,” or “My life is out of balance.” I propose that balance may not be what we are truly seeking. The word balance implies a static achievement of a perfect ratio of all the demands we juggle. The problem is, that as soon as we achieve balance, life throws another curve ball, and we are wobbling trying to again find balance.

In the body we talk about achieving homeostasis, or a state of balance. Many systems drive towards maintaining a very specific balance to support health. The concept of homeostasis implies remaining stable by staying the same. But in attaining not only health, but also peace of mind and management of stress there is another method our body employs to succeed.

The word “allostasis” means “stability through change.” Allostasis is a dynamic response where stability is maintained through constant adaptation. An easy analogy is the difference between a palm tree and a willow tree. When winds are strong a palm tree is more likely to be toppled, but a willow will bend and flow with the windstorm. Adaptation and resilience align closely with integrative wellness…in fact I often define wellness as the state of having the most responses available to adapt to challenges. By consistently prioritizing and expanding the resources we need to build health, we become more adaptable. Or, put another way, if we have many tools in our toolbox of how to respond to stressors, we are able to adjust and accommodate faster and more easily.

Where-ever we are at is exactly where we are capable of being. In other words, our current reality is exactly what we have been able to create in our lives. If we were capable of anything else, we would be experiencing a different reality. The only way to experience a different outcome is to be, or to become, a different person. This work of adaptation is the constant challenge of human life. Personal growth takes a commitment to getting out of our comfort zone and placing new structures or patterns in place.

The structures we set up in our lives will determine our results. If we wish to become stronger for instance, we must set up challenges that cause us to build strength – that could look like hiring a trainer, making a commitment to an exercise buddy, or enrolling in a class…Or if we want to eat less grain in our diet, we may need to buy a grain-free cook-book and make dinner from it for a period of time while we learn a new habit. Setting up a structure that supports your goal is the critical step of making your commitments a reality. Pause and take stick of where you are right now. Then evaluate what you want in the next moment, day, week or year. What structure could you build to increase your adaptability?
Monday, May 16, 2022

Dear Ones!
Hold on and give me a minute of your time because I promise this is not about finding the right elixir to drink, new diet fad or perfect body wrap, This is the type of detox we could all use and it has nothing to do with your body but everything to do with your LIFE!

Ways to detox your life
1. Clean out your closet! Donate clothing you never or rarely wear.
2. Unsubscribe to all the services you pay for every month but no longer use.
3. Clean up that inbox! Unsubscribe to to as many emails as possible!
4. Clean out your fridge and your cupboards. Get rid of all expired products.
5. Clean up your computer/file cabinet. Get rid of old documents and files no longer needed.
6. Get rid of social media or at the very least unfollow anyone who has not created value for you in the past 30 days.
7. Organize your finances
8. Spend some time identifying the things in your life that are actually adding to it and what is detracting from either your happiness or your goals and make a plan to eliminate these from being a reoccurring part of your schedule.
Clutter in all forms is distracting! It can get in the way of us having the time or the energy to create what we really want.
What are the possibilities that a LIFE DETOX would create the space for?
Monday, May 9, 2022

Dear Ones!
Today I am sharing some words of clarity and wisdom for your contemplation from the writer Yung Pueblo.
"How we act is greatly impacted by the
subconscious patterns that control our
perception of reality
How we feel is deeply affected by our past emotional history -heavy emotions that do their best to recreate themselves in the present
What we see can only become objective and clear when we observe, accept, and let go of what was silently waiting deep within us
When we rise above the past and use our effort to respond to life intentionally, by having the perseverance to build wiser habits, we open the door wider to living in a new way"
May we all build wiser habits this week!
Peace & Blessings!
Monday, May 2, 2022

Dear Ones!
I had a recent phone call with a group of colleagues who regularly meet to support, challenge and grow with each other and the question was asked "What right now in your life is depleting you and what right now in your life is energizing you?" What a great question! We paused and reflected and then shared. Some of the responses regarding depletion were predictable; jobs, caretaking, paperwork, COVID, relationships. Then we pivoted to talk about how to build our energy reserves back up so that we could continue to work through these more draining activities or even find ways to take on new challenges. We spent awhile discussing extra sleep, baths, exercise, getting out into nature, spending time with friends, etc. For each person there were specific nuances that made if renewing for them as an individual. It really helped to bring into focus where my energy was going and how to refuel. I came away renewed and with a plan!

