Tag Archives: wellness

Wabi Sabi – The Power of Imperfection

Posted by: Julie Lusk

Wabi-Sabi is my new favorite concept.  It refers to the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.Wabi is a Japanese word that connotes rustic simplicity and the understated elegance found in both natural and man-made objects.

Sabi is the beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of something and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear as well as in any visible repairs.

What a wonderful concept that softens the sting of aging and the illusion most of us are under that demands that we always get it right. Not only does it soften it, it elevates imperfection to an art to be treasured.

So, the next time things don’t seem to go right, simply smile and say “Wabi-Sabi”.  It’s a real time-saver too.

Please give us examples of how you are celebrating the spirit of Wabi Sabi in your life.  Add your comments below.

What is mindfulness and why does it matter

Posted by: Julie Lusk

Let me share with you the best definition of mindfulness and its benefits that I’ve come across.   Diane Poole-Heller shared it with us at the recent NICABM conference.

Mindfulness is the moment to moment awareness of present time, inner and outer experience, with a non-judgmental and non-evaluative stance.

Research has shown that a mindfulness practice helps develop all 9 functions of the Pre-Frontal Cortex.

  1. ANS Regulation – Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Balance
  2. Attuned Communication – felt sense of other’s experience
  3. Regulation of emotions
  4. Response flexibility
  5. Empathy
  6. Insight – self awareness
  7. Fear extinction – GABA fibers to amygdala
  8. Intuition – deep knowing
  9. Morality.

Good to the Core

Yoga to strengthen & flatten abdominals, tone back, legs, hips, and more.

Posted by: Julie Lusk

This yoga sequence helps with abdominal core strength and tones the back while also lengthening the psoas muscles.

The psoas, deep and large,  runs from the lumbar spine, stretches over the hip joint and under the abs, and attaches to inner thigh bone.

Traditional leg lifts, “crunches” and sit-ups are often done to strengthen and flatten the abdominal muscles.  The problem is that they also tighten and shorten the psoas tipping the pelvis forward, pushing your belly out (yuk) and misalignment of the back.

A tight psoas contributes to back, hip and knee problems, indigestion, dysfunctional breathing, instability, and other problems.

This particular yoga sequence activates the psoas muscle in a progressive manner:  first facing forward, to the side, and then turning.

Other beneficial yoga postures are the forearm plank and side plank (creates core stability and strength with a neutral psoas) and pigeon (stretches and releases the   psoas).

Consult a qualified yoga professional for instructions and contraindications.  As with all exercise, practice for your own benefits and at your own risk.

Click here for your complete pdf handout on  ” Good to the Core:  Yoga to strengthen & flatten abdominals, tone back, legs, hips, and morefrom Julie Lusk


Children need hope and optimism to deal with stress

Pessimistic people get depressed much more often

No matter how wonderful and stable a child’s life may seem, she still has stress: rejection by friends, difficulty with homework, dealing with a bully. Your children need to know that when they experience these set-backs, life’s not over; tomorrow is another day.

Children need hope and optimism to be resilient to stress and to persist in dealing with life’s inevitable ups and downs. The more realistically optimistic your children, the better they’ll deal with stress – usually.

Optimism is the fourth component your children’s Stress Safety Net, which helps them feel safe, secure and loved. This gives them the foundation to better handle stress throughout their lives.

Dr. Martin Seligman, a highly respected researcher in the field of cognitive psychology, has found in more than 1,000 studies involving more than a half-million children and adults, pessimistic people do worse than optimistic people in three ways, they:

  • Get depressed much more often;
  • Achieve less at school, on the job and in sports;
  • Their physical health is worse;

With today’s depression rate ten times that of the 1950s, anything that can fight depression is vitally important, which optimism does.

However, sometimes pessimism is the more appropriate response. When the consequences are high that an optimistic view is wrong, it’s better to go with a pessimistic perception. For example, an optimistic perception of cheating on a test would be, “I won’t get caught.” If the consequences of being caught are too great, then the pessimistic, “I’ll get caught,” is the better way to go.

To help your children become more optimistic teach them the connection between their thoughts, feelings and behavior; what they think about a stressor determines how they feel emotionally about it, which determines how they react to it. Teach them that all-or-nothing words like always, never, everyone, no one, are indicators they’re probably thinking pessimistically and adding unnecessary stress to difficult situations.

For example, your daughter’s very interested in the boy who’s approaching her in the hall. She’s thinking, “He’ll never notice me because I’m always so boring.” She feels anxious, worthless and pessimistic.

Teach her, however, that she’s not feeling these emotions because he ignores her but rather because of what she’s telling herself about this possibility. Teach her to change what she thinks in order to change how she feels and responds.

She could think more optimistically, “Here he comes. He hasn’t noticed me before but maybe I can engage him in conversation. He won’t notice me unless I assertive myself.”

Obviously, he still may have no interest but – and this is a huge but – she can limit the damage by spinning it more optimistically. Understanding she feels rotten because she tells herself rotten things about herself teaches her to change what she thinks to something like, “It’s his loss.”

Many adults never learn that their feelings are determined by what they say to themselves. They never learn to take charge of their thinking. Instead, give your kids the gift of optimism with this self-empowering and stress reducing understanding.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach.

It’s Summer Bucket List Time

That’s right, it’s already August and fall is racing towards us.  Now’s the time to get serious about how you’re going to spend the precious summertime and get busy with both the inner and outer work of growing and developing in your truth.  Live.  Love.  Laugh.

Here is reflection from Joan Borysenko from her Pocketful of Miracles book.

“August is the month during which nature celebrates her maturity.  The hatchlings in the nest have found the wings to fly and the boughs of the old apple tree are heavy with fruit.  The Godseed within our hearts is also ripening so that we become more flexible, more tolerant of the shades of gray that characterize life on planet earth.

