Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Clobbering Cancer

Someone I love was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m optimistic that she’s going to be just fine, but I know that she has a lot of decisions to make about treatment, both conventional and alternative, in the near future.

Since I’ve worked with cancer survivors for nearly a decade, and since I’m also a Holistic Health Counselor, I have a lot to say about cancer.

Namely, cancer sucks.

That profound statement aside, I’ve seen hundreds of women overcome this feared foe. I’ve even seen many come out the other end better for it. That might sound cliché, but it’s true. Several cancer survivors I’ve worked with have told me that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them… their cancer diagnosis helped them get their priorities straight. Sometimes it takes a kick in the pants to make that happen.

It’s unfortunate that we wait until we receive life-changing news to actually change our lives. What would happen if we treated ourselves the way we should be treated all the time…. Before we ever get sick?

Here are my top 5 tips for taking care of yourself… before, after, or during a devastating diagnosis.

1. Eat your veggies.

The first thing my loved one who was diagnosed said to me was, “I’m going to take out my juicer and start using it.” I think that’s great. I think it’s even better if we start treating our bodies with the respect it deserves before we receive a nasty diagnosis. No judgment here, friends… I’m just as guilty as anyone else. I’ve not only heard all the excuses, I wrote the excuses book. It’s too cold to juice. The store is out of cucumbers. That carrot cake counts as a vegetable. I’ve used ‘em all. Excuses can’t save our lives… but maybe cleaning up our diets can. For more info on this, please visit crazy sexy cancer survivor Kris Carr's site.

2. Stop the stress.

This is a big one. Persistent stress wreaks havoc on your body. Stress is a mojo-massacring, spirit-stealing, health-harming enemy of the worst kind. Studies show time and time again that constant stress puts you at risk for all kinds of deplorable diseases. Stress messes with your body’s hormones, and it ravages your body’s natural rhythms. Don’t take this lightly, my pressured peeps. Remember this motto; “Too much stress and you’ll be a mess.” Do you like that? How about this one: “You can be tense at your body’s expense.” Pretty good, eh? Here’s one more… Humor me: “With all that worry, you’ll be sick in a hurry.” The point is, do what you have to do to reduce the stress in your life. Don’t make me rhyme again.

3. Don’t worry. Be happy.

We’ve already covered the “don’t worry” part. Now let’s talk about “be happy.” Research shows that, in general, happy people have a 35% lower risk of death than unhappy people. So what makes people happy? Psychologists have been trying to answer that question for centuries, but they’ve actually come close to figuring it out. Turns out happy people have some things in common, such as: they spend time with family and friends, they enjoy intimacy, they don’t compare themselves with their neighbors, they enjoy daily activities, and most importantly, they know how to forgive. For a reminder on the all-important forgiveness factor, I urge you to take a minute to read Your Groove on a Grudge.

4. Move it.

We all know it’s true, and in case we need a reminder, we can always re-read You Gotta Move if you Want to Groove. We know the physical benefits of exercise (controls weight, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, boosts energy), but added benefits include a reduction in stress, a better sex life, and increased mental focus. Additionally, recent studies show that exercise decreases the chance of cancer recurrence. That’s a pretty good reason to exercise right there, but in case you need another… Exercise lets cancer survivors feel in control of their bodies; which is incredibly empowering after you feel like your own body has betrayed you. I’ve seen this first hand. As the founder of Team Survivor Tri-State, an affiliate of the National Association of Team Survivor, I’ve seen how exercise changes lives. If you’re a cancer survivor, I encourage you to find an exercise program. There are so many wonderful programs exclusively for cancer survivors. Find a Team Survivor in your area. If you’re a breast cancer survivor in NJ, contact Moving On. Livestrong has programs through some YMCA’s. Now, go get ‘em. Kick cancer’s ass.

5. Live your best life… NOW.

Don’t wait until you’re facing a potentially deadly disease to live with purpose. Do you want to become a teacher when you’re currently a phlebotomist? Go take classes. Have you always dreamed of competing in a triathlon? Start training. Yearning to travel? Buy a plane ticket. Do it NOW. There is never a perfect time to do anything. You have to create the perfect time. That perfect time is NOW, because we don’t know for sure when we’ll get another chance.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Groove of Giving

I never shop on Black Friday, mostly because I don’t like to shop. I also don’t like crowds or lines, and combining shopping with crowds and lines makes Black Friday about as appealing as a root canal.

Plus, as you may remember from my previous post, The Stress of Mess, subtracting stuff means multiplying mojo. But what do we gift-givers (and gift-getters) do for the holidays? No fear, my mess-less mates! I’ve compiled a list below. Honor somebody special this year, or put these groove-growing gifts on your wish list.

1. The Gift of Giving

One of the nicest things you can do for someone you care about is to honor something they care about. If your BFF loves dogs, make a donation in his or her name to the ASPCA. If your sister thinks pigs are the cats meow, take her on a trip to visit Farm Sanctuary (there’s one in New York and one in California). Perhaps you can give your spouse a special short-term volunteer trip with Habitat for Humanity. You can both enjoy the sights of a fabulous destination while building a home for someone who needs one.

2. The Gift of Green

There are so many sustainable ways to say “Happy Holidays!” Plant a tree in the name of a loved one, cook a meal made with fresh, organic ingredients and invite your friends over to share it, or head on over to Treehugger.com. You’ll find loads of sustainable gifts for everyone on your shopping list.

3. The Gift of Health

There are so many books and movies on how to get healthy... how do you know where to start? No worries... I'm here for you! I've done all the research so you don't have to. For those in your life who may be going through an illness, or even those who just want to feel inspired to improve their overall health and well-being, here are a few gift-worthy titles:

Forks Over Knives - DVD
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead - DVD
The China Study (by T. Colin Campbell) - book
Eat to Live (by Joel Fuhrman) - book
Crazy Sexy Diet (by Kris Carr) - book

4. The Gift of Time

Time is something that everyone could use more of. So how can we give the gift of time this holiday season? You can offer to clean your very busy friend's house, or if you're domestically-challenged like me (don't laugh... it's a real disorder!), you could hire someone to do it instead. Your parents would probably love to spend some time with you. Why not take them out to dinner, or invite them out to see a show? Surprise your kids with a special "kids" day... pick a weekend and tell them that you'll do anything they want (within reason, of course... jumping off the roof onto a trampoline doesn't count as "within reason"), and then be prepared to give them your undivided attention.

Fortunately, most of these gifts don't require trips to the mall, long lines or crowds, and, better yet... they won't clutter up your house! Do you have other groovy gift ideas? I'd love to hear about them!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Your Money or Your Mojo

We humans have a very strange relationship with money.

We don’t talk about how much we earn. We lie about how much we spend. We judge other people for not having enough. We judge other people for having too much. Some people spend all their time thinking about it. Some people refuse to think about it. We feel bad if we don’t have more. And we always feel like we should have more.

Money is a big source of relationship strife, too. According to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, about 30% of couples say finances cause the most stress in their relationship, followed distantly by intimacy (11%), their children (9%) and their in-laws (4%).

That’s a lot of power for a flimsy piece of green paper.

Lately I’ve been thinking about my own relationship with money, and I realized that the two of us could use some therapy. I imagine our session would go something like this:

Therapist: So, why are you here today?

Money: She totally ignores me, except when she needs something. And then she’s angry at me if I’m not there for her.

Therapist: Is this true?

Me: Yes, yes it is. I want Money around when there is something I need, but other than that, I don’t really care for him. In fact, I dislike him!

Money: That really hurts my feelings.

Therapist: Why don’t you like Money?

Me: Well, I’m not supposed to like Money. I’m supposed to care about making the world a better place. Everyone knows you can’t have both… you have to choose one or the other.

Therapist: Who said you have to choose?

Me: I don’t know. I guess I just have that belief that it’s either my money or my mojo.

