Just Somebody I Used to Know…

 

s.p.u.n.k with Writer Unleashed

You know how you can have the radio playing in the background and never “tune in” to all the chatter. Suddenly, your ears hone in on a phrase, and you can’t get it out of your head. Well, that’s exactly what has happened to me with a song by an Australian artist. The simplicity of the intro notes invite you in, and the lyrics keep you engaged. The Belgian-Australian musician, Gotye, sings about a past lover, and the nature of love, but I find myself envisioning looking in the mirror and singing to my reflection.

The image I see resembles somebody that I used to know with glimpses of a brand new me emerging.

Do you ever feel like that?

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

I look at my reflection, and I ask:

Where did the little girl go with her Toni perm curls framing her shy little smile?

Where did the fiercely independent young woman go who could have been a stand-in for Marlo Thomas’ “That Girl” TV character with her perky attitude and brunette flip?

Where did the PTA mom go who volunteered for everything from baking cupcakes to writing the booklet for the fundraising auction and racked up more miles than a Daytona 500 driver as a stay-at-home mom?

Oh, she’s still here. She’s just somebody I used to know who is reinventing herself.

Yes, strange as it may sound from someone who is receiving AARP solicitations, I am reinventing myself.  I’m reinventing on a daily basis. It’s downright exhausting at times! And it is so exhilarating!

After two breast cancer episodes, two unsuccessful start-up companies, and moving halfway across this continent for gainful employment, I’ve acquired some coping skills to help me in my healing process as well as diffusing my stress level. Whether we are aware of the slow erosion or not, stress takes it’s toll on us on a daily basis. Tapping into my creativity is the way I keep my stress level down. Writing in my journal, playing with beads or paper crafts, and giving myself permission to explore new ways to create…create my own happily ever after.

When I look in the mirror, I see somebody I used to know…and so much more.

I see that same twinkle in my eye of the mischievous child. I see the same grin of the perky young woman embarking on her career as a secretary. I see fingers grasping a pen or flying over a keyboard with words tumbling over each other everywhere, and hear an inquisitive voice asking insightful questions culminating in an amazing body of work.

MaryEKnippel.headshotI’m am no longer the child, young adult, nor the young mother I once was. I see an articulate, compassionate, curious, playful, creative and wise soul. I cherish my past, but I’m even more excited about my future because it is full of wonder and possibility.

When I look in the mirror, I see somebody I want to know.

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?
 
I understand what it’s like not to recognize yourself in the mirror because everyone else in your life crowds out your own reflection. That is the reason I encourage you to pick up a journal and create a sanctuary for yourself within the pages. Writing offers you ways to reconnect with the person you want to see in the mirror. Hop over to my Facebook Page and comment on what sanctuary means to you.
 
 photo credit:  EAOverland, LilyDongPhotography

[Free Training] Holiday ideas for joy filled new year

candleYour day-to-day schedule is jam-packed…now add the shopping, wrapping, mailing, and holiday gatherings on top of it all. You may feel as if you are burning the candle at both ends!

Apart from considering cloning yourself, how do you manage it all? Consider creating a sort of Holiday Bucket list of things that you want to have happen and things that you aspire to:

  1. Acknowledge the important people in your life with a hand-written note, a thoughtful gift, or better still, make plans to spend time together.
  2. Delegate…get the team/family involved in as much as you can. Share the tasks and let others take ownership of whatever task or activity of the season.
  3. Design a plan to achieve goals that have eluded you, and discard the ones that no longer serve you.
  4. Spend time indulging in old movies with lots of heart…this time of year they are running holiday movies  (I want to watch them all!).  It is so much fun to tune in and find a classic where a popular actor/actress is playing a bit part with youthful exuberance.
  5. What was your favorite treat as a kid? Savor sugar cookies made with real butter with lots and lots of sugar on top.
  6. Prescribe water therapy for yourself. Sink into a sweet smelling bubble bath. Try it by candlelight…pure bliss!
  7. Let your mind drift sitting in the sunshine with a cup of something delicious and nothing to do but feel the sun’s warmth on your face.
  8. Confide in your journal as a source of great stress relief strategy. 
  9. Skim through travel brochures and imagine living in another part of the world. Not just visiting for a temporary taste of life there, but spending months at a time to become part of the community and really develop a rhythm of life there. (The power of visualization may lead to actualization!)
  10. Create a collage (Vision/Dream Board) to represent what want your life to be like next year.

Photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

Stress Less this Holiday Season…

runningfeet

It’s the most wonderful time of year…or so the song would have us believe.

