Ready for Game Day and Update

Well…..I am 11 days in to my 30 day challenge.
I have to say I have not been faithful in reading the book on this topic however I have been faithful in actions which reflect living in the moment.
I have had a few unexpected events surface this year. They include; a dear friend with a tough health issue, greater insight on a family relocation as well as news of financial strife being suffered by someone very close to me.
Like most of us, I have been watching the weather more than usual. Some days the forecast makes me laugh, other days it makes me sigh. I am glad to share the blustery cold with more of the country.

Usually Nebraska and the Midwest are the central location for bad weather. This may come in the form of tornadoes or this time of year – snow and ice storms. We have had plenty of both this year as well as a few days of sub-zero temps….
In summary – the weather has provided frigid fireworks throughout the country this year.
I share all of these data points as potential points of light for my 30 days of living challenge. All of these points present me with opportunities to give and to help. Make a contribution.

I will share a few things that I have done in hopes of stoking just a little inspiration for YOU.
Right now the stores are clearing out their winter clothing. It’s a great time to purchase coats and blankets inexpensively. ALL of the shelters are in need right now and I know they would greatly appreciate anything you would bring in.
Have you ever adopted an animal cage at your local animal shelter? I didn’t know this was possible until 2 weeks ago. Again, this is a nice way to support a worthy cause. If you don’t want to do this solo, perhaps you could entice co-workers or members of your church family to join you?
Lastly, I am going to embark on a project to help others who are living in squalor….yes, I am talking about Haiti. I heard about ladies making dresses from pillowcases to send to the children of Haiti and I am going to join this cause. I am not exactly sure how this will take shape…I am in the planning phase – the fact that I am not a seamstress will also make this interesting.
I will keep you posted on progress….

As I close out this entry let me encourage you to send a card, call a friend, take cookies to a neighbor…..do something to show others you care. It’s just the RX you need during these cold winter months!

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Checking in on 30 Days

I am still going through my 30 day exercise and so far so good.  I must admit I will probably have to stretch 30 days out to a minimum of 60 but the results will be worth it.  The one thing that I am finding a constant is a “shift of mind.” 

When I am thinking of others first my days and moments go much better.  I have an exercise for you to try…the next time you are in a REALLY rotten mood I want you to think about who is at the center of your thought processes.  I have a feeling you may be surprised.  For me – the negative mood is radiating from a selfish streak where I seem consumed in a thought pattern solely focused on me.  You know the ones….

oh I hate how this feels

I hate my hair today

I can’t believe they did that to me,

The list goes on and on…..these are by far the worst of times for many of us.

Try changing direction with your thoughts….what is there happening around you that is good?  Isn’t it great to see another day.  Are you glad to have hair albeit – wild?  When someone strikes out at you, do you turn the other cheek and refuse to let the situation bring you down?  In retrospect when someone approaches you negatively have you ever noticed it usually isn’t about you at all? 

Back to my 30 days….let’s try a little retrospection – think of others and your surroundings…how would they appear if this were your final 30 days?

Here I come sunshine :)!

30 Days and Counting?

Hello New Year….
Wow we are 15 days in to 2011 and I can tell this year will pass even faster than the last.
Did you make resolutions this year? I picked up a book called “30 Days to Live.”   This book captures Christian principles and encourages the reader to apply them for 30 days as if they were their last.
I realize this may sound a bit morbid however I have chosen to focus on the premise of optimization versus any negative context that could be driven from this topic.
This book has motivated me to take on new behaviors and viewpoints. Currently I am attempting to approach all situations from an aspect of love. Loving kindness is a quality lacking in the world.

My goal is to be a small instrument of these 2 areas. One first step for me has been to spend more time in quiet surrender to the day. When was the last time you just listened in silence? It was awkward for me at first but over time it is getting easier.

The first time I sat in silence, my mind raced. I thought about all the things I could be doing. It felt like a waste of time and a small voice of guilt tried to creep in to my thoughts but I kept pushing it out. I finally stopped fighting the hollow sounds of nothing and gave in. whoosh – there I was. I don’t mind sharing – it was odd. Believe it or not – it’s hard to think about nothing. In this world of hyperactivity and multitasking X2….nothing is nearly a curse word.
I am here to tell you it’s not a curse but a blessing. It also helps frame my day, my week and my overall vantage point.

I will continue to work through my 30 days and embrace the changes that present themselves.

I wish you all a very Happy 2011 and wish for you the peace and serenity of “nothing.”

More to follow…..

Holiday Pep Talk?

Are you feeling it?

As I undertake all of the my errands during this season…it’s just not feeling like Christmas.  I don’t know what it is but this season feels different to me.  Could it be the ads that start running well before Thanksgiving or the fact that holiday decorations are now crowding out the Halloween stuff in October?  The extension of Christmas well in to October can be exhausting.

