Stress Free Family 2012

2012 is just a few days away and I want your family to be prepared this year to have your lowest-stress and most enjoyable year ever.  So here are 5 things you can do to make 2012 your best year yet:

1-Communicate!  You don’t have to say a lot, but say what’s on your heart, where you are and important things people in your family need to know.  All the technology we have now makes it easier than ever to let your family know what’s going on.

2-Eat right.  There’s a lot of junk out there, but there are also healthy options.  I share several ideas each month on Twitter for healthier eating options, but there are lots of great recipes on sites like Food Network, Family Fun, Kaboose, and King Arthur that will help you transform all meals of the day into healthier ones.

3-Spend time together. I don’t mean that you have to gather around the diner table every night, sing songs or take epic car trips around the world (unless you all enjoy that).  What I mean is building time, at least one day or several evening (at minimum), into each month where you’re all together doing something fun, relaxing, or entertaining.

4-Take time off.  If you’re all going 24/7 you’ll all end up running each other into the ground.  Being this busy is very typical in many families today, but it’s not healthy.  Taking time off, reducing the number of activities you do and doing stress relieving activities like running, walking and yoga will help keep the stress level down around the house.

5-Expect change.  There’s no way that things won’t change.  By accepting that change is inevitable and preparing physically, mentally, and financially you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way.

What do you plan to do differently with your family in 2012 so you’re all less stressed and have better relationships?

Lessons from a Quarterback

This past Monday night Saints quarterback Drew Brees broke an NFL record.  He beat Dan Marino’s single-season passing record.  Sure it was a pretty cool moment when he broke the record, but what impressed me was his speech in the locker room afterwards.  I highly suggest you check it out.  It’s only 3 minutes long and makes a really important point for both individuals and business owners.

See life is about being a team player.  Brees knew that he couldn’t break the record without having someone to pass to, without team members who block for him, and coaches who encourage him.  It’s really obvious that he could do what he did only with other people.

It’s a little less clear for many business owners that they are team players too.  It may be easy to assume I “work alone” just because I don’t have partners or employees.  But the reality is that I’m supported each day by tons of others: the people of WordPress who host this blog, the people behind Hootsuite who help me with my tweets, the people who help with my websites, the people who created Facebook and Twitter which allow us to be social and connect with countless other people, and of course I can’t forget the clients I work for. I couldn’t be here doing what I’m doing without all of them (and you!).

We’re wrapping up 2011 and going into 2012 in less than a week’s time.  I’m positive that we will get through 2012 only if we recognize that we’re part of a team.  Everyone has several teams they’re on: home, family, friends, business/work, church, non-profit/volunteering and the list goes on.  I think we’re this connected for a reason: we can’t do it alone, nor are we supposed to.

So this year as you’re watching more football games, celebrating with your family or just working hard, stop and thank Drew Brees for his hard work and his recognition that we’re all part of a team, and then go and thank someone in your life for being part of your team.

Whole Living: Kwanzaa

In our final week of 2011, it is only appropriate to think about the celebration of Kwanzaa.  What? You never celebrate it??  I actually think you have celebrated Kwanzaa, maybe not officially, but I think you have celebrated the message behind Kwanzaa before.  You see Kwanzaa is the celebration of family, community and culture.  We’ve seen a growing focus on these 3 things over 2011, and I want to challenge you to make these 3 things a priority in your life in 2012.

Family: there’s no better time than the present to tell the people closet to you that you love them, build a relationship with them or forgive them than the present.  Personally I’ve always wanted to spend more time with my extended family, but we’re so spread out around the USA that it is challenging.  I know for many people family is a very challenging or frustrating topic, but you were given them for a reason.  Maybe 2012 will be your year to discover what that reason was.

Community: we’ve seen many communities pulling together this year.  The world has had many natural disasters and challenges that brought communities together with both grieving and recovering.  There were several in the USA, and who could forget the disasters that rocked Japan this year?  But we’ve also seen communities pulling together in a different way: activism.  We’ve seen the Occupy groups around the USA, many gatherings in Egypt and in other countries around the world.  This year I think we’ll all be challenged to answer the question: what can you do for your community?

