Earth Day Plans

This week as we approach Earth Day I’m thinking about going green!  Today I’ve got a few ways you can go green and take care of our earth and celebrate this special day.  After all, I want the earth to stick around for at least a few more years, don’t you?

1-take action in your community.  There are lots of ways you can do this, from cleaning up litter and removing dead plants and trees to planting trees and flowers to putting up bird houses and even bee hives to encourage the natural population of your area

2-if you’re not able to go out and physically help in your community, there are tons of petitions online you can sign to support environmental initiatives online.  From organics to GMOs to smog and endangered species, there are tons of great causes you can support.

3-in line with the previous idea there are tons of earth-friendly organizations who would really appreciate a donation.  Even organizations like PETA and Charity: Water have an earth-focused mission that would benefit, you don’t just have to look to the more political organizations.

4-I love my hot showers so I’m not really willing to give them up, so if you’re like me that’s not one way you want to help save the earth.  But you can however wash your clothes in cold water.  They won’t complain and it will save your energy bill too!

5-if you’re looking for a spring refresh for your house there are tons of garage and yard sales that have begun with the favorable change in weather.  Not only are you saving a few dollars, you’re also saving the landfills from some items that would be in them for many years to come.  (And if you’re having a yard sale and everything doesn’t sell there are lots of local organizations who can benefit from the left over items too).

What are you planning this week to celebrate Earth Day and honor this place we all live?

Choosing Love

Love is a powerful emotion.  Emotion might even be too weak a word to use to describe what love is, because love is more than feeling happy, or sad; love lasts, endures and exists through those times of highs and lows.  Love makes our happiness conditional on the other person’s happiness.  Simply, love means we want those we love happy, and if they’re not happy we’re not either.  This is one area where all of the technological advancements of the past few decades have really made a big impact: it’s even easier to spread the love around even when we can’t be that physical shoulder to cry on.  You can send love through a Facebook or email message, a quick tweet or text, or send it over as a big photograph.

One of the greatest abilities love has is the ability to tear down barriers of loneliness and separation.  The only reason distance relationships work ever is because the love in that relationship is powerful and well developed.  Love doesn’t consider our differences, it just sees people and hearts.  Love isn’t concerned with politics or culture, it just wants to break down walls.  When we let love in it can do powerful things in our lives and in the lives of those connected with us.

However, it’s not just about being loved, it’s about loving too.  It’s one reason people who suffer from depression are told to get pets or do community service or spend time with kids: you feel better when you’re spreading love and helping others.  But just like many other things in our lives, love is a choice.  It’s a choice we have to make on a daily (or hourly) basis.  It’s a choice no one can make for us, and one we can’t make for them.  If you don’t want to feel alone, do something about it!  Choose to accept the love that is all around you and make it part of your life.

“It is astonishing how little one feels alone when one loves.”  John Bulwer

Planning for a Healthy Spring

With spring just around the corner, it’s time to talk about getting healthy!

Get out: it’s finally nice enough to spend a lot of time outside!  You can go on walks, go hiking, train for a marathon, play in the backyard, go to a park, visit a nature center near you and even eat your lunch outside!  Fresh air makes you feel better, whether you’re exercising or even just sitting outside.

Eat right: eat a fruit or veggie with each meal, and in between too.  Whether it’s a salad, side of corn or banana, fruits and veggies are usually an easy option with lots of good vitamins, minerals and fuel for your body.  Take time this spring and summer to visit local farmer’s markets and farms near you and get locally grown produce.  You’ll be supporting your community and getting good food too.  Don’t forget to try some of the delicious seasonal produce that’s available now too!

Get rest: many of us don’t really know what our body needs in the way of sleep and rest, and even if we do, we don’t always get it.  Know how many hours of sleep you need, and do your best to get it.  An unrested body doesn’t function as well as a rested one.  It’s also important to take time out to just sit and relax too.  Our bodies aren’t designed to be on the go 24/7.  They have to rest too!

Power your mind: in our on-the-go societies, we are subjected to thousands of messages each day, whether at work, on the computer, on our phones, while driving, at the store, in the newspapers and on TV.  This also means you’ve got tons of choices about what you choose to be exposed to.  Granted, you can’t block out all the bad stuff, but you can be particular about what you and your kids watch and see at home.  Yes, it’s important to be aware of what’s going on in the world and be socially aware, but you don’t have to be a news or TV junkie to do OK in the world.

