Posted in Awesome Stuff

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I came across this article this morning – the title is “How to be as Likeable as Mister Rogers”, and I kind of love it. Growing up with three TV channels in rural Canada, Mister Rogers was not part of my childhood (we had the Canadian version of him – Mr Dressup – who was just about as fantastic, let me tell you!). Once we got cable, though, I began checking out his show (yes I was 17, so what?) to see what the fuss was all about it…and I LOVED it. I found him to be everything that a person who hosts a show for kids should be – kind, sweet, caring, with such a lovely sense of joy and fun. I appreciated the cadence of his voice, the speech patterns he used were rhythmic and comforting…and don’t get me started on his magnificent puppets. I’m here for puppets anyway (I seriously love them – I don’t know why I don’t work at the Children’s Television Workshop on Sesame Street), but his were extra special. Sigh. I love him. Anyway, back to the list of ways you can be as likeable as Fred Rogers – and I hope you follow it and become as likeable as him. We need more of him in the world. For realz.

How to be as likeable as Mister Rogers

Tim Denning

Make light of dark topics

The TV show that made Mister Rogers famous was called “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” It was a kid’s TV show and often contained dark topics which Mister Rogers was able to present in a positive way.

His ideas about death and the inevitable event we will all face were spoken about using puppets, a dead goldfish lying in a tank that was later buried, and through the use of songs and puppets.

He took a dark subject like death and found something positive in it both for children and for the adults that would watch his show with their children. One such example saw Mister Rogers reflecting on what his mother used to say to him about death:

“Always look for the people who are helping.”

“You’ll always find somebody who’s trying to help.”

Even with a dark topic like death, there is a way to find the positive if you take Mister Rogers’ advice that he learned from his mother. It’s easy to find a horrible outlook from a dark topic — but it’s much harder to see the good and that’s one way to become more likable. Because people fall in love with those that can find the good in every situation.

Make everyone feel good

The whole way through watching both films, the viewer is left feeling good. You feel good for many reasons and most of them tie back to one central theme: it’s so easy to be a good person if you try hard enough the way Mister Rogers did.

There is so much to feel bad or guilty about in life and the internet only amplifies this problem. People that make us feel good are uncommon and so when we’re introduced to such an individual, we like them.

By making us feel good about the world, we feel good about ourselves.

And when we feel good about ourselves, we can achieve outcomes that we may otherwise of believed to be impossible. Make people feel good.

Give everybody your full attention

Ever spoken to someone about an important topic and they are looking at their phone or computer and giving you a small amount of their attention? You feel horrible and wish that they would just listen.

Mister Rogers was different — granted, technology was not robbing us of our attention during his era the way it is now. During many scenes reenacted by Tom Hanks in the film about Mister Rogers’ life (and confirmed by the journalist he was talking with, Tom Junod), Rogers takes a deep interest in everybody he talks with. He asked them questions about themselves and leaves them pondering thoughts long after the conversation is done.

He takes pictures with people he meets and calls them friends, making them feel important.

People love it when you pay attention to them and the way you do that is by being genuinely curious and asking questions about them, rather than talking about yourself.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less — CS Lewis

Plans don’t always work out

It one scene of the film, Mister Rogers says, “I want kids to know that plans don’t always work out.”

For a typically positive man, this may seem like strange advice. What makes Mister Rogers likable is that he tells the truth and doesn’t sugarcoat brutal life lessons.

By knowing that our plans won’t always work out, we can be prepared for it and not be disappointed or have our thoughts turn to trash when our plans fail. The corporate world has long told me that I must have a business plan (helpful advice), but what is often left out is that even with a plan, things generally don’t go accordingly.

Having a plan is not a way to prevent failure or even prevent it.

Positive ways to deal with feelings

Mister Rogers’ key theme of his TV show that made him likable was to find positive ways to deal with feelings.

We are going to have unhelpful feelings and learning to deal with them is far more useful than trying to suppress them or numb them with alcohol, drugs, binge-watching tv, being unkind on social media or eating junk food.

You deal with feelings by facing them head-on and looking inside yourself at the good and not-so-good parts of who you are.

Get people to tell the truth

Good luck ever trying to lie to Mister Rogers. He was known for getting people on and off camera, to tell the truth. There were the pauses and the stares into their eyes that unconsciously helped them to say what needed to be said.

Talking with Mister Rogers was refreshing because you knew that he wasn’t going to judge you or force you to agree with his view of the world.

Helping people tell the truth is useful and you do that, mostly, from listening to them and letting them know that you’re not going to judge them.

Know everyone’s name

One of the simplest hacks to be likable, that is often overlooked, is to remember people’s names. Cast, crew, journalists and the extras on set were often surprised by Mister Rogers’s uncanny ability to remember their first name and it made them feel valued.

No matter how famous or influential you are, do your best to remember people’s names.

Be well-researched

Researching someone before you meet them shows you care and they’ll like you for it. When Esquire journalist Tom Junod met Mister Rogers, he was surprised at how much research he had done on him.

Their conversations were deep and the friendship that developed later on was partly made possible by the research Rogers had done prior to meeting Tom. With social platforms dominating our lives, we can use them to be well-researched and incredibly curious when we meet someone for the first time.

I personally like to read up on the hobbies of business clients before I meet them to understand them from a different angle. You can tell me about your business, but I’ll learn more by hearing about your hobbies and why you chose them. Because hobbies and business are closely linked.

Give people a chance

Tom didn’t exactly have a brilliant reputation as a journalist with the way he wrote and it was risky, in a way, for Rogers to be followed around and written about by Tom.

But Mister Rogers gave people a chance and lets his character do the talking for him. Even with Tom’s controversial style of writing, it was impossible not to be inspired by Mister Rogers and share that truth with the audience.

See who people can be and not who they currently are, and trust your character to do the talking for you.

Show huge amounts of empathy

Another key theme of the TV show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was the teaching of empathy. It was a key theme throughout many of the 900 episodes and was acted out by Rogers himself and then portrayed through some of the characters featured in the show.

Joanne Rogers, widow of Mister Rogers, mentioned an interesting idea in an interview with NBC:

“Listen, it’s important for you to know that he was not a saint. Because if you think of him as a saint, then his message is unattainable.”

Being a saint makes the idea of empathy and kindness unattainable and the fact that you have made many mistakes and don’t always see the good in people is perfectly fine.

