Archive for December, 2009
It is time to say goodbye to 2009 and hello to the new year. In preparation for the new year, make sure your website is in good shape.
Here are some of the things you should check:
1. Contact information. Check addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.
2. Products and services. Are all of the products and services listed still available? Are the descriptions and prices correct? Have you added new ones that are not listed?
3. Dated material. Do you have items on your site about “upcoming” events that happened months ago? If your site has a copyright date, is it current? Keep it up-to-date by having it automatically update. Learn how to do this by searching “automatically update copyright”, along with the type of site you have, i.e., HTML, WordPress, etc. on Google.
4. Content. When did you last add new content to your website? If it has been a long time (particularly if your blog is not tied to your website), plan to do some kind of update at least monthly (and more often is better). Add a new article, list upcoming events, post some photos…
5. Images. How old are the photos, graphics and images on your website? Have you had the same one since you started your practice 10 years ago? Freshen up your website by adding new images.
6. Forms. Test to see if your contact forms (and any others your may have) work correctly. If you use autoresponders, make sure the information is still correct.
7. Dead links. URLs can change, so make sure that all of your links are valid. You don’t want to send your website visitors (or search engine bots) off to dead ends. This free link checker can test your site.
8. Get a fresh perspective. Approach your site as a client might. Browse (and read) through several pages, sign up for your newsletter, place an order, and make sure all of those processes work as they should.
Keep It that Way!
Once you have your website updated and awesome, keep it that way!
1. Do regular checkups throughout the year – at least quarterly.
2. Add new content on a monthly basis.
Welcome to Motivation Mondays! Here is your quote for the week.
Photo Credit: Konstantin Sutyagin
“Take action in order to move toward your goals.” -Les Brown
What steps do you take to get you moving towards your goals? Post them in the comments or email me.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Kwaanza, Happy Boxing Day and Happy New Year! (Did I leave anything out?)
Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.
All the best,
Why meditate? On one level, meditation is a tool. It can help combat stress, fosters physical health, helps with chronic pain, can make you sleep better, feel happier, be more peaceful, as well as be ‘present’. But on a deeper level, meditation is a doorway into the unknown. It can help us get a sense of who we are.
When you start meditating, you will notice that your mind wanders a lot. This is perfectly natural. Try to be gentle with yourself. In time you will learn to manage the barrage of thoughts and you will develop clarity and peacefulness.
Here are some simple tips on how to start meditating.
1. Place – It’s lovely to create a special place dedicated to meditation. You can even place a candle or other objects such as stones, seashells, or flowers that appeal to you.
2. Length – Start with 1 to 2 minutes and only sit longer if you feel that is too short. Don’t force yourself to meditate longer if you are not ready to do that. In time you might like to extend your meditation to 5, 10, 20 and eventually 30 minutes. Most importantly, shrug off any ‘shoulds’. Some people enjoy sitting for an hour at a time. Others find that they can’t sit longer than 10 minutes. Do what feels right for you!
3. Posture – Whether you sit on a chair or cross-legged on the floor, make sure that your spine is straight. If you are slumped your mind will drift. Mind and body are intertwined. If your body is well-balanced, your mind will also be in balance. To straighten up, imagine that your head is touching the sky.
4. Eyes – Try and keep your eyes open. Open eyes allow you to be more ‘present’. Just lower your eyes and soften your focus. If you close your eyes you will be more likely to drift away on thoughts and possibly fall asleep. However, it’s important to do what is comfortable for you. Some people find closing their eyes much more effective. It’s good to experiment and see what feels best for you.
5. Focus – In ordinary consciousness we are hardly ever ‘present’. For example, sometimes we drive a car on autopilot while being preoccupied with thoughts. Suddenly we arrive at our destination and don’t remember anything about the drive!
