Thursday, October 30, 2008

Savor the Moment

Sunset by Per Ola Wiberg (former ponanwi and Powi)

When is the last time you had a romantic candlelit dinner with wine and roses? Have you seen the first snowflakes of the season - for many people they have already appeared? While driving did you notice the sun shimmering on the orange and red leaves so that they seemed on fire? Have you heard the crickets serenading at night or birds singing in the morning? If not, you are depriving yourself of some of life’s greatest beauties.

Beautiful moments happen every day. Sometimes, in our rush to get to work, home, the store, wash the dishes or dust the house, we miss out on simple pleasures that could lighten our day and bring wonder and bliss to our lives. We fool ourselves into thinking that we can enjoy it tomorrow or the next day, not realizing that we’re cheating ourselves in the process.

Appreciating and being aware of small joys not only changes our mood, making us smile and laugh more, it changes our perspective as well. When we have 10 minutes of silence before beginning our day of work, we notice that our day starts off more relaxed and peaceful. Our interactions with others are calmer and more productive so we accomplish more.

Scheduling time for ourselves helps keep us balanced. When we make time for Saturday morning golf game, or a trip to the mall with girlfriends, the satisfaction we receive stays with us all week. Putting aside an hour a day to spend time with family, read a book, join a fitness club or take a cooking class adds fulfillment to each day. It’s a small goal that can make a huge difference in how you feel day to day.

Utilize the senses. Take a moment to inhale the fresh clean air outside. Listen to the sound of your child laughing, your cat purring or music you love. Feel the soft cuddly texture of the sweater you’re wearing. Luxuriate in the warmth of a hot, steamy shower. Taste the velvety smoothness of your favorite chocolate, the silky smooth chill of ice cream or succulent flavor of a juicy steak.

Lastly, the best reason to savor the moment is because time is so fleeting. Unexpected difficulties like illness, financial problems or auto and home repairs can hit without warning. Take the time today to relish your good health, happy relationship and positive cashflow. Don’t enjoy tomorrow what you could enjoy today.

Here are a few things to savor:

  • Hearing your child saying you’re the best mommy in the universe.
  • Seeing the sparkle of frost in the early morning twilight.
  • Sitting alone for 10 minutes with only silence for company.
  • Attending a music concert. Feeling the vibrations flow through you.
  • The flavor and aroma at your favorite Italian restaurant.
  • Admiring your reflection in the mirror when you look good.
  • Enjoying a Sunday afternoon nap.
  • A rainbow after the storm.
  • Freshly laundered clothes warm from the dryer.
  • Having a job and getting a steady paycheck.
  • Low gas prices.
  • Adorable costumes and trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Spirit

A Boston Terrier Halloween by d70focus

Do you love Halloween as much as I do? For years I’ve been enthralled with the imagination, creativity, and excitement that surround the holiday. Not to mention the idea of free chocolate and a chance for a party. What’s not to like?

Inspiration comes to life in the many unique and colorful costumes created by visionary people everywhere. Fairies, Egyptian kings, and disco queens from decades past mingle with nurses and sheriffs, aliens and even Mickey Mouse. Go to any Halloween party where they’re awarding gifts for the most original, funniest or scariest costumes and see for yourself.

Some of the most inventive and cute ideas in recent years include the “cereal killer,” “smarty-pants,” the ½ angel ½ devil costumes, an early snowman, a milk carton missing kid and more. I’m always impressed with the attention to detail and innovative ideas that go into costumes. Plus it’s just fun.

Thrills have their place too. Jack o’lanterns glow with an otherworldly light, flickering in the darkness. Like gargoyles of old, they are sentinels, guarding our homes from harm. Their fearsome faces terrorize anyone who wanders near. Skeletal scarecrows watch from their post, silent sentries to trick-or-treaters young and old.

From candy corn lights to cackling witches, to motorized hands that grab as you take a treat, the unexpected lurks in every corner. Open a creaking door and walk across squeaking floors into a dimly lit room of shadowy figures. Suddenly all those household repairs you didn’t get around to are now part of the ambiance. How cool is that?

