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The Power of Positivity

Positivity is a brain-balance muscle built over time

For those who know of him, Zig Ziglar, born premature, became No. 1 in sales in several organizations and became a world-renowned motivational speaker.

At one point, Ziglar said, “To be candid, some people have given positive thinking a bad name. I can’t stand to hear some gung-ho individual say that with positive thinking you can just do ‘anything.’ If you think about that one for a moment, you recognize the absurdity of it.”

And yet, Ziglar also said, “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”

These somewhat contradictory quotes actually make sense together, when you consider that the power of positivity in everyday life doesn’t solve every problem, but it sure beats the power of negativity.

Here, we feature Sallie Ray, who, in her 80s, dedicates her days to creating art for people she cares about instead of passing time in front of the TV. (As a matter of fact, she doesn’t have one.)

Living with purpose is something guest writer Christina Foxwell works toward every day in her endless pursuit of positivity, as does Haley Perlus, who offers readers ways to avoid and overcome burnout in various scenarios.

We present celebrated speaker Peggy Sullivan, author of “Happiness is Your Responsibility,” who advocates finding happiness and calm by making self-care a priority in everyday chaos.

And finally, we examine a dozen super-nutritious vegetables that are positively powerful additions to your diet, offering ways to prepare them simply and deliciously.

In these admittedly challenging days, we believe that embracing the power of positivity is the best thing any of us can do for mind, spirit and body.

 

CHAPTER 107

 
 

FEATURE

Spreading Sunshine

Sallie Ray’s artistic talents brighten up the world around her

by Kathy Grey

“I can’t stand gloom and doom,” says Sallie Ray, a resident of The Carlisle Naples senior living community. The 86-year-old’s last name, Ray, is particularly fitting for a lady who spreads sunshine every day of the year.

She creates cards (“Sassies by Sallie”) and French barrettes every day in her apartment at The Carlisle, and gives them away to her fellow residents and their loved ones, and for causes that mean a lot to her.

“It’s a good thing I live alone,” she quips, referring to her apartment-cum-studio. “It’s a chaos of artwork,” she says, filled with various materials of all colors and shapes: cardstock, rhinestones, yarn, paint, textured fabric pieces and whatever adhesives the creations call for.

“Some of the cards have a butterfly motif,” she says of a trend she’s noticed developing in her work the last few years. “I like the way they flutter, I guess.”

The work keeps her busy, but she doesn’t sell anything. She does it all for people who need special cards and gifts — and for her own self-preservation from boredom.

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For 50-plus years, she was married to Bill Ray. The couple moved from Ohio to Naples and into an independent living apartment at The Carlisle. When Bill became ill, the couple moved into The Carlisle’s assisted living. When Bill passed away, Sallie moved back into independent living, where she set up her art room/residence.

She’s not one to sit idly, something that seems to aggravate the Parkinson’s disease that hit her at the early-onset age of 51. (In the 35 years she has lived with the disease, she has come to believe that it is hereditary, as her mother, grandfather and uncle suffered from Parkinson’s, and her two brothers are beginning to show mild symptoms.)

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Sallie Ray

“If I had to sit here all day,” she says, noting that she has no TV, “my Parkinson’s would make me shake and shake and shake. But I sit here all alone [working on art] and I don’t shake!”

And so, when The Carlisle posts its monthly birthday list, Sallie gets busy making custom cards for the honorees and, upon request, for the residents’ loved ones.

Owning the Stage

Sallie was a secretary working for Hoover (vacuum) Company in Canton, Ohio, when she met her husband, Bill, who knew she had another great love: the theater.

“My husband and I had an agreement: one play per year,” she says. But that didn’t stop her from choreographing Canton’s high school productions.

Over the years, in Canton and here at the Sugden and on Marco Island, she’s been a triple threat: actor/singer/dancer and choreographer. Her numerous credits include the lead in “Ballroom” and performances in “Oklahoma,” “Anything Goes” “Dearly Departed,” “The Pajama Game,” “Finian’s Rainbow” and the play, “Twigs,” performing as the show’s three daughters and their mother. There weren’t too many costume changes in “Twigs,” she says, but “there were a whole lot of lines to memorize!”

Sallie’s exuberant spirit is the result of her caring determination to “spread sunshine all over the place,” as the song goes. And that song goes on and on.

JOYFUL LIVING

Happiness is Your Responsibility  

Identifying and pursuing your own values results in fulfillment

by Heather Holmes

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Americans are suffering an alarming decrease in emotional well-being, and happiness seems to have been put on the back burner.

