Serving Without Sacrifice?

So here is what I'm thinking. . . . Many times when opportunities to serve/volunteer are presented I find myself not stepping up to the plate because of very legitimate reasons. I'm a busy person doing a lot of good things with a very finite amount of time, right?!

I’m not at all implying that I (or anyone else) should feel guilty. I don't. I haven't. But today I started thinking about the people who jumped into the ocean in Florida this weekend to save the two little boys caught in a riptide, to their own peril, and the many others who saw what was happening and formed a human chain to get them out. Every one of those people sacrificed what they were doing and quite a few of them risked their own lives in doing so.

I have no problem jumping in to rescue someone. That's pretty much in my DNA. It's how I'm wired. It's why I was a cop. But what about less heroic needs? What about the call for volunteers at church? What about the email that just went out for a meal train? Am I too busy to be bothered? How many others volunteer to serve only when it is convenient for them? And how much better would the world be if we all were willing to put a little more skin in the game?

Do I truly value those things I think I value if I only serve at my convenience? Have I made assumptions that it is easier for the people I see volunteering? I think for some probably yes. For others, I don’t think so.

I just can't help but believe that our world is a little less than it could be if we all actually sacrificed some of the time and money we spend on ourselves, towards our own interests. There are certainly many opportunities to help people that are easy for me. I can shove a few dollars here and there quite easily. I can easily help others out of my overflow. But is that serving? Maybe that’s just generosity. It helps, but does it qualify as serving? 

Much of the time when we give and it looks like sacrifice, there is a pretty good payback involved. Some human behaviorists purport that we only choose to do things that give us a payback of some kind—even if it’s just intrinsic (i.e., we feel better about ourselves or like how we might be perceived by others). Can I sacrifice my time, my attention, and do something just because it needs to be done?

I believe love demands sacrifice. I'm really looking at the level of sacrifice I’m willing to give in every area of my life. Not to the point of self-harm or dereliction of responsibilities or even messed up priorities. Admittedly, there are times in life when the things you are doing need to be the things you are doing—and nothing more. But when I have the ability, am I willing to cut a chunk out of my pre-set plans, my schedule, my life to help meet a legitimate need? Do I have more ability to help than I think I do? Have I really, maybe, just not been willing to sacrifice? Am I willing to sacrifice for something/someone I care about—at a true cost to me? And if what I’m giving today is easy, am I willing to lean into it a little more, sacrifice a little more, to contribute, to make the world a better place?

This is what I’m pondering today.

Leslie

#abetterworldbeginswithme 

 

More than anything I want a pure heart

More than anything I want a pure heart. It is my constant prayer and a compass in my life. I do not want favor, opportunity and prosperity beyond what my heart can hold and stay pure. Yet with a pure heart, I hold my arms wide open for all the abundance God brings, trusting His Holy Spirit to partner with me in keeping my heart pure. I watch Him bring challenges into my life--both crazy good and crazy hard--that test my heart. And sometimes I'm wobbly at first, sometimes wobbly for a while, but then His faithfulness comes to shore me up, and it all becomes good. Above all, I want a pure heart.

A Good Word from Tony Escobar

[Tony Escobar is an Isagenix Millionaire. These words he penned today are powerful and applicable way beyond network marketing. They apply to anyone with a dream. If this speaks to you, let's connect!---Leslie]

Your business can be compared to a stool with four legs. Your why, your purpose, timing and your commitment. Timing, in my opinion, being the most crucial and decisive. Time is currency and if it not invested wisely and in a timely manner the stool, just like your business will collapse. The time is now. You have the time and it’s your time. You have a job to do and you have choices to make concerning your future opportunities and expectations and now is the time to make them.

Are you ready and prepared to make them? Are you ready and prepared for your success? Do you have the audacity to reprogram, redefine and reinvent yourself? Do you have the courage to redirect your life through the choices you make?

Many distributors have read and studied many books and spent thousands of dollars on coaches, mentors and attending seminars in an attempt to find out how to get their businesses going.

They’ve researched extensively and pondered thousands of pages of information on the Internet, in brochures and websites. They’ve listened to many CDs’ and watched many DVDs’.

I know of many distributors who have spent thousands of dollars as well as thousands of hours traveling all over the country paying for seminars in exotic places in search of that magical, competitive advantage.

After attending a seminar, wait two weeks and then ask yourself, “Has my business received value? “Has my business been rewarded?” “Have I done better and achieved more productivity in my business? Have I become a better and more productive person?” “Am I now able to get out there and talk to a stranger about my opportunity?” “Do I remember 5% of what I was taught?”

Distributors have been taught literally hundreds of topics such as, getting started, how to do and build a business, finding yourself and your why, closing sales, handling rejection, overcoming the fear of talking to people, speaking from the stage, using social media, answering objections, recruiting and how to follow through, etc.

This is all great but this is not enough and it will never be enough! Whatever knowledge you accrue over time you still have to put all this knowledge into practice and make it all work for you. You now have to fearlessly engage, invest precious time and exert the effort. You have to fearlessly go into massive action expecting massive results!

It’s easy to travel the country listening to self-proclaimed experts and attain knowledge but it’s the implementation of all this knowledge into your life and business that is ever so challenging. Knowledge is not power, never will be. It wasn’t yesterday, it isn’t today and it won’t be tomorrow. Knowledge only becomes powerful when you use it and benefit from it.

Now is the time for you to make the commitment and to be committed to your commitment. Now is the time to “Get Prepared and to Get Ready” for your success. Now is the time for you to go to work or go back to work. Now is the time for you to seize the moment and follow these TEN profound suggestions,

1. Commit to learning about your products, your company, your profession and about the professionals you share your business with.
2. Get out there and use all this knowledge to recruit and attract people to you.
3. Love what you do and do what you love. Serve those you love and love those you serve.
4. Work hard and learn from rejection, mistakes and disappointment.
5. Dig deep and unchain all those talents that have been manacled up inside you for years.
6. Follow through with people and have high expectations.
7. Focus on your health and the health of your family. A healthy body performs.
8. Never get distracted and most of all never quit on your why, your dream or your purpose.
9. Being in the limelight or expecting stage-time should never be your motive. Network marketing is more about cooperation, not competition. It’s more about humility, not pride! Remember, those who hunger or even starve for the limelight and/or stage-time always come home hungry.
10. Eliminate the words can’t and quit from your vocabulary – THEY DON’T EXIST!

God or your higher power didn’t put you on this earth to quit. He put you here to grow, progress to excel and to bless and enrich the lives of others. He put you here to serve and it is through your service that you experience abundance, joy and happiness. This is the true measure of success!

Don’t allow yourself to occupy all your time getting prepared. Many new distributors get obsessed and consumed by getting ready and prepared. They prepare to prepare, to prepare, to prepare, to prepare and before you know it the day is gone. If you want to learn how to do this business and succeed at it, just do it and you will soon learn how!

If you are like many new distributors of years gone by, you may have fell victim to the old stigma that was associated with the network marketing profession. You may have actually lived through some personal horror stories yourself.

Let all the memories of the past and past experiences go and move forward by learning from yesterday, embracing today where the stigma has practically disappeared and look forward to the abundance of tomorrow.

Network marketing is not a mom and pop business like it used to be anymore. It has attracted top-notch professionals who have indeed accelerated its growth. People don’t want to be sold anymore. They want to be inspired; they want to be amazed and they want to be convinced. Do this and people will most certainly be attracted to you and your business.

The industry today is thriving. It has evolved into one of the fastest growing, bona fide professions in the North America.

If you spend all your time living in fear and doubt, you will miss all the wonderful things that make this industry arguably, the best and most lucrative in the world for people like you. It’s also the happiest place to be in the whole world. Fear and doubt cannot occupy the same space in your mind with faith and courage.

If your why is strong enough and your purpose has great meaning and significance, your passion for your business will accelerate and the “sky will no longer be your limit.”

Being prepared and ready for success will reclaim your power and your faith will reaffirm that you are in control of your choices as well as the direction your life will take.
Your business is all about timing, as well as deprogramming and reprogramming your thinking. It’s all about redirecting your thoughts and choices.

The time is now and it is your time. You have a job to do and choices to make. Now is the time to make them. Are you ready and prepared for your success? Find the courage to make the right choices right now!

You are unique in every way, unique as a fingerprint. Throughout all history there has never been another person born quite like you and there never will be. You are beautiful and special in every way you have a unique and very special why, purpose and of course many special talents. Most you haven’t discovered yet.

You are also choice in every way. The marvel and the miracle of your existence is your reality and veracity and they are yours alone. You control your choices and inevitably, your destiny!

