New Year’s Challenge…

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I challenge us all to make a new year resolution to be kind to our fellow beings.  In other words, take the time out of your life to focus on those around you.

I fully believe that we need to care for ourselves before we can care for others.  The airplane lesson is true…put your own oxygen mask on before you help others put theirs on.  However, sometimes we can also get a little too wrapped up in our own drama and we need to take a moment to pause and remember that there are so many around us that we can really make a difference for.

I am talking about your neighbors, your coworkers, your family, your friends, your frenemies, your pets, nature (including animals, plants and all of mother earth).

Please take a moment to let those around you know how much they mean to you and take that extra step to do something to brighten their day.  If you are shoveling your drive…take the extra steps and walk next door to help shovel your neighbor’s drive as well.  Mail a note of gratitude to a friend or family member…just because you think they know how much you care about them doesn’t always mean that they do.  So tell them.

Visit your grandparents and listen to their stories…they will love the quality time with you and you will be rewarded with wonderful knowledge and memories that you will treasure forever.

Spend some quality time with your grandkids.  Play a board game and let yourself be a kid again.  Bridge the generation gaps and remind our young future what it means to be caring and respectful…they need that reminder!  And then enjoy giving them back to their parents, because let’s be honest…they are exhausting!  🙂

Plant a seed, nurture it and watch it grow.  Indoor plant, outdoor garden, whatever you find joy in…but allow yourself to witness the wonder of creating something from a small seed to something beautiful or tasty.  And while you are at it, reflect on the fact that this concept can be applied to many more areas of life…allow yourself to make those connections…plant those seeds of thought and watch them grow.

Invite a family member that you only see at the normal family gatherings over for dinner or a game night.  They will be so appreciative and doing something outside the norm will take your relationship to another level.

Remind your friends that they are on your mind.  Life is busy, there is no doubt about it, but we need to let our friends know that even though we don’t see them as often as we may want to…they are still on our minds and they mean the world to us.  A simple email, fb post, instant message, text, whatever you can think of!  Just reach out to them in some way and when possible try to get together for a quick visit as well!

Listen.  That’s it.  When somebody, anybody, speaks to you.  Stop, look and listen.  Stop what you are doing.  Look at them. And listen to what they are saying.  Really listen.  Don’t think about what you are going to say next.  Don’t let yourself trail off in the crazy to-do list running through your head.  Give them your un-divided attention, listen to what they say, and reply honestly.  Take interest in what they are telling you.  Are they taking a trip soon?  Ask questions about it and really listen to the answers.  Care about what they say.

There are so many things we can do to really care about others.  It is time that we get into doing them more.  Let’s all resolve to do a little bit more of this in 2016 and watch what a better place the world will become.

Until next time y’all!
Love, health and happiness.

 

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That thing you have been avoiding…do it!

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The majority of people have something they are avoiding or are procrastinating doing.  I am no exception.  I promised to use this blog to help others learn from my life experiences…so here we go.

I am not proud to admit this to you all because by trade I am a wellness professional and make a living helping guide people on how to best take care of themselves and live a full, healthy and happy life.  But I am human and I too have things that I don’t do as well as I should, even when I know better.  My main avoidance for many years (we are talking 10-15 years) has been the dentist.  That’s right…I have not been to the dentist in over a decade.

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The truth is that I have very high anxiety when it comes to going to the dentist, which made it very easy for me to completely avoid it!  Once it was my responsibility to schedule appointments, I just didn’t schedule them.  I started off with just procrastinating and putting it off.  Then I started using excuses to rationalize why I hadn’t gone yet…I moved away for college, then it was I don’t have dental insurance, then it was I am pregnant (not a good excuse, by the way), then it was I am pregnant again, and again and again and again (yep 5 pregnancies), and then it was that we moved to a new part of town and I didn’t have a dentist in that area.  When in reality I just really, really, really, really, really, really didn’t want to go!

I am happy to say, however, that I finally made an appointment with a local dentist and had my first appointment yesterday! The hygienist and the dentist were both amazing and made me feel very comfortable.  They talked me through everything without scolding me or making me feel bad (or worse than I already was making myself feel) for not seeing a dentist all these years.  They completely changed my perception of going to the dentist and eased my anxiety that surrounded it.  For all you locals…check out Paragon Dental in Papillion.  Dr. Carter is awesome!  And best of all…no cavities or major dental work needed for me!  Woohoo!  One old cavity needs to be refilled (boo) and I need to have at least one wisdom tooth pulled (double boo), but nothing else!  I was convinced I was going to need to have crowns or root canals or other terrifying things done because I had waited so long.

