To Celebrate the 4th-Let’s Go Crazy

To celebrate the 4th we wanted to do something fun. Hope you enjoy this taste of crazy. Have a great holiday week and stay cool!

To Maintain A Healthy Level Of Insanity (from unknown online author):

1. Sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. Watch them slow down!

2.
On all your cheque stubs, write ‘ For Marijuana’

3.
Skip down the street rather than walk and see how many looks you get.

4. Order a diet water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.

5. Sing along at the Opera.

6. When the money comes out of the ATM, scream ‘I won! I won!’

7. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the car park, yelling ‘Run for your lives! They’re loose!’

8. Tell your children over dinner, ‘Due to the economy,
We are going to have to let one of you go.’


And the final way to keep a healthy level of insanity

9. PICK UP A BOX OF CONDOMS AT THE PHARMACY, GO TO THE COUNTER AND ASK WHERE THE FITTING ROOM IS.

Send this to someone to make them smile.

It’s called …. THERAPY

Today’s post is dedicated to Chris W who always finds a way to smile and helps others do so too. Thanks for sending this to me. Happy 4th.

A Good Kind of Stress

I just got back from a wonderful vacation to Disney World with my daughter and my dad. It was a great week, but I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation! This got me thinking about the stress we experience from good things – it’s called “eustress.”

Whether it’s a vacation, getting married or getting a promotion, even good experiences have stress attached to them. At Disney, we did a lot of walking and waiting in long lines in a high heat and humidity climate. We had to navigate crowds and deal with air travel. So while we all had a fabulous time, all 3 of us are now taking a couple of days to relax from the eustress we experienced.

Many people don’t realize the amount of stress that’s involved with positive events. And if they feel stressed-out, irritable or anxious, they think that there’s something wrong with them instead of acknowledging the eustress that accompanies good events. Thoughts like, “How can I be feeling so bad? I’m on vacation!” can increase anxiety and cause guilt. But when folks accept that yes, even positive situations are stressful, the anxiety and guilt will usually decrease or go away altogether.

When we chose the dates for our vacation, we purposely booked the flight home on a Friday so we would have the weekend to decompress from our eustress before going back to work on Monday. I have been relaxing, watching movies and playing around on the computer all weekend. Laundry and other chores need to be done, but they will still be there tomorrow when, hopefully, I will feel recovered from my vacation eustress.

What are some of the coping techniques that you have used to dissolve your eustress? We’d love to hear what works for you!

P.S. We will be announcing the winners from our May Self-Care Challenge on Thursday! Stay tuned!

We Can’t Choose Our Families But…

June is National Family Month. I didn’t know until a friend told me which leads to the topic of this post. While we can’t choose the families we come from, we can create “families of choice” comprised of people who support us in our life’s journey. Of course, it’s wonderful when part of our “family of choice” is a parent, sibling, cousin or relative but this is not always the case.

First, let me emphasize that the intention of creating a “family of choice” is not to alienate or upset our “families of origin.” Although I am not particularly close to my siblings, I am friendly and accepting of them. If we were not related by blood, it’s unlikely we’d associate with each other. Learning to accept our differences and the limitations of our relationships has helped me grow as a person.

It’s enabled me to understand that just because someone is part of your family, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be close to them even though we grow up thinking this. In some families, people need to distance themselves from parents, siblings and other relatives who are a negative influence on them or abusive.  Still, it’s hard to abandon the idea of having a caring, connected relationship with close relatives. However, sacrificing our own emotional health to preserve an unhealthy connection is not a good option.

This is where “families of choice” come in. These are the individuals-friends, teachers, co-workers, we bring into our lives because we want to and feel there is something to be gained from each other. They are supportive, caring, mutually nourishing, and growth enhancing. They are not one-sided, negative or abusive. They help us feel good about ourselves and we do the same for them.

Who is in your “family of choice?” How are they different from your “family of origin?” What do you think of this idea?

How the Universe Conspires to Help Us

When I was brainstorming today about a topic for my post, my older daughter and her friend suggested I talk about “accepting help” and how I finally have a new website thanks to Kay Murray my talented web designer. Since we’ve been discussing the value of support, this seemed perfect and then it occurred to me. The story of my meeting Kay goes beyond receiving support to how the universe conspires to “help us” when we make our intentions known.

For years, I’ve been trying to revise my website without success. I spoke with several designers who didn’t work out in addition to realizing I couldn’t do it myself. I didn’t know where else to turn so I stopped looking. Then last December I was sitting at the auto license bureau waiting to renew my license when I overheard a conversation. Two young women were discussing plans for their new businesses and one was a web designer.

Because I’ve learned to listen when the universe speaks, I turned around immediately, apologized for interrupting, and asked the web designer about possibly working with me. Kay and I met a few weeks later and decided to move ahead. In May, my new website launched and I can’t thank her enough for her wonderful design and tech skills (which I do not have) and mentoring me.

Now besides livingselfcare.com, you can visit me at www.drdianesanford.com. The site is designed for moms and health providers and allows you to download my book and relaxation CD. Please stop by and let me know what you think.

This week, make your intentions known so the universe can help you. You never know what may happen.

