Blood Pressure – Know Your Numbers

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how my heart beats.  There’s a family history of heart disease and congestive heart failure. Luckily for me, so far my blood pressure has trended on the low end of normal. However, now that the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have revised the guidelines for interpreting blood pressure (bp) numbers, I’m trending more towards “normal”.

I want low normal back and I bought a blood pressure monitor to motivate me to get there.

Mostly though, I’m a science geek and I want to see how much my blood pressure drops after doing yoga, and for how long that benefit lasts.  (This is the real reason I bought the bp monitor).

Then I discovered there’s quite a bit more to taking one’s blood pressure than sitting down, wrapping the cuff around an arm, and waiting patiently.

Did you know there are eleven elements that go into taking blood pressure correctly? And that only one out of 159 medical students tested in 2015 got all eleven? Most students averaged a 4.1. Meaning out of the eleven things that are supposed to occur before, during and after taking a blood pressure reading, most students remembered to do four of the eleven.  Four.

Also, blood pressure surges in the a.m. So, taking a bp rating in the morning and in the evening is recommended.

And then there’s how to record it. My bp machine has a memory, although I’m not at all sure how to access it. Plus, it’s much more meaningful to me to physically write down those numbers.

So now I take my blood pressure in the morning., 30 minutes after breakfast, and again in the evening, sometime around 8p or so. (and at various times throughout the day because my yoga schedule changes from day to day. Seriously, I’m a geek). I take it twice each time after sitting still for five minutes, with a one minute break in between readings.

And, because I’m a geek, (have I mentioned that?) I made a blood pressure tracker. And I’m sharing it with you.

Remember, I’m a marketing professional and a mindfulness instructor. I’m not a doctor, nor do I have medical training. This is for educational purposes only and none of this is to be taken as medical advice.

Also, home blood pressure monitoring is not a substitute for visits to your doctor. Always consult your physician if you believe there is cause for concern.

Sources:

Don’t Just Get Your Blood Pressure Checked; Make Sure It’s Taken The Right Way

New ACC/AHA High Blood Pressure Guidelines Lower Definition Of Hypertension

Nearly Half Of US Adults Could Now Be Classified With High Blood Pressure, Under New Definitions

Why You Should Check Your Blood Pressure In The Morning

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

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13 Nights Of Halloween

My all-time favorite Halloween decoration.

I love Halloween.

Last year we blatantly borrowed from Freeform’s 13 Nights Of Halloween and created our own. It was so much fun we’re making it a tradition. This year we added a couple of books and some TV episodes to our movie mix from last year.

Here’s Our List for 2017:

Note: Harry Potter is our Thanksgiving movie marathon tradition.
Note 2: All of our choices are available thorough Hulu, Netflix, or the Public Library. 

If you’re interested in creating your own 13 days of Halloween here are some ideas to get you started:

Movies
Here’s a whole list of TV movies and marathons for Halloween 2017.  Turner Classic Movies does Halloween right.  Note to self: We might make next year’s Halloween movie list all classic suspense movies . . . .

Another list that includes TCM and adds in the Hallmark Channel Halloween movies, too.

The Witchiest Movies of 2017

A good list of non-scary stop motion movies to watch is here.

TV Shows/Episodes
15 Best Halloween TV Episodes and another list here.

If you’re into scary, here’s a list.

ANY of the Doctor Who Weeping Angels episodes, BlinkThe Time Of Angels / Flesh and StoneThe God Complex  and The Angels Take Manhattan.  Bonus, The Empty Child and Tooth and Claw are super scary, too.  The Empty child has one of my all time favorite Doctor Who lines, which will spoil things if I quote it here.

Books
Cozy Mystery Halloween book list, and here and here.

Modern Mrs. Darcy’s list of spooky but not quite scary books is here.

A list of Halloween picture books, Common Sense Media’s recommendations here, a YA list here, and several kids / YA lists mixed in here.

And, because Pinterest is the place for everything, here’s a board with all kinds of Halloween cozy mystery suggestions (with some Autumn suggestions, too).

If you’d rather, and you have access to Freeform, here’s their 2017 schedule.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

Update – My 16 Year News Addiction

Recently, I wrote about my 16 year addiction to the news (you can read about it here).

It’s been over 30 days (38 to be exact) since I’ve logged on to any news website or turned the TV t0 24/7 news.

