Day 62 of Your 66 Days To Your Extraordinary Life – An Actual Day

holisitc livingFor those of you who have been with us for 61 days, holistic living is becoming a habit. For those just starting to read this blog, this post will serve as an example of a typical non-workday. Perhaps before we hit day 66 days, we will do another for a work day. We decided to write about our day at the end of the day. In other words this was not a planned day. We very naturally live our days including nourishment to mind, body and our spirit, every day.

John got up a bit before Deb, after sleeping for nearly 8 hours (Deb went to sleep after John). He did his morning prayer, took a peak at email and exchanged a couple of texts with his daughter. After Deb got up they had coffee in bed, something they do every day that one of them is not traveling. After getting ready for the day it was off to Panera bread for breakfast. Egg white and avocado sandwiches were the breakfast of choice for both. After this, it was some light shopping, which is much more about moving than it is about shopping. After a couple of hours of walking, it was back home.

They gathered up the dogs and headed to a local park that had a wonderful wooded area to do some trail walking. This was a great connection to nature, since when in the woods you can not see any houses or soccer fields- nothing but the stream that runs along the path and nature. Peaceful and wonderfully simple movement with their 4 legged children. Back home where Deb did some straightening and cleaning, in the house, and John some work outside for a bit. Then it was off to a late lunch/early dinner. This was a new place they had not eaten at before in nearby Belmont NC. (Let us stop for a moment to say we eat out about 3 times a week, in total. So this is an unusual day for but we wanted to record a  perfectly balanced day.) Back to the blog. They shared a wonderful scallop appetizer, and Deb had a salmon salad and John a delicious lump crab sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries. Back home they settled in to watch a mindless, but entertaining movie. Then they watched a documentary about the highest peak, in southeast Asia. It was a fascinating and stimulating documentary. The day finished as it started with prayer and reflection.

We obviously did not include our discussions, some personal, but one thing is certain we are always discussing the future and new adventures and how to get there. We never are done growing, challenging ourselves, mentally, physically and spiritually.  The one thing that is certain, is that when we do decide on doing something we go for it, always and without hesitation. As the expression goes, faith without works is dead. We have faith and we don’t mind the work. The only thing we never discuss, mostly because we never think about it, is any boundary related to age. We truly do not consider age, unless we are discussing retirement financials, or where we desire to live, when we are both done working. Other than those two areas we truly believe age is irrelevant to anything we want to do.)

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Day 59 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Stress Relief

We are nearly at our goal! 66 Days of transforming our habits so we can be on our way to a new and extraordinary life! Although we know good food, exercise, proper sleep, humor, mental stimulation and  deep spiritual commitment all lead to a greatly reduced amount of stress, we thought we would share a superb article from our favorite web site, mayoclinic.org.

Do you know anyone who isn’t at times stressed out these days? The pace of modern life makes stress management a necessary skill for everyone. Many people juggle multiple responsibilities, work, home life, care giving and relationships. Learning to identify problems and implement solutions is the key to successful stress reduction.

The first step in successful stress relief is deciding to make stress management an ongoing goal, and to monitor your stress level.

Once you start monitoring your stress level, the next step is identifying your stress triggers. When or under what situations do you experience the most stress? Some causes of stress are easy to identify, such as job pressures, relationship problems or financial difficulties. But daily hassles and demands, such as commuting, arranging child care or being over committed at work, also can contribute to your stress level.

Positive events also can be stressful. If you got married, started a new job and bought a new house in the same year, you could have a high stress level. While negative events in general are more stressful, be sure to also assess positive changes in your life.

Once you’ve identified your stress triggers, you can start thinking about strategies for dealing with them. Identifying what aspect of the situation you can control is a good starting point.

For example, if you have a difficult time falling asleep because you’re stressed out, the solution may be as easy as turning off the TV when the evening news is too distressing. Other times, such as high demands at work or when a loved one is ill, you may only be able to change how you react to the situation.

And don’t feel like you have to figure it out all on your own. Seek help and support from family and friends. You may want to ask them what stress-relief techniques have worked well for them.

And many people benefit from daily practice of stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, massage, tai chi or yoga. Many people manage stress through practicing mindfulness in meditation or being in nature.

And remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle to help manage stress — eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Having a healthy lifestyle will help you manage periods of high stress.