Money: You really know how to hurt a guy.

Therapist: What if you didn’t have to choose? What if you could have both Money and Mojo?

Money: Maybe if you treat me like a partner instead of this hot-and-cold, back-and-forth, one-sided relationship we’ve had, we could do beautiful things together.

Me: Really? Is that possible? We could actually work together towards a common goal?

Therapist: How should I know? This is your imaginary therapy session.

So, I started thinking about what Money said, and I realized he was right. We have so many assumptions and perceptions about money, most of which were formed subconsciously, long ago. What if we didn’t give money so much… value? What if we thought of money like we think about the other necessities in life that we’re grateful to have, such as electricity, running water, or heat? You never hear anybody say, “I need more electricity!” or “My running water isn’t enough for me!” or “That person has way too much heat. Who does he think he is?!” Of course not. When it comes to those resources, we take just what we need. Sure, it’s valuable because it makes our lives more comfortable, and we feel badly for those who don’t have it, but we don’t have any excess energy on it.

Can we approach money the same way? What would happen if we used what we needed, were grateful for what we had, and shared what we could?

You know the old saying, “Money is the root of all evil. I don’t think that’s true. The saying should go, “Our notions of money are the root of all evil.” If we stop looking at money as evil, if we stop connecting money with fear, if we stop putting anger and resentment towards money, I’m willing to bet our financial outlooks will change for the better.

The next time you’re feeling anxious about your funds, take a deep breath, smile, and give Money a hug. Get rid of all your preconceived notions about Money. Give the poor guy a chance. Start fresh. Remind yourself that you and Money are partners, and although you will have your ups and downs, you’re in this relationship for the long haul.

What’s that other old saying? “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Let’s start using honey to catch money… and see how our fiscal future unfolds.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Trend Is Your Friend

I have this somewhat useless talent of being able to pick up on food trends. I couldn’t tell you the next big fashion statement, or the next hot song, or the way the stock market will go, but if you want to know about where the future of food is headed, I’m your gal.

Back in the day I predicted the passion with protein, the fetish with fat-free, and the curb of carbs. More recently I predicted the organic obsession, the local lure, and the kale craze.

What can I say? Some people read palms; I foresee food fads.

When I became vegan in 2004, the people who even knew what that word meant (and there weren’t many of them) thought I had lost my mind. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked, “But where will you get your protein from?”… Or, worse yet, the people who didn’t say anything and just stopped talking to me, muttering “freak” under their breath as they headed for the nearest burger joint.

Being a social outcast didn’t faze me much. A vegetarian for twenty years prior to that, I was used to the absurd questions and comments that people felt compelled to share simply because I didn’t eat animals. Plus, I had just read Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” followed by T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study,” and that re-affirmed what I already knew almost twenty years prior when I experimented with the diet plan in Dean Ornish’s “Eat More, Weigh Less.” Not only was there no reason to eat animals, but research has proven time and time again that NOT eating animals is a healthier way to live.

But I digress…

This post really isn’t about whether or not to be a carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, or chocolateivore (I made that last one up… all blog posts should mention chocolate at least once). This post is about food trends.

I usually shop at Whole Foods, simply because there are so many wonderful options for me there. Where else can I get a gourmet meal, complete with a fresh salad, a savory hot bar, steaming soup, and some vegan chocolate mousse to top it off (remember, all blog posts should mention chocolate at least once)? But today, it just so happens that another grocery store was on my way home. And, since we only needed a few things, I figured I’d run in there. It had been a while since I shopped at a grocery store besides Whole Foods, and I was pleased with what I saw.

First of all, the “natural foods” section was packed. And I mean, packed! I bonked my cart into someone else’s cart at least half a dozen times. (Although I am great at choosing healthy foods, I’m not so good at cart driving). Next, I noticed that the produce section was bursting with some great-looking, and sometimes organic (!) produce. And better yet, people were buying it! The coffee bar in the store had soy milk. SOY MILK! And, to top it all off, they even had a section for gluten-free products... it was tiny, but it was there! What a beautiful sight!

Nowadays, people don’t sneer too much when I tell them I’m vegan. Sometimes I even run into people who tell me they’re vegan, too. I send my kids to a school that serves only vegetarian lunches… and guess what?! Other parents send their kids there, too! And they LIKE, or at least DON'T MIND, the fact that the lunches are vegetarian. Even better… there’s a waiting list to get into this school! I’m telling you… this didn’t happen seven years ago in my part of the world. I’m no longer an outcast. I’m almost… dare I say it… normal!

Even for people who aren’t vegetarian (and I still love you), the trend is moving in a healthier direction. Everyone is eating more vegetables, fruit, and unprocessed foods. Thanks to national television shows like “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” “The Dr. Oz Show,” and countless shows on the Food Network, people are becoming educated on healthy, sustainable foods. Authors like Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser are on the best-seller list. “Food, Inc.” and “Supersize Me” are blockbuster films. Everybody’s catching the sustenance subway, and everyone will benefit from that ride.

So what’s next? Here’s my prediction… the future isn’t only about what we eat. The future is about how we live. Being a junk-food vegan, living off of Doritos and Coke, isn’t where it’s at. The future of food will be about health and harmony. Are we eating sustainably? Are we wasting less? Are we embracing quality over quantity? Are we eating real food that is created by nature and not in a factory? Are we treating food as medicine, recognizing that it has the power to make us sick… or not? Are you ready to ask yourself those questions? The answers could shape your future.

Food is not just food. It’s culture and wellness. It’s health and happiness. I believe that as our food choices improve, our communities in general will be more peaceful, our citizens will live longer and better, and our priorities will shift. We’ll choose people over principles, kinfolk over cash, and giving over greed. We’ll not only add more years to our lives, we’ll add more life to our years.

A pipedream? Maybe. But the trend is my friend. I haven’t been wrong yet.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why Try?

The English language should remove the word “try” from its vocabulary. Or at least I should remove it from mine.

It seems that whenever I use the word “try,” I’m really saying “I say I’m going to do this but really I’m not.” For example…

“I’m going to try to exercise more” really means “I say I want to exercise more, but I'm not willing to put in the effort.”

“I’m going to try to eat better” really means “I say I want to eat better, but I'm not willing to put in the effort.”

“I’m going to try to go to bed early” really means “I say I want to go to bed early, I'm not willing to put in the effort”

Do you see what I mean? Saying I’m going to “try” makes me feel better than saying I’m not going to change anything. But does anything really change?

Now what would happen if I truly commit to something, instead of “trying” to commit to it…

“I’m going to exercise more” really means “I’m going to exercise more.”

I’m going to eat better” really means “I’m going to eat better.”

I’m going to bed early” really means “I’m going to bed early.”

Here’s an experiment:

Stand up.

No, really, stand up.

You up?


Now, try to jump.

Go ahead. Try to jump.

My guess is… you either jumped or you didn’t.

Am I right?

Trying is really irrelevant. You either did it or you didn’t.

Trying to do something is much safer than fully committing. If you try, then that automatically means you may fail. The word “try” by definition is “to make an effort to do or accomplish something.” If you make an effort, you may, or may not, succeed. But if you fully commit to something, your chance of success is much greater, simply because of the change in your mindset.

Let’s use another example... you don’t have to stand up for this one!

You “try” to train for a 5k race. You decide to “try” to see how far you can run without stopping. You go outside and start running. You become uncomfortable after half a mile, so you stop. You tried.


You commit to train for a 5k race. You commit to run one mile without stopping. You go outside and start running. You become uncomfortable after half a mile, but you keep going. You keep going because you committed to run one mile without stopping. There is no “trying.” There is just “doing.”

The act of committing is the difference between failure and success. “Trying” simply means that we’re not ready to commit, but we just don’t want to admit it.