As I sat down to work this morning, it occurred to maybe it’s worth spending a moment to think about what’s changed.

I noticed that even the thought of TV news makes me a bit nauseous now.

I noticed a need to supplement my mindfulness curriculum with activities based around kindness (a most mindful thing) and took steps to incorporate kindness in every mindfulness class I teach.

I noticed I have a lot more ideas for blog posts, both here and over on Irish Yoga Chick.

I’ve noticed I’m a lot more creative in general.

I noticed it’s been 4 days since I’ve checked Twitter. At all. And that it’s been a little tougher than ditching the news on the web and the TV.

I noticed a significant increase in the number of entries to my yearly book journal. Most of them are cozy mysteries I’ve read on my tablet (Yep. I made it into the 21st century and now read ebooks. Sometimes.) Some of my favorite series are Molly MacRae’s Haunted Yarn Shop series, Hannah Reed’s Scottish Highlands series, Sheila Connolly’s County Cork series, and Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series.

I’ve learned about the Agatha Awards, named for Agatha Christie and presented to authors in the cozy genre.

I’ve noticed I ditched a lot of TV shows on my Hulu watchlist, mostly those with over the top violence. Definitely not Jane The Virgin, though. And Kevin (Probably) Saves The World. tThose shows are just FUN.

If I were into analyzing myself, I’d think what I choose to read and DVR directly correlates to how the constant culture of violence and flat- out meanness has negatively and deeply affected my spirit, and it wasn’t until I removed the platforms that serve as constant reminders that I realized just how damaging the impact has been.

I’ve noticed I now make my bed every day. I don’t know how, or if that correlates. I’ll take it, though.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

cross posted to Irish Yoga Chick

My 16 Year Addiction To The News

A photo I took shortly after the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.

Last week, subscribers to my newsletter learned about my 16 year addiction to the news. (You can read it here).

As of today, it’s officially been 14 days since I’ve watched any news on tv. Additionally, I haven’t randomly gone to any news websites, either.

I’ve also made some progress in breaking my addiction to Twitter news. I’ve rearranged  how my tweets are delivered, making a specific “news” tab that I check a max of 2x a day for 15-20 minutes. And I have not checked Twitter in the middle of the night once in the last two weeks. Yeah, that’s progress.

Instead of my constant need to have the news on in the background, both day and night, I now subscribe to 3 news aggregation emails that I read every morning. I also have a couple of podcasts lined up, however I just realized I haven’t listened to them in the last two weeks, either.

My favorite news aggregation email is The Morning News (probably because it’s delivered just like Twitter. The irony is not lost on me.) Politico’s Playbook and Morning Media round out my three. Both of the Politico subscriptions are pretty wonky. The Skimm is another good one. It’s less less wonky, too.

As for podcasts, The Daily is a short, in-depth look at one current topic each day. Vox’s The Weeds (semi-weekly), Lovett or Leave It and Pod Save America (weekly — and really, all of the Crooked Media podcasts are informative) are my go-to. And, of course, my local NPR podcasts.

My fear that I wouldn’t be prepared, or that I’d somehow be “sticking my head in the sand” if I wasn’t focused on the news 24/7 hasn’t played out that way at all. If anything, I’m more aware of what’s going on in my neighborhood, my city and my state now because I’m choosing where to focus my attention and not depending on ratings-hungry media companies to decide for me what’s important.

Completely random, Austin Kleon’s newsletter today has several links on just this topic as his #1 of “ten things worth sharing.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

My Word(s) For 2017

I like words. Mostly, I like them in the form of books, articles, and lyrics. Then, I read an article (see!) about choosing a word. One word. To guide the whole year, I was intrigued. And appalled. ONE word? I like words, plural. Lots and lots of words. Just one?

Turns out, lots of people do this choosing of one word thing. Chris Brogan writes a lengthy blog post about his (he chooses three. Still, though.) Elise Blaha sent out an email mentioning hers, the Huffington Post even wrote and article on it.  And once I got going, I found all kinds of websites (here, and here  for starters) devoted to the process of picking one word. Oh, and the Oxford Living Dictionaries even got in on it, although their process is arguably a bit different.

It sounds cheezy, I know. And admittedly, I didn’t do any of the prep or soul-searching recommended. I sat down one morning in late 2015, took a look around and decided that in 2016 I wanted EASE. That’s it. EASE.

