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Lessons from The Cubs [?] - Energy Vampires - and Easy-Peasy Chicken Soup [?]

Life Lessons from the Cubs
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“Baseball isn't just a game.
It's life being played out on a field
—a field of dreams—
on diamonds of green,
where players pursuing their dreams
try to be the best they can be
on the grandest stage of all—
where men become boys
and boys become men,
all speaking one universal language
without uttering a single word.”

― Tom Tatum 

You probably didn't expect me to lead off with a quote about baseball, did you, Blue? No, I'm not an avid sports fan. But you can't have grown up in Texas in the 70's and not watch sports. Well, at least in my house, where both my mother and father were sports fans. Baseball, football, hockey, horse racing, golf....we watched it all. Back in the 70's, my dad's company had box seats, so the first professional sports games I ever attended in person was the Texas Rangers back in the days of David Clyde and Jim Sunberg.

When I was in college, my first job in broadcasting was working as an intern in the sports department at the local NBC station. I flirted with the idea that I wanted to be a sports reporter because I got sports, even when I struggled with understanding of all the evil in the world.

These days, though, it's rare for me to actually sit and watch any game. Most of the time, the shenanigans of the players, the advertisements, and the attitudes of the owners makes many of the games unpalatable. As player salaries have increased, many of their morals have decreased. That makes watching less attractive to me, personally.

I'm not a "sports widow" either. JB keeps track of the scores and the statistics, but rarely watches.

Well, until his beloved Cubs began playing in the playoffs. He once skipped school with some buddies to attend opening day at Wrigley Field back when he was in middle school. A story his mom didn't hear until her 85th birthday celebration. And when he was in high school, he worked as an usher for a company that supplied the ushers for all the sports and concert venues in the Chicago area.

He can also recite to you every time the Cubs broke his heart throughout the years.

This time, they didn't.

The only complaint I had about the playoffs and the World Series was the starting time of the games. I've fallen asleep on the couch more often than I care to count, lately. Though he would urge me to bed when I started getting a little droopy, I hated to go to bed.

Because watching sports together is also an opportunity to share in a moment with people we love. (And, honestly, a moment to connect with strangers, too.)

Mainly, though, I hated to go to bed and miss any part of the game because the team was a pleasure to watch. Their joy was palpable.

Here were professional athletes not just showing up for a paycheck and looking for their entitlements, fame, and glory. No, the Cubs players showed up and played with all their heart. They were respectful of our flag while the National Anthem played, something that goes a long way with me personally.

Many times, pro athletes seem to show up and act as if their jobs are a chore. Forgetting that they are being paid to do something they - at least at one time - loved. And that's what I loved so much about watching the World Series: they played with such excitement for the game and their deep honor at being on the field was obvious.

Of course, I see all kinds of analogies to apply to life here.

**When your work or any part of your life becomes a chore, remember why you once loved it. See if you can find your joy again.

**Just because you've failed to win over and over again, there's always a chance to win the next time. After 108 years, the Cubs finally proved that any bad luck (or curses by people with goats) can be overcome.

**Each time you're up at bat, you have an opportunity to hit a home run. Or at least a base hit that allows people you care about to succeed. It's about fresh starts, no matter what happened the last time you were standing there, waiting for what life tossed at you.

**The team work. How many times did a player hit a ball that guaranteed that he would be out, yet advance another teammate to another base or for a home run? Each one of has has someone in our life that has at one time made a sacrifice for us - and is probably willing to sacrifice for our happiness or our needs...

**After each game, none of the players from either team - Cubs or Indians -  bad-mouthed the other team. A good reminder about complaints and gossip and blaming others... Living here in Ohio, I am surrounded by Cleveland Indian Fans, yet everyone I talk about the game with - a much safer conversation than politics - smiled about my support of the Cubs. 

**When things feel hopeless, sometimes you just need a time out and a pep talk. There are so many of his teammates giving Jason Heyward credit for the Cub's Win due to his pep talk in the locker room during the rain delay. A Time Out. A trusted friend or colleague reminding us that we can DO it and that we are LOVED.

I tear up just listening to that story. To be reminded WHO YOU ARE when you're feeling down. To be reminded that you are loved and worthy no matter what.

