Vacation from Your Business: Cool Tool #38

I didn’t take a single day off for rest and renewal during my first year of full-time self-employment. Even though I loved my new profession, my clients, and being my own boss I ended up depleted.

At the end of that year I treated myself to a week at a yoga workshop in Mexico. The first three days while everyone else body surfed or walked the beach I sat in a hammock and stared at the ocean. You know, that kind of vacant, not very bright staring. It was all I could do.swings at beach

From that hammock I vowed to never again let myself get that depleted.  

Why no vacation for me?

Because I was afraid I wouldn’t make it without a paycheck. Now I know that being successful (in my business and my life) means I must take regular time away from work.

This year I rested, swam, and paddle boarded in Troncones, Mexico for a couple of weeks, added some vacation days to a conference trip to Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle, and spent a week with family in the midwest.

But those weren’t my only renewal periods. I highly recommend mini breaks in addition to longer times away. Yesterday I took advantage of a break between clients to walk to a local park and play on the swings. It was our last day of sunshine for months and kids were in school so I had my choice of swings.

Do you need a get away?

The best time to plan your get away is before you’re stressed and crabby, before you have to push yourself through your days, before you find yourself doing anything but work.

But, hey, if you’ve let yourself get depleted as I was and ocean staring is not in your near future, consider an emergency mini-retreat.

And if you need further enticement here are a few more benefits of time away from work.

  • Stress reduction
  • Enhanced job performance
  • Increased creativity
  • Improved physical and mental health

A day off to hike or read a novel, a day trip to a local day spa, a girls night out…  What renews you?





Focus: Less is More Stress Tool # 31:

Picture a 1950’s era home movie. Grainy footage shoot by a less than stable hand. You see a pair of smiling blurry image of childgrandparents open their front door and step on to their small concrete porch.

First a boy, maybe six years old, walks up the steps and gets embraced by grandmother and then grandfather. A girl, younger by a few years, follows suit.

And then you see something move in a blur in front of the camera. 

The second time you see the blur you realize it’s a third child, similar in age, but moving at 8.5 times the speed as her siblings. Eventually she makes her way back to her grandparents for her turn at hugs. 

That blur was I. 

Present Moment

Right now if you’d look over my shoulder at my computer you’d see I have five browser windows, four programs, and three word documents (and a partridge in a pear tree) open.

In other words focus has never been a strong suit of mine. 

The Joys of Being Unfocused

I’ll admit that, at times, more focus would serve me. But I also know that not being focused has its place too. Many creative people find that dinking around with non-essential tasks calms and prepares them for their essential task. 

Picture a writer organizing her desk or a coach chatting on the phone with a friend before getting down to the days tasks. It’s much like a warm up before hitting the gym. 

Unfocused time allows for creativity, spontaneity, and rejuvenation.

As a non-focuser I’m delighted to know tidbits of info like this cool tool.

Focus Creates Stress

Physiologically you can see (no pun intended) that when hunting for dinner our Neanderthal relatives (and I don’t mean the ones you celebrate holidays with) would have to focus their eyes to spot and shoot their prey.

 Now picture yourself sitting in front of your computer, texting, watching TV, reading… Lots of eye focus involved in your day too, right?

 Try an experiment. Focus on a point and notice what happens to your breathing, to your muscles, especially in your head and neck. Now let your gaze go soft. Don’t focus on anything for a few breaths and notice the change.

When focused you probably noticed some tension around your eyes, maybe in your jaw, forehead, neck, chest, or shoulders. You also probably noticed that your breath became shallower.

And when you shifted to your peripheral vision you noticed a relaxation of muscles, a deepening of your breath, didn’t you?

Use this soft eyes technique on a regular basis during your day for a quick de-stressor and tension releaser.

Share your experience here.

Read the next post if you want to know some reasons you should focus.


