Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Don’t count the days. Make the days count. Muhammed Ali
But if you’re in the same boat as me and “lost” many or even some of your goals a long time ago, I want to encourage you to start fresh today. Be gracious to yourself, and forget that myth that you have to wait until a new year to make new goals.
Okay, enough procrastinating. Here we go . . .
This is what I posted at the beginning of 2014. I am sitting here crying over the too many that fell beside the way but still resolute that each day is a gift that I can still strive toward finding myself, my balance and my happiness and happy spot. I have stumbled. I have fallen. I have gotten very, very lost sometimes in dark places. Sometimes reinventing my original plan which is why I always love to readdress my State of Kalamity :) along the way. The first of the month and every quarter works if you remember.
These are still valid and good goals. I am going to keep on taking baby steps toward this life map.
Like each year, after I thought about my word and my plans for 2014, I began to think more and more about what the word and the priorities meant. Since I tend to be self-reflective during this time of year, this is very long and mostly for my benefit.
My word for 2014 is DARE.
Since I have my list of priorities this year, I thought it would be a good exercise to see if I could come up with a few goals for each.
One of my goals this year is to really slow down. I know this might not seem so from the list, but I am focusing on what I know will comfort my soul but no more so I can also rest and breathe more as I want to keep working on being more present and listening.
My other big focus this year is on learning. I’ve noticed that I go through different cycles and 2013 was a year of practicing for me but not a lot of learning. I want to feel free to experiment, to mess up, to copy others, to learn new things. I want to my own voice and to do that, I need to start with others’ voices, with what calls me. I want to create room for that this year. I also just want to learn new things. In every topic. I love learning, it makes me come alive.
So here we go:
Goals for Each Priority
1. Find ways to enjoy each other’s company.
2. Participate more in The School of Rock
3. Write weekly gratitudes and celebrations.
4. Take online classes and focus on learning
5. Schedule MINIMUM bi-monthly date nights with Brian.
6. Meet Kathy’s new husband that she has spent the past 13 years with.
7. Spend time with family making memories.
8. Enjoy walks with the fur family DAILY.
1. Continue walking and shooting for 10,000 steps a day.
2. Work Beachbody Programs - start and complete at least three this year.
3. Eat whole/clean foods at least 80/20.
4. Get minimum 7 hours of sleep every night.
5. Take a walk somewhere new every week with the family and dogs.
1. Send one kind email to someone each week.
2. Have an end of the day ritual each night and a welcoming the day ritual each morning.
3. Always use the good stuff. Thank you Erma Bombeck.
4. Celebrate and savor moments.
1. Write down two things I am grateful for each day.
2. Create gratitude post cards and mail them
1. Get coaching certification
2. Take local classes
3. Take online classes
4. Go to Beachbody Summit again this year.
1. Invite guests to dinner.
2. Get out and meet people.
3. Send out gratitude cards to people I am grateful for.
1. Read a book a week
2. Journal daily.
3. Gratitude Journal daily.
4. Experiment more with meditation, yoga and breathing
5. Go camping.
1. Make and keep regular pedicure and hair appointments (every 6 weeks or so)
2. Enjoy volunteer opportunities and giving back/paying forward.
3. Send one kind email to someone each week
4. Have and end-of-day ritual each night and a welcoming-the-day ritual each morning
5. Follow self-care rituals and maintain them.
1. Learn to do lettering (Finish on-line classes)
2. Take more online classes.
3. Practice lettering/doodling and DO IT.
4. Participate in art related swaps.
1. JUST DO IT!
2. Get out of the house and engage.
3. Participate more.
4. Journal Daily
5. Sign up for and complete a 5K at least bi-monthly.
7. Learn/tackle something new. Explore something I haven’t done.
I decided this year’s thoughts to cultivate will be around my core desires. So here’s some of what’s on my mind.