We’re likable because of who we are, not for unattainable perfection.

Work at your way of being

You may think Mister Rogers was never angry, given his outlook on life. In both films it becomes clear that he was, at times, angry. When asked about his children, he would admit that they were not perfect either.

Everything Rogers does is a work in progress. The reason his anger didn’t dominate was because he learned to work at it and deal with it. The same opportunity exists for you. You’re going to get angry, especially when you’re tired, and working with those feelings is useful. How can you channel that anger into something positive?

Rogers teaches us that we can choose how we respond to anger rather than have the default option selected for us and be held back by it. Working on yourself is how you become more likable and minimize anger that turns people against you.

Write back to people that support you

Mister Rogers would write back to his fans and meet them in real-life. He was generous with his time and gave it to people that needed it.

This is a huge learning for me. Lots of people will support you in your life as it progresses and when they reach out, you have the opportunity to connect with them. People find you more likable when you take the time to respond to them, even if it’s a brief response.

It’s one of the key reasons I do my best to respond to any reader that contacts me directly.

Don’t take the people who support you for granted, and you’ll be more likable for it.

Live modestly

Ever met someone with a giant mansion and a Lambo in the driveway? It’s hard to relate to them, isn’t it?

Mister Rogers was known for taking the subway each day to the TV studio even though his fame meant that he didn’t have to. Like the viral footage of Keanu Reeves riding the subway, Mister Rogers did the same because he lived modestly. You could relate to him because he was just like you.

He let his character shine rather than let his ego be polished and put on display with the accumulation of money. Perhaps Keanu learned this life lesson from Mister Rogers.

The world doesn’t need another rich dude flaunting their money and making us feel like a failure.

We need more people riding the subway and using their money to make a real difference.

Live within your means. Avoid the temptation to buy fancy stuff and you’ll be more likable because you’ll be relatable.

Sharing your problems is bravery

Mister Rogers wasn’t afraid to talk about his problems. It was a small act of bravery that helped the audience understand their own problems through his.

Demonstrating you’re imperfect through talking about your problems is useful. This insight was what inspired me to talk more about mental illness and it may have the same effect on you.

It’s okay not to be okay.

No normal life is free from pain

“There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth” — Mister Rogers

All great advice, eh? I know!!! I love this so much! I’m on my way to start putting this to practice right now. 😊

xxx

Posted in Awesome Stuff

Repost: Master of the House

Here’s a post from December 2016 – let’s walk down memory lane together, shall we?

What skills and talents do you have? I bet you have tons of mad skills, friends….crazy talented peeps that you are. Are you an expert at anything? Singing? Dancing? Typing? Golf? Basket weaving??? What are you the very best at?

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This is a tough question for me. I don’t know of one single thing that I am an expert at – not one, which is rather sad, when you think that I am 42 years old (gulp) and have worked in the Education industry for 21 years…and I’ve not mastered anything yet to the point of feeling like an expert. Have you? I bet you have. 🙂 The other thing that’s interesting about this topic is this: for a lot of us (women in particular), even if we have mastered something and have mad skillz coming out the wazoo (a technical word), we totally downplay the whole thing. Let me explain – when I am in a job interview (which I totes suck at, by the way), I have zero ability to sell myself. None. When I try, I end up stuttering and tripping over my words, feeling awkward AF because I think I sound like a pompous windbag…it doesn’t end well. So, I generally try to downplay everything, and make it sound as if the things that I do are no big whoop – when, in reality, I do lots of whoop-worthy things. Some researchers call this “impostor syndrome”, where women feel like they are fooling others, faking everything that they do, or getting by because they are just lucky. Jodie Foster said that before she won her Academy Award for “The Accused”, she felt “like an impostor, faking it, that someday they’d find out I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t. I still don’t.”

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So what do those of us who believe we are impostors do? (Yes, for the record, I am TOTALLY this) (Pathetic) (Shame on me) We impostors play things safe, fly under the radar, hide our skills and abilities. We pretend to be less – less capable, less intelligent, less everything….anything we can to disappear into the crowd. Some of us hide our talents as a way of getting those around us to underestimate us – then they will be pleasantly surprised when they see how awesome we can be! (This is my favorite trick) Let’s take a look at an article about this very topic:

Despite their relative success, many bright, talented women no longer maintain their confident youthful enthusiasm. Criticized by high-profile authors like Sheryl Sandberg for not climbing the career ladder, women are often reluctant to promote themselves in the workforce or pursue higher paying careers, such as those in engineering or computer science. Some even feel like impostors, tormented by self-doubt and insecurity.


Why do gifted women lose confidence?


The self-doubt and insecurity start out gradually…

Those bright, energetic gifted girls often start to downplay their talents by middle school in an attempt to fit in. They mask their abilities and “dumb themselves down” to appeal to boys, fit society’s image of an attractive woman, and avoid conflict with friends. Their self-esteem starts to decrease, and they begin to lose confidence in their abilities, especially in math and science. They may steer clear of the more difficult math courses, believing that boys are intrinsically “more gifted.”

Insecurity and self-doubt often persist throughout high school. One study, for example, found that feelings of hopelessness, discouragement, emotional vulnerability and perfectionism increased for gifted girls from 1st through 12th grades. In another investigation, 3/4 of girls who graduated from a school for the gifted did not think they were smart.

Women in college continue to doubt themselves. Many gifted women are challenged for the first time once they arrive at college, and rather than embrace this opportunity, they view it as confirmation of their inadequacies. One study found that female valedictorians lost confidence in themselves when they were in college, despite getting good grades, and that their insecurity increased as they got older.
What are some reasons gifted women hold themselves back?

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1. Impostor syndrome:

Women may doubt themselves and think they have fooled others. Talents and accomplishments are denigrated. Women who feel like impostors assume that it is only a matter of time before their “actual” incompetence and lack of intelligence will be revealed. Social psychology studies have shown that men consistently overestimate and women consistently underestimate their abilities and subsequent performance. As long as they view themselves as impostors, they will continue to doubt and disparage their accomplishments.

