Category Archives: Lifestyle

Lifestyle strategies that support creativity and business growth

Life and Blogging are Like a Camera

life is like a cameraI came across this quote picture on Facebook, posted by a friend, but created by Jack Canfield. I do love social media, even though it can be a time quicksand.

So now I have all the acknowledgements taken care of, I find it has inspired me to revisit the purpose of this blog.

It started with an idea to attract people to our new software product, as well as the wellness products with my longtime Shaklee business (still gotta have a plug for the best natural products around). Then, as the software concept imploded and the desire to find our way back to our deepest dreams emerged, it became a way to recreate our financial and creative lives.

  • First, by inspiring us to recommit to our passion for writing and creativity.
  • Second by building this blog to support others like us who were ready to delve into their true talents and become financially independent entrepreneurs. Creative entrepreneurs, that is.

As often happens with life, both our lives and this blog developed into something I never imagined as we struggled to find a path beyond our start-up partnership. Now that that dream has disappeared, this new vision seems much more coherent and valid. It addresses our core dreams and talents. As well as the ongoing desire to help others live better, healthier and more congruent lives.

All this may sound too philosophical for some of you…like, where is the meat? Yet I know there are many who have already embraced the desire to put their talents to work, their dreams into action and their finances in their own hands. And many who are entering their ‘third trimester of life’ who are ready to recapture their true essence, while creating a new stream of income… a necessity for so many of us. Continue reading

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How to Master Multi-tasking for Creative Entrepreneurs

When I first became a working mother, then later a mom-preneur workingbaby and working mom from home, I discovered the need for multitasking… BIG TIME!  Today, it seems to be a necessity. However, there are those who are telling us our brains just don’t work that way.

So how is it possible that everyone all around us is doing IT?

I’ve noticed as I get older, the multitasking genius is fading and it’s often more difficult to track two similar activities, like talking on the phone and scanning a web article. My brain goes into rebellion. Other factors seem to affect my abilities too. i.e. some days are better than others. Do you know what I mean?

So, I decided to do a little research on the art of multitasking.  Here’s what I found:

  • Our brains can’t multi-task (sorry, but it seems to be true!)
  • It’s more stressful when we try to make it multi-task (most of us have experienced this!)
  • Multi-tasking is really switching the brain’s attention from one task or awareness to another. (‘Command center, pay attention to THIS now!’)
  • As we age, get too caffeinated, fatigued or stressed our brains ability to switch focus effectively can deteriorate.
  • We can train our brains to be more effective at switching focus by practicing!

I find the creative tasks are the ones that demand my full attention. If I’m sitting here thinking about why my phone is beeping softly, whether my laundry is dry, and how much time I’ll need to make the soup I promised everyone for dinner… well, things just won’t gel like I want, which will result in a lot more time to get it right.

Multi-tasking…bah humbug!

Here’s the quandary:

How can something that is functionally impossible, seemingly destructive and potentially non-productive be so darn essential for success in the 21st century?? (That’s a lot of adverbs in one sentence, but I think you can see the necessity!)

So, here’s my Mastering Multi-tasking for the Creative/Mobile Entrepreneur Checklist, in spite of it all:

  • Remember that you are not thinking 2+ things at the same time; you are simply switching back and forth, so practice becoming quicker at it by using your brainpower without getting stressed
  • Develop your list of habitual skills with practice. Make a list if that helps. The more time you spend practicing an activity, the less focus it takes for your brain, then the easier (and less stressful!) it is to switch focus while continuing your habitual activity.
  • Try multitasking between habitual activities and brain-intense activities (like washing dishes + talking on the phone, or walking + listening to an audio seminar)
  • When something is really important or demanding of your full creative talents, remove distractions, set a timer and give it 100% focus for the allotted time.
  • Get up and move every 1-2 hours! Make a couple of quick phone calls while walking around the block. Today, I started the dishwasher, laundry and cooking the soup at 10 a.m… Once set up they don’t require my attention, but technically I am the ultimate multitasker. When I take my mini-break, I give myself 10-15 minutes to put the laundry in the dryer, empty the dishwasher and stir the soup (on timer so I don’t need to worry until it beeps). Then back to work, fully focused and refreshed.
  • Find tools that work for you to make you more effective. I always liked lists because once I make the list I don’t have to keep trying to remember what else I need to do. Very distracting! I also love Evernote to keep all my research results handy at the click of a button. This one tool has saved me incredible time, stress and paper piles.
  • Take a brain break! You know, stand up, stretch, deep breathe and don’t try to do anything for 5 minutes except just BE in the moment.
  • Even better, take a ‘screen break’. Study, read, think, talk with real people… anything without a screen, touchpad or earpiece. Shop even…woohoo…in a real store, I mean. This one we’re talking one hour+.
  • Reward yourself when an important task is complete… is that a power nap, a coffee with a friend or just curling up with your favorite magazine with a cup of tea? Your brain will love you and perform better for it.

