Hello, Beautiful!

Monkey mirrorStudies show simply hearing a compliment, such as “You are beautiful,” even from a perfect stranger – can brighten your day.

Why wait for someone to tell you that you are beautiful? Why not start each day by looking into those sweet little eyes of yours in the mirror and sharing a “Hello, Beautiful” with yourself? 

Telling yourself you are beautiful, is an act of self-compassion. Saying it out loud is a act of courage, and can reduce your holiday stress by putting a smile on your face and maybe even a bit of merry in your mood.

Don’t worry if you feel shy, or even embarrassed; keep up the practice and you will feel the joy. The happier you are, the more likely you will be to notice the beauty in the people and the world around you, which is a true expression of the holiday spirit. And, you can share your joy by letting others know how beautiful they are, which is the perfect gift for strangers or your loved ones.

Start today, and by the New Year you will be welcoming 2019 with a brand new perspective to keep the good feelings flowing throughout the year. 

Give it a try, Beautiful, because you are gorgeous, inside and out, and you deserve to hear it much more often.

If you are still hesitant to give it a try, check out this video,  or this one, or this one, or even this one, to see people’s happiness when they are told how beautiful they are. It is heartwarming and my holiday gift you to, and it’s guaranteed to make you smile!

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Measure what matters

Knowing what matters to you and focusing on it can make your holiday season richer, more memorable, and way more fun!

Unfortunately, many of us have a tendency to fill our holidays with strife and worry and thoughts of who gets what and who doesn’t; who gathers where and who doesn’t and what gets done and what doesn’t, we drown out much of the joy of the holiday season before it even has a chance to surface.

We layer our lives with so much stress that when magical moments appear – the kids playing quietly in front of the lit Christmas tree at dusk, an unexpected card or gift from a loved one, watching a child help a grand parent, a heartfelt hug or the mention of how much we mean to someone or even the kind gesture of a stranger – we barely notice or bother to savor them.

The good news is, studies show that what we focus on tends to grow. Therefore, if we focus on what really matters to us, we can increase the likelihood that those things will move center stage in our lives because we will be more likely to notice and enjoy them.

Start by asking yourself what really matters to you.

Christmas Holiday (2)What do you want to celebrate throughout the holiday season?

What are your personal beliefs and values related to the season?

In simplest terms, what is most important to you? Family? Love? Togetherness? Religion? New Experiences? Traditions? Food? Fun?

Once you know what matters it will be much easier to notice those things and begin planning ways to integrate more of them into your holiday plans. And, with practice you will soon be sloughing of the stress and slights that normally occupy your mind.

How to make your season brighter

  1. Ask yourself what really matters to you. What do you want to hold in your heart this holiday season?
  2. Then capture every moment that matches what matters to you. Note and savor the moments as they occur.
  3. To reinforce your resolve and truly impact your holiday spirit, use one of these suggestions.
    • Jot down your memorable moments in a journal. (You can start a special holiday journal, pack it way with the holiday decorations and have the fun of re-reading and adding to it each year.)
    • Write your moments on bits of paper and store them in a jar to read during or after the holiday. (The jar can be saved from year to year and enjoyed year- long or before next year’s holiday season.)
    • Write your moments on holiday-colored paper and create a paper chain throughout the holiday with all the moments you have enjoyed and want to remember.
    • Encourage your kids, spouses and even your guests to add their special holiday moments to your jar or chain and watch them grow along with everyone’s holiday spirit. (Next year to spread the joy, you can make gift jars or chain supplies for other family members and share them in November or early December!)
    • Take a few minutes each night before you go to bed or when you wake-up to review these special moments.
    • Or, simply put a penny in a jar or bowl to capture each moment and watch your “riches” grow.

Truth is, we are in control of the holidays ahead. I know it seems like life is moving too fast, and that the gift lists, demands and commitments grow longer and greater each year, but in my case so has the love. And, the more I remind myself of that, the brighter my season shines.

Here’s to enjoying the holidays ahead!

Please note: This post was adapted from an previous year’s Wishful Thinking Works post, because I loved it so much and it was a great holiday reminder for me!

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Each moment

The Thanksgiving Slump

Does this sound familiar?dog-1926763__340

You’ve spent the past two days eating way too much, and you’ve been beating up on yourself for almost as long. And now, you are making promises to yourself you can’t possibly or won’t keep. “I’m not going to eat anything today.” “I’m going to fast and just drink liquids.” “I’m going to go to the gym every day this week!” “Just water for me, please.” Or, you’ve already thrown in the towel and decided to spend the next few weeks eating anything and everything you want, since you’ve already blown both your diet and your good intentions.

If I’m reading your mind, take a deep breath.

