Thursday, May 30, 2013

8 Ways Happy People Start Their Mornings

Yesterday someone sent me this article by +Mark Chernoff and I wanted to share it.  Being a morning person, I totally agree with Mark on most of these points.   Hope you enjoy it and share what works for you.  Thanks.

1. A calm awakening.

In the space between the edge of the night and the chaos of the day, you have a chance to make a special space for yourself. In this space, thoughts and contentment neatly overlap, where past and future issues cease to exist, and time touches eternity. Hovering about your mind, as you gently begin to stir, there are beautiful visions no one has ever seen and soothing harmonies no one has ever heard.
These first few moments of the day are sacred. Savor them. Protect them. Awaken yourself peacefully, stretch fully and breathe deeply in them without rushing forward. Give yourself this time as a gift, to simply be and feel alive, to conquer the anxiety of life, and live in the moment breath by breath.

2. Meditate on the goodness.

Begin each day with love, grace, and gratitude.
When you arise in the morning, think of what a great privilege it is to be alive – to be, to see, to hear, to think, to love, to have something to look forward to. Happiness is a big part of these little parts of your life; joy is simply the feeling of appreciating it.
Realize that it’s not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. Make a habit of noticing the goodness that’s already yours and you will see more of it every time you look for it. 

3. Let go to begin anew.

Each new morning greets you with no restrictions except for the restrictions you place on it.
Don’t hold yourself hostage for the things that didn’t work out yesterday. Don’t let your history interfere with your purpose today. Let yesterday go. Every morning is the start of a new day with no mistakes, just possibilities.
Release and renew. Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.

4. Be right where you are.

Live now. Not before. Not later. Just NOW – in the moment you’re in. Inhabit your morning completely. Don’t rent it out to the past or the future.
Do you know what you’re doing to yourself when you wake up and start worrying about every other time and place?
You’re cheating yourself out of the moments we call “life.” Your real life – the here and now – is calling to you, trying to get your attention, but you’re stuck on another time and place, and so your life keeps dripping away moment by moment like fresh water down a dirty drain. You wake up the next morning and all those priceless moments of your life are wasted and gone forever. Some of those moments may have had magnificent experiences in store for you, but now you’ll never know…
Bottom line: Don’t be so worried about what’s ahead of you and behind you that you never enjoy where you are. Start your morning off right by paying full attention to it.

5. Find a little inspiration

Sometimes all you need is a little inspiration in the morning.
Read a motivational quote. Listen to a song that moves you. Watch a short video clip that inspires you. This can provide a framework for the day, a sort of positive pep-talk that keeps you motivated and heading in the right direction, as opposed to succumbing to the negativity spewing out of morning newscasters and radio talk show hosts.
Another option: Use a motivational mantra or affirmation that provides a meditation-like burst, or read or recite some prose that helps you focus. (And of course, if you’re looking for an easily digestible source of daily inspiration, look no further than our book, 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

6. Exercise your love.

Love is the foundation. Love is the board under the chalk, the ground from which giant trees and buildings arise, and the oxygen in the air. It’s the place you come back to, no matter where you’ve been or where you’re headed. Love is where life’s goodness begins.
Every morning, kiss all the people you love in your house (including your pets). And once you’ve done that, set ten minutes aside to do something you love – perhaps a hobby or a quiet morning walk. Doing something positive will help you set the mood you need to create a great day. When you smile, your body relaxes. When you experience a loving human interaction, or a deep connection to a passion, it eases tension in your body. Connecting with the right people and activities soothes stress and provides you with a positive foundation for your day, as well as keeping you focused on what’s truly important.

7. Follow a relaxing morning routine.

Morning routines are critically important. They help you focus and build momentum for your day, and they give you the freedom to be present and relaxed – to enjoy just being right where you are each moment, rather than rushing from somewhere to somewhere. Once you get your routine in order, for the first time in a long time, you will be able to, quite literally, smell the coffee.
For truly relaxing mornings, reduce the number of decisions you must make. There are two simple ways to do this: First, make your big morning decisions the night before: what to eat for breakfast, what clothes to wear, what you need to take to work, etc. Second, build a simple routine for as much of your daily morning tasks as possible.
Really, there’s no need to drastically alter the simple things like how much time you give yourself to get ready for work, how complex of a meal you make for breakfast, or bathroom and shower rituals from one morning to the next. 