Stress won’t disappear from your life. And stress management isn’t an overnight cure. But with ongoing practice and incorporation of resiliency into your lifestyle, you can learn to manage your stress level and increase your ability to cope with life’s challenges.

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Day 41 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – The Benefits of Spirituality on Your Mental State

prayer imageFor our growing list of readers and subscribers, we have talked about the importance of consistently nurturing body, mind and spirit. Two out of three does not work as effectively or as long term, as focusing on all three.. You also know, we frequently write about the synergy produced by these three. There is also synergy within these three areas to consider as well. Specifically, the health of your mind, is directly related to the level of commitment you have to some form of spirituality. Spirituality can in fact help with stress, and in some cases, even mental distress or mental illness. On a personal level, John will attest to the power of this link. This article will also introduce the idea that there are healthy and unhealthy spiritual practices. Those that emphasize rules over structure, compliance over fulfillment, might be suspect. Please read on:

A partial section from mentalhealth.org speaks to this link directly. We encourage you to read the entire article via the link provided, but here is an important excerpt.

“Spirituality can also help people deal with mental distress or mental illness. Spirituality can bring a feeling of being connected to something bigger than yourself and it can provide a way of coping in addition to your own mental resilience. It can help people make sense of what they are experiencing.

“€œI’€™m quite happy to live with the idea that … in a fallen world there are things that happen to people just … through chance and circumstance. But what one does need to believe is that all of that is happening in an ultimately meaningful framework.”€

Having a spiritual life can give people strength and improve their well-being. But some people’s experiences of spirituality may be damaging to their mental health. They may find certain belief systems repressive and their followers judgmental.

Occasionally, people’€™s past experiences can be unhelpful to their recovery from mental health problems, even if they felt comfortable with those spiritual influences at the time. Their beliefs may disturb or frighten them and that can lead to behavior that other people find challenging.”

These excerpts talk about the value of healthy spirituality. Unhealthy spirituality masks issues and allows a person to escape temporarily without solving the root problem. Think cult like behaviors, where individuals are pressured into “group think” instead of finding their own path to fulfillment. There are also religions that focus on the next life and put no value on society, or the individual in this life. Some extreme Muslim and Christian religions do this, isolating their members, showing no respect for the environment or their individual members. The true path to spiritual fulfillment involves a personal relationship with the divine, however that person defines divine, and allows a unique relationship and understanding of spirit. It also respects all members, male, female, sinner and saved. We encourage a healthy mind, free from issues past or present. We also encourage a health spiritual life, free to an open and individual experience and we also encourage a respect for body and environment. If your practices do not include all of these, we encourage a deeper look.

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Day 34 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Power of Positive Thought Edition

positive thinkingMost, if not all of us know people that always seem upbeat, positive, happy.  More often than not we think they are out of touch with reality, or just in denial. After all life is full of bad stuff. Although life is full of challenges we have a question for you,  do you spend most of your time in the light of positive thoughts or the darkness of negative ones?

One of our most trusted and respected sources, the Mayo clinic writes about this.  It reads in part; “Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.

Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.

If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.”

We all have difficult, if not horrible things that happen in our lives. To us, to people we love, and there is nothing positive in those experiences. We simply suggest that perhaps the support structure you have that helps you can be more of your focus, than the actual event, or perhaps the fact that you have other people close to you that were spared a similar diagnosis might be the positive thing to focus on. Perhaps if you receive horrible news about your health, the positive might come from being able to focus on a finite amount of time to do, say and live, in a way you did not before. If you have never read the Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch, you are missing something special. It is about the amazing strength and dignity displayed by a man in the prime of his life, stricken by cancer and finding out he has months to live. We dare you to watch the live recording of this lecture and not be deeply touched by it. There is a reason more than 17,000,000 have spent more than an hour glued to their computers.

We all have darkness in our lives and people are quick to agree with statements like, “we all have problems” but you will not find universal agreement with the statement, “we all have great stuff going on”. Our nature is to drift towards the darkness, we encourage you to always seek the light. This is not just a feel good metaphor, there are health benefits to this way of thinking. That same Mayo Clinic article goes on to talk about positive thinking and health; “Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

It’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. It’s also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.”