1. Serene What helps me be most serene is taking time for myself. I plan to start the day and end the day alone. Listen to Tara Brach. I will take a break in the middle of the day and walk to get some fresh air and to step away for a bit. I will slow down and breathe more. When I feel worry and panic, I will take a moment, I will name it, I will let things get quieter and then act (and not react.) I will use the Four Questions. I will set intentions each week. I will end my days with a small routine to re-center myself. I will make sure to get enough sleep.
2. Grace I will carry myself with grace. I will take the time to be kind. I will practice ease and comfort. I will take the extra few minutes to wear things that make me feel good. I will take care of my body, my soul and my heart. I will slow down and move deliberately. I will get quieter. I will listen more talk less. I will thank. I will show my gratitude. I will practice self-kindness and care as well as extending it to others. I will volunteer. I will practice patience.
3. Engaged I will choose to engage. I will show up. I will step up. I will learn and grow and participate. I will choose curiosity again and again. I will choose to lean in. I will pay attention to what makes me come alive. I will practice art. I will practice both depth and breadth.
Whole I will practice self-compassion. I will choose kindness towards myself. I will celebrate achievements big and small. I will practice gratitude. I will show up to events and reach out to those I love. I will make room for new friends. I will choose to cultivate belonging. I will make the time and room for others.
Major focus areas to come back to again and again.
Let go of worry. Be present. Stay in the present moment. To breathe and see if something I am worrying about is or should be in the past or future instead of the here and now. I plan to listen to various life coaches and mentors and inspirations regularly and use The Four Questions.
Do less. Slow down. Make and spend quality time with family. Quality time to rest. Let myself off the hook if I need to.
Do not yell! I hate that I have become a yeller. I do it far more often than I want to admit. This year it’s non-negotiable. BREATHE. People I love deserve my respect just as I do theirs. I want to be more resolute. Kinder. Stronger. Quieter. Calmer.
Be mindful. I want to be a lot more aware of my own feelings. Those of my kids. Aware of how my actions affect others. How I actually have time before I need to react. How I can choose what I want to do next. How I can choose the tone of my voice, the way I feel, the way I react.
Celebrate. I want to focus on all the good things in my life more purposefully this year. Take scheduled time to celebrate. Celebrate those around me and myself. Spread joy. Spread kindness. Make rituals. Reach out to people and celebrate together. Life is a present. The best gift ever. LIVE IT!
Cultivate belonging. I have been struggling with community for awhile now. Working at home and juggling all that I do makes it harder for me. I have also developed social anxiety. So instead of trying to cure it all, my plan this year is to narrow down my focus. Find the few people I care about and cultivate those friendships. Focus on establishing deeper ties. Not necessarily wider but deeper. For me and my family.
Self Compassion. I want to be kinder to myself. I want to cultivate awareness so I can see when I fall back into my non-productive patterns and forgive myself. I want to show my family that we all mess up and we all deserve forgiveness. I want to be kind, kind, kind. I want to practice non-judging awareness. And I want to quit taking things personally.
Be open. While I want to forgive myself for not enjoying some of the things others may, I also want to continue to try new things. I want to be willing to do something just for someone else. Be open to the possibility that I may like it. I want to be BRAVE. I want to be a good example of courage and practice it regularly. I want to move away from deprecating self talk. I want to show that failure is a part of life and so is showing compassion for oneself.
Gratitude. I plan to kick the gratitude thing up a few notches. I want to practice it myself, send it out to my friends and the universe. I want to make it front and center in my life. I know it’s one of the biggest links to happiness.
January – Quietly Present – take a break. ponder. walk, don’t run. take it slow and steady. be calm. don’t yell. be quieter. listen.
February – Joyfully Present – celebrate the joy of life. drink it up. buy a present. spread the joy. how could you celebrate more?
March – Kindly Present – be kinder to yourself. how can you be kinder? gentler with yourself and others. go slow. be sweet.
