Energize Your Life with Something To Do and Something To Look Forward To

Create Your Own Energized Life

Something to do, something to look forward to and someone to love. This has been so oft quoted it may seem like a well-worn cliche, but variety truly is the spice of life, and having something interesting and different to do and look forward to every day is what gets us out of bed.

Who wants to do the same things every day? I know I don’t, so I deliberately create what I call ‘islands of enjoyment’.

cappuchino coffeeThese islands may just be small things. For instance, if I have been working at my computer all day I will walk over to the shopping centre where there is an excellent coffee shop, ‘shout’ myself a coffee and sit outside, alfresco on the pavement, watching the world go by and perhaps flicking through the newspaper or reading a book.

The combination of fresh air, exercise, tasty coffee and people-watching has an uplifting effect.

What is your ‘special small thing’ that will lift you out of feeling bored or ordinary?

A Hawaiian Workshop – Aloha

Hills of Kona Hawaii

Hills of Kona Hawaii

Dean Calloway’s mini workshop yesterday on the 7 Principles of The Hawaiian Way was about the 5th principle – Aloha. 

We started with a social chat in the adjacent coffee lounge (is there a coffee theme going on here?) next to the Crystal shop. What wonderful energy in this amazing shop filled with the most spectacular gemstones.

The session was very special, talking about how Aloha is not only a Hawaiian greeting but also a breathing technique and a way of sharing love and gratitude.

House Party

After that, I went on to a house party to celebrate 120 years – two 60th birthdays – of a husband and wife. This party was full of surprises. Starting outside, with a marquee in the yard, we moved upstairs for the meal, and this was followed by performances from singers, poets, guitarists,  and even tin whistles.  Interspersed was the chance to sing along with the music. I just loved it.

No Expectations

I had no special expectations of the day, but I was ‘looking forward’ to whatever it would bring.

Special occasions such as these are becoming more frequent in my life as I am thinking ahead, and planning islands of enjoyment. During the week I was at my writers’ group, and today is my wonderful poetry club – ‘Poetry in Paradise’. It seems that by ‘putting it out there’ the Universe is responding with even more magical happenings.

Try it. When you wake in the morning ask the question ‘What grand and glorious adventure will I be having today’. 

You will have heard the cliche ‘Life is what you make it’, but cliche or not it is true. Create your own islands of enjoyment now, and never be bored again.

Click on the title of this post and it will take you to another page where you can leave your reply. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Live with Energy
Visit:  http://www.confidenceiskey.com/ to find out about my latest book, ‘Confidence Is Key’  or http://www.theenergybook.com

Posture, Confidence and Energy

It is said that if you want to project confidence and energy you can ‘Fake it Till You Make It’

Joan Small fancy dress

Dressed beautifully but looking sad

People now find it hard to believe that when I was young I had no confidence at all. I was a shy child who would cry at the drop of a hat. I found it hard to make friends and socialize at school so I was a ‘loner’. 

It’s interesting how kids are like dogs with intuition. They seem to  ‘smell’ fear, low self-esteem and insecurity. It is almost as if they are afraid it might be catching. With dogs, if you  approach  with confidence rather than fear there is far less chance of being growled at or bitten. The same applies with people.

What about that saying ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’.

What is a ‘first impression’ – is it an instinctive response to what we are projecting?

They say that people assess you  55% of the time by your body language, 38% by your voice and only 7% by your words. This assessment – judgement if you like – is usually sub-conscious. We can often tell from a glance what energy another person has, and his or her level of self esteem.

In my previous post I talked about good posture and how it can aid the body’s systems and enhance energy.There is more to it than that, because standing tall and straight, looking people in the eye and using open gestures instills confidence in ourselves and attracts confidence from other people.

This is where some would say, ‘Fake it till you make it’. 
But  does faking it really work?
To a certain extent it does.

Standing tall, for instance, will help you open up your lungs and breathe more deeply – I have talked about the many benefits of proper breathing.

