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

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Wednesday
Jun012016

Take a Revitalizing Walk in Nature

Every Memorial Day weekend for the past decade, my husband and I gather with his college friends at our family farm near Pinehurst, North Carolina. We are all busy with corporate jobs or running our own businesses, raising children and caring for elderly parents. And yet, one weekend each year, we take time out from our other commitments and responsibilities to come together and enjoy the benefits of fun, friends and fellowship.

Last weekend, I got my first taste of the lazy summer days ahead. We ate fresh berries and barbecue, we played lots of games (cornhole, lawn Jenga, Frisbee golf, cards), the guys enjoyed their favorite beverages and the kids got to play in the rain, get muddy and chase butterflies, frogs and turtles! (We also had a big birthday party for four of the guys who turned 50 this year!)

One of my favorite things to do on the farm is walk. It sound so simple, yet walking among the stately pine trees and observing nature in all of its glory has an incredible way of nourishing the mind, body and spirit. Nature is orderly and balanced and spending time in nature helps all of the worries and cares of day-to-day responsibilities melt away. (We all need to spend way more time in nature than we actually do, don’t you think?)

Above is one of my favorite pictures from the entire weekend… my husband (in the straw hat) and his college roommate walking in the woods. They’ve been friends for more than 30 years and walking and talking is such a great way to be truly present and reconnect after living half way across the country from one another. 

Walking is great for stress relief, getting the endorphins flowing, burning calories and clearing your head… but there is something special about taking a rambling walk in nature that is especially soothing to the soul. Slow down and stop to notice nature’s treasures and you’ll be delighted with what you find! (Look below to see what I found on one of my walks at the farm this weekend!)

Revitalizing Action: When you are stressed out, feeling overwhelmed or having a bad day, take yourself out for a revitalizing walk and simply notice what happens. (And if you have a doggie in your home, take him/her with you for an extra mood enhancer!) Chances are good your head will clear up, your mood will brighten and you’ll notice that your problems melt away… at least for a little bit… and when you return from your walk, you’ll be ready to tackle your projects with a new perspective and renewed energy! Email me and tell me about your walk. I’d love to hear what you discover!

Here's to walking!

Elizabeth

Wednesday
May252016

3 Reasons Why You Aren't Getting Enough "Me Time"

Free time? What’s that?
I can’t remember the last time I was alone with nothing to do…
I hardly EVER have “me time"…

When my coaching clients hire me to help them grow their business or possibly change their career, one of the first things that they share is that they feel overwhelmed, stressed and burned out and they never have enough time for themselves.

They are so busy running their businesses, networking to make connections, serving their clients, managing employees, investing in their professional development…any leftover time they have, they want to spend it with their family. To maintain relationships, it is critical to invest quality time in them so these women identify their family and work relationships as primary and let all others go – including one of the most important relationships of all – their relationship with self!

If I have learned one thing in 15+ years in business, it is that if we do not take time to take care of ourselves, we do a poor job of relating with others. It's really a simple equation.

No doubt you have heard the following adages: “You can't drive a car on fumes”, “You can't add water to an already overflowing glass”,  or “You have to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can help the person next to you”.

This concept of self care is not a new one.   And yet, time and time again, I see women get stressed out, burned out and in some cases even sick before they realize that they have to take these sayings to heart. They are not just old wives tales. They are simple reminders of basic truths.

I believe there are three consistent themes that contribute to this lack of “me time”. Perhaps you will recognize one of these patterns in yourself (or in a friend or loved one that you care about). Hopefully by acknowledging these old patterns, you can take the first step in making some changes and claiming more “me time” in your life!

1. You don't give yourself permission for it. Somewhere along the way, you got the message that it wasn't OK for you to slow down, much less stop, and take care of yourself. Maybe you witnessed a parent, a big sister, a grandmother, a friend or respected mentor fall into this pattern of busy, busy, busy and go, go, go.  Perhaps you were even shamed as a kid for burying your nose in a book or lying in the grass staring at the clouds instead of helping out with chores. Because others didn’t seem to have “permission” to stop and rest, you internalized the message that you didn’t have permission to take of yourself too. (Inspired Action: What if you wrote yourself a permission slip? What would you give yourself permission to do?)

2. You don't prioritize it. A lot of successful professional women know intellectually that practicing smart self-care is essential for their success. They give it lip service and say “Yes I know I should be doing XYZ but…” It's great to have awareness of the need to refill your cup and honestly, that is half the battle. But you have to follow through and take action for it to be effective. (Inspired Action: It starts with having a list, putting yourself on it, and then putting yourself in the top 3 of said list. Try it and watch what happens!)

3. You assume you are getting “me time”, but you really are not. When I coach my clients about taking time out to nurture themselves, I invite them to make a list of things that bring them joy, peace and a sense of well-being. Typically, things on that list include spending time in nature, attending a yoga or exercise class, reading a good novel, sleeping in, having an entire day alone, taking time for prayer and meditation. But when my clients actually evaluate how they are spending their time, they realize that they are engaging in activities that Jennifer Louden, one of my favorite self care gurus, calls “shadow comforts” - things like watching TV, drinking (too much) wine with friends, retail therapy and eating waaaaay too much chocolate. Those are all perfectly fine activities in moderation and can certainly help you relax. But they're not really in the same category as what I would consider nourishing “me time”.  (Inspired Action: Make a list of self-loving and self-nourishing activities. Pick one to add into your calendar in the next three days. 

Revitalizing Action: Consider if one or more of these reasons may be holding you back from getting enough "me time". Review the Inspired Actions above and choose one to be your project this week. Then send me an email and tell me about it!

Here’s to more “me time” for all of us!

Elizabeth

 

 

Wednesday
May182016

Have You Read Desiderata Lately?

I was first introduced to Max Ehrmann’s famous poem Desiderata when I was a college freshman at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virgina. When I first read this as a teenager, I thought to myself “Inspiring! Good advice. Makes sense. I’ll remember this.”

Do you remember when you first read these words? (And if I’m the first to introduce them to you, hooray! You’re in for a treat!)

Now I’m about to celebrate my 25th (Gulp!) college reunion later this year. When you have some years (perspective & wisdom, too) under your belt, these words take on new meaning. Between moves, career changes, death of loved ones, marriage, divorce, children, starting a business (or several!), health challenges, caring for elderly relatives…. life is, well, complex.

But this poem always brings me back to center and brings me comfort. Especially with the reminder to be gentle with myself and to remember that I am a child of God and that the Universe is unfolding in divine timing (even when it doesn’t always feel like it!)

I invite you to see if there’s something in these words to inspire you today…

 

Desiderata

Max Ehrmann


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,

even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble,

it's a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,

it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,

keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

 

Revitalizing Action: I’d love to hear if this poem has had meaning to you in your life and if you have a favorite line or lines, I’m all ears.  Email me or tell me about it over on Facebook!

Remember to be gentle with yourself this week…

Elizabeth