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Archive for March, 2010

Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the little things in life that make us happy. We get so caught up in the chaos of daily life, that we often forget to delight in its daily pleasures. Every day, we owe it to ourselves to take time to breathe deeply and to soak in the small pleasures that make life worth living. No matter how stressful or bad your day has been, take a minute to think of something that makes you really happy, and if you’re able to at the time – act on it, if you can’t – reminisce about a time you enjoyed the small pleasure.Β  You’ll feel relaxed and will be smiling before you know it. And don’t push this 5 minute activity aside for “tomorrow” – remember, your own happiness is worth more than gold, and there are zillions of things in this world that make each of us happy.

The nice people over at Shine from Yahoo have gone ahead and done the dirty work for us. They have created a list of 101 small pleasures we can enjoy every day – we don’t even have to do the thinking on this one – now that’s a small pleasure in itself! πŸ™‚ I guarantee, however, that just skimming this list will induce some self-thinking about what you individually delight in – so grab a pen and paper and jot down all the little pleasures that make you happy. When you’re feeling blue, grab this list and remind yourself how lucky you are to have so many things that elate you. I truly believe that it’s the small stuff in life that really matters.

After reading Shine’s article, I created my own list of 20 small pleasures that make me feel gratified. I plan on starting a journal to list out my favorite pleasures (starting with the 20 below) and adding to it whenever I feel a twinge of inspiration. I can’t wait to relish in all the small pleasures and tokens of happiness that await me!

20 Small Pleasures I Delight In:

1. When my niece and nephew call me “Norsey” – the nickname my niece thought up for me

2. Savoring a large piece of birthday cake (whether it’s my birthday or not!)

3. Watching the sun rise or set

4. Sleeping in freshly washed sheets

5. Taking long walks with my girlfriends

6. Working on a crossword puzzle and completing it (or getting close to completing it!)

7. Feeling warm sunshine on my (sun-screened!) skin

8. Looking at family photo albums

9. Drinking margaritas and eating cheese dip outside on a hot day

10. Swinging on swings at a park or on a porch swing

11. Causing another person’s laughter

12. Sitting by the fire curled up in a blanket on a cold night

13. When my cat fall asleep on my lap

14. Reading a children’s book and looking at all the pictures

15. Chewing 2 pieces of Extra watermelon-flavored gum at once

16. Making a PB&J on white, fluffy bread and smashing it thin before I eat it

17. Taking a hot shower after a long, hard workout

18. Finding the perfect pair of jeans

19. Enjoying a nice summer night outside without getting any mosquito bites (or at least only getting a few!)

20. Soaking in the sight of beautiful gardens in the spring full of fresh, vibrant flowers

What does your own Happy Road consist of???

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Check out these adorable (and lesson-inducing) videos of two creatures who are supposed to despise each other – cats and dogs – not only getting along, but loving each other. If cats and dogs can get past their differences and co-exist in love, can’t democrats and republicans, Palestine and Israel, oil and water, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner…and you and your enemy?

When you’re feeling mad and frustrated with someone who has wronged you, be the bigger and better person and relinquish your hatred as hard as it may be to do. The act of forgiveness takes courage and only those persons truly at peace with themselves will take the risk and shake hands with their enemies. As Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

Think about it – what has hatred done for you lately? Personally, hatred has done a lot for me over the years including tearing my soul to shreds, inducing tears, and closing off my heart to others. Like we should with all enemies, I am going to chose to shake hands with my hatred (an enemy of us all!), tell him I forgive him for occupying my mind for so long, and in as kind a voice as possible – tell him to “take a hike!”

So here and now, I declare that I fully forgive those persons who have wronged me in the past, and I hope that those I have wronged will forgive me as well. I also forgive myself for holding on to hatred for so long – for I’m ready to set it free and start anew! It’s time for us to all come to terms with our mistakes and the mistakes of others and to refurbish ourselves as whole entities full of grace, acceptance, and love. Open your heart to yourself first, then open it to all those around you – remember, if dogs and cats can learn to love each other, anyone can! πŸ™‚

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Because I am moving in a few short weeks, I’ve been spending some of my free time (actually, most of my time – what do you expect – I don’t have a job?!) going through all of my belongings deciding what stays, what goes, and what becomes one with the landfill (or recycling plant for all my “green” friends out there). I often tear out magazine and newspaper articles that I come across and want to read but just don’t have the time to focus on at the moment. I tear them out, throw out (recycle!) the remainder magazines and/or newspapers, and store the clippings in safe keeping for a future read-a-thon. During my read-a-thons, I fish out the folder(s) full of all my “save for later” articles and begin reading – my mind clear and ready to absorb the information – so I can eventually recycle those articles as well and replenish my “save for later” folder with new and up-do-date information. This past Saturday night, I turned off the T.V, grabbed some jelly beans (okay, so they aren’t really necessary for the read-a-thon, but they make it that much better in the end), cleaned off my glasses, and prepared myself for an all night article fest.

