Time for a Fresh Start

I love the changes of the seasons, both in nature and in our lives. The beginning of summer is exciting when the kids end the school year with the anticipation of summer vacations. It is equally exciting when the school year starts back up with the plans of a new year, new classrooms, and re-establishing a routine. Even without children, I love the feeling that the beginning of a new school year brings. It is a great time for a fresh start.

red-school-blur-factory croppedI loved shopping for school supplies as a child. I would bring everything home and get it  organized. I would write the name of each subject on my notebooks,  fill my new case with pencils, pens and markers. It was all new, organized and ready for whatever was to come. I loved it!

What areas do you want to feel new, organized and ready for the great things to come? Here are 3 questions to help us move towards a fresh start as the new school year begins and the beauty of fall approaches.

Is it best for me and my family? As we begin new things in our lives there are always expectations that we need to consider. Schools, church, family, friends, and work all have expectations of what we should do and how we should be involved. These are all potentially wonderful things, but also realize that it is ok to say “no” to them if it is not right for you and your family. We love to be involved, contribute and help others, but, at the end of the day, we have to make sure it is right for us and our loved ones.

What is most important? Take a moment to think about and even write down what is most important to you. Maybe prioritizing a family meal together is important. Maybe physical activity is a priority. Having fun and scheduling something fun together would be great. These things do not tend to happen by themselves. Many times life gets hectic and what we have decided is most important gets pushed to the side. Determine what is most important to you, put it on your calendar, and make it happen.

What can I remove? Take a look around and ask yourself if there is anything that you should removed from your life. This could be physical possessions, items on your calendar, bad habits, time wasters or even unhealthy relationships. Our lives become cluttered with “stuff” before our very eyes. Taking time to de-clutter and simplify can feel so good! It frees up time and energy for the important things, and allows me to give some of my possessions to people who are in desperate need of them.

Are you ready for a fresh start? What do you feel you can do to start fresh in the next few weeks?

Here’s to new and fresh starts!

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Is it Perfect for You?

Is there an area in your life you would like to improve? Maybe get a good night’s rest on a regular basis? Figure out some new recipes to make? Get out for that early morning or late night jog? We all have something on our “I want to” list.  As we move forward to make the improvements in our lives, realize that there is no “one size fits all” program to success. We have to figure out what works best for us and then stick with it.
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When it was time for me to lose 20 pounds I decided to start calorie counting. At the time, I loved it because I could decide how I “used” my calories for that day. I could eat a banana or I could eat powdered donuts. Granted, my approach was not the healthiest at times, but it worked for me. It worked so well, that to this day, I track my calories religiously. Because calorie counting worked well for me, I felt like it was the solution for everyone. I shared my enthusiasm with anyone who would listen, but I soon found that my answer to losing weight was not the answer for everyone. Since this discovery, I have seen this played out in many areas of my life. I love to ride my bike, but it’s not for everyone. I eat a special diet that helps me feel great, but it’s not necessarily for everyone. I love to play a certain type of music, but it’s not for everyone. What works for me may not work for you and that is okay!
How do we figure out our “program for success?” Here are four things that have worked for me.
  1. Listen and learn from others, but in the end decide for yourself. One of the greatest sources of information is to talk to someone who has succeeded in what you are trying to accomplish. It is fascinating to hear their stories, what worked for them, and what did not. If you can, talk to more than one person to gather different perspectives. Gathering their thoughts and experience can be helpful as you figure out what works for you.
  2. Experiment. As you do your research and listen to others, you will quickly see that there are many different ways to accomplish the same goal. If you are not 100% sure which way is best for you, start one and look at it as an experiment. Move forward on your experiment. As you move forward, learn what works for you, and learn what does not.
  3. Recognize discomfort and make adjustments. When something is not working best for you, you will feel discomfort and maybe even frustration. Sometimes you may not see the results you want to see. Sometimes you find that it does not work into your current schedule. Whatever it is, take some time to analyze your discomfort then make the needed adjustments to move forward. On a side not, realize that accomplishing big goals in your life is not always going to be easy. There may be times where you just have to buckle down and do it, even if you are uncomfortable.
  4. In the end, be true to yourself. We are all unique and amazing individuals. Love yourself and be proud of your way of doing things. Yes, there are times I make compromises, but I compromise because there are people in my life that I love, I respect their uniqueness and I want to spend time with them. When it comes to what I want to accomplish, I will succeed when I am true to myself.
What is an area you want to improve in your life? Have you tried any of the above? Let me and my other reader know how it’s going.
We all accomplish amazing things every day! Don’t forget to celebrate those things! Here’s to loving ourselves and living our best!