Considering the many calamities and misfortunes our communities, nation and world have suffered in the past years, it’s become a convenient choice for many of us to brush aside optimism and fall into negativity.

But Peggy Sullivan, founder of SheCAN!, a nonprofit organization for women, urges everyone to find what’s truly important, to put happiness forward and stay accountable to it in order to live a fulfilling life.

Always Put Happiness First
Sullivan urges everyone to choose happiness by seeking what makes life better every day.

Happiness may come in the form of a dog playing with a butterfly, a squirrel climbing up a tree or a single act of kindness you or others might do.

“There are tremendous amounts of benefits you can reap from happiness in your personal and work life,” Sullivan says. “All of them are just around the corner and it’s all a matter of choosing what gives value to your life.”

A Declining State of Happiness 

The World Happiness Report has indicated alarming figures about this country’s happiness. Some key findings in the report revealed the following unfortunate statistics:

  • Only 5% of respondents feel happiness consistently

  • Two-thirds of respondents are surviving, rather than thriving

  • Seven out of 10 women do not have time for what is important to them

  • People would like to be happier and live a more satisfying life but do not know how

This information implies that we are lacking direction in our search for happiness and satisfaction. It’s even more concerning that we don’t know the steps to be happier.

Happiness is an extremely powerful and contagious emotion. Not only does it make us feel good, but it can allow us to become more personally and professionally effective. All this considered, we need to address the happiness decline to ensure that we, as a nation, are thriving, not merely surviving.

Choose Happiness and Make Self-Care a Priority

Sullivan has developed actionable steps to address this decline in happiness through a systematic approach to time management that she calls Values-First Management.

 

Values-First Management aims to allow people to identify the core values that are critical for them to live a productive and happy life. More importantly, it is through discovery that people begin to see what they need to do to make their values actionable in order to live a more satisfying life.

“It’s all a matter of choosing what gives value to your life. Put happiness forward and stay accountable to it to live a fulfilling life.”  ~ Peggy Sullivan

She has spoken extensively about this concept alongside other relevant topics including mindset and happiness. Through her talks and seminars, she’s already guided many in navigating the following and more:

  • Making self-care a priority and finding happiness and calm in the chaos of everyday life

  • Learning to balance work and life to preserve energy, prevent burnout and find meaning in the things you do

  • Tapping into your inner powers and strength to organically feel good and energetic

  • Identifying ways to adapt, rest and recharge to preserve your energy and create time for your self-care and happiness

By choosing and being responsible for your own happiness, Sullivan urges everyone to take back what’s rightfully theirs by identifying what they truly value, investing all their time and energy in pursuit of it and ultimately living a fulfilling life.

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Peggy Sullivan, is a prolific speaker on women’s leadership, mindset and happiness. She is the author of “Happiness is Your Responsibility” in which she advocates choosing and staying accountable for your own happiness to achieve personal and professional growth and improve health and wellness.

MIND MATTERS

Igniting Purpose

The practice and power of shifting the lens to experience joy

by Christina Foxwell

Years ago, my beautiful husband showed great courage when he bought me a “happiness book.”

I was so angry; what was he saying? Was he implying I was an unhappy person? This reaction was the exact reason he gave me the book. Today, I am so grateful that he took a chance to show me that I needed to shift my perspective and choose a different way to see and experience life.

Over the last seven years, I have been on a beautiful journey of acceptance, love, gratitude and joy. And now, I have a source of positivity that I can connect with as I navigate my life.

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Does that mean I walk around feeling happy all the time? The answer is no. After all, I am human, yet I have developed the practice and power to shift my lens to experience joy.

My story was seeded with shame and pain: one in which I was molested at a young age, suffered domestic violence and lived as a single mom who barely had enough to feed my daughter. Throughout this story, I had learned to try and work toward happiness. The problem was that you couldn’t find happiness in a milestone event or achievement. This mindset is a step toward a continued expedition for the “holy grail” of happiness: an elusive place where you can be at peace and experience positive emotions.

A few years ago, I watched an interview between Shawn Achor and Oprah as they talked about the happiness advantage and the power of positivity. I found the interview transformational. At the time, I was coaching sales directors in the most prominent media organization in Australia, and they were going through significant change. What I saw in them was so much fear and discomfort. They were in a race to try and achieve a revenue number, yet their ability to wire their mind for positivity was the ingredient missing from their success. It was missing from my success, too.