The colors of Halloween are diabolically clever. Midnight black, pumpkin orange, blood red, and gruesome green grab your attention with their vivid colors. There is something compelling and somewhat forbidden about eating food colored in such strange and unusual combinations.

We get a chance to reinvent ourselves on this playful and fun-filled holiday. Always wanted to be an astronaut? Now’s your chance! Want to be an elegant ballerina or a hard-core rock star? You can. Now is the time. You can be a lawyer, nurse or sheriff, or an alien space explorer. The only limit is your imagination.

No matter witch way you slice it, Halloween is a fun, light-hearted and creative holiday wrapped in a unique and mysterious package. So get out there and celebrate. Give in to your fear of looking silly and have a little fun. Use the excuse to let go of your problems and worries for a night. You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Looking for the Good

You can’t see me by Piez

Some days it’s hard to find something to smile about. Perhaps like me, you’ve been sick for several weeks, hacking, coughing and sneezing, full of aches and pains, and you just don’t feel like yourself.

Maybe the news about the economy, housing market or inflation has you down. Maybe you know friends or family who have lost money or are struggling, and you feel frustrated and angry.

Now is when your attitude is more important than ever. Positive thinking is not an attempt to sugar-coat the negative events in our life, but rather a life boat that lifts us out of troubled water and gives us the time and space needed to access our situation.

Looking for the good takes effort. It takes work and thought to find the positive stories and happy information in your daily news. You must actively participate while you watch TV or read the newspaper. For instance, just yesterday I was pleased to see that 6-year old Cole Puffinburger was returned alive and uninjured after being abducted at gunpoint from his home. That is something to celebrate!

There are other things too. In my local paper there has been news of public library expansions, donations to build new playgrounds, and openings of new businesses and restaurants in the area. The weather report is sunny and cool - great for outdoor trips. Even the return of a favorite TV show can make you smile. There’s always something good if you look for it.

Many experts from Sarah Ban Breathnach to Oprah have praised the far-reaching benefits of a gratitude journal. From helping you count your blessings, to relieving past pleasurable experiences, a gratitude journal is a great tool in the search for the positive and uplifting. If used daily it can focus your attention on the various accomplishments, fun experiences and happiness of everyday life. It can improve your feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment and give you a written record of the good things that surround you.

Looking for the good is worth the effort. If you practice it enough, it becomes a habit, one that will bring you joy and comfort for many years to come. Positive thinking is a skill that allows your mind to break free of the negativity and find peace and serenity in the midst of turmoil.

Like the old saying “this too, shall pass.” Remembering that will help you to savor joys while they last, and give hope when things look bleak. There is always beauty to be found, but we must open our eyes to see it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall is here!

Loose-Leaf by Nicholas_T

Ahh, fall. Those crisp, cool mornings where stars glimmer and shine in a crystal clear sky. The day begins to wind down a little bit sooner as night falls earlier each evening. Trees begin their brilliant fashion show as they change into vibrant reds, oranges and yellows, dazzling us as take our daily walk. Homemade soup and hot cocoa fill the air as families gather together for a bit of warmth.

As I’ve moved from MD to FL and back north again to TN, I am in love once again with the passing seasons. I am captivated by the noticeable changes in the days. How the cool weather brings thick white fog, that envelopes us in a soft cocoon, muting the harsh noises of traffic. Or the first frost, when plants and grass are coated in a thin layer of white that sparkle in the streetlights overhead.

Fall brings to mind family and friends. Holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, when we get together and eat, frolic and enjoy one another’s company. A time to give thanks for all the joys and happy moments we’ve experienced through the year. Fall brings us back together as we shelter from the cold.

Two of my favorite fall activities are decorating a bright orange pumpkin for Halloween (and even Thanksgiving), and going on a hike to see the gleaming colors of the Maples, Ash, Sweet gum, Birch and Oak trees. I love listening the crackle of fallen leaves as they crunch underfoot. The cool air is invigorating and lures me outside day after day.

Some more favorites of mine are; eating Halloween (black and orange) Oreos, visiting family and feasting at Thanksgiving, going to Haunted houses, eating crisp fall apples, the first pot of homemade soup, hot tea on a cold morning, and seeing the first Christmas decorations go up. What are you favorite fall activities?