Culture: culture is changing as we know it.  We’re on Facebook and other social sites, growing together as we grow apart. Our world has become a connected group of cultures and it’s even easier with technology to blur the lines between traditional cultures.  We’ve had many people step up and say that they’re living more sustainably and with a better attitude and more care towards taking care of the planet.  It’s easier than ever to spread knowledge and we’re placing a higher value on our beliefs and ideas.  Culture will continue to help change the world, it’s up to each of us to decide what role we’ll play in that transformation.

What are your thoughts and goals for the family, community and culture in your life in 2012?

All I Want for Christmas

I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don’t care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you

I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
And I don’t care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree

I don’t need to hang my stocking
There upon the fireplace
Santa Claus won’t make me happy
With a toy on Christmas day

I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you

From Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You.  You can hear it on YouTube here.

This is one of my favorite Christmas songs, it always makes me think of Love Actually and what I love about Christmas.  While I love that it talks about Santa and presents and is sung in a way that speaks to the joys of Christmas, I really love the message that it shares.

When it all comes down to it, Christmas is all about people: the person of Santa, the persons of Elves, the persons of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the person you’re gifting to, and you.

So if you find yourself getting caught up in the glitz, panic, craze or pushiness that can occur this time of year, stop a moment and remember that Christmas is really about people.

Who are you glad you have in your life this Christmas?

12 Days of Business

In this festive season of the year, I thought I would share some song inspired thoughts with you.  Last week I shared about being committed to really serving your clients and customers.  Today, following along with the 12 Days of Christmas, here are 12 important things you can do in your business to show your commitment to your clients, as well as yourself.

1 have a vision and mission-this means your customers know where you’re coming from and you have something to help you make decisions.

2 blog posts-a simple way to share great value and reach out to those who may be clients in the future.

3 charge right-this is important for you and for them. If you charge too little they won’t value your service, and you’ll be miserable too.

4 newsletters-an important way to remind customers who you are, as well as share some fun thoughts with others.

5 website-one of the most important things in business today is your website.  It should have a clear call to action, as well as a great picture of you.

6 free gift-this is a great way to show your potential clients who you are, as well as surprise your current ones.

7 Facebook-an important way to keep in touch with people and create discussion around your product or service.

8 Twitter-a great way to connect with similar businesses, as well as meet potential clients.

9 Support a charity-giving back should be hardwired into all businesses.  Choose a charity that’s meaningful for you as well as something some clients could connect with.

10 video/audio-is a great way to get your voice out there!

11 customer benefits program-this is one way to show your customers how much they mean to you, and that you appreciate their referrals.

12 rest!– yes, above all else you have to get some rest.  If you can’t function right and aren’t clear headed, you won’t be able to serve your clients well.

While you don’t have to do all of these in your business (I can’t say I want any lords-o-leaping for Christmas), they are some of the major components that will help you be successful and grow your business in 2012 and beyond.

Whole Living: Caroling Bells

Hark! how the bells
sweet silver bells
All seem to say
throw cares away.

Christmas is here
bringing good cheer
To young and old
meek and the bold

Ding, dong, ding, dong
that is their song,
With joyful ring
all caroling

One seems to hear
words of good cheer
From everywhere
filling the air

O, how they pound
raising the sound
Oer hill and dale
telling their tale

Gaily they ring
while people sing
Songs of good cheer
Christmas is here!
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas!
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas!

On, on they send
on without end
Their joyful tone
to every home

From Carol of the Bells.  You can hear the song on Youtube here.

The Carol of the Bells is one of my favorite Christmas songs, one of 3 I’ll be sharing with you this week on this blog.  Christmas is all about stories, as are our lives.  My grandmother pulled out some old photos when we visited her recently and it was a lot of fun to see the stories and memories come to life.  Christmas Traditions are usually passed down for a reason, and one of those reasons is because they are what makes the holiday season special to your family.

With the holiday season I always listen for the church bells.  Most churches have gotten rid of their bells, but there are still a few near me who have bells and play them from time to time.  There’s just something so Christmasy about bells.  While bells have been used for centuries for many different purposes, if they were alive I’m sure they’d say they enjoy sharing joy the most.

So this Christmas, as you do your traditions, open your gifts and spend time with your family and friends, remember to bring the cheer with you.  Christmas is all about spreading the bell’s cheerful song.

What will you do to spread joy this year?

A Family Holiday

In the holiday season one of the best things is giving gifts!  There are tons of things you can give, but the one thing I heard from several people was that there was no “best gift” suggested this year.  So, to help you out, here are some ideas that you can give this year.

