Word flow

Whew, I just made it.

I feel like I’ve been running for miles.

All month I was trying to work in a post about poetry.

April is National Poetry Month, and here it is the last day. I almost missed it.

Why all the fuss?

Well, even though I am not a die-hard poetry fan, I truly love some poems.

This is one of my favorites; I see the room, smell the cooking, and feel their emotions.

When I am listening to or reading a poem, I have that wonderful sense of flow.  You know, when everything else fades away.  And, for me, that is fun.

Fun and flow are 2/3 of the happiness formula: fun, flow and fulfillment, which I call the 3 F’s, but more about that another time.

For now, just pick a poem or a site and listen.

Listening, enjoying and savoring poetry is absolutely free.

Ahhhh, so glad we are talking poetry in April.  Hope you are too, because you are a Phenomenal Woman.  And, this is just the kind of thing phenomenal women do!

Perhaps today, tonight or this weekend you can take the road less traveled and be gloriously lazy for a bit.

Sip a cup of soothing tea, taste the richness of a delicious, dark cup of coffee, or relax with a nice round glass of red wine while listening to, reading or even writing a poem.

Are you feeling the flow?

Have a great weekend.

“The Happiness Project”

I read “The Happiness Project” earlier this month, and loved it.

And, now, I have a confession to make.

When my friend Marci first told me about the book a few months ago, and I checked out Gretchen Rubin’s blog; I was jealous!

Big-time jealous.

The green-eyed-monster-was-alive-and-well-in-my-soul jealous.

My psyche ached from my immature response, but none-the-less, I was jealous.

My mind was a cauldron of negative thoughts:

Geez, I’ve been working on my own “happiness project” for 10 years – why didn’t I think of making it a year-long project and writing a book about it?

“Why her, not me?”

“It’s not fair.  I’m a good person.”

(I know my responses were ridiculous, and sound so, so small, but I am hoping my honesty offers at least a thin buffer for my behavior.)

I ruminated a bit more, and that’s when I realized I was scrapping the bottom of my psychic barrel, and knew it was time to get my act together.

So I did.

I ordered her book from the library.

And, as I mentioned; I loved it.

I added it to my list of Books I Recommend, and will be sharing bits of it with you throughout the month of May, because May is my birthday month and I believe birthdays and good books are worth celebrating – all month long!

And, yes, I do know that the best cure for jealousy is to create and live the life I really want.  Thanks for being kind enough not to bring it up or hold it against me for forgetting that.

You really are quite classy!  Have a great day.

Weekend memories; Monday morning moments

It’s Monday morning. (But you probably already knew that.)

Could you use a quick boost of energy without more caffeine?

If so, write down three things that made you happy this weekend. 

They don’t have to be big things, but if they are – congratulations!

Maybe it was a great cup of coffee or tea, or a nice glass of wine.

Or, fun with family or friends. (Yes, for me on both counts.)

Getting the weeds pulled, the grass cut, flowers planted, the closets cleaned, or the wash done.

Did you have a great night out, or a quiet, relaxing day in? (Yes, and yes, again for me.)

Special time with the kids or grand kids?  (I did – oh, so sweet.)

Whatever made you happy this weekend is worth noting and savoring – and you can do both in less than three minutes – 1, 2, 3, go! 

1. Write down what made you happy (feel free to post them as comments);

2. Close your eyes (this is fast, no one will catch you), and take a deep breath;

3. Now, savor each memory: picture the people, the setting, your feelings.  Hold them for just a second, take another deep breath, open your eyes and relax.  

Ahh, doesn’t that feel nice?

I just relived my wonderful weekend, which was full of great moments with family and friends. Special thanks to Mattie for making it possible by hosting Nellie and me in Tampa.

One of the highlights was spending time in a beautiful little tea room with 15 of my good friends and some of their friends talking about Wishful Thinking.

Enjoying the company of so many caring, dynamic, interesting, and talented women was wonderful, and being able to call Ann, Barb, Cindy, Darlene, Lynn, Malinda, Mattie, Nellie, Patty, Sharyn and Susan my friends is truly an honor. You are amazing women, thank you!  