8. Move on to what’s most important.

Today is a golden opportunity to do something that matters to you.
When was the last time you woke up and said, “Today could be the best day of my life”? Participate in your dreams today. Your potential is limitless. Put first things first and take action on an important task that’s been lingering.
Success is not something you have; it’s something you DO. It’s something you experience when you wake up and act accordingly. Be a self-starter. Let your first hour set the theme of proactivity and success that is certain to echo through your entire day. Today will never happen again. Don’t waste it with a false start or no real start at all.

The floor is yours…

How do you like to start your mornings? What puts you in a happy mood when you first wake up? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A True Story

A few years ago I was at the park taking a walk. It was one of those perfect mornings! After days and days of much needed rain, the sun was shining and early summer was in the air. While I was stretching and getting ready to walk I noticed a pile of rocks sitting on top of a post about eye level. I found it odd and wondered why they were there. This is a true story about that pile of rocks and the man who put them there.

After a couple of laps I fell in stride with another dog walker named Wes. Wes is a senior citizen, a very large man. His doctor has ordered him to "get some weight off". So he is walking his two adorable long hair dachshunds, Oscar and Joe. Their short little legs have to work hard and it is getting hot, so he gives them breaks. Both dogs walk with him at once until one gets tired. Then one pup takes a rest inside the truck and the other gets 1:1 time with Wes. Used to he would leave his pups on their leash and let them get water and rest in the shade under his truck. They liked the shade and the outside air. This was their routine for a long time.

As we started our third lap, Wes stopped, took a rock from that pile I had noticed, and moved it to the top of another flat post. Wes explained that every time he completes a lap he moves a rock from one post to the other. So....when all the rocks have been moved to the second post, he has finished his 9 laps. Pretty smart I thought. Each lap is 1/3 mile so he is taking a 3 mile walk! I was impressed. Oh, and then he tells me he does this 3 times a day! he is walking 9 miles a day with his dogs and sometimes with a new friend like me.

Wes lost 35 pounds the first year he did this. His doctor was delighted. day while Wes was walking Oscar... and his other dog, Max,  was resting underneath the truck, two big dogs attacked little Max.   By the time Wes got to the truck to rescue Max, it was too late. In rage and grief Wes got his gun out of the truck and shot the two offending dogs. Pretty scary stuff! I hate guns. Period. But that's what he did. And I can understand why.

A court battle followed, grief continued, and Wes did not walk anymore. He stayed home in his chair. He felt guilty. He grieved Max. He ate. He got bigger and bigger and gained all his weight back and even more. He became depressed and just didn't care.

Fast forward a year and now he is back here at the park walking again. He has once again worked up to walking 3 miles at a time, 3 times a day and moving the rocks from one post to the next. He has a new pup, Joe. When his pups rest they stay inside the truck where it is safe.

The moral of the story? Well, life knocks us down every now and then. Often we bring it on ourselves but we never realize it at the time. Then, of course, we are at choice. Continue to grieve, sit, eat, drink, withdraw, blame, harbor anger, get sicker. Or, like Wes, we can make a different choice. If an old, lonely, grieving fat guy like Wes can manage to forgive, get off his butt, and start all over again to enjoy the day and his life, so can we.

Tell Me a Story

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Very Good Day

Art, Nature, Music, Literature:  The best parts of life. 

I got to visit Turnipseed Nursery and Art Studio yesterday and visit with the "grower, designer, artist" Steven Stinchcomb.  His paintings are stacked and hung inside this little studio just rich with everything I love.

Isn't this one great?   Buttons, it reminds me of you.  One of these days I will paint one of your cows for you.  Hopefully in this lifetime. 

Steven paints much more than cows but these were really speaking to me yesterday.  Moo!
I hope your day is filled with things you love.  That was yesterday for me....and now I'll set out to make today just as good.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Trash or Treasure?