Business Stress Cool Tool # 19: Breath Awareness

Breath awareness is one of my favorite de-stressing tools. Three cool things about breath.52 Cool Tools

  1. Ever present. It’s true that if you stop breathing all your stress will go away. But as long as you’re still breathing, you’ll have this tool at the ready to help you de-stress.
  2. Free. No cost to install or maintain this tool.
  3. Reminds you that you’re connected to something larger. You can’t breathe in isolation. With every breath you’re recycling breath that’s been breathed by your loved ones, your irritating neighbor, a petunia, your dog, Buddha… No such thing as a virgin breath.

 By altering your breath you can feel more relaxed, more energized, more confident, more present, more intuitive… But before you start changing your breath, get acquainted first.

 I’ve included a 4-minute breath meditation.

It’s something you can listen to often. What did you learn from your breath?

Join my email list here.


Cool Tool #13: Get Help for Your Business

Time and sign

Ever been stressed as a business owner by time and money? When these two bad boys tango your stress multiplies.

Today’s cool tool is a magician. It will help you with lack of time and money dilemmas all at once.  That’s pretty cool, don’t you think?

The Business Gurus’ Time/Money Advice

Any business guru will tell you to spend your time on the things you do well. Then hire help for the areas that you either struggle with or at best, competent.

Those three hours you spend on getting the graphics right for your brochure are three hours you could spend working with a client, developing materials, marketing your business, getting a massage… If you’re skilled with graphics, love doing that kind of project, or really want to learn the skill, then go for it.

But if you’re choosing to do it yourself because of the other big stressor, money, then I have a great resource.

Meet Fiverr

If you haven’t been introduced, is a site where you can purchase or sell all kinds of services for $5. Even the most cash-strapped business owner can come up with five bucks.

 You might be surprised at what people are willing to sell for $5. Here are a few offerings:

  •  Logos developed
  • Post flyers
  • Advise on marketing strategy
  • Edit a document
  • Set up a website

 Too Good to be True?

I tried it out as a buyer and have been very pleased with the results. I’ve used two different sellers and found the service fast and professional. Here’s the graphic I had made for my “52 Cool Tools blog post event.”52 Cool Tools

I’m sure you can get some dud services. The truth is I’ve paid much more than $5 for service that weren’t great. For me the dollar amount takes away some of the risk.

 Another Downside to Fiverr?  

You could waste all the time you save from outsourcing your project by surfing the site. You’ll find unusual offers like:

  •  Having someone juggle sharp objects while they yell your message
  • Put your friend’s face on an object
  • A song written based on a craigslist ad.
  • Have someone meditate on your financial abundance

 And if you don’t find the gig you fancy, you can post your suggestions and see if you get any takers.

 Share your Fiverr experience here. I’d love to hear about it.

Deep Relaxation for Stressed Business Owners: Cool Tool #11

At the beginning of a yoga class I ask students if there’s anything they want to focus on—a pose, a part of their body, an emotion…

I had a student; I’ll call her Beth, who always asked for corpse pose. And she wanted to do it for the entire class. Yoga’s corpse pose or savasana is the final resting pose at the end of class.

Beth not only joked about wanting to spend the entire class in this pose, she also requested milk and cookies as it reminded her of nap time at pre-school.

Why Beth was right

Our western culture values action over rest. And subscribing to that philosophy contributes to your stress, tight muscles, sleepless nights, upset stomach…. Corpse pose offers you a great place to practice non-doing, to experience deep rest.

Even though the pose reminded Beth of a nap, your goal is to stay awake and be aware. The resting of corpse pose offers profound effects. You can enhance the effects by

  • Making sure you’re not going to be cold.
  • Using an eye bag to block out light.
  • Finding a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
  • If you have a time restriction, then set a quiet alarm. I like the cricket sound on my phone.
  • Practice regularly.

How to Be a Good Corpse

To practice corpse pose, come on to your back. Your legs are about hip distance apart. Place your arms by your sides, palms face up. If your low back is uncomfortable with your legs extended, then place your feet on the floor, a little further than hips distance apart, and lean your knees on each other.

