“You only have control over
three things in your life:
the thoughts you think,
the images you visualize,
and the actions your take.”
Good morning, my darling <<Name>>. How have you been? How has this week been for you? How was your week? Mine ended quite well, thank you, but like many of you, there have been challenging days.
It isn’t that anything specific is wrong, it’s just the world is wrong. And while I know that I have to let go of what I can’t control, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have the really cranky days.
Now, most of the time, I prefer to clear out the cobwebs and shake off what’s bothering me before I head to bed. But sometimes, that doesn’t feel like quite the right fit. So, at least once last week, I decided to just be irritable. Ignoring how I was feeling, digging into the why's, or trying to push myself into Being Happy allows the dissatisfaction to actually come back more easily.
It simply allowed the feelings to BE there.
Contrary to popular belief, we don't have to work everything out before we go to bed. That's what sleep is for, to restore us. That's what our dreams do for us, process and allow us to see situations differently.
In most cases, no matter how I feel when I go to bed, I wake up feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Sleep is indeed a restorative.
But that’s doesn’t always work. And when it doesn’t – like earlier this week – I got out my journal and doodled while I drank my coffee. And by doodling, I mean just writing down random words rather than sentences.
Then began asking myself good questions.
---How am I feeling? And then identifying the mix of emotions.
---Did I allow myself to FEEL those feelings? Sometimes, you just have to FEEL. Have a little bit of a cry or punch a pillow. This is a good time to make the bed, by the way, cause you can slam the pillows around in the name of “fluffing them” as you make the bed without stressing out your kids, spouse, or pets.
---What specifically triggered my irritability? By looking at the triggers, I can pin point challenges with some logic.
---What about the WHERE? Were there environmental factors?
---Who else was involved? Is there something going on in one of my relationships? Do I need to lessen contact with someone that’s toxic? Do I need to call a friend that will allow me to vent and reframe things?
Journaling is a valuable tool. It usually helps me (and you!) get to the bottom of why and how and what. But after you find some answers, you probably need to move those thoughts through your body.
First, I went on an extra long walk at the park. Which always helps. It helps you feel grounded while also moving your whole body.
THEN, I came home and baked.
Now, a lot of folks have been baking since we began quarantining in March. King Arthur Flour reported their April sales figures were akin to the holiday baking season. Though I made a loaf of Garlic-Pesto Quick Bread early on, I haven’t been doing much baking.
I chose a blueberry corn muffin recipe my friend Rochele Bilow included in one of her newsletters. It only makes six muffins. It had a lot of ingredients - both flour and cornmeal as well as fresh corn and blueberries. Because it only made six muffins, there was the need to use almost every single measuring spoon. And because the recipe called for a crunchy topping, there were more ingredients and additional steps.
This combined invited me to really focus on the task at hand rather than why I was feeling so tender and irritable.
Baking therapy is real, my friend. And when you're feeling irritable, choose a recipe that requires you to focus rather than do things by rote. The bonus: something yummy to eat!
By the time the muffins came out of the oven, I was back to my more positive self. I got some writing done, prepped for a strategy call with one of my mentors, and went to bed with solutions.
If I hadn't dug in and done the work around who I am at my core, I would have faked being happy and struggled for the rest of the week. Instead, I gave myself the gift of time, the gift of feeling, and the gift of knowing when to stop thinking. Trust me, it's worth 24 hours of ick to have oodles of good hours in my life.
Especially right now. With so much uncertainty, angst, and worry in the world, we need to be reminded that the only thing we can control is ourselves and our reactions.
And if you’ve been thinking about how a coach or mentor might be helpful, reach out to me. Though I haven’t made any final decisions, I am leaning toward not taking new clients when 2021 rolls around (though I'll still be available for existing clients).
Please continue to take care of yourself. Please be safe. As always, I am sending you love.
PS - I am still working on my new book and hope to share the news about it before Labor day!
From the blog: Access Joy in Uncertain Times by Creating a Gratitude Practice When someone asks me what one thing they can do to shift their life, without needing to think, ponder, or ruminate in any way, I answer “Gratitude.” Because while I’m a big fan of awareness to shift life, in times of uncertainty, a gratitude practice will help you be emotionally resilient.
When someone asks for a quick fix to make their life better, happier, or simply more tolerable, I gently and lovingly tell them there is no magic solution, but the number one tool they can bring to their arsenal is gratitude. Yes, I know we’re months away from November, a time when your Facebook feed is going to be filled with old high school chums and sorority sisters sharing a daily story of gratitude in their life. Gratitude isn’t just a dish served ‘round the table on Thanksgiving.
But we need hope right night. And there’s no better way to invite hope into your life, your heart, or your brain than gratitude.
When served daily, gratitude can fuel your joy, rewire your brain, and shift your entire way of being.
Let me share a little science with you. Studies on how our brains work show that our thoughts create pathways in our brains.
If we tend to go to the negative, those negative pathways grow deeper – think ditches and ruts and such. This means that, especially in times of severe stress and upset, our minds can’t help but send our thoughts to those entrenched ways of thinking.
But let me tell you, darling: even if you’ve spent years with in the negative trenches of your brain, you can change and shift your own natural patterns.
Just as continued negative thoughts create negative pathways, the creation of a regular gratitude practice allows your brain to create new, positive pathways for your thoughts. Over time, the old pathways grow over from lack of regular use. In other words, while forming new positive streets for your thoughts to travel on in your brain, your brain fills in all those ditches and ruts previously used by negative thoughts.
As your brain becomes used to these new paths for thought, they will become the norm.
