Earth Day

The 22nd of April is Earth Day, an annual event first celebrated in 1970 and now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.

Earth Day 2017’s campaign focuses on Environmental and Climate Literacy.

According to Eartday.org, “we need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet. We need to empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defense of environmental protection.”

On our farm here in the south of France, we defend our natural environment by practicing sustainable tourism. We host Connect with Horses Mindfulness and Meditation Workshops and Walking and Wine Tasting Weeks and Weekends. Both these holidays include walking a section of The Way, the Camino de Santiago de Compostella, an 800-year old pilgrims route – an exceptional part of our environment certainly worth protecting.
You can find our more about how we protect our environment with sustainable tourism HERE.

Our entry for this week’s photo challenge, “earth,” is a picture of molehills, upturned earth, scattered around our horses’ paddocks.

As a single footstep will not make a path on the Earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
Henry David Thoreau

Stress Addiction

I have been thinking a lot about stress lately. Mostly because I have recently been introduced to a new concept: stress addiction.

Those of you who know me, know that I have always considered stress as the number one enemy of my patients’ mental and physical health. After all, 75% of all GP consultations, in one way or another, has something to do with stress.

I have always accepted that a certain amount of stress is essential if we want to realise our potential. It is only when the amount of stress exceeds our ability to use it to our advantage that stress becomes our enemy rather than our ally.

Stress addiction, however, is a concept I have not come across before. It appears that there are now people who are getting high on stress. People who wear their high stress levels like badges of honor, drawing their peers’ attention proudly to how little sleep they are getting, how their downtime is spent racing to meet deadlines and how they are too busy to take time off.

When we find ourselves in stressful situations, hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released and circulate our bodies. However, when cortisol and adrenaline remain present in our system for prolonged periods of time rather than reducing once the perceived threat has passed, this hormonal “high” can get us hooked — and looking for more. We find ourselves craving additional boosts of adrenaline on top of the adrenaline already chronically present in our bloodstream.

This lifestyle seems now to have reached epidemic proportions. In an attempt to escape boredom and make themselves feel more important, people are getting addicted to stress. The problem is that chronic stress causes a variety of long-term physical and mental problems, that much has not changed. The only difference is that where we in the past were the unwilling victims of stress, we are now actively chasing it.

Sigh.

Obviously, I shall have to adjust my stress management workshops with horses to address this new trend. I have no idea what our horses are going to think about this – hoses use the release of the stress hormones to help them escape dangerous situations – it is essential to their survival and in that sense more of a friend than an enemy. I have been teaching workshop participants these last 5 years how to manage stress so that they can use it to perform better than ever before.

This approach will certainly not help anybody who is addicted to stress, quite on the contrary!

So I have decided that it is time for a major and in-depth update of my knowledge of stress. I had barely formulated this decision when the perfect solution landed in my lap: attending The Global Stress Summit. According to the host, Dr Heidi Hanna, “during this summit, 35 thought leaders will teach you about the “new” science of stress.” I have to admit, she has gathered together a most impressive group of people who will share their knowledge with us from the 24th of April to the 1st of May.

The summit is free. All you have to do is to watch the day’s 5 videos – each day’s videos are available for 24 hours. I have attended many virtual summits in the past – there recently was an excellent mindfulness summit. My problem is that it is just too much information to take in at once, so for the first time ever, I am actually going to pay to have access to all the videos online so that I can listen to each in my own time and digest the information in bite-sized portions. They offer a 30-day money back guarantee, no questions asked, so if it is not up to standard, I can ask for a refund. I find that rather reassuring.

So everyone attending our stress management workshops with horses this summer is going to benefit from my up-to-date knowledge. If you can not make it to a workshop this year, you may want to virtually attend this summit. I suspect you will find it worth your while. Three videos are available to watch already, to give you an idea of the quality and diversity of what is to come.

More Information about The Global Stress Summit

The Global Stress Summit will help you:

  • Recognize stress-related signs, symptoms and conditions
  • Understand historical and present-day stress/resilience research
  • Learn how stress can be harmful or helpful
  • Practice important stress-management skills during each talk
  • Gain simple, practical tools to build a more resilient brain and body

Stress Addiction

Money can buy Happiness

Do you hate Mondays?

Or maybe my question should have been, “Who doesn’t hate Mondays?”  Apparently there are a small number of people who actually do NOT hate Mondays.

Really?

We work to earn money to pay for and buy the things that we need. Money pays our rent, our mortgage, our insurance, our loans. With money, we can buy clothes, groceries, cars, services etc.

To earn money we have to work even though many of us dislike or hate our jobs. Some of us feel entirely indifferent towards our jobs. We get through Monday to Friday on automatic pilot and only really come alive during the weekend.

We have all been told and most of us firmly believe that money can not buy happiness.

It turns out that this is not true. Money CAN buy happiness:

If we were wrong about money and happiness, maybe we are also wrong about having to work despite hating our jobs?

Some people jump out of bed every Monday morning. I do. I love my job. I didn’ t always feel this way about work. I use to have a very stressful job and it took several cups of strong black coffee to get me out of bed, not only on Mondays, but on most days.

