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girl-with-bubblesMy Friday was a little on the busy side, so this list is a bit late.  However, better late than never, right! 🙂

This Friday I wanted to focus on creating our dream day.  What would your dream day, or perfect day, look like?  Sound like?  Smell like?  Feel like?  Even taste like?

And, more importantly, what can we do to bring in elements of our dream day into our realities?

As adults, we tend to think about work and then family and then if there is any energy left over we can think about ourselves for a minute.  But we have to remember: you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else.  This is a lesson I learned the hard way.  As a teacher, I was so busy taking care of my 4- and 5-year-old students that I neglected my own health.  It came back to haunt me.  My health became so poor that I had to quit teaching in order to get back on track.  We have to make sure that we are taken care of before we take care of others because if we get sick there will be no one left to take care of any of us, right?

So, focusing on our five senses, let’s take a moment to figure out how to incorporate some comfort into our hectic lives:

1. Think about the things that make you feel comforted.  Those items, people, and experiences that you crave after your most hellish days.  I discovered my own set of comforts after my father died.  I realized there were certain foods, sounds, activities, people, and thoughts that bring me comfort.  I noticed that my comfort foods were foods I grew up eating- cheese toast, chicken salad, Drumsticks ice cream, white grapes, Granny Smith apples with peanut butter, hot tea.  What foods do you find yourself craving when you need comfort? Try to eat one of your comfort foods this week and see if you don’t feel your shoulders relax when you take your first bite.

2. What about your sense of touch?  Most everyone loves to get a hug when they are having a bad day.  But what can you do to soothe yourself?  After my boyfriend and I broke up, I found my cat to be a great source of not only companionship but she also soothed me when I pet her.  There is something very cathartic about a pet.  And there is research to prove it.  If you don’t have a pet, borrow one for a while and just pet it.  Today I, along with my mother and sisters, received prayer shawls from my mom’s church to help us with my father’s death.  They are beautiful to look at, but best of all they are made of the softest yarn and they are warm.  We were all wearing ours around the house this afternoon, feeling great comfort in this simplest of ways.  Soft fabrics such as wool, silk, and cotton are very relaxing to the touch.  Having a wool or cotton blanket on hand that you can bring out when you need some pampering can do wonders.  Massages are a nice way to relax your muscles, as well, whether you seek the expertise of a professional massage therapist or give yourself a pedicure at home.  Having some thick lotions on hand that you can rub into aching feet and tired hands can make a bad day seem to float further away from your consciousness.

3. What about your other senses?  Aromatherapy candles can bring relaxation to your mind or can bring back memories of a time when you were happy.  I love the smell of coconut.  It takes me away to a tropical place where I can imagine lying on the hot sand at the beach, listening to the cool waves of the ocean crash on the shore.  Very dreamy!  Peppermint is a great aroma for times when you want to feel more alert and energized so you can spend the day surfing or playing a pick-up game of basketball.

4. What about sight? Think about the colors you surround yourself with.  Then consider how you want to feel when you are in your home.  Soft blues and muted greens and beiges are good for a relaxing bedroom.  Bright yellows and vibrant reds are perfect for a recreation room.  Bring nature into your home with a potted plant or two or decorating in greens and browns with the occassional hint of color (as long as it is not too bright). If you love the outdoors, get out there more!  Eat dinner on the back porch during the summertime (don’t forget your citronella candle!) and take in all of the beauty of the trees and flowers and sky.  Pencil in time to go skiing one day in the winter and take in the majesty of the mountains covered in white snow.  Take the kids on a hike and try to name as many plants and trees and flowers and forest animals that can.  Take in the beautiful sights that are right there for you, free, anytime.

5. And don’t forget about sounds! Keep some CDs or I-tune playlists on hand that have just the right mix of music for you when you are feeling nostalgic or needing a pick-me-up or just wanting to bask in the happiness that surrounds you.  What songs elicit certain feelings in you?  And if you have trouble sleeping because of traffic noise or noisy neighbors, invest in a white noise machine.  It can help even the lightest of sleepers get some zzz’s.