I scoured numerous articles I had saved on politics, health issues, fitness, etc., and I learned how to adequately care for sweaters, remove red wine stains, and perform a proper standing lunge. Yes, all very useful information, but the one article I came across that really resonated with me and made me feel inspired and uplifted was entitled “Habits of Happy Women” that I tore out of a past issue of SELF magazine. This article encourages readers to “find a serene spot, pull out a pen, and list your never-fail pleasures, no matter how goofy or self-indulgent they sound,” because, sometimes, happiness is hard to get a hold of and we all need a few guaranteed tactics to make us feel better and feel happier when times are rough. So, I suggest we all listen to SELF and start jotting down and acting upon the fool-proof ways that individually lift our spirits. Or, take the advice of the women interviewed in the article (I listed out 10 of the top suggestions) and try out their happy habits (or similar ones!) to see if they work for you. I also added one of my own and hope you will add your favorite as well to share with all of the blog readers. Now,read on, start writing, and get ready to start smiling! πŸ™‚

Photograph something every day:

“Four years ago, I started carting my camera everywhere and taking one photo a day. Sure, I have a lot of pictures of flowers or strangers in the laundry room of my apartment building, but I also have snapshots of my sister’s baby, friends’ weddings, sailing in St. Vincent and people who have come in and out of my life that I would have forgotten if I hadn’t captured them on film. When I sit down and look through my albums – another ritual in and of itself – I realize that even though I complain about my life at times, there are many reasons to be happy.”

Connect with your crew:

“The spring after my father died, I felt the need to strengthen my bonds with friends. So I organized a ‘Women I Love’ lunch as a way to boost my spirits. I invited all my friends over, we ate takeout, and one by one, I stood behind each woman and explained why I loved her. At the end of the afternoon, my friends all said, ‘You have to do this next year!’ and an annual tradition was born.”

Rock out:

“Whenever I need a lift, I get in the car, turn up my radio and sing at the top of my lungs. I may look foolish to the people in the next lane, but I’ll never see them again, so who cares?”

Be Hallmark happy:

“I love browsing in stationery stores. Typically, I’ll buy 10 or 15 funny cards all at once, stamp them, then toss them in my purse. That way, when I have a minute here or there – standing in line, waiting at the doctor – I’ll write a ‘thinking of you’ note to a friend and send it off. It gives me a good feeling knowing that they’ll have a pleasant surprise waiting for them in their mailbox.”

Enjoy a creative moment:

“When I was in Venice, I bought a leather journal that I now carry with me everywhere.l When I need an escape or just want to record a beautiful scene, I fill the pages with words or drawings. I love looking back and reflecting on what I’ve seen and heard. It keeps me linked to places I care about.”

Write a chain letter:

“After college, six of my best friends and I started a circle letter. The first person on the list writes a letter and sends it to the next person in the chain; she then adds her own letter and a treasure or two, and sends everything to the third, and so on. When it’s my turn, I put all my responsibilities on hold, curl up on the couch and sift through the photos, letters and clippings. It’s one of my favorite ways to reconnect.”

Get out the Kleenex:

“A couple of times a year I watch really sad movies, like When a Man Loves a Woman, by myself. I start crying, then I remember that this isn’t my real life and I feel better! It’s sort of reverse psychology.”

Eat like a queen:

“When I was growing up, my family had a tradition of marking our accomplishments by having the person of the hour eat off a red plate. So when I got engaged, my parents gave my fiance and me our own red plate. It reminds me how easy it is to make someone feel special. We use it to acknowledge things like finishing our taxes or getting a raise. When our puppy graduated from obedience school, he even got to eat off the red plate!”