As far as other happenings in my world...well, there was Halloween and a few wonderful little Trick or Treaters at our door. That brought me lots of joy (and the leftover candy went to work with JB!).

We've spent as much time as we can out on the porch enjoying our outdoor living spaces. We had two days this week when the temperatures were in the upper 70's! Being out in nature makes me happy.

I'm digging into tending my own spirit lately. I went to Mass to celebrate All Saints and All Souls days...and for the first time in a long time, gathered photos of friends and family that have died and created an ancestors altar, where I lit candles and said prayers each day. Those acts have brought some peace to my heart. And it was nice seeing the photos of my grandmother alongside the photo of JB's....

There is a lot of strain and stress in the world right now. I am exhausted of all the political talk. I honestly wish I didn't know how all my friends were going to vote...and watching the World Series was an opportunity to escape that.

And all the reason to get lost in the world of wide eyed children. And to remember those that we've lost and say prayers of gratitude for having had them in our lives. To take responsibility to tend myself and my own spirit in lots of little ways: be it sharing a glass of wine on the porch with JB, sitting out there and reading a book, going to church on a random weekday, or just taking time to remember all those that came before me in this world.

Next week is going to be rough. And no matter the outcome, there will be hurt feelings and more angry words tossed about. I'll be reminding myself about the lessons learned while watching the World Series and all the other little ways I've sought connection, peace, and joy.

And I am also going to continue to do the little things that connect me with love and beauty and joy and legacy.

So, tell me, darling: what about you? What might you learn from the Cub's historic win? What can you learn by observing sports?  What can you be reminded of when life feels overwhelming? Can you turn to sports, books, or art to help? What about being present to the world around you? How might you escape the stress of the election? What reminds you of peace or beauty?

Can you get out in nature? Light a candle for a beloved ancestor? What can you do in the days ahead to tend your own spirit?

Though I'm not visiting your in-box each week - and I may not be on Facebook as often as I used to be -  know that I'm just an email away. I love hearing your stories and helping you find the resources you need to create a life you love.

With so much love...........

PS - Due to Hurricane Matthew, it took a bit longer than expected to get my personal copies of Clearing Brain Clutter or Clearing Soul Clutter. I now have them in hand for anyone that wants an inscribed copy !

From the blog: Energy Vampires: Sixteen Ways to Deal With Them. If you’re like most people, this has happened to you: you were talking to someone and before you knew it, their complaints, their whining, their negative attitudes or their drama drained the life right out of you. After they left, you looked for fang marks on your neck but they were nowhere to be found. Then you realized Energy Vampires don’t have fangs. They have other means to suck your energy, like negative comments and punching holes in your dreams. Energy vampires drain not just our energy, but suck the joy out of life!

Similarly, we all know people who seem to exude energy. These are the folks who are full of vitality and enthusiasm. They can’t wait to dive into the day and make getting everything done seem easy. When you pass them in the office hallway, they have pep in their step and a smile on their face.  (I confess, I’m usually one of these morning-loving high-energy gals.)

You might gaze at these highly energetic people with wonder over the sheer volume of tasks they accomplish during the day, while still attending school events, church, and their book club.

Maybe once, you were full of energy, too. And while it’s often true that energy vampires come in the form of other people, sometimes they’re found staring back at you in the mirror. Sometimes, the energy vampires are actually in the lifestyle choices we make.

No matter where your energy vampires may be rising up, learning how to rid your world of these life draining emotional monsters is crucial to living the life you truly desire.

Here are Sixteen Ways to Rid Yourself of Energy Vampires.

The tips below include some natural ways to increase your energy, vanquish the energy-stealing vampires, and help you to continue curating a life you love. There are also some attractive, energy-enhancing suggestions for how you spend your precious time.

One – Ditch the Drama Queens from Your World

If you hang out with drama queens, you will become one.  And anyone that has been around drama knows how exhausting it can be! Remind yourself that someone else’s drama is not yours. Spend less time with those who fan the flames of drama.

