Happy New Year!

I always get super sentimental this time of year… Goodbye 2017, hello 2018. Lessons learned. Friends made. Loved ones lost. Memories made. Here is my list (I do love a good list) of lessons/thoughts/memories/ I will keep close to my heart.

1. Always keep it simple and when all else fail go back to what you know… Back to the basics. It will always help you find your way to the right side of the road.

2.  Put a little of yourself and everything you do and the details really do matter.

3.  When seeking the opinions of others be sure to seek the correct ones. Don’t ask a professional ballerina how to fix a car just because she is your best friend. Everyone has a gift but not everyone has every gift. And remember that everyone will have an opinion, you don’t necessarily need it.

4.  Find the best in everyone. We all have bad days. I know I have and will. Love people despite your differences.

5.  Try new things. Even if it means trying food that touches!  You might just like it. You only get one shot at this life. Make it count.

6.  Smile often. It’s contagious. (But be careful, apparently so is the flu). Just the same, give hugs to your friends and family. You might just make their day.

Happy New Year to all of my friends and family. I Love You for being a part of my very strange beautiful roller coaster ride of a life. Thank you for loving my silly gypsy spirit.  As always, Have a Happy Day!

Turn your gratitude into your goals… even better, a bucket list.

I’ve been thinking about all the things I’m thankful for and watching my friends and family lately.  Talking to them on the phone. Learning about their lives as time rolls on and finding out what is important to them.  It’s made me think about what is important to me and has me thinking about my goals for the future.  The New Year will soon be upon us and, as we all typically do, a list will get made of resolutions. As quickly as it’s made, it is forgotten.  I propose a challenge for us all, to do something different this year.  Let’s turn our gratitude list into our goal list.  Let’s create a bucket list for one year only.

This may sound sort of strange at first and I haven’t carved the whole thing out yet but let me start by sharing a little story with you.  A few years back my sister and I asked our mother to create her bucket list.  Her response was of course, “Girls, I’m not dying!  I’m not even sick!”  We laughed and agreed.  Our mother couldn’t be in better health.  In fact she will probably out live all of us.  We corrected her and pointed out that the fun part of a bucket list is doing the things you’ve always wanted to do while you can actually do them, NOT when you are past your prime and wish you had the strength or energy.  She thought about it and at first her list was small.  We went to a painting class, then a hockey game.  Her list grew as the ideas came to her of things she had never done but wanted to do or sounded like fun to try.  My sister and I have had so much fun helping our mom to tick things off her bucket list one by one and her list has grown just as quickly as we knock items off.  That is the fun of it, never finding the bottom, but always finding new adventures together.  We have since gone to her first concert, gone zip-lining, taken a Segway tour around a quaint town we had never visited before.  Just this past summer we were able to enjoy a cruise to Mexico with our mom.  It was the first time our mom had ever been on a cruise and she loved it.  The best part; it was just the three of us, my mother, my sister and myself.  It had been so long since the three of us had taken a trip that I’m not sure if it was the destination, the method of the destination or the company that made the trip absolutely perfect and a memory for a lifetime.  The point of this short story about my mom is that by asking her to make a bucket list, my sister and I have been able to share experiences with her that we never knew she had wanted.  These experiences are now beautiful memories for us all.  Now, each time I miss my mom I send her a note and ask what our next adventure will be.  For Christmas, my sister and I get a hand-made gift certificate from her good for one day to do whatever we want, a date with our mom.  That may sound trivial, but in a large family whom all have very busy lives and live across several cities, this is one of the most beautiful gifts I get each year and I look forward to it each year.