Of course, we never have to “try” to do something we really want to do. When was the last time you tried to have fun with your friends? Have you ever tried to enjoy that triple chocolate layer cake? I’m sure you don’t have to try to look forward to vacation. We only have to try things that we don’t feel sure we’ll succeed at.

Making a full commitment to something is scary. It means we put our hearts and souls into it, and that could take effort. But if it’s something that’s near and dear to you, it’s effort well spent. Can you imagine saying that you will “try” to take care of your kids, or your spouse, or even your pet? Of course not! There’s no doubt in your mind. You’re fully committed, so you just do it.

What is one thing that you’ve been trying to accomplish, but haven’t? Are you ready to stop trying, and start doing? Join me in eliminating the word “try” from your vocabulary. Fully commit to making one change in your life that will maximize your mojo and propel your power! I can’t wait to hear about the results!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

No Power, No Problem

Just like many of you, I was affected by that horrible hag Irene last weekend. The wind and rains knocked out our power for several days and caused many of our local roads to be unpassable.

I wish I could tell you that I used the opportunity to find peace and serenity in my newfound unplugged world. I would love to say that my family and I told stories by candlelight and heated our meals on a cozy woodstove. How nice it would have been to practice yoga outside on the patio while the rest of the world went on as usual. It would be great to tell you that I spent the dark nights in a deep, restful sleep and rose early in the morning ready to greet a day with nothing to do.

But none of that happened.

Truth is, I panicked.

We lost power during the storm; right in the middle of a riveting TORNADO WARNING on the Weather Channel. Just after the heart-stopping beep, beep, beep sounded, and the big red ticker flashed at the bottom of my screen, everything went dark.

I had no idea what to do. Should I wake my kids up and hide in the basement? Should I power up the portable radio? Should I try to surf the web on my not-so-smart smartphone? Should I go to sleep and hope we don’t wind up in Oz the next day?

I felt so isolated. So confused. So POWERLESS.

And that got me thinking…

Before people had all these “luxuries,” like electricity and plumbing and telephones and Whole Foods, how did they survive? They couldn’t rely on the Weather Channel to tell them a storm was brewing; they had to … *gasp*… look outside. They didn’t rely on a GPS to get them to where they wanted to go; they had to explore, or maybe even… *gasp*… use common sense. They wouldn’t be able to rely on the USDA or Jenny Craig or count points to figure out what to eat. They would… *gasp*… eat what was available, and… *gasp* *gasp*… eat when they were hungry and stop when they were full.

All of this is a completely foreign concept to most of us today. Look, my plugged-in peeps, I’m not judging here. I was the crazed woman sitting in the car charging my phone in the middle of the night “just in case” I needed it to call 911 if the flood waters rose up to my bedroom. It was me running around the house checking the batteries on the carbon monoxide detectors because there could be a gas leak in the house and what if the battery back-up system didn’t work? And although I didn’t wake my peacefully naive sleeping children to hole up in the basement, I came damn close.

But hindsight is so enlightening, isn’t it? I can look back on these things now and see the ridiculousness of my ways. Now, with the comforting glow of my computer in front of me and the soothing hum of my refrigerator in the background, I know what I should have done instead.

I should have relied on my gut instincts. You know what they are, right? We all have them, but we rarely use them.

Have you ever had a really strong feeling about something? Maybe you felt an oddly familiar fondness when you first met the person you would eventually marry. You couldn’t explain it at the time, but you just knew. Or, maybe you met someone who seemed perfectly harmless on paper, but your gut told you to run away as fast as you can.

Often, our gut knows things before we do.

There have been times when I haven’t listened to my gut, and I’ve always regretted it. I remember an occasion where I hired somebody because they had all the right qualifications for the job. Funny thing was, every time I was with that person, my stomach tightened, my muscles tensed, and I literally felt a wall go up around me. But since there was no logical explanation for my feelings, I ignored them. Not long after, my brain realized what my gut already knew, and we parted ways.

So if I had listened to my gut last weekend, instead of the anxiety that surrounded the feeling of uncertainty and helplessness, I would have fared much better. Had I relaxed and looked within, I would have found that tranquility that I couldn't find in the eye of the storm. Maybe we would have told stories by candlelight (although those stories probably would have been tinged with my kids complaining about how much they miss the computer), maybe we would have heated our meals on a cozy wood stove (except for the fact that we don’t have one), and maybe we would have practiced yoga on the patio (except that the patio was under water). Oh well. Nothing’s perfect… but I bet we could have made it a happier experience than it was.

The point is, one of the reasons for the dip in our zip is that we don’t trust ourselves as much as we should. We rely more on our external rules than we do on our internal tools.

The next time you’re in a sticky situation, turn off the tv, back away from the Blackberry, and get off of Google. Instead, use your inner compass as a guide. You just might find that, plugged in or not, your intuition is your best technician.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

I’ve been in a bad mood all week. Maybe it’s because I was on vacation the week before and the re-launch into the real world was a bit bumpy. Maybe it’s because I’m entering the busy season at work and there aren’t enough hours in the day. Maybe it’s because there wasn’t enough chocolate in the house.

Whatever the reason, I noticed that the crankier I got, the crankier I got. Even when really good things happened, I didn’t feel as happy as I normally would. I was still semi-on-edge, and for no good reason.

This self-imposed stress caused me to lose sleep… literally. I would lie awake in bed at night, thinking of all the things that happened that day to make me cranky. I just kept thinking about them. Even when I tried, I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

Guess what happened?

I got even crankier.

So I started to wonder…

What was it about my attitude that was attracting all that crankiness? My negative thoughts seemed to bring more negative thoughts which then created my negative attitude. Although there was no real reason for me to be so grumpy, I was simply grumpy because I’d gotten used to it.

It was time for an attitude adjustment.

Instead of thinking about all the things that I perceived as going “wrong” this week, I decided to think about all the things that went “right.”

And then something amazing happened.

I realized that there was only one or two things that went wrong. Since I was so focused on those couple of things, it felt like so much more. It seemed almost ridiculous that I’d let those small issues taint my entire week.

After I realized that, it was much easier to focus on the positive aspects of my week. I thought about them one at a time… I worked on a huge media event at work, I spent lots of time with my kids, I took walks. One of my favorite food authors posted my blog on her Facebook page. I went to Whole Foods (yes, this is one of the highlights of my week. What can I say? I have bizarre hobbies).

Also on the bright side… it was under 100 degrees. I ate kale. I made my husband laugh (it doesn’t matter that he was laughing at me… he was still laughing).

Thinking these thoughts instantly improved my mood. I felt lighter, enthusiastic… empowered. More positive thoughts flooded my mind, which caused more waves of happiness. Before I knew it, I forgot what it was that even bothered me in the first place.

One of the best ways to master your mojo is to adjust your attitude. It’s not always easy, but it’s well worth the effort. The next time you’re in a funk, start thinking about all the people you love. Think about the wonderful things that surround you. For more tips, re-read the Groove and Gratitude post.

Never underestimate the power of your thoughts. Your thoughts are the seeds for everything that happens in your life. Your thoughts grow into your actions. Your actions grow into your essence. Treat your thoughts with care. Nurture them so they can grow you into the person you want to be.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Real Food = Groovy Mood

I’m really excited, because Food Day is less than three months away. Obviously, I am a food geek, as these sorts of things really blow my skirt up.

What is “Food Day?” I’m glad you asked. Held on October 24 this year, Food Day encourages people to eat real foods, like veggies, fruits and whole grains produced by farmers with sustainable farming practices.

