Feeling overwhelmed? Dread the flurries of shoppers, wrapping, shipping, and exchanging? Do we really need more stuff anyway? Consider reinventing your gift giving this year. Here’s some starter ideas…
Choose a theme. Nostalgia’s a good one: give gifts that educate or (gasp) require face-to-face interaction. Board games, puzzles, legos (not just for kids), cards. Focus on animals. Give zoo tickets, a cat tree, or stuffed animals (endangered species are good) a bird house (or kit) or adopt a wild animal like a manatee or dolphin.
Foodie Goodies. Choose food-related gifts, gourmet treats, heirloom seeds for spring gardens, organic veggies or flowers. Gift certificates for local gourmet specialty store like a chocolate shop or a wine store. Ship some juicy Florida fruit to your freezing peeps in the North.
Keep It Green. Consider sustainable, recyclable gifts that are ethical, earth-friendly, locally grown. Consider gardening books, tools or seeds. Buy gift certificates for classes like cooking, gardening, kayaking or paddle boarding. (Let Google do the searching).
Practice Gratitude. Some of us already have so much. No matter how you choose to celebrate the Holidays, take a moment to breathe and reflect on all we have been given. And then give to others from that place, the space of gratitude.
Each new school year, parents and kids shift into “go-go gear”. Anticipation, preparation and time-juggling increases stress for all. Classwork and homework, extracurriculars, relationships and social media generate even more stress. A recent study found that teens now report stress levels as high as those of adults.
In the classroom, stressed brains have trouble learning. To reduce stress and improve learning, some classrooms are sprouting yoga mats, meditation pillows and soothing music stations. Activities such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation are helping to calm students and contribute to more positive experiences and outcomes.
The working moms’ debate still simmers: is it better to be a stay-at-home mom or a mom-who-goes-to-work? It’s all good. Recent research validates positive outcomes for moms who work outside of the home and opportunities for doing career work from home and/or work flexible, part-time hours have become more abundant. Now delete the image of stuffing envelopes at your kitchen table. Technology has punched a hole in the time/space continuum, creating opportunities to work remotely (full or part-time) and/or to jump into the gig economy. Potentially you can pick up work based on your skills, needs and schedule. Nearly every industry has (or is moving towards) more contract/freelance work, part-time work or telecommuting.
If you’re considering working “free range” it’s advisable to take some time to consider your benefits and retirement. Before you go the self-employment route, review your health and life insurance needs, do some retirement and tax planning, and consider resources for vacation and income gaps. With these factors in mind hit the web, talk to friends and colleagues. What you find out there may surprise you! Regardless of your family situation, you may discover that creating more flexibility with your schedule might just be the best work for you!
Multitasking is a thing, a progressive upwardly, exploding trend. And that little smart phone next to you? It lurks, ready to pounce on your productivity. You may be a self-declared Multi-tasker or a staunch skeptic, in either case, multitasking impacts your life.
Popular Multitasking Myths
MT is a viable choice
MT increases productivity
MT is good for your brain
MT makes you more alert and observant
MT doesn’t technically exist, it’s actually “task” shifting. You can do one or possibly two things at once. You can walk and talk, you can cook and listen to the radio, but you probably can’t add a column of figures, answer email and/or talk to your boss all at the same time. So at best, it’s really about switching back and forth, and at worse, bouncing from task to task.
MT actually lowers productivity (as much as 40%). If you open too many tabs on your desktop, POW your screen freezes or crashes. Same with your brain: engage the right side and engage the left side with two complicated tasks, and you’re done. That third task can crash your already engaged brain. (French study).
MT increases your stress level, and distracts you both during and even after. (That fact brings many of our customers into our massage chairs, and we recommend our headsets)
MT lowers the perceptions of your environs and limits your view. You can literally miss seeing even obvious things. In a recent campus experiment, 75% of college students failed to observe an unicyclist nearby while talking or texting on their phones.
Multitask for Good in Your LIfe
For Self-Motivation. For low level tasks, like exercising or cleaning, listen to music or podcasts.