Below you’ll find a few articles I came across while researching this article. I’d also love to hear how you handle multiple task challenges, so please share your ideas.

Make it a focused, productive, low stress day by going out there and employing your creative talents, one at a time.

Further research suggestions:

How Multitasking Hurts Your Brain (and Your Effectiveness at Work) 

Secrets of Multitasking: Slow Down to Speed Up 

How to Multitask Without Losing Your Mind

Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again

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Creativity for a Cause – Elephant Parade Thoughts

What moves people to take action?

  • For some it’s a cause they believe in or a way to change the world.
  • For others it’s a creative spark, whether art, music or a compelling story.
  • For many, it’s an opportunity to create income either for themselves or a non-profit with a compelling mission.

For me, the Elephant Parade is a great blend of all these. It started with the elephantparade 004story of a baby elephant who loses one of her legs to a landmine in Thailand. That inspired a social enterprise that is a unique combination of art, business and conservation, with the goal of preserving the last of the wild Asian elephants in Asia, as well as caring for Mosha, that baby elephant who needs constantly changing prosthetics.

Thousands of people have been enjoying the elephants in Dana Point for the last few weeks, at their first appearance in the U.S.  I go there on my ‘artist’s days’, and find others who are moved and fascinated by this movement that inspires creativity for a cause.  The cause inspires me, as do all the beautiful creative versions of painted elephants.

elephant paradeIn addition, this project encourages local artists to create their own version of elephant art, even students.  It also offers ways for each of us to participate by enjoying the artistic talents from around the world, as well as purchasing our a mini-elephant or even painting our own.

Here’s a few ideas of how you can take your creative talents and contribute to something you believe in:

  • Find a non-profit that you want to support – offer your talents.
  • Writer?  Write an article for local media, offer to help with their newsletter or communication efforts, or write blog articles
  • Photographer?  Take photos of their events, edit and post on their website or social media
  • Love social media or research?  Find great posts related to their mission.
  • Video or musical talents?  Help them set up a YouTube account or create some slide shows telling the story of their mission
  • Musician?  Offer to play for one of their events
  • Artist?  Maybe they need a new logo, graphic art help, posters for an event or t-shirts designed for staff and volunteers
  • Web design expertise?  Offer to help with their blog, website or event promotion
  • Fashionista?  Help unemployed women put together outfits for job interviews
  • Fill in the blank… this is just a start!

By offering your talents, you’ll get not only that warm fuzzy feeling from making a positive difference, but you will also gain visibility, a network, experience for a resume or portfolio and connections with people who know people who just might want to hire you.

The best part… You don’t have to be a professional yet, but this will give you experience and an idea if perfecting and monetizing your talents could be an opportunity for you to choose the path of a creative entrepreneur.

It could change your life!

elephant parade

 

More about the Elephant Parade:

Elephant Parade was created by father and son Marc and Mike Spits in 2006. A year later, the first exhibition was held in Rotterdam. Marc was inspired to create the Elephant Parade after meeting Soraida Salwala whilst on holiday in Thailand. Soraida is the founder and Secretary General of Friends of the Asian Elephant and founder of the FAE Elephant Hospital, the first elephant hospital in the world in Lampang, near Chiang Mai. Here, Marc met a baby elephant named Mosha, who had lost her leg after stepping on a landmine. Mosha inspired Marc to create Elephant Parade.

