The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon is probably the most sappy self-help book I’ve read so far, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Different folks need to different paths and scenery on their journey to contentment and self-actualization. I tend to lean towards the grittier, self-empowering, do it your own damned self type of growth, but this book definitely has an audience and place in the growth and empowerment world.
Gordon’s book is a lot more upbeat, and his whole argument is presented as a parable-type narrative. The main character, George, is having a rough time of it. His career is in the crapper, his marriage is suffering, and to top it all off, he has to put his car in the shop and use public transportation to get to and from work.
But his life begins to change soon after taking a few rides on the Energy Bus, driven by the aptly named Joy. She and the other passengers present George ten rules to help him be a more positive person.
It’s a fun, quick read (or listen) and can be inspiring.
Core Values are the internalized rules that you live by. They are NOT future goals; rather, they are what you already believe in and how you function right now. Your core values are shaped by everything that has happened to you in your life. They form the foundation for your decision making and your relationships with other humans. They can include influences from your parents and family, your religious affiliation, your friends and peers, your education, your reading, your experiences, and more.
I challenge you to figure out 4-6 Personal Core Values that you live by in your personal and professional life. Then, create value statement around these core values (Like how for GetUWired’s Core Value “Empower” the value statement is “We empower and respect small businesses.”) Below is a long list of example values that may help you along your way:
Examples of Core Values:
Examples of Value Statements
Deliver WOW Through Service
Embrace and Drive Change
Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
Pursue Growth and Learning
Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
Do More With Less
Be Passionate and Determined
Marriott Core Values:
We put People first
We Pursue Excellence
We Embrace Change
We Act with Integrity
GetUWired Core Values:
Empower: We Empower and Respect Small Businesses
Respect: We honor the role and respect the position
Excellence: We take pride and ownership in our work
When meditating, it is important to be comfortable. Being present in your body goes from being pleasant and relaxing to near torturous when your focus centers on the sensation of your spine being compressed or the ache you feel in your joints.
When I first started meditating, I would sit on my basement floor, crossed-legged, with my butt directly on the floor – which happens to be thin carpet with little padding over concrete. This was fine for shorter 5 minute meditation, but when I began challenging myself to do at least 15 minutes, something had to change. My spine ached with the stress and pressure and I found myself focusing on that pain and discomfort.
Many people use a zabuton and zafu, a round pillow and a pad, to meditate. It gives your body a bit of padding and allows you to better relax and settle into a solid meditative position. You sit on the round pillow, with your legs crossed, but somewhat dangling loose in front of you. This takes loads of stress off your spine.
Believing that you don’t have to spend money to seek wellness, I improvised. I took a plushy blanket and folded it into a nice rectangle to give it a bit more thickness. And then I took a throw pillow that, while cute (It has a corgi face on it, of course), didn’t really do anything else for me – until now.
This set up has greatly increased my comfort and helps me focus on more pleasant or neutral sensations while meditating.
Which brings me do another point. If at anytime while you’re meditating and you feel stressed or tense in any part of your body and simple releasing doesn’t seem to help, take a breath or two to stretch. I find that rolling my neck or shoulders help release tension that sometimes builds up over a longer session.
Find your mind wandering to things beyond the here and now? Wiggle your toes a bit, and focus your thought on them. It’s a great little trick for bringing you back and breaking a rumination cycle.
A little bit of movement as needed is okay. What’s the point of meditating if it causes you suffering?
Growth comes from rest. When you work out a muscle, the fibers tear. These tears are where the growth occurs. But if you just keep tearing, day after day, without giving you body time to repair itself, you risk serious injury.
Which is why I decided to forgo a workout session tonight. My legs hurt something fierce. I’m not sure if it was from my regular workout rourine, or from the two games of bowling yesterday, but as the day has gone on, I’ve found myself in increasing pain.
I welcome a bit of soreness, because it means I accomplished something. But sometimes, I over do it. If I don’t take the time to heal, I’ll only make things worse. So tonight, I’m taking a break from my normal Monday night workout session.
