Welcome to the Streak!

Note: The Healthy Holiday Streak begins today! Here’s the first reflection to get people started. All future posts will be sent to the email list only. Not too late to join! Register for the streak here.

We’re so excited you’re joining us on this adventure! Many of our daily reflections will be short and sweet, but today’s is a little more in-depth to help ensure you get off to a good start.

First thing is for you to define your streak. What makes a good goal, you ask?

  1. It’s small. Remember, this is something you will strive for every day. Don’t set yourself up for failure by picking something unrealistic.
  2. It’s within your control. Focus on things that you have the power to achieve. For example, instead of “get eight hours of sleep each night,” decide you’ll turn off the screens and unwind at a certain time each evening.
  3. It connects with a deeper sense of purpose or well-being. This is not a time for “should” or conforming to others’ expectations. What will help YOU embrace this season with a sense of well-being and joy?
  4. It needs a day off… or it doesn’t. Some of us are abstainers–we need to go all in on a habit, and if we “cheat a little,” we’ll fall off the wagon completely. Others of us are moderators–if we don’t give ourselves a little wiggle room, we’ll start to resent our goal*. Decide if you intend to follow through every day, or if you’ll do better with one streak-free day each week–and which one it will be.

Now, the good stuff!

Suggested Focus Areas for Goals

  • Exercise/Movement Each Day (how about dancing?)
  • Food/Nutrition
  • Saying No and Letting Go
  • Meditation and Gratitude
  • Sleep
  • Play and Recreation
  • Participation in Art and Beauty
  • Healthy Online Habits
  • Connecting with Loved Ones

Last Step: Accountability!

Here’s the bad news. When people set goals for themselves, there’s a pretty small chance they’ll follow through. Like, a 6-8% chance.

But guess what? The chance increases to 30% when you write the goal down. (So go do that!)

AND it increases to 60% when you tell someone about it**. So grab a friend and streak together. And head to our Facebook event and share what your streak will be. We can’t wait to cheer you on.

And we’ll be streaking too: Melissa’s streak will be focused on sleep–she is committing to a specific lights-out time each night, as well as a devices-off time 60 minutes before lights-out. MaryAnn will be choosing a different practice each week–this week, it’s a brief gratitude list at the end of each day. Each Monday we’ll report how our own streaks are going–including our stumbles–so we can all get recommitted for another week of streaking.

The next few days will be preparation for the streak, with the official streak starting on Thanksgiving (or the day after, your choice). But if you’re ready to start today, please do!

Today’s Question: Given today’s guidance, what will your streak be?

Until tomorrow!
MaryAnn McKibben Dana and Melissa Kennedy

Check out author Gretchen Rubin for more on abstainers and moderators.

Statistics on goal-setting are from the book Goal Setting: a Motivational Technique that Works by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham.

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Image is from George Deputee on Flickr and used via Creative Commons Modify Non-Endorse License.

Streak with Us!

What would it take for this holiday season to be the best one yet?

Chances are, your answer to that question has nothing to do with receiving the perfect gift, or hosting the best cookie exchange, or writing the world’s bragging-est Christmas letter.

If you’re like us, a good holiday season is one that is mindful, joyous, and brimming with simple pleasures. And if we’re honest, it would be nice to get to January 1 and not be exhausted, frazzled, and crashing from too much holiday indulgence.

That’s where the Healthy Holiday Streak comes in.

To “streak” in running means to run at least a mile a day, every day. (You may have heard another definition for “streaking”—hey, what people wear to run that mile is up to them 😉)

Many runners choose to streak as a way of staying accountable to moving at least a little bit each day. This holiday season, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, we’re creating our own twist on the streak. We’d love to have you join us.

How It Works:

You decide what your streak will be. Here are some suggestions:

  • Take part in some kind of exercise each day
  • Set a nutrition goal that allows you to enjoy the holidays while still making healthy choices
  • Spend at least a few minutes each day outside in the fresh air
  • Try to get a certain amount of sleep each night
  • Intentionally drink water throughout the day
  • Make contact with a friend each day
  • Let go of one task each day that drains you

Maybe your goal is more general—to be present and enjoy this often hectic season. Or maybe you mix it up and focus on a different goal each week. There’s no right or wrong way to streak! The ultimate goal is not deprivation, but a deeper sense of enjoyment—caring for oneself in body, mind and spirit.

Each morning from Monday, November 20 though New Year’s Day, streakers will receive a short email in their inbox, containing a brief reflection and a question to ponder. These reflections are designed to keep your streak on track with inspiration, tips, and suggestions.

The reflections are written by MaryAnn McKibben Dana of ZOOM! Coaching and Melissa Kennedy of Everyday Balance Health Coaching. We’ll be streaking too, so in addition to offering our best wisdom, we’ll be sharing our own successes and struggles along with you.

How Do I Sign Up?

Register here through MailChimp. Note: If you are signed up for MaryAnn’s Blue Room emails, you will NOT automatically be subscribed; you must opt in. Use the link to do this.

How Much Does It Cost?

