Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Smiles and Smiles of Heart

You sense it the minute you walk in...then, you see it. Smiley faces are ubiquitous here. They adorn the bookshelves, the filing cabinet and even the hole punch! The students have come to respect this symbol and enjoy adding to the collection. Who knew that there were so many products embossed with this yellow happy face?

You may be surprised to learn that this is The Learning Centre at Kwantlen University in Surrey, B.C. (I'll bet that you're smiling now.)

The smiley face serves as a visual reminder of what the students encounter here - a place with heart. Dave, Joan and the others who work here have created an environment that is safe for the students, many who are away from home for the first time. In fact, Joan is often referred to as "Academic Mom".

What does the smiley face represent to the people who spend time in The Learning Centre?
  • safe environment
  • reassurance
  • encouragement
  • fun
  • positive side to learning
  • openness
This wasn't always the case. When Joan first began at The Learning Centre, she noticed that the overall tone was one that was quite depressing. In an effort to bring up the morale, she began to hide a happy face in the documents that she was preparing. The students began to look for became fun...and, the lesson is that whether you look for sadness or happiness, you'll often find it. With a change in focus, there was a change in mood.

The same thing happens when you transform your stress - your heart helps melt your worries and leads to:
  • increased self-confidence
  • reduced fear
  • greater ability to bounce back from stressful events
  • learning becomes enjoyable
  • more fun
The motto at Kwantlen University is Consider. Compare. Choose.

I'd like to suggest that when it comes to stress you do the same. Consider how stress is affecting you. Compare programmes & results. Choose to change your perception by activating the power of your heart.

Thoughts? Questions?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Surrey Speechmeisters' Stars!

Haely Lindau and Tim McKinnon are fellow members of the Surrey Speechmeisters Toastmasters club who are representing our club at the Area 60 International Speech and Evaluation Contest.

Tim speaks with enthusiasm and clarity and engages the audience with his positive messages that serve to lift everyone's spirits during the hour that we meet.

Haely's evaluations are always a gift - both to the person being evaluated and the rest of the club who get to benefit from her positive and constructive comments.

Haely and Tim both speak from the heart, which, when we listen, never steers us wrong.

I look forward to seeing the curtain rise on these 2 stars on Wed., March 25th at Surrey City Hall.

I just came home from a very close Speech and Evaluation Contest. Suffice to say that the stars were shining tonight, and not only in the sky!

Heartfelt congratulations to both Haely and Tim, who won their respective contests and now progress on to the Division F Contest! Bravo!

Photo courtesy of Billy Alexander

Reverberational Effect

Another member of my Twitterunity is G.L.Hoffman, who has a blog called "What Would Dad Say?"

My dad is no longer around, but I imagine he would have been as pleased as I was to receive an invite to guest post on G.L's blog. Part of the email reads as follows: "You can discuss ANY topic that YOU think the readers of WWDS would enjoy...I already know what and how you write, so I am sure I will be OK with anything you submit."

I thank G.L. for this great opportunity to share and also to review something I already knew, but seemed to have forgotten.

Oh, how I wanted to do a good job for G.L.! However, in that desire to do well, I became very head-based. I pondered every word, wondering if there was a better way to say it and if the grammar and punctuation were correct. I was out of the flow and sitting on dry - very dry land.

My best writing comes from my heart. It is as if the words flow directly out of my fingers, onto the paper and my brain becomes dormant, which it isn't. It's just operating at a very different level.

Late last night, I realised that I was stifling my creativity by forcing the writing. So, I began again - this time I applied heart and wrote about what I knew.

After sending it off this morning to G.L., I received this response: "This is very, very good Marianna, thanks so much. Thanks again for doing this...I hope it was fun for you...and, it will surely help some people...just a lovely article. You have a gift for writing."

This is where the "Reverberational Effect" comes in. It began with a generous offer by G.L., which allowed me to do something I love. In the process, I was taken through a refresher course - something we can all use from time to time. His positive and encouraging feedback makes me feel great and that is good for my heart rhythms, which positively affects those around me and how I do what I do.

