I just came back from vacation. Even though I went south to sun, surf, warm weather (I’m sure you heard about our weather in the northeast this winter) and wore cute sundresses and sandals, the highlight of my vacation was taking a break from technology.
But, I didn’t go cold turkey. It was more of a voluntary withdrawal. Even though I had a cell phone to keep up with emails and my Mac in a new carrying case, by the second day I was forgetting to plug my phone into the charger and the only website I linked to all week was Weather.com. Away went Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. My email inbox? By the end of the week it was piled high with e-newsletters and a slew of people selling products or programs or telling me how they can better promote my website. What about texting? I figured if it was important, they’d call.
A break from cyberland is great. I recommend it. It allows you to be present in the moment and not tied to what’s going on somewhere else. Part of my Seeds for Success is to be positive and being present is a subset. So you don’t miss out on what’s going on right before you or ignoring the people you are with in the moment.
I’ll have to admit that I do get aggravated when I’m in a meeting and it’s interrupted to answer a text. Or worse yet, when out to dinner someone takes a call at the table. This disrupts the art of being present and the flow of our time together. It also makes the person who is sitting there feel a bit uncomfortable.
Next time I’m on vacation, I’m going to leave the computer at home. My phone? Okay, so I won’t totally disengage from the world but if I don’t charge it, what good is it? Better yet, how about periodic staycations from technology too. Unplugging while at home has to be therapeutic. Maybe I could go cyberless one day a week. But now I get ahead of myself.
Try unplugging when on vacation. You might notice something you could have missed.
Do something good for your health. Have some girlfriend time!
I know all too well the benefits of women gathering and the positive energy that flows from our girlfriends. So I thought I’d pass along an email I received about how girlfriends are good for your health.
“I just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was
on the mind-body connection - the relationship between stress and disease.
The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things,
that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be
married to a woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could
do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.
At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.
Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that
help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences.
Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin
- a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general
feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form
relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and
talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives
are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf?
Yes. But their feelings? Rarely.
Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our
sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said
that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general
health as jogging or working out at a gym.
There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing
something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends,
we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged—not true.
In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal
relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as
So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself
on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your
health! We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo let’s toast to our
friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it’s very good for our health.”
If you have 10 minutes, you can start blooming!
Another Bloom Party yesterday and someone asked, “I have things I want to do with my life, but how can I find the time?” My answer, “If you can find 10 minutes a day, you can start blooming!” Here’s an old article newly revamped about the 10 Minute Challenge…
Ever wanted to write a book, learn to knit or organize your photos? What about your talent for sewing going to waste even though style ideas keep dancing in your head? Why can’t you get to a project, passion or something you’ve been meaning to do for months? Stop procrastinating. Now’s the time!!
But where to find the time?
When kids have to be chauffeured here and there, your mom needs help recovering from an illness and your job soaks up every ounce of energy, time is precious. But finding time is easier than you think. Just set aside 10 minutes every day and you’ll be on your way to learning the piano, journaling or reading novels for your book club. Chip away at whatever it is you want to do. The secret is to do a little at a time. Be patient and over time you’ll reach your goal.
Can’t find 10 minutes?
Sure you can. We’re all dealing with the same 24 hours in a day. Think of someone who has a lot on their plate. Maybe it’s your sister, boss or a world leader you admire. These people seem to get things accomplished and you can too. Here’s how:
- Call in Your Support System – Enlist your significant other, kids, friends and family to help in some way to ease your tasks, chores and to do list. Maybe your son can walk the dog in the morning to afford you those 10 precious minutes. Or switch part of your workout routine to the afternoon - such as tummy crunches or running on the treadmill - and carve out 10 minutes there.
- Find Your Optimal Time – When are you freshest and energized? For most people, it’s the morning. But you might be a night owl. Whenever you can be most productive, that’s when to use your 10 minutes.
- Commit and Don’t Cheat – This is an investment in you. Dedicate yourself to a schedule and don’t skip YOUR time.
- Time It – If your project starts sucking your energy and time you won’t want to come back to it. Set a timer and at the end of 10 minutes, STOP. If you feel 10 minutes are not enough and you can squeeze out 5 or 10 extra minutes…great. If not, don’t stress. Just keep your time manageable and set limits.
- Now is the Time because “Someday I’ll May Never Come – Do you know someone who always wanted to do something but never got the chance? Maybe your mom had dreams she never fulfilled or a friend became ill before she had the chance to do the things she could when she was healthy. Don’t let this happen to you! Find those 10 minutes so you don’t have to say, “If only I had…”, “Why didn’t I?”, or “I wish I could turn back the clock and ….”
