Good Find Friday: 3 Thanksgiving Pro Tips

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A friend of mine went all out for Thanksgiving last year. Truffle oil mac and cheese. Green beans with a bacon dressing. Sweet potatoes with a brown sugar topping.

Guess what? They had a ton of food left over.

He’s an amazing cook, so everything tasted great. But on a single table, it was…Just. Too. Much.

So here are 3 pro tips to keep Thanksgiving simple:

  1. If you haven’t tested a recipe by now, leave it for another time. Don’t add any pressure on the big day.
  2. Write down a timeline for the entire week of Thanksgiving. Give yourself a grace period with the time you block out to run errands – lines at the grocery store or your favorite bakery or butcher will be long. (Ask me sometime about my friend who started thawing a 20+ pound turkey late Tuesday night. That story definitely belongs in the “Thanksgiving Fails” Hall of Fame!)
  3. Choose one or two indulgences, then leave everything else nice and easy. Spend your budget on the best quality ingredients possible, and skip rich sauces that cover up the taste. Who doesn’t love fresh, clean eating?

More than anything, have fun. Your guests will thank you!

The Best of Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving

9 Best Epicurious Thanksgiving Recipes of All Time

Cooking Light – Thanksgiving breakfast, dinner and dessert

Vegetarian Times Thanksgiving recipes

Sur La Table Fall recipes

Food Network Top 50 Thanksgiving recipes

Food Network Best Thanksgiving Pie and Tart Recipes

Good Find Friday – Fall Treats and Sweets

Handle The Quiet

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Kindness. Consideration. Empathy. Do you automatically say, “Yes, yes, and yes”?

These qualities aren’t only meant for other people. Sometimes we need to put ourselves at the top of the list. In the November series, Love Yourself Up, we’ll talk about how to give and receive compassion.

 

If I asked you how to support your friends and family, you could probably name 3 or 4 ideas off the top of your head. Yet asking for or receiving help takes on a different face when we’re the ones in need. Suddenly there’s an inference that we’re weak or powerless, and let’s be frank – no one wants to be thought of that way. So we put our heads down and convince ourselves it’s better to be strong and maybe even go it alone. Facing open space? That’s just too painful.

 

This is what happened for a young man profiled by Humans of New York. Here’s his story:

 

My mother wasn’t the best person in the world. She was hooked on heroin for most of my life. She sold our childhood home for drug money. She left me alone to raise my brother and disabled nephew. I used to wake up every night to feed him and change his diapers. I supported us all on the $5.15 an hour that I earned from the grocery store.

 

My mother passed away a few months ago, and I think I’m just now coming to terms with how awful she made my life. This is the most stable I’ve ever been. I have a permanent address. I have someone who legitimately loves me. But my anxiety has never been worse.

 

I’ve been having panic attacks recently. I think I’ve never had to deal with the trauma because things were always coming at me. And now I’m not sure how to handle the quiet.

 

Right now, you could be like the man in this story. You have left trauma in the past, however, you are uncertain about how to create a new life.

Here’s some good news: The space that feels so uncomfortable isn’t filled with loneliness; it’s a place of healing. Your instincts are ready to tell you how to create what’s next, but allowing those messages to come through requires some silence.

 

Think of your intuition like a quiet, thoughtful guest at a dinner party. It won’t shout over loud music or speak while others are talking. It’s going to wait until you’re ready to listen. That’s why having peace and calm is an important way to love yourself up, especially around the holidays.

 

This is the week to spend a few minutes visualizing the road ahead and see what shows up. If the next phase of life looks uncertain, start the process by naming your essentials. Like the man in New York, surely you deserve a future filled with peace, joy and love.

 

Turn down the static of the world. Don’t flip on the TV. Don’t get distracted by your phone. It’s all right; you can handle the quiet. 

Good Find Friday: 5 Alternatives to Crazy Holiday Get-Togethers

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It’s only the first week of November, but the Christmas tree has arrived in the building lobby. Are you already dreading those holiday get-togethers?

Put down that list of excuses you’ve been cultivating and decide this is the year you’re going to change your approach. You can go from “escape” to “empower” using the ideas below, whether you’re navigating Thanksgiving with your family or a deluge of December holiday party invitations.

By the way, keep these options in mind if you’re co-parenting with your former spouse. Beautiful holiday memories are made by celebrating in a way and on a day that makes sense for you. That celebration may, or may not be, a certain date on the calendar.

Volunteer at a charity:

Find a service activity for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Spend all or part of the day helping others.

Counter-balance event time with personal time:

Is hanging out for 8 hours straight on Thanksgiving or Christmas a little much? Let your host know that you’ll be happy to meet them for dessert. And, of course, bring the goodies so they can take a break after a long day of cooking!

