Vision

This year I took a class on creating a vision board.  You spend an afternoon cutting out words and pictures from magazines with what you want the next year to look like.  You pick goals in areas like: career, health, spiritual, personal, relationship, financial.

The thinking is that if you look at your goals everyday and keep your focus on what you want, you will be more likely to achieve it.

I did one in August and then one in October with a friend as a fun evening activity on a girls night away.  I have found that when I look at the goals, I am more active in working toward them.  For instance, the financial goal of paying down the mortgage and looking at getting a single family home, I find that I will delete sale emails on clothes or buy groceries rather than eat out.  I am making different choices because the goal is fresh in my mind.

Writing down goals or doing a vision board keeps your goals in the forefront of your mind.  And, when you write them down, you are more likely to achieve them.

One goal I made for myself for 2019 is to do 12 charitable acts.  I mentioned this in my New Years’ day post.  I’m excited to find some new and continue with some current organizations.

What is a goal you would like to achieve in 2019?

Wishing you a year filled with adventures and a vision for a successful, content 2019!

 

-Elle

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Small Joys

Looking back on Christmas, two of my nephews live out of state and my sister sent pictures of them opening the gifts I had sent.

Buying stocking stuffers (inexpensive, fun trinkets) is some of the most fun of the shopping season.  They are getting older now and their wish list can get expensive.  They got a bigger ticket item each, but their favorite things were the stocking stuffers.

One of the great things about being child free is the joy (and freedom) to buy toys without retribution.  I bought one nephew a voice changer.  My sister said he was using that all day, changing his voice to one of the many options.  I loved that he loved the stocking stuffer.  And, I loved that I didn’t have to worry about it being a noisy gift.  I have no children where she could send an equally noisy gift.  J

Isn’t that how it is in life that sometimes the small things mean the most?  The little things a friend notices or a small token gift that is perfect for you.  It doesn’t have to be costly; it touches your heart and fills you with joy.

Even at work, I take a minute in the dark of winter, to gaze out the window at the sunrise (I’m already at work by the time the winter sun rises).  Or driving on errands in the evenings, to enjoy the cities’ Christmas lights that frame the street so brightly.  Find small joys this week.

What is one thing you noticed or one thing that brought you joy?

-Elle

Twelve

One thing I am seeking to do this year, is to achieve different goals.  New goals.

In 2018, I read two books a week.  I have a longer commute and use the time to listen to Audible.  I believe reading and writing regularly makes me better.  I can better communicate and have fresh ideas from a variety of sources.  This helps in both personal and professional growth.

I also ended my evenings with comedy.  I would watch a YouTube clip of some comedian on Dry Bar Comedy.  Something to lighten my mind before bed.  I used to watch the news before bed, but content was so heavy and often tragic.  I few minutes helps to re-focus my mind on a light hearted subject.

This year, I would like to do twelve charitable acts.  Donating my time in different, various organizations.  One per month will give me the time to research events that need help or ways to serve.  Last year, I volunteered with 4 organizations.  And, I’d like to see what is out in my community.

Do you have any suggestions on organizations where you volunteer?

Do you have a new goal this year?  Wishing you a Happy New Year!

 

-Elle

Weathering the Weather

The Midwest got an early snow this year.  The south had flooding.  The west had droughts.  No matter where you live, it seemed to have some extreme weather.

A Florida cousin posted on Facebook- “it’s 83 here today.  How is it by you?”  Ouch!  Until I read a family member’s humorous response: “Snow > Alligators.”   I laughed.

In the middle of snow, we can glamorize sunny places.  But, in the middle of a Texas summer, you glamorize a cooler Midwest.  Or, in the middle of a drought, you glamorize a good rain soaking.  But, in the middle of a flood, you wish for a drier climate.

I have heard it said that if everyone put their problems in a suitcase and put them in the middle of a group, upon inspection . . .  each person would still select their problems from the pile.  And, I think it is the same with weather.  You know how to drive, live, and work around issues related to your local climate.

Given your choice, you’d probably choose your own weather.  I know I would.

Whatever your weather is this December, wishing you well.

 

-Elle

The Art of Giving

Holidays can be joyful.  But, holidays can be tough.  Too much to do in too little time and with too little daylight.  For me, I had to fight to find Christmas joyful after the kids left.  Kids make the holidays magical with their wide-eyed wonder.  Little kids are so excited to see the lights, stay up late, and unwrap gifts on Christmas morning.  Adults don’t bring that same level of excitement.   Whatever your situation this Christmas, here are some things that have helped me to get through the holidays.  I’d even say- find joy- in the holidays.