April – Bravely Present – take a risk. do something new. where are you not being brave? dare to do more or different.
May – Physically Present – go outside. breathe. and breathe more. can you do more to be healthy? what needs attention now?
June – Calmly Present – embrace the chaos. assume it will be fun. breathe. and then relax some more. lean into the joy of family.
July – Positively Present – focus on the positive. what is good about this moment? see the good. find the gem. life is beautiful.
August – Deliberately Present – choose your path. choose to show up. is this what you want to do? is it fulfilling you? look closely.
September – Visibly Present – See people. Let yourself be seen. Who can you reach out to today? Send an email to meet with them.
October – Deeply Present – go deeper. what are you taking for granted? what more is there? what are you not paying attention to? look around.
November – Unabashedly Present – be bold. show up. be you. what’s holding you back? what would feel great? now go do it.
December – Fully Present – soak it all in. experience all the moments. love deeply. forgive. hug. breathe the joy in. love.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
In life you get just about as many chances as you're willing to take.
Almost two decades ago, when I told my grandmother I was worried about taking a chance and regretting my choice, she hugged me and said, “Trust me, honey, that’s not what you’re going to regret when you’re my age. If anything, you will likely kick yourself a little for not taking more chances on the infinite number of opportunities you have today.”
And the older I get, the more I realize how right my grandmother was. Life is about trusting yourself and taking chances, losing and finding happiness, learning from experience, appreciating the memories, and realizing that every step is worth your while… But you’ve got to be willing to take each step. You’ve got to give yourself a fair chance.
So here are some chances I would take if I were you – chances I have taken that I know you will not regret:
Trusting your intuition on new opportunities. – Life is too short to wait. Every new day is another chance to change your life. Every great accomplishment starts with the decision to try. Trust that little voice inside your head that says, “What if…” and then GO DO IT. Give yourself a fair chance. You would be surprised how often “what if” works. And no, you’re not obligated to win every time. You’re obligated to keep trying – to do the best you can do every day – to improve upon what you learned yesterday.
Believing in your own abilities. – You have everything you need within you to become the best possible version of yourself. Believe that you CAN. Believe that you’re capable of pushing harder and farther than you have before. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, smart enough and strong enough to achieve your goals. Don’t let false beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself. And certainly don’t get sidetracked by other people who are not on track.
Making moves in the face of fear. – It’s often difficult to grow into your greatest self, but it’s a tragedy to let the lie of fear stop you. So realize right now that fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in your head. Be courageous. Go after your goals. Never let your fear steer your present or decide your future. And remember, courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is far more important than fear. (Read Start: Punch Fear in the Face.)
Taking a step forward today. – You will be dead one day. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it’s true. The question is: Are you choosing to live right now? Take a moment and think about. Life doesn’t start when “this, that, or the other thing” is resolved. This IS your time. Life is now. Do something with it. Don’t wait it away.
Making your goals a priority. – If you want to live a happy, fulfilling life, tie yourself to meaningful goals, not just to people and things. Never put off or give up on something that’s important to you… not because you still have tomorrow to start or try again, but because you may not have tomorrow at all. Life is shorter than it sometimes seems. Make today count. Take just one small step a day. Approach the start of every day with one little goal and end the day with one little word. DONE!
Working hard even when it hurts. – Remember, personal growth in all walks of life is a slow, steady process. It can’t be rushed. You need to work on it gradually every day. There is ample time for you to be who you want to be in life. Don’t settle for less than what you think you deserve, or less than you know you can be. Despite the struggles you’ll inevitably face along the way, never give up on yourself. You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as capable as you have ever imagined. Keep going.
Upholding your standards. – What’s dreadful is to pretend that second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don’t need love and respect when you do. To lie to yourself and say everything is OK, when it isn’t. Or to convince yourself that you like your work when you know darn well you’re capable of much better. Bottom line: Love yourself enough to never lower your standards for the wrong reasons.