This is one of my earliest paintings and I can see many "things wrong with it".  I put it in the trash bin last week......and I'm so glad I changed my mind and retrieved it before it was carted away!   I don't remember if it is oils or acrylics, oils I think.  It just makes me feel good.  Hope you enjoy it too.

12" x 16"
Wouldn't it be fun to live near the beach? To go there whenever the fresh air, sunshine, and breeze beckon?  To go there whenever you want to really feel oneness with nature, to sing out loud, to run and not even realize it, to breathe deeply, to think, play, cool your heels?  I don't live anywhere near the beach so I'm keeping my little beachy painting.  It will be the closest I get to the real thing for awhile.  Treasure for sure.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Getting To Know Andy Warhol 1928-1987

American Artist and Father of Pop Art
Even though someone once tried to murder him, he survived.  But years later, following routine gall bladder surgery, he died in his sleep.  When it's your time, it's your time.
We all agree with this but I'm wondering if we all do it.
"Open my eyes that I may see."  Remember that song?
And someone else said, "Things do not change, we change."
The artists I know all want to make money.  They want to make it doing what they love, but they do want to make it.

Very good advice for me. 

Did you know he coined this phrase?  It really stuck around didn't it.

And then there was the humble tomato soup can.  My favorite soup.

 Enjoy the day and see beauty in everything.  Create something that wasn't here yesterday.  Hmmmm.  What could that be?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gardening Without Gloves, Living Without Thought

Today was my day to plant flowers.  Purple waves all across the front of the house.  Here is what I'm envisioning once they mature.

Photo From The Garder's Companion

First  thing I had to do was thin out a big patch of overgrown mint (which I do not want), to make room for the lovely petunias (which I do want).

That is when I thought about what happened last week when I reached my naked hand into a bush to trim some dead leaves and a sudden, searing pain stabbed my gloveless hand. A vicous wasp attack that left me weak and wailing....yet realizing it was my own fault.

So today, once again carelessly gardening without gloves, reaching into overgrown patches I thought, "What if there is a snake in there?  What if a snake bites my hand?"  I decided, if that happened I would just call 911, and get them to save me.  About a minute passed and, you guessed it!  There is a snake right there.  Really.  It's amazing I didn't grab it!

It didn't bite me though.  I think he was just as glad I didn't bite him!  But it did cause me to think.   We all know our thoughts create our world. At least I think  most people agree with that to some degree. This was what I call a gentle reminder just for me of that very fact.  Did my thoughts have anything to do with the snake to showing up?   I don't know.  But as careless as I sometimes am with  thoughts and focus, I know I need little reminders to stay on track and live my life the way I choose.

So, okay, I will force myself to wear gloves when I garden... or be prepared to accept the consequences of wasp stings and snake bites, poison ivy, sunburn and scratches.  And I will watch my thoughts a little more carefully... or be prepared to accept the consequences.  And if I choose them more carefully I just might have a better day. 

And still, I know there is a big ole momma snake out there too....just in case I need a bigger reminder down the road.  God is so creative.   :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

In The Pink

Pink....such a delicate yet powerful color.  Once I decided I would wear "something" pink every day for the rest of my life.  Of course I did not.
 We think of pink as the color of love, compassion, and sweetness. We wrap baby girls in it from head to toe, and even though men wear pink now, we wouldn't think of wrapping our baby boys in pink blankets.  Would we?
A strong color made up a fiery, determined, out-there red tinted with white...pure and innocent. 
Innocence and strength is always alluring. 
 Pink calms us, nurtures us, relaxes us.
And it fights hard for women. 
 We love our rosy pink cheeks and lips, and if they aren't that way naturally, we help them out a bit. 

To be continued.

Friday, May 10, 2013

An Old Friend and a Cup of Coffee

There isn't much better in this world than being with those we care about.  We think of our families first.  Like a fish jumping in the lake, family is our first "ripple ring".  But there many more rings as the ripples spread.  Your best friends, your colleagues, or your neighbors all may end up in your ripple effect.

The other day I heard a quote that said, "Never miss a chance to hug an old friend". It's now on my refrigerator fighting for a place amid all the healthy eating signs my husband hangs there. Today I not only got to hug one but I got to have coffee with her too

We shared so much it exhausts me to think about it.  Working together day in and day out for years.  Handling usually difficult situations that could bring you to tears, laughter, or just frustration equally fast. Sharing a glance in a tense meeting and reading each other's minds.  Partying too.  And then, fast forward. Time moves on and they are gone from your daily life. 