December brings us the holiday season which many consider to be the happiest time of the year. Is it for you? Or, do you find yourself running to keep up with the challenges of being a personal shopper, gourmet baker and chef, tree decorator and correspondence queen lead? So much so…you vow that next year things will be different.

Time to unleash from all those should’s and have to’s.

Over the years I’ve tried to incorporate ways to make the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas less hectic by buying gifts all year on sale and stashing holiday baking in the freezer weeks ahead. Even though I sometimes forget where I hid the gifts, and somehow the treats disappear from the freezer before the intended holiday I baked them for rolls around…I stand behind my strategy.

I have fond memories of spending the day making sugar cookies, ginger snaps, banana bread, and a special family favorite–my famous peanut clusters. The house always smelled wonderful on those occasions and when  the scent of fresh Christmas tree in the family room is added to the mix…well that makes for pretty heady holiday joy.  

There’s still time to simplify your activities. Ransom the joy of the season back…you know spread some of that holiday cheer in your own direction!

My suggestion to stress less this month has to do with wrapping your gifts. When wrapping your holiday treasures, choose one paper pattern for each gift recipient. You will know immediately who gets what and they will appreciate the fact that you took such care in wrapping their gift. It could even be a game to match the paper with a personality or the contents of the package. Have fun with it and be creative. Remember, gift wrap doesn’t have to come from the store. Think Green:  use the comics, newspaper, brown craft paper, or grocery bags. Try using fabric, better yet, get bonus points for using a reusable shopping bag!

 

 Photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

 

 

Discoveries…exploring life’s possibilities

excited little girl

We celebrated Columbus Day this month, and that has me thinking about exploring and discoveries in life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you had an attitude of discovering life’s possibilities with the same type of expression of excitement as the little girl in this picture?

I realize that some feel adventurous when choosing to order something other than known menu items at a restaurant, speak up about their business at a networking event, or just introducing yourself at a social gathering.

Just for today…

  • entertain the notion that you are an explorer who has yet to  meet a mountain she isn’t ready to climb
  • imagine yourself the originator of a cutting edge discovery which changes the world
  • consider the possibility that your expertise has the power to impact millions

No matter what your area of expertise, I believe you do have what it takes to impact the world when you share your authentic message.

Yes, there is that critic shouting in the background demanding that I be realistic in my words to you. And I am being realistic. I really do believe you have what it takes to impact the world with your message.

Of course, the first person you have to share that message with is yourself!

As Your Writing Mentor, I’m here to encourage, inspire and guide you in discovering, exploring and considering your unique message for the world.

Oh, and to be clear in case you are wondering, my favorite exploratory tool of journaling is easily accessible and user-friendly.

Columbus isn’t the only one capable of making discoveries. Drop by my Facebook page and let me know how the discoveries you’ve made through journaling have impacted your life. 

Photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Go get ’em squeezed…

October is not only a month for pumpkins, ghosts, goblins and pretty fall colors, it is also breast cancer awareness month. A subject many of us are very familiar with. One in eight women will be diagnosed with this disease in her lifetime. And all of us are touched by it because I’m willing to bet that someone you know…maybe even someone you love…perhaps you yourself…has been diagnosed. 

Embracing creativity as a healing tool helped me on my wellness journey and I’m sure it can do the same for you. 

I’m being playful talking about showing your love by getting them squeezed, but I’m not kidding around. An important part of self-care is preventive measures. I know it is uncomfortable to get a mammogram. Believe me, I know. I’ve been squeezed and pulled more times than I care to remember.

The benefits, however, far outweigh the barrage of excuses women may come up with to avoid this appointment: 

  • I don’t have time (how can you not have the time to do something that has the potential to change your life)
  • I’m not old enough
  • I’m too old
  • I don’t have any symptoms (that’s great!)
  • It sounds painful, my insurance won’t cover it because it’s preventative
  • My insurance only allows it with a doctor’s order
  • I’m afraid if I go they’ll find something so I’d rather not know

Whether you are a small business owner feeling the pressure and stress of fulfilling high-quality product orders, delivering outstanding services, or a CEO Mom performing her transportation and requisition duties in between dentist appointments and soccer practice, taking the time to take care of yourself must be at the top of your To Do list.

Please, schedule that mammogram! Your life depends on it!

photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

What makes your heart sing?

free womanMay is Women’s Health Care Month. What are you doing to ensure the best care for the most important woman in your life? Yes, I do mean you! Suppose you embrace the list below as your self-care guidelines.

Must do self-care tips…

1.      Love yourself unconditionally.
2.      Share what makes your heart sing.
3.      Nourish relationships with spirit, family and friends.