The reverse goes for holiday parties. If you’ve had a long day at the office, stop by for a quick cocktail, thank your host for the kind invitation, and say a heartfelt good-night before exhaustion kicks in.

Host your own event:

Last year a colleague decided to take the plunge and host the big meal. Spending Thanksgiving day driving all over the Washington coast trying to make parents, in-laws and grandparents happy was straining her marriage.

There was just one problem – she’s not a great cook. Her answer? Make a few things herself, take help from the grocery store, and ask others to bring their best dishes. Problem: solved!

Plan your self-care:

If skipping an event isn’t possible, go, but make sure your day includes self-care activities. They’ll help you breeze past everyone’s tried and true coping mechanisms like over-eating, drinking too much, binge online shopping, etc.

For example, you could:

  • Exercise, like a morning power walk in nature or a leisurely stroll after the big meal.
  • Plan to watch a favorite movie (preferably a funny one).
  • Cut down on media consumption. Check out for the day if the news or your Twitter feed makes you anxious. Don’t let your social media channels become the boss of you!
  • Have a fantastic home spa experience ready to go.

Whatever makes your heart go, “ahhh,” is your self-care, and that covers any activity from quietly having your favorite cup of tea to rocking a CrossFit work-out. Don’t just talk about it; put it on the schedule and enjoy every second.

Keep an open mind:

Above all else, know that you can handle whatever happens. The antidote to tension and dread is self-confidence and a positive “it’s just one day out of the year” outlook.

And always keep an open mind…and by that I mean let crazy, negative comments come in one ear and out the other!

 

Decide that you’re going to keep the holidays flexible, flowing and fun. Enjoy!

Plan Your Comeback

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Your 2017 intentions have officially gone bust. You’re not going to hit your goals by the end of the year.

That’s ok.

Here’s a radical idea: Your detour might be getting you to your destination after all.

This is what happened for Robin, who spent years as a middle-school orchestra director. Her type A personality was the perfect match for the precision demanded by classical music. She pushed herself to climb the ladder at her school district, ultimately earning her master’s degree online. She finally got promoted and her paycheck increased…by $50.

That moment was her emotional bottom. She faced facts and realized becoming a school principal was out of reach. Her best bet was to sacrifice the career she loved for financial stability. She said, “I remember crying when I was writing my résumé, knowing I was resigning my passion in order to make more money, and knowing I had to. I wanted my daughter to go to college, to be comfortable.”

But a funny thing happened. All the left brain, logical skills she used for conducting, such as organization and communication, proved to be a perfect set-up for her new job in IT. In short order, she was leading a team. Robin had less stress and her self-esteem soared with annual raises and bonuses. She even lost several hundred pounds – 100 of her own and more when she had the confidence to leave her marriage. These days her emotional life is as healthy as her bank account.

In the October series, In the Solution Now, we’ve met people who learned how to connect logic with their instincts:

  • In “Handled”, superstar chef Anthony Bourdain admitted he used to be a pro at drowning out his instincts. He got into the solution once he conquered his fears and faced down the mountain of debt he had created.
  • In “One and the Same,” we saw how your life purpose doesn’t need to wait until “later”. You’re in the solution when you start integrating big dreams into today’s life.
  • In “Who’s Got the Good?”, Nandita learned that her instincts were pushing her to follow her passion. She didn’t need to rely on someone else for happiness. She had the ability to create good right where she was.
  • In “Stress Testing Your Marriage,” Sean and Katrina ignored their instincts and jobbed out their problems. Their constant workarounds addressed the situation, but a real solution appeared once they started to connect on a regular basis

Combining head and heart isn’t about swinging to one extreme or another. It’s about staying conscious to small guideposts and then acting. Like Robin, you may feel like you’ve been side-tracked. You may feel like life is pre-determined, that you don’t have any choices. This is the week for resilience. It’s time to dust yourself off and plan your comeback, even if it doesn’t happen in the next eight weeks. Cry. Kick and scream. But get moving.

When you change from traditional, binary thinking to blended thinking combining your intuition with your rational mind, you’re more than in the solution. You’re a great boss of you.

Good Find Friday: Be Mindful

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Do you want an easy way to get into a solution? Be mindful.

Buddhism has the best description of mindfulness, and that is simply “full attention.”

But Zhen-Phang has made mindfulness into a fantastic acronym. You may not hack your way in seconds to a perfect answer, but you will have a path to quiet your mind.

If one of your goals this Autumn is to slow down to reflect the pace of nature, try focusing on a single action each day of the week.

Enjoy!

Stress Testing Your Marriage

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Who doesn’t love a hack? A shortcut? A way to skip to the end?

