The Easy Mealtime Habit That Improved My Relationship

Generally, dinner time at my house is pretty relaxed and casual.

For the first several years of my relationship with my partner Davin, our evening dinner routine didn’t vary much. After picking up or making dinner, we would sit down on our well-worn brown leather couch, he’d say a brief prayer, and we’d dig in.

We’d chat briefly about our days and turn on the TV to watch a show. This is one of our favorite ways to decompress.

About a year ago, I started feeling like something was missing. Our days were busy and I knew a lot was happening in both of our lives, but we weren’t really connecting.

I thought about requesting we stop watching television and talk to each other, but I actually really enjoyed the hour of TV.

Then it hit me: Davin was saying thanks to God for the meal, which was great, but I realized that we could also say thanks to each other!

The next night we sat down for dinner and I said that I’d like to try a different way of saying thanks. He looked confused, but replied with a tentative, “okay…” I said, “I’m going to tell you something that I’m thankful for about you, and then I’d like you to tell me something that you’re thankful for about me. Let’s hold hands and look at each other.” He looked at me like I was crazy, but played along. 

Michelle: Thanks for coming home for dinner.  
Davin: Umm...Thanks for cooking dinner. It looks delicious.
Michelle: Thanks for encouraging me to go to the gym this morning. I feel great!
Davin: Thank you for taking care of Diego. (our dog)
Michelle: Thanks for saying thanks :)
Davin: This was cool, thanks for having us do this :)

Then he said a brief thank you to God and I expressed thanks for everyone and everything that helped make our meal possible - from the farmers, truck drivers, grocery store clerks, my car, the electricity, etc. - it felt so good!

That was over a year ago, and we love the practice so much we do it almost every night. We say thanks at home and in restaurants. It’s fast, free, and a great way for us to connect with each other.

I admit that some days it’s harder than others (especially if we’ve gotten into a disagreement) but it’s always worth the effort. It turns out that there is scientific evidence that expressing gratitude can strengthen relationships.

Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington has been researching marriages for almost 25 years and has found that unless a couple is able to maintain a high ratio of positive to negative encounters (5:1 or greater), it's likely the marriage will end.

In under three minutes of observation he can predict which marriages are likely to flourish and which are likely to flounder with 90% accuracy. The formula is that for every negative expression (a complaint, frown, put-down, expression of anger), there needs to be about five positive ones (smiles, compliments, laughter, expressions of appreciation and gratitude).

Saying thanks before a meal is an easy way to boost appreciation and that 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions.

Some days I may only find one or two things thank Davin for, and other days I can find five or six, (maybe more). In my experience, it’s always possible to find one thing to be grateful for, and that’s all it really takes.

This practice is great for couples, families, or friends and I encourage everyone to give it a try.

There are no real rules, so do what feels best for you.

The next time you share a meal with someone who isn’t familiar with this way of giving thanks, you can let them know something specific you appreciate about them without any expectation that they will reciprocate. Just know it will feel great for you and just might make their day.

The side effects of gratitude, in general, are plenty.

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis conducted a study on gratitude and found that people who practiced gratitude felt more positive toward others and their lives in general. They reported greater satisfaction with their lives as a whole, felt more optimism about the upcoming week, and felt considerably more connected with others than did participants in the control group.

When we cultivate an attitude of gratitude, life doesn’t just feel better — it actually gets better.

Gratitude makes us happier, and that has a positive ripple effect on all aspects of our life. Dr. Sonya Lyubomirsky, a research professor at the University of California, has proven that happier people have higher incomes, are more productive, have more satisfying and longer marriages, more friends, stronger social support, more activity, energy, and flow, better physical health (e.g., a bolstered immune system, lowered stress levels, and less pain) and even longer life. Who doesn't want that? 

We all have so much to be grateful for. Do you say thanks before a meal? Did you find this interesting or helpful? I'd love if you let me know in the comments. Also, if you liked this article, please click the like button below!

Grateful for you,

michelle-mccormick
 

P.S. Fun fact: I believe in gratitude so much that I created a line of candles to celebrate it!

The Best Breakfast For Every Diet

I’m not going to tell you to drink warm water with lemon in the morning (although that’s great for digestion).

I’m not even going to suggest you have something that balances protein, carbohydrates, and greens (although that’s probably good for you too).

My absolutely favorite thing to eat for breakfast is…. FROGS! 🐸

You probably think I’ve completely lost it, but hear me out -

Mark Twain is credited with saying, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”'

Sorry (not sorry) for the bait and switch here...

So what do I mean? Obviously, I’m not saying you should eat an *actual* frog 🙂

Instead, think of a frog as a task that you might have trouble starting, but you know is important. For me, a frog is something that’s been on my mind (or “to do” list) for at least a couple of days (maybe more). It could be personal (like scheduling an appointment with a doctor/accountant/etc.) or work related (like writing the first draft of an article, sending an invoice, etc.).

