Your Vacation Begins Here

 “Run out onto the dock and look up at the tree to the north!”, some strangers called to us from their boat on Pine Lake. We did as we were told. We were astounded to see a huge bald eagle surveying the lake and forest. A beautiful moment in a beautiful getaway weekend. Do you have plans this summer for vacation? A few days away enjoying the company of family or friends? Lying on the beach for a week? Spending a month in the north woods hiking?

A recent article in the ‘Science of Us’ column in New York Magazine outlined a philosophy I adopted years ago, inspired by my friend Michelle Snyder. She once said, “I’ve decided to put my money into creating experiences, not into things.” I began by letting go of ’stuff’, becoming more aware of what I bought, and being deliberate about where I did put my money. One of those ‘deliberately important experiences’ was vacation and travel.

We all know the relaxation value of vacations. Getting away, leaving all the demands of daily life behind — housework, paying bills, mowing the lawn, going to work. A chance to re-charge. But there is another very important, hidden value to vacations too.

Dr. Amit Kumar does research on the relationship between money and happiness, specifically the distinction between experiential and material purchases (that is, money spent on doing—e.g., on vacations and concerts—versus money spent on having—e.g., on clothing and gadgets). As he described in the magazine article, he “investigates how experiential purchases promote enhanced anticipatory pleasure, provide hedonic benefits through utility derived from storytelling, and also have downstream consequences in terms of fostering social connectedness and prosocial behavior.”

In essence what Dr. Kumar says the research shows is that an experience, like that of a vacation, lasts much longer than the week bookended by weekends scheduled on your calendar. You anticipate and imagine beforehand, and then later on when you have returned you can reminisce and share stories with others. You get to re-live the landscape of your time away from it all because it is stored in your memory bank. Even if the vacation was a disaster, you still receive some benefits and pleasure from the re-telling around the office cooler, the social connectedness and prosocial behavior that Dr. Kumar was talking about. The whole spectrum of experience is richer than the purchase of an expensive gadget.

A vacation is not simply a concrete period of time of leisure, but rather something you will talk and think about  for years after the fact. Even though the vacation can seem fleeting —  vacations seem to come and go in a flash — you are creating a long term adventure that can last a lifetime. And the benefits can be satisfying even if the airline loses your luggage. Bon voyage!

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There was a note of panic in her voice in the telephone message. As she laid out the problems she was facing, I heard “but what if this happens, and what if……”  Two days in a row, I saw faces full of anxiety, heard words that lacked energy, people who appeared vulnerable and without power. Stories of sleepless nights, brought on by impossible expectations or the specter of trouble ahead. 

I heard a lot of ‘overwhelm’ stories this week after my last newsletter article  (“It’s Snowing Overwhelm”)  This is how it went………Small anxieties became large worries that became distress that spiraled into sleepless nights. Trouble fermented like a large pot of ugly stew.

When you were a kid and you went to the county fair, were you drawn to the cotton candy booth? The paper cone swirls around the vat, a few strands wind on, pink fluff begins to collect and by some magical force it creates a big ball of fleecy sweet. Worry and overwhelm spin out like that. Stress multiplies and snowballs. Only it’s not sweet. It’s toxic.

It’s time to be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break. If you begin to feel a sense of panic, stop, breathe, and make a plan. Here is the framework:

Analyze and ask yourself —

  • What is it I need to know?

  • What is the one essential thing that needs to be done first?

  • What is an action I can take that would help?

Panic makes us vulnerable to crisis. A plan gives you choice and is empowering. 

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Safety + Risk = A Well Seasoned Life

“A ship is safe in harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.” William G. T. Shedd

In dry dock, a ship is refurbished, updated, and repaired. Rust is blasted away, or rotting wood cut out and replaced with fresh strong panels. Several coats of marine grade paint are applied, another step in helping the boat remain seaworthy. Supplies are replenished. Safety gear checked. All these things are vital to the purpose of the ship. But, they are not what the ship is about. Screenshot 2014-09-18 22.04.05

What is a ship’s purpose? To sail out into the world to fulfill it’s mission. There are times when you need to pull into dry dock, make some adjustments. Revisit the navigation charts after strong winds have pulled you off course. Fix the damage done by vicious storms, or anchor in the bay just because you want a new coat of paint and a rest. The theme is the same. These things are important, but they are not what you are about. You are about fulfilling your purpose.

“A ship is safe in harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.” William G. T. Shedd

Harbors are safe. Free of demands, free of risk. Once we leave the harbor, the waters are unpredictable. We might be tempted to stay safely anchored firmly to the dock. Do you really want to be chained to an anchor? Risk and change are a way of life. Just try standing still in the rapidly moving stream of life. It is ultimately much more dangerous than swimming toward a more promising future.

A few thoughts on pushing fear aside to move toward change (risk).

– Stock your tool kit. What do you need to begin? Number 1 is a good support structure. Thinking you can or have to do everything yourself will make the risk overwhelming.

– Develop a positive attitude about yourself. You have already survived many ups and downs in your life, right? You’re smart. You’re adaptable. You’re good at facing challenges. Engrave this on your mirror.

– Embrace the process. Remain open to the knowledge that it won’t all be smooth sailing. Flexibility in your expectations is your watch word.

Be willing to let difficult moments, failures and perceived failures be your teacher. Can you do that? Can you untie the ropes and venture out? What do you need to pack to make your boat seaworthy so you can take the plunge? Spice, variety and adventure make for a well seasoned life.

Bon Voyage,Screenshot 2014-09-22 10.15.48



“Saying No and Standing Firm”

“Saying No and Standing Firm” Free Tele-class September 23rd, 2014, 7 p.m. EST

Are there times when you wished you had paused a moment and said ‘NO’?

Did you know that the word “NO” is a complete sentence? Probably not. Most of us say yes, and then feel guilty, when we probably want to say no. And the cost of this is:

-overwork because you are doing double time
-hidden feelings of anger and resentment
-sadness about yourself and your inability to have a backbone

What you really want to know is how to say no without guilt so you can stand firm. Come to this free tele class where you will get:

– Guidelines for setting boundaries
– Ways to find your voice when its challenging
– Tips for being more assertive in emotional conversations

By practicing these skills you’ll be free to say “YES” to those things that most matter to you. This call will be interactive, so bring your ‘no’ challenges to the call and get tips for handling those tricky situations. You will leave armed with concrete strategies, ready for that next encounter.

“Saying No and Standing Firm”  Free Teleclass
September 23rd, 7 p.m. EST

To grab a seat in this tele-class, click here

Try to come ‘live’, but if you can’t, there will be a replay recording. For all of you, feel free to hit the  click here button, and let me know any questions that you want to see covered.

What’s a teleclass? It’s a conference call that focuses on a hot topic. When you hit the click here button, I’ll send you all the necessary details. Don’t wait! First five people to sign up get a free gift.

What “Could” You Do?

“I believe that ‘should’ is one of the most damaging words in the English language. Every time we use ‘should’ we are in effect saying ‘wrong’. Either we are wrong, or we’re going to be wrong, or we were wrong. I don’t think we need more wrongs in our life. We need to have more freedom of choice. I would like to remove the word ‘should’ and replace it with ‘could’. Could gives us a choice, and we are never wrong.” (Louise Hay, from “Heal Your Life”)

Is your self talk filled with ‘shoulds”?