Somewhere along the line, I decided that life was too short, that I did not want to live my life this way anymore. Now, when I am working, I lose track of time. An hour feels like 5 minutes to me. What I do looks easy and effortless because it makes best use of my talents, training and experience. I love equine-assisted experiential learning specifically and personal development in general so much, that I could talk about it the whole day long. My work is a source of intense joy and it gives meaning to my life. I believe in what I do. I feel like I’m making a difference and I do it with all my heart, mind and soul.

Getting here has not been easy, I had to make several painful sacrifices. I was worth it though, a thousand times over.

How about you? Do you also feel that life is too short to spend 5 out of 7 days feeling miserable because your too stressful job does not inspire you?

Secure Your Future ebookIf so, I can help. Come and spend a few days with us here in the south of France. Or read my book, Secure Your Future.

I would like to hear from you. If you could do any sort of job at all, if you were free to choose a job that you loved, what would you choose? Please get in touch at margrethamontagu@gmail.com  or post a comment below. I am seriously interested in your choice!

If you know other women who might benefit from reading this blog post and watching these TED-talks, please share this post with them. If you would like to get a summary each month of the best posts on my blog, please subscribe to my Mpower Me e-magazine and mailing list (see top right corner of this page.)

Solution to my Social Media Sharing Problems

We have quite a lot to do every day. Looking after the farm, the horses, the dog and cats takes a fair amount of time, even when we are not running workshops and I am not in the process of writing a book. I barely have time to write one decent blog post a week, never mind share it on social media.

It takes a lot of precious time to create a useful blog post. I want people to find it, to read it and to use the information I provide. I also need to spread the word about our workshops, but it takes time to let my Twitter followers, my LinkedIn followers, my Pinterest followers etc. know that I have written a new blog post. I usually do it once and then forget about it, especially now that I am busy wth my new LinkedIn group, Mpowering Women.

I have been looking for a way to do this automatically for some time. I have looked at other options, but I could not find anything that suited me while still being reasonably priced. I now have 12+ 000 Twitter followers. When I recently tried a new sharing app called Viraltag, my engagement on Twitter went up dramatically.  You can use Viraltag to share on

  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn and
  • Tumblr

What suits me especially about Viraltag is that they specialise in sharing pictures. You can share pictures you find online, not just your blog posts or your own pictures. Content with a picture receives 94% more views on average than content shared without a picture. On Facebook, a post with a photo gets 53% more likes than a text only post. On Twitter, a tweet with an image gets 150% more retweets than a tweet with only text. I love creating memes, so using pictures suits me really well. You can also upload and edit images from sources like Picasa, Flicker  Dropbox, Google Drive and Facebook. What I also like, is that Viraltag helps you curate content to share. You can add RSS feeds from your favourite blogs or websites with content your followers will find useful. This is a great advantage. The most recent photos from these websites/blogs will automatically appear on your dashboard.

You can also search images shared by other Viraltag users using categories or keywords. This makes my life so much easier and helps me share quality content with my followers, which is, after all, the goal of the exercise.

You can then either add these to a queue to be shared at previously chosen times or schedule specific posts to be shared at times when you know your targeted followers engage online.

You can track your results too. Not my favourite activity, but an essential evil to help you find out what your followers actually find useful.

For me personally, the best part of Viraltag is the ease of use. Everything is intuitive and I figured everything out without having to read any of the instructions. That saved a lot of time.

If you want to give it a go,  sign up for a free 14-day trial first. If it works for you, Viraltag offers a variety of plans depending on your needs. The blogger plan is $12 a month for one blogger to connect up to 3 social accounts. The Professional Plan is $29 a month for one blogger to connect up to 10 social accounts. The Business Plan offers team workflows for up to 3 team members and is $99 a month.

If you click on the link below and eventually buy a plan, I will get a small commission, but you can also just directly go to their website and take it from there.

Visit the Viraltag website

If Wishes were Horses…

…then beggars would ride. This ancient English proverb, dating from the 16th century, suggests that if wishing could make things happen, then even the most destitute people would have everything they wanted. I get this. I know wishing is a waste of time, but still…I wish with all my heart and with every fibre of my being that my stallion Beau was still alive.

I miss him so much.

He is still the one and only.

He died on the 11 of April 2014, at the grand old age of 22, from colic. Beau was the inspiration, no, the foundation, the raison d’etre, of my book:

Below I am riding him with his two sets of reins in one hand, my right hand, as my left wrist is broken, fully confident that he will take care of me no matter what happens.

“Wishes are held to be ominous; according to which belief the order of the world is so arranged that if you have an impious objection to a squint, your offspring is more likely to be born with one; also, that if you happen to desire a squint, you would not get it. This desponding view of probability the hopeful entirely reject, taking their wishes as good and sufficient security for all kinds of fulfilment.”
― George Eliot

Post in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Wish

Guided Personal and Professional Growth – Reformed MD, assisted by six talented Horses, hosts Stress Management Mindfulness Meditation Workshops in the south of France

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