2013 The Year to Get Happier!

Is it just me or do people seem grumpier than usual this January? It’s been raining here in Houston, so maybe the weather is affecting our moods.  Or, it could be the fiscal cliff, talk about guns,  taxes or maybe it’s those darn Gen Y’s infiltrating the workplace!

Hey!

It’s time to shake the blues and work on getting a little happier. Negativity is costly! I just read that disengaged workers cost the U.S. economy $350 billion a year in lost productivity.

We are finally realizing that when we are happy we are more productive, more responsive and engaged, and we have an overall sense of well-being.

Mid-Day De-Stressors- or Put a Cork in It!

The last few nights I have been grinding my teeth in my sleep and consequently I woke up with a really painful tight jaw.  After doing a little research on the web (thank you Dr Oz) I learned that when we are stressed, overworked, or worried we hold  tension in our hips and our jaw.

We can reduce the pain and the stress by doing some simple stretches.  So I tried his rather famous wine cork stretch and miraculously it worked! My jaw pain is going and I feel great and now I am into all three exercises.  If you get a little sluggish mid-day  at work or at home,  you might want to try these to   relieve your day to day  work stress, and please

let me know if they work for you.

1. Put a wine cork long side up (vertically) between your teeth and gently bite down.  If you can keep it there for 60 seconds good for you. I have to do several shorter bites, but it does works! Biting the cork opens your jaw and  can help relax the it and reduce the jaw stress. A glass of the wine could also help!

Also: Think about doing this exercise before you go to be to relax you jaw before you sleep.

2.  We hold a lot of our tension in our hips, so this stretch will help open your hips and and also reduce stress.

Bend over as if you are touching your toes, but keep a flat back … then  thrust your backside towards the wall and touch your toes, continuing to  keeping a flat back and opening your

hips.                                                                                          Repeat 5 times, each time going deeper and deeper into the floor.

  3. Now it’s time to stretch your diaphragm which sits below your lungs and above your stomach. This exercise will help you, get more oxygen into your lungs, and that’s a good thing!

Take a deep breath in,  filling your lungs and pushing out your diaphragm to the count of 1, 2, 3, 4.  As you fill your  diaphragm with air you are pushing your belly button OUT-

and that’s a good thing too!

 

 

Now exhale out then on the counts of 5, 6, 7, 8           and pull your belly button in towards your spine as tight as possible! Repeat 10 times each day!

 

Breathing through your nose stimulates your nitric oxide and NO is one of the ways to promote wakefulness and anti-aging. Dr. Oz says that this exercise is really important! and I don’t know about you but I listen to Dr. Oz!

 

 

Professionalism Still Matters-In business and in life who you serve makes the rules.

Question: It professional dress still relevant? Answer YES…In business and in life, who you serve makes the rules!

Last week I spoke at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville Alabama.  The Arsenal is pretty impressive and so are the people! I was taken  with the professionalism of the team that brought  me in as well as the civilians who attended my program. The U.S.Army prides itself on tradition and I learned that the U.S. Army is tightening the rules on hair, tattoos, makeup for military and civilian attire.

Here are a few of the regulations…Read all of them here.

  • Tattoos will not be visible above the neck line when the physical fitness uniform is worn. Tattoos will not extend below the wrist line and not be visible on the hands. Sleeve tattoos will be prohibited. (This rule may be grandfathered.)
  • Soldiers will not eat, drink, smoke, or talk on cellphones while walking.
  • Army Combat Uniforms will not be commercially pressed; only hand ironing will be authorized.
  • No visible body piercings will be allowed on or off duty. Males will not be allowed to wear earrings at any time. Ear gauging will be unauthorized.
  •  No dental ornamentation or gold teeth will be authorized.

I am impressed with the army. I believe that organizations and businesses need to define their brand, culture and their image.  Employees need not only guidelines on how to show up for work each day, but also the WHY behind the rules.

Toady, employees  need to understand that there are other people in the world and that they all have needs. It’s not always about YOU, your need to express yourself, and  what you believe you are entitled to.

In business and in life who you serve makes the rules.

Busting Some Myths about Change

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. “Charles Darwin

We live in a time of great uncertainty where change is the only constant. The reality of economic forecasts, keeping up with technology, globalization, continual learning, and the challenges that generational differences have presented keep us in a perpetual cycle of change. I was hired to help the client’s employees   embrace change. Achieving your goals requires the honesty to identify what it is that needs to change and then executing a strategy to make it happen.

