Author Spencer Johnson wrote a great book titled The Present. It was required reading during a course in graduate school, along with his mega popular Who Moved My Cheese? This quick read, a fable/parable between an old man and a younger man, truly intrigued me and left a lasting impression. Some would argue that it is simplistic. I counter that it is a powerful and necessary message of balancing past, present and future.
Between juggling deadlines and unexpected projects at work, late work hours, tons and tons of snow here on the East coast, shoveling snow, life, trying to be timely in returning calls/texts, shoveling more snow (is Spring ever going to get here?) and just needing an extra 5-6 hours in each and every day its been challenging to keep my head above water.
With so much going on my mind has been in overdrive racing ahead, living in the future by constantly thinking of what I need to do/should do, who I need to follow-up with/email/call, which project to prioritize first, thinking of ways to manage my manager’s and client expectations, etc. I discovered that I’m losing myself, my joy and my ability to just live in the moment. The now moment. My present moment. I’ve had to stop and refocus. Be mindful.
I believe this precious gem of a book is often underrated. The tagline for the book says: The Gift That Makes You Happier and More Successful at Work and in Life Today! I may need to reread this book. But for right now I’m much happier and more joyful now that I’m refocused and getting my balance back.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. ~ Isaiah 43:18-19
Are you missing out on things in the present by living too much in either the future or the past?
It is always a great thing to celebrate another New Year!
However, the freshness of a new year can be a trying time for people who berate themselves and stress over which resolutions to make, and strive to maintain, over the next twelve months. We all know the popular resolutions – lose weight, save more, stop smoking, etc.
It’s been way too many years for me to count since the last time I made a New Year’s resolution. Instead, I do one of two things to help me grow and evolve. I choose a word that I want to focus on for the year. For example, patience. This one was a challenge for me. You know the saying “You get what you ask for”. Well, let’s just say I asked for patience and numerous life scenarios put me in positions where I had to be patient.
The second thing I do is to set goals. Now I am a regular goal setter but at the beginning of each year I try to establish a goal or two that is really more of a habit or will evolve into a lasting lifelong habit. Something I wouldn’t normally think of as a goal but that allows me to truly grow and find time for more of the things that are really important to me. I have established two goals for 2015.
My first goal this year is to manage my time better. It sounds easy. It’s not. I overextend myself a lot and then wonder why I have no time left. This is an ongoing situation in my life and I’m trying really hard now to manage it better. We’ll see how this one goes. I’ve actually started this subconsciously after Thanksgiving by limiting my time on Facebook, checking emails, etc. I’ve made the committment to myself for 2015 so now it’s a real “official” goal for me.
My second goal is to think of something I love or like about myself every day. Now I’m not talking about something I need to improve upon or critique. We do that every day with a constant stream of thoughts running through our heads: “my stomach is too big”, “I wish my hair was curly instead of straight”, “why can’t I be more organized like so and so?”
The objective of this goal is to bless myself with love. Not in an egotistical kind of way. Only to say things to me and about me that are positive, life affirming and nonjudgemental: “it felt good to listen with an open heart to my coworker who was struggling with a deep issue with her son today”, “I am grateful for the ability to express myself”, “I love that I have positive relationships with all of my family members”, etc.
This morning I started my day by telling myself I’m beautiful. It was hard. How often do we tell ourselves we’re beautiful? Your beauty may be physical or it may be internal (e.g., you’ve got a great heart, you’re gifted in connecting with seniors, you always find a way to make everyone laugh).
We’re all beautiful in so many different and unique ways and we need to tell ourselves that we’re beautiful. The why doesn’t matter. We just need to know that we are.
Say it to yourself. You’re beautiful. Then breathe and let it sink in. Do not say it and then add the word but (for this flaw or that flaw).
Simply tell yourself.
