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

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Wednesday
Nov162016

In the Wake of the Election, Why Self Care Still Matters

Where is your favorite place in nature? Where do you go to get rebalanced and find your center again?

Stop for a minute and close your eyes. And really take yourself there.  What does it look, sound and smell like? Do you immediately go to the ocean, the lake you grew up on, a favorite hiking trail, a beautiful flower garden…or maybe even your own backyard?

For me, it's the mountains. And especially the Blue Ridge Mountains with all of their ancient wisdom.

I just got back from a long weekend in Asheville, North Carolina the city that I consider my “heart home.” It's where I healed from my divorce, rekindled my relationship with God, made some of the best friends of my life, and ultimately met and married my sweet husband.

Mountains are magical for me. The earth there keeps me grounded. I love to tromp through the woods, feel the leaves crunch under my feet, inhale the fresh autumn air, and listen to the babbling brooks.

On this particular visit, I showed up pretty broken. Since my mom died just two months ago and since the election last week, I was feeling pretty sad. Normally, I broadcast my visit to dozens of people and I try to party it up, seeing as many folks as I can. This time, I saw just a few of my very best friends and I was grateful to be held by some of my most beloved intimates – people who have known me for decades and who I trust completely -  and reminded that I am safe and loved. It is such a precious experience to be witnessed exactly as you are, even when you feel pretty raw and vulnerable.

For me, going to the mountains alone – and spending quality time with members of my soul tribe – was an act of radical self care. When I go to the mountains, I am restored, renewed and revitalized!

Last week was an emotional one for many people I know. The election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States has sent half of our country into shock and outrage and has much of the rest of the world scratching their heads wondering what has happened in America.

I did not vote for Trump but I believe I’m starting to understand some of the reasons why a lot of people did. Clearly, we have a lot of work to do in our country.

I’m not well-versed in politics but I’ve always had friends and family and clients who straddle both sides of the aisle. Regardless of where you stand on the issues, I think we can all agree on the following:

When we are outraged, scared, fearful or worried, or feel misunderstood, ignored or invisible, or feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and unsure…it’s important to practice smart self care.

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.

(If this seems familiar to you, I originally wrote this- and other ideas - in response to Charleston and then Orlando.)

Revitalizing Action

Consider how you are feeling this week. Does election stress have you worked up? Are you tired from too little sleep? Are you being challenged at home or at work with something that is weighing you down?

Do you need to build in a little extra self-care time to rest and regroup? Pull out your calendar and see if you can block out an hour, an afternoon or a weekend just for you.

Then think about your favorite place in nature. Can you get there? Mother Nature has a way of balancing us in mind, body and spirit so if you can give yourself permission to revel in her charms for a little while, I suspect you’ll emerge feeling much like I did after my time in the mountains… restored, renewed and revitalized!

Let me know what you have planned. I’ve love to hear about it! 

Here’s to a more peaceful world,

Elizabeth

Wednesday
Nov092016

Rest Well and Rest Often

I realize that many of you will be reading this the day after the U.S. elections. It’s been a long and stressful campaign season and regardless of who won, I suspect that we ALL need some rest today. I hope today’s article inspires you to get the rest you crave – if not today, then in the coming days...

Last week I wrote an article sharing some quick tips on how to revitalize your day and I heard from a lot of you saying that these little reminders resonated for you. (Thank you for writing…I LOVE hearing from you!)

So this week I got a chance to practice my own advice and focus on one tip in particular.

Rest well and rest often.

(How about you? Is that something that you do really well? Not so much, eh?…Read on, then!)

The truth is, sleep has been elusive for me since April of this year. That’s when my mom had major surgery and her health took a drastic tailspin… and that was all before we found out that her cancer had returned ( in June) and she died in September.

I’m normally an excellent sleeper. I protect my sleep like nobody’s business and I have several strategies that really help to ensure my sleep is good quality and long enough!  But when I’m under stress, well, sleep gets sacrificed unfortunately. (Can you relate?)

There is just SO MUCH TO DO when a loved one dies, it feels like a never ending “to do” list. I keep checking things off the list but then I add new tasks to the bottom of the list. While I’ve taken pockets of time here and there to rest, I haven’t been as good about it as I would like to be.

A few weeks ago, my wise friend Joe came to visit. He is one of those friends that you can go a year without talking to, but as soon as you get together, it's like you haven't missed a beat.

In the 15 years that we've been friends, we've both been through several major life changes including marriage, divorce, death of our parents, and several moves.

We have seen each other through thick and thin so he's one of those people whose opinions I trust implicitly. He knows me so well that he can call me on my bullsh*t. He sometimes pisses me off when he does it, but I know he's right 99% of the time. (We all need friends like that, right?)

So when he was here visiting us in Houston, we spent a day exploring the Menil Collection, we meditated quietly at the fabulously zen Rothko Chapel and I introduced him to Houston’s best Greek food for lunch at Niko Niko’s!  It was a peaceful and relaxing day and we hadn’t seen each other in several years so it was great to have lots of time to just catch up and talk.

As our day came to a close, he said to me , “You need to come do this, by yourself.”

