10 life reminders

I’m reading Gretchen Ruben ‘Happier at Home’, and while some of her book rubs me the wrong way (will I hug my kids because research tells me I’ll be happier?), some of it inspires me to be more creative about my life.

In her chapter ‘Interior Design’, which is about designing the life we want, a concept I love, she lists her own life ’10 commandments’ and it inspired me to think of mine.  Maybe more like life reminders than life commandments.  So I wrote my own 10 life reminders… I’m hoping sharing mine will inspire you to write yours, too…

  1. Be me – it’s okay to be me, just me
  2. Don’t rush – slow down
  3. Be light – lighten up, in every way
  4. See long, and see far
  5. Enjoy Now
  6. Show love – hug more
  7. Hold back words – think before, not after
  8. Focus on what truly matters
  9. Be more spontaneous
  10. Be aware that life is fleeting

What are yours?

Work less, do more

Do you firmly believe that you’ll take a break once you’ve crossed off every item on your to-do list? Thing is, your to-do list never ends, and so you never allow yourself a break. Of course, you crash when you’re exhausted, but allowing yourself a break? Not really.

Does it work? Not really. When you’re tired or have no motivation to keep going, it’s not time to keep pushing through fatigue.  It’s time to take a break, so you feel refreshed and focused. Taking regular breaks, throughout the day makes you more productive. You use your time better, you accomplish more, and – bonus – you feel better…

Read on and learn the facts:


A life that fits you

My spring renewal plan, after a busy winter, is to make more time for energy refuelling.  I’ve been so busy at work that I haven’t had much time to focus on anything else, let alone enough time to focus on refuelling myself.  My life didn’t fit me.

What about you: when was the last time you felt refuelled with great energy?  For some of my clients, the answer is ‘when I woke up today’ – great.  For others, they go back months or years, some as far back as high school.  Not so great.

When was the last time you focused on refuelling your energy?  Most people would answer ‘Huh??’  If I asked you when you last refuelled your car, you’d know; a car needs gas to run.  But refuelling you – what does that mean?

Refuelling yourself is simple: as simple as getting enough sleep most nights, not only on weekends; as simple as eating healthy most days, not only when you need to lose weight;  as simple as making time to move and walk every day.  Thing is: it has to be most days.  The effect doesn’t last: you can’t store sleep or nutrients for weeks at a time.

Here is what I learned for myself: unless I focus on refuelling my energy in the same way I refuel my car, it won’t happen by miracle. The fuel I need to keep going is not as simple as gas, but the fact is that I can’t make something out of nothing.

I can’t make something out of nothing: to refuel energy, I need enough sleep, healthy food, and whatever my body (and brain) need to be fully functional.  Water, fresh air, exercise.  Evenings for relaxation. And a little every day works better than a lot once in a blue moon.  I can’t fuel once and expect it to last a year.  Getting enough sleep last night goes a long way in restoring energy for today – I can’t ‘store’ sleep.

When I take care of myself, I feel better, I think better, I work better. I have more energy for family, work, friends and fun. I feel that life is worth it.  I take care of myself, and it gives me courage, hope and motivation.  It makes life beautiful.

It’s time to make your life fit you: make time to take care of you and refuel your life energy, every single day.  Start small, make it easy and do it often enough: here are a few ideas to get you started

  • Start the day with fresh fruit: a real orange instead of juice, or a bowl of plump berries or grapes
  • Take a 15-minute walk at lunch: leave your desk, get outside and walk. Every minute counts… And have more fresh fruit – it tastes great and it’s good for you.
  • Delete one task off your day, something that’s not as important…
  • …So you create time to take care of what matters more
  • Plan something fun for an evening this week: reserve energy and time for your personal life.  Life is not an unending to-do list of chores.
  • Get enough sleep; go to bed an hour earlier tonight and see how this feels for you.  Aim for 8 hours in bed – no electronics.
  • Stop believing in the fairy tale that you’ll have more time, after this next deadline…

Read my next post: a Light Day Structure for M.E.E.: Maximum Energy & Effectiveness

Resilience: it’s your right to feel alive

Do you have the right to be alive?  Just a little reality check!  Or I could ask if you have the right to live a good, healthy, meaningful life.  Well, you say, of course!   Really?  So, how does this show up on a day like today?  Hmmm.  Yep, easier said than done.

Walking your talk is not easy.  No one has an easy time living the life we want.  My plate is full, and so is yours and everyone else I know,  We have jobs, kids, homes, friends, all competing for our time and attention.  But really, at the end of the day, what matters?

Ignoring yourself is no solution.  Too many of my clients just ignore themselves.  It’s easier to not think about yourself at all.  Right.  Sure. That’s life, you say. But then, what You get another life, to make up for this one?  No.  So how can you care, really show care for yourself, and give yourself the only life you’ll ever get?

You start caring for yourself and for your life, one day at a time.  And today being as good as any day, you decide on a small step, something that feels easy and right.  Not perfect!  Just taking a small step, in the right direction.