When you were born there was no promise to you that life would be simple. He gave you the gift of opportunity and choice. What you accomplish in your life and what you become is by your choice alone.

Please remember this! When you were born you were blessed with a special purpose that was exclusively assigned to you. It is something so extraordinary and unique that you are the only person alive that can recognize it, feel it, expand it and share it with others.

No business is immune and no profession is secure, especially in this dispensation of time. Even life itself is not secure. It’s time for you to rely upon your own intellectual assets, your why, your many talents and abilities to get things done. It’s time to rely upon your courage, your resourcefulness and your resilience.
If you are determined to pursue your why, your purpose and your goals, you will most certainly progress and evolve. You cannot choose the day or the time that you will find what you are looking for but I can assure you that what you are looking for will find you when you least expect it.

I admonish you to embrace this message and share it forward with everyone you know.

Love you all

Tony

Message #279

ISMs: What Values Are Found in Your Company Culture? By Josh Linkner

An "ism" is a suffix that refers to a strong principle or belief. It is a set of values so powerful, it drives behavior and serves as a beacon for those who subscribe. The best companies and leaders have ISM's of their own driving their success.

In the midst of economic catastrophe, a new breed of hyper-growth companies emerged. Despite a global recession and financial meltdown, companies like Facebook, Zappos, and Google enjoyed meteoric growth and profits. The common threads of their success are powerful ISM's - shared cultural philosophies of business that enable breakaway results.

Quicken Loans is the #1 online mortgage lender, growing from a startup to a 4,000-employee market leader over the last 25 years. They are consistently ranked in Fortune's Best 100 Places to Work and they even won the JD Power award for the highest ranked customer service in an industry that is notoriously unfriendly. Ask Quicken Loans Chairman and Founder Dan Gilbert about the key to their success, he'll quickly tell you it's all about the 18 Quicken Loans ISMs. They include:

  • "Responding with a sense of urgency is the ante to play"
  • "Obsessed with finding a better way"
  • "Always raising our level of awareness"
  • "You have to take the roast out of the oven"

The leaders and team members at Quicken Loans live by these values, driving them deeply into the DNA of their company. As a result, the company is a shining example of endless innovation, soaring profits, and market dominance. They realize that their beliefs and values—their ISMs—drive unified performance.

Zappos, the online shoe and apparel retailer, used a powerful and well-articulated culture to drive incredible entrepreneurial success. The 10 Zappos cultural values include:

  • "Do more with less"
  • "Create fun and a little weirdness"
  • "Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded"

Netflix is another great example of using culture to drive results. Check out this amazing slideshow about their culture of "freedom and responsibility." It should be required reading for entrepreneurs and business leaders hoping to drive their organizations forward.

Today we live in a world of dizzying speed, exponential complexity, and ruthless competition. Building and nurturing creative cultures is no longer a luxury; getting the culture right is mission-critical to success. Creating a framework that enables creativity, responsible risk taking, and autonomy can be the difference between a champion and an also-ran.

This week, examine your own corporate culture. Explore your beliefs and values and see if you're in need of a tune-up. Not just the salute-the-flag platitudes that are displayed in your lobby yet mean nothing. I'm talking about the values that you live, breathe, and sleep. Empower your people with a clearly-defined framework for operating, and you'll unleash the true potential of your organization.

Posted on Josh's blog at www.fastcompany.com/1732525/isms-what-values-are-found-your-company-culture

Parenting Thoughts

I was so impressed with Lisa Max's post on her Let the Children Fly Facebook page that I wanted to post it here on my blog. It's thought provoking and beautiful. Leslie

"What if instead of giving our children a time out for bad behavior we trained them to take time out to find that place of peace and rest? Instead of feeling like they were punished for outward behavior we trained them to recognize when things didn't feel right/good on the inside. This life skill would follow them into their own parenting, their marriages, the board room, school, etc. The Kingdom is righteousness, PEACE and joy and kids need to be taught how to walk in peace, even when things don't go their way."--Lisa Max

10 Natural Steps to Beat Chronic Stress

By Dr. Mark Hyman

February 27, 2015

 "If you really knew what was happening to you when you are stressed, you would freak out. It's not pretty," I said during the 2013 Third Metric women's conference.

I wasn't exaggerating. Chronic stress has become epidemic in our society, where faster seems better and we pack more obligations into our ever-expanding schedules.

Research has confirmed the havoc stress can wreak, with one meta-analysis involving 300 studies finding that chronic stress could damage immunity. Another study found stressed-out women had significantly higher waist circumference compared to non-stressed women.

Experts have connected stress with blood sugar and belly fat. Chronic stress raises insulin, driving relentless metabolic dysfunction that becomes weight gain, insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes.

Insulin isn't the only hormone that becomes out of balance with stress. Your adrenal glands release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that flood your system, raising your heart rate, increasing your blood pressure, making your blood more likely to clot, damaging your brain's memory center, increasing belly fat storage, and generally doing damage to your body.

Want to reduce stress? Start with your diet.

The right diet can do wonders to reduce stress's impact. When you eat whole, real foods, you restore balance to insulin, cortisol, and other hormones.

Eliminating mind-robbing molecules like caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugars and eating regularly can help you avoid the short-term stress of starvation on your body. You maintain an even-keeled mindset throughout the day, even when things get hectic.

You'll replace those foods with clean protein, healthy fats, leafy and cruciferous vegetables, berries and non-gluten grains. Food is information that controls your gene expression, hormones and metabolism. When you eat the right foods, you balance blood sugar, restore hormonal balance and reduce stress's damaging impact.

Reconsidering Stress

Stress is a thought, a perception of a threat, even if it isn't real. That's it. No more, no less. If that's true, then we have complete control over stress, because it's not something that happens to us but something that happens in us.

Here's where it become interesting. Stressors can be real or perceived. You might imagine your spouse is angry with you. Whether or not they are, you raise stress levels. Real or imagined, when you perceive something as stressful, it creates the same response in the body.

Fortunately, a wide variety of techniques and tools can help effectively manage stress. Among them, these 10 are most beneficial:

1. Address the underlying biological causes of stress.

Find the biological causes of problems with the mind including mercury toxicity, magnesium and vitamin B12 deficiencies, and gluten allergies. Changing your body can change your mind.

2. Begin actively relaxing.

Humans remain primed to always do something. Even when we're not working, our mind is on work. To engage the powerful forces of the mind on the body, you must do something relaxing. You can't just sit there watching television or drinking beer. Whether that means deep breathing or a simple leisurely walk, find active relaxation that works for you and do it.

3. Learn new skills.

Try learning new skills such as yoga, biofeedback, and progressive muscle relaxation or take a hot bath, make love, get a massage, watch a sunset, or walk in the woods or on the beach.

4. Make movement your drug.

Exercise is a powerful, well-studied way to burn off stress chemicals and heal the mind. Studies show exercise works better than or equal to pharmaceutical drugs for treating depression. Try interval training if you're short on time but want a powerful, intense workout.

5. Supplement.

Take a multivitamin and nutrients to help balance the stress response, such as vitamin C; the B-complex vitamins, including B6 and B5 or pantothenic acid; zinc; and most important, magnesium, the relaxation mineral.

6. Reframe your point of view.

Challenge your beliefs, attitudes, and responses to common situations and reframe your point of view to reduce stress

7. Find a community.

Consciously build your network of friends, family and community. They're your most powerful allies in achieving long-term health.

8. Take care of your vagus nerve by using deep breaths.

Most of us hold our breath often or breathe swallow, anxious breaths. Deep, slow, full breaths have a profound affect on resetting the stress response, because the relaxation nerve (or vagus nerve) goes through your diaphragm and is activated with every deep breath. Take five deep breaths now. See how differently you feel?

9. Meditate.

No matter how much or little time you have to commit, find a practice that works for you.

10. Sleep.

Lack of sleep increases stress hormones. Get your eight hours no matter what. Take a nap if you missed sleep. Prioritize it, and if you feel like you're not getting high-quality shut-eye, find strategies to improve it.

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17660/10-natural-tips-to-beat-chronic-stress.html

 

My WHY

They say you need a WHY in whatever you are pursuing. Something that will keep you going even when you don’t feel like it. I’ve been searching for my WHY---not all those readily apparent reasons, or the expected ones, but the one that is deeply personal, that burns deep down inside. The big one that is tied to who you are. The one that fuels all the others

My journey to the core of myself

I have fully entered the second half of my life. I will live it with more maturity and wisdom but with less strength and vitality than the first half. Emotionally and spiritually, I am stronger. Physically and mentally, admittedly I am not.