We all have that one (or maybe more) thing(s) that we would just rather not do.  When we put it off and avoid it, it gets bigger and bigger in our minds until we feel guilt and stress every time we think about it.  Soon we start to feel shame for putting it off for so long and that just adds to the guilt and stress and eventually it gets to a point where you feel as if you can’t do it now because you have put it off for too long.

I am here to tell you that it is ok to feel anxious, nervous, stressed, etc. about these things.  But you need to own those feelings and still move forward and confront the task at hand.  And it is never too late to start now.  The thing that helped me most was that I was upfront and honest about it, both with myself and with others.  When I called to make the appointment, I let the person I was speaking with know that I was in search of a new dentist because I hadn’t been in a very long time due to anxiety and fear.  She assured me that I was coming to the right place then because they don’t judge and are happy to help me any way they can.  I let the dentist and the hygienist know as soon as I met them that I was very nervous and they walked me through everything step by step with no judgment.  Not that they wouldn’t have been that way anyway, but I am sure that it helped for them to know that right away so they could take extra care of what they were saying and how they were saying it to keep my nerves at ease.  Life always works out better when we openly communicate with each other.  Others can’t read our minds so we shouldn’t expect them to.  It is difficult for anybody to live up to our expectations if we don’t tell them what we are expecting of them.  So be honest with yourself and be honest with others and face that thing you have been avoiding.  You can do it!

Until next time,
Be kind to yourself and others!

Strive to be a better person…

72745-Try+to+be+a+better+person+eachWe can all do better…period.  There is always room for improvement.

I would encourage us all to be better people.  How you ask?  Here are a few examples for you:

– Pick up after yourself.
Don’t litter.  If you make a mess, clean it up.
Make things look better or at the very least the same as how you found it.

– Be kind to animals.
Big and small, all creatures deserve kindness.
Don’t pound on the glass, cage or enclosure that any animal is in.  It is rude and has no purpose.

– Take turns.
Let other people in when waiting in traffic.

– Be kind.
Say please and thank you.
Treat others as you want to be treated.
Practice empathy and compassion.

The world would be a much better and more beautiful place if we all worked a little harder to do these simple things every day.

Just saying…. 🙂

Teachable Moments

I experienced some very good teachable moments with the kids today.

First I took them to the Jones Brothers Easter Egg hunt in Stinson Park.  I warned them ahead of time that there would be a LOT of other people there so we may not get any eggs and not to let that upset them because we will get lots of eggs from the Easter Bunny tonight so it is ok if we don’t get any today. We are going just to have a little fun.

There were in fact LOTS and LOTS of people there and the announcer said “Go” and the kids took off running…Lexi was run into and ended up falling to the ground and Liam didn’t know what was going on. Logan and Austin each got one egg and a mom with a very sweet little boy (who was probably only 2) came over with 3 eggs in his basket. She encouraged him to share one with Liam and one with Lexi since they didn’t get any. (Lexi was in tears this whole time because she fell and because she didn’t get any eggs). It was the sweetest thing and such a great moment to remind the kids that no matter how little somebody has, the nice and right thing to do is to share with others that have less than we do. It was good for them to see both sides of that. Thank you again to the wonderful mom and little boy that shared with my children!

Next we went to Jones Brothers for cupcakes and waited in line outside the door to get in. Once inside we followed the line ahead of us toward the counter and suddenly a woman starts yelling at me for cutting. Being that I had been waiting in line this whole time and was simply following the line that was in front of me, I had no idea what she was talking about. I spoke calmly with her and apologized that she was so upset but didn’t see how it was my fault or why I deserved the way she was treating me. Obviously she was very upset and I happened to be the person in the wrong place at the wrong time that fell in direct line of her attack. I, however, never lost my temper, never raised my voice and maintained a smile on my face (which secretly I think made her even more mad…lol!) the whole time. The other woman she was with joined in on the attack and instead of attacking back, I simply smiled and let them go ahead of us.  They then turned their attack on the poor girls at the counter that were working their tails off to try to serve everybody as quickly as possible.

The kids and I then got up to the counter to pay and I apologized to the girls at the counter for the treatment they had just received.  I thanked them for their incredible service and let them know that I admired the way they were handling such a busy day and such a stressful environment.