For me, frogs are tasks that I’m not particularly excited to do, but I know are super valuable.

In an ideal world, getting things done would be as easy as think it, want it, and do it. But if that were the case, we'd all have everything we want. I tend to get distracted and in my experience, eating frogs for breakfast is the most efficient way to increase my productivity.

If I don’t eat frogs for breakfast, I’ll dive into my inbox and start reacting to emails that need my attention. By doing this I’m consuming, not creating.

I’ll also procrastinate on challenging tasks and usually won’t make meaningful progress on priorities until the afternoon (when I feel pressure to things get done before the end of the day).

When I eat frogs for breakfast, the rest of my day is usually AMAZING. I get a burst of energy because I’ve accomplished something that was important to me and I feel motivated to do more.

It helps to identify frogs the night before, but it also works first thing in the morning.

So, you might be wondering how you could eat frogs for breakfast. Good question, my friend.

I’ve got 4 tricks that work for me:  

1 | Set an intention to eat frogs for breakfast

Intention guides everything. If I tell myself I’m eating frogs for breakfast the night before, I feel pulled to do that in the morning. I also found it helpful to schedule an alarm with a message to eat frogs for breakfast. I add the frog emoji in the message section because it’s cute. 

2 | Identify your frogs

You can do this first thing in the morning or the night before. The idea is to have 1-3 priorities that you’re going to accomplish ready and visible. I write mine on a small post-it note.

3 | Work quickly

I like to set a time goal to complete my frogs, usually between 30-90 minutes. The goal here is to work quickly and make progress fast.

4| Bribe Yourself

Yea I said it. Bribing doesn’t only work for four-year-olds having a tantrum in the grocery store. It also works for grown adults trying to do something they might not want to do (like write a challenging email or schedule an appointment they’ve been putting off). Examples of bribes can be: going to a favorite workout class or going to a coffee/juice shop to get your favorite drink.

When I eat frogs for breakfast my whole day is better.  

I create more. I have more confidence. I feel great, in the flow, more productive, and happier.

I love eating frogs for breakfast so much that I talk about it a lot. Now, my partner eats frogs for breakfast, and my closest friends tell me they do too. It really helps us stay motivated to get things done and achieve our goals. I'd love it if you'd join us! #frogsforbreakfast

Do you have a practice like this? What are some frogs for you? Leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 

Bon appetite,

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P.S. No live frogs were harmed in the writing of this article 😉

How To Feel Better In One Minute

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel all over the place?

Like nothing seems to be going right? Like you just don’t feel confident, happy, or successful? You’re in a funk? 

I know I’ve felt this way, and many women I coach have felt this way too.

We could dive into the science and distinctions behind emotions and feelings (which is actually quite fascinating) but I’ll leave that for another day.

I want to help you feel better, fast -- without using sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or shopping.

One of my favorite ways to boost my mood is gratitude. It works without fail.

While every one of my coaching sessions is different, there is something that I do with everyone. I ask them to list 10 things they are grateful for.

For some, this is really hard. I get frustrated sighs, rolled eyes, and long dramatic pauses. 🙄This makes me smile because I know the practice is going to be even more rewarding. If there is one thing I know for sure, it's that gratitude has the power to make you feel better instantly. 

What are 10 things you are grateful for right now?

Nothing is too big or too small. I like to write mine on a piece of paper in a notebook using a pen or pencil, but you can also make a list in your phone, on a piece of paper, or even in your head! There is no right or wrong way to do it, just make sure you get to 10.

Need inspiration? Here’s mine -

1  |  My computer - this little laptop is an amazing tool for creating and connecting!
2 |  My health - my body is strong, my limbs work, my brain is sharp
3 |  My partner, Davin - he smiles a lot, gives great hugs, and we work well together
4 |  My friend, Cindy - I spent quality time with her this morning and love how we can talk about anything. She’s super supportive, funny, and a great sounding board
5 |  My work - I love being a coach and waking up to emails from clients making progress on their goals. They inspire me daily.
6 |  My coach - she inspires me to push myself just a little bit more than I would if we weren’t working together. 
7 |  My dog, Diego - the apple of my eye, that little guy. Every morning he wags his tail, looks at me with those adorable brown eyes, and gets excited to go outside and smell the day. He is one of my greatest teachers and a beloved companion.
8 |  Fresh food - I’m so grateful I can go to the market at get all the ingredients to make a healthy fresh salad that will give me energy, nutrients, and fuel my body
9 |  Amazon - I love being able to fire up my app or Amazon browser and get almost anything I need on demand
10 |  Myself! I’ve really been a lot kinder to myself lately. I’ve been listening to self talk, especially when it’s negative, and reframing how I’m talking to myself. I’ve made a lot of progress in the past month and feel grateful and proud of this step.

Now get to it! Make your gratitude list now. You’ll feel better, I promise. Either way, I'd love if you let me know in the comments! 

