The Glass Is Half

Be Happy

This advice either sounds really easy or really hard, depending on your perspective.

But here’s an affirmation that might help you out either way.

“I am confident, and it’s a wonderful day.  I am the architect of my life, and I have talents I will use today.”

I found this quote in the April 2015 issue of Redbook magazine.

According to Aunna Pourang, M.D., a holistic family physician in Los Angeles and author of Meditate, Don’t Medicate, affirmations can help reduce stress and create change.

Whatever affirmation you use, say it every day.  Better yet, say it with a smile while looking at yourself in the mirror 🙂

 

 

Practicing Confidence: My Summer Trip to Japan

Greetings everyone and sorry for the mostly quiet summer on this blog!  Obviously, I was out and about.  I hope you were, too!  One big summer stop for me was in Japan.  What can I say?  It was hot!  Think Florida times 10.  But I had a lot of fun sightseeing and visiting my in-laws.  I also had many opportunities to practice my word for the year: confidence.  Let me give you a list:

1.  I took my first solo flight, about 12 hours, to Japan.  I was quite nervous, as I’m prone to getting motion sickness.  But I’m happy to report that all went quite well.  I watched a lot of movies and even had a chance to lie down.  My advice to anyone who suffers from anxiety or motion sickness on airplanes, bring a calming tea and play soothing songs on your ipod or smart phone.

2.  I took many hot spring baths while I was there.  Surprisingly, they cool you off in the summer the same way they warm you in the winter.  This was not my first time to take the hot spring bath, but it was my first time to take a public bath!  At one of the hotels we stayed in, that was the only option for taking a bath or shower.  As you know, this is not a common practice in the U.S.  Swimming pools and hot tubs are about as far as we go here.  I’m not going to lie, it was a little awkward!  Me trying to cover myself with a small towel and avert my eyes wherever possible.  But I did it!  And luckily the Japanese are known for their modesty and politeness.  Would I do it again?  I honestly don’t know…

3.  I’m getting more and more adventurous with the food there.  It was like one taste of sushi and off I went!  I think I’m at the point where I can eat anything from the sea.  I’ve also tried raw egg over a cooked dish.  My newest test was eating really fresh squid that was dead but still moving and changing color!  We were told to chew it very carefully because it might stick to our mouths 😉  But I can tell you this:  It tasted wonderful and I loved it.  Word to the wise:  don’t think about it, just try it.  Then decide.  So it turns out I’ll try anything… that is until my mother-in-law suggested raw horse meat…

4.  Two words:  Japanese baseball.  It looks like baseball.  But it sure doesn’t sound like it.  Ironically, Americans like their baseball quiet and the Japanese like their baseball rowdy!  We were given plastic sticks to hit together and long balloons to blow up, wave, and set free.  Talk about culture shock!  But by the end, I started to get the phrases and motions down.  And to tell you the truth, it was quite fun!  Definitely more action packed from where we were sitting 😉  And the best part?  The Fukuoka Hawks hit a home run AND won the game.  It turns out baseball is baseball when it comes to winning.

Practicing confidence isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it if it means you get to try new things and have new experiences.  It helps when you have supportive friends and family cheering you on.  In my case, there also happened to be a couple bright spots waiting at the end of the journey.  My sweet husband was nice enough to give me his business class seat on the way home.  I also got to make an official artist seal (stamp) for my sumi-e paintings.  See the photo below.  It reads from right to left using old Japanese/Chinese characters.  It means “Quiet Storm.”

How will you practice confidence in your daily life?  Will you be quiet like American baseball?  Instead, try making a little noise!

 

Strike a Power Pose!

power pose

We’ve all heard about the importance of good posture.  It keeps the body in alignment and projects confidence.  But here’s something new.  Can it actually affect performance and relieve stress?  According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, it can.  I recently watched her Ted Talk about body language and boy did I learn a lot!

Certain poses, called power poses, not only affect how others see us but how we conduct ourselves.  These poses can be traced back to the animal kingdom where animals needed to mark their territory, hunt for food, or secure a mate.  You can see the same poses adopted by people when they negotiate business or win a race.

The science behind this claim involves actual body chemistry.  When we make these poses, our testosterone (the “dominance” hormone) rises and our cortisol (the stress hormone) drops.  So it’s no wonder we’re then able to handle uncomfortable situations and make more rational decisions.

My favorite pose is called the “Wonder Woman.” I can actually feel it in my shoulders, where I hold a lot of stress.  You can see an example of the pose in the photo above.   My word for this year is confidence, so it seems fitting that I would seek to embody that both internally and externally.  Now that I know power posing can actually promote relaxation, I’ll be adding it to my nightly yoga ritual as well as practicing it before a presentation or interview.

See the photo in my previous post for another example of a power pose known as “pride,” which I call the “Winner’s Pose.”  You can’t help but feel joyous and even grateful in this stance.  Like the world is your oyster 😉

So if you do nothing else today, make sure you spend 2 minutes striking a power pose.  Your body will thank you.  And you might just feel ready to take on the world!

“Our bodies change our minds, and our minds change our behavior, and our behavior changes our outcomes.”  –Amy Cuddy, TED

“Fake it ’til you become it.”  –Amy Cuddy, TED

My word for the year 2014

It’s a new year and that means it’s time to make resolutions.  [groan]  I know, I know.  Life is stressful enough as it is without asking for one more thing from ourselves.  But we must.  It’s our only chance to grow and evolve.  And more importantly, it’s the best way to feel alive.  Still not convinced?