Get involved: Finally, the last piece to being healthy is being involved in the community.  Join the community pool, help at a community garden, go out with 3 or 4 other couples, bring your kids to the park with your friends, and have play dates.  Getting your kids involved with other people, going on group dates, and being part of your community are all an important part of having a healthy life.

I encourage you this week to do a family checkup: plan and make changes in your lives to eat, live and work in your communities and at home.  Together we can make the world a healthier place!

When It Takes Too Long

I know the past month for me has been challenging, there have been cancellations, changed plans, friends appearing and disappearing, and lots of other strange happenings, not to mention all the stuff going on in the world.  And it’s all exhausting!  Each day just feels like trying to walk through mud.

So what do you do when life just takes too long to get to where you’re heading?

My first choice is to relax.  We’re a busy society and don’t take enough time to smell the roses, literally and figuratively.  When was the last time you were outside?  When was the last time you took a walk, albeit bundled up given that we haven’t quite shaken winter yet?  When was the last time you sat on the couch with your partner or a friend and just talked?  When was the last time you had a cup of tea or coffee without the paper or some work?

Second, do what you feel like you can do.  If your body is telling you to take a nap, maybe you’re not getting enough sleep to function in high-challenge times like these.  If your body is complaining about something, maybe it’s a good time to try that diet your friends have been telling you about. Make short to-do lists and don’t plan to conquer the world right now.

Third, make time for family.  You don’t have to have your a-game to have a great time with your family.  Your kids will love if you sit and read stories with them, your parents will love if you call them, your siblings will wonder if you’re going crazy but it will be a chance to spend time with the people you probably don’t spend enough time with.

If your life, goals and victories have been a little elusive of late, fear not, keep pressing forward, especially now that we’ve entered a new month.  We’ll all get there.  Listen to what your body and heart are telling you and do the best you can.  No one will fault you for trying and doing the best you can.

Remembering Who You Were Born To Be

Parents have a lot of pressure on them, well, the good ones do.  Parents who don’t care about their kids don’t experience life the same way that true, caring parents do.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I love supporting parents and business owners and people in general who are passionate about life, who truly care about their lives, their families, their customers and the world.  I’m all for having fun and trying new things.  I’m not a fan of the people who think they’re too good for the rest of us, who don’t care about others, who aren’t willing to let others win and those who give only because it benefits them.  Yes, we can all have some selfish moments, and moments that we want the attention to be all on us, but for the most part that’s not how those of us who really care live our lives.  Yes, we think about ourselves, but we also think about others and the world around us, and genuinely care what happens to them.

That’s not to say that we don’t have our differences and disagreements, I believe it’s healthy for us to all enjoy different things and even healthy for us to see the world different ways and try to do things different ways.  The caveat to that is that the goal is usually technically the same: that we want a better world for our children and ourselves.  We may not think that it will be achieved in the same way and sometimes we can get so lost in what we think is right that we forget about the goal. But I digress.

As parents, mentors, leaders, and adults we’ve got a big responsibility of teaching the next generation.  We have to be honest about our mistakes.  We have to help them learn from the lessons we’ve had and failed in.  We have to teach them to do better than we’ve done. But at the same time we have to let them be who they are and do what they’re here to do.  I can’t do what you can do and I’m not here to do what you’re here to do.  You’re not here to do what your kids are here to do, nor are they here to do what you are here to do.  Yes, you can spend time together doing your passion or theirs, but that doesn’t mean they need to devote their life to fulfilling a lost dream of yours: they’re not here to be anyone but themselves.

As adults we may have forgotten the passion, curiosity, creativity and drive that we had as kids, but they still have those feelings.   It’s up to us to let them be kids, let them learn who they are and accept the teaching moments when they come our way.  Teach them how to be strong and then let them fly.  Maybe in the process you’ll even remember how awesome it is to fly as well.

“We want you to know you are exactly where you are meant to be. Where you are is perfect for the magnificent unfolding that is before you. Embrace it fully. You are here to be of great service in this world…” Theos

A Family United or Divided?

You’ve probably heard the saying “a house divided against itself will fall.”  I believe this statement is very true and is one of the reasons that individuals, those in partnerships (aka relationships) and families struggle.  We personally go through our lives experiencing different things, thinking about public impressions, things we “should” do and our own dreams and desires.  All of these things pull and tug us in different directions.  In relationships you’re dealing with 2 people who have their own preferences, desires, loves, dreams, hopes, challenges and fears. Yes, you would hope in a loving partnership that some of those things would line up because the two people have similar desires, loves, dreams etc. But everyone is different, so it won’t always be the case.  As families we have tons of different people involved in the shuffle, with different opinions, schedules, needs and plans.  It’s not easy to find a happy medium that allows the parents to be parents, the kids to be kids, the family to come together and everyone get along fantastic.

