Let Your Personal Values Add Richness to the Workplace

In the words of Michelangelo, one of the greatest Renaissance artists of all :” I  cannot live under pressures from patrons, let alone paint”.  And yet, the artista–just like you and me–at times had no choice but to obey certain rules, accept certain tasks, and abide by the commands of certain authorities. It’s called WORK, which pays the bills.  Michelangelo could not always choose which  projects to work on. If left to his own accord, he might have focused exclusively on sculpting, which was clearly his passion. When the powerful  Julius II commanded him to take charge of decorating the papal apartments (think Sistine Chapel)–he tormented over having to leave his sculpting behind for the years it would take to finish this commission. He was in essence, fulfilling the vision of someone else, which imposed boundaries on his creative expression.  Yet, despite Michelangelo’s reluctance, visitors centuries later, look at up at the Sistine Chapel ceiling and experience a once-in-a lifetime sense of awe. Why? because no matter what he worked on, committment and doing his best work were the values that guided him.

There will never be another Michelangelo, but  we all know what it feels like to be in conflict with an authority figure’s vision–in the family, in the workplace, or in the community. Admittedly, legitimate authority is how peace,order, and productivity are established, yet no one should have to sacrifice their personal values in order to follow our assignments.

The important thing is, to ESTABLISH those personal values and become conscious of them on a daily basis. Write your values on a sheet of paper and put them in a place where you can remind yourself of the principles you wish to guide your life.

Taking a closer look at Michelangelo, patronage was how an artist survived. Let’s face it, if we have a job, we are already blessed to have the ability to survive and pay our bills. At times, it may have been a bitter pill, but Michelangelo even when not always thrilled with the assignment, always did it , nevertheless, to the best of his ability. His talent  still came through loud and clear. So much so that it moves us centuries later. Yes, one of his values was the ability to express his art they way he wanted to, but an even stronger value was the committment to do his best at every job he was assigned, as well as be able to eat.

We all find ourselves in situations where we are assigned tasks that go against what we really feel we should be doing, but if we stick to our real values–those of integrity, committment, being good to others, and doing the best job that WE can do, while still following the rules–we can come out with the best of both worlds, and a personal history we can be proud of when we look in the mirror.j

Stay strong in your values, and do good work, too. Staying true to your real guiding principles, will leave a lasting impression on others.

Today’s Poll: What Were Your Biggest Challenges in 2012?

In order to help me  to help you, by delivering  presentations and developing  products that are targeted to your needs,  I need to know what your biggest challenges were in 2012. Please take a moment to vote, and if your answer choice doesn’t appear, please drop me a line raeleenmautner@gmail.com.   Thank you so much for taking the time!

Turn Black Friday into Self-Renewal Friday

Some of you might enjoy the chaos and the savings that come with Black Friday Shopping. Not me. Everything in nature–including human beings–functions best when in balance. Homeostasis is the state of optimal functioning, the state of equilibrium. When we get over stressed, our sympathetic nervous system revs up our organs and senses to defend ourselves, but often the parasympathetic nervous system (which is supposed to calm us back down to “normality”), needs a little help. Meditation, quietude, reflection, affirmations, walks in the sun–all of these things serve to bring us back down to a state of calm.  In a calm state, we can get a much better idea of who we are and where we want to be going.

We are all born with certain talents, gifts, and unique dreams. Your journey is not about deciding who you want to be, it is about discovering who you are already programmed to be. You can’t do that, if you are in constant state of frenzy, exhaustion, or depletion.  Balance is a mind body proposition, and it starts with going in the opposite direction, when you are at the extreme.

Thanksgiving is a day of wonderful festivity for most, but it also comes with a lot of work–the preparation, the clean up , the reorganization that comes with a large get-together.  On the day that follows,  it is important to pull back, go inward, reflect, rest, do nothing–whatever it is that brings YOU back to equilibrium, balance.  When you are stressed, you meditate, when you have eaten too much , you eat less, when you grieve for someone you find things about your life that still make it worth living. Getting back to a balanced state is healthy and wise,.  No sale in the world could convince me to spend the day after Thanksgiving bucking crowds under hot fluorescent lighting and blaring holiday elevator music. For me, this is a day to get back to balance, through rest and renewal.