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Stress and Your Creative Health


Chronic stress has become our shared national ailment…

no more waiting for the holidays to feel stressed out! 

Beyond what we feel, there is new research showing

that chronic stress affects:Stress affects your brain

 

  • long term health
  • ability to solve problems
  • level of creativity
  • optimal brain functioning

Most of us know stress can damage our health.  Acute stress is a natural part of life and results in increases in heart rate, adrenaline and related responses that allow us to meet whatever challenges we encounter.

But chronic stress is more prevalent in our fast-paced society, especially with so many experiencing financial distresses, and the damage is more insidious and often not recognized. This type of stress can result in increases in cortisol production which can lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, including increased blood pressure, blood sugar and diabetes risks.  Other research is pointing to an increased incidence of Alzheimer’s and suppression of our immune systems associated with chronic stress.

Recent research is showing a much broader impact of this daily stress on our brains, as well as our bodies. Researchers have discovered that the sensation of being highly stressed can rewire the brain in ways that promote the persistence of more stress and less creativity in solving problems.

Science magazine article describes how Nuno Sousa and his colleagues found that chronically stressed rats lost their elastic rat cunning and instead fell back on familiar routines and rote responses, like compulsively pressing a bar for food pellets they had no intention of eating.

Now that sounds like ME at the refrigerator door all day,

… hungry or not!

 Of course, we’re not rats, but the study suggests that when we experience chronic stress, we tend to fall into ruts or old habits just like rats.

Our creativity is short circuited and can result in repeating the behaviors that led to the stress inducing choices… we become like the hamster in the wheel, you might say.

Other studies find that chronic stress degrades creativity and innovation in the work environment as well.  Our brains just don’t function at peak levels unless we can consistently employ strategies to de-stress.  These issues impact our ability to maintain our jobs, or earn promotions, as well as business bottom lines.

The potential negative effects are undesirable enough that it might be worth our time to develop our own stress management strategies.  You may already have some, or maybe had some that you let slide.  So here’s a little nudge to encourage you to take some action, feel happier and get more out of both your work and play!

Here are 10 strategies that work for me, to get you started:

  1. Walk – I’ve become a big fan of walking. You can do it anywhere, it takes no equipment and it’s even better with friends.  And walking has so many benefits besides being a great fat burner.
  2. Meditate or pray – brain research shows you can alter the brain with meditation. The parts that affect happiness and self-awareness grow; the parts that are associated with stress shrink.  Positive affirmations are another great tool to keep you focused on the possibilities and dreams instead of all the stressful noise.
  3. Deep breathing and stretching/Yoga – any kind of exercise, even as little as 7 minutes has been shown to reduce stress symptoms and increase happiness.  Deep breathing increases oxygen and helps give a sense of calm.
  4. Get off the blood sugar rollercoaster – stress is like sugar to your blood sugar.  Eating a balance of protein, carbs, and fat with some fiber every 3 hours will help keep you in the zone.  A little walk after a stressful conversation will do wonders for your blood sugar, too.
  5. Supplement for stress – chronic stress increases the need for B and C vitamins, as well as producing more acidity in your system.  Minerals, like calcium and magnesium are also used at higher levels when muscles tense.  Chewable Calcium-Magnesium can help you relax and fall asleep more easily.  Shaklee has a Stress Relief Complex that lowers cortisol levels for long term health, and also provides a sense of calm without drowsiness.  I’ve found it really helpful for better sleep, too.
  6. Laugh more – watch a great comedy, play games with your kids, talk story at dinner and focus on the good times, watch a funny video online…cat videos always make me happy.
  7. Play more – kids, grandkids and pets help us stay young at heart. If you don’t have any, borrow some or just find some friends who love to have fun.
  8. Call a friend – there’s nothing like a chat on the phone or over coffee to brighten the day…vent or forget your troubles and share ideas or adventures.
  9. Keep a journal – this can be a life saver… a place you can vent without bringing anyone else down, dump all your mental garbage before you go out in the world. Morning is the best time to do it, and then you can focus on the positive the rest of the day.
  10. Get a massage – this is the best!  Save up and reward yourself at least once a month.  You won’t regret it!

