Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Spreading Wellness: How has gratitude helped abundance in your life?

"Gratitude...the open door to abundance." ~Yogi Bhajan

Photo by: Jodi Tervo Roberts
Lego Mia is grateful for an over abundance of tomatoes, and an eco-friendly way of transporting them! :)
Abundance of life and happiness? Abundance of food and water? Abundance of snow and wind? Abundance of friends and family? Or, an abundance of kids art projects on your refrigerator? These questions all pop into my head as I ponder that quote. We all have an abundance of different experiences. We are all grateful for different people/places/things in our lives. It is that time of year, when we as a nation gather together, and talk about what we are grateful for. The time of year that we bring gratitude to the forefront of our minds. What would it be like if we all lived with a bit more mindfulness around gratitude? Some say that being grateful is the first step toward happiness. Some say that gratitude is the real joy that we feel in life. Yet others say that gratitude is an attitude that we live, and is the precursor to positive change.

Although there are an abundance of people/places/things to be grateful for, as a person who loves intellectual stimulation and learning, I am grateful for Ted Talks. :) Yes, Ted Talks. I am a research junky, who enjoys getting sparks of curiosity and knowledge through this amazing series of talks that attracts an array of experts on almost any topic imaginable. I am grateful for the professors who introduced me to them while in graduate school. My love of independent learning has been enhanced in a very positive way. This tool has allowed my intellect to grow abundantly. Today, I want to share a phenomenal inspirational talk with you, on Gratitude. If you have about 10 minutes, take some time to watch and listen to the power of beauty and gratitude, from 3 different perspectives (the speaker and 2 interviewees) at: http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude.

Expressing gratitude and becoming more mindful of gratitude, can only help to enhance your own wellness wheel. Currently, WellU has a Wellness Wheel Challenge going on, and we hope that you will be able to expand your wheels by expressing gratitude. To sign up for the challenge, go to imleagues.com, and look for the Well U Employee Wellness Wheel Challenge.

Even if you choose not to join the challenge, I challenge you to become more mindful of gratitude, and see how your personal wheel will expand. How has your life become abundant through gratitude?

Please share with us, your story about gratitude and abundance.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spreading Wellness: How are you inspiring those around you?

Photo by: Jodi Tervo Roberts
Growing up my Grandpa was an avid cross-country skier, and frequently told stories about his ski adventures with his buddies. I was fortunate enough to get to know his friends, and we would see each other often on the trails and at marathon ski events. They all have fantastic stories of inspiration, but one story clearly defines my definition of heroism. At a marathon race a few years ago, I was talking with one of my Grandpa's friends. He was now an 80+ year old athlete. He had a smile on his face, and was telling me about his current medical condition which had caused him for the first time in many years put more miles on his truck than on his skis, and also the reason that he couldn't race that year. Despite this set back, he added that he will be back skiing next year, and that he was happy he had asked for a second opinion so that he didn't need to have his foot amputated. Wow! What an attitude on life! It was always a pleasure to run into him and hear his stories. At an early age I was exposed to hero's like this, and I would walk away feeling inspired, and reminded that I needed to stay active so that I too could lead a full life, until the end. As I grow older, I often think about these hero's, and hope that someday I too can be an inspiration to others. If I can make a positive impact in one person's life, whether through a smile, a listening ear, or somehow help to empower someone to reach their dreams, then I have succeeded. And, I am striving to continue skiing marathons into my 80's and 90's, just like my Grandpa and his friends.

Do you have a hero? Do you have a story that you are willing to share? WellU has started an employee challenge, and one of the ways to earn points is to share your story on our blog! An extra 25 points! Maybe your story is about your personal accomplishments, hurdles that you overcame, ways that you met your goals, stories about one of your hero's, or ways you helped to inspire someone else. If you are willing, please share your story in the comment section below. We would love to hear! For more information about the challenge please go to: imleagues.com, sign up today, and share your story here...as last week's blog referenced, let your words echo throughout our community.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Challenge yourself today and Grow! Sign up for the WellU Wellness Wheel Challenge for all employees

WellU Wellness Wheel Challenge Update

Challenge yourself today; even though the challenge has started it is not too late to sign up! Form a team of 2-10 and sign up through IMLeagues.