What if all you had to do was come up with a one word resolution?  Better yet, you don’t have to resolve to stop doing something or fix anything.  You can focus on a theme.  Something to strive for.  Something to be.

For example, my husband chose ENDURANCE as his word for the year.  As he continues to push on in pursuit of his MBA, this word will be very useful to him.  It’s a great word for staying the course and going the distance.  Think Field of Dreams.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”  —  Andre Gide

 

I first heard about this idea from a friend last year.  She encouraged me to come up with one word for the year.  I chose POSSIBILITIES.  The funny thing is, the word kept coming up for me in mysterious ways.  It encouraged me to try new things and search for my voice and style.  To be open to new challenges and opportunities.  I entered contests, took several art classes, travelled, and networked like crazy!  I learned that life IS full of possibilities.

It’s hard to let go of 2013.  But I realize there is still more work to do.  This year I plan to build my platform, continue my submission process, find an agent/editor that is a perfect match for my style, and then get published!  Tall order.  How do I plan to accomplish this?  Quite simple.  I need CONFIDENCE.

Yes I said it.  Confidence is my word for the year.  I promise to have confidence in myself, my ability, and my resourcefulness.  Just saying the word gives me goosebumps.  The word actually terrifies me.  All the more reason to choose it.  I’m going to embrace this word and take it a step further.  I will have confidence in others and their ability to follow their own dreams.  I will have confidence that the world can change and become more peaceful.  Confidence inspires confidence.  It’s an attractive quality.  A gateway.  Think The Never-Ending Story.

“Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself and thus make yourself indispensable.”  —  Andre Gide

 

What word scares you the most?  Consider making that your word for the year!

Here are the most popular resolutions according to the U.S. government.

Check out The Happiness Project for some ideas on how to set the tone for the year with one single word.

Go to the Well

People go to wells for many reasons– water…wishes…words?

I enjoy receiving book recommendations.  Recently someone suggested On Writing Well  by William Zinsser.  Since it’s a guide for nonfiction writing, I paused before picking it up.  But then I thought, why not?  Thank goodness I did.  Turns out the wisdom found in its pages works for all kinds of writers.

Here are some highlights!

“Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is.”

When writing, go in search of humanity and warmth.  “Good writing has an aliveness that keeps the reader reading…”

My favorite chapter is titled “Clutter.”  Follow this advice to help declutter your writing.

  • Don’t follow a verb with a preposition (“order up”)
  • Don’t add an adverb when the verb itself does the job (“smile happily”)
  • Don’t add an adjective that states a known fact (“tall skyscraper”)
  • Avoid using qualifiers that weaken the sentence (“a bit,” “sort of”)
  • Avoid using phrases that don’t mean anything (“in a sense”)
  • Avoid following up a sentence with another sentence that essentially says the same thing.  (You can also cut sentences that give info readers don’t really need to know or can figure out on their own.)

Astonishing fact: “Most first drafts can be cut by 50 percent without losing any information or losing the author’s voice.”

***How do we get our own style?***

Trick question!  “First…learn to hammer the nails, and if what you build is sturdy and serviceable, take satisfaction in its plain strength.”

If anything, “Sell yourself…Believe in your own identity and your own opinions.  Writing is an act of ego…Use its energy to keep yourself going.”

Here’s some advice on fear and confidence from humorist S. J. Perelman.  “The reader has to feel that the writer is feeling good…Even if he isn’t.”

“Writers have to jump-start themselves at the moment of performance, no less than actors and dancers and painters and musicians…You also have to [be the one to] turn on the switch.  Nobody is going to do it for you.”

And what’s my new mantra from this book?  “Get on the plane.”  You never know where your words will take you.  But they won’t take you anywhere, unless you have the courage to write them.

Quotes for Your Arsenal

Here are some quotes to keep you going during the change in seasons.

I just finished reading Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus, which follows the fictionalized true story of one of  the first Japanese people to set foot in America.

“Have your whole heart bent on a single purpose.”  –from Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

“When meeting difficult situations, one should rush forward bravely and with joy.  It is the crossing of a single barrier.”  –from Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

“When one’s own courage is fixed in his heart, and when his resolution is devoid of doubt, then when the time comes he will of necessity be able to choose the right move.”  –from Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

A friend recently shared this quote by Georgia O’Keeffe.  “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing.  Making your unknown known is the important thing.”

My favorite dreamer, SARK, suggests we try not to let fog and pus get in the way of our ability to take action and make decisions.

Fear

Obligation

Guilt

&

Pressure

Urgency

Scarcity

I stumbled on the Confidence Blog by Cathy Sirett and found two great ways to unmask fear.

FEAR = Future Events Appear Real

FEAR = False Expectations Appear Real

My neighbor recently recommended an environmental fantasy movie, Beasts of the Southern Wildwhich I finally had time to watch.  Here are two of my favorite quotes from this moving film.

Hushpuppy: “The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece… the entire universe will get busted.”

Hushpuppy: “I see that I’m a little piece in a big, big universe. And that makes things right. When I die, the scientists of the future, they’re gonna find it all. They gonna know, once there was a Hushpuppy.”

How will you let the world know you exist?