Every interaction becomes an opportunity to encourage, to be kind as we acknowledge the Godseed within all.  As the pumpkins ripen on the vine, mellowing in the shortening days and colder nights, the vine itself begins the dying time.  It’s purpose is complete.

August  reminds us of the impermanence of all things.  All that seems so dependable will someday pass away.  In that poignant knowledge we mature  into a deeper appreciation of all we have, of all we love.

Listen to the voices of the Ancient Ones that call from the roots of the oaks and willows:

Nature is setting seed,
storing the energy of the light
for future generations.
Likewise, our souls are coming to spiritual maturity –
a flexible, gracious attitude that finds intense joy
in the very impermanence of life.”

I challenge you now.  Take time to consider what’s important to you now.  Yes, everything from spending more time swimming, visiting friends and family, and eating summer’s fresh produce to the deeper things, like helping others, being kind, and doing some soul-searching.

August 1 is the anniversary of my Mother’s passing.  Every day, I miss her loving smiles and cheerful encouragement.  She taught me to live life to the fullest and to enjoy family and  friends.  Yes, life is impermanent, so let’s remember what’s important in our own precious life and treasured relationships.

Please share your comments about your bucket list – from the insane to the simple to the spectacular.

Julie LuskJulie Lusk, M.Ed., RYT, has dedicated her efforts to helping others attain stress relief, wellness and holistic health through yoga, meditation and guided imagery.


Panic Not Required

Aging Beyond BeliefDon Ardell’s tips for aging well are from his book Aging Beyond Belief, 69 tips for REAL Wellness. REAL wellness stands for Reason, Exuberance And Liberty. Don says you can’t buy pills or treatments for REAL wellness−it’s a mindset and lifestyle you control. It’s never to early to let Reason, Exuberance and Liberty be your guide…these tips are for folks of any age. Enjoy.

Panic Not Required
Expect changes, some of which won’t be pleasant


At first, naturally enough, many changes will look and feel like crises. This is natural, since they ARE crises (e.g., receding hairlines, wrinkles and fewer offers of leading roles in major motion pictures). Disappointment, upset and worry can’t he helped—it’s quite unavoidable. But, resolve not to dwell forevermore on such things. You are still younger than you are ever going to be again—make the most of it. After a short period adjusting to changes, start plotting rejuvenation, not just a recovery to a boring survival level. Think about actual advances you might attempt that will leave you better off than you were before change intervened and unsettled things.

Prepare for change by building up your level of resilience. Cultivating this quality will protect your vitality, induce added serenity and pave the way for continued passion, adaptability and optimism.

You will build and strengthen your resilience by doing positive things, like reading this book about AUI of a wellness lifestyle. There are many other ways. A few additional steps for creating increased resilience for better adaptation to change might include:

  • Nurturing your network of connections with others—thus avoiding isolation.
  • Helping others.
  • Protecting your routines. Change, as Alvin Toffler emphasized in his 1971 megabit “Future Shock,” can be tempered by safeguarding the familiar. Don’t change things you don’t have to while adapting to crises.
  • Setting goals and picking up the pace toward accomplishing them. Fashion modest goals, at least initially, goals that are easy to realize. Building confidence is more important for resilience than reaching the goal, at least for a while.
  • Keeping the big picture in mind. Relative to all kinds of good things going your way, a crisis does not loom as large if kept in perspective.

See change for what it really is—a part of life, as inexorable as day and night, taxes and politicians who don’t live up to your hopes.

Donald ArdellDonald B. Ardell was a pioneer in the Wellness movement. He wrote High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs, and Disease, first published in 1976 by Rodale Press, with editions over the years by Bantam Books and Ten-Speed Press. Since then Don has written a dozen additional wellness books, including Die Healthy (with Grant Donovan), 14 Days to Wellness and most recently, Aging Beyond Belief.

PanicNot Required Expectchanges,

someof whichwont


Giving Our Lifestyle Power Away To Celebrities

Chicken Fried Steak
If you don’t know what this is, that’s a good thing! (Chicken-fried steak)

The rise of celebrity chefs and food programs has been phenomenal. True, there are some excellent shows that feature healthy cuisines, and more wellness-oriented content. However the alarming trend has been for more and more shows to do what television shows have learned works for ratings: to shock and to “give the public what they want.” I’m talking gluttony and foods that have been scientifically linked over and over again to the obesity and health crisis we see in America and ever-increasingly, worldwide.

Americans watch an average of Four Hours of Television Per Day. (http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html) This media-saturated culture allows television celebrities easy access to our awareness and affects our lifestyle decisions more than we think.

fried baconWe see food programs, often posing as travel shows, glorify over-eating to a degree that is all about shock value. We tune in to programs that seem to inevitably feature consuming the most disgusting substances the host can find. Far too many programs show the host seeking out and gorging on huge quantities of the fattiest red-meat items available. Or, we indulge in a convenient fantasy that “good old home cooking” with all the butter and gravy possible won’t really hurt us. Cholesterol, calories, salt and fat content be damned! Full speed ahead!

We WANT to believe that we can eat like those folks on television and get away with it. The identification with some of these television chefs has been astonishing. What we forget is that they often become more of a corporate “brand” than a person. They represent the tip of a business iceberg that at times becomes a juggernaut of capitalistic power. When that happens it’s not about your health, it’s about making money.