That’s good, now take another one. Belly breathe, which means you not only inhale through your nose and fill your chest with air, you fill your stomach, as well. Pause and exhale slowly and a bit longer than you inhaled. Now, merely note “I probably ate more than I should have.” Follow with another deep, belly-filling breath. “Yup, I did.” “I wish I hadn’t, because now I feel bad about it.” And, breathe . . . Take two more deep breaths.

The deep breathing gives your brain enough time to focus on what you are saying and feeling, and will relax you even if you were feeling guilty or frustrated a few seconds before. Resting your brain also gives it time to readjust and switch gears, and that’s a good thing.

Tell yourself something positive.

“I’ve been in a tough place before and I have gotten myself out of it. I can do it again.” “I bet I can get back on track, if I slow down and really savor what I am eating.” “I know I can do this, and I will feel better about myself for cutting back.” “I am good at many things, one mistake does not a failure make.” “I love you, and I know you can do it!”

And, breathe. Keep the deep breathing going, as it not only relaxes you, it breaks the negative spiral your brain may lead you back to at this point. “Oh, why do I even try. I always overeat.” “I can’t lose weight, why do I even bother?” “My family just metabolizes food differently, other people eat more than me, and they are skinny; it’s not fair. . .” You’re right, it’s not fair, and I’m sorry you can’t just keep eating everything you want. It’s hard to pass up all that food, especially during the holidays, but you can do it.

Picture yourself at your ideal weight.

Create the vision you want to see of yourself. Picture yourself in your skinny jeans. Imagine how good it feels to zip them up with no trouble. Or envision yourself wearing that dress you love, how it glides over your hips or how good it feels to not have to add a jacket or shawl to cover your jiggling bits. The more detailed and real the picture is in your mind, the more likely you are to achieve it. 

The key is to create the image that works for you. You will know what works for you when it feels real and makes you feel good at the same time. (We spend so much time predicting disasters in our lives or rehashing our mistakes – perceived or real, why not tip the scales in your favor and begin predicting positive outcomes or pictures?)

Mentally give the you in your vision a hug!

This may sound silly, but do it, because that is the you that you genuinely want to embrace. The you, you know you want to be. You can physically hug the real you, as well, which will release the “love hormone” oxytocin. (A 20-second hug, even if it is self-administered, can lower stress. Simply wrap your arms around yourself and gently rub your arms. Give it a try, I just did and could not help smiling- an added bonus!)

Now, figure out what you can do today to get back on track. 

Throw out the leftovers. I hate wasting food, most of us do, but yesterday I chose my health and happiness over my aversion to wasting and tossed lots of leftovers. I also made a mental note to cook, bake and buy less food in the weeks ahead. (Picture the you, you want to be each time you head into the grocery store, it will help you resist temptation!)

Find your walking or running shoes, put them on and head out the door. Or, walk or run up and down the stairs a few times. Stretch. Hold your arms out to your sides and make small circles, 20 times forward and then 20 times backwards. Crank up some holiday tunes and dance. Get your kids, grand kids or significant to join the fun. Do whatever you have to do to feel energized and good about yourself. 

Remember to take a moment to breathe deeply and often throughout the day – it takes practice, but is worth the effort. And, bring the mental picture of the you you want to be wherever you go. Every time temptation strikes – and it will – envision that you. When you wake up and before you go to sleep – breathe deeply and slowly and picture that you. Make your vision a part of your life, and it will be!

You are no longer alone, and you have a plan.

box-2953722__340Breathing deeply and picturing the new you are the perfect holiday gift to give yourself. After all, ’tis the season for believing, why not start believing in yourself? 

You can do it! 

 

 

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Connect with Thanksgiving Tales

thanksgiving-2872964_960_720Oral traditions are almost as old as mankind. Telling stories has been bringing families and communities together for thousands of years. Writing them has been going on for hundreds of generations.

The type of stories we tell, shape our relationships and our realities.

Why not start a new Thanksgiving tradition by sharing a short personal story about someone or something you are thankful for as you sit down to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner? Many Americans will be sharing what they are thankful for, but why not expand the moment and the feelings by telling a story?

Your story does not have to be long or earth-shattering, just real and heartfelt.

We are much more inclined to complain about our lives and the trials and tribulations we face than we are to celebrate the moments that make life and magical and memorable. And, yet, most of us have lives filled with touching tales – small moments or momentous events when something or everything went well or turned-out right, or someone reached out to us at just the right time.

What better time than Thanksgiving to share simple, sweet, touching tales of who we are and why others matter to us?

Here are few of my tales to get you in the storytelling mood . . .

 I often think of Mrs. Grace Weidenthal and how her kindness and support helped me get a women’s group scholarship for “Older Returning Students”, which led to my finishing college and eventually my Masters. (I was 28 at the time!)