What is depleting for YOU right now? Identify it. Name it. Write it down.
Where does your energy come from? How can you re-energize? How can you make this a priority in your life? If your energy tank is full you can get through the more difficult tasks faster and easier! It can be hard to start but it will pay off! Focus on finding the time for what you need to fill yourself up. This is the secret to sustaining yourself through the challenging tasks and difficult times. It might seem selfish but it actually completely necessary and in the long term the only way to persevere.
Here, from the lovely and ever optimistic, Kate Bowler, is a blessing! May this blessing encourage you to reach for what you need!
A Blessing To Take What you Need
The feeder is empty again
and no one is claiming that the birds are greedy
for taking what they pleased.
Look at how the fat, pink flowers
are weighing the end of each branch,
sucking nutrients into each velvet petal.
How selfish.
Nature hungers, takes and needs.
God, why can’t I?
Blessed are we, learning to take what we need.
Sleeping past our alarms.
Reaching for another helping.
Staying a little longer when the evening is unwinding.
Blessed are we, ignoring the rising anxiety
that our needs are somehow silly
because we’ve survived this long
without the pleasures of this wanting.
God, let these needs be the good sign
of the greening of my life.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Greetings Dear Ones!
As promised we are going to explore meditation a little more... except that we're not! Although meditation is a fantastic way to let go of stress, tap into your inner self and be more present, meditation as a sit on the floor and close your eyes activity is not for everyone! Maybe it sounds so unappealing that you never tried or maybe you have tried and it has not felt very successful or doable for you. Are there other ways to reap many of the mental, emotional and physical benefits of meditation without the actual seated OM? The good news is YES! Honestly, almost any activity that requires a total focus or oneness of your mind can be a type of meditation. It all about filtering out the chatter and being still (on the inside) but also completely aware on a mental level. Sometimes it can be referred to as being "in the zone". However if you are only ever in the zone during stressful activities, the high adrenaline and cortisol levels will cause more damage to your body over time than the mental rewards.
Here are some alternative activities to slow down and clear the mind:
1. Walking. In walking meditation you pay attention to the physicality of your body and/or to the sensations around you. Pick a place to walk that is fairly flat and free of obstacles. There is not particular distant or goal in mind. The point is merely the activity itself. Start by anchoring your feet to the ground and noticing how you feel just standing present in the moment. Begin walking slowly and swinging the arms slightly in a relaxed fashion. What do you notice in your body? What do you notice in your surroundings? Here is a short video from Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh on Walking Meditation.
Thich Nhat Hanh - Walking Meditation
There is also the practice of walking a labyrinth. This is often consider a spiritual practice and can be found as part of many different faiths. Here is a link to a list of labyrinths all over the world.
World-Wide Labyrinth Locator - Welcome
There are other forms of physical movement that can also be used in a meditative or mindful manner including yoga, rowing, paddle boarding or even juggling! And don't forget about the famous "wax on, wax off" of Karate Kid fame. Find one that works for you!
2. Coloring/Drawing/Painting or any creative outlet done without self critique or judgement. It must be done for the sake of doing and not in order to create a specific item or with any particular goal in mind. The point is to focus on the colors, the patterns, the movements. Let your mind rest! The practice of coloring mandalas is often used for this.
3. Rhythmic music or movements. This is a favorite of mine! Sacred dances such as hula, ecstatic dance or other types. Again the point being to focus on the music, rhythm and the feeling of your own body moving.
Ecstatic DANCE! | 10 Minute Daily Routines
If dancing is just not your style try drumming!
4. Journaling or Morning Pages. Morning Pages is a method made popular by Julia Cameron in her book "The Artist's Way". Morning Pages is the practice of simply writing 3 pages every morning as soon as you get up. The writing is to be free flow of whatever comes to your mind without trying to filter or even have it be about a particular thing. It can be about anything and everything, the birds singing, your neck pain, crazy dreams or all of it. It does not need to makes any particular sense. It is the practice of writing that is the meditation. I write for 20-30 minutes instead of a set number of pages to avoid getting focused on if I have enough time or how large or small the pages of the particular notebook I am using at the time might be. I just set my timer and write! When it rings I am done!
5. Float Tank If you ever have the chance to try one of these out absolutely go for it! These are basically a dark chamber filled with warm salt water in which you float effortlessly for 30-60 minutes. This is a distinct sensory deprivation experience that can be profound for many.
6. Breathwork. Another favorite of mine! Probably because it give me something specific to do which always makes quieting my mind easier. There are actually many different methods of breathwork, each with different emphasis and a wide range of benefits. I really like the ease of Transformational breath. Here is an introduction video.
Nice, easy (maybe your first!) 100-breath Transformational Breath session with Nicole Rager
And there we have it! I hope that there is something on this list that can help you find a meditative space and sense of mindfulness in your day!