2. Attribution error:

Women often attribute their success to luck or effort, and any failure to lack of ability or an internal flaw. There is a widespread assumptions that gifted men are intrinsically “smarter” and that women’s success is due to hard work. In one survey of professors, presumed brilliance was identified as the reason why women were underrepresented in certain fields in both science and liberal arts (e.g., STEM, philosophy, economics), and their prevalence in other fields (e.g., molecular biology, neuroscience, psychology) was attributed to hard work.

3. A higher standard:

Women often hold themselves to an unreasonably high standard. They expect themselves to perfect a skill, have complete knowledge of the facts or master an argument before they assert their authority. Women often lack confidence, hold back on asking for a promotion, expect to earn less, and ask for less when it comes to salary. According to Kay and Shipman:

“Success, it turns out, correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence. No wonder that women, despite all our progress, are still woefully underrepresented at the highest levels.”
4. Identity conflict:

Adult women also doubt their right to engage in focused, competitive goals. They don’t want to be labeled as “bitchy” or bossy, and worry that success will be seen as a threat to friends, family or men. Women have been raised to focus on relationships and to put others first, and a single-minded emphasis on career is in conflict with their sense of self.Even self-identified feminists may feel guilty winning an award, surpassing colleagues for a promotion, or being the breadwinner in the family.
But, sometimes, it’s not about confidence…


Self-doubt, sexist stereotypes, prejudices, an absence of workplace support (e.g., no child-care or family leave), and the glass ceiling all impact women’s progress; yet one of the greatest dilemmas many gifted women face involves finding a meaningful work-life balance. This not only includes an ability to combine work, relationships and child-raising, but also pursuing a career that is both meaningful and challenging.

Many women feel torn between pursuing a career that is personally meaningful (such as one focusing on social justice) and a job in a lucrative or competitive field. A challenging career may be compelling, but women also want flexibility, autonomy, the ability to make a difference, and options for including family needs in the equation.

Rosenbloom reported that interests and preferences explain 83% of the gender differences in choosing a career in information technology – not confidence or math ability. Women were identified in this study as being less interested in inanimate systems, and more concerned with plants, animals and people.

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Pinker also concluded that women made an active choice to avoid STEM careers, suggesting that women may not want to sacrifice personal interests for salary, are less willing to tolerate the relocations often required in these jobs, and may want to focus on people and the arts rather than objects.

Mohr referred to a frequently quoted Hewlett-Packard internal report indicating that women applied for promotions only when they thought they met 100% of the qualifications, whereas men applied as long as they assumed that they met 60% of the criteria. Mohr claimed that women’s lack of confidence was not the only interpretation to consider: fear of failure, a tendency to strictly follow rules, and lack of familiarity with the hiring process also hold women back.

In the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youths, those who scored in the top 1% were tracked down in their 50’s. While most were highly satisfied with their lives, earned more than others, and were more likely to have doctoral degrees, gender differences were identified. Men were more likely to be CEO’s, work in IT or STEM, to have pursued higher pay and freedom as career goals, and earned more than the women in the study ($140,000 vs. $80,000 on average); the women were more likely to work in health sciences, arts or education careers, and sought fewer work hours and greater flexibility in their work.

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What smart women need to know…


Smart women need to appreciate their talents and recognize their right to accomplish whatever goals they set for themselves. Negative stereotypes and expectations that either they or others impose need to be challenged and relinquished. Decisions based on values, needs and personal goals rather than conformity, external pressure or a desire to please others is critical. Women do not have to pursue a highly competitive career; they just need to know that are entitled to choose that path, or to turn it down for something equally meaningful.

I friggin’ LOVE this article, don’t you? There is so much truth here about why we girls keep doing the same self-sabotaging shit to ourselves over and over again. It’s nuts. And it needs to stop. I’m trying to think about this stuff as I am raising my Wee One, and I hope that you are thinking about you can apply this thinking to your life. I know that I’m just one person, and the possibility of me bringing meaningful change to the world is pretty slim – but every journey begins with one small step. So – let’s get walking.

Xxx

PS: A final thought: I have struggled in the workplace over the years – and the past year has been particularly difficult. As I reflect on my career as a whole, I realize that the common element is little ol’ me. I know that I am a good employee – I work hard, I do have a lot to offer an organization…but I am not easy to manage. I can be like a cyclone, and it takes someone special to realize that, to nurture my winds (keeping up the cyclone metaphor, not a reference to me being farty, silly), and to get the hell out of the way and let me do my thing. Most people can’t do that, which is too bad – I can’t help but wonder what kind of a positive impact I could have if I someone would take a chance on me and let me do my thing.

I think a lot about going into business for myself – this is something I really want to explore. One of my dream businesses is owning a pub – I’ve wanted to do this my whole life, and it’s still on my radar. I KNOW that I would love it – and I am one hell of a good bartender. (Ask me to make you a paralyzer or a martini – it’ll change your damn life) Another thing I would like to do is make handmade beauty products – I have been dabbling for the past while, and I think I may be on to some pretty good formulas. I doubt I could ever make a living doing this, but it’s one heck of a relaxing, satisfying hobby. (**NOTE: Do you see what I did just there? Totally underplayed my work with the stuff I’ve been making – WTF, friends? For all I know, I may be sitting on the next Lush formula – grr! My mind is a frustrating entity, and I am a frustrating person.) (Grr)

2020 Update: Good news – I’ve made some progress since this was written. While I still frequent feel like a phony-baloney who doesn’t deserve all of the responsibility I have, I’m managing that better – and my work like has improved dramatically. Yaa! I have found a supervisor who enjoys me just the way I am, he doesn’t micromanage me – he just gets the hell out of the way and let’s me know he will help if I need it. Magical! I still wish I could work for myself, either in the pub or the cheese shop of my dreams (I would LOVE to own a cheese shop!!!)….perhaps someday! At least now I think I’m capable of it! Progress! Baby steps! Woohoo!!!!

Posted in Awesome Stuff

Gimme Gimme Gimme

Update: 21 Day Manifesting Challenge

So, as I mentioned previously, I signed myself up for Gabby Bernstein’s 21 Day Manifesting Challenge – and so far, so good! 😊 A real highlight for me has been the Facebook community….the people in the group are so wonderful, interesting, open…it’s been beautiful to read their stories and what brought them to the challenge. I love it!

