Tips to making your Holiday Travel Stress Free

Tips to making your Holiday Travel Stress Free

Are you traveling this holiday season? 
Here are a few tips to take the stress away...

1-Plan for extra time for travel

Remember LOTS of people are out their traveling to see friends or family as well.  I recommend 10-20% more time for travel.  The roads are sure to be busy and probably backed up.  Don’t worry about being late by leaving extra time.  In my opinion, better to arrive early than late.

2-If you are transporting food or beverages put them in a protective container

This means plastic container or bag to avoid a complete mess if it spills or breaks.  Many crockpots come with covers if not buy one.  Also, that wonderful bottle of wine you are bringing can go into a plastic or wood container (not just a paper bag).

3-If driving, fuel up your car the day BEFORE travel

This will save you a step in the morning and many other people will be there fueling up that morning. 

4-Yes, we all love our family and friends but sometimes they can “annoy” or “upset” us, so be prepared!

It seems the same questions always come out at family gatherings:

How is that job going? How is your business going? When are you going to have kids? When are you going to get married? When are you going to buy a house? And the list goes on.  You know they are going to ask, so be prepared and have your answer ready.

5-Pack efficiently

Make sure to only bring what you need.  That piece of luggage always seems to gain weight as the trip goes on and you don’t want to carry it.  Make sure to only pack what you need.  Don’t forget your chargers for phones, laptops and other electronical devices as well.  And most importantly don’t forget your prescriptions.

An expert tip I recommend is to check the weather before leaving. That way you will be prepared with appropriate clothing.

6-If traveling with children try not to change up their schedules too much

Children like and need a routine for their day.  This is including things like meals, naptime and bedtime.  Try to keep these as regular as possible even when grandparents, aunts and uncles as well as other family members push to keep them up or other things.  When the children get out of sorts it is going to get you out of sorts.  This leads to meltdowns of children as well as adults.  Don’t let this ruin your travel plans

Remember the holidays are about fun, friends and family, it is for you to enjoy, not dread.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

What are your tips for planning before leaving for vacation? Let us know below…

Blog Contributor:

Colleen Parisi owner of A Walk in the Park with Colleen.  Takes the stress out of planning a trip to Disney and put the fun in!!

Colleen Parisi

Colleen’s belief is that everyone should have a great time at Disney!  Growing up her family called her “Julie” (for those that don’t get it, it is a reference to a TV show called Love Boat and Julie was the cruise director).  Colleen has always been a planner and now does it as a business and to help other businesses.

Opinions expressed by Savvy Women blog contributors are their own.

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Exercising as We Age!

Exercising as We Age!

3 Simple Tips for Exercising as We Age

  1. Keep it Functional:  There are functional moves of average daily living that we all need to incorporate into our workouts to stay mobile throughout our later years in life.  Think about what we do on a daily basis.  We are in and out of the car, grocery shopping, doing laundry, lifting up grandbabies, loading the dishwasher, jogging across a busy road and not to mention whatever we choose for our professions (past or present).  The movement patterns that we use on any given day are these seven:  push, pull, squat, lunge, twist, hinge, and balance.  We may not even realize that we are using these moves but now that we are, try to incorporate them into your daily exercise routine.  If you need more photos and descriptions of these movement patterns,  email me at Jenn@jennbenson.com and I will send you my e-book The 7 Functional Movement Patterns of Average Daily Living.

  2. Add Resistance:  Bone density is typically a concern for the aging population because as bones get brittle, we have more chances of injury.  It is hard to imagine that bone is actually a living tissue, just like muscle.  When you work them, they get stronger?  It is known that after our third decade in life, we begin to lose bone density.  The one thing that can slow the progression is regular exercise with resistance.  This is especially important for those diagnosed with osteopenia (bones are weaker but not yet to the point where they are too far gone) or osteoporosis (a disease in which bone density and quality is already reduced).  Exercises that can minimize your risk for developing Osteoporosis are anything that works against gravity.  Hiking, climbing stairs, or lifting weights would be good examples.  Exercises that can help us maintain muscle coordination, gain strength and balance will also help us prevent falls and possible fractures.

