Friday, April 26, 2013

Stress Awareness Month: Stress Relief Tips

April is National Stress Awareness month. Learn how to reduce stress for your mental and physical health in this excellent article reposted from Fitness and Wellness News.

It may sound simple. But, in practice, stress-reduction is challenging. Modernity assists with everything from automatically reloading your Starbucks card to phone apps that schedule your life and track your whereabouts with the touch of a button. You may be at the forefront of convenient living, but where is your state-of-mind?

High-tech living makes a science of multitasking. The result: high-impact on the mind. As we enter the heart of spring, make it your mission to counteract the madness. Although calendars fill up and people emerge from winter’s cocoon, it’s not a race to summer. (Okay, maybe if you’re trying to fit into last year’s summer wardrobe by June.) Slow down. Relieve stress with these time-proven solutions. Hint: You won’t find them on your iPad.

Get Moving

Social networking.

Along with boosting the body’s immunity against illness, studies suggest exercise can help make you resistant to stress. Research reveals a link between physical activity and one’s physiological reactivity to tensions. Consider your workout a stress-desensitizing mechanism.

By improving overall health, fitness minimizes opportunities for illness and all of its secondary effects. The general lack of wellness common in a sedentary lifestyle is an ideal breeding ground for germs and the angst they cause. Missed wages and opportunities both at work and socially can lead to stressful situations, often endured in isolation while recuperating. The simple, yet sometimes debilitating issue of pain, chronic or temporary, also produces stress for self and loved ones.
In the shorter term, a lively sweat session can beat the fire out of stressful emotions. Let loose on the Exercise Floor or in a Group Fitness class. The positively charged atmosphere is a great motivator for releasing frustrations, anger, or any overwhelming mental state. Allow your mind to focus on the tasks at hand (and foot). Distract yourself from daily troubles with mindful movements. The clarity gained during such times of distraction often reveals solutions to the current cause of stress. Leave it all on the floor and breathe more freely when finished.

Transport your mind to a peaceful place, if not your body.
There cannot be a discussion about exercise and stress-relief without mentioning the benefits of yoga. The breathing, meditation, creation of physical and mental balance, and awareness. It’s worked for centuries, poses probably mapped out in hieroglyphics on mountainous cliffs for the earliest yogis. Try it.

Enjoyed among the camaraderie of other members, teammates, or workout buddies, you have the added benefit of social support during your fitness frenzy. Throw in the release of feel-good endorphins and a decrease of stress hormones that occur during exercise. Forget stress-relief, you are on your way to a fitness high.

Keep It Simple

De-stressing doesn’t have to be complicated. Create a stress-relief plan that includes activities you find personally fulfilling. If an activity helps you relax and feel emotionally recharged, include it. For one person, this may mean going to a movie or getting a massage. Another, who is always on the run, could find respite in a hot bath and quiet time at home. What works one day, may exacerbate stress at a different time. This life is complex; we must evolve with it, daily.

If committing to formal meditation overwhelms you, simply sit among nature and relax. Spring is an ideal time for such indulgences, when we can easily become replenished by nature’s surrounding work. For those who suffer the stress of care-giving, research proves gardening to be a positive outlet with its therapeutic tasks. We reap that which we sow. Grow beauty in life’s darker places.

Other proven de-stressors include escaping in a page-turner, mind travel to far-flung locales (Internet assistance optional), listening to uplifting music (not sappy break-up songs), and enjoying a quiet cup of tea/coffee with a piece of dark chocolate. A further bow to chocolate: A study published in the Journal of Proteome Research found eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two consecutive weeks was linked to a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. Sweet relief!

Simple steps to reducing stress work because they create an upward spiral. Wear a smile, even if it’s a frown in disguise, and reflect happiness to you. Walk away from a stressful situation to help you feel in control. View the scene as a spectator and find a new perspective.  Or, see it as it is– a moment in time, one that will shift and fade with the ebb and flow of your days. Reducing stress in small ways helps avoid the helpless feeling of being overwhelmed. Give yourself a break, even if only a bunch of small ones.

