Balloons (Midtown, Manhattan) by Youngna Park via 20x200
There is something so hopeful about this photograph by Youngna Park and, after the particularly challenging week I had last week, it is the perfect inspiration for this Monday.
For the record, nothing tragic happened. My life was not turned upside down, nor did I lose anything close to me. Instead, my challenges came from within. Old insecurities reared their ugly heads and I spent an emotional week being painfully aware of their return.
One of the mantras I hold dear to my heart is "Happiness is an inside job" and its weeks like this past one that remind me why that is so true. It is also one of the reasons that I began this blog; to chronicle those moments and experiences that lead to a better me and happier lifestyle.
Often, my moments of growth are not warm and fuzzy lessons candy-coated for easier absorption. My moments of growth are giant sucker punches of self-awareness that force me to either sit in a really uncomfortable space or change. Every week, I have the opportunity to start fresh and let the sunshine in, just like this photo.
This week, I'm focusing on small changes to nurture the inside job like spending a few quiet moments in the morning to myself, eating nutritious meals and returning to regular exercise. I also bought this print for my office. Two cheers for impulse buys!
Anyways, I hope this week is a good one for you. I know it's gonna be a helluvalot better for me. Happy Monday!
Summer is in full effect which means that the garden is reaping the benefits of full sun and my plants are happy. Plus, we just got some delicious rain last night. I have been steadily working on the addition of an herb garden (lemon thyme, basil, rosemary, cilantro, dill, parsley, lavender, oregano) in a small space on the side of my house and have recently begun my education in perennials. Which brings me to these lovely ladies. Meet the Susans.
One of the most rewarding things about gardening, for me, is being witness to the evolution of something beautiful. Forgive me if I sound like a fairy-dust snorting hippie, but nature is magical. I love watching the flowers bloom and grow, knowing that I contributed something small to these perfect creations.
Love my ladies. Can't wait to show you the before and after pictures of the herb garden once all the work is done there. If you have some pictures of your garden, please share! I'd love to see what y'all are cultivating. Happy Sunday!
As this is posted, I should be pulling into Philadelphia a tad bit sleepy-eyed and way too excited. It's my first trip to this city and my first real
getaway since I moved to North Carolina a year and a half ago.
Last year was about tumultous change, uproots and financial stress. I spent most of the year pining over the Facebook pages of my jetsetting friends who were exploring the world one city at a time. I wanderlusted my way through albums of people smiling beautifully, flanked by scenic backdrops and carefree companions. Sometimes, I didn't even know the people I was eyeballing. Last year, my trips consisted of impromptu funerals and mandatory road trips to visit ailing family members. Our luxury mode of transportation was a beat up five speed with temperamental windows (picture me on the Interstate) and schizophrenic a/c. Not my first choice in trip or vehicle but a great lesson in Sucking It Up 101 and traveling with a negative bank account.
When the New Year came, I wrote out my list of goals
and humbly submitted my requests to the Universe. I wanted to have fun this year. I wanted to visit the best of my besties and dance! I wanted concerts, long coffee talks and lazy breakfasts. And, that's exactly what I get to do for the next four days. Lucky me. What a difference a year makes.
On another note, holy manifestation! Upon reviewing my list of goals
, it looks like I've knocked out a substantial chunk of the original list. There really is something to be said about writing things down. Looks like I'll have to update the list and add a few things when I get back.
The thing I'll need to do most? Dream bigger.
Where are you lusting to go? What's your next trip ? How the heck has the first half of 2011 been for you? Hit me up and tell me all about it. I'd love to hear from you.
Big Hugs from the City of Brotherly Love!
Suggestion #6: Hugs
Give someone a squeeze today. You might make all the difference. Need a little inspiration? Head over here
and see how hugs can change lives. Happy hugging!
Photo by Jesslee Cuizon
We're halfway through the work week and moving on to Day 3 of the week-long series, Sunshine Seven Ways
. Each day begins with a new suggestion on how to add some extra sunshine to your life. Today's suggestion is one of the most powerful ways to create a happier existence. Suggestion #3: Help Others
There is magic in helping others no matter how big or small the deed. Every Wednesday, I am privileged to volunteer in Charlotte at the Urban Ministry Center, an organization that assists the local homeless population. I am a volunteer counselor in the mornings and in the afternoons, I provide assistance for those seeking employment. Each week, I am given gifts simply by showing up to help others.
Sometimes it comes in the form of a feeling, a twinge of fulfillment that comes only when I'm getting outside of myself. Other times, it shows up in the grateful eyes of someone I have helped when they say "thank you"
and really mean it. It also comes in waves of gratitude for my own life when I am face-to-face with someone who truly knows the meaning of struggle. Every Wednesday I return home to my small, modest home with a renewed appreciation for simple things like food and shelter that I so often overlook.