“But I eat real food every day,” you may say. Perhaps, but you’re groovy. What about the typical, less groovy, American diet? Let’s take a look at an American staple… breakfast cereal. A typical breakfast cereal may have the following ingredients… and this is one without the intoxicatingly colored marshmallows:

- rice
- sugar
- hydrogenated vegetable oil
- salt
- red 40
- yellow 6
- blue 1
- yellow 5
- blue 2
- BHA (preservative)

“HEY!” You might be thinking, “Isn’t rice real food?” There may be a couple of “real” ingredients in there, but I can guarantee that even those real ingredients look nothing like they look in nature. The rice and sugar are stripped of their fiber and most of their nutritional value so they hardly even resemble their former selves. Who knew neither sugar or rice are actually white in nature? And when was the last time you went to the farm to go red 40-picking?

And just in case eating things with numbers don't bother you, ponder this: certain chemicals used in processed foods cause cancer. Processed foods increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Junk food can even lead to lower IQ in children. And those are only the things that affect your body. We won't even get into how the processed food industry affects the environment... that's for another post.

If you’re like me, you’re incredibly busy, and preparing real food for you, your spouse and/or your very hungry growing children seems more daunting than climbing Mt. Everest. After all, you only have to climb Mt. Everest ONCE… you have to prepare three meals a day every day for the rest of your life, for crying out loud. No worries, my dazzling diners. It’s not as hard as you think.

It’s easier than ever to follow a whole-foods diet. There are a ton of websites, books, and recipes out there to make eating real food realistic. Those of you who know me well know that I am a kitchen klutz… yes, it’s true… I once almost burned the house down trying to boil water. Okay, more than once.

But if I can cook whole foods, so can you! One of my favorite recipes is Chef AJ’s “Hail to the Kale” salad. I promise you… once you try this incredibly easy-to-make recipe, kale will be your new BFF (Belly’s Favorite Food). And speaking of Chef AJ, be sure to check out her book, Unprocessed, for more mouth-watering recipes and some straight-forward info on why unprocessed foods improve your groove. You can also find some fantastic whole foods recipes on the Whole Foods website. How appropriate!

In order to make more mojo in your life, it’s imperative that you eat real food. A whole foods diet not only strengthens your body, mind, and soul, it may literally save your life… and the life of the planet you live on.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Abolition of Competition

Look up the word “competition” and you might see the following definitions:

- The act of competing, as for profit or a prize; rivalry

- A test of skill or ability; a contest

- Rivalry between two or more businesses striving for the same customer or market

- Ecology The simultaneous demand by two or more organisms for limited environmental resources, such as nutrients, living space, or light

From Mother Nature’s point of view, the ecology definition makes a lot of sense. After all, isn’t survival of the fittest all about competition? The cave-stud who speared the most bison got the most fertile cave-babes. The plant that gets the most sun and water thrives. I understand competition for the sake of survival. But what about competition for the sake of keeping up with the Jones’s?

Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition to muster more mojo. Competing with yourself to measure your progress can be a great way to stay motivated and inspired. Learning how to lose can provide a valuable lesson as well… failure often teach us more than success does. And everyone needs to learn how to lose gracefully.

But when does competition become a sass-sucking scenario?

You know what I’m talking about. You know that dad at your kids baseball games who yells at his child whenever he makes a mistake, yells at the umpire whenever a call doesn’t go his way, and yells at the other parents for yelling at him. You know that co-worker in your office who takes credit for every good idea, knocks down any idea she didn’t think of, and talks nonstop about her grandiose ideas. And how about that neighbor who has the most expensive car, the brightest holiday decorations, and the landscaping that cost as much as a college education? Why do those people compete?

They compete to win. That’s it. They feel the need to beat everyone else because they don’t feel good about themselves otherwise. Winning is the only way they can feel okay in the world, and they will do anything to be sure everyone else knows that they are okay. But here’s the thing about that… they will never feel okay, no matter how many awards they win or accolades they receive, because mojo can only be found INSIDE ourselves. We can’t get it from our children’s athletic abilities, or our high-powered office jobs, or our Lamborghinis.

So here’s a good question to ask ourselves. What would we do if nobody was watching?

Picture this: Nobody can see your clothes. Nobody can see your car. Nobody can see your house. Nobody knows what you do for a living, how much money you make or donate to charity, or how smart your kids are.

Would you live your life any differently if the only person you had to impress was you?

Maybe you’d spend more time in your pajamas and spend less money on your car. Maybe you’d worry less about how your lawn looks and worry more about how your life feels. Maybe you’d go for a run just to feel the sunshine on your face and not to lose the extra jiggle in your legs. Maybe you’d find a career that energizes and empowers you instead of sticking with a job that stresses you out but impresses your neighbors. Maybe you’d spend time with your kids just to hear them roar with laughter instead of grooming them to be rule the world.

Perhaps we, as a society, should strive more for serenity and less for social status.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with nice clothes, nice cars, and big bucks, as long as you have those things because YOU really want them and not because you think others will be impressed by your importance.

There is always room to improve your groove and strive for success. Just keep in mind that success doesn’t necessarily mean being the best at everything. Success could mean having a loving family, a satisfying career, and a life lived with integrity. Success could mean sitting on your porch every evening to watch the sunset, making music, and smiling when you look in the mirror... regardless of what looks back at you. Sometimes contentment trumps competition.

The next time you’re unsure of your motivation for something, ask yourself this… How would you live if nobody was watching?

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Time Trap

I recently asked you, my mojo-minded mates, what the biggest peril to your pep was. Not surprising, the thing you are missing most is not something that can be found after it is lost. It’s priceless, although it’s free. It’s the one thing nobody has enough of… time.

Couldn’t you have asked for something easy, like a kale smoothie recipe? TIME? You want to talk about TIME? REALLY? This is one of the great challenges of my life. I’m a full-time mom, a full-time employee, a part-time student, and a 24/7 sanity-seeker. You want ME to help YOU with time? You really know how to hurt a girl.

I feel your pain. Finding time to do everything we need to do can be overwhelming at best, and downright terrifying at worst. This is one of life’s biggest struggles. How do we find time to take care of our families, see our friends, nurture our relationships, cook healthy meals, forward our careers, continue our educations, exercise our bodies, meditate our minds, clean our homes, wash our clothes, pet our dogs, and be sure we stay up-to-date on Facebook?

There are 24 hours in our day, no matter who we are. So how is it that some people seem to have enough time to do everything they want to do, while others do not (like me, and apparently most of you)? Do they have an extra few hours that we don’t know about? Do they not sleep? Do they multitask? Are they cloned?

To answer these tantalizing questions, I decided to think about all the people I know who seem to have enough time to do everything they want to do. I know A LOT of people, so surely there will be a long list of those who manage to get everything done, but are still happy and successful? Who can I talk to who has time at the end of a day, but still has a rewarding career, a healthy relationship, time for hobbies and activities, and quality time with their family and friends?

Hmmm… this is tougher than I thought.

And then it hit me. There is only ONE person I know who fits this description, so I decided to set up an interview. I called his number right away:

ME: Hi Dad. It’s me.

DAD: Hi. What’s up? Didn’t I just see you a few hours ago? (makes time to see family – check).

ME: Yeah, but I have a few questions for you.

DAD: Okay, but can I call you back? I’m having dinner with friends. (makes time for friends – check)

ME: Okay. Call me when you get home.

DAD: It might be bedtime by then. Can you call me in the morning? (makes time for sleep – check)

I called the next morning.

ME: Hi Dad. It’s me again. Whatcha doing?

DAD: I just finished my walk. (makes time for exercise – check)

ME: I’m writing my blog on how we can find more time in our lives. The only person I could think of who seems to have enough time to fit it all in is you. What’s your secret to time management?

DAD: It’s all about planning my time. I allocate enough time to get ready in the morning to get dressed, exercise, eat breakfast… And then I allocate time to work. After work I allocate time to have dinner and relax. I know I’m a day person, so I go to sleep relatively early and wake up relatively early. Someone who’s a night person may decide to allocate their time differently, but it’s the same strategy. Once you decide what you want to do, all you have to do is do it! It’s just about following your own plan. Most people either don’t have a plan, or they have a plan but don’t stick to it.