There’s just one problem: What works today usually doesn’t work forever. Sooner or later, you have to get to the heart of the matter.

Sean and Katrina found this lesson out the hard way. After 20 years of marriage, you would think they would have the art of compromise down to a science. Yet everything started to come apart once their kids were off to college. The empty nest presented a lot of possibilities, but also some problems.

 They loved their new puppy, but their work schedules were a little erratic. No problem – they hired a dog walker.

A refresh for their house was in order, but they couldn’t decide on the palette. No problem – they found a designer to keep them on trend and maybe even set up for resale.

Then they decided to take a holiday. Fun choices, right? Not exactly. Deciding where to go on vacation was like everything else: A big headache. Yet this time they couldn’t job the problem out to someone else to solve. That’s when tensions finally came to a head.

“You have to give us credit. We were trying, but nothing ever got done,” Katrina told me. “We’d see each other in the kitchen and agree that we wanted to get away. Then we’d have to rush off to work without making a decision.”

“A couple of days later in the bathroom, we’d do it all over again. It was like a ping pong match. ‘I want to go for 2 weeks.’ ‘No – I can only take a week off.’ Then one of us would brush our teeth and we’d never finish the conversation.”

“Finally Sean said to me, ‘Tomorrow night. 7:00. I’m picking up Thai. And we’re talking about vacation!’ You wouldn’t believe it,” she laughed. “In less than 10 minutes, we worked everything out – the place, the amount we wanted to spend, how much time – the works! We looked at each other in amazement and asked, ‘How did we fall into this?’ I guess decades of focusing on the kids’ logistics threw us off.”

“I hope we’ve gotten that out of our system,” she said, leaning in. “It was like we were stress testing our marriage to see how much pressure it could take! I thought our relationship was in a good place because we never fought or got into power struggles. But I’m seeing that we talked all the time without talking at all.”

 In the October series, In the Solution Now, we’re talking about how to match logic with intuition. Sean and Katrina thought they were solving their problems by hiring experts. However, they were missing heartfelt, intuitive messages like, “Connect,” and “Sit down together.”

This week, your challenge is to look past the logistics and stop architecting the workaround. Ask yourself, “Am I addressing a problem or am I really solving it?” If you’re just addressing today’s issue, it’s sure to come up tomorrow.

Get yourself into the solution – a lasting one.

Good Find Friday: STEP

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It’s a rough and tumble world right now. Are you looking for some inspiration?

Then you need to see “STEP”. STEP is a documentary showing the stories of seniors in a high school step dance team in inner-city Baltimore. These girls have plenty going against them – absentee parents, unstable home environments, and a lot of bias. But they don’t let any of those blocks stop them.

Paula Dofat, Director of College Counseling at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women explains, “I want to have three main principles that we follow: Solidarity, disciple, and self-esteem.” Those are more than just high ideals. Ms. Dofat puts them into action, requiring consistently high grades as a prerequisite for participation. And you’ll have to watch the movie to find out how many of the girls were accepted into college.

Gari “Coach G” McIntyre puts it all into perspective: “I have a purpose.”

STEP girls, we salute you!

Enjoy!

Who’s Got the Good?

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Have you ever found yourself thinking, “I could be happy if only they would…” There may a kernel of truth there, but are you letting someone else or a circumstance become the boss of you?

This is what almost happened for my neighbor. We exchanged a wave at the mailbox, and when I asked her how things were going, she blurted out, “I told my boss, ‘I’m so over work!’”

“Uh…is that a good thing?” I asked, not sure what to say.

“Absolutely!” she laughed. “I’m finally getting my job back on track.”

When Nandita joined the Disability team at the local community college, she said “yes” to helping with anything and everything while they filled open positions. However, her “can do” attitude didn’t turn out quite the way she hoped. She ended up being a little too good, especially at managing the budget. Once she stepped into the gap, it was hard to step out.

“Everything changed when we decided to have interns. It hit me like a lightning bolt after our orientation session,” she said. “I went back to my desk and was so irritated by that stack of spreadsheets waiting for me. I thought, “How did I get here? I don’t want to be an accountant!” That’s when I joked with my boss that I was so over work.”

She shrugged her shoulders and said tenderly, “I want to make education easier for people with disabilities. Sure, we need to manage operations, but I also need to get back to why I applied for this job.”

The October series, In the Solution Now, is talking about how to balance intuition and the rational mind. Sometimes we think we’re following our instincts, but we’re really reacting to feelings that have taken on a life of their own. The sequence usually goes something like this: someone upsets us, then we dig in and can’t let go of the details. We feel like we have to do something and make rash choices. But the truth is that those decisions are made when we’re completely out of alignment.