  3. Walk: Don’t underestimate the power of our own stride.  Walking is the most functional exercise you can do.  Not only is it free, you can do it anywhere with no equipment needed.  It helps keep us functional and works against gravity.  Boom…this is an all-inclusive exercise to enhance health and graceful aging! The benefits of walking are so many but to name a few: improves heart rate, improves mood, aids in weight loss, decreases blood pressure, improves balance and coordination, prevents dementia and osteoporosis, boosts energy…and the list goes on.  My suggestion would be to walk anytime you can.  Park far away from where you are going.   Get a few extra steps in every day.  Take the stairs.   I have worked with clients who do not have the simple act of walking as an option so my point here is; don’t take it for granted.  If you can walk, get going.  Your life is waiting.

Savvy Blog Contributor:

Jenn Benson

Jenn Benson is a Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Weight Loss Specialist, and Group Fitness Instructor, Jenn has been able to help countless people discover their passion for exercise. Over the years, her motto of K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid) has allowed her to excel in the ever-changing field of fitness. When Jenn is not traveling around teaching or training, she is spending her free moments running around with her two boys and adventurous husband.

Check out her book Dear Couch, We’re Through! for some more resources to help you get started, stay motivated, & have fun with your exercise. You can also visit Jenn at www.jennbenson.com

Opinions expressed by Savvy Women blog contributors are their own, and may not express the opinions of the Savvy Professional Women Network.

3 Simple Steps to Get Organized for Better Productivity

3 Simple Steps to Get Organized for Better Productivity

The living is easy and the kids are…home.  You are stuck between wanting to relax and wanting to keep the business ball rolling.  You feel scattered, pulled in all directions, guilty for not being all things to all people, unable to say “No,” and stressed about doing the bare minimum to keep the business afloat.  So, you suck it up, soothe yourself with the thought that the kids will be in school in just a few short weeks, grab your copy of “City of Girls,” park yourself by the pool and put off work yet another day.

Sound familiar?

I get it. 

This does not have to be an either/or situation: either fully engaged in your business OR fully committed to fam.  There’s a Both/And Solution here…  One you can begin to put into practice right now.

Now, I know what you’re going to say, “Yea, but, how am I going to find the time to do it all?  I can hardly fit one more commitment on my plate!” 

I hear you – and you may be familiar with an expression Desmond Tutu, Nobel Prize winner for his efforts in resolving and ending apartheid in South Africa, once wisely said: “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”

Step One

Plot Your Course: Create a Plan

This may seem like an odd question, but have you ever considered your relationship with time?  The greatest complaints I hear from the women I work in my coaching practice have to do with their lack of time.  They use expressions such as not having enough it, it flying or passing quickly, wasting it, it being too late, having limited amounts of it, it being against you, running out of it and wouldn’t it be nice if they had it to do [fill in the blank.]  Not to mention our cultural identification and gripping fear of aging, regret, frittering it away… There is a lot of pressure we put on ourselves in regards to time.

Just as you have relationships with loved ones, partners and yourself, you have a relationship with time. 

If you were to see time as a sentient being, by the relationship you have with it, would you say it was more of a foe or a friend?  Do you follow its lead or feel controlled by it?  Are you time’s driver or its victim?

It’s time to take time back and create a bite-size plan (remember we’re not going to eat the elephant all at once…)

Let’s take a good look at your next 30 days in your business and life.  We are going to divide your time into 3 categories: personal time, business time, and contact time. 

Plot and mark off your personal time in first.  (Wha?  But what about all off my obligations?  My clients, my responsibilities?  What will people think?????)  I know this is a bit of a mind bender, and you know what they say, “if Mama ain’t happy….”  So, go ahead a chart out your pedicure time, pleasure reading time, vacay with family time, shopping for school time, girl’s night out time etc.. FIRST. 

Next, plot and mark off your business time.  This time is dedicated to doing things like sending emails, writing copy, planning out your next workshop, scheduling gigs, creating new packages/programming etc… (by the way, the work you are doing here in planning your 30 days can be considered business time…)

Finally, plot and mark off your contact time.  This is time you’ve specifically put aside to pick up the phone, meet with a client, go to a networking event, give an estimate, talk to prospective clients….

You may or may not have anything going on during your dedicated “contact time” and, by making time for it in your planner, it makes it that much easier to make appointments and dates so you no longer find yourself scrambling to “squeeze” somebody in.  In fact, you can tell people, I have dates/times available for this purpose, what works for you?