My Why? What originally woke me up to “doing something” was the fact that we were not going to have enough money for retirement. We had put our heads in the sand for a long time, and it was catching up with us.

As double income earners with grown kids, we were out of debt and stable. But we did not have enough set aside for retirement. To make it worse, in an effort to start bettering our financial situation, we took a few courses, got with the “experts” and made what appeared to be some safe investment choices. Now on the other side of a Ponzi Scheme and the economic downturn of 2008, we know that they obviously were not “safe.”

Retirement loomed closer and now we had debt. Our bottom line was not as pretty as it had been.

Then I had an encounter with God a couple of years ago in a way I never had before. He told me He was “gifting” me at “creating wealth.” It was a profound, life-changing moment. I knew by the conversation that He meant He was gifting me at helping His people create wealth. This was His heart for them. It was easy for me to see that a world full of wealthy people who had His heart could change the world for good. Money is influence.  Money gets things done. Money brings choices and opportunity.

Money is also scary. Doesn’t money corrupt? Money brings power. Power corrupts. I wasn’t sure I really wanted this job. Actually I didn’t want this job at all. I liked being a pastor. This didn’t seem as noble. Business? Really? But I couldn’t really say no to God, could I? Not after a lifetime of saying “Whatever You want me to do” prayers. And certainly not after such a personal encounter that ended with, “And I want you to partner with Me in this.”

And what is pastoring anyway? I always thought it was loving people really well. That had always been important to me and showed itself in my career pursuits—first as a Marriage & Family Therapist, then as a Police Officer. Now as an Associate Pastor in a church, running a team of volunteer “pastors” whose entire ministry is set up to respond to people in crisis.

Yes, coincidentally, He has spent the last few years totally transforming that ministry. No longer do we bandage up the wounded. Now we’re all about empowering people in crisis to connect with God through thanksgiving, letting Him bandage their wounds directly.

Could it be that pasturing people is really about empowering them to live life to the fullest, no matter where they find themselves? Could it be that instead of a handout, we give them the tools and opportunity to crawl out themselves to gain strength and skills and confidence in the process—creating a personal story of empowerment rather than dependence? Instead of a handout, we open a door (hope) and then equip them to pursue it?

My WHY . . . I could be pursuing what I am because God told me to. Ultimately, yes, my WHY is all about that, but just being obedient to a calling is not what stirs passion in this for me. In fact, it stirred resistance. He told me He was anointing me to do it and then left me there with no road map. He instantly went about working on things in my head and heart! How I felt about money.  How I felt about wealth. Fears I had. Judgments I had. Lies I believed.

But where were the tracks to run on?

Ultimately, He led me to “The WHY that makes me cry” as they say.

In that process of shifting my thinking, He showed me that my life didn’t match who I was. I was unable to live a life that was true to what was in my heart because of limitations of money.

If I could live without money being a factor, I would travel and see friends and family I cannot currently afford to go see. There are limitations of money and accrued vacation time. My parents are getting older (in their 80’s now) and so are my grandchildren—one will graduate and leave home in just a couple of years. Both family members and close friends are having many life experiences that I cannot share because of distance, requiring more of that limited time off and money.

If I had no limitations, would I go to all of the things my heart has longed to go and do? I don’t know, because the limitations made it pointless to think about. There was no choice. Where there was room for choices, they had to be sorted through, and limited only to the most crucial.

I’ve seen money and health limit the choices of others. I’m watching my friends unable to do what they long to do because of money. I’m watching too many friends living compromised lives—barely above broke and unhealthy. Lots have given up. They live resigned. Some have even died—way before they should have.

So my “Why that makes me cry?” I know I need money for retirement, but that doesn’t make me burn with the passion needed to do something differently. That just lands in the “should” drawer that never seems coupled with much motivation.

My WHY

I want to live this second half of my life to the fullest. I want to be healthy—inside and out. I want to be beautiful—inside and out. I want to live a life full of love and creativity. I want to have no limitations.

I want to be able to do everything God puts in my heart to do, without being limited by money or health.

And I want to help others do the same.

That is the short and simple of it.

That is my WHY.

He has shown me it was in there all along. He just had to help me find it.

The Number 1 Reason People Do Not Succeed

THE NUMBER #1 REASON people do not succeed.

January 17, 2015 by Dr. Lance Wallnau

Strange as it seems, most people do pretty good at knowing what they want. They may even have a good plan to get it. The problem occurs in the moment they need to take that one critical step that puts them over the top. What happens? Consistently, the focus and energy SHIFTS from moving TOWARD the vision and instead the energy refocuses on AVOIDING what they FEAR.

Not surprisingly the thing feared most is failure! Soooo some sort of procrastination or other self sabotaging antic shows up to make sure failure or embarrassment never occurs. Ironically, this pattern guarantees that SUCCESS in the manifestation of the vision never occurs either.

This cycle breaks the moment you discover that 90% of humanity will put more effort into avoiding what they fear than they will in perusing what they really want.

Singles stay single trying to avoid rejection. Employees stay under compensated avoiding the rejection of a raise or negative feedback on their performance. And even Pastors drive away the very people who can build their church out of fear of competition and comparison.

The remedy? SEE THE PATTERN and push past the fear. Everything you want is on the other side of a courageous choice!

https://www.facebook.com/LanceWallnau/posts/10153039026724936:0

The Bad Boy of Business Wants You to Be Good

Lovably outrageous Richard Branson, head of the Virgin conglomerate, talks about his leadership style—and his larger mission. 

In which universe would you predict that the same man who brought the Sex Pistols to the masses would go on to start and lead more than 300 companies in 34 countries worth a combined total of $21 billion in revenue? And even if you could envision that, how would you expect this same person to decide that—at the core of all these companies—there should be an element of world-saving and social good? You might know Sir Richard Branson for this stunt or that world record, but there’s much more that he wants to accomplish, and he wants you to do the same with your company, too.

Branson has a lot to say on leadership. He’s published several books on it, but in his latest work, Screw Business as Usual, this showman’s showman has pushed harder than ever to highlight that he feels a core responsibility of leaders is to consider a global view, no matter how local or otherwise their businesses may be. This view, seven years in the making, as he says, is worth considering.

He has an easy smile, mischievous eyes, and a rogue’s long hair and goatee. Oh, and he owns and lives on his own island. If you look up success, in my dictionary, anyway, there’s a big full-color (probably foldout) picture of Branson. It’s only right that he is pushing for you to align your leadership principles with his, at least in this regard: The world needs saving and your company needs a leader who thinks beyond the stock price or the success of your store’s front counter.

Branson’s Virgin Unite foundation states that its mission is to “connect people and entrepreneurial ideas to make change happen. To help revolutionise the way government, business and the social sector work together—business as a force for good.” The first spark of this concept came from a simple way to remind everyone in his companies that this was everyone’s business, and not just the work of nonprofits and charities.

“When someone mentioned that the circumference of the earth is 24,902 miles, Capitalism 24902 was born!” This is his term for how he wants other C-level folks to think about business going forward. “[It’s] very simple really, it does what it says on the tin—that every single business person has the responsibility for taking care of the people and planet that make up our global village, all 24,902 circumferential miles of it,” Branson explains.

Core Principle, Not a Side Order

The first point you should realize when it comes to his leadership style is that Branson is fond of moving a strong brand and value DNA across all his pursuits, instead of keeping those concepts in a silo. This goes for all aspects of the business. The Virgin brand stands for many things, including a value for the money you spend, quality and fun. Branson has somehow mastered the ability to translate that sense of quirky not-quite-typical excellence across many verticals, from video games to mobile phones to airlines to health clubs. And now, more than ever, he is trumpeting his belief that business should also be a force for good and should help solve the world’s major issues.

Yes, there’s a standalone foundation, Virgin Unite. But this is more of a way of educating and informing non-Virgin organizations on how they can participate as well. In Branson’s leadership playbook there’s room for interpretation of his branding and vision, but there’s also the need to nurture this world-changing mindset in all of his business units.

We’ll talk more about his social business goals in a moment, but first, how does someone lead an organization that stretches a unified brand essence across diverse companies such as a bank, bookstores, music stores and festivals, mobile telephones, the first commercial space travel company, and, oh yeah, that big airline?

If you run your own business, you know that keeping the ball rolling on even two projects inside the same company can be a challenge. What does it take to be the kind of leader who inspires and develops armies of talent, and still cares about the details down to the salt and pepper shakers on his planes?

From a very young age, I had to learn the art of delegation, because I’m inquisitive and I love to do new things, but obviously, if you’re doing new things, you can’t do everything yourself,” Branson said when we sat down to talk leadership and business. For every one of the businesses in the Virgin family of companies, he is quick to point out that a strong leadership team with its own autonomous capabilities is vital. Yes, he provides a lot of little touches on how the experience works from back to front, but Branson works with the strength of his teams. As an example of those “little touches,” I must point out that he hates wearing ties.

