Puppies

Thanksgiving Week Survival: How to Enjoy Time with Family

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Let me start by saying I love my family. They are wonderful people. But that love has two sides to it. As I’ve said in a previous blog, parents are spiritual assignments. We chose them, our family, and friends to learn soul-deep lessons that sometimes aren’t as sweet as pie.  So while I love them, an entire day with them makes me anxious and, to be honest, a bit pissy.

 

 

For me, Thanksgiving is not a Disney story. I don’t wake up to the smell of pie (I drive in traffic), little birds don’t dress me (I’ll probably stay in my sweats until dinner), and adorable mice won’t stop me from emotional eating (I’d probably eat them too.) But this isn’t about the lack of cute creatures who do my bidding, it’s about you!

So, in true Amita fashion, I’ve come up with a training plan for your mind and body to get through the week. You don’t just wake up the morning of a marathon and run it without training, so why would you expect anything else for Thanksgiving?

 

The best thing you can do is start with you.

Specifically, start with your attitude. Chances are, your outlook is half the problem. We’re all responsible for making sure our side of the street is clear.  When your attitude sucks, it’s like showing up to Thanksgiving half-drunk with a metaphorically loaded gun. Remember, your thoughts guide your decisions and negative thoughts lead to negative decisions. So when it comes to your thoughts about Thursday, remember:

 

Nothing is solved by visualizing the worst outcome, but a lot can be accomplished when you desire and intend to achieve the best possible result.  A negative or pessimistic attitude impacts you, not anyone else, by first ruining your moment-to-moment happiness (and then ruining everyone else’s meal.)

 

Optimism isn’t a frilly catchall that denies the truth. And while optimists might not be more accurate about life, they do live longer and are happier and healthier than pessimists. So which type of outlook will you choose?

That’s right, it’s a choice.

The way to begin shifting that glass from half-empty to half-full is simple: Gratitude.

You’ve probably heard people tell you to make a list of things you are grateful for, and while that’s powerful, we’re on a deadline! We’ll need to kick things up a notch! And, to keep it fair, I’ll give you a few off of my list :)

Grab a pen and paper and sit down in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.

Follow this exercise and you won't have to wear this on Thanksgiving!

Follow this exercise and you won't have to wear this on Thanksgiving!

 

Step 1: Keep it Simple.

Start by listing 10 basic things you are grateful for. Basic things include food, a roof over your head, etc. These are the things we always take for granted when we’re lusting over things that are “first-world problems.”

Examples:

  1. I am grateful I am healthy.
  2. I am grateful I have a warm bed to sleep in at night.
  3. I am grateful that I have food and water.

 

Step 2: Invite in others.

Then, list 10 things you are grateful for when it comes to the other people in your life. This is about friends & family. This may require you to reach down a bit deeper, but it’s worth it!

Examples:

  1. I am grateful for parents who genuinely want me to be happy.
  2. I am grateful for friends who I can lean on.
  3. I am grateful for a loving, courageous, and honest boyfriend who inspires me to conquer my fears.

 

Step 3: Shift the crap.

List 10 things you are grateful for that may have sucked in the moment. As the year comes to a close, there are probably some things you wish you had done differently, conversations you wish you had (or had not had), and people you may have wronged. However, good things came of them. Maybe you learned a lesson, got through something you didn’t know you could, or showed up as your authentic self in a whole new way.

Examples:

  1. I am grateful that I left my last job and risked financial insecurity. It created the space for me to build something I love.
  2. I am grateful that someone close to me hurt me as it allowed me to see the pain they were in.  It allowed me to confront my underlying anger that had existed for a while and cultivate more compassion for them and for myself. (Sorry to be vague on that one!)
  3. I am grateful that I had the courage to end a codependent relationship because showing up as my true self cleared the way for me to meet someone who aligns with my truth.

 

Step 4: Expand the good.

List 3 experiences you are grateful for and the people and situations that brought them to fruition.

