Archive for Self Improvement

Self Care Can Change Your Life!

self care

I’ve written about self care before in my post “Water Your Soul By Taking Care Of Yourself” but I wanted to go into a bit more detail and offer some suggestions for your self care routine.

If you are anything like I used to be you probably put off spending time with your friends, getting that pedicure or enjoying your hobbies.  You spend more time at work than anything else and this can lead you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and sick.  If you want to take care of other people in your life you can’t do it when you are depleted yourself.

Self care can be cheap or it can be expensive.  Some things take time and others will take only a few minutes a day.  The options for self care are limited only by your imagination.  I decided to conquer my fears by facing them.  I was afraid of heights, claustrophobic, and suffered from severe motion sickness.  In order to overcome these fears I decided to go skydiving.  This may be a bit too radical for you so I’ve made a list of self care suggestions that are simple but life changing.

  • Bring home fresh flowers.
  • Buy yourself a toy and learn how to play with it.
  • Call a family member or friend and take the time to really listen to them.
  • Cook yourself a healthy good for you meal that tastes good.
  • Find a support group and go often.
  • Get an inexpensive foot massage.
  • Go sightseeing in your own area.
  • Go to a local park and swing on a swing set.
  • Go to church.
  • Get a cup of tea with a friend.
  • Keep a gratitude journal that you write in every night before bed.
  • Learn how to do yoga.
  • Learn to meditate.
  • Listen to music or hypnosis programs before going to bed.
  • Pack a picnic and have lunch in a local park.
  • Read a book a week.
  • Rent an electric bike and go for a ride.
  • See a movie.
  • Spend a day taking photographs of nature at a beach, in a forest or in a park.
  • Take a “social media free day”.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Take a long walk.
  • Take an entire weekend once a month and spend it taking care of yourself.
  • Treat yourself to an expensive meal.
  • Turn off your phone after 5 pm every day.
  • Visit a local brewery or winery and do a taste testing.
  • Visit a local comedy club.

Making the choice to practice self-care is wise.  Don’t listen to that little voice in your mind that says you’re being selfish, lazy or indulgent.  You deserve to be happy and healthy and the way to make sure that happens is to take care of yourself first!

Water Your Soul By Taking Care Of Yourself

It took me a long time to understand that “me taking care of me” was actually watering my soul. I had all kinds of reasons for not taking care of myself. It was selfish, it felt uncomfortable, there wasn’t enough time or money, and it felt better to take care of others instead. I came to realize that by putting myself first, I would be more able to take care of others. I was afraid to step into this new idea of becoming self – Centered for fear of being judged as Self-centered. But one day, I decided to break out of my shell and venture into the world of watering my Spirit. I made a plan. I got in my car, and headed north. I was going to face my fears in a radical way by cracking my own fear-based shell open.

I was afraid of heights, claustrophobic, and suffered from severe motion sickness. What a better way to face those fears and limitations than to go skydiving?

As I drove, the voice in my head desperately tried to convince me to turn around. I had children, for God’s sake! What was I thinking? This was by far, the craziest thing I’d ever thought of! Just as I slowed to turn around, through the radio Celine Dion began to sing, “I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky”. I took that song as divine intervention, not a coincidence but a God-incidence telling me I had to follow through with it. I started crying, knowing deep down that this day would have a much deeper impact on my life than I even knew.

I made it through the class and climbed into the plane. It wasn’t until the skydiving instructor opened the plane door that I went into panic mode. Just as we’d practiced, he directed me to hold onto the plane’s wing brace, step out on the ledge, and he would give me a thumb’s up when I was to let go. There was no possible way I was “STEPPING” out of an airplane! The houses looked like specks! There was only one thing I could do. I prayed. I told God that if He wanted me to do this, He was going to have to do it, because there was NO way I was. In the next moment, I was in the sky like a bird, drifting quietly and calmly to the earth. The landing was incredible. I cried. I didn’t sleep for days because every time I went to close my eyes, I pictured myself looking out of that airplane door and seeing myself stepping out of it. How had I done it?!?!?

My next thought was that anyone can do something once, when they don’t know what they’re getting into. I decided that in order to say I had faced and conquered my fears, I would need to go again. I did go back again, and this time I had it videotaped, with my children, my sister and my husband as witnesses.

A couple months later I was at the shoe store. I saw this pretty pair of white pumps. I tried them on and couldn’t believe how comfortable they were! I laughed and took them off, reminding myself that I was a truck driver and couldn’t wear high heels (Kinda cool side note: I was the first woman to drive a snow plow for the State of Illinois. The lessons I learned there would fill another book!).