Perhaps researchers are not sure why coming at things from a positive place works, but the fact is, that it does. There is of course a spiritual aspect to this as well. Prayers, meditation and other “get out of yourself” activities raise the spirit and therefore raise you. Reiki is founded on the mindset of being grateful first and foremost. As is the case with everything we suggest on the this initial 66 day journey, you must find what works for you. Also like everything else we suggest, finding what works is a must do, not a nice to do.

Please seek out the light, even on your darkest day.

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Day 30 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Achetypes Edition, Cool Stuff

archetypesToday we want to talk about archetypes. We think of archetypes as the crossing between mind and spirit. Have you ever heard about archetypes? We will assume here that if you have heard of archetypes you have very basic knowledge or none at all. Our primary source for this discussion is a book by Caroline Myss, called Archetypes.

Caroline believes that it is impossible to really know oneself without understanding archetypes. So, what are they? According to Caroline, archetypal patterns hold the key to the real you. So, what does that mean? Caroline started out describing archetypes as universal patterns of power emerging from myths and beliefs. You might be a bit confused about now. Caroline realized that there might be better ways to describe archetypes, so she decided to try a different approach. In a group setting she asked the room, how many of you knew you were going to be mothers? Several women raised their hands. Then she asked how many of you are adventurers? Again, several people raised their hands. By the time Caroline had thrown out a couple more archetypes, it was clear, most everyone identified with an archetype. It was at that point she could really explain.

The concept of archetypes started long ago with a man named Carl Jung. You are probably familiar with Carl Jung. Meyers-Briggs and many other personality type concepts originate from his thinking. According to Jung, archetypes are the universal language of the human soul. Sounds complicated but archetypes are really meant to help us simplify the human process of understanding people. Jung called it the gateway between the conscious and the unconscious. So what are some archetypes? We will name just a few. This is really meant to open up your mind to the possibility of archetypes:

The advocate: To be a positive agent for social or environmental change.
Do you know an advocate? Can you think of some in society? How about Martin Luther King? Does that describe him?

The artist: To cultivate the imagination and inspire new ways of creative expression. Can you think of some artists in our society? Someone who inspires creativity? How about Frank Lloyd Wright? Did he introduce creativity to architecture in a way others had not?

The athlete: Tomboy, competitor, outdoors-woman. Can you think of athletes in our society? Do you have to be famous to be an athlete archetype? The answer is no. It is either self identified or how others see you but it does not have to be an occupation, or that you are famous because of it.

So, are archetypes beginning to make sense now? Are you beginning to see how understanding archetypes might help you on the path to your journey? Caroline believes that an examination of self is as important to health, as an examination of body. We absolutely believe this and the reason why we continue to explore mind, body and spirit.

TIP:

If you are traveling bring those resistance bands. They take up no space and between them and the stretching, lunges, wall squats and push ups we have showed you in our videos (link below) you can do them in any hotel room or home. You will be GOOD TO GO for your resistance training.

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Day 29 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – The Power of Our Mind

the mindWe have talked recently about spirit, talk often about body but have been not as focused on mind.We believe like Dr. Amen does, that if you change your brain, you change your body-or actually the opposite it also true. Dr Amen’s book, “Change your brain, Change your body,” speaks about the direct connection of both body and brain. This is a great book. You can get it in paperback or kindle version for about $10. We strongly recommend it as an addition to your holistic library. In the book Dr Amen talks about 15 solutions that help you boost the brain. Dr Amen says these easy to follow solutions will help you with your willpower. As we have said a number of times, it is simple, it is just not easy. Please listen to our understanding of Dr Amen’s message and hopefully it will help you with your journey. We have not covered all 15 but perhaps a few of these are helpful.

Dr Amen talks about feeding your brain to look and feel younger. A few hints here include actually decreasing the calories that you need. He says having the right nutrients is far more important then a lot of calories. So go ahead, restrict calories but increase organic vegetables, increase water, because hydration is critical. Here you see yet another source talking about the importance of water. Curbs appetite, hydrates the body, helps flush impurities it is just a wonderful thing for us. Additionally according to Dr Amen and many other doctors increase your activity. By activity, he means walking, running, weight resistance or any other activity that increases respiratory or heart rate for a period of 30 minutes or more. So, is Dr Amen saying that mind and body are directly connected?-absolutely.  He couldn’t be clearer about that. We would of course add the spiritual link to this because we will always believe you must have all three elements to achieve an extraordinary life.