Organize: Got a goal but no time? Log in 10 manageable minutes a day and little by little you’ll get closer to your goal.
NOTE: This article originally appeared on www.BloomOnLine.com and has been re-edited and published.
First step: Organize your time and all that you want to do.
Update from a recent Bloom Party. After creating a colorful poster filled with visions and goals for her life and career this year, one “bloomer” confessed that she’s easily distracted by all she wants to accomplish and is going to focus on the art of focusing.
After reading her follow-up email to me (see below), it seems that she is starting to tackle her goal of “focusing.” Her Bloom Plan helped her gain clarity on her direction and put order to the constant swirl of ideas and things to do. Now she is focusing on what she needs to focus on …which, of course, is focusing.
Bravo to this bloomer’s tenacity, organization and time management skills and courage to bloom! Here’s her email to me:
“I wanted to tell you about my new time management scheme that’s been working well for me since I made my Bloom Plan and realized that honing my “focusing” skills is what I have to work on to accomplish my projects and personal agenda.
I made 5 columns on a piece of paper and across the top of it I wrote the 5 categories of stuff that demand my time, listed in order of priority. The first column is labeled “Me” and it includes yoga, housework, paperwork, etc. The next column is labeled “Exam” as I am in the process of taking a series of exams for a professional license. The third column is “Business” which is my design work and the forth column is “Studio,” the work coop I’ve formed with design professionals like myself. The last column ~ and I’m trying to make it least! ~ is labeled “Volunteer” and is my work with a non-profit organization I am very passionate about.
Under the appropriate column, I further prioritized stuff from my to-do lists. Now I’m scheduling my days in the same order! I start the day with yoga and studying and end it with my non-profit work. I’m also trying to go to bed earlier, too, so I can get up early enough to have productive mornings. And my priorities are reinforced every time I walk by my Bloom Plan that I made which is posted on my wall.
So far so good and I’ll keep you posted on my progress!
Turn a regular day into one bursting with inspiration, ideas, goals, visions and dreams!
Last Sunday, a group of wonderful women gathered at my home for tea. The invitation read, “Let’s plant your seeds for success and make a Bloom Plan for the New Year and beyond!” And that’s just what we did.
I was ready for creative juices to flow! With markers, scissors, hole punchers, scrapbooking paper, glue sticks, crayons and more, we started to create our visions for 2011. In no time at all, posters were filled with exciting ideas and visions. Some were bursting with healthy lifestyle choices, business ideas and personal projects, while others had question marks about which path to follow and what direction to take.
All good stuff. The first step is to get your ideas in visual or written form and then you can work on shaping or molding them so they can grow. When what’s up in your head is down on paper, you may realize that your idea is really fabulous or even find out that it won’t work after all. Does it need to be more flexible, is it realistic, does it need to go back to the drawing board or be completely tossed?
It’s about taking the initial step and courage to get your vision out into the world to find out if you can make it happen. Is it a pipe dream? Or can you start moving forward to see where you can go with it?
One more thing. While we were cutting, pasting, laughing and dreaming, worries began to surface. “What will everyone think?” ” What if I’m not smart enough?” “How can I make this dream grow?” “Do I really have what it takes to make changes in my life.”
Ahhhh yes. Our weeds. Those self-sabotagers and even excuses which suffocates our growth. So, I asked everyone to take a moment to tune into their internal dialogue and voluntarily post their negative self talk on a board. One by one, volunteers came up to list their inner fears. Soon the “weed” board was filled. “That’s what we really want to work on. Not many people are void of ideas. It’s our weeds that get in the way … and when we let them take over, our goals, visions and dreams are often put on hold, changed to someone else’s vision or completely abandoned. ”
So, how do you grow your Bloom Plan this year? Start by recording your plan on paper and then work on weeding fears, sabotagers and worries. Continually plant the five Seeds for Success into your daily life and always fertilize by getting the support and resources to help you keep going.
I wish you all a blooming 2011!!
I would love to meet you and your friends and get everyone blooming! Contact me if you would like to host a Bloom Party.
2011 is right around the corner. And I want to be ready with a plan for the new year.
With so many ideas swirling in my head, I grabbed a large sheet of poster paper and marker. Many people make flow charts, vision boards, graphs and charts, but I have found that a visual “garden” of ideas works well to organize my thoughts and plan ahead.