Don’t you already feel the difference?  Yep. You.  In time’s driver seat.

Step Two:

Maintain Routines: Keep a Weekly Plan

Routines… you might be thinking… are only for kids, right?  Nope.

You might find yourself throwing a 3 year-old tantrum here….: But I like things loosey goosey, I don’t like to be tied down, I do better when I can be spontaneous!

Does this mean you like the unpredictability of your business?   Does that mean you thrive on inconsistent income? Does this mean you enjoy being at the mercy of time, obligation and responsibilities that do not serve your financial Dire Need?

I’m pretty certain you’d say no.

So, stay with me here.  Let’s create, what is referred to in The Nia Technique, as a tight, but loose structure for your week.

Begin your week with your 3 Top Goals…  Not planning what you’d like to achieve by the end of the week is akin to trusting a blind pilot to get you to your destination…  Have you blocked out uninterrupted time for these activities or projects?

Check your calendar at the beginning of the week, make sure you’re ready for the upcoming personal, business, and contact time commitments so you are not caught completely off guard.

Have a weekly planning list – this is a checklist or default template you can go through every week.  Make sure to have your top 3 priorities on the top of your checklist as well as all of the regular admin, calendaring and blocked off times accounted for.

One of the advantages of planning your days, your weeks, your month is that it takes away a lot of stress because you know exactly when you will do what and that you have thought of everything.  To avoid the sense that you’ve over plan, account for buffer times in your day.  For example, add 15 extra minutes to every event that lasts an hour or more, especially when other people are involved.

Step 3

Be Ready When Unpredictable Events Strike. 

Although planning can have its dark side – being spontaneity’s worst enemy – life is life.  And we are human, subject to the unpredictable: a child getting the flu, the in-laws dropping in…

So, plan for it.  Leave some space in there for you to breathe and to honor the “loose” part of that “tight but loose” idea from The Nia Technique.  For example, keep your weekends plan free so you can spontaneously go to the pool with the kids, hit a matinee on a rainy day, go for an unplanned Sunday drive.

You needn’t eat the elephant all at once when it comes to creating boundaries around your time and schedule.  Taking a step-by step approach to taking back your time will allow you to decrease your stress level, anxiety and guilt so you can increase your business’ bottom line.  Truly working harder is for the birds.  Working wiser, now, that’s the way to go.

Let us know in the comments what is your relationship with time and what are you willing to change or enhance in that relationship?

Savvy Blog Contributor:

Joelle Lydon

Joëlle is an internationally sought after Relationship Expert, mentoring smart, successful, self-aware and spiritual women to transform their life and love struggles, low self-esteem and mistrust into ease and confidence. Her clients are able to release their painful stories about what it means to be highly sensitive, take responsibility for themselves as Grown Woman rather than a little girl,  and change their life trajectory.

Opinions expressed by Savvy Women blog contributors are their own, and do not express the opinions of the Savvy Professional Women Network.

Change Takes Courage

Change Takes Courage

I was working with a client today, and as is almost always the case, the beliefs and values of childhood were running the show. Many of us don’t understand how our mind and body work together. It’s both simple and complicated.

In the “Biology of Belief” Bruce Lipton teaches us about the conscious and subconscious mind. I could go into my beliefs about past lives, or my alignment with Carl Jung’s philosophy that the human mind is not just a blank slate at birth to be written on solely by experience, but for today, let’s talk about the scientific aspects of the challenges of change. 

No one can argue that our beliefs and habits are programmed in from our caregivers, whoever they may have been. Parents, teachers, family, friends, society, religion or lack of, and on and on. Our job is to understand what’s true for us and what’s not so we can line up with our truest self and stop living someone else’s life!


Change Takes Courage!

Your conscious mind is controlling about 5% of what’s happening in your world. The stronger your habits are, the stronger you have to be to change them, and to create the new habits that will make the difference. 

You’ve been thinking and doing the same way for most of your life. If you want to change a habit, and consequently your life, then you have to do something different to move toward the change you desire. 

When we start to make changes, alarms and whistles go off. No, that’s new, that’s not safe, that’s could be dangerous. The mind/brain likes to stay in what it knows. 

