Tag Archives: stress

Operation Spread Hope, Love & Joy

makesomeoneslifebetter 2

Point to Ponder:
Where does spreading hope, love and joy fall into your Christmas festivities?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Each year and upon entering the Christmas season I always set out to be more intentional and purposeful than in the previous years. Inevitably, my goals are always the same: don’t overspend, stick to the Christmas list, avoid perfection, resist shopping for myself while I am shopping for others (how does that always happen?!), and most importantly to live outside of myself by giving and sharing the spirit and meaning of Christmas: to spread hope, love and joy.

I cringe to think how extra self-centered my holidays would be without my attempted annual goals. Frustratingly, I always spend more money that desired, I get caught up in materialism and commercialism, and I exhaust myself by trying to make everything perfect which in turn stresses me out! Shamefully, beyond my immediate family members, friends and neighbors there is very little thinking outside of myself, no extra sharing of love, hope and joy and therefore no additional lives impacted. Really, it’s nauseating that I live in this perpetual state of insanity (setting the same goal and taking no additional action yet expecting a different result), therefore to end this ridiculousness and attempt to really spread hope, love and joy and make a difference in at least one life during the Christmas season, I’ve come up with a plan of action entitled “Operation Spread Hope, Love and Joy”, and I hope you will join me!

The goal of Operation Spread Hope, Love and Joy is exactly as it sounds: to spread hope, love and joy by putting a smile on someone’s face, being a source of encouragement and light and continuing to express gratitude which will in turn positively impact lives.

Starting today and throughout the next four weeks leading up to Christmas I will announce the weekly action. For this week, the suggested action is to print the provided note card printable, cut out the individual notes and give to as many people as possible. If you are like me, you will experience some fear and hesitation when handing out the cards, especially to a total stranger. You may likely make an assumption that the potential recipient isn’t going through anything, doesn’t need a pick-me-up and/or will think you are weird. Repeat these words: Nonsense! Everyone is going through something, everyone can use a little light and iGnite in their lives and if spreading some hope, love and joy by means of positive note cards make us weird, I gladly welcome the label! After all, the worst thing that can happen is the card gets thrown in the trash, but what if it makes somebody else’s life better?

Finally, share how you are spreading your hope, love and joy note cards by posting pictures via your favoritie social media outlets, using the hashtag #spreadhopeloveandjoy and tagging iGnite. This is not at all to be braggadocious or draw attention to your or iGnite’s actions. Instead, it’s an opportunity to let social media do what I believe social media has the greatest potential in doing, which is to be a catalyst for uplifting messages, positive change and spreading good around the world.

Action Item:
Print the provided note card printable, cut out the individual notes and give to as many people as possible. If you are able, share how you are spreading your hope, love and joy note cards by posting pictures via your favorite social media outlets, using the hashtag #spreadhopeloveandjoy and tagging iGnite.

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Fourteen Reasons to be Grateful

iGnite -gratitude changes everything

Point to Ponder:
Do you regularly acknowledge what you are grateful for?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

As you have likely noticed, during the month of November we are celebrating gratitude! Not only are we eager to blast out our gratitude in our social media #ignitegratefulgram contest, but we are fired up to wear our gratitude loud and proud with our NEW ‘Grateful’ fall apparel.

We are not at all suggesting or asking that you post or wear your grateful spirit to be boastful about your “things”. Instead, the motivation behind our Grateful Campaign is to encourage the daily action of giving thanks for our amazing lives and blessings…because when life gets inevitably tough, a grateful spirit can change a bad day into a good day, and a good day into a great day, because gratitude changes everything. I’m hopeful that our Grateful Campaign will inspire and reignite a grateful spirit in everyone.

There is no denying that acknowledging our blessings on a daily basis leads to a physiological reaction that creates a happy and peacful state in the body. To go a step further, based on the findings from a fascinating gratitude experiment conducted by two psychologists, writing down what we are grateful for leads to even greater results. Check this out:

“Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of 1. alertness, 2. enthusiasm, 3. determination, 4. optimism, and 5. energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less 6. depression and 7. stress, and 8. were more likely to help others, 9. exercised more regularly, and 10. made greater progress toward achieving personal goals. In addition, Dr. Emmons’ research shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more 11. creative, 12. bounce back more quickly from adversity, 13. have a stronger immune system, and 14. have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. He further points out that “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.” – The Change Blog

Something that I am experimenting with in our family is a gratitude jar. The jar sits in the middle of our dining room table and each evening at dinner, we talk about one thing we are grateful for, followed with writing it down on piece of paper and placing it in the jar. Because I have small children who can’t write, I have been writing what they say as as well as including the date. It has become a sweet and focused time which stirs up great conversation (even with a two and a four year old). My personal goal is to revisit the jar of notes during our Thanksgiving meal and to continue writing down what we are grateful for throughout the month of November and the remainder of the year.

Another idea is to print and cut out our Grateful Printables. Then, place your jar, printables and pen in a high-traffic area in your home and anytime you or your family members pass by it, drop a gratitude note in the jar. From a good nights rest, a warm a cup of coffee to the blessing of good health, family and friends, it all counts and taking the time to acknowledging your blessings will make a positive impact in your health, relationships and overall quality of life. And, several months from now or anytime you need a pick-me-up, all you have to do is read what’s in the jar and you are guaranteed a good laugh, happy cry and/or mood booster. Why? Because gratitude changes everything!

Action Item:
Print out our Grateful Printables. Place your jar, printables and pen in a high-traffic area in your home and anytime you or your family members pass by it, drop a gratitude note in the jar. Or, at dinner each evening have each family member write down and discuss what they are grateful for and place in the jar.

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Embrace “The Juggle”

Inspiration from the iGnite Archives

iGnite - The Juggle

As the summer is coming to an end and the shift to back to school and more activity is happening, we are embracing The Juggle.  Our inspiration is from a blog post from a few years back. We encourage you to read it again and determine your priorities and goals, set some realistic expectations and practice patience in the moments when it’s not all going according to plan.

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What If vs. What Is?

A Father’s Day Tribute

iGnite - have funPoint to Ponder:

How can you change your thoughts regarding a “What if?” that has been on your mind recently?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

With Father’s Day upon us, I would be remiss not to share some of the best pieces of wisdom my father, Don Brown, has passed along to me, which is:  Put a smile on my face, don’t worry and have fun. 

There was once a time in my life when I worried about everything and with that came a ridiculous amount of “What-if’s.”  It’s funny because now I can’t even specifically remember what all I worried about or what-if’d about, but it happened regularly enough for my Dad to impress upon me that worry and what-if’s would not only ruin my day, but were a complete waste of my time and energy.

Even though I knew my Dad was right, applying the “don’t worry, smile and have fun” philosophy was much easier said than done.  Then, before having children I vividly remember ‘what if’-ing and literally freaking out about my future–wondering how balancing a family and career was or wasn’t going to work out.  My mind meandered down a million unnecessary paths. Amongst all of the worry, of course everything worked out great.  In fact, it worked out much better than I could’ve ever planned or imagined. Not only was my Dad right, but the majority of the time the things I worry about and what-if over never become a reality.  I also realized that I could never get back all of the time I’ve wasted on worry.

Along the same lines, but spun slightly differently, my husband Russell recently shared this wisdom he learned from the University of San Diego head baseball coach: “If you are going to spend time on the “What’s,” spend time on what is vs. what if.”  I love that!  What if we replaced the imaginary “what if’s” with the facts of what actually is?  To me, this changes the whole situation, because when we stick with the facts only, we can apply logic and reason.  We’d save ourselves a ton of mental, emotional and even physical anguish and stress, and a ton of time — something I am certain all of us can use more of.

I am thankful to admit that the amount I worry and what-if over the years has significantly decreased, but when they do start to creep back into my head and get me emotionally charged, irrational and threaten to sabotage my day, I recall my Dad’s wisdom and strive to not worry, smile and have fun.  So, please join me in making it a goal to ditch the worry and what-if’s and focus on enjoying life and having fun!

Action Item:

Focus on the what-is rather than the what-if and enjoy the difference it makes in your daily living.

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Embracing the Yin and Yang of Life

waterfall

by Cary Fyfe

by Cary Fyfe

Life….it flows, it surprises, it lifts and drops. Sometimes, it drops more than it lifts. And sometimes, no matter what we do to alter unwelcome circumstances, we have no choice but to let go and sit in what is happening. To not strive…to stay in the sensation of the experience…to allow tension to transform to strength. While it works to respond actively to many situations, when we surrender — while surrounding ourselves with support — we learn to love the truth that is right there, patiently smiling upon us.

That truth finally snagged me, when I became a mother to two boys…two very busy, delightful, public boys. It was a process though…I continually turned my head to the chances to be enlightened — I really thought — not proud of this one — that I had reached my mountaintop of maturity and wisdom, that I was equipped to rock this gig of motherhood. I had always worked with children, what did I not know? And not surprisingly, my arrogance was swamped by the first rough wind that took me to my knees…a wind that knowingly whispered, “Self-anointed ‘I’ve-got-this’ mama, these boys are here to teach you…so please listen.”

And listen I did. But trust what I heard, I did not. I was a slow learner. I was intent on — dang it — being the writer of my family’s story. We all have periods in our lives where we feel wildly tossed about by rapids, and we madly paddle to avoid the inevitable waterfall — we hear its roar, and it terrifies us. While we wonder how — or if — we will reach a peaceful shore before the cascade envelops us, we strive to fight the inevitable, to change the story. Oh, oh, I wanted to change the story. I did not want to be in the spotlight of teachers and administrators who were dialing my number. I did not want to consult experts to guide us along the way. And worst of all, I did not heed the messages that each of my precious sons were sending me…I was too frantic, too busy, too scared.

So I shook. I pushed back. I cratered. I chose to pull hard, away from the uncomfortable sensations; I was resistant to releasing the hold that fear had planted inside of me. While my precious sons were shining their little rainbows of uniqueness and wonder at me, I was franticly responding to the messages that I had been given my whole life, and to those that were being given to me as a mother, by the small — not always kind — world surrounding my family. “Try this, try that, if you don’t do this now, they’ll do this later”…and one day, my paddles broke, our boat flipped, and we all went over the waterfall.

There is good news here, and it took a trip into the dreaded abyss to trust it: the truth that lies below the fall has been waiting patiently, for our arrival. In order for my story to be changed, I had to first let go and embrace the story that was present. That precipice, that torrent of water and where it landed us, was my lovely truth. That free fall down the current, into the calmer stream below, forced me to let go — to hold myself and my family in love and compassion as I recognized that my story was, indeed, a beautiful one.

When life’s current determines our direction, we must power up and actively engage, while also dwelling quietly in the sensations of the experience. Both are necessary. The active response — Yang — fuels us for motion, and the passive response — Yin — heals, informs and sustains us. While we use our strength to paddle, we give in to the force of the current. And no matter where we finally settle, it takes both engagement and surrender…Yin and Yang…to arrive. Beauty in strife, strength in repose…balance.  I so love nurturing that balanced, life process, as it is mirrored in my own practice and teaching of Yin Yoga…to release the struggle, and to witness the beauty that then flows.

Join Cary February 28th for a Workshop on Yin Yoga Exploration:YinYogaExploration-01

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Entering a Gossip-Free Month

Loving Yourself & Others, Part I

Speak Positively

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Ephesians 4:29

Point to Ponder:
Are your conversations about others wholesome and beneficial?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Have you ever gone shopping and purchased something that was impractical, impulsive and too expensive? Then, as soon as you arrived home you hastily ripped off the tag, tossed the receipt, and fully expected “it” to make you feel happy and satisfied…but within less than 24-hours, you realized that “thing” that you are now stuck with is something you don’t want, can’t return and as a result, have buyer’s remorse?!  This is how I feel after I’ve shamefully engaged in gossip. Upon the initial engagement of gossiping, it can feel harmless and even fun, but afterwards I always have ‘gossip remorse’ and wish I could take it all back. However, the damage to my heart and to the heart of the person I’ve talked about is already done. It’s gross, nasty and immature, and makes me want to soak myself in bleach and ask for forgiveness.

As you are aware, Valentine’s Day is on February 14th.  While I think Valentine’s is sweet and I do participate in the sweetness of it, I also think it’s a silly scheme to make us spend money on superficial love items that men feel obligated to buy women. And for women who aren’t in a relationship, it’s just a depressing day. Furthermore, it’s like New Years Eve or the prom, it’s over-rated and more disappointing than fun because it’s glamorized and expectations are unrealistic and too high. I promise I’m not jaded (even though my first Valentine’s with Russell came with diamond earrings, and now I get roses because those were his mom’s favorite flower — even though I have communicated to him that they are my least favorite flower…). Instead, I’m just proposing we use the month of February for a purpose that will provide real long-term emotional and spiritual fulfillment to ourselves and others, which is loving ourselves and all people by avoiding gossip, not engaging in gossip and when in a circle of gossip, courageously suggesting that the conversation end.

In addition to the month of Valentine’s, February is also American Heart Month. Heart month is intended to raise awareness of the prevalence of heart disease awareness, which remains to be the #1 killer of women. When I think of heart disease, my tendency is to think one-dimensionally: diet and exercise.  However, stress of any kind affects the whole body and heart, and there’s no doubt that gossip absolutely has an effect on two hearts: the person gossiping and the person who is being gossiped about. I love visuals, which is why I love the picture above. We may not be able to make someone change their diet or exercise, but we can choose to hold both of our hearts responsibly, with kindness and compassion.

I really do feel like Ephesians 4:29 (the verse above) advises perfectly.  Just think how good we will feel and the goodness ripple effect that will take place as a result of us not engaging in unwholesome talk, and only talking about what is useful for building others up according to their needs so that it may benefit those that are listening. This also includes people we don’t even know but like to talk about anyway — like celebrities. We’ll be counter-culture, total misfits and oh what a good month this will be!

Action Item:
Avoid all gossip and instead choose words that are useful for building others up and will benefit those that are listening.

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The Magical Tibetan Twist

by Cary Fyfe

by Cary Fyfe

As we move more deeply into November, and closer to — ready for this? — The Holidays!! — I want to share my yoga “go-to” with you. This magical move is for those moments when, in one minute, your head is spinning wildly off of your body, and in the very next, you fall asleep while standing in line at the post office, still holding on to your packages. This move is called a “Tibetan Twist”, and it reconnects my body and mind every single time that I do it.

How-To:

Twist_w-1 Twist_w-2 Twist_w-3

So here we go…stand up, feet hip-distance apart, lift your arms straight out to the sides, to shoulder height (like you’re pretending to be a bird, one that could fly to Grandma’s house and not have to ride in the car with the kids for 5 hours), and:

  • twist right, twist left
  • inhale right, exhale left, breathe in and out, through your nose
  • twist 21 times on each side, and you will soon love yourself and your life again.

Benefits

If anxiety is poking at you, twist and breathe slowly, for calming. If lethargy is plaguing you, move more quickly, for energy. And if you’ve had too much pecan pie and dressing, twist away and your full belly will thank you. You can do this anywhere — yes, people will stare, but we are entering the Season of Wonder, so who cares? Just put the packages down first, twist and breathe away, and the wonderers will wish they knew what you knew. And now, I’ll leave you with a fun-fact: the magic of 21 times has another story, and there are 4 other exercises in the Tibetan series, but I will stop here and say — a little pre-Christmas gift from me to you — the next time you see Amy Younkman, ask her to tell you more because she is a “Tibetan Five” expert! Happy Travels, Happy Feasting and Happy Twisting!

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