On November 27th friends and families will come together to share laughter, conversation, and a delicious meal. Thanksgiving is a time to relax with those you care about, and to forget about day-to-day stressors. On this delightful holiday the WellU Wellness Wheel Challenge will have been going on for ten days. What better time to challenge yourself to become aware of how physically and nutritiously balanced your lifestyle is? WellU is not asking you to hold back from enjoying this holiday with your friends and family; but instead, challenging you to get a group together to go for a walk after your meal to enjoy the fresh air instead of falling into a turkey coma.

There are already numerous teams signed up and eager to begin their eight-week challenge to expanding their personal Wellness Wheel. As mentioned in a previous posting, the Wellness Wheel can be found at css.edu/wellu, and this is a tool to help you reflect on how balanced your life is considering seven different aspects. Our Wellness Wheel considers seven different qualities that we want everyone to feel comfortable with in order to live a happier and less stressful life. Our Wellness Wheel challenges individuals to reflect on how confident they feel with their spirituality, finances, eco-friendliness, physical ability, social wellness, emotional stability, and intellectual mindset.

How can you improve on each section of your personal Wellness Wheel throughout the challenge?

During the WellU Wellness Wheel Challenge participants will record healthy choices in order to earn points (once teams are signed up they receive a detailed list). As individuals and teams are striving to earn points, they will also be expanding their Wellness Wheel. Although ways to earn points seem to specifically concentrate on the physical section, there are many ways to earn points that will improve more than one section.

Emotional: Being in control of emotional stability will help you feel confident in your day-to-day activities. WellU believes if a person is confident with this aspect of the Wellness Wheel, they will be able to approach the rest of the sections with confidence.

Spiritual: Spirituality means different things to different people, yet we are each seeking for meaning in life’s big questions. Benedictine spirituality is concerned with seeking the answers to these questions in the midst of our lives. Feeling confident with the aspect will help you feel comfortable in your own skin.

Financial: Everybody has different standards for their personal finances. What’s important with this aspect of the Wellness Wheel is that YOU are comfortable with your financial stability.

Environmental: It is important to take care of the beautiful earth that we inhibit. This aspect of the Wellness Wheel can expand in an infinite amount of ways. What do you do to practice eco-friendliness?

Social: Everyday people interact with other individuals, but how comfortable are they with their social skills? Feeling comfortable to hold a conversation with others is vital to living a happier lifestyle.

Physical: Being physically active has many advantages. Expanding this section of the Wellness Wheel will not only help you relieve stress, but make you feel confident with your body.

Intellectual: Our brains are capable of achieving the impossible. If individuals did not use their brain to challenge themselves, we would not have many of the technologies we now rely on.

If you are already signed up for the WellU Wellness Wheel challenge and want your team to receive 25 bonus points share your WellU story or goal setting form on this post in the comments section (be sure to include your team name!). A WellU story is how you overcame or are working to overcome a wellness challenge, and the goal setting form can be found on IMLeagues where you registered for the challenge.

Completing the WellU Wellness Wheel Challenge will help you expand your Wellness Wheel, and feel more confident in your own skin.  Challenge yourself today; even though the challenge has started it is not too late to sign up! Form a team of 2-10 and sign up through IMLeagues. Visit css.edu/wellu for more information or email wellu@css.edu with any questions.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Expanding Your Wellness Wheel Sign Up Today!

WellU Wellness Wheel Challenge

Do you find yourself stuck in the same workout routine, week after week? Do you want to start the habit of becoming more physically active? Do you want a way to physically and mentally challenge yourself? If you answered yes to any of the questions above, WellU has the perfect opportunity for you. November 17th is the kick-off of the WellU Wellness Wheel Challenge!

Last year we had over 120 participants that challenged themselves to live a WellU lifestyle with the help from two different challenges! Our wellness challenges are the perfect opportunity for you to challenge yourself to be active with the support from a team.