Since the 1st of the year, Gabby has sent out an email each day with tasks to complete, and I have kept up – woot! woot! At the beginning of the challenge, we were asked what things we wanted to manifest, and to be CLEAR about those. My list included financial stuff (of course), improved health (not that my health is bad – for a fluffy person I’m in surprisingly good health!), and a way forward with my side interests. There was other stuff on the list, but these are some of the big ones. The main thing that I’ve taken away thus far is the importance of ‘clarity’…you can’t put something out to the universe and hope it will happen, if you aren’t 100% clear on what that something is! It just won’t work!

A second thing that Gabby frequently reminds us of is the intention behind the desires we have – and I think this is key. One of my items was that I want to improve my financial situation – the reason for this is that I don’t want to have to worry about money so much, I don’t want to be always running short on funds for things, I don’t want the stress and the worry… I want to be comfortable and happy, so that I can focus on enjoying time with my family (and not obsess over what everything will cost). I don’t want a heap of money so that I can buy strippers and drugs all day long – that would not be a great intention. I think my motivation is sound ….and I’m hoping like hell that it works!

“I’m worthy of my desires, and attracting what I want will bring more joy to the world.” – Gabby Bernstein

Here’s some other things I’ve made notes of to share with you:

When things get difficult…

  1. Notice the negative thought pattern. Take a deep breath and feel into whatever feelings come up for you. Then exhale.
  2. Stop the spiral of negative thoughts by silently repeating this: I choose to see peace instead of this.
  3. Close your eyes, breathe long and deep as you silently repeat that phrase for at least a minute.

Your energy creates your reality. Consciously choose new thoughts and you’ll raise your vibrations.

When we make feeling good our priority, everything else can flow.

Be unapologetic about how you want to feel.

I will keep you posted on how things are going as we continue through the rest of our 21 days – loving this!!!😊

xxx

Posted in Awesome Stuff

High Hopes

My new year (and decade) began not with a bang, but a whimper. Actually, it began with both: arseholes in my neighborhood we’re shooting illegal fireworks until 3:00am-ish, and my little dogs were whimpering and having to be held (all four of them – my lap is only so big). We made it through the night, I didn’t sleep in (of course, I never do), and life continued on as usual. The day off mid-week is lovely, and knowing I have only two days to get through until the weekend is brilliant – we need more weeks like this! 🌟

Anyway – let’s start this year off right….with some giving! Here’s a great article with suggestions on how you can volunteer and give your time to make your community better:

12 Ways to Volunteer Your Time and Give Back to the Community

By Michael Lewis

Do you feel a personal responsibility to help others? Randy Lewis, author of “No Greatness Without Goodness,” claims that all people, including businesses, have the responsibility to make the world a better place. In his case, he spearheaded a Walgreens initiative to hire the disabled. In the five years following his initiative, similar programs were sparked across America and Europe.

In June 2014, Starbucks, the ubiquitous coffee cafe, announced a free online college program through Arizona State University for any employee working 20 or more hours per week. Duncan Campbell, an Oregon entrepreneur, started Friends of the Children to provide emotional and educational support to at-risk children, starting with kids in kindergarten and progressing with them through college. Of the kids involved, 83% graduate high school and 93% avoid juvenile hall for breaking the law.

While some leaders and companies receive considerable publicity and well-deserved accolades for charitable work, there are hundreds of thousands of regular Americans – your friends and neighbors – who donate to programs to make the world a “kinder and gentler place.” These activities are sponsored by churches, civic organizations, schools, and charities, with services ranging from Habitat for Humanity to Big Brothers Big Sisters. But despite the ongoing success of such efforts, programs always need volunteers and financial support.

Why Volunteer?

Some people claim that their personal success and secure position has been justly earned without help from others along the way. However, this attitude is selfish, egotistical, and naive. Studies, detailed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers,” have shown that the zip code of your birth is more predictive of success, health, and lifespan than IQ, college grades, or genetics. Nobody makes it through life entirely on his or her own merits, even if assistance is not obvious. As a consequence, everyone has a debt to repay – and a reason to give back.

In addition to fulfilling a responsibility, there are many benefits of charitable giving – primarily, it makes you happier. In fact, a Harvard Business School study confirmed that “happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop (with happier people giving more, getting happier, and giving even more).”

While cash is always accepted in groups serving the needy, time and effort is just as important, if not more so. Plus, giving of your time, energy, and effort provides you with immediate feedback as to what your contribution means to those receiving it.

Give Back to Your Community

Americans have a great capacity to accept and face challenges head-on. In 2007, as the recession began to spread across the country, a surge of people responded and began volunteering like never before. Volunteering is a win-win for all parties involved. Those who receive help are grateful for the help, and volunteers learn that helping others makes them feel better. Consider the following as ways you can start volunteering and pay your good fortune forward.

1. Offer to Help Family

In the hectic lifestyle of the 21st century, the needs of family members are often overlooked. Parents busy raising their own children may forget the plight of their own parents, assuming they are capable of taking care of themselves. Many adult children presume their parents will speak up if they need anything. This is not always the case, especially when Granddad or Grandma have been independent for years. Older people – parents, aunts and uncles, long-time family friends – are often reluctant to share their growing frailty, loneliness, or isolation with their children.

Caring for elderly parents may be necessary, so consider the needs of your own family members first. Drop by for coffee on a Saturday morning, mow the yard, or accompany elderly parents on a shopping trip. Invite them to your child’s soccer games or other family activities. Provide an inexpensive computer with access to email and Facebook (and lessons to learn the new technology), or schedule regular visits to brighten their day.

2. Volunteer at Your Local School

Educators are overworked, stressed, and disillusioned about the educational infrastructure – and they need help. Despite knowing that schools work best when the community is actively involved, too many parents and community members believe it’s someone else’s responsibility to solve the problems of education.

Children need role models and people who care about their lives and behavior. Whether you read stories to elementary school students, monitor outdoor activities, chaperone field trips, or spend a Saturday beautifying the school grounds, your efforts will be recognized and appreciated. Moreover, you can make an investment that will pay dividends in the future.

3. Organize a Yard Sale for Charity

If your talents lie in business, administration, or marketing, consider organizing a yard sale for your community, dedicating the proceeds to a local charity. Almost every household has electronics, furniture, clothes, or equipment that can be donated because they’re no longer in use. These items have value and can be recycled to those who will use them again.