Meditation is a wonderful way of waking up to our life. Otherwise we miss most of our experiences because we are somewhere else in our mind! Let’s take a look at what focus is. In ordinary life, we tend to equate focus with concentration. It is like using the mind like a concentrated beam of light. But in meditation, that kind of mind isn’t helpful. It’s too sharp and edgy. To focus in meditation means to pay soft attention to whatever you place in your awareness. I suggest using the breath as a focus. It’s like a natural door that connects ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Zen Master Toni Packer says, “Attention comes from nowhere. It has no cause. It belongs to no one.”
6. The breath – Paying attention to the breath is a great way to anchor yourself in the present moment. Notice your breath streaming in and out. There’s no need to regulate the breath – just let it be natural. If you are having difficulties calming down, you can try counting the breath – which is an ancient meditation practice. When you exhale, silently count “one”, then “two”, and up to “ten”. Then return to “one”. Whenever you notice your thoughts have strayed simply return to “one”. In this way, “one” is like coming home to the present moment.
7. Thoughts – When you notice thoughts, gently let them go by returning your focus on the breath. Don’t try and stop thoughts; this will just make you feel agitated. Acknowledge their presence and politely ask them to leave.
8. Emotions – It’s difficult to settle into meditation if you are struggling with strong emotions. The way to deal with strong emotions in meditation is to focus on feelings that accompany the emotion. For example, this could be the tight band of fear around the chest or the hot roiling of anger in the belly. Try to let go of the emotion and the feeling and refocus on your body.
9. Silence – Silence is healing. I know that there is a lot of ‘meditation music’ around, but nothing beats simple silence. Otherwise music or sound drowns out the chatter in your mind. When we sit in silence, we actually get to experience what our mind is doing. There is steadiness and calmness that comes from sitting in silence.
10. Enjoyment – Most of all it’s important to enjoy meditation. You might like to try sitting with a hint of a smile. Be kind to yourself. Start sitting just a little each day. It’s helpful to establish a daily habit.
Do you have any other tips for meditation? Post them in the comments.
Welcome to Motivation Mondays! Here is your quote for the week.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” -William James
Beyond The Quote: At this time of the year, people are experiencing more stress than normal. One of the main reasons you may become stressed is a direct result of having too many thoughts bouncing around in you head. Try choosing your most important thought and concentrate on that first. The rest will follow all in good time.
Have anything to share? Post it in the comments.
“And here comes the snow… A language in which no word is ever repeated.”
The sky was filled with falling snow starting at 10 PM on Friday night. It snowed and it snowed….until Saturday late into the evening. It was the most snow we’ve seen in Virginia in a very long time – between 20 – 24″. We got 19″ in Alexandria. They even declared it a blizzard.
Watching those snowflakes reminded of a book called Snowflakes that I once picked up in the bookstore. As I stood in the aisle of the bookstore, flipping through the book, I found myself utterly fascinated by the images of snowflakes, each unique and each so magically beautiful. (If you haven’t already clicked on the link, check out Snowflakes on Amazon and “Click to Look Inside” to see some of the images from the book.)
Of course, this brings me back to the analogy between snowflakes and people. While there are many similarities between us as human beings, just like those little flakes of snow, we are really quite unique.
However, snowflakes rarely fall individually. They usually cling together and fall in a big clump. So true, it is for us too. We are individuals yet society wants to put us into nice tidy categories so we can understand them better. It’s always so much easier when we can describe someone by their appearances, skills or qualities.
Unfortunately, we can’t really put people as neatly into boxes as we’d like to. Thankfully, we are a little more complex than that! Even the most patient person can get frazzled at times. The sweetest person can lose her temper. Every person, every situation, is different.
Instead of trying put people into categories, we should embrace them for who they are.
What would happen if we viewed people the same way as an exotic flower or a wild animal – waiting to learn about them and their beauty instead of making assumptions based on their appearance or our preconceived notions of what a human of their age, gender, ethnicity, religion… should be like?
Here a five ways to celebrate the uniqueness in others and yourself.
1. Be open-minded. It’s easy to look for similarities you have with someone else. However, when you open your mind to someone’s differences you just may get a better appreciation and awareness.