So, starting January 1, 2016, I wrote the word at the top of each weekly page in my calendar, and any time I found myself barreling toward a situation that was lining up to be anything other than easy, I repeated the word over and over to myself. And I took time each week to write down a couple of ways in which my week had included EASE. 90 days in, I started noticing a shift. EASE was more prevalent in my daily life. And, in those instances where EASE was elusive, the realization that it wasn’t necessarily me who was making the interaction hard was quite useful.  As was the reminder that in situations lacking EASE I didn’t automatically have to contribute to making things more difficult.

So, I’m doing it again this year. And again, it was pretty spontaneous. I auditioned quite a few words throughout the year and when it came time to choose, I chose none of them. Instead, I went with a word that I think will serve me just as well as EASE did last year.

2017’s word is REJECT.

As in:

  • I reject false conclusions
  • I reject being drawn into other’s drama
  • I reject complacency

You get the idea.

I think, though, that REJECT needs balance. So I’m also choosing WHOLE.

WHOLE reminds me that in REJECTing there is room for replacing, rebuilding, and reconnecting.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

cross-posted to IrishYogaChick

The Things That Made My Year Great — 2016 edition

 

Shamelessly stolen from Austin Kleon, who can list out 100 things.

______________

people who share

black eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread on new year’s day

yearly book challenges

weekly playlists

audiobooks

washi tape

The Eagles

lists in the back of books (Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend)

honey vanilla chamomile tea

A Year Of Living Your Yoga

my public library

soy sauce

painted garage windows

the days I accomplish everything on my to-do list

moving big projects forward

spring planting

wax seals on handwritten letters

Mental Health First Aid

voting

saying goodbye to the probate court

knitting

tax refunds

Michael Franti concerts

farmer’s markets

new business cards

taking risks

easy fixes

slow Sunday mornings

kitchen gardens

neighbors

creating systems

teaching yoga

24in48 book challenges

book stacks on Instagram

alterations

Pokemon GO

Finding lost dogs

compassionate pest control experts

clean sheets

cool August summer mornings

the sound of a fan

toad / frog relocation

planners

The Youtube 8-hour fireplace

“A Year In The Life” (Gilmore Girls Revival)

selling a house and not spending another minute on Angie’s list for at least 6 months

cutting the cord in favor of Roku. Best decision ever.

ditching the smart phone for an old-fashioned flip phone. Another good decision.

Judy and Loretta at Mills Record Company

Good Reading
The Story of a F##k Fund – Billfold

Artists Aren’t Afraid Of Doing Things Badly – Jonathan Fields

Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Job to Move to an Island and Scoop Ice Cream – and the follow up  — Noelle Hancock

This Is What Happened When We Posted Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk – Nadia Goodman

I came Undone: One Woman’s Horrifyingly Real Experience With Burnout — Glynnis Macnichol

Good Books

Tribe: On Homecoming And Belonging – Sebastian Junger

You’re Never Weird on The Internet [Almost]- Felicia Day

Furiously Happy: A FunnY Book About Horrible Things -Jenny Lawson

Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

Hope In The Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities — Rebecca Solnit

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers – Robert Sapolsky

The Nightingale  — Kristin Hannah

One Second After – William Forstchen

The Accidental Alchemist, Pirate Vishnu and Artifact— Gigi Pandian

All The Light We Cannot See — Anthony Doerr

Good Movies and TV  

Hundred Foot Journey

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Jimmy’s Hall

The Lunchbox

Rebellion – TV Mini Series

Sports Night (seasons 1 & 2)

The Martian

Making lists– My favorite blog posts authored by me

A Different Kind Of Post For A Different Kind Of Election

How, And More Importantly, When To Delegate pt 1 and 2

Busy

Voting

And any of the weekly wrap ups.

Other People’s Lists – my favorite blog posts authored by others

Let It Be Sunday – Joy The Baker

I Love Lists – Shutterbean

Inspiring Simplicity – The Minimalists

*This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase something after clicking one of the links in this post. I only link things I have used and can truthfully recommend. Purchasing from these links helps me keep business costs low for my clients and that’s what HeyAmyLou is all about.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

cross-posted to IrishYogaChick

A Different Kind Of Post For A Different Kind Of Election

I’m not here to talk politics beyond saying that I hope you’ll vote.

I’m here to talk about stress. A recent article in the Washington Post used the term “election stress disorder”. Whatever you call it, stress is real, and it takes a toll on us physically, emotionally and mentally.