What will you do today, to live your right to feel alive?  It can be as simple as sitting down to a stir-fry you made instead of fries you bought.  As simple as turning off the TV and taking a walk with your spouse.  As simple as taking a real day off, instead of catching up on chores…  As simple as asking yourself what makes you feel alive…

What will you do, today, to LIVE your right to feel alive?

Resilience: life is more than a to-do list

Ever wonder if you’ll ever get through your to-do list, so you can finally take a break without guilt?  If your list is ‘self-regenerating’ like mine, if you never seem to get though, living  has become a to-do list.

My list this month is a mile long.  It starts early morning and could easily end when I crash into bed after midnight, every night.  And being self-employed, I have nowhere to go to lighten up my load: it starts and it ends with me.

I have two choices: I can overwork myself into exhaustion (and oblivion, ending with no willpower and no reserves), or I can step back, look at the big picture and assess my options.  In the past, I’ve done a little of both, until I finally realized that I, and I alone, had control over my to-do list.  Small breaks and fun times are fuel.  So is a sit-down meal, enough sleep and leaving work at a reasonable time – there will always be more to do, and since I do it all on my list, I might as well decide when enough is enough.  Running myself into oblivion is never a wise choice.

Getting to this point took me years of ‘burn and crash’: I’d get overwhelmed, I’d get sick, and it would take me weeks to recover.  Weeks that I couldn’t work, so at the end, it ended up pretty much the same as I would by allowing myself time off to rest before I got sick.

This was my personal epiphany, and it took me pneumonia, a kidney infection, and a few more bouts of serious illness to realize that the way I worked was unsustainable.  I was paying for my to-do list with my health and my LIFE.  Talk about a wake-up call.  I learned first-hand the consequences of an unending to-do list does: total and utter depletion.

I know better now: I don’t want to shortchange my right to health and life.  I choose to take breaks; I take time off; I make what most matters to me come first: family, personal life, health.   Work takes a smaller space in my life than it did.  I feel much better.

There is so much more to life than coping.  You’ll end up taking a break from your to-do list, whether you have time or not.  It can be the break you allow yourself to have and enjoy, or it can be a break despite yourself – getting sick or burned out.

Stop taking life as a to-do list: I can hear you listing out all the things you must do.  How busy you are.  How irreplaceable you are.  Yet, in a pinch, I’m pretty sure you could triage and delete 50% of your list – right away, no guilt, with all these things that matter less, the low-priority stuff that makes up most to-do’s.

What are the things that truly matter on your list?  Not the urgent menial, but the big chunks that give your life meaning, when all is said and done.  You create your list, and you’re the only one who can control what goes on it or not.   My to-do list can be chockfull of things that don’t belong to me at all, or that I keep because maybe some day, I’ll have the time (or energy) for it all.  But life as a to-do list?  It sucks life right out.

De-clutter your life and your to-do list: identify what you’ll remember as important; then what is not.  Delete what’s not.  Dropping things off your list can be a wise option, and it can give you back your life – guilt-free.



Getting as good a life as a dog



Your dog has a better life than you do.  I’m pretty sure that your dog has a much better life than most people.  He is allowed to rest when he is tired; he doesn’t get another shot of caffeine to get through the day.  He eats a pretty healthy diet, otherwise he’d be sick.  You don’t let your dog indulge in sweets, beer or wine when he’s stressed out; you take him out to run, play and have fun.  Imagine your dog on your lifestyle for a day.


What about you?  What do you do when you feel tired – another shot of caffeine or a nap?  What do you do when you’re stressed?  Do you take yourself out to run, play and have fun – or keep plodding along, only to collapse in front of the TV?

Human life starts with pretty basic care.  When was the last time you took care of yourself?  With enough rest and sleep; healthy food daily; some play and fun time; more water than booze or coffee; and ‘petting’ time.  Simple.

Your life won’t get any better unless you start taking care of you.  You invest time in your dog’s health – because you love your dog (or because vet costs are steep). Invest time in the person who does it all in your life: YOU. You matter. Take care of yourself as well and as much as you care for your dog. Stop working yourself into the ground. Invest time in you. Take time to care for you.  Because you love yourself and because if you don’t do it, the costs on your life are steep.

Invest time in what matters: giving your dog a fancy haircut won’t make any difference on his mental or physical health; taking your dog for a walk and play will.

You matter: try making a small improvement today, instead of waiting for life to slow down (it won’t). Do something for YOU today. Invest in your mental and physical health. It matters more than getting through your to-do list – or a fancy haircut.

What do you need to take better care of you, today?

Someday… is just a fairy tale

Adults too believe in fairy tales, and a common one is the myth of Someday.  It’s a powerful fairly tale that leads you to believe that one day, demands on your time (and energy) will decrease, so you’ll be able to:

  • Work less and come home at a reasonable time – so you can have a fulfilling personal life
  • Have time to make, eat and enjoy healthier meals – so your take control over your weight and health
  • Exercise or do a fun sport, at least a couple times a week – so you feel healthier and more alive
  • Spend more time with your kids, spouse, friends – so you show how much they matter to you

But Someday never arrives.  There is always something else on your to-do list that prevents you from taking space for your own life.  And so, what matters to you takes second seat to what’s urgent or what matters to others.