2. Be an independent thinker. You may find yourself going with the flow without really thinking for yourself. It may be tempting to think negatively of a person, if you hear someone talking about him that way. Stop and think about how unique people are. You’ll probably realize that it’s best to assess others for yourself.
3. Don’t be presumptuous. Do you make assumptions about someone very quickly after meeting them? It takes time to get to know someone and all of their idiosyncrasies.
4. Don’t be judgmental. When you meet someone for the first time, it can be so easy to judge them based on appearance alone, but think about how that would make you feel. Would you like to be judged based only on your appearance? Aren’t you more complex than that? I’m sure you are and people are not as simple as we’d like to think.
5. Embrace the unknown. We are often quick to put people into categories because we are scared of not knowing who they are. Just because something is different or unexplainable to you doesn’t mean it’s negative.
Celebrate the ways we are all unique. All of our differences are awesome and it’s so important to see the positive in them.
We are all snowflakes. We are independent of one another and yet drawn to each other. Remember the uniqueness in others and, just as importantly, remember it in yourself. There is no one — and never, ever will be anyone — just like you.
How do you celebrate the absolute awesomeness of being uniquely you?
What tactics do you use to remind yourself that others are unique?
My husband and I arrived home on Thursday evening from Costa Rica to spend time with our family over the holidays. We got here just in time for a major snow.
It began on Friday evening around 10 p.m. by the next morning we had 9 inches. By the time it finished on Saturday night, we had about 19 inches.
Here are some photos from our blizzard:
Did you have snow where you live? How much did you get?
It is December 17th – just 8 days until Christmas. How are you surviving?
The holidays are a time for great joy for some, and a time of stress for others. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is typically a very busy time for massage therapists. Not only do we have our regular clients to tend to but we are spending time sending out holiday cards, on marketing promotions and selling Gift Certificates.
We are massage therapists! Our job is to help nurture and heal others. But not at the expense of our own health and well-being. So I have put together the following suggestions to help you “bust” the holiday stress and enjoy this time even more. They will be quick because I know you are busy.
Get enough sleep. With all there is to do during the holidays, it is easy to pay for the additional time required by sleeping less. The problem for many is that when they don’t get enough sleep, they get cranky and don’t enjoy what they are doing as much. So take the time for adequate sleep. That way you will have the energy to get into the full swing of things and enjoy it as it happens.
Plan ahead. We know well in advance that the holidays will require a lot more of our time for special preparations in addition to our regular routines and responsibilities. The solution is to plan ahead and schedule these tasks and events with greater care. If you didn’t plan accordingly this year you may want to delegate.
Delegate. There is a lot of difference between “I do it” and “It gets done.” Sure it’s fun to “do it all,” but that may be an impractical goal that only serves to frazzle and stress you out. Share the shopping, cooking and cleaning with others. People generally appreciate the opportunity to participate in the preparations.
Meditate. Research by Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn shows how chronic stress directly interferes with the ability of our cells to renew tissues in the body which is linked to accelerated aging and other nasty diseases. Meditation actually helps to reduce stress and it effects on the body. You don’t have to do it for hours. Just get into a calm, relaxing mode for just a few minutes. It helps!
Get a massage. We know the benefits of massage because we tell our tell clients. When you don’t have the time for a massage is when you need it the most.
Enjoy the journey. Don’t “dread” any part of it, the shopping, the wrapping, the cooking, the cleaning. Find happiness in all of it and you will be less stressed.
Have any other stress busters to share? Post them in the comments.
Welcome to Motivation Mondays! Here is your quote for the week.
Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors. Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny. ~Gandhi
How do you keep positive? Share them in the comments.
Knowledge of Feng Shui colors can allow you to choose the right colors to create harmony in any living or working space as well as it can be used with anything that involves choosing colors. According to Feng Shui color specifications, colors should not be used randomly but according to what they represent.
Each one of the five elements – fire, earth, metal, water and wood – is represented by a color. By using Feng Shui colors we can create balance.
In addition to the color associated with each element, I have included other components related to further help you decorate your office.
