Celebrating small victories

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small victories

At the beginning of August 2015, I rejoined a local gym. Weight training and cardio added the balance I sought to complement my regular practice of yoga. But, it had been over a year since I’d worked out and, in my overzealousness, I pulled a couple ‘somethings.’ Whether at the gym or at the Bikram studio, I now felt like a beginner all over again. At one point I thought I might need to quit yoga as I found little to no relief in the asanas. I decided to stick it out, however. Days turned into weeks turned into months. Nearly a half year later, I’ve begun to recognize miniscule improvement while on my mat. Each time I show up, I discover a new victory. I can see it in my relationships, too. Gradual progress is in the works, even when I observe nothing. And, with each small victory, a stronger foundation is built. Now that is cause for celebration.

How do you celebrate the smallest of victories?

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Methods to manage morning madness

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Morning madness

In my post ‘When your plans are derailed,’ I share my MO when the best laid intentions don’t quite reach fruition. Yesterday was one of those mornings. After a fitful night’s sleep, I started out five minutes late and it went downhill from there. I attempted to cram too much into too little time, couldn’t settle on an outfit until I’d tried on a half dozen combinations, managed only to skim through my devotions and shirked on my quick-clean routine. An obvious glitch in my ‘simple morning’ plans. Sunday night would’ve been the perfect time to jump start my Monday morning, but I putzed around with a puzzle and a movie instead. After a full weekend, it was okay to indulge in down time; however, I could have made better choices that would’ve added to, rather than taken away from, my workday morning practice. Thankfully, I don’t have to wait until Sunday night to try, try again.

What is one tactic you employ to keep workday mornings simple(r)?

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An easy(ier) life

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An easy(ier) life

I have likely arrived at the ‘beating a topic to a pulp’ phase. Yet, when you find something that works, you want to spread the word—it’s about my intention this year to simplify. It’s taken me about 10 days to settle into my routine and, not only have I enjoyed several rewards of living more simply—which is a mindset, as well as a tangible practice—but the side benefit has been increasing balance (last year’s goal). Three words: ditch the multitasking. Yes I’ve written blogs on the topic (e.g., Multitasking equals write thinking); however, checking off a few extra items in the planner does not a simpler life make. But since I’ve put my Clear-Cut Chore Chart in motion, I ‘located’ extra time to do the things that re-energize me—like reading and writing more, coloring and doing puzzles—while maintaining my well-being and home, and cultivating family, friends and outside pursuits. Five words: work hard and play hard.

How’s your New Year’s intention working out?

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Kindness is free, sprinkle liberally

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sprinkle kindness

My post ‘Birthday wish list: the gift of joy‘ talks about ushering in a new decade (which I did—complete with princess party and sparkles) in the form of engaging in 50 acts of kindness. A dear friend suggested I spread these acts out throughout the entire year, rather than attempt to stuff them into an already packed birthday month. And then to personalize them along the way. What a gift of joy this journey unfolds on a daily basis. I’ve encountered kindness begets kindness: a returned smile, a thank you, a hug, a gentler response. And then I want to do it all over again. But not for the recognition. I think serving others might just be a little self-serving because this is where I get my happy on. And although it’s a little corner of my world, I can sprinkle liberally. My hope is that kindness becomes contagious and scatters outward to make a bigger impact.

How do you sprinkle kindness in your sphere of influence?

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

A time of refreshing

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Refreshing

Last week it rained for five consecutive days. That may not sound excessive but, when you live in the desert, it’s not common. Although I’m from the Midwest where I braved subzero windchills, I prefer sun and heat. Preferably both, simultaneously. So I put forth extra effort to make my own sunshine: I changed my hairstyle daily, picked bright scarves and smiled more (and spent a lot of time in the hot room). As much as I know the Southwest needs rain, and as much as I want to like rain, I fight against it. Even the sound of it triggers angst in my psyche. Yet, if I alter my thinking toward rain as cleansing rather than debilitating (I don’t really like to go anywhere when it rains), I realize that even Mother Nature deserves a time of refreshing. Plus, it gives me an excuse to step back and catch up on my reading or napping or my newest pastime: puzzles.

What is your ideal time of refreshing?

