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The world seems a little obsessed with “5 Hour Energy.” I’m a little concerned about the long term effects of this drink. I don’t know what’s in it and do not mean to endorse it. But I like the concept. Being in the zone is critical in sports and helpful in just about anything you take on.

That zone is really only about focus. Directed energy in the present moment. This attention keeps you looking in one direction. What could you accomplish if you were willing to give energy in the present moment to one thing? “I choose this.” That’s all focus is. You are in the zone when you say, this is all I’m doing.

Multi-tasking is okay now and again. When necessary, it’s helpful to be able to do it. But when you really want to get something done, be a success, do your best at something, the more focus you have, the better your chances for a good outcome.

No wonder everyone wants this drink.

There’s a lot of scattered energy these days. Multiple e-mails and conflicting demands are coming at us all the time and encourage that helter-skelter focus. On the contrary, anything that keeps our attention on a goal we can wrap ourselves around with energy and passion is far more productive. And it doesn’t have to come in a bottle!

Can’t we generate focus on our own? Without taking something? Think more about what you could do if you were willing. Choose one place you really want to put your energies. Make a commitment and focus your attention.

What human beings can do! Combing energies with others, we can give generously, do phenomenal things in sports, generate money, save the planet. Wow!

I believe in the sacred in the profane.  Sexuality is no less worthy than attitude.  It’s in how you use them.  Most of us would agree that sex is good. And the affection of one for another must surely be holy. The experience and expression of love clearly is sacred.

Having sex with someone is committing an act of faith.  You lay yourself bare and allow someone close to enter your intimate space. Through that act you can create vulnerability and trust, a deeper feeling of love. All good things.

Putting writing out there is a similar act.  In a way you must lay yourself bare, open your legs and your heart and allow your creation to flow.  You must make that decision to step over the line.  As a great writer described it, sex doesn’t happen unless one is willing to raise his or her hips and allow that crucial piece of clothing to be removed.  You have to be willing to expose yourself to the experience.

Does a tree falling make a sound if no one is there to hear it?  Does your writing do its job if no one reads it? When you submit your writing or give it to someone to read (and goodness knows this can apply to any kind of art or creation) you’re making a commitment, taking that step over that line, risking it all. For the sake of the Art. You may get rejected, hurt or shamed, but the risk is definitely worth the reward.

The other day, Paulette Terrels wrote about self care.  “When we know that we deserve the very best care, and that it must begin with us, we find our health increased, and our mind more spacious.”

I agree.  The better we take care of ourselves, the more magnanimous we become to others.  Whereas some would say that spending so much time thinking about yourself is selfish, I find that I am more openly willing to give to others when I feel full and well cared for..

One of the things I love about self care is that there are so many ways to do it.  Just the act of making your own list of ways is an exercise in taking good care.

Actions you can take for your own self care run the gamut from a full body, expensive massage to smiling.  I like to note and acknowledge when I’ve done something good for myself – getting a little more mileage out of it.  Some things I choose are when I moisturize my skin or say no when I really mean it.  It might be that I’ve just gotten off my own back.

You only need small bites to begin building your list of ways.  It could be a small change you need to make in a task to make it a whole lot easier or more fun.  Standing instead of sitting or sitting instead of standing, doing it 15 minutes later, or including music are some simple ways to show that you care.  Every time I remember to use music, I’m doing something good fo myself!

The more obvious things we can do for our self care are healthy eating, taking exercise, or spending time outside, in nature.  Naps are a favorite one of mine.  Even if it’s only five minutes to put up my feet and close my eyes.

I need to have at least a few minutes to journal each day. Others might need to play the piano or sketch.  It’s important to include, every day, some time for the things you love to do.

Indulgences are always fun, such as a long hot bath, a favorite dessert, or taking a vacation.  But self care can just mean being kind to yourself.  Forgiving yourself for what might have appeared to be a mistake.  It might be releasing a project that’s been weighing heavily on you, or taking a full lunch hour to eat slowly and quietly.

Once you get started on this game, the ideas will flow – a manicure, pedicure or foot massage.  That a/v or computer equipment you’ve been wanting, the piece of clothing or extra pillow you’ve been talking about.  Of course you don’t want to break the bank, but even letting yourself know that your desire is worthwhile by saving for it can go a long way to boosting your well being.  On the other hand, you don’t want to put off the purchase of something that could make your life easier or better that you can readily afford.  I once found myself struggling with a bent litter scoop.  It cost about $2.85 to keep me from complaining every time I went to scoop litter.

The point is just to answer the longings of your soul. Listen for ways to make your life easier. Be open for ways to have what you want.  You’ll know the true longings of your soul by how they make you feel.  If what you want ultimately makes you feel worse or goes against what you’re trying to accomplish, who you’re trying to be, you’ll know that’s the wrong way to go.  But as long as you stay tuned into things that are good for you, help you to move forward rather than backwards, those actions will say, “I respect you.”

Stay on the lookout and list those things that you can do to bring on that wonderful feeling that you know you care about yourself. When you can rest into that knowledge, you will no longer need to depend on others for it.

I have been running lately.  More than usual.  Doing two jobs – one much harder than my usual one.  Seems like everyone wants me for something, all the time.  I’ve even had things to do after work!  Today was the first day I took a real lunch – away from my desk.

I find this a difficult way to live.  Perhaps there are some who’ve become accustomed to it.  That might be even worse: to be numb to the time and connection missing.

I encourage those who live in this constant stream to take some time this weekend to really relax and see how it feels.  Can you do it?  Think about steps you could take to find more time in your life (outside of vacation) to slow down a little and listen to your thoughts.

Some may be resistant to that, but there’s really nothing so scary in your thoughts.  When you take the time to listen, sometimes, you will find they calm down. All they really wanted was a little attention. You may still, afterwards, be moving at the same speed, but there will be a calmness at the center, reminding you.  You might be more willing to take those steps to bring more quiet into your life.  All from taking a little time.

Even if it’s just a minute or two here and there. Honor your thoughts’ need to be heard.  We can all find a little time to pay more attention.

It’s important during this Holidaze season to practice infinite patience with yourself.  Give yourself the gift of self care.  Just being more kind to yourself. People tend to want to make everything happen perfectly, while still doing the “usual.”  It’s just not possible.

Detach from worry about what can’t be controlled.  Or a need for things to look a certain way, or happen at a certain time.   Be willing to say it’s okay, even if it’s not all you hoped it would be.

This is a good time to give yourself the gift of just taking a breath once in a while and checking  in.  Ask yourself how you’re feeling.  What do you need?  Slow down when you can, when you don’t have to be at high speed.  Surely there are moments for that.

Think about giving a special gift to others. Listen to what you are saying. Is it what you truly want to say?  Can you be more careful with your words?

Remember that you are always doing your best.  Appreciate all the gifts you have.  Remember what the holiday is really about.

Alan Cohen reminds us, “Your gift to the world is not what you buy or do.  Your gift is your happiness.”

Elizabeth O’Connor added, “We do not experience ourselves as a gift until we are engaged in the act of creating.”

Take heed of the gifts which really matter.

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