Take a look at different areas of your life where you feel out of control because you are at the extreme. Are you doing too many favors for people leaving little time for your own family? Have you been spending too much on going out to dinner? Have you been spending way too much time alone, to the point where your friends don’t call and invite you out anymore?  Once you have identified where you need to counter balance, go in the opposite direction, until you are at your optimal “homeostasis”, physically, and psychologically.

On this Black Friday, through this self-help tip, I wish you RENEWAL.

Get Passionate About Your Life by Closing the Gaps!

Copyright 2012 Raeleen Mautner, Ph.D.


I have always been naturally happy about life and passionate about living. Yet, when I notice that I am feeling a bit off, or have just a touch of feeling down, it is usually because I haven’t been paying attention to closing the gaps–the IMPORTANT gaps–in certain areas of my life. What is most important to me, is to be in balance when it comes to my work, my relationships, my creative side, and my health. Ideally, I want no less than vibrancy in each of these areas, because that is what makes life worth living for me. However, when the distance between the  “ideal” (defined as what I want to see happening) and the “real” (what is currently happening), is too great, I get a subtle reminder by  my “dragging” mood. Something is not right, and I need to spend time on it, to turn the situation back around.

Here is what I do. I turn to my Real-Ideal Gap Sheet (Like the one I have illustrated for you above) and write in the words to describe my real and ideal states in each of those areas. Then, along the sides, I list the steps that I need to take to narrow and eventually close the gap, so that life becomes what I want it to be, despite the detours.

Enjoy this self-help tip, and celebrate your existence! I know that I am grateful for YOU, my Dear Readers. Thank you for your appreciation of what I do.

Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours.


Two Powerful Ways to Reduce Stress on Thanksgiving

Angelina D’Agostino, my nonna

Almost every culture, religion, and epic has left evidence of ritualistic ceremonies of “giving thanks”. Some are harvest-related, some are based on the notion, that no matter what we don’t have, we still have a lot , and should turn our focus to gratitude.

As a self-help specialist who has taught numerous stress reduction workshops at Yale , my favorite theme to address is reducing stress over the holidays.  Thanksgiving is a perfect time to remind ourselves that GRATITUDE is the attitude that reduces stress. What better time? Being grateful takes the focus off of lack, want, frustration, and desolation. If you are thinking “Well I have nothing, so there is nothing to be grateful for”, you are dead wrong. If you have a pair of lips, you have the gift of a smile that can make someone’s day. If you have at least one arm, you have the gift of a hug that can make someone feel secure. If you have one slice of pizza you have the ability to share the crust with a furry friend. If you are stuck in a long line you have the capacity to let an elderly customer cut in front of you. If you have an email account you can send a line of encouragement to a friend who is going through tough times.

On Thanksgiving we should reflect on being grateful for all we “have”;  but ALSO  on what we are able to GIVE.  YES, it is a gift to be able to  brighten someone else’s day.   Putting these two rituals together will give you lots more joy and much less stress.

So here are two assignments  I urge you to complete  this Thanksgiving:

1. Make a visual board/collage of EVEVERYTHING you can think of for which you are grateful.  You might include an image of healthy food, a zany pet, a sunny park, a beating heart, a plant given to you by a friend, a family member you can count on, etc.

2. Make a written list of the “gifts” you have that others might appreciate: This might include sitting for your neigbor’s dog when she goes away, brining that extra bowl of soup over to the friend who was newly widowed, smiling and saying good morning when you get into the elevator at work instead of keeping your eyes glued to the elevator floor numbers, sitting on the floor and rolling a ball of yarn for your cat instead of just walking by him; donating some time to send supplies to our solidiers overseas, etc. Whatever YOU can do.

Giving thanks for the many things you have , even for LIFE ITSELF, plus making a personal committment to do something kind for others each day, are two powerful secrets for reducing stress and renewing your ability to LIVE WELL, on Thanksgiving, or  whatever the time of year.

Take your focus off of the busy-ness,  and keep it pointed to the happiness.



An Unlikely Holiday Nutritional Boost

Growing up,  at holiday time, our home was always filled with the sweet aroma of my mother’s Italian Christmas cookies baking in the oven (non ti preoccupare, I will post recipes in the coming weeks). The food at holiday meals was always beyond scrumptious , the desserts heavenly. Yet by the end of the hoilday season, you couldn’t help but notice a hint of physical or mental depletion. Overeating perhaps…or the end of a happy hustle and bustle of endless company, yearly events that become special and are to be celebrated to the max, the sadness of those no longer with us, the stress of ancillary tasks related to the season.

My own solution  to holiday–or ANYday blahs–would eventually come in the form of  a high-powered blender, into which I could liquify various fruits and vegetables, tweak the recipe for my specific needs that day (eg mushroom extract for immune system, sunflower seeds for zinc,  Vitamin D3 to make up for the lack of sunlight of  New England winters, etc), and drink it once a day. I found this is a great way to get my greens (Kale, spinach, parsley, broccoli, arugula, etc–(check with your DR if you are on blood thinners), to get my raw portion of veggies (NOTE: you should also consume some cooked), and to get the fiber in these powerhouse foods, that most juicers strip away.

Several brands do the job quite nicely. I use a Vitamix, and have found it to be a durable , reliable investment. With the latest news coming out about the real risks of “energy” drinks, I can tell you that a blended fruit and veggie drink–one per day—will give you all the energy you can use, in a natural way. There are so many ways you can put these drinks together, to make them taste delicious and give you the nutrients to prevent mental and physical burnout throughout the holidays, and ideally, throughout the year as well.

I take a blended drink on most days. It is fun to experiment with different combinations, like the one I made this morning

Raeleen’s Friday Morning  Green  Raw Boost:

(Note there are no specific measurements–everything to personal taste)

–2 stalks broccoli

–handful Kale

–a few sprigs parsely

-handful of arubula

–green apple

–bunch of sweet red grapes

–1 majool date (pitted)

–tablespoon flaxseet

–teaspoon of sunflower seeds

–one dropperful of seaweed tincture (the benefits of seaweed mentioned in many publications)

–filtered or spring water to desired consistency.

Put everything in and blend for about 1.5 minutes.  When I drink this , I can almost feel it perking up every cell. No commercial, dangerous energy drinks here.

Best of all,  I definitely don’t feel so guilty when the struffoli tray appears 🙂


How I Give Meaning to My Loved One’s Memory

Thomas Michael Mautner (1951-2008)

I wrote “Lemons into Limoncello” (coming out in May HCI) to reassure you that you have everything it takes to make it through your crises and personal devastations and still come out believing that no matter how difficult your situation is, there is always a sun that comes back out to warm you; a rainbow to continue to walk towards. Life is not a flat landscape, but a series of repeated highs and lows, and a testimony to the impermanence of everything and everyone in our world. To me, that makes living well all the more urgent. It makes small and frequent celebrations –for all that we still have–that much more important.

Tom Mautner lives forever in my heart. His quick laugh, his brilliant blue eyes, his kind and gentle way of interacting with everyone whose life he touched.  These are the examples he set for me and our children.  We honor him, by living up to them.

Losing someone we  love leaves a a hole in our hearts that feels unbearable. Slowly , however, Life moves us forward, and the scars begin to heal.  You must let this happen and don’t resist. Don’t choose to stay stuck in the stagnance of an ending.  We are still here because we were chosen to LIVE, to do good works, to evolve into all we are still meant to be. Along the path back to recovery, we discover the gifts our loved ones left us through their example, and the insights we have gained about ourselves as a result of the journey together. Life now morphs into something different, yet  still extraordinary.

Our loved ones live on through our memories, and more concretely– through the ways in which we choose to  live as a result of the way in which they touched our lives.We give their presence on earth eternal meaning when we incorporate their best thoughts and behaviors into making ourselves the best we can be, in their honor.  Today, I give thanks for what Tom’s life on earth taught me and the important ways that my profound experience of losing him motivate me to go forward into my own personal Renaissance.

Today, I reflect on the gifts and the insights. I reflect on a life whose light was snuffed out way too soon. And I  continue to be grateful, for having had Thomas Michael Mautner  in my life.

If you’d like, do feel free to comment below and share the treasures of insight and gratitude that you have gained through your losses. You never know when you may inspire someone else.

..and we go on, with a stronger, wiser, better version of ourselves.