The question is not, “Will you change?” the question is, “How will you respond to change?”

Florida Recreation and Parks Rocks

“Karen McCullough’s  presentation ‘Change is Good – You Go First’ was spot on with our members.  She made our delegates feel more comfortable with change and embrace the opportunities that change presents to us each day.  She was humorous and connected with our participants immediately when she came floor level and involved members of the audience.  She even had one member literally ‘dancing in the aisle’.  Great speaker, great message, great results.”

Eleanor Warmack, CPRP, CAE, Executive Director FPRA

Here’s the Slides I promised!

Last week  I opened  the  Florida Recreation and Parks Association Conference, and I met the most amazing people. I learned that people who go into the parks and recreation are dedicated and caring and they don’t do it for the money… they care about all the generations young and old and they care about their well being. Thanks for having me! I learned so much about dedication, passion and making a difference!

and thanks for the good words Eleanore!

 

 

 

 


 

Change is Good – Time to Re-Think Your Value

No matter what generation you are in. No matter what business or career you have chosen. No matter your job status.Today, everyone needs to know where they bring value to their organization. Take the time to think more deeply about yourself. What is it that is at the core or the heart of what you love to do? For a moment, let’s not think about your title, your role, responsibilities, or accomplishments at work … go much deeper than that.

 

What extra things do you at work,  that you really don’t need to, but you do it anyway because that’s who you are? For example, are there projects that you volunteered to be on or has your curiosity led you to work on something until 11:00 at night because it intrigued you? This is where your value lies!

Many times, we don’t recognize our true value because we don’t put value on it; we just blow it off and think everyone does this, but this will reveal your true essense.

Yoga to My Rescue- Life Lessons Learned on the Yoga Mat

When my daughter Meredith and I were writing The Seven Women Project, we made sure we carved out time each week to communicate and write.  The book has been out for a few years now, and we both agree that we do not spend enough time together.  That said, Meredith asked me if I would like to spend a weekend with her on a yoga retreat in the Berkshires.  I thought, at the time, that that sounded like a lovely idea—a yoga retreat, how relaxing! Although I did not do much yoga, Meredith assured me that I had nothing to fear; it would be low key and rather basic.

Meredith

So Meredith took the lead and made reservations for  “Desiree Rumbaugh’s Yoga to the Rescue” weekend in Kripalu. Kripalu  is a center for yoga, spiritual development, and healing, and it is located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The brochure says it’s the perfect place to relax, regenerate, and redefine your life. No TV, no wine, and no talking at breakfast!

We arrived just in time for Friday night dinner (which was very healthy, organic, and surprisingly delicious), and then right after dinner, we were off to the first two hour yoga session. When we arrived the room was full of both men and women sitting on their mats ready to go. I soon discovered that I was the least experienced yogi in the room! Desiree told us that we were going to learn the basics principles of alignment, and how anyone can learn to apply them in yoga poses and in everyday life.  Sounded simple enough—and then we started.

I soon discovered that just standing (the mountain pose) required concentration, and as we bent over, we were told, “Hug feet and shins together; think about tearing  the mat apart with your feet and take your thighs  back; pull your rib cage in and widen your back, and scoop your tailbone down and squeeze your heels together.  Now feel the pose!” I was starting to sweat!

Two hours on Friday night, five hours on Saturday, and two on Sunday—and I have to admit I loved it. I was challenged to the core and almost didn’t attend the Sunday session. I had work through the fear, dig way down, focus, and let go of my inner critic—and I did it!

Here are some of the things I took away with me from the weekend:

1. Pushing your Edge:  How far do you push? How much do you stretch?  How deep do you go into a pose? In yoga, each person has to identify their personal limits. If you don’t go far enough, there is no challenge and your body does not have the opportunity to open and get the full benefit. But going in too deep hurts! And you can injure yourself.  The idea is to find the balance between the two— pushing right to the point before the pain—going deep enough to get to your body’s edge.

 

2. Yoga should not hurt:  But my knees hurt! And I was saying, “Yikes, I can’t do that pose.” Here is what I discovered: when you have pain, there is always an adjustment or modification to the pose. To alleviate my knees screaming out at me, I had to elevate my pelvis by adding folded blankets between my thighs and calves (you could use a block or a pillow), and then sit back onto the blankets for several minutes. There is always a modification—but yoga should not hurt!