The same is also true for your mental health. If you don’t take the time to stop and allow you mind and soul to repair itself from those little tears they experience everyday, instead going on and on, with no stress relief, the pain will debilitate you. Overwhelm will set in. Meditation is a great way to rest your mind. Being mindful and grateful is another way. However you chose to stop and relax your mind, it doesn’t matter. Just remember to allow yourself time to rest and heal.
So this is a reminder to stop. Be present. Focus on you, your surroundings, what’s happening right now. Is there any part of you–mind, body, or soul–that needs a rest?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the daily journaling technique that I use to make the most of my days. Everything I did was handwritten, and doing so, would take me anywhere from ten minutes up to an hour to complete. Okay, the days it took an hour were due to other things distracting me, but still, writing every little thing out, while incredibly helpful for focusing my day, cost extra precious time I could actually be accomplishing something else.
So I took the time and dedicated my personal project time to developing a PDF version of my journal that I hope meshes together the best of both worlds. I save a little bit of time with writing out the repetitive stuff, but I still get the benefit of hand-writing out the important stuff, thus continuing to support my intention-setting and productivity goals each day.
I’ve decided to share this pdf with the world, no strings attached. Seriously, here’s the link: daily journal
Simply download and print. You can print on two pages, on front and back, or both pages on a single, front side in landscape mode, or whatever works for you – you just have to finagle your print settings.
If you need any extra guidance on how to fill this out, I suggest you read the original post on journaling.
I don’t often interject my opinion on social media threads, but earlier this week, a topic caught my attention. You see, a lady lost her 6 year old dog a earlier in 2018. She grieved. But towards the end of 2018, she and her family decided it was time to get another puppy. Fast forward to last week, and the day before the new puppy’s pick up date – that’s when the guilt ferrets invaded.
She posted her feelings in a group we both share membership in. She spoke how she felt guilty about getting a new puppy, feeling like she was replacing the late pet, and she wasn’t sure she could give this new puppy the love she deserved.
I responded, because I found out a truth myself this past year. A new puppy is an amazing salve. We lost our Waffles back in July and got a new puppy, Beans, in September. I had similar thoughts. I still miss Waffles like crazy, but Beans’s puppy joy has helped a lot.
Grief like this leaves a hole in your heart. And while getting a new puppy doesn’t heal that hole, it makes your heart grow even bigger, so that hole becomes less noticeable and painful. I still grieve for Waffles. Because I posted so many pictures of her, they show up in my social media flashback timelines all the time. Most of the time, they make me smile. Other times, they make me sad with the remembrance of how awesome a dog Waffles was.
What doesn’t happen is I ignore them and say to myself “Well she doesn’t matter any more. I have a new puppy now!” – because I’m not a heartless asshat.
But back to the story at hand.
Soon after, the thread was filled with the exact same sentiments. Over thirty other folks replied to this lady and helped her over her guilt bump, enforcing the fact that she was ready to love this new puppy. And the next day, she posted happy pictures of the new puppy.
Grief sucks because it isn’t something that you can just get over with a deep breath and a mental reset. It has to run its course and afterwards, it’s always with you. I titled this post a Little Bit of Grief because the loss of a pet is, to me, a little grief in comparison to losing a spouse or child. Pets’ lives are fleeting. I love my pups, but I know that they live short lives in comparison to humans. Your children and your spouse are supposed to be forever. Their loss cuts so much deeper.
I’ve lost all my grandparents, and I’ve even lost a cousin whom I damn near grew up with. I still mourn them. I still find myself crying at their individual tragedies and absences, but I’ve found things and experiences to grow my heart over the years, and it’s helped make the holes they left more bearable.
No, no, no. Not that type of journaling. Not that there’s anything wrong with keeping a diary, it’s just not what I’m focusing on for the purposes of this discussion.