Article was found on the web site Zen Habits and was written by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind.

At the beginning of the new year I decided to go Raw for 30 days. I’ve always been interested in eating a raw diet, but never had the guts to completely jump in and do it. I would eat raw for breakfast and lunch most days but would break down at dinner time and eat cooked food. I was eating about 60-80% raw, I just needed the extra push to move to eating 100% raw vegan food. I got that push after seeing these amazing before and after eating raw photos. (Link was in original article.)

I decided the best way to know if something is all it’s cracked up to be is to try it. At the very worst if it doesn’t work out you can always go back, right?

What I found is that eating raw is not only easy to do, but makes you feel amazing.

It wasn’t easy to resist eating cooked foods at first. Just like breaking any habit, it takes time and persistence. Most of all, it helps to simply take it one day at a time and focus on only one goal. For the new year I decided not to make any other resolutions or goals, but to simply eat a raw vegan diet for 30 days.

Here are just a few things I’ve learned:

  1. Live foods. It’s common sense right? A cooked seed won’t grow, but a raw seed will. Heating food over 118 degrees Fahrenheit destroys much of the nutrients in your food. Cooking food also diminishes the natural life energy. I’d rather put living food in my body.
  2. Enzymes. Cooking food destroys much of the natural enzymes (your body can also create enzymes, but can only do so much) in your food that are needed to break down nutrients. Eating raw eliminates this problem.
  3. Insane energy. You won’t know this unless you try it for yourself, but eating raw gives you an amazing boost in energy. I used to get tired around 2 or 3pm during the day. Now I simply don’t have that problem. When I do get tired, it doesn’t last nearly as long and an orange or apple will recharge me within a few minutes.
  4. Better sleep and less sleep needed. I’ve slept better than ever while eating raw. But most importantly, I don’t wake up feeling tired or groggy anymore. On most days, I wake up feeling full of energy.
  5. Increased mental clarity. Eating raw has helped me focus on the things that are important and made me more emotionally in tune with others. I feel like a wall of fog has been removed in my mind. It’s easier to think clearly and focus for long periods of time.
  6. Eat as much as you want. This isn’t really a health benefit, but it is pretty awesome. I never get that uncomfortable full feeling eating raw. You know where you have to unbutton the top button on your pants and take a nap? I don’t get that. I can eat as much as I want, and while I will feel full, I don’t feel weighed down or tired.
  7. Less cleanup. Simply put, there aren’t many dishes to wash when you eat fruit and vegetables. Although if you do compost (like I do), you’ll probably have to do it more often.
  8. No packaging. Eating raw means less packaging all around (well, I guess you could argue that banana and orange peels are “packaging”). This means less trash in a landfill and more room in your cupboards. Win/win for everyone.
  9. More regularity. You should naturally have around two to three bowel movements a day. If you’re going less than that, it probably means your intestines are unhealthily clogged. A raw diet gives you more than enough fiber to keep you regular.
  10. Connection with the earth. Eating food that’s been freshly picked just feels different. You feel more connected to the earth and more grounded. Eating lots of processed foods — frozen or from a box — makes creates more of a gap and leaves you feeling disconnected from the earth that sustains you.

Want to give it a try? If you’re interested in pursuing a raw diet, here are a few great resources to get you started:

It should be noted that you don’t have to go 100% raw to see the benefits of eating this way. My transition to a raw diet wasn’t a quick process. I’ve been vegetarian for seven years and in the past two, started eliminating most dairy as well.

You don’t have to drop out and becoming a complete raw foodist right away. Any increase in raw foods in your diet will give you noticeable, immediate results.

This article was written by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind.

This article was found on Monster.com.

Make Your Mark to Reach the Executive Suite

Plenty important, say headhunters, career coaches and management-development professionals. “You have to arrange your own discovery,” one executive search professional explains. But short of establishing your own vanity press and putting out books on topics you know something about — assuming, of course, you have a book’s worth of hot ideas in you — just how can you get the visibility in your field that will lead headhunters and other talent scouts to your door?