P.S. A neighbor just stopped by to tell me my book was reviewed in a paper I’d thrown away. Click here for the story.

It’s Memorial Day-Let’s Show Our Support for Each Other

During the self-care challenge last week, several of you commented on the posts about support from other women. Because this is so key to self-care, we wanted to share them.

“When I was a first time mom, reaching out to other moms via moms groups, support groups and early childhood meetings was invaluable! Knowing that these other moms were struggling and questioning themselves about their parenting abilities, made me feel so much better! Another step I took that helped me to become more positive and confident was to write down the “positives” of the day, this would help dispel the “negatives” that would instantly enter my head in certain situations. Both of these actions were simple ways of taking caring of myself.”-Linda Meyer, Executive Director, Mother to Mother Phone Support Program. For info and support, call 1-800-644-7001.

The tip I’ve been  trying to practice is #8: Nourishing relationships with family and friends. As a new mom and someone new to the area, it’s been important to me to reach out to other women for support and friendship. I’ve been able to do this by joining the Mother to Mother postpartum depression support group and by taking several parenting classes. I’ve never been the type to reach out and ask for friendships, but in this case, I realized that if I didn’t take a bold step to fast track these relationships, that they might take a long time to cultivate. There was this one lady in the support group that I felt a particularly strong connection with the first time I met her, so I invited her to come visit me. She did, and we’ve been great friends ever since. Now that I look back on my life, I wish I had taken the initiative to pursue more friendships by asking people to my home or suggesting activities we could do together. I guess this old dog has learned a new trick!-Jennifer, mom of 7 month-old at home after 17-year career.

Self-Care Challenge Day 2: The Mind-Body Connection

As we like to say at livingselfcare.com, “Self-Care is like chocolate. You can never have enough.” During this week’s self-care challenge we’ll bring you daily tips and inspiration with a chance to win prizes that pamper. Click here to learn more.

***********************************************************************

Welcome to The Self-Care Challenge, Day 2! These guest entries focus on the mind/body connection reminding us that what goes on in our minds has a significant impact on our bodies, whether we are aware of it or not!

Our first self-care tip was written by my (Stacey’s) mother, Nancy Lawrence. I cherish the talks we have, as she always has wise words of advice for me – when I ask for it! My mom has never pushed her ideas or advice on me, and I have always been grateful for her giving me the space I need to make mistakes and then helping me learn from them. Here’s her entry:

The difference between a thoughtful word and a thoughtless word is the difference between a lightning bug and a lightning strike. One word or phrase can uplift or beat down. Take the word “failure” for example. If you hear this word and it pertains to you, in that moment you have to make a choice.

Failure doesn’t exist, really. It’s always a lesson on what won’t work and the opportunity to alter your thinking to find out what does work. After all, we’d have no light bulbs if Edison had thrown in the towel! In the brief seconds after hearing a thoughtless word, the choice is yours: hang your head and feel awful; or find the lesson or the “silver lining.” There always is one!

Our second self-care tip is from Sue Suardi, a friend of Diane’s. If you ever find yourself talking yourself out of going to the gym (or running or skipping yoga class…), come back here and read Sue’s wonderful tip:

My friends and co-workers ask me why after a long day of work I bother working out.  I do it for myself.  I believe working out is not only healthy for me but also a release of the stress from the day.  Working out is not a chore for me but a gift to myself.  Sweating is a sweet release!

What great advice for our minds and our bodies! Stay tuned for more tips during our Self-Care Challenge Week!

Self-Care Starts with You-Let the Challenge Begin!

As we like to say at livingselfcare.com, “Self-Care is like chocolate. You can never have enough.” During this week’s self-care challenge we’ll bring you daily tips and inspiration with a chance to win prizes that pamper. Click here to learn more.

The tip I’ve chosen to talk about from our Top Ten Tips Plus Two is #6-“Accept yourself and others wholly.” To love one’s self unconditionally, both strengths and limitations, may be one of the biggest challenges most of us face. Without self-acceptance, it’s impossible to feel secure, peaceful and accepting of others.

Exercise: Five Minutes for Yourself (from Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide):

Try to remember a day in your life when you felt happy, peaceful, and self-confident. It doesn’t matter if the memory is recent or from long ago. If you don’t have an actual memory to draw on, imagine what a day like this would look like. Are there people around or are you alone? Are you at the beach, in an office, on stage, snuggled in bed? Picture as vividly as possible the details of your surroundings. Use all five senses—identify sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and colors. Now pay attention to what your body feels like on this wonderful day. What is your breathing like? Can you feel your heartbeat? Are your shoulders relaxed? Can you feel your happiness clear to the tips of your fingers?

Now take a mental snapshot of this scene. You can return here whenever you need to take a break, whenever you need to feel refreshed and renewed. It only takes a few minutes. You only have to close your eyes and look at the snapshot again. It will all come flooding back to you: the sounds, colors, tastes, textures, and smells; the feelings of happiness, peace, and self-confidence radiating out into each part of your body. No one can take this away from you. It’s yours to keep and to draw on whenever you are in need.

