Expectations of Something More

Do you get up every day with a list of expectations for yourself, the people in your life and the world around you? Lately I’ve been taking time to consider my expectations of the world and think about what they might be and what I really want out of my life.  Part of it has to do with the passing of a family friend, part of it has to do with the hate I’ve been seeing some people share, and part of it has to do with wanting more out of life because life’s really not worth wasting.

This month one of the things we’re talking about is the topic of fun and I think fun has an important role to play in making sure we make the most of our lives.  It can be both a motivator of encouraging us to get the work done so we’ve got the resources to have fun as well as one to make the time to have that fun and take time off as well.  We do have an expectation of making sure we care for our families, and I think it’s an important one to uphold.  There are people around the world who don’t make decisions in light of how it will affect the people who matter the most to them.  But in the same conversation we do have a responsibility to be part of our loved ones lives, and not at work all the time trying to provide for them.

So what’s a person to do? If you’re at work working tons of hours because you’re not making enough per hour/day to support your family, it’s time to upgrade and update your skill set.  If you’re at work all day because you work on a fantastic cause, it’s time to get some new people involved.  If you’re at work all the time because you don’t want to be with your family, it’s time for a serious evaluation of and conversation about your life.  If you’re spending all your time on fun and avoiding the work there must be a reason why.  Maybe it’s because you really don’t enjoy your work, or maybe simply because reality hasn’t smacked you yet.   Whatever the case is I encourage you to take a look at your expectations for your life present and future and see if where you’re at and how your days currently go line up with that expectation.

Fun for Moms

This month one of the things we’re talking about is having fun, and of course today in the US we’ve got Mother’s Day. Some of us don’t think about Moms being fun, they just try to ruin our fun, right?! And if you’re a mom you may be having difficulty trying to remember the last time you had fun, or the last time you had some adult fun.  Whenever a kid is brought into the world it’s someone’s responsibility to care for them, whether it’s their biological mom and/or dad or a family member or an adopted family.  You know I’m a supporter of having a village raise a child and not just depending on the human or humans who brought that child into the world.  One of the reasons is that it’s more fun for the child when they get to interact with other children of the “village,” but it also gives the parents a chance to be parents and have adult friends and get a time-out from being a parent on occasion.

If you’re a mom and it’s been a long time since you’ve had fun I want to encourage you to start making that a part of your life.  Maybe that means drinks (coffee/tea or alcohol) with the girls once a month.  Maybe that means reinstating the weekly date with your partner.  Maybe that means hiring a sitter to give you a couple of hours off each week so you can shower alone, shave your legs or do food shopping without “helpful” second opinions.  Maybe it means watching another family’s kids for a few hours and they watching yours on another day so even more moms get a few hours off.  Maybe it means being more creative and getting the kids involved in your preferred hobbies and interests like gardening, painting, garage sale shopping or car repair.

If you’re feeling guilty for wanting a little fun, let’s get some perspective.  First, everyone needs to have fun and take a break from the challenges, disappointments, hurts and frustrations that come through our lives.  Second, if all your kids see you doing is stressing out and being unhappy, what do you think they’ll think about life?  I wouldn’t want to grow up if all it meant was that I’d be miserable and unhappy.  Yes, you need to teach them responsibility and how to care for themselves, but I believe that part of that is learning proper stress relief and that it’s OK to have fun as part of your life all life-long.  What fun will you have this week?

Focused on Fun?

One of the things that makes this world go ’round is the fact that we’re all different, yet we’re all similar.  I believe everyone can find something in common to talk about with someone else in the world, but at the same time we’re all so very different in so many ways, whether it be where we live, how old we are, what we eat or what we do with our lives.  I read a great quote recently that got me thinking.  It was from a conversation between James Altucher and Jon Morrow.  If you’re not familiar with Jon, he’s been paralyzed from the neck down since birth.   Just about anyone you ask would say that that makes him “disabled” (or some related term or phrase).  However, they made a good point during their conversation that “Everyone in the world can’t do something as well as someone else… So everyone in a sense is disabled.”