Paula Deen, the television chef who made millions pushing traditional Southern cooking with a style of over-indulgent exaggeration, became “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” recently when she announced that she has come down with Type Two Diabetes. While deserving of all the compassion we would give anyone who encounters this challenge in their life, Paula lost much of such potential support by only revealing her affliction three years after her diagnosis. In the meantime she had continued to push her “brand” and all of the diabetes-engendering recipes that went with it. She also never revealed her diabetes until she had a mult-million dollar contract in place to be a spokesperson for a diabetes drug company. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/paula-deen-diabetes-announcement-celebrity-chefs-support_n_1224454.html)

Man reading food labelWhen we give our power away to entertainers who may or may not have our health and best interests at heart, we lose. We often feel betrayed when some truth finally comes to the surface, whether it’s about them, or when we suffer consequences in our own health.

It’s really like reading labels. What is the real content of this product? I loved hearing Marion Nestle (no relation to the food company) (http://www.foodpolitics.com/) talk about nutrition and the food industry at The National Wellness Conference (http://www.nationalwellness.org/index.php?id_tier=90) one year. She made it clear that the big food companies are not evil, they’re not out to get us. They simply are out to make money and are really very neutral about our health. If we purchase junk, they will make and market more junk. If we purchase more healthy food, they will, as we have seen, make and market more healthy food. The same is true for TV.

I’m not out to change TV. I’m out to help people reclaim their own lives. Read the label, so to speak, on what you watch on television. Remember that your favorite celebrity may simply be putting on an infomercial and calling it a TV show. Watch consciously and be conscious of how much you watch. We can’t always trust the intention behind a show. It’s like finding a good looking website on nutrition and then digging deeper and finding out that it’s just a propaganda voice for a coalition of food industry vested interests. The charge of all of these shows is to entertain first and foremost. That’s why we find them fun and interesting. What’s wonderful is when they share recipes that are actually heart-healthy, cancer-preventing, and diabetes-preventing.

Salmon and vegetablesWe would love to feel like celebrities are our “friends”. We all want to be connected to others. We enjoy their entertainment and we sometimes aspire to be more like them, for better or for worse. Celebrities are real people and the few I’ve met personally, like John Denver and Dennis Weaver, were as sincere and genuine as it gets. However, let’s not make them lifestyle beacons for us or give them authority they don’t deserve. It’s like a time way back in the late 1960’s when I noticed a friend of mine hanging on every word of a rock band for philosophical and political guidance. No wonder The Moody Blues put out a tune at that time entitled “I’m Just A Singer In A Rock n’ Roll Band.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqOSzkqPhbA)

Wellness Self-Quiz:
1. Have you found television food shows that emphasize wellness and healthy eating? Please share.
2. Have you found yourself recently shifting your eating habits to include more (not less) red meat dishes, more fried foods, more higher-fat content items after seeing such trends on show you watch?
3. What is one thing you can do to be a more conscious consumer of food programs on television?

-Shared from Michael Arloski’s blog, Real Balance Wellness.

Books by Michael Arloski:
Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change
Your Journey to a Healthier Life

Teach your positive values to help your kids with their stress

The world is full of stress and it’s your responsibility to teach your children how to handle it.

To help you create a relationship that encourages your children to be open to your advice, create a Stress Safety Net (SSN) for your kids so they can feel safe, secure and loved. In recent weeks, I’ve covered two of the six components of the SSN:

  1. Parents as role models;
  2. Unconditional love;

Today we’ll consider teaching your children your positive values.

A positive value is a belief that produces corresponding behaviors that serve both the practitioner and those on the receiving end of their value-guided behavior. So honesty is good for the honest person and for those around her.

Values define you. They serve as a road map in deciding how to handle situations and to live authentically. For example, you’ve taught your daughter to respect others, which includes not harassing anyone. When her friends bully another child your daughter doesn’t participate and may even tell her friends to stop. Conversely, going against a held value would create stress for your daughter.

If your kids don’t learn their values from you, from whom will they?

To teach your positive values, identify a stressful situation in which your child is involved. Which values would be help him handle the situation? If he’s deciding upon which college to attend would encouraging values like curiosity and open-mindedness be potentially helpful?

Next, teach your values through these five steps:

  1. Role model the value yourself. The biggest teacher of your values is how you live your life. If you value privacy and get upset when your child walks into your room unannounced, how can he learn this value if you walk into his room unannounced?
  2. State your value frequently. When appropriate explain your value, whether during a conversation or a TV show. My father often said in response to certain situations, “There’s nothing worse than a liar.” To this day honesty is one of my strongest values.
  3. Praise your child when she abides by a value, especially in a tough situation like a friend pressuring her to cheat and she says “no.” Praise her courage (another value) for doing something unpopular.
  4. Discuss positive and negative consequences of living and not living by certain values. Positive consequences of being curious might include learning more, making life more interesting and fun, having friends who are also curious. On the down side, too much curiosity might find you poking your nose where it doesn’t belong. Identifying both positive and negative consequences of a value helps define which limits might be wise to impose.
  5. Be honest about your lapses living up to your own values. Like the father who admitted to his kids that he isn’t always completely honest with his own mother when she asks him if he’s busy. Minimize your kids’ cynicism by admitting and explaining your lapses.

Values serve as anchors in this stormy world. Give your children positive ones to navigate successfully.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach.

Improv Your Life

The word “improv” scares people. To most, the idea of getting up in front of an audience and making up stuff on the spur of the moment seems like a form of torture instead of a fun way to pass a few hours while learning important life skills.

I’ve been incorporating improv games into my workshops for years without letting anyone know that’s what we’re doing (it’s kind of like mixing spinach in with the mashed potatoes and not telling anyone). The participants always have fun and go away with important life skills. Last spring I started teaching an improv class for my local community college and can honestly say – as a person who laughs a lot already – that I’ve never giggled, snorted, guffawed, and rolled on the floor laughing as much as I did during the two hours I spent teaching (and playing with) that class every week. The mean age of the class was around 58 and the “students” held nothing back and really enjoyed their 10-weeks of remembering how to be childlike.