4. Visit a Senior Center

Too many nursing homes are turned into dumping grounds for older people whose families are gone or are unavailable, and many residents are desperate for conversation and connections with people outside the center. An hour or two a week can make a huge difference in the attitude and outlook of the residents, and you may learn something about life from those who have already traveled the journey before you.

5. Coach a Local Youth Team

The old saying, “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop,” is especially true for children and teenagers. Playing sports teaches kids teamwork, responsibility, and the joy of being physically fit.

6. Tutor a Student

Unfortunately, many kids don’t have the opportunity to participate in sports because there aren’t enough coaches or assistants. There are openings in almost every sport in every community for compassionate teachers and volunteer coaches. While some experience is helpful, it’s not always essential for you to be a good youth league coach.

Students include people of all ages, not just children. Teaching literacy to adults can change their lives. Helping someone learn English can expand his or her horizons, able to further interact in the broad community.

7. Fix and Serve Meals

Academic subjects are not the only ones that need tutors – introducing and teaching others about computers and the Internet is needed everywhere, especially in the senior community. Life skills, such as cooking, sewing, and home repairs, are in demand for all ages.

Despite America’s overall prosperity, the homeless, the unemployed, and the poor often go hungry – almost 49 million Americans in 2012, according to the USDA. Volunteers are needed to prepare and serve food through local charities throughout the year. Meals on Wheels, with an army of almost 2.6 million volunteers, serves 2.5 million seniors every day, offering nutritious meals, warm smiles, and a safety check – often the only conduit to the outside world the recipient receives.

8. Serve on a Community Board

Charities and community service organizations often compete with other businesses for the community’s attention and support. In many cases, nonprofits are at a distinct disadvantage, lacking the resources to attract, compensate, and retain top-flight executive staff and administrators. If your talents are administrative, or if you have executive or board experience, your knowledge and insights could be welcomed at not-for-profit, community-based organizations.

9. Become a Docent

Museums, art galleries, presidential libraries, aquariums, zoos, and universities frequently need trained guides to lead visitors through facilities to enhance the visitors’ experience. Docent training is usually provided, so the only qualities necessary are enthusiasm, patience, flexibility, and passion. If you enjoy being around people, volunteering at your local museum or theater could be enjoyable and enlightening.

10. Be a Good Neighbor

Before the widespread use of air conditioning, residents of a community were more likely to spend time outside getting to know one another, rather than retreating inside to escape the heat. Now it’s common for neighbors not to know one another; rather, people simply return home from work each night and head inside.

Participation in a neighborhood organization builds a sense of community and provides valuable services to those within the neighborhood. Many neighborhood associations have community watch programs, assist with neighborhood beautification and park projects, and represent the community to local government officials. Knowing your neighbors increases a sense of personal security and connection to those around you.

11. Organize a Food Co-op

Food co-ops – cooperative efforts to buy food in volume to distribute to co-op members – initially started as a way to save money on grocery purchases. Increasingly, they are vehicles that enable members to buy fresh, naturally grown foods directly from farmers and producers at below-market prices.

Co-ops are typically nonprofit organizations that rely on volunteers, and advocates claim they offer better nutrition for lower prices. Bountiful Baskets initially started with a single site in Arizona, but now has more than 100 sites in multiple states, and it continues to grow.

12. Volunteer at a Hospital

Hospital volunteers provide crucial support to hospitals, and also offer comfort and convenience to patients, families, and visitors. Volunteer opportunities include everything from manning information booths, to sitting with patients or working with children. Duties might involve helping with food service or pushing wheelchairs. Hospitals have a wide variety of volunteer needs that are suitable for all ages.

Final Word

If you’re still on the fence about volunteering, or you’re not sure you have the time or energy necessary, consider the five-year, multi-institutional study that proved giving and being unselfish can protect your health and prolong your life. Every day that goes by without helping another is an opportunity missed. Recognize that others helped you achieve your merits, and now you have the opportunity to pay them back while paying the effort forward.

How else can you pay success back while paying it forward for future generations?

Wonderful ideas, eh? I know! I can’t wait to hear what you decide to do to make your community and world a bit better – good luck! 🍀

Xxx

Posted in Awesome Stuff

From This Moment On

Yesterday I was talking about flipping the way we plan for the new year – instead of talking about all of the things we will do without, how about we focus on all of the great things we are planning to do? I love it! As promised, here’s the start of my list for the new year:

  1. Spend more time reading! Plain and simple, it makes me happy – so why not do it more often? Yaa!
  2. Get back to yoga! I’ve been feeling stiff and shitty lately, and it’s not getting any better…I need to get my arse back into a regular yoga practice. I predict it will make me feel better, inside and out. I’m not going to go crazy and declare that I need to do it daily, because I know that won’t happen (sadly my schedule isn’t conducive to that!). I will set the target for 3 times a week, and consider anything more than that a bonus. Yaa! I’m excited!!! 😊
  3. More time writing – keeping a journal is an excellent thing for my mental health, and I’m going to do a better job of writing regularly in 2020. I started keeping a daily journal in March of 2019, and I wrote in it at least 5 days a week every week for the rest of the year – I noticed a difference in how I felt about things, and I noticed a significant difference in my stress levels. Success!
  4. Take up meditation once and for all – I keep dabbling, trying it out…but nothing ever sticks, and I have to say that I often feel like a failure when trying to meditate. I get so easily distracted (it’s ridiculous), and then I get disheartened and give up. Not this time.
  5. Eat better – I quit eating meat in September 2019, and it’s made a significant difference in how I feel. I have been eating seafood, and for now I will keep that going on – but meat is out. I’ve been working on getting more fruits and veg into the system, but that remains a struggle for me – I don’t know why. Actually, that’s a lie – I do know why. I like vegetables when somebody else prepares them for me, but I can’t stand them when I prepare them – go figure. It’s dumb. I’m going to try to do better with smoothies and get the fruits and veg in that way – as well, I will continue experimenting with supplements and see if I can’t improve my nutrition that way. All of the experts say that cutting out dairy is the way to go, but…it just makes me so sad. I love dairy – cheese, yogurt, cheese…. It’s all just so good. Yum.
  6. Stop sweatin’ the small stuff – this will likely be the biggest challenge for the year, you know that? I’m a world-class fretter, and I can worry about nothing like it was my damn job. I’ve noticed that in the past year I’ve been able to let a lot of shit go that previously would have caused me to obsess, but I’ve still got such a long way to go. Hopefully this will be the year that I quit reacting to stupid shit, and only focus on what really matters.
  7. Have more fun! I plan to embrace the idea of the return of the Roarin’ 20s with a passion – learn to dance the Charleston, wear a flapper dress (I bought a 20s style dress recently, actually…it’s gorgeous!), drink more gin, listen to more records, visit as many speakeasies as humanly possible, watch Midnight in Paris on repeat….all of it. Bring on the 20s – I’m ready!

