Realistic Paleo Meal Plan - AIP Friendly

This week I hit a wall! As I share in this week's Embracing Intensity podcast, I was in survival mode this week and was so exhausted I threw out all food discernment and ate all the things. I have been feeling out of touch with my food for quite some time and now that it's summer, I'd like to revisit my past journey of healthy eating and reconnect with my food. Did you know I used to be a food blogger? That's actually how I started blogging. As I'm looking through my old blog, Leaving the Food Matrix, I'm rememebering that I have a lot to learn from the me of 4 years ago. I thought I'd share on this blog my very first post! Some things have changed since this post, like I no longer get farmshare meat, so I don't eat red meat or whole chickens nearly as often as I did then, but there are definitely some recipes I'd like to try again.  Also, I found after a while that adding in more starches such as yams and sweet potatoes helped sustain me longer and keep cravings at bay. My plan this summer is to create a no brainer plan that I can implement during my next survival mode phase without having to think about it, because really when you are in that mode the last thing you want to do is think and plan for your health. I will share what I come up with when I'm done, but for now here's my first post from my paleo days: 

Realistic Paleo Meal Plan - Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Friendly

And so it begins...

If you told me a year ago I'd be making almost all of my own food from scratch and stop eating grains entirely, I might not have believed you.  After years with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and poor absorption of nutrients, I knew that I should eat better, but as a single working mom who has the time? Well, it turns out when you don't feel the need to nap all the time - you have a lot more time to cook! Plus with a little planning and the right equipment, it doesn't even have to take all that much time.

The problem I find when researching paleo recipes and meal plans is that they often seem way more complicated than they need to be.  Meal plans often expect you to make three meals from scratch in one day, involve multiple course meals and require special ingredients you need to go out of your way for.  Those things can be fun to experiment with when you can, but day to day most people can't sustain that amount of time devoted to eating.

I know a lot of people interested in reducing processed foods and learning more about grain free, paleo or primal eating, but they don't think they have the time or energy needed to start.  I've spent a lot of time learning about it myself, but I think in the end we can make things more complicated than they need to be.  My goal is to give tips to simplify the process of eating well.  For me, that involves cutting out grains and eating whole minimally processed foods. 

The following meal plan is what a typical week might look like for me.  I often eat leftovers for breakfast and lunch and rarely cook more than one involved meal in a day.  They are also mostly one dish meals, since I find that the simplest approach to mid week meals.  I also like to make big batches and freeze portions for future meals on the go.  The recipes aren't always exact because I often play things by ear with what I have on hand and tweak them as I go.  Most of them are fairly flexible with the specific kinds of meat, veggies and seasonings I use.  They are also mostly kid friendly.  I kept them Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) friendly, since it's easier to add in eggs, nuts, seeds and nightshades in than it is to take them out.

Realistic Paleo Meal Plan - Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Friendly

Prepare snacks for the week including lots of veggies and fruit, trail mix with dried fruit and coconut (add nuts or seeds if not AIP).  If you have a dehydrator, beef jerky (you can find a recipe here) comes in mighty handy for emergency protein.  Also, making your own kale chips (recipe here) can give you a nice crunchy snack without the expense of the store bought kind.

A note on breakfast - eggs are a nice option if you can eat them, but be cautious going overboard.  I believe I did early on so I  had to take a break from them and am still not sure about them for me.  Another great addition to my breakfasts are mini waffles like this one here.  I'm working on an autoimmune friendly one, but I'm still working on the right density combination.  I'll post the recipe when I've gotten it consistently fluffy.  Also, I drink homemade broth every weekday morning since it's supposed to be good for healing and I make a chicken in the crockpot most weeks.

Sunday

Breakfast - Yam or sweet potato hash browns and ground sausage (or other seasoned meat).  Brown 1 lb of meat then take out of the pan.  Melt coconut oil to coat pan and add 3 large shredded yams or sweet potatoes (a food processor saves a lot of time here).  Cook on medium until soft (about 20 min) and turn up a bit to brown.  Add the meat and season with seasoning salt (such as Herbamare) to taste. You can probably get the hash browns crispier by blotting some of the moisture out with towels before cooking, but I don't mind them a little soft.

Lunch - Tuna Salad on Spinach.  Combine tuna with diced pickles and add some avocado and seasoning to taste. I've also used a touch of coconut oil, or mustard if not AIP.

Dinner - Stir Fry.  Slice meat of choice thin and stir fry with veggies.  Broccoli and mushrooms are some of my favorite.  You can also add greens or cabbage.  Season with coconut aminos, garlic, and a touch of powdered ginger.  My son likes when I squeeze mandarin orange juice in and add some mandarin slices toward the end. (For an extra speedy meal, try a pre-cut veggie mix.)

Monday

Breakfast - Hash Browns

Lunch - Stir Fry

Dinner - Crockpot Chicken.  Throw a chicken in the crockpot the night before with chunks of winter squash or root vegetables.  Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder and onion powder or other seasonings of your choice.  Do not add extra water since the juice of the chicken will keep it moist.  Turn it on low in the morning. If frozen to start, check for doneness with a knife.  If it's still pink, turn on high for the last hour or so.  When ready to serve, pull the chicken out into a bowl so it doesn't fall apart in the pot.  Cut off what you need and let it cool to pull off the rest of the shredded chicken.  You can throw the carcass in with water to make broth and cook up to 24 hours with 1 T vinegar and 1 t salt.  If you don't have a crockpot, try roasting, but I recommend a crockpot to save a lot of time! (For an extra speedy meal, try baby carrots and/or a bag of pre-cut butternut squash.)

Tuesday

Breakfast - Hash Browns

Lunch - Crockpot Chicken

Dinner - Shepherd's Pie.  Brown ground meat of choice.  Add veggies of choice. I like green beans, peas, mushrooms, carrots and other shredded root veggies.  Season with garlic powder, onion powder and season salt, such as Trocomare, to taste.  Steam a head of cauliflower or three peeled and cut up sweet potatoes per lb of meat.  Mash with 1 T coconut oil and add garlic powder and season salt.  Top the meat veggie mix with mashed cauliflower or sweet potato and bake for 20-25 min at 350.  For a browner top you can brush with egg and/or broil for 5 min at the end, but make sure your dish is broiler proof.  (For an extra speedy meal, try a frozen veggie mix with peas).

Wednesday

Breakfast - Shepherd's Pie

Lunch - Chicken Salad - Mix shredded chicken with avocado and season to taste.  Eat over a bed of spinach or other green.  Garnish with other veggies such as carrots or bell peppers. 

Dinner - Crockpot Roast - Same process as chicken - try different seasonings and veggies.  I'm still looking for my favorite roast recipe.

Thursday

Breakfast - Shepherd's Pie

Lunch - Crockpot Roast

Dinner - Taco Salad.  Brown ground meat.  Season with garlic powder, onion powder and salt.  Add to spinach or salad greens with olives, avocado and lime.  You can season with a little red pepper and add salsa if eating night shades.  This is a great option for group gatherings, since others can opt to add cheese, sour cream, tortillas etc. if they choose.  It's a game night favorite for me!

Friday

Breakfast - Crockpot Roast

Lunch - Taco Salad

Dinner - Ham & Pineapple Stir Fry. Heat about a half cup of chopped pineapple with juice then add 1-1.5 lb chopped ham.  Season with 1-2 T coconut aminos and 1 T maple syrup  When I made it, the boy thought it was too salty with 2 T coconut aminos, so I will only add 1 T next time. Add veggie of choice.

Saturday

Breakfast - Bacon and Sauteed Kale or Spinach (you can include egg if not AIP).  Season to taste.

Lunch - Sushi Salad - Chop cucumbers, bell peppers and mangoes and place on a bed of kelp noodles.  Add cooked shrimp and smoked salmon.  Season with coconut aminos and sushi vinegar or flavored vinegar (I use Navidi's Honey Ginger White Balsamic).  Top with ginger and sprinkle pieces of nori when ready to eat. 

Dinner - Burgers, Broccoli Salad and Sweet Potato fries (or you can try parsnip fries).  I make the Big-O Burgers with bacon and mushrooms inside found in the Nom Nom Paleo app (burgers pictured here), but you can use any recipe with quality grass fed beef or ground turkey.  Combine broccoli with lemon juice or vinaigrette and raisins.  Cut sweet potatoes (or parsnips) in fry sized pieces, coat with olive oil and bake at 415 for 20 min, flipping half way.  Season with mustard or sugar free ketchup if not AIP. 

Realistic Paleo Meal Plan - Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Friendly

My Furry Companion

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This week I unexpectedly lost my long time furry companion Dusty Bottoms. I decided today's blog should be dedicated to honoring his life. 

Ten years ago we were walking my nephew around the park while my sister and her husband celebrated their aniversary. We approached a corner and saw the cutest little dog.

We'd been trying for about a year to have a kid and I also wanted a dog, but my then husband wasn't too sure. When we found out they were looking for a new home for him, to my surprise my partner agreed. His previous owner said that he had a knack for getting uder foot, and sure enough he would follow me around everywhere, but didn't mind too much if I accidentally bumped into him. 

Shortly after that, I got pregnant and also was assigned to a job 45 minutes away. My son's father went off to boot camp for the army band for an extended time leaving me home tired and alone with only Dusty for company many a night. He was patient all day and never left a mess, but would occasionally send me a message when I got home that he did not like being alone that long. 

Every night before bed he would play with me through the blankets and he was always careful never to attack my bare skin. When my son was born, he intuitively sensed that this little new member of the family needed quiet at night so he toned it down at night, but when the boy got old enough to play they had lovely games of tug-o-war and fetch. 

He was there for me through my divorce and late nights with a colicky infant. He was a perfect example of unconditional love.

He had a history of seizures and bad teeth, but what I didn't realize is that the seizures had injured his back and his teeth issues had damaged his heart. The vet I had gone to randomly shut down and it was hard for me to find a new vet - especially with everything else on my plate as a single parent. 

The last couple of years he's been in a lot of pain and he lost almost all of his teeth.  My husband has been great with taking him to the vet and caring for his needs. I know I gave him a good life, but there is a part of me that feels guilty that I didn't bring him in more regularly to the vet.

He was always there for me, unconditionally, and my attention was so divided. 

Last week we saw a cyst on his neck that had gotten quite large without us noticing because it was covered by his ear most of the time. My husband brought him in, and we were releaved that the vet figured it was a bug bite that got infected from all of his scratching. They drained it and gave him antibiotics and a cone.  This weekend we noticed it was getting worse not better.

When I got home from my Reiki master class on Saturday, I decided to try some Reiki on him to see if it would help him heal, but instead I believe it helped him to let go. 

Sunday morning he woke with a seizure that caused lots of pain with the cone against his cyst. I removed the cone and we really saw how much worse it had gotten so my husband brought him in right away. It turned out there probably was a tumor under there and his tiny little body and heart were not able to fight the infection. We decided it would be kindest to him to not make him suffer any longer. 

My husband invited some family and friends over to celebrate his life and we buried him in a nice sunny spot in the new bamboo grove. 

He was there for me through the toughest phase of my life, and now I honor his memory as I move through the next phase. 

Creating Community

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On this week's Embracing Intensity Podcast, I talk about the Power of Community. I believe that growing up with supportive and accepting community is what gave me the foundation of support I needed to find or build my own community wherever I go. 

Unfortunately, a lot of intense, gifted and creative people don't always have that foundation of people who "get" them, so it can be hard to even know where to begin the process of connecting with and/or creating community - at least community where you feel comfortable and at-ease. 

I share a bit of my own journey and challenges making friends as an adult on the podcast, but I'd like to share here a few steps that I've found have consistently yielded bbetter connections for me. 

Find an existing community. I assure you, there are people out there, the trick is figuring out where to find them. I talk a little bit about where I've found connection in the past in this post here, and since then I've also found networking groups for women to be an additional place to find connection since entrepreneurs tend to attract an intense crowd. I also frequently refer to this post from Paula Prober on where to "find your pips."

Invite people to connect 1:1. If you really want to connect, you can't just stop at attending events, you have to reach out beyond the event. Believe me, I know this can feel like asking someone out on a date, but once you break that barrier, the connections you make can get much more deep and rich. Nowadays, social media can help - as you interact with them more online it can make reaching out in person more comfortable. In fact, I connected with an amazing family through Facebook based on a page like and a gut feeling and all three of them got along fabulously with all three of us (the trifecta of family friendships!). I never would have known though if I hadn't reached out and asked. Remember that if you are feeling a need for deeper connections, there are people out there who are feeling that as well and are just as scared to reach out. 

Don't take things personally. This is single handedly the most important part of making new connections without losing sanity. Not everyone is at the same place at the same time. Perhaps this person you feel you could deeply connect with has one too many things on their plate to add one more. Trust your gut in who to reach out to, but remember that if they say no, or don't have the time, it is not about you. I repeat this quote all of the time, but it especially rings true here - "You never know what someone else's motivation is, so you might as well assume the one that is best for you." (Paraphrased from The Charisma Myth) This pretty much sums up the way I try to live my life, and when I am successful I can truly see the power of assuming the best in others!

Manage your expectations. This goes back to seeing the best in others. As intense people, we hold ourselves to high expectations and can expect the same from others. This can be a recipe for dissapointment when no one person can meet our expectations. You may have different friends who meet different needs. One person can't always be everything to you, especially if you have complicated needs. Take time for gratitude and appreciate what the people in your life already have to offer. Express that gratitude often and your connection will grow. 

Invite larger groups if you'd like. If you are an introvert and/or prefer only 1:1 interactions, this step might not be relevant. If you are like me, however, and thrive in a community that you had a hand in creating, this can go a long way. Once I had a couple of close friends in the area, I could start inviting people to events where I knew at least one other person would join. Having that solid foundation, I could reach out to more people and feel the sting less when they didn't respond. If they came on occasion, or continued to reply (even if they were too busy to join), I would keep inviting them. If they didn't respond at all, I would eventually stop reaching out. When I first started with my closest group of friends, I would send individual texts. Now that group is so tight-knit a group message usually will do, though there are those that I know prefer an individual reach-out. 

On the note of creating community, I'm excited to announce that we are creating our first, hopefully annual, Embracing Intensity Unconference - a community of gifted women coming together to create their own educational learning experience in the PNW (near Portland Oregon). You can learn more and sign up on the event page here!

 

No One Way

On this week's episode of Embracing Intensity, I got a little personal about my relationship history and how I used to mistake drama for passion. I thought that drama was just a biproduct of two intense people in a relationship, but I have since found otherwise. Not to say that there's no drama in my current relationship, but there is definitely an ease to it that I had not experienced in the past. 

I was going to write a blog post about the key factors that I have found useful in minimizing drama, namely open communication (Nonviolent Communication is a great tool for this), identifying your "hot buttons" or "triggers," managing your expectations and not making assumptions. I go into these on the podcast, and planned to go into it in more detail on the blog when inspiration hit me on my afternoon walk. 

The heart of most drama in relationships is the idea that there is "one right way." 

When we have a need that isn't met, we get an idea in our head about what strategy will best meet that need. Sometimes we confuse the strategy with the need and think that it is the only way to get that need met. 

While this may work when we are flying solo, in relationship if you get stuck on one particular strategy or point of view, your communication can be perceived as a demand rather than a request. 

Strategies are very personal, while needs are universal, so if you can focus on the need, then you can better communicate about how both partners can get their needs met. The Center for Nonviolent Communication has a great Needs Inventory list here. Most of our needs fall under one of these 7 categories: connection, physical well-being, honesty, play, peace, autonomy and meaning. 

So the next time you feel stuck on something that you want but aren't sure you can get - take a look at what need it would meet and explore other possible options to meet that need. You might surprise yourself and find something even better than what you thought was the "right way."

Alone With My Thoughts

This week’s Embracing Intensity Podcast guest, Brittani Nelson, shares a mutual history of being a single mom and starting a business and a relationship around the same time. Unlike me though, she didn’t skip a beat in her business like I did when I took a break from my business as I got to know my now husband.

When I asked how she managed it all, she talked about the importance of self-care and balancing time with family. Another major tool for her has been harnessing the power of reflection and learning from each adventure.

I had a wonderful opportunity for reflection this week. In my group coaching call this weekend, we talked about our tendency to keep busy partly to avoid being alone with our thoughts. I particularly related to this habit when I was a single mom and went out with friends almost every night I didn’t have the boy. I felt very much like this guy:

Nowadays since I got married and moved to the country, I find myself much more of a home body and make a lot more time for self-reflection.

This week, however, I found myself caught in an unproductive thought loop.

I got a message on Twitter from someone who remembered me from college. He was from another dorm and I didn’t remember him at first. His dorm was the more quirky, hippy type dorm in my mind, and I always thought that I might have fit better there than I did in the freshman dorm I was in.

This thought sent me down a rabbit hole of “what if” thoughts – What if I lived in that dorm instead? I probably would not have ended up in the dysfunctional living situation my sophomore year that contributed to my body shutting down that year, which ultimately caused me to drop out of that college.

I realized that dropping out of that college was my single biggest regret in life. I tried to get back in right away but they wouldn’t let me back because my grades had dropped. I felt like I had deprived myself of half of my college experience because I finished off at a commuter school.

That said, I knew logically that if I hadn’t dropped out of that school, I would not have the life I have today. I would not have run into my son’s father at the commuter school. We would not have moved up to the Portland area, and my family would not have followed me up here. I would not have met my husband or my awesome friends here, and I would not be living out in the beautiful wilderness of the PNW.

I could know all of these things at an intellectual level, but I couldn’t help rolling around in my mind the thoughts of “what if.” For me, this looked like knots in my stomach and mind wandering when I should be working.

I stopped for a moment and thought, “I know this is not in anyway logical – what if I just let myself feel grief for a moment about the decisions that I made?” I took some time to just feel sad. Really accept that there doesn’t need to be a logical reason for it to be valid.

Sometimes you just need to stop thinking and let yourself feel.

Once I gave myself permission to feel it, it passed. At lunch I found that this Twitter friend had posted a picture of us from College (at a drag party where I had dressed half the men in my dorm with my thrift store finds), and I remembered exactly who he was. It was fun to reconnect, and I no longer felt that melancholy of “what if”  because I let myself grieve and move on.

Not to say that I will never feel that way again, but now if I feel stuck on a repetitive thought loop I will look at the heart of where it’s coming from and just let myself feel instead of trying to talk myself out of it. 

Excuse Me While I Overthink This Post

For the last few years, I've participated in the Hoagies' Gifted Education Page Blog Hops, but rarely is there a theme so relevant as this month's topic of overthinking. 

The problem is, there's so much to say on the topic I don't know where to begin. This got me thinking about how we think, especially as intense, gifted and/or excitable women. 

Recently in my League of Excitable Women Facebook group we got into a discussion about linear vs. nonlinear thinking. 

For nonlinear thinkers like myself, a description that appealed to me about the way our thinking works is like a spiral or DNA helix. It doesn't stay on one thing, but keeps coming back to it, perhaps at a deeper level the next time. 

Another member described their thinking as "logical non-linear" like reading a map: 

"I feel like my thinking is more like viewing a map and seeing the possibilities - there's the fast efficient way of getting there, there's the scenic route (maybe longer but more fun), the escape route (wtf did I do and how do I get out of it?), and of course the 5 other routes that will get you there but have no real value to add. When I overthink it's like spontaneously adding stops to a road trip, the whole map needs to be reviewed and routes need to change which causes me to rethink every other point on the map."

A more linear thinker described it this way,  "I have a very linear brain. I examine a problem carefully, from all angles, looking at all the possibilities. I plan something from beginning to end and like order and stability (sometimes too much). I can get hung up on the details, figuring out how they all fit together into the whole, and lose track of the whole."

The common thread I see among most of the women I've worked with is the tendency to look at a problem from every possible angle. A more linear thinker might internally work out the most efficient route, but possibly get stuck on the details. A non-linear thinker might need external strucrures and supports in place to contain the inner chaos and move forward because there might not be one obvious beginning, middle and/or end. 

Now I'd love to hear from you - would you describe yourself a a linear or non-linear thinker? What helps you get unstuck when you are caught in an overthinking loop?

This week I was inspired to create a short-term coaching offer called Focus Your Power to help you get clear on where to focus your energy, come up with a concrete plan of action to meet your goal and refine your plan for success. I'm offering the first 8 to sign up a discounted rate of $75. You can find out more here

This post was written as a part of this month's Hoagies' Gifted Education Blog Hop on Overthinking. For more musings on my own overthinking and thoughts on what to do about it, you can listen to this week's podcast - Overthink Much?

Know Thyself

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Do you ever find yourself surprised to find out someone is younger than you, not because they look older but because there is some sense of maturity about them that you admire and respect? This week's interviewee Stella Orange, is one of those people for me.

Now she might not use the word maturity to describe herself because she embraces her silly and playful child side in her work, but I believe that her sense of inner knowing reflects a type of maturity that I find incredibly refreshing. 

She describes her experience of moving around the world as a child and how it led her to really trust in her own self. She said, "I really had a lot of trust in myself and in the weird little world that I had built in my own imagination." 

Many of us intense/excitable women start to distrust our own selves because it doesn't quite fit what we believe is expected of us by the culture around us, so we start to tone ourselves down and tune ourselves out. 

Somewhere in the process, many of us got lost along the way and started to loose track of who we really are or were. I definitely found myself in this place at the end of my first marriage.

Some things that have helped me to reconnect with myself include:

Spending time on my own - especially outside when possible. Adaptability is part of my nature, so it's crucial that I spend some time on my own to connect with myself. 

Finding one or two people who "get me" - I am fortunate enough to have many of these wonderful people in my life, but even one or two can make a huge difference in freeing you up to know and be who you are.

Personal development exploration -  For me this has ranged from reading, online classes, in person workshops and coaching. Options are limitless in this arena, I generally take things as they come to me and select where to place my energy depending on my priorities in the moment. 

I would love to hear from you - what tools have helped you get to know yourself better? Please share in the comments. 

Beyond Explanation

When I decided to break out and do some solo shows on my Embracing Intensity Podcast, I asked my League of Excitable Women Facebook group what topics they would like me to address. One of the common themes was on explaining our intensity and/or excitability to other people. 

This has been my on-going dillema with sharing what exactly it is that I do, and part of the reason I started the podcast in the first place. I've come to realize that my best strategy so far has been to surround myself with people who already "get it." It seems that if you relate to intensity/excitability, it doesn't take much for others to click and say "that's me!"

When I describe the women I work with, I use words like gifted, passionate, spirited, powerful, creative, intense. Each of these words may be true, but some relate to different words to different degrees. 

When I start to explain excitability to someone who doesn't understand it, I can see their eyes glaze over and know they are "not my tribe."

Even within my tribe though, I once had a friend describe me as "an enigma wrapped in a riddle." 

But what if you have to interact on a regular basis with people who don't "get" you?

I guess I would start by saying that everyone takes in and reacts to the world differently.

I recently read a post about how some people have a genetic marker that makes cilantro taste like soap. For these people, eating cilantro is a very unpleasant experience. So how might this apply to excitablility? Let's start by looking at the definition of excitable according to Merriam-Webster:

Definition of excitable

1:  capable of being readily roused into action or a state of excitement or irritability

2:  capable of being activated by and reacting to stimuli excitable cells

This may look a little differnt depending on the type of excitability you relate to...

Intellectual - You might say that your brain is constantly going. Everything that comes up connects with another thought and you are constantly either jumping from one thought to another or delving super deep into something that has captured your attention. There's really very little in between. If you are only sort-of interested in something, it will not hold your attention for very long, but if you are deeply captured by something you can get lost in it for hours, or days. 

Sensory - Our sensory sensitivities may vary, but you might say that because your senses pick things up quickly, what is annoying for someone else might be excruciating for you. I once heard it described like the canary in the cole mine - sensory sensitive people notice things before others and can call attention to it. Those same things might bother everyone at some point, but the sensory excitable person will notice it sooner and be more affected by it. 

Emotional - I remember feeling when I was younger like my emotions were a roller coaster. The range of feelings experienced was extreme, so while I was capable of high highs, I was also capable of low lows. In my case, it is not to the degree of a diagnosable condition (except for possibly ADHD), but it does mean that I have to take extra time to ground myself emotionally - especially if I'm dealing with other people's intense emotions, which I pick up as well. 

Psychomotor - For me, this can best be described as a sense of restlessness. I am often fatigued, but it's a kind of "wired but tired" feeling. My body is being constantly overstimulated, which often leaves me feeling drained. 

Imaginational - This would be my lowest area of excitability, but for those I know who are high on this area, they have a very active imagination that is constantly going. In this blog post on being quietly spirited, Carissa Reid, who is highly imaginationally excitable, described herself as feeling like "a universe in a box, waiting for the flap to open."

On this week's Embracing Intensity Podcast, I explore further how myself and others describe our intensity/excitability. I would love to hear from you on how you describe your own!

How I Streamlined My Social Media Posting - For Free!

I'm sharing an extra blog post tutorial today because this doesn't fit in my regular blog format, but I'm too excited not to share!

I don't know about you, but I'm one of those people who gets exited about creating and problem solving, but fizzles out when it comes to maintenance. That's why keeping up a consistent social media calendar can be exhausting. I had a good thing going for a while on Twitter sharing 4 posts a day through the Buffer app, but it was getting cumbersome to have to go between feeds and drag the different posts around so they aren't in a big clump of the same type of post. Needless to say, the bored by maintenance part of me was getting tired of this routine. 

The thing I hate about Twitter is that it's like trying to be heard in a loud busy bar, the thing I love about it though is that it gives the chance to share lots of great content from other podcasters and bloggers. 

I got curious about the potential of the social media sharing app Meet Edgar for it's ability to recycle your evergreen content on an ongoing basis. Having several year's worth of blog posts and months worth of podcasts, having to repost them over and over again is a pain. Unfortunately, Meet Edgar was out of my price range, so I continued to look at other options.  I discovered two recurring evergreen post apps that might fit the bill - Recurpost and SmarterQueue. For my purposes, I chose Recurpost because they have a free version that allows for a library of up to 100 recurring posts and up to 3 social profiles. This way, I can upgrade to the $25 a month plan when I need a bigger library and/or my paid version of Buffer runs out. 

In order to meet my needs for both recurring posts and updated shared content of other podcasters and bloggers, I'm using a combination of three apps - Recurpost, Buffer and Feedly. It takes a little bit to set up, but once it's up I can do my social media posts in a few minutes a week! 

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Twitter - I like to alternate my own content with blogs and podcasts of people I follow and people who I've interviewed on my Embracing Intensity Podcast. Doing these in chunks in Buffer was working, but then I had to drag stuff around so you didn't get a whole bunch of the same type of post at once. Also, Buffer limits each RSS feed of other people's content to 15 per  social profile so I was jumping back and forth between feeds. For my recurring posts, I have combination of blog posts, podcasts, quote images from podcasts (originally created in Instagram and formatted for twitter), and silly gif video images from my most popular blog post 25 Things Only a Highly Excitable Person Would Understand

Facebook - For simplicity sake, I was only posting to my Facebook page once a day, but now that sharing other people's posts is so easy with Feedly, I'm trying two posts a day - with extra posts from people I've interviewed on the podcast. I have regular daily themes in my League of Excitable Women Facebook Group, so I put those in Recurpost so all I have to remember is to switch up the Thursday question. 

Instagram - This one is a little more complicated since I need to create new content consistently. Over the last few months I've experimented with an order that allowed me to share podcasts and quotes and took advantage of all the lovely garden photos that my husband and I share on our personal Instagram profiles. Since the grid I came up with that I like moves in a pattern of 4, I post 8 pictures on a good week (and let myself post only 4 when things get a little crazy). I'm starting to sort through my quote images so I can start reworking them into the grid over time. I don't mind a little extra time dedicated to images since the creation part is the part I enjoy. Instagram is weird about letting other apps post to it, so it doesn't automatically post from Buffer, but will give you a reminder at the time of posting and upload the picture and copy the text for you so it's all ready to post and run. 

The Set Up

Buffer - The free Buffer Plan allows you to schedule up to 10 posts per profile for one profile per platform. For $10 a month (or less if you pay annually), you can up that to 100 posts per profile and up to 10 profiles. If I were using the free version, I would have to pop-in mid week to fill in the twitter feed, but it only takes a couple of minutes to do in Feedly. Under the "Schedule" tab, I clicked on the "Try our Optimal Timing Tool," to come up with best times of day to post. I picked two times for Buffer and two times for Recurpost that alternate. Since the free version of Recurpost does not allow for video posts, I also manually scheduled 1-2 video posts for my 25 things gifs in Buffer. Once I upgrade, I can put those in a library for evergreen content.  

Feedly - I started using Feedly a few months ago when I was experimenting with creating an app and I wanted a feed of posts from people I've interviewed. I only recently realized that it is super easy to post to either Buffer or Hootsuite directly from Feedly! I set up two feeds - one of people I've interviewed and one of other people I follow with helpful content. To view the most at once and quickly share, select the "Title-Only View." Then you can hover over the title and it will give you options of where to share it. When you select the Buffer icon, it will give you the options of which profiles to share it on. If you are sharing on Twitter, you can tag the person who's post you are sharing (Facebook doesn't work for tagging in Buffer yet, but I can edit the post after if I want to go back and tag). 

Recurpost* - Recurpost allows you to create different libraries with different types of content. The free version allows for two RSS feeds, so I follow my blog feed and my podcast feed. All other feeds I follow in Feedly. Using the "Optimal Times" I got from Buffer, I set up a post schedule of evergreen content that alternates with the Buffer post times. For my consistent Facebook Group daily themes, I created a "library" of one post for each day so that the same post goes out each week. I vary the "Thoughtful Thursday" question, so I'll note in my weekly to-do to update the post. You can add to each "library" through your RSS feeds, individually or by copying and pasting in bulk. 

* Note that it takes up to 24 hours for your Recurpost schedule to take effect, so don't be alarmed that it doesn't start posting the moment you set it up. 

My Weekly To-Do

  • Open Feedly and add 14 posts to Twitter and 7 to Facebook Page feed in Buffer (for the free plan, Twitter allows up to 10 posts, so you'd have to go back quickly mid-week, or you could just space out the 10 posts through the week). 
  • Update Facebook Thursday question.
  • Add this week's blog and podcast to Linkedin and Pinterest. 
  • Create 4-8 Instagram images and put in Buffer queue. 
  • Manually add 2 video posts in Twitter and 1 in Facebook for 25 things posts (this can also be done monthly if there's room in queue)
  • Add new posts to Recurpost library.

Whew! It seems like a lot when I look at it here in one place, but trust me, once it's set up it will save a TON of time on the maintenance end. If anything here is difficult to follow, feel free to message me and I can try to clarify. Getting my scattered brain on to paper can be a challenge, so hopefully it is laid out clearly. 

Two Words - Be Yourself!

This week I get to share with you an interview with Jennie Friedman of the See In ADHD Podcast

When asked what was the best advice she was ever given, Jennie said, "Be yourself. My mom and dad used to say that all the time and I still hear the voices saying that. It didn't seem like a good answer when I was younger and I think I spent many years fighting being myself. I wanted to actually be anybody but me for a very long time, and you know now - I mean, you don't have a choice right? You have to be yourself. But to be yourself and be really good with that and really love being yourself - you know, embracing that... I mean, be yourself is two words but the meaning is just a lifetime of that journey of being yourself and hating it and then having no choice but to be yourself and learning to love it. So it's the best advice - just two words, so powerful!"

This seems to be the journey of so many intense and/or gifted women! Even when our parents accept us for who we are, we are told by the world that we just don't quite fit so we often try to shift into a mold that isn't well suited to us. This is why it warms our hearts when we see older women who are unapolagetically free to express themselves as they wish. 

But why wait until you are older to be yourself?

In a previous interview with Leela Sinha, she said, "if you, quote, toned it down and found yourself a place where you sort of fit, as your toned down self - the odds are as you approach 40, you're going to get sick of it and you're going to bust out of that box and everything that you thought you built is going to come crashing down around your ears and your gonna have to start over. So, the less time you spend building yourself into a false reality, the better off you are."

I think some of us get way past 40, but I agree with her sentiment that the sooner you get comfortable in your own skin the better. 

This is not to say that we do whatever we want without empathy or good communication, but that we look at the internal motivation for our choices. Doing things simply for approval or to "fit in," will certainly become draining, while doing things that are motivated by joy and deep interest will energize us. 

So think about what parts of yourself you feel like you might be holding back and how you might express that part of yourself in a way that feels good for you. Who knows, you might find connections with others when they get a glimpse of things they might be holding back in themselves. 

Do You Suffer From Paralyzing Abundance?

Whenever I get a new member in my League of Excitable Women Facebook Group, I always ask the question, "What are you intensely passionate about," which is also ask all of the women I interview on my Embracing Intensity Podcast

One thing that has become evidently clear is that intense, gifted, excitable women rarely have one passion. There are many names for this - multipotentiality, polymath, scanner, rainbow person (vs. specialist in one thing). 

I believe this, along with our propensity for perfectionism, is what leads to feeling like scattered overachievers, or gifted underachievers. I can say that I, personally, have felt like both at the same time. 

So, when you are passionate and talented at so many things, how do you choose what to focus on? This week I broke out of my usual interview format on my podcast to explore this further - On Paralyzing Abundance

Obviously you are not going to focus on just one thing for the rest of your life, or possibly ever, but when you have too many balls in the air, your effectiveness on each thing can diminish.

For example, over the summer and early fall I launched multiple things along with my new website and tried to start a local in-person talk series at the same time as I launched my podcast. I rapidly found that trying to do both at once, I could not give them both the energy they deserved. For this year, I decided to discontinue the live talks and focus on my podcast, which has grown considerably since that time and reached a wide audience of people around the world who need to hear my message. 

When I start to feel an excess of abundance, there are a few questions I ask myself to help decide where I should focus: 

Is it energizing to me? This has been a big one for me recently, as my work load in my "day job" has been draining enough that I've prioritized the things that energize me in my business life. 

Is it in line with my purpose and vision? In the grander scheme of things, if it doesn't energize you or move you forward toward your life vision or goals, consider if there is something else you could be doing that would be. 

Is this the most effective use of my time? There might be many different things that could potentially move you toward your purpose and vision, but they might not be the most effective use of your time at the moment. This is why I decided to focus on the podcast rather than the live events because while they both energized me and moved me toward my purpose, the podcast had a greater reach and would therefore get my message out more. 

As a multipotentialite, these things may shift over time. Some people are more effective at juggling multiple projects at once, while others do better rotating through and focusing on one or two at a time. Whatever your preference, if you start to feel exausted or overwhelmed by all the things you want to do, it might be a good time to step back and reexamine your focus. 

This has been a part of the Hoagies' Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on Multipotentiality

Walking My Talk

This week's Embracing Intensity Guest, Marina Darlow, helps creative visionaries create systems and frameworks to help support and sustain their vision. 

I was drawn to her work because as I move from the very structured and deadline-driven world of school psychology into the much more losely structured world of entrepreneurship, finding systems to keep me sustained has been a continuous adventure!

Last week I wrote about slowing down, and my own need to cut back what I was trying to do. I decided to try to keep things to the essentials that I've commited to, which for the moment has been my podcast and my Ignite Your Power group coaching program. 

As I was re-recording my 4th lesson on time and energy balance though, I realized that it's not just about cutting things out, but about doing the things that really energize me.

Here I was, spending hours to re-record a lesson for minimal sound improvement and as I'm reading the words describing draining activities, such as resigned, obligation, task, pushing against, that is exactly how I felt in the moment. 

What energizes me is connecting and creating. Revising and rehashing is draining to me - especially when it takes hours to rerecord a 20-30 minute lesson. I know that it is important, which is why I pay Team Podcast to do all of that for my podcasts. 

In my school job, my evaluation load has been so high this year that even 3 days a week is draining. Even though I don't really have the time, I find what gets me through is the 1 hour a week I go into a class and teach self-regulation to kids. I can't really afford the time for it, but then I also can't afford not to do something where I can really feel my impact. 

This all got me thinking about how I wanted to restructure the way I spend my time in business to focus on what energizes and minimize what drains, so this is what I'm adjusting so far:

  • Reduce my social media posts - do I really need 4 twitter posts a day or 8 Instagram posts a week when most of my traffic is from Facebook? 
  • Clean up and use the original recordings for my course - the quality difference is minimal relative to the time I save for more energizing things, and the cost of doing it is not just in time but in energy. 
  • Coach more - Between website, podcast and group launch, I have not been focused on 1:1 coaching, but doing my small group and mastermind calls reminded me how much I enjoy the 1:1 work. I offered some free coaching spots in my group to get back on track and the response was overwhelming!
  • Podcast adjustments - Finally, I was feeling behind on getting interviews scheduled and all of the prepwork involved. Even though I pay for much of the production, there's a lot involved in coordinating the interviews. I also realized that if I did a short solo show every other week, I could address specific questions that come up in my Facebook group on a larger scale, and it would minimize the production needs for those weeks. 
  • Be more deliberate in ending my work day on business work days - working from home, it is really easy to let business related tasks bleed into your personal time and this can disrupt my ability to rest and be in the moment. Clearly delineating "work time" from "personal time," can help make both more effective. 

We will see how this all goes, it is a constant experiment! What are some things you have done, or could do, to reduce the draining and add more energizing things into your life?

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Now that I've thought about it, I can't get that song out of my head.

For the past two weeks, my body has been trying to give me that message with that kind of low-grade sickness that doesn't completely knock you out but keeps you highly fatigued and moderately brain dead for weeks. I tried taking a 1/2 sick day to rest, but then ended up having to come in to work on my day off, which in-turn threw off my business schedule. 

At some point, something's gotta give. 

Yesterday, when I knew I needed to get my updated lessons for my group program up and finished, I decided to take it easy and do it in my own time instead of pushing myself. 

At first this didn't feel very good, I still felt kinda cranky even after some nice walks in the sun and a nap. And to top it off, I hadn't gotten anything done! So what good did it do me to rest? 

Well, this morning I felt much better and had a nice chat with this week's interviewee, Jade Rivera. We were actually talking about our challenges with doing video and I shared that I found doing very short FB live videos and slowing myself down helped to ease my nerves. 

She said to me, "I found that slowing down in general is key, you know?"

That is exactly it! I still have basic duties that need to be done, but overall it's time to slow things down for me, and a big part of that is cutting out things that are nice but not needed or energizing, like consistent social-media posting for example. There will be a time and a place for that again, but for now I'm going to take some time to watch the flowers growing...

... Ba da da da da da da, feelin' groovy

Life's Little Detours

This week's interview is with Amy Oestreicher, author, global speaker, actress, arts entrepreneur and Jill-of-all-trades. When we first connected, I was inspired by her TED talk called Follow Your Detour, Find Your Flower, where she shares her story of a succession of unexpected detours in her life starting with her stomach literally exploding right before senior prom. 

After each detour in her life, she describes a flower that she picked up along the way - grattitude, identity reimagined, feeling, expression, courage and invincible identity.

Though I can't say my detours have been nearly as dramatic, I can definitely relate to having everything change just as you think you've got everything figured out.

Nine years ago, everything seemed to be going right on track. I had a job I was good at that helped others. I was on the board of a theatre community and I was expecting my first child. 

Within the span of a few months, I went through an unexpected divorce with a colicky baby, started a new job that was much more more paperwork than actually working with kids and between everything else going on I just could not maintain my involvement in the theatre, which was my primary social outlet. 

But here's the thing...

If I hadn't gotten a divorce, I would have never met my amazing husband who loves me for my quirks not despite them.

If I hadn't had a colicky and now intense child, I would have never learned about over-excitability, which helped not only me, but many others who follow my work come to terms with the gifts to be found in intensity instead toning down or tuning out. 

If I hadn't started questioning the meaning of my "day-job" I would have never connected with my true purpose, which is to help gifted and intense women use their gifts effectively in the world. 

And if I hadn't lost my primary social connection, I would have never found my way back to my Unitarian Universalist roots where I have found the most amazing community of support for both myself and my son. 

In the midst of our detours, we may not see the flowers, but they are planted in the earth waiting to sprout and bloom!

If you happen to be in New York this month, you can see Amy's one woman musical Gutless & Grateful Comes to Internationally Acclaimed Metropolitan Room March 26th, 2017 - or visit her website for upcoming touring dates. 

Lessons Learned From Our Intense Kids

This week's interview is with Carolyn K of the Hoagies' Gifted Education Page. Carolyn and I both share that we learned so much about ourselves through our kids and have made it our missions to share those lessons with the world for anyone who might benefit from them. 

My son is so very much a combination of both parent's intensities, both the amazing and the exasperating. At almost 9, he has come a very long way in self-understanding, but is still occasionally challenged by the intensity of his feelings about things. 

My greatest challenge as a parent is supporting his big feelings while also not encouraging him to take them out on other people. This is an ongoing process. 

It got me thinking about how we do this as adults. How do we process our intense feelings without taking them out on other people?

I believe many of us try to stuff it deep inside or avoid conflict all together, but these methods are bound to come back in some way eventually, whether in a verbal explosion, physical symptoms or feelings of resentment. 

Another strategy that might work for a while is to carefully orchestrate your life to avoid the big stressors. This can backfire as well though because we can't control all aspects of life, so when something unexpected happens we may be unprepared. 

I believe the answer lies somewhere in a combination of tools that enable us to be more selective in what we let into our lives while also building up our toolkit of strategies for dealing with stress and draining events when they occur. 

This is where my Ignite Your Power Group Program was born from, and I am so glad to be going through it again. 

Two years ago, when I last offered it as a group program, I was working part time and on track toward my purpose of helping intense women balance their energy and connect with their own power. The following school year, however, I had to go back to my day job more and took on a challenging job, which was highly draining. As I took on the new school year this year, I had renewed energy and launched my podcast. The last few months though, I've felt drained by the current political climate and winter blahs.

Watching my own son navigate his complex emotions and stress responses, with more eloquence than he has been able to express in the past, has reinvigorated me to set an example of how we are not victims of our circumstances if we can use the tools that we have on hand to bounce back. 

There's still time to join my Ignite Your Power Group Program if you sign up before our first call on Saturday March 11th at 10:00 AM Pacific! We will be working together on building up our tools to connect with our superpowers, balance our energy and feel more accomplished toward our purpose!

Wanna know my superpower?

When I first met this week’s interviewee, the phenomenal Dr. Carol Parker Walsh, she had done a talk about being mindful about how you look on the outside reflecting your true abilities - like a superhero costume. As she pointed out, Wonder Woman would still have the same powers in sweatpants, but no one would expect it of her. I loved this imagery because I am all about helping women harness their power on the inside while she’s all about reflecting it on the outside.

Over the last year as I redid my website and got ready to start my podcast, I put extra thought into how to project my own personality and strengths into my website.

Here’s what I’ve come to realize, I am fabulous at promoting other people, but I pretty much suck at promoting myself. That’s not to say that I don’t do it, but when I do, it feels awkward to me and I’m afraid it will come off as “too much.” Kinda funny huh, when I am all about embracing “too muchness.”

But here’s what I’ve learned in the last few years - my superpower is bringing out the best in others!

This has taken me a very long time to admit. After all, there are definitely times when this has not been true (hello ex-husband), but again and again I am given the message by others that I help them feel calm and accepted.

I bring out the best in others by assuming the best about them - and more often than not, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That is why I love to do group programs! It allows me to bring out the best in more people at the same time and lets them bring out the best in eachother.

Next week, on March 6th, I start my first Ignite Your Power group program after only offering it 1:1 for two years. If you’d like to explore your own superpowers and how you can harness them without getting burned out, you can find out more about it here.

Confessions of a Socially Anxious Extrovert

When I was in high school, I did everything I could to be weird and different. I once had someone who read my aura and told me that I cared a lot about what people thought of me. I laughed at the time because I thought nothing could be farther from the truth. I didn’t give  f--- what anyone thought of me.

Oh boy was I wrong. See, I let my weird flag fly partly because of who I was and partly as a defense mechanism. If people didn’t like me, it was just because they didn’t “get” me. But if someone thought I was mean, rude or thoughtless I really did feel terrible.

Most people who know me well know I would never be mean on purpose, but with my ADHD traits, being thought rude or thoughtless was not out of the question. I could get so excited about a topic I would talk on and on and miss the social cues that they weren’t interested or I was talking too much.

This crept into my adulthood and I’ve found in almost any new situation I am filled with dread that I will put my foot in my mouth, say too much or say the wrong thing. This was not helped by 10 years with someone who, as it turns out, was often afraid I would embarrass him at parties.

I am a highly social person, and am energized by social connection, but crowds and unfamiliar groups of people can be highly unnerving and social awkwardness kicks in. I almost never feel quite like I “fit” in any group that I didn’t take part in creating.

When I moved to the PNW, the first year was extremely tough. I didn’t know anyone and couldn’t afford to go out as we saved up for a house. That summer, my anxiety was made worse when I went on a trip with someone who was obviously annoyed by me - likely due to traits I shared with her spouse. I had always valued my ability to be liked, if not always understood, and at this point I even started questioning that.

Finding the theatre community saved me for many years, but then after I had my son, especially as a single parent, I didn’t have the time to commit to it anymore.

I then connected with the Unitarian Universalist community, which is a community that I grew up with and it felt very familiar. Even so, it took me about a year before I felt comfortable asking people to spend time outside of group events. The first time I asked my best friend Lana to go out, it felt like I was asking her out on a date.

After that, things started to get easier. I started inviting people to events like plays and friend’s music gigs and as long as I had one person to go with me, I would not worry about the people who were too “busy.” As long as they bothered to message me back, I would keep on inviting them. I had several people who eventually became good friends express appreciation of this.

What I have come to realize is meeting new friends as an adult is hard. Putting yourself out there is even harder. The thing is though, there are people out there who feel the same way you do and if you don’t put yourself out there you will never get to know them. If the timing is off or they have other priorities, it’s not really about you but about them.

This week’s Embracing Intensity interviewee, Simone de Hoog was no stranger to that feeling of isolation. Raising her intense children, she often felt alone. So she created a group called Powerwood for parent of over-excitable children with camps and workshops in the UK. Now it has blossomed to become a nonprofit that helps many families to feel understood.

If you are craving a community of women who “get” you, this week, I am opening the doors to an online group for my Ignite Your Power program where you can connect with other powerful women to harness the power of your excitability by connecting with your unique super powers, balancing your energy and feeling a sense of accomplishment in your life. We start March 6th and space is limited, so take a look and join us today!

The World Needs Your Superpowers!

Are you trying to serve from an empty cup? 

In this week's interview with Giovanna Rossi, of the podcast Well Woman Life, we talked about how intense women are often constantly giving, but draining themselves in the process. 

As Giovanna said, "It's like trying to serve from an empty cup, and there's nothing there to give. We have so much to give in the world and we're producing so much externally that we have to take care of our internal self and our energy levels and our power."

This is true more now than ever as the world around seems to be determined to drain our cups dry. 

I am convinced that intensity is the superpower that will change the world!

My sister has a bumper sticker that says "Well-behaved women seldom make history," (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich). This is because it is the passionate and driven who really make a difference. 

However, it is also the passionate and driven who are prone to crash and burn if they don't refill their cups. If your cup is dry, you can't make the difference you were meant to so let's keep that cup full!

My goal is to help harness that intensity in a positive direction so you don't get caught up in the stress spiral and burn out. This week, I am starting a free 7-day challenge to help balance your stress and energy levels so that you can use your superpowers like they were meant to be used. 

In my 7-day Ignite Your Power challenge, we will dive deep into your stress and energy balance so that you can harness the power of your intensity instead of burning out or spinning your wheels. Here’s a brief overview of what we will cover – using the STAR (Stop, Think, Act, Request) process:

Stop – Today we will talk about how to get out of your head and into your body so you can feel the early signs of stress and energy imbalance.

Think – Over the next 5 days we will go over the 5 areas of stress and energy balance (physical, emotional, mental, social, connective) and identify what they look like for you. 

Act – On the final day we will talk about what you should say “no” to so that you can say “yes” to the things that nourish you.

Request – Throughout the challenge, you can call on the group for support, questions or celebration!

There's still time to join us! We start today!

Break the Stress Cycle

This week I get to share with you an inspiring interview with Daun Jacobsen. She is one of the most resilient people I know and has come out of adversity with an intense appreciation for life!

When it came time to pick a quote for the beginning of the episode, I remembered weeks later exactly which part I wanted to include without looking at my notes. 

She said, "I felt like I had always walked around with this giant coat on and the buttons were always bulging out. So I'm like bulging out of this coat and then it's all pulling apart and I would try to keep myself within that coat and what would happen is that on occasion when I was in relationships with people or other circumstances, I would pop out and they're like, 'oh my gosh - what's that?'"

As intense women, I think we find ourselves busting out of our coats more often than we’d like.  Then when we bust out, we beat ourselves up and we think, “if only I had more self-control, I wouldn’t keep busting out of my coat!”

But what if, instead of focusing on fitting ourselves into the coat, we focused on finding a coat that fit?

The focus in my work has always been on helping women to self-regulate so that they can feel more in “control,” but I knew that doing this through “willpower” or “force” was not the answer because these things deplete us and leave us less energy to do the things we need to do to take care of ourselves.

Last year I read a book called Self-Reg by Stuart Shanker that helped tie it all together in my mind. In this handy infographic from his website, he outlines the differences between “self-control” and “self-regulation” (or self-reg as he calls it).

Self-control encourages battling “weaknesses” to exercise effortful control.”

Self-regulation, on the other hand, “seeks to reduce the effort required to reach effortful control.”

In other words…

When we focus only on self-control, we try to cram into a coat that doesn’t fit, while when we focus instead on self-regulation, we look for a coat that fits in the first place.

Self-regulation, at its core, is about regulating our energy. Reducing the things in our lives that drain or overstimulate us while adding in more things that energize us. Granted, there will always be stressors that we cannot remove, but if we can minimize the rest and build up our energy, we can handle more when it comes our way.

Shanker describes stress like a spiral, when you experience one stress you can handle it better, but if you are already under stress, your reaction to the next one will be more intense.

This is why, for example, when my body is hormonally stressed once a month, I react more intensely when things don’t go my way. Knowing this, I can step back and observe myself non-judgmentally and even laugh at the absurdity of my response.

Self-control is about being judged, by oneself as much as by others,” while “Self-regulation is about looking non-judgmentally at one’s impulses, worries, and fixations.”

This has always been the goal of my Ignite Your Power program, which I created two years ago, and I am refining it to include insights gained from this book for an upcoming group program. 

Next week I will be starting a free Ignite Your Power Challenge so that we can work together to:

  • Explore tools to shut down your “fight/flight” reflex in order to get your rational brain back online. 
  • Identify 5 types of stressors and their corresponding energizers so that you can start to replace some of the things that are stressing you out with things that replenish you. 
  • Clarify when you should say “no” so you can say “yes” to the things that energize you and/or move you toward a sense of accomplishment.

Remember that in order to make the most impact in your life, it will be infinitely easier to do if you have the right coat!

Where Do I Even Begin?

This week, I get to share my interview with Ivy LaClair, of the Motivational Millennial Podcast. Her work with podcast partner Blake Brandes is so important in my eyes because I believe that it will be the Millennial generation that changes the world!

They get a bad wrap from people who believe they have unrealistic ideals, but as Ivy points out you can do a lot with that energy if you have the drive and determination to work hard for your dreams.

But how do you stay motivated when there seem to be so many things in the world that need to be fixed?

Especially when, as intense individuals, you may be easily overwhelmed. If you are a big picture thinker, it may be a challenge to channel the executive skills involved in prioritizing, planning and executing the little details that are required to make lasting change.

Here are some things I have found helpful when I don’t even know where to begin:

Prioritize - One thing that can be particularly daunting when you are overloaded with things that seem equally important is to pick one or two things where you can take decisive action. If you are having a hard time with prioritizing, I wrote a blog post on Five Tools for Prioritization.

Use your powers! - If you are still having a hard time narrowing your focus, I find it useful to think of where you, personally, can make the biggest difference. I wrote this post, Are You on Purpose? to help clarify  what your own purpose, mission, vision and values are so that you can choose things that are in alignment for you.

Say No - Once you’ve clarified what’s in alignment for you and prioritized where you can be most effective, work on the practice of saying no to the things that don’t align. In Saying Yes by Saying No, I offer a handy little flowchart on when to say “no” so you can say “yes” to the things that really drive you - although in the current world climate, I'd change the word "fun" to rewarding or meaningful. 

Dull the Noise - Last week I talked about why you need to Dull The Noise So You Can Hear The Signal. Signal is the important information that helps inform your decision making and keep you moving in the right direction. Noise is everything else that distracts you from getting clear signal. With so much going on on social media right now, that is a major source of noise. Be selective of how you spend your time there and how you use the information you pick up.

Connect - In this digital age of connection it can, ironically, be easy to feel disconnected. We are overburdened with noise, and yet true connection can be a challenge. I find myself going online to connect with friends, only to get distracted and disheartened by the noise. This last week, I had several opportunities to connect both in person and on the phone with positive people that I care about and it made all the difference in the world. While as an extravert, I am charged by being around people, connecting with yourself is equally important. Mindfulness and time in nature can help listen to your inner signal.

As an intense or excitable person, you might be feeling extra overloaded on the stress meter these days! Just know that you are intensely powerful! I'm starting a free Ignite Your Power challenge this month to help you harness that power without burning out. You can find out more or sign up here!

This has been a part of Hoagies' Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on Executive Function. Check them out for other relevant posts!