Monday, April 18, 2022
Meditation, meditation, meditation! I know you’ve heard this word at least a dozen times in the past five years. Maybe you have dismissed it as woo hoo. Maybe it sounds like a good idea for those other people who have problems. Or maybe you’re interested but just can’t see where you could find the time when you’re already struggling to find time for exercise, and some days, even a shower! Perhaps you’re one of those people who really, truly wants to meditate and has tried repeatedly but just finds that the technique does not really work for them. The good news is that today I have a little tidbit for you no matter which of these categories you fall into.
  1. It turns out that meditation and the mindfulness state that it is designed to create is definitely not woo hoo! At this point, there are plenty of scientific studies that detail the changes meditation causes in our brains. Aside from measurable changes in gray matter, it is also possible to measure the decrease in Beta waves. Beta waves are especially active when we are processing lots of information. During meditation, the processing activities of the reticular formation are decreased which helps to dial back our alert/arousal system. Scientists have also measured changes in brain wave activity in the prefrontal cortex, parietal lobe and thalamus. And similar to exercise the changes last for a period of time after the activity is completed.
  2. Even if you are a person who somehow does not struggle from overwhelm, stress, depression or anxiety a meditation practice can be very helpful. Meditation can give us better focus, increase activity levels and improve empathy. It can improve memory and productivity as well. Much like exercise, it seems to diminish age-related effects on our brain and slow down cognitive decline.
  3. Meditation can actually take a lot less time than you think especially as you get better at it. I would encourage you to start small if you are feeling intimidated or pressed for time. The hardest part of beginning a new practice is simply making it a habit. By starting with something very small even as few as 2 to 5 minutes a day we start to create a habit. Just reserving that time whether or not you felt that the meditation was “successful” or not, starts to build the daily habit. And you do not need to be sitting cross-legged on the floor staring at a lava lamp. I find that my car is a great place to meditate for 5 min prior to or at the end of my workday. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Set a timer, close your eyes, and just focus on the sensation of your breath. All kinds of thoughts may come into your mind. It’s OK to notice them. Then simply return your focus to the sensation of your breath. I find when my monkey brain is on overdrive that I do much better with a guided meditation. Personally, I love the short guided meditation options on the app Buddhify. I am also a huge fan of the app Headspace as well as the app Unplug.
  4. So you have tried meditation numerous times in various settings and none of it seems to work for you? How about some alternatives to achieving mindfulness and zen? There is actually any number of other activities that can get you there….. let's explore those next week!
In the meantime........
One-Moment Meditation: "How to Meditate in a Moment"
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