Have you ever stopped to tell yourself that you’re beautiful?
apple crisp, apple orchard, apples, fall, fall harvest, family, healthy food, Healthy Living, hikes, outdoor space, pomegranate, pumpkin patch, seasonal style transition, winterscape container gardens
Here on the East Coast we’ve been very spoiled this year. Fall has been playing peek-a-boo with temps favoring an Indian summer. Although the first day of fall was September 22, fall is finally making her presence known. Ranked second to spring on my list of the transitional seasons, fall—or autumn—is a fantastic time of year. There is so much to do and such a harvest of good eating bounty.
Fall is a great time to:
- Take advantage of heartier in season fruits and vegetables. Good hearty veggies include: Brussel sprouts, beets, mushrooms, turnips, parsnips, leeks and some of my favorites in the winter squash family (i.e., acorn, butternut, spaghetti, delicata). Fall is the season for pomegranate, pears, persimmons, asian pears, and an abundance of apples. I don’t know about you but I love to stock up on fresh cranberries every year and freeze them. That way I can take advantage of fresh cranberries throughout the year. Be adventurous…pick up a veggie or fruit you don’t normally purchase and try a new autumn recipe.
- Visit the orchard. Go apple picking and try a variety of different apples. Make apple desserts such as tarts, apple cake, apple crisp and good old apple pie. Toss apple slices into a smoothie. Slice an apple and eat with cheese or dip the slices in cashew or any other nut butter. Make homemade applesauce. Sip on some apple cider. One of my favorite desserts is a baked apple. It is such a simple, easy and warming dessert. Simply core an apple and bake it with a touch of cinnamon and cloves or use pumpkin pie seasoning until soft. Mmmm good!
- Its pumpkin time. Grab some friends or family and visit the pumpkin patch and be a kid again. Have fun on the hayrides, use your brain to figure out the corn mazes, get on the tractor pull or pony rides. Take advantage of the refreshments and seasonal goods offered such as jams and jellies, fruit butters, apple butters, etc. Then go pick your own pumpkin.
- Eat well. After all that apple picking and visits to the market to select your fall harvest now is the time to fix up the fall bounty. Seasonal treats such as baked pies are the norm. However, how about whipping up a steaming pot of chili? Whether on the stove top or in the slow cooker, all types of warming fall soups (e.g., lentil, tomato, split pea, French onion) are the best. Experiment with making a carrot and apple soup. Enjoy mulled cider. Roast a mix of autumn veggies: a simple way is to toss some parsnips, turnips, sweet potato and carrots with olive oil, Kosher salt, black pepper, and fresh or dried parsley and roast in the oven until tender. Try making pumpkin bread pudding. When baking sweet treats, or even making oatmeal, use lots of fall spices like cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves.
- Take a hike. Autumn is such a gorgeous time with the changing of the leaves. Take time to enjoy a hike, scenic walk or bike ride to view nature’s magnificence at a local state park or trail.
- Decorate your outdoor space. Hang a favorite harvest wreath on your front door, decorate your porch or flower beds with seasonal flowers (e.g., pansies, mums, ornamental cabbages) or items such as pumpkins or gourds. Prefer a more neutral or conservative look for your entry way or terrace? Winterscape by adding greenery with plants or small trees and dwarf shrubs potted in decorative ceramic or mosaic tile planters to offer a neutral yet colorful pattern and focal point. Or use planters as a container garden to offer a hint of fall colors with potted flowers (e.g., yellow, orange, purple pansies).
- Transition your style. Boots are always on trend from casual to dressy. Now is the time to pull the boots out from the back of the closet. They may be flats, wedgies or stilettos, ankle, riding, motorcycle, comfort, Western’s or Ugg’s. Slouchy, cuddly, warms sweaters come in hand as the weather transitions before it is time for a bulky winter coat. Cashmere wraps offer a warm and chic elegance even over a pair of skinny jeans and a top. Keep a nice tote bag to carry all of your stuff. I’m someone that continues to enjoy a great pop of color in the fall and winter (think handbags or totes in beautiful burgundies, deep reds, plums, dark grey, navies, dark greens)! Fall is also the time to make nails pop! Break out those gorgeous dark bold nail polishes in chromes and cool shimmers, the darks: reds, burgundies, bordeaux and chocolates, fall classics: burnt oranges and deep salmons, the trends: purples, navies and of course neutrals in taupes, greys, and blushes or pinks. Or consider adding some nail art.
