Frances 0. Thomas

National Certified Counselor

Archive for the category “habits”

Help the new prof

skills

 

For the first time, I will be teaching a class at out local community college for the fall term. It is called Cornerstone here, and is the basic freshman success class that is now mandatory in many schools.

I’m looking for suggestions from experienced teachers on activities and resources I can use besides lectures. I want to keep the students engaged.

Some of the topics I’ll be covering are time management, diversity, critical thinking, financial literacy, and careers.

What about it, fellow educators? Any ideas you’d like to share?

Grow where you’re planted

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I confess it was never my intention to live in Florida. Yet nearly two decades later, I am still here. Moreover, I live on a relatively rural island a good drive away from the nearest city. I grew up and lived my whole life in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. If there was ever a fish out of water, I’m it.

When I spotted Melody Warnick’s book This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live, i grabbed it off the shelf. Maybe I could find some helpful advice within.

Warnick’s issue was a little different from my own. She had moved multiple times, never feeling at home in any of her locations. When her professor husband got a job in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech, she resolved to find out what leads people to feel attached to their town or city.

Her extensive research led to some practical suggestions. The first is to walk whenever possible to get a sense of place. That one is only marginally doable for me. I can’t really walk to any destinations, just within my immediate neighborhood. Doing that, however, would accomplish another tactic, getting to know my neighbors. In the time we’ve lived here, people have moved away or died, and we’ve never made the acquaintance of their replacements.

Warnick’s other advice includes volunteering and doing something creative. I do those things  but in the nearby city, not on the island. Doing activities most other residents find pleasurable won’t work for me. I’ve never fished and never will.

My one gold star is that I do try to patronize local businesses.

Is there hope for me? Like Warnick, should I push myself a bit more? Do you feel at home where you live? Why?

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise with a buddy

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Many years ago. I bought a Pilates machine from QVC. I used it religiously when it was new. Then, as these things go, I got out of the habit. The machine languished on a screened in porch here in Florida and the rollers deteriorated.

Well, I got re-motivated so I ordered new rollers. My husband and I managed to remove the crumbling old ones and attach the new ones, all without causing each other any bodily harm, a feat of which we are both proud.

After copious applications of WD40, the machine is working pretty well. Now, I am again exercising under the observation of a gecko. Poor creature can’t quite figure what is going on. He wouldn’t be my first choice as an exercise buddy. He is not nearly as much fun as the one in the commercials. No witty repartee.

Do you have an exercise buddy?

 

 

 

 

 

Delusional

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Self-awareness is such a rare commodity.

I like to think that I am just a little out of shape. This morning, I decided to take a spin on my bike and soon learned how badly I have been fooling myself.

Mind you, I have the old-fashioned kind of bike. No gears or hand brakes for me. Still, I live in Florida, so my route is flat. Piece of cake, right?

First I had to pump up the tires since it has been so long since I rode it. Then I set out wobbling down the block, pedaling slowly.

I lasted about ten minutes before I had to head for home. My legs were all but shaking. Yikes!

Now, according to Web MD, short bouts of exercise, like. for example, ten minutes here and there, are effective. Let’s hope so.

 

 

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way book review

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The Bible story about sisters Mary and Martha always troubled me a bit. I knew if I were in that situation, I’d be the sister fussing with refreshments, not the sister listening to Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong. While I am not a bad cook, housekeeping is so not my thing. Still, I have that conscientious older sister thing going on. I hoped that reading Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to a Clean House and a Satisfied Soul by Sarah Mae would help me see my way to both increased domesticity and spirituality. It did.

The author points out that homemaking is a way to express love for one’s family and guests. When our home is a mess, we have what she calls chaos in our souls. If we rid ourselves of that chaos, we have more energy and capacity to love. What a concept.

Each of the 31 days has both a Mary and a Martha challenge. The Mary challenges start with an appropriate Bible verse and are designed to get our heart in the right place. Then the Martha challenges give practical, bite-size instructions on how to clean and organize room by room.

The book has a lot of humor and encouragement for those who, like me, are not natural born cleaners. The takeaway for me: Good enough is good enough.

 

About the book:
Sarah Mae wants to let you in on a little secret about being a good homemaker: It’s not about having a clean house. She’d never claim to be a natural, organized cleaner herself―yet, like you, she wants a beautiful space to call home, a place where people feel loved and at peace. Where people can really settle in with good food, comfy pillows, and wide-open hearts.
 