Here are a few possibilities:

  • Get Out of Your Office: Go to conferences, speak up in discussions, have people notice your ideas. Choose your meetings and conventions wisely, where you’ll be likely to meet people from different levels in your industry. Don’t view the time as a play day away from the office, but rather as a time to showcase your own competence and style. Read and think about the theme of the conference or seminar before you go so that you have some intelligent things to say there.
  • Get Quoted: Find friends of friends or family members who write articles about business or your field. Come up with some fresh ideas and get yourself introduced to somebody who is writing relevant articles and might quote you.
  • Speak Up: Volunteer to give talks anywhere there are people to listen — in your community, at your college or in your industry. Have something novel to say — you can’t tell who might be around to quote you.
  • Study Your Favorite Trade Magazines: Consider how you might get mentioned by someone else, or consider writing something yourself for one of those publications. Or get the annual Writer’s Market, a bible of who’s accepting articles on which topics in every kind of publication. Chances are you could find 20 or more likely publications. Some will pay well and some will pay in reprints, but money is not the issue here — what counts is just getting your name out there so some headhunters will want you on their prospect list.
  • Go to Events: Whenever something’s happening in your community or in your industry, go — whether you want to or not. Being seen and heard often can give you the visibility you need to be perceived as a leader, someone to watch.

But What If All This Visibility Isn’t Your Thing?

Well, here’s the rub — being visible, enjoying the limelight and having valuable things to say about the state of your industry, your community and the world are a major part of life at the top of the executive heap. Being honest with yourself about whether you really want to do that is an essential part of your own self-assessment and career management. If doing these five things sounds like an intriguing challenge, then you’d probably enjoy the extracurriculars of senior management. If you find yourself recoiling at the thought, then that tells you a little something about whether you’d be better off planning your career a different way. Life at the top is not necessarily about who is the best or the most talented — it’s largely about who enjoys the art and science of self-promotion. Only you can know if that’s you or not!

Home on Tuesday 02-03-09

This is the first post for Home on Tuesday, part of the new weekly schedule here at Life Lists.  I was going to add this first article I linked to as the post for today, but found it was more user-friendly on their own site.  Plus, I found a couple of other articles I couldn’t wait to share with you.  So, here you go!  Hope you find something useful!

1. Check out these deliciously creative ways to showcase your collectibles in your home from Better Homes and Gardens, whether the collections are family heirlooms or baseball memorabillia.

2. Where you live depends greatly upon how you plant and cultivate your garden.  Get gardening tips specific to your geographic location from Lowe’s (U.S. only).

3. It’s on nearly everyone’s minds these days.  Gasoline is expensive and in a lot of cities and towns in the U.S. (and, indeed, around the world), cars are a must because of the lack of public transportation (or where I live, even sidewalks).  So, how can we be greener if we can’t give up our cars?  Ethenol, perhaps?  Well, the hosts at About.com’s Hybrid Cars & Alt Fuels try to get to exactly what is Ethenol, and the pros and cons of its use.

4. Take a look at the Innovative Project of the Week, brought to you by Interior Design Magazine.  This week’s project was designed by Barker Nestor.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for Working Wednesday!  You can also subscribe to Life Lists’ RSS feed by clicking on the icon in the top right corner of the page, above the banner.


The New Weekly Schedule:

Relationships Monday

Home on Tuesday

Working Wednesdays

Fit & Healthy Thursdays

Fun Friday Lists

Stress-Free Saturdays

A Spot of Sunday Creativity

Every Monday I am going to try to post links to sites and articles having to do with relationships.

1. First, you may want to take this Relationship Satisfaction Test from Psychology Today.  It will help you determine what areas are your strengths as a couple, and what areas you could use some improvement on.

2. Bond with your sweetie like never before with these 25 Ways to Get Connected.

3. Looking for a Valentine’s Day idea?  Try this.

4. Don’t have a date for V-Day?  That’s okay.  Me neither!  And I am happy about it.  No, really!  If you don’t think you can be happy being single, read this iVillage article to start you on your way.