  • Bonus tip…do what you need to do to manage stress wisely.

Every woman, yes every woman, must make her own care a priority in order to be there for everyone else in her life. You and I have something in common with Entrepreneur and media mogul Ariana Huffington. The founder of the prestigious Huffington Post found herself reevaluating her life after collapsing from exhaustion and lack of sleep. A classic wake-up call in the form of a personal health crisis.

It happened that way for me with my breast cancer. I jumped back into my life so fast after the first episode that my activities barely slowed down. The second episode three and a half years later shook me to my core. It made me stop and take stock of how I kept saying Yes to everything and not slowing down to enjoy much of anything. It doesn’t have to happen that way for you. You can take action now to promote your best health in body, mind, and spirit.

And I can just hear the protests and debates going on in your head right now…there’s too much to do for me to slow down, who will do it if I don’t, no one can do this to my satisfaction. Arguments which only fuel your escalating stress level and my suggestion is to rewrite the story from a new perspective. Review your to-do list, check off what you enjoy doing, delegate some and delete others.

You can decide to make changes in the way you live your life, including adopting daily practices to keep you on track—and out of doctors’ waiting rooms. To have a more fulfilling life, one that allows breathing spaces to enjoy the richness of the present moment. Give yourself permission to have a massage, sit with a cup of tea with your journal, have a bubble bath, read a book just for fun, enjoy a walk in nature, and take time to just BE!

Hop over to my Facebook page and let me know what makes your heart sing!

photo credit:  Dreamstime.com 

 

 

A quick question…

question normalQuick question for you…

Which of these describes your usual morning routine?

1. Did the morning begin with a gradual awareness because your internal alarm clock started you stirring minutes before the mechanical (or human) alarm signaled it was time to get up?

2. Did you hear the alarm, immediately hit the snooze button – once, twice, perhaps three times – while covering your head with the pillow?

3. Or, did you awake refreshed, stretched leisurely, spent a few minutes visualizing the day’s activities, then jump out of bed eager to start your day?

I know all of those mornings.

On the days when I am well rested, I have no trouble moving from my cozy nest of warm covers to the daily routine of my writing ritual of tea, journal, inspirational reading and meditation before I shower and check in at the “office,” AKA – turning on my computer.

The days when I have not had enough sleep, I hit the snooze at least once, tell myself it doesn’t matter if I write in my journal every day, and who would notice if I answered those e-mails today or tomorrow?

Does that sound familiar?
Yes, I know you are nodding your head in agreement.
What can be done about this dilemma?

Anxious thoughts make sleep difficult and cause you to wake up during the night. A racing mind fueled by anxiety is not easily turned off.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Disorders, 65% of Americans lose sleep due to stress

The stories we tell ourselves do matter.
YOU can do something about the stress in your life.
Change your story and you’ll change your life. By story, I mean the chatter in your head. The rationalization, the reasons, or the blah, blah, blah (you fill in the appropriate “the dog ate my homework” phrase).
I’ve changed my story many times.
  • Coping with my two breast cancer experiences and sharing my strategies with you.
  • Overcoming the challenges of uprooting our family and moving across the country – twice – because of my husband’s new jobs. Learning how strong and resilient I am – and helping you realize that YOU ARE TOO.
  • Discovering the power of tapping into my creativity and how it has made a difference in my healing process and passing those tips along to you.

I know it is next to impossible to eliminate all stress in your life. However, here are a few suggestions to help you at least get quality time with your pillow:

1. Put away your “to do” list and give yourself permission to go to bed.

2. Go to bed by 9 p.m. at least once a week with the intention of doing a relaxing activity…no channel surfing or video games. 

3. Create a sleep ritual. An evening routine before bed (bubble bath, meditation, inspirational reading) signals your body to settle down for the night.

4. Keep regular hours. Going to bed around the same time each night and waking up close to the same time each morning (and that even includes weekends) keeps your biological clock in check.

5. Sleep in a cool, quiet, dark room and invest in not only a supportive mattress, but also comfy sheets, blankets and pillows.

6. Regular exercise can help relieve daily tension and stress, but experiment to see if gentle exercise before bed relaxes or stimulates you. Some people love to have their work out in the evening, others need to do it in the morning to kick start their day.

7. Before you go to bed, create a routine to put the day behind you and prepare for the next. Perhaps write down five things that you are grateful for from the day. Below your gratitude list, write a sentence or two about something you are looking forward to tomorrow. Set the scene for tomorrow and go to sleep with positive, up-beat thoughts.