Is it possible to find a balance? To care for your heart―and your home―at the same time?
 
Journey with Sarah Mae on this easy, practical 31-day plan to get you moving and have your house looking and feeling fresh. But even more than that, you’ll gain a new vision for the home of your dreams, and how to make it a place of peace, comfort, and community. Originally published as the e-book 31 Days to Clean and now revised and expanded in print for the first time, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way will inspire you to find a happier, healthier . . . cleaner way to live.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/sarahmae15

I’m Sarah Mae, a woman saved and loved by Jesus Christ. Because oh my yes, how I was lost and in need of some saving. And I still need saving, every day, because I am so fully human, so breakable, and so mess-up prone. I am also perfect according to heaven because of Jesus, so I walk free.

I love to read, drink coffee (I’ll take it black), write, watch movies with my man, and homeschool my babes.

I’m the coauthor of Desperate – Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe (written with the lovely Sally Clarkson), author of Longing for Paris: One Woman’s Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure…Right Where She Is, and Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to Clean House and a Satisfied Soul. I also have the privilege of being a cohost with Amy Smoker of an event for moms called, A Night to Breathe.

– See more at: http://sarahmae.com/about/#sthash.xuvB4VxO.dpuf

 

 

Overcome Your Sedentary Lifestyle book review

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P J Sharon’s book Overcome Your Sedentary Lifestyle offers to help couch potatoes. Yes, that’s me all right. She’s a massage therapist, personal trainer, and yoga teacher, so she has plenty of real life experience to draw from.

Fortunately for me, I don’t suffer from chronic pain or have existing medical issues that often go hand in hand with a sedentary lifestyle. If you do, Sharon gives helpful advice on how to choose both traditional and alternative healthcare providers.

What I do suffer from is chronic dieting. Sharon wants me to think weight management instead of weight loss. Makes sense. This has to be forever, not a one-time thing.

The statistics are sobering. More and more people fall into the “obese” category. And these people, on average, sit two and a half hours more per day than thinner people. Other contributing factors are heavily marketed processed food, stress, sleep deprivation, social pressures, and emotions. Some of these are easier to overcome than others. The emotional component is probably the hardest. Sharon provides tips to get started in the right direction, but you have to love yourself as you are first.

Separate chapters address the other challenges. Much of it you’ve seen before if you have read other self-help books; however, Sharon includes just enough science to prove her points without boring you to death. If you do nothing else, check out the pages of illustrated stretches and try them.

Above all, Sharon says you must figure out your own personal “why.” Hint: it should be bigger in scope than looking good at your high school reunion. Once you’re clear on your intrinsic motivation, all things are possible.

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In addition to authoring award winning young adult novels, PJ Sharon owns ABSolute Fitness and Therapeutic Bodywork, a private practice massage therapy and personal training business in East Granby, CT. With over twenty-five years in the health and fitness industry, Ms. Sharon offers a multidisciplinary approach to wellness. As a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA), Massage Therapist (LMT), Certified Personal Fitness Trainer (CPFT), and Yoga Instructor, Ms. Sharon brings a wealth of knowledge to her clients and workshops. A graduate of Springfield Technical Community College and the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy, Ms. Sharon also holds certifications as a trainer through the NFPT and teaches therapeutic yoga. A Black Belt in the art of Shaolin Kempo Karate and former figure skating and power skating instructor, Ms. Sharon’s passion for holistic health and healing comes through in her writing—whether she is penning romantic and hopeful stories for teens or sharing her wisdom and experience with clients and workshop attendees. When she’s not writing or spreading the love through her practice, she can be found kayaking in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts and renovating an old farmhouse with the love of her life. Author contact info and social media sites: Website: http://www.pjsharon.com Follow PJ on Twitter: @pjsharon http://www.twitter.com/pjsharon “Like” PJ on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pjsharonbooks Signup for PJ’s Newsletter at her website: http://eepurl.com/bm7rj5

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book review

tidying

Now that I have read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I see why it became a best seller. She spells out very specifically just what to do to rid yourself of clutter. Forever. I really believe I desperately want that, but I also confess that there is no way I would be willing to follow her directions, excellent though they are. My guess is most of the 2 million people who bought the book won’t take her advice either. Her clients who have used her methods, however, have thrown or given away an average of 20 to 30 45-liter bags of “stuff.”