Not a thing. Feel free to share the emails with others, and it’s easy to unsubscribe if it turns out not to be quite what you’re looking for.

What If I “Fail” at My Streak?

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Life happens, and sometimes the exercise just doesn’t happen, or that second (or third) cookie is just too tantalizing to ignore. Don’t stress about it. Melissa and MaryAnn believe that health and wellness come in the midst of baby steps, setbacks, recommitment, accountability, and grace. Let your goals and intentions be a North Star that guides you, not a destination you either succeed or fail to reach.

We look forward to streaking with you!

About Us

Melissa Kennedy is a physician, coach, and owner of Everyday Balance Health Coaching. She helps clients learn the lifestyle habits which maximize health and well-being, using a small-steps, habit-based approach. She lives in Albuquerque with her husband, daughter, and two crazy cats, and she loves hiking, cycling, cooking, reading, and playing the violin.

 

MaryAnn McKibben Dana is a writer, speaker, and owner of ZOOM! Coaching, which focuses on personal/professional coaching and running coaching. She is author of the forthcoming God, Improv, and the Art of Living, and numerous other works. She lives in the DC suburbs with her husband and three children, and also has two crazy cats. She is a muffin-maker, a haphazard knitter, and an occasional marathoner.

 

 

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Image is from George Deputee on Flickr and used via Creative Commons Modify Non-Endorse License.

Ten for Tuesday

Let’s get right to it.

1. On “Thoughts and Prayers”

Another mass shooting, this time in Texas, means another mass of posts on social media from various perspectives. My friend Roy posted the following yesterday and it spoke to me:

Amen.

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2. “Thoughts and Prayers,” part 2

After the Las Vegas shooting–yes, that was only a few weeks ago–I read the following on a friend’s Facebook feed about “thoughts and prayers” in Islam. It spoke to me:

Today, my actions include spending a few hours at a nearby polling place, handing out literature for the candidate who I believe is the best choice to be our governor.

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3. Noticing Kairos Moments

My improv buddy David Westerlund reflects on time and presence:

In an improv scene if I’m worried about what I didn’t say five seconds ago; or overthinking what might happen, I’m missing what’s happening right now, I’m missing the dynamic now, of what is unfolding as I tune into my scene partner.

The now-ness of improv is one of the things I love best about it… and why I’m a constant student of it, because I often miss the now in my daily life!

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4. Press Play (TED Radio Hour)

Speaking of improv, this edition of the TED Radio Hour talks about the importance of play, for all of us. I suggest that in these fraught times, play is even more vital.

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5. Working to Disarm Women’s Anti-Aging Demon

Aging is harder for women. We bear the brunt of the equation of beauty with youth and youth with power — the double-whammy of ageism and sexism. How do we cope? We splurge on anti-aging products. We fudge or lie about our age. We diet, we exercise, we get plumped and lifted and tucked.

These can be very effective strategies, and I completely understand why so many of us engage in them. No judgment, I swear. But trying to pass for younger is like a gay person trying to pass for straight or a person of color for white. These behaviors are rooted in shame over something that shouldn’t be shameful. And they give a pass to the underlying discrimination that makes them necessary.

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6. Five Important Women of the Reformation

We recently celebrated the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, an event that has profoundly shaped history whether you are religious or not. Here are some women you should know.

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7. David Schwimmer praised in wake of Harvey Weinstein scandal for offering female film critic a chaperone

David Schwimmer has been on my Nice Guy list for a while, since producing a series of thought-provoking PSAs about sexual harassment. But this was a very interesting story in the wake of #MeToo:

[Journalist] Nell Minow, in response to the disgust felt at Hollywood behaviour, has spoken of her meeting with the Friends actor in 2011, when he was promoting Trust – the film he directed, telling the real life story of a young girl preyed upon by an online abuser.

The restaurant they were due to speak in proved noisy, and so the Friends star hesitantly broached the notion of going up to his room. Schwimmer said he could ask a third person to be present in the room.

“I haven’t thought of that since it happened but the Weinstein stories made me not just remember it but remember it in an entirely different context as an indicator of the prevalence of predatory behaviour and as an indicator of Schwimmer’s integrity and sensitivity,” she said.

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8. Female Shark in Seoul Aquarium Eats Male Shark Because He Kept Bumping Into Her

Because sometimes you have just had ENOUGH.

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9. How to Build Resilience in Midlife

In honor of my ‘baby’ brother who turned 40 last week:

Remember Your Comebacks. When times are tough, we often remind ourselves that other people — like war refugees or a friend with cancer — have it worse. While that may be true, you will get a bigger resilience boost by reminding yourself of the challenges you personally have overcome.

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10. Astros!!!

It was so wonderful to watch the Astros capture their first World Series title in franchise history. I shared this video on my FB feed, which was my favorite moment from the celebration.

But this was a close second.

To Be Creative

Happy November!
(My favorite month, featuring my favorite holiday.)

Lots of stuff cooking in the Blue Room right now—my next newsletter will include an announcement about a project I’ll be offering free to readers between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Stay tuned.

And my next book, God, Improv, and the Art of Living, will be available for pre-order soon!

