New Year’s Day. What a fantastic day to hit your refresh buttons. The best things in life are absolutely free. Why not put two on your life lists this year? They are simple resolutions to make and oh so easy to achieve but the rewards are great. I plan to witness sunrise on a beach again this year by April (Several times if I can) I will praise the Creator for his magnificent works daily. I will stage a Jazz concert (for an audience of one) at sunset in my backyard this Spring. “Miles and Coltrane – Springtime” Sounds awesome right?
What are some of your life giving, joy sustaining resolutions? Create some! They are key to living #abucketlistedlife
it’s almost resolution time. I often say, I make no resolutions; I simply execute on my dreams on a day to day basis. In a practical sense that may be not be accurate. We all have plans that we create for a new day, a new month or a New Year. Whether we voice them as resolutions or not, they serve the same purpose.
I am super effective at making my dreams come true. In a former life, I must have been a fairy Godmother. I figure I didn’t like the outfit so I ditched that gig. Obviously, I needed a work around to get the same results so I rely on the SMART technique. There are different variations of this technique. Here, I will present the one that works for me.
The key ingredient to any accomplishment is to be very SPECIFIC about what you want and what you hope to accomplish. You must know what counts as a win and why? What are you willing to overlook or sacrifice to meet your goal? Specificity is the S in the SMART system.
There are the other 4 steps to making all your dreams come true without wishing on a star:
M – Measurable. Your goal and the steps to achieve same must be measurable. You have to know what constitutes success and exactly how that success is measured in increments. Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress so you have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal.
The steps you take shouldn’t be muddy. One shouldn’t bleed into the other or success becomes unlikely. Each and every day you must get up, put in the work towards your goal. That work should be discrete and separately identifiable. If you plan a lump sum approach you will FAIL! Believe me on this. Once you start playing the averages game, you are aiming for a consolation prize. Show me someone who says “well I didn’t do well on my test today, so I will just do twice as much tomorrow” and I’ll show you a student who fails. The grades are not given on that basis. There is one grade per assignment. Relying on one to count for two means you get 50 % credit at best.
A. – Actionable. Your goal must be actionable or achievable. What this means is you have to be a participant in the outcome. You can’t wish on someone else’s progress. You must possess the skills, knowledge and wherewithal to achieve your goal or you must be willing to work to possess same PRIOR to setting targets that depend on their possession. Make sense? If you want something you are simply unwilling to work for, that is not a resolution. That’s magic. If you are ‘au fait’ with spells and incantations, you really don’t need my advice. Go sort out the witches brew and leave the rest of us to work our way through life. No one needs to plan a 100 pound weight loss if you already know you are unwilling to curb your dietary intake and exercise is not in your vocabulary.
It is similarly ridiculous to wish you could build a house on the moon. At this moment in time, that can’t be done. Why would you jeopardize your chances of success by aiming for something which simply can’t be done? (at least not yet). Building a house on the moon may be a desire but it should never be on your Resolution list.
R – Results Driven. Goals must focus on specific outcomes. Your resolution should include a measure of outcomes, not just the steps taken to get there.
T- Time Bound. A goal must have a time frame. No time frame? no sense of urgency. If you want to lose weight when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” is lovely but tantamount to an admission of defeat. Setting a time frame sets your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.
I have found that your timeline should also be tight enough to force action without being so tight that the impossibility of achieving your goal in such a tight frame drives you to quit. Let’s face it, no one is going to get a PhD in 3 months of attending Graduate school. If you know how to do that, again I bow to your superior methods. A too loose time frame encourages procrastination.
At this time of year, thousands of people are gearing up for their #1 resolution, which is to lose weight. Thousands of people will be just as fat next year as they are today. They didn’t have a SMART plan. The ones who win, plan SMART.
A SMART resolution would sound something like this. I plan to lose 50 pounds by August 28th. I willgo to spin class every morning, cut my carbohydrate intake and keep a food and exercise diary so I see how I am doing.
Do you see the specificity, the actionable steps, the ability to measure your progress AND the timeline involved? If you do, create your list and go WIN this year.
Perhaps not whiskers on kittens but definitely raindrops on roses count among my favorite things. Travel is also way at the tip top of my favorite things list so I am busily compiling my 2015 list of must see places. In the past few years, we crossed Singapore, Cambodia and Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and several cities in China off the ‘to see” list. (The travelogue along with hotel and attractions reviews is coming soon. Stay posted.)