“I often have a pair of scissors in my top pocket to go cutting people’s ties off. It is time to say goodbye to the tie,” he wrote in one blog post. “Why was the tie ever invented? Everyone in business looks the same and dresses the same. I’m sure they only exist because bosses, after being forced to wear ties all their life, are determined to inflict the same fate on the next generation.”

But as we mentioned, Branson believes that he has to trust his team. Virgin Money had to push back on his insistence on not wearing ties and formal clothing, pointing out that in the banking world, this is almost a requirement, and that most of the people in Virgin Money feel more comfortable so attired. Branson acquiesced, and so there’s one of his 300 businesses where the scissors don’t come out to cut ties.

How Do You Become a Better Leader?

When you run 300 companies, you are a leader of leaders. Branson and his senior team are in the business of creating people who can build and manage teams that will execute on his ideas, but that will also innovate and improve on everything he’s conceived. I asked him for advice on being a better leader.

“One of the best bits of advice I can give other leaders is to try and put yourself out of business. Try and find people to take over 99 percent of what you do, which will then free you up to think about the bigger picture.”

Branson believes strongly that your role as leader is to empower the people you’ve put in charge of the business. With that 99 percent of your time that people take off your hands, you’re left with a little extra time. What do you do with that?

“Most likely, you’ll come up with ways of helping the person you put in charge in a better way than you would have done had you tried doing it yourself.”

Potential Clash of Leadership and Personality

The word personality, if you slow down to look at it, means one’s personal nature, one’s way of being. Corporations aren’t exactly well-known for allowing one’s personality to stay intact. I asked Branson about how one leads in a way that encourages personality and, dare I say it, individuality.

“I do think a lot of things stem from the top, which is why new bad leaders introduced into a company can destroy a whole ethos very quickly. It’s so important to find leaders who genuinely care about people to run the companies.”

Branson’s sense of adventure and fun also permeates all he does and creates. There are his famous hot-air balloon successes and mishaps, and his love of breaking records. (He apparently tried to be the best at nighttime miniature golf at the Black Light Mini Golf course in Australia. He didn’t get the gold, but he did come in at 4 under par.)

Publicity seems to seep out of Branson in all he does. He has a quick eye for making happenstance into a larger story. There was the time he launched a blimp making fun of the British Airways-sponsored London Eye Ferris wheel when it seemed impossible to erect. (The balloon read: “BA Can’t Get It Up!”) He holds the world record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle, too.

Given all his skill, at work and at play, “You [still] do need a fair share of luck in your life, as well as hard work,” he told me. On the same day Virgin Money began a sponsorship deal with the football (we call it soccer) team Newcastle United, Newcastle beat Manchester United, thus splashing Virgin Money-branded jerseys all over the sports pages and TV shows. Yes, luck is a great friend to have alongside your leadership efforts, but with a chance at getting that kind of free publicity, Branson was courting, not just waiting for, Lady Luck in that situation—and probably in plenty of others as well.

The Leader in 360 Degrees

I asked Branson how he kept fitness a priority in his life while overseeing 300-plus companies. Kite surfing, he happily pointed out, is a reasonably inexpensive sport. “You don’t have to own your kite. You can learn how in a few hours. And then, you’re on your way.” Now, not many of us can take that advice. It’s easier when you live on a little island where there’s daily tennis, kite surfing with Larry Page from Google, and more. But his second answer was useful to those of us who don’t live on our own islands.

“I like to have challenges to work toward,” Branson says, pointing to his marathon, his triathlon and other “build-up-to-an-event” experiences.

Family is also tremendously important to this husband and father of two. Branson formally tied the knot with his longtime companion, Joan, in 1989, after Holly, then 8, suggested they marry (they also have a son, Sam). The ceremony was held on Branson’s 74-acre Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.

Weaknesses and Strengths

Branson pointed to his dyslexia more than once throughout the interview as a challenge that lent itself to teaching him new strengths. In one instance, he said that having great managers to run the details of a business stemmed from this. Where others might look at their personal differences as a disability, it was clear that Branson simply saw that his entrepreneurial bent was much better served when detail-oriented people could handle the literal i-dotting and t-crossing.

Even if he was OK at the details, Branson’s genius clearly lies in thinking, not just living, large. On his Google+ page, Branson took a photo of the moon from Necker Island and labeled it “future site of a Virgin Hotel.”

“I love to dream big. I love to try to make those dreams become reality. And sometimes, I throw curveballs into the air, like, ‘let’s start a spaceship company,’ and maybe not being completely serious initially, and then it starts catching on, and you have to try and make it reality.

“If you’re out there flying a kite, some of those kites will stay in the air, and some will crash down, but it will always be fun in the process.”

As we talked, Branson’s pattern for how he grows his businesses emerged. It seems to be a three-step process: 1) Dream. 2) Discuss. 3) Find the right people. His ideas start as dreams or “why hasn’t anyone… ?” moments, which then lead him into discussions and getting the opinions of others, sometimes experts and sometimes just confidants. The next question, always, is people. Richard Branson knows that he cannot be successful without team after team of quality people, the best he can find.

Though maybe this shouldn’t have surprised me, it did. I think of Branson as an idea person, but he’s through and through the kind of leader who considers the team it will take to make a dream work properly.

One point to be made about Branson’s management style: He isn’t interested in hearing what he can’t do. He wants to understand only what he can do. That “yes-minded” planning method can decide how well your team will help you implement a dream.

Stop Saving, Start Reinventing

Branson’s latest book, Screw Business As Usual, outlines the broader brush strokes of putting together a business that seeks both profit and a greater good. He has always had a mind for doing what’s right while profiting, but in this book, he does a great job of laying out some challenges that face the world today, plus explaining some of the paths companies and individuals might take to address them.

This, in my mind, is the best of his work as a leader: He is following a well-traveled tradition of earning his place at the table, and then sharing his feast with others. If you want to consider your own alignment with Branson’s forward-thinking vision of social business, here’s just one of the many concepts put forth in his new book:

“We all need to start looking beyond the emergencies, to stop constantly trying to save the world and instead look at reinventing how we live in the world.”

The sentiment is simple. Instead of aid, help people rebuild. In this chapter lies one of my favorite stories about the kinds of people Branson attracts:

One day I was visiting Ulusaba [Branson’s private game reserve in South Africa] when I heard someone calling my name. “Mr Richard,” she said. It was a woman from the village, dressed in a KwaZulu gown of bright reds and yellows. “I’ve heard you are a very generous man. Can you lend me money to buy a sewing machine?”

I’ve been asked for money hundreds of times over the last 30 years, but rarely with such directness. You’ve heard of the elevator pitch? This was the elephant-pool pitch. She told me she was a talented seamstress but that she needed cash to buy a sewing machine to get her business going.

“So how much do you need?”

“Three hundred dollars would be enough,” she explained. “And, what is more, I’ll repay it within three months and employ six people full-time.” The woman’s determination and ambition were fantastic. So was her focus: She knew exactly what she wanted and why. She got her $300.

It’s in this spirit that Branson feels we must invest our efforts. At first blush you might see this as a story about philanthropy in developing nations. This story—squint at it—exists inside many companies today. Are we paying for aid or investing in reinvention?

It’s difficult enough to think about mastering the leadership skills it requires to launch and run more than 300 businesses in 34 countries. Maybe it’s easier to investigate the concept of adding social responsibility and world problem-solving to the DNA of your own organization. Branson would certainly welcome the help. There’s a lot of world to save, and somehow, he is only one man, no matter how it appears.

- See more at: http://www.success.com/article/the-bad-boy-of-business-wants-you-to-be-good#sthash.wsI3KOvh.dpuf

 

A Little History About Me and Money (Part 2)

PART 2

(written March 2014, edited November 2014)

In early to mid-August, I was feeling the demands of growth in both my home skincare business and my job at the church. I felt I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, but were quite loaded with responsibility and all the options for growing both seemed right at my doorstep. In a moment with the Lord, I asked Him, “What are we doing?” (Meaning: What’s the plan?) He clearly answered me, “You don’t need to know.” With sort of a shrug of the shoulders, I thought, “Okay, I don’t guess I really need to know.” I knew I could easily just continue to live each day as it came, with an ear always cocked toward heaven for direction. I felt peace with His response.