Breathing Know-How

Instinctively, we all breathe. And, instinctively, our breathing reacts to our physical and emotional state. It speeds up during physical exertion — or when that rude driver cuts you off. It slows during sleep. It’s shallow when rushing through too many tasks in too little time.  Pay attention to this amazing life-line. You could learn something about yourself. Consider it a biological version of those silly mood rings. While at it, learn the type of breathing suggested for stress relief:
  1. Sit or stand comfortably (no special poses required).
  2. Inhale deeply through your nose. Take your time with this, about five seconds.
  3. Breathe out through your mouth in an eight-count.
  4. Repeat about five times. (A note to the cynic: One mindful breath does not do the job. Just ask a huffy-breathed teen.)
Watch your abdomen expand and contract with breaths. Keep shoulders from creeping toward ears. This posture allows a more cleansing breath and deeper relaxation.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Making a Difference One Woman at a Time

There's a growing concern regarding the chemicals being placed in our family’s lives.  It seems that we are fighting a war in every area from the food that we eat, to the air that we breathe, and the clothes that we wear in our ability to keep chemicals out of our lives. These chemicals aren't just a danger to us, they're a danger to the environment as a whole.

According to Commerce Energy, “up to 97% of the pollution in this country is caused by our polluting power sources.”  However, one person can make a big difference in helping cut down the environmental and familial dangers of chemicals just by making a few small changes.

The most simple of these changes are those that take place within our very own living spaces.

In our home, we can make a drastic change starting in the family room. Start by turning off lights and electronics when you're not using them and replacing light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Next, we can cut down on energy usage by replacing light switches with dimmer controls. 

Next stop is the kitchen. This room is loaded with appliances. Energy Star rated appliances cost a little more but you will save money in the long run.  Even better, most of the energy-saving appliances are tax deductible in the form of green energy tax credits. After switching to more efficient appliances, the next task is to use smaller appliances such as your microwave, slow cooker, or toaster instead of using the stove, which consumes a lot more energy. Turning off the high-temperature settings and allowing dishes to air dry in your dishwasher is another quick and easy way to cut energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint. 

Now to the bathroom. Water heaters are one of the most energy-consuming appliances we utilize on a daily basis. A great start is to begin budgeting for an energy efficient water heater but if that's not in the budget, insulating your water pipes is a good start. By insulating your pipes, it enables them to retain the heat within them thus reducing the workload required to heat water from room temperature. A low flow shower head is another budget friendly addition and it'll not only conserve water, but save you a few bucks on your utility bills. 

How about the laundry room?  Special racks in your basement allow you to hang dry your clothes to conserve energy use.  Another option is in the warmer months during spring and summer hang a line outside. This uses no energy from fossil fuels and it's incredibly efficient, not to mention cheap.

When our children are grown they'll look back on the decisions we made today in either a positive or negative light. Wouldn't it be nice to know that we made a difference and positively impacted their future. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to Launch a New Career at 40!

This inspiring article about two women who switched up their career aged 45 is reposted from LearnVest.

What’s your dream job?

Really, though: What would you do if you didn’t have that student loan debt, or that mortgage, or if you weren’t so attached to the sandwich place next to your office?

If you’re already doing it, congratulations. If not, you aren’t alone. Surveys over the past few years have spit out some less-than-encouraging stats—in fact, a 2010 survey found that 80% of workers are dissatisfied with their jobs.

Why do we stay, if we aren't doing what we love? There’s the steady paycheck and the logistics of switching jobs or careers—restructuring the budget, creating a new network of business contacts. Change is hard, and as we get older, it gets harder.

So most of us stay where we are. But some of us don’t—some of us realize we want something different, or something more, and set off to create an entirely new path. Below, meet three brave people who decided mid-career, in their 40s, that a new path was the one to take.

tMLQ signing humbnail 120x1301 How I Launched a Totally New Career After 40              Mary Lou Quinlan, New York, NY

On Mary Lou’s 45th birthday, she asked herself, “What do I love to do?” The answer was clear: She loved writing, public speaking, and working with women. She took five weeks off from being the CEO of a major New York advertising firm to figure out how she could turn over 20 years of experience in communication and advertising into a new career that incorporated all of her passions.

In 1999, Mary Lou found the answer and started Just Ask a Woman, a marketing and branding consultancy focused on female consumers. She spent the next decade and a half traveling the country, connecting with real women, and interpreting their needs for corporate clients. She also authored multiple books on the insights she gained along the way.