This list is really specific to me and the things I want to focus on from a personal development perspective – of course I plan to spend more time with the kid and the family, enjoy them more, etc etc etc, all of that good stuff. I’m excited about all of it! Yaa!

What are you most looking forward to in the new year, friends?

Xxx

Posted in Awesome Stuff

Play That Funky Music

For whatever reason (or about 253 reasons), I’ve been super-deep in my feelings this week. I’ve felt overly sensitive and on the verge of tears about a hundred times; I actually turned my phone off on Christmas Day rather than have one more text full of questions from friends that I didn’t want to answer. I don’t know if I’m overly tired, suffering from allergies (that has been a big part of it, I’m sure of it), or what is going on, but…this week has had me riding the emotion train – and I’m not loving it. At all. My arse has fallen into a tremendous funk, and I need to find a way out – but how?

According to this list, getting out of a funk is so easy you can accomplish it in 15 minutes! Crazy, eh???! I know! Here’s the list:

10 Ways to Get Out of a Funk in 15 Minutes

It’s all about mind over matter. Here’s how to take an off-day and turn it into a productive one.

By Paresh Shah

This story first appeared on The Muse, a web destination with exciting job opportunities and expert career advice.

We all have off days from time to time. It’s human nature. But barring the occasional disaster or tragedy, a bad day is really only bad if you decide to stay in that frame of mind. As Martha Washington put it, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.”

In reality, there are some simple actions that can put a positive spin on things and flip your switch from “ugh” to “awesome.” Here are a few things that can help you turn your day around.

1. Create Your Own Talisman

I have an electric guitar in my office. I’ll slap my headphones on and play my guitar to snap out of lethargy or bad moods–or to simply help my brain start solving problems. Find a physical object that you puts you in a happy, energized state. In A Few Good Men, Lt. Daniel Kaffee needed his baseball bat to think best. You likely have something similar, and it’s not only OK but essential to use props like these to get out of a funk. If you’re stumped, consider Play-Doh, a doodling pad, or a toy you loved as a child.

2. Make Connections

Instead of glancing over your News Feed, try making a connection with someone real. Even chatting with the barista at your local coffee shop can help put you in a good mood. (Here are a few conversation starters.) At my company, we make it a habit to touch base with one another before getting down to business. Sharing something that’s inspired us or that we’re grateful for during the day not only helps form human connections and build a positive atmosphere, but also makes our meetings shorter, more productive, and action-oriented.

3. Make Someone Else’s Day

Choose a person–whether you know him or not–and decide to make his day with a random act of kindness. Leave a note to brighten someone’s day, pay for someone’s coffee in line, or buy extra muffins and distribute them to your team members. Ask a co-worker if you can help her with something. Giving to others and appreciating what we’ve been given are two of the shortest paths to shaking yourself out of a bad mood. On that note:

4. Express Gratitude

Whether you do it in person, over the phone, via social media, or just in your own head, taking a moment to express gratitude leads to improved health, happiness, relationships, and income. A popular restaurant in Los Angeles, Café Gratitude, has its staff practice this every day, and it has one of the highest levels of customer and worker satisfaction in the business.

5. Daydream

Imagine what you might be doing if you were six, 10, or 15 years old. Draw it or write it down, then take a moment to find a photo online that captures its essence. By accessing part of yourself that’s younger, you tap into a time before your aspirations and dreams were reshaped by society. Better yet, spend time with a child. Just watching and spending time around a child opens you up to the freedom and carefree feeling of being young. 

6. Breathe

As one of my yoga teachers says, shallow breathing results in shallow experiences. Deep breathing, on the other hand, helps clear your mind, reduce stress, and reset your mood. An easy way to get started is by downloading The Mindfulness App, which Healthline called “straightforward and simple.” The quiet alerts, regular reminders, and customization options can make breathing such a routine part of your day that you may even find yourself needing to take mood-calibrating breaths less often.

7. Avoid the 4 Cs

There are four things you need to avoid to stay out a funk (not to mention office drama) in the first place: comparing, competing, criticizing, and complaining. If you catch yourself engaging in one of these unhealthy behaviors, redirect your attention to something happy, like a funny video, for an instant mood booster. (Just make sure the funny video doesn’t lead you to the latest dark headline or celebrity drama.)

8. Find a Quiet Space

Even if it means taking refuge in a bathroom stall, find a place where you can have a moment of quiet or move around and shake off the negative thoughts and feelings.

9. Listen to Music

Everyone has a few tunes that never fail to lighten their spirits. Put on some headphones, and crank it up. Better yet, play it out loud in your car, and sing along.

10. Take a Walk

Go for a walk, or try having a walking meeting. In addition to the health benefits, walking has shown to have amazing mood-boosting powers. Sometimes you just need a quick change of scenery to improve your state of mind.

There are a variety of other techniques that can help you shift your day from bad to better. Sometimes escaping a bad mood is all about remembering that, as author Regina Brett put it, “No one really has a bad life. Not even a bad day. Just bad moments.”

A bad moment is just a tiny fraction of your entire day, and a bad day is just one out of your entire life. The more good moments you create, the fewer bad days you’ll have, and the less glaring the bad ones will seem.

So the next time you feel like your day is going south, put these tips into practice, and let the good days commence.

There’s a few things here I can work with – taking walks usually helps improve the quality of my day, as does listening to music. I’m ALWAYS seeking quiet spaces to be (another anomaly with me – I find the world entirely too loud these days…I want more peace and quiet), so that one makes sense as well. I keep hearing about the magical restorative powers of deep breathing, but…I struggle to make that one work for me. I find myself getting light-headed sometimes (especially during cedar season, which has hit my part of Texas with a bloody vengeance)…maybe it’s just me. I think the big one for me is the 4 Cs…comparing, competing, criticizing, and complaining. I’ve actively worked on the complaining bit for years – and I’m still trying to cut that shit right out of my life….it’s hard, though. I’m trying. I don’t think I’m much of a criticizer (out loud), so that’s one thing. The big struggle for me is the comparing and competing – I ALWAYS feel like I’m in a competition with other people, and I don’t.know.why. I don’t know why I have to compare myself to others ALL THE DAMN TIME, and why I ALWAYS come up short. It’s frustrating. It’s no joke that comparison is the thief of joy – but how do you overcome that? If you have ideas, please send them my way – I need the help.

