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

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Latest News

Wednesday
Jul082015

3 Smart Self Care Strategies for Summer Vacation Success

I am filled with gratitude! I just returned from a week-long vacation with my husband and daughter in Oregon. We spent four days in Portland and three days out on the Oregon coast. Everything about this trip was magical. My husband, daughter and I got along great! We had new adventures every single day. The weather was perfect.

My gas tank is full again.  

My soul is smiling. 

I am breathing more deeply. 

I feel satisfied, present, complete and in tune with the world around me. 

But here’s the deal...my vacations have NOT always been this way. In the past, I’ve had horrible experiences with everything from travel delays and cancellations (try traveling with a name on your passport that doesn’t match the one on your driver’s license… yeah, Air Canada won’t let you do that!) to sickness (tummy troubles...need I say more) to major disagreements with my travel partners (which left everyone frustrated and unhappy). 

I’ve had to learn the hard way that to have a good vacation requires planning and intention. But when you invest the time and energy, it makes it all worthwhile. Please, learn from my mistakes!

Here are your three smart self-care strategies for summer vacation success.

1.  Build in exit and re-entry days. 

This one is mission critical. Build in a cushion on the front end and the back end of your trip. 

I used to work a full day the day before a trip, then would come home from work and pack until midnight, often having to get up at 5 am to catch a flight the next morning. It was always stressful, always exhausting and set me up for failure on the first day of my trip! Not good! 

Then, when Eric and I got married, we had an amazing honeymoon on St. Martin and I returned to work full force the next day. Within 24 hours, I was sick, sick, sick with vomiting and diarrhea. Perhaps it was something I ate but I truly believe it was because my system was in such shock after such a lovely trip, it was literally bombarded with overwhelm and information (which can be toxic!) and my body said “No way! Reject! Reject!” 

Now, we try to plan our trips so that we travel mid-week and then have one or two days on the weekend to recover – which really means doing things like grocery shop, mow the lawn, read the mail, etc. – before returning to our normal busy schedules. Re-entry is much gentler and kinder this way.


2.  Ask for what you need.

Exercising your voice is the best way to get your needs met. This is true in everyday life and it’s true for vacation, too.

Before you head out on your trip, get really clear about what you want and need to feel that this is a successful vacation. Rest and relaxation? Time at the pool or beach? Sightseeing adventures? Delicious local food? Seeing every inch of Disney World? Invite each member of your party to contemplate this question and consider having a “family meeting” or similar to discuss expectations before the trip. 

Then, when you are actually at your vacation destination, plan out each day so that it makes sense. You don’t have to have every hour scheduled but have a general sense of what you’d like to do and see and then be flexible within that loose framework. You’ll want to make accommodations for weather, traffic and other unexpected events so that it feels easy going and natural, not rushed or forced. 


3.  Maintain your normal self-care routine. 

I can’t emphasize this point enough. Keep doing what you normally do! Eat well, sleep enough, get plenty of exercise. Too many people go on vacation and blow their diet and exercise routines, then come home and feel like they have to “catch up” or “make up” for “being bad”.

If you usually get up and go for a run in the morning or sip a cup of tea before everyone else gets up, do it on vacation too! If you eat uber-healthy at home with home cooked meals, try staying at a condo where you can prepare your own meals or research restaurants ahead of time to find as many farm to table ingredients as possible. (That was easy for us to do in Oregon – yum!)

Of course it’s OK to treat yourself on vacation, but overindulging just makes re-entry that much harder!

Revitalized Action:  If you have a summer vacation coming up, print out this e-zine now and review it with your family today. Talk about how you want to make this vacation a memorable one and invite everyone to share their input. I’d love to hear any strategies you have in the comments below!

Here’s to smart self-care on your summer vacation!
Elizabeth

Tuesday
Jun232015

In the Wake of Charleston, Why Self Care Matters More Than Ever

When the news broke about the hate crime in Charleston last week, I cried many tears, as undoubtedly millions of Americans did. I couldn’t tear myself away from the coverage (and I rarely watch the news) but this story felt important to be fully present with. 

I went for a walk the next morning and was talking to myself … you know, that inner dialog that feels like a ping-pong match in your head?  

My small self said “There are all of these big issues that need to be dealt with in the world. It makes my passion for teaching self-care to women seem so trite and trivial.”

 But my wise higher-self quickly piped up and said “Hey! Not so fast. Don’t you see the connection? The work you are doing is foundational work. It matters.”

It does?

There was a bit more pinging and ponging but I finally got it.

When we practice smart self-care, we learn to love ourselves a little more every day. 

When we love ourselves more, we love others more.

When we love others more, we feel connected and part of a greater community.

When we are part of a community, we work harder to promote cooperation and collaboration.

