Nature and Intelligence

chipmunkNature and intelligence. How smart we humans think we are compared to other animals. With our technology, houses, cars, and adornments. And yet we are ignorant with intelligence compared to even the smallest animals. Take this chipmunk. His/her keen intellect warns of a coming storm, bad weather, danger, and safety. This little animal does not need a weather alert system to warn of a tornado, severe rain, or dangerous threat. It simply knows. I did an experiment with this chipmunk. My walking on a path caused it to retreat in a tree. I stood on the path and talked to it  using my regular voice. The chipmunk came out and I kept talking and I saw a man was watching than called out his young son. The dad and son looked on as I talked to the chipmunk. When I said to it, “I’m not going to harm you”…this little chipmunk moved closer, then stopped, then moved closer and was close that I could have pet it. Yes. I am no threat. We humans can learn a lot from even the smallest animal. We humans are a speck in this vast universe and not of highest intelligence. This chipmunk taught me Awareness of possibilities. A re-check of ego. And a lesson to this dad and son who couldn’t believe what they saw.

The next time we think we know so much, consider a chipmunk and nature knows more then us humans.

What do you think?  Share your thoughts below.

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We meet people from all walks of life, with different education, backgrounds, and careers. Recently, Dr. Deb met with a person who is recently divorced after 50 years of marriage. Throughout the years he relied on alcohol to suppress stress. His question, “Why did it take me so long (to decide to make the change)?”
Awareness can be linked to questioning and understanding. Awareness can also be linked to judgement and shame. After reading his question, how many reading this post when to “questioning and understanding?” How many reading this post went to “judgement and shame?”
This man’s question was both. Dr. Deb’s help to him was seeing the value in both and acknowledging the decision. As Dr. Deb said, “Better today then never.” Thumbs-up to this man. He decided and is taking action.
What are your thoughts? Share them…

Mindfulness, Myths, and More!

I will admit that seeing the title of Mindful Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Barry Boyce, recent email blast: 5 things people get wrong about mindfulness, an immediate thought came to mind, “Yeah, I can think of more than 5.”

Noticing my immediate thought, I made the decision to take a mindful pause from my day and read the article. No expectations; just to see what he says.  See, I have a trigger about mindfulness which is: mindfulness in recent years has become so popular, that it’s also become very distorted.  This distortion increased confusion and does harm to the good that mindfulness practice provides. Also, the distortion and perpetuated myths trigger me.

Mindfulness has become perceived as this “practice” this “thing” that we “do,” and schedule time to “do,” where we sit cross-legged on some fluffy cushion in silence for hours, even a full day, and then go brag about it to the rest of the world.  The sitting on the cushion practice especially irritates me.  As a mindfulness and stress consultant, I practice and teach with the value of inclusion; Mindfulness is for everyone and not dependent on form such as sitting on a cushion cross-legged.  And frankly, images of mindful practice sitting on a cushion excludes people with physical disabilities such as neuropathy from diabetes to paralysis, Parkinson’s, and other physical limitations.  Heck, after the birth of my kids, sitting for too long, my hips start barking and I gladly reach for a high-density foam roller. And yet, I “practice” mindfulness every day. Wherever I am.  In any moment. Cushion-free.  🙂

I was a subscriber to Mindful.  But then with each issue, came again an image of a person sitting on a cushion; Which is an image often associated with practicing meditation.  Well, until I saw Vinny Ferraro, from Mindful Schools. I was thrilled to see Vinny’s head-shot on the cover of Mindful.  No cushion.  Just Vinny.  Just being. Taking classes with Mindful Schools and interacting with their educators and fellow mindful peers, I gave Mindful magazine a second chance.  After all, don’t we all deserve a second chance? Yeah. I believe so.

And in the moment of seeing Barry’s email, all of these thoughts that you’ve just read came flooding into my awareness.

So, I took a mindful pause and purposefully read.  And you know what? He’s spot on. Barry brings to our awareness common myths and misconceptions about mindfulness. He details each myth, calls out why it’s a myth, and then adds his (or Mindful Magazine’s) version of truth and reality. My only recommendation is to be mindful when using the terms “meditation” and “mindfulness” with the phrase “mindful meditation.” Clear and concise writing is essential when addressing myths to illustrate the intent because it’s not clear if he intends to use mediation and mindfulness as interchangeable terms. It looks that way, but I am not sure.  Perhaps Barry will address this in his next post.

I applaud Barry and Mindful for their public efforts to bring clarity to a mucky situation. With great wisdom comes great responsibility.  Sometimes that responsibility includes setting things straight.  Bravo! And yeah, I look forward to tomorrow and Myth 3.