Thing is, there is no someday, no second life, and no cloning available: there is only you, now, today.

What are your Someday beliefs?  What’s your fairy tale?

If someday was today, what would you do differently?

Become more aware of your ‘someday’ wishes and make them happen in small steps, starting right away, today.

Life is so much more than a deadline

Life is not designed as a ‘let’s get there as fast as we can so we can finally rest’.  Think about it – is your life a series of continuous deadlines, one blending into the next without ever enough time to come up for air?  Then you are living in the rush forward of deadline mode.  Taking breaks, letting yourself slow down instead of rushing through the next deadline is living.  Life is about being alive and feeling alive.
Your days are not the sum total of everything productive.  When you rush to get everything done, your days become a massive tangle of deadlines and unpalatable ‘should-do’.  Your life plate has become a pail, into which things are dropped, like garbage.  A life plate is not a garbage pail.
Life as a deadline is no fun.  Sitting and thinking of all the other things you should be doing is living life on deadline.  It’s about thinking that a deadline is more important than living this moment.

There is so much more to life than ‘getting there’.

Don’t fall for ‘things will slow down just after this next deadline’. they won’t.  You have to do the slowing down.  No one but you can take the lead and stop the race.  Allow yourself to slow down, to relax and have time for fun before the next deadline…
Let yourself have a luxurious day of farniente today.  Slowing down enough to feel truly bored, instead of busy and entertained.
Letting time slow down is the ultimate luxury in today’s fast world…


Guilty or Grateful?

Guilt is such a mixed up, overrated loss of life. I’m not referring here to the regret for doing something really wrong (causing harm to you or others), but to the inability to enjoy the present moment free and unencumbered.

You feel guilty that you’re having such a good day when so many people in the world are suffering.  You feel guilty for eating this piece of cheesecake, instead of following your diet.

Guilt is overrated because you get the impression that by feeling guilty, you’ve paid your dues.  You feel guilty about the piece of cheesecake, but you still eat it.   Other people are suffering, and you care just enough to feel guilty, but not enough to do anything about it.  We feel guilty for not being good enough, skinny enough, rich enough, perfect enough.  We feel guilty for not spending enough time with our kids, our parents and our friends.  We feel guilty and it’s infecting our whole life.  We can’t be happy.

Feeling bad feels good. Feeling guilty is thinking you’re paying a high enough price; it lets you off the hook.  Now that you feel guilty, you can just go ahead and eat the cheesecake, because you paid enough by feeling guilty.  You feel bad? Well, that’s good.

Guilt ruins happiness and life.  It makes you feel responsible in a way that no one ever should be.  It takes away your ability to feel light, happy, alive, elated, enthusiastic: how could you, when you’ve been bad and eaten cheesecake.  How could you, when there is so much misery in the world?  Guilt is a downer; it steals away happiness and life.

You are not alive to suffer guilt.  We all have our responsibilities, our burdens and difficulties.  And either you choose to do something about a situation, whether it is cheesecake or world suffering, or you don’t.  Guilt alone won’t get you anywhere, or resolve anything, at all, ever.  Guilt makes you feel powerless.

Feeling guilty is not worth it,  It’s a loss of life, it’s disrespect for the life you’ve been given and that you are entitled to enjoy, and maybe even to share your good fortune by helping others.

What it, instead of guilt… you felt gratitude?  Gratitude that you have the choice to eat cheesecake – or not.  Gratitude that you can choose to be aware of your good fortune and maybe help those who suffer – or not.  Gratitude that you are alive on this beautiful day and that you have the choice to fully enjoy it with as much hope and lightness as a five-year old.

Instead of guilt today, allow yourself to feel truly grateful, and let this moment of happiness spill and lighten your life.

To feel more alive, don’t get too comfortable

Sometimes, I think I “deserve” to live a cushy, comfortable life – letting myself cruise along, every day narrowing down, until I watch life on TV, well cushioned by comfort and inertia.

Hell, no.



Comfort is so addictive Why move when the couch is so comfortable?  Why try something new when routine is so reassuring?  But there is a fine line between comfort – and boredom.  Between living aware of the luxury of comfort – and lost in inertia.

Comfortable inertia is so powerful.  It’s about settling for less, letting dreams atrophy into the comfort of routine.   It’s about staying in, instead of reaching out; because it’s too late or too cold, or too much trouble.  It’s about doing less about true life priorities.  it’s about feeling too settled to change.

There is something like being too comfortable for your own good. It’s easy to lose track that to feel most alive, you need to feel awake and aware, pulled out of a plush comfort zone…  When what makes you feel alive becomes too much trouble, it’s time to step into the cold, literally.  To feel nature in its fierceness.  To connect and move.  To get excited and to immerse yourself in real life.

It’s about living every day, and not taking the day (or worse, life) for granted.  Living is not passing time.  Living is not wishing you’d be elsewhere.  Living is not escaping into being entertained.  Living, fully feeling alive, is allowing each day to unfold and feel the minutes and the life in everyone of them.

What will you do today, to step out of your comfort zone and feel fully aware and alive?