Two – Remove Energy Drains from Social Media Feeds

Do your uncle’s political rants raise your blood pressure? Unfriend him. Does the newsfeed from your favorite newspaper irritate you? Unlike them. Yes, my dear, un-follow the Negative Nellie’s from Twitter and un-friend (or hide) the Facebook friends that only complain. Only follow people on social media that fuel your precious energy.

Three – Connect with Folks Who Make You Excited About Life

Sure, drama queens have good stories, but they drain your energy.  Yes, those political pundits can be interesting. Choose to spend time with folks who lift you up with their happiness. That will fuel your own energy by the example of their own choices. Reconnect with an old friend, ask the new gal in the office to go to lunch, or reach out to that sister-in-law of yours that always makes you laugh. Follow inspiring and uplifting folks on Facebook and Twitter.

Four – Complain less

Complaining is a choice to focus on the problem instead of seeking a solution. Complaining rewires your brain to the negative and shuts down your ability to problem solve. The more you complain, the more your brain will bring about those negative, thoughts. And the more drained of energy you will be.

When it comes to your romantic relationships, The Gottman Institute found that couples who share negative interactions are more likely to divorce early. What’s worse, because our brains are wired to the negative, we are more likely to believe criticism over compliments, which destroys our confidence. It also drains your energy.

Five – Say no more often

Nothing drains your energy more than doing something you just don’t want to do. I’m not just talking about turning down additions to an already busy schedule. One super important secret of people who always have energy is that they know when they’ve reached maximum capacity — and how to simplify. Say no to that holiday party, tell the PTA you can’t bake cupcakes by tomorrow, and work with your boss to ensure a better work-life balance. Remind yourself that every item on your task list is there by choice, not obligation.

Six – Energy for a full day begins in the bedroom: make quality sleep a priority.

I’m sure you’ve heard that our bodies need sleep in order to reinvigorate and renew, but it goes deeper.  Our bodies need periods of rest that are long enough to synthesize our hormones, grow muscle and repair our damaged tissues. Sleep debt is real and it’s also really a problem — one that can lead to a whole host of health issues along with your daily dose of fatigue.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between seven and nine hours per night. And kitten, this isn’t an “average” number, where you can get five hours of sleep most days and then sleep in on the weekend. This means making at least seven hours of sleep PER NIGHT, EVERY NIGHT a priority.

Quality sleep, which is more closely tied to a consistent sleep schedule.It’s also something you can’t snooze away in a single weekend. Instead, focus on getting a good night’s sleep every night.

Seven – Be grateful

Every night before you go to bed, write down at least three things you are thankful for.  Remind yourself what’s good in your life. Going to sleep with gratitude on your mind will bring you a more positive approach when you wake to a new day. Gratitude rewires your brain for joy; joyful people have more energy.

Eight – While we’re in the bedroom, don’t forget about sex

People who have regular sex keep their hormones and neurotransmitters flowing optimally; meaning, your brain releases all sorts of feel-good chemicals that make life’s challenges seem much easier to conquer. When we have sex, we are also satisfying primal needs of human connection. Though sex may exhaust you in the moments afterwards, begin paying attention to what happens with your mind and body in the 24 hours after sex. No matter how you slice it, sex amps up your energy stores.

Nine – Speaking of the night before, an evening routine will set you up for success

Is there anything more energy draining than to hunt for your keys when you’re trying to get out the door? Create a launch pad for each family member, lay out clothes for the next day, and do other tasks to help make mornings easier like set the coffee pot up the night before.

Ten – Fuel Your Day with Solid Morning Routines

Routines are about managing your energy effectively so that you can channel it towards your real desires and purpose.  Routines fuel your day and nourish your spirit. When you make the decision to take charge of how you spend your time, you begin to move yourself off of dead center.  You also bring calming energy to you day.

Eleven – Amp up your energy by pairing your routines with a morning ritual

It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or extrovert, you need to connect with yourself. Whether it’s the way in which you make your first cup of tea in the morning, choosing to meditate before you shower, or sitting and reading something uplifting before you head to work, rituals are energy giving. Consistently starting your morning with something you enjoy will invigorate your mind and body and send you out into the day with a sense of purpose.

Twelve -Tidy up and clear your clutter

Long ago I learned that a messy room exhausted me. To have more energy for your life, be like Mary Poppins (or Marie Kondo) and tidy up your space. Too much stuff and clutter will always drain your energy.