Once you’re in the pose draw your focus to your breath. Continue to watch your breath until you’re ready to come out of the pose. Then roll on to one side. Stay there for a few breaths. Let the relaxation of the pose come with you as you transition back to a seated position.

Great for long workdays, travel, any time when your stress level is too high. Use it for recovery. Use it for prevention. Give it a try and then share your experience. What did you notice?


A Business Success Trick I Learned From My Yoga Teacher or How My Yoga Teacher Tricked Me


forward bend

woman in forward bend

Dan started by inviting me to teach yoga at his studio. The first time he asked me my answer was an easy “no. “ But a year later he asked again.

I’d been practicing yoga very irregularly since the late 70’s.  But it was 1993. For a couple of years I’d been attending yoga class two to three times a week and had a regular home practice. Plus I‘d started working in my massage business full time. The timing was perfect for me to start teaching.

Step one…

I said “yes.” Then time passed. One day Dan asked how “we” were going to get me to teach. My response? “I don’t know how to do headstands.” His response? “Don’t teach headstands.”

Little chunks

The next week during a class I was attending he asked if I could move my mat to the front of the class. That way he could adjust students as I demonstrated the poses.

At first I was aware of being in front of the class, but then I focused on the yoga and it was okay. Then he asked if I could teach the beginning of a class the following week. I’d been offering guided mediations for years in other settings so that was easy.

The next week he had me teach the end of a class. Then when I’d taught the middle of a class on week three he announced that I had now taught a full class so was ready to sub for him. My thought was “What just happened?”

I went on to complete both yoga teacher and yoga therapy trainings, but Dan’s trick got me started.

What stops you?

Since then I’ve let fear or limiting beliefs stop me in other ways. “I don’t know enough, the timings not right, someone else is already doing this work, blah, blah, blah… “ At those times I’ve found Dan’s trick a handy part of my toolkit.

I wonder if you ever let yourself get stuck by outdated ideas about who you are? Or how about beliefs about “competition?” Or feelings of not knowing or being enough? Or other beliefs about lack and limitations?

I wonder if Dan’s trick might work for you? Can you trick yourself into action by taking on one very, very small piece of what scares you? Whether you’re starting a brand new business or working on a project within your business you probably have experienced getting stuck. Give this trick a try and join the conversation here.



Joy of Icky

Around 1996 I attended a training given by an industry guru. I had a book on his massage technique and was excited to learn directly from him.  He still stands out for me as one the worst instructor I’ve ever had.

It wasn’t the name dropping or his explaining that if his technique wasn’t working it was because you weren’t doing it correctly. I was turned off by his belittling of students. He imitated the voice of a man who was hearing impaired. He teased the oldest man in class about his age and an overweight woman about; you guessed it, her weight. He intimated students who asked questions. I left the class irate that he treated students with no respect.

And Me?

And then I got home. I knew I would never treat people they way he did. But I also know that when something in another person bugs me I also carry that trait.  Sometimes the message comes in an exaggerated way so I’ll pay attention.

I started looking at how I might be disrespectful to students or clients. I remembered teasing a woman in my yoga class. It seemed innocent to me, but maybe she felt tender around the issue. (I did apologize and she said she wasn’t offended by my teasing.)

I won’t say that since then I’ve never said anything that might have hurt someone’s feelings. I probably have left someone feeling disrespected. But my experience with that instructor has continued to help me bring more awareness to being respectful to clients, students, and colleagues.

And you?

How can you take the icky stuff that’s been showing up in your life and find ways in your business to offer the other side of the coin?

I bet within the past six months you’ve had crappy service somewhere. Maybe you’ve spent time on hold listening to muzak. Or maybe an inattentive waiter got your order wrong. It doesn’t feel good to not be listened to or to be treated like you’re not valued. Can you think of one way that you could help your clients feel more valued?

Or maybe been feeling afraid about how few clients you’ve been seeing. Can you feel more appreciation for the wonderful clients you do see? How can you let your customers know that you see them as a person, not another dollar in your pocket?

I’d love to hear about you’re going to flip the icky stuff upside down.