The stories we tell ourselves do matter. They matter a great deal!

Unleash Your Authentic Self! – Go to my online calendar to set up your complimentary 20-minute Discovery Session appointment.

[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Stop Stress….Stir something up…

Spring is in the air and everything seems to be blooming, bursting out of shells and transforming into a new and glorious state.

Let’s stir things up!

Grandma Emma

Grandma Emma

The secret to Grandma’s fudge and divinity was the powerful way she propelled that wooden spoon around and around and around the pan. And as anybody will tell you, exercise is a great activity to combat stress. You don’t have to necessarily bake a cake, although if you haven’t spent any time in the kitchen for a while, that may be a nice change of pace for you. Really bake…I don’t mean open a box of Betty Crocker. Take out a cookbook as a guide, or better yet reach for Grandma’s recipe box. 

My Grandma Emma once made a six-layer cake in a tiny efficiency apartment and totally impressed her pre-teen grandaughters. She was always willing to try a new way to make a sweet treat!

My mother, Florence, followed in her mother’s footsteps with a love of baking. She started making a Pillsbury Bake-Off cake for our birthdays when all six of us children were still living at home. She calls it the “putsie” cake because it has so many ingredients and steps. But for a special occasion, she will fuss with making it. I secretly think she likes baking a lot better than any other household activity.

As a matter of fact, one of the first things Mother did after her open heart surgery (at age 90) was to make a batch of the family holiday favorites, sour cream sugar cookies. The big fat ones with thick icing.

So, if baking is something you do routinely…look for another way to stop stress and get your hands creating. Go to a craft store and wander the aisles until something catches your eye. They usually have demonstrations, stop and observe whatever product or technique is the subject of the day. Lot’s of garden shows are also happening right now. Check out what is new and pick up some hints on how to spruce up your lawn, deck, or patio. 

Let’s Defy Gravity!

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-climbing-to-success-image12779921

Gravity. It’s what keeps us on earth instead of aimlessly floating in space.

Defy gravity…to stop clinging what’s weighing you down and embracing your dreams instead by reaching for the expansive sky.

Just a minute! I can hear the wheels turning in your head. The good girl in you doesn’t want to defy anyone or anything. It’s human nature to be protective of what makes you feel safe. What if the very thing that appears to be keeping you safe, is really causing you pain? The pain of feeling overlooked and undervalued.

The good girl syndrome is difficult to refute because you may feel it’s part of your DNA. Getting along is a life-long commitment when the alternative is life alone. Sound familiar? That little voice in the back of your head that keeps saying, “don’t disagree, just go along, who do you think you are to have an opinion anyway?”

Yes, there will be those who will try to keep you in your “place.” As the song advises us in Wicked, “…too late to go back to sleep,” when Elphaba sees the Wizard’s true magic exposed. Now that you have woken up to your passion and want to share your message, settling for the safety of the background isn’t enough.

It’s just gonna take a little something Grandma called gumption for you to defy gravity and live your dreams.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image871073Now, I realize asking you to defy your fears is not realistic. Delaying them is a tactic I’d suggest you try. Break big dreams into small steps to accomplish in manageable chunks. Don’t dive into the deep end of writing your book, for example. Write an outline or set aside a specific period of time to work on a single chapter. Instead of cleaning out an area that has been a dumping ground for years, set the timer for an hour and see how far you get. Start out taking a walk around the neighborhood before you sign up for that marathon.

Gravity in your life could appear as that security you feel when you behave the way others expect you to so that you will be accepted, approved of, and even loved. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Some would argue that is called being dependable and predictable. Good qualities I would agree.

Behaving as though you only exist to be in others solar system instead of making yourself a priority is not a good quality, and not self-care I’d endorse.

Give yourself permission to defy gravity…be free of the weight of:

  • Always living up to the expectations of others and adding to your stress 
  • Not living up to the expectation of others at the risk of your self-esteem
  • Your own disappointment of not being able to express your own thoughts
  • Living someone else’s life instead of your own
  • Grief and sadness because your light is denied and hidden from the world

You matter and your story matters. It’s time to rewrite your story. Time to defy gravity and soar!

Hop over to my Facebook page and let me know how you are defying gravity!

photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

[Free Training] This list thing…

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-woman-looking-magnifying-glass-tablet-computer-close-up-image31016251A lot of us are making lists this time of year.

Writing things down…making things happen…getting things done.

Who do you need to connect with before the end of the year to finish off projects and deliver on promises.

Perhaps you are taking stock of how you want to make changes for next year.

Maybe you are assembling a wish list of tasks that need to be completed to feel that you have accomplished specific goals. 