Survivor 2 Warrior: Part 3


Happy 4th of July, Everyone!

I know today is tough for a lot of people and as the day goes on it’ll get tougher. I’m living proof that yes, you can get your life back, start feeling normal and amazing. Relationships can get better, stronger, and the journey can be without being controlled by the triggers, hooks, pain, frustration, and anger (see attached info-graphic below).

Keep your questions and comments coming – I’m totally jazzed at the excitement and outreach of people connecting; completely honored and blessed to serve everyone – post your comments and questions at the end of this video, blog, twitter feed and again, I’ll be answering all questions in the next email and video and sharing with everyone – thanks a bunch!

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Mindful Change

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Change.  Change is constant yet people resist change.  There are many reasons why people resist change; everything from it’s too different from what is ‘normal’ to being forced to change.

Though this is true reality, so are the advantages to change.  I find that many people already know benefits of change.  Heck, I’ve feel the same way myself and can write a laundry list of benefits.  What I’ve found is that in the sea of reasons and benefits, people seek questions to help them with the process of first, deciding on to make the plunge (or not), and second, people are looking for help with knowing what to ask themselves.

I’ve listed a few questions to help with these needs.  These questions are mindful questions; they address surface problems and uncover root causes.  Read them over.  Sit with them for a while.  Write down the first 10 answers that come to mind.  Review the responses later that day, a day later, and then 1 week later; make changes and adjustments to your responses.  After a week has passed ask yourself and answer the question: What do I want to do? Then you’ll have an answer.  For now.  For this moment in time.

  • Mindful Questions to the Advantages to Change
  • What are the advantages? To me, personally?
  • What are the results? What will they be? How would I describe/communicate them to others?  **If the details are unclear, revise to the point where they are clear and you could explain to someone else.
  • How do the advantages fit with my values and beliefs, the stuff I know to be “true” from experience and with my needs?
  • How will this work for me? What is my overall sense or “test” to know that it’s working?

How did this work for you?  Share with me your comments and questions!

Corporate Policies Gone Bad

Corporate policies. Every company has them, every leadership team develops them.  Once developed, employees are spoon-fed and even become cheerleaders of their company’s policies.  Employees take pride in memorizing and knowing by heart these policies! Corporate policies offer structure, a consistent way of doing things, ease of training during the on boarding process, and can even support strategic initiatives.  These all seem within reason and good business decisions, right?  Yes and no.  Yes, when they solve problems, provide guidance and structure, and are adaptable.  No, when corporate policies backfire quicker than Cher’s backhand to Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck providing a “snap out of it” wake-up call to both the customer, company  and the company.  Where might , you ask,  does this happen?  In the front lines…in customer service.

Have you ever called a company call center with a problem and were given the candid answer of, “I’m sorry, Miss, but our company policy is……” Yet, what the customer hears is, “I’m not going to solve your problem.”

I experienced two of these situations this week (hence, which prompted me to write this blog).  My first problem that I needed solving was with our home’s HVAC system.  In Minnesota, while it’s not snowing yet (yes, giggle if you will) we did experience a 40+ degree temperature drop.  The day I went to turn on the heat there was nothing.  Okay. Not a problem.  I pay for an extra service with our energy provider that allows us access to 24/7/365 emergency service.  When scheduling the customer service person suggested I check the batteries of the thermostat (that’s nice…thinking of possible solutions) and scheduled us for the earliest appointment on Sunday.  Again, I didn’t think it was a problem…we’d bundle up and get cozy and Sunday was only a few days away.  I did replace the batteries and still no change.

Then in typical Minnesota fashion, the temperature dropped even further.  Regardless if the body feels a drop from 100 to 60 degrees or 70 to 36 degrees, the first time during a season – it’s COLD!  Our house temperature was 65 degrees and tonight the temps are expected to drop even further.  Not a problem, (right?), as I thought I’d just call the utility company back and take advantage of our pre-paid emergency service.   WRONG!  When on the phone with customer service I explained that I’d like to receive same day service and was told, “We are not servicing same day heat or furnace related calls yet as it’s before our winter season service date.  The temperatures are not below freezing.” What?  Then I kindly (yes, I was kind and didn’t turn into Medusa) replied that I pay for this service and would like to get someone out today.  Again, I got the customer service representative proudly regurgitating company policy and she even said, “This is our company policy.” Did she provide me with a solution?  No.  Did she care?  No and that was clear from her tone.  Was she doing her job?  She was doing what she’s been told to do and say. What did I do?  I told her she wasn’t providing me with a solution and asked to speak to a manager.