Three Easy Ways to Brighten a Day

Every day I get wrapped up in my own world and my own problems. We all have plenty to deal with on a daily basis. With so much on my mind, I put my head down and get to work. But at some point I lift up my head and realize that the people around me are struggling too. I am reminded that we all could use a positive boost.

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Recently I had a rough day. It was one of those days that I could have used some positive mojo. I felt like I had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. My mind was filled with negative thoughts and I was incredibly tired. That same day I was scheduled to bring my car in for service. My service center has always done a great job for me, but they are frequently suggesting additional “routine maintenance.” This particular day, I was not in the mood. Seriously, all I wanted was a simple oil change and tire rotation! I pulled up to the service bay and the place was packed. The gentleman who has helped me in the past jumped into the car in front of me to move it forward, making room for my car. As I saw him get out and head over to his desk I felt bad for this guy. He looked overwhelmed and exhausted, it broke my heart. My mood changed and I immediately wanted to find a way to give this guy a positive boost to brighten his day.

Here are three simple ways we can brighten someone’s day.

  • Send a message. It does not matter what kind of message you send; text, email, Facebook or snail mail. It will bring a smile and encouragement. It only takes a few minutes.
  • Give a compliment. It can be as simple as “you look very nice today” or “I am proud of you and how you handled that project!” It’s simple, impactful, and it will only take seconds.
  • Show appreciation. There are many people who work hard every day and are rarely appreciated. This could be anyone; the checker at the grocery store, the attendant at the gas station, the clerk in the drive thru, the nurse at the doctor’s office. You will bring a smile to their face in no time flat.

In what simple way can your brighten someone’s day today? Let me know how it goes! I love to hear your stories!

Here’s to bright sunshiny days!


3 Ways To Add Sweet Moments To Our Lives

Our hearts beat a special way, even flutters a little bit when we experience a special moment with someone or something that we hold dear to our hearts. It could be that moment standing out in nature when you have that awe-inspiring feeling in the presence of it’s beauty. It could be that precious moment a little one looks up at you in that way that is special just between the two of you. It could be that moment when your significant other gently puts their hand in yours. These are special moments in our lives, and they feel so great. Yet how can the days pass by so quickly and these moments become so rare?

baby-baby-with-mom-mother-kiss-tenderness-67663 resizedMy husband, John and I were not able to have children ourselves; however, we have been blessed to have been adopted as “Aunt Jen and Uncle John” by many families. We adore these families and love spending time with them. I especially enjoy the moments when the little ones try to tackle a project on their own, but soon find they need a little assistance. Aunt Jen is always glad to jump in to help! Just recently we had a crew of kids making S’mores, roasting their marshmallows over the fire then assembling their gooey, melted, scrumptious snack. A few of the younger kids brought their freshly melted marshmallows over to the table for assembly, and a perplexed look fell over their faces. “How do I get this gooey thing off my stick and make my S’more?” I happened to catch that look of uncertainty that allowed me to jump into action.  It took less than a minute as we worked together to assemble their S’more. The moment passes so quickly, but my heart skipped a beat when I handed them their ready to eat S’more. They looked up at me and they gave me something so sweet. It was that special look with that special smiles that said “thanks Aunt Jen.” No words needed.

These moments rarely happen on their own; they require some effort on our part. Here are three things that help facilitate special moments.

  1. Slowing down. Think back to the special moments you have had. Did they happen when you were running from one place to another feeling rushed or running late?  It’s possible, but mine have always been in those slower, more peace filled moments. Our lives are incredibly busy. More and more is expected of us on a daily basis.  Opportunities for special moments will slip by if we do not take the time to slow down.
  2. Ask ourselves what is most important? Is it more important to fold that last load of laundry or to sit down for a short period of time and talk with someone you love? Is it more important to run one more errand or to pull over into the park and enjoy an amazing sunset? Sometimes the laundry and the errand has to get done, I get it. But we will miss out on so much if we forget to remind ourselves what is most important.
  3. Look for opportunities. We have the opportunity to turn “normal” moments in our day into special moments. Looking for opportunities to create a special moment requires us to step out of our own world and into the world of others. If we are getting ready to stop by a friend or family member’s house, ask ourselves if there is something special you could pick up for them that would make their day. What do they love? Imagine the look on their face when they realize that not only did you go out of your way for them, but you remembered something that was special to them. The feeling in your heart will be priceless.

When you opened this blog post, what sweet moment immediately stirred in your mind? What did you have to do to make that moment a special moment? I, along with my other reader, would love to hear about your experiences and what made them special. Please comment below! You might have to set up an account the first time to leave a comment, but you only have to do it once and then we can chat all we want!
Here’s to a great life, filled with sweet moments!