ME: Sounds like you’re pretty disciplined.

DAD: Yes, but it’s more than that. It’s all about setting your plan in accordance with your priorities.

ME: How do you decide what your priorities are?

DAD: That’s different for everyone, but in order to be successful, you have to manage your time in accordance with your priorities. If you screw up your priorities, you’re screwed.

ME: I guess so!

DAD: Now I have to go golfing (makes time for hobbies and activities – check)

After I hung up, I deduced that finding enough time to live a happy and satisfied life depends on two things… knowing your priorities, and planning your days around those priorities.

It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Then why do so many people, myself included, have such a hard time with this seemingly simple task?

If my priorities are my family, healthy eating, exercise, my career, my education, and a healthy social life, then my “plan” would fit in those priorities. I know I need 8 hours of sleep to feel good, and I know I’m a morning person. Given those parameters, my typical week-day plan might look something like this:

7:00 – 7:30 am – rise and shine!
7:30 – 8:30 am – yoga
8:30 – 9:00 am – green juice for breakfast
9:00 am – 12:00 pm – work
12:00 – 1:00 pm – lunch and walk
1:00 – 5:00 – work
5:00 – 6:00 – free time with family (bike ride, help with homework, etc.)
6:00 – 7:30 – dinner (cooking, eating, cleaning up)
7:30 – 8:30 – get kids ready for bed (aka snuggle time!)
8:30 – 10:00 – study, read fabulous books, catch up on Facebook, or call friends
10:00 – 11:00 – get ready for bed

This is a pretty good plan! So what goes wrong?

For one, I rarely start working at 9 and stop at 5. Yoga gets replaced by answering emails that came in overnight, and free time with family gets replaced by answering emails that came in during the day. If I’m being honest, work emails and phone calls even stretch into my allotted dinner-time. And although my priority is my education, my nights are often spent watching mindless tv instead of studying or reading. In my case, my problem is that I’m not being true to my priorities. And that makes me sad.

I’m sure that nobody, while on his or her death bed, has proclaimed, “I wish I spent more time working. I wish I answered a few more emails. I wish I climbed that corporate ladder faster.” I’m pretty sure, though, that a few regretful souls have uttered the words, “I wish I took better care of myself. I wish I spent more time with my family. I wish I had my priorities straight.”

So thank you, my groovy gang, for asking me to write this post. It’s been an eye-opening lesson for me, and I hope it has been for you as well. So let’s plan our work and work our plan. But more importantly, let’s honor our priorities. Let’s use our time wisely, so we have no regrets at the end of time.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Stress of Mess

My 5th grader watched a video at school called The Story of Stuff (www.storyofstuff.org). Among other things, it shows where all our stuff comes from, why we feel the need to have so much stuff, and what happens to our stuff when we’re done with it.

I was already in the “thinking about stuff” mode, as I recently visited a friend’s home. Their house is about as big as mine, but it was neat as a pin! I was so impressed that everything was put away, and unlike my own house, I could actually see their floors! When I asked them how they accomplished this magical feat, they gave me a book on de-cluttering. Now, I have lots of books on de-cluttering. After I read them, they usually end up as… you guessed it… clutter.

My friends swore this book was different, so I borrowed theirs. The good news is that eventually I have to give it back, ensuring that it won’t add to the clutter of my already cluttered de-clutter books.

Both the video and the book happened in the last week, which made me wonder…. Is this a sign from the gods of Groove? Was somebody trying to tell me something?

Not one to jinx juju, I decided to pay attention.

I’ve been a clutter-queen for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my sister didn’t want to share a room with me because I was such a slob. My college roommates, I’m sure, felt the same way. In fact, one housemate threw a bunch of chicken wing bones into the washing machine just to prove a point. (What the point was, I can’t remember, but I’m sure it was effective at the time.) My poor husband, who is one of the most organized people I know, cringes every time he walks past my clutter collections, which, to be honest, are hard to miss. What’s worse, I’m passing my rubbish routine on to my kids. Their bedroom looks like a department store threw up.

It appears I’m not the only one with this problem. Along with the aforementioned de-cluttering books, there are tv shows teaching you how to organize, magazines showing you how to live more simply, and websites with step-by-step guides on how to manage your mess.

I thought about buying bins and shelves and hooks, but when I really looked around my house, I realized that more than half of my stuff is useless to me. More than half of my stuff could be gone, and I wouldn’t miss any of it. Even better, I could donate this stuff to someone who just might need it. The point is not necessarily to organize the stuff I already have; the point is to have less stuff.

De-cluttering isn’t just about cleaning up my house. It’s about cleaning up my mind. External chaos leads to internal chaos, and chaos is never mojo-making. What’s more, having less stuff makes me feel like I’m doing my small part in saving the environment…. And it’s inhabitants. In our race to out-stuff our neighbor, we’re all stuffing ourselves to the point of ridiculousness. And for what? You’ve seen the bumper sticker, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But really, he who dies with the most toys just leaves a lot of crap for someone else to clean up.

In my pursuit of pizazz, it is time to purge.

Here are the steps I’ll take this week. Won’t you join me?

1. I will donate clothes not worn in the last year. Even if, someday, I manage to fit into my jeans from 1988, they will probably be a little out of style.

2. I will recycle papers and mail that I think I might do something with someday… or, I’ll actually do something with them.

3. I will pack up clothes that are too big for the kids for next year, rather than continuing to put them in their drawers, try them on, find out they’re too big, and put them back into their drawers (you see the problem with this pattern?)

4. I will not buy stuff to replace the stuff I just got rid of. This point will hit home when you visit www.storyofstuff.org.

5. I own a Kindle. There is no need to purchase books. Unless of course they have pretty pictures.

6. I will save projects that the kids did that are truly heartfelt. I don’t need to save every spelling test they ever took.

7. I will throw away socks and underwear that have holes in them. That should free up half my dresser right there.

How will you de-clutter your space, your mind, and your life? Looking forward to hearing your tips!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Get Out.

I just got back from a week in Las Vegas. I know what you’re thinking… “VEGAS! What a great place to go if you’re looking for your mojo… You could win a few bucks, have a few drinks, break a few laws.

I did none of those things.

I hiked.

Yep, I went to Vegas to hike. And it was awesome.

It’s been a long, hard winter in the Northeast. We had lots of snow, ice, and bitter cold temperatures. Needless to say, I didn’t get out much. My exposure to the great outdoors consisted of daily jaunts from my house to my car to drive my kids to school. That adds up to a grand total of about three minutes a day.

Unless you’re a jar of mayonnaise, it’s really not good for anyone to not be outside for that long.

The fact is, there are many benefits to being outdoors. Children with ADHD are better able to focus after they’ve been outside in a natural environment. Being surrounded by nature is shown to reduce stress and tension. Studies have even shown that interaction with nature can lead to a better memory and a greater attention span.

Of course, with your savvy smarts, you don’t need research studies to figure that out. You’ve probably sat on a beach, breathing in the fresh sea air and feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, and felt perfectly content. I’m sure you’ve walked through the woods on a crisp autumn day, watching the golden leaves fall gently to the ground, and felt at peace with yourself. You must have spent many nights under starry skies, listening to nothing but the crickets, and felt that all was right with the world.

Nature is a part of us, just as we are a part of nature. Sometimes we try to deny that by building concrete jungles, exercising in window-less gyms, and eating food that doesn’t actually contain any real food, but it’s a fact, and more than that… it’s a fact of nature.

So now that it’s spring, let’s vow to get out more. Let’s take a walk on our lunch break, spend a weekend at the beach, or take the kids camping. You can even move your yoga mat out to the deck. I guarantee it will do wonders for your stress levels. You’ll feel part of something bigger than yourself, and that alone is sure to grow your groove.

