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HomeLessons & Tactics for Developing Life Skills

Our mission
To promote living well and independently through community engagement and neighborly support.
Lessons & Tactics for Developing Life Skills
Village member Jeanette Isabella delivered these short motivational spots
on WNBP and we'd like to share them with you.

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Promise-Make Promise-Keep
Promise-Make Promise-Keep

I want to teach you a game called Promise-make Promise-keep. The rules are really simple: whenever you want to incorporate a new talent, or skill, or habit into your life, just promise yourself that you will do as you say. If you don’t allow anything to stop you, you’ll always win at this game.
 

What you’ll learn about yourself as you play Promise-make Promise-keep is that you’ll do whatever you say you will. That means that you’ll give yourself the opportunity, over and over, to be successful at whatever you set your sights on.

Even those of you who are really good at keeping promises to others have a hard time keeping a promise to yourself. See, it’s your faith in yourself that determines whether or not you believe that keeping a promise to yourself is worth the bother.  
 
I want you to think about a small thing you want to accomplish. Make it something achievable – something you know deep down inside you that you can do. Then make a decision that it is something you will do. And then do it.  As you keep your promises to yourself about the small things, you’ll learn to keep them about the big things as well. You’ll dream your dreams and then dream higher.  And then your promises won’t be wishes. They’ll become your reality. 
                                                         © 2012 Jeanette Isabella.  All rights reserved.

   

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Be Kind to Yourself
Be Kind to Yourself

We think about love more at certain times of the year than others. At those times, eager to tell loved ones that we care, we look for ways to demonstrate that caring. We give them flowers, chocolates, or even jewelry. This is all well and good but I’m wondering how much of that love and caring and gifting you’re giving to yourself. It’s important to remember that no matter who else in the world loves you, what really matters is whether or not – and how much – you love yourself.  
 

Today, I want you to think about the love in your life – starting with you. Do you value yourself? Do you hold yourself in high esteem? Do you believe in yourself?  
 
We sometimes want others to value us, believe in us, and hold us in high esteem – even when we’re unwilling to feel that way about ourselves. So here’s what I want you to remember – if people are going to love you, you have to be a willing participant in being loved. Start that process with giving yourself the love you seek from others. Give yourself what you hope to get from others. You deserve to be very good to yourself and today is a perfect day to begin. 
                                                          © 2012 Jeanette Isabella.  All rights reserved.

 

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Be Grateful
Be Grateful

There’s so much for us to be grateful for. If you give it some thought, you can probably make a long list of things that you’re really happy to have in your life.  Of course, there are also things that are difficult to deal with but I think that paying attention to what we’re grateful for helps us to cope better with the things that are tough to deal with. We all know people who, no matter what comes their way, are happy and grateful for what they have. We also know people who, having many of life’s blessings in front of them, find a way to complain and diminish the good that’s before them.
 

I’m not saying that things are always perfect. All I want to do today is remind you that it’s up to each of us to decide where our focus is going to be. If you want to have a more positive focus, make it a daily practice to remind yourself of the things that are going well in your life. You could even write down the things you’re grateful for and read your list over once or twice a day – maybe when you awaken and again before you go to sleep. Health, family, friends, a blue sky, a beautiful sunset – the list is different for each of us and it can be a very long one if we take the time to think about and focus on the good that’s all around. You deserve happiness. Being grateful for your blessings is a path to that happiness.
                                                                       © 2012 Jeanette Isabella.  All rights reserved.


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Do More with Less
Do More with Less

We’ve been dealing with the reality of a tough economy for a while. I always believe that things will get better but, that said, it’s clear that people are changing their life-styles to adapt to a changing financial picture. But, we don’t always have to earn more money to have more money. One option is to simply spend less.  Another is to maximize the money you already have. By making it go further you can, in a sense, increase your income. One thing we can all do is go back to the basics that many of us were taught by our parents and grandparents. Having endured world wars and a long depression they knew how to reuse, revamp, and revitalize.
 

One of the things you can do to improve your flow of money is pay attention. Pay down or transfer balances on credit cards that carry a high interest rate. Check your checking account and credit card statements for errors. Also, check receipts at the restaurants and stores where you do business. Get books, DVDs, and CDs from the library. Check your local paper for lectures, exhibits, and receptions that are offered at no cost. Do more entertaining at home. People love the idea of pot luck suppers or even brunches and love bringing their favorite dish to one. Electricity is used even when computers, printers, and TVs are off. If you use power strips to shut them off, you won’t waste money on something you’re not using. These may seem like small steps that won’t make a difference. They are small steps and they will make a difference. Life is made up of all of the small steps that we’ve taken to bring us to where we are. If you want where you are to be different going forward, take that first small step into your future. When you look back, you’ll be glad you did.
                                                         © 2012 Jeanette Isabella.  All rights reserved.