I’m encouraging you to actively plan for and support your mental health over the next 24-48 hours, and offer suggestions that might get you to thinking about ways to take care of you.

Take additional stress out of your day. If you don’t live in a state with early voting chances are you’ll already be standing in one line tomorrow. Consider avoiding additional ones.

  • Schedule 15 minutes today to fill up your gas tank.
  • Set aside some time before tomorrow to pick up your groceries and run any other errands.

Work to avoid the 24 hour “breaking news” cycle and constant Facebook commentary.

  • Temporarily mute the device notifications from news and social media apps. You decide how your news is delivered, not the manufacturers of your phone, tablet or other devices.
  • Turn off the tv. The New York Times is lowering their paywall from November 7-9. Maybe choose to actively read the election results according to your schedule instead of passively having them shouted at you throughout the day. Your local tv stations will post election results, too.

Remember your health.

  • Tara Stiles is offering 50% off all of her downloadable yoga videos. With the discount, her 60-minute videos are $7.50 and her 30-minute videos are $5.00. Use the code VOTE2016 and make sure your discount is showing before checking out. Or, head to your local yoga studio for a drop-in.
  • Dan Harris has created a page with links to several great election stress meditations. My personal favorite is “Powers of 10” led by Jeff Warren. It’s approx. 10 minutes long. If you aren’t familiar with Dan, he wrote the book 10% Happier and developed the app “10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics”.
  • If meditation isn’t your thing, consider a couple of 15-minute walks throughout the day, without the headphones or other distractions.

You’ve voted and decided the constant stream of “expert commentary” is more than you want to invite into your day. Go a different route and skip the drama.

  • Consider learning something new. MIT offers a wide-ranging catalog of free, self-paced coursework including photography, art history, and Italian, in addition to their standard engineering and mathematical coursework.  Coursera, and Skillshare also have a wide variety of offerings, although there may be costs associated. If you’re looking for something more hands on, Creativebug offers classes on knitting, sewing, art and design. There’s a free 7-day trial, too.
  • Podcasts; I dig ’em. Consider tuning in to Thrilling Adventure Hour, NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and The Lapse. Or google “podcasts and [insert your favorite topic here]”.  Warning, there is probably swearing in each of the podcasts I just recommended.
  • The library. My favorite place in all the land. Download audiobooks, ebooks, and music to pack your devices with distractions. Or, go old-school and check out a bunch of movies on DVD. Order a pizza and invite some friends and family over. Instant mental health boost.
  • Take the same pizza and friends/family combo and throw in some board games. Also a terrific way disengage from “election stress”.

Full disclosure: As I’m typing this I realize MSNBC is on in the background.
I assure you I have my own work to do to support my mental health.

We are all in this together.

Want to know more?

Curated Emails
Did you find this email helpful? I’m considering doing more of them for those that are interested. If you are, share your email here.
Mindfulness
If you’re interested in my upcoming mindfulness trainings, share your email here.
Life Mapping
If you’re interested in my upcoming life mapping trainings, share your email here.
Routines and Rituals
I’m expanding my trainings to include the science of routines and rituals, how they positively impact our lives, and why they can be so difficult to maintain. If you’re interested, share your email here.
Emergency Preparedness
I’m expanding my emergency preparedness trainings and including preparedness for small business owners. If you’re interested in my upcoming emergency prep trainings, share your email here.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved

cross-posted to IrishYogaChick

Fall!

 

 

I like to make stuff. So I made a fall bucket list and a fall project list printable. Each has two versions, one blank and one partially filled in if you need a little inspiration to create your own lists.

              

blank     filled in                                         blank   filled in

 

And a fall playlist because, well, I dig fall.

John Coltrane: Autumn Serenade

Earth Wind & Fire: September

Green Day: Wake Me Up When September Ends

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: Autumn in New York

Van Morrison: Autumn Song

Daughtry: September

Don Henley: The Boys Of Summer

Bobby Pickett: Monster Mash

Michael Jackson: Thriller

The Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack: This Is Halloween

 

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved

Busy

From a recent blog post by Kate Northrup

Are you addicted to being “crazy busy” and praying for more days that feel out of control?

Or are you curating what makes it onto your calendar and praying for more days that feel spacious?

