Monday, June 29, 2009

Hungry? Try this Light Summer Recipe

A huge portion of our personal freedom depends upon our health. From time to time I will post issues relating to a healthy lifestyle, including managing weight, exercise, diet and lifestyle choices. Today I have listed a recipe that can be perfect for those hot summer days when you feel like something light, yet substantial. Hope you enjoy.

Soft Chicken Tacos
4 servings (serving size: 3 tacos)

1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
12 (6-inch) white corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese (such as Tillamook)
Low-fat sour cream (optional)

Prepare grill.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; rub spice mixture over chicken.
Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 10 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 5 minutes; chop.
Heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide chicken evenly among tortillas; top each tortilla with 2 tablespoons cabbage and 1 teaspoon cheese. Serve with sour cream, if desired.
Nutritional Information
329 (34% from fat)
12.5g (sat 3.5g,mono 3.5g,poly 2.9g)
Elisa Bosley, Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2006

Sunday, June 28, 2009

You: Your Biggest Obstacle

Henry Ford, one of the most influential men in history, once said, "Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right." He believed that the largest obstacle people faced, the obstacle that kept them from realizing their potential, was themselves. Now coming from your average Joe these words may have little meaning, but as I'm sure you will agree, Ford's success gives those simple words a great deal of credence. By eliminating the words "I can't" from his vocabulary, he created one of the largest empires in the world.

Why is it that some people are able to achieve great success in their lives, while others fail? Luck? I don't think so. In fact, using the word "fail" is a bit misleading. The truth is they never really try, making it impossible to either fail or succeed. Most people become stuck in "I can't" mode and, as a result, never even get started. But why?

Unfortunately, living life this way seems safe to a lot of people. After all, if they never even try, failure, their worst fear, is not even possible. One can't, for example, fail to land their dream job if they never even submit an application. Conversely though, using this same thought process, success proves to be unattainable as well. This manner of thinking poisons the possibility for success and positive change, and creates that mediocre existence that most people are constantly complaining about.

Everyday I overhear people whining about circumstances in their lives, lamenting about the crummy cards that life has dealt them. Yet when I ask them if they have initiated any strategies to improve their conditions, I consistently hear a myriad of excuses all beginning, for the most part, with the words "I can't." Well, as Henry Ford might have said, it's that what you believe, you're probably right.

The good news is that this pattern is not unalterable. Moreover, it won't cost you a thing, save a bit of time and effort. The first step is to eliminate the words I Can't from your vernacular and replace them with the words "I Will." When faced with taking a difficult step toward personal growth and fulfillment, make a list of all the reasons why this step IS attainable, rather than all the reasons that make it difficult. Next, create a written plan-a list of the goal and objectives , with deadlines on when you will complete each step. Writing it down will not only help you to remember these steps, but will also help make this assignment clearer and a bit more real. Here's an example:

Say you want to move up to a manger's position where you currently work. Sadly though, the position requires a college degree that you don't currently possess. Using the defeatist "I Can't" system puts an end to this dream before it even gets started. The old thinking says,"I don't have a college degree, thus I can never be the manager." But your dream doesn't have to die there. Change your thinking and say "I will attain a college degree, and I will become a manager" (or more). Next, create a written plan detailing the steps you will take, however slowly they may be, give yourself deadlines, and start moving forward with a sense of hope that was absent in the previous scenario. Another trick is to tell the people close to you just what you plan to accomplish. This will not only lend you the support you'll need to carry out your plan, but it will also make you accountable for moving forward.

If this sounds simple, it is. All it takes is the genuine willingness to improve your circumstances by creating a new perspective with which you view your challenges. If need be, take inspiration from the millions who have achieved their dreams under circumstances and conditions far worse than yours, simply by saying "I will." Your life can measurably change today by simply adopting this way of thinking. I know it's cliche but I'll say it anyway. "Nothing is impossible." Begin to believe that with all your heart and you'll be on your way to achieving your dreams, beginning today. I'm sure you CAN do it, which according to Henry Fords, makes me correct.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Millions Mourn Michael Jackson's Death: What We Can Learn About Forgiveness

Yesterday, we lost perhaps the greatest music icon since Elvis Presley. Michael Jackson died at a Los Angeles hospital yesterday after being transported by ambulance from his Bel air home. Current reports are naming cardiac arrest as the cause of death, although an autopsy is being performed to confirm that. Jackson was 50 years old.

As I watched the world mourn the tragic loss of Michael Jackson yesterday, I was overcome by the sense of unity and goodness that always seems to accompany such an event. People came together, some in tears, to profess their sadness and to comfort each other during this time of loss. Every individual that was interviewed was quick to point out all the good from Jackson's life and to proclaim just how badly he will be missed. Appropriately, nobody mentioned his troubled past, perhaps it is forgotten.

We are all aware of the pitfalls in Michael Jackson's life. Everything the man did was under constant public scrutiny. But yesterday nobody seemed to remember that. There was no mention of plastic surgery, criminal allegations or failed marriages. Instead they recalled how his music, dancing and stage presence changed not only their own lives for the better, but changed the world. I was saddened, however, that he was not here to see it, because I know how pleased he would have been.

The world reaction to Michael Jackson's death, the mass display of forgiveness, while touching and uplifting, came a bit too late. If anything it reminded me just how fragile time can be. The present is so very precious, and the future, if anything, is a a gamble. I hope this horrible tragedy will forever serve as a reminder that forgiveness is the most powerful tool in the human arsenal and that tomorrow may be too late. Rest in peace Michael, you're forgiven.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What will people think?