Among some of the other important suggestions, Dr Amen says this:

Sleep: Adults 7-8 hours. He goes on to say that not sleeping can actually contribute to weight gain.

Reduce stress: According to Dr Amen stress reduces the immune system and actually increases the aging of the skin. This is where spirituality in addition to eating better and moving more will really help you.

Reduce negativity: Dr Amen says negativity increases physical reactions in your body. Get those aligned and you have a better chance of succeeding. Reiki is largely based on putting yourself in a “grateful state of mind”. This combined with touch has been found  to be very helpful to many people.

The passion solution: Dr Amen says make love to recharge your brain and your body. He says being in a loving, healthy affectionate relationship helps you to be happier, live longer and helps to protect you from depression and memory problems. We think this is very important in another way, it is really fun!

So, all of the things that can make our brains healthier are really our instincts anyway-good food, an active life, sleeping, enjoying life, being positive, drinking water, and of course, making love. Wow, all we have to do is be what human beings were intended to according to Dr Amen. Okay, we’re in!

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Day 22 of 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Perfect Work Day Edition

?????????????????????????First of all THANK YOU from both of us. In three weeks we have surpassed our goal for readers of our blog. We are grateful for the interest and so hopeful our words and videos, are having a positive effect on all who are journeying with us.

The PERFECT work day:

You wake up after 8 glorious hours of sleep. You feel so good, relaxed yet energized, yes, sleep does that to us. You do some simple stretching when you get out of bed, just like a cat does every time they wake from a nap and head for a cup of coffee or juice. While enjoying your beverage you think of nothing, or you take a page of the reiki methodology and run through a list of things you are grateful for. Basically you relax and savor the beverage. Now it is off to your treadmill for a slow walk (or walking in place) for 10 minutes, nothing crazy here, just getting the blood flowing. Now it is time for a delicious protein shake. Time to get ready for work. Part of getting ready for work is bringing a bag of almonds and another of baby organic carrots to snack on. We also are bringing a small cooler with that extra piece of salmon we made for dinner last night along with the fresh broccoli. When we get  to work we park as far away from the building as possible and we walk briskly to our work place. As we go about our jobs we maximize movement. We walk to see people rather than call, when possible. We take calls standing up. We pump our arms while walking and if our job allows, we use resistance bands or small free weights to firm and tone while working!

We snack on the almonds, carrots and split lunch between that salmon we brought and a brisk walk with a few friends at work. The day finishes uneventfully, without issue (hey, this is after all, the perfect day) and we head home. First thing we do when we get home is decompress. We find a quiet corner and we focus on…..nothing. 15-20 minutes of clearing the mind. Time for dinner. You are making a vegetable panini with a cup of lentil soup, from the big pot you made yesterday. You do those things around your home you need to do and then find 30 minutes to watch part of a documentary on Roku, about evolution, that you are intrigued by.  After finishing up other needed home and life stuff you move towards bedtime, doing nothing  for that hour prior to putting your head on your pillow other than quiet refection, prayer, whatever spiritual food that suits you. You feel great, your fitness band shows 11,234 steps for the day! Your bedtime is targeted to 8 hours of solid sleep. You turn out the light and head for slumber. Congratulations. you have taken time for mind, body and spirit today.

TIP:

New videos being posted every day on our YouTube channel.  Exercise, healthy products, worth a look! Link below….

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Day 19 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life

routines and the brainWe write daily about either mind, body or spirit or, sometimes two, or all three. That is to help you focus. Please understand and embrace that no one area is, any more or less, important than the other. Only through the synergy produced by actively pursuing all three, can an extraordinary life be found.

This morning we write about the critical importance of exercising that mind of yours. The cool thing about our brain is that there are nearly limitless ways to stimulate it. We start with an article that speaks to the synergy we opened with, it is written by Heidi Godman, the executive editor of The Harvard Health Letter- it is about how physical exercise helps the brain. The entire article is well worth a read,,, but here is a small excerpt:

“There are plenty of good reasons to be physically active. Big ones include reducing the odds of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Maybe you want to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, prevent depression, or just look better. Here’s another one, which especially applies to those of us (including me) experiencing the brain fog that comes with age: exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.”

