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!