And my knee-jerk (somewhat testy) response was “Why on earth would I do that?”

And he replied gently “You might actually get to spend some time with you.” He went on to remind me that while I’d been professing to have “downtime” in my schedule, the truth is that I was filling it with lunches and walks with friends or doing “fun” activities that weren’t work related – but they were still activity.

His invitation was for me to take some time to just BE. No doing allowed.

Hmmm.

Whenever someone encourages me to do something by myself, my immediate response is resistance. Spending time alone has never been at the top of my list. I’m an extrovert. I get my energy from being with other people so spending too much time alone feels draining to me.

However, my sweet friend knows me well. And I am still grieving. Life goes on but there are layers and layers of grief to process from my mom’s death. My stress level is still high and my energy level is still low. Rest well and rest often is really good advice I need to be following right about now (Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it, right?!). And he called me on it – he saw that I wasn’t walking my talk.

Having been the primary caretaker for both of his parents who passed away during the 15 years of our friendship, Joe knows what he's talking about. He knows that it takes time, effort and attention to unravel and unwind from the stress of caring for a dying loved one. He also knows that the process is very personal. As much as it helps to talk through your grief (or your stress) with trusted loved ones or a counselor, it’s still a deeply private journey, one that needs to be taken alone.

Don’t you hate it when your friends are right? (grumble grumble)

So I took his advice. Last week, I blocked off a day and I went and meditated in the Rothko Chapel and then I spread out a blanket under a big beautiful granddaddy oak tree outside of the Menil Gallery. I packed myself a picnic lunch (complete with a Supergirl napkin so I could feel invicible!) and I brought some books and my journal and my Goddess cards and I simply gazed at the sky until it started to rain.

And you know what? I feel so much better. More grounded. More peaceful. More balanced. And I’ll be scheduling another day of rest sometime soon.

Yay me! And, um… thanks Joe. As much as it pains me to say it… You were right.

Revitalizing Action: Consider the following questions:

  1.  What can you do to embrace the concept of Rest Well and Rest Often? Get more sleep? Delegate more tasks on your to-do list? Take a “mental health” day from work?
  2. Can you treat yourself to a day (or a few hours) and take yourself to a quiet place to simply rest and be?  If so, where is that place for you?  Pull out your calendar now and block off the time.
  3. Do you have a friend like Joe in your life?  One who you can be straight with, even when it's hard? If so, you may want to call up that friend and commit to spending some time together.  They're sure to give you some straight talk if you need it.  

I’d love to hear how your plans for more REST are going. Drop me a line!

Here’s to more rest, for all of us!

Elizabeth

 

Wednesday
Nov022016

Quick Tips from A to Z to Revitalize Your Day!

Have you ever had one of those days where things aren’t going quite right?

Perhaps you slept through your alarm, your cat puked on your shoe as you were walking out the door, traffic was horrendous, an order with a client got messed up, you’ve got back to back meetings all day long, and you forgot your lunch on the kitchen counter?

Yeah, we’ve all had days like that.

Or weeks like that.

Or years like that.

(2016, anyone?! I don’t think I’m alone – please tell me I’m not! )

When you do, sometimes the best change to make is a small one. Change your perspective, try something new, reach out for connection…something small but meaningful.

This list is filled with simple and sometimes pithy reminders to help you get back to the basics. Just as children have to review their ABCs as they are learning to read, we sometimes need to go back to the basic ideas we learned as kids.

As you read through this, see if one or more of these speaks to you. Then ask yourself why a particular concept or phrase jumped out at you? Maybe it’s time to apply the idea to the challenge you’re facing and see if you can shed some new light on the situation.

Quick Tips from A to Z to Revitalize Your Day!

Ask for help.

Build community at work, at school, at home. 

Count your blessings. Write down 5 things you’re grateful for every day!

Do the right thing. Especially when no one is watching.

Expect magic and miracles.

Forgive quickly and forgive often. Life is too short to hold grudges.

Get creative. Make some art, write a story, sing a song. Creativity shakes things up!

Help others.

Inspire others by your example. Own your strengths and be loud and proud!

Just do it.

Keep it simple, silly! Sometimes we overcomplicate things. Streamlining helps.

Let your light shine. 

Move your body. Go for a walk, dance to your favorite ABBA song or do some yoga stretches.

No is a complete sentence. Please, please remember this one. And practice it from time to time!

Open your mind and your heart.

Please and thank you will get you everywhere.

Pay It Forward. Watch this movie stat, if you haven’t seen it.

Question situations that don't feel right.

Rest often and rest well. Sleep more, nap occasionally and take time to sit and relax.

Strive for enoughness, not always excellence.

Thank God, your angels, and your humans regularly.

Understand that what other people think about you is none of your business.

Value diversity. It’s the spice of life!

When in Rome...

X-Ray your goals. Are they clear and focused? Will they get you where you want to go?

You are enough just as you are.

Zigzag when necessary. The straight path is not always the best one.

 

I’d love to know which quick tips you resonate with the most! What are your top three favorites? Send me a note and let me know!

Here’s to Your Revitalized Day!

Elizabeth