Egypt is in the throes of civil unrest but perhaps we should chance it to see the pyramids as I have long wanted to do.
What about Timbuktu to see the site of Sankore University? Sankore University of Timbuktu, was one of three ancient centers of learning in Timbuktu, Mali, West Africa. During the 14th-16th century, Sankore University enrolled more foreign students than New York University today. Over a million manuscripts were recently re-discovered in Timbuktu, Mali and about 20 million more in West Africa. The variety of topics these manuscripts cover is phenomenal. I am fascinated by this.
What are a few of your favorite places? I would love to consider them in my next jaunt. The usual suspects have long been visited and on multiple occasions but everywhere in the world is fair game. Perhaps there is something in London that I haven’t seen or a perspective that I haven’t viewed my favorite city through so you feel I should do it again.
Packing my bags and ready to go. Won’t you join me?
So Christmas is coming. Major excitement. At least in my household. I love Christmas. The rest of my family humor me. Over time my husband has grown to love Christmas too so I go all out and decorate tip to toe. I may spend days decorating my tree for a ‘custom look”
The decorations don’t stop at the tree. The doors, lamp posts, and mantles get done up too. I actually decorated this year on November 7th. Yikes. Ok. Ok. a bit of overkill but what can I say? I am the Queen of Christmas. More on the decoration phase here.
This post, however, is not about the fun part of Christmas. It is not even the usual blah blah blah about keeping Christ in Christmas, but about something a bit deeper than that. I believe when people talk about Christ in Christmas, it is interpreted as “be less commercial, and go to Church.” We then say a prayer, perhaps go to Midnight Mass, light a few candles and sing the more religious Christmas Carols as opposed to Jingle Bells. All is well with the world.
Here is what I will say. Instead of keeping the name of Christ in Christmas, how about keeping the Spirit of Christ in Christmas? Whether you are a believer or not; Surely even the biggest atheist among us can find no fault with the “idea” of someone who would give his/her life for someone they loved. Who is truly good and pure and whose purpose is to make others better. Someone who is truly interested in the uplifment of Mankind is to be celebrated, don’t you think? If we ignore for a second what Mankind has done to the legacy of the Christ, I think we could all agree that keeping the spirit of Christ in our modern day commercial Christmas is a good thing. Especially at this particular Christmas time.
This Year at Christmas, The goose is getting fat but many people are also getting their goose/geese cooked!The last half of this year has been filled with upheaval, death and disorder bordering on chaos. This is a time when Nation has turned against Nation, brother seemingly against brother. A time when it has become frightening for some segments of the population to simply exist and a time when other segments can find no validity in those claims of fear. Children are dying, and the inflammatory rhetoric is flying. As a result of the deaths of so many Black People at the hands of Law Enforcement Officers, there have been wide spread protests in the streets of this Country. There has now been the killing of two NYPD Police Officers who were shot “execution style” by a man who clearly had anger and mental issues. This same man also shot his ex-girlfriend with an intent to kill her just hours before and had fled to NYC just ahead of an all points bulletin (APB) for his arrest.
The claim is now being made that these were ‘reprisal killings’ for the murder of a Black man, Eric Garner, by the NYPD. Fast on the heels of these claims has come even more inflammatory rhetoric that the protests for justice and against Police brutality caused this man with a long history of criminal behavior and multiple incarcerations to execute those officers.
This is a tragic thing to have happened and is an act so reprehensible in its deliberate and specific intent that it takes my breath away. Here is where I get off the train of popular sentiment.
Imagine this. Christmas is coming and you expect guests. You haven’t used your guest room since last Christmas and have scarcely given it a thought in your routine cleaning. You open the door and turn on the light. Quelle Horreur! The mess is startling. Dust everywhere. Your son hs been stowing his junk in the antechamber, there are dust bunnies under the bed and the dreaded black ring in the toilet that comes with not flushing often enough. If there’s no use why flush? Right? Wrong. Anyway, you also note a faint smell of mustiness and obviously the bed needs to be made with fresh sheets. Bottom line, there’s work to do.
The question is did opening the door and shining the light cause the mess or did it just reveal it and force you to acknowledge what has always been there and needed attention? All light did is push back darkness. The revelations that ensue stand alone.
In much the same way the protests that are a response to events of the past few years didn’t cause the shootings of these Officers. It is the light that revealed the mess we are in. It is our responsibility to throw the sheets back, do a thorough dusting, open the windows and let some fresh air in.