When Mary Lou left her job to become an entrepreneur, she was financially prepared. “[My husband and I] never lost the more conservative style we had as newlyweds, where our combined income had been less than $40,000,” she says. “We never adapted to the spending lifestyle that seemed part of New York City living.” She and her husband (who at the time worked for Time Warner, but has since retired and is currently pursuing a master’s degree at NYU), spent years saving a substantial nest egg that allowed each of them to forge their own paths without worrying too much about money.

And Mary Lou didn’t stop with one business—around this same time, she lost her mother to blood cancer. She discovered handwritten prayer notes her mother had left in boxes, praying for everyone from her family to people she met in passing. In tribute to her mother’s memory, Mary Lou published a book about her mother’s “God boxes,” and adapted it into a one-woman, one-act play that she now performs around the country. “Performing the play is the realization of a long-held dream and a way to connect with the woman who inspired me most,” she explains. She performs on stages across the country and donates all proceeds to women’s charities.

Where she was once an advertising CEO, Mary Lou is now a communications expert, consultant, actress, and writer who has authored four books and written for numerous national magazines. “I approach life as a student of a dream,” she explains. “I’ve never looked back with regret, and I relish my fresh start and the feeling of freedom that comes with it.”

 How I Launched a Totally New Career After 40                  Nancy Berk, Pittsburgh, PA

If you ask Nancy about her job, she’ll tell you she’s a “stand-up psychologist.” After a decade working full-time as as a clinical psychology professor at the university level, she’s spent the last eight years as a stand up comedian and humor writer. Her interest in medicine led her to her first career, but she had never considered that the humor she infused into her day-to-day life could be her second.

However, a career shift at 45 didn’t come without financial implications. Nancy took a pay cut; in fact, she says the financial risk was the most difficult part of the transition. “It was scary, knowing I was giving up a financially stable position to take a chance,” she remembers. Luckily, she and her husband, who is a physician, had been saving consistently and were able to soften the blow. Though the risk paid off, Nancy maintains that she is still “cautious in spending and religious about saving.”
She credits part of her ability to connect with her audience to her years examining and learning about the human mind. “It helps me blend psychology training and humor, which is a perfect combination for me,” she says. These days, she spends her days writing material from morning to night; her humor writing can be seen in The Huffington Post, USA Today, and other national publications. One of her books is featured in the film Admission.

For Nancy, “shifting gears,” as she puts it, has led her to an “emotionally, financially, and creatively profitable” career.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Achieving Balance for Today's Woman

As successful woman, one of the things we must master is the art of balance. Balancing a

career with family, social and personal interests. Balancing the many roles we play as

entrepreneur and business owner. And while balance might seem like a luxury for those with

less on their to do lists, it’s actually quite essential for any woman striving for a sense of

happiness and contentment in life.

Women are naturally multifaceted with many different aspects to our being. We are also

holistic and integrated, meaning that there is an intricate and necessary balance between these

different parts of ourselves. Ever meet a woman who is thriving in her career, but without a rich

family or social life to balance her out? She often appears harsh, strained or stressed. Or ever

meet a woman who’s creative impulses go unnoticed even while she is successful in her

career? She often seems angry, bitter and lacks a true sense of passion.
While women are natural multitaskers, there is definitely a difference between the balancing act of
juggling a zillion balls in the air and life flowing with balance and harmony.  There’s this classic
coaching tool called the Wheel of Balance and I frequently use it when talking to women about
achieving balance. It’s a great visual representation of this very abstract concept.

What the Wheel demonstrates is that balance is the interconnection of all the different aspects

of who we are. I invite you to take a moment and consider how balanced your wheel is.
Put a number from 0 - 10 in each category of how fulfilled you feel in that area of your life. Do you
have a nice, well rounded wheel? Or is it lopsided with all of your time and energy focused in one or

two areas? Do you have pieces of your wheel that feel blocked or stuck? Here are few tips to

get your happy and balanced wheel on the road!

Consider your Whole Wheel

It may seem challenging and overwhelming to consider, but each and every area of your wheel

needs your attention and focus. If we focus on just one or two areas of our lives, we often feel

like something is missing. When we neglect certain parts of ourselves, we feel unhappy and

unfulfilled. Neglecting health, affects relationships. Focusing too much on on work, creates a

deficit in hobbies and interests.