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Manage Stress
Manage Stress

While we all experience stress in our personal and professional lives, we don’t have to allow stress to run our lives. We sometimes get so caught up in the conversation of how stressed we are that we forget that we can be calm and peaceful as we go through days filled with busy schedules. It would help overall health and well-being to remember that stress is a part of our lives and, at the same time, work toward not letting it adversely affect our lives. This is important because, in the long run, stress that isn’t dealt with effectively can have a negative impact on our quality of life and on our health. 
 

One of the ways to deal with stress is to focus on what matters in your life and let go of the things that aren’t really that important to you. Another way is to take care of the things that are causing you stress. If, for instance, there’s a project hanging over you that you’re just not getting to and the fact that it isn’t done is causing you stress, it’s time to get it done. You might make a list of such projects and get them done one by one so that, over time, you don’t have the pressure of a long to-do list. Also, it helps to write things down rather than trying to keep everything in your head. You might want to make a list each day of the things you want to accomplish. Make it a manageable list so you won’t feel overwhelmed and you will feel that it's a list you can work through by the end of the day – or at least a good part of it. You’ll feel in control by doing this and will find yourself managing your life in a more empowered and less stressful way.
                                                                   © 2012 Jeanette Isabella.  All rights reserved.

 

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The Pinwheel's Lesson
The Pinwheel's Lesson

I don’t know why, but the other day I was thinking about the toys I most enjoyed as a child and how each, in its own way, reflect parts of who I’ve become as an adult. My favorites were the pinwheel, the kaleidoscope, the Joe Palooka Punching Bag, and the Jack-in-the-box. I remember loving the Pinwheel the moment I noticed that, with just a bit of air beneath it, it would go from a stationary object with no motion to one that would begin to turn – first slowly – and then, with even more air in and around it, it would spin faster and faster.  We’re like that. When we do nothing, nothing happens. But, when we increase the movement around us, we can make big things happen.  
  

Sometimes the motion that causes action for us comes from an external source.  We hear something inspirational or read it. Or we see another person who has begun turning things around in their lives and think that maybe we can affect change in ours as well. Other times, the action comes from within. It could be that a long-held frustration reaches a tipping point and we decide that enough is enough – so we change. Or, it could be that finances become such that we have to do something different with our money – so we change. Sometimes we just get tired of telling ourselves that “Someday” we’ll take care of certain things and we decide to take action now – so we change. To help you figure out where you are in your own process, consider these questions: Where does your motivation to act come from? What is your precipitating factor? Are you ready?  
                                                                      © 2012 Jeanette Isabella.  All rights reserved.


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The Kaleidoscope's Lesson
The Kaleidoscope's Lesson

I’ve been thinking lately of how certain of my childhood toys have been metaphors for the adult I’ve become. The Kaleidoscope was one of those toys.  With one eye squinting into this magical toy, I could alter the world inside it with the slightest turn of my wrist. I was intrigued at the changes in colors and in the new patterns that the barest movement of my hand brought about. It wasn’t long before I discovered that, by holding my kaleidoscope up to the light, everything looked different. The kaleidoscope showed me that, just by looking at the same thing from a different perspective, I could change my point of view. What a valuable tool in our ever-changing world where we continually find ourselves shedding tried and true ways of looking at things that are no longer applicable to our modern way of living.  
  

I’m not sure that all of the changes are for the best or that the old ways weren’t somehow better. What I am sure of, though, is that without keeping up with those changes we’ll find ourselves strangers in our own land. Change can be difficult.  It’s scary. Sticking with the status quo seems easier and a lot less problematic but, in the long run, avoiding change doesn’t serve our highest good. Shifting our way of seeing things takes a lot of courage and a bit of faith that, having changed, we’ll be okay. If you look back at some of the changes you’ve made in your life, you might agree that, having gone through the change – even when it was arduous, you enhanced your world. 
  

Perhaps you have changes that are waiting now to be made. What things could you change in your life? Is there an argument that can be resolved by seeing the issue from the other person’s point of view? Is there a learning curve you’ve been afraid to surmount? Is there an interest or social path you could embark on that would embellish your life?  You know the answers to these questions. You are the only one who can take the necessary steps. Will you?
                                                                       © 2012 Jeanette Isabella.  All rights reserved.