I started out with a “bloom” statement. Ironic that mine is a bloom plan about Bloom, but any overall goal, project or dream will do. Say you want to transition to a new career next year, eat healthier or put your financial life in order. You can make a bloom statement with your particular objectives in mind and post it in the center of a large flower. The petals can be subset goals within the overall plan. For me, revamping my website is a subset “petal” of my bloom statement to inspire people to live an inspired, balanced and healthier (and more natural) life/lifestyle.
What about all of my other ideas….and more dreams? They became my “sprouts” at the bottom and I can have an endless creative supply listed so I don’t forget about them. How can I keep blooming when faced with challenges, low energy or lack of time? My Seeds for Success listed on an upper corner reminds me to be positive, love what I do, organize, own my life and keep moving forward. How am I going to make this plan grow, happen, materialize? With “fertilizer” to sprinkle in from time to time which I list in the upper right corner. What about things I really need to help my plan grow further, such as a new computer or helping hands? I list these items under my ”gardening tools” wish list. And we can’t forget about the never-ending To Do list. This I call “sun and water” because these are essential things any plant or plan (hey, just drop the “t”) needs on a daily basis. Here’s where you can go crazy with a laundry list of things to do to get started with your bloom plan, changing it as you tick things off the list and add on new things.
Most people start out with their list of things To Do and get lost and overwhelmed before they even get started. That’s the mistake. Marching orders are really the ending point after the main mission or vision statement is in place. It all starts with a vision and then execution falls into place.
If you don’t have a vision, nothing happens. ~ Christopher Reeve
There! A great visual with my whole plan on one sheet which I taped to my office wall. If your vision is already flushed out in your head, then you can get going with a Bloom Plan too. If it’s not, this exercise is a start to organize all your mind clutter.
And those of you who would really love get your Bloom Plan out of your head and onto paper but need a bit of help with gaining clarity, focus and formulating clear objectives and goals, I’ll be running a Bloom Plan workshop right after the New Year. Date and time to be announced…stay posted!
Over the years I’ve been cleaning up my act with what I eat and what I cook.
I even thought of writing a cookbook with a clean concept in mind, using “clean” in the title. Then, I discovered several websites already using my favorite cooking word and a wonderful cookbook, Clean Food by Terry Walters. Since Terry lives and cooks in my home state of Connecticut, I invited her as a guest on Bloom Talk and we dished out several delicious recipes from Clean Food and her new cookbook, Clean Start.
What does “clean” cooking, food and eating mean anyway? I think it means different things to different people as we try to learn more about our food, where it comes from, how to cook and prepare it and what’s healthy. For me, it’s about cooking with natural, fresh and unprocessed ingredients. I’ve been letting go of bleached flours opting for less processed grains such as spelt, teff and fava bean flours, and using more maple syrup and honey to sweeten things up instead of refined sugars. I also seek out grass fed meats, free range poultry and organic produce whenever I can because how our livestock eats and how we fertilize our crops is an important part of clean food.
So here’s my dilemma. How to bake and cook old traditional recipes with a “clean” spin? Take one of my favorites - pecan pie. The oohy-gooey yummy-ness comes from lots of sugars and syrups like molasses, brown sugar and corn syrup. I’m not a trained chef so I started to experiment with a step by step approach. Since unsulphured blackstrap molasses is the most natural variety found at many grocery stores, I didn’t go for change there. Even brown sugar comes organic (try Hain’s brand), so I decided to keep it in the recipe ~ for now. But corn syrup had to go and I felt butter should be reduced or altered a bit. Keeping my fingers crossed, I decided to substitute organic maple syrup for corn syrup and ghee - clarified butter rid of the mild solids and casein - in place of traditional butter. The filling tasted even better!
The crust was another hurdle as a butter and white flour Pate Brisee was my traditional crust although my grandma ~ the best pie baker in the world ~ used shortening. Then I remembered Terry’s nut crust when her Blueberry Tart was debuted on Bloom Talk in the summer. The crust is made from almond meal and coconut oil instead of butter or shortening and is pressed into a tart pan (rather than rolling out dough). Can almond and pecan go together? Why not? But, drats! I didn’t have enough almond meal in the pantry (or almonds to grind up) so I used half almond meal and half spelt flour. It worked! It made a great nutty crust that held together well with the slightest hint of coconut.
So my sinfully delicious pean pie was changed a bit this season into a pecan tart trying to use more natural and organic sweeteners and a shortening (ghee) that many claim to be healthier. It made a hit at several holiday gatherings and was the main event at my dessert buffet on Christmas day. Although it’s not totally cleaned up, hey it’s a start! I’ll keep experimenting and let you know if I can clean it up even more.