So here’s my perspective on what a list could be… 

L – a list is a way to organize your life…simplify things and give it structure…break things down into manageable chunks and avoid overwhelm when faced with one huge task or an enormous amount of small tasks.

I – a list is a chance to invite others to help you achieve a goal

S – a list is permission for you to schedule time for yourself by putting YOU on the schedule (it could be something like a special treat to eat, a walk to get away from your desk, or a trip to the spa)

T – a list is a piece of paper, if it isn’t working…throw it out and write another one. It is a suggested group of options, it is not a law, critical specifications, nor a series of obstacles to overcome before you can move on to another activity

A list is supposed to help…not hinder your ability to function. It’s job is to assist you in daily life…if it is not assisting you…if it is hindering you…take pleasure in ripping it up, ceremoniously torching it, or flushing it down the drain. Eliminate the plan that isn’t working and create a new one.

Now, I insist that there is something I feel strongly about with this list thing…I believe you should always have a nurturing activity on the list…a reward…a bribe…inspiration…whatever you call it, be sure you have something enticing at the end of the list to make your efforts worthwhile. 

I’d love to hear about your perspective on lists…hop over to my Facebook page to share your story.

Stress Less this Holiday…

runningfeet

It’s the most wonderful time of year…or so the song would have us believe.

December brings us the holiday season which many consider to be the happiest time of the year. Is it for you? Or, do you find yourself running to keep up with the challenges of being a personal shopper, gourmet baker and chef, tree decorator and correspondence queen lead? So much so…you vow that next year things will be different.

Time to unleash from all those should’s and have to’s.

Over the years I’ve tried to incorporate ways to make the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas less hectic by buying gifts all year on sale and stashing holiday baking in the freezer weeks ahead. Even though I sometimes forget where I hid the gifts, and somehow the treats disappear from the freezer before the intended holiday I baked them for rolls around…I stand behind my strategy.

I have fond memories of spending the day making sugar cookies, ginger snaps, banana bread, and a special family favorite–my famous peanut clusters. The house always smelled wonderful on those occasions and when  the scent of fresh Christmas tree in the family room is added to the mix…well that makes for pretty heady holiday joy.  

There’s still time to simplify your activities. Ransom the joy of the season back…you know spread some of that holiday cheer in your own direction!

My suggestion for living a Live Unleashed this month has to do with wrapping your gifts. When wrapping your holiday treasures, choose one paper pattern for each gift recipient. You will know immediately who gets what and they will appreciate the fact that you took such care in wrapping their gift. It could even be a game to match the paper with a personality or the contents of the package. Have fun with it and be creative. Remember, gift wrap doesn’t have to come from the store. Think Green:  use the comics, newspaper, brown craft paper, or grocery bags. Try using fabric, better yet get bonus points for dual purpose by using a reusable shopping bag.

 

 Photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

 

 

[Free Training] 10 Happy Holiday ideas and a joy filled all year through

candleYour day-to-day schedule is jam-packed…now add the shopping, wrapping, mailing, and holiday gatherings on top of it all. You may feel as if you are burning the candle at both ends!

Apart from considering cloning yourself, how do you manage it all? Consider creating a sort of Holiday Bucket list of things that you want to have happen and things that you aspire to:

  1. Acknowledge the important people in your life with a hand-written note, a thoughtful gift, or better still, make plans to spend time together.
  2. Delegate…get the team/family involved in as much as you can. Share the tasks and let others take ownership of whatever task or activity of the season.
  3. Design a plan to achieve goals that have eluded you, and discard the ones that no longer serve you.
  4. Spend time indulging in old movies with lots of heart…this time of year they are running holiday movies  (I want to watch them all!).  It is  so  much fun to tune in and find a classic where a popular actor/actress is playing a bit part with youthful exuberance.
  5. What was your favorite treat as a kid? Savor sugar cookies made with real butter and lots of sugar on top.
  6. Prescribe water therapy for yourself. Sink into a sweet smelling bubble bath. Try it by candlelight…pure bliss!
  7. Let your mind drift sitting in the sunshine with a cup of something delicious and nothing to do but feel the sun’s warmth on your face.
  8. Confide in your journal as a source of great stress relief strategy. 
  9. Skim through travel brochures and imagine living in another part of the world. Not just visiting for a temporary taste of life there, but spending months at a time to become part of the community and really develop a rhythm of life there. (The power of visualization may lead to actualization!)
  10. Create a collage (Vision/Dream Board) to represent what want your life to be like next year.

Photo credit:  Dreamstime.com