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Archive for January, 2016

The sights and sounds of the waking day are incredible. 16196-illustration-of-a-hot-cup-of-coffee-pv[1]On my front porch relaxing in a rocking chair, I embraced the new day by watching the sun peeking through the trees while squirrels scampered across the lawn and birds hopped about looking for breakfast; listening to the chattering of the birds; smelling the fresh air; feeling the coolness of the morning air, and tasting the smooth richness of coffee. All five of my senses were fully engaged at that moment in full communion with the new day. Bliss! At that moment, fully PRESENT, I felt bliss. And, a sense of gratitude washed over me for the opportunity to appreciate the stillness, the beauty, and the absence of time. No place to be right away or a strict schedule to follow is my idea of the perfect way to start a new day.

Generally, my day begins in the darkness of early morning with no interaction with the outside world until Andrew and I make our daily drive to school. The natural world is not the focus (unless it is raining) in the car; it is each other. We are no longer at the same school; therefore, we talk the entire time we are in the car while listening to music. Upbeat, alternative music like the Violent Femmes, The Cure, or Twenty-One Pilots. In a different context, our morning drive is a perfect way to start a new day. It sets the tone for what each of us will face for the next few hours. Therefore, the mornings where I can linger and greet the sunrise are appreciated differently and are not taken for granted because they are a rare treat. Mornings like today are a reminder to slow down, admire nature’s beauty, and practice self-care.

It is amazing that today is the last day of January. It is also my younger sister’s 44th birthday. Happy Birthday, Rachel! January has provided me with a terrific start towards the changes I want to make this year. February offers me some exciting opportunities, as well as an entire week off from my day job. I registered for Danielle LaPorte’s free Fire Starter Sessions Audio Course and joined the Fire Starters Sessions group on Facebook. I had purchased the book back in the spring of 2012; however, I was not ready for the message. If all this course provides me with is the inspiration to pick up the momentum, it will be worth the time. I also registered for two Blogging University courses through WordPress: Writing 201: Finding Your Story (February 1-26) and Blogging 101: Zero to Hero (February 8-26). If it gets me writing daily, it will be worth the time.

What are your plans for February, dearest reader? Hopefully, it will include opportunities for self-care and a little fun. Until we meet again, embrace your day with an open heart. Happiness!

“Happiness is essentially a state of going somewhere wholeheartedly, one-directionally, without regret or reservation.” ~ W. H. Sheldon

 

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Well, I must say there will be NO blogging outside today. IMG_0368It is FREEZING this morning! Instead, I am sitting comfortably with Tooty (aka Comet, my dog) near the fireplace enjoying a warm fire courtesy of my hubby. Merci, beaucoup!

Gratitude! This simple, yet powerful word, is one of the keys that will help me find “inner peace and harmony” this year. Since the beginning of the year, two simple practices each day have already helped me make an attitude adjustment: reading Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have every morning and writing in my gratitude journal every evening. They are the bookends of my day. Even in the midst of trials and tribulations, we can always find something to be grateful for in our lives. Sometimes, it is the trial or tribulation.

Nepo’s book is allowing me to examine my thoughts and feelings more closely. It sets the tone of my day. Sometimes, the passage seems like it was written specifically for me while other days it is simply a dose of inspiration. I am no longer dragging myself out of bed thinking about how tired I am and calculating how many hours until I sleep again. Each new day is full of possibilities, opportunities, and…yes challenges. I am blessed to have that new day and can share it with some amazing people. I might also have to share it with some annoying people, as well; however, the beauty of interacting with the annoying people is that it makes you appreciate the amazing people in your life that much more. There is always a silver lining, folks!

My gratitude journal is allowing me to complain less about the annoying people (kidding) and focus less on the negative interpretation of the day. It is all about perception and attitude. I, you, we…all have a choice about how we approach a situation. This does not mean we can never be unhappy, angry, or disappointed. We have to acknowledge those feelings, but not dwell on them to the point that our lives become a miserable cycle of negativity. My gratitude journal for any given day may include being grateful for a hot shower or that aggravating student in 6th period. I know that not everyone on this planet can enjoy a hot shower. I do not want to take that gift for granted. And, that aggravating student makes me appreciate my own children more.