I love definitions, and here is one that stuck with me: Happiness is the joy I feel while striving for my potential. Happiness is moments of joy that I feel throughout my day, week and life. These feed my positivity. 

I have found that it’s about teaching my brain to scan my world for the positive versus the negative. Does that mean I don’t recognize challenges? No, it means I accept challenges for what they are. I realize that I am grounded in this moment and that there is much to be grateful for beyond the challenges.

My favorite reflection that keeps me grounded in the positive is this: Why am I worried about what this isn’t? Why don’t I accept it for what it is?

In that simple act, I am rewiring my thinking to be present, accepting and engaging positivity. We have the ability to live a positive life — one that allows us to be all that we can.
 

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Christina E. Foxwell is an author and the founder of Ignite Purpose. Over the past decade, she has supported leaders in navigating their teams and helped people find their purpose and flow, supporting them in their own life-changing journeys to follow their passions, transform their lives and grow into the people they were always meant to be. Her latest book, “The Glass Angel,” examines transformation, change and perseverance.

 

TOTAL WELLNESS

Overcoming Burnout

Four ways to tackle the effects of prolonged stress

by Haley Perlus, Ph.D.

Burnout is on the rise. A recent report from Indeed found that 52% of all workers are feeling burned out, which can affect their quality of life and well-being in various negative ways.

Burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress.

Burnout can result from overly demanding expectations; lack of control; lack of social support; taking on more than one can handle at work, school or with family and friends; and/or poor self-care.

Let’s take a look at ways to overcome (or prevent) burnout.

ON THE JOB

To overcome and/or prevent burnout at your job, first, identify what you can change.

For example, learning how to say no at work when you are working on multiple tasks can help lessen stress and frustration. Evaluating your commitments, setting boundaries and learning when to turn down requests will help you get the rest you need to give yourself and others your best.

Setting personal and professional boundaries is essential to bounce back from burnout, because if you feel taken advantage of or disempowered, your self-esteem is impacted. Low self-esteem affects stress levels, health and personal relationships.

Clear communication is key in setting boundaries that are empowering, give you more control, reduce stress and put you on the road to better well-being. 

IN DAILY CHORES

Recovery can take two forms. One form is practicing stillness. Stillness techniques include, but are not limited to, meditation, deep breathing, sleep (including naps) and simple, quiet time. Even just one minute of quality deep breathing can renew emotional energy.

Variety is the second form of recovery that can treat and prevent burnout. Variety essentially offers you an opportunity to recover from one task while engaging in another task that requires a different type of energy.

Physical activity provides positive stress for your body while creating recovery for your emotions and mind. Stepping away from your computer for 10 minutes and folding laundry while listening to calming music, for example, can provide emotional recovery. Your mind will escape from the computer, and the music will help with emotional recovery. Enjoy crossing laundry off the list while listening to your favorite music. Tiny changes can have a ripple effect that eventually lead to significant results in your overall health.  

AS A CAREGIVER 

Many people forget the emotional and physical toll that being a caregiver can present, but more than 40 million adults in North America are taking care of elderly, chronically ill or disabled loved ones, according to Pew Research Center.

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Signs of burnout can include depression, fatigue, anxiety about the future, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, hopelessness and other symptoms.

Although being a caregiver is never easy, there are some things you can do to make it more manageable.

Ask for help whenever possible, whether paying a professional or calling upon a friend or family member.

Don’t skip your own medical appointments. If you are not well, you are not in a position to care for someone else.

Check policies for family leave benefits at work.

Don’t feel that you have to keep a constant vigil by the bedside, especially if you know they tend to nap or sleep at certain times of the day. Instead, use those times for some self-care and pampering.

Speak to other caregivers or speak with the attending physician or hospital social worker.

AS A STUDENT

To overcome burnout as a student, set reasonable goals. Write a to-do list each day of assignments that need to get done. Note their due dates and use daily reminders and calendars to stay motivated and to achieve deadlines.

Set aside time to practice mindfulness. Time away from your obligations is as important as time spent fulfilling your obligations.

Practice self-care to reduce stress, and let your mind relax. Celebrate small wins along the way and keep the end goal in mind.

Think big picture: one bad grade does not determine your future. 

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Haley Perlus is an elite alpine ski racer with a doctorate in sport performance and psychology social. Perlus pushes boundaries and drives peak performance, helping athletes and Fortune 100 executives reach their goals. Learn more at  https://drhaleyperlus.com.