The manager came on the line, confirmed my account, and then made the comment, “yeah, the recent drop feels really cold.  Would you mind holding for a moment and I’ll speak to a dispatcher to see if we can get out servicing you sooner.”  Wow!  This team lead lady made me feel like at least she heard and understood my problem and was doing something to help to solve it.  When she came back on the line I was told someone would come out today.  Which is great.  Problem solved.

As a business owner though, I cringe at this company policy.  It will deter current customers from renewing this extra option which means loss of customers which means loss of renewing revenue – OUTCH! I’d say to the company leaders: go back and review these corporate policies and create something that solves your customer’s problems (not to mention keeping those renewal revenues accumulating).

The second corporate policy fiasco this week was with scheduling tennis lessons.  While it might seem frivolous, those of you who’ve been reading my twitter feed know that I’ve recently taken tennis lessons which is all part of use-of-mindfulness-for-self; doing the things that you’ve “always” wanted to do is a common outcome of Mindful Living.  For me, one of those things is playing tennis and love it; it helps me reduce stress, I’ve gotten stronger, and it’s a nice way to connect with others.  At my gym, the fall tennis schedule came out and as a mom I’m juggling everyone’s schedules – thank goodness for my iPhone!

I contacted the tennis desk asking about the Saturday morning class.  The time is perfect and right after the kid’s swim classes which to me means let’s-get’it-done-efficiency.  The service person shared that the club wouldn’t start the class with only 1 person registering and the tennis manager would call to talk with me about the class.  Okay.  Cool.  NOT!  After  playing voice-mail tag and talking twice without a solution, then talking to 2 other instructors,  I was without a solution to the problem due to corporate policy.  Corporate policy dictates a minimum of 2 registered people to start a class.  Fine. My husband registered as the second person.  Oh, but wait…the company policies get better…each tennis pro manages their own schedules; one pro was not teaching on Saturday, another could teach but only 1 of the 4 classes, and the tennis manager offered me this, “well, I guess I could do some calling and see if we could get other people to join and then start a class…and I’ll have to find someone to teach….”  All of this back and forth volley was a waste of time.  One thing I don’t like to waste is time.

This company had a customer, not just 1 but 2 practically begging for tennis lessons saying, “PLEASE TAKE OUR MONEY – WE WANT TO BUY” and yet the club lost 2 sales because of corporate policies and because their people could not provide a solution to solve their customer’s problem.  Does the problem still exist?  Nope.  I came up with an alternative and “bought” from someone else.  Would I have preferred buy from my club?  You bet.  But given the situation, I got creative and solved my own problem.  Will I buy from them again?  I’m not sure.  As a business owner, again, I cringe at seeing these types of situations where employees hold to their heart corporate policies that do the exact opposite of what’s intended, that create more problems, provide dissatisfaction instead of a WOW customer experience, and bleed the company’s revenue sources.  Club leaders take note – this isn’t working….

In practical mindfulness, sticking to something that no longer serves its purpose, no longer works, and adds to problems…that’s called “mindlessness.”  Other terms and phrases to describe “mindlessness” are “lights are on but no one’s home,” “zombie,” and auto-pilot.  These corporate policy situations are examples of “mindlessness.”   When employees lack of awareness they become mesmerized (heck, hypnotized) by corporate policies that don’t work and contribute to the already stack of business problems organizations face every single day.  So, be mindful, be aware, people.  Reevaluate corporate policies, reflect, and answer questions such as:  what’s created to work and is it working, what’s being done because we’ve been told to, does it make sense (really?), does it solve our customer’s problems, and if not, then change it!  Create corporate policies where employees can be mindful and aware, that solve customer problems, and provide both financial (renewals) and non-financial (wowed customers) rewards to the organization.

 

 

 

Mindfulness, Parenting, and Rewards: What We Can Learn from Young George Washington

In today’s world, it seems like everyone gets a reward.  Kids get rewarded for just showing up.  Heck, attend any kid’s birthday party and even the guests receive a gift.  I’ve done this myself…those outrageous goodie bags – when did that start, anyhow?

Back to rewards. As parents, what do we reward?  Do we reward our kids being honest or for telling a lie?  When asking kids a question, and they tell us the truth, what’s our reaction and response? Do we yell and scold them for telling the truth or encourage kids to lie just so they don’t get into trouble?

When kids are scolded and criticized for telling the truth they are more than likely to tell a lie the next time.  Why?  Because if kids aren’t caught telling a lie, then there’s 50/50 chance of not being scolded and criticized. Not getting caught resulting in not getting scolded, criticized, and “in trouble” is worth the risk.