 

3. Effort and surrender: The first day I found myself struggling to hold a pose. My legs were trembling; my balance was shaky, and it felt a bit awkward. And then if that wasn’t challenging enough, we were asked to let go of our tension in body and breath. Combining effort and surrender sounds like a total contradiction, but they explain that while struggling to hold a pose, you are to let go and breathe; you are to be both alert and relaxed at the same time.

                                           Desiree’s Wisdom Warrior Session in Del Mar

4. Practicing yoga does not have an expiration date: We are living longer—and I learned that you can do yoga up until the end of the line. The secret is in doing it correctly. Most of the injuries that we hear about happen because the instructor is not showing the correct alignment. Once you master the Universal Principles of Alignment and apply them to each pose, you not only get better, you feel better!

 

It’s been three weeks now since the retreat. I have been to several yoga classes here in Houston, but I find that just spending 15 minutes each morning doing a few sun salutations and other stretches (with proper alignment) that I am feeling more energized and happier!

 

So what’s my big take-away from the weekend. I discovered that I have been very hard on myself—judgmental and self-critical. At times I am my own worst enemy.  In class (and in life), I found myself comparing myself to others who were more skilled , more flexible, in better shape, and who had been practicing yoga for years—and I was continually apologizing for my shortcomings. (Poor me!)

 

As the retreat days moved towards the end and I saw my progress, I stopped beating myself up. I respected what I had accomplished, and I was feeling a kindness towards myself. I actually had self-compassion and I liked it. I am going to use yoga as my reminder that a little self-love makes me feel more secure, more accepted, and more alive!

Namisde! and thanks Desiree and Meredith

Why Is It So Hard to Change? – Solution…Create a Ritual!

It seems like every January, I compile a list of resolutions, and by February, they are only a fleeting thought.

Why is it so hard to change?

Achieving our goals requires the honesty to identify what it is that needs to change, and then a strategy to make it happen. That said, making positive personal change is one of the hardest challenges we face. Small changes can add up to big results … and as my motivational hero Jim Rohn always said, “small changes are easy to do and are also easy not to do!” My purpose is to help people find strategies that they can put into their lives to help them make the positive changes necessary to live happy and fulfilled lives.

Back when I first started working out of my home office early in my speaking career, four o’clock would roll around, and I would watch the Oprah show. Time after time, her guests gave me insights into my seminars and speeches. One program, in particular, sticks out as a game changer.

It was back in 2004 as I was watching her show, and I heard the authors and life coaches Jim Loehr and Tony Schwarts (co-authors of The Power of Full Engagement) talk about power positive rituals and how rituals can help us implement positive changes into our lives. I got excited! I had been working on my Change is Good program, and a light bulb came on in my head—this was something I could use!

A positive ritual is a behavior that becomes automatic over time and is fueled by some deeply held value.

Pull vs. Push

They explained that many of us believe the ability to change requires tremendous self-discipline, and that self-discipline requires us to push ourselves towards a new behavior.

Creating positive rituals is a little different.  Rituals pull you to the desired behavior. Think about your morning ritual—for instance, brushing your teeth. For most of us, the trip to the bathroom is the first thing we do when we awake each morning since nature is calling. Then we grab our toothbrushes and brush our teeth! It’s not something that we have to remind ourselves to do. We do it because it makes us feel better, cleaner, and we do it automatically. We don’t think, “Do I need to brush my teeth today?” We just do it.

Loehr and Schwarts tell us that the power of rituals is that we don’t have to put much time or energy into the thought process behind our actions. We just do it. If you are limber and fit, you more than likely have a workout ritual—something that you do almost every day. If you are successful in sales, you probably have a particular ritual or process that you do to get and keep the sales. And if you are a busy working mom or dad, you are sure to have morning rituals that get the kids off to school and you to work each day. Rituals help us stay on track and lead us to sustained high performance.

    A ritual that worked for Dan

In Houston a few years back, I was coaching an executive, Dan, who had recently gone through a divorce and, on top of that, had four kids in college. During our sessions it became very obvious that Dan’s mental state was affecting his work and his happiness. He shared with me that he felt that the only time his kids ever called him was when they were out of cash and needed his help. I suggested that he create a ritual that would help connect him back to his kids. I proposed that every night after work and before the drive home he would call one of his kids (this occurred before texting was so popular). He would call one on Monday, another one every Tuesday and so on, and on Friday, it would be nice if he called his mother. Dan’s only objection was that his kids never answered the phone. So I told him to leave an upbeat message, saying he just wanted to check in and say, “Hi,” to ask how they were doing and to send his love.
For the first month or so, no one answered the phone (except mom), and no one called him back. About six weeks into the ritual, his kids started answering. After a few months, Dan found out that they were actually anticipating his call, and that they were looking forward it. Dan discovered that connecting with his kids made him happy, and when he was happy, he was productive! It’s funny how our state of mind, our happiness connects us to productivity and success.

