Two more articles relating to affirmations


I came across two articles today that relate to yesterday’s post on affirmations.  The first discusses the power and importance of positive language:

http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/success-secret-change-your-internal-dialog.html

the second talks about one more reason (that might not occur to you) why old habits are hard to break:

http://www.positivelypositive.com/2012/08/31/why-we-hang-onto-bad-habits/

Happy Reading!

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The History of Affirmations


If you’ve ever started a diet only to quit a couple of weeks later, decided to write the great American novel and gave up after the first few pages, or simply tried to give up a bad habit, you know firsthand just how hard change can be.  One technique used to facilitate change and help individuals to reach their highest potential is the use of affirmations.  Contrary to popular perception, the use of affirmations is not a New Age, “fluffy” technique.  The use of affirmations can be traced to ancient eastern religions, and its effectiveness is backed by modern neuroscience.

What are affirmations?

Affirmations are words or phrases that evoke a positive state of mind, such as, “I am strong and beautiful”.  According to findingsantosha.com, they are closely related to mantras, which are religious or mystical symbols or poems that are repeated or chanted during meditation.  Buddhist and Sanskrit mantras have an ancient history; the word mantra is from the Sanskrit roots, “man”, to think, and “tra” to liberate, meaning that they are an avenue to free one’s mind from thought.  Mention affirmations to many people and they will think of the hilarious Saturday Night Live character, Stuart Smalley:  “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!

Affirmations Are Rooted in Science

But despite the ribbing affirmations have taken, they have some serious scientific backing in the form of neuro-linguistic programming.  This system was founded in the 1970’s by two neuro-scientists from the University of Santa Cruz, John Grinder and Richard Bandler.  After studying the behaviors of the most exceptional and successful psychotherapists, they theorized that success can be achieved by increasing positive behaviors and decreasing negative ones.  (University of Hawaii, 1990) They then incorporated the work of linguists such as Alfred Korzybski and Noam Chomsky to understand Meta models: language patterns that unintentionally limit understanding and outcome possibilities. (Center for Coaching Certification, 2012)  To understand how this works, think of a dog who is kept in the yard with an “invisible fence”, an electronic barrier that senses when the dog tries to cross it and delivers a mild shock through the dog’s collar.  Negative thought patterns (Meta models) are like an invisible fence:  when we try to change a habit, we are unconsciously knocked back into our “yard”, our set patterns of behavior.

The Use of Affirmations Today

Many successful writers and celebrities use some form of affirmation or visualization to achieve success, such as Norman Vincent Peale, Anthony Robbins, Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  However, the use of affirmations is not limited to the rich and famous.  Most life and career coaches, as well as some psychotherapists, are trained to listen to their clients and identify their language patterns to screen for Meta-models.  They can use the client’s goals to write positive affirmations using the client’s own words in a positive, non-limiting way.  The client then listens to the affirmations regularly and posts them around the home and office in order to facilitate change and reach their full potential.  Used properly, affirmations are an invaluable tool to achieve success.

Want help using affirmations?  Visit newfrontierslifecoaching.com

Mothers Returning to Work – How to Ease the Transition


When I was a teacher, this time of year meant returning to work after having my summer off with the kids.  Though it was never as hard as the first time, each fall was a difficult transition for the whole family:  suddenly I was not there full-time to clean the house, prepare meals, do laundry, buy groceries, etc.  Though heading back to work after being home with kids is a challenging time, there are several things moms can do to ease the transition.

Plan and Practice Ahead of Time

The transition will be easier on everyone if there is time to adjust to the new routine.  If your children are not yet in school, research and commit to a childcare option that is comfortable for everyone.  Transitioning a breast-fed baby to a bottle will be less stressful if you give it some time – you don’t want to worry about whether or not your child is going hungry on your first day back to work.  Give yourself and your child plenty of time to take care of learning new skills like potty training.  It will go better if the pressure’s off.  In the days leading up to the Big Day, practice getting up and dressed by the time everyone needs head out the door.  Practicing ahead of time can instill confidence in kids and ease anxiety for mom.

Enlist Help

Starting back to work part-time is a great option for moms if it is available, but often it is not.  If you’ll be working as many hours as your spouse, make sure he knows that you will need an equal partner in household chores.     Most husbands are more likely to respond positively if presented with a request for help instead of  a demand.  Make a list of what needs to get done and divide it up based on personal preferences.  Maybe your husband is a master with the vacuum, but isn’t big on cleaning bathrooms.  Older kids can pitch in, too.  Even if they are ambivalent about mom going back to work, you can sweeten the deal with an allowance or reward for completing chores.