 

I hope that you’re managing your holiday time with as little anxiety and stress as possible. It’s almost time for the new year, and it’s a new decade to boot! Exciting!!! Bring on the ‘20s…time to roar!!! 😊

Xxx

 

Posted in Awesome Stuff

Take Me Away

This post is from January 2017, and it still rings true with me now, nearly three years later. Let’s give it a read:

Take Me Away

I saw this article on Lifehack, and thought that I would share it with you:

Removing These 8 Things From Life Can Make You More Successful
By Amy Johnson

Lots of people think that the best way to become successful is to pick up lots of new habits and skills. While this can help, sometimes the best thing you can do is give up the things that distract you from your goals.

Instead of adding more things to your life, try removing some negative things that hold you back from success. Some are very easy to give up, while others require a little more time and effort.

Here are 8 things that you should remove from your life to be more successful:

1. Remove Excuses
Successful people don’t try to blame their family, their friends, their boss or their co-workers for their life. Instead, they understand that they are fully responsible for their own life and situation. They see this as a good thing as it means that they hold the power to significantly improve their life. When you make up excuses you are lying to yourself, which will hold you back from achieving your goals.

2. Remove Perfectionism
Perfection is unattainable, so trying to achieve it is a waste of your time. Instead of worrying about mistakes that you have made or physical flaws that bother you, simply focus on trying to better yourself with small steps. No one is perfect, but anyone can make the decision to be a better person.

Playing Twister is an excellent way to be successful, don't you think?!

Playing Twister is an excellent way to be successful, don’t you think?!

3. Remove Fear
Lots of people make themselves smaller without realizing; they keep quiet during discussions when they want to say something; they avoid taking risks; and they always think about the worst-case scenario. This fearful attitude will stop you from achieving your full potential, so remove it from your life and be brave instead; speak up, voice your thoughts and actively chase your dreams and goals.

4. Remove The Need To Control Everything
You can’t control everything, and trying to do so is a futile task. It won’t help you to become more successful, but it will make you feel stressed, upset and frustrated. Instead of trying to control everything around you, make an effort to care less about the things you can’t control and focus on the things that you can.

5. Remove A Fixed Mindset
Lots of people have a fixed mindset and they make no effort to learn more or change their perception. This makes it hard for them to become more successful as their mindset is stuck in the past. Try to embrace knowledge and learning, and remember that you can always become wiser.

6. Remove The Desire For Overnight Success
Some people believe that the majority of successful people became successful overnight, or that they became successful by chance. While luck can certainly play its part, you can’t rely on luck to become successful. In reality success takes time and dedication, so you should plan for the future as well as the day ahead of you.

I drank this on Christmas Day. Straight out of the bottle, no glass needed. I was VERY successful!

I drank this on Christmas Day. Straight out of the bottle, no glass needed. Never been more successful in my life!

7. Remove Toxic People
If the people around you are negative and pessimistic, over time you will start to become negative and pessimistic too. Remove the toxic people from your life and replace them with optimistic, supportive people who genuinely care about you and your dreams. You will find that you are more motivated to work on your goals, and you will be happier and less stressed.

8. Remove The Need To Say Yes (When Really You Want To Say No)
Some people struggle to say no to the people around them, even if they want to say no. This normally means that they end up wasting time doing things that they don’t want to do, and other people might start to take advantage of them. Be brave and say no when you want to; only you can make your dreams a priority, and it is difficult to do that if you are too busy helping other people with their dreams.

This list is golden, don’t you think? Instead of telling you all the things that you need to learn to do and add to your already-overflowing life, this one suggests removing the things that don’t feel good. I LOVE this. I am crazy about the idea of not doing the things that don’t make you happy – for example, I don’t hang out with people who make me feel shitty anymore. I’ve known people who used to like spending time with me because they would put me down, and in the process build themselves up – which is no way to treat a friend, if you ask me. I’m done with it. I didn’t have a dramatic scene where I spelled out just how bloody much they sucked – instead, I always found reasons to say no to making plans with them…and eventually they took the hint. Done with that crap.

I’ve written before of my refusal to keep saying ‘yes’ to every single damn thing that comes my way – if I don’t want to do something (and I don’t have to for work/life), I don’t. Again, no big dramatic moments ever go down…I just say no. It’s liberating! I’m master of my own domaine, and I get to decide how I spend my time and how I am going to feel about it. Woohoo!! 🙂 Just say no – you should try it! 🙂

I’ve never had the perfectionist gene, and I’m pretty good at taking responsibility for my shit and not offering up lame excuses. I am addressing the fear issue at the moment, as this is a biggie for me. I avoid doing all sorts of things that would probably revolutionize my life and how I live it  – all because I am afraid…which is silly. I have gone back to Gabrielle Bernstein’s book “May Cause Miracles” and I am working my way through it, day by day – I’m even doing the exercises and everything! Yaa me! This week, the focus was on being the witness of my thoughts, actions, and energy – and choosing love over fear. I love that. When things get shady and the fight or flight instinct kicks in – take a step back, and choose love. I will keep you posted on how this works out – I am a girl who could realllllllly use a miracle!

Have a good day, mes amis!!! 🙂

xxx

This stuff will definitely make your life better!

This stuff will definitely make your life better!

Posted in Awesome Stuff

Hooray!

This piece is a repost of something I wrote in 2017, and I share it now so that you can join me in marveling at how bloody far I’ve come. Here’s where I was:

In the spirit of sharing something positive, have a look at this piece courtesy of MindBodyGreen:

11 Encouraging Truths To Accept For A Happier Life

by Sonia Kumar
Life can seem like an uphill battle if we meet it with resistance. There are circumstances beyond our control and expectations that will be shattered. Rather than resisting life, if we meet it with acceptance, compassion, and an open mind, it will begin to flow more freely. Acceptance is the key that sets us free. Here are some truths I’ve learned on my journey that keep me on the path to happiness:

1. You are doing the best you can.

You are only doing the best you can with what you know. Once we accept this, we begin to be much more gentle with ourselves. There’s no point in beating ourselves up about past choices and actions, as we only did what we thought was best at that time. We are all a work in progress, and we are all constantly learning. Let go of perfection, and let go of harsh judgment.