However, each area does not have to be attended to in the same way or at the same level. We

all go through different stages and phases in life when certain aspects of ourselves are

developing, evolving and maturing. It’s OK to allow a certain part of your life to take center stage

for a bit. Just don’t completely neglect the other parts in the process.

Embrace the Art of Allowing

Years ago in my early twenties, when I first started doing yoga, I thought my goal should be to

achieve a zen like, perfect state of peace and harmony each and every moment of the day. In

my efforts to approach every situation with calmness and serenity, I ended up completely

stressing myself out! One of the most important discoveries I made at that time, is that balance

is not a static point.

Let’s face it, life can be challenging, unpredictable, overwhelming and stressful at times. And if

we are trying to manage, control or fix things to maintain a sense of balance, than we are

missing the mark entirely. Sometimes balance has a natural course which demands that we let

go and allow for life to be imperfectly perfect. Maybe there’s some part of your wheel where

letting go will bring you more balance?

Expect Balance to Change

Several years later when my yoga practice was now a regular part of my life, I studied the

ancient art of Chinese Five Element Theory. It is a modality of energy and medicine that is over

5,000 years old and rich with metaphors and insights for our modern life. Five Element Theory

advocates that balance is created by the interrelatedness of the five elements. And that these

elements are perpetually in a state of motion they are never static or solid or still always

in motion.

Balance is achieved within the natural ebb and flow and harmony of these five elements. How

revolutionary that, at times, balance can actually look lopsided! In a moment, or for weeks and

months, your life might seem out of balance perhaps there’s a big project you’re working on or

your have a child going through a challenging time. These are not the times to determine that

your life is out of balance, but rather to flow with what’s in front of you. Balance is about

recognizing that everything is temporary and will ultimately change. Expecting change allows us

to relax and make any necessary adjustments throughout the process.

A balanced wheel will look different for each woman based on her unique personality, character

and life’s goals. Each of us have strengths and gifts in certain areas and other areas where

there are opportunities to develop. The process of finding balance is to recognize that all

aspects of our lives are interrelated and that interrelatedness is the very essence of balance


Named after the great archangel, Gabrielle Marie Loomis is a Messenger for our modern day world.  Through her work, she has helped hundreds of women connect with their own power to heal, love and shine brightly in the world.  With over fifteen years of training in energy psychology, manifestation techniques, metaphysics and holistic healing modalities, she has been described as a master coach, healer, medical intuitive, shaman, psychic, counselor and spiritual adviser.  But more than her training, it is her own personal experience of radical transformation that informs her work and allows her to awaken women to their feminine power and unique brilliance.  In addition to her private practice, which includes a variety of transformational programs, products and services, Gabrielle works on staff at an integrative wellness clinic and is a faculty member at the award winning college, The Southwest Institute of Healing Arts.  Her credentials include Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Certified Lifeline Practitioner and Certified Life Coach.  She has been a featured guest on various radio shows including Hay House and Seaview radio.  She lives in Phoenix, AZ where she enjoys the mountains, sunshine and all that the Southwest has to offer.  To learn more visit

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thank You For Taking My Time

Giving away my time has given me everything I have.  That’s not an exaggeration.  It started when I was 11, and my mother encouraged me to volunteer at the preschool I had attended.  That led to babysitting jobs. Then in high school, before I was old enough to work, I volunteered at an animal hospital.  It was just cleaning up cages, but it gave me enough experience to get my first job at a pet store, who said they wouldn’t have hired me without that involvement.  When I was in college, I volunteered for events at my local library, and then for the mobile crisis response team in my city.  Both of which were assets when I was applying to graduate school, and gave me experiences to reference when applying for jobs in my field after graduation.  I’m not trying to preach that volunteering is your asset in the job market (even though it is..)

What I’m getting at is that without those opportunities, I have no idea where I would be.  Yes, I gave up some Friday nights and some weekend mornings.  Yes, that was time I could be earning money, relaxing, entertaining myself or in one case, having my birthday party. But I also think about what they gave me:

Those organizations invested their trust in me.  They trusted me to try hard and do the right thing, and do things their way. 

They invested their time in training me, and in encouraging me out of my comfort zone and into new experiences.

Each time I volunteered, I met friends and mentors who were quick with encouragement, references, and sometimes job offers.

The people I met trusted me to entertain them, clean up after them, engage them in learning or help them through a tough situation.  And having people trust you gives you confidence that you are capable, strong, and have something to offer, even when you might be otherwise down and out.