Example:

Getting my adorably insane dog. Things that helped to make this happen:

  1. My previous job was so bad that I quit. This gave me extra time to raise him.
  2. My friend who talked me into going and “just looking” at the puppies.
  3. My parents for looking after him when I needed more sleep.
  4. A conveniently located dog run and daycare option to tire him out.
  5. The recognition that my self-care comes before anything else in my life (sleepless nights and coffee brought on by a dog will teach you a lot!)
  6. And, sadly, Safari K. Patel, my previous dog who passed away.

 

Step 5: Go deep & personal.

List 10 things you are grateful for about yourself. This one is my favorite. Sure, you might not love everything about yourself at this moment, but I bet there are reasons you are glad that you are you.

Examples:

  1. I am compassionate.
  2. I am smart.
  3. I am resilient.

 

Step 6: Get a tattoo.

When you are done with this list, don’t let it sit in a notebook gathering dust. This is your survival guide for the next few days! Laminate it.! Tattoo it! I don’t care, but put it somewhere you can see it. Read it before bed each night. We’re retraining your brain to see the good even when things are shitty. This emotional resilience will come in handy when you see your loved ones. Trust me. 

 

Let's continue the conversation! What are you grateful for? What are you excited for? What are you dreading? Share it in the Comments section below!

Q & A Thursday: Setting Boundaries in an Overly-Connected World

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Question:

My mother inundates me with emails. I can’t explain why, but it irritates me beyond belief. It isn’t just the forwards that get to me. Some of them are genuinely funny or cute, but it’s the frequency of them. I feel like I’m blowing this out of proportion, but it’s really getting to me. I can’t respond to them all and it gets in the way of my work. Even if I don’t read the email, just seeing it pop up sends me into a frenzy. I hold onto it and it distracts me. Then I get angry about being angry over an email.  What’s this about?

 

Answer:

This may seem hard to believe, but even innocent forwards of puppies playing can be a boundary violation.  Most of us don’t realize this because we live in an overly-connected world.  We need to get creative and learn how to set boundaries for things that never existed before. But first, let’s take a look at the issue of boundaries. There are two kinds of boundary violations:

  1. Intrusion violations which are a breach in an individual’s or entity’s boundaries.
  2. Gap violations which occur when one fails to act or respond when a situation is called for.

For our purposes, we’re going to talk about intrusion violations. Many of us are aware when our physical or emotional boundaries are crossed, but we don’t stop to look at the third intrusion violation, called a veiled violation. When we ascertain something exists by its effect, rather than by observing the thing itself, it is veiled. It’s a lot like how scientists know that unseen stars exist. Sure they can’t see them, but because of its gravitational pull, we know it is there. So despite the fact that your mother has great intentions with those inspirational quotes and cat videos, it’s creating a veiled boundary violation.

Solutions:

One option is to have a conversation with your mother and say, “Mom, you have great forwards, but I don’t have time for them. Each week, pick your favorite and send me that one on Sunday.” In an effort to make your question apply to more of your life and other readers, I’m going to expand on your question and address the issue of email boundaries as a whole.   

We are inundated with email each day. It’s a veiled intrusion caused not by one person, but by the combined action of many people sending out email to sell us a million things we don’t need.

How to Set Email Boundaries:

1. Use an email program that identifies junk and either deletes it or separates it.

2. Choose a server that allows you to block specific senders.

3. Check to see if your email program allows you to set rules. This is the ability to automatically categorize things by keyword, whether that be emails from specific senders or emails selling you Viagra.

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4. Notice whether most of your forwards are from particular people.  Decide how many emails and what kind (AKA puppies, not kitties) you want from each person. Call or email those friends and set a boundary like the following:

  • Choose your favorite and send one per week
  • Only send me puppy videos. I’d prefer not to receive the others.
  • Please don’t send me any forwards at all. I don’t have time for them and I’d rather save time for YOU.

5. Decide whether the sound of emails pinging in distracts you. If so, only open your email program when you’re ready to give it your full attention.

