Brighten

Brighten your own day.

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Sometimes, you just have to buy yourself flowers.  Perhaps because no one else will.

Sometimes you have to celebrate your success, the end of a difficult period, or simply a good day.

You’re worth it.  Happy today!

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Sweet

Take yourself on a walk and rekindle the childish part inside yourself.  Try to keep the adult to-dos, bills, worries, and problems out of your head as you stroll.  Look for the little things.  Stop and admire them.  Engage your senses.  Make or remember a memory.

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Honeysuckle.  I’m a very visual person and I sometimes forget about engaging my other senses, but smell is such a powerful sense.  The sweetness swells out from the bush and follows you a few steps after you pass by.  It’s a beautiful and light scent.

It’s a scent that I remember fondly from my childhood.  Along our route to the bus stop were bushes of honeysuckle that seemed to span a quarter of a mile.  Our moms taught us to stop and enjoy a drop from a few honeysuckles as we passed by.  And so all of us children would stop and sample honeysuckles every morning and afternoon.  A sweet beginning and end to the school day.

Later in my teens, honeysuckle appeared in music.  My fingers would follow the notes written long before me by Fats Waller in Honeysuckle Rose.  Slow down and savor.

Now as an adult, I smile and take a deep breath as I walk past honeysuckle on my lunch break or my path home.  Be sweet to yourself and let yourself enjoy the little moments.  Let yourself build a memory.

Moments

When you identify a tiny moment in your day that made it go from muddling through to fantastic, it’s powerful.  I’m a big believer in small things.  The little things matter so much.

As it’s been getting nicer outside, I’ve been going out more.  Today, after sleeping most of the afternoon, I went for a walk.  I enjoy the fresh air, the beauty of nature, the brief interactions between me and strangers as we nod, say hello, or wave while passing by.  But my favorite moment of today was hearing my neighbor’s cat and walking over to spend some time in their yard petting their cat.  For me, having cat sighting while on walks is fun.  And to actually get to pet a cat makes my day.  Game over – whatever has been happening is infinitely better.  It has officially made my day.

So find your cat.  Find your tiny moment that makes life better.

Small Influence

It’s the little things that make life joyful.  It’s the daily things we do, the small moments, and what we put out in the world.  Literally sometimes.

The other day, I was walking and noticed that a neighbor painted some rocks and left them along the sidewalk.  What a beautiful choice that allows the rest of us passing by to pause and enjoy the reminder.

Peace, love, and happiness.  It was a free gift to neighbors and strangers alike.  What maybe took a few minutes will last much longer.

What you put out into the world may be received with smiles, relief, and even anonymous recognition – and you may never know.  Put it out there anyway.  You influence those around you in small ways.

Volunteer

This past week has been volunteer appreciation week.  I used to volunteer regularly for years, and now I only sporadically volunteer.  It’s something that I always enjoy when I do it, and I currently have too much going on to make more of a commitment.  That and I no long work weekends, which allowed me to volunteer during the week.

Now that part of my role involves finding volunteers to help, I’m so appreciative of those who do make the time to show up and help in all the big and little ways.  Sometimes stuffing envelopes or filing papers for 30 minutes is so incredibly helpful, even if it doesn’t seem significant.

Since I no longer regularly volunteer at a nonprofit like before, I’ve been thinking about how we all volunteer in different ways.  Sometimes we help connect people to other people; sometimes we offer up listening to someone going through a difficult time.  Sometimes we cook a nourishing meal; sometimes we run an errand or complete a task for another.  Sometimes it’s as small as holding open the door when someone has too many things in their arms; sometimes it’s offering a place to stay.  Sometimes it’s simply by smiling at a stranger – offering some kindness.

In looking for volunteer inspired quotes, this Elizabeth Arden one speaks to me, “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”  So have heart.  You do not necessarily need to formally volunteer to provide service to others.  You volunteer by offering up daily compassion to those around you.

Emerged

From one day to the next, this past week felt like Spring finally arrived.  On my routine lunch walk, I noticed, as if all of a sudden, everything was blooming.

The daffodils started it from emerging first.  They thought they were whispering to each, “it’s here!  It’s finally here!”  But they had forgotten their megaphone mouths meant that all could hear.

Spring had come.  And with these trumpeted tales, the tulips conspired to open all at once.  Along a path burst red and pink and yellow.  It happened so fast, the stalks went up unnoticed.  Then the bluebells joined in, ringing in a new season.  And the colorful yellows and purples and whites of ground covering weeds changed the typical green scenery into a lively new path.  Overnight, the leaves began filling in and the air adopted a scent with all of this new.

That is, of course, the story that I’m claiming.  Because if we believe the stories that we tell ourselves, why wouldn’t I tell myself something fantastical?  Something with a little bit of magic to brighten the mundane.

Small Stuff

They say don’t sweat the small stuff.  But really, the small stuff adds up and matters.  Whether it adds up to feeling overwhelmed or adds up to feeling balanced, everything counts.