I believe that some things and some people are meant to come together for a period of time and then go their separate ways or be done. I believe there are things and people that should never have come together. I believe that some things and some people are meant to last forever.  I believe that some people and things stick around only through sheer grit and a can-do spirit.  Life isn’t always going to be cupcakes and chicken soup.  Sometimes you’ve got to get down and dirty and really work to make things continue.  And sometimes we keep working on things long after they’re broken beyond repair (the nasty and graphic phrase “beat a dead horse” applies here).

I fully believe that we should each be our own person.  We should have our own interests, personalities, dreams, talents and perspectives.  I don’t see a need for carbon copy people.  But with that individuality comes the responsibility of respecting the individuality of others, which is something I think we sometimes forget.  But the simple wisdom applies that if you want to be treated well, you should do the same to others.  If you treat others like crap do you really expect they’ll treat you like your the Next Big Thing?  Some of us need to work more on being our own person, but quite a few of us need to work on working together better.  Working together doesn’t mean that you ignore who you are or turn yourself off, it’s about learning how to bring what you can contribute to the table and working it in with what everyone else can contribute.  What will you contribute this week?

A Happy Home

As we start this new year with our families I thought today we’d talk about what the goal is for most families: a happy, safe home.  I know that’s not how it always works out and I know that there are many reasons for that.  The world isn’t perfect, and we’re each very capable of making mistakes, I know I do.  Sometimes we make mistakes or lash out because we’re tired or hurt or upset or because someone says something that pushes our buttons, and other times there’s not really a good reason, it just happens.

Families are supposed to be close units, that’s been the intention since they were created.  I think it works well at least in theory because having people that are very close to you in both a physical and relational sense of the word means that you’ve got people who know you, accept you and you can depend on.  The place you call home and the people you call family are supposed to be a safety net and something you look forward to at the end of the day.  I know that’s not always the reality.  I know that some of us live in less than ideal home situations, but there are very few reasons that, if we all work together, we can’t improve those situations.

Yes, that does mean that everyone would have to want to change in order for there to be an improvement.  I know that there are some people who are happy being miserable, but that’s certainly not the way I want to live, and I don’t think you do either.   If your family is struggling to work together or isn’t working together the first thing to do is talk with everyone about whether or not they want things to improve.  If they don’t then you should just work on improving yourself to the best of your ability and making whatever changes and updates you can without causing too much (more) friction.  If they’re open to making the situation a better one for everyone, make a plan for steps you can all take to a better family and home.  The new year is a great time to resolve and take action on working towards the family and home life you want.

“May this home be a place of happiness, health, creativity, kindness and love.  May all who visit and live here know only blessings and peace.”

A Timely Holiday

This week I’ve gotten a whole bunch of emails from people and companies with different sentiments about the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays. They’ve all contained some sage advice, and I’ve been sharing what I’ve been reading through my blogs and newsletters as well as with friends and family.  The word that I wanted to share today is timely.  I do believe in a right time for everything, even if we don’t think it’s the right time.  So often we’re wanting things to happen on our time but that’s simply not how it works.  Time isn’t something we can control.  Sure we can do everything possible to expedite things, but sometimes there’s no way to push things through quicker.

I don’t know why some things take years to develop or why some things happen way before we think we’re ready for them or everything seems to happen at once.  I don’t think that’s life playing a joke on us, I think that’s just the way it works and part of how we learn and experience the life journey.  Sometimes it helps if you take a step back, other times it helps to push through and not keep looking back so much.  Sometimes you just have to be patient and let it do what it’s going to do.

This weekend as you gather with family and friends, consider the timing.  Is this the right holiday for some forgiveness?  Is this the holiday you should be taking extra time off?  Is this the holiday you should be giving extra? Is this the holiday that you need to step up for family and friends?  Is this the holiday that you do something for yourself?  Whatever comes your way this holiday I encourage you to reflect on what’s life trying to tell you and what opportunities life is bringing you.  And if life’s bringing you lots of blessings and joy make sure you share it!