- Stay warm inside. Pull out the heavy-duty quilt or the flannel sheets. Keep the cozy blanket or throw in the family room. Make sure the electric blanket still works well. Pull out your favorite warm bath robe. Lastly, pick up some warm new socks to keep your tootsies nice and toasty! Snuggle up with your loved one, kids, or solo. Light a fire (or flip the switch on the electric fireplace!) on a chilly night and sit back, relax and enjoy your day or evening.
What do you enjoy most about fall?
Adult play, Badminton, Double dutch, Exercise through play, Finding joy through play, Frisbee, Fun ways to play, Healthy Living, Hoola Hoop, Hopscotch, Physical activity, Touch football, Twister, Volleyball
A group I belong to recently participated at an event that consisted of some relay races. It was interesting to see how many adults in our group actually opted out of participating (they cheered us on!) and let the rest of us act like kids running around doing these various relay games. I was puzzled….doesn’t everyone like to play? It was a lot of fun and something different from my norm. I liked that. It pumped up my lungs, ramped up my heart rate and got my competitive and team spirit going!
It made me think more about how, as we get older, we really don’t stop and take time to play. As adults we live for responsibility. Everything is about earning an income to pay bills for our housing, food, entertainment, hobbies and interests, going to the gym to exercise, to the salon, to the driving range and spending time with our loved ones. I don’t know about you but my exercise time isn’t always fun. It’s usually somewhat repetitive and not always enjoyable (now that’s a real understatement!) and more of a chore.
Whereas this was fun. FUN! I felt really good. Exhilarated. Free. Relaxed. Destressed. Energized. I also realized I need to invest in myself through play.
Life is more than work. Let’s mix it up sometimes and do something out of the ordinary.
I have friends who tell me their kids spend all their time in their room or on their cell or other electronic media (or they do the same!). Whether you’re a kid or an adult, take a few minutes to step away from Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter. Put down the Xbox, tablet, laptop, cell, the remote and grab a friend or family member and get up and do something different.
Take time to:
- Play a game of hopscotch
- Toss the frisbee
- Grab a few friends for a game of powder puff or touch football
- Have a double-dutch challenge
- Race from one tree to another
- Play a game of Twister (remember that?!?!)
- Hit up the swings at the park
- Have a hoola hoop contest
- Play some badminton or volleyball
- Run around the house (I got the biggest kick out of doing this as a kid! My friends and I would just run and run and run around the house as many times as we could until we fell out on the grass panting and giggling endlessly. Ah, those were the days!)
The possibilities for play are endless. You’re never too old to play!
Focus on the fun. Be uninhibited. Feel the joy. Relish the experience!
Ready. Set. Play!
“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
In what ways can you add more play time into your life?
I love, love, love doing laundry! Out of all of the household chores laundry and vacuuming rank tops on my list. I don’t have a fancy, dandy high-efficiency washer, or dryer for that matter, but I love to hear the sound of the washer as background noise.
My laundry schedule is a bit all over the place because I try really hard not to do laundry on the weekends to save time for other things. I strive to get my loads done either early in the morning before work or in the early or late evening after work.
As much as I love doing laundry, I am not always the best at putting certain items, particularly sheets and blankets, away….in a timely manner. Somehow they make it out of the dryer and may sit folded nice and neatly for a day or two before I get around to putting it up. Oh well, its clean. LOL That’s what matters!
I was taught, I think it was either Mom or my Aunt, when I first started doing laundry, too many years ago to remember, that baking soda and white vinegar were good to use in laundry to keep things fresh and deodorized, remove bacteria and helpful for stain removal. I used them for a while but somehow gradually moved away from using them in my wash. I think because quite simply it just wasn’t cool. Now the old-fashioned tried and true ways – of doing just about every little thing -are back in vogue. Who would think modern women would be quilting and canning? Go figure!