  • Relaxing your shoulders at the same time will relax your whole body and allow you to drop your hands down, and only raise them when you are making natural gestures to go with your words. The body language expert, Alan Pease, will tell you that crossing your arms across the body puts up barriers between you and other people. Clasping or wringing hands is a dead give-away showing lack of confidence, stress and tension.
  • Relaxing and standing tall enable the body’s systems to work properly – all the circulatory systems do their job – circulating blood throughout the body – the skin looks healthier and eyes brighter with blood and oxygen.
  • Proper breathing also circulates lymph – vital to cleanse and detoxify the system and boost the immune system.
  • A healthy body will always project more energy and confidence.

What happens to the voice?

Standing tall and breathing properly provide the oxygen in the lungs to project the voice.

In my Toastmasters club there are some people with soft voices. How do they stand?  Certainly not strongly.  How do they breathe – not deeply.

My friend, the singer, Deborah Leigh-Russell knows how to project her voice through good posture and deep breathing. She is also a Drama teacher and a trainer.  I went to a series of her drama courses at one time and she had excellent exercises to help us project our voices and create vocal variety.  She had us walking around the room saying Abba babba babba, Acca Cacca cacca – etc right through the alphabet. Of course we laughed so much we filled our lungs with oxygen too.  Being ridiculous in front of our peers can increase our confidence.

Laughing at ourselves and finding that it endears people to us rather than repelling them is great for confidence.

Posture, confidence and energy go together.

If you handle your posture, use open gestures, breathe deeply and focus on the other person rather than yourself your confidence will build and you will find that being yourself in front a wide range of people will become easier and easier.

The energy and enjoyment you obtain from this interaction will be enormous.
Try it and let me know of your results.

A magic ingredient, key to success
Is confidence. This is the truth, not a guess.
The person with confidence emanates grace.
Her posture is strong, she’s a smile on her face.
She holds up her chin so her voice projects out,
And all can hear clearly there’s no need to shout.
She knows what she’s saying before it is said,
Because she’s researched and it’s all in her head.
No need to reflect on the words she will say.
Which means she can look in your eyes all the way.
To engage, fascinate, take you on her path,
Involve and inspire, encourage to laugh.
With the confident one you are willing to trust
To avail of her service is surely a must.
So if you aspire to be lover or friend
Gain confidence now and you’ll come to that end.
(c) Joan Small

More about Confidence, Energy and Posture to come.

Click on ‘Leave a Comment’ below and tell me what you have found works for you.

Live with Energy
Visit:  http://www.theenergybook.com/ to find out about my book, ‘The Energy Book For Life – The Guidebook To Energized Living’

Good Posture to Energize

Stand Tall and Sit Tall to Energize – My Wise Mother’s Deportment Advice 

Me at 3 years old with my back to the camera - already the same height as my sister

What has posture to do with energy, or the energizing breathing I talked about in my previous post?

I will answer by telling a story:

As a child I quickly caught up to my sister in height, although she was 20 months older than I. My father would say, ‘We need to put a brick on your head’, so I got the idea it was not a good  thing to be as tall as my sister.

However, my wise mother was intent on getting me to stand up straight and walk with dignity. She went to a Deportment school in Perth set up by June Dally Watkins, who was Australia’s Model of the Year in 1949.  There are still June Dally Watkins modelling schools in Australia today.

Walk With a Book on Your Head

Mum would get my sister and me to walk with books on our heads so that we could maintain correct posture and walk smoothly and graciously.

I aspired to being a model, and grew to 174 cms ( 5 ft 8 1/2  inches) tall. I too went to deportment classes,  but never became a model – I was a school teacher instead.

During the years of my teacher training I carried heavy bags of books on one side of the body (we didn’t use backpacks as students do these days).

Several boyfriends were the same height or shorter than me, so I began to slouch to reduce my height. By the time I married a man a couple of inches shorter than myself I had gotten into the habit of standing on one leg with one hip to the side, and when I had babies I carried them on my hip quite often too.

Over the years my poor posture twisted my spine resulting in back and hip problems. It has only been in recent years that I have focused on returning my skeleton to its natural state.