Then on August 21, 2012, I was reading 1 Corinthians 12-14 in my Change Your Life Daily Bible  (NLT 1996 translation). As I read verse 12 of chapter 14, “Since you are so eager to have spiritual gifts, ask God for those that will be of real help to the whole church,” my spirit unexpectedly stepped out in front of me and asked God, "What’s mine.  Before I could blink, He quickly answered, "Creating wealth." I heard the words clearly. Still startled at what had just happened, I just as quickly retorted back, "But I'm a pastor!" (“Is that even a spiritual gift?” I thought.) He immediately responded, "My people need money."  I so knew this was true, I almost chuckled back with a “duh.” In fact, I’m pretty sure He heard that deep down in my spirit. It was funny to me that He would tell me something I was so aware of. As my heart was nodding in agreement, He continued, “And I need ways to channel money to them.” He paused and then He said, "I need you to partner with Me in this."  And with that, I was fully wrecked. I couldn’t ever remember God so directly and tenderly calling me out. Through my tears and brokenness, I agreed. I had no idea where we were headed, but I knew there was no answer but, “Yes, Lord.”

More to come . . .

Happy Marriage Secret #7

Let go of having to have an opinion about everything. Pick your battles. Save your opinion for when it is really important to you. It can significantly up the "delight factor" in your marriage (and even sometimes add a lot of fun to the relationship) to just support your spouse's opinion or choice--not even voicing your own--just supporting theirs! If you value their thinking, then you can trust that their opinion might be just as valid as yours--even if you disagree. And the reward to your relationship will often be worth a lot more than what you gave up.

Muffin Top Madness by Dr. Michael Colgan

Muffin Top Madness
Dr Michael Colgan 22 January 2014

Even with a stringent diet and exercise program, the Chihuahua on the belly and muffin atop the hips often refuse to leave the building. In many folk who hit this plateau, there is usually a lot more, visceral fat hidden deep inside, plumping them up like a goose.
You can’t see visceral fat. It hides around your liver and kidneys, intestines and reproductive system. Visceral fat really clings. It can add 3-6 inches to your waist and hips long after you do lose most of the pooch and muffin top.

The Internet, Facebook, and YouTube portray hundreds of exercise programs claiming to get rid of muffin tops. The lean and well intentioned young men and women who present the exercises (most of whom never had a muffin top) seem to have forgotten their high school human biology. Fat oxidation and use by the body is unrelated to the particular muscles being worked. Fat is taken from throughout the body, and used by a complex process through the bloodstream. No matter how hard you do these exercises, you will not budge the muffin.

Here’s the bottom line. You are exercising particular muscles. You are not exercising the fat that surrounds them. You are hardly affecting that fat at all. A solid hour of muffin top exercises in the gym uses less than half an ounce of fat.(1) And that is fat from the whole body fat store. You can’t spot reduce fat. No matter how much the muscles ache, only an insignificant amount of the energy comes from the fat surrounding them.

These abominable abdominal exercises, including leg lifts, sit-ups, knee kicks and bum wiggles, usually done lying on the floor. They have zero effect on muffin tops. Standing exercises are just as bad. Often targeted to small muscles like the obliques, standing muffin top “melters” such as side bends with dumbbells, and twists with a pole on your shoulders, may cause you to quickly feel a burn in those muscles. But they burn insignificant fat from that area, less than a tenth of an ounce per hour of work.

These exercises actually make muffin tops worse. Over a period of months the exercises do develop and tone the targeted muscles. Most of the overlying fat remains, while the muscles grow bigger from the work. This is especially so with the obliques, those two muscular bulges at the sides that work to twist the body. The net effect is to increase the size of the waist and make the muffin top look bigger.

Working with top modelling agencies who want their models to have hips the size of their bust, and a waist 10 -12 inches smaller than either, we know that neither particular exercises nor starvation diets work worth a damn. Exercises increase muffin tops, and starvation strips off your facial fat before touching visceral fat, or the last of the muffin. Starvation creates that gaunt, pale, vampire face, and bumpy hips that likely started the Goth craze.
Starving and muffin exercises are useless for models, who depend on their looks for a living. We had to develop some special strategies to remove the muffin and the visceral fat while saving the face. Together with decent proteins, such as Isagenix Isalean every day, and the full complement of micronutrients provided by the Ageless Essentials, these strategies have boosted many a modelling career.

Muffin Top Strategy No 1: Thermogenesis
Thermogenesis means creation of heat. When you are not exercising, the body creates heat through activating a mechanism called brown-adipose-tissue (BAT). Activating BAT permits production of heat directly from bodyfat without going through the energy cycle or being burned in muscular activity.(2) That is, you can lose bodyfat without moving a muscle, even while you sleep. Animals that hibernate, such as the grizzly bear, activate BAT to burn up to one quarter of their total bodyweight during winter, without any exercise at all.

Usual diet and exercise programs do not activate BAT. Just the opposite. If you go on sudden food restriction, yet force yourself to exercise, your body automatically turns on defence mechanisms to conserve its fat. It turns heat production down and use of BAT, and drastically reduces energy. That’s why strict dieters generally feel cold and exhausted, and tend to give up exercise after a while.

Scientists used to think that thermogenesis would not work for people, because, unlike bears, humans cannot hibernate. A hibernating bear can lose 300 lbs of fat while it sleeps, as its body converts fat directly to BAT, which then creates the heat required to keep it from freezing over the winter. Recent technology, however, has allowed us to measure human BAT. Though not as efficient as bears, the body of a 40-year-old man or woman can make sufficient BAT to provide 15% of their total energy, and get all of it from bodyfat, without any exercise.(3)

There are four strategies to activate thermogenesis to burn fat. You need follow all of them carefully to succeed. Make these strategies a daily habit along with IsaLean shakes and Ageless Essentials, and your muffin will slowly disappear without any exercise. Of course, if you want to show a six-pack when the fat goes, you have to do the right ab exercises to develop the muscle heads.

Step 1 Melatonin
The first and most important strategy is to use melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that turns on in the brain for your sleep cycle. It’s no accident that bears turns on copious melatonin to activate BAT during the sleep of hibernation. In both bears and humans, melatonin is essential to convert white body fat to BAT and thence to heat.(4)
After about age 20, melatonin declines in the human body. By age 40, it has declined by half. You can get some melatonin from almonds, sunflower seeds, coriander, cardamom, and mustard greens. Unless you eat a lot of them, however, it is insufficient to activate much BAT.(5)
The alternative is supplementary melatonin. But most melatonin pills do not work. They are about 90% deactivated by digestive acids in the gut and their first pass through the liver. A liquid melatonin spray such as the Isagenix Sleep Spray is much better. Held in the mouth for 30 seconds each night it is quickly absorbed and passes directly through the blood/brain barrier into the brain.
For stubborn fat loss we have used up to 15 mg of liquid melatonin taken right before bed every night and held in the mouth for 30 seconds. Some folk sleep too soundly on that much and wake up groggy. So, if you use it, start with 1-3 mg. Do not miss a single day or the body will strongly turn off BAT. Then you are two days behind.

Step 2. Sleep
Inadequate sleep disrupts BAT activity. So you have to get sufficient, that is, 7-8 hours actually sleeping every night. To ensure an effective melatonin rhythm, sleep in the natural dark cycle where you live, not during daylight hours. Sleep cool, which encourages heat production. And sleep dark (not even an alarm light) which optimizes melatonin release.
Don’t use your cell phone, pad, or computer in bed. The wavelength of light used to backlight these devices effectively turns off your melatonin rhythm.(6) Alternatively, you can get an app called f-lux. F-lux changes the backlight wavelength so that it does not affect melatonin.

Step 3. e-shot for Morning Thermogenesis
To continue the thermogenesis and fat loss after you wake up in the morning, take a strong cup of arabica coffee on an empty stomach. The Isagenix e-shot, with its botanicals from green tea and yerba mate is even more effective.(7,8)
Then do some light exercise for just 5-15 minutes to raise your metabolic rate. We encourage push-ups, crunches, lunges, squats, and high kicks, in the bedroom. But even walking the dog will work. Do only what you know you can do again tomorrow, because missing a day puts you two days behind. Make this routine a habit and thermogenesis can continue for up to four hours afterwards.(7)
Remember, each day you get a new 24-hour circadian cycle of growth and development that controls all the changes that will prevail in your body. Whatever you do during each 24-hour cycle, will reflect in your growth that night. If you miss a cycle it is gone forever. Learn to live in tune with your circadian cycles, each one born pure and new, ready to be made your personal masterpiece.
The botanicals in the e-shot, especially the epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), in green tea, make it likely more effective than coffee.(7,8) The Isagenix Brain Boost, designed for use in the morning, is also a good way to get more EGCG. It contains 40 mg per dose. For muffin tops in fitness and fashion models, we use 100-300 mg EGCG every day.
In a recent controlled study, two groups of, healthy men used a moderate reduced calorie diet, plus tea for 12 weeks. One group had green tea extract added to the tea to yield high levels of EGCG. The group consuming the higher levels of EGCG lost an average of 5.4 lbs of bodyfat, approximately twice the loss of the control group. One important finding: was that much of the fat loss was visceral fat from around the organs.(8) Loss of visceral fat always reduces the muffin top.