In the meantime, I’m catching up on reading, including a delightful book of memoir-ish essays, My Adventures with God by actor Stephen Tobolowsky, about his growing up Jewish in Dallas, Texas. (You may remember him as Ned Ryerson, the insurance agent in Groundhog Day.)

In his essay “The Garden on Orchid Lane,” Tobolowsky remembers receiving a gift of a painting set as a child. The lid of the box featured a picture of a beautiful garden. He took one look at the intricate image and handed it back, shaking his head. “I can’t do this,” he said.

His friend handed it back to him and said, “You can do it, Stevie. It’s easy. It’s Paint-by-Numbers. Open it up.”

Tobolowsky continues:

I took the plastic off the box and looked inside. There was a white canvas board. It was covered with little lines. It was like a map drawn with almost invisible ink. Inside each tiny area was a number. Sarah pulled out a brush and a plastic palette that had twenty small containers. Each container had a color, from the deepest green to the lightest shades of pink. Sarah explained, “Each paint has a number. All you have to do is match the number of the paint to the number on the drawing. Stay within the lines and you’ll have a beautiful picture.” She handed the top of the box to me. “Use the cover of the box as a guide. Follow the numbers. You can do it.”

The world felt generous. Someone else was the artist.
Someone else did all the work, but the picture could still be mine.

I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read about creativity, and almost all of them insist that we are all creative beings. I believe this is true… but I meet so many people who insist that they are not. A lot of what I do, whether through writing, speaking, or coaching, seems to be about helping people get in touch with that thread of creativity that runs through everything.

Reflecting on Tobolowsky’s words, I suspect the key to creative living is not to try to find the inspiration within oneself, but to see the world as a generous place, full of both guidance and color. Then our job gets much easier—to simply follow the generosity of the Artist… wherever it takes us.

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Note: This message was sent to my email newsletter this morning. If you’d like to receive twice-monthly reflections right to your inbox, subscribe.

Image is Paint by Numbers by Alex Watson and used through a creative commons license.

Ten for Tuesday

A little of everything this week. Some made the rounds, some I hope will be new to you. Onward!

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1. Guy Photoshops Himself Into Childhood Pics To Hang Out With His Childhood Self

These are oddly poignant, and if I were Conor’s mother I would absolutely treasure these.

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2. Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Painting Soviet Monuments To Look Like American Superheroes

Fight back with beauty… and wiseassery.

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3. & 4. Don’t Yuck My Yum! and Now Playing: the Theo Tacos

A two-for-one deal–twin reflections from the wonderful Mary Beene about the recent workshop I co-led with Marthame Sanders at Columbia Theological Seminary on improvisation .

God is, in fact, quite playful. When you study Greek, you begin to see how Jesus was very funny much of the time.  There are so many little inside jokes in both the Old and New Testament, that I feel completely confident in saying that spiritual formation may be one of our most serious undertakings – and it is also one of the places where we are least served by taking ourselves too seriously.

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5. Turns Out, UPS Drivers Have A Facebook Group About Dogs They Meet On Their Routes, And It Will Make Your Day

UPS Dogs is a nation-wide network of canine-loving ‘big brown truck’ drivers who post pictures of the pups they become acquainted with along their delivery schedule. Some of them have known their clients’ dogs for years, and have worked out complex treat-exchange systems with them. The group has been going strong for 5 years now, and is still moderated by McCarren himself. “It’s a good example of the relationships our employees build with their customers, two- or four-legged,” a UPS spokesperson told Buzzfeed News.

I love it. Click through for some pics and stories.

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6. Technology Overuse May Be the New Digital Divide

According to a recent survey, children who come from low-income households spend 3 hours and 29 minutes a day on screens, on average. That’s almost double the 1 hour and 50 minutes of daily screen time that a child from a higher-income home experiences.

Big picture:

Clark cautioned against judging low-income families for allowing their kids so much screen time. “You need to understand what is actually happening. Is screen time a better option than sending them out to play outside where it’s not safe?” he asked. Higher income families can pay for more childcare, sign their kids up for activities or allow their kids to run around a backyard.

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7. Recipes Organized into Component Parts in Food Styling Photos by Mikkel Jul Hvilshøj

So satisfying, so enjoyable to behold.

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8. Tom Hanks Considers The Cosmos, Nora Ephron, And A Man Dressed As A Shrimp

This 30-minute interview is so worth the time. I love what he has to say about bucket lists. (He doesn’t have them. Instead he describes an approach to life and creative projects that sounds a whole lot like improv.)

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9. “Stop Following Others. Be More Like Yourself.” Dan Blank Interviews Windham Hill’s Will Ackerman

Along those same lines, this expansive interview with the founder of Windham Hill records is a treasure trove of wisdom about pursuing a creative life and following your own instincts and path. Also features a frank conversation about Ackerman’s bout with depression. If you’re a fan of Ackerman, but even if you aren’t, it’s a good listen.

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10. The New Yorker Cover That’s Being Replicated by Women Surgeons Across the World

Thank you ladies for being awesome.

Nevertheless she persisted.