Bouncing back after rejection or failure. – When you are rejected from something good, it often means you’re being redirected to something better. Be patient. Be positive. And remember, no matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
Owning your situation. – Even when the going gets tough, own it! If you’re struggling at a job you don’t love, look at it this way: you’re choosing to make a living to pay your mortgage, support your family, and fuel your dreams. Don’t resist it; own it – that’s where your power is. If you’re in a relationship that’s causing you pain, you’re choosing to be in it. Maybe staying will lead to essential growth or a breakthrough or a deeper understanding of love. Or not. But you’re choosing to be in or out, right now. Whichever you choose, own it – that’s where your power is.
Smiling anyway. – Don’t let one bad moment ruin your day. Think of it as a bad minute, not a bad day, and you’ll be OK. Stress begins when your worry list is longer than your gratitude list. Happiness begins when your gratitude list is longer than your worry list. So find something to be thankful for today. Be sure to appreciate what you’ve got. Be thankful for the little things in life that mean a lot.
Being sincerely kind to everyone. – Kindness in words creates confidence and motivation. Kindness in thinking creates positivity and possibility. Kindness in giving creates strength and love. Through kindness you have the ability to make a profound difference in every life you touch, including your own. When you guide someone who is lost and confused, when you hold someone who is sad and grieving, when you hug someone who has lost all their hope, you too will feel yourself healing and growing stronger. So do your little bit of good right where you are, because it’s these little bits of good put together that change the world.
Helping others create a better life for themselves. – Who you affect is more powerful than who you are at any given moment. Because nothing is as enduring as a great memory. In the end, its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, and feelings that last. Stone cracks. Wood rots. Skin dies. But great thoughts, beautiful experiences, and inspiring legends… they live forever. If you can change the way people think and feel, the way they see themselves, and the way they interpret the world, it means you can change the way they live their lives, and how they affect others. That is, by far, the longest lasting thing you can create.
Living with integrity and honor. – Integrity is choosing your actions based on moral values rather than personal gain. It’s about living honorably. It’s about doing the right thing, no matter what, even when nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. At the end of the day, your reputation is what other people know about you. Your honor is what you know about yourself.
Being weird in your own way. – We are all weird. Life is weird. And when we find weirdness in the world that makes us want to work hard, we call it passion. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we call it love. And if we zoom the lens way out, so we can see all the weird people of the world doing their thing, we realize being weird isn’t that weird after all. It’s human nature.
Opening yourself to love. – Your greatest task isn’t to find love, but to discover and eliminate all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. Even when you’re afraid, keep trusting – keep your heart and mind wide open. Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of love. As you find the good that exists in others and situations, you discover the love that exists within you.
Closing the door on old news. – Holding on to what’s no longer there holds too many of us back. Some of us spend the vast majority of our lives recounting the past and letting it steer the course of the present. Don’t waste your time trying to live in another time and place. Let it GO! You must accept the end of something in order to begin to build something new. So close some old doors today. Not because of pride, inability or egotism, but simply because you’ve entered each one of them in the past and realize that they lead to nowhere worth your while. (Read Loving What Is.)
Taking time to simply BE where you are. – You will always be missing out on something. You simply can’t have it all. Thus, it will always seem like something wonderful might be happening elsewhere. And that’s OK. Let it go, and realize you have everything right now. The best in life isn’t somewhere else; it’s right where you are at this moment. You have to accept that some things will never be yours, and learn to value the things that are only yours.
Putting yourself out there and truly LIVING. – To laugh often and love genuinely. To respect others and judge less. To win the affection and sincere smiles of children. To earn the regard of honest peers and endure the betrayal of fake friends. To appreciate the beauty surrounding you wherever you are, whenever you are. To find the good in people and situations. To give what you can and leave the world a little better than you found it. To have explored ideas and passions and sung at the top of your lungs in delight. To know that at least one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is what LIVING is all about.
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.
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