I was especially thankful to read this: " will surely help some people." That was one of my intentions in writing "Stressing the Job Market".

Like sound that continues
on and on and on and on and on, so, too, do the good feelings generated by this experience. A heartfelt thanks, G.L.!

Speaking of reverberation, I highly recommend Dig Your Job by G.L. Hoffman. It's filled with wonderful, practical tips to transform your workplace and job-search stress. What a way to impress Auntie Stress!

I'd love to hear from you:

  • How do you know when you're in the flow?
  • What feeds your creativity?
  • What is the quality of your performance when you are not stressed? How do you feel?
  • What lessons have you recently reviewed, thanks to the knowing or unknowing help of others?
Photo courtesy of Ilco.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Light a Fire under Your Butt

At Toastmasters, I was recently responsible for the segment called "Inspiration". Curious about the development of the word, I turned to the etymology dictionary.

One source cited the Latin word "inspirare" - to inspire, to inflame or to blow into. These definitions all require oxygen and show movement. Not unlike inspiration. When we are inspired, we feel moved and we breathe easily - we have purpose and that gives our lives meaning.

Looking at the word "inflame" it wasn't too much of a stretch to think that when we're inspired it's as if we have a fire under our butt. Or, even a fire in our belly. We're motivated and ready to take action.

Robert Kennedy, a friendly neighbour on Twitter, finds a lot of inspiration and motivation in his family and his work. This is reflected in the positive and helpful nature of his tweets. (On Twitter, a "tweet" is a post under 140 characters.) He is able to use this to his advantage and accomplish what he needs to do in his life - a great stress transformation technique!

When someone is chronically stressed, finding inspiration can be an insurmountable task. The flood of physical and chemical changes leads to ever-increasing feelings of worthlessness, inability or lack of hope. Each bout of negative thinking and feeling opens the tap to more of the same. Your autonomic nervous system is out of balance and amongst other things, this leaves you feeling tired, worn-out and disinterested in life.

What is the solution when there is a flood? Turn off the tap! Learn techniques to arrest the side-effects created by those 1,400 chemical changes. When you do, you'll find that you're able to keep your head above water - just enough to get a breath and then, another breath. Soon, you'll dry out and be amazed to discover that you are taking more of interest in life.

What lights a fire under your butt? What are your passions? Do you jump out of bed looking forward to what the day may bring?

Image courtesy of: B Cleary

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Tweet Goes On

Sonny and Cher's song, The Beat Goes On, immediately popped into my head as I sat down to write this post.

The beat goes on,
the beat goes on
Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da
lyrics: Sonny Bono
recorded by: Sonny & Cher

I was thrilled (I still am) to have an article I wrote published on Darren Rowse's blog - (For those who don't know,
I consider Darren to be one of the "Oprahs" of Twitter.)

It wasn't until about two weeks later that I searched my name in Google and came up with the following:

The tweet does go on.

It makes me feel great to know that some people saw value in what I wrote.

As I went through this experience, it became apparent to me that not everyone gets to learn how they have impacted someone's life. Sometimes, even a friendly smile is enough to let another person know you care - you've seen them and have acknowledged their presence.

There is a "reverberational effect" that takes place when you perform a genuine act of caring. The recipient benefits, as do you. Your heart rhythms respond by smoothing out. The more orderly they become, the better it is for your own emotional, mental and physical health. This means you are better equipped to handle the stressful situations in your life.

When you feel great, performance improves, as does efficiency. You'll discover that it takes less energy to go about your day. When you have more energy, life improves, not only for yourself, but also for those around you.

The heart keeps sending a signal to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da

How have someone's kind words or actions made a difference to you?
What note did you receive that made you feel great?

Action: Take the time and look for someone to thank this week. You may just find what you're looking for!

Beautiful image courtesy of: Duchessa