After finishing their cupcakes and walking back to our car, I sat and asked the kids what they thought about the day and what had happened.  They said they had a good time and were happy we went!  I asked them what they thought about the little boy that shared his Easter Eggs with us leaving only one for himself.  They said they thought he was very nice for sharing with Lexi and Liam and I emphasized again the importance of sharing and helping others even if we don’t have a lot to share or give.  I reminded them of how good that made them feel when somebody shared with them and that we want to treat others the same way as that little boy did with them.

Next I asked them what they thought about how the ladies acted in the cupcake store.  “Not cool” my oldest said.  We discussed how the women were angry and how they yelled at mommy.  “Did mommy get mad at them and yell back or push them or hit them or scream at them?” I asked.  “No, you talked it through with them!” they proudly answered!  I reminded them that even though it did make mommy upset that those women were yelling at me, it was important to stay calm and talk with them to try to make things better.  I also told them that even though mommy stayed calm and didn’t yell and tried to talk with the women, they were still angry and even though it didn’t fix things, it also didn’t make it worse.  I told them that sometimes not everybody will be nice or act the right way and we can’t fix that, but what we can do is stay calm and treat them better than they are treating us.  And if it gets really bad, to just walk away and go ask for help if you need to.

I am so very proud of my kids for they way they acted today.  They stuck together, they listened to mommy, they helped comfort each other when one of them was sad, they showed true gratitude to somebody that helped them and shared with them, they waited patiently in line for cupcakes without acting up and they quietly watched and learned from me during a stressful situation.  And most importantly they shared their thoughts and feelings with me and we had a great discussion about what we could learn from what we had experienced.  Love those little ankle-biters!  🙂

Until next time…be kind to one another and take every teachable moment life offers you.

Change the Way you Think…

New Year’s Eve…another year coming to an end and a new one about to begin.  We all know that this time of year brings reflections of the past year and resolutions for the new year.  New year, new you right?…Wrong!

Why is it that each year at this time many of us decide we are either going to create a new version of ourselves or ignore the new year resolution movement all together and change absolutely nothing?  I have always been a firm believer that if you aren’t happy with something, change it!  And that is something that I live by 365 days per year…not just at the new year.  Well Mary Engelbreit took it a step further:

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What if we all changed the way we think?  If you really think about it, we do so many things simply because we feel we are expected to or because that is the way that everybody else does it.  Could we change the way the world works if we all just changed the way we think?

I have decided that for 2015 I am going to try a little social experiment.  My family, like so many others, is struggling to make ends meet and living paycheck to paycheck.  However, I want to help make a difference in our community and have always wished that I could “win the lottery” so I could help others more.  Well, I am going to change the way I think about that.  Knowing full well that I will in all reality never win the lottery, it is time to stop waiting for that time before I help others.  So, how do I make a difference without hurting my own family financially?  Hmmm…what if every household donated $1 each month to one organization?  What a difference that would make!  So that is what I have decided to do.  I am going to commit to donating $1 each month in 2015 to a local organization.  Only $12 for the year.  My family can definitely handle that financially.  But $1 to an organization is not much help is it?  Well, every little bit helps so I will first not feel guilty about “only donating $1.”  Second, I am a communicator, an organizer and I have hundreds of friends, family and coworkers.  We are stronger and more effective as a team then we are individually, so why don’t I use my organization and communication strengths and put them to good use!  So here is my challenge to each of you…join me in donating $1 each month to help our community.  I am happy to collect any donations that others wish to give and will give the total amount each month to a different organization.  I would love to hear from you on which organizations we should choose…we need 12…so please communicate those suggestions to me!  I will make the donation at the end of each month so that allows time to collect the donations from all of you.  I will document each donation with a photo and will blog about each one as well.

So this is the start of me changing the way I think…and it is just the start.  I hope that this helps inspire you to change the way you think as well.  I want to hear your new thoughts and ideas and your plans as well…please feel free to share them with me and others so we can all continue to motivate and inspire each other and make the world a better place for us and for our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on.

Until next time…

Wellness Break

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Many of us find ourselves in situations at work (or in our lives in general) where we are sitting for long periods of time.  These situations are the perfect opportunity for a wellness break.  In less than 5 minutes time you can work on stress relief, mental focus/clarity, blood flow, mood, heart health and so much more.  Seems to good to be true, I know…but it really does work.  I challenge each of you to conduct at least one wellness break each and every day.

Start your wellness break by finding a comfortable position in your chair.  Tense up all of your muscles and then release them all to a relaxed state.  Close your eyes and take a slow deep breath in through your nose and release that breath through your mouth visioning all of the negative thoughts and energy leaving your body with that exhale.  Repeat the relaxing cleansing breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth two to three more times.  This exercise will help relieve stress and bring your mental focus back to a mindful state.