Rather than running screaming from improv, it might help to look at a definition. Improv is the practice of acting and reacting, of making and creating, of being fully in the moment and with the people you are with. Improv helps us think and act on our feet, respond to changing circumstances, generate new and different ideas, become more flexible and spontaneous, and strengthen our sense of humor. Now tell me that doesn’t sound like something that would make your life better while reducing your stress!

Even if you never take an improv class, here are some rules you can apply to your everyday life to have less stress and more fun:

  • Be playful, not competitive. Working and playing together is not only more productive than always trying to one-up the next person, it also improves your attitude towards those you work with.
  • Always pay complete attention to what is going on around you. Yes, that does mean you should put down your Smartphone and back away from your computer when you’re engaging with another human being, whether in person or on the phone. Your mind cannot be in two places at one time any more than your body can.
  • Work with your intuition, your heart, and your emotions. Before making daily decisions, think about where they will lead and whether they’ll make you and the people in your life happy or less so.
  • Take risks and become comfortable with being uncomfortable. By this I don’t mean you should bungee jump naked from a motorcycle as you jump the Grand Canyon. What I do mean is that you should take more little risks in your everyday life. I’ll give you an example: I can hold my own during karaoke, but when it comes to “real” singing, I know my limitations. I’m breathy and often a little flat. That, however, did not stop me from recently writing and recording my first song. And I had the time of my life. Whenever we feel uncomfortable in a situation, we’re being ruled by our ego, the part of our mind that tries to keep us from appearing foolish. But appearing foolish can be an amazingly freeing experience.
  • Be truly involved in what’s going on, rather than thinking about it like as outsider. Many of us live as if our lives are on hold. When I get my doctorate… when I get married… when I buy my first house… when the aliens beam me aboard… then I can get on with my life. Fully commit to every day, every moment, and you’ll not only get more accomplished, you’ll be more grateful for every step of the journey.
  • Use your entire body, not just your head. One of the reasons 5-year-olds laugh so much more than grown-ups is that they use their bodies for play. We adults tend to use our bodies to transport our heads around and complain about the trip. The more you can play every day (and no, jogging, while good for you, isn’t considered “play”), the more fun you’ll have.
  • Accept and move forward.  Rather than questioning every idea or suggestion made by others just because they weren’t yours, join in and see what happens. Add your own touch, but don’t destroy an idea just because it’s not yours.
  • Eliminate excuses. Rather than whining, “I feel stupid,” “I don’t understand,” or “I’ll wait and let others try before I join in,” just go for it. Or provide your own responses. “I feel stupid.” So? There are worse things in life.  “I don’t understand.” Maybe you will if you join in the activity and see what it’s all about. “I’ll wait and let others try first.” Would you say the same if they were giving away free money or donuts? I thought not!

And if you decide that perhaps an improv class may be just what you need to turn your life around, check out your local community college. Here in Eugene, my next class starts on September 29th and is offered through Lane Community College.

Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant, MPH, is a stress management and humor expert, comedy writer, stand-up comic, and comedy instructor/coach.

Developing a “Wise” Society

John LiptakIn our knowledge-based society, in which people are often rewarded for their knowledge, it is often hard to tell the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  Many people spend years attaining formal education and degrees, but still lack basic wisdom about how to live.  These life skills are critical in the personal and professional success of your clients and/or students.

The differences between knowledge and wisdom may seem small, but they actually are immense.  Knowledge is the theoretical understanding of a subject that is gained through learning, perception, or reasoning.  Knowledge is the objective acquisition of information to increases your skill or expertise.  Wisdom, on the other hand, is the objective acquisition of information followed by the subjective examination of that information for patterns, for understanding, and then application in your life.

Roger Walsh, in his book Essential Spirituality, suggests that knowledge and wisdom are very different entities.  He eloquently explains the differences in this way:

  • Knowledge informs us, wisdom transforms us;
  • Knowledge is something we have, wisdom is something we must become;
  • Knowledge is expressed in words, wisdom is expressed in our lives; and
  • Knowledge empowers, wisdom empowers and enlightens.

A note from Brian Luke Seaward

Dear Friends, Fans & Colleagues,

Howdy from Boulder!   Lots going on in the Universe these days, most of it happening right here on planet Earth!

I wanted to share with you a couple of things that might be of interest to you including my new book and this year’s incredible tours to Ireland and Italy:

• A Beautiful World: The Earth Songs Journals (hardcover, 266 pages)

First, I am delighted to announce the release of my newest book. A Beautiful World has just arrived (in my garage); 12.5 inches and 3.5 lbs. …It’s a limited edition (1,000 copies) coffee table photography book. Please check out the sample pages with the links below… including (shamelessly) a link to the Paypal page were you can place your order….

• For those in the Boulder/Denver area, you are cordially invited to a travelogue slide presentation and book signing February 23rd…7-9 pm at the Millennium Harvest House Hotel (28th and Arapaho), Boulder, CO. Hope you can come!

Thanks so much for your support. You are going to LOVE this book!

Many of you have asked about this year’s trips to Ireland (10 spots left) and Tuscany (9 spots left). Here is all the information you will need.  Each trip will be a trip of a lifetime…and we would LOVE to have you join us.

Please call with any questions….