  1. Pair down your shopping list. I start shopping early to take advantage of sales.  But, even my nieces and nephews get: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.
  2. Host your party at a non-traditional time. Have a brunch or dessert or open house.  People can feel free to drop by and your party won’t break the bank.
  3. Spend time together. Instead of exchanging, get together with a friend and go see a concert or see the Christmas lights.  There’s only so many gift cards I need.  But, getting a coffee or hot chocolate and driving around a lit up neighborhood brings me joy.
  4. Save yourself some time by letting a ‘professional’ do the task. Pick up the cake rather than baking it.  Hire a ‘task rabbit’ (through an ap) to do your chore; you put the task on and hire someone to clean, organize, wait in line, etc. Have groceries delivered through a service like Peapod or Shipt.
  5. Buy for someone who can’t pay you back. I get a gift card for the two cleaning people at my work office.  I’ve seen what co-workers do to the washroom and how people treat the work microwaves/ lunchroom.  The cleaning staff deserve to be recognized.
  6. Start a new tradition. Whether you buy new pajamas and open them Christmas eve or attend a free church concert . . . pick something fun and run with it.  Let this be Year 1 of a new tradition on your calendar.

 

Wishing you a merry December and a joyous Christmas!

 

-Elle

Paperwhites

One of my favorite things is flowers.  Fresh cut flowers. I’ll tell my husband that I need vitamin ‘F’ the way some people say they need Vitamin C if they have a cold or Vitamin D in the middle of winter.

Years ago, my husband’s aunt sent us a paperwhite plant.  They sprout quickly and bloom despite the cold.  The stem is thinner than a tulip’s stem and holds the flower at the tippy top.  It thrives despite a precocious design and growing season.   Mine has sprung up over 15 inches in the week I’ve had it.  It’s the last thing I look at before leaving the house each day and brings a joy to my spirit.

It’s a reminder to bloom where you are.  In your own season.  In your own time.

As we head close out November and march toward year end, may you stop in the hustle and find joy in the small things.

 

-Elle

Fall Leaves

I love places that have 4 distinct seasons.    It reminds me of the quote: “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”  – Albert Camus

I especially like red leaves.  There are bushes I’ve seen that turn from green to cherry red around this time of year.  They immediately catch your eye.  Trees that turn a crimson orange are striking as well.  While summer is monotone with green painting the landscape, fall in the Midwest has leaves of a rainbow of hues.

A thought struck me: these leaves are in the process of dying.  Yet, they give off this great beauty.  There is beauty in death although it can be hard to see amongst the debris.  Death comes in many forms; losing a loved one, death of an idea/ideology, death of a dream, death of a relationship.

Today, I am focusing on the death of a dream.  I was on a ½ marathon team for the last two years before injuring my knee.  I have a triathalon on my bucket list and was hoping the half marathon would be a springboard to that wish.  While training, I enjoyed the journey; it was hard and humbling, but rewarding.  After getting ‘benched,’ I had to go through knee shots and physical therapy.  I expected to be returned to ‘whole’ but didn’t bounce back.  It was hard and painful to give up training this year.  I mourned.  It was a death to self.  I had to give up that part of me and it took me a while to embrace it.

I felt weak – physically and emotionally.  I fought it before embracing a new normal.  Like the leaves changing color, I have turned my attention to other pursuits.  A change of color, a change of pace, a change of vision.  I made a vision board with a friend; mapping out what my next year will look like in cutouts from magazines.

My path was changed, and couldn’t be avoided . . . like the change of season.  But, I’m trying to look for the beauty in the small things.  I used the time I would have used training to volunteer elsewhere and still support the team I trained with.  And I’m now challenging myself in new areas.  I’m stronger in different areas.  I’m putting my name in a hat for a public speaking open mic night- a step of courage for an introvert.

I’ve turned over a new leaf.  It’s a beautiful, messy, wonderful life- and it’s mine.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Elle

Fragile

When I was 22, on the eve of my birthday, I was a passenger in a serious car accident.  When merging onto a road off an expressway exit ramp, we hit an icy spot.  Since we were accelerating to merge, the car fishtailed across the lanes and hit the cement median on the front left of the car.  The car ‘bounced’ and slammed against the medium, coming to rest with the driver’s side against the cement median.