I will never forget the kindness shared to me as a child by my mother’s friend and one of my younger brothers’ godmothers. When Mrs. Werner brought my brother a gift for his birthday or a holiday, she always made sure to include something smaller, but no less special, for the other siblings closest to his age. A small gesture on her part, but one that filled my heart and head with pleasure and promise! I knew I would be included, and looked forward to her visits with anticipation, not only for her gifts but also to her boisterous and booming voice as she bestowed our treats upon us. She spread joy and generosity with gusto.

I often think of the help Professor Potteroff at Cuyahoga Community College gave me. Without the time he spent tutoring me, I am not sure I would have had the confidence to finish his Algebra class or to later take, and fall in love with, statistics.

I love it when someone does something small and kind, like holding a door, pausing to let me or others turn left, or slows a bit to let me enter a lane. Friendly cashiers can also make my day!

Sharing tales of positive moments in our lives might take some getting used to or may seem a bit awkward at first, but all great traditions must start somewhere, why not this Thanksgiving?

Here are 5 tips for starting your Thanksgiving storytelling tradition:

  1. Keep it short.
  2. Keep it positive! No fair, sharing tales that shine a less than stellar light on anyone – no matter how funny or memorable the tale might be! Besides, sharing your happy moments, increases the odds other will be happier, too. (Happiness is contagious.)
  3. Suggest a lead-in or place slips of paper with printed lead-ins at everyone’s place or in a basket to pass. (Creating the slips and basket is a great pre-Thanksgiving task for kids. Let them use their creativity on the leads and the method of sharing. If you are short on kids, simply print them on paper and cut them up.)

1)    “I will never forget . . .”

2)    “I love(d) it when . . . ”

3)    “It felt really good when . . .”

4)    “I was so excited when . . .”

5)    “I often think of  . . . “

6)    “When I was a kid . . .”  Only use this lead in if what follows is strictly positive and not shared to teach a lesson or illustrate a point.

  1. Make sure you or one of the most outgoing children go first, this will “warm-up” the crowd.
  2. Really listen when folks are sharing; make sure they have the floor. You can even provide something fun to pass as the “Speaker’s Sharing Tool”. Anything related to the holiday will work; ceramic turkey, battery-lit candle, serving spoon, etc. The sillier or sentimental the item is, the better. Remember to thank each person who shares, before moving on.

Hopefully, reading this post has already brought good memories to mind and gotten you into the Thanksgiving spirit. If not, no problem, you still have plenty of time to think of a thankful tale or two, and to get things ready for your guests to share in your new tradition.

Have fun!

Happy Thanksgiving

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What we can learn from Nature’s balancing act

It is that time of year again when day and night are of equal length, which happens when the Earth’s pole tilts neither away from, nor towards the Sun and the Earth is perfectly balanced.  

maple-leaf-3680684_960_720Today is the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere; the event is known as an equinox – a celestial event that happens twice a year in March and September.  I believe it is nature’s signal for us to take a moment and assess if our lives are in balance, which may send each of us spinning in a new and celestially inspired direction.

Begin by asking yourself two simple questions:

  1. Is your life rotating around what really matters to you?
  2. Is your life tilting toward or away from your dreams?

If your life is in balance and is circling your priorities and orbiting your values – celebrate it!

In the next few days or weeks, take time to do something special for yourself or others in your life to savor and share just how good happiness and being balanced feels.

Reinforcing happiness and sharing the good times can deepen and expand our sense of well being, which helps us create new pathways in our brains that can strengthen our resolve and help us mentally and emotionally maneuver life’s twists and turns and to discover and enjoy new roads to happiness, purpose and well being.

If your life isn’t tilted toward your dreams, you can realign it!

Take a moment to congratulate yourself for being honest about your situation – that’s a huge first step.

Next, become aware of any self talk that doesn’t seem celestially inspired! Becoming aware of your negative self talk is like pulling back the curtains on the Wizard of Oz – stop fooling yourself and stop believing the negative stories you have created. Start tipping the scales in your favor by sharing encouraging words with yourself that reinforce hope and the fact that change is possible – “Just because I am having this thought, doesn’t make it true!” “Wow, I never realized just how negative I can be, perhaps there is a better way.” “Maybe the story I am telling myself isn’t helping me or my relationships, I know I can do better.”  “I can do this!”  “I’ve made changes before, and I can do it again.”

wood-bench-986347__340Keep reminding and reassuring yourself that change, just like the seasons, takes time but is perfectly natural.

Then set some time aside to reflect on how you really want your life to look and feel, and begin tilting your actions and thoughts in that direction. Don’t be afraid or talk yourself out of asking for help, trying something new or taking risks – if the leaves didn’t fall new ones would never grow.

You can do it! I know you can. Start planning your changes today, so six months from now when the Earth’s axis is tilting toward the sun, your life is tilted in the direction of your dreams. I did it, and I know you can, too.

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