As I got in my car, I had a flashback of jumping out of the airplane. Wait, I can skydive, twice, but I can’t wear high heels? I returned to the store and purchased those shoes, and wore them proudly around the house. Little did I know that God was growing me into a position where I would need those shoes.

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This excerpt is from my book Seeds of Joy – Growing Zinnias & Your Zest for Life Book.  To purchase a copy yourself visit my products page and get a packet of FREE California Giant Zinnia Seeds!

Choose To Be Positive

Motivational and Inspirational Speaker, Author and Coach Cheri Neal

One day I noticed a sparrow bathing in a puddle in the parking lot of a local greasy spoon restaurant. I watched the ripple effect caused by this tiny bird. I smiled thinking about the ripple effect our attitude has on others. Then I noticed something. With every splash, droplets of water were creating their own ripple effects all over the puddle.

This made me think of the waitress inside that restaurant. She made every customer feel like they were special. Her ripple effect on the customers was very positive. They would leave feeling appreciated and happier. Like the droplets around the puddle that the splash caused each of them created a positive ripple wherever they went.

Sadly, the opposite is also true. A boss in a bad mood can affect the teacher of his employee’s child, by snapping at his employee who then goes home frustrated and yells at his son, who then goes to school and acts out. It is never ending.

Today you get to choose for yourself AND for that little child in the picture, to be a positive or a negative ripple in this world, staying in this moment or losing it forever.

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This excerpt is from my book Seeds of Joy – Growing Zinnias & Your Zest for Life Book. To purchase a copy yourself visit my products page and get a packet of FREE California Giant Zinnia Seeds!

The Difference Between Being SELF-centered and self-CENTERED

Find Joy with Motivational and Inspirational Author, Speaker and Coach Cheri Neal

Another huge lesson for me was understanding the difference between being SELF-centered and self-CENTERED. I was raised to believe it made me a good person if I put everyone else first. What I came to realize is that I mattered just as much as everyone else. I was so selfless that I didn’t take care of myself. I was so preoccupied with everyone else that I didn’t even consider what taking care of myself looked like.

It wasn’t until I read Cheryl Richardson’s book about extreme self-care that I began to understand that it isn’t selfish to put myself and my needs first, so long as I am considerate and caring of others also. That message was further ingrained in me during a chance meeting with a very wise soul named Daniela Popa. Visiting the U.S. from Romania, we sat across the small table at Panera Bread in Madison, Wisconsin, where she helped me to script my mantra:

“Today, no matter what I’m doing, no matter who I’m doing it with and no matter where I‘m going, it is my primary intent to please myself, because it brings me joy, putting me in alignment with my Spirit. And that is the greatest gift I can give the world.”

Never would I have considered allowing myself the gift of pleasing myself first. But in doing so, I truly bring joy to those around me and that makes everyone happier.

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This excerpt is from my book Seeds of Joy – Growing Zinnias & Your Zest for Life Book.  To purchase a copy yourself visit my products page and get a packet of FREE California Giant Zinnia Seeds!

How To Be Whole In A Healthy Relationship

This excerpt is from my book Seeds of Joy – Growing Zinnias & Your Zest for Life Book. To purchase a copy yourself visit my products page and get a packet of FREE California Giant Zinnia Seeds!

Are you dependent on those around you? Can you be alone and comfortable? I used to believe that relationships were like addition . . . take half of me and half of someone I am in love with and that makes a whole. Fully dependent on each other is how I thought a good relationship would be. Then one day I was told that what I was describing was a co-dependent relationship.

Healthy relationships are not about addition; they are about multiplication. You don’t take a half person and add a half person to make a whole relationship, it makes a fourth (½ x ½ = ¼) of a relationship. One whole person times one whole person makes one whole relationship. The idea of having someone complete you generally only works in the honeymoon phase of the relationship or in the movies. To have a healthy relationship, complete yourself. Then be with someone you enjoy being with. Wow, that was a hard pill to swallow.

Cheri’s Favorite Quote!

Watch Cheri’s new video where she reveals her favorite quote and how it applies to her life as a professional speaker and published author. For more inspiration from Cheri purchase her book Seeds of Joy – Growing Zinnias & Your Zest for Life book by clicking http://cherineal.com/products/.

The Power of the Seed


Life.

That saying, “Sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug”, sure does fit. It’s crazy how you can feel so on top of the world one day and the next, like you got hit by a freight train.

Feeling powerlessness has such a deep impact on one’s mood and relationships.

And it is SO my go-to response.  Whenever life doesn’t go my way, my knee-jerk reaction is as if I am the victim to whatever is up against me.  Depending on the situation, I can stay stuck in it for days, weeks even!  It’s crazy!

The truth is, I am NEVER really powerless.