The car frame was bent, I was bleeding (I bit my lip upon impact), and the car filled with smoke.  I thought: “I survived the car wreck only to die in a fire.”  Luckily, it was the powder from the air bag deploying and the ‘smoke’ dissipated. I feel lucky to have survived the crumpled wreck.

I recall when Job in the Bible loses everything and has to start over.  I have thought about people having ‘Job moments’ when things turn topsy turvy.  For me, this was a ‘Job moment’.   I have looked at my life after this time as borrowed time.  I was living for a reason.  I must not have fulfilled my purpose and was kept here.  I would be grateful for the opportunity.

Last month, I visited the Oklahoma memorial museum.  As I learned about the Oklahoma City bombing and the individual stories of those who gave their lives and those survivors, one story stood out to me.  In the corner of a room was a framed dress.  The person’s name tag was on it and the calf length dress had one ‘V’ shaped tear at the hip the size of a quarter.  What was remarkable about the dress with a small rip in it?  The women’s colleagues all perished in the bombing; she was the sole survivor of her area.  And she survived with only a small tear.

It was like being touched and saved almost unscathed.  Everything would feel different, but saved.

I was brought back to my own ‘Job moment’ when I realized I lived and would try to redeem my life by living fully and kindly.  I know I have been redeemed, but this is a gratitude for the gift of life.  Now, I try to think, “Why not me?” instead of ‘Why me?”  In good times and bad.

Have you had a ‘Job moment’?  What did you learn from the experience?

-Elle

Doing the Difficult

I wanted to update on an earlier blog post about advocating for your own health care.  After going to 4 doctors, my abdominal ‘lump’ was deemed irregular tissue.  I don’t need to worry about or get cut out.  No follow up appointments.  Apparently, even the fat on my stomach wants to be individually unique.  It was a scary few months getting insurance approval for the next doctor, getting an appointment, and waiting.  Waiting can be the worst (at least for me who wants answers NOW).

We face events we don’t look forward to or decisions we don’t want to make.  Delay can seem like a good option.  It is not.

When you face difficult times, build in incentives for yourself.  I may delay a pleasant activity until I complete the difficult one.  I got a Groupon for a facial and booked the appointment for after my doctor’s appointment.  That way I had something to look forward to.   No matter what the news was, I had something to look forward to that day.  Or, I may go through the mail when I get home, but set aside the magazine until after I’ve organized the junk drawer that has been screaming for help.  Taking a walk, checking out a book at the library, volunteering at your favorite charity- these are all ways to ‘treat’ yourself while not breaking the bank.

Build in incentives to get you through difficult times and help you achieve your goals. Whether that is a difficult meeting, decision, or lifestyle change.

What are you delaying doing right now?  What can you do today to achieve it?  And, what is the incentive you will ‘treat’ yourself to after you’ve completed it?

You can do it!  Be your best.

-Elle

The Process

This week was Halloween, but do you know what is really scary to some people?  Silence.  A tech-free environment.  Spending an hour unconnected.

Do you engage silence?  I find that, when I don’t want to face what is going on, I bombard myself with busy-ness.

I overcommit.  I pick up my phone and search the internet when I get up.  I get into my car and turn on music.  I work full, long days.  I volunteer or meet up with people in the evenings.  I watch TV before bed.  There is little quiet, little contemplation.

A friend told me about a retreat she went on.  She took a long weekend and a convent hosted a retreat where everyone had their own room and the weekend was focused on silence and working on yourself.   Even the meals were silent, guests sitting mixed amongst the nuns who live there.  She said she felt so refreshed from having time to reconnect with her spirit and rest and notice all that was around her.   It sounds similar to books that I’ve read where people have gone to ashrams in India or the Boundary Waters in Minnesota and had an extended period of silence.

Be careful to avoid feeling by overcommitting or being constantly busy.  You can’t heal unless you deal with your emotions.

We get too little rest in overcommitting to tasks to try to mask the pain by being busy.  We may avoid others and stay inside as an escape of awkward interactions.  We may take in too many calories to eat our feelings, covering our hurt with food that doesn’t fuel our life.  Whatever your coping mechanisms are, be cognizant of what that or those are so you can try to actively work through those.  You can’t cover your feelings- deal with them so you can have a productive and contented life.

Settle in, feel your feelings, and work through them.  Your future you will thank you.

 

-Elle