The tree is up and the lights are on the house…I am playing the Christmas Carols but something is missing.  Could it be snow?  I guess that is a possibility.  I have a feeling the root may be a little closer to the heart.  This is my first year without a child at home fulltime.  Notice how I qualified that.  I have a wonderful son going to school in Omaha and he blesses me nearly weekly with a visit and we talk on the phone frequently.  My daughter is 3 hours north of me completing her first semester of college.  I see her on occasion and am proud of her maturity this fall.  This is my first season with no children living at home.  It sounds like heaven – right?

The house has been very quiet this fall.  They refer to this as an empty nest….I think it’s a weird reference.  I thought I was ready for this change.  In some ways I was…. but in most I was not.  I miss the entourage of friends coming in and clearing the refrigerator or getting ready for the big event.  I can remember many events when I walked in to a cloud of hairspray and glitter as the girls prepped for their “big” night.

Now there’s Saddie, Sully and Lucy.  They are my other 4-legged kids and they do fill in many of the voids.  They are entertaining, warm and cuddly.  However, it’s still not the same.

I have a new appreciation for parenting during this season.  Our window of time is so short with our children and it is a blessing in so many ways.  For the holidays, I have adopted a family and many other children to help during this holiday season.  I know turning my attention to others is the first step in helping me to get in the spirit.  I am also going to re-read a couple of my gratitude chapters and focus on ALL that I have been blessed with.  Family, friends, wonderful neighbors, a nice place to live, a fun car to drive, laughter, smiles, and above all else:  LOVE!

As I am weaving through my gratitude list I want to make sure it starts with prayer.  I pray for guidance, wisdom and the heart to express love to everyone I come in contact with. 

It’s starting to feel more like Christmas……join during this time of spiritual renewal.

Moral Fiber?

Did the title of this post catch your attention.

When you think about the term moral fiber you may immediately think of religion or something spiritual.

I would agree that moral fiber is spiritual.  I believe it is part of our internal wiring.  How we are made.  As I think about gratitude and the many things I am grateful for I realized many of these values are woven in to my moral fiber.  If I lose sight of the things I am grateful for my disposition changes.  It is not a good feeling.

Realizing that gratitude serves as my compass for thoughts and actions has been powerful.  Gratitude has grown far beyond a card with sentiments written on it.  If you were to use the same tool for your compass where would it lead you?

I am grateful for the laughter of children – this leads to a happy heart.

I am grateful for the love of my husband, my children, my family – this leads to contentment.

I am grateful for the dawn of a new day complete with heavy raindrops, mist and fog – this leads to new birth and renewal.

Where can gratitude lead you?

Bonjour!

I recently returned from the city of lights; Paris.

The history and culture of this fine city was incredible. I made this trip with my 18 year old daughter and it was interesting to watch her reaction to the different sites. It reminded me that appreciation sometimes requires maturity. There is no replacement for experience and education.

The expansion of art and architecture was unmistakable. The sidewalks had brilliant mosaics and doorways were anything but square. I left for Paris with great anticipation in regards to the food and I would not be disappointed. 

The first place we ate at ended up being our favorite. Angelinas.

If you have been blessed to try this eatery you have enjoyed the savory confection of sugar, cream and chocolate. While this tea room restaurant is known for its African Hot Chocolate, we tried many of their cheesecakes and cookies. each bite was delectable.

We also met a delightful lady there on our last night in Paris. She was a native to the area and absolutely wonderful. She told us she was a well-known patron and each restaurant employee greeted her with a smile and several kisses.
She shared with us that he birthday was coming up however she also told us she was “20” in her heart and mind therefore any other number simply didn’t matter.  One can only hope to have this same level of optimism as our exterior matures. 

Our encounter with her was a delightful last chapter to our Paris adventure. We had a lovely time during our vacation however the old adage still holds true – there’s no place like home!  I am grateful for the experience of Paris.  Travel provides a tremendous opportunity for growth and appreciation for many things.  Have you had a summer adventure?  Bask in the glow of the final days of August…..where summer gone? 

I wish you the spirit and decadence of a great cup of cocoa!

Have a great day.

My Daughter in front of Angelina’s in Paris

Gratitude in a Taxi!

I had a miraculous taxi ride in Portland this week.  The taxi driver and I had an enlightening discussion about simplicity.  This gentleman has 4 children, a wife, a mortgage and drives taxi for a living.  He scrimps and saves however he is dedicated to his family time.  When his work is done, he is done.  He does home and helps to parent the children.  He said he doesn’t have much extra but his children have what they need in the way of material goods and above all else, they have his time.  He doesn’t miss family functions and was positively content with his schedule.

He said that he would have plenty of time post-children to save money and travel.  This is one of his passions however he enjoys living vicariously through the stories of all of his taxi cab passengers.

This was a fabulous reminder regarding gratitude.  The gratitude in the simple things.  A smile, a giggle, a fabulous sunset or the cheerful greeting from my puppy.  I forget to savor some of these moments.

I hope you will find a few moments to savor with each day.  Gratitude is all around us!