Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Celebrate the sunshine

Holding Sunshine on imgfave

“Why is it so much easier to pray and seek Gods face in times of turmoil?  We pray to send the rain if that is what it takes to see Jesus and we rely on him during those times.  If only my dedication and faith were as strong during points of sunshine…would the rain return less often?  Thought of the day – I will focus on praise during good times so that I don’t need knocked to my knees so often!” – A friend posted this on her facebook today.  She was inspired by the Mercy Me song “Bring the Rain”.  Thank you for sharing this with me and letting me use it as my inspiration today. 

If I focus on the positive will the negative become lighter?  I believe it will.  There are many points during the day that are worth celebrating, but we often forget to acknowledge them and instead spend our time complaining about the things that didn’t go the way we wanted them to. 

Have you heard of those Complaint Free Bracelets?  It’s a purple bracelet that you wear and every time you catch yourself complaining you switch the bracelet to the other wrist.  The goal is to go 21 days without any complaining.  I’ve thought about doing this many times, but fear owning up to the constant failure I would surely face in the beginning.  I see why this is successful, but I'm not in a rush to point out my mistakes. 

They say to spend more time praising children than you do correcting them.  If you want to train your dog give her a reward each time she performs the correct action.  If you want me to fix you dinner you will have better luck convincing me to pull out the pots and pans if you praise my cooking rather than reminding me of the meals I screwed up.  We have a positive response when given positive reinforcement…no surprises there!

What if we used positive reinforcement on ourselves as a way to celebrate when we remember to focus on the positive?  What if I had a praise bracelet?  I could switch the bracelet every time I found something to be thankful for in my day.  A bracelet may not be the best way to go about this, but you get the idea.  Something to acknowledge that I deserve a pat on the back for finding the things that I am thankful for.  When Troy asks for seconds at dinner I am much more excited to think about what I will cook for dinner the next night.  When I recognize myself focusing on the positive and switch my bracelet to the other hand I will be much more excited to look for the next reason to switch my bracelet. 

What ideas do you have?  How could I positively reinforce myself for recognizing and celebrating the bright sunshiny moments in life?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Reminder to pray


On the way home we passed a house that still has their Christmas lights up on the outside of their house.  Not only are they up, but they were actually turned on.  Christmas was exactly a month ago and by now most people have taken their decorations down, or at least stopped turning the lights on.  As Troy and I were talking about this I remembered something my mom once told me. 

I remember driving past a house well after Christmas and seeing their tree all lit up in the window.  After asking my mom why that family still had their tree up she offered the following response: maybe their dad was in the military and away from home and this family was waiting for their father to come home so they could celebrate Christmas with him. 

I will never know why that family left their tree up for so long, and I have no clue why the house we passed this evening still had their lights on, but every night as I pass that house I remember what my mom told me and I say a quick prayer for all those in the military who are away from their families right now. 

For many years now Christmas decorations being proudly displayed after the holiday have been a reminder to me of all the men and women who give up time with their families so that I can have time with mine. 

Do you have a random thing (like Christmas lights) in your life that remind you of something else that is completely unrelated? 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dreaming of a pink bike


A year ago Troy and I did a little daydreaming about purchasing bikes.  We drooled over the bikes at Walmart and Target and imagined ourselves going for bike rides around town.  We never got any further than daydreaming and eventually even the dream was forgotten about.  This weekend we felt the bicycles pulling us back towards them as we were wandering around Target. 

This time we are determined to actually purchase bikes and not just sit around on our butts thinking about them, so we are starting a Bike Fund.  Today I whipped up this fancy box you see in the above picture and put in the little bit of money we have set aside so far.  Our goal is to put extra cash in the box each pay period. 

Last year we wanted to spend the week of our anniversary in St. Louis, but had no money to pay for it and so I came up with the following "savings plan".  I researched all of the activities we were interested in doing and found coupons for as many as I could.  An envelope was created for each activity and for every meal.  Some meals were specific (Pi Pizza) and some were generic (fast food).  An activity/meal was posted on the front of an envelope as well as the dollar amount needed. 




After reviewing our budget we realized that the only place we could cut back on money was through food and essentials.  We set a bi-weekly Walmart budget and then worked to come in as far under budget as we could.  If our budget was $180 and we only spent $120 then we got to put $60 into the vacation envelopes.  This meant that we ate a lot of pancakes and ramen noodles.  We suffered through cheap toilet paper (and yes, that was suffering) so we could fill another envelope.  We took turns choosing which envelopes to stuff and alternating between nice meal envelopes (Spaghetti Factory) and not-so-nice meal envelopes (McDonalds) to donate our money to.  In the end we filled almost every envelope and got to do everything we wanted, plus we ate like royalty! 