At the end of the day, if we focus on reproducing the Spirit of Christ at this time of year, we would look behind the external to the humanity of each other and really work on bring “peace and goodwill to ALL men”
I say nothing guarantees a bucket listed life like peace.
The first official post of a blog! WOW. I was brimming with ideas of what needed to be said. That was until I actually set up the blog. Then nothing, nada, zilch. Yelp! It’s not that I couldn’t put pencil to paper or rather finger to keyboard; there are so many competing thoughts that desperately need to be said but the timing of when to say them is tricky.
Trying to write a blog dedicated to positivity and being our best selves is hard when positivity is being swallowed by the negativity of the world. Every day is an unending newsfeed of troubles topped with problem and iced with chaos. At the risk of aging myself, I feel like ‘I am singing in the rain, singing in the rain. What a glorious feeling, I am happy again….” Problem arises when you are a choir of one. Do you sing anyway? Well my answer is an unequivocal yes! Eventually that tune becomes so catchy that others join in or the rain stops falling. Even if neither happens, I am comforted by how happy, happiness is. LOL. I will simply be happy waiting on the world to change.
For those who desperately want to be happy but are finding it difficult to navigate the route, I will share advice that I have given on a routine basis for years. I have never seen this advice fail and in fact have seen some pretty dramatic life changes as a result.
Here it is : Drum rollllllll please…..Learn to just be. That’s it? Yup!. Really? Yup!.
I can’t tell you how many people boast about carving out time in their days to “nurture” themselves. Whether it is through exercise, or going for mani/pedis, facials etc. Others tell me they journal daily or pray unceasingly. All of the above and more is Grrrreat! (cue Tony the Tiger) but how many of us can actually be quiet and alone without something, someone, or some activity filling the void? Do you need to have the TV , iTunes or the radio on in the background while you take that “relaxing bath”. Can quiet be found in your head without needing to go to Yoga class for someone else tell you when and how to breathe? is there truly any place or any time that you can simply be? To listen to and honor the voice of the Creator. Not to ask for anything, not even to praise or pray but simply to listen to what message the Universal Consciousness has for you?
From observation, I note that most people don’t understand how to listen or even why we should. We are simply using the time while another is speaking to frame our arguments. We tune in randomly to hear the break in sound which is our cue to start speaking. It’s the same with prayer. We pepper God with thousands of blessings, praises and prayer requests. we pray for the sick and shut in and the deaconess on the Mother Board. We thank God for this, that and the other and we ask him to keep blessing us and if he would help with our fallen world. We ask the whys, Then when we should get a response, we simply say “Amen” and rise, secure in the knowledge that we have praised today! This is where the Buddhists will chime in about the value of meditation and contemplation. On my travels, I note a significant amount of worship intertwined in the average lives of people. That worship also seemed to be filled with relentless activity. Incense to be bought and burned, fish to be bought and released in homage, Chants and forehead touching to floor. Asanas to hold and Pranayama to learn, Prostration before images or towards a city a prescribed number of times a day, Public calls to prayer, Infidel to defeat and numerous requests made. There seems to be little time to hear the answer from the Most High to any of the whirlwind of activity and requests. My non believer readers are so busy making idols of their non belief that they too are congested with activity. Silence seems to be threatening and contemplative silence even more so. Filling our lives with words and movement and activity and sound…. Aaaaaah! Now that’s familiar. I feel motivated and accomplished and ”WOMAN; hear me roar” once I have stuffed my bag full of must dos and actually checked off a few. If I get through my entire list of to dos, I must be #winning.
I contend that until we consciously let go of some of the activity that consumes us and the sound that engulfs us, until we learn to just be; Sit, stand or lie with our thoughts and listen to Life speak. Until then happiness will be an illusion we chase, sometimes grasp but inevitably lose. That elusive, ephemeral state will slip from our grasps, leaving emptiness in its wake. After all, how do you know you have found Joy if you didn’t listen to her introduction? it may look happy, taste and smell like you think it should but there’s nothing like the real thing baby.