Now what am I going to do about my old scallop potatoe recipe my daughter requested for a holiday dinner? It’s loaded with buttter, cheese and gruyere cheese! Oh well, I guess eating clean is for most of the time but a once-a-year dish that I can’t figure out how to begin to clean up will just have to be that - a once-a-year dish.
Happy clean holiday cooking!
Last night’s raindrops are still on my pink fairy roses just picked a few minutes ago….in November. Global warming? Maybe. But whatever the reason, I know that my rose garden won’t be blooming for long and now is time to take notice. To stop and smell the roses.
A freshly picked bouquet might not seem unusual if I were in sunny Florida or somewhere on the warmer west coast. But for this time of year in Connecticut, being able to walk out my kitchen door and cut fresh flowers is something to behold. And to take a moment to enjoy. Even celebrate!
I strive to live a balanced life and sometimes that means stopping to smell and admire my roses even when my To Do list is a mile long. This morning I had planned to make a few phone calls, pump out some emails and edit a few podcasts. And that’s before seven hours of scheduled work!
But I just couldn’t walk by those roses yet another day without acknowledging their beauty and picking a few to bring indoors. So, I quickly re-prioritized my tasks in my head and made it a point to stop and savor nature.
That word “savor” has particular significance for me. It’s one of the 5 S’s that Dr. Dale Atkins and I talk about in our book Sanity Savers: Tips for Women to Live a Balanced Life and one that I try to incorporate in my own life. Being present, in the moment, not letting life passing me by. Infusing time to savor the smallest things I might have otherwise overlooked is an essential part of trying to live my life in balance.
Which brings me full circle to my Seeds for Success. The first seed you can plant each and every day to live a balanced and fulfilled life is to be positive. And you can’t be positive without being able to be in the present moment - to enjoy the little things in life.
Taking the time, if only for a few seconds, to smell flowers on miraculous sunny morning in November is part of that balanced lifestyle that I try to live every day and one I wish for you too!
Who says you can’t eat good-for-you foods on vacation?
Walking through Central Park NYC this past weekend on my way to Wollman Rink for some ice skating, I stumbled upon this organic food cart. Boy, was that grass-fed burger great and just the protein needed to spend the next a couple of hours dodging other skaters and working on my spins (only kidding).
Many places are sprouting up offering fresh, local and organic foods on the go. With just a quick tour on the web, anyone can find healthy, affordable joints in the town or city of your next get-away. Also, scout out restaurants that offer healthy and delicious cuisine for when you’re not on the fly and crave a nicer meal. I pulled up several menus before traveling and made reservations at cafes and bistros serving organic salads, free-range chicken and wild fish.
So, after a weekend of organic baby greens, wild salmon terrine and a few special requests - olive oil instead of butter and egg-white omelettes - I enjoyed a fun and healthy weekend.
Now if I can only get my triple toe loop perfected. Yup, kidding again!
It’s Thursday at 3:30pm. Usually at this time I’d be right in the middle of interviewing a guest on my radio show Bloom Talk or tossing a topic around about sprouting ideas, cultivating a healthy lifestyle or growing goals, ambitions, dreams! But, alas, the show is “on hold” due to changes with the web radio hosting network. And I miss it!
I miss doing all the prep work it takes to get up to speed on the subject matter and sift through all the wonderful people who I can talk to. From booking guests to introducing them to my audience, I miss the silence right before I go on the air and my adrenaline rush once I start the show.
I think I’m actually having withdrawals from the “high” I feel when I’m inspired by people’s stories and learning something new. But most of all, I miss connecting with my Bloom community and sending updates on who’s blooming, a new healthy & yum recipe and what’s coming up.
In the last week, I have talked with so many women about blooming and received your kind emails on how you’ve enjoyed the show and want it to continue. You loved listening to how-to’s like:
- Organize Your Life
- Women Talking Money
- From Idea to Author
…and you enjoyed my conversations with famous guests:
- Deborah Santana
- Supermodel Emme
- Lee Woodruff
Other shows you enjoyed are:
- Work with Passion
- Are Your Ready to be Cherished?
- Lessons from Pretty Smart Women
So, thanks for all your support as I’m working on my next steps. In the meantime, I want to hear from you and post stories in the Who’s Blooming section on www.bloomwithbarb.com. Send your ideas, your thoughts and stories about people who are blooming to me at email@example.com.
And remember to keep sprinkling your Seeds for Success: Be positive, Love what you do, Organize and Own your life and Make it happen!