Deep Breathing and Posture

You will remember that I said, in order to breathe deeply you have to relax your shoulders – even slouch. By this I don’t mean letting the head drop forward.

When I made regular visits to a chiropractor a few years ago he showed me a macabre object he had on his desk. It was a large transparent ten pin bowling ball with a replica of a human skull inside it. When I took it in my hand it felt so heavy. (An average adult head weighs somewhere between 4.5 and 5 kg, and constitutes about 8% of the whole body mass.)

Why does this matter?

Because this is the weight that the neck and spine have to hold up.
If the head, neck and spine are in proper alignment, then this is not a problem, but if we allow the head to fall forward, it puts tremendous stress and tension on the spine and all the muscles around it.

This is what was happening to me, and this is what happens when we sit incorrectly at a computer. The tendency is to let the head fall forward.
What has this to do with energy?

Pain, tension and stress on the body reduce energy, creating constant tiredness. The internal muscles become constricted and the bodies systems – based on flows – cannot function properly.

By standing and sitting tall, but allowing our shoulders to drop down in a relaxed manner, we are giving the body the best chance to regenerate energy with breathing and functioning properly.

Deborah Lee-Russell

Deborah Lee-Russell

My friend Deborah Leigh-Russell, a beautiful coloratura singer, says that a good way to remember how to stand tall is to imagine a string at the top back of the neck (the base of the skull) pulling you skyward, like a puppet. This will help you hold your head high but with your chin down in the correct position. As a singer it is important to breathe properly, and standing tall like this keeps the airway clear and allows the lungs to expand properly.

Posture at a computer

When seated at the computer your screen should be at eye level. Beware of those laptops and computer tablets that encourage you to be looking downwards.

If you are at the computer for any length of time, make sure you have a properly designed ergonomic chair, and that you sit back – not slump forwards. Your keyboard must be low, so that you put the least amount of strain on your arms and shoulders when typing.

Because of the hours and hours of time we spend on computers, our bodies can suffer from RSI – Repetitive Strain Injury – not so much from repeated movement these days, but from incorrect posture.

Posture Tips – What I do

  • I use my webcam to check on myself every hour of so, to ensure I am still sitting properly. I keep it minimised, and every now and then flip it up to check how I am sitting.
  • I have a natural  lambskin on my seat to cushion it and prevent pressure sores from sitting for too long.
  • I remember to breathe deeply, as explained in my previous post, and I have frequent breaks to stretch my muscles, exercise and drink water or herbal tea.

My body is by no means perfect, but my posture is much better than it was a few years ago when the chiropractor showed me how I had allowed myself to decline.

Along with my better posture, my energy levels have risen too.

Take up the challenge – Stand Tall – Sit Tall and maintain good posture to energize you.

What Are Your Posture Tips?
Click on ‘Leave a Comment’ below and tell me what you have found works for you.

Live with Energy
Visit:  http://www.theenergybook.com/ to find out about my book, ‘The Energy Book For Life – The Guidebook To Energized Living’


Do You Breathe Like A Baby – Energize, Be Happy And Healthy

Relaxation Is Good, But Relaxation With Breathing Energizes, Youthens and De-Stresses

breathe like a baby to relax and energize

Breathe Like A Baby To Relax And Energize

In my previous blog I talked about my brush with Cancer and how I used relaxation, along with other things to recover from it.

I used four main strategies and they worked for me. It is more than 25 years since I had the malignant lump removed from my breast and I haven’t had a re-occurrence.

These are the four strategies I used:

  1. First I examined my lifestyle, and more importantly my attitude. I realised that some of my actions were causing worry and stress, so I handled these by making changes. Not only was I trying to fit too much into my life, but I was having a problem with a few people I had to deal with on a regular basis. I had to find a way to cut back on my workload and handle the upsets.
  2. Secondly I increased my nutritional intake and supplements daily.
  3. The third action was to re-read ‘Relief Without Drugs’ by Dr Ainslie Meares and carry out the relaxation techniques for an hour morning and night. The meditation exercises had a calming effect and made the day flow more smoothly. Some people call the state I go into the Alpha state. I have since attended a workshop on Alpha and learned how to use it in the whole of life to make things flow more easily, to increase efficiency and to reduce stress.
  4. The fourth thing I did was to let go of negative self-talk and change my thoughts to the positive, uplifting and optimistic. This has been a much longer journey, and even now I occasionally find myself dropping back into old patterns of thinking, especially self-criticism, but I am aware of myself doing it and can quickly ‘change my mind’.