Helping others creates gratitude and grateful people bring the sunshine. Now, I don't want you to think that you have to drop everything and become the next Mother Theresa. In fact, here's what she says about giving-"If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one." It's all about the baby steps.
For example, the Mister went over to the neighbor's house yesterday and hung a shelf. That's giving. I took a late phone call from a distressed friend and listened for an hour. That's giving too. Sometimes it's simply letting someone go ahead of you in line at the grocery store or paying the toll for the stranger behind you.
Giving comes in many forms and each day there is an opportunity to give something to someone whether it be your time, your money or your heart. If you're looking for others ways to give locally and globally, here are a few favorites of mine: The Urban Ministry Center
- We're always looking for new volunteers and if counseling isn't your thing, there are plenty of other opportunities available. Hands-On Charlotte
- If you're new to volunteering or aren't sure of where to start, Hands-On Charlotte is a great way to try new things at your convenience. You can choose from hundreds of opportunities.Heifer International-
Donate and help purchase all sorts of animals from a flock of chickens to an ox. Heifer brings them to villages in need and teaches them how to sustain themselves with your purchases. It'sTOM's Shoes-
Purchase a pair of TOM's shoes and they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need. TODAY'S MISSION:
Be on the look out for your opportunity to help another. It may be something teensy or life-changing. Whatever it is, say yes to it today.
You never know how your generosity might affect another, not to mention the reward you'll be giving yourself. There's bonus bits of sunshine for those who give anonymously too.
Good Luck and Happy Giving!!
Every day this week, I'm offering up a new way to cultivate some extra sunshine into your life. To kick off this merry series
, I thought I'd call upon one of the tried and true ways that I experience happiness- with laughter and a smile. SUGGESTION #1: Smile often and laugh it up.
Me, laughing it up. You know what's funnier, is that I spent a good portion of yesterday alone with a camera to get these shots.
This suggestion is two-fold. The first thing I endeavor to do today is smile. ALOT. I'll be wearing a big goofy grin from now until bedtime. If you dare look at me, I'll be flashing my pearly whites.
Smiley people bring sunshine with them. A genuine smile never fails to improve my mood and if you're looking for a cheap way to bring joy into someone's life, try smiling. It works.
Here's a smile I recently captured from a man who hasn't got much, but he's got a smile that instantly brightens my day. Meet Arnaldo, one of the neighbors I work with at the Urban Ministry Center
Okay, now for part two of today's suggestion: Laugh it up!
Remember that song
from Mary Poppins? "I love to laugh- HA, HA, HA, HA!"
Well, that's precisely what I aim to do. In my opinion, laughter really is the best medicine. It feels so good to have a good belly laugh with a friend, to listen to a humorist share a funny story
or to witness an unexpected event that makes you laugh until you pee.
Laughter comes in innumerable forms. I encourage you to seek out your brand of funny today. You might even try making someone else laugh. Get silly, have an outburst, break out in dance while waiting in the Starbucks line, don a monocle, tell a joke.
Below are a few goodies I found while browsing around for hilarity. I first found this video on Cute Roulette
, which is a good laugh in itself. This video, in particular, had me in stitches. Meet Maru the Cat.
...and this laughing baby...
If you made it this far through today's post- I hope you find yourself in a better, brighter mood. I'd love to hear how this suggestion works in your day. Please feel free to share your stories and any laughter you find along the way. Now go forth and have a hilarious Monday!
My new role model is a pig. Those of you who scoff at this statement may need to learn a lesson from the Pig of Happiness. He says things like "You have a lovely bottom" and shows kindness where others show none. Really, he had me at "lovely bottom." Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday and Happy Easter! Spread some love today.
I came across this happy little van parked on the side of the road today. It instantly brightened my day and I couldn't help but pull over and take a photo. Everything about it was happy- the color, the peace sign and the smile it seemed to be wearing. This van has most certainly got some soul! I'd love to hear what brightened your day today.
Cheers to you happy little van!
Butterfly Nebula by Deep Space Photography on Etsy
Today marks the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight, which is beyond amazing. Also amazing is this photo of a dying star, entitled Butterfly Nebula
, originally taken by NASA.
Today's celebration of such an extraordinary achievement moved me to share this quote I recently found in my latest read, Interpreter of Maladies
, the Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri. Taken from the last paragraph of the final story in her collection entitled, The Third and Final Continent, this quote made an extraordianry impression on me. "While the astronauts, heroes forever, spent mere hours on the moon, I have remained in this new world for nearly thiry years. I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the first man to seek his fortune from home, and I certainly am not the last. Still there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination."
What a life I have- I must say thank you for my extraordinary ordinary life.