Good Find Friday: Hidden Figures

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Are you ready for an extraordinary film, just in time for the Academy Awards®?

Then you need to watch “Hidden Figures.”

“Hidden Figures” is the story of Katherine Goble, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, a trio of African-American women who worked at NASA when the U.S. and Russia were battling to win the space race.

You’ll be in awe as you watch these talented mathematicians calculate thousands of computations every day, including friction, velocity and analytic geometry. By hand. (Give them total respect the next time you have to pull out your phone to figure out the tip at your favorite restaurant!)

A lot of things get broken in this picture – preconceived ideas, gender and race bias, and educational barriers.

The one thing that isn’t broken? Their spirit.

“Hidden Figures” is a story of courage, persistence and a lot of love. Celebrate Black History Month by watching this Oscar worthy picture (nominations on Sunday for “Best Picture”, “Best Adapted Screenplay” from the book by Margot Lee Shetterly and “Best Supporting Actress”). You’ll leave inspired to push forward with passion in your own life.

Enjoy!

Not Knowing, And Loving It

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How did you do with Valentine’s Day?

Don’t worry if your big date was a big dud. There’s still love waiting.

In the February series, The Relaxed Heart, we’re talking about how to keep an open heart amid tension. One of the ways to do that is by practicing self-love.

Are you excited to put yourself at the top of the list?

Hold up. You’re not getting a pass to do whatever you want.

The highest expression of self-love is rooted in self-respect. Because when you respect yourself, the decisions you make – for your mental, emotional and physical well-being – are made with integrity.

Let’s put it another way: First do no harm. To others or yourself.

Alexa’s romance with Janie was off to a fast start. That’s why I was surprised to see her with a long face last week.

“How was Etta’s? It’s supposed to be one of Tom Douglas’ best restaurants.”

“The sashimi was cold, and so was I by the end of the dinner!” Alexa laughed.

“What’s the matter? You went out a few times after you met at that gourmet cooking class – right? I thought you guys were getting along great!” I said.

“We do get along. I just don’t think Janie’s ready for a relationship.”

“Huh? But you said she’s been divorced for over a year.”

“That’s true,” Alexa said, grimacing. “But she mentions her ex out of habit. I suggested that we go skiing, and Janie’s response was, “Laura and I really liked Whistler.” I changed the subject and talked about going abroad. Janie launched into the blow-by-blow story about their incredible trip to Italy.”

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“Hmm…I see what you mean. That doesn’t sound very romantic,” I said, trying to console her.

“Exactly! I’m disappointed, but it’s all right,” Alexa said, frowning. “I really like her, but I think it’s best if we’re just cooking buddies.”

“Her friends and family encouraged Janie to get on with her life, but I think that’s just ended up being a big distraction. For heaven’s sake, she talked about her ex so much I was starting to feel like a seat filler at one of those awards shows. You know – the people who smile and look beautiful while the superstar is in the powder room?!”

Her face darkened. “Janie needs to work through the fall-out from their split. She may not know what she wants, but I do. I just can’t keep going.”

It’s tempting to want a guarantee for what comes next. But rushing to find a relationship, or prop up one that’s sagging, is the emotional version of a seat filler – a choice that only works for the next 5 minutes. When you have to constantly stir up and crank up something to keep it going, losing yourself – maybe not today, but at some point – is a given.

This week, get back to center by giving yourself support and respect. Because when you feel supported, you replace stress with a relaxed heart.

Promise yourself: no more seat filling and no more marking time. Make this time and place wonderful. A loving partner will thank you for it.

Good Find Friday: 4 Tips For Heart Health

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It’s been a passionate week. After time with the people you love, your emotional heart is probably in great shape. But is your physical heart keeping pace?

Let me introduce you to Dr. Veronique Billat. She’s a specialist in exercise science, and one of her favorite patients is Robert Marchand.

He’s an ordinary guy in a lot of ways. At 5 feet tall, he’s not the most imposing guy on the block. You can usually find him staying fit by off road biking close to his home outside Paris or at a nearby indoor track. He’s so fast that he just set a new cycling world record.

Wait – did I mention that he’s 105 years old?

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Dr. Billat observed that Marchand keeps his heart healthy in four easy ways:

  1. An optimistic attitude;
  2. A strong community with many friends;
  3. A simple diet with fresh, whole food. Marchand’s favorites are soup, cheese, chicken and a glass of red wine with dinner; and
  4. Exercise that makes sense for him. Marchand previously worked as a firefighter, lumberjack and gardener, but did not exercise regularly until retirement.

