If Missed, Add It Back

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Listen to the blog here: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/If-Missed–Add-It-Back-e144q1u

We all go through the motions of everyday chores and responsibilities. Whether we are working or caretaking or administrating, we are doing what we think we need to do. We are making it work. And we slowly turn into robots…with pieces of us potentially fading away.

But how many times do you sit back and consider what you WANT to do? In particular, what you wish you could do…again.

For example, maybe you were once really invested in rock climbing but life has gotten in the way. Do you miss it? Do you find yourself pining for the time when you were high in the air, the sky above you?

Or perhaps you loved to paint. It was more than a creative outlet for you, it was a passion. You couldn’t wait to see what would appear on the canvas after a few hours of free brush strokes.

These pieces of your previous life are not hindrances or bad habits. They shouldn’t be shoved aside to make way for the monotony of 9-5. They are restorative, they are rejuvenating, they ARE your self-care.

Close your eyes and envision a moment when you were completely immersed in an activity you love. You were likely in a state of flow, where no matter what else was going on in the world, you remained focused. Do you feel joy in picturing this moment? Does your heart begin to sting when you consider the hours spent NOT doing this activity?

If so, now is the time to add it back. Anything that brings you happiness is worthwhile. It balances life’s stressors and gives you purpose outside of your job and your family. It doesn’t have to be associated with income or accomplishment, just for your sake.

Carve out the time, no matter how small. You deserve it.

Stop Them Early

Listen to the blog here: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Stop-Them-Early-e13jaou

I know I’m a bit protective of my boys, but I didn’t realize the extent of the mommy- bear gene until G’s first bullying experience. He was playing with a group of boys when one of them (who at age 5 already walks around with a scowl and a puffed out chest) decided to push him and make a comment to the effect of ‘come at me, bro’ – I’m embellishing a little.

To my unsurprise, G ignored the kid and turned his attention to the rest of the group. The boy tried one more time, and I ALMOST jumped to action, but instead, let G walk away. I was proud of my boy for being the bigger person. And I didn’t bring it up again.

But this certainly got me thinking. I was shocked that we were already experiencing these sorts of encounters. G already had to make the decision to rise above. He was being picked on and didn’t cry or retaliate, but I’m sure he felt strange or belittled. At the age of 5!

I’m sure some would say “boys will be boys”, but I don’t take that statement lightly. First of all, bullying happens with girls too. And second, boys will only be bullies if they are not taught how to be caring.

We often circle back to the story “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” where they talk about boosting morale (filling buckets) versus being a bully (bucket dipper). We can pretty much recite it at this point.

But more importantly, we don’t tolerate bullying in or outside the household. While brothers will certainly fight, we always tell the defender to take the high road and correct the offender. If we are in an external setting, we encourage taking turns, showing empathy, and overall, being kind. We have often told both boys to go introduce themselves to another child at the park who seems shy or is having trouble fitting in.

While I do not know if that boy has been corrected at home or if he is a work-in-progress, I do feel like he could use a little more intervening…especially since his dad was sitting not 15 feet away from me and said nothing.

It all starts at home.

Adult Up with 3 C’s

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Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Adult-Up-with-3-Cs-e12r6v2

Think back to your fondest childhood memory. Perhaps it was a family vacation or playing with friends. Likely, you were carefree and happy…and more than likely, you had people to take care of you.

While I am a firm believer in revisiting those airy times whenever possible, I also realize that with adulting comes responsibilities.

Besides the unavoidable chores, bills, and maybe caretaking, there are a whole host of other duties that fall onto the shoulders of adults – most of which, we don’t typically point out until there is a problem.

For example, communication, such as stating facts, answering questions, and maintaining schedules. It is one of our most important responsibilities in both work and personal life. We may have a phone at our fingertips at all times, but how often are you waiting for a response? There have been countless instances where I am in a state of flux because I haven’t yet received an answer…to my inquiry about the kids’ school to the IRS letter to the friend who said she might be able to meet me. But I am no saint. Besides emails that get pushed to the bottom of my Inbox never to see the light of a Reply, I have dropped the ball on following up with a bill and keeping the kids’ activities in check a time or two. Nobody’s perfect. The goals here are to keep improving and be cognizant of the receiver.