• 2012 Spirit of Ireland Journey Tour: Ruins, Runes and Tunes

Come join us for a trip of a lifetime as we travel once again to the Emerald Isle for the Spirit of Ireland Healing Journey to work with the healing energies of the sacred sites of Counties Donegal Mayo and Galway—exploring the Celtic culture, music (if you don’t hear the music, you don’t see Ireland) and spirituality with Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D., June 15-25th, 2012. Call 303.678.9962 or click on http://www.brianlukeseaward.net/tripstoireland.html

PDF brochure: http://brianlukeseaward.net/2012_spirit_of_ireland_journey.pdf

• 2012 Spirit of Italy: Eat Walk Meditate Tour

Come join us in Italy; a land and culture where dreams are made of great food, stunning pastoral scenery, and a relaxed healthy lifestyle. These are the reasons why we have chosen the Tuscan region of Italy and Venice as our prime locations for a retreat for caregivers and working professionals; a time to renew mind, body and spirit. This tour theme (loosely based on Liz Gilbert’s best-selling book, Eat Pray Love) offers guided meditations, wonderful Italian meals, stress & personal management skills, and an unforgettable taste of the authentic Italian culture honoring the skills of self-care for nurses, caretakers and professionals on the front lines of the healthcare industry. Here is a link to the information for this trip (pdf brochure and photoblog).


PDF brochure: http://brianlukeseaward.net/spirit_of_italy_2012.pdf

I hope that this email finds you well and in great spirits (and they will be in better spirits when you come to Ireland and Tuscany, believe me!). As always, thanks for making this a better world to live in and I hope to see you some soon.

Best wishes always,

Brian Luke Seaward


Top 10 Ways You Can Improve Your Speaking by Acting Like a Stand-up Comic

10.          The most important thing to do in the first thirty seconds you’re center stage (even if you’re sitting at the conference table) is make the audience like you. Do this by using a conversational tone instead of a droning academic “I know more than you do” tone, making good eye contact, connecting with specific people in the audience, and giving the audience time to respond appropriately to your jokes and stories.

9.            Use stories from your own personal experience. The more your presentation is based on your own life, the more the audience will sense truth and human emotion. These are very important elements in getting an audience to accept what you have to say, especially if it is something includes bad news of some kind.

8.            Plan for things to go wrong. Stand-up comics write “savers,” funny comebacks for the things that might go wrong while they’re on stage. For example, the microphone stops working, cell phones go off, instead of thirty minutes there are now only seventeen for your presentation, half the audience has just rushed out of the room with food poisoning, etc. Being able to respond to problems with a sense of humor shows the audience you work well under pressure and don’t let a few setbacks stop you. And, if you are able to deliver your savers as if you just thought them up off-the-cuff, the audience will be impressed by your quick wit and intellect!

7.            Apply some of the rules of comedy to your presentation. Comics all know the rules for making things funnier. These rules also apply in many cases to presentations of all kinds.

  • Rule #1:  Your material should be universal; everyone in the room should be able to understand the material, the context, and the emotions behind both. If you are speaking to a room full of accountants and all you keep using references to quantum physics, you’re violating the rule of universality.
  • Rule #2:  Be as specific and visual as possible. The better you can create a picture, the more engaged the audience will be in your presentation. It’s not an office, it’s a 7-foot x 7-foot cubicle wedged between the women’s bathroom and the elevator.
  • Rule #3:  When dealing with topics that are still painful to the audience (recent tragic events, lay-offs at work, new management, budget cuts, etc.), use exaggeration in your examples to keep things in perspective. Here’s an example:  “Things have been really stressful at work, what with the new CEO, the changes in our job description, and the dress code that requires everyone to wear prison uniforms on Wednesdays.”
  • Rule #4:  KISS (Keep it simple, stupid.)  Make your presentation only as long as it needs to be. Avoid complex ideas that require more thought than the audience will have time for; those are better discussed in breakout sessions or meetings. There’s almost nothing worse than an hour-long speech with only ten minutes of “stuff” in it.
  • Rule #5:  It happened today (or at the latest, yesterday.)  Use present tense verbs to give your presentation a feeling of being topical and urgent.

6.            Remember, what you say is only half the game; your emotion is the other half. A speaker can have the most interesting material in the world, but if there is no passion behind it, no personal interest in what is being said, someone will probably fall asleep and it might be the speaker. Some ways stand-up comics show passion in their material include:

  • Using lots of facial expressions and gestures.
  • Modulating their voice. Vocal variation is very important to keeping an audience’s interest.
  • Getting rid of the lectern and standing where people can see them.

5.            Structure your presentation like a stand-up set. Open strong and close even stronger. In between, vary your material so that your stronger and weaker points alternate. This is also a good way to structure a presentation that includes many points that may be received negatively by the listeners – intersperse them with whatever good news you can find so that the audience has a chance to catch their breath.

4.            Engage the audience in participatory activities. It’s easier to keep an audience with you if they feel involved, rather than spoken at. Try to keep participatory activities simple, especially if your presentation is in the late afternoon or evening. Hand raising is good (“How many of you have ever experienced any stress?  Okay, how many of you are clinically dead?”)

3.            Be aware of what speakers before you have discussed. This allows you to avoid duplicating material, but more importantly it gives you an opportunity to show you were listening to them too. This simple tactic increases the audience’s affection for you right away. You too have been “the audience.”  And you will get brownie points for being able to show how your topic builds on those of the speakers before you.

2.            When you think audiovisuals include props in your thinking. One way to set yourself apart from other speakers is to broaden your use of visual aids beyond PowerPoint to include any objects large enough to be seen by the audience. Hats can be used to distinguish between different jobs or tasks or sides in a debate. A skeleton is a good way to demonstrate a bare bones budget. Have fun with choosing your props and your audience will have fun listening and watching you.

1.            Honor your fear. Comedians feel fear too. But they know how to use that fear to fuel the energy behind their set. So next time your knees knock and your palms sweat, think how funny it’ll be to the audience. And think how much more they’ll like you because you’re a real human being too!