I am the Creator of my life.  It is up to me to decide what kind of life I want to live.  Unfortunately, THEN I have to take steps to create that life.  I have to face my fears, sometimes do what I don’t want to do. But I know it will move me closer to what I want.

I love contemplating the power of a seed.  This tiny little piece of nothing, when placed in dirt, given water and sunlight, blooms into a whole bunch of something!

It grows because that is what it was created to do.

As were we.  When I look back at my life, I can’t find a single instance where circumstances didn’t work out in a way that blessed me beyond measure.  Or taught me lessons that helped me to grow, or shifted me to a place where I could prosper.

And yet,

Every time I slide back into that powerless feeling, I allow it to suck me under.  I forget that ALL is well.  And that I am on point to bloom beyond measure.  All I have to do is trust.  It’s easy to do that when I stay in this moment. It’s when I get out in front of myself that I begin to hyperventilate.

So today, I tap into the power of the seed.

I choose to BE right here, where I am planted, and trust that my Creator is growing something amazing out of me.

And YOU too.

Cheri Neal is a dynamic professional speaker, trainer, coach and public service professional.  She mixes a powerfully refreshing blend of education, energy, and entertainment, engaging participants with right-on-time concepts for enhancing their lives at work, home and in their communities.  Contact Cheri today to see how she can support YOU at http://www.CheriNeal.com.

 

Who made that voice in my head the boss???

Seriously! Who made that voice in my head the boss???

I’ve started hearing some of the things she says to me and she is mean!  Things she says, I actually repeat without even questioning her!  I listened to her more closely this week and when I finally woke up enough to challenge her, she shut down!  I admit, my life is a little quirky.  I have a deep passion for raising Monarch butterflies (I have over 100 eggs, caterpillars and chrysalis in my garage as I write).  I LOVE Zinnias and plant them all over town. I wrote a book about them and spent over $500 getting seed packets made to hand out.  And I take care of 7 horses every morning that aren’t mine.  I say things like, “I know, I’m weird” and “what’s wrong with me?” and “I’m such a dork!” These little put downs might seem like nothing but said over and over, I just realized they have a way of undermining my self-confidence.  Add to that, beating myself up for not living up to other’s expectations . . . no, wait.  Correction.  It isn’t even other’s expectations, it’s really the voice in my head magnifying what SHE thinks others expect and then holding ME to that standard.  NO one else does.

Dr. Kristin Neff is an expert on self-compassion.  I was turned on to her by another AMAZING human being, Jessica Schultz of BeYOUtiful Minds and Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin.   Dr. Neff states, “Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?”

Could someone please tell that voice in my head that??????

Oh wait, I CAN!  I can begin by challenging her assumptions.  Hmmmmm…. so why does it have to be weird and dorky to do these things?  Who gets to decide, anyway?  What if reframe it. “I am really passionate about really cool stuff.”  I’m not a dork, I’m a delight!”  How will that impact my day?

I am just grateful I finally heard the voice. Realized that SHE isn’t me. For my entire life, she has been talking crap about me and I believed her!  That stops today. I realize that the voice in my head is just trying to keep me small and safe.  But I am a grown up now and I can take care of my SELF! I am so done not being enough and doing enough.

I went online and looked through hundreds of affirmations and chose ten that resonated with me.  Each morning, while cleaning horse stalls or working in the garden, I repeat them to reprogram my brain to begin saying GOOD things about me.

After all, I have planted in ME the seed of the essence of GOD!  I’m gonna focus on growing THAT!

Cheers!

Cheri Neal is a dynamic professional speaker, trainer, coach and public service professional.  She mixes a powerfully refreshing blend of education, energy, and entertainment, engaging participants with right-on-time concepts for enhancing their lives at work, home and in their communities.  Contact Cheri today to see how she can support YOU at http://www.CheriNeal.com.

 

What Book is Helping YOU to Shift?

I finally signed up for an Audible membership.

There are SO many books I was dying to read but there was never the time.  Even when there was, I’d fall asleep within the first few pages! So, ‘reading’ books that are being read to me seemed like a great alternative.

And it was.

I find myself traveling a lot on the weekends.  Being able to sink into a good book while driving has become an absolute treat!  Here are the books I have listened to this month:

  • The Miracle Morning, The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life – Before 8am by Hal Elrod
  • You are a Badass, How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
  • The Subtle Are of Not Giving a F*ck, A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

You might have noticed a theme here.

Most who know me would assume they are research for my speaking presentations.  The truth is, I have been out of sorts for quite a while now.  I have yet to uncover exactly what is at the root of my dis-ease but having been a recovering alcoholic for over 30 years, I don’t take it lightly.

I am in the middle of a serious shift.

See, my entire life I dreamed, but couldn’t even say out loud, that I wanted to be a professional speaker.  I was so afraid of what people would say.  Then a series of ‘coincidences’  landed me smack dab in the center of my dream.

  • I met speaker Matt Booth, who connected me with the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Speakers Association.
  • I joined their academy and was gifted the most amazing fairy god-mother, I mean mentor, Susan Young.
  • I crafted my talks, created a marketing sheet, website, joined Toastmasters to hone in on my skills, published my first book, and today I AM a professional speaker.
  • I even work with Bonnie Davis, a virtual assistant, to help me with the details.

All in a couple of years.

It seems my body hasn’t caught up with my spirit yet.  Something I’d dreamed of for over 30 years, I am now doing.  It took courage, faith, showing up, following through, not listening to the voice in my head that tried to shut me down, and investing money I didn’t have, trusting it would pay dividends beyond my wildest dreams.

What’s that quote?  Fake it til you make it?  That’s what I did. I still have a long way to go, but I HAVE made it.

What have I learned from the books listed above?

  • To love myself. A message that echoes time and time again in every stage of my life. How ironic that it is so difficult to live.
  • I practice 10 affirmations and do a visualization while mucking horse stalls each morning.
  • And I stopped caring about so much. I am starting to care most about MY dreams.  I am not taking for granted my responsibilities, but I am also not saying yes to everything and everyone else.

What’s your dream?

What are you waiting for?  Life is WAY too short to wait one more day.  It isn’t comfortable, but oh is it worth it!

Cheri Neal is a professional speaker, coach and public service professional. Cheri helps people turn adversity into opportunity so that they can live engaged, fulfilling, and prosperous lives. A dynamic speaker and trainer, Cheri mixes a powerfully refreshing blend of education, energy and entertainment, engaging participants with right-on-time concepts for enhancing their lives at work, home and in their communities. To hire Cheri for your next event: http://www.CheriNeal.com.

Another Life Lesson in the Garden

Who’d have thought gardening could teach me so many life lessons?

I’d planted Zinnia seeds in the shape of the word JOY in my garden.  More seeds came up than anticipated.  In order for flowers to bloom optimally, they need space in between.  So, on Saturday morning, I set out to decide which stems stayed and which I would need to pull.

I settled in, sitting Indian style facing the plants. I love Zinnias.  It hurt to have to pull any up, especially because they all looked so healthy. But I had to.  If I didn’t they stood a really good chance of being overrun by powdery mildew.  Also, the plants would crowd out and it would stunt all of them.  In order for them to bloom it was necessary.

I thought about my own life.  My calendar looked much like my garden.  I had always rejected the notion of creating space in my day, believing that life is short.  You have to squeeze in all you can.  But what if by cramming in so much, I am missing out on the most beautiful blooms I might produce?

How might this principle apply to my life?

I am blessed with a DOING spirit.  I can get more done in one hour than most accomplish in a day.  The curse that accompanies this blessing is that I feel guilty if I don’t get ‘stuff’ done.  I feel like I am not ‘earning my keep’ unless I have ‘product’ to show for it.  A list of things completed to prove I served well.

In my day job, I am the boss.  I don’t need to prove anything. And yet, a cloud looms over me with the limiting belief that I do.  Ironic that this belief might be the one thing standing in my way of blooming beyond anything I have ever dreamed.

If I were to replace it, what might a new belief look like?  Hmmm . . .  the picture of a gorgeous Zinnia comes to mind.  As it grows, it merely reaches for the sky, taking in the sunlight, water and nutrients from the soil.

How peaceful to consider modeling my life after that magnificent flower.

Centering myself. Recognizing my value in being and not in doing.  Taking time to enjoy the moment and not ‘make it matter’.  It already does.

Trusting that I will intuitively know how to handle whatever life serves me.  Staying focused on what brings me joy.  Identifying what I am most grateful for each day.  Taking care of me.  Not as a way of over-compensating for running myself ragged. As a way of savoring today.

Recognizing that some of the things I will need to let go of are really good things that I won’t want to let go of. But my life is too full, and I need to make room. Just like pulling the perfectly healthy Zinnia stems did.  Realizing that it is for the best in order for me to truly bloom into who I was put here to be.

Blooming ON purpose sure does hurt sometimes.  But it’s worth it.

 

Cheri Neal is a dynamic professional speaker, trainer, coach and public service professional.  She mixes a powerfully refreshing blend of education, energy and entertainment, engaging participants with right-on-time concepts for enhancing their lives at work, home and in their communities.  Contact Cheri today to see how she can support YOU at http://www.CheriNeal.com.