Go Easy On Yourself

This is the most important part!  It seems that guilt and motherhood just go together; stay-at-home moms often feel guilty that they are not contributing to the family’s income, and working moms feel guilty about kids having to go to daycare, or just spending less time with them.  Remember that quality, not quantity, counts when it comes to time with your kids.  It’s better for kids to get a few hours per day with a happy, fulfilled mom than a whole day with a resentful one that doesn’t really enjoy staying home.   Also, give yourself permission not to have a perfectly clean house or home-baked cookies for your kids’ snack.  Trying to do it all is the fast lane to burnout.  Finally, remember to make time for yourself – for exercise, relaxation or girls’ night out.  By taking care of yourself, you are taking care of your kids’ mom, and that benefits the whole family.
Need help balancing work and family?  Visit newfrontierslifecoaching.com

Recipe for School Success: Read, Read, Read


Every parent wants their child to be successful in school, but for some, despite best intentions, success seems elusive.  Kids don’t like the homework, the school lunch, the teacher, or their new-year excitement quickly fades.  What makes one child more successful in school than another?  There are many factors, to be sure, but if you pressed this former teacher and parent of two very enthused and happy students, I would have to say READING.  Why?  Because reading is a vehicle to so much knowledge, entertainment and skills.  As a former high school English teacher, I rarely if ever encountered a strong writer who wasn’t also a strong reader; I think this is because reading well-written material provides a model for writing.  Math requires good reading skills for word problems.  Families who read together have a template  for life-long learning.  So how to incorporate more reading into your home?

Here is my Reading Recipe for Success:

1. Read TO your kids.  I started reading to my children when they were infants just home from the hospital, which had given us a picture book of bold black, white and red shapes that seemed to fascinate and stimulate my kids when they were babies.  Soon after that, they enjoyed the board books that they could explore with their fingertips:  fuzzy puppies to pet, buttons to press, etc.  When they were big enough to follow a story, they enjoyed all the classics:  Dr. Seuss, Where the Wild Things Are, Little Critter, etc.

2. Read WITH your kids.  When their attention spans got a little longer, say around age 5 or 6, they began to enjoy easy-to-undertand chapter books from such series as Junie B. Jones and Little House on the PrairieWhen they could read to themselves, I still read to them.  Why?  Because they may be mature enough for complex plots and character development, but frustrated by new vocabulary or longer sentences.  Although my daughter reads very well, certain books, like the Harry Potter series, would have discouraged her to read on her own because of the rich vocabulary, British idioms and complex sentences.  By listening to me read it aloud, she got to hear the flow of the language, learn new words, and use her imagination to paint vivid scenes in her head.  On her own, she could read the Roald Dahl books and The Name of This Book Is Secret series, and excellent one introduced to us by her teacher. My son has enjoyed Flat Stanley, Goosebumps and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  When he went through a reluctant reader phase, I resorted to the ace-in-the-hole for boys, Captain Underpants.  Guaranteed to get any boy reading.  Just be prepared for a LOT of potty humor around the house.

3.  Read IN FRONT OF your kids.  Even when they get too old to let you read to them, make sure your kids still see YOU reading.  Even though they may not admit it anymore, you’re still their biggest role model.  Nagging them to read will mean nothing if you don’t do it.  Hardcover classic, pulp fiction paperback, New York Times, National Enquirer, laptop or Kindle, it doesn’t matter –  just model a lifelong love of reading.  It also helps to tune in to what your kid or teen likes to read, and make that material available, as gifts, trips to the library or a Kindle.  When I taught high school English, I would bring in the (high school appropriate) books that my husband and I had finished and leave them on a shelf for any students who wanted them.  One eager young Sci-Fi fan made off with my husband’s entire discarded collection of Star Wars novels.   It was both amusing and very gratifying.  Try feeding your kids’ love of reading….you’ll be glad you did.

What books have your kids enjoyed?  Share in the comments!

