Tip Tuesday: A Healthy Spine

"You're only as young as your spine is flexible." This is quoted by Joseph Pilates and other gurus throughout the years. Recently I watched my mom go through having a herniated disk and watching something like that really makes me want to ensure I have good spinal health. Your spine connects with many other crucial bones, muscles, nerves, and ligaments so keeping a healthy foundation can prevent injury later and keep you moving well.

One of the ways to keep your spine healthy and to keep your back feeling good is to do these few stretches daily. Once you get into a habit your body will really crave these stretches at the end of the day. Remember to treat your spine with the utmost care. 

1. Cat/cow
 Try your best to synchronize your breath with movement here.

2. Lying spinal twist. 

You may do this with both knees bent or as pictured above. Try to direct your inhalation to you lower back while doing this.

3. Cobra 
Start by just pushing yourself up gradually and you may work up to however far is feels good to stretch.

These are just a few stretches to get you started to a great feeling spine. As always be gentle at first, move slowly, and remember to breathe.

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Tip Tuesday: How to Not Spread Yourself Too Thin

In light of my day today I felt compelled to share these tips. There are some times that I feel I've taken on too much. But there are also many times that I purposefully do not take on too much in order to prevent burnout. There is so many things to be done in a day, so many choices, and so many people. But my advice is to not spread yourself too thin, I think we all are trying to prevent that. Some are better at it than others, but some just want to do everything and be everywhere. Take these tips from me, to not let this happen to you. 

1. Be selfish. Many people get over committed because they are  people pleasers.  If someone ask for your help and you are a kind person you want to be of service to them. But realize that you can't help everyone, you have your own things going on, and there are only so many hours in the day. 

2. Realize the consequences of over committing. The last thing you want is to get so over committed to so many things that you find yourself having to pull out of your commitments. If you were to get overwhelmed at what you have going on, while healthy for you, pulling back could be hard on those you had already committed to. 

3. Know what your priorities are. If you know you love working with youth, volunteering with a youth organization may be a lengthy enough commitment. You may get opportunities to volunteer in areas that you aren't quite so passionate about so keep in mind the things that you love when making your choices.Your don't have that much free time and you can't do everything, so you have to pick and choose.

4. Keep in mind the commitments that you can't back out of. Your personal time, health, job, and family already require a lot of time from you. These are generally things that could suffer when committing yourself to other things. Make sure you are not making too big of sacrifices for things that are important to you. 

5. Be okay with saying no. When someone asks you to be a part of something sometimes you don't want to let them down. It's even difficult to say no to their face. Phrases like "I respectfully decline" or "I can't take on any more right now" can help to let the person down nicely. Not to make excuses, but help them to genuinely understand why you can't commit. It's not a crime to say no, and its not a crime to think of yourself when being careful not to stretch yourself too thin. When you think about it you are actually doing yourself and them a disservice if you commit but can't give your all. 

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Tip Tuesday: Power Poses

We all want to go throughout our day feeling powerful. Not too many of us mean to abuse that power or let it get out of our control, but whether you are giving a public presentation, caring for a classroom of 30 students, or just wanting to successfully get through your day we all could use a little power from within. 

In my new job I too am looking to feel powerful. Whether I want to successfully get a company to donate money to my organization or I just want to make a confident decision about making a purchase for us, I can benefit from a little boost in power.

In a recent trick I learned from Harvard business professor Dr. Amy Cuddy, she teaches us about power poses and the effect they can have on our hormones. Research shows that powerful leaders tend to have higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol. Higher levels of testosterone (in both men and women) lead to increased feelings of confidence. Meanwhile, lower levels of cortisol lead to decreased anxiety and an improved ability to deal with stress. 

Levels of these hormones can be effected by social, physical, and environmental cues around you. Power poses can be one such cue. 

Check out these high power and low power poses below and I think you'll realize right away which poses are exerting more confidence. 
Cuddy suggest standing in a power pose for two minutes everyday. Additionally you can stand in the power pose during a private moment before something like a job interview or a presentation. Particularly effective is the "Wonder Woman" pose or if you are a man "Superman" pose.  

Another tactic that I've sometimes employed, I get from one of my favorite online yoga teachers. She will throw in the command to smile every once in a while and I do. This is much different from that loud guy that gets in your face and demands you to "SMILE", when you are bored at a party. The act of putting a smile on your face, even if it's forced and not resulting from anything, does have a slight positive affect on the mood. Smile.

So what all this amounts out to is that you can receive inward effect from outward body movement. In a way, you are faking it to make it. Give yourself the platform of a strong and confident person by standing that way, and you may be surprised just how strong and confident you will feel.  

Read the entire article here
Watch a short video on Amy Cuddy's Ted Talk here. 

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Item #43 Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fire

I love Nat King Cole so much that he made me want to roast chestnuts on an open fire. I've had this item on my life list for a couple years now. Recently when I saw chestnuts for sale at Kroger I saw it was finally time to get this one.

Thanksgiving posed the best opportunity because I would have the capability of using an "open fire". I didn't have a ton of ideas of how to do this properly, I was just jazzed to be crossing off a life list item. I could count on Uncle Jim to be equally as excited as me. We of course didn't have a chestnut roaster, but he did have something that would work just the same. I had a hard time keeping them out of the flame directly and I had no idea what they would taste like but I was elated to be doing this so very Christmasy activity. 

I won't really tell you how they turned out, because they didn't. The whole time I was telling Uncle Jim that it was about  end result but rather the act of doing it is what counted. It's all about the journey.


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Tip Tuesday: Save Our Youth

I recently went to a community meeting to talk about the issues with gun violence and how we can protect our community from it. It was focused on youth and spoke about the causes of gun violence, but didn't quite get to the solutions. There were different races in the room, which pleased me, but instead of being a constructive brainstorming session, it was more like  a sharing session. Those needing a place to be heard about the hardships they had faced, and more specifically the hardships they faced with police. 

I'm glad I was present, even though I was discouraged not enough solutions were tossed around. The whole reason that working in youth development moves me so much is the possibility to be a mentor to a young person who may not have anyone else. And maybe, just maybe, you are that person who will help them truly succeed. 

So where as I couldn't voice my ideas for solutions in the meeting, I'm taking the power of this blog to voice them here. If you too want to see the youth of today have strong and successful futures, thus creating a strong society for us all, read a few of my tips on how to do that. 

1. Mentor, mentor, mentor!  I believe that those of us who have had a positive upbringing and have found success in our lives have a responsibility to assist others in doing the same thing. I'm not implying that you can change someone, but you can be that positive influence in their life that can help them find their own way. Check into these avenues for mentoring:
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Girl Scouts
Energizing Education 
The Hub Teen Center 

2. Report positive things going on to the media. People may have too many bad things to say about "kids today". But when you know of youth doing something positive help spread that word. It may inspire others to do the same. Email addresses are listed by each reporter's stories. Get in touch with them! They are always looking for content.

3. Talk about gun violence in schools and youth centers. I haven't been in school in 10 years and to my recollection there wasn't much education about gun violence in schools. If you are in a position to speak of this in schools, take the opportunity to do it. 

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