We would never have been successful at saving that much money without the visual reminder posted right in front of us, so we are taking a similar approach for our Bike Fund.  Our brightly colored box is sitting in the pass-through from our kitchen to our living room.  We can't watch tv, play Wii, or eat without seeing the box and being reminded that we want bicycles. 


This is the bike I am currently fantasizing about.  I have just started researching bikes and am still not sure what I want.  I do know that I want a cruiser and I am drawn to the pink bikes everywhere we look.  I am not sure if I want a single speed or a multiple speed bike.  I never had a 10 speed bike with hand brakes when I was growing up because they scared me (fear of the unknown) and I still have no idea how they work.  Troy is convinced I need a fancy bike with multiple speeds so that I can make it up the hills.  I am not sold on the idea yet, but I am considering it.  No matter what kind of bike I end up getting I am sure I will need several re-learning sessions on flat ground to remind myself how to ride a bike. 

Today's sweet moment: creating the Bike Fund box so that we can work towards making our day dreams come true. 

Do you have a bike?  What kind?  Any suggestions for me about what kind of bike I should look for?  I need all the help I can get!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It snowed again

The snow was falling so fast last night.


11" in the driveway this morning

Pretty snow all around the house.

There used to be 4 steps...

The sun is extra bright with all that white snow!

Today I am super thankful that Troy made it home with no problems last night.  I encouraged him to go to work even though we knew the snowpocalypse was on the way, and then I made myself sick with worry waiting for him to walk through the door safe and sound at home.  Thank you for all the prayers to get us both home safely last night.  We both felt as though someone was watching over us as we were on the road and are incredibly grateful for all the prayers. 


Monday, January 17, 2011

Empathy

63791157_fb09daa11e_z_large

What is empathy?  In my search to find a definition I have come up with the following: Empathy is the ability to relate with the feelings, thoughts and experiences of others.  We celebrate their joy with them and share the burden of their pain.  We attempt to imagine what it would be like to be in the other persons shoes and experience what they are experiencing. 

I was out running some errands today when I came across a funeral procession.  I pulled my car to the shoulder, watched the cars drive by, and cried.  It doesn't matter that I didn't even know the person who died.  I cried for those who did know that person and were grieving the loss of a loved one.

This is not uncommon for me.  I can't watch the news because there are too many sad stories and it leaves me feeling ovewhelmed.  The fact that I had tears rolling off my cheek watching a funeral procession is not a surprise to me, or anyone who knows me well.  This is who I am. 

Today I am thankful for the tears I shed over the death of a stranger because it reminded me that God has given me a strong amount of empathy for others, and I need to be aware of that and use it in an advantageous way.  I'm not sure what that means yet, but I believe that things happen for a reason, and I believe there is a reason the concept of empathy has been at the front of my mind all day.  My mind and my heart are open to whatever is about to come my way.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Sweet Tooth


A box full of Peanut Butter Dreams


Earlier this week I received a very sweet Facebook message: I had won 1 dozen cupcakes from The Sweet Tooth!!  I had recently started cyber stalking this company (Facebook, blog, website) once I found out they were from my side of town AND planning to open a store front sometime this year.  You have no idea how many times I have wished for a real cupcakery closer to home. 

After I did a little happy dance and a lot of happy screaming I opened up their website to review my flavor options.  I have their website saved to my favorites on the laptop and have had to wipe the drool off my keyboard after reading all the flavor descriptions in the past.  This time was serious because I was actually going to get to eat 1 of these flavors and it was time to make a decision.  Troy and I reviewed the options, but quickly settled on the Peanut Butter Dream.  Chocolate and peanut butter are the perfect combination in my opinion, and although we briefly considered the S'mores cupcake, there was never any doubt which flavor we would eventually decide on. 

We picked the cupcakes up this afternoon and I did not waste any time getting into the box!  The smell of chocolate and peanut butter had filled the car the whole way home and it took all the strength I had not to bust one out on the drive.  I also want to mention how kind Trevor was in both the emails we exchanged and when I met him to pick up the cupcakes.  I enjoy meeting the people behind the cupcakes whenever I can and Trevor was as nice as could be.  He mentioned several times that the Peanut Butter Dream was his personal favorite, so that upped my excitement factor even more! 