It was like we were talking about yesterday.  So real.  Catching up on all the people we know...the one who had open heart surgery yesterday, the one who lost 60 pounds, the one moving to Destin, Florida.    But best of all we talked about now!  The now is retirement...the time when you can do whatever you want to do.  A gift from the Gods!!!!!!

Talking about the past is fun but we don't live there anymore and we don't want to.  Now we want to talk about new Ipads , yoga, her new blog, learning to paint, volunteering at MUST Ministries, reading at the library, planning a trip, staying healthy, and just loving each and every day.

Were you a Brownie?  Or a Girl Scout?  I was.  That's where I learned to sing, "Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other gold."  I hope I never forget it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Blogging Isn't What It Used To Be

No, blogging is not what it used to be. 

Don't you agree?  Blogging has morphed into marketing and personal branding.  Everyone wants to make money online.  I'm all for that!  I make money on Ebay so I get it.  It's just that I thought blogging was about sharing our lives.  At least that is what I experienced.  It was safe, free, and pure.

After being away from my blog for 6 months or so, I returned to a new landscape.  Many posts read more like discount store ads than anything else.  I could get a masters degree in the business of coupons, freebies,  reviews, give-aways, free products,  promotion, surveys, and affiliate marketing.  Instead of sharing our lives and our insights, our humor, our creativity, it seems now about building a business.

So I just don't read those blogs anymore. 

I'd much rather learn about you and your every day lives around the globe.  I'm interested in your photography, your poetry, your ups and down, your humor, your stories.  Now, I don't know how last week's current event affected you.  I no longer know what happened to you when a flood or hurricane hit your town. I don't know if you knew anybody at the Boston Marathon.  I have no idea what a dinner at your house is like, or how the weather is treating you.   I don't know what you are reading or what you did on your birthday or where you went on vacation or if you are loving life or struggling with it. Your place in the world is once again far away and foreign to me. Impersonal. Cold.

Not to be overly dramatic but I often thought of "us bloggers" as tiny steppers toward "world peace".  Don't laugh. Sprinkling our unique experiences and wisdom around the globe had the potential to foster understanding among folks at a kitchen table in the Ukraine, on a back porch in Georgia, and at a theater in New York City. 

I do miss reading your philosophy and seeing how we all think.  I miss feeling your authenticity whether the joy of being in remission, sadness from loss, lack of balance, doubt, fear, appreciation, or celebration. 

Everyone blogs for different reasons. For me it is just about self expression....exchanging mine with yours for fun and for the greater good.

It is definitely not to find coupons and deals.  Although today... Walgreens has an 8x10 photo collage for free.  Oh, never mind.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Memories For Me

Many times I write a post just for me.  Most of the time, really, I guess.  This one is especially for me.

Yesterday we celebrated mom's 93rd birthday.  No big party this time; just a few friends/family coming and going.  She had an absolute blast of a day.  Not so much about doing her favorite things anymore or going to her favorite places.  None of that matters.  Only being with special people.

Yesterday the special people were her  nephew, "Will-yum", now Bill to the world, and his wonderful wife Sandy.  I kept it a surprise so when they came to pick her up,  she was over the moon.  My birthday treat for her  (crashing on her sofa and having a spend-the-night party at her assisted living place)  paled in comparison to seeing a favorite nephew.   I am special, but I am also "old hat". 

I should have had a pad and pencil handy throughout the day!  After 90 most filters are gone and what comes out of the mouth is pure, unadulterated, in-the-moment personal truth.  And, as is true for all of us, she's not so sure she'll see you tomorrow.  Let's see, what can I remember?

  • Mother:  "William, do you give God thanks for where you are in life?"  (because if you don't you are "fixing" to get a lecture) 
  • Bill:  "I tell you what Aunt Frances.  When I wake up every morning, that's the first thing I do, even before my feet hit the floor."
  • Mother:  Beaming, and doing a little fist punch of joy in the air, mother has now relegated him to sainthood for sure.

