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Elizabeth Barbour, M. Ed.
The Revitalized Business Woman
Missouri City (Houston), Texas

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Latest News

Wednesday
May102017

Get the Most Out of 15 Minutes of "Me Time"

Craving more “me time” these days?

Yep, I hear you. Me too!

While it’s ideal to carve out an hour a day for yourself and occasionally an evening or weekend, too, the truth is, it can be hard to find big chunks of time for rest and renewal when you’ve got a busy career, a growing family, volunteer commitments and a household to take care of.

But 10 or 15 minutes for a quick reset? That's more manageable, right?

Unfortunately, a lot of us fall into the “Oh I only have 15 minutes” rut so instead we default to flipping through Facebook or Instagram and waste our time going down the rabbit hole of silly cat videos or political posts that leave you feeling drained.

The key to maximizing those little pockets of time is being more intentional about the precious “me time” that you do have. Tuck a few ideas in your back pocket and you’ll reap the rewards BIG TIME!

Here are 5 quick strategies to help you recharge your batteries in 15 minutes or less...

1. Drive in silence. If you spend a lot of time in your car, this can be a great time to rest and reflect. Turn off the radio, get off the cell phone and heavens to Betsy, please don't text! Whether you are doing a 10 minute errand or driving an hour across town (if you live in a big city like I do in Houston!), the more you can reduce the noise in your life, the better off you'll be!

2. Go outside. I write about spending time outdoors a lot and that's because it's essential for our health and well-being. Mother Nature is the greatest teacher of balance and flow that we will ever have. Eat your lunch outside on a park bench instead of at your desk. If you work from home, take a mid-morning walk around the neighborhood and another one in the afternoon (if you can squeeze it in). Make sure you don't take any technology with you. When your kids get home from school, play with them in your backyard or take them to a local park. Fresh air and warm sunshine --- it's always good for the spirit!

3. Meditate. I get it. Meditation isn't always easy. I have had an on-again off- again relationship with it for years. What I do know is that when I meditate regularly, my mind is clear, I have more patience, and I’m much more creative. Research continues to show that meditation is good for brain health and overall well-being. Here are some guided meditations from the Chopra Center that you can check out. And my best friend recently reminded me about the Sa Na Ta Ma meditation which I had learned about years ago. Here’s an article that explains it pretty well. 

4. Move your body. Whether you love to dance, do yoga, stretch or go for a run, 15 minutes of moving your body can help to reset your entire day. As of this writing, I got less than six hours of sleep last night due to being up in the night with both the kid and the cat. I work out with an awesome personal trainer twice a week and I desperately wanted to cancel her this morning. But I decided not to. The workout that we did for 30 minutes this morning will help me to power through my day!

5. Write morning pages. Julia Cameron made these popular in her creative classic "The Artist’s Way". She suggests writing three pages of a brain dump first thing in the morning to help clear your head. I rarely write my morning pages in the morning, but I know that when I scribble three pages worth of junk and get it out of my head, I move forward with focus and clarity through the rest of my day. Always carry a pocket sized journal with you so that if you’ve got 15 minutes at the doctor’s office or waiting in the carpool line to pick up your kids, you can still find time to write.

What are you going to do with your next 15 minutes of “Me Time”? I’d love to know! Send me a note!

Here’s to more “Me Time” for all of us!

Elizabeth

Wednesday
May032017

3 P's for Planning Your Next Vacation

I just returned from a glorious five nights in Belize with my husband. It was the first time that we have been away for a significant amount of time in five years just the two of us. We had one of the best vacations we've ever had and we have agreed that we will not wait another five years before we schedule a trip like it!

We relaxed on a really deep level. We walked the island every day. We went snorkeling and saw colorful fish, beautiful coral, and graceful sting rays. We watched 5 dolphins (4 adults and 1 baby!) cavort in the ocean near our boat. We went kayaking in the peaceful waters of the mangroves. We ate healthy food lovingly prepared for us. We gazed at the millions of stars visible when you’re out on an island. We read books for several hours each day lazing around in our hammocks. We each had two massages in one week!

