Monday, December 28, 2009

New Spring Resolutions

It is that time of the year. December 28th and we've all but recovered from the various religious holidays of the month. As we look toward New Year's Eve and the dawning of the new decade, people start to ponder New Year's Resolutions (NYR). I must admit, I've never been much of a fan of making resolutions at the New Year. After all, if something in my life needs to change, I'm not one to wait until January 1st to make it happen (I understand, some people find my characteristic in this regard annoying).

I recognize how many people use January 1st and their New Year's Resolutions to change their lives. Some of the most popular NYRs are to quit smoking and to lose weight. Both are worthy goals! Sadly, the odds you will keep your NYR, any of them, are slim. Some data shows 71% keep their NYR for two weeks, 64% for a month and 50% for three months. By six months, only 46% of NYRs are fulfilled. Now don't be discouraged - there is a better way!!!

According to ancient wisdom traditions, all of the world and all of life follow seasons very similar to the seasons we observe in nature. Fighting these natural seasons is often an exercise in frustration and futility. Let's face it - no matter how much we dislike the cold of winter, when you live in the Northeast U.S., the cold of winter will present itself without fail. We get rains in the spring and the leaves fall from the trees in Autumn. Such it is and such it will be. Year after year, time after time.

Let us observe together what happens in the season of winter. It is cold so we want to stay inside. The sun rises late and sets early. It is really dark at night, so our bodies want to sleep more. Many of nature's creatures are now hibernating. If not full-time hibernation, at least their activity is much reduced and they spend more time sleeping and resting. More time being quiet, more time getting ready for the Spring. Nature's animals are not going to leave the warmth of their winter den to go out and start a new exercise program on January 1st. Nature's plants are not going to start to bloom on the first of the year just so they can be in better shape or more beautiful for the summer season. Nature gets it. Nature's animals and plants understand winter is a time for rest, hibernation, reflection, stillness, patience and for simply not yet knowing what the Spring will bring.

We humans are in the midst of one of the busiest times of our year and now we're about to jump into a NYR without the very thing nature knows we need most of all. Rest and reflection. Will we ever learn??? So, here is my hint for successful NYRs... Don't make any! This is simply not the time to do so. Take some hints from nature and think about starting a new trend with me: New Spring Resolutions! How?

Ten easy steps to New Spring Resolutions:
  1. Decide to not make any NYRs. Tell your family and friends you are going to respect nature this year and skip NYRs.
  2. Turn your lights off and rest more. Go to bed an hour earlier each night during January and February.
  3. Start a new bed time ritual. Spend 5 or 10 minutes before bed doing yoga, stretching your body or doing a meditation. Nothing fancy required. The goal? Move your body gently before bed to quiet your mind.
  4. Get a New Spring Resolution (NSR) Journal and put it beside your bed. Before you sleep and when you wake up, write down ideas and thoughts. What would you like to change about your life? What are your unfulfilled dreams? You are not making a plan at this point, just writing down some ideas.
  5. Take several walks each week. Short walks are better than no walks. Yes, it may be cold where you live so dress in layers. Just walk. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. Just walk and be outside. Take a family member along, or a friend, or a pet, or all of them at once. Walk three times a week.
  6. Start a "Gratefulness List." At Noon each day (set a calendar alarm if you want), write down one thing you are grateful for. Each day, starting on January 1. Each day, one item. Keep writing in your Gratefulness List until February 28 (at least).
  7. On February 13, read your NSR Journal and your Gratefulness List.
  8. On February 21, make a list of your New Spring Resolutions and share the list with your family and friends. I recommend one to five NSRs. Make them simple, specific and and give them a deadline. For example: I will do a 10 minute yoga routine 4 days each week from March 1, 2010 until September 30, 2010, or, I will only drink one soda per week from March 1st until June 30, 2010.
  9. On February 27 and 28 make a plan for each of your NSRs. The best plans are also simple. A plan can be something like: I will do 10 situps every time I want to drink a soda (You could still drink the soda and you will probably quickly figure out a soda isn't worth it, or maybe fewer and fewer of them will be worth it).
  10. On Monday, March 1, 2010 start your NSRs.
Now, I am not suggesting this is the only exercise you do during January and February. Our bodies always require exercise and good food. The exercise included above is purposefully designed to give you the stillness your brain needs to be ready to make your NSRs. Keep doing the other exercises you are doing. And, if you're not doing any exercise at all, this is a great way to start.