Another example is commitment. And I don’t mean legally to our partners and kids. Commitment to work, friends, events, and ourselves. We sign on to do a job and we’re expected to produce. We tell our friends that we’ll make their event and then we need to act on it. We want to lose weight or save money or relieve stress and the only one that can really make it happen is us. The key takeaway here is to keep trying, no matter if you fail time and time again. And if you have never been one to follow-through, there are accountability programs out there that can help – wink wink nudge nudge!

The last example is composure. During childhood, we are expected to slip back into moments of illogical behavior, such as yelling, crying, and generally being spoiled. Biologically, this is happening because our prefrontal cortexes have not yet fully developed. However, after you’re officially part of the adult world (for the purposes of this example, let’s say early 20’s since 18-year-olds still tend to be going through brain development), you must keep a level head. One of the best ways to do this is to think before you speak. Counting down from 5 and some deep breathing may also help. If you lose your cool, it may hurt your reputation or worse. I am certainly not an expert in this department either, but I do realize that composure is like a muscle. The more you train it, the easier it becomes. Visualizing the ramifications can also keep you on the right path.

C-C-C. Three responsibilities that can really help you adult up.

Be Supportive, Not A Rival

Listen to the blog here: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Be-Supportive–Not-A-Rival-e12beq1

In our social media-driven world, we are attuned to every little opinion and change that may be going on in our network’s personal and professional lives. On one hand, this can help keep us up-to-date on the information, but on another, it can very much fuel negativity, jealousy, and competitiveness.

Let’s take 2 examples.

First example: As a mom of 2 young boys, I am a member of various Facebook parenting groups. Sure, I like to collect opinions on best practices, school/medical recommendations, and other mommy items. However, when I see a post that is showboating or worse, rudely denouncing another mother’s thoughts, I’m immediately taken aback. What is the goal of putting another person down, especially on a public forum? Making yourself feel better? Making them feel stupid? Boosting your own self-perceived power? I don’t get it. You can’t ‘win’ parenting. There is a polite way to disagree, but there is no need to throw another parent under the bus. Parenting is a struggle already; being supportive is as necessary as it was in the days of communal living. Remember, it takes a village!

Second example: With several different businesses to manage, I often gather inspiration from my peers, especially those in similar ventures. I also strongly believe in supporting their efforts – whether that means purchasing or resharing posts from small businesses. This is why it absolutely pains me to watch the competitive venom seep out. On social media, it is all too apparent who is truly supportive and who is not. As most folks are aware of Fbk & IG algorithms, with more comments and reshares comes more visibility. Sure, they will share that ridiculous meme or the story that benefits a big box name, but for some reason, the jealousy overrides their ability to hit ‘Like’ on your growing business. The rivalries that manifest, ESPECIALLY between women in similar businesses, can often lead to slander and blatant hatred. I’ve seen friendships crumble and bruised egos lead to bankruptcy. Instead, why not applaud your fellow entrepreneurs and even perhaps learn from them? No 2 people or businesses will ever be exactly the same, so it is in your best interest to be an advocate and provide utmost quality to your ability. Dragging someone through the mud or ignoring their business efforts will only spoil your reputation.

We are hardwired for survival, but when it comes to contemporary relationships, we need to hit the pause button on our gut instinct to defend ourselves and instead practice some humanity. Who knows, our supportive and inclusive demeanor may lend to us getting help when we need it in the future. What goes around, comes around.

Happiness IS Fleeting

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Happiness-IS-Fleeting-e120h46

As a society, we are in a constant search for happiness. We tell ourselves buying something, obtaining something, and/or accomplishing something will make us happy.

And then we do it. We’re happy for a few minutes, perhaps days. But then it seems to go away and we’re back to square one.

While this seems contradictory to everything we see plastered all over social media – the fa├žade of everlasting happiness – it is exactly how we have evolved as humans.

According to Frank McAndrew, a professor of Pyschology, “Dissatisfaction with the present and dreams of the future are what keep us motivated, while warm fuzzy memories of the past reassure us that the feelings we seek can be had.”

To put it bluntly, if we reached a state of complete happiness, why would we ever try to do anything else?

I also think it may be more primitive. The brain is driven by survival. Our ancestors needed to continuously forage and defend themselves in order to stay alive. We are no longer in a period of daily immediate dangers to our existence, but our brain doesn’t know that.