Getting Unstuck. When focused on a project or deadline for too long and feel drained or stuck, take a break, switch tasks. Revitalize your mind, refresh your creativity. Simple repetitive tasks like knitting or gardening soothe the mind and body.
Enjoying nature. Be present and really see, hear, smell and sense your natural environment and surroundings. Your reward will be energy, fresh observations and creative, new ideas.
Multitasking is valuable and is clearly important to our survival as a species. If our parents hadn’t been able to multitask, some of us might not be here clinging to smart phones or anticipating self-driving cars!
Butterflies flit, flutter and gracefully weave through our landscapes. In some cultures are referred to as “flying flowers”, butterflies are an iconic sign of summer. In our part of Florida, however, they thrive almost year-round. Based on what you plant and where you plant, the odds are in your favor that you will attract butterflies from some of the 200 species of who call Florida home. Kids love the wonder of this mysterious renewal. Adults and seniors find peace, joy and beauty a simple and often therapeutic pleasure.
If you’re a beginner, choose a popular butterfly like a Monarch or Gulf Fritillary. Do your research and identify the right host plants plus some flowering nectar plants like Penta. Local nurseries are very helpful. A fav is Lukas Nursery in Oviedo (they even offer tours of their butterfly greenhouse) and Palmers near Leu Gardens. The Winter Park Farmers Market even has a vendor who sells butterfly garden starter kits. There are also butterfly gardening classes at Leu Gardens. Make sure NONE of your butterfly host plants or nectar flowers are treated with pesticides. Why? Cause butterflies are insects! Ask before you purchase. Sadly, the big box nursery plants are usually treated with pesticides. Applied or systemic pesticides kill butterflies.
Once your garden is planted (or set up in pots) your beautiful, flowering nectar plants will attract butterflies to your garden. The females will possibly lay their eggs on your host plants. The eggs hatch into hungry (but harmless) caterpillars that munch and munch away the host plants until they reach the size and time to pupate (form a chrysalis). After a week or two, the new butterfly emerges, dries and cures its wings, eventually taking flight. With a little luck your butterflies will return to your garden and begin the next generation and then the next, pumping your landscape and neighborhood full of these delicate, beautiful “flying flowers”.
Massage therapy can prevent injury and speed up recovery and rehabilitation when an injury occurs. In upcoming Winter Olympic Games you may glimpse Massage Therapists working on the sidelines, the back stages of many venues plus the Olympic Village. It hasn’t always been that way. Massage therapy didn’t become an official part of the training and care of Olympic athletes until the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.
Olympic massage has come a long way. In 1906, the top US athletes receiving massage were winning medals and championships. In a few years, the successful American methods of training with incorporated massage gained recognition and were adopted by the Swedes, the Germans, the French, the Australians and finally in 1912, the British.
Today US Massage therapists who meet the requirements work and gain experience in Olympic Training Centers and/or the Olympic Games. Massage therapists who find the work rewarding often return again and again and then bring their knowledge and experience back to offer their clients in their local practices.
Pass the Potatoes, Hold the Politics. Thanksgiving 2016 diners straddled the great divide between vegetarians and carnivores. This year, diners will walk the plank that bridges the political chasm dividing America. Guests may welcome the chance to put aside differences, enjoy delicious food and have fun with friends and family. Whether you’re a host or a guest, help create that opportunity!
5 Peace-Keeping Tips
1. Vary the Guest List: Unrelated guests can reduce family tensions and enrich the conversations.
2. Set the Table: Use place cards to mix up the seating (Great project: give kids the supplies to create them).
A kid’s table is a useful tradition.
3. Focus on the Food: Much time and labor goes into a large holiday feast. Compliment the cook(s), ask for recipes, taste new dishes, offer to set up, clear and/or wash or load. If you have specific food needs, bring something with you that you can share and eat.
4. Minimize (or eliminate) alcohol: In some groups, alcohol can light a fire; in others, small indulges mellow the moment. Serve alternative drinks, teas or coffees – make them fun, fruity or seasonal.