And remember, what happens outside, stays outside. Or is that Vegas? I always get them confused.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Power of Peeps

We all know that life happens at turbo-speed. How many times have you asked yourself, “Where did this week go? This month? This year?” We're so busy getting through the day that we don't always take time for what's most important to us.

Recently I called a friend who I haven’t seen since June. Just hearing his voice made me smile from ear to ear, and sent my spirit soaring. He is a dear friend of mine, in fact, one of my favorite people on this Earth. He lives about 45 minutes away from me, and it occurred to me that I haven’t seen him in almost a year.

And it’s not just him. I have a flock of fabulous friends; some live down the street, some across the country. I don’t see them or talk to them nearly as often as I need to. But hearing my friend’s voice made me realize that one of the reasons for the decline in my dynamo is the fact that I have become, much to my horror, anti-social.

It appears that my unintended isolation could have unintended health consequences. Several studies have shown that people with more friends live longer than those with fewer friends. Cancer survivors with a strong social support system feel less pain, deal better with treatments, and have increased survival rates than those who don’t have such support. Loners who don’t have a network of friends have a higher chance of not only succumbing to the common cold, but also of being stricken by more serious illnesses.

I am not a loner by nature. I love the company of family and good friends, and although I value “alone time” on occasion, I prefer social to solitary; relationships to reclusivity. The fact that I’ve had an introverted inclination lately has to do with a lot of different things; bad weather, too much work, crazy kids schedule, and, if I’m going to be honest… a bad habit. I’ve gotten used to being alone. I work from home, and that’s a perfect excuse to hang out in my sweats, bypass a hairbrush, and curl up on the couch with my laptop.

The fact that I have my laptop gives me a false sense of social status. All my friends are on Facebook! I can see them whenever I want to. I know where they went on vacation, how the weather is in their neck of the woods, and even what they had for dinner last night! I know what kind of haircuts they’re sporting, because after all, I see the newly-posted photos of their newly-primped coiffures. It’s practically like we’re in the same room... except that it’s not.

The feeling of friendship isn’t there like it is in person. That chemistry that can only be created when people are close enough to touch; the way a friend can see into your soul when you need them to most; the peace that washes over you when you hear the laugh of someone you know you can trust with your life. Those are the things that are missed online, or over the phone. Don’t get me wrong… Facebook, email, and the telephone are better than nothing and I’m grateful to have them. But it’s just not the same thing as looking into the eyes of someone who loves me, despite the fact that I hang out in sweatpants and don’t always brush my hair.

So now that the weather is warming up, it’s time for me to come out of my cocoon. I have a feeling that, as my social life emerges from hiding, my mojo won’t be far behind.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What If....

Every so often people of a certain age wonder what happened to the life they were supposed to have. They wonder if they went to the right college, married the right person, chose the right career. Each fork in the road leads to somewhere, and every so often people of a certain age wonder what would have happened had they taken the other path.

But here’s a secret…

It wouldn’t matter.

And here’s why it wouldn’t matter: No matter which path you choose, there is ALWAYS another path. No matter which path you choose, you will always wonder if the other one could have been different… or better… or worse. See, you’ll never know, so why make yourself crazy thinking about it?

One of the greatest spirit-suckers of all time are the words “What if…” If we spend our lives wondering “What if…” then we’re not really living the lives we have.

So here’s a question for you to ponder this week. What if there were no “what ifs.” What if this is it? What if this is the life you are meant to live? What if there were no other paths, no other choices, and nothing to distract you from your life now, as it is?

Would you live any differently?

Would you stop beating yourself up over the paths that you didn’t take, or regret the ones you did? Would you learn to appreciate the people in your life who love you instead of wondering if there are other people out there who might love you more? Would you start following your dreams instead of assuming they will always be out of reach?

The truth is… we only go around once (at least that we know of). The older I get, the less inclined I am to waste my precious time and energy wondering IF things would have been different IF I made different decisions. Maybe they would; maybe they wouldn’t, but until someone finds a break in the space-time continuum, there’s no way to know and nothing I can do about it anyway.

Which leads me to the challenge of the week. Think of one thing (but only one) you would have done differently if you could do it all over again and ask yourself this question: Is it too late to do it now? Wish you’d gone to med school? Apply now. Wish you’d learned piano? Take lessons. Wish you’d spent more time with your kids? Plan a fun weekend getaway… but be sure to take them with you!

As my favorite author (and groovy guy in his own right) Richard Bach says, “You are never given a wish without being given the power to make it true.” And then he adds the best part of the quote… “You may have to work for it, however.”

What do you want badly enough that you’re willing to apply a little elbow grease? What REALLY matters to you, now, in this life... the only life you have?

You, my fearless friend, are the captain of the ship called “YOUR LIFE.” Where will you steer that ship today?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Feel the Zeal!

I recently attended a Conference where I gave a presentation on how to give a presentation. (Really? That sounds funny.) Anyway, one of the best tips I gave (if I do say so myself) is to “speak with conviction.” When I asked the audience why they should speak with conviction, they all had good answers:

“You’ll be more believable.”

“You’ll present yourself as an expert.”

“Your presentation will have more meaning.”

All good points, indeed. But that is not the best reason to speak with conviction. The best reason, is, in the wise words of poet and mojo-maven Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

As it just so happened, because life loves to send meaningful messages, one of my favorite groovy gals was the keynote speaker at the Conference, and she proved my point beautifully.

Of course I’m speaking about crazy, sexy Kris Carr, cancer survivor, best-selling author, filmmaker, wellness coach, and green-goddess extraordinaire. Kris talked about her passion; how to navigate your own wellness adventure, and why you should live life like you mean it.

I listened intently. After all, as a seeker of sass, I wanted to memorize everything Kris was saying, so I could use her tips in my mission for moxie. Her message inspired me and I was hanging on her every word. When her presentation was over, I was determined and excited to use her advice the very next day.

Then I went to sleep. And what do you think happened?

You may remember from my previous post…. I have a terrible memory. So when I woke the next day, I couldn’t remember what exactly, I should have for breakfast! I couldn’t remember the name of the juicer she recommended, and I couldn’t remember if I should drink hot water with lemon, or hot herbal tea, or was it just a hot lemon?

Whatever it was, I felt that it was incredibly important! Kris made me feel that taking charge of my health was paramount, and certainly a gateway to groovy. Kris’ words made me feel that there was no time to waste! I had to start on my health revolution NOW!!!!!!

Luckily for memory-impaired people such as myself, there is the internet. After a few minutes of panic because I couldn’t remember if pear and cucumber were a good juicing combo or not, a few keystrokes solved my issues, and I found that in fact, pear and cucumber get along famously.

The point is… I may not have remembered exactly what Kris SAID, but I do remember how Kris made me FEEL. She made me feel that health and wellness should be top priority in our lives, that what thoughts you put into your head are just as important as what veggies you put into your body. And most importantly, she made me feel that my missing mojo may be closer than I thought.

The lesson of the day? Live your life with passion, pizzazz, and your own personal power. Feel the zeal. Speak with conviction and remember, pear and cucumber go well in juice.

For more info on Kris Carr, visit http://crazysexylife.com.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Greens are Groovy!

I had five dates for Valentine’s Day.

Now, before the rumors start flying, let me clarify. My dates were of the fruity kind.

And by “fruity” I don’t mean a guy who wears a tutu.

My dates were, literally, fruits.

Why is this such a blog-worthy event, you ask? I’ll tell you. The fact is, I am a chocoholic, and the fact that I didn’t consume even one ounce of chocolate on Valentine’s Day is practically miraculous.

See, when I’m stressed and working too much (which you know from my previous post is all the time these days), I tend to stray from my usual healthy plant-based-full-of-fruits-and-veggies diet and go for the instant stimuli of sugar, caffeine, and refined carbs.