A ritual that worked for me!

Everyone knows that exercise and brisk walking are not only good for you, but are necessary if we want to live healthy lives. We know the facts: the American Journal of Epidemiology states that walking for 30 minutes a day can cut diabetes risks for overweight as well as non-overweight men and women. Yet many of us simply do not get up off the couch and walk!

I know that because I was one of the non-walkers. I needed a “get-out-of-bed-and-walk” ritual.

At first, I thought if I laid my walking clothes right beside my bed, I would get up, get dressed and go out and walk—but that didn’t work! I would get up, make the coffee, listen to the news, mosey into the office and start working on my computer—all while still in my jammies. So next, I decided to sleep in my workout out clothes. When that didn’t work, I had to think of something that I could do while I was walking that would lure me into wanting to walk. Then I got it!

I always wanted to read fiction, but never found the time. So I got on audible.com and started downloading books that I always want to read but never found the time. The first audio book I got was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I put it in my iPhone, got out my ear buds, and I was ready to go. That night, I laid out my workout clothes with my phone and ear buds, and bam—I got excited and couldn’t wait to get up the next morning to walk.

Some mornings, I find myself walking an hour or more because the book I am into is so good that I don’t want to stop. Over the past year, I have enjoyed over 15 books! And I have lost 20 pounds. Now that’s a super great ritual!

Are you ready to create a ritual or two to help yourself?

Remember:

1. A ritual serves as a tool to create positive changes in your life.

2. You can use rituals to manage your behavior.

3. To make lasting changes,  focus on building several rituals into your life, concentrating on one change at a time!

4. Have fun and start creating.

5. Now it’s Your Turn…Share your rituals with us.

5 Tips to Getting Up Before the Sun

 

The other day I was listening to the Today Show while was doing my “de-stressing” morning exercise ritual, and I happened to hear Matt’s interview with Laura Vanderkam, author of the eBook, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings —and Life. I was interested in what she had to say, because I believe in the “early bird” theory… but lately have found myself hitting the snooze button.

 

Laura shared  that mornings hold the key to taking control of our schedules.

When we rise and shine before the sun appears, we are creating self-discipline habits that help us organize our thoughts, increase our focus, and develop better clarity. She claims that if we use our early morning time wisely, we can build habits that will allow us to lead happier, more productive lives.
I perked up and listened because, I used to be an early riser. It’s not that I loved getting up in the dark, but I do love that fantastic feeling I have after a productive morning. Her interview fueled my commitment to get up early and put a morning ritual back into my life.

Here are some tips to help you get up before the sun rises!

1. Go to bed earlier! This works best if you are not a night owl. It’s true that many of us find our surge of productivity late at night while others are morning people. Which are you? If you say night owl, decide if you are truly productive at night, which means you are not watching TV or surfing the net, but actually doing something. Or is it that you just like to sleep in?

2. Jump out of bed and think good thoughts! When your alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. or so —just hop right up and mentally say, “This is going to be a great day!” Try it … yes, it really helps, and say it again as you are walking into your bathroom. Remember: Do not rationalize. This is not the time to allow yourself to talk you out of getting up! Getting back into bed is not an option.

3. Have something to look forward to, like a really good cup of coffee or tea. Some people say that water with freshly squeezed lemon juice gets them into gear.

4.  Now Stretch—your dog does it and so does your kitty when they awake. Put your arms up to the sky; take a deep breath and stretch tall! To help you get in the groove.

5. Create your morning ritual! Now that I have you up—it’s important to figure out what you are going to do in these few quiet precious hours where there are no distractions (my next post).

I bet you have a tip to add. I look forward to reading it!

What We All Can Learn from Gen Y!

A few weeks ago I spoke to the Texas Association of Fairs and Events in Austin ,Texas.  This diverse audience is responsible for all the fun, food, and festivities at places like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, State Fair of Texas and so much more. If ever a group needed to learn about Gen Y it was this one! Not only do they hire young people on a daily basis, but their #1 customer is young! They really needed a Generations Speaker! Here’s what I had to say …