 

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The Joe Palooka Punching Bag's Lesson
The Joe Palooka Punching Bag's Lesson

I’ve wondered lately what our favorite childhood toys say about the adults we’ve become. One toy that I really liked was the Joe Palooka Punching Bag. Now, my loving to play with “Joe” had nothing to do with punching him. Rather, it had to do with my fascination with how quickly – and with great determination –  he always bounced back after being knocked down. Life is like that. Things come along that have the emotional, physical, or even spiritual ability to knock us off our feet. What we know, hopefully, is that we can’t stay there. We have to get back up. Sometimes we get back up because others are depending on us to do so. Other times we get back up because we know that we’ll lose even more if we stay down. I like to think that I get back up because of an innate strength that simply tells me to. It tells me that staying knocked down isn’t fun and that being on my own two feet, with the strong underpinnings I’ve developed, is the position from which I function best. Joe Palooka was like that.
  

Joe could bounce right because he had a strong, balanced underpinning that wouldn’t let him stay knocked over. Like Joe, we can build our own strong foundation that won’t let us stay down. One of the ways we build that foundation is to recognize our fears and move forward in spite of them. Another way is to build our self-confidence so that we feel worthy of getting back up. A third way is to see adversity as a gift that will help us build our strength on the way back up because so often, in facing adversity head-on, we create the foundation that puts us back on our feet.
                                                                 © 2012 Jeanette Isabella.  All rights reserved.

 

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The Jack-In-The-Box's Lesson
The Jack-In-The-Box's Lesson

In thinking about favorite childhood toys and how they’ve shaped the adult I’ve become, my memory turned to the Jack-In-The-Box. I recalled how much I loved Jack. Sometimes I’d turn the handle very quickly. Other times I’d barely make it go ‘round. Always, I tried to anticipate when Jack, with his winsome smile and outstretched arms, would pop up from inside the box. I played a game with myself, always trying to see if I could, somehow, avoid being surprised, just this once. But, even when he popped up slowly, Jack, like life, always won. I was never quite able to keep from being surprised by him.
  

As an adult, I see that life is like Jack. We try to anticipate what will happen next. We worry about it. We wring our hands. We make an attempt to prepare for it. And then, when we’re not looking, we get surprised by what has “popped up.” What we learn is that we can never really plan for all that life has to offer us – both good and bad. The best we can do is to be resilient enough to deal with the not-so-good and be open enough to accept the gifts that life sends our way.  It’s also a good idea not to stay in “surprise mode” for too long. All too often, valuable time goes by while we’re waiting to adjust to something new. On the other hand, we shouldn’t act too quickly because haste could take us on the wrong path. Balance and flexibility seem to be part of the process. All of this takes practice and with practice, we gain the wisdom to know how to handle the Jacks-In-The-Box that come our way.

   

What’s worked for me is to know, without question, that life is full of surprises. That’s what Jack taught me all those years ago. Life’s surprises give me the opportunity to try something new – they let life take me in a direction I might not have planned on but have learned I can make work. I suppose that most of all, I’ve learned to embrace the change. Fighting change is an exercise in futility.  It just doesn’t do any good. It wastes time. Inviting change in and looking for the benefit in the newness, seems to me, to be an easier way to approach life.
                                                                     © 2012 Jeanette Isabella.  All rights reserved.

 

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Affirmations
Affirmations

In my book, “Someday Is Here!,” I have a section on affirmations.  Affirmations are one of the most powerful tools you can use to deal with self-doubt and indecision. The magic of affirmation is simple:  when you repeatedly tell yourself that you already are who you want to be, you will begin to believe in yourself enough to make your statement a reality.
  

Repeating positive statements about the way you want your life to be in the future sets the stage for making those things happen. We all use affirmations every day and most of us have no trouble making them when we speak negatively about ourselves. We have no trouble saying things like, 

 

I never get anything done.
I'm late for every appointment.

I’ll never lose weight, stop smoking, get a better job, have a good relationship, and on, and on, and on.  

 

We do, however, seem to have a problem with making positive statements about ourselves. I’m going to share some of the affirmations that are in my book with you. Please read them slowly so that you’ll be able to really get their meaning. Don’t worry if they don’t feel true at this moment. Remember, this is a process that sets the stage for the future.

 

I feel good about myself.

My life is full and abundant.

I have plenty to share and to spare.

I deserve goodness.

I am fully focused.

Accomplishment is easy for me.

I have unlimited energy.

I am healthy, happy, and successful.

I achieve my goals.

Time expands to fill all my needs.

I know what to do and I do it.
                                                                        © 2012 Jeanette Isabella.  All rights reserved.

 



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