It was fun to share our sun, sand and surf adventures with friends on Facebook. Many people said “Yay you!” and “You needed this!” and “You deserve this!” I even had one coaching client e-mail me and say “I love how you take time to care for yourself and go away to terrific places. I hope to be able to do that one day!”

Yes, I do a pretty good job of self care most of the time… but the truth is, I was running on empty before we went on this trip. After my mom died in September, it was a whirlwind of activity with managing her estate and her belongings. There is not much time to grieve after a loved one dies because there is simply so much to do to put their affairs in order. Then we had several other family deaths and illnesses and I’ve been sick repeatedly and it’s just been non-stop.

I knew that if I didn’t choose to stop soon to rest and recharge, my health struggles would force me to stop.

Vacation is absolutely essential for your health and well-being. Don’t’ wait until it’s too late to plan it. Start today! It doesn't really matter where you go or what you do, but stepping away from every day responsibilities and changing your scenery is good for the mind, body, and spirit. Spending time in nature is incredibly healing and spending time doing nothing is a great way to press the reset button of your life!

Here are three P’s to consider as you schedule your next vacation…

1.  Priorities – What is most important to you for a getaway? Do you need time with your spouse? Quality family time with the kids? Need to change climates for a bit? Want to spend time in nature? Or are you craving a family reunion with cousins galore? Once you get clear on your priorities, it will be easier to plan!

 2.  Problems to be Solved– What is standing in the way of you having a great vacation? Are you worried about leaving your kids? Don’t have the budget to take the kind of vacation you’d really like to take? Perhaps you are caregiving for a family member and it’s hard to think about leaving at all. Or maybe you don’t feel that you can take a vacation because work is just really busy these days.

Whatever it is, flex your problem-solving muscles. I know you have them! (We had never left Riley with anyone but a family member but when we knew we absolutely needed some time away, we got creative and hired a graduate student. Riley adores her and our hard working graduate student made some much needed extra money! A win-win-win!)

3.  Perspective – Look at the bigger picture of your life and what you really need and desire. When you’re parenting, being away from your kid for a week feels like a really long time. But the truth is, most little kids won’t remember that you left them for a week when they are older. And the short-term gain that you receive is well worth it. If you’ve got some relatives you haven’t seen in 5-10 years and you really love spending time with them, making the effort and spending the money to visit them is something you will surely not regret. Last year we made the effort to go to my biological grandmother’s 95th birthday celebration in Florida and I’m so glad we did because she passed away just a few months later.

As we head into summer here in the U.S. in the coming weeks, it’s a popular time of year for families to take vacations. Ask yourself the following:

  1. What are my priorities for some vacation time this summer?
  2. What problems are causing us to get stuck in the planning and how can we solve them?
  3. What perspective can I gain by looking at the bigger picture?

If you want someone to champion you as you plan your next vacation, email me and I’ll be happy to cheer you on!

Here’s to your next vacation! (and mine!)

Elizabeth

P.S. If you want to go to Belize, we can highly recommend St. George’s Caye Resort. It was magical!

Wednesday
Apr262017

What I'm Reading Now...

"You know, I didn't grow up with books."

My mom mumbled this to me from her hospital bed one quiet afternoon while spending a grueling 16 days in the hospital last spring.

I paused before responding to her because my brain was trying to compute what she said with the bibliophile that I knew her to be. Ever since I was a little kid and can remember, she was always reading a book. For the 20+ years of her retirement, she worked the crossword puzzle in the newspaper every single day.

She loved words. I can remember several summers in my childhood where she and I played a game of Scrabble every single day. I remember winning the “Most Books Read Over the Summer Award” in 4th grade. I think I still have the plaque somewhere to prove it! She inspired me to love words, too.

I said, "What do you mean Mom?"