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Everything is different, yet unchanged

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Different, unchanged

Just because everything is different
doesn’t mean anything has changed. ~
Irene Peter

Irene Peter’s quote strikes me as simple, yet profound. It brings to mind the passage of time—how the seasons vary according to the earth’s rotation; how our looks mature as we age. Yet while outward appearances might seem different to a casual observer, that doesn’t mean that, inwardly speaking, we feel altered. Years ago, my sweet mama told me how she’d regard herself in the mirror and wonder who the little old lady was staring back at her, because inside she still felt like a young girl. Her then mottled skin, faded hair and weakened eyes made no difference to a heart overflowing with childlike wonder, despite surviving life’s disappointments and setbacks. I oftentimes acknowledge the same thought when I gaze upon my own reflection or review the recent transformation I’ve set in motion in my life. Knowing everything is different, but nothing has changed.

How do you relate to Peter’s quote?

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Practice the pause

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practice the pause

While scrolling through Facebook the other day, I paused on a friend’s wall whose recent post read: Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray. The simple definition of pause is a temporary stop or rest. My post, “Sweet and simple…,” stresses my intent to simplify this year, including my speech. And I believe if we observe the art of pause—when in doubt, when angry, when tired, when stressed, whenever it would benefit the situation—while we rest in prayer or in silence during that temporary stop, we might be able to hear the greater needs of others. And then offer to meet those needs with our provisions. It doesn’t cost us anything to pause… except maybe a second chance we’ll never require. But it takes discipline to practice anything, even stopping or resting. It’s a process, this life thing. Be gentle with yourself.

How easy is it for you to practice the pause?

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Sweet and simple pleasures

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Keep-it-sweet-and-simple

Recently, while shopping at Dollar Tree, I picked up a little plaque—black background covered with white chalk-like printing in varied fonts. Although a ribbon adorns the top for hanging, it resides propped up on my desk at home. The words etched on the plaque are simple reminders: Love one another, always tell the truth, sweet dreams, say please and thank you, share, play nice, work hard, say your prayers, keep your promises, laugh often. My intention to simplify this year (see ‘keep it simple…‘) encompasses not only my words (let them be fewer), but my schedule (say yes less, rest more), righting wrongs as they occur (rather than harboring bitterness) and recognizing simple pleasures daily. Beginning on day six, I received a hand-written thank you card in the mail—a simple gesture, yet one that seems to be a lost art. I hope to chronicle these treasures throughout 2016, a way to recognize and better appreciate life’s simple sweetness.

What is a recent simple pleasure you’ve encountered?

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Trusting the destination

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trusting in the destination

During a recent visit with a close family member, she thanked me for my transparency after I’d shared a personal battle with which I wrestle. Later that day, that same transparency fell under attack when someone accused me of acting and speaking devoid of sincerity. Perhaps many of us hide behind walls in order to protect our vulnerability, but find ourselves able to shed the self-imposed masks in the presence of those who inspire, embolden and love us without condition into our true selves—ickies and all. So when our transparent selves are rejected, it’s not unusual to feel battered and bruised. However, the next morning, my puffy eyes the sole evidence of a confused and depleted heart, I spent my quiet time randomly choosing devotions that provided a comforting balm. And one after the other reminded me to trust the destination no matter what my journey looks like today. While I continue to be true to self.

How easy is it for you to trust the destination?

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Righting wrongs, mending hearts

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righting wrongsOver the past several weeks, I’ve initiated a concerted effort to make amends with people I’ve hurt, owning up to my wrongs—taking ownership for unkind words and broken promises (see ‘Turn the page to begin anew’). Perhaps you are convinced someone close to you betrayed you and, without seeking any kind of validation, you succumbed to rash assumptions and drastic measures. Then, too late, you realized your erroneous thinking. It really doesn’t matter who was to blame because, in the end, it takes at least two. And love refuses to demand its own way. Consequently, all you can do is accept your personal role in the situation and ensure that your actions, moving forward, coincide with your words. In time the door to reconciliation might open but, until then, I suggest you offer up forgiveness and goodwill. When we accept responsibility, it doesn’t expunge our wrongs, yet it does free our hearts and minds from bitterness and regret.

Is there a wrong you need to right today?

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