I have such gratitude for all the small stuff that went well today – beyond what needed to.  I’m grateful my bus driver was also running a little late this morning, so I didn’t miss it after all as I stepped out the door one minute later than usual.  I’m grateful to those I work with who decided we’d all go out to lunch, and I was treated to my meal.  I rarely go out to lunch; I pack my meal every day.  But yesterday I ran out of energy to make my lunch, and today, I ran out of time to pack one before rushing to catch a bus.  I’m grateful for a day that began in cold and clouds and turned into a blue-sky, brisk yet sunny day.  I’m grateful for taking the long way home and enjoying a bit of a walk.  I’m grateful for my husband cooking dinner tonight so I could just rest after coming inside.  I cook almost every night, and I really just wanted to not have to.

In all the kindness today – intentional or otherwise- I got a bit of a break that I needed.  I’m grateful to the people who surround my every day.  They may not know just how much it means to me. Even without them knowing, it still means what it means to me.

Caring for Yourself: Part 2

After I finished my blog last week, where I decided that I would create two care packages to have on hand to give to myself, I opened my front door to find – that’s right – a package from a friend.  It was wonderful.  The funny thing is, my dear friend meant to give this to me for Christmas so she feels a little bad, but I am so grateful that this package got delayed because it couldn’t have been better timing.  It was exactly what I needed.

Still, I took to heart my plan to make myself a collection of items (to still package) to have on hand for days that are too much.  I want to encourage you that this is something everyone could do and it can be affordable.  I only spent $3.16 because the rest is stuff I already had.  There is power is packaging items to be used all at once for a bigger treat; just having these things in my home did not automatically make me think about using them or seeing them as a tool to take better care of myself that I would actually use.

Package 1:

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I set the intention of having a “detox” – to detox the negativity that often surrounds us.    Charcoal face mask, a detox foot pad, detox powder, and a quote to remember your worth/replace the negative thought you might be holding onto.  Sometimes you just need to remove and reboot your life – from inside and outside.

Package 2:

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I set the intention of pampering.  I need to remember to take time just because I can – because it’s nice.  I wanted bright colors and fruity, uplifting smells to help me take in the good.  I also spent the $3.16 on this candle, which will last for so many hours.  This is just for me; a reminder to simply enjoy and unwind.

Whatever it is that makes you relax and recharge, it’s probably within you and within your home.  Wherever it is, I hope you set an intention and take care.

Caring For Yourself

Now that we’re off to a snowy start to this new season of Spring, I’m pondering the question about care.

How do you learn to take care of yourself?  I assume it’s from seeing those around you at an early age.  And then at school.  And then at even more school (college, grad school, etc.).  And seeing how other people, such as your friends and coworkers, that surround you care for themselves – or don’t.

How do you actually take care of yourself?  Well, I really unlearned that and am trying to learn it again.  I’m better at taking care of others than taking care of myself.  There’s always the next holiday to prepare for, the upcoming bill, the next social event to plan for, regular household functions (cooking, cleaning and laundry, errands) and for me, there seems to be the never ending dealing with normal life things that really wear on you when it seems perpetual and not occasionally happening (bills that are wrong, repairs that weren’t fixed even when confirmed, people who lie, things that break down, etc.).  It seems that as soon as I finish one thing–or even five– before I have a chance to catch my breath, I’m having to deal with another catastrophe or time-consuming planning.

So my current answer is: I’m still figuring it out.  Maybe you are, too.

How do you take care of others?  Since I’m better at listening to what others say – and really hear what they need – and take action to help support them, I figured I would look at what I do with others and see if I can’t apply this for myself. What do I really want – what would I really say?

I am tired of planning and managing everything at work and at home.  I would like a break.  I would like someone else to care for me for a change.

Unfortunately, the to-dos do not magically disappear.  I can ask for help but that does not guarantee support.  Money is earned and not magically appearing in accounts; bills are anticipated (mostly) and must continued to be paid.  These are unglamorous realities.

I am unable to take time off of work for the next few months, so I have to somehow carve out a break in my evenings.  (It’s harder than appears when you cook from scratch because that is of value to you).  One of the things I do for others is send care packages.  I don’t always know what’s going on in my friends’ lives but I have a sense, and I sense most of us could use a little break, a reminder to take care of themselves, and have a treat or small gift.  To have someone remind you that you are worth it.

I reread my post about crafting care: https://intentionalactsofkindness.wordpress.com/2016/03/09/crafting-and-packaging-care/.  Without mailing myself a package, I have decided to work on creating two packages for myself to have on hand for days that I really need a break but am too overwhelmed to be able to think about what I need.  Packages that I will give to myself to show that I care about myself, even on days when no one else seems to.

How do you care for yourself?  What are some steps you have taken to figure out what works for you?

Emerge

Today was a warmer day.  It was the kind of day that actually felt like March.  It felt like how a Sunday should feel: productive and relaxed, cozy and adventurous.

Today was a reminder to emerge from wherever you are and seek the light.  Seek the fresher air.  Seek a wilder side.

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Go forth and emerge.  It’s time.