Gratefully yours,

michelle-mccormick
 

How To Prepare For An Emergency

From destructive hurricanes and massive flooding to the devastating earthquake in Mexico to record fires in California.... I mean, damn.

If you had any doubt or forgot how powerful nature is, we’ve gotten one heck of a reminder lately.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to prepare for an emergency. I know it’s impossible to prepare for every scenario, but we can do something. I know I could be more prepared, and maybe you can too.

I’ve scoured the internet to find out what the experts recommend. The websites are confusing, and it’s hard to know where to begin. Maybe that’s why so many us don’t have an emergency kit.

I’ve simplified the process for busy people who don’t want to think about creating an emergency kit (but know it’s important).

In case of an emergency, you should have basic items like food, water, first aid supplies, sanitation and hygiene items, tools, clothing, important documents, and contact numbers. They should be compact and accessible. It's often best to put together your own emergency supply kit rather than buying one at a store so you can personalize it.

In addition to items below, consider adding "comfort items" such as coffee or tea, a deck of cards or board games, a bottle of alcohol. If you have children, include toys. I’m including links to products to make it easy, some of which may be affiliate links.  

You should have a kit wherever you spend a majority of your time. We all need at least one kit at home, but if you spend a lot of time in your car or office, consider having a kit there as well. Consider this when purchasing supplies (you may want to purchase multiples). Also, review your kits every year. Replace expired items and update it as your family’s needs change (new baby/pet/health changes/etc).

HOME KITS

Your home kit will consist of a “grab and go” duffle bag packed and available in case you have to leave your home quickly, and a plastic bin or two with home-based supplies. Put all items in airtight plastic bags (like ziplock) to keep them protected.

Keep your kit in a designated place and make sure everyone that lives in the house knows where it is. 

In your bag:  

Emergency Supplies

  • Hand crank radio
  • Powerful Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Local maps (if you are a AAA member, you can pick them up for free)
  • Cash (minimum $25)
  • Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
  • Copies of I.D. cards, passports, insurance policies, bank account records
  • Photos of family members and pets (in case you are separated)
  • Paper and Pen

Personal Supplies

  • Sturdy shoes to provide protection from broken glass/nails/etc (old sneakers will work)
  • Gloves (heavy and durable for cleaning up debris)
  • Personal Hygiene Kit (soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, brush, deodorant, laundry soap, feminine products)
  • Cell phone charger
  • Essential medications/eyeglasses (if necessary)

In your plastic bin:

Food/Kitchen items

  • Water (2 gallons per person)
  • Food (ideally for 3 days)
    • High energy foods (peanut butter, jelly, crackers, protein bars, trail mix; foods that will not increase thirst)
    • Ready to eat canned food and manual can opener (store in a cool, dry place)
    • Avoid foods like rice, pasta and dry beans that require a great deal of water to prepare.
  • Eating Utensils (1 set of cups, plates, and utensils per person)
  • Baby food (if applicable)
  • Pet food (if applicable)
  • Vitamins
  • Review and restock food once a year.

Home Emergency Supplies

First Aid Kit

I suggest buying a First Aid kit from Amazon and supplementing with what you need. Store your first aid supplies in a waterproof case and keep it freshly stocked.

Here's a small streamlined first aid kit and here is a more comprehensive first aid kit. Both are great options. 
 

WORK KIT

Be prepared for at least 24 hours. Gather the following items and put them in a small bag or backpack that you can keep at your desk.

  • Bottled water (I suggest two 1.5 liter plastic bottles)
  • Nonperishable food (nutrition bars, trail mix)
  • Change of clothes and pair of sturdy shoes (old sneakers will work)
  • Powerful Flashlight
  • Hand crank radio
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Small first aid kit
  • Essential medications/eyeglasses (if necessary)

CAR KIT

In case you are stranded, keep emergency supplies in a small bag or backpack in your trunk. This will make them more convenient if you need to walk.

In your bag:

  • Bottled water (I suggest two 1.5 liter plastic bottles)
  • Nonperishable food (nutrition bars, trail mix)
  • Change of clothes and pair of sturdy shoes (old sneakers will work)
  • Hand crank radio
  • Powerful Flashlight
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Local map and compass
  • Paper and pen
  • Work Gloves
  • Toilet paper
  • Baby wipes
  • First aid kit
  • Blanket
  • Essential medications/eyeglasses (if necessary)

In your trunk:

  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Emergency signal device (light sticks, battery-type flasher, reflector, etc.)
  • Small mirror for signaling
  • Rope for towing, rescue, etc.
  • Tools (pliers, adjustable wrench, screwdriver, etc.)
  • Jumper cables

 

And there you have it! I suggest printing this post and using it as a checklist.

If you found this helpful, let me know by clicking the "like" button below and sharing with friends. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment.

Thanks for reading and being here! Now let's get prepared and hope we never have to use our kits!

michelle-mccormick