As I’ve mentioned before, I believe when someone says they are “so busy” or “too busy” it’s usually code for “[fill in the blank] is not a priority for me right now and I just don’t know how to say that.” And I’ve noticed for some people, their identity seems to be tied to being able to repeatedly recite how busy they are — in the not too distant past I was probably one of those people. I try to be empathetic. Saying “no” is hard. At least it can be for me.

So when I read “curating what makes it onto your calendar” I immediately wanted to dive more deeply into what that might mean.

Curating is such a buzzword these days. It’s almost cliché. Except that in this instance I think it’s the exact right word to use.

(I’m going to do that overused, slightly irritating thing here were I provide the definition of curate as a way to transition into my next thought.)

Curate (v): To take charge of (a museum) or organize (a photography exhibit). dictionary.com

Our life is ours to take charge of, or curate. Why is it so many of us, myself included sometimes, allow others to suggest, manipulate and/or dictate how we spend our time? And why is it we feel guilty about that, as though we need to apologize for the fact we can’t fit it all in when, if we’re being honest, some of what’s currently on our calendar isn’t what we really want to do anyway?

Curate (read: take charge of) your life. When we really are too busy doing things we want to do, let’s stop apologizing for not being able to fit in one more thing. Let’s stop using “I’m too busy” as an excuse to avoid owning up to how it is we really want to spend our time. Let’s make space for that by crowding out all the stuff that really isn’t a priority.

If I were a betting woman I’d put money on the idea that just by being more mindful of curating our life we’d stop having to say “I’m too busy”  to the people and experiences that  truly are a priority.

Link to Kate Northrup’s full blog post here.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved

Unplanned Themes

Full disclosure: The newsletter comes together each week because I bookmark everything I come across on the internet. There’s never any planning as to how it will come together, or what will be included, right up until the minute I open my “bookmarks” folder in Google Chrome and click on what looks good right then and there.

So find it fascinating when an issue like today’s comes together.

Late last week I stumbled upon Escape From The Internet, by Virginia Sole-Smith, about the owners of the blog Young House Love. I read that particular blog infrequently. Although, I do remember the rather intense dust-up when they announced they were shuttering it in 2014. So the behind-the-scenes read on what led up to the decision promised to be interesting.

What I got was so much more than I expected, both as someone with a blog and someone who spends quite a bit of time reading the blogs of others (Seriously. It’s built into my Sunday morning schedule.) On it’s surface, it’s about the struggle to determine what we owe our readers.

Factor in the unintended consequences of building a career around the details we’ve decided to share, the reality that what we share never really gives readers a complete understanding of who we truly are, even though said reader may think of us as their “friend”, with all that entitles simply because they spend so much time (albeit online, behind a computer screen) with us and ta-da! As they say in the article, the lines between blogger, customer and best friend get very fuzzy.

Examining it from the other side, that of the reader, is no less complicated. Some of the anecdotes shared in the story, mostly comments from readers, were disappointing at the very least.

“You make big bucks from this blog and IT’S YOUR JOB.”

“I bought you your house.”

I’m not a commenter and I have more than a few reservations about comments in general. What makes people so brave, and often so mean, when safely sheltered behind some sort of computer screen? Well, apparently there’s a lot that goes into answering that question.

We Are Hopelessly Hooked by Jacob Weisberg points out that in our “always on” society, where the bulk of us check our phones an average of every 4.3 minutes, we’re truly never alone anymore. Solitude is what allows us to see each other as separate, as independent. A point quite possibly proved by Mike Murphy’s article (and subsequent “test“) suggesting that Facebook has decreased our six degrees of separation to roughly 3.57 degrees.

All of which contributes to a loss in our ability to empathize with others.

At some point during the previous week, I came across a Brain Pickings post on David Foster Wallace and was reminded of his commencement speech to Kenyon College in 2005, which I frequently play on on loop in the background while I’m working, hoping to retaining the wisdom of it through osmosis. Being accidentally exposed to that that video again, after having read all of the above somehow seemed fated.

That’s also about the time it occurred to me that this particular newsletter is about more than sharing trends in the industry, tools to make us all better entrepreneurs, and goofy stuff that might, for a second, provide a much needed break in our jam-packed days.

As my clients will attest, I’m a big believer (some would say nag) that we don’t depend exclusively our platforms to communicate with our clients. Offline interactions will always matter more than most anything we do online, because that’s where the real people live.

Be kind.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved
cross posted to Irish Yoga Chick