Recently on the Life and Spirituality blog I posted some thoughts about grief and loss, as a close family friend is entering the last part of their journey.  Hearing this interview between James and Jon got me thinking about this friend again and about how we live our lives.  I’ve seen enough of the TV and the news to know that all of us could live our lives saying ‘woe is me’ and be absolutely right.  We’ve all got problems, whether it was that your sandwich got eaten by the office munch or you don’t have clean water to drink.  Most of us could list a bunch of things that aren’t right in our lives at this time.  As important as it is to recognize the issues, the question is do we just see the issues or do we look for a way out or how to fix them?

Jon is one example of many who choose to look for a better tomorrow, just like my family friend always has.  I’m a huge dog lover and have always admired them for their ability to love and play, while often still knowing when it’s time to be serious.  Countless dogs around the world are working dogs, whether they sniff for drugs or help people who have mobility issues or other disabilities, or even just love on those who are sick.  But it’s those same dogs who work very hard who also teach their humans what it means to see more to life than just what’s right in front of them.

The question we’re really discussing this month as we talk about fun is whether we’re able to find balance between the work (and difficulties) and the play in our lives, or maybe if we’re really willing to.  Yes, there will be times when a push or extra hours at work is necessary, but there comes a point that you will burn out.  No matter how seriously you panic over or focus on the incoming burn out, it’s unlikely that you can avoid it or recover from it if all you’re focusing on is the burn out.

So today I challenge you to evaluate your focus on life.  What are you really focused on? Are you focused on the ways you’re failing and not succeeding (I know they exist, we’ve all got them), or are you making a point to improve in at least one way every day and have at least one period of fun and really live life every day?  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to get to the end of my life and be looking back thinking what a miserable person I was and how much of life I missed out on.  What about you?

I Choose Fun

A new month has arrived and this month we’ll be talking about a very important topic: fun! Of course there will be lots of fun ideas shared on the creativity blog as always, but we’ll also be taking a look at applying the concept of fun to our lives, families and businesses on this blog as well. We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the more serious stuff and about improving our lives because it’s important, and through that success we can have more resources to spend on the fun things of life. But sometimes we let the serious stuff take over our lives and we forget what our real goal is in all of it, and why we’re working as hard as we are.

Yes, we’ll talk about some more serious topics as they relate to having fun this month, but I really want to encourage you to work on finding more balance in your life. Why? Because as adults I don’t think all of us really are as intentional about having fun and really enjoying life as we should be. We have a ton of responsibilities and the constant changes in the world around us may encourage us to work when/while the money’s good.  And that’s a valid point because I do encourage you to have financial reserves, build them up when you’re not spending a lot and also plan for the future.  But when we don’t take any or enough time for fun our productivity and ability to succeed can suffer.

So the place I would encourage you to start this month is with your attitude and being open to having fun.  Don’t feel guilty if you take a day off to go on a field trip with one of your kids.  Don’t kick yourself for taking one morning off from the gym to be with your partner instead.  Don’t look at fun as an option somewhere down the road, choose to make fun an active and consistent part of your life today.

Christmas Carol Classics: Frosty the Snowman

“Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul,
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
And two eyes made out of coal.

Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say,
He was made of snow but the children know
How he came to life one day.

There must have been some magic in
That Old top hat they found.
For when they placed it on his head
He began to dance around.

O, Frosty the snowman
Was alive as he could be,
And the children say he could laugh and play
Just the same as you and me.

Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul,
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
And two eyes made out of coal.

Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say,
He was made of snow but he came to life one day.

There must have been some magic in
That Old top hat they found.
For when they placed it on his head
He began to dance around.

Frosty the snowman
Knew the sun was hot that day,
So he said, “Let’s run
And we’ll have some fun
Now before I melt away.”

Frosty the snowman
Had to hurry on his way,
But he waved goodbye saying,
“Don’t you cry,
I’ll be back again some day.””