Think about it. If we reached “happiness” and were complacent in ancient times, we wouldn’t feed ourselves or run from hungry saber-toothed tigers.

The same applies today but in a different context. Our brains won’t let us reach continuous happiness…or for that matter, continuous ANY emotion. We are hard-wired to return to baseline and try, try, try again.

So no, nothing is wrong with you. You are not weird or unique for feeling like you can’t obtain a steady state of happiness.

Instead, we need to focus our efforts on moving the bar. Realizing that little victories, for example, can bring joy. Living in the present in terms of gratitude and savoring. If the happiness bar is set to a level of easy reach, then it will greatly reduce the lulls in between bright moments and keep us in a more pleasant state overall.

Just Say Yes

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Just-Say-Yes-e11id7l

There is a lot of content available surrounding the power of the word ‘No’. Saying ‘no’ to a request that you don’t want to do, saying ‘no’ to someone who brings toxicity into your life, and generally, saying ‘no’ to protect your boundaries and limited rest time.

While I am a firm believer in ‘no’, I am also an advocate for ‘yes’.

‘Yes’ opens the door to new opportunities. It propels you forward to the next step on your path. It gives you purpose and direction.

‘Yes’ can also be very scary. It is peppered with unknowns. It can leave you feeling vulnerable or restless. It can burn you out because of overload and stress.

But, if you manage it well, ‘Yes’ can also be very beautiful. It’s a way to seize the day, grab life by the horns, jump at every chance to do something and live in the present.

It can be a good challenge, pushing you to new limits and then the warm feeling of success that washes over you once completed.

It can be the smile on a child, friend, or family member’s face. It can be the appreciation of a neighbor or community member. It can be a budding relationship or the rekindling of an old one.

It can be revitalizing a long-forgotten-about hobby. It can be setting new goals for yourself. It can put you back in control.

So, I ask you all, tomorrow morning, when you wake up, take a moment to stare at the ceiling and remind yourself that today is one more day you get to be on this earth. Say ‘yes’ and be a part of it!

I Didn’t Ignore It

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Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/I-Didnt-Ignore-It-e112sta

As our lives start to get busier and busier (again), this is a perfect time to reflect on lessons learned over the course of the pandemic. One of the biggest in my world was dealing with health issues, instead of ignoring them.

When it comes to my own physical health, I’ve been in the mindset of “I’m fine. No need to rush to the doctor for that” for the majority of my years.

However, being that I was home with plenty of time to be aware, I utilized virtual doctor’s visits on more than one occasion.

About 2 months into the isolation, I woke up and felt like I’d been pushed over to the left. I couldn’t get my balance and had a terrible feeling that I’d be permanently sideways. How was I going to take care of the kids? Or dance? Vertigo is horrendous. After speaking to the doctor and ruling out a stroke, I was able to function with some anti-vert pills. Talk about a big surge of relief. Considering that I would have previously pushed through it without a medical consult, I may still be dealing with untreated episodes. Thank goodness for refills.

Fast forward another few months and I noticed a rash on my leg that had started to spread. Sure, I had had it since last summer (and ignored it), but I had simply chalked it up to sunspots following a sunburn. Apparently not. I freaked myself out with all kinds of irrational diagnoses (thanks WebMD) and then I called on the professionals. It turned out to be an infection that was only going to get worse if I didn’t treat it. Many topical treatments later and voila, rash gone.

The moral of the story is don’t brush off your health, especially in the environment we’re all currently living. Yes, it may be easier said than done to seek medical care, especially if your insurance coverage is scant or non-existent; but when it comes to your physical body, the financial costs may justify the risk mitigation.

Take care of you.

Proactive Relationships

Listen to the blog here: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Proactive-Relationships-e10kipj

Time and time again, I hear the same remarks:

“He hasn’t called me back.”

“I haven’t heard from her in weeks.”

“With her schedule, it will never get planned.”

“I feel like I haven’t talked to anyone in a long time.”

All of these statements point out 2 things: 1) we all crave relationships and 2) we need to stop relying on the other person to cultivate them.