Copyright Leigh Anne Jasheway, 2008

A Discovery Process: Pace yourself in learning about wellness

Aging Beyond BeliefDon Ardell’s tips for aging well are from his book Aging Beyond Belief, 69 tips for REAL Wellness. REAL wellness stands for Reason, Exuberance And Liberty. Don says you can’t buy pills or treatments for REAL wellness−it’s a mindset and lifestyle you control. It’s never to early to let Reason, Exuberance and Liberty be your guide…these tips are for folks of any age. Enjoy.

A Discovery Process

Pace yourself in learning about wellness

Pace yourself in learning about wellness. Create a more supportive network to live this way. Create a wellness support network, over time. Don’t rush it. Pace yourself. Consider attending a workshop in your area, or a seminar or lecture dealing with aspects of better living that you find appealing. Check out the program first, since the word “wellness” is often misapplied. Sometimes, it’s used as a marketing gimmick with little understanding of the unique qualities of the concept. You would not want to inadvertently attend a program billed as a wellness event, only to be pitched to invest in a multi-level sales organization for vitamin-fortified seaweed, or something equally bizarre having no remote connection with a wellness lifestyle.

Here’s a specific suggestion: Check out the National Wellness Conference. It is a festival by and for wellness seekers and promoters held annually in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. It’s not entirely focused on aging, but everything about the wellness concept can be readily applied to AUI. I’m quite an enthusiast of the event myself—I have been attending the weeklong gatherings for over 25 years. Check out the NWI website at www.nationalwellness.org. You could also call (800) 243-8694 or send an E-mail. One way or another, ask to be placed on the mailing list for the free annual program sent worldwide in the spring.

An important part of creating a supportive culture is understanding your current support system. Take a close, conscious look at the norms, customs and rituals that shaped and guided your formative years. Think about how pervasive yet subtle these norms and customs and traditions were and how, little by little and bit-by-bit, you digested it all during the early years. Identify those traditions that today, after a lifetime, are more like obstacles than cherished values, and set yourself free from anything now seen as nonsense, dogma, clichés and platitudes. These are enemies of your capacity for reason leading to excellence. These are obstacles to more supportive networks that will make your best possible life much more attainable.

-from Aging Beyond Belief, by Don Ardell

Donald ArdellDonald B. Ardell was a pioneer in the Wellness movement. He wrote High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs, and Disease, first published in 1976 by Rodale Press, with editions over the years by Bantam Books and Ten-Speed Press. Since then Don has written a dozen additional wellness books, including Die Healthy (with Grant Donovan), 14 Days to Wellness and most recently, Aging Beyond Belief.


Longevity and Aging: Don’t make a big deal about getting older

Aging Beyond BeliefDon Ardell’s tips for aging well are from his book Aging Beyond Belief, 69 tips for REAL Wellness. REAL wellness stands for Reason, Exuberance And Liberty. Don says you can’t buy pills or treatments for REAL wellness−it’s a mindset and lifestyle you control. It’s never to early to let Reason, Exuberance and Liberty be your guide…these tips are for folks of any age. Enjoy.

Longevity and Aging
nt make a big deal about getting older

Everybody does it, it can’t be avoided and there is no cure. Each day is an opportunity to enjoy being younger than you ever will be again, so think and act as vigorously and with as much exuberance as you can muster. Billions are spent annually to slow or, more often, disguise the inevitable markers of aging. Such a waste. All this is futile. As Ecclesiastes would say, “a vanity of vanities, an incomparable excess.” I personally have a soft spot for excess, but not to the point of being incomparably self-delusional about my vanities.

Want in on a little health secret? Move to Canada. An impressive array of data shows that Canadians live longer, healthier lives than we do. What’s more, they pay roughly half as much per capita Americans ($2,163 versus $4,887 in 2001) for the privilege.” (Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2004).

Did you know there’s a mathematical formula that predicts maximal age? There is—and the formula is the basis for the agreed-upon maximum human age being set at 120. (This means I could be writing a second edition to this book in the year 2058.) The formula for maximal age is six times the number of years from birth to biological maturity. Humans take about 20 years to reach maturity, so multiply that by six and there it is—a 120-year limit. (The oldest well-documented age ever was 122.)

Remember, many factors affect longevity, particularly lifestyle choices (e.g., exercise, diet), personality, social life and genetics. Approximately “one-third of aging is heritable, the rest is acquired—that means you are responsible for your own old age.” (Tara Parker-Pope, “What Science Tells Us About Growing Older—And Staying Healthy,” Wall Street Journal, June 20, 2005; Page R1.)

Longevity in this country is nothing to cheer about. When compared with other Western nations, the U.S. is doing worse now than 50 years ago! We are currently losing ground, not making longevity advances, relative to other countries. This might surprise you. Yes, we live longer but our relative position is poorer compared with comparable societies than it was when Eisenhower was president. This despite our having the costliest medical care system on earth!

A World Health Organization study released last year put Canadian life expectancy at birth at 79.8 years, Japan’s at 81.9 and America’s at 77.3!

In 1900, the lifespan in America was 47.3. I shudder to think of all my friends who would be dead now if that figure had not improved over the course of the past century. With no advances, there would be few to no competitors in my 65-69 age group in road races, duathlons and triathlons. A similar 30-year gain in life expectancy into the future would render the average lifespan in the year 2112 a robust 107.3 years.

How might that come about? Perhaps from a wide range of social changes over time, like more nutritious foods and challenging but fun phys ed in schools, campaigns for safer sex and more effective ways to end insane behaviors, like smoking. (It will help also if humanity refrains from setting off any thermonuclear devices.)

Imagine the excitement of watching men and women in their 120s crossing finish lines at road races and multi-sport competitions, to the cheers of the multitudes, with “Rocky” music blaring from loudspeakers. It would be inspirational.