What’s better than a mocha latte (soy, of course!) for breakfast? My usual snack of raw, organic almonds were replaced with chocolate covered almonds. Salad for lunch? No time! A bag of chips will do. Instead of a nutritious homemade dinner, it was take-out, take-out, take-out.

Months of this, of course, lead to the inevitable mood swings, energy dips, weight gain, headaches, stomachaches, and an all-around anti-groovy vibe.

No wonder I lost my mojo. It was buried under mounds of fudge.

And so the detox began. Goodbye lattes. Goodbye chips. Goodbye chocolate-smothered almonds.

Let’s face it… we are what we eat. If we live on chips and cheese, then we’ll feel heavy and globby. If we live on fruits and vegetables, then we’ll feel light and crisp. Then of course there are the actual facts to consider: people who eat the most fruits and vegetables tend to have the least amount of disease. And dammit, they look better, too. While I myself do advocate a vegetarian diet, I’m not foolish enough to try to convince you to do the same. Why? I’ve learned firsthand that food is right up there with politics and religion as a topic you want to avoid if you’re looking to keep your friends. Besides, I’m not a nutritionist (although I play one in my mind), but my friend Elisa is. If you really want the skinny (pun intended) on plant-based diets, visit her website at www.eaturveggies.com.

Whether you’re an omnivore, a carnivore, an herbivore, or a chocolativore, here are our tasks for the week:

We will incorporate more fruits and veggies, and less processed food, into our diets. In fact, let’s be bold and make this pact… we will eliminate anything white from our diet (white rice, white pasta, white bread, white sugar) and replace said white food with whole grains.

And since I’m feeling sassy let’s go all out! Let’s also agree that EVERY meal will contain at least two servings of vegetables. Greens are groovy! Eat as many of them as you can. Toss a variety of lettuces in salads… try adding something you don’t usually eat, like a handful of arugula for a nutty taste. Instead of a big bowl of pasta, try reducing the amount of pasta and instead add more veggies, like garlic, onion, and broccoli. For all you fiery friends, feel free to spice up the dish with red-pepper flakes for that added punch.

You can even eat veggies for breakfast! Make an omelette (with or without the eggs), by stir-frying potatoes, onions, kale, broccoli, asparagus, or whatever veggies happen to be hiding in the bottom of your fridge.

Want dessert? Fruit is fabulous! I recommend dates.

We can do this, my mojo-minded mates! I can’t wait to hear how good you feel after this week is over. You may never go back to your old way of eating again!

Can’t wait to share recipes!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Your Groove on a Grudge

I am not a “typical” woman.

Let me re-phrase that…. I am not a “stereotypical” woman (note that this is not a positive or a negative; I’m simply using it as fodder).

I hate shopping. I only have 4 pairs of shoes. I don’t know how to match make-up to my skin tone, so I just don’t bother wearing make-up. I know what the word “blitz” means, and I know that a “tight-end” is not a dude who looks good in jeans. My night-time “beauty routine” consists of brushing my teeth and taking out my contact lenses. I have no idea what color my bathroom walls are, and I’m sure my towels don’t match. I will never own a diamond. My wardrobe contains a lot of black because I figure black matches everything. I'm not sure who Vera Bradley is. My socks rarely make it into the hamper the first time. I don’t own nail polish, and most importantly, I never, ever hold a grudge.

You know the story… a husband and wife get into a fight and the wife brings up things that the husband did thirty years ago. Well, that will never happen to me. It’s not because I’m above such tactics. It’s simply because I can’t remember.

My husband and I don’t fight often, but on those rare occasions that we do, I don’t stay mad for long. Why? Because I’ll forget what the fight was about two days later. The same holds true for other people in my life. If I feel somebody “did me wrong” somehow, I may be annoyed for a while, but sooner or later (usually sooner), I’ll forget about it. It isn’t intentional. I don’t meditate on “letting go,” or attempt to take the high road. I just have a lousy memory.

I suppose it would be fun and very soap-opera-y to be one of those wickedly vindictive women who spend their free time plotting the demise of her frenemies, but good God, that sounds like a lot of work. And that’s another reason I don’t hold grudges.

It takes a lot more energy to be mad at someone than it takes to, say, NOT be mad at someone. Buddha said it more profoundly: “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

And since we’re so busy procuring our pizzazz, do we really have the time or energy for such things?

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should let people walk all over you and then forget about it. But focusing on forgiveness will allow you to concentrate on what’s most important to you. If you’re focusing on your grudge, then that is where your energy is going, and we need our energy for more important things, like growing our groove. I guarantee that your grudge isn’t worth such potent power. But YOU are.

So, my feisty followers, here’s our challenge for this week:

If somebody offends us, annoys us, or aggravates us, here’s what we will do… We will do absolutely nothing. We will remind ourselves that this situation doesn’t deserve our attention; let alone our intensity. Instead, we will think of ways that we could be spending our precious time; go for a run, cook a meal; hug our kids. There are a million better things that deserve our hard-earned energy.

If, unlike me, you happen to be blessed with a decent memory, than you may have to try harder on this one. But it will be well worth it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Slow down you move too fast. You’ve got to make your mojo last….

I have a secret fantasy.

My family and I live on a hillside farm in Maine overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. We grow our own (organic!) veggies, have carefree and content chickens who lay golden eggs, and we pick fresh blueberries from our fields and juicy fruit from our trees. Somehow we have so much money that we don’t have to work, so our time is spent playing with our kids, cultivating our gardens, and dazzling each other with our creative, and of course, incredibly healthy, made-from-scratch meals. We do plenty of hiking, since it goes without saying that there are spectacular trails just outside our door. Our kayaks are kept in a boathouse at the water’s edge; so we spend lots of family time together as we sculpt our bodies into flawless works of art. We have fabulous neighbors, and a guest house big enough for our friends and family to visit often. Heck, they can even live there! We read all the time, have hour-long sit-down meals where we share witty stories, and only watch educational television. I check my email once a day, at which time I can devote my energy to responding brilliantly to my loved ones (since I don’t work, I only get emails from loved ones…)

Yep, that’s my fantasy. Here’s my reality:

My family and I live in a small, old house that is constantly undergoing renovations in an urban town in Northern New Jersey. We buy our (organic!) veggies at Whole Foods, and we pay handsomely to get our (organic!) blueberries from the freezer section. Somehow, we work all the time but still don’t have all the money that we need, so we work some more. Meals are healthy but made as quickly as possible, and I’m usually cooking while talking on the phone, and/or answering emails. Yes, the laptop frequently finds its way to my kitchen counter. There is a small park across the street from our house, and if we’re lucky we’ll take a walk there once a week at best. Our kayaks are kept underneath our deck, and have not seen a body of water since August. I do have fabulous neighbors, but we’re too busy to get together often. We don’t even have a guest room in our house, so visitors are treated to an air mattress in the living room. We read, but not as much as we’d like. We have sit-down meals that last for about ten minutes because it’s late and we just got home from martial arts. Although my kids don’t watch much television, they have probably seen every episode of icarly at least twice. I check my email every five minutes because if I don’t I can’t keep up with it, and I sleep next to my Blackberry.

Do you see the dichotomy here?

Truth is, my ideal reality is probably somewhere in between the two. As a classic over-achiever, the words balance and moderation don’t often enter my vocabulary, and therein lies the problem. It appears that I’m not alone.

One study shows that the average American works a 46-hour work week, and almost 40% work more than 50 hours per week. I wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers were skewed. Maybe we spend that much time in our offices, but what about the time we spend at home in the evenings and weekends, on our laptops or our smart phones? I work from home, which is great because 1) I can work in my pajamas, 2) I never have to brush my hair, and 3) I am physically in the same house as my kids, even if I’m mentally pre-occupied. The problem with working from home, though, is that I NEVER leave the office. I am always here, accessible via phone or email. Weekends, nights, I even take my Blackberry with me into the bathroom. And we wonder where my mojo has gone?