The objective of the challenge is to be the team with the most points. The winner of the WellU Wellness Wheel Challenge will be announced at the Wellness Challenge Banquet on Tuesday, January 20th at 12:00pm. You can earn points by walking, canoeing, mediation/prayer, chewing sugar free gum, and much more! 

How to Register Through IMLeagues

  • Type in “College of St. Scholastica” into the school search engine.
  • Login or create an account.
  • Once you are logged in, the WellU Wellness Wheel Challenge can be found under “fitness.”
  • Find the WellU Wellness Wheel Challenge on the calendar, or search for it under the “classes” tab.
  • Once you have clicked on “WellU Wellness Wheel Challenge,” click the green "sign up" button.
Let the games begin!

What is the Wellness Wheel?

The name of this faculty and staff wellness challenge was inspired by one of our newest interactive tools, the Wellness Wheel. This wheel is displayed on our website, css.edu/wellu. The purpose of this wellness wheel is to demonstrate the aspects of WellU, and what programs our CSS community has to offer that can help enrich different sections of the wellness wheel. On the WellU website there is an interactive wellness wheel. This wheel will bring you directly to the registration of various activities, or bring you to a page with more information if registration isn’t necessary.

Why did we choose the Wellness Wheel to be the inspiration of this challenge?

While brainstorming various themes for this year’s faculty and staff wellness challenge, the first that came to mind was our Wellness Wheel. We believe that the Wellness Wheel is the perfect tool to help those who are looking to enrich their lives in multiple aspects. The challenge to keep in mind throughout this challenge is: how much will your team’s Wellness wheel expand? We envision your personal Wellness Wheel growing as you feel more comfortable with a certain aspect/section of the wheel. WellU wants participants to concentrate on enriching their lives in more than one way. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end”. WellU believes that you will live a less stressful life, the fuller your Wellness Wheel circle is. Once you create the habit of living a WellU lifestyle, it will feel like second nature and will be “repeated without end”. The WellU Wellness Wheel challenge is the perfect opportunity to incorporate our Wellness Wheel into your daily lives.

If you have any questions regarding the WellU Wellness Wheel Challenge, please email wellu@css.edu

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Spreading Wellness: Let your words echo...who will you inspire with your story?

Photo By Jodi Tervo Roberts
Early in life I experienced great loss...the loss of inspirational friends and loved ones, to cancer and car accidents. Friends that would have grown up to be great leaders and good people, that would have helped to spread smiles. I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom, sobbing, wondering the infamous question, "Why?" These moments significantly shaped me into who I am today. For me, the support of positive friends, family and my faith helped me through these times of struggle, seeking quotes and verses about hope and love...always remembering, always compassionate, forever in love. Not easy, but gaining resources and support daily to work through the millions of questions that ran through my adolescent head. Realizing at this young time of life, that we never know how long it is, so it was my duty to live as best as I could to my fullest potential...to try and share positivity and love with the world, just as my former friends would have done. This has been something I try hard to keep at my core, sometimes it dims, and sometimes it shines brighter. Life is about the little moments...that is one matra I began adopting in early adulthood. I continue to pray for that strength and courage to remember the internal mission to pass along love and support to others.

Last week we had news of change here at the College of St. Scholastica, and I had the privilege of meeting one of our community members that we will be losing due to the recent cuts. Not knowing what to say, I extended a hug. This is a great person, with great supportive friends. These are tough times, and I encourage everyone to be thinking positive thoughts for our community. Mourn our losses, process together, and be strengthened by the words from Mother Teresa, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” 

Sometimes we do not know what to say, but kindness can be felt. We encourage you to share your story about adversity, support, love, encouragement, and/or hope below in our comments section. The next few blog entries will be about building a supportive environment and community, by sharing your wellness stories. These shared stories can be part of your Wellness Challenge (challenge info blog post will be Thursday), but more importantly, we hope that people will feel an openness to share, in support of our community. We never know how our stories can help someone else in time of need. We never truly know who we inspire by sharing our story. We encourage you to let your words of support and encouragement be echoed throughout our community...

