Posted on July 20, 2016 in Fun by Sandra Bienkowski
When summer arrives, the mercury rises and it’s time to slow down the hectic pace of life. But before sinking permanently into your hammock, we have a project for you: Tick off some boxes on your bucket list! What, you say—productivity during the summer? But a bucket list is different from a to-do list. It’s a bucket full of all the fun things you’ve always wanted to do. So while you are whiling away your time this summer—or trying to keep the kids entertained during those dog days—try some suggestions from our list below.
Take windsurfing lessons.
With a few quick lessons, you will be up and surfing on your bare feet in no time.
Go for a hot air balloon ride.
Do something fun and exhilarating that doesn’t require a lot of physical exertion. You’ll feel like you’re floating on air (because you are), with gorgeous vistas all around.
Try out a Zen retreat.
Imagine several days of meditation, with no phones, no computers…and no talking!
Posted on May 10, 2016 in Fun by Sandra Bienkowski
On June 27, 2012, my doctor uttered this life-changing sentence: “Don’t be surprised if it’s twins.” My HCG level (the pregnancy hormone) was through the roof. As a 40-something mommy-to-be, I was thrilled just to be pregnant. Twins? I had a smile glued to my face as my brain raced with questions. Twins!? What do we need? Two of everything? How big will I get? My husband and I are both planners: We like to be prepared; he’s an Eagle Scout! But how do you prepare yourself for two infants at once?
You can’t prepare
We enrolled in a Parents of Multiples class. It was great to meet other parents of multiples and be reassured from the Mary Poppins-like teacher, but I laugh when I think back on the class now. Valuable lesson of parenthood: There are some things you cannot plan for. The teacher advised us to pack a bag for labor and delivery and fill it with a tennis ball for lower back massages, lollipops as a distraction tool, lavender oil for relaxation and a favorite pillow from home. We dutifully packed our bag and thought we were ready.
Posted on May 1, 2016 in Fulfillment by Sandra Bienkowski
When I read Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, I started a love affair with habits. I’ve always loved setting goals, but I’d often end up frustrated with myself (or blame it on not enough hours in a day) if I didn’t get enough accomplished in a week. Then I read this snippet from Gretchen’s book: “With the right habits in place, you can effortlessly go through your day and do the things you want to do.” That’s when I decided to focus more on my habits than an endless list of to-dos. What did I discover? In just 10 minutes a day you can accomplish something that, over time, will move you toward the life you really want.
1. Read every day
Before having twin toddlers, I was much better at reading every day. Pre-kiddos reading is much easier for all of us, but we can give ourselves the gift of reading with just 10 minutes before going to bed. And on nights when you have the energy or get absorbed in a really good part, you just may read on.
2. Help one person
I write this on my to-do list each day. You can help someone by giving a compliment, writing a positive review, making a referral to give someone a business lead, cooking/baking and sharing, really listening, recommending a book, introducing new friends or forwarding an article.
Strengthen self-control.We don’t have to exhaust our willpower or decision-making quota for the day when we make healthy habits automatic. Make one or more of these fundamental habits a regular part of your daily life in order to help you set and keep other healthy habits: 1. Get seven hours of sleep; 2. Go for a 20-minute walk; 3. Don’t let yourself get too hungry; 4. Take time to unclutter; 5. Give yourself a healthy treat.
Get some sleep. According to sleep expert Michael Breus, Ph.D., sleeping less than seven hours each night can negatively impact your outlook, make you crave unhealthy foods and even kill your productivity. For those with serious trouble sleeping, he suggests you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, take the TV out of the bedroom and get out of bed if you can’t fall asleep within 20 to 30 minutes.
Build up your emotional toolkit. If you struggle with depression or bouts of anxiety, build up your emotional toolkit. Use the tool of self-compassion to treat yourself with the same loving kindness you would extend to a friend. Silence that inner critic and give yourself a soft place to land when things don’t go right or you are working through a challenging experience. Fill up your mind with kind thoughts about yourself.
Posted on February 10, 2015 in Fulfillment by Sandra Bienkowski
If I could go back in time and have a little sit down with the 20-something me, I’d tell her:
You have the power to change EVERYTHING in your life.
Think Wizard of Oz where Glinda, the Good Witch tells Dorothy: You’ve always had the power, my dear. You’ve had it all along.
Let’s just say it took me too long to learn that I could unpack my problems one by one. A tattered self-image from childhood left me feeling like an outsider. I felt like a kid looking through a window at other people who had success, loving relationships, and fit bodies. I longed to have what other people had, but I didn’t know how to get on the other side of the window.
I didn’t realize two important things:
1. I was worth it.
2. I could change everything myself.
Today I am right where I want to be. Loving relationship with my husband, two children I cherish, a healthy body, and work that feels on purpose. I view the missteps in my twenties and thirties as deposits into my wisdom now, but my wish is for other people to learn from my mistakes. When you learn things earlier or faster, you have more time to fully enjoy your life and thrive.
When I wrote The One Question that Can Change Everything for MindBodyGreen I had my 20-something self in mind. This is what 40-something me would tell her. When we are brave enough to shine a bright light on our problems and rid ourselves of any denial, we can unpack our problems and vastly improve our lives.
I hope you enjoy reading it:
The One Question that Can Change Everything
You Can Change Everything