Clearly, there will be days that we classify in the “stink” category. Embrace them for what they are, build a bridge, get over it, and wait for the blessing. Negativity will block the blessing from appearing; however, gratitude will allow it to appear. Enjoy this freezing cold day, dear readers, and be grateful that at least the sun is shining! Happiness!

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein

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IMG_0600What an absolutely gorgeous day! The sun is out, the temperature is cool, and the air is crisp. I took my little dog out to do his business before starting my business of writing and soon found myself sitting on my front porch basking in the sunshine and watching the birds and squirrels. I closed my eyes, listened, and felt peace. It only lasted a few minutes. However, it inspired me to write outside today. Thus, I am now writing this post outside on the deck in the backyard while enjoying a cup of hot green tea with honey. It is cooler than I expected since I am more in the shade than in the sun; however, it feels wonderful, and I am PRESENT. Nature has that effect.

Linger more. This was my challenge action this week for The Busy Boycott. While I wish I could report that I lingered more throughout the week, I pretty much saved it for today. I woke up at 7:00 this morning, made a quick trip to the bathroom, and climbed right back into bed where I snuggled some more under the blankets until 8:00. Feeling like I loitered long enough, I got up and wandered into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee and check my cell phone for any messages. I had an email from mon frere (Simon), so I replied, hit send, and brought my coffee along with my I-Pad back to the bedroom. Plopping back into bed, I caught up on reading a few blog posts, as well as my devotion for the day. Therefore, I lingered over my cup of coffee and took my time reading. Now I am up and ready to live the day.

Since the new year has started, Sundays have become a retreat of self-care. It seems as if each Saturday of January has entailed some type of activity outside the home. Friday afternoons before dinner have become the designated grocery shopping day which allows for Sunday to be sacred. I still have chores to do, the checkbook to balance, and clothes to wash; however, I have allowed myself to linger over that cup of coffee or actually read a blog post instead of skimming through it for the highlights. Having a day to just BE at home with nowhere to go has been pure delight. No one should have to wait for a vacation to practice self-care, savor a cup of coffee, or admire the beauty of nature on a day like today.

I know it does not appear on the surface that I have been doing much to change; however, the changes are happening, just slowly. Cutting back on my school hours, allowing myself a day to practice self-care, writing more, evaluating the “busyness” of my life are just a few ways I am laying the foundation to achieve my goals for this year. I’m opting to be the tortoise instead of the hare.

Throughout the next week, I will be thinking about my perfect day. This exercise was mentioned during the Smart Cookies webinar I participated in last week and as a reflection question for The Busy Boycott. This exercise is meant to help inspire you to work on goals that will help you attain what really matters to you for your life. I’ll share my perfect day with you when I get it figured out. In the meantime, enjoy your day. Try to get outside today if the day is beautiful and soak up not only the sun, but also the sights and sounds of nature. Happiness!

“Stop and unplug,” say I; “look around you, at the vastness and greatness of the natural world.” Some stop. Others need binoculars to tie their shoelaces.” ~ Fennel Hudson, A Waterside Year-Fennel’s Journal-No.2 

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Kat @ 47

Happy Birthday to ME! Today, 47 years ago, I arrived on the planet. Even though I had to work today, I had a wonderful birthday. I received emails, texts, Facebook messages, birthday cards in the mail, phone calls, as well as hugs, kisses, and well wishes. My sister and her family even sang “Happy Birthday” to me over the phone. All day I have felt the love, and I am extremely grateful. I have some amazing family, friends, co-workers, and students.

Andrew and I took a celebratory picture early this morning; hence, the half-opened eyes. I opted for Raising Cane’s for dinner. Simple! All I plan on doing for the rest of the evening is READ! I desperately want to finish Duma Key by Stephen King. I only have forty pages left. Therefore, dear readers, I bid thee a good-night! Happiness!

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” ~ Maya Angelou

 

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Comic Con 2016

Happy Sunday! I hope you are enjoying a wonderful weekend. There are so many ways to celebrate your time off, whether it is attending an event, creating some art, hanging out with family and friends, or reading. What are you doing with your time this weekend or when you have time off? I decided to have some fun because having fun is a way to practice self-care.