Recently I had a clothing item, a white t-shirt, that I noticed didn’t appear as fresh as I wanted. It wasn’t dingy or yellowed, it just looked blah. Kind of dull. So, I decided to add a little vinegar. Voila! Good as new. Beautiful crisp, clean, clear white restored. Nice and fresh.
I was trying to find an alternate way to add the vinegar without pouring it in the wash. I modeled this recipe to make my own laundry detergent. http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2014/02/diy-homemade-laundry-detergent-tabs.html
I always keep Borax 20 Mule Team Detergent Booster on hand because I use it regularly but I didn’t have all of the ingredients (for either the trial size or full size homemade laundry detergent). I’ve heard of Fels Naphta but have never even heard of washing soda….something to investigate another day.
I used what I had. I didn’t make the detergent tabs either and just used it as a detergent powder.
Most importantly, it worked well.
Have you ever tried making your own laundry detergent?
I pride myself on my linen closet. It is five shelves in total and not very large, but I try to keep things neat and organized. Most of my other closets are somewhat disheveled but I like to see my linen closet very neat.
Blankets and quilts are neatly folded and kept on the top shelf since they are seasonal items. This is also where I keep my extra pillows. On the main, eye-level shelves, I keep my towels neatly folded along with a small supply of extra washcloths. This is also where I keep my sheets including my two sets of flannel sheets (I wish I knew a secret to minimizing the bulkiness of flannel sheets!). On the lower shelf I keep the cloth napkins and placemats, tablecloths, along with the kitchen dish cloths and dish towels. I do separate the Christmas napkins, placemats, tablecloths and dish towels from everything else so I can easily pull out Christmas items.
I like to organize my queen-size sheets with the fitted sheet on the bottom, the two pillow cases in the middle and the flat sheet on top. This keeps my matching sheet sets all in one neat bundle. This way I simply pull out the sheet set I want to use and move on. Uniform. Consistent. Every time.
I know someone who tucks their fitted sheet, flat sheet and one pillow case inside one of the sheet set pillow cases so their queen-sized sheets are stored in a nice little bundle! I gave it a try but it wasn’t for me. My Aunt likes to fold her flat sheet over the fitted sheet and pillowcases (imagine the flat sheet in the shape of a C with the fitted sheet and pillowcase tucked inside the C). I’m all for storing things in the way that brings you comfort!
I was looking for something the other day on Oprah’s website and ran across this video of Martha Stewart responding to a question by showing the viewer how to fold a fitted sheet (I remember watching this show!). I don’t have a folding board (I use the bed), nor do I use Martha’s particular methodology. Here is Martha Stewart with Oprah:
I start out like Martha by holding the fitted ends of freshly washed and dried sheets together but instead of turning them up inside one another, I fold them down then tuck them in. This makes the sheet flat and square. Then I fold up, smooth and keep smoothing as I fold to my desired size. That is the way my Mom taught me. Nice, neat, non-bulky. The key is to keep smoothing as you fold. My fitted sheets end up the same size as my folded flat sheet. Uniform. Consistent. Every time.
I decided to look up a few other methods and included them below:
Living on a Dime:
It was a familiar noise that could be heard often in our household when I was growing up. So familiar I think it became background noise for my parents.
It was something I could do to entertain myself or to have fun with friends. My BFF and I had lots of fun laughing and playing with it.
I loved to hear that sound on the kitchen floor or on the hardwood floors in the living room, family room, my room or on the linoleum in the basement. Basically, anywhere I could play the game!
That familiar sound was associated with colors that fascinated me. Red and silver. So simplistic. So complex. Take a small red ball and bounce it. Then swipe the silver jacks to pick them up. That’s the game.
Sounds easy. The key is you had to Bounce, Swipe and pick up the jacks before the little red ball bounced again. Or you were out.
When playing with friends, we would toss or flip the jacks to see who would go first. Then we would either play solo, in teams, or if just two people we would switch off every other game. We played “onsies, twosies, threesies, foursies”, etc. You get the picture… In case you don’t know what that means, it is where you start by picking up one jack, then two jacks, then three jacks, then four jacks – all at the same time – until you could do “tensies” where you would swipe up all 10 of them all at once.
