Friday, September 26, 2014

Season of Change

     Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the extra coolness of my bedsheets that the crisp air brings. I love the laughter and great food that go along with celebrating Thanksgiving.  And oooooh do I love layers!  There’s nothing like a cute jacket over a fitted Tee. Yes, in my opinion, fall fashion is the best with it’s earth tones - oranges, browns, greens, deep purples…But what I love most about Fall is I view it as the season of change. And change is a GOOD thing, because with change there is GROWTH!

     I’ve been reflecting over my recent growth and came to the conclusion there is a direct correlation between that period of growth and my decision to try three new things.  At that time in my life, my youngest child was a year old.  I was bogged down by being Jamie the breastfeeder, Jamie the diaper changer, Jamie the safety patroller, Jamie the picker upper, and Jamie the all things that go along with having a surprise infant in your life.  I was finally coming out of the baby fog and was ready for change. I needed something to jump start me again…hence the decision to try three new things that had nothing to do with motherhood.

Change 1. Bikram Yoga - Hmmm, what do I say about Bikram yoga…I got one word HOT! I was burning up and the only way to get just a little relief without totally leaving was to lay completely still on my back with my arms and legs stretched out like a huge X to be sure not to trap any heat under my arms or between my legs.  Then you add in the smell!  I got another word…FUNK!  The odor of a room full of people pouring wet was almost unbearable. And, apparently the boat loads of water that I drank hours before the 90 minute workout was not enough to keep me hydrated because I suffered from a migraine and was bedridden until the next morning.  Through my experience from yoga I have learned that I can survive.  There are things in life that may be difficult but it's an unbelievable natural high when you conquer it.  Building off past success, I have grown to attack new experiences with less fear.

Change 2. Run a 5K: I mentioned running my first 5K in a past post, "Just Do It". But what I didn't describe is how grueling it was. Apparently, I signed up for the worst 5K ever for a first timer.  One of my old college friends agreed to run with me, but we didn’t know we agreed to run, as we called it, “over the river and through the woods.”  It was a non-paved course in a forest that required you to hop over puddles, skip over large tree roots, and all while avoiding tumbling down large ditches.  I’ve since put away my running shoes via doctor’s orders, but I still get the same satisfaction from walking.  Every now and then I cheat a little and push my walk up to a quick jog. For just about 30 seconds, I enjoy the wind in my face. Through running I have learned not to knock something before you try it. I have grown to embrace new experiences with an open mind.

Change 3. Read Non-Fiction books - Reading a non-fiction book is not a totally new thing. I’ve read non-fiction books in the past, but for every 20 books I read there is maybe one non-fiction.  Outside of books I had to read during college, I use reading strictly for entertainment or pleasure. And I had placed non-fiction books in the read for information bucket. I was not interested in reading for information in my free time. Now, my reading habit has totally switched.  I’m currently reading 5 books and 4 of the 5 are non-fiction. By opening myself to read non-fiction books I have learned that reading for information can actually be entertaining too. I have grown to literally not judge a book by its cover or the back flap for the matter.  

     So in the spirit of the season of change…Try something new. Growth only happens outside of your comfort zone. Push through those uncomfortable feelings associated with change.  On the other side is a world of new opportunities and new experiences.  It’s called living - living your best life!

What new experiences have you encountered that's brought about growth?

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Friday, September 19, 2014

What I Learned From My 2 Year Old

 "You need to let the little things that would 
ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you" - Andy Warhol

     My son LOVES the outdoors.  One of his favorite activities is going for a walk.  He finds joy in ALL the little things associated with going for a walk.  It starts with celebrating the victory of putting on his shoes all by himself. And the positive energy flows from that very moment. The pure joy is evident in his bright eyes as he tells you, “Flower. Yellow,” as we pass a lone dandelion. You hear it in his persistent voice when he insists on jumping off the sidewalk as if he just leaped from a 20 foot building. You can feel the excitement when he throws a rock like the opening pitch in a Phillies sold out baseball game. You can see it in his big smile when he happily screams, “Hi,” to EVERY passing neighbor within earshot. You can feel it in his gentle tap on your arm when he points out, in amazement, a plane flying overhead. He really, really, really, enjoys it all. He takes it all in and truly lives in the moment.

    I thought of my son’s capability of living in the moment while celebrating my 15th Wedding Anniversary in  Sedona, Arizona. Everyone that we knew who was familiar with Sedona, raved about their beautiful sunrises.  Well, the sunrise did not disappoint during our visit.  It totally lived up to the expectation. The view was breathtaking and having the opportunity to experience it first hand with my husband brought me so much joy. While looking at the sun cast a rays over the red rocks my heart warmed.  I realized this is the feeling my son is able to capture everyday! In his innocent mind he navigates life without dwelling on yesterday or worrying about tomorrow.  He is always fully engaged in the present.  What a blessing! This gift allows him to see the wonder and beauty in the little things.  

     Even with the hustle and bustle of our grown up lives, the innocence of our 2 year old self still lives inside us.  We are blessed with numerous opportunities daily to enjoy the little things.  But are we paying attention?  We have a choice to take it all in and live in the now.  When striving to live your best life, finding pleasure in the little things is paramount.  Our lives will not be a continuous stream of breathtaking moments like the sunrise in Sedona. If we only live from one show stopping moment to the next, we are totally missing out on the every day joys in moments like a simple neighborhood walk with your 2 year old.

When was the last time that you fully lived in the moment and let an ordinarily boring thing thrill you?