Andrew and I attended Comic Con yesterday in New Orleans. We had a great time checking out merchandise, seeing what is new in gaming, and getting a peek at the celebrities that were inJeremy Renner attendance this year.  My goal was to get a glimpse of the actor Jeremy Renner who has starred in films like American Hustle, Mission Impossible, and Marvel’s The Avengers. Andrew and I took a picture with Scott Wilson (Hershel, The Walking Dead) and sat in on a panel featuring William Shatner (Captain Kirk, Star Trek). Mr. Wilson was very sweet, and Mr. Shatner was hilarious. Andrew played in a video game tournament for a new PlayStation 4 game called Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. While he did not advance to the Scott Wilsonsecond round, he had the opportunity to preview this game which he preordered last week. Both Andrew and I bought a couple of items. I found an X-Files t-shirt! If you do not already know, I am a huge X-Files fan, and I am super-excited because the show is coming back on television this month for a six-episode revival. Needless to say, I am stoked!

As for today, I am practicing some more self-care by doing a couple of activities I thoroughly enjoy: writing and reading. Of course, I do have a few tasks to complete (laundry, bills, chores); however, they will not consume all of my day. As you know, I am participating in The Busy Boycott. The first week, I did not talk about being busy at all. I caught myself several times about to utter the words “I’ve been busy” or “super busy” when someone asked how I was doing. Last week, my challenge action was to DO LESS. And, doing less is exactly what I did even with having to go back to work. I have made the decision to only stay at school until 4:00PM unless I have a meeting or event that requires me being there longer. I cannot eliminate my current job; however, I can eliminate working an inordinate amount of hours. What am I compromising for the sake of my busyness? The answer is my health, relationships, and creativity.

Innovation is my theme this year. Baby steps are what I will be taking the next few weeks to achieve some of the changes I want to see in 2016.  Enjoy what is left of the weekend, my dear readers. Happiness!

“The expectations of what we can get done, and how well we can do it, are beyond human scale.” ~ Brene Brown

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One activity I get a kick out of doing is taking quizzes on Facebook. Last week, I took the “What is your word for 2016?” quiz. My word of inspiration for 2016 is INNOVATION. Innovation is the action or process of innovating or changing. According to the author of this quiz, I will find inner peace and harmony this year. Therefore, I have decided that my theme for this new year will revolve around INNOVATION (change, transformation, creativity, breakthrough). At this point, all I have is a theme; no real action plan, but some ideas which I hope will blossom as the year progresses. I have been down this path of change before when I took my hiatus from teaching a few years ago, and that journey was bliss; yet, it was short-lived because as soon as I started teaching again, I began neglecting my personal life and started back down that old path to burn out from working too many hours, feeling overwhelmed, and not practicing self-care.

One of my first steps towards innovation is signing up for The Busy Boycott on “Be More with Less” (http://bemorewithless.com/). It is basically a free challenge to try and become less busy. Each week Courtney Carver will send out a Challenge Action for the week. The first challenge action: stop talking about it. I am extremely guilty of telling everyone how busy I am when asked how I am doing. I also have to contemplate what I am compromising for the sake of busyness.

My second step towards innovation is financial. I have signed up for a free on-line workshop with Smart Cookies (http://smartcookies.com/) called “Crush Your Money Goal in 2016.” The webinar is Tuesday, 05 January. If you are interested, there is still time to sign up. There is a morning and an evening session. In addition to the financial advice workshop, I am participating in another “52-Week Money Challenge” to save money for a new treadmill. Two years ago, I saved money for our family trip to Universal using this method of saving.

My third step towards innovation is reading The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo. I absolutely enjoy reading devotional books. They provide a daily dose of inspiration. This particular book offers brief passages each day with ideas for meditation and contemplation. I have already had an aha moment, and it is only 03 January.

I hope, dearest reader, that you have thought some about what will inspire you to action this year. I am taking baby steps by first feeding the soul. Then, I will venture down the path of change a little more. Happiness!

“Innovation is not the result of chance, it’s the result of action. It’s NOT a thing to wait for. It’s a thing to do.” ~ Phil McKinney

 

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, my dearest readers! I wish all of you a year of blessings, happiness, and pure joy. I plan to begin a new journey this year, one of innovation which I will share with you shortly. In the meantime, enjoy the first day of your blank slate doing whatever feeds your soul, whether it is reading a book, lounging around in your pajamas, or visiting family and friends for a traditional New Year’s meal of black-eyed peas, cabbage, cornbread, and fried turkey. Happiness!

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

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