Circling back to the point of this blog if I haven’t lost you yet, I would like to take this time to think of all the things we are grateful for.  If you have small children in your life I’m sure they are bringing home crafts from school with little turkeys and feathers indicating all they are grateful for.  If you have older ones, take your next meal and make this a topic of discussion.  Learn about each other.  From there take a few days to think about it and begin to think how you can take what your family is grateful for and turn that list into a bucket list for next year.  If your family is grateful for “family” than take a family trip or maybe one day trip a month to somewhere new; A trip on a tankful.  If your little one is grateful for breakfast (there are always funny things they are grateful for), thank take that to heart and have your little one cook breakfast once a month on a weekend or maybe go out to breakfast once a month to a new restaurant or a special place.  The point is to turn your gratitude list into goals or a bucket list for the next year and embrace what your family feels is important.  Have fun with it and include them in the decisions for your list.

The experiences my sister and I have had with our mom have been priceless and each year we learn more about her; what her likes and dislikes are, what her dreams are and what she is looking forward to.  It was not until I was older that I have learned to appreciate these qualities in another person. They are what make up their whole person and what make them special.  Take time as you are learning about what your family and friends are grateful for this season to step back and really see what makes them special.  What are their wants, their fears, theirs hopes and dreams?  Can you help them accomplish them and in turn be a part of their memories and them be a part of yours?  Enjoy this beautiful season and enjoy your family and friends.  As always, have a happy day.

An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s November and this is typically the time of year when we all take more time than usual, or possibly stop for the first time all year, and begin to list the things we are grateful for.  Thanksgiving brings that warm loving feeling out in a lot of us and reminds us of the importance of family, friends, and quality time.  Here are a few challenges for yourself, your family and friends this fall season.  I challenge you to try one or all of them, bringing an “attitude of gratitude” into your home and possibly having it last beyond the holiday season.

  1. A daily gratitude list – Each day write down one thing you are grateful for. Put it on a small piece of paper and drop it into a mason jar.  On Thanksgiving Day, take time for each person to pull out their papers and share with family and friends what they are grateful for.  To expand on this idea, make it one jar per family and write your name / date on each note (so you remember who wrote it and when).  These can be one word notes or maybe a small message.  It will be a great way to start your Thanksgiving Holiday as well as start each day with an Attitude of Gratitude.  To keep this fun tradition going past the holidays, set dates for family gratitude dinners.  (Christmas Eve, New Years, Day, the first of each month, maybe every Sunday Night).  It can be a great way to keep a grateful heart and a great way to keep your family close. You might be surprised to find that one moment you took from your day, really touched a family member enough to make it on their gratitude list.  Now that is a full circle of happiness!
  2. A daily or weekly Random Act of Kindness – These can be a lot of fun and really make your heart smile! Do something for someone else that is unexpected and unsolicited with no expectation of a return gesture.  Some ideas that are fun can be paying for the car behind you in a drive thru line at a fast food place or coffee house.  Leave a kind note randomly on a parked car in the mall on a busy shopping day to simply wish a stranger a great day.  Stop and speak to a cashier or retail associate, look them in the eye, and ask how their day is going.  Thank them for working today.  If you have ever had a retail job during the holidays, than I’m sure you know that a person taking a moment to be nice goes a long way.  NOTE: This is also a great opportunity to set an example for the little ones shopping with us.  They learn by what they see and if your manners are great, it will rub off on them so remember please and thank-you as well.  There are so many ways to leave a smile, help another, the possibilities are endless, and this is a great way to use your imagination and do these things as an individual or make a greater team effort as a family.
  3. Contribute to a charitable organization or participate in a charitable event – Contributions come in many forms other than money. Two that come to mind are time and effort.  Volunteer for a local event, participate in the planning process, or maybe stay after to help clean-up along with participating.  This is a great way to help important causes in your community, get to know your neighbors, and work together as a family.  It feels good to give back.  Soup kitchens are always looking for volunteers, as are pet shelters.  Another great way to contribute (and get ready for Christmas) is to clean out your closets and toy boxes.  So many toys and clothes go unused / unworn and eventually get tossed out with the trash.  Make it a habit to help your children donate the items they are no longer using or have outgrown.

These are just a few ideas of how to have an attitude of gratitude and to help keep it past the holiday season.  I hope you and your family are enjoying the cooler weather and as always, I have a happy day!

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