5. On an interesting note, I saw on MSNBC.com that researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have found that extra estrogen may make some women stray.  Feeling the pull?  Read about what could be going on (besides reaching your threshold for the number of your hubby’s dirty socks that can’t seem to make it to the hamper.)

6. Think it is time to break it off with your significant other?  Don’t know how?  It may pay to read this first.

7. The FDA has recalled many products containing peanuts.  Keep your family safe by keeping in the know.  Bookmark this page from the FDA that gives you a list of all of the recalled products and then check back often.

Tomorrow is Home on Tuesday.  Check back for list articles and/or links to help you with your home, garden, and automobile!

The New Weekly Schedule:

Relationships Monday

Home on Tuesday

Working Wednesdays

Fit & Healthy Thursdays

Fun Friday Lists

Stress-Free Saturdays

A Spot of Sunday Creativity

Well, I  am testing out a new format for the site.  And I need your opinions! The first format is, of course, what I have been doing: finding great self-improvement articles and showcasing them in an easy-to-digest list format.  The second format, which I am showing you here, is what I am trying out.  I have listed several self-improvement articles for you to check out from around the internet.  This would be more like a convenient round-up of good articles for the day (or week, if you prefer) for you to check out instead of sifting through all of those blogs and magazines and newspapers and journals yourself.  I have, in the past, listed articles from offline that I have found, but the majority of the articles have come from the internet.

So, be sure to leave a comment on this post and let me know your preference. It is completely up to you, the reader!  I want to make Life Lists as helpful to you as it can be.  So, without further ado, what might be the new Life Lists:

1. The Socratic Method to Great Living (5 Simple Steps) – from Zen Habits

The very foundation of western philosophical thought came from Socrates.  How can you improve your life by learning the fundamentals of Socrates thinking?  See this post.

2. Top 10 Travel Health Problems & How to Handle Them– from Traveler’s Notebook

From tooth injuries to mosquito bites, this article tells you what to do when you encounter them while traveling abroad.

3. 5 Ways to Develop Independent Thought– from Pick The Brain

I had this post tucked in my folder to share with you this week.  I am a big fan of not following the crowd, but instead forming my own opinions based on experiences, evidence, and ideas.

4. How to Become Your Sexiest Self in 2009 – from eHarmony Advice

I don’t remember what phrase I was searching under when I found this article, but it has good advice for self-improvement, whether you are dating, mating, or divinely single.

5. 75 Skills Every Woman Should Master– from Abundance Blog at Marelisa Online

Yes, it is written by a woman. 🙂  It would be my first question, too, ladies.  She actually took a cue from an Esquire magazine article for men and tailored it to women.  I realize there are more than a few skills on the list that I should definitely be looking into.

6. Ten Tips to Boost Your Happiness– from The Happiness Project

Gretchen uses her blog to share the wisdom she has gained as a result of her project: to try every happiness tip, gadget, theory, and principle she could find for a year.  And recently she began helping others create their own Happiness Projects.  This article is a good place to start if you have not read Gretchen’s Blog before.  It lists ten tips that you might not automatically think of on your road to happiness.

7. How to Eat Mindfully – from About.com

While this article falls under the About topic of borderline personality disorder, it does not in any way apply solely to those who have BPD.  Mindfulness is a meditation exercise that can lead to more productivity, less stress, and a bigger gain in achieving goals.  Mindful eating is simply a meditation skill to help you eat a healthier diet.  Read the tips, give it a try, and see if it doesn’t help you from caving in to that brownie that keeps beckoning you.

8. Your Guide to Never Feeling Tired Again– from WebMD and Redbook Magazine

You’re yawning during your morning meeting.  You have to grab something from the vending machine around 10am to keep from nodding off at your desk.  You grab some caffeine to go while driving the carpool to soccer practice.  You keep staring off into space while your significant other is talking to you because you are just too tired to focus.  Sound familiar?  You are not alone.  And WebMD has some strategies to help you feel more energized.  Ready, set, visit. 🙂

Don’t forget to leave me a comment and let me know if you prefer this format or the previous Life Lists’ format!  Your feedback will determine what you will see on Monday!  Thanks and happy living! 🙂

This post was found at Schaefer’s Blog: Lessons in Skilled Living and was written by Cameron Schaefer.