What are the parental messages to a child?  They are mixed.  Tell the truth and get punished. OR tell a lie and get away with it…that means no punishment.  However, tell a lie and get caught telling a lie, and then get punished.  These last two support a 50/50 chance of not getting punished.

When you were a child, which did you do? What did your parents reward? What did we learn from our parents?  If you were your kid, what would you do…tell  a lie or be honest? (now be  honest).

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Let’s look at this another way.  A mindful way.  Using practical mindfulness.  What can we learn about rewards and mindful parenting from President George Washington? Plenty!  What would happen if a parent was mindful about rewards….being in the present moment, as things unfold, aware of their reactions, responses, rewards…and yes, what they’re teaching their kids (and future generations too).  What if we were mindful about what to rewarded…and decided to reward a child for telling the truth?  This does not mean accept what was done or what’s being inquired as okay, but rather reward for telling the truth and be mindful of how we communicate and share with our child in that very moment.

Let’s learn from good ole’ George Washington who when asked by his father if he chopped down the cherry tree replied, “Father, I cannot tell a lie. I did cut it with my little hatchet.” Did George’s father yell or scorn at little George?  No, he did not.  Instead, (as legend says) George’s father opened his arms, hugged, and held George saying, “My son, that you should not be afraid to tell the truth is more to me than a thousand trees!” George Washington’s father was angry about his prized tree being chopped down but rewarded George for telling the truth. George told the truth and got rewarded.  George’s dad responded mindfully; he responded to what was important to him and also taught young George a lesson about courage, honesty, bravery, compassion, relationships, and love.

If we were in George’s dad’s shoes….what would we have done?  What have we done?  What do we and have we taught our children about rewards?  About honesty?

Communicating and sharing dissatisfaction of an event can be done using practical mindfulness with our word choices, awareness of tone and inflection, facial expressions, and body language. In as much, at the same time a parent can be mindful and be like George’s father and reward their child for telling the truth, being brave and having courage to tell the truth, and feeling safe to tell the truth.

So, the next time your child does something and you ask them, “Did you do this?” be mindful of what you are supporting to reward: honesty or a lie?  Do you open your arms and praise for honesty or scorn with criticism and punishment?

Be aware that these suggestions will be new for you and your kids to experience.  Give them a try.  See what happens.  Their reaction and response might be very telling, surprising, and open up an entire new way that the family can relate to rewards.

We welcome your comments – share with us your thoughts and if you’ve tried our practical mindfulness tips designed to use anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

Mindful Eating on Fat Tuesday

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It’s just about lunchtime and I’m wondering about how people are fairing on their fare this Fat Tuesday.  Traditionally, Fat Tuesday is the day of feasting before the fast.  Days before Fat Tuesday, food establishments such as restaurants and even grocery stores market to consumers with slogans of indulging in great feasts.  Usually these attempts slide off of me…that is until this year.  Yesterday while perusing my Facebook page, I saw a Fat Tuesday posting from my local Whole Foods; it was a photo of a once familiar Fat Tuesday indulgence…the paczki.

Paczki and Fat Tuesday have special meaning…a special place in my heart…a memory bringing up good feelings.  My father was Polish and every Fat Tuesday he and I would drive to Hamtramck, wait in the long line outside of the Polish Bakery on Joseph Campau, get our box of dozens of paczki with custard, prune, and raspberry fillings, and then eat several at his kitchen table drinking coffee.  We’d talk about which one was our favorite but mostly it was about spending time together…just talking.

Since living in the Twin Cities, I’ve never had a paczki.  I’ve never even seen them here so, to see the Whole Foods picture got me thinking about getting some.  Then the awareness moment occurred.  How was the potential of eating paczki inline with my mindful eating for wellness?  I’ve been eating mindfully for quite some time.  For me, mindful eating includes how I feel while eating, what I’m eating, and why am I eating…I have removed some foods because I don’t feel well after eating them.  I’ve also become aware of eating because of tradition as well as eating a particular food for a few days in a row and then step on the scale and Yowza!  I’m also getting back into running after an injury so, I’m very conscientious about what I eat.