HEALTHY BODY

Healthy Skin, Teeth, Eyes … and Keeping Disease at Bay

Twelve powerhouse veggies to incorporate into your diet and easy ways to do it

by Kimberly Blaker

Like them or not, we know how vital veggies are to our health. But not all vegetables are created equal. Here, we highlight 12 powerhouses of nutrition.

If you’re not a vegetable fan, that’s all the more reason to try a wider variety. If they happen to be some of these 12 all-stars, so much the better. Here are some easy ways to enjoy what’s really good for you.

Butternut Squash

This winter squash is loaded with vitamin A: four times the recommended daily allowance (RDA). It also contains double the RDA of vitamin C and packs more potassium than a banana.

To become a butternut squash fan, cut it in half, and remove all the seeds. Fill a glass baking dish about ¾-inch high with water, place the pieces of squash (skin side up) and bake at 400 degrees for one hour. Allow the squash to cool enough to handle it, scoop all the squash out of the peel and top it with butter. (Try adding a touch of brown sugar for sweetness.)

Kale (Organic)

This dark green leaf packs a whopping 684% of the RDA of vitamin K and well over the RDA of both vitamins A and B6.

If you like salad, add a mix of kale to the lettuce. Kale also makes a great addition to smoothies.

Sweet Potatoes

Thanksgiving isn’t the only time of year for sweet potatoes, which are packed with vitamins A, B5 and B6, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin and carotenoids.

Sweet potatoes make delicious French fries, which can be baked rather than fried. There are dozens of baked sweet potato fry recipes out there.

Peas

Peas contain a long list of nutrients: vitamins B1, C and K, plus manganese, copper, phosphorus and folate.

Fortunately, peas are one vegetable most people will eat. Add peas to a variety of soups, stews and casseroles.

Bell Peppers

Red, orange, yellow and green bell peppers are high in vitamin C, with red bell peppers containing 169% of the RDA. Also, bell peppers are high in vitamin A and carry a good dose of other nutrients.

Those who live by the motto, “Everything tastes better with ranch,” will enjoy bell pepper slices for dipping. Bell peppers are great on pizza and sauteed to top hot sandwiches.

Brussels Sprouts 

This veggie is noted for its vitamins K and C, but Brussels sprouts also provide numerous other nutrients.

If you want to acquire a taste for Brussels sprouts, try cutting them in half and stir-frying them in sesame oil with other vegetables. Or try roasting them with olive oil and salt.

Asparagus

Noted for its high folic acid content (60% of the RDA), asparagus also includes a healthy amount of vitamins K and C, as well as several other essential nutrients.

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Try grilling asparagus, first brushing it lightly with olive oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper. Place the spears on the grill for 10 minutes, turn them, then give them a few more minutes till they are lightly blackened.

 

Spinach

Spinach contains 987% of the RDA of vitamin K. Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper and other nutrients.

You can add spinach to both smoothies and pizza. Spinach quiche and spinach pie are also quite popular.

Broccoli

Here’s another vegetable that’s a rich source of vitamin K, packing 245% of the RDA. Broccoli also exceeds the RDA for vitamin C and is an excellent source of chromium, folate and fiber.

For those with an aversion to the stalky veg, try broccoli cheese soup, broccoli smothered in cheese and cheesy pasta dishes with broccoli.

Avocado

Avocado is particularly notable as an excellent source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These are healthy fats, so it’s an excellent replacement for other types of fat.

Guacamole is an all-time favorite, and avocado is great in a tossed salad or mixed with egg salad.

Pumpkin (canned)

This is an outstanding source of vitamin A, containing 2½ times the RDA, not to mention a fair amount of many other vitamins and minerals.

Numerous desserts can be made from pumpkin. Try making pumpkin pie, bread, cookies or cheesecake.

Scallions

Also known as spring onions, scallions pack 172% of the RDA of vitamin K and are known as a good source of antioxidants and vitamin A.

Scallions can be grilled just like asparagus. Brush them with oil, add salt and pepper, then toss them on the grill until they’re lightly browned. For a once-in-awhile indulgence, try wrapping them in bacon.

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Kimberly Blaker is a freelance writer. She also owns an online store, Sage Rare & Collectible Books, specializing in out-of-print, scarce, signed and first editions; fine bindings; ephemera and more at sagerarebooks.com

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