For those that are looking for support, CSS does have resources...our EAP program is here for you (https://www.powerflexweb.com/1076/affinity_login.html). 

Also, here are a couple of informational links to help you build your own resilience. 

Thinking about everyone as we transition through this change...and encouraging you to share your story, and allowing your words to echo...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Building Resilience at Work

 While we can’t necessarily control our responsibilities, pay, or the people we interact with at work, we can control how we respond to these stressors by cultivating resilience. 
There are various practices we can integrate into our everyday routines that will allow us to better address our own needs, desires, and intentions in (and outside of) the workplace, and they all come down to one common theme: mindfulness.

What’s the Deal?

Real Happiness at Work, explores how mindfulness practices such as meditation can help us reimagine our approach to our jobs—and, in the process, help us find happiness and a greater sense of balance in the workplace.
According to Salzberg, who wrote the book, resilience serves as an alternative to “the illusion of control”—the false belief that we should have more control over coworkers, bosses, clients, and work outcomes than we actually do. In reality, we don’t have control over anything but ourselves. The thought may seem scary, but it actually offers a ton of freedom.
 The first step toward developing resilience is challenging the idea that we can control everything. 
In fact, the first step toward developing resilience is challenging the idea that we can control everything. Rather than beat ourselves up for the disappointments and negative outcomes we inevitably experience at work (or elsewhere), we can learn to practice acceptance of ourselves and of our situations, whether good or bad. In so doing, we give ourselves the gift of mental space—and in this space, we can learn to realize that difficult experiences and setbacks are actually opportunities for learning and growth.
So how do we get to a place where we choose acceptance, mindfulness, and growth over anxiety and self-deprecation? Follow the action plan below.