The Mess of Christmas

I’m a bit of a neat freak.  It’s not that I believe everything should be put away at the end of the day or perfectly neat and tidy, but I do like things cleaner and everything always has a particular home it belongs in.  As we head further into the month of December and the holiday parties start happening and we work our way to the actual days of Christmas and Hanukkah I’m thinking about one of the things that makes this time of year special: the mess.

I don’t know anyone who really enjoys the mess of the mall or the cars on the road, but there is something special about everyone bustling about looking for those special gifts for the people they care about, and being stuck in traffic this year makes me think of holiday road trips in years past to visit family, something that was always favorite part of the season.  Of course there are the messes of baking cookies and other Christmas treats like edible presents for friends, teachers and coworkers, not to mention the mess that’s made each night of Hanukkah or around the tree on Christmas as presents are gifted and unwrapped.

Yes, it’s a lot of work to clean up, yes it’s a lot of work to think of all the presents and recipes and pick up the ingredients and the gifts, but there’s something satisfying in the whole process.  As adults we don’t do the whole “rip the paper off and throw it everywhere in excitement” thing like we did when we were kids and our kids do today, gift giving is a lot more civilized than it used to be.  But I’m reminded this holiday season that the mess is part of the joy and that there’s something satisfying knowing that you made all those cookies and you can see all your efforts around the kitchen, and there’s something satisfying in the scattered paper having seen the smiles and hearing the shrieks of joy when wanted presents were opened.

This holiday season give yourself a break if you’re a bit (or a lot) of a neat freak.  Take time to enjoy the emotion behind the mess and the people you’re celebrating with, I know that the mess will be there for you after the celebration.

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”  Andy Rooney

The Story of a Veteran

You probably know that I’m a big reader. I love fiction as well as non-fiction and kids books too.  In November one of the days that are celebrated is Chicken Soup for the Soul day.  While it isn’t as talked about now as it was years ago, you’re probably familiar with the book series that swept the nation and the world, but to refresh, each book is filled with inspirational true stories about ordinary people’s lives.  What I love most about the book series is that they’re a reminder that the world and our past, present and future are made up of individuals with stories.  So often we hear about events or dates or places and it may not mean a whole lot to you, for example November 14, 1440, do you know what happened that day?  Probably not, which means that the date doesn’t mean much to you.  It’s one reason many people don’t like history or learning because they aren’t able to find a personal connection to what they’re supposed to be learning.   But when you add a face and a story to what seemed like a random date, event or place all of a sudden it becomes a lot more real and interesting.

Friday in the US was Veteran’s Day, the day that we take time to honor and remember the men and women who have put their lives on the line in one way or another for our country.  It’s not always easy to talk with kids about topics like war, fighting and dying.  We want to protect them from the reality that we worry about, but in countries around the world kids of their age are right in the middle of war zones and don’t know if they will see tomorrow.  That said with all of the devices and access to the internet that kids have today it’s a lot harder to hide the truth from them, and sometimes you have to ask if it’s really the right thing to do.  No, I don’t think kids should be exposed to the details of the horrors and hurtful things that people do to each other, but I do think they need to know that there is hurt in the world and they have to decide if they’re going to add to it or do something to change it.

But the point of today’s post is to not only thank the Veterans, but to give you an idea of how to talk with your kids about the men and women who face such horrors, especially if they’re killed in war and the kids never had a chance to know them.  Each and every Veteran has a story, they’ve got a life before they went to war, they have a family they left, and veterans have a life after the war.  Yes, the war changed them; you can’t see what they’ve seen and not be changed.  While most Veterans aren’t comfortable talking about what went on during their time in war, there are stories they are willing to share about their life or the war that aren’t about the horrors they saw.  Maybe they’ve got some crazy ship and travel stories, maybe they had some of the best food of their life from crazy little shacks in tiny towns that no one really knows exist, maybe they played cards with people from a bunch of other countries every night for months, or maybe they have stories about their lives before the war that they can share.  War can take a lot from our Veterans, but we can give them something back by asking for and sharing their stories, whether they’re stories of heroism, crazy drunk activities or sweet family moments, and reminding the rest of the country and the world that Veterans are people just like you and me whose life and choices have taken them down a very difficult path.

So this month as you think about Thanksgiving coming up, I encourage you to find some way to give back to the Veterans in your life and community.  Maybe you can invite a military family over for Thanksgiving.  Maybe you can donate a meal to a Veteran’s organization in your area.  Maybe you can give a military family in your area a gift of service from your business.  Or maybe you will just sit and listen to the stories they have gathered through their life and pass them on to future generations so they and their sacrifice aren’t forgotten.