Reading is one of the best ways to learn, develop and change. However, the immense benefits of reading are only as great as one’s ability to remember and process the information. Nothing is more frustrating than reading a great book and not being able to recall any of the major points a year or even a month later. It makes the whole process seem like a huge waste.

My family are all avid readers and they instilled that passion in me. I try to read at least 2 books a month, but often more. Over the past few years I’ve made a much greater effort to be more intentional about my reading, making sure to get the most out of the process. Here is some of the best advice I’ve come across when it comes to remembering what you read:

1) Read With the Goal of Teaching Someone Else – My friend Glenn has one of the most brilliant minds I know. He can read a book and process the information, quickly adapting new ideas into his life and teaching others along the way. The secret to Glenn’s ability started during his childhood. Every weekend his family would go to the local library to read. During dinner they would teach the other members of the family what they learned that day. This ritual formed a wonderful habit in Glenn of reading comprehensively in order to teach someone else. He had to constantly think, “How will I be able to explain the main ideas of this book to others.” In doing so he delved deep into the book and the information stuck with him.

2) Read the Last Chapter First – This one is more geared towards non-fiction as I can already hear people screaming, “But it’ll ruin the ending!” At the end of most books is a summary chapter that gives the main ideas and how they all tie together. By reading this first you are then able to catch these ideas and themes more easily as you go through the book. It also allows you to read like the author would read his own book, with a full understanding of where everything is going.

3) Take Notes – Lots of people utilize this technique in school, but let it go when they toss their caps at graduation. Taking notes allows a reader to right down key points, themes and memorable quotes. In doing so the information is then processed twice, once when read and once when written. This gives the reader a much greater chance of remembering. My friend Beau uses a pencil to mark and highlight in the book as he reads and then transfers this information into Google Docs. He has a great summary of his method here.

4) Read When You’re Awake – Most people read right before they go to bed. After a long day, they’re usually tired and hardly in the best state to process and retain information. By reading at other times throughout the day chances are their minds would work much better. If you are a night person maybe it is the best time for you to read. The important thing is to know your body and know what times of day are best for thinking and concentrating. Try to schedule your reading during these times and you will give yourself a much better chance of remembering what you read.

5) Discuss What You’re Reading – Some of the books we remember most vividly are those that we read in our high school English class. Why? It is the practice of nearly every teacher to have lively class discussions and debates over each section of a book. In discussing the book we were able to process the information as a group, bouncing ideas off each other and hearing different perspectives. All of these made us use the information in various ways cementing it in our minds and helping us remember. Most of us are no longer in high school, but the options are endless. Join a book club, or if you have a good group of friends, start one. Discuss the book online in book forums or in a social networking group like Facebook. The important thing is to talk about what you’re reading.

6) Read the CliffsNotes First – We’re not in high school anymore, so it’s not cheating. Especially for some of the classics, reading the cliff notes before starting the book can provide all kids of insight into characters, themes, symbolism and author background. By reading these things beforehand you are helping ensure that you won’t miss them as you read the book. Another benefit of reading summaries is the mental debate you will have each time you reach a controversial section as you ask yourself whether you agree with the conventional interpretations.

7) Find Your Reading Environment – Sometimes more important than how you are reading is where you are reading. Is the television on? Are the kids crawling all over you? Do you do your best reading on the airplane? Some things can’t be helped, but finding a good reading environment goes a long way. I had never thought much about where I read until reading a great post Ben Casnocha wrote on optimizing activity for location a couple months ago. He explained, “…when thinking about what you’re going to do, think about where you’re going to be, and how that place will affect your productivity at completing the activity.” Find your reading environment and enjoy remembering what you read.