Do something girly:

“Getting my nails done always turns my bad moods around. I usually manage to visit the salon once a week, which makes me feel in control of my otherwise hectic life. The flip side is that if my nails look scraggly, I know I need to slow down.”

Take the plunge:

“I live close to the ocean, so when I return home from work in the evenings, I like to walk by the beach, regardless of the season. If the temperature allows, I take a swim and ride some waves. When no one’s around, I may even skinny-dip. Being in the surf always makes the world melt away.”

My own fool-proof way to lift my spirits:

“I climb into some comfy clothes, turn off my phone, pop some popcorn or scoop out some ice-cream, sprawl out on the couch and watch an hour of hilarious Will and Grace, Friends, or The Office reruns. I push my ‘To-Do’ list out of sight and push anxiety and worry out of mind and, instead, zone in on the hilarious hi-jinks of Jack and Karen, Chandler and Joey, or Jim and Dwight. No matter how blue I am, I can’t help but laugh at a good joke :)”

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Oh my goodness! It has been a week-and-a-halfΒ  since I have written a new blog post – I most sincerely apologize for the delay! Last weekend, one of my best friend’s left her home in the Capital City for a few days to come visit her ole friends in her previous home down in the Dirty South. The whole gang had a wonderful weekend catching up over delicious meals (except for Saturday – I contracted a stomach bug or had food poisoning and was out of commission for the day/night), and I was sad to see her go come Sunday 😦 I am comforted, however, by the fact that Jenny (“Little Jenny” as I fondly call her) is following her dreams – she lives in her dream city and has her dream job and is continuing to tackle her dreams one-by-one. I am so proud of her, and although she isn’t around for last minute trips to the mall and Wednesday night margaritas and cheese dip, I can’t help but be happy for her that she can wake up smiling knowing she’s on her way to living the life she’s always dreamed. This got me thinking – isn’t this what we should all be doing? Shouldn’t we all be chasing (and getting closer to catching) our dreams everyday?

Changing your life in order to follow your dreams is scary. Trust me – I know. I’m scared to death right now. I am leaving a group of extraordinary friends, a city with more to do than I could ever imagine actually getting done, a state I’ve lived in for the past 8 years, and a lifestyle and schedule in which I’ve grown quite accustomed in order to pursue my own dreams. Unfortunately, my dreams can’t be realized in the city of Atlanta, so I must venture out of my bubble to the unknown (first stop – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and, essentially, start over.

If you know me at all, are my Facebook friend, have read my “About Me” on this blog, or all of the above, you pretty much know by now that I try and live my life based on the following quote from Erma Bombeck:

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.'”

For the past three years, I haven’t been pursuing my calling. If I died tomorrow, I wouldn’t be able to stand before God and truly say that “I used everything You gave me.” I didn’t use the positive aspects of my personality in my advertising/search marketing career, and although I learned a great deal about the business/advertising world, I realized that it just isn’t for me. I don’t want to shake hands with it ever again, and I don’t think it really wants me to return.

I am giving up my life sitting behind a computer and fixing websites in order to pursue a career where I feel that I will matter. I am going to begin graduate school this summer to obtain a Master’s in Library Science with a specialization in School Library Media in order to become an elementary school librarian/media specialist. I know that my unique talents include the abilities to make people laugh/smile, to truly listen and learn from children, and to creatively teach others how to expand their minds through reading and obtaining information. I want to go into work excited for the day and leave work feeling like I made a difference. I want to use my talents in order to give back. I truly believe that a life that is not spent helping people in one way or another is a wasted life. To give as much as you can – whether it’s your time, support, money, help, encouragement, etc. – that is to have succeeded. That is to have lived a full life.

I’ll say it again – chasing your dreams is scary – there is nothing more nerve-wracking than giving up the known in order to venture into the unknown. When I start to feel my chest tighten, my heartbeat race, and my stomach tie up in knots, I think about all of my family, friends, and mentors who have taken a dive into their own unknown abbyss – only to come out stronger and happier on the other side. We are too young to live only a life of contentment – let’s try and live a life of pure happiness filled with soul-enhancing and life-changing experiences. Although I leave my beloved Atlanta in less than a month, I am looking forward to the future and to capturing my dreams head on and, of course, to the day that I will get to smile at God and tell Him that “I used everything You gave me.”

Every morning you have two choices - continue your sleep with dreaming or wake up and chase your dreams - the choice is yours.

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