As human beings, we are naturally prone to relationships. Friendships, romantic, familial – all kinds. We need other people in our lives to feel complete. This is one of the major reasons isolation was so hard during the pandemic.

But relationships aren’t easy. Sure, there’s the obvious conflict that can put a damper on it, but even more so, neglect. We take for granted that the other person will reach out, do this or that, or be there when we need them most. Unless we have done our part to keep the bond, our expectations may need altered.

Instead of letting the relationship idle or dwindle, take a proactive approach. Be the person who sends a check-in note, pick up the phone, invite them to do something. With today’s technology, getting in touch is easier and more convenient than ever. If the relationship means enough to you, keep it going. Don’t wait for the other party to do all of the heavy lifting.

Now, think about who you haven’t heard from lately. You know what to do.

Stop The Hanger: A Food Tale

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Stop-The-Hanger-A-Food-Tale-e105hb3

I am a grazer. I like little snacks throughout my entire day. For a long time, I questioned this approach, figuring either a) I’m not eating enough at one meal or b) what I am putting in my mouth is not sustaining.

Lo and behold, both were true. And even more importantly, I hadn’t figured out my best times to eat.

Each and every one of us has their own food window. Not to be confused with the metabolic or anabolic windows that are often discussed in strength training and post-exercise, our food window is how often we need to eat based on our basal metabolism.

For example, when I wake up in the morning, I am usually more thirsty than hungry. My food window is overshadowed by my need to rehydrate…which makes sense considering I haven’t drank anything in over 7 hours. Once I’ve gulped some H2O, I tend to get hungry approximately 30 minutes later. Finishing breakfast around 7:30am, I’ve noticed that I’m ready to eat again closer to 9:30am. Only 2 hours later!

Sure, metabolism is a bit faster in the morning, but then I took a look at what I was eating for breakfast. If I only eat from 1 food group, such as my bagel, I’m usually needing a snack in 2 hours. However, if I increase my breakfast to incorporate 3 food groups, bagel, fruit, AND protein, I don’t need to eat until 11:30am. By that point, it’s lunch time!

The same trend applies after lunch. With a substantial midday meal, I am satiated until around 4:30. Since we don’t eat dinner until 6, I feel ok having a reasonable snack at that late afternoon time point – enough to curb my hunger so I don’t pig out at dinner but also small enough that I don’t spoil my dinner.

What I’ve determined is that my food window ranges from around 4 to 4.5 hours. If I stay aware of this window during the day, I can make sure the snacking justifies my hunger and that my meals are considerable enough to carry me through. Overall, better planning, less guilt, and hanger prevention.

Try it out. What is your food window?

Eat The Healthiest First: A Food Tale

Listen to the blog here: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Eat-The-Healthiest-First-A-Food-Tale-evmkq2

As a child, I always saved the ‘best’ for last. I would begrudgingly eat the vegetables, choke down the red meat, and then get to the bread. “Why do you eat one thing at a time?” they would ask. A part of me didn’t like to mix the flavors, but a bigger part of me simply wanted to savor what I found the tastiest.

What I realized many years later was that I was doing it right all along!

As noted in his book ‘Eat Move Sleep’, Tom Rath points out what now seems sort of obvious. If you fill your belly with the good stuff first, like vegetables and whole grains, then you’ll be less likely to finish the not-so-good stuff.

For example, you have a salad (with minimal oil-based dressing), a white meat protein (let’s say chicken), and a baked potato. Start with the salad – I know, I know, the Europeans would argue with me – that is hopefully full of fresh-cut vegetables. Next, move on to the protein, which can promote satiety or that feeling of fullness. Last, the potato. Make sure to also drink water as needed.

By this point, the hope is that you may only pick at the potato. Little bites here and there and perhaps not even finish it. Even better, you’re more likely to choose a very small dessert or skip it entirely.

In this scenario, you’re not only physically filling the stomach to a point that it cannot handle more food, but you’re also triggering the brain to send hormones that curb hunger. You may also have a mental boost when you realize you don’t need that after-dinner sweet. For an added bonus, you could take a brisk walk or dance around the kitchen after dinner for an endorphin blast.

So tonight at dinner, take a moment to assess your plate. Grab a forkful of the veggies first and finish that pile before moving on. Here’s hoping that sluggish feeling of an overstuffed belly never happens!