Practice accepting your unique, wonderful self all week long. Remember, “progress not perfection” is the goal.

Time Magazine Asks Moms to Judge If We’re “Mom Enough”?

Shame on them. Isn’t there enough competition among moms already? First, it was the debate over whether we could work outside of our homes and still care well for our children or if we needed to stay home for our children to thrive . With 70% of moms currently working outside of our homes to contribute to our families’ financial support, I guess they had to find something new for us to judge ourselves and each other about.

So, they picked how we parent, implying that only the toughest and most determined moms/parents could succeed at attachment parenting. The goal of attachment parenting is to create a secure bond between mom and baby through breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping and baby-wearing (keeping babies close to moms in a sling, on her lap while working, etc.) While parents are not encouraged to neglect their needs for sleep, nourishment, restorative activities-foundational self-care skills, it seems likely.

More important, the goal of all successful parenting is to create a secure bond between parent and child, whatever approach. In general, if we are attentive to our child’s needs while encouraging them to develop their independence to safely explore and master the world with your support, all will be fine. Flexibility and a willingness to grow and change ourselves is key. Finally, the research consistently shows that parents must balance their needs with those of their children for the best health outcomes.

Let’s not take the bait from Time Magazine and get caught in judging ourselves or other moms. There’s nothing to be gained. Whether we compete over how we raise our children or bringing the best school snack, losing the invaluable support of other moms isn’t worth it. Not for me!  The poet Rumi said, “Out beyond ideas of right-and wrong-doing, there’s a field. I’ll meet you there.”

This week is women’s health week and the week before our self-care challenge. Let’s join arms together to declare that women deserve to make their health and well-being a priority by making your health and well-being a priority this week and next. Now, that’s a battle worth fighting.

Sanford’s “Five A Day” For May

Last week, Stacey and I declared May Self-Care Month, and asked you to pick a self-care tip from our Top Ten Tips Plus Two to practice for the month. Many of you responded by saying you agreed.

Long before this blog was born, I discovered the only way to take good care of those we love is to take good care of ourselves. That’s how I developed my “Five A Day”- self-care skills critical to health and well-being. Since several of you mentioned working on these, #2 on our self-care list, here they are:

1.    Nutrition.  Eat at regular intervals to keep your body fueled and substitute healthy snacks for meals when needed.   Consume food mindfully without distractions like TV or cell-phones.  Eat healthy 75% of the time.

2.    Sleep.  Research shows that we need 8-9 hours of sleep for mental and physical health.  So, create a bedtime routine which quiets your mind instead of working until your head hits the pillow.  Lack of restful sleep diminishes  physical and emotional health.

3.    Physical Activity.  Recent studies indicate there are many successful ways to exercise from 15-20 minutes daily or  3-4 times weekly for an hour.  A combination of cardio, strength, and flexibility is best. Remember, exercise improves mood and longevity.

4.    Rest.  Take breaks.  Periods of activity/energy expenditure require periods of recuperation.  Our bodies aren’t designed to run full-tilt 24/7.

5.    Stress. Be aware of physical signs of stress: muscle tension, headaches, and GI symptoms.  If these occur, do something restorative-nap, workout, read, or whatever soothes you.  Don’t wait!

As a mom, wife, and daughter, I know it’s easy to neglect our health needs while insisting that our loved ones attend to theirs. I remember when my children were young, eating what they left on their plates for my meal. Taking a break was throwing in a load of laundry or picking up. I joke with friends that I didn’t exercise for 15 years although every day was a workout. With regard to stress management, suffice it to say I didn’t.

Please join us in declaring May self-care month. It’s worked for us. It can work for you.

May is Self-Care Month-We Need You!

Stacey and I are declaring May Self-Care Month, but we need your help choosing the self-care tips we’ll discuss. Last May, we offered our Top 10 Tips Plus Two. Here they are:

How to Live Self-Care

1.      Make your health and well-being a priority

2.      Nourish your body with food, sleep, activity and rest.

3.      Manage stress wisely.

4.      Be a positive thinker.

5.      Don’t make assumptions.

6.      Accept yourself and others wholly.

7.      Trust your inner guidance.

8.      Nourish relationships with family and friends.

9.      Respect yourself and others.

10.  Do what makes your heart sing.

11.  Practice compassion, kindness and forgiveness.

12.  Connect with spirit through gratitude, service, and intention.

This week, we’d like each of you to vote for the top tip you’d like us to write about by commenting on it at livingselfcare.com. Then, we’d like you to choose one tip to practice this month and send us a paragraph about what you’re doing to make it stick.  For participating, we’ll enter you into our self-care contest/challenge which will run from May 21-25 and features many wonderful prizes. Check out our contest section to see what we gave away last November.

Stacey and I will also be choosing our top tips, blogging about them and practicing with you. We have learned the hard way that caring for ourselves-body, mind, heart and soul, is better for us as well as our loved ones. When our emotional pitcher is dry, everyone loses.

Join us in declaring May Self-Care Month. While we can’t control everything, we can create a life filled with health, happiness and purpose if we align our actions and thoughts with living self-care body, mind, heart and soul.  Today is the first day of the rest of your life.  Make it count!