However, it’s also implausible. Wellness is good, wellness is great but I still don’t believe that there will be dramatic advances in phys ed in schools, better diets or other social changes. I hope I’m mistaken about this. If there were such changes and many others consistent with the spread of wellness mindsets like some positive contagion, even that might not produce really dramatic increase in lifespan, though quality boosts would be remarkable. If there are any significant increases in lifespan, the more likely impetus will be improved scientific understanding and attendant manipulation of biological aging processes. But, I’m not wildly optimistic about this scenario, either.

Nor does the U.S. Social Security Administration project dramatic gains for the next century similar to that realized over the last one. Their projections foresee life spans into the mid-80s, which is still pretty impressive. Unless, as some fear, the obesity epidemic gets worse.

In any event, getting older is not such a big deal if you stay younger than nearly everyone else your age! The remaining tips will offer plenty of ideas for doing just that.

-from Aging Beyond Belief, by Don Ardell

Donald ArdellDonald B. Ardell was a pioneer in the Wellness movement. He wrote High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs, and Disease, first published in 1976 by Rodale Press, with editions over the years by Bantam Books and Ten-Speed Press. Since then Don has written a dozen additional wellness books, including Die Healthy (with Grant Donovan), 14 Days to Wellness and most recently, Aging Beyond Belief.

Parents role models for children’s behavior

Kids learn more from you, especially at earlier ages, than from any other source

Teaching kids how to manage their stress is a gift that will pay them dividends for the rest of their lives.

First build them a Stress Safety Net (SSN) so they can feel safe, secure and loved. This creates a springboard from which they can launch into their challenges and opportunities. The first component of this SSN is “Parents as Role Models,” (adapted from my audio program, “Teaching Kids how to Manage Stress.”)

Parents are their children’s number one role models. Kids learn more from you, especially at earlier ages, than from any other source. What has your own stress management style taught your children, who learn from both your effective and ineffective strategies? How you communicate, manage your emotions and handle conflicts teach your children something.

To become conscious of what you’re teaching your kids, ask yourself, “Is how I’m handling this stressful situation how I want to teach my kids to handle similar situations?” If not, you need to learn to better handle it yourself. You cannot teach what you don’t understand, so learn and practice stress reduction skills for yourself. Your children will learn from your example.

An essential tool to improve what you model is to understand that the role you play with your children largely dictates their role in reaction to you. A change in your role almost always brings about a change in your child’s behavior. For example, if you constantly remind your kids to do their homework – the reminder role – they’ll react by taking on the role of forgetful or dutiful child perhaps. If you’re not happy with the forgetful role you may nag that child to remind her to do her homework. But your reminder role keeps her in her forgetful role!

The point? To get a different outcome with her change the role you’re playing: stop reminding. Identify and announce a different role that would encourage her to take more responsibility like the supportive role. Only step in to help her with homework when she asks. This new role requires you to stop reminding her. If she chooses to forget she’ll pay the consequences. She’ll probably blame you for her own forgetfulness but don’t get hooked by that. One day she’ll figure out that you truly have stopped reminding leaving her to remind herself.

In situations that your kids aren’t handling well figure out if the role you’re playing makes you part of the solution or part of the problem. If part of the problem, which other role could you play to encourage your kids to handle the situation more responsibly? If your child has been accused of stealing again and you normally play the protector role shielding them from consequences by denying their culpability, could you take on the investigator role instead and look for the facts before deciding how to handle it?

Understanding that the roles you play actually set the stage for your kids’ behavior opens up entirely new options in changing yourself in hopes of encouraging more responsible behavior from them.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach.

Active procrastinators: just get going

“Never put off till tomorrow, what you can do the day after tomorrow.” — Mark Twain

Seriously, procrastination is a frustrating habit. Since it’s a learned one it can be overcome but only if you become conscious when you’re doing it.

If you’re a professional procrastinator you need to acknowledge when you say “later” you really don’t mean it. Thousands of “laters” create thousands of opportunities lost. To stay conscious, when you say “later” follow up with, “Later to me means never. Do I really want to get this done or not?”

Also become very cognizant of your avoidance habits, which you’ve probably perfected to the point that you engage in them automatically and unconsciously whenever you face an unpleasant task. Keep a journal of your thoughts and emotions when you’re delaying. Follow these steps:
· Choose something you procrastinate on regularly.
· Describe the activity you put off. Is it unpleasant, confusing, uncomfortable or threatening?
· Write what you’re thinking and feeling when you begin to delay. For instance, “I can’t concentrate enough right now.” Continue to record what you say and/or what you do to prolong your postponement.
· Ask yourself why you’re avoiding action. Is it a legitimate reason or just an excuse? Also answer, “What discomfort am I evading?” Usually your answer is based on some unfounded fear.
· What’s your outcome?

To get going try these ideas:
· Timothy A. Pychyl, of Ottawa’s Carlton University, runs a procrastination research group and suggests, “Follow the 10-minute rule.” Acknowledge your desire to procrastinate then do the task for 10 minutes anyway. Initiating is the hardest step for chronic procrastinators. After working on it for 10 minutes decide whether to continue. Once you’re involved, it’s easy to stay with the task.
· If you have something to do, do it now or schedule it. If it’s not worth the amount of time it takes to schedule, it’s not going to get done later.
· For larger projects write out your goal and list each step you have to take to accomplish it. Schedule each step in your calendar.
· Invest your energy on the important and ignore the trivial.
· Don’t demean yourself when you dally because it makes more likely you’ll continue procrastinating.
· Keep a next steps list for all projects with an estimate of how long it’ll take to accomplish each one. If you have 15 minutes, look over your lists for something you can get done in less than 15 minutes. This furthers your progress in bits and pieces, which is great for those who procrastinate.
· Put the task right in front of you to avoid “out of sight out of mind.”
· Public commitment: Tell someone what you’re working on and when you’ll have it finished.
· Reward yourself when you’ve completed it. Do something just for fun. Give yourself a mental complement.