I want to talk about journaling as a means for focus and intent, and even for productivity and momentum. Journaling is daily planning and reflecting. It sets a purpose, a list of goals and tasks, and it should be meaningful to you, personally.
It’s December. The end of the year. January is just around the corner. A new year signals a new awakening, a new purpose, a new you! So of course I’m being inundated with advertisements for specialized daily planners. Fitbook, Evo Flow, Panda Planner – just to name a few. These are companies who are jumping on the journaling bandwagon, each with their own unique, but similar approaches to daily planning and goal setting. And I’m definitely encouraging these marketing algorithms to show me more. Each time one of these planners shows up in my Instagram or Facebook feeds, I click on them interested to see what their methodology is, and to see if I get inspired to change up my own journal formatting at all.
I also hate to disappoint these these companies, but I’m not going to shell out $40 for their product – at least not anymore. I have bought a Panda Planner in the past, and really liked it. It helped shape what I do now. The prebuilt, structured planners are a great starting point if you don’t know what you need to do to get into a daily journaling ritual.
My journaling method isn’t a secret, and it isn’t anything fancy. It’s just what I do to put myself in the right mindset for the day, to organize and focus, and to help me be as productive and accomplished as I can be.
First, I write down the date, because I’m such a rebel. Actually, this forces you to acknowledge what say it is, so that when you inevitably have to tell someone else the date, you look like you’re on top of it.
Next line is my mantra for the day. Currently, my mantra is “I will be productive. I will make good choices. I am awesome.”
Then, I write down three things that I am grateful for. This helps set yourself in a positive mindset. Gratitude rituals have been shown to make people’s baseline happiness increase, and the happier you are, the more focused and productive you can be (not necessarily a scientific fact, but more anecdotal). I physically write “Today. I am grateful for…” and I list three things.
After that, I write out three things that I love about myself. This may be awkward for some. I find myself struggling with this one as well as it wars with my ideals of not being a snob. But self love isn’t conceit. It’s about recognizing the awesome in you and about you. This can be a physical feature. It’s okay to be proud of your derrière.
For the last part of my first section (there’s four, bear with me, the others are shorter), I write down three things that I am looking forward to. Going to the movies, a party, completing that big assignment, a weekend hike — the whole future awaits you!
This is where I draw some pretty little divider and move to the next section. Section two has only one part. I list the tasks I want to accomplish that day, usually in an abbreviated form ( ie, I write “bed” instead of “make your bed”). Sometimes I organize them into categories, sometimes I don’t. I do, however, typically break it down into four columns.
My third section is optional. I put an hourly breakdown. A list of when I’m going to do what (this is where the list categories comes in handy).
Last section is the one that I skip over way too much, but I know I shouldn’t. At the end of the day, I list three things I could improve on from the day, and three things that I did awesomely and can be proud of.
This type of journaling is a great habit to get into and I implore everyone to find a technique that works for them.
I do suggest that you invest in a pen/pens you like to make journaling more enjoyable. I use three different colored pens for my daily entries, because I love making my life a bit more colorful.
Do you already have a journaling routine? What does yours involve?
Mantras are statements that you say to yourself to focus and empower yourself. Mantras can be simple “I am…” statements (I am important, I am valued, I am strong, etc), or can be multiple sentences — whatever you need, personally, to fill empowered.
I repeat this to myself several times while I’m meditating. I breath in deep and then say each short piece on the out breath. I also write these words down every morning into my journal when I first get to work.
And I mentally repeat it as I sit in the waiting room of the doctor’s office.
This is not a mantra that applies to my life as a whole. Right now, it’s something that I find strength and focus in while I’m struggling with this mystery illness. It’s what I need right now. When my body is well again, I will change my mantra to something more appropriate.
In fact, one of my mantras that I constantly find myself reverting back to in times of health and happiness is:
Think Lean. I am fit and productive.
I repeat this one to myself all the time, especially at work. It’s a constant reminder to stay on task and to avoid the snack stand. Cut the fluff, cut the fat. And for goodness’ sake, stay off Facebook.
Grateful people are happy people. Appreciating what you have and how far you’ve come is one of the foundations for living a more mindful, more meaningful life. Gratitude rituals are present in the teachings of so many wellness gurus that it almost feels cliche. Since I’ve started my intentional journey into mindfulness and wellness it seems that every person, every book, every podcast, and every article that talks about how to be a happier person tells you that gratitude is key and that ritualizing it creates a habit of thankfulness.
So it’s not really cliche–it’s something that actually works.
I’ve incorporated a couple of different gratitude rituals into my daily life. I’ll probably delve into each item much deeper in follow-up blogs. Here are some of the things I do to celebrate life and achievement:
During yoga, I’ll do gratitude sun salutations. With each routine set, I focus on one aspect of my life that I’m thankful for-home, marriage, family, financial stability, etc.
I keep a simple journal at work that I use as a daily planner. In it, I write out, in long form, three things that I am grateful for each morning before delving into my work day-coffee, corgis, upbeat music
During my lunch break, I often take a walk through a graveyard that’s around the corner from my office. My first lap around the path is always mindfulness focused, and part of my mindfulness practice during this walk is to once again think on those things that I’m grateful for that day.
I’m currently practicing a meditation method taught by Vishan Lakhiani that guides you through 6-phases. During one of these phases-the aptly named gratitude phase-you are instructed to think of three things your grateful for in your personal life, three things you are thankful for in your professional life, and then three things that you love, or are grateful for, about your self.
I think my practice here may be a bit extreme, but I want it to become second nature for me to be happy with what I have in this moment. So when the big sucky situations happen, I’ve exercised and toned that gratitude muscle, and I can focus on the positive instead of the temporary negative of those moments.
I never want to take my life, my felicity for granted. I’ve worked long and hard to get where I am, and I’m going to get even better.
In her book, The Charisma Myth, Olivia Fox Cabane has several exercises to express gratitude. One that I loved is to sit down with a pen and paper and write out five things that you can see in the room with you that you are grateful for. I am grateful for my cell phone that connects me to so many people. I am grateful for air conditioning because I live in the south and OMG the humidity. I am grateful for windows, so I can see the outside world. I am grateful for my chapstick, because it keeps my lips soft and healthy.
There are so many ways to get into the habit of gratitude. It’s all about taking a moment to stop and ponder on the joys of right now, no matter how small or how bizarre. Just allow yourself to be pleased with your progress and to be happy.
It’s been two and a half years since the last time I logged into the admin dashboard of Loebick.com. The site has just been sitting here, taunting me. Each December, I get the notification for renewal and I would struggle with the decision to cancel the hosting and domain, but there’s always that hope of renewal. And finally, while lazily swinging in my hammock outside my idyllic cabin home this evening, I realized that now was the time.
I often read the long-form posts that some of my friends write on Facebook, their impacts of the day (#IOD). I got inspired almost every day. I wanted to contribute to this movement, but it had been so long since I had written anything of substance.
What do I have to share?
Should I start posting about my hiking in Southern Appalachia once more? But I don’t hike as much as I used to. Those posts are also major time syncs, and I don’t have the energy bandwidth to do them immediately after a hike.
Should I post more about books? But reviewing just doesn’t appeal to me like it used to. Reading for review takes some of the enjoyment out of reading.
Should I write about my corgis? I pretty much cover everything corgi in my life in picture form over on my tumblr (dailywaffles) and instagram (@aloebick).
I’ve recently started kayaking, should I write about that? But would that be enough to consistently write about?
Should I write about how far have I come in the past two and a half years? How about I write about my personal relentless pursuit of self-improvement? How about I write about what makes me happy, what makes me stronger, what makes me wiser? How about anything and everything and all of the above?
The Loebick Mindset.
So I’ve decided to try to post consistently about my journey for self-improvement, and maybe, just maybe, I can make an impact on someone else.