If you’ve already adopted Robert Marchand’s best practices, go one step further and check out Health.com’s slideshow of 18 heart-healthy foods. Do you want to supercharge the rest of your February menu with plenty of dark chocolate? Good news – that’s a recommendation!

Enjoy!

That One’s A Keeper

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It’s Valentine’s Day, so we have to celebrate love. Not just any love. Let’s give a special tip of the hat to profound, enduring romantic love.

The February series, The Relaxed Heart, is looking at how we can keep an open heart in the middle of a tense world. Few people try to close down. It’s just that…who’s got the time?

This is what happened for some friends of mine. Let me tell you about Courtney and Rico.

Courtney thought everything had fallen into place. Great job, great guy and blue skies ahead. However, her life crashed into a million pieces when her fiancée changed his mind just days before their wedding.

Courtney didn’t hesitate when she got an offer in the next state. When she wasn’t pouring energy into her job, she was getting her apartment together. Hooking up wasn’t at the bottom of the list; it didn’t even make the cut.

Rico wasn’t on the hunt, either. He was just being a good sport when Frank asked for help with the after-school program at the YMCA.

Frank was laughing, but he wasn’t taking no for an answer. “C’mon, are you going to make me beg? The kids love the new daily activities schedule. We’re scrambling trying to manage all the sign-ups. I know your work day as a commodities broker ends early. Look, I’ll make you a deal – just try it for a month. By the way, have you met Courtney?”

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A year later, Rico came to lunch when Courtney’s parents were in town. As they walked out to the parking lot, Courtney’s Dad took her by the arm. In a serious tone he whispered, “That one’s a keeper.”

Courtney laughed. “Dad! You don’t get it. We’re not dating – Rico just helps out at the Y. He won’t even be around – he’s relocating to Chicago.”

“I stick by what I said,” he grumbled, pulling the door closed.

Courtney walked back to her car, shaking her head. But his words haunted her. She started to panic.

What if he was right?

When her exit came up on the freeway, she kept driving. All the way to the airport. She saw Rico waiting in the security line. She started with, “You’ll never guess what my Dad said to me…”

Rico was quiet. Finally, he said, “Long distance can be hard, but I’m willing to fly in. Will you set aside one weekend a month?”

They’ve been married almost 25 years.

Valentine’s Day can be filled with a lot of pressure. The chase to find or be The One. The strain to have the most romantic date in the world. Yet all that stress just leads to a lot of anxiety. And anxiety isn’t sexy!

This week, take the pressure off – the Universe may have a surprise in store for you. Rico and Courtney discovered that Good happens to good people all the time. You don’t have to be the wealthiest, most exciting guy in the world to find a great partner. And you don’t need a sexy Instagram account to be the perfect woman. You just need a relaxed heart.

Good Find Friday: Maggie’s Plan

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Shakespeare wrote, “The course of love never did run smooth,” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That goes double for the couples in Rebecca Miller’s film, “Maggie’s Plan”!

Maggie Harden is ready for a baby, but marriage will have to wait. Until she meets and falls for Columbia professor John Harding.

Who’s already married.

Three years later, Maggie is mad about her darling daughter. However, she’s hardly on fire for her husband. John doesn’t seem to notice their failing relationship. He’s too busy with daily calls to superstar author Georgette, who happens to be his ex-wife.

Is there a way for everyone to have a happy ending?

“Maggie’s Plan” is quirky, messy, real and funny – just like life! If you’re in the mood for a romantic comedy for Valentine’s Day, give it a try.

And be sure to keep watching until the very end. There’s a delightful twist.

Enjoy!

Love That Counts

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“I can’t believe it’s only February! I feel like I haven’t had a moment’s rest since the holidays!”

Does that sound like you? Worn out. Tense. Exhausted.

Take a deep breath and exhale.

And one more for good measure.

Do you feel better already?

Good.

My friend really captured our collective mood in just a few sentences. Everyone gets stressed, but it’s staying in those feelings that keeps us stuck. Whatever we’re bothered by becomes the boss of us and we shut down. And you can’t have meaningful connections when you’re shut down – the two ideas are mutually exclusive. We’ll focus on ways to manage this tension in the February series, The Relaxed Heart.

On Being host Krista Tippett fell passionately in love with her husband, only to discover as their romance cooled that they had almost nothing in common. In no time, they went from adoration to a state Krista describes as each being “so alone in our marriage.”