Next stand and stretch up as tall as you can, stand on your tip-toes and reach for the skies.  Then reach your arms out to your sides and imagine somebody pulling on each of your arms stretching them out as far as they will go.   Finally, return your arms down to your sides and flap your arms slightly tapping the sides of your legs.  This exercise may feel and look a little silly, but it will help get your blood flowing and get you to a more alert state of mind.

Round off your wellness break with a grand finale of laughter.  Laughter can relieve physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.  It decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells which can improve your resistance to disease and it triggers the release of endorphins to promote an overall sense of well-being.  Laughter also improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

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Laughter not only provides all of these physical benefits, but it can also ease anxiety and fear, improve your mood, enhance reliance, strengthen relationships, enhance teamwork and help defuse conflict.  Laughter really is the best medicine and should be done at least once a day.  If you need a little assistance to get you laughing, try looking up ‘baby laughing’ on YouTube!  You are sure to find a video or few that will get you laughing!

Until next time…wishing you all a good belly laugh!

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Avoiding the Holiday Hangover

Holiday Hangover

Now before you get too far into this post…this has nothing to do with the typical alcohol-induced hangover.  So if you are hoping for a magic cure-all for that I am afraid I have bad news for you…the cure is don’t drink so much!! 

No, I am referring to that feeling you get after the holidays are over.  We spend a month (or more for some) building up to the holidays…planning and cooking and baking and shopping and wrapping and decorating and gathering together…etc.  And before long the day has come and it is Christmas Eve (or insert whatever holiday you and yours celebrate…yes, I am quite aware that everybody doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but in my house we do).  Tomorrow is the big day…Christmas Day!  Santa comes tonight!!  We have cookies and hot cocoa to put out tonight, reindeer food to sprinkle on the yard and the kids have one gift (Christmas jammies!) to open tonight from mom and dad.  My husband and I started the Minivan Express tradition last year so that will happen tonight as well!  (I will write more on that in a future post).

And then tomorrow morning arrives and the kids excitedly wake up and run into our room and bounce on the bed anxious to open their presents!  We all get up and mommy stays up in the bedroom with the kiddos (trying to make myself somewhat presentable for pictures/video)  while daddy goes down to see what surprises Santa has left for us (and to get the camera!).  Then daddy has us all come down the stairs to the Christmas morning goodies that await us!  After the flying wrapping paper and the excited squeals of the kids we all get showered and dressed and eat some breakfast before family arrives.

Family arrives and we eat, drink and be merry sharing the company of one another and stories of memories of Christmas past.  We exchange gifts and thanks and play some games and eat some more and then one by one people start to head home.  Soon everybody is gone and it is time for bed.  The kiddos get a bath and a bedtime story and then tucked into bed.  Mom and dad finish cleaning up the remains of the celebration and collapse on the couch together in exhaustion.

And then it is the day after Christmas.  The decorations are still up, but the anticipation of the approaching holiday is gone.  We know we will have to take down the decorations soon (ugh) and get them all packed away for another year (double ugh).  No more Christmas songs on the radio, no more twinkling lights and soothing tree by the fireplace.  No more Christmas specials on tv or cheesy Christmas Hallmark or Lifetime movies (those are my favorite!!).  No more Christmas baking or gift exchanges with coworkers, friends and family.  It is all just done.

That is the holiday hangover.

So to avoid that sinking feeling, here is what you do…look ahead.  Yep, that is it!  Look ahead.
Look ahead to the next thing…plan your New Year’s celebrations, gather with family and friends to celebrate the New Year and take a moment to reflect on the year behind and set goals for the year ahead.
Look ahead to Valentine’s Day and show those around you how much they mean to you.
Plan an End of Winter Celebration to say so long to the cold and snow and hello (and hurry and get here) to the warmth and new life of spring!

Find any excuse to celebrate life and surround yourself with those you love.   Decorate when you want (I am still trying to convince my husband to leave the tree up all year long and decorate it for each season/holiday!!), gather when you want, bake when you want, party when you want!  Make everyday a holiday!!  Life is short…make every second count!  One of my very favorite quotes is “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the number of moments that take your breath away.”  Create breath-taking moments!

A very Merry Christmas to you all and Happy Holidays to everybody that celebrates the many other holidays this time of year!

Christmas Tree

Join me in my ramblings and life experiences, spreading compassion and being a bit of a bulldog along the way.

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