When I was sixteen, in a violent incident with my father, I accidentally scratched him with my ring. It shocked him out of his rage and he never touched me or spoke to me again. If that hadn’t happened it’s likely I would have perpetuated that version of violence in my life. As it happened I did keep the violence going but in other ways, until I made the conscious changes that has me living my life with a beautiful man and I am happy and healthy in every way. It was a big old fat process though.

Here’s what happens: The changes start in your mind but also in your body.

  • You have a thought, your brain starts to make some chemicals that will match that thought based on past experiences and you feel uncomfortable in your body, and do your usual reaction.
  • Or you have a feeling, and the body creates some chemicals that create a thought based on past experiences associated with that feeling, and once again, you have your usual experience.

It’s not your fault!


Your brain is hardwired to keep you safe and change is not safe – at least according to certain areas of your brain. 

When making a commitment to change, you have to go through the process of feeling your feelings and changing your thoughts, at the same time as you keep moving forward. You have to practice over and over. It’s a 24/7 job for a while and then over time it becomes your more natural state.

Whenever I do a speaking gig I get stressed. It used to be I would have endless days and nights of tossing and turning. I had friends and colleagues tell me that if I wasn’t thinking about myself, and instead thinking about the audience, I wouldn’t feel that way. While that may be true, all I could feel was I was in danger! LOL 

I practiced feeling my feelings, changing my thoughts, imagining myself having a good time, spending a little more time meditating and eventually it became just a feeling and a thought that has little to no power. I know that there is no boogieman coming to get me and I can embrace the wonderful joy of the possibility of changing someone’s life. I feel lucky! When I get that feeling, I remember and do what I know to do. 

You know what to do too! 


Answer these questions for yourself:

  • What’s the one thing that you want to change?
  • What are the thoughts and feelings that are associated with that change? 

Take the time, connect the dots and make the changes that make the difference. 


Feel your feelings
Change your thoughts
Create a life you love

How?

When you get that feeling, the one that’s particular to you, you’ll need to learn to discern the difference between true danger (which is almost never) and avoidance of something you’re not saying or not doing. This is where stress lies. What are you not saying or not doing? The other triggers are experience driven such as a smell, a touch, a familiar and uncomfortable feeling that drives stress and indecision. 

There are multitudes of ways that can make a difference, but initially it is beneficial to just start noticing when that feeling sets in and why. 

When you change the way you look at things, 

the things you look at change. Wayne Dyer

  • Start the day with focus 
  • Declare that you are ready to change the way you see things
  • Notice when negativity takes you over
  • Change your thoughts NOW
  • Go on a complaining diet – NO complaining
  • Fake it till you make it
  • Look around with gratitude – what are you grateful for?
  • Applause, applause 

Some days are harder than others. When it just isn’t working use this tool. 

Accept – What can I accept right now?

Commit – What am I committed to?

Practice – What do I need to practice – what’s my plan?

Discomfort – Where do I feel discomfort in my body – lean in.

Courage – Do I have the courage to keep going?

Awake – How can I stay awake?

Celebrate – Everything!

You are amazing. Everyone knows it. You are beautiful just as you are. You may desire change and that’s cool too. I know I will always be striving for more, more of myself and more from others, that’s just my nature. What is your true nature? How will you fulfill your desires and purpose? How can we see more of you?

Will the real you please stand up, stand out and be the best, most authentic version of you. We need you, you need you, and the world needs you and your specialness. Comment below… How will you fulfill your desires and purpose? How can we see more of you?

Savvy Blog Contributor

Karen Carey
Five Star Coaching Group

Karen Carey is the founder of Ruby Red Road and partner at Five Star Coaching Group. As a CultureTalk certified partner, she helps businesses and teams create a productive and positive environment with self-knowledge, collaboration and heart to maximize potential and ultimate success.

Karen will be the guest speaker at our Networking Soiree on September 17th in Albany, New York. For ticket details please click here.

Opinions expressed by Savvy Women blog contributors are their own.

The Hidden Key to Communication

The Hidden Key to Communication

A lot has been written about effective communication: active listening, recognizing non verbal communication, asking questions, clarifying and summarizing your speaking points, providing feedback and developing trust and rapport. All of these tips make sense and are useful in any conversation. So with everything we’ve been taught to do or say, why is it that so many of us still feel we aren’t being heard? The real game changer, prior to all the techniques and strategies, is bringing ourselves fully to the conversation. The question then becomes: how do we do that?