Back to School – How to Motivate Your Teen


While the last couple of posts have talked about creating a home environment that is relaxing and motivating, it’s time to move again around the Wheel of Life to talk about family.  It’s back to school time, and while moms may be excited about it, unfortunately many kids aren’t.  Teens often get labeled as unmotivated, lazy and spoiled, believing the world owes them.  I recently shared a post from a friend’s Facebook page that got a lot of “likes”, even from former students of mine who ARE teenagers.  Ironically, it also garnered a lot of dislikes at the “Parent fail blog”.  Obviously, the kind of “tough love” expressed by the judge in this article is only welcome by those teens who are already motivated.  So how to motivate the rest? Here’s one idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x78PnPd-V-A&feature=player_embedded

Many years of teaching high school students, as well as reading on the science of motivation (Daniel Pink’s Drive is a must-read for any supervisor, manager or teacher, not to mention life coach) have convinced me that what motivates us is finding our dream.  No matter how hard teachers try to make their lessons fun and entertaining, the truth is that learning often requires hard work.  I’ve noticed that the students who are willing to put in the effort have some “buy-in” based on their own goals: they see their education as a means to achieve those goals, or they simply love learning and challenging themselves because they have the confidence to do so.

But what about the students that don’t have a dream, or the confidence to take risks, and learn for learning’s sake?  How do we motivate them?  Finding one’s dream is not an easy task; in fact, for me, it’s been a lifelong journey.  When I was a teen, I was motivated to excel in the classes I enjoyed, either because of the subject matter or because I liked the teacher.  If neither was true, I put in the bare minimum of effort required to keep my parents off my back.  I knew I wanted to go to college, and that I wanted to live in Spain for a year, only because I adored my Spanish teacher, who regaled us daily with romantic stories of España.  Beyond that, I had no clue what I wanted to do.

When I taught senior English, I saw many of my students struggling with the same problem.  One of the units in the course involved writing the college application or scholarship essay.  I started off the unit by playing the Who song, Who Are You (old-school, I know, but they indulged me).  Many students have not stopped to think about who they are and what their passions are.  They feel pressured to make a seemingly never-ending series of high-stakes decisions: college or work?  which college? what major?

I believe the answer lies in helping them find their passion.  Research indicates that intrinsic (self) motivation is far more powerful and effective than extrinsic (outside) motivation.  This means that threats, punishments, or even rewards, will not be nearly effective in motivating teens as helping them to discover that subject, instrument, hobby or career that they can’t resist.  So how do we do this?

The first step is to model what finding your passion looks like.  How do you expect your teen to be passionate about life if you are not passionate about yours?  If you are unhappy with your job or life, you may be unconsciously communicating to your teen that “that’s all there is” – leaving them nothing to hope for.  Talk to your teen about what excites you about the work that you do.  Let your teen see you engaging in hobbies that you love.  Model lifelong learning.  Take risks.  Show them it’s ok to make mistakes, and that failure is only a temporary stepping stone to success.

Help them to find their own passion.  It is almost guaranteed that they will not be yours, and that’s ok.  What you really want for your children is their happiness, not for them to be you, right?  Let them explore their own interests.  Encourage them to play sports, join clubs, take lessons, travel with school groups, etc.  Just let them make their own choices about what to try.  Make your home a rich learning environment by providing books, and other stimulating materials.  Allow room for exploration and discovery.

Thought they may not consciously appreciate it now, can there be any greater gift than helping your teen find their passion?

How Cleaning Green Can Improve Your Life


You might be wondering: what does cleaning green have to do with making a better life for myself?  There are several compelling reasons to “green up” your cleaning routine:

1)       Household chemicals can disrupt hormones, cause breathing problems, risk the potential for poisoning children and pets, and are downright dangerous. Read about it here. I first became interested in cleaning green when my son was a toddler; he could climb, unlock and satisfy his never-ending curiosity with alarming skill.  I was convinced he would be poisoned and began seeking out safer alternatives.

2)      Chemicals are bad for the planet.  If you are like me, you can only block out the knowledge that we are polluting our planet at an alarming rate for so long without feeling a constant undercurrent of guilt.  I have found that, even if it means some sacrifice, the closer I live to my principles and ideals, the happier and more content I am.  You’ve heard the expression:  “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

3)      It’s cheaper!  The cleaning companies would have us believe we need to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year to keep our houses clean, fresh smelling and germ-free.  The truth is that you can effectively clean, deodorize, AND kill germs naturally, for pennies on the dollar.  Who wouldn’t rather spend money on fun stuff than cleaning products?