Give the gift of:

-food: there are tons of great food gifts including those sold in stores and mail order catalogs.   But, what better way to get involved with your family, or encourage some family time in another home than with gifts like mason jar recipes, and other food gifts.

-help: if you really don’t need anything else, you can always gift a ball to a person in a needy country, share toys or food with your local shelter or donate money to a program like FINCA.

-made by you: some of the most memorable gifts were those made by family and friends. Here are 10 food and craft ideas, and 40 last minute gift ideas you can make.

-homemade: yes, you can make your own gift, but if you’re looking for something with a little less work, visit Etsy.  It’s a fantastic market place where creative individuals share their gifts with the world.  If you want some suggestions, check out my Feature Friday posts and friends to see some of the creativity you can share with someone you love.

-you: the best thing you can give this year is yourself.  There’s always a shortage of time as far as relationships go, so if you don’t know what else to give, give the gift of time with you.  Maybe it’s a night out, maybe it’s a trip to the zoo just you and one child, maybe it means leaving work early one day to do something special that one child is involved in.

What are you giving this year?

I Work for People

Christmas is almost here!  I’ve seen tons of wonderful discounts from business owners this season, and it’s been exciting to hear the news that shopping is up and people are willing to spend some money.  I hope you’ve seen some of that generosity!

As we approach the holidays as well as the end of 2011, there’s one thing that comes to mind, and that’s people!  It’s easy when you’re in business, especially if you work with technology, to forget about the people.  But in this season, we’re bombarded by people rushing around to get gifts, people pushing for the best deals and being rather crazy around each other.

What does this all mean for your business?  The holidays are a great reminder that no matter what industry you work in, or what your business does, ultimately, at the end of the day, you’re working for people!  So let me ask you a question:

What is your business committed to?

Do you have right in your mission or vision statement that you’re committed to helping people?  Do you clearly state that you’re innovating with computers to educate people, growing food to feed people, creating websites to empower people, or serving coffee to connect people?  Do you have a “do no harm” attitude towards your clients, both financial and personal?

As you wrap up 2011 and look towards 2012, I encourage you to take time to reflect what you’re business is focused on.  Because if it’s focused on making the most money, being the industry leader or having the most successful product, you’re missing the boat unless you’re focused on those things to make a difference in the lives of others.

Whole Living: Love

There’s a lot of talk about love, after all we’re in this season where we’re supposed to get those we love  (and even those we don’t) gifts to show our love for them.  There’s two “rules”, if you will, about love that I want to establish before we talk about anything else that has to do with love this month.

1-you have to love others.  We don’t live alone, we live surrounded by people, and it’s been said that it takes as few as 7 people connect us to everyone in the world.  And while you don’t have to love everyone, it certainly makes life a lot more pleasant to love others, than to hate them or be ambivalent towards them.  Loving others opens us to a world of possibilities, it enriches our personal worlds and makes our life journey more rewarding.  These things all lead me to the second rule:

2-you have to love yourself.  I’m not talking the overly obsessive personal love that we see displayed by some celebrities and other narcissists, I’m talking about genuinely being comfortable with who you are and accepting yourself.  I don’t think you can truly love others if you don’t love yourself. This also means that you have to accept the love that others give you, you can’t just love yourself.

What we learn is that love is part of living, with life comes the opportunity to love and with love comes the opportunity for a fulfilling life.  This leaves me with a tough question: what is more difficult for you, loving others, loving yourself, or accepting others’ love?

Tis the Season for Stockings

One of the fun things about the holidays is filling the stockings near the fire (or banister!).  Whether you have stockings you have passed down through the years or are looking for some fun new ideas, here are some of the best I’ve seen.

Flowered felt stocking

Make an elf stocking

Holiday swirled stocking

Handkerchief stockings

Peppermint stockings

Scarf stockings

Keepsake stocking

Jingle bell stocking

Blanket stocking

Frosty Stockings

Holly Stocking

Silverware Stocking

Bare foot stocking

Cowboy boot stocking

Dog paw stocking

Elf boot stocking

Classic stocking

Tailored stockings

Rickrack stockings

Easy felt stockings

“Punched” stockings

So I’ve given you some suggestions for making your stockings, now it’s your turn: what are you going to put in them??