2. Everyone’s journey is different.

Your path will be different from that of your friends or your family. Whether you put your career aside to travel or get married much later or earlier than your friends, there’s no need to compare. Your life journey is completely unique; it’s OK if not everyone understands it either. It’s about you, not them.

3. You can’t keep everyone happy.

This is a losing battle. Everyone has different likes and needs, and they will be different from yours. Not everyone will be accepting of you and your decisions either. And that’s OK. That doesn’t mean that you need to keep trying to please them or gain their acceptance. You could lose yourself in trying to do so.

4. You can’t change people.

Maybe you’ve been in a relationship in which you thought you could change the person for the better. Or maybe you have a friend or family member who you think needs fixing or saving. Most of us have learned the hard way that we cannot change people. No amount of pushing, preaching, or nagging can change a person. Change has to come internally from them. All you can do is accept them as they are and set an example.

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5. What goes around comes around.

Every action accumulates karma. Be mindful of your actions and how you react to situations—even when you feel wronged by someone. Wayne Dyer said, “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” Remember to think before you act and take responsibility for your actions and their consequences.

6. Age is just a number.

Age is just a concept created by our minds. It’s easy to let age-related expectations interfere with our lives. Some of us have arbitrary ideas of when we should have our career in a certain place or when we should get married. Life can’t be lived on a schedule. Do what feels right for you. Don’t let anyone else’s idea of what’s “right” or “normal” influence your choices. You’ll be much happier.

7. There’s no such thing as a right or wrong decision.

If we put too much pressure on ourselves to make the “right” decision, we may feel paralyzed and be unable to make any decision at all. Try to think less in terms of the right and wrong polarity. Even if we feel that we have made a mistake or chosen the longer road to get to our goal, you learned lessons you wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Same goes for our career and relationships—even if we make a slight detour, we learned from it. There’s never a wrong choice.

8. Judgment only limits our minds.

Every time we judge a person for their actions or appearance, we only end up limiting ourselves. A closed mind is a breeding ground for ignorance. Try to foster an open mind. Learn to see others with compassion, empathy, and understanding. Likewise, if someone judges you, that is a reflection of a limitation in their mind. It may not have anything to do with you on a personal level.

9. The world is a classroom, and we are the students.

Life will give us many lessons—some more painful than others. Our job is to look for the lessons in every situation and every person we come across. We attract people that will give us growth. Next time you feel hurt or triggered by someone, look for the bigger lesson behind it. A lesson will keep repeating itself until it is learned.

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10. Setting boundaries is not a bad thing.

There are times that we will need to put some boundaries in place. We may have come across relationships or situations that feel toxic and leave us feeling depleted rather than refreshed. In situations like these, give yourself permission to say no or limit the time spent in draining situations. You are allowed to protect yourself. You deserve it.

11. If one door closes, another will open.

Try not to spend too much time grieving over lost opportunities, jobs, or relationships. If something doesn’t work out, take it as a blessing. Know that there’s something much more suited to you out there. When doors close, we are forced to think in new directions, and eventually we open our eyes up to bigger opportunities and healthier relationships.

I’ve written before of the stresses that I am currently having at work, and I am trying so hard to embrace this thinking as presented above – it’s just so hard. As my door closes here at my current job (who am I kidding???! That damn thing has been slammed in my face repeatedly!), I am putting it out to the universe, and hoping that a power so much higher than me will take care of me and put me where I am meant to be, as it sure as hell isn’t here any more. This makes me sad, as I have loved this school and community unlike any other place that I have worked – but it’s not the same anymore, and it’s time to move on. I doubt that I will ever again find the workplace joy that I once knew here, but perhaps I will find something even better. I hope so – I spend A LOT of time at work, so it’s best when it’s a place that you like to be. 🙂

What do you believe is necessary for a happier life, my friends? Whatever it is, I hope that you find it!! 🙂

xxx

I’m so happy that the girl who was so sad has found a way out of the darkness and is basking in the light of day – I love it! ♥️ The amount of stress that my work situation was causing me was incredible – I keep hearing from former colleagues who see me now that I look younger! I’m sure it’s not true, but dammit I will take it, thank you!! I feel better, my work/life balance is considerably better (woohoo!)…EVERYTHING is better, especially me. I feel better about myself, more hopeful and optimistic – and truly that’s half of the battle right there. Woohoo! What a difference a change of environment can make! ♥️

Xxx

Posted in Awesome Stuff

Thank U

I always thought that in order to engage in something like a gratitude practice, you had to be all fancy and formal, get yourself a Tibetan gong, some incense, and a flowy tunic – turns out I was wrong. I got a new planner a year ago for Christmas (I’m hoping for one this year!!), and every day I sectioned off an area and labeled it ‘Gratitude’ – every single day I would write three things I was grateful for. Some days it was profound stuff, other days it was things like sour cream and onion chips, cold beer, and the popcorn smell of a puppy dog’s feet (for realz – smell their feet, they smell just like popcorn). I have done this task every day for the entirety of 2019 – and, let me tell you, this has been a motha of a year, so taking time to focus on gratitude was a good idea. I added an app to my phone (Grateful) that is pretty much the same idea. I like it, but still prefer writing my gratitude down in a notebook.

Here’s some great ideas on how you can make your life exponentially better by focusing on gratitude:

Last month I got the om (ohm) symbol tattooed to my left shoulder – it looks like this:

I LOVE it – and when the kid asked what it meant, I explained it this way: om (ohm) is the sound of the universe, and it’s important to be quiet in order to hear it….I told her it’s kind of like the lines from the musical ‘Hamilton’ – talk less, smile (and listen!) more…and it will help remind me to remain in a peaceful state, to focus on kindness, compassion, calmness and joy. I love it and thing it looks awesome on the front of my shoulder – Yaa! ♥️

What are you grateful for, friends? I can’t wait to hear how you practice gratitude in your life!!

Xxx