Your Action Plan

Mindfulness can be practiced at any time, even while walking, drinking tea, or writing an email. Follow these simple action steps to let go of the illusion of control and instead cultivate resilience on the job.
1. Establish a regular meditation practice.
Meditation provides us with a sense of perspective by allowing us intimacy with our experience. When we practice mindfulness, we train our minds to become aware of our emotions and thoughts as they arise, so we can better understand our intentions,” says Salzberg. Meditation allows us to see better into the nature of things, without all the baggage of judgment, insecurity, and whatever other self-destructive stories our chattering minds perpetuate.
Committing to a regular meditation practice—even just 10 minutes a day—can go a long way toward helping you feel calm in the face of work stressors. There are a wide variety of practices to choose from, so experiment to find what works best for you.
2. Loosen the grip—literally. 
Emotional stress can manifest as physical tension. To help ease both, practice relaxing your body with this simple exercise:
  • While sitting at your desk, settle your attention on your hands, (particularly if they are holding something—a cup of coffee, a pen, a computer-mouse) and/or on your shoulders.
  • If you find your grip extremely tight (or your shoulders tense), realize that this will merely exacerbate any tension you feel.
  • Choose to loosen your grip and/or release the tension in your shoulders as much as you can (Breathing helps!).
  • Take a moment to observe the different sensations you feel when you bring your attention to your body. Remember, this is something you can do even as you plod through your to-do list!
3. Think before you speak.
Stress can often lead to irritability and feelings of guilt and blame. This exercise can help put the brakes on self-punishing language as you develop a softer and more forgiving inner dialogue.
  • Write down an accusatory statement, in the second person, about something that happened at work (e.g.: “You’re incompetent for forgetting a deadline.”).
  • Rephrase it in the first person using nonjudgmental, constructive, “I” statements (“I spent two hours looking for a misplaced file and missed my deadline as a result. How can I set up a system to avoid this happening again?”). Notice if you feel different using “I” versus “you” statements.
  • Try to let go of using generalizing words like “never” and “always.” Practice using specific language that leaves room for improvement (e.g. “I was disappointed when you arrived late to our meeting. How can we ensure this doesn’t happen again?” versus “You always disappoint me.”). This kind of constructive language helps keep things in perspective and prevents unbridled deprecation, both of yourself and others.
4. Set intentions.
When we have a lot on our plate, we tend to feel overwhelmed and like the world is spinning out of control. That’s where the practice of setting intentions comes into play. This exercise will help you become more aware of the intentions that drive what you say and do. When we realize that all of our actions emerge from some kind of intention and that we have the power to change that intention, we invite ourselves to feel more present, focused, and calm. Stay present with your intentions by using these practices throughout the day:  
  • Set an intention each day before leaving for work. Perhaps you wish to be more open-minded and at ease during meetings and conference calls, or you want to breathe more deeply before beginning a new task. Remind yourself of this intention every time you find yourself getting off track.
  • Before engaging in a conversation, pause for a moment to check in with yourself (silently) and determine your intention: Do you want to be seen as “right”, or do you want to be seen as open, compassionate, and supportive? Do you want to foster progress or hinder it?
  • Before you send an email, take three breaths. Then reread the email and imagine being its recipient. Consider the emotional impact of the message and ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve with the email. Rewrite it (before sending) if need be.
  • If you find yourself bored or annoyed at work, don’t judge yourself. Instead, use the setback to shift your mindset: Even the most tedious work is an opportunity to help others, cultivate awareness, or learn about yourself.  
5. Reconsider your coping mechanisms.
Each of us already contains all we need to cope within ourselves. This exercise will help you gain a sense of empowerment over your coping mechanisms, and help you realize the potency of your own resources for self-care.
  • On a piece of paper or on your computer or phone, make a list of everything that contributes to your stress at work.
  • In another column, list everything you do on a day-to-day basis to relax, lift your spirits, or have fun (listening to music, exercising, cooking dinner with friends, etc.).
  • Make a third list in which you describe the effects these activities have on your stressors.
  • Look at all three lists. Reflect on how much you need to cope, if you are coping well, and/or if you need to change the ways in which you cope. Then write yourself a “prescription” for your own self-care.
6. Practice compassion.
The ability to communicate kindly with coworkers is essential both for getting things done well at work and feeling an overall sense of wellbeing. This basic loving-kindness (or metta) meditation offers a concrete starting place to begin cultivating the art of empathy.
  • Sit with your eyes closed or your gaze lowered.
  • Silently offer up loving-kindness by directing positive energy and goodwill to all beings everywhere, including yourself. Start by sending love to yourself: “May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.”.
  • Repeat the mantras at a pace that works for you, focusing your attention on each phrase as you think it. If your attention wanders, begin again. The anchor here is not the breath but the phrase-repetition.
  • Next, call to mind someone whom you know is having a difficult time and repeat the mantra: “May they be safe…”.
  • Call to mind someone you don’t get along well with. Repeat this exercise for them. If this is too hard, send loving-kindness back to yourself.
  • Finally, try offering phrases of loving-kindness to all beings everywhere: “May all beings be safe. May all beings be happy…”.

The Takeaway

“This isn’t… hippie fluff,” declared Chade-Meng Tan, founder of Google’s mindfulness-based employee program, Search Inside Yourself. He’s right. We all now know that stress isn’t helping any of us. It’s time to do well by feeling well—at work and elsewhere. And to think resilience could start with just your thoughts and your breath. Try it now by visiting the WellU website www.css.edu/wellu and checking out the Resource page where you can find a meditation guide.
This blog post is an edited version of a Greatist blog post.  The original post can be found at

http://greatist.com/happiness/how-to-never-feel-stressed-at-work-again?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Greatist%20Daily&utm_campaign=Greatist%20Daily%202014&utm_content=BCharlotte Lieberman is a New York based writer and editor who writes about the digital economy, millennials, feminism, books, food, and wellness. To learn more about Charlotte, visit her website or get in touch with her on Facebook or Twitter

Friday, November 7, 2014

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. This is the opening line in a TedX talk by one our fellow Saints Justina Brusacoram.  The theme of the talk to to help us focus on compassion , empathy and live in a world where everyone has value.

Click on the link below to watch the video and get a little inspiration!


Photo courtesy of inspir.me