Frosty was first recorded by the famous Gene Autry (with the Cass County Boys) in 1950.   The year before Autry recorded Rudolph, which was also a big success.  As a result of the song’s success there were lots of TV shows and books and other materials made.  One of the things that made this song stand out and be so successful was the concept of it.  We’ve all made a snowman that we wished would come to life, or at the very least thought about how cool something like that would be.

While most versions never talk about Christmas, we typically think of it as a Christmas song, probably because of all the magic in it.  After all, how else would a snowman come to life? When it comes to this time of year it does seem like there’s a little extra sparkle in the world, a little extra something showing up in our days that just makes them a little better.  Maybe it’s all the cheer, maybe it’s the goodwill, or maybe it’s just the desire not to get caught doing bad things before Santa makes his famous run.

But the song ends with Frosty saying that he’ll be back again some day.  I love that the song ends this way because it’s a great reminder that as much as life is made up of individual days and moments, there’s a lot more to life than just the individual moments.  Each day is an opportunity to build on what the previous day accomplished or start over because you’ve realized a mistake you were making.  Of course there are special moments that come each year like Christmas and Thanksgiving that are important reminders to celebrate life and gather together.  So whether you’re anticipating the magic to return, leaving the magic behind for the time being or dancing and singing with that magic, find a way to add a little magic to your day.

Christmas Carol Classics: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

This month one of the things we’ll be doing is looking at Christmas songs (we’re looking at some too on one of my other blogs).  Today I thought we’d start with a fun one, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus!”

“I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night
She didn’t see me creep
Down the stairs to have a peep
She thought that I was tucked up
In my bedroom, fast asleep

Then I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night

He saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
I did! I really did see Mommy kissing Santa Claus
And I’m gonna tell my Dad

Then I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night

Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night.”

Did you know that this song was first recorded in 1952 by Jimmy Boyd who was 13 at the time?  Even more amazing, it reached #1 in December of that year as well.  One of the most famous recordings was by the Jackson 5 (you can listen to it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PITCmngiMfA ).

The big controversy over this song is whether Santa is dad or if the writer of the song (Tommie Connor) is actually suggesting that the mom in the song is cheating on the dad with Santa.  Since we’re given the perspective of the child who believes in Santa being real, it’s not easy to tell which it is.

Regardless of what you believe or think the writer was getting at, it’s a good reminder that sometimes kids don’t understand things and we have to be careful as the adults to set a good example for them, especially in high pressure situations or in times when they may be extra sensitive (like with Christmas and being on the hunt for the stash or shaking presents under the tree or staying up to listen for reindeer hooves).

But, if like many people believe, the Santa is actually dad in disguise, it’s a good reminder to couples to find time to play and make special moments even if things are hectic and crazy like they are during the holiday season.  Yes, there’s a lot going on and you’ll probably be getting sitters for the parties you have to attend, but one of the best gifts you can give yourselves as a couple is to take a night to be alone (if money’s a problem there’s probably another family you can swap kids with to give them a night off too).  The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration and coming together with those you love, so make sure to commit some of your time this month to your partner.

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

Candy Craving

Today I thought it would be fun to take a look at a little candy history. There are tons of great facts around the web so you can do your own research on your favorite candy, but here are some fun facts to get you started.

65% of candy bars were introduced more than 50 years ago including candy corn (1880’s), Reese’s peanut butter cups (1922), Milky Way (1923), Heath Bar (1928), Snickers (1930), M&M’s (1941), Mounds (1947), Dum Dums (1924), Life Savers (1912) and more!