4. Step 4. IsaOmega for All-Day Thermogenesis
To turn on thermogenesis, the body has to produce proteins called Uncoupling-Proteins. These uncouple the use of some of our oxygen from the production of ATP (our energy molecule). The oxygen can then go direct to production of heat by mixing with and burning the BAT you have activated. But, whenever its visceral fat is under threat, the body turns Uncoupling-Proteins way down.
Recent research shows that high levels of the long-chain omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, from marine sources, strongly turn up the uncoupling-proteins again.(9) With models, we use up to 4 grams of each daily. Isagenix IsaOmega is a great source. You get best results by using 6-12 of them daily. As with every nutritional supplement, you should start low and slow. Spread out use with each meal during the day to aid assimilation.
Summary Steps to Really Melt the Muffin
1. IsaLean shake and Ageless Essentials
2. Melatonin. Sleep Spray held in mouth 30 seconds every night.
2. Sleep. Cool, dark, quiet, and 7-8 hours.
3. E-shot, and Brain Boost, each morning
4 EPA plus DHA, 8 grams from IsaOmega spread throughout the day.

As with all supplementation, because I do not know you, and you are not enrolled in my clinical program, you use these fat loss strategies at your own choice and risk. We will continue this series with further strategies in the near future that I hope will help you achieve the body you desire. Given the right information, your body has ample power to make it so.

1. Melanson, EL, et al. Exercise improves fat metabolism in muscle but does not increase 24-h fat oxidation. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2009 April; 37(2): 93–101.doi: 10.1097/JES.0b013e31819c2f0b
2. Stock MJ. Thermogenesis and brown fat: relevance to human obesity. Infusionstherapie, 1989;16(6):282-284.
3. Giralt M, Villarroya F. White, brown, beige/brite: different adipose cells for different functions? Endocrinology. 2013 Sep;154(9):2992-3000. doi: 10.1210/en.2013-1403.
4. Jiménez-Aranda A, et al. Melatonin induces browning of inguinal white adipose tissue in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. J Pineal Res. 2013 Aug 12. doi: 10.1111/jpi.12089.
5. Colgan M. Sound Sleep. American Fork UT: Sound Concepts, 2012.
6. Wood B, et al. Light level and duration of exposure determine the impact of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression. Applied Ergonomics 2013 Mar;44(2):237-40. doi:10.1016/j.apergo. 2012.07.008.
7. Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Green tea catechins, caffeine and body-weight regulation. Physiol Behav. 2010 Apr 26;100(1):42-6. Doi10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.02.005.
8. Wang H, et al. DJ: Effects of catechin enriched green tea on body composition. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2010, 18:773-779.
9. Flachs P, et al. Cellular and molecular effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on adipose tissue biology and metabolism. Clin. Sci. (Lond.) 2009;116:1–16.

https://www.facebook.com/michaelcolganspage

 

A Little History About Me and Money (Part 1)

I remember when I was 9 years old, I wanted to donate all of my savings—all $16.00 of it— to a fundraiser for needy children. My parents wouldn’t let me. I know they were just trying to protect me, but I was deeply grieved. I really wanted to give it all. 

From as early as I can remember, I’ve questioned how we spend money. Not so much asking questions, but more the quiet ponderings inside one’s heart—like when you’re not quite sure the thoughts you are thinking are what others would understand or approve of. As best I could tell, it didn’t seem like anyone I knew questioned these things.

I remember our house out in the country was nicer than my friends’, and it always embarrassed me to hear their oohs and ahs when they first came over. Funny what felt extravagant back then seems fairly modest by today’s standards. (Progress they call it.)

I always wondered how we could live like we do in America when children were starving around the world. At least I was told they were starving—in Ethiopia—every time I stubbornly refused to clean my plate. (I never figured out how gagging on a spoonful of mashed potatoes was going to help a child in Africa.)

I wondered why no one else seemed to care about this. I found the topic noticeably lacking in the conversations around me. But I don’t think I ever brought it up either. Maybe we were all silently wondering about the same things? I don’t really think so.

I remember going to a craft show in a woman’s home, probably 25 years ago, and learning that she made the crafts all year long and then sold them to support several children in third world countries. I’ve never forgotten that.

About 10 years ago, Tom and I were invited to attend a local women’s service club meeting to hear Binh Rybacki speak. Binh, who I learned was my same age, came to the United States from Vietnam as a teenager near the end of the war in the 70’s. We were excited and honored to learn we had been seated at her table, and I was delighted to find I had a seat right next to her. We learned that both Binh and her husband worked full-time in Colorado, but their family managed to live on his salary so that her entire salary could be used to rescue children off of the streets of Vietnam. She told me she was harassed every time she went back to Vietnam, and arrested many times—but always released. She invited me to go back with her sometime, assuring me that an American would never be arrested. I was in awe of how she was living her life and yet terrified at the thought of being arrested there. (I’d seen a few horrific POW movies.) We never connected again though I kept a brochure about her ministry on my kitchen bulletin board for many years. She made quite an impact on me. (See http://www.childrenofpeace.org/about.html.)

I was a police officer for eight years. My last three and a half years in that profession were spent as a School Resource Officer in a high-poverty, high-crime, multi-cultural junior high. During that time, I saw poverty up close, and I lost my fear of it. Looking poverty in the face made me see it as manageable—maybe not desirable, but manageable. I could do that if I had to, I remember thinking.

At this same time, my son lived in a very affluent neighborhood south of town. He was a contractor, building very expensive homes, and his children went to a wealthy neighborhood school. I found myself put off by the lavish lifestyles of their peers and secretly thought my grandkids would benefit from a “real life” education on the “other” side of town. One day the Lord convicted me, letting me know that He needed people taking the kingdom into all realms of society—so there was no room to judge. He opened my eyes to see how my son and his family could touch lives I would never have access to because of my judgmental attitude. That was an eye-opener!

Reading Bill Johnson’s book, When Heaven Invades Earth, prompted my husband and I to quit our jobs, sell almost everything we owned, and move to Redding, California, so that I could attend Bethel’s ministry school in 2007. I cried sorting through all my possessions. I never thought I was materialistic, but everything I owned had memories attached. It was a brutal process, though it felt good when we were done. We committed to living a simpler life (i.e., fewer possessions). That’s been a little bit of a challenge, and I think we’ve accumulated more than we thought we would since then, but we’ve learned we like living with less and are trying to stay intentional about it.

One day, as I sat in that first year of ministry school, I listened to one of our in-house missionaries visiting from Mozambique, Tracy Evans, speak about how we spend our money—and I was on the floor weeping as that little 9-year-old girl’s voice came to life again in my heart. I’d never heard anyone speak the thoughts that had been in my heart—challenging us, charging us, with responsibility for how we spend our money. My heart connected with Tracy’s words that day. I wasn’t sure what would come of it, but I knew something in me that got pushed down long ago had just come back to life. (Check out Tracy’s ministry at http://www.ireachafrica.org.)

More to come . . .

 

Oil Pulling With Coconut Oil to Transform Your Dental Health

March 30, 2013 | by Kris Gunnars

I love it when I learn new things from the comments people leave on my site.

About two weeks ago, I wrote an article about coconut oil – an awesome tropical oil with many health benefits.

A few people commented that they use coconut oil for something called “Oil Pulling” – which is kind of like using an oil as mouthwash.

Apparently, there are quite a few studies that support this process and a lot of people on blogs and discussion boards swear by it.

I have now been doing this every morning for about 10 days… and I am impressed.

What is Oil Pulling and How Does it Work?

Oil pulling has been used for thousands of years as an Indian folk remedy.

It involves putting about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth, then swishing it around your teeth for 10-20 minutes.

There are thousands of different types of bacteria in the mouth. Some of them are friendly, others are not.

Certain bacteria can cause harm, such as Streptococcus Mutans, which is the main culprit behind plaque buildup, gingivitis and cavities.

The bacteria in the mouth create a “biofilm” on the teeth – a thin layer that they use to adhere to the surface. This is what we know as “plaque.”

Having some plaque on your teeth is normal, but if it gets out of hand it can cause all sorts of problems.

The way oil pulling works is simple. When you swish the oil around your mouth, the bacteria “get stuck” in it and dissolve in the liquid oil.

Basically, you remove a large amount of the bacteria and plaque in your mouth each time you do this.

I Personally Prefer Coconut Oil

Traditionally, the Indians used other oils such as sesame oil or sunflower oil.

Oil pulling should work with pretty much any oil you choose.

I prefer coconut oil because Lauric Acid (about half of the fats in coconut oil) is proven to be antimicrobial… it can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi (1, 2).

The taste of coconut oil is also fairly pleasant compared to other oils. I found it rather disgusting at first having my mouth full of oil, but I got used to it after a few days.

Now let’s look at a few studies on oil pulling…

Oil Pulling and Streptococcus Mutans

Streptococcus Mutans is one of the main bacteria in the mouth and a key player in plaque buildup and tooth decay.

In a study published in 2008 with 20 adolescent boys, oil pulling (using sesame oil) caused a reduction in the number of Streptococcus Mutans in the plaque in as little as 2 weeks (3).

It was not as effective as a Chlorhexidine mouthwash, but much cheaper and MUCH less nasty.

Oil Pulling Can Reduce Plaque and Gingivitis

Gingivitis is caused by inflammation of the gums and happens when the immune system starts attacking the bacteria in the plaque.

Another study compared oil pulling and chlorhexidine in adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis. Both oil pulling and chlorhexidine mouthwash were effective against gingivitis (4).

Oil Pulling Can Reduce Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Bad breath, otherwise known as halitosis, is in many cases (not all) caused by the smell of chemicals and gases produced by bacteria in the mouth.

It makes sense that if you get rid of some of these bacteria, you reduce bad breath.

In a third study of 20 adolescents, oil pulling therapy significantly reduced all markers for bad breath and was just as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash (5).

Link:  http://authoritynutrition.com/oil-pulling-coconut-oil/

LIfe Advice #2

I think the second piece of life advice I would give someone would be to guard your heart—because everything else comes from this one thing. 

Guarding your heart to me means to keep directing your thoughts to places of integrity, of honesty, and purity; living open and transparent. Living transparently doesn’t mean you have inappropriate boundaries. You don’t have to be a tell-all. But as you realize there are places in your heart where you store dark secrets, open those up. You can tell they are there when you stumble across something hidden that brings you shame—that you would never want anyone to know. Find someone safe to share with. If you have no one to trust, then lay it at the feet of Jesus and ask His help in letting go---and go forward.

Guarding your heart means forgiving yourself and letting go of offenses you might have towards others. It also means doing all you can to protect your choices today. When you have a choice between being honest or not, loving or not, loyal or not, faithful or not, integrous or not . . . . make the choice to protect the tenderness of your heart and keep it pliable, open, and flowing with life.

The true condition of the heart slips out in unanticipated moments. Keeping it honorable and pure, will reveal it’s nature, and allow others to trust you. Guard your heart for it speaks loudly.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Prov 4:23 NLT).

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Prov 4:23  ESV).

“Do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all thee things I hate, declares the Lord” (Zech 8:17 ESV).

For as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov 23:7 NKJ).

 

9 Top Foods to Boost Your Brainpower

From www.mercola.com

October 31, 2013 

By Dr. Mercola

If you could protect your brain against degeneration, nourish your neurons and even boost the production of neurotransmitters just by eating more delicious whole foods… would you do it?

There’s good news for those of you who said yes… you certainly can boost your brainpower with the foods you eat. And if you’re wondering which foods are best for your brain, check out the top eight below.

Eat More of These Top 8 Foods for Brainpower

1. Curry

Curry contains turmeric, a spice that in turn contains the anti-inflammatory antioxidant curcumin. Curcumin is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, which is one reason why it holds promise as a neuroprotective agent in a wide range of neurological disorders.

Research has shown that curcumin may help inhibit the accumulation of destructive beta amyloids in the brain of Alzheimer's patients, as well as break up existing plaques.1 Curcumin has even been shown to boost memory and stimulate the production of new brain cells, a process known as neurogenesis.

A word to the wise… some curry powders may contain very little curcumin compared to straight turmeric powder, so choose the latter for the best health benefits.

2. Celery

Celery is a rich source of luteolin, a plant compounds that may calm inflammation in your brain, which is a primary cause of neurodegeneration. Luteolin has also been linked with lower rates of age-related memory loss in mice.2 In addition to celery, peppers and carrots are also good sources of luteolin.

3. Broccoli and Cauliflower

Broccoli and cauliflower are good sources of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development. Choline intake during pregnancy "super-charged" the brain activity of animals in utero, indicating that it may boost cognitive function, improve learning and memory,

It may even diminish age-related memory decline and your brain's vulnerability to toxins during childhood, as well as conferring protection later in life.3 Eggs and meat are among the best food sources of choline.

4. Walnuts

Walnuts are good sources of plant-based omega-3 fats, natural phytosterols and antioxidants, and have been shown to reverse brain aging in older rats. DHA, in particular, is a type of omega-3 fat that’s been found to boost brain function and even promote brain healing, although it’s more plentiful in animal-based omega-3 sources, like krill, as opposed to walnuts.

5. Crab

One serving of crab contains more than your entire daily requirement of phenylalanine, an amino acid that helps make the neurotransmitter dopamine, brain-stimulating adrenaline and noradrenaline and thyroid hormone, and may help fight Parkinson’s disease. Crab is also an excellent source of brain-boosting vitamin B12.

6. Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

Garbanzo beans are one of the best food sources of magnesium (aside from kelp and green leafy vegetables). Magnesium benefits brain cell receptors to speed the transmission of messages, while also relaxing blood vessels, which allows more blood flow to the brain.

7. Red Meat

Red meat like grass-fed beef is an excellent source of vitamin B12, which is vital for healthy brain function. People with high levels of markers for vitamin B12 deficiency are more likely to score lower on cognitive tests, as well as have a smaller total brain volume, which suggests a lack of the vitamin may lead to brain shrinkage.4

8. Blueberries

The antioxidants and other phytochemicals in blueberries have been linked to improvements in learning, thinking and memory, along with reductions in neurodegenerative oxidative stress. They’re also relatively low in fructose compared to other fruits, making them one of the healthier fruits available.

9. Healthy Fats

Beneficial health-promoting fats that your body—and your brain in particular—needs for optimal function include organic butter from raw milk, clarified butter called organic grass fed raw butter, olives, organic virgin olive oil and coconut oil, nuts like pecans and macadamia, free-range eggs, wild Alaskan salmon, and avocado, for example.

What NOT to Eat for Healthy Brain Function

We’ve covered some of the best foods for your brain, but equally important is what foods to avoid. In the video above, Dr. David Perlmutter—probably the leading natural medicine neurologist in the US, from my perspective—shares his insights into how to protect your brain health and even prevent Alzheimer’s disease using a key dietary strategy… namely, avoiding sugar and carbohydrates, including gluten.

Gluten sensitivity is involved in most chronic disease, including those affecting the brain, because of how gluten affects your immune system. Unfortunately, many people, physicians included, still believe that if you don’t have celiac disease, gluten is fair game and you can eat as much of it as you like. However, virtually all of us are affected to some degree.

This is because we all create something called zonulin in the intestine in response to gluten. Gluten proteins, found in wheat, barley and rye, makes your gut more permeable, which allows undigested proteins and gut contents such as bacteria to get into your bloodstream that would otherwise have been excluded. That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity.

Once gluten upregulates permeability in your gut, it then becomes “leaky” and all manner of previously excluded proteins—including casein and other dairy proteins—have direct access to your bloodstream, thereby challenging your immune system and contributing to the loss of self-tolerance, the very definition of autoimmunity.

According to Dr. Perlmutter, much of our current disease burden, including brain diseases, stems from the fact that we are contaminating our immune systems with proteins to which the human immune system has never, in the history of humankind, been previously exposed to. To learn more, I highly recommend Dr. Perlmutter’s New York Times best-selling book, Grain Brain.

A Healthy Lifestyle Equals a Healthy Brain

Your brain is not “programmed” to shrink and fail as a matter of course as you age. We now know that every activity in which you engage—be it exercise, the foods you eat, the supplements you take, your personal relationships, your emotional state, your sleep patterns—all of these factors dramatically influence your genetic expression from moment to moment. And this, in turn, influences your overall health and risk of disease.

Lifestyle strategies that promote neurogenesis and regrowth of brain cells include the following. All of these strategies target a specific gene pathway called BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which promotes brain cell growth and connectivity as demonstrated on MRI scans.

Exercise. Physical activity produces biochemical changes that strengthen and renew not only your body but also your brain—particularly areas associated with memory and learning.