6. Notice what happens to your energy and focus after you check your email. If your energy decreases, you get scattered, or feel heated (indicating a boundary violation) wait to check your email until the end of your productive day.

7. Set the times you want to check your email and alert senders that you will only be checking it at that time. Let them know that if it is an urgent matter, they should call directly.

8. Check in with yourself as often as you do your email, text messages, and social media accounts. Your higher self knows when your boundary is breached.

The Takeaway:

Set yourself up for success. You can’t expect someone to respect a boundary you don’t set. In our overly-connected world we need to get creative to preserve our sanity and sense of self. Clue in to your higher self and you’ll be guided to have the conversations (and emails) you need.

I'd love to hear your feedback! How do you set boundaries? Comment below!

Everything I Needed to Learn about Health & Happiness, I Learned From my Dog

The Littlest Lamb.

The Littlest Lamb.

 After last week's serious post, I decided to write something light-hearted. Having a dog has taught me so much about myself, healthy boundaries, and the importance of sleep. You don't need to go through the delightful torture of mothering a pup because here is:

Ollie's Top 5 Lessons on Health & Happiness

Is this blog an excuse for me to be a crazy puppy mommy and show you cute pictures and videos?

Most definitely.

But I promise there are valuable lessons, too!

 

 

Play time at the park!      

Play time at the park!

 

 

 

 

1. Honor yourself.

When Ollie wants to eat, he eats.

When Ollie wants to sleep, he sleeps.

When Ollie wants to play, he annoys the shit out of me, but he plays.

The Takeaway: Sometimes the healthy choice is to honor your needs and let go of pleasing others.

 

 

 

 

Napping on Grandpa after a long day of being cute. It's exhausting!

Napping on Grandpa after a long day of being cute. It's exhausting!

2. Listen to your body.

Much to my dismay, you cannot control the bladder of a puppy. Nor can you force a puppy to go on a walk when he would rather lie down in the middle of a busy intersection.

The Takeaway: Don’t listen to what you “should” do. There’s no such thing. You don’t need to run a marathon and you don’t need to be a certain size. Sometimes self-love, means baking cookies and writing a blog about your puppy.

 

 

Ollie's reaction to my explanation that yoga time comes before our trip to the park. 

Ollie's reaction to my explanation that yoga time comes before our trip to the park. 

 

3. Express yourself.

We’ve all heard that communication is the cornerstone of any relationship. Ollie has not heard this, but he knows it well. Whether through a barkfest or a grimace, Ollie expresses his emotions and isn’t afraid to get mad. 

The Takeaway: When you want something, ask for it. Don’t expect anyone to read your mind. This is especially true if you’ve recently been let out and/or fed.

 

 

 

Ollie (left) and his best friend/cousin Baxter (right)

Ollie (left) and his best friend/cousin Baxter (right)

4. Make time for fun and friends.

 You know who doesn’t work too hard? Ollie. All he has to do is look cute and I’ll keep paying his rent and feeding him organic dog treats. When Ollie does need some quality fun time with his friends, he pulls his leash until I take him to our local dog run.

The Takeaway: Not everything is so serious. Carving out time for fun and friends, the same way you carve out time for meetings and obligations, is the key to a healthy and balanced life.

 

Photo courtesy of GDV, purveyor of images that have made me smile since 2003

Photo courtesy of GDV, purveyor of images that have made me smile since 2003

  

5. Celebrate Yourself.

This may not be Ollie, but it’s cute as hell.

The Takeaway: You did something awesome. Even if nobody recognized you for it, there are things you’ve accomplished that you can be proud of. Validate yourself and celebrate how amazing you are.

 

 

The Ultimate Takeaway:

When in doubt ask yourself, "What would Ollie do?" or, if that's too out there (or you keep chasing tennis balls) ask yourself this instead:

"In this moment, what would someone with abundant self-love do?"

You'll always make the decision that points you to your happiest and healthiest self.