Yet, those round filled delicacies still tugged at me. Buy me, Buy me, just BUY ME! I had an internal dialogue going on, “Deb, you haven’t had one of these in 17 years…come on…just have one!”  But I struggled.  Again, it was all about the why am I wanting to eat one of these?  Did I miss being part of the Fat Tuesday-Everyone-is-Doing-It craze?  No.  Then what was it?  Was it, eating because I’m bored?  No.  Did I want to on some covert level sabotage my fitness program?  No.  Honestly, blowing my eating is inhaling a bag of Finnish or Australian red licorice.  That’s the truth.  Even my kids know this! My awareness…which is being truthful, honest, and accepting in the present moment was all about missing my dad.  True.  So, I decided to buy 2 paczki; one filled with custard, and a second filled with raspberry.  I still wanted to be mindful of my mindful eating and wellness progress, so I cut each into quarters and told myself that if while eating if I didn’t feel well, I’d stop eating and eat no more.

Mindful eating has many components; one is being aware of food immediately after it’s in your mouth.  This paczki had a familiar smell but the texture was off.  As I chewed, the flavors were the same and yes, a flood of memories came to mind.  All happy.  As I ate my second quarter, my stomach started feeling funny.  Whenever I eat something that disagrees with me, my stomach feels strange.  I cannot describe but I recognize the sensation.  So, I stopped eating.  I didn’t finish that last piece.  Another component of mindful eating is being aware of satisfaction; this is the moment of “I’ve had just enough or enough.” It’s the “our amount” that says, I’ve eaten to the point of being satisfied.  Going over this point, people feel “full” or “busting at the seams” when eating. Taking it even further is the awareness moment when a person realizes, “Oh my gosh!  I ate the entire box/bag/thing!” Even further, people can feel physically ill and even have critical thoughts.

It’s been over an hour since I’ve had my pieces of packi and my stomach still feels funny.  I’ve drunk a lot of warm water and in another hour will have lunch.  So, what did I learn from today’s Fat Tuesday mindful eating of a paczki? I learned that tradition, memories, and love have a lot to do with what we eat, why we eat, and how we eat.  It’s the awareness – the authentic awareness of the answers of the what, why and how to ourselves that will keep us on our path of mindful eating and living, or create a detour.  I experienced both.  And what I want to point out is that a detour is temporary.  I know this time next year when seeing paczki, I’ll still think of my dad and those fond memories of Fat Tuesday, but this time I’ll skip eating a paczki as mindful eating is now a way of life.  I’m still exploring what that means but for now, I know it means “no paczki.”  Instead, I’ll stick with what I know makes me feel good – both physically and mentally.

So, on this Fat Tuesday while folks indulge in the feast – give mindful eating a try.  Pay attention and be aware of your what, why, and how.  Authentically answer these questions to yourself.  See what happens.  And remember, you can still enjoy and participate – mindfully!

What do you think about this?  Does mindfully eating make a difference for you – if so, how?  As always, I welcome your comments!

Mindful Eating – You are what you eat

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We know a lot about what to eat (fresh fruits and vegetables) and what not to eat (yeah, the whole bag of potato chips).  But what about the how, what, and why of eating mindfully?

Combining the how we eat, what we eat, why we eat with mindfulness means that we eat with awareness.  It’s not that people don’t already know that eating potato chips or fast and processed foods are not the best sources of nutrition.  People already know these food sources are not good for them.

So, why do we eat this stuff?  Why are we still grabbing the fast, quick, to-go foods?

This is where mindful eating brings “awareness” to what we are eating, why we are eating, and how we can develop a new relationship with food.

For example, when grabbing a handful of candy at the office ask yourself the question “Is this really what I want to eat? Why am I eating this…for a sugar rush because I’m tired?”  People might just find themselves understanding their real reasons and triggers for eating something.  For some, this awareness can be a big “ah ha” moment to make changes with eating habits.

Another example, when eating any meal, become aware of the foods on your plate, how fast you eat, and how the food tastes.  Often, people are in such a rush, eating a pile of food on the plate in record time becomes an automatic way of eating.  Instead, try sitting down at a meal and make the experience different by eating new foods, slowly enjoying a meal and savoring the flavors, or changing the dining environment.  While doing these new things become aware of the changes. You may experience feeling full earlier, notice the food tastes better, decide you no longer like a particular food, or the new surroundings may put you in a better mood.

By becoming aware and practicing mindful eating, people will begin to notice subtle changes emotionally, physically, and energetically; your mood, your body, and overall sense of self.  To further the practice of mindful eating, try keeping notes of your experiences in a journal or electronic tablet.  Review and use your notes of foods that make you feel better as part of foods to include on shopping trips.

Mindful eating is about taking time to enjoy eating, to be aware of what we eat, how we eat, and why we eat that ultimately cares for us in the best way emotionally, physically and energetically.

Please share additional tips in the Comments section or on our twitter feed.