That was back in the 1980s, and since then I have lived through many challenging circumstances.

After lapsing for a while, I re-discovered meditation and its value, but even more importantly I discovered deep breathing.

Controlled Breathing

Some people will tell you to do ‘controlled breathing.’ One technique is to say ‘in’ when you breathe in, and ‘relax’ when you breathe out. Another method says breathe in for 3 and out for 3.

Tony Robbins’ breathing method is:
• Breath in for 1 count
• Hold for 4 counts
• Breath out for 2 counts

For example – if you were to breath in for four seconds, then you would hold your breath for sixteen seconds and then breathe out for eight. He suggests doing this this ten times, three times a day (morning, evening and before bed). One of the real benefits I obtained from listening to Tony talking about breathing, was to learn the effect breathing  has on the lymphatic system, and therefore health and energy. More about that later.

The Breathing Method That Worked For Me

About three years ago, I met a lady here on the Gold Coast called Helen Johnson, a naturopath who has devised the ‘Johnson Breathing Technique’.

This breathing technique  made such a huge difference to the stress and tension I was carrying, especially around my neck, shoulders and upper arms (see previous post – ‘Being Energized and Looking Younger With Relaxation’).

The beauty of The Johnson Breathing Technique is that it changes the way we breathe all day, not just at specific times like ‘three times a day’, before sleep, when meditating / relaxing etc.

Of course it is still necessary to practice it until it becomes natural.

Helen says in her book ‘Natural Stress and Anxiety Relief’: ‘We were born breathing the right way and the physical body will easily go back to it if we let our learned conditioning go. The physical body is not made to run on adrenaline all the time; we have programmed it to run on adrenaline and we can change the patterning’.

What she means by ‘running on adrenaline’ is, that when we are stressed the body’s fight or flight mechanism clicks in and adrenaline is released throughout the system. This is not good for the body.

The Johnson Breathing Technique is simple but not easy. It requires some practice to change the body’s programming.

The simple steps in brief are:

  • Place your hands one on top of the other – palm to the back of the other hand – three finger-widths below the belly button.
  • Allow your stomach and abdominal muscles to fall outwards / forwards towards your thighs and allow your shoulders to drop down and forward, just relax them, in other words – slouch. … Many of you will feel the tension go out of your neck, shoulders and back if you can relax these muscles, immediately releasing neck, shoulder and back pain. (This was the case with me).
  • Start by taking a breath in – inhale, then, as you breathe out (exhale)  use your hand to push, gently, the lower abdominal muscles in towards the spine. .. as if you are pushing the air out of your lower abdomen (power center) rather than from your lungs alone. At the same time, pull your muscles in towards the spine. 
  • Then let the muscles go so that the body can breathe in again. When you relax your gut muscles you will feel the air going right down into your stomach. Push your lower abdominal muscles out from the inside to help the natural action.

In summary – pull your lower abdomen in to expel all the air from your lungs, and push the lower abdominal muscles out to allow the air to fill up your lungs completely.

It takes a bit of coordination at first, but if you start by practicing the breathing lying down, and then sitting up comfortably and straight –  also while meditating – you will find after a while it comes naturally. Helen suggests using the technique constantly for six weeks to re-educate and re-program the body.

This is our natural way of breathing, and after a while you will find you can do it while driving the car (great de-stressor in traffic), while walking, exercising or just going about your daily routine.

For a full description of the Johnson Breathing Technique or find out more visit http://www.johnsonstressrelief.com.au/ and you may choose to buy the book which contains a more detailed description of how to do the breathing.