These cupcakes are amazing!  Troy gave them a 9.5 out of 10...wow!  The cake was moist enough that it didn't fall apart when eating it which was much appreciated since I skipped the fork and decided to just take a big bite out of it.  My favorite part was the peanut butter chips mixed into the cake.  I was very pleasantly surprised each time I bit into one and I give the chips extra credit for making this cake so delicious. 

The frosting was smooth and creamy, like a good peanut butter frosting should be.  Sometimes frosting can be too sweet and too hard, but this one was just right.  I am a great frosting lover so I was a bit disappointed when I saw the amount of frosting on top of these cakes, but Trevor and Amy know what they are doing.  It was the perfect amount of frosting to go with the cake.  The whole thing was topped with smashed up peanut butter cups for that extra "mmmmm" factor. 

The plan is to share the cupcakes with my parents when they come over for lunch tomorrow....  Fingers crossed there are some left to share! 



I was really digging the cute little touches they added to their packaging.  The box was a pretty blue which got me all excited before I even saw the cupcakes inside.  I also loved this super cute business card specifically for the Peanut Butter Dream.  I'm assuming each flavor has their own card and for some reason it makes me think of a guy giving you his number.  "Hello, my name is Peanut Butter Dream and this is my number - Call me."  Too stinkin cute!

The Sweet Tooth cupcakes are currently available by order only, but there are plans of opening a store front and in my opinion it can't happen fast enough!  They have made their cupcakes available at special events around town in the past and I will definitely be looking for them to do this again (and I'll be sure to let the rest of you know when they do).  Trevor and Amy are all about giving back to charity and you know I'm loving that!  Don't shy away from this company simply because they do not have a store front yet.  You will not be disappointed. 

Cupcakes - Love - Happiness
(get it on a t-shirt here)

Today's sweet moment: winning a dozen (dreamy) reasons to smile :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reminder to self


Reminder to self:

If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world.

If you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation you are luckier than the 500 million people alive and suffering.

If you can read this message you are more fortunate than than the 3 billion people in the world that cannot read it at all. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You belong to someone

belong
Hands from here

In the book I am currently reading a young woman meets her grandfather for the very first time just two days before his execution on death row.  He has committed terrible crimes and his family has suffered a great deal of pain because of his past.  He has had plenty of time to reflect and to prepare for what he is about to face.  He is as ready as one can be in that situation.  Meeting his grandaughter is a great moment of joy in his final days.

The grandaughter has just discovered that she has a grandfather and at the same time, that she is about to lose her grandfather.  She has learned about his cruel past and I imagine she is somewhat frightened and disgusted by this man.  They may be related but they come from two very different worlds and she will never be ok with the terrible things her grandfather has done.  She still has a connection with this man simply because he is her family. 

When they finally meet they are too choked up with tears to do much talking.  He is her grandpa and she is his only grandaughter.  They are family, and that bond is stronger than anything else.

As I went about my day I looked at people in a new way.  That person belongs to someone.  That grouchy man is someone's dad and I imagine him reading a bed time story to his child.  The lady who never seems to stop complaining has a husband she is eternally thankful for and she showers him with love and compliments.  They all belong to someone who loves them. 

Yesterday I crossed paths with a man who I have found myself having negative thoughts towards in the past.  This time I looked at him and saw a father and a husband.  I imagined him sitting next to his wife at home and I imagined him spending Thanksgiving day with his grown children.  He belongs to people and he is loved. 

Our families love us just because we are family and we belong to each other.  We don't have to do anything to earn their love.  We love them simply because they are ours. 

Today I am thankful for the story of man on death row who has reminded me that everyone is special to someone.  I chose to view people in a new light today and looked at them as I imagine their loved ones look at them.  The harsh light I had previously seen them in was softened. 

The grandaughter in my book will mourn the loss of her grandfather  because no matter what he has done in the past he is still hers.  They are family. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day (!!!!...I think)

View out our back door this afternoon

Today was a half snow day for us.  Waahoo for getting to spend the afternoon at home watching the snow fall! 

Before I left work I found out that I will not be getting paid for the rest of the day, and that reminded me of something I wrote about in my post titled Emotional Fingerprint.  When I made up that imaginary situation about having a day off with no pay I never thought it would happen to me, at least not so soon.  I also thought I knew for sure which one of those responses belonged to me and I was surprised to realize that I voiced my (upset) opinion more than I thought I would. 