By contrast, think of your intuition as your wisest advisor. Instead of rushing in, Nandita realized her dissatisfaction at work wasn’t about the invoices. It was really about getting back to basics. She took steps to restructure her work duties once she understood the true issue.

Are your feelings starting to eclipse everything else right now? One thing is certain: You can’t create good things out of a hostile, combative viewpoint of, “not good enough.” It’s time to temper your emotions, no matter how justified your perspective might be. Shake off bitterness or frustration. Replace it with deep wisdom matched with practical action – that’s how you get in the solution.

This week, blend head and heart with two simple questions. “Am I letting my emotions get the best of me?” and “What one thing can I do to change my perspective?” Then take thoughtful action using the skills you’ve honed this year.

Who’s got the Good? You do.

 

Good Find Friday: Work Toward the What

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I’m hooked on the new series “Street Justice: The Bronx.” In one of the episodes, Detective Ralph Friedman jokes, “I don’t like meetings! I never caught a perpetrator in a meeting!”

OK, you may not be trying to catch a criminal, but let’s be honest – you have better things to do this Fall than sit in meetings. How do you turn those boring get-togethers into an effective use of time? Bust the meeting derailers!

Here are 5 ideas to get you in the solution, whether you’re the CEO of your family or running your own business:

  1. Work toward the what: “What are we coming up with today?” is the critical question when you schedule the meeting. Most projects are done over time, not all at once. Before you dive into the details, take a minute or two to define what you’re creating that day.
  2. Hit pause: Yes to staying open to great ideas. But track those ideas and put them on hold if they don’t answer your “What are we coming up with today?” question. Revisiting that information later will ensure you meet your goal and stay on time.
  3. No cell zone: Did you groan when you read “no cell zone”? Think of it this way: you can get twice the work done in half the time when everyone isn’t swiping their phone. Maria Shriver has her kids park their phones in the middle of the restaurant table. The first one reaching for their mobile pays the bill. Ouch!
  4. Everyone has an action: Do you want to increase engagement? Make sure everyone leaves the meeting with an action item. No sitting on the sidelines allowed.
  5. Wrap it up: Have a goal of quitting at least 5 minutes early. You may not make it, but this will give you a cushion for additional discussion, travel time, etc. If you’re really courageous, schedule a no meeting day. (Some teams use Friday only for individual work and planning.) No one ever complains about having more time in their day.

Enjoy!

One And The Same

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“I can’t work my life path. I need money,” said Phil the caller, complaining to the talk-show host.

Have you ever felt like Phil – so overwhelmed by the day to day stresses of life that you feel like loftier things need to wait?

It quickly became clear why Phil was frantic. He and his wife had moved to the Outer Banks with an eye toward retirement.  Yet their master plan was thrown into chaos when he was laid off 6 months later. He was short of breath as he desperately tried to predict all the contingencies. There was no getting around it: He had an enormous snowball of a problem. 

Phil’s voice softened and lit up with emotion as he told why they wanted to make the move. Side comments told the rest of the story, such as:

  • I never really liked that company. I just took that job for the pension, but the pension would have taken another 10-15 years.
  • We thought we’d love it here, but we’re not really connecting with the people. I think we were happier in the Midwest.
  • Being angry? I like to think I’m above that. I like to be cheerful.

Phil’s intentions were good, but looking only at the financials was just part of the picture. Before he could move on with a clean slate, he needed to confront, not jump past, his sadness about how the move turned out.

In the October series, In the Solution Now, we’re talking about how to balance your head and heart. That means finding the equilibrium between a mountain of facts and the emotions that have you bouncing off the walls. When Phil gave equal weight to both sides of his mind, the answer emerged. His original dream was worth pursuing, but the Outer Banks was probably their “good for now, not forever” home. 

Are you in a bind like Phil, looking for the perfect solution to a Big Question? Let’s replay his situation as an experiment, bearing in mind that logic usually speaks in statements and absolutes, and instincts are open ended.

Logic says, “Keep money flowing by sticking to the job you know.” Intuition asks, “Retirement is a decade away. What job could I get that combines what I’m good at and like to do now?”

Logic says, “We’re locked in to a 30-year mortgage.” Intuition asks, “Yes, you bought it, but can you sell it?

Logic says, “If you move back to the Midwest, you’ll have to explain it to everyone.” Intuition asks, “Is the constant stress you’re feeling smart for your health?

If you’re not sure how to answer your Big Question, brainstorm using the ideas from A Course in Miracles lesson 71, “Where would have me go? What would you have me do?” Don’t feel pressured to find the perfect answer in minutes. You’re in the solution by simply beginning the conversation.

Your life purpose and happiest way of living? They’re not someday. They’re not separate. They’re one and the same.