Thirteen – Get outside to naturally fuel your energy stores

If you’re feeling drained, just a few moments in mother nature can give you a boost of calming energy. A series of studies published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that being out in nature made people feel more energetic after spending time in natural sightings. Additional research by doctors found that patients recovering from surgery and heart problems had shorter hospital stays and needed less pain medication when they saw nature out their hospital window versus seeing a brick wall. What this means for the average person is that being out in nature will tilt your mood to the positive.

Fourteen – Move your body

Seems a little counter-intuitive, but one of the best ways to add some extra pep to your step is to… take more of them. Exercise is excellent at clearing brain clutter, triggering the release of endorphins and reducing stress and anxiety. The result? A happier, more productive and energetic you. You don’t have to go to the gym or pump iron. Go for a walk. Dance around your house. Do some jumping jacks. Play with your dog. Just move your body!

Fifteen – Fuel Your Body with Good Foods

I’m all about that first cup of coffee, but don’t rely upon sugar and caffeine to fuel your body. Sure, you may have a spike of energy immediately after, but you’ll also likely crash. Choose to eat a well-balanced diet of whole foods over fast foods. You must fuel your body with quality food and adequate water in order to have the energy to go about your day!

Sixteen – Play adds to your energy levels

Brene Brown’s research found that one of the commonalities in people who exhibit wholehearted (read: energetic, engaged) living is that they play. Play doesn’t have to be overly formal, it doesn’t have to involve balls or a team, and it doesn’t have to result in winners and losers. Play can be almost anything, as long as it’s something you want to do, find enjoyable, and allows you to lose track of time and just have fun.

Maintaining an energetic lifestyle has become a little more difficult as I’ve gotten older, but the tools I shared above consistently help me stoke the fires of productivity, efficiency and positivity that I need in order to cultivate a truly nourishing life. As we move more deeply into fall, we come to the time of year when we all feel pressed beyond their typical schedules into a state of ‘always busy‘ that leads to feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

This is when the energy vampires find their strength, and when we must be ever-vigilant about keeping them at bay.

With the final arrival of some cooler temps, I am thinking about all the ways I can throw good stuff into the crock pot and have dinner waiting for me soon. This weekend, I made a pot of so easy Chicken Soup.

I layered everything while it cooked and didn't mix it up until the end, so as to give each ingredient an opportunity to be cooked through.

Spray the bottom of your crock pot with nonstick spray.

Layer in two diced potatoes (white, sweet, or one of each) as well as pound of diced carrots (I used the multi-colored ones). Add a diced onion, several cloves of minced garlic. And maybe some celery if your like (I skipped it this time).

Other ideas for the bottom layer: parsnips, turnips, winter squashes....

Next layer on top of the hearty veggies two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken. I used all breast meat, but mix it up with some chicken thighs, too.

Next, carefully add two cans of diced tomatoes. I used one can of petite diced tomatoes and one can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes. Add lighter veggies and herbs on top: green onions, basil, sage, rosemary, several grinds of fresh black pepper.

Carefully add 32 ounces (give or take) of homemade chicken or vegetable stock - don't disturb your layers! (I was out of homemade stock, so I used a 32-ounce container of Kitchen Basics no-salt added Vegetable stock.)  You want enough liquid to barely cover the top of all of the ingredients.

Cook for 8 hours on low.

Before serving, carefully remove the chicken from the pot and dice it on a cutting board and then return the chicken to crock pot. Stir and cook on high another 30 minutes.

As you prepare to serve: In the bottom of each person's bowl, add a handful of baby spinach, hand torn. Cover with hot soup, then place a plate over each bowl for about three minutes, giving the spinach time to wilt. You can also sub in kale, Swiss Chard, or other favorite leafy green.

There will likely be leftovers. You can keep 'em for tomorrow, serving the soup over rice or adding some cooked noodles to mix it up. You can also freeze it, and the containers are good in the freezer for up to three months.

Volume 6 -Issue 23

November 5, 2016

Love Notes Published Every-Other-Saturday
Thank you, darling for the precious in-box space! 

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