When we collaborate, barriers are slowly dismantled, old patterns change and we contribute to a more peaceful world.

So, by deduction:

When we practice smart self-care, we contribute to a more peaceful world. 

I get that I’m over simplifying this and it’s not this easy. AT ALL.

There are no easy answers at a time like this.  We are being called to look deep within our hearts and make changes today. 

But if you’re like me, and you feel overwhelmed at the sheer magnitude of the problems in our world, and think it’s easier to just check out and “let someone else handle this”, let me invite you to ask yourself this one question:

What CAN I do?

For me, it starts with me. At home. With my family. With my friends. With my church.  With my colleagues. With my clients.

If you read my last two blog posts on kindness and on saying no to the crazymakers, you know that it all relates, right? 

  • Speak kindly to yourself and others. Don’t allow other people to be mean, rude or condescending.
  • Seek out others who are positive, uplifting and inclusive. Stay away from people who are negative, oppressive or exclusive.
  • Love yourself more. Love your neighbor more. Collaborate and cooperate. Support positive change. Contribute to a more peaceful world.

  • Racism, sexism, classism, ableism, ageism and homophobia are not OK. You do not have to allow people in your inner circle who support these strategies for suppression. If you encounter someone who expresses one of these, speak up and confront them. 

I invited comments on my Facebook page last week about how to talk to our children about Charleston and my friend Kelli King-Jackson shared this: “Teaching our children that hate is wrong is only part of our journey. We have to teach love by modeling it. We cannot love what we do not know. So as an adult, our kids need to see us building community across race, class, gender, nationality. It has to intentionally be how we live every day.”

The world is changing. People are waking up. Slowly, too slowly by many accounts. But in many ways it’s better than it was when my parents grew up. And we can consciously choose to make it better for our kids and for our grandchildren. It starts with us. It starts with you.

Continued prayers for the families of the victims in Charleston and for our entire nation…

Elizabeth

 

Wednesday
Jun172015

Just Say No to the Crazymakers!

Last week on my blog, I wrote about kindness. If you want to be surrounded by kind people, you have to start by being kind to yourself – in word and in deed. 

But the world is a big place and you come in contact with a lot of different types of people. Co-workers. Neighbors. Fellow volunteers. Relatives. (Oh, the relatives!)  

And some of them are unfortunately...crazymakers. 

You know who I’m talking about, don’t you?

The ones who always have drama, a story to tell, something to complain about, someone to gossip about. They are also the ones who talk your ear off and then say “Oh, I gotta go! Bye!” before they ever ask about you and how you’re doing. 

Julia Cameron writes about crazymakers in her classic book The Artist’s Way. “You know the type: charismatic but out of control, long on problems and short on solutions. Crazymakers are the kind of people who can take over your whole life.” 

Which brings me to the point… you don’t have to let them take over your whole life.

You really don’t. You have the power of choice. 

 

We teach other people how to treat us and the sooner we learn how to set healthy boundaries with the people in our lives, the sooner we have a tribe filled with kind, generous, un-crazy people.


So lest you think that smart self-care is simply about getting an occasional massage, eating your broccoli and meditating ten minutes every day, let me set the record straight. 

A critical part of smart self-care is creating a tribe that supports and uplifts you, always.

To accomplish this goal, you often have to release – or at least distance - yourself from those that no longer serve your highest good (and maybe they never did).

You don’t need cray-cray in your life, right?

To contain the crazymakers and neutralize the naysayers, start by setting healthy boundaries for yourself:

  • Don’t listen to negative comments or hurtful remarks. Redirect the conversation whenever possible.
  • When an inappropriate joke or remark is shared, speak up and say “that’s not funny.” 
  • Find your voice and say “Please don’t __________________ (talk like that, use that language, gossip, say unkind things, joke about that, interrupt, etc.)” 
  • If the offending behavior continues, walk away from the conversation.
  • If the behavior is consistent and persistent, walk away from the relationship. 

None of these things are necessarily easy to do in a society that teaches us to value being nice and polite above all else. But maintaining your values and integrity is more important than being “the nice girl”. You can still be kind and caring but firm and clear and distance (or extricate) yourself from a crazymaking relationship.

Know what you get as your rewards for taking this brave step?

1. More strength. You reclaim your power.

2. Peace of mind. You can relax because you addressed the situation (finally!)

3. Freedom.  No more worrying about what others think. What matters most is that you feel good about yourself.

4. More energy. You plugged the leaky drain in your gas tank.

5. Empowerment. You found your voice to speak your truth. (It feels good, doesn't it?!)

Revitalized Action:  Take stock of your current relationships. Are there any crazymakers in your life? If so, what steps can you take starting today to distance yourself from their drain on your life?  Share your victories with me in the comments below!

Here’s to saying NO to the crazymakers!
Elizabeth