So here it is, my fearless friends, my biggest challenge yet.

In order to find that elusive balance that I keep hearing people talk about, I vow to do the following:

1) I will not check my email in the middle of the night.

2) I will not check my email or answer the phone during dinnertime.

3) I will not work on the weekends.

4) I will not work on the weekends. (I had to repeat that; more for my benefit than yours.)

5) I will spend more time preparing, cooking, and enjoying mealtimes.

6) The kids and I will spend more time at the park across the street and less time parked in front of our computers.

Who wants to join me in this energy-seeking endeavor? Or do you have other spirit-sucking shtick that you'd like to change?

Whatever it is, I guarantee that if we combine these steps with our previous commitment to getting more exercise, watching less tv, and feeling more gratitude, we will be well on our way to mojo-mania!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Attitude of Gratitude

GROOVE and GRATITUDE both start with “G” and end with “E”… Coincidence?

I think not.

You won’t feel your grooviest without a gigantic dose of gratitude.

Let’s try an experiment. Are you ready?

First, close your eyes (but wait until you’re done reading these instructions). Now, think of something you are truly thankful for. It could be your beautiful children, your rewarding job, your supportive parents, your laundry-loving husband, or even the fact that you can fit into your jeans from high school. Don't have any of those things? I bet you have running water, electricity, and food on your table. That's more than some have, so we can always find something to be thankful for. Whatever it is that causes you to feel oodles of appreciation, think about it, focus on it, and allow yourself to glow in gratitude.

Are you glowing?


Now, while still keeping in mind what you’re most thankful for, think of something that REALLY irritates you…. The neighbor who doesn’t clean up after his dog, that annoying co-worker that takes credit for all your hard work, or your toxic addiction to double cheeseburgers. Whatever it is, try your best to keep those negative thoughts in your head, while still thinking about what you’re grateful for.

Not so easy, is it?

That’s because it’s very hard to think two thoughts at the same time, which probably explains why I can’t help my child with her third-grade math homework while reading work emails. (At least, that’s what I tell myself to justify the fact that, truth be told, I find third-grade math rather difficult.)

Research shows that grateful people tend to be healthier, happier, and less stressed-out than their unappreciative peers. They also have better relationships, complain less, and sleep better.

And you know what all that means, don’t you, my mojo-minded mates? It means that the attitude of gratitude will improve your groove.

This week’s assignment is to write down one thing you’re grateful for every day. At the end of the week, you’ll have a list of seven items that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Read your list every morning when you wake up, and every night before you go to sleep. Sleep with it next to your bed, and if insomnia strikes and you find yourself staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night wondering how you’re going to resolve the latest world crisis, take the list out and look at it again.

Your thoughts of thankfulness will remind you what’s truly important in your life, and that, above everything else, is the best mojo-multiplier ever.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

You gotta move if you want to groove...

I have big news. Are you sitting down?

Here’s the news: You’d better stand up.

A recent study declared that people who spend much of their time sitting have a higher incidence of disease than those who don't sit much. Another study from the American Cancer Society found that people who spend more time sitting have a higher risk of death, despite their overall activity level. Women who sat for more than six hours per day were 37% more likely to die, and men who sat for more than six hours per day were 18% more likely to die than those who sat for fewer than three hours per day. Yet another study suggests that sitting down for extended periods of time is just as dangerous as smoking.

But that’s not the worst of it. Here’s the really, REALLY bad news…

Several studies have shown that the more television you watch, the more likely you are to be at risk for serious disease.

One study showed that people who watched four hours or more of television per day were 80% more likely to die from heart disease and 46% more likely to die from any cause than people who watched less than two hours of tv per day. Another study shows that a person should watch NO MORE THAN 30 hours of television per month for optimal health.

For real? 30 hours per month? That's barely one show a day! What about all those Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathons I’ve been doing lately? No wonder I lost my mojo… and no wonder Buffy still has hers. She gets a lot of cardio downing demons and annihilating the underworld. All I do is sit on the couch and watch. The only time my heart rate goes up is when Spike takes his shirt off.

It's not just Buffy. TV is my "Hey, I'm always here for, day or night" friend; my "I don't care if you're wearing sweats from 1982" friend; my "I'm so talented I can both entertain AND inform you" friend. TV is my constant companion and my brainless buddy. TV lets me shut the real world out when the real world gets a little too... real. But alas, it seems too much TV has been slowly squashing my sparkle.

Truth be told, TV isn't the biggest culprit behind the dreaded spread. Most of us spend the majority of our day sitting behind our desks or in front of our computers. Let’s not discuss how many hours per day I spend working, and therefore sitting, at my desk. (Really, let’s not discuss it. It’s depressing, and besides, it's a topic for another post.)

So here is our mission of the week, my newly-perky pals: We're not going to become a sitting statistic! We’re going to move. We're going to get up and go. We’re going to shake our groove-thing every chance we get. At the very minimum, we will:

Get intentional exercise for 30 minutes each day this week. And by intentional, I mean, we put on our work-out clothes and purposely find a way to sweat. You could go hiking, running, walking, or, if you live somewhere without a foot of snow on the ground, go cycling or kayaking. If you’re not up for braving the weather, then hit the gym for a spin class, a Zumba class, or a jaunt on the treadmill. No gym membership? No worries. Turn on your ipad and tune in to your inner rock star. Dance, sing, jump around your living room like a lunatic. Just make sure you don’t scare your kids. And make sure you do it for at least half an hour.

Get unintentional exercise, too. Remember those studies? They say it’s bad to sit for several hours per day, even if you get regular exercise. That means we have to get up and groove as much as we can during the day. We’re going to take a break from our computers every hour or so. We’ll use the bathroom upstairs just to have an excuse to climb stairs, we’ll skip to the mailbox, we'll do leg lifts while on conference calls, we'll actually walk outside with the dog (instead of standing in the doorway waiting for it to do its business) and we’ll find the farthest parking spot possible when we run our errands.

We. Will. Not. Watch. Too. Much. Television. Damn. That was even hard to write. I admit it. I’m a tv junkie. You know there’s nothing I like more than sitting down on the couch with a cup of coffee in one hand and the remote control in the other. But apparently, too much television is mojo minimizing, so I’m going to limit the tube to one hour per day, for the sake of my sprightliness. How about you?

Fill me in on your progress this week! I can’t wait to hear about how you’re (literally) moving toward your mojo.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Missing Mojo?

I recently lost my mojo.

You know what your mojo is, right? It's your self-confidence, your oomph, your vitality, that magic thang that's unique to only you... your GROOVE.

There are lots of different ways to lose your groove. Maybe you recently lost your job, which to so many of us, is tied to our very identity. Maybe you are faced with a serious illness, and you don't feel like you have the energy to give to anything groovy. Perhaps you're going through a divorce or a break-up, and you're not sure if you could ever again trust another human being, as you're having enough trouble trusting yourself and your apparently horrid judgement of other human beings. Maybe you gained weight, and you don't feel like the groovilicious goddess you could be. Maybe your house is a mess and you know your mojo is probably hidden under those piles of laundry, that sink full of dishes, and all that mail that you can never find time to open.

Sometimes, we don't even know why we lose our mojo, we just know we can't find it right now.

The reality is that it doesn't matter how or why you lost your mojo. What matters is that you get it back.

And since I am in search of my misplaced mojo, I thought there might be others who want to join the search for their own gone-astray groove.

So, sass-seekers, join me on this journey to take back what is rightfully ours. We're going to tackle the different ways to get our groove back. Each post will hold a magic bullet; one thing we can do each day to move towards our missing mojo.

Are you with me?

Since you're still reading, I guess that's a YES!

Come back tomorrow for the first step on how to IMPROVE YOUR GROOVE. It's a new year. A fresh start. The perfect time to unleash your juju.

I look forward to gettin' groovy with you!