Most of the time we just assume the person we’re talking to will hear what we’re saying, but how often does that really happen? It’s far more common to have a conversation with someone who’s simply waiting for us to finish so they can either give their opinion, defend their position, offer advice or refuse to be of any help whatsoever. And that’s not what we’re looking for.

Few people experience really being listened to. When the person we’re talking to is simply inhabiting their physical body we get a particular feeling about that. The most obvious indicator is that they’re not stopping what they’re doing to look you in the eye for more than a second because they’re distracted or checking their phone or multi-tasking. Beyond that, you sense the flatness; there’s no sense of connection and your words seem to bounce off a brick wall. Granted, not every conversation is one in which there’s deep connection and understanding. In a business context that’s often not possible and depending on the situation, maybe not even desirable. But what is possible is a simple acknowledgement of our shared humanness and an intention to have a positive exchange.

What if, in order to improve our experience – both for the listener and the speaker – we began by taking into account our state of mind? It’s certainly not the place most people start. It may seem overly simplistic to say that any conversation is significantly improved when we aren’t already preoccupied with a thousand different things, regardless of who’s doing the talking and who’s doing the listening. First you need to be aware when your mind is full of busy thoughts about problems you need to solve or people you need to deal with. That awareness by itself will break the spell of preoccupation and remind you to take a stop and really be with the person you’re talking to. It’s as easy as making sure your shoelaces are tied before you step out your door. Usually we get so caught up in the need to keep running that we don’t even think to look down until we trip up. But once we know the consequences of trying to run with untied shoelaces, we know to prepare in advance. It’s the same with having a conversation, only we look within ourselves rather than at something outside ourselves.

Our state of mind is colored by our mood and the feelings that go with it. We can improve our ability to relate to each other by factoring in the effect of our moods – both ours and the person we’re talking to. This is something that’s so fundamental we almost forget about it entirely. But, in fact, our low moods do affect our ability to communicate effectively. We forget that when we’re in a low mood, our ability to speak clearly or listen fully is minimized. When we’re feeling badly, it’s way too easy to fall into blame or resentment or defensiveness because we’re already feeling vulnerable, as if we somehow need to protect ourselves before anyone even has a chance to get the words out of their mouth.

If we give each other the breathing room to allow our moods to change, we have a far greater chance of engaging in conversation that may that may potentially contain an emotional charge. We start with noticing our own moods and how they make us feel, and then we begin to recognize how other people are also driven by their moods. This is a form of compassion that begins with you, a form of self care, if you will. And once you take care of yourself this way, you find you automatically extend the same kindness to others.

These dynamics – state of mind and mood – are equally true whether the conversation takes place in the office or the living room. For example, perhaps you run a business and have employees working for you, or you’re in a management position and want to be effective in engaging others in your vision. Understanding the nuances of the human condition is invaluable because it both increases your ability to convey what’s important to you and increases the engagement of those you work with.

As you increase your ability to recognize low moods and busy states of mind, you also become aware of the feelings connected to them. Self awareness is the gateway to so many improvements in our lives! We come to see not only what’s in our way but we gain access to our own resources we hadn’t noticed before. You come to see that low moods will pass and busy minds will settle without the need to manipulate them. They’re much like the clouds that cover over the sun; they dissipate on their own without our having to do anything to fix or improve them. Once we understand how transient moods and thoughts and feelings really are, we can either adjust our timing or make sure we create a safe and supportive context for dialogue.

Recognizing the role of our state of mind enables us to become fully present – and presence is transformative. It’s the real source of connection between us, and we all know when it’s there or it’s missing. When we can let go of rehearsing, anticipating or assuming anything about what might occur, we can set the stage for the most valuable and affirming possibilities to occur.

Nina Lockwood
Certified Transformative Coach

nina lockwood image

Nina Lockwood is a transformative coach, speaker, facilitator and trainer with over 30 years of expertise in psychology and personal development and 20 years in the fields of health and wellness. Drawing from an interdisciplinary background, Nina works with individuals and organizations to achieve improved performance, problem solving, productivity and to minimize the effects of stress and pressure.

For more information about Nina Lockwood go to
http://ninalockwood.com


Opinions expressed by Savvy Women blog contributors are their own.