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

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!

30 Days New – Day 18 & 19

“30 Days New” – Day 18 & Day 19

I am still focusing on my watery goals of being in the moment each and every time my hands touch water.  Loving that my “New” practice is expanding to other moments in my life. Once my mindfulness habit kicked in, I began slowing sown and savoring more daily experiences.

I have started giving myself mini-hand massages when they are soft and soapy and it feels great!  I don’t know anything about the art of hand massage, but I mimic the movements of my wonderful manicurist and even a minute or two feels fantastic.

I have also become more aware of my steps! Throughout the day I have been walking with awareness, and enjoying it. Focusing on how our feet and legs feel as we walk can be very relaxing.

I learned how to do meditative walking many years ago with a monk at a Thai Buddhist Temple in Florida, and have used the practice at one of my retreats, but as with many things I had forgotten to integrate it into my daily life. I had forgotten to integrate it into my daily life. It is a simple way to bring serenity to each step.

You can begin a meditative walking practice by simply noticing the movement of placing your foot on the floor. Where do you feel contact first, then next? Breakdown the action in your head and pause to feel where the sensation goes in your body. We are so often on automatic pilot, we forget we are placing our feet and pay no attention as to how our bodies complete the action.

feet-2683898_960_720To add to the sensations of the moment, go barefoot on the grass in your yard or on the sand at the beach. Pause to really absorb the moment after each step. If the experience inspires you to try a more formalized meditative walk, check out this meditative walking post I found.

You might also want to read this Wishful Thinking Works post for a meditative look at how calming walking in circles can be!

Day 18 & Day 19  Results – Amazing reminders and awareness of how many quiet, peaceful moments our bodies can provide us with, if we simply slow down and tune in to their movements and sensations and tune out of our heads! Being more relaxed and finding new ways to release the stress and strain of everyday living can be found from the tips of our fingers to the tips of our toes.

“New” Idea for Fun

The first person who posts a photo of their feet during a meditative walk, will receive a free on-on-one, 60 minute coaching session on the topic of their choice. 

The first three people who post a meditative walking or hand-washing related photo on the Wishful Thinking Works Facebook page, will receive a free 30 minute, one-on-one coaching session on the topic of their choice. 

Since this type of offer is new for me, I am planning to count it as my Day 20 “New”.  I hope you join in the fun and you might be part of my Day 20 Results!

To read more about how my “30 Days New” habit got started, click here.


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30 Days New – Day 12 & Day 13

“30 Days New” – Day 12

Easy peasy, second day of new qigong practice! I am counting it as a “New” because it is the first habit I have chosen to create as a result of “30 Days New” practice. That’s a first, which is just as good as a “New” to me.

Day 12 Results –  Sense of peace and calm while doing the practice, and curiosity as to what it will add to my life.

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“30 Days New” – Day 13

Day thirteen turned out to be very lucky for me. Today I meditated for an hour.  It seemed like about 3 hours, but no matter, I did it!

I have been wanting to try meditate on my own for an hour for more than a decade. (Who knows why it took me so long, but seriously not important at the moment.) I use a variety of 25-30 minute guided meditations, including Yoga Nidra and self-hypnosis, both are very satisfying and I will continue to use them, but excited that today I took the leap to 60 minutes on my own.

I can’t honestly say I loved meditating for an hour and it was not an earth shattering experience, but it took commitment and a great deal of patience. I like that. I also like that since I have meditated for an hour, 30 minutes on my own is much less daunting. I know I can do it regularly and that makes me very happy.

Day 13 Results –  Sense of accomplishment, mixed with pride and the overwhelming urge to give myself a sticker of some kind! Woo-hoo, I gave it a try and I did it! 

To read more about why I am developing my “30 Days New” habit, click here.

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30 Days New – Day 7

“30 Days New” – Day 7

Yesterday’s “New” happened without me realizing it until late in the day.

Endeavour
Endeavour on PBS

I love PBS, but do not watch their programs as often I would like. I have the time and the access, but for some reason I simply do not do it. Earlier in the week I DVR’d a number of episodes of one of their mystery programs.  Yesterday I binged on two of the series’ two hour episodes.

I loved the show, but that was just the icing on the cake. What excited me was I was enjoying something new, without even consciously planning it to be a “New”. Seems “News” may be becoming a normal part of my life after only a week!

Writing about my Day 7’s activity reminded me of my 20+ year habit for ordering a new magazine almost every year that showcase topics I know little or nothing about. Popular Science, Wyoming Magazine, and Architectural Digest have all crossed my threshold at one time or another along with many other unrelated titles. Sometimes, I enjoy a magazine and reorder it; other times I read an issue or two and donate the rest to a local library. I believe the money is well spent under any circumstances because reading the magazines exposes me to new ideas and information, and perhaps even sparks a new interest, which is most often the case.

Do you have a regular “New” that relates to exposing yourself to new ideas or concepts, or even new forms of entertainment? If so, share what you have discovered along the way.

Day 7 Result – Surprise, enjoyment and a continued sense of excitement for “News” big or small.

To read more about why I am developing my “30 Days New” habit, click here.

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“30 Days New” – Day 3

Day 3 of my “30 Day New”

Wednesday, June 25 was Day 1 of my “30 Days New” – for 30 days I am doing something new or something I used to do, but haven’t done in ages.  You can read why I got started here.

Today I painted in the backyard. I love painting, but I always feel that whatever I do isn’t good enough. I try now and then, but after a day or so I drop it. Pretty silly, I know, but the truth is, when it comes to art, I hold myself to some very silly standards!

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Today I reminded myself, once again that it is about the process not the outcome.

A critical voice in my sweet little head tried to lead me astray a number of times, but I simply took a deep breath or two and assured myself and the nagging voice that everything was going to be just fine, and continued painting. (We all need a bit of reassurance at times, don’t be afraid to face your fears and respond to those negative voices in your head in a kind and gentle manner. No need to beat up on yourself up, for beating up on yourself!)

Besides, I was having too much fun siting in the sun, straw hat tilted on my head, pretending to be a Monet protégé to let a few negative thoughts keep me from my goal.

 Day 3 Results: An hour of fun in the fresh air, with a sassy side of artistic day dreams, topped off with a hatful of confidence and courage knowing I was enjoying the life I really wanted – – less judgement and more creativity and fun!

I encourage you to start something new or return to something old; to gently calm any critical voices that may arise and to enjoy an hour or two, or even just a few minute, of courage and creativity.

PS I am excited about tomorrow, and I don’t even have a clue what will be new!

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