I'm so excited to have a bonus afternoon at home on a quiet snowy day that I'll worry about who's paying for it another day.  No need to stress over something I can't fix today.  Today is for cuddling!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Let's try again!

Happiness Party (in my head tomorrow) by Martha Stewart

Friday was a rough day.  I was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted by lunch time and I was only half way through the day.  I had to give myself a pep talk before leaving the lunch room and returning to my desk...thank goodness there was no one else in there at the time!  By the time I got home I didn't know if I needed to ease my aching muscles in the hot tub or ease my heart with a good cry and my brain had turned to jello and was unable to make a decision. 

I was sitting in the hot tub that night reviewing my day and all the things that were weighing on my mind.  The extra physical duties that I had done that day did not bother me and in fact I somewhat enjoyed being completely exhausted at the end of the day.  The scraped knuckles, numerous paper cuts, and twisted ankle would go away and were temporary proof that I had done more than type away at the computer all day.  The looooong to-do list would still be waiting for me on Monday and I will be able to go into the day knowing what to expect.  I would be mentally prepared. 

The real problem was that I had a big spot in my heart that was holding an unreasonable amount of anger towards someone.  I was struggling to let go of the anger I was feeling.  Earlier in the day I had realized that I was letting this person decide what kind of day I would have and I had tried to change my attitude by singing one of my favorite "calm" songs, but it was short lived.  I probably spent 20 minutes complaining about this person and my day to Troy on the way home that night.  I could not let go of the negative.

As I was sitting in the hot tub I knew I needed to let my anger and frustration go.  I was gaining nothing by being so upset.  I was causing unnecessary pain to myself and putting negativity into the world when I voiced my complaints to others.

And so I told myself to let it go.  I took a deep breath and released the anger and the frustration.  Yes, that sounds cheesy, but it worked.  I felt my shoulders relax and tension in my back began to ease itself away.  I made the decision that this person did not deserve to have this kind of control over my life and I took the control back.

I worked hard that day and I should have been celebrating and patting myself on the back.  I decide if I'm having a good day or a bad day, not someone else, it's all up to me.  I made the decision to let anger build up inside of me and I made the decision to spread that negative attitude to others.  I choose my attitude and I chose a poor one that day.

Tomorrow I go back to work and it is going to be another day very similar to Friday, but this time will be different because I am not going to let someone else decide my mood for me.  Even if the day is a repeat of Friday I know that there is no sense in letting myself get upset.  I will focus on the positive and I will remind myself that I choose my attitude...and I will choose the right one this time!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Open the door...again

Doors on Pinterest

There are doors between us and where we want to be.  When we set a goal we are given the key to that door, but it is still up to us to walk through it and face what is on the other side.

I recently heard about a man who applied for a very high position within a company.  Good for him for setting his goals so high and going after them!  Unfortunately he did not get the position, but you know what he did next?  He applied for a rather low position within the same company.  Is he crazy?  Surely he can not be serious.  I questioned his motive and simply wrote him off as having a few loose screws.  It’s hard to believe this guy could be committed to an entry level position when he also believes he is well suited to be the top dog. 

I then learned that his goal is to achieve that corner office with a view and he is willing to do whatever it takes to make that dream a reality.  Ok, now I see him as a man with a goal, and not crazy person who is just blindly applying for jobs.  An entry level position is probably below what he is capable of doing and is definitely less money than he is used to living on, but it’s a stepping stone to where he wants to be.  When the first door did not provide what he was looking for and was closed in front of him he moved on to the next door.  My view of this man changed when I learned about his goal. His first attempt was not successful and so he took a step back, re-evaluated, and tried again.

We don’t always get to start towards our goals with the ideal circumstances, but that shouldn’t stop us from working on them anyway.  I wonder how many people have already started to lose hope on their new years resolutions because of the voice in their head that is consistently reminding them that it’s only the first week and they’ve already screwed up.  You may have to take a step back and start over and that can be hard!  Open the door and take the first step, it gets easier after that. 

I screwed something up today and took a giant step backwards.  I wanted to quit, because giving up seemed so much easier than admitting that I’m not perfect.  So I waited… I waited until the pain I was feeling started to lessen and I could approach the situation without getting a lump in my throat.  I took some deep breaