Wednesday, August 13, 2014
“Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice…It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint.” Henri J. M. Nouwen
Just like starting off the New Year with a resolution to start hitting the gym, a gratitude practice takes commitment. Think about picking up a five-pound weight for the first time. Pushing yourself to complete several reps, you feel great. Then the pain of sore muscles sets in and you have a choice - you can quit or keep going. By choosing to continue, your strength increases. Over time you can lift ten-pounds or fifteen pounds with ease. You break through and experience the rewards of better health.
It’s the same with gratefulness. Pick up a gratitude journal for the first time. You push yourself to do it, and you feel great. Then you experience a painful situation that makes you sore. At that point, you can decide to start back up when “something good happens” or you can persist.
As you continue to write down three to five things you are grateful for every day, your “gratitude muscle” gets stronger. It becomes easy to notice ten or fifteen things for which you are thankful. Then, when something bad happens, your first response is to find something to appreciate in the situation. You break through and experience the rewards of gratefulness - better attitude, less stress, stronger relationships and so much more. You ROCK!
PS - Take the time and write down your gratitude today.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
50 Simple Ways to Celebrate and Enjoy Life
Make it a goal to celebrate life in some way, however small, every day. Below you’ll find a list of 50 simple joys to help remind you to slow down, celebrate life, and enjoy the moment!
1. Have afternoon tea “alfresco”. Find a small coffee shop with tables set up outside; or pack a picnic basket—filled with iced tea, chicken salad from the deli, scones, and a warm, crusty loaf of French bread–and head out to the park.
2. Go for a bike ride. Like John F. Kennedy once said, “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride”. Better yet, ride your bike to a swimming spot and take a swimsuit and towel along.
3. Plant pots of brightly colored flowers; you can choose to plant camellias, violets, and geraniums. For fragrant blossoms plant jasmines.
4. Find George Carlin videos on YouTube (Carlin is hilarious). Here’s a great one to get you started: George Carlin Talks About “Stuff”.
5. Renew a relationship with someone you’ve lost touch with.
6. Create a collage of pictures of your loved ones, frame it, and hang it up in a visible spot in your home.
7. Blow bubbles.
8. Get a delicious, gooey brownie and savor every morsel.
9. Arranging beautiful flowers in a vase is a simple, exquisite pleasure.
10. Give someone you love a gift “just-because”. Better yet, make it a care package or a gift basket filled with their favorite things: flavored coffee, a great coffee mug, and the book they’ve been wanting to read; microwave popcorn and all of the “Indiana Jones” movies on DVD; their favorite scented bath products; and so on.
11. Get your picture taken by a professional photographer.
12. Create a butterfly garden in your yard by choosing butterfly-friendly plants.
13. Stretch out on your couch with a compendium of your favorite comic strip, read it through from beginning to end, and laugh until your stomach hurts. If you don’t have a favorite comic strip, I recommend Calvin & Hobbes.
14. Plan your fantasy vacation. Do online research, cut out pictures from magazines, collect brochures from travel agencies, and plan your vacation to the last detail. Don’t censor yourself by thinking about the cost or when you’ll have the time to go. To paraphrase Goethe, first you move and then Providence moves too.
15. Start putting together your Christmas list, both what you plan to give others and what you would like to receive. (Thinking about Christmas always lifts my spirits, no matter what month of the year it is.)
16. Learn to bake peach cobbler.
17. Go to a body of water near your home and skip rocks.
18. Hunt for bird nests. When you find one, don’t touch it, just look.
19. Go to an arboretum or a botanical garden. Take a sketch pad and pencil and capture anything that inspires you.
20. Make a donation: donate your time at a food shelter; invest in a third world country entrepreneur through www.kiva.com; donate blood; donate clothes you no longer use to a battered women’s shelter; donate children’s books to a hospital nearby; celebrate life by paying it forward.
21. Listen to Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”.
22. Sing in the shower.
23. Do something that gives you a sense of luxury. You can get a leather notebook to jot down your thoughts, or a beautiful fountain pen. Start collecting fanciful note cards so that you have them on hand when you want to send a hand-written “thank you”.
24. If you love reading, join a book club. Sharing your love of literature with others is a great way to celebrate life.
25. Watch the sunset.
26. Watch the sunrise.
27. Get a yo-yo. Learn the “Walk-the-Dog” trick and the “Drop in the Bucket” trick.
28. Wear audacious underwear. Nobody has to know.
29. Buy a bird feeder—or even better, build one—and hang it in a place where you can see it often.
30. Go outside at night—or climb up to your building’s rooftop—and look at the stars.
31. Stop and really listen to a street musician.
32. Go to a pet shop and “ooh” and “aah” at the puppies and kittens.
33. Simmer apple cider, cinnamon, and cloves in water on your stove.
34. Play a game you loved as a child: play with marbles or jacks; jump rope; play hopscotch; draw with colored chalk on the sidewalk; get some Play-Doh; or go to a park and climb on the swings.
35. Whenever you take on a task at work ask yourself: “Is there any way to make this task more fun?”
36. Read poetry.
37. Get yourself a big book of sudokus or crossword puzzles and sit back for an afternoon of fun mind stimulation.
38. Sit down with a large art book filled with Impressionist paintings by artists such as Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Pisarro, Degas . . .
39. Find a shampoo and conditioner that smell like delicious.
40. Walk barefoot in the grass.
41. Go out for a walk in the rain. Deliberately step in puddles. SPLASH!
42. Visit antique stores and flea markets until you find the perfect brass knocker for your front door, one that makes you smile every time you’re about to enter your home.
43. Buy the softest terry cloth robe you can find and put it in the drier just before taking a shower, so that it’s nice and warm when you get out of the shower and put it on.
44. Get a bright red umbrella.
45. Go out for a walk and take your camera along; take photographs of interesting faces.
46. Listen to Louis Armstrong singing, “What a Wonderful World“. Here’s the best line from the song: “Trees of green. Red roses too. Skies of blue. Clouds of white. The brightest day. The dark sacred night. What a wonderful world. ”
47. Eat your favorite cereal from when you were a child: Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, Honey Nut Cheerios, Cap’n Crunch, etc.
48. Listen to your favorite “Beatles” songs.
49. Go out and play Frisbee with a friend. If you have a dog, better yet.
50. Have an ice cream cone!
In the words of Fannie Fern, “There are no little things. Little things are the hinges of the universe.” Live your best life by celebrating the little things every day.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
RIP precious mentor, teacher, author and so much more
Thursday, May 29, 2014
On another challenge I participate in The Daily Challenge as do a couple other Campers, this is today’s challenge -
Hold a 5-minute meeting with yourself to check in on your goals for the year.
How to do it
Take five minutes to check in with yourself on any goals you made at the beginning of this year. Have any setbacks made it harder for you to complete your goals? What's in store for the second half of the year? Use this time to look back on the first six months of 2014 and think ahead on what you hope to accomplish before the end of the year.
Why it matters
Financial experts recommend a mid-year check-up for your taxes, investments, and other money matters. You can take the same approach with your personal goals and expectations for the year. If there's something you want to achieve in 2014, you still have half the year to make it happen! A mid-year meeting is one way to ensure that when December rolls around, you can look back on the year and feel satisfied with what you've accomplished.
Back at the beginning of the year now nearly half gone, I posted this blog with a new to me idea and while I am still not meeting my goals regularly, this method does help me not just throw up my hands in despair and give up entirely.
We can start a year with certain plans, hopes, and dreams. But a year is a long time. In a year we could easily forget or lose motivation for what we started the year desiring in our hearts. Or perhaps we will end up needing something new. If I have learned any one thing it is that life changes.
Perhaps that is why I don’t choose to look at this year as one vast expanse of time ahead of me. Instead, I want nothing more than to be present for the day ahead. To have intention for my day ahead – determined by where I am now, what my heart desires now, what my body needs now, what those I love need now.
I think I have spent so many years trying to achieve, achieve, achieve. Yet I have seen that when we let go a little bit, take things as they come, remain present, and proceed bit by bit, it is then we fulfill our hopes and can watch things happen.
I don’t suggest having no goals or plans for this coming year. I have some myself. I still find it helpful to consider what you want to achieve and to set up the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-oriented) approach to them. What I encourage you to consider today, though, is to not get so caught up in the entire year and get so lost in the big vision that you forget about TODAY.
Have your goals and know the intention behind each. Is it your health? Your confidence? Your happiness in work? Your joy in relationships? Your passion for a certain activity or dream? Know the intention and then reflect each day on how you can live out that intention that day.
What if every day were like New Years Day? After all, January 1st 2014 is just another day. Just like the 364 to follow it. Treat them all with the same hope and sense of renewal. Give them all the same attention to intention. Then watch yourself soar.
What are some of your goals and the intentions behind them? How do you think approaching the year day by day can help you with your goals?
So go ahead and have a 5-minute meeting with yourself and assess where you are and where you want to soar!
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