Meeting Barbara, Betty, Cindy, and Gina was a treat.  Thank you for sharing the morning with us – hope we meet again.

Well, got to go – but before I do, I think I will savor two more weekend memories: the sweet tanginess of Mattie’s fantastic home-grown and made key lime pie and my son’s delicious barbecue ribs. 

Perfect meals and memories: all the fun and the flavor, none of the calories.

Giving back

Today, I presented a program on creative volunteer opportunities at my former Rotary club in Brandon, Florida.  

I love Rotary and volunteering.  Both are wonderful ways to reach out and give back. 

I don’t think I will ever stop volunteering, it is just too much fun.  

In January of this year, I spent 10 absolutely fantastic days as a volunteer at the Sundance Film Festival

In late July 2009, I returned to the States after serving three years in the Peace Corps in Macedonia.  

For more than seven years, I volunteered for libraries and traveled throughout Florida and to Washington DC to advocate for libraries. (I spent another 11 years working in public relations for a library.) 

In the 80’s, I had interesting and wonderful adventures as a docent at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo: I took boa constrictors (yes, the big ones, and no, snakes are not slimy – they feel more like a full bicycle tire) and other animals to schools for programs, and explained to visitors about the lifestyle of lions. (They sleep a lot!) 

I also have sweet, sweet memories of being a classroom volunteer when my boys were in elementary school. 

Each of my volunteer activities was a result of Wishful Thinking and was a great place to begin creating the life I wanted.  

I took time to discover my true passions: helping, learning, and getting to know people and blended them with some of my top interests: family, nature, libraries and film.  

The combination provided me with rich experiences, and inadvertently led me to overcome some of my biggest fears: snakes and learning to speak a foreign language were just two of them! 

Today, I shared my volunteer experiences and some suggestions and tips for finding new ones. 

Since I am a big recycler – I always try to use jars and presentations more than once – I thought I would share some of the articles and resources I gathered for my presentation with you.   

Facts: 

Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more people are volunteering:  from 2008 to 2009 the rate rose from 26.4% (61+ million) to 26.8% (62+ million). 

Women volunteer more than men (7% more) and 35 to 54 year-olds are most likely to volunteer.  

Marrieds (32.3%) volunteer more than singles (20.6), and the higher your education, the more likely you are to volunteer. 

Tips for getting started:   

One of the growing trends in volunteerism, as described in this Washington Times article is, “Volidays“, a combo of a holiday and volunteering.  There are costs involved, but the rewards usually outweigh them and some of the trips are tax-deductible.  

I liked this article as a starting point.   These also caught my eye: Midwest Weekends and USA Today  

Organizations: 

Two of the classics and also the longest time commitments: Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.  Many of the younger Peace Corps volunteers I served with did AmeriCorps first, and loved it.   

Senior Corps and AARP are good options for 50+ folks. 

Popular volunteer vacation sites: International Volunteer Programs AssociationGlobal Volunteers,   Pueblo Ingles, United Planet, VolunTourism, Workaway,  and World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  

Many religious organizations offer a variety of volunteer options for summers, camps, and missionary work.  Just search the Internet using the denomination or religious order you are interested in and the word “volunteer”. 

Closer to home: National Parks and Sierra Club.  

Volunteer Match and All for Good can direct you to more than 100,000 non-for-profits, or you can list yours with them.  

Volunteer Match notes they have: “61,404 Active Opportunities, 71,459 Participating Organizations, and 4,749,800 Referrals Since 1998” 

All for Good was developed as a result of Obama’s campaign urgings for more folks to give back. Silicon Valley was targeted and professionals in technology, marketing, academia, and non-profits joined forces to create the site, which is Google hosted.  

Don’t forget to check with your local library and literacy group.  Teaching people to read or to speak English will change their lives and yours, and may put you in touch with a new culture. 

And, for a bit of a twist, here are three interesting work-study/volunteer programs I have considered: Esalen,  a favorite of Joseph Campbell, and Glencree Center for Peace & Reconciliation in Ireland,  Nyingma Volunteer Program (a Buddhist program – there  are many in California.) 