As for the rest of your time in January and February? When in doubt, rest more. Read something thought provoking. Have quiet chats with loved ones and friends about what you want the rest of your life to look like. Go outside and look at the stars. Stare into a fireplace. Drink a cup of hot cocoa. Cuddle with your honey, your kids or your pets. Think about what you want to plant in your garden come Spring (if you don't have a garden or space for one, research what vegetables you can plant in containers). Be still. Gather knowledge. Be quiet. Be patient. Now is not the time to know what you will do come Spring. Now is the time to not know.

Winter is the time to give yourself the space to really hear the voice inside. If you are quiet enough and still enough, you'll be able to hear things you've never heard before.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Only Tiny Amounts of Heavy Metal...."

Sometimes we read things and are only left with utter disbelief. This article reports the EPA and USDA are pushing farmers to use coal waste on fields. One of the most disturbing lines in the entire disturbing article is "The US EPA says those toxic metals only occur in tiny amounts that pose no threat to crops, surface water or humans."

Am I the only skeptic here? Can we please just stop doing things that we only think won't be harmful? It seems to me we should be implementing proven policy that utilize the gifts and capacity of nature. We should not be creating a market for the waste byproduct of industry. This coal waste policy only benefits the coal waste producers and big industry farmers. Don't be fooled, fellow readers.

Why do I care? Food is medicine. What we put into our bodies directly impacts our health. I, for one, don't want my food grown in fields with "only tiny amounts of heavy metal" put there to help big business capitalize on a waste product. I want to be healthy and I want you to be healthy and eating foods treated with coal waste is a step in the wrong direction.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Old School. Will they learn?

While not specifically related to Cybercise, I received a random gift in the mail this week. This gift makes zero sense to me. None. I began to wonder about the death of the "old standard" companies. Are they dying because they just don't get it?

In my mailbox was a 5x5 inch box. Inside the box was a tin can with a screen print of Baltimore, Maryland. The can contained a single postcard with two messages: thanking me for being a loyal Baltimore Sun subscriber (I am not a subscriber, by the way) and asking me to fill out the postcard and return it by mail to become a subscriber. Huh?

Let us make a list of what is wrong with this marketing approach:
  1. It was silly to include two mutually exclusive statements on one piece of paper.
  2. I have no idea what I'm going to do with this tin can. Pennies? Paperclips?
  3. What a environmentally wasteful "gift." My first reaction was shock at the Baltimore Sun's total disregard for the environment. They killed trees to create the box and postcard, spent money (they don't have) on the can, packaging and postage costs to get it to me, wasted the resources of the postal service getting it here and used unknown quantities of fossil fuels making all of this happen.
  4. Who would actually subscribe for the paper based on this random tin can?

As we consider life in the "new world" and how products and goods are sold, shouldn't we take a step back and consider the larger picture? Let's create new things that are both good for our businesses and contribute to the greater good.

Cybercise does some of this. We're a virtual workforce so our team doesn't waste time and energy commuting to an office to sit in a cubicle with a computer all day. When we want to get together face-to-face, we meet for lunch. Both fun and productive! And, the very nature of our business helps our members save money. For less money than a bricks-and-mortar gym membership, we deliver gym quality workouts directly to our members' computers. They don't have to take the time or spend the gas money getting to the old school gym. That commute time can be used for more exercise. What a concept!

I think a challenge for each of us as individuals and all of us as business owners and employees is to look at the larger picture and think about the greater good. What do you think? Can we make 2010 the year we only do things that actually make sense? Or is that too much to ask?