What Does Correct Breathing Do For Me?

  • Allows me to get rid of the stress and tension around my neck and shoulders. This not only relieves pain, but I feel more energized, youthful and attractive
  • Calms my mind and my thoughts
  • Enables me to better handle stressful situations  – to ‘respond’ not ‘react’ when I am faced with negativity
  • Helps me maintain a healthy weight.
    The list is endless.

We don’t call it ‘the breath of life’ for nothing.

If we learn how to breathe properly – as we did when babies – then we will not just live, but enjoy life more, be healthier, happier and more energized.

Relaxation and correct breathing go together. Give it a try, and do let me know your thoughts and results.

Live with Energy
Visit:  http://www.theenergybook.com/ to find out about my book, ‘The Energy Book For Life – The Guidebook To Energized Living’

Being Energized and Looking Younger With Relaxation

Relaxation and Stress – Feel Younger, Look Younger, Have More Energy

relaxation to feel and look younger and be energized

Relaxation shows in the neck - Before and After (At Left 2002, At Right 2011)

 We all have stress in our lives, but how can we handle it, and how can we prevent it from making us feel and look older?

In the 1980s I had a brush with Breast Cancer, which resulted in a biopsy and then an operation in which a malignant lump was removed from my left breast. The surgeon was confident that he got all the harmful cells, but I was scheduled for follow up scans three months later.

What is the Cause of Cancer

I will get into a controversial arena if I make firm statements about the causes of cancer, but I can express my beliefs and you have the right to agree or disagree. (I would love to hear what you think).

My belief is that Cancer, along with other diseases of the body, is caused and created by stress. I also believe that it is important to look after our bodies, but in this blog I am dealing just with stress as a cause.

When the cancer showed up I set out with this belief in mind  to make sure  it didn’t return,  and it hasn’t.

I have been free of any symptoms for more than 20 years, without medical follow up treatment.

What did I do?

The first thing was to look at what was causing the stress in my life and eliminate / handle it.

The second thing was to practice relaxation techniques so that I could continue to handle stress when it came up.

I found a wonderful book called ‘Relief Without Drugs’ by Dr Ainslie Meares. Morning and night, I spent an hour relaxing. It was amazing the difference this made in my life. Not only did it help to prevent the cancer returning, but it helped me deal with stressful situations more effectively. (This out of print book can be bought on the internet for between $70 and $200 – an indication of how valuable it still is.)

Forgetting How To Relax

However, as often happens, once the crisis is over and life catches up we can forget to do the things that are good for our health and well-being.  This happened to me, and I fell off the relaxation bandwagon. After I moved to Australia’s Gold Coast in 2001 I became immersed in many challenging situations – and the stresses showed up in my body.

Where do you carry your stress? 

With me, it is mostly in my neck and shoulders. In fact, many years ago a physio- therapist (physical therapist) gave up on my entirely because she tried everything to un-knot the knotted muscles. She tried hand massage, an electrical machine to ease the tense muscles, and she even put me ‘on the rack’ to stretch out my back – all to no avail.

Neck Tension – Looking Older

In the first picture above, taken in about 2002, you can see that the tendons around my neck are standing out with the stress and tension I was carrying.

 Relaxation Plus Deep Breathing

About 18 months ago I re-discovered the value of relaxation along with deep breathing.

The benefit of deep breathing is that I can do it all day, not just night and morning. Once I learned the technique I have been able to practice it so that it becomes second nature to me. 

In the second picture (above) taken recently, you can see how much more relaxed I am around the neck area. No longer do I have that ugly ‘chicken neck’ that clearly shows that I am tense and stressed despite the smiling face. I not only feel more energized and relaxed, I feel and even look younger.

In my next blog I will write more specifically about the breathing technique, how and when to practice it, and the physical and energizing benefits it can have on your life too.

Live With Energy

I would love to hear your views about this, or other blogs I have written. Please Click on ‘Leave a Comment’ below.

Visit:  http://www.theenergybook.com to find out about my book, ‘The Energy Book For Life – The Guidebook To Energized Living’