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Friday, September 12, 2014

5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Now

     For my 1 month Anniversary of launching my blog and The Purpose Pages FB blog page, I think it's only proper to go back to where it all began…in the front passenger seat of my husband’s car during a road trip to Virginia Beach for family vacation.  In between opening juice boxes, grabbing wires to recharge iPads, breaking up disagreements between my 2 year old and 12 year old, and listening to my husband enthusiastically tell me stories ranging from work to deaths in the Grand Canyon to his storm watching skills and of course he wouldn’t be him without adding in a few jokes, I managed to write my very first blog post!

     My Daddy told me years ago, in reference to an old boyfriend, who clearly wasn’t making me a priority, “People make time for what they want to make time for”.  This life lesson has resonated with me for years now and I have applied it to so many areas and situations in my life.   Let’s face it.  He was right! If we are really honest with ourselves we all make time for the things that are important to us, no matter how busy we perceive ourselves to be.

     It all comes back to two words that most of us struggle with…TIME MANAGEMENT.  Here are a few tips that have helped me to improve my time management.

1. BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR GOALS - I live by a Things To Do List.  Writing my goals down for the day helps me to stay focused and on task.  Plus I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when I am able to cross something off the list.  

2. PRACTICE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE - Be grateful for the time that you do have.  Each morning you open your eyes to a new day is a new opportunity to get it right.  Stop wasting time complaining about the time you don’t have.  Ironically, you are using up valuable time. Instead, as you move about your day say thank for each thing you get completed on your to do list.  Magically, gratitude increases your productivity because it motivates you to tackle that next thing on the list.

3. SEIZE THE MOMENT - When you are clear about your intentions for the day you are also more readily available to seize the moment when time is unexpectedly freed up.  For example, I set the intention to make it a priority to connect more with friends. Because I was clear about my goal, it was in the forefront of my mind. One day my husband calls out the blue to let me know that he would be bringing home dinner. I was able to seize the moment and use the time I would have been cooking to catch up with a friend on the phone. It was time well spent!

4. UNPLUG - I have finally set boundaries to all of my technology devices.  They are good in so many ways but for me they can also be the ultimate distraction.  I’ve recently put my phone on silent at 9:30pm.  Any text, email, Twitter, or Facebook notification will have to wait until tomorrow.  Allowing myself those few minutes before sleeping without the distraction of technology, gives me the chance to reflect on my day and set the plan for the next day.  Because I set priorities the night before each morning I am ready to tackle the new day first thing in the morning.

5. USE WAIT TIME - Five minutes waiting in the check out line, 30 minutes waiting for a doctors appointment, 1 hour waiting for your kid to finish up their music lesson or 6 hours trapped in a car headed to Virginia - waiting time adds up, so plan accordingly.  Have what you need with you to use that time wisely.

     I am still a work in progress and I am always open to new ways to improve my time management.  Building on the words of my Daddy, I truely believe and understand the quote, 
Time is a created thing. To say, "I don't have time," is like saying, "I don't want to."                               -- Lau-Tzu  
What tips do you have to ensure that you spend your time on the things you want to do?

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Just Do It

     We are all familiar with Nike's famous phrase, “Just Do It", coined in the late 80s during an ad campaign. Well it stuck and has stood the test of time in more ways than one.  The "Just Do It" slogan has transcended beyond athletes, fitness, and exercise and evolved into a personal mantra that has been adopted by many everyday people who aspire to achieve ANY goal.  

    When these three short words are strung together they make a profound statement.  They are great motivators. They make just doing it seem like such a simple concept to implement.  But oftentimes we stand in our own way.  The 3 major reasons that have stood in between me just doing it and accomplishing my goals are:
  • Fear of Failure - This is probably the most common blocker that stands in the way of us reaching our goals. It hurts when we set out to do something and it doesn’t work out the way that we think it should.  Frequently, we spend so much time avoiding the dreaded feelings of failure that we don’t even attempt to aim for success. But what if you had the power to change how you think about failure?  The good news is you do! What is failure anyway? You define the meaning of success.   
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison
  • Overthinking - When attempting to do something new, I am all about consulting the “experts”.  I tend to research way too much.  I spend tons of energy and time in trying to become as close to an “expert” as possible before moving forward. Lately, I have adopted a more "learn as I go" approach to help balance things out. I’ve realized I actually enjoy the experience much better that way. For example, I recently decided to join Twitter.  Do I know all the hashtag rules and shortcuts of Twitter? No! Have I mastered how to get my point across in 140 characters or less? No! But I have managed to say enough to attract a whopping 215 followers and enjoy the journey while I’m learning.
"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do" - John Wooden"
  • Stuck in First Gear - It’s great to know exactly what it is that you are trying to accomplish but completely focusing on the end goal at times can be a overwhelming.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of the goal seeming so large you spin your wheels just trying to figure out how to start.  Last year, I decided I was going to run my first 5k.  This goal seemed almost impossible when thinking of running 3 miles when I couldn’t even run to the end of the block.  C25K (Couch to 5k) is a mobile app that does a great job breaking the goal down into smaller steps. Each day you do a series of walk/run intervals that increase over time.  So everyday I didn’t let completing a 5K consume me.  I just needed to focus on completing my workout for that day and rest in that it was getting me one step closer to running 3 miles. By the end of my 9 weeks…SURPRISE…I was able to run a 5k!  
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." - Lao Tzu

      So you know that thing that you have been waiting to do…get out of first gear, stop overthinking, and don't let fear or any other blocker stand in your way.  In other words..act like a tennis shoe and JUST DO IT!

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