Journaling Through Difficult Times-Get Your Free Downloadable Journal Now

journaling

You may be in one of these groups: a committed journaler, a dabbler (one who occasionally or sporadically journals), one who has sworn off such pursuits, or open to ideas about using a tool that is amazingly flexible.

Regardless of whether you can identify with one of those, or are in another place, I invite you now to seriously consider  journaling at this particular time in our lives. It can have immediate benefits like giving you more clarity as you reflect. It can also be therapeutic. Particularly in this quickly changing times, our heads are filled with so many thoughts, questions and feelings. Taking a little time to sit down and reflect on all that can be extremely helpful.

Many, if not all of us have elevated stress and anxiety as we try to figure out the logistics of the reality we have been forced into. Writing in a journal will help us figure out what some specific stressors are, what triggers the anxiety and think about how we can reduce and share them. We can also use a journal to consciously list what we are grateful for in the midst of all this.

Beyond these immediate benefits, our journals will be a great treasure as we look back years from now at our personal thoughts and experiences. These will also provide a window into what we went through for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in future years.

Will you join me in journaling from your personal viewpoint what this CoVid-19 virus pandemic means to you, how it is affecting your life, what thoughts you have? 

In a matter of a few weeks, our whole country and our individual lives have changed. How did the changes evolve for you? Starting now, we can look back on the last weeks and record how the reality began to enter into our consciousness and how it grew. We can reflect on how we perceived the process from that point to now. And from this point forward, we can record daily or near-daily experiences and reflections. At this point, we have no idea how long this will last and how things will change.

To facilitate this, I offer you a free downloadable and printable journal. You can print additional pages as you wish. I also invite you to join this Facebook Group:  http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-a-Tool-For-Life

In the journal, I provide some questions/prompts that can help you zero in on your experiences and questions.  So that it is most flexible, those questions/prompts will be in list form and you can write about whichever seems most useful on any given day. Or perhaps you just want to do daily reflections as you go along.

In the Facebook group, I hope that we can share some of what we are writing, inspire others to explore in additional ways, and support each other.

Here’s your link to the direct download: http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-Through-Crisis

 

 

 

Who Else Feels Life is Getting More and More Surreal?

Who Else Feels Life is Getting More and More Surreal?
surreal
Surreal: “resembling a dream; fantastic and incongruous”

Yes, that’s how I feel these days. Somehow just about everything is different. Is it real?? An 88 year-old friend says she’s never experienced anything like this. And that says a lot.

Whether it’s increased isolation of seniors living alone or in assisted living facilities or nursing homes, or students whose sports and musical competitions are being cancelled, or parents struggling to make arrangements for their children when schools close for periods of time, it hardly seems real.

As with so many things in life, balance is important. Neither listening constantly to media about the outbreak nor ignoring it entirely are advisable. Find and use a trusted source for information and advice. Many advise that our bottom line sources should be the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) or your state health department. If the media sources you are using don’t refer to those sources, check elsewhere.

Beyond the precautions being recommended, I suggest considering these additional things:

  • Establish some personal and/or household intentions about how you will come through this challenge. They may have to do with accomplishments, relationships among you and with others, future plans or other areas you may
  • Look at ways to make positive use of the restrictions. It is all too easy to slip into fear, anxiety, depression, or a combination of them all because of the changes. How can we use the additional time at home in ways that lift our spirits and other people’s spirits? This includes staying in contact and increasing contact through phone calls, cards, letters, online contact (Face Time, Skype, Facebook, etc.) with others who are feeling isolated and depressed. I think particularly of those older people at home alone or in nursing homes or care facilities.
  • Think of things you and others in your household enjoy doing or want to do at home but never seem to have time for. Reading, watching movies, listening to each others’ favorite music, playing board games and art/crafts are always good. How about setting up some challenges around these or other activities to provide something to work toward? This is a more positive way to think about this rather than just “filling time.”
  • Take on tasks and projects that have been put off over and over. These can become challenges to complete and see as accomplishments during this time. The obvious ones are cleaning out and arranging closets and garages. You may gather things to be given away to others or contributed to organizations helping those in need. It may be rearranging rooms or special cleaning projects. Writing and posting a list of the things you will do from the above suggestions where you can see it and check off accomplishments as well as add new ideas is useful.
  • Journaling during this time can be very helpful. Reflecting on our situation and how we handle it will both record these times for the future and help each of us work through our feelings, challenges and frustrations. Writing is so powerful; take time to do it yourself and encourage others to do the same.
  • Practice Hygge principles. Although Hygge is often connected with surviving winter in cold climates, the principles have to do with creating “a quality of coziness (= feeling warm, comfortable, and safe) that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family.” You can read more here: https://carolbrusegar.com/hygge-art-of-coziness/

By focusing on balance, positive use of time at home and reflecting on our experiences, all of us can make the best of a challenging situation. Everything we do to keep ourselves and others positive, hopeful and forward-looking will pay large dividends.

 

Journaling: Explore the Possibilities With My Free eCourse

prismAre you a journaling devotee, beginner, skeptic, or critic? Have you actually tried it or just been aware of it around you? What are your opinions about the practice?

I have come to see journaling something like a prism – a tool that can provide clarification by helping us focus on particular aspects of our lives. Depending on what we wish to look at, there are different styles and techniques to explore.

Journaling has been a way for people to express themselves for centuries. Its current popularity can be seen in a Google search for “journaling” that returned 47,300,000 results!! This clearly indicates that there a lot of people providing lots of information on this broad topic which has many subtopics and categories.

Perhaps you are wondering what all the fuss is about and would like an overview to see what the possibilities are for you. Or perhaps you have journaled and are interested in expanding your view of the varieties of journaling.

I invite you to sign up for my brand new free ecourse, “Journaling: a Prism to Clarify and Enhance All Aspects of Life.”  It is an overview that can give you some new options for using journaling. It includes some free sample journals to try.

Go here to sign up and you will receive it via email in 7 parts over 14 days. You will also have access to a Facebook group on the topic. http://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-prism-to-clarify-and-enhance-life/

Your first lesson will be available immediately upon signing up.

(I previously wrote about 4 major purposes to journal here: https://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-as-a-tool/  I talked about personal growth, self-discovery, gathering ideas and brainstorming solutions, and capturing life experiences. Journaling provides a great tool for these things.)

Tips For Reinvention From an Unusual Source

footprints

 

Reinventing or transforming life after age 50 is one of my passions.  I gained a helpful perspective from  an article written by one who has reinvented himself many times to the extreme. Reading about the range of major reinventions this author has made encourages me to think bigger about the possibilities for myself and others.  Jack Barsky has made transformations that very few make – or would want to make. But the principles are interesting.

You may have seen Barsky on 60 Minutes, CNN, Fox, or MSNBC or read his book, Deep Undercover. Barsky was born in Germany, was a chemistry professor for years, was recruited by the KGB, spent 10 years in the United States spying for the Russians during the Cold War, and ended up a United States citizen and information technology executive.

Based on the major shifts as well as a number of fictional characters he became in his travels, Barsky offers 9 Tips for Mastering the Art of Reinvention – behaviors we might adopt as we are reinventing ourselves at any stage of life.

Two that stand out for me are Take a Self Inventory and Work on Your Soft Skills.  Barsky’s recommended Self Inventory is to focus on talents and abilities you have, regardless of whether or not you have ever used them to earn a living. Often we fail to recognize the skills and abilities we have developed and used in volunteer work and other activities. These may be transferable or adaptable to various other settings.

Take 15 minutes or so to write down the things you have done outside your major work experience – side jobs, volunteer work, hobbies. Then list what you did and learned in them. You may be astounded at your list.

Working on Your Soft Skills is a logical next step to the Self Inventory.  Soft skills are defined as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” The list of soft skills can vary; here is a representative one: effective communication skills, teamwork, dependability, adaptability, conflict resolution, flexibility, leadership, problem-solving, research, creativity, work ethic, integrity. We can demonstrate and develop these skills in all aspects of our lives. Take one of these and think of the ways you demonstrate it in work settings, volunteer work, family, friendship circles, etc. This exercise may broaden your perspective of skills you have and want to expand as well as ways to apply them in new ways as you reinvent your life.

Barsky wraps up his nine tips by stating “power is having options.”  This really summarizes his message: “Fulfillment … requires an attitude of life-long learning and a willingness to periodically shed the old skin and step into a new self.”

You can read the entire article here:

9 Tips for Mastering the Art of Reinvention

NOTE: You may find Barsky’s book Deep Uncover interesting. An Amazon review describes it this way: “Equal parts memoir, spycraft guide, and historical document, Deep Undercover perfectly describes the crippling insularity of the spy’s life.”  If you are interested in his book, you can find it here:

Deep Undercover

 

A New Decade — Opportunity for Perspective and Moving Forward Powerfully

2020 20302020 – we are leaving the 2010s and beginning the 2020s! What does that mean to you? Perhaps not much. A year is a year, you may think. However, you might consider this an opportunity to do some reflection backward and anticipation forward on a broader scale than one year. Another decade, another 10 years of life is ending; another decade is beginning. I find that these mileposts can provide valuable chances to celebrate, learn, focus and refocus.

Looking Back on the 2010s

For some of us, the decade ending has a particular meaning. For example for me, the beginning of March 2020, marks the completion of 10 years living in Nashville, Tennessee. I am taking the opportunity to reflect on that decade of living in a location I had never imagined as my home. What has that meant to me and what does it mean going forward?

Do you have aspects of your life that coincide with the years 2010 to 2020? They may not be as obvious as mine; see if you can identify any. For all of us, taking a longer view backwards can be beneficial. Try to take an aerial view. Perhaps it’s from a helicopter, or a hot air balloon, or on the wings of an eagle.

Grab a pen and paper and start jotting things you remember as you look back on those years from that higher perspective. You might do this by category: successes, disappointments, family highlights, family struggles, illuminations or learnings. Add categories that resonate with you. If you have things to reference that will jog your memory, use them. For example, every year during this decade, I have included a list of highlights of the past year in my Christmas cards and they are a great memory booster in this process. Do you have something like this? Perhaps you journal or keep planners and calendars from past years – they can provide memory jogs.

NOTE: you may write these things in lists and other linear modes or use visual tools like mind mapping. If you’d like more information, go to: https://carolbrusegar.com/mindmapping-multi-faceted-tool/

Once you have written as much as you can think of for now, spend some time reviewing it. Pull out particularly significant things and translate them into learnings that can inform your looking toward a new decade. For example, after six years in Nashville I intended to follow my family who had moved back to California. I am still here (for multiple reasons) and digging into why is an important part of my consideration of the past decade.

Looking Forward

Now shift your perspective toward the coming decade. This time we will start at the end of the decade – 2030 (YIKES) – and create a picture of what we would like to have as our reality at that point. Think about family, financial status, location, relationships, career/job/business/activities. Add any other categories you choose. Take some time with this.

After you have some things recorded that you are excited about, you can jump back into your helicopter, hot air balloon or onto the wings of the eagle. From that aerial view, start jotting down some milestones along the way between your desired 2030 reality and where you are now in 2020. Exactly the kinds of things you include is your choice. It might be intermediate steps toward the outcome, resources needed, things you need to learn, people to involve in various ways, etc.

What we are creating is a background for more specific planning. Are you getting excited? I hope so!

After you have gleaned useable information from the past decade and have a stimulating vision with milestones for the coming decade, it’s time to look at the new year of 2020 in that context.

What do you want to create and develop that will move you into the new decade with power? Again, use linear or more visual tools, depending on what is most useful and inspiring for you.

Look at what you have recorded. Think of a word or phrase that can be your Word for the Year to help keep you focused and on track for this fabulous year. If you have not used a Word for the Year tool, you can learn more about its value here: https://carolbrusegar.com/choose-your-word-for-the-year/

To fully benefit from use of this practice, grab a copy of the book here:  One Word That Will Change Your Life

Watch for specific planning resources in future posts.

Need More Clarity, Creativity and Focus?

woman writing in journalI am finding this time of the year, end of summer leading into fall, particularly overwhelming. The year is more than half over (can that possibly be?) and my intentions and goals are way behind where I wanted them to be. There are multiple events and of course the usual fall holiday anticipations to consider and prepare for. What about you?

If you ever experience times of overwhelm – when you have so many things you would like to accomplish in any/all areas of life – consider this routine.  I found an article, “This 10-Minute Routine Will Increase Your Clarity and Creativity” which provides a way to both focus and to boost creativity.

The author Benjamin Hardy reminds us of Napoleon Hill’s words, “Your subconscious mind works continuously, while you are awake, and while you sleep.”  If that is the reality, it may be a really good idea to focus that work for our benefit.  How does that work? Hardy again quotes Hill: “The subconscious mind will translate into its physical equivalent, by the most direct and practical method available.”

Sounds like a good idea to me, then, to harness that power. Part of the routine described in the article has to do with using a few minutes before you go to bed and within 10 or so minutes of waking up to do the suggested activities.  For many of us, checking our electronic devices fill that space both before bed and first thing in the morning.  As we do that, we are focusing on input into our thoughts and consciousness.  This approach instead puts our attention to output from our subconscious to our conscious in a targeted way. It expands our creativity.

Try This Routine

To summarize the two parts of the routine, Hardy suggests we:

  1. “Take a few moments before you go to bed to meditate on and write down the things you’re trying to accomplish. Ask yourself loads of questions related to that thing….make some ‘requests.’ Write those questions and thoughts down on paper. The more specific the questions, the more clear will be your answers.
  2. “Now, first thing in the morning, when your creative brain is most attuned, after its subconscious workout while you slept, start writing down whatever comes to mind about those things.”

You can include any areas of your life – relationships, work, life balance, or anything else you want to address. Perhaps start with one topic. This approach is a routine and also a skill to develop and in which to become proficient. As with all routines or habits, it is a good idea to commit to practicing it for a minimum of 21 days in order to assess its effectiveness for you. I would love to hear how this works for you! 

For more details, you can read the entire article here:  “This 10-Minute Routine Will Increase Your Clarity and Creativity”

And you can see the books Benjamin Hardy has written here: Books by Benjamin Hardy, PhD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Celebrate Books for Opening Vistas

Reading Journal Cover

(Get your Reading Journal here: http://carolbrusegar.com/Reading Journal for Book Lovers)

I LOVE to read! Do you? Reading has always been a favorite pastime for me. As a child, I attended a rural one-room school and we had one large bookcase of books to read. What I remember best is reading each of the biographies – a series of books with orange covers. The stories of people in different situations and historical periods fascinated me. We also used the library in our nearby small town and I recall checking out books including Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and earlier the Flicka, Ricka and Dicka series. Do any of those ring a bell with you?

As I moved into high school and even more so in college and young adulthood, I read non-fiction almost exclusively. Books about current events, theology and history primarily. My interests went in those directions because I moved from living in small town/rural in southern Wisconsin into inner city communities in Chicago and Minneapolis – in the mid-1960s and beyond. With the great societal change occurring during those years, there was so much to learn about. My deep involvement in an inner city church and related social justice efforts led me to reading theology books. It wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that I began regularly reading fiction, especially historical fiction, along with an expanded variety of nonfiction books. I wish that I had written down what books I read over the years, but I didn’t. I do know that the reading I did shaped my understanding and the directions I went in my life in dramatic ways.

Have you kept lists? What kind of patterns, if any, do you see in your reading habits over the years? Can you see significance in those patterns?

Since finding Goodreads.com a few years ago, I have used it as an easy tool for recording the books I am reading. Using their Reading Challenge to set a goal for number of books I will read in a year has been both fun and motivating. Having access to reviews, ratings, suggestions a way to keep track of books I want to read is wonderful.

I still had a desire for a book in my hands where I can record other things. I wanted to identify books both that I have read and want to read by genre. And I wished to have in one volume notes, quotes and reflections on some books I especially value. This could be a reference and a treasure for me in the future.

So I designed a reading journal that met those criteria! If you see a value in such a tool and treasure, I invite you to check out my newly published Reading Journal – For Book Lovers Who Take Their Reading Seriously.
The link will take you to Amazon.com where you can read more and preview the journal.  It is a handy, portable 6″ x 9″ size.Reading Journal Cover

Happy Reading!!

Day Trips: Including Getaways and Mini-Vacations in Your Plans

car on highwayDay trips are often scheduled into a vacation week in a distant location – you spend one day at a location away from your primary base for the week. But day trips can be a year-round adventure right from our homes. We often have more time for them during summer when there aren’t as many regular activities scheduled on weekends. In fact, they can augment summer vacations, or even substitute for them when there are multiple people’s schedules to accommodate.

Strategically planned and scheduled day trips can provide many of the benefits of vacation: change of scenery, breaking the routine, exploring something totally new, trying out different foods or activities, and more. They also are more affordable than vacations that require greater transportation costs and hotel or motel stays.

Day trips provide a way to try out something new without committing too much time or money. For example, one person may be excited about a seven-day tour of Civil War monuments and battle fields that is available in a few months. Another person may have never visited anything of that kind and is very hesitant. A day trip to a nearby battle sight or cemetery would be a great way to assess if a seven-day tour would be enjoyable to both parties.

Regardless of your stage in life or family configuration, there are day trip options. In many cities and towns, churches, organizations for seniors, and other groups provide day trips for older people. They do all the planning and provide the bus or van transportation for a reasonable charge. It’s a great way to spend time with a friend or two and you can meet and even develop ongoing relationships with other people.

Research, Lists and Notes

Most people drive their own cars and make their own plans for each day trip. Have you ever had the impulse to get out of the house for the day (or an overnight) and then been at a loss as to what to do or where to go? You may have ended up just staying home being bored. What if you had a list of possible things to do at your fingertips from which you could choose a perfect activity or destination for that day?

Take some time to research types of day trips you would enjoy and create an ongoing list of specific destinations and activities. You can continually expand it as you discover more possibilities. This will make it much more likely that you will both take more spontaneous trips and schedule others in advance.

To get you started, here are some categories of places to go and things to do on a day trip:

Outdoor Activities and Exploration – scenic locations of all kinds, activities like fishing, horseback riding
Historic and Cultural Destinations – explore the history of your area
Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
Shopping – flea markets, antique malls, vineyards with winetasting, Amish or International Markets
Using Different Modes of Transportation – take a train ride, boat cruise, hot air balloon ride
Scheduled Events – sports, outdoor fairs, concerts

Having a designated notebook or planner to collect information and make plans can make it more likely that you will take more trips for relaxation, enjoyment and learning. It can also be fun to journal about your experiences

Perhaps you would be interested in my Planner & Journal for Day Trips: Getaways and Mini-Vacations which is available on Amazon.com as a 8×10” paperback.Cover of Planner & Journal

Giggs, Side Hustles and Second/Third Jobs

Side Hustle - Uber

People have been working second jobs forever. As economic conditions change, fewer or more may be engaged in them to augment their main income source. What that looks like and who is involved also changes. Most often the part time jobs people take on are to augment an income that isn’t enough to support themselves and/or their families. Do you now or have you in the past worked a second job? Are you considering or looking for one now? You may get some ideas or inspiration here.

A recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper gives a current snapshot of the phenomenon with examples from the Twin Cities. Author Kevyn Burger, in “From Millennials to Seniors, Twin Cities Workers Embrace ‘Side Hustle’ Economy, cites a 2018 survey by Bankrate that found that 37 percent of Americans have “side gigs.” She notes:

Some pick up cash through the ever-expanding array of internet platforms, logging on and landing on-demand service work – driving, delivering, walking dogs, tutoring, running errands, cleaning or babysitting. Others rely on their creativity and connections to cash in on their marketable skills….While there have always been temps, moonlighters and freelancers, the sheer number of people involved in what economists call the ‘contingent labor force’ represents a shift in how Americans make a living, according to Sarah Kessler, author of Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work.

The motivation or need for taking on part time work varies by population group. From millennials to seniors, there are reasons to explore moneymaking options. They range from funding desired luxury items or activities to paying off college loans to keeping active and involved and many more.

Whether you call it a second job, a side hustle, a gig, or anything else, this is a thriving part of the economy. Read the entire article at Side Hustle Economy

A review of Sarah Kessler’s book Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work says:

“With deep reporting and graceful storytelling, Sarah Kessler reveals the ground truth of a key part of the American workforce. Her analysis is both astute and nuanced, making GIGGED essential reading for anyone interested in the future of work.” —Daniel H. Pink, author of WHEN and DRIVE

 

The Best Gift?

Best GiftDuring this part of the year, regardless of what holiday(s) you are celebrating, the chances are good that you will be gathering with people in some context. Perhaps it is with family, friends, or even work colleagues in a different context than normal. You may be traveling and meeting people in airplanes, trains or buses and conversations begin.

Some of us dread or look forward to the conclusion of such encounters – at least with some of the people with whom we will be gathering.

How many times have you been bored with the level of conversation – kids, ailments, complaints, weather – those mundane topics? What did you do? Shrink into a corner with one person with whom you could discuss at least one interesting topic? Volunteer to help in the kitchen or run to get a missing item from the store? Simply walk around, nodding and engaging in very brief exchanges and moving on?

Or perhaps discussions begin where there are wide differences of opinion, judgements, and it’s quite clear the conflict is going to escalate. I discovered this intriguing approach that might give us a way to prevent or diffuse some of these situations.

Kathryn P. Haydon encourages us to facilitate connection with others and poses this question: “What if the best gift we can give is to ask more meaningful questions?”

Kathryn encourages us to start by getting into a curiosity mindset and “think about what ideas, patterns, or topics spark your curiosity and try to connect these to the people you are going to see.” Ask a question about something you know about that person, and then follow-up questions that will deepen the conversation. Her favorite follow-up questions begin with “What might be all the…..”

This kind of conversation helps you connect with individuals and makes them feel that you value and understand them. It can also divert away from the controversial topics.  Isn’t that what we all want? Hopefully, people will ask you questions in return and before you know it, you are really enjoying the gathering you were not so excited about. In addition, there will be more to look forward to the next time you see these people. It’s a win-win.