There are tons of self help and motivational gurus every where. Most of them are impactful and many change lives. Tons of people can teach you how to meditate. I think that is extremely helpful except it is something that I darn sure don’t know how to do well. I don’t think that one needs to have meditation on lock in order to ‘be”. It doesn’t even have to be hard and there are not tons of steps. At least not to start. Like Lao-Tzu states, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
Here’s that step. Whether you are home or in the car or wherever, refrain from turning on the radio, TV or surfing the internet. Ask for and receive a ‘no talk zone’. Don’t get on the phone to text or to check your tweet. Even for an hour, just listen to your thoughts, your heart beat, your breath. I know it is a luxury for most people but that’s why it’s a bucket-listed item. :-). Reach for it.
I don’t care if you can’t “school your thoughts” or if your breath isn’t “reaching to your core”. Whatever. Simply breathe the way you have been doing all your life, sit or stand as you have been for years but do so to the melody of your own thoughts. The sound of silence. Don’t try to answer, just listen. Listen again and then some more and there, there it is … the voice you have been waiting to hear but didn’t realize was being shouted down by your life. In that voice lies the answer to many of your perplexing issues, the rationale for your repeated challenges and the beginnings of peace. Will it all come clear in a flash? Will this be Paul getting struck on the road to Damascus? Its possible, it has happened but probably not. It is, however, the single step that works every time if you let it.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I have taken so many steps that it is only in retrospect that I realize I have been moving in a specific direction. Nothing about my path has prepared me to write or to blog, yet everything in my current journey urges me to do so. I have spent my entire adult life either training to become or actually being a Physician. It is in one of my brief glances in the rearview mirror that I realized that my entire life has been a training ground, not just for Medicine, but for this moment.
Physicians help people to be in the best health possible. At least that’s what we are supposed to do. I enjoy that aspect of my profession. What is less appealing is helping the insurance billing or the medical charting along that same path to good health. Like many Physicians, I found I was dedicating way too much time to the clerical aspects of the role and too little to the actual helping people part. A large portion of my day was spent ‘doctoring the chart’ and ‘hitting Review of Systems bullets’ so insurance billing could happen.
Unlike many other Physicians I decided to do something about it. I became certified in Holistic Integrative Medicine expanding my approach to respect my long held beliefs that the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of health and healing are as important as the physical modalities. I developed expertise in Functional Medicine, the approach that addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and as the years went by trained in and incorporated Aesthetic Medicine into my portfolio and opened an Aesthetic Medicine Boutique Practice. “After all”, I reasoned “the idea is to get people looking as good as I’ve now made them feel.”
It dawned on me about a decade ago that there are segments of this country and in fact many segments of the developing world that have limited access to excellent medical care, and certainly none to the kind of niche care in which I specialized. At this juncture we embarked on our mission to improve access to, and the quality of medical care to the people in the Developing World. To date we have established and launched 3 Cardiac Centers of Excellence in the Caribbean, another as well as a Medical Call Center in West Africa. The success of those initiatives have been gratifying to us and a blessing to the people of the areas our centers serve. As I transitioned along the spectrum of Clinical approaches available to me, I began to realize that like Goldilocks, I was finding ‘too hard’ or ‘too soft’ that is until I happened on ‘just right’.
I find what I enjoy even more than looking at various approaches to health care delivery is encouraging people to actually “get a life” to go along with good health. Regardless of what technique or modality I employ, my consistent aim is that we all live our best lives in the best health possible. I have preached it at every stage of my career and have practiced it at every stage of my own journey.
In a nutshell, this is how my life’s work has evolved into encouraging lives that work. It does indeed take work. It is employing the tools, tips, techniques and hacks gathered over a lifetime to encourage people to enjoy their best days today. It is about having life and having it “more abundant”. It is about adding life to our years, expressing gratitude for the journey and living with full joy each and every day. I recognize a healthy life as the existence of all these things and this blog is devoted to finding the best things in life and sharing them with each other. Does this mean we won’t have problems? No! Even the Bible warns us that “in this life we will have trouble”. We learn to embrace the tests because without them we would have no testimony. What I know is that we can focus on obstacles or opportunities. I choose the latter. Not only does it work; but frankly, it is simply more FUN! Every day I awake and live my life on purpose and you can too.
So here’s to the testimony of bountiful blessings and showers of favor. Let’s talk about the best countries, cities and towns to visit and the ideal places to stay. We will dish about satisfying Moet tastes on Proseco budgets as well as setting and achieving Krug Clos d’Ambonnaygoals. We will explore tunnels but most importantly, I will help you navigate your way to the light at the end.
Let’s share our plans to live tomorrow’s dreams today, Coz I’ve made a bucket list and I’m checking it twice (or thrice as the urge arises).