I use what I learned from these people every day. It’s a privilege to have been in these people’s lives, even if for a short time.  I learned to appreciate what I have, and to believe I can do more.

Sure, you can go your whole life never giving it a try and have a happy, full, productive life.  But for me, I have no idea who I would be or where I would be without the privileges volunteering provided.  And I don’t want to know, either.

There are one million ways you can give your time to your community, and one billion ways the experience will repay you, enrich you, and inspire you.

Joyce Abbott Holds a BA in Anthropology and an MA in Library Science.  She has worked in for-profits, non-profits, and local government everywhere from customer service, to librarianship, to corporate records management.  She believes the point of life is to never stop growing and pushing yourself into something new.  You can connect with Joyce on!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to choose a career, while respecting your values

When we think about career, what usually comes to mind is defining our professional trajectory, related to the profession that we want to follow through life. However, career is not a term that is used only in the corporate environment, but also in personal life when we think about decisions and projects that can change our daily lives.

            When still young, we think most of the time to achieve our financial independence, and for this reason we start to work long hours with the desire to leverage money and success, thus leaving our health and personal life in the background. For this reason, there is little time for oneself, family, friends and leisure, and time (badly administered) gets increasingly scarce.

With the mind and body focused on work, it becomes difficult to think about activities and projects that give us pleasure. For this reason, it is necessary to stop from time to time to review our attitudes, and redefine new projects and activities that we can improve in.

Different from the professional career that takes into account our productivity and gain for the company, personal career concerns are with our achievements as a human being, including our way of being and living in the world, our dreams, purposes and beliefs of life.

            Living for work, giving up dreams, aspirations and personal goals, is to deny the right to know yourself, your skills, talents and abilities, leading the individual to abdicate their most intimate aspirations.

            Not developing within your  personal career may impede the acquisition of self-knowledge and discernment in our choices, whether current or future, because it is not possible choose which profession to follow, if you do not know where to go. Moreover, the lack of focus may end inhibiting our personal aspirations such as: interest in playing an instrument or doing a course.

            Carelessness with our own health and the things that give us pleasure, may lead the individual to discouragement and dissatisfaction with work, home, family and studies. It is important to have balance between personal life and professional life. If the mind is sick and tired, this will contribute a weary body.

            The construction of a life project that unites both personal and professional aspects of the individual is necessary in building your career as it will indicate objectives, goals, beliefs, values​​, qualities, skills, knowledge and experience, and point to the professional strong points and areas that  can improve.

            Our career can be affected by four factors:

Biological factor: relative to our health and fitness. Younger people, armed with energy and vitality, generally do not violate the limits of the body itself, nor set limits on working hours, and are predisposed to work uninterrupted without food or rest. Thus, these individuals who put the job in the foreground, eventually becoming vulnerable to occupational diseases and stress.

Intellectual factor: this refers to the baggage of knowledge we have, that allows us to develop our work with efficiency and competence. We should not rely solely on our work to develop our intellectual capacities, because unfortunately many companies charge their employees, without thinking about your physical and mental wellbeing. Thus, it is up to the employee to seek further training and development, regardless if your employer requests it.

Social and affective factor: This is often sacrificed in the name of our profession. Because we live in a busy world, full of changes, amid the need to excel in the labor market, we should value the work on our emotional health as well as our relations . In a situation like this, you need to stop, breathe and look inside you in an attempt to see what we put aside, and what can still be rescued.

Financial factor: is the factor that usually attracts most people to get a placement in the labor market. However, there are two types of recognition: the emotional and financial. The affective recognition is linked to our satisfaction in the activity that I exercise, for example: if my job is in line with my goals, beliefs and values, it gives me a sense of belonging, making a difference where I work. Financial recognition concerns a cash reward for my services, money to the livelihood of the house and payment of bills.

            Thus, we can see that all the factors that compose the construction and development of our career (biological, intellectual, social and emotional) are important, and no factor overrides the other, all are interdependent and essential for life at work and outside it.

Daniela Silva is married, Brazilian, and currently resides in Sao Paulo, where she works in her home office with research and projects in education and the third sector.  Graduated in Pedagogy, she has qualifications in: Pedagogy and school management business.  And an MBA in Managing People.