I used to pay attention to feng shui once upon a time, and some of what Kondo recommends hearkens back to those theories. It is not enough to look at items of clothing hanging in your closet or books on shelves. You have to spread them out and touch them to absorb whether or not they give you sufficient joy to make them worth keeping. And that means all of them. Yes, every single piece of clothing you own spread over the floor. Every book.

On the other hand, much of what she says is intensely practical. You really don’t need to keep all those operating manuals. Nobody ever reads them, and even if you did, you’d be better off talking to a person at the store where you bought the appliance when a problem arises.

One big takeaway is to keep storage as simple as possible. No putting off season items in a covered bin. That’s how we accumulate so much stuff. Complicated storage lets us forget what or how much we have. Store all similar items together, not spread all over the house, for the same reason. Her categories are clothes, books, documents, miscellaneous, and mementos. Or you can divide by similarities in materials: cloth-like, paper-like, or electrical. Store all items for one person together if possible. Everything should have an assigned spot.

One piece of advice I have already implemented is to store purses inside each other with the straps hanging out so you remember what is where. It does help them hold their shape. It remains to be seen if I will have trouble finding what I want when the time comes.

Kondo’s approach may seem woo-woo to some although I found it charming. For example, every day when she gets home from work she thanks her home for sheltering her. She treats the items she keeps with respect and thanks them for their service to her.

Kondo says human beings can only cherish a limited amount of things at a time. Through the process of paring down to only the items you love, you may remember things about yourself you had forgotten and have a better idea of who you truly are. You are content and your mind is free to pursue your purpose.

Magic.

 

Designate a place for each thing
This is the routine I follow every day when I return from work. First, I unlock the door and announce to my house, “I’m home!” Picking up the pair of shoes I wore yesterday and left out in the entranceway, I say, “Thank you very much for your hard work,” and put them away in the shoe cupboard. Then I take off the shoes I wore today and place them neatly in the entranceway.Heading to the kitchen, I put the kettle on and go to my bedroom. There I lay my handbag gently on the softsheepskin rug and take off my outdoor clothes. I putmy jacket and dress on a hanger, say “Good job!” and hang them temporarily from the closet doorknob. I put my tights in a laundry basket that fits into the bottom right corner of my closet, open a drawer, select the clothes I feel like wearing inside, and get dressed. I greet the waist-high potted plant by the window and stroke its leaves.My next task is to empty the contents of my handbag on the rug and put each item away in its place. First I remove all the receipts. Then I put my purse in its designated box in a drawer under my bed with a word of gratitude. I place my train pass and my business card holder beside it. I put my wristwatch in a pink antique case in the same drawer and place my necklace and earrings on the accessory tray beside it. Before closing the drawer, I say, “Thanks for all you did for me today.”

 

Become You book review

BecomeYou

If you read much self-help literature, Become You: A Transformational Blueprint for Your Mind, Body and Soul  by Toneka Etienne, Ph.D. doesn’t cover a lot of new ground. What the author does an excellent job of, however, is providing an honest look into her own life to illustrate her points in a clear, concise way.

Etienne moved to a new city, had two small children, worked full time, and was finishing her doctorate. As you can imagine, she faced a multitude of challenges. Over the course of the next six years, she managed to find ways to look at life differently. Then just when she thought she had the stressors licked, she was diagnosed with diabetes. That motivated her to share her ideas with readers.

Etienne’s first chapter is Believe, and it is obvious she has a deep faith in God. From belief comes a sense of worthiness. Envying what others have just means that you don’t feel worthy of having your dreams come true. Etienne discusses the work of psychologist Carol Dweck on fixed and growth mindsets. If your mindset is fixed, you perceive a challenge as a risk. You refuse to face obstacles and just give up. If you have a growth mindset, you look at challenges as opportunities to improve or develop.

Chapter Two is Evaluate. Etienne talks about how to do a life audit to determine what your strengths are. She also asks readers to rank satisfaction with their spirituality, career, relationships, wellness, personal development, and finances. Then pick the one area most out of balance between real and ideal. Etienne gives some good questions to ask to figure out how to get closer to the desired outcome.

The next chapter is Create. She says it is discipline and structure that give us the freedom to create. Develop systems and routines.

Obstacles come next. Fear can be the catalyst to move us forward. This might be fear of failure or fear of success, fear of rejection or fear of change.

The author then comes to Manifest. She talks about the Law of Attraction contrasted with the Law of Action, the Law of Expectation versus the Law of Resistance, and visualization.