We would switch it up and sometimes do what we called a “double bounce” where it was legal to double bounce and see what you could do. We also played “clappers” where you would Bounce, Clap, Swipe. Good times!
We also played “hand toss” where you tossed the jacks in the air and caught them on the back of your hand.
The winner, regardless of which version we played, was the one who picked up the most jacks. I like to think I might have been a contender if there was a Jacks Tournament back in the day. 😉
Nothing exciting by today’s electronic game standards but oh how it fascinated me.
I still have those original jacks. I’ve long replaced my red ball which served me well and I have a new ball now. I think I’ll go sit down on the kitchen floor and play a game…
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – I Corinthians 13:13
Back in the day, I fell in love with this older, bald-headed, lollipop-loving guy who had a trademark phrase “Who loves ya baby?” He was a part of the über classic, and one of the bestest ever, television series—Kojak—which centered around his primary character as a gritty New York City detective. I was hooked.
As we prepare for a new year, a lot of people are thinking about resolutions. Perhaps resolutions have been successful for you. They never have for me and I gave them up more than a decade ago. They never got me anywhere because they seemed punitive in nature if I failed to achieve them. They weren’t weighty enough for me or of benefit. Nor did they help me grow and become a better person. Instead, I focus on two things each year for my individual self-improvement: personal growth and spiritual growth.
As for my area of personal growth in 2012, this year my focus is on “Who loves ya baby?” (i.e., my focus is on, you guessed it, me!).
While I am not as shallow and self-serving as a focus on me may sound, I believe we all need to focus on loving ourselves. I don’t know about you but this year has been an interesting one for me, full of many valleys, few peaks, and all kinds of twists and turns in between. Through it all, I have been blessed beyond measure and I am thankful for the experiences and lessons I learned in 2011. However, I am eager for new beginnings and fresh experiences as I welcome and expect all the great things 2012 will offer.
As I reflect upon this past year, one of the lessons I have learned is that in spite of circumstances and the happenings of life, I have to love myself to be a whole human being and to keep joy at the center of my core. Like everyone else, I get so busy and wrapped up in so many things, loved ones, and life that oftentimes I totally neglect to love me.
My idea of “Who loves ya baby?” involves the following areas of self-exploration in 2012:
1. Self-love: I am choosing to dig deeper into exploring the things that make me happy. I believe self-love is the essence of who we are and if we don’t have it then we don’t truly accept the person we are. So then how can we truly accept, give, or receive love? I accept myself and I want to learn more about all of my personal desires that bring me joy and fulfillment. I realize this is an on-going activity on this journey of life and I certainly don’t expect all of the answers to come this year; however, I want to know more about who I am at my core so that I can continue to blossom, grow and fulfill my true potential.
2. Health and Wellness: After years of battling the ups and downs of trying to sync diet and exercise I have finally found what works best for me. For the first time in years, I am consciously choosing to work on making my body healthy on a daily basis through nutrition and consistency with exercise (always the big problem). It may have stemmed from the injury I had earlier this year, or because I’m becoming a little older and wiser, or simply because I am consciously choosing to put myself first. I don’t really know why it has clicked for me, just that I am happy and excited about it and look forward to where this path will take me as I get stronger (and thinner!) not only on my weight loss journey but about strengthening who I am from the inside out. Health maintenance is important and I will continue the annual health screenings and any other age-appropriate health tests and checks that need to be done. Another goal is to get more rest by going to bed at a decent hour instead of being the night owl I usually am. I don’t know about you but I want to age gracefully and healthfully and keep active and alive for as long as I can. While I’m many decades from it, I want to be the old woman in the tv ads riding the bicycle and playing in the park!