If you are more of an armchair volunteer – not to worry – Virtual Volunteering may be perfect for you. 

Bottom line – no matter what your aspirations and interests, there is a creative volunteer match for you. 

Simply search the word describing your field of interest such as: “art” and the word “volunteer”, and explore a new avenue for giving back. 

I truly enjoyed seeing my old friends and meeting new ones this morning at the Brandon ’86  Rotary Club, which all of its members know is “The Best Rotary Club in the Whole Wide World”, and is filled with fun, dedicated volunteers.  

The food was great, too!

Advanced question of the day.

Here is the advanced version of the magic question, which I shared with you last Wednesday. 

Please note: this is not for beginners.  

If you haven’t read, learned and used the original magic question, please do so now.  

We will wait for you to catch up, it’s not a problem. 

It’s like the oxygen mask thing on the plane; you need to have yours in place first. 

I think that is because magic questions are so powerful and all – they have the ability to change your life, so it’s best to practice on yourself first. 

Okay, here’s the advanced version, I am going to trust that you already practiced the original magic question. 

“What one thing can I do today to bring joy to the lives of others?   

You can use it at home, at work, while shopping, volunteering, playing with your kids, golfing, etc.  

“What one thing can I do today to bring joy to the lives of others?   

You can use it in large or small group settings.  One size fits all. 

“What one thing can I do today to bring joy to the lives of others?   

Works globally, too.  

“What one thing can I do today to bring joy to the lives of others?    

Would you like to write it down? 

“What one thing can I do today to bring joy to the lives of others?    

Try it and let me know how it goes.  

PS Research shows the more we help others the happier we become, that’s the magic.

Typo prize

There is a typo in my most recent blog post.

I knew it two seconds after I sent it.

Panic sent in, I felt sick  – then I went for my morning walk.

The pain stuck with me for at least half a mile . . .

How can I write a blog when I can’t even catch my own erros?

How ofte nwill thishappen?

How will I fce my sbscribers?

They will think I am a terrrrible wrrriter, maybe even unsubskribe.

Then I stopped walking, laughed out loud, started walking again and came-up with this idea. 

The first reader, who finds the typo in my earlier blog and comments will win a copy of one of my favorite books, “The Joy of Appreciative Living” by Jacqueline Kelm – and, yes I got it on sale, but it is still wonderful!

Edit away.

You are helping me to:

learn to laugh at myself,

make lemonade out of lemons,

and, not sweat the small stuff.

Thank you, I apppreciate itt.

Teeny moments; honorable acts

I did not know who Brian Davis was.

Or what PGA stood for (just figured that out).

Nor do I know much about golf as a sport. (Except what I have gleaned from watching sports movies like Tin Cup and The Greatest Game Ever Played  – see my Courage Diet for more about why I watch sports movies.)

But a Yahoo sports headline caught my eye this morning.

Brian Davis reported a penalty on himself that probably would have gone completely unnoticed.

A penalty, which cost him a win and about $400,000.

But to a glass half-full kind-of girl, what he gained was much more important.

Those teeny moments when we act in accordance with how we hope we would act in a certain situation are priceless.

Doing the right thing feels good.

Feeling good increases our happiness.

Our happiness increases the likelihood that people around us will feel happy.

Happy people lived more fulfilled, creative, productive lives.

I am sure folks will soon be arguing Davis’ “true” motivation, Monday-morning-quarterbacking how he feels in retrospect, and why any of it is headline news.

But me, I am going to enjoy the moment.

Though not a big rule follower for the sake of following the rules, I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of awe and inspiration when I see or hear about someone doing something, which benefits others more than themselves; respects a seemingly outdated cultural norm based on being kind or reaches out to help someone in a simple but elegant way.

When people apologize with sincerity and humility,  

hold doors open,

laugh at themselves,

give their seat to someone else,

wait patiently,

respond with kindness to anger,

give-up the parking spot,

or touch someone gently.

To me these actions are like mini-epic novels – they blend courage, respect, integrity, kindness and lots of other good stuff into a few teeny, yet, everlasting moments.

I like that.

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