For chronic procrastinators remember the most important thing to do is just start! So get going!

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at wholeperson.com.

Coping with Change Workbook – Featured Product!

Coping with Change WorkbookFacilitator Reproducible Guided Self-Exploration Activities

In today’s society, many people find themselves living through multiple, extensive, often debilitating changes in their lives. Change manifests itself in many facets of a person’s life including: workplace, health, home and family, and social network.

Although change has always been a part of the lives of human beings, the rate of this change is increasing exponentially, increasing the stress in people’s lives. Change is not going to stop, and must be managed carefully to avoid elevated stress levels to continue over extended periods of time. The ability to cope with change is rapidly becoming a critical life skill that can be the difference between living a life of success or one of disappointment.

The Coping with Change Workbook contains assessments and guided self-exploration activities that can be used with a variety of populations to help participants cope more effectively with the various forms of change. Each chapter of this workbook begins with an annotated Table of Contents with notes and examples for the facilitator. Each chapter contains two primary elements:

1. A set of assessments to help participants gather information about themselves in a focused situation, and
2. A set of guided self-exploration activities to help participants process information and learn more effective ways of behaving to cope with anxiety in their lives.

The activities are divided into four chapters to help you identify and select assessments easily and quickly:

Chapter 1: Types of Change helps participants identify and explore the changes that are currently occurring in their lives, as well as identify and explore the changes they anticipate in the future.
Chapter 2: Change Management helps participants identify the life skills they possess in managing the change in their lives.
Chapter 3: Ways to Cope with Change helps participants explore how well they are coping with change in their lives, and learn some techniques for enhancing their ability to cope with change.
Chapter 4: My Attitude helps participants explore their attitudes related to future change in their lives.

All of the guided activates are fully reproducible for use with your clients/participants.

Coping with Anxiety – Featured Product

Coping with AnxietyCoping with Anxiety

By Dr. John J. Liptak and Ester A. Leutenberg

Facilitator Reproducible Guided Self-Exploration Activities

Anxiety is becoming increasingly prevalent in our modern society. Research indicates that the number of people suffering from anxiety disorders continues to increase. Many trends and forces are at work to contribute to feelings of fear and anxiety in people. Fear and anxiety are experiences that are familiar to us all, but for many people anxiety becomes a serious problem.

The Coping with Anxiety Workbook contains assessments and guided self-exploration activities that can be used with a variety of populations to help participants cope more effectively with various forms of anxiety. Each chapter of this workbook begins with an annotated Table of Contents with notes and examples for the facilitator. Each chapter contains two primary elements:

1. A set of assessments to help participants gather information about themselves in a focused situation, and
2. A set of guided self-exploration activities to help participants process information and learn more effective ways of behaving to cope with anxiety in their lives.
The activities are divided into four chapters to help you identify and select assessments easily and quickly:

Chapter 1: Anxiety Triggers helps participants identify and learn to recognize their anxiety triggers.
Chapter 2: Fear Factor helps participants identify and explore the intensity of their fears.
Chapter 3: Anxiety Symptoms helps participants identify and explore how they experience symptoms of anxiety.
Chapter 4: Coping with Anxiety helps participants understand how effectively they are preventing and coping with anxiety in life.

All of the guided activates are fully reproducible for use with your clients/participants.

You are what you eat

As important as good exercise skills are good nutrition skills, those straightforward things we all know we should do, but don’t always get around to doing. Eating right means giving your body high-quality fuel for the tasks you ask it to perform daily. It doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s just common sense and the discipline to follow up on what you already know.

Try designing an eating plan for life, rather than following fad diets. If you want to lose weight, the healthiest way is also the old fashioned way—eat healthy portions and exercise. Many of us try to cut calories by skipping breakfast, but try not to! Breakfast gives you energy and helps you through the day. For an easy and healthy cut in calorie intake, try just drinking water instead of all the other beverages you drink in a day. Eat  your vegetables raw if you can; it helps prevent vitamin loss during cooking. Another easy method is to check the ingredients list on processed foods. What’s the first ingredient listed? If its sugar, you can probably do without it. The easiest way to stop eating junk food is to avoid having it around. A little treat now and again won’t break you, as long as you remember that moderation is key.

  • How can you alter your eating habits to be healthier?
  • What kinds of small steps can you make to help make it easier to eat well?

Physical Stress Reduction

Stress skills are as varied as your stressors, but so far we’ve only talked about mental ways to combat stress. What about physical symptoms of stress? Shouldn’t they have physical stress skills to go with them? Yes! One of the key aspects of physical stress skills is exercise.

Exercise skills are an important part of taking care of yourself. They increase your strength, stamina, and energy. Your body works best when it is used regularly, just like a car. If it sits too long, it begins to rust. However, be sure you’re willing to exercise consistently or you can do more harm than good. It’s easy to get over-zealous and hurt yourself. Instead of starting off by running five miles, start with one and work your way up. If you feel exhausted an hour after exercising rather than energized, you’re going too hard. Spend at least five to ten minutes warming up before you start and an equal amount cooling down afterwards. If you don’t think regular exercise is something that you can schedule in, then at least try to stretch your muscles every day. If you need motivation, try exercising with a friend or two. If you use exercise as a de-stressor, you may get more out of it if you do it alone to burn off some steam. If you’re using it as an energizer, then spending time with friends will help.

  • What kinds of exercise for you want to do?
  • What kinds would be healthiest for you?