And then there are some organizational strategies that help simplify life and reduce stress.  I’ll share more on that soon.

If you’re looking for safe, natural and proven supplements and herbs to support your de-stressing, I’ve created a page for you to check out at my Shaklee website.  My family has been using the products for over 40 years, and I’ve never found a company with such a commitment to quality and effectiveness.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

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How to Start a Blog with Purpose – 8 Questions

Blogging is the thing to do these days.  Everyone either has one or more, wants one, reads some or wonders if they should have one.

What about you? Have you thought about it and maybe wondered if you could really make money with a blog?  I have !

This is my 4th attempt at blogging.  I’ve created some good content on two of them, then let myself get distracted and ended up abandoning them in infancy…bad ‘blog mama’!

I’ve enjoyed creating them, but never found the magic formula for getting traffic and creating a call to action that generates income. Until now!

This is a topic I will be covering in depth in future posts, but for now I’d like to offer some suggestions to help you decide if blogging could be a way for you to create an income stream with time and lifestyle flexibility… that’s always been one of my top priorities!

I’ve found that 2 of the groups  who aspire to creating income with flexibility and leverage are new parents and  ‘old’ baby boomers.

Why?

New parents want time to be with their kids, attend their events and participate in every precious moment of their childhood, yet provide the income needed to support their family’s dreams.

Old baby boomers?  Well… most of us did not anticipate the turn of events that have shrunk our portfolios and 401K’s.  And we never conceived that we would be working into our 70’s and beyond, or that our productive  years could be cut short by accidents or disease before we achieved financial security.

Let’s face it… we tend to be optimistic to a fault, expecting that good stuff will keep happening and bad stuff happens to someone else.  Not true, it turns out.

Although the economy has not been kind to many of us the last few years, there IS some good news!

This is becoming the golden age for writers!  Just a few years ago, all my writer friends were bemoaning the demise of bookstores, publishing opportunities, lack of editing and marketing even if you did find an agent and myriad other discouraging indicators that writers couldn’t expect to make a decent income doing what they loved.

Now, the landscape has been transformed, beginning with free blog platforms and social media we all have the opportunity to expose ourselves and gather a flock of ‘friends’.   Amazon, kindle apps and myriad books and coaches ready to teach you the basics and a whole new world of opportunity has opened up for good writers willing to commit to learn and take action.

So here’s  a list of questions to help you decide if this is the right direction for you:

1.   Do you love to write?

2.  Why do you want to have a blog?

3.  What do you want to talk about?  What is your field of expertise or topics you are passionate about?

4.  Are you willing to learn new skills?

5.  How much time can you commit consistently?

6.  How much income would you like to create?

7.  Are you self-disciplined and perserverant enough to tough it out through the slow growth and detours?

8.  Do you enjoy solving problems, collaborating with people and thinking outside the box?

I’d suggest that you consider these questions before you invest your valuable time and money into your blog, then begin creating a realistic plan based on your time, resources and current skills.  A successful blog will take time to mature, then develop traffic and revenue.  Patience and consistency will be essential!

According to recent statistics from jeffbullas.com there are over 31 million bloggers in the U.S. alone.  To be realistic, only 15% make more than $100/year.  However, 2% earn over $150K working from exotic parts of the world.  Now that’s what I’m talking about.

I want to be one of the 2%!

In addition, there are the 17% who make a decent income with 4-6 hours a day working on their blog.  My goal is to continue to discover and share the details, strategies and tools to help you who are committed, create the income you want on your own terms.

There’s a lot to learn!  But, if you love it, you will know pretty quickly.

I’m attending a conference next week that I hope will add to my growing knowledge base, so I can pass that on to my readers.  In the meantime, check out my infographic on ‘Blogging on Purpose’ below.

I hope you’ll join me.  Start dreaming, set some goals and then take the action steps to turn dreams into reality…this is a great time to be a writer, so let’s do it!

Blogging on Purpose

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