The color associated with fire are red, crimson, ruby, brick, scarlet, hot pink, orange, and purple. Other design features of the fire element are:
Shape: top-sharp, triangle, spiky, exploding
Décor: red ribbon, light, coffee maker, picture of beauty, sun, fire
Material: hot or burning, like gas, light, electricity, sunlight, steam, heater
Music: high-tuned, fast-beating, emotional, uplifting
Plant: blood lily, red clover, red pepper, yarrow, red hibiscus, begonia
Fire is associated with the south or fame area (see Bagua Map). If you want to create fame or enhance prosperity, add fire elements like this triangular-shaped crystal. You could even get one in red, purple or other of the other colors associated with fire.
The spirit of fire is aggressive, hot-heated, sensitive, go-getting and offensive. If you want to develop a go-getter attitude, enhance the fire elements in your office. If you find that attitudes of your clients or yourself is too sensitive, aggressive or offensive, tone down the fire elements slightly by adding water elements.
Tan, beige, rust, brown, and yellow are earth colors. Additional aspects of earth element are:
Shape: square, fat rectangular
Décor: ceramics, clay pot, drawer, yellow-toned paint or lava lamp, boxy furniture
Material: sticky or made of soil, clay, ceramic, chinaware, nutrition
Music: peaceful, smooth and low-tuned, yin-yang balanced
Plant: sunflower, yellow oleander, yellow or rusty color mum
Animal: ox, tiger, ram, monkey
If you want to create loyalty, persistence, responsibility, or slow down the energy, use earth colors or components. Earth’s aspiration is love, marriage, motherhood, knowledge, and scholarly success. Want to add any of these elements into your office or life? Enhance the presence of earth by adding a few of the above-mentioned items.
For example, this square clock which is also brown could be one of the earth elements you add to aspire to success with education.
Metal is represented by white, ivory, silver, gold and gray. Design elements include:
Shape: circle, round, arch
Décor: metal pots, clock which chimes, glass, mirror, crystal, picture of automobile, machine, jewelry, and white lava lamp
Material: hard, cool, such as gold, silver, brass, copper, coins
Music: heavy, emphatic, repeating, encouraging, uplifting
Plant: baby’s breath, jasmine, mum, cornflower, love-in-a-mist
Animal: rooster, dog, boar
This Australian gold rooster coin would be a perfect representation of a metal element.
Metal is associated with teamwork, patronage and benefactors. Need more of these or decisiveness and determination? Add metal colors or elements.
Black, blue, sable, and navy are all colors representing water. You will also find the essence of water in the following:
Shape: curly, wavy
Décor: fish tank, water fountain, pond, view of beach, waterfall, river, blue or black lava lamp
Material: watery, moist, slippery, such as liquid, drink, gel
Music: easy listening, slow, light, sedative, tranquilizing, soothing
Plant: bamboo, willow, white spider lily, daffodil, plum, narcissus
Water symbolizes flexibility, humor, diversity and imagination. Also, career and money are the aspirations of water. Need more of these? Try putting a bamboo plant on your desk.
Wood is associated with green, jade and emerald. Additional wood elements are:
Shape: columnar, stripes
Décor: green plant, green lave lamp, woodcarving wall carpet, straight lines, books, poles, and pillars
Material: elastic, straight, like fabric, wooden product, cotton
Music: variant, continuous, detailed, progression, focusing
Plant: corn tree, peony, orchid, lily of the Nile, iris, wild jonquil
Animal: rabbit, snake, dragon
You might add this wood carving of Buddha if your aspirations wealth, health or to start a family. Wood will also help if you want to create a spirit of exploration or be more analytical in nature.
Next time you are feeling a little out of sync, figure out what it exactly it is that is off balance. Then at the color or decor associated with that aspiration or spirit and notice what happens.
I know Feng Shui can be a little confusing at times. Need a little extra help? I’m available for Feng Shui consultations. To schedule your Feng Shui consultation, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a story to share of how your used Feng Shui colors or design elements? Share them in the comments.