5. Get ‘Em Outdoors: String up a net for badminton or set up Cornhole, a game popular with all ages. Lead a tour of your neighborhood or a park after eating.
If all else fails, separate the feuding folks, and slap in a good ole classic comedy (unless of course there are sports fans already glued to your TV. For non-TV folks, play Pictionary or Charades).
Create Thanksgiving memories that endure and sweeten with time, and everyone will thank you!
Let’s face it, 2017 is turning out to be a difficult year. In O-town, our stressors include the tangled re-construction of I-4 (the ultimate traffic maze), disappointing sports scores and most recently the long, frightening Night of Irma (succeeded by moldering piles of debris). While struggle and loss unite and strengthen us, they also can disappoint and discourage us.
It takes effort to envision a beautiful, functional, pothole-free I-4 coursing through the heart of Orlando, or a championship season (or two) or the restoration of our battered landscapes and green spaces. We can retreat, lick our wounds (nothing wrong with that) and then we can choose to shake off our lassitude and create our future with optimism.
5 tips to for Practicing Optimism:
Change of scenery: take a break, a road trip, plan a getaway.
Upgrade your personal spaces: paint, plant, restore, replace.
Pitch in: help a neighbor, volunteer, plant a community garden.
Boost your health: declutter your pantry and kitchen, enjoy more fresh food.
Laugh & smile: seek out comedy, music, art and friendships.
Still not convinced? According to current research optimists have healthier hearts, stronger immune systems and live happier and longer lives. So when you can, take a breath, relax, laugh a little, smile a lot and be optimistic.
Can clothing and accessories actually cause pain? Or do they simply exacerbate pain already present? Either way, if you experience pain when (or after) wearing or carrying certain clothing items or accessories, vary your wardrobe choices to determine what helps and what actually hurts.
Loosen up: choose clothing that doesn’t bind or restrict movement. Spandex can certainly be your friend.
Lighten up: clean out your bags, totes, wallets regularly, reducing their weight.
Mix it up: Alternate your daily styles and accessories so your body gets a break when you regularly shift the pressure on your back, neck, shoulders, arms and legs.
Stay centered: be conscious of clothing and accessories that throw you off your center of gravity and restrict your movement or breath.
Take the pressure off: If clothing or accessories bind or restrict, leave imprints or chafe, consider replacing with new styles that incorporate both comfort and style.
If you actually remember yours, congratulations, you may be a member of an elite group of achievers. While approximately 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, only about 8% of those resolvers actually achieve their goals. It’s also highly probable that you captured your resolutions in writing or in digital form as well. Keep up the good work and encourage a few friends to join you in 2017.
Nope, I don’t remember my 2016 resolutions!
Take some time to reflect. Then list the ideas, goals, projects, dreams you would like to pursue in 2017. From that list, select your top 5 (our fav number). Then share. Things we keep to ourselves or/do alone are often doomed to fail. Recruit a friend. Help each other. Each of you lists a few simple action steps for your top goal or goals to focus on for 2017. Then (the most important part) – each of you make a copy of your list and swap copies. Meet regularly over the year for coffee or lunch and share your progress (and your setbacks). Less stress, more fun and you’ll be amazed at your results.
Uh-oh, I didn’t resolve a darn thing in 2016!
You’re in good company – 38% of Americans don’t make any New Year’s Resolutions. Resolving is just too serious a business for some of us. Alternate strategy: Take Action. Make a list of things you’d like to eliminate from your life. Then get busy. Recycle, re-gift and/or discard what no longer works (or at least not for you), end/or repair relationships that drain you, or aren’t working. Eliminate things that burn your time and energy. Clean out – donate, dispose of stuff, pass on, get rid of clutter – release things that are no longer useful. It’s often said that “nature abhors a vacuum.” The simple act of creating physical space in your life will attract new things, new people and cool, new creative ideas to energize and inspire you in 2017. Pow!