Tootsie rolls:
-created in 1896
-named after the creator’s daughter’s nickname: “tootsie”
-Tootsie pops were created in 1931
-it might take 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop
-Solders in WW2 had lots of Tootsie rolls in their packs because of their ability to survive lots of challenging weather

Hershey’s
-kisses came around in 1906-7
-kisses were given colorful wrappers in 1962
-chocolate bar started in 1900
-almonds added in 1908 to the candy bar
-miniature bars added in 1939
-the theme park comes around in 1973 and decides to offer nutritional information on the wrappers

Even more candy fun:
-Life Savers started as just peppermint savers
-President Nixon used to eat a Milky Way for breakfast
-Heath Bars were originally offered only by delivery, sold by dairy delivery men
-Snickers were named after the Mars family’s beloved horse
-M&M’s went into space in 1981
-in 1949 Smarties were created, and nicknamed “candy pills”
-the first Valentine’s Day was in 1868, started by Cadbury (not by greeting card companies!)
-yellow Peeps are most popular
-it used to take 27 hours to make a Peep, now it takes 6 minutes
-75% of Americans eat the ears before anything else on their chocolate Easter bunnies
-Christmas, Easter and Halloween are the big candy days, with Christmas being the biggest
-both Sourpatch kids and skittles started outside of the USA and came to the US in the 1980’s.
-the word Pez is actually from the German word for peppermint (Pfefferminz)

What is your favorite candy?

What are You Smiling About?

Do you know what a gift it is to smile? Some people live in such pain and poverty that a smile is the furthest thing from their minds. They’re too concerned about getting their next meal, living until tomorrow and not getting beat up by those who hold them captive in one way or another. There are also the people who have no teeth or bad teeth and are ashamed of it so they don’t smile. Plus there are the people who are so overwhelmed by the stuff going on in their lives that they just can’t find anything to smile about (most of us can identify with this one!).

I had some time between appointments this weekend so I stopped at a coffee shop to get some work done because it was smarter than going home and back out again. I enjoy going to this particular coffee shop because they always decorate for seasons and holidays. For the spring season they’ve got paper flowers and streamers hanging from the ceiling. This isn’t a large expense, there are any number of catalogues and online stores who sell these products, they probably spent a maximum of $30 on them. But by doing so not only did they brighten my day, they made me smile. They don’t have to do this, just like no one has to hang lights for Christmas, but by doing so they bring some cheer to the world.

Has something or someone made you smile lately? If so make it a point to pass the cheer along. Maybe you’ll post something positive on their social media, maybe you’ll volunteer to get the treats for your next girls/guys night, maybe you’ll choose to Shop Small to help a small business owner breathe a little easier this month, maybe you’ll donate to a charity that brings smiles (literally or generally) to other people, or maybe you’ll just share a smile with someone you pass at the store, in the halls at work or just going about your day. What has made you smile lately?

Celebrating Easter

How many have you been to this year?  Come on, you know what I’m talking about! Easter egg hunts!  There are those that your kids do at home plus the dozens around the town and at different churches.   Recently I was driving past one and it had to be the craziest thing I’ve seen.  Rather than doing an actual hunt they were using a football field and had just strewn eggs everywhere.  So it was more like an Easter egg race than a hunt.  If nothing else it certainly was different from the usual for the kids.

But it got me thinking about the joy that Easter is all about.  If you can remember being a kid and anticipating the egg hunt, as well as things like Christmas morning, Halloween or your birthday parties or the day before a big vacation, it’s one of those big days that was super exciting every year.  I can remember being excited to see my Easter basket and play with the eggs for weeks after.  As adults we don’t always get as excited as the kids do.  We’ve got lots to deal with like the logistics of filling all those eggs.

But Easter maybe more than any other holiday is one that’s about joy.  It doesn’t have the pressures of Christmas or Valentine’s Day, but it is a chance for family to gather together and celebrate.  Whether you’re celebrating spring’s arrival or the religious reasons behind Easter, it’s a reminder to celebrate life. It’s a reminder that winter is ending and it’s time to start living again.  It’s time to open up the eggs that life gives us and find the treats and surprises inside.  It’s time to put a little spring in your step and work on forgiveness with family and friends.  Even if you have to do a little work to find them, life does have blessings for you.  Find something each day this weekend to celebrate, even if it’s something as small as a newly grown flower, or the joy of watching your kids race for the eggs.