Reduce overall calorie consumption, including intermittent fasting.

Reduce carbohydrate consumption, including sugars and grains.

Increase healthy fat consumption.

Increase your omega-3 fat intake and reduce consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (think processed vegetable oils) in order to balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. I prefer krill oil to fish oil here, as krill oil also contains astaxanthin, which appears to be particularly beneficial for brain health. As explained by Dr. Perlmutter, it belongs to the class of carotenoids, and is very “focused” on reducing free radical-mediated damage to fat, and your brain is 60 percent to 70 percent fat.

Sources and References

Forbes October 18, 2013

1 Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2009; 17(3): 703-717

2 J Nutr. 2010 Oct;140(10):1892-8.

3 J Neurophysiol. 2004 Apr;91(4):1545-55.

4 Neurology. 2011 Sep 27;77(13):1276-82.

 

10 Signs you are Gluten Intolerant

From: http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/10-signs-you-are-gluten-intolerant.html

Gluten intolerance, also called gluten sensitivity or Celiac Disease- when it's in its most severe form- can have symptoms that range from no symptoms to life threatening or debilitating chronic health problems and anywhere in between. Often, these symptoms are not consistent from person to person and this is part of what makes gluten testing or Diagnosing Gluten Sensitivity so difficult for medical professionals.

According to Dr. Amy Myers the following are 10 signs of gluten intolerance:

1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and even constipation. I see the constipation particularly in children after eating gluten.

2. Keratosis pilaris, also known as "chicken skin" on the back of your arms. This tends be as a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut.

3. Fatigue, brain fog, or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.

4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma or multiple sclerosis.

5. Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off balance

6. Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS, or unexplained infertility.

7. Migraine headaches.

8. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses simply indicate your conventional doctor cannot pinpoint the cause of your fatigue or pain.

9. Inflammation, swelling, or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees, or hips.

10. Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, and ADD.

According to The Examiner.com below are five not-so-obvious signs of gluten intolerance that you could be missing:

1. "You're a full-grown adult but you still have breakouts like a teenager: Your skin is the body's biggest organ and provides a window into your internal health. That may be why Dr. Alessio Fasano, at the University of Maryland's Center for Celiac Research argues that persistent acne is a sign of inflammation from gluten that can affect other organs.

2. You wake up feeling sluggish, you're fatigued all day, and never feel rested: If you aren't burning the midnight oil every night and you are still hitting the snooze button repeatedly ever morning, your diet may actually be to blame. A gluten-filled diet can not only induce fatigue in someone with gluten intolerance, it can actually disrupt your sleep patterns and create a feeling of general malaise, according to studies.

3. You suffer from mood issues, anxiety, depression, or ADD. A gluten intolerance or allergy might not create anxiety or depression out of thin air, but they can certainly make symptoms worse. A 2010 study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) cited "significant concerns about increased rates of psychological symptoms and mental disorders in celiacs" patients.

4. You mysteriously suffer from join pain in your hands, knees, or hips: Join pain can be signs of several different autoimmune diseases. If you're not hitting the heavy weights, logging serious miles running, or suffering from arthritis, the inflammatory response from a gluten intolerance may be one reason your system is triggering a reaction in your joints.

5. You are plagued by frequent headaches and migraines: The causes of migraines are various and mysterious, but some studies have made a connection between an increased rate of headaches and migraines in Celiac patients, compared to the general population. In a 2001 study, Dr. Marios Hadjivassiliou from the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in the UK documented patients actually lessening their migraine symptom by following gluten-free diets".

And it gets worse, gluten has been linked to over 55 diseases! Yes, I said 55 diseases.

Gluten Sensitivity: One Cause, Many Diseases

A review paper in The New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 "diseases" that can be caused by eating gluten. (iv) These include osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, anemia, cancer, fatigue, canker sores, (v) and rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases. Gluten is also linked to many psychiatric (vi) and neurological diseases, including anxiety, depression, (vii) schizophrenia, (viii) dementia, (ix) migraines, epilepsy, and neuropathy (nerve damage). (x) It has also been linked to autism.(ix)

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, "we used to think that gluten problems or celiac disease were confined to children who had diarrhea, weight loss, and failure to thrive. Now we know you can be old, fat, and constipated and still have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Gluten sensitivity is actually an autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, with wide-ranging effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract, and more. It can be the single cause behind many different "diseases." To correct these diseases, you need to treat the cause--which is often gluten sensitivity--not just the symptoms.

Of course, that doesn't mean that ALL cases of depression or autoimmune disease or any of these other problems are caused by gluten in everyone--but it is important to look for it if you have any chronic illness.

By failing to identify gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, we create needless suffering and death for millions of Americans. Health problems caused by gluten sensitivity cannot be treated with better medication. They can only be resolved by eliminating 100 percent of the gluten from your diet."

So, what's a person to do? Well, first get tested by your doctor have him/her do the run down to make sure that there is nothing else going on then try a gluten elimination diet.

References

(i) Ludvigsson JF, Montgomery SM, Ekbom A, Brandt L, Granath F. Small-intestinal histopathology and mortality risk in celiac disease. JAMA. 2009 Sep 16;302(11):1171-8.

(ii) Rubio-Tapia A, Kyle RA, Kaplan EL, Johnson DR, Page W, Erdtmann F, Brantner TL, Kim WR, Phelps TK, Lahr BD, Zinsmeister AR, Melton LJ 3rd, Murray JA. Increased prevalence and mortality in undiagnosed celiac disease. Gastroenterology. 2009 Jul;137(1):88-93

(iii) Green PH, Neugut AI, Naiyer AJ, Edwards ZC, Gabinelle S, Chinburapa V. Economic benefits of increased diagnosis of celiac disease in a national managed care population in the United States. J Insur Med. 2008;40(3-4):218-28.

(iv) Farrell RJ, Kelly CP. Celiac sprue. N Engl J Med. 2002 Jan 17;346(3):180-8. Review.

(v) Sedghizadeh PP, Shuler CF, Allen CM, Beck FM, Kalmar JR. Celiac disease and recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a report and review of the literature. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2002;94(4):474-478.

(vi) Margutti P, Delunardo F, Ortona E. Autoantibodies associated with psychiatric disorders. Curr Neurovasc Res. 2006 May;3(2):149-57. Review.

(vii) Ludvigsson JF, Reutfors J, Osby U, Ekbom A, Montgomery SM. Coeliac disease and risk of mood disorders--a general population-based cohort study. J Affect Disord. 2007 Apr;99(1-3):117-26. Epub 2006 Oct 6.

(viii) Ludvigsson JF, Osby U, Ekbom A, Montgomery SM. Coeliac disease and risk of schizophrenia and other psychosis: a general population cohort study. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2007 Feb;42(2):179-85.

(ix) Hu WT, Murray JA, Greenaway MC, Parisi JE, Josephs KA. Cognitive impairment and celiac disease. Arch Neurol. 2006 Oct;63(10):1440-6.

(x) Bushara KO. Neurologic presentation of celiac disease. Gastroenterology. 2005 Apr;128(4 Suppl 1):S92-7. Review.

(xi) Millward C, Ferriter M, Calver S, Connell-Jones G. Gluten- and casein-free diets for autistic spectrum disorder. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(2):CD003498. Review.

(xii) Green PH, Jabri B. Coeliac disease. Lancet. 2003 Aug 2;362(9381):383-91. Review.

Sources for Article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

dr-mark-hyman/gluten-what-you-dont-know_b_379089.html

http://www.easy-immune-health.com/

Symptoms-of-Gluten-Intolerance.html#ixzz2bGphgedV

http://www.dramymyers.com/2013/02/03/10-signs-your-gluten-intolerant/

Read more: http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/10-signs-you-are-gluten-intolerant.html#ixzz2kybAnitf

My Best Life Advice

It has taken me months to start blogging. It is a much more intimidating process than I expected, easy to keep putting off. But I keep hearing, Just start, so I shall. I dedicate this first blog to Abram, who has helped me so much with this website and has been so encouraging to me in all of this. Abram asked me a couple of months ago what one piece of life advice I would give him. I was quick to answer, Always look toward God—no matter what. Over the last two months, I’ve thought back to what I told him often and have not changed my mind about it. It’s the best advice I could give. No matter what happens in your life, no matter how confusing things may seem—even if you are doubting His very existence, always look towards Him for the answers. Challenge Him. Question Him. Just keep your face turned towards Him. It will make all the difference. Look in other places, and you’ll find yourself going on rabbit trails with high price tags. And from my perspective, the outcome difference is huge. It’s the best life advice I could give anyone.