3. Lifestyle: I love to cook! One of my passions is trying new recipes and I am a cookbook fa-na-tic. I have way too many cookbooks to count and it is sad to say that I have never prepared a recipe from many of them. While I am not planning to do a Julie and Julia challenge to cook my way through Julia Child, I am challenging myself to experiment and prepare new recipes from some of my never used but well-intentioned, I like this recipe and purposely dog-eared it to prepare one day, cookbooks. I want to learn how to make a good homemade stock, a great mother sauce and work with spices I rarely use like turmeric, coriander and mint. As I have been faithfully exercising every day, I have committed to doing some of my old ballet DVDs once a week. They bring back fond memories and remind me of taking ballet as a little girl. I love the experience and juxtaposition of strength and graceful movement ballet offers. Recently I found items I bought for a watercolor class a few years ago. The class got cancelled because not enough people enrolled but I have a book and the materials. So, I will be exploring how to watercolor. All of these things offer me peace and comfort, help release life stress and offer me challenges to grow and learn new things.
4. Relationships: With modern technology, my personal relationships are different. I don’t really like it. I want to connect more with the people I care about on a deeper and more personal level like in the good old days. Technology is a great way to connect but I miss the personal face-to-face interactions. Everyone is so busy and I am thankful for a circle of friends who are also feeling the difference and have committed to making time for us to get together, laugh, talk, cry, have fun, be silly, joke, play games, try on shoes, go shopping. All of the fun things that bring us joy and delight in showing kindness, sharing secrets and being around the people who think the world of us and who know us so well they can tell us the truth without it hurting our feelings.
5. Career: My current career is a little non-existent right now. Being unemployed is a life-changer. Actively searching for work, I am not only looking at can I do the job but would I really want the job?. While I love what I used to do, I often wonder if I am meant to do something different? I am reevaluating what I want to be when I grow up. I want a fulfilling and financially stable career that supports my skills, talents and interests on a professional and heart level.
Whatever you decide for yourself in 2012 – whether it be creating resolutions, choosing an area of focus for spiritual or personal improvement, or something else – ask yourself “Who loves ya baby?”
Know that you are worthy. Love yourself. Challenge yourself. Explore what makes you happy. Plant the seeds of love, nurture it, and watch it grow. Love who you are, who you hope to be, and who you are becoming.
Happy New Year!
“The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Serving bowls come in all different shapes and sizes. They may be round, oblong, oval, extra long, demi-bowls, tall, shallow, fluted, etc. They come in unique shapes and sizes. They may even be a bowl you handcrafted. They may be a bowl your kids, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren made with tiny hands of love. You name it, there is a different size and special look for each bowl.
Bowls are made of all types of materials – fine china, stoneware, wood, copper, ceramic, porcelain, crystal, stainless steel, etc. They may be edible serving bowls made of bread, tomato, bell pepper. Serving bowls may be made from fresh fruits and vegetables (i.e., pumpkins, watermelon, coconut).
Serving bowls may be rustic, elegant, minimalistic, sophisticated, whimsical, etc. Bowls come in beautiful assortments of color which may be all one shade or they may be filled with gorgeous patterns or iridescent and shimmering hues.
Serving bowls may be on a pedestal, footed, part of wrought iron structure, or they may just sit flat on any surface. They may have a lid or a handle, such as a soup tureen, or a Christmas candy dish.
You can do whatever you like with a bowl. Leave it empty and on display – in all it’s glory – on a table, bookshelf, coffee table, or on the kitchen counter. You can fill them with all sorts of edible treats, anything from fresh fruits, vegetables, mashed potatoes, soups, or candies, etc. They can be filled with non-edible items such as fresh or dried flowers, pine cones, ribbons, marbles, Christmas ornaments, etc.
Bowls show love, to the ones we love, when we bring them to the table filled to the brim with good eats as they grace our tables as we serve our every day meals, or as we serve Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter meals at our Holiday tables. These special meals become a part of our wonderful memories of good times spent enjoying time with our family and special friends.
Often we save our “good things” to be used for special occasions. Why is that? Let’s use those good serving bowls now. Don’t wait for company, a special relationship, a significant occasion, or even for a Holiday to roll around. Use what you have now. This is a beautiful lesson my Mom gifted me as part of her legacy. Beautiful treasures need to be used, not stored away for “later”.
Rediscover the beauty and joy of your serving bowls today.
What are you waiting for?