So those minimum of 15 minutes of brisk exercise walking, jogging, whatever, not only helps your heart, your muscles and your lungs but that brisk walk you take every day helps your brain! Those are the two, for one’s, we love. What else can you do to make that brain of yours more vibrant and higher functioning? Well one great way to do this, that does not require money, or even much if any time, is to break the routines. We spend about 75% of our day operating out of our unconscious. Doubt us on this one? See if this sounds familiar. On day one of that new job, in an area of town, or the city you are not familiar with, you are aware of every stop light. You notice the shopping centers and the stores in those centers. Every turn is anticipated, every busy intersection noted. You are going to work for the first time at this new job and you are working your brain. You are completely, conscious. Fast forward 90 days after driving that same route every day. Ever get in your car, start it and 40 minutes later you are in the parking lot? You do not remember one light, one turn, anything. Congratulations your unconscious drove you to work! Liz, John’s sister talked about being present in the featured blog she did. So, conclusion, being present, not allowing the subconscious to operate for us, is stimulating to the spirit, mind and the body. Now it’s a three for one.

Family reunion May 2015
Our gypsies Liz & Peter with Barb & Jeff at a mini reunion in 2015

Now we run mostly out of our unconscious for good reason. Our brain remains the fastest super computer, by far. The more we operate out of our “storage” (the unconscious) it simplifies our life. We use less brain energy, we stay in our comfort zone, the list goes on and on but it also is terrible for our brain health. So we say, shatter your routines. Not all of them at once, life is already challenging. Pick one or two routines and turn them upside down. Take a different route to work for the next few months.

TIP:

We have a video on the importance of warming up and stretching (Youtube channel link at bottom of every blog post). Here is a very good article from Men’s Journal on stretching, we recommend you check it out here.

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Day 12 It’s An Extraordinary Life According To…..Beau!

Beau living an extraordinary lifeWe think Beau has it right when it comes to balance of mind, body, spirit. How could a dog have it right? Well, he will settle for nothing less than moving his body (walks), contemplation time (laying by the fire or in the sun), mind stimulation (everything that is new, rain, a flower, another dog has walked by). His nose tells him everything he needs to know about that new thing and his mind sorts it, categorizes it and understands it. Beau is so insistent and has been for 14 years, old for a big dog, he literally will hound us, a little pun intended there, until he gets his walk, the spot by the fire he wants or the big one, FOOD. Beau has gotten premium food from the moment we rescued him in Houston streets, when we were living there. He loves healthy snacks, his bowl of food at 6, 5 and 10 every day and…. he insists on it. He will bark, whine, look at you, follow you around, be underfoot every second, until you do what he wants. What he wants is dinner, a snack, a walk, contemplation time and learning time. He balances all of these things perfectly and he is insistent we do, too. The other thing Beau has done his whole life is drink filtered water, and lots of it. He drinks and drinks and drinks.

Beau pullingSo are you seeing the correlation between a dog that has lived to be in his mid 90s, with a fitness level of his 50s? He still takes 2-3 mile walks a couple of times a week,  (notice the picture to the left, he is pulling to keep walking, “pictures are a waste of my hiking time”) walks every day and still jumps 3 feet in the air, straight up, when he wants to lay on the bed. Most dogs have long since given up all of this, but Beau has lived a holistic life, in perfect balance. He is a role model to all of us. In talking about this, I forgot to tell you how important sleep is to Beau. He sleeps the 8 hours a night we do, going to bed at the same time. If we are late going to bed, he heads upstairs and is on his bed, asleep when we get there. He also loves his naps. Yup, Beau could teach us plenty about how to live a long life and a high, quality long life.

An important reminder to our growing list of subscribers as well those still sampling. There is a great summary of the daily must do’s on day 11. In the early morning fog we neglected to mention sleep. It is wildly important to get at least 7 hours per night. If you want us to write about some tips for sleeping better, just post a comment!

Someone who posted a comment the other day requested we add more specific tips on eating better when you are very busy. Great input and here you go:

Bring good food with you. Almonds (raw or low sodium sea salt), baby organic carrots. Planters offers a wonderful snack size, packaged nut variety that is very healthy and filling. GNC has a very good protein drink that does not need to be refrigerated (although it tastes much better if it is) that you could carry if too rushed to make your own. We have also mentioned KIND bars. A pretty good choice that makes our recommendation list, mostly because you can get them almost anywhere these days and they are healthier than anything else you will find in the gas station. Bottom line, bring snacks with you so that when hunger hits between meals, you do not eat garbage or go through the dreaded drive through.

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