Krista recreated her life with her two young children following their divorce, and it worked. Well, kind of. She found a different place to live, expanded her circle of friends…but not a new romantic partner. Love was missing, or so she thought.

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Then Krista looked past the pain of a failed marriage. She stepped away from a society telling her with every prime time commercial that she needed a partner. Keeping her eyes peeled for her next romance meant that she was missing the rich expressions of love all around her. She recalls:

“After my divorce, I created a welcoming home and took great delight in my children. I cooked dinner for gatherings of friends old and new, invested in beautiful far-flung friendships, and drew vast sustenance from webs of care through the work I do. Yet I told myself, for years, that I had a hole in my life where “love” should be—as though without a romance, the many other kinds of love in my life didn’t really count. As though without someone who loved me in a certain way, I could never be complete. This is the opposite of a healing story—it’s a story that perceives scarcity in the midst of abundance.”

Something is going to get on your nerves this week – that’s just part of life. However, moments of love are also trying to get your attention. Are you breezing past them or making them count?

Be someone who talks about ideas rather than personalities. The rest of the room will thank you for shifting the conversation before it gets nasty.

Show how you can have a tough day at work but leave all the trouble where it belongs – at the office. Why waste time replaying that hard meeting over and over in your mind? Once you’re home, be present with your family and your pets, who desperately crave your attention.

And give yourself some love the next time you pay bills. You may feel a little blue as your bank balance shrinks, but being responsible with money is an accomplishment.

With a relaxed heart, understanding and affection are suddenly everywhere. And that’s a love that counts.

Good Find Friday: 2017 Big Game Eats

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Sad!

I’m not talking about political tweets from you know who. I’m talking about my football mood.

First the Seattle Seahawks lost. Then the Dallas Cowboys followed in quick succession. So you understand why I just can’t get fired up about this year’s Super Bowl.

football-2times-of-yearBut I still need to eat…

And that’s why I’m sticking with a post for the big game this weekend.

This Sunday I’ll be watching “Victoria” on PBS (fantastic, by the way) and consoling myself with plenty of nachos. If you’re cooking for a crowd, skip take-out pizza and keep your table filled with fresh, colorful dishes. The links below have you covered!

Enjoy!

 

Crazy Nachos from The Homesick Texan

Williams-Sonoma Salsas, Dips and Spreads

Cooking Light (healthy alternatives like sweet potato tots and turkey sliders)

Real Simple Meatball Ideas (from traditional to Vietnamese Banh Mi style)

Williams-Sonoma Game Day Favorites

Food Network Big Game Desserts

15 Fabulous Pitcher Drinks

More of This

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Have you put the finishing touches on your 2017 intentions?

Let’s take one last look.

As you glance at your list, has it unexpectedly become an inventory of stuff? The trip of a lifetime. The amazing new kitchen. The overflowing bank account.

It may be missing an essential ingredient.

This.

What is “This”? The “I love it” moment. The good stuff. Without it, you’ll be chasing the next big thing in no time.

In the January series, Uncharted Territory, we’ve learned that intentions are our North Star. When we’re in the flow, connecting our head and heart, we find “This.” We have the clarity to decide “yes” or “no”, whether we’re trying to gauge a new opportunity or respond to the twists and turns of life, just like the people we’ve met this month:

  1. In “Don’t Rush the Reveal”, the business owner achieved her goal of finding more clients. However, she missed her intention of upleveling her business. Continue with the product? No.
  2. Keep Your Old Life” showed that a crucial part of a new vision is integrating what already works. Build on our successes? Yes!
  3. Don’t Go To Barre Class” revealed how accepting feedback and fine-tuning is a natural part of any creative process. Stick to only one way? No.
  4. A Brand New World” described how distractions derail us. Using affirmations to get back on track? Yes.

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For author Steve Silberman, emotional connections are always “Yes”. Here’s his Facebook post about how to create essential bonds:

The work you do is important. I don’t mean your job, though that may be important, too.

I mean the Real Work: doing your art, building community, finding ways to talk about what matters, asking yourself what it means to be alive at this moment in world history.

Taking care of yourself so you have the strength to get through this. Taking care of others, which can be a good way of taking care of yourself.

Helping other people find their way if they feel lost. Really loving the people you love. Treasuring your friends – not just having a beer with them but telling them what they mean to you. Telling your parents that you love them, if they’re still here (they’ll be gone after what feels like too soon). Teaching your children what it means to be a real human being and to shun prejudice and bullying.