This means, in times of severe stress, upset, or loss, your brain is more likely to help you find that silver thread. You’ll also recover more quickly.
I’m a “fact finder”. That means that in order for me to find truth in any type of research, I need to see further proof that the research is valid. Because, as much as I love the pure black and white nature of science, I want more.
When I look at sociological research, such as the work of Brene Brown, I see the evidence that she brings forth from interviews with people who are resilient. Brown began with the assumption that happy people were grateful. What she discovered, however, was that grateful people were the ones that could better access their joy.
When I looked through philosophical texts for evidence on gratitude, I discovered the works of David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk. He wrote about the connection to joy and happiness through gratitude more than a decade before Brown’s research. One of my favorite quotes of his:
So, I’m going to tell it to you straight up: if you want to be happier and more joyful, then baby, you need to create a gratitude practice of some sort.
“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” –David Steindl-Rast
There’s proof abound that meditation is good for you. And I believe that everyone can go deeper into who they are really meant to be by keeping a journal. Yes, I believe that each of us has both ability and capacity to live life to the utmost of what we deserve on this earth. And I know that sometimes, we need to dive a little deeper into ourselves to unlock the magic.
I could go into detail about all these tools. And share a longer list of every possible thing you can try to make peace with life. And build a life that is nourishing. But, that would feel like a fire-hose of information when you wanted a sip from the water fountain.
Right now, though, we are living in stressful and challenging times. And that, my dear is when it’s most important to go to the basics of managing your mind and your thoughts.
Because whether you’re worried about the elections or recovering from a heart-shattering event, gratitude will be there to guide you. Because as beautiful as beginning fresh in awareness that you want – and deserve – more in your life, simplicity is powerful. Because we have to begin small especially when life feels uncertain.
Begin first with only five minutes a day on gratitude.
Keep it simple. In a small notebook or a on a stack of index cards, each day simply write down three to five things you are grateful for. Every day, so that it becomes a habit. Every day, as a part of your morning or evening routine. Every day, in writing, so that your hand and brain seals the message with your soul that, even on the crappiest of days, there is goodness in your world.
Do this as a practice. As a ritual. As a commitment to your best life. As a sacred act for your own soul.
And I promise you, your life with shift. Your thinking will shift. Your sense of self and confidence will grow. You will strip away the layers you’ve hidden behind and the walls you’ve built to keep others out.
You will create new roads in your brain for your thoughts to travel on.
Your life will become more joyful and happier.
A gratitude practice will help spark the fire within you. It will fuel the alchemical process of transformation into who you were born to be in this world. My darling, you deserve to live a life with ready access to joy and happiness. It begins with gratitude.
As I have mentioned often, I am cooking on the grill more and more. And while chicken is the standby, we have pork once or twice a week. While I use the same (or similar) marinade for pork tenderloin or pork chops, here's how I am prepping - and then cooking - these beautiful Grilled Bourbon Pork Chops.
Because pork is super lean, you need for the meat to be brined or well marinaded so it doesn't dry out.
Begin by combining, in a zip lock bag (or non-reactionary container – meaning not metal) combine: juice of one lemon, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 3 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey, a giant glob of spicy brown mustard, 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, half cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon ginger, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and two teaspoons chili powder.
Next, add the pork chops. I like to use chops that are thick cut - at least 1/2 inch. Lightly season with powdered sage, garlic, and a light sprinkling of kosher salt. RUB this into the chop before seasoning the other side. Then dunk the chops into the marinade. Gently massage the marinade into the meat. Refrigerate for at least four hours and no more than twelve hours.
When you're ready to grill, remove the pork chops from the marinade - allowing as much marinade to drip off of the chops - and place on a piece of waxed paper. Season the chops again - on each side - with powdered garlic, chili powder, and several grinds of fresh ground black pepper. I then place my chops on a plate with waxed paper in between. You want them to sit out at room temperature until your grill is heated (about 10 minutes).
Now comes the tricky part. Spray your grill with a high-smoke point oil spray ( I used Avocado Oil spray - but Pam makes a Pam for Grilling). Once your grill grates are well oiled, it's time to heat your grill. Now, you need to heat your grill and allow one side to be cooler than the other. This works if you have a 2 (or more) burner grill so that you put one side on medium-high heat and the other burner on low heat.
When the grill is heated, put the chops on the HOT side of the grill for 3 minutes and then flip and allow it cook on the other side another 3 minutes. You are wanting a quick SEAR the outside of the pork chops to lock in the juices and get those beautiful grill marks.
Then, move your chops to the cooler side of the grill, where they will cook for another 3 minutes per side.
If you have to use the little "top" rack of your grill, you'll need to cook them about 4 minutes per side.
Remove from grill and tent with aluminum foil to allow the meat to "rest" but not get cold. If you use a meat thermometer to 160 degrees to ensure it's cooked through but not overcooked. DO NOT CUT CHOPS TO SEE IF THEY ARE DONE - this will cause them to be dry.
The last time we had pork chops, I served them with a green salad and sweet potatoes that I roasted in a foil packet on the grill.
To do this: peel then slice sweet potatoes in coins (we split a single sweet potato), and then halve those coins. Lightly toss in a bit of olive oil that has been mixed with a teaspoon of brown sugar. To the bottom of the foil, add a tablespoon of good butter, please the potatoes in a single(ish) layer on the NONSTICK foil (or foil that has been sprayed with PAM), sprinkle with cinnamon. For good measure, add another tablespoon of butter. Then seal the packet with another piece of foil.
Sweet potatoes need to be on the hot side of the grill for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning once about 3/4 through the cooking time.