The importance of JOY

George E. Vaillant, a psychoanalyst and research psychiatrist at Harvard, directed a 30-year study on adult development. According to Vaillant, joy, love, compassion, happiness, and delight “help us to broaden and build. They widen our tolerance, expand our moral compass and enhance our creativity,” as well as help bind us to others. Vaillant’s experiments document that while negative emotions like shame, guilt, anger, and hate narrow our attention, positive emotions, especially joy, make thought patterns far more flexible, creative, integrative, and effective.

On the flip side, when you dwell on negative feelings, you damage your physical and spiritual well-being. Negative emotions cause stress on your body – and you’re less pleasant to be around so they can have a huge effect on relationships. Continue reading

The importance of gathering

“Some trees spread root systems underground that interconnect individual trunks and weave individual trees into a more stable whole that can’t so easily be blown down in the wind. Stories and conversations are like those roots.”

~ Rebecca Solnit, from The Mother of All Questions

So here’s the thing. If you’re facing a fear or a dilemma, and you think your options are “fight or flight,” consider a third option: “Gather.” Gather for solidarity. Gather for advice. Gather for support. Continue reading

Five tips to get something GREAT done

The start of a new year is a great time to think about stuff you’d like to get done. If there’s something you’ve been putting off or something you’ve started by can’t seem to finish, why not make 2018 your year to say, “You’ll never believe what I did this year!”?

Doing interesting work that lifts your energy is a guaranteed happy-maker. And you’ll have a good story to tell this time next year!

Here are five tips to get something GREAT done in 2018.

Know why this is on your list
I’m a big believer in following an energy path and if you’ve been stalling on something for a long time, maybe you don’t really want to do it. Is this something you think you ought to do? Or something someone else wants you to do? Why is getting this done important to you? Continue reading

The peace of the pause

I wrapped up a big theater project last weekend and Monday morning felt like I’d hit a wall – face first! Every step, every thought took effort. What was going on? I was exhausted after 3 months of intense work, 6-7 days a week. And I was sad. Ending a show feels like the end of summer camp. You’ve had a great time with a new group of friends you know you’ll never be with again in that same setting. And while everyone is still around, you grieve the moment that’s lost.

AND to make you crazy, the songs from a musical run in a continuous loop in your mind for another week or so! Torture.

So this week I’ve spent time meditating on the challenges we met, the fun we had, and the show we produced. I’ve sent out thank you notes to add closure. And I’ve tried my best to be quiet to give myself time to pause for a couple of days between projects. Continue reading

Making a small change

You know the theory that the air stirred by a butterfly’s wing can eventually cause a hurricane? Well, I would posit that making a tiny, simple change can lead to an avalanche of energy!

Test this out for me, would you?

Change one thing this week on your body from your shoulders up.
This could be a new hat. A haircut. New earrings. Add or don’t add make-up. Buy new shampoo. Shave off your mustache. Shoulders up – what’s one simple thing you can change? Continue reading

In praise of a backache

I’m directing a big Christmas musical at a local community theater. This show has taken up pretty much every minute of my free time over the past 10 weeks and I’ve loved every minute of it. Theater for me is a passion that brings energy to all of my other work and even to chores.

For the last 10 weeks, I’ve been at the theater almost every day – teaching, directing, building sets, making props. To make time for this, I’ve read less and blogged less. I’ve skipped running and meditation. And I’ve been eating on the fly and drinking coffee. I look like a bag lady wherever I go – hauling around work, my planner, scripts, and props.

I thought I was holding it together until Wednesday night when I threw out my back, and last night missed the opening of the show.

Here’s why I’m deeply grateful for this. Continue reading

The secret life of broccoli

One of the last surviving flowers in my garden before we finally got a hard frost this week was broccoli. I put in six plants this year. I harvested on a pretty regular basis from five of them but decided to let the sixth one go without a trim. I was curious about what would happen. Most of us only “know” broccoli from what we see in the grocery store. What would old, more mature broccoli look like? Continue reading