She replied "At the orphanage. There were no books. No one ever read to me."

I'm not sure where this random thought came from as we were sitting watching HGTV together, but I know that she spent a lot of time in the final months of her life reliving aspects of her childhood. This must have been a memory that popped up for her.

I felt tears well up in my eyes and my throat constrict as the tragedy of this reality settled into my brain. My mother had a very difficult childhood and overcame all kinds of abuse to become the strong, independent woman that she was. This revelation about not growing up with books and how she didn't let that hold her back from developing a love of reading gave me an even deeper insight into her personality and to her determination to make a better life for herself despite the challenging start she was given in life.

It also helped me to understand her fierce commitment to my education. She tells me that I was reading at age 3 and she got really frustrated when my daughter, Riley, didn't start reading until age 5. She thought that she was responsible for teaching me to read at an early age and didn't understand that even though I was doing the same things with Riley that she did with me, all kids develop at different rates. (Riley is now an avid reader at least a grade level ahead of her peers! I know that Mom is smiling down on her from heaven and also breathing a sigh of relief! Ha ha!)

I think my mom loved to read because it transported her to places she never had a chance to visit and she learned about ideas, experiences, and people that she might never encounter. Neither of my parents went to college and while they did some traveling in the U.S., they tended to stay close to home. She loved the detailed British settings of Maeve Binchy books, the controversial ethical issues that Jodi Picoult tackles and the spiritual elements in Sue Monk Kidd’s writing.

Mom and I talked about books a lot before she got sick and even more so during the 3 ½ years of her valiant battle with cancer. Although I tend to read a lot of self-help type books, we found common ground in recent best sellers like Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and Ronald Balson’s Once We Were Brothers.

While I miss having my Mom here to talk about books, I’ll forever be grateful to her for instilling the love of reading in me. I buy books like most women buy shoes. And I’m perfectly OK with that!

I'm reading several books right now – some fiction, some memoir, some spiritual - and wanted to share them with you in case any of them piques your interest. I tend to be a personal development junkie but I haven’t read any Brene Brown in over a year! (She’d better write a new one soon!)

  1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – Even though I had heard of the book and knew that the author dies at the end, I wasn’t prepared for the depth of emotion I experienced as the book came to a close. Obviously, reading about someone dying from cancer when my own mom just died from cancer made me a little rawer than your average reader, but the passion with which the author writes about both living and dying is truly a gorgeous piece of art. 
  2. Childhood Disrupted by Donna Jackson Nakazawa – A new friend told me about this book based on an article that she had read about a correlation between childhood trauma and lifelong chronic illness. Having lived with and managed chronic illness for a few decades now, I knew immediately that I had to read about this cutting edge research based on the Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey. I find myself nodding my head and underlining a lot as I not only see myself reflected in the author’s research but also see the stories of dozens of my clients and friends. 
  3. The Book of Joy by The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu – This book just makes me HAPPY! Of course, it should, it’s a book about Joy! But what I love about it is being privy to the intimate friendship that two of our world’s greatest spiritual leaders, a Christian and a Buddhist monk, as they tackle the immense subject of how to find joy in a world fraught with sorrow. This is a lovely read and I have given it as a gift to several friends and clients. 
  4. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – Oooof. This was a tough read. My book club read it together and it was deep, intense and hard to digest at moments. While it is a work of fiction (The author’s reimagining of the underground railroad is really creative.), it’s obviously based in fact and on the atrocious history that the U.S. has with slavery. I’m glad I read it, although some of the images will haunt me for years to come. An important read at this time in our country. 
  5. The Magic of Memoir Edited by Myers and Warner – I’m taking this book with me on vacation soon. As I write sporadically on my own book, I wonder how much of it is going to be memoir so I figure that I had better learn about the art and see if it’s a good fit for my writing style.

 What do you like to read? What are you reading now? Have you read any of these? Please hit “reply” and share with me. I love talking about books!

Happy Reading!

Elizabeth