  • Mother to me:  "When you were born your daddy was traveling. When he got to the hospital, he gave me a hug, and then went over and picked up that tiny bundle over there",  pointing to the other side of the room as if it was happening now.  He just hugged you up close and told you something.  I didn't hear him but I think he said, 'Hey. I'm your daddy.'  And you had the best daddy in the world."  Yes, I did.

  • Mother:  "I just don't understand why God didn't let Marion or Dot, (her deceased sisters-in-law), stay around longer to be my buddy.  Looks like he would have left one of them." 

  • Mother to me, her money manager:  "Am I still giving money to the church?"  Me.  "Some. Not as much as you once were."  Mother giving me one of those looks:  "Don't ever forget.  You can't outgive God."  And truer words have never been spoken.

  • Mother's favorite birthday gift wasn't the painting, the chocolates, or the flowers.  What she loved most was a new paperback world atlas I gave her. I knew she would. That is so my mother.

And the pink scarf from Gwen

  • Another favorite gift was the pound cake my sister made from an old family recipe and served on mother's old cake plate she had used a million times.  The cake had the "streak" and everything.  The old cake cover had dents and everything.  "Use a sharp knife", she says.  "That one just saws it off." (Oops, no sharp knives in assisted living.) 

Mother to my sister:  "I need to go shopping and see what's on the racks."

I think the reason this day was so precious to me was the journey we took to get to this happy place.  It was a long one but I know that mother is as happy as she can be, well cared for, reading books, and talking about going shopping.  That's just a big wow.
Oh yeah, and her toe nails are painted in silver glitter.  Really.  Way to go, Shirley.

Every day is a gift......And I will also remember the journey is only the journey.  It is not the end.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Movies Or Books?

Would you rather read the book first... or see the movie and then read the book?

Or do you skip the book altogether?  Or do you skip the movie altogether?

I love both.  The book is undoubtedly filled with so many more details and explanations that it is richer by far and more complete than any movie could be.  The book tells you everything, or most of them do. 

The problem is that movies can't possibly contain the details of a book.  So much is left out.  That leaves me wanting more.  You do get to see the characters you have conjured up in your mind but usually they don't match.  You've formed a relationship with these characters in the book.  Then they show up differently.  (Sometimes we do that in real life too.)

If I see the movie first, I have no interest in reading the book because I already know the story and that's the bottom line for me.  If I read the book first, I enjoy the movie but wish they hadn't left out so much.

The Great Gatsby is opening in a few days.  So we can see the movie remake starting May 10 'at theaters everywhere'.  The book has been out since the 1920s so there's a good chance we've already read it.  If not, it's in the library.  The original movie has the young Robert Redford.....but it still doesn't hold a candle to the book.  I expect to thoroughly enjoy the sheer delight a movie brings.  But the only reason I'll know "how it really was" is because I read the book. 

And you?  Book or movie or both?


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Change Is Always With Us

My older son is a Landscape Architect/Designer.  He designs outdoor property to suit people's individual tastes and desires and helps them solve problems.  Everyday he is acting upon something I often heard growing up.  "Leave a place better than you found it."  He is doing that.

Just three days ago, he sent me this photo of the view from a client's back yard.  Spectacular.

Today, Friday, May 2, he sent this one.

What a change, huh. 

I started writing this simple post about how fast things can change.  If you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes and it will change.   Sunny, snowy, back to sunny.   In three days we go from beautiful, brilliant Spring to beautiful, brilliant snow.  The end.

But as I write, I remember what is really important, the nugget as they say. It's not just observing changes happening around us.  It's remembering that, as we go through our day, ....every moment we are at choice.   If we can't actually change a situation, we can choose to change the way we look at it.  We can focus on the gift instead of being halted by the challenge. We can respond thoughtfully to a situation rather than just reacting to it.

We can choose to feel, to see, to tolerate, to celebrate, to enjoy, to be miserable.  You agree?

Sometimes we want change to "hurry up"! Sometimes we want a moment to last forever.  And even though the sunny day is easier to love, you must admit the snowy cold day is really just as beautiful.

Enjoy this day!