The final chapter is Execute. Etienne warns that trying to improve your own life may not sit well with all of your family and friends. If that is the case, seek out supportive people and don’t be afraid to ask them for help.

Most importantly, remember to play. I can certainly relate to that. I’m a self-improvement junkie from way back, but I sometimes forget to just be.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION 

Toneka R. Etienne will be awarding a signed copy of Become You to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


AUTHOR Bio 

Toneka R. Etienne, Ph.D., is a Psychologist, wife, mother, Huffington Post contributor, and creator at www.tonekaetienne.com. Toneka is a self-love advocate encouraging women to balance their daily lives with the ambition to continually pursue their dreams. Her calling is to fully support women as they call soulful purpose and intention into their life and business connected to their deepest and most authentic selves. When she’s not holding sacred space for women’s transformation, Toneka can be found doing her favorite things: spending time with her husband and two daughters, traveling, reading, connecting with like-minded visionaries, and looking for divine inspiration.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tonekaretienne
Instagram: instagram.com/tonekaetienne
Twitter: twitter.com/tonekaetienne

Running and juicing and cursing. Oh my.

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It is so difficult to know what to believe, isn’t it? Will that wrinkle cream really make my neck look better? Is this piece of exercise equipment being touted on QVC effective? Should I go low carb or low fat?

I try to find reviews written by real people before I invest in a product or try the latest diet. A book compiling all kinds of advice should be just the ticket.

I am really glad, however, that I am not married to A. J. Jacobs, the author of Drop Dead Healthy. Just reading everything he did was exhausting. Seeing it in person (and participating every now and then like his wife did) would have pushed me over the edge.

After an unexpected bout with pneumonia, Jacobs sets off on a two-year quest to become healthier. And when he says healthier, he doesn’t mean improving just the usual suspects, diet and exercise. He means head to toe.

Jacobs studies research and visits expert after expert on body part after body part. His book has 27 chapters ranging from the health of the heart, lungs, and brain to the hands, feet, and endocrine system.

The theories and practices he discovers are fascinating and funny. And the techniques he adopts are effective. He loses weight, gains muscle, and improves his cholesterol along the way.

After a favorite aunt who has followed all the “rules” succumbs to cancer, Jacobs has a moment of questioning if any of what he has learned and put into practice is worth it after all.

He concludes it is. In seven appendices, he synthesizes the best of the advice. Most of the tips are ones we’ve all heard many times: eat vegetables, park farther from the store, meditate.

The most unusual tip is to use a treadmill desk. Jacobs says not to buy an expensive model but instead rig one up yourself using a board and some books.  That’s a tip worth considering.

What products or techniques have you tried that actually worked?

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Did I Do My Best?

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I am one of those people who make the resolution to lose weight each and every New Year’s Day. And yet I’m still carrying those unwanted pounds. Thus, I read books on motivation in the hope that one day I will find it in me to follow the suggestions.

Marshal Goldsmith is a big time executive coach. He has worked with the likes of the head of the World Bank and Ford Motor Company, and his book Triggers boasts six and a half pages of glowing blurbs from various CEOs. If he’s good enough for them, he’s good enough for me.

Goldsmith defines a trigger is any stimulus that reshapes our thoughts and actions. Our environment, he says, is the most potent triggering mechanism in our lives. I can relate to that. If I didn’t buy those cookies, they wouldn’t be in my environment calling my name. Still, knowing what to do and doing it are not the same thing. It’s a tug of war between the planner and the doer.

We need to forecast our environment by anticipating what might trip us up, avoiding those things (like those cookies,) or adjusting. When changing our behavior, we have four options. We can change positive elements, in other words create new ways of dealing with our challenges, or maintain positive elements that are already working.  We can also change negative elements by eliminating them or maintain negative elements by making peace with them.

My favorite part of the book is a technique Goldsmith uses that he calls the engaging questions. To make questions active, he prefaces them with “Did I do my best to…” Here are the six he uses for everyone:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today?

Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?

Did I do my best to find meaning today?

Did I do my best to be happy today?

Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?

Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

Additional questions can be added depending on what your specific issues are. The key is to ask yourself these questions every day. You are no longer monitoring results or the lack thereof. You are monitoring your own motivation and reinforcing your commitment.

This is an eye-opening way to change your mindset. Question four is particularly meaningful for me.

What questions would you add to the list?

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