4)      It’s easier than you think:

  • First, let me say this:  if you are skeptical, I was too.  My aunt had been telling me for years that you can clean your house with nothing more than white vinegar.  (Ha!  Maybe HER house, I thought – it stays clean all the time!  I have kids, dogs, dirt!  I must KILL GERMS!)  Turns out vinegar kills bacteria, mold and germs.  It is also a natural deodorizer. To use vinegar, just mix with equal parts of water and put in a re-usable spray bottle.  Vinegar can also be added in the laundry or mixed with water for mopping wood or tile floors.  Thanks, Aunt Shirley! *Note:  if you have granite or marble, don’t use vinegar: the acidity can erode the surface.  I did a little research and found that rubbing alcohol is safe for granite.  Just mix with equal parts of water in a spray bottle. 
  • Don’t like the smell of vinegar?  Buy a little bottle of your favorite essential oil from the health food store and make cleaning your house a spa experience!  I like lavender, peppermint or eucalyptus. 
  • Need something with more muscle?  Replace scrubbing cleanser with baking soda to scrub bathtubs, sinks or ovens.
  • Replace carpet deodorizer with good old baking soda.  It’s the main ingredient anyway.
  • Clean the microwave:  just put a coffee mug or measuring cup of water in and set the timer for 5 minutes.  The steam from the boiling water loosens stuck-on food so you can just wipe it off.
  • Invest in a steam mop and disinfect the floor naturally!

Though I’ve been cleaning this way for many years, I wish I had discovered all of these tips sooner.  When I started cleaning green, my son’s frequent ear infections disappeared.  Coincidence?  Maybe, but I swear we are all healthier now.  Plus, we’ve saved hundreds of dollars on cleaning products, aren’t washing harmful chemicals into our water system, and are re-using the same spray bottles, cutting way down on plastic to be recycled.  Have any green cleaning tips of your own?  Share in the comments!

 

How Cleaning Green Can Improve Your Life


You might be wondering: what does cleaning green have to do with making a better life for myself?  There are several compelling reasons to “green up” your cleaning routine:

1)       Household chemicals can disrupt hormones, cause breathing problems, risk the potential for poisoning children and pets, and are downright dangerous. Read about it here. I first became interested in cleaning green when my son was a toddler; he could climb, unlock and satisfy his never-ending curiosity with alarming skill.  I was convinced he would be poisoned and began seeking out safer alternatives.

2)      Chemicals are bad for the planet.  If you are like me, you can only block out the knowledge that we are polluting our planet at an alarming rate for so long without feeling a constant undercurrent of guilt.  I have found that, even if it means some sacrifice, the closer I live to my principles and ideals, the happier and more content I am.  You’ve heard the expression:  “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

3)      It’s cheaper!  The cleaning companies would have us believe we need to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year to keep our houses clean, fresh smelling and germ-free.  The truth is that you can effectively clean, deodorize, AND kill germs naturally, for pennies on the dollar.  Who wouldn’t rather spend money on fun stuff than cleaning products?

4)      It’s easier than you think:

  • First, let me say this:  if you are skeptical, I was too.  My aunt had been telling me for years that you can clean your house with nothing more than white vinegar.  (Ha!  Maybe HER house, I thought – it stays clean all the time!  I have kids, dogs, dirt!  I must KILL GERMS!)  Turns out vinegar kills bacteria, mold and germs.  It is also a natural deodorizer. To use vinegar, just mix with equal parts of water and put in a re-usable spray bottle.  Vinegar can also be added in the laundry or mixed with water for mopping wood or tile floors.  Thanks, Aunt Shirley! *Note:  if you have granite or marble, don’t use vinegar: the acidity can erode the surface.  I did a little research and found that rubbing alcohol is safe for granite.  Just mix with equal parts of water in a spray bottle. 
  • Don’t like the smell of vinegar?  Buy a little bottle of your favorite essential oil from the health food store and make cleaning your house a spa experience!  I like lavender, peppermint or eucalyptus. 
  • Need something with more muscle?  Replace scrubbing cleanser with baking soda to scrub bathtubs, sinks or ovens.
  • Replace carpet deodorizer with good old baking soda.  It’s the main ingredient anyway.
  • Clean the microwave:  just put a coffee mug or measuring cup of water in and set the timer for 5 minutes.  The steam from the boiling water loosens stuck-on food so you can just wipe it off.
  • Invest in a steam mop and disinfect the floor naturally!

Though I’ve been cleaning this way for many years, I wish I had discovered all of these tips sooner.  When I started cleaning green, my son’s frequent ear infections disappeared.  Coincidence?  Maybe, but I swear we are all healthier now.  Plus, we’ve saved hundreds of dollars on cleaning products, aren’t washing harmful chemicals into our water system, and are re-using the same spray bottles, cutting way down on plastic to be recycled.  Have any green cleaning tips of your own?  Share in the comments!