Don't worry about what others will think! That statement has become cliche, an old standby for motivation, but how many people actually live that motto? Ask yourself, how many actions have you failed to take in your life, fearing what other people may think? My guess is there are quite a few, probably too many to count. You're not alone though, many of us have missed great opportunities fretting over how we might be perceived. We get so wrapped up in every possible negative scenario, that we fail to see the obvious "silver lining" in things. For some reason, not acting feels safer than the alternative. Later, we lament to anyone in earshot, about how stagnant our lives are and about all the lost opportunities in our lives. It's an awful cycle but one that can become habitual very easily.

Fear of the way we are perceived can be a major impediment to growth. Many of us become paralyzed to action because we're afraid of the way it will look to others, but this paralysis is completely unwarranted. The majority of people-those same people we worry about-are far too concerned about themselves and their own issues to even notice what we're doing. If you think about it, concern over the way we are perceived is rather egotistical.

Now there are people who care about you, and thus have a vested stake in the decisions you make, but why in the world would you worry about their perceptions? They are the people who want you to succeed and will unfailingly root for you regardless of the outcome of the decisions you make. They are your support team, people who will be there for you through good and bad. Count yourself lucky for having them in your corner. The rest of the world, however, is too wrapped up in their own daily grind to have time to ponder yours.

I have been guilty of inaction in the past, agonizing on the way it may look to others. Sadly, that is time I can never get back, but hopefully, by sharing this epiphany with you, I can at least make it count for something. If you're honest with yourself, you'll probably agree that at least 95% of the thoughts you entertain are of a self-centered nature. We think about ourselves, and that my friends, is perfectly normal. The remainder of our thoughts are probably spent worrying or celebrating the ones we love. But how much time do you spend thinking about John Doe's life. The answer is probably none, except for how John Doe's life may effect your own or your loved ones. That being said, why would you assume that John Doe has time to pine over you?

He doesn't. Isn't that a tremendous relief? His only thoughts, in regard to your life, is how your success or failure will impact him.

Take a talented ballplayer, just up from college, an absolute star in his collegiate days. In his first year at the Major League level, he finds himself on the bench, playing second fiddle to a perennial all-star. This doesn't sit well with him at all. He is accustomed to being the star, and his new role of bench warmer is not exactly what he had envisioned. He wants secure the starting position, but he's hampered by thoughts of how the fans will take it.

Does he want this allstar--his competition--to fail? Probably, but not because he dislikes that person. His only thought is how that failure may positively benefit him. Now I'm not saying this a healthy way to think, but I will say it's natural. But here's why I brought that up: If you decide not to act towards growth and excellence in your life, there will always be someone else who has figured out it's best to act. Your inaction could be just what John Doe was waiting for.

Planning and preparation are important tools for success, but they are worthless if we fail to act when given the opportunity. The people we recognize as great, the ones we admire, are the ones that made a decision to act, some in the face of great public scrutiny. When the astronomer Copernicus tried to convince the world that the earth revolved around the sun, his views met with grave debate from a scientific community that believed the opposite. But he was right, and the rest is history. But what if he would have been wrong? Okay, so he was wrong. What did he really lose by deciding to act on his theory? Nothing. He'd still be the same old Copernicus. His decision to act, though, changed not only his own life, but the world's.

The only negative thing that can happen as a result of a new decision, is that it may not quite work out the way you had imagined. But what have you really lost? The worst case scenario is that you'll be back to square one, ready to make a another decision and act upon it. Believe me, there is a not a swarm of people stroking their moustache, ready to pass judgement or belittle you. You're not that important to them, and they just don't have time!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Something to Look Forward To

Why do we get up in the morning? Why do we put up with so much and achieve so little? My theory is that deep down we believe things will get better if we keep pushing forward. Is this true? Well, yes and no.

Our lives can and will get better, but that cannot be achieved by doing the same things over and over. If your current beliefs, attitude and actions are consistently creating circumstances that are unfulfilling and even unpleasant, isn't it logical that those circumstances will continue to repeat in the absence of any variance of effort on your part? If there is something you really want in life-something that you can look forward to-you must arrange your life in such a way that every thought and action you take is somehow bringing you closer to your dream. Unfortunately, many of us dream but we never put a plan into action for achieving it. Consequently, each day, complete with thoughts and actions that are either misdirected or uncalculated, finds us further from our goal. What predictably happens next is frustration- frustration that in most cases causes us to abandon our dream.

So, what's the first step? Good question. Define what you want. Second step? Create a plan which is clear that allows you make progress every day, however small. This will help to keep you on track while giving your life a sense of worth and accomplishment.

Here's an example. Say you really look forward to owning your own home one day, yet your current income makes that possibility look bleak. Each day finds you more frustrated than the next as you perceive your dream becoming more and more unachievable. This can be a painful way to go through life, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Try this instead. First, write your dream down. This simple step will allow you to begin thinking of your dream in more realistic terms. It is now a goal rather than just some fantasy. Second, create short term and long term objectives, including deadlines, that will help you near your goal. Start small with your short-term objectives making them reasonably attainable. This will allow you to reach them, supplying you with a sense of accomplishment and momentum. The simplified example below will help you get an idea of how this works:

Goal: Own my own home

Long-term Objective: Save $10,000 for a down payment by January 1, 2011

Short-term Objective 1: Save 1,000 by December 2009 by doing the following
1. Complete all tasks at work thoroughly and accurately
2. Ask supervisor about advancement and overtime opportunities
3. Create a flexible budget that allows you to save $200 each month by paying yourself first and eliminating unnecessary expenses.
4. Start a daily journal in which you track your success

Again, this is rather simplified but it's a good example of how we can start making measurable progress on any dream right now and stave off the frustration that almost always scaps such plans. This gives you a structured way to spend your time that is not "all over the place," but focused and rewarding.

Now this is something to look forward to.