If you’re alone for a moment, look around, or just breathe, and appreciate that. Tasting the tea when you drink it. Preparing for your own death by being fully alive in this Now.

This, this. Even in this anxious time, this. Feeling your connection to everything around you, and gratitude before words.

If you’re going to make one resolution this month, resolve to be different. Declare that you’re not going to leave your intentions in a box until December; you’re going to live them every day.

Imagine yourself describing 2017 with words like fulfilled, engaged, connected, peaceful and compassionate.

Yes. More of This.

Good Find Friday: Year of the Rooster

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If you think it’s been a crazy year already, hold onto your hat – the Year of the Fire Rooster is here!

Roosters are hardworking, talented, active, talkative, and love to be in the middle of a crowd. The Year of the Rooster is often marked by lots of activity and impatience. However, Roosters are known for reaching their goals, even living in luxury. Famous Roosters are Bob Marley, Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears.

This is the ideal time to try feng shui, the Chinese art of harmonizing with your environment. If you want to stick with the basics:

  • Clean your home from top to bottom;
  • Sweep the house, starting at the front door and ending at the back (where you symbolically sweep last year’s energy into the past);
  • Buy fresh flowers for abundance;
  • Place a bowl of oranges in the kitchen or dining room for good luck; and
  • Clear your home of old things and create space for the new.

Part of Lunar New Year is honoring your ancestors by serving some of their favorite meals. Traditional dishes are fish (prosperity), noodles (longevity) and dumplings (wealth).

Don’t pick up some crazy take-out with sweet and sour sauce that glows in the dark! Use the recipe links below and then share your table with friends and family (“weilu” which translates to “surrounding the stove”).

Above all else, have fun! Make your home a place of joy. That’s irresistible to good fortune.

Gung Hei Fat Choy!

Epicurious Lunar New Year Menus, including the “Meal of Fortune”

Simple Egg Drop soup – the “no recipe recipe”

Classic Kung Pao (30 minute meal)

Food Network Lunar New Year recipes

New York Times Lunar New Year recipes

A Brand New World

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Your intentions for 2017 are set.

You’ve taken the month of January to hone them, rather than jumping ahead.

Congratulations!

But do you feel like you’re already drifting, pushed and pulled by aggressive people, a frantic 24/7 news and social media cycle, and seemingly endless negativity?

You need to put Joan Baez’ classic protest anthem, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” on your playlist. Here’s the chorus:

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around

Turn me around

Turn me around

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around

Keep on a walking, keep on a talking

Gonna build a brand new world

Those rousing lyrics are still uplifting, no matter what side of the political aisle you’re on. In fact, it’s good inspiration for the January series about creating your vision, Uncharted Territory.

Shannon Kaiser had a dream for her business – a big one. Then she went into overdrive, constantly chasing the next speaking engagement, book deal, or set of followers. She says, “The first three years of my business were the hardest, not because they were particularly hard – but because I made them hard with my expectations and attachments to how things should look.”

At the brink of burn-out, she realized, “If I want my business to work, I have to make sure I am working.”

Shannon makes a great point. A vision without grounding isn’t sustainable. However, there’s good news – if you want a simple technique for times when you feel scattered, try affirmations.

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Let me guess – you’re already rolling your eyes and reciting Al Franken’s “Saturday Night Live” parody: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me”.

Or you could feel like one of my friends who joked, “What – you just tell yourself something over and over?”

Fair enough.

So let’s leave those experiences in the past. Let’s reboot affirmations so they’re relevant, and what’s more, effective.

Affirmations done well align our internal self-talk with the external. They’re how we know we’re creating a future that matches our aspirations and values, not someone else’s version of how our life should be. And they can be a tool for holding ourselves accountable in a kind, healthy way. That’s being a good boss of yourself – exactly what being a Soul Boss is about.

When you find yourself drifting this year, these 7 affirmations will help get you back to center:

  1. I allow myself to think big! I go beyond the expectations or achievements of others.
  2. Source is showing me the next, right action. I know when to hit the gas or tap the brakes.
  3. I give up old hurts. As I release them, I make space for Good.
  4. I am resilient when struggles arise. I don’t get derailed – I am a bounce-back person!
  5. I focus on what matters most. I let petty annoyances float by.
  6. I am in control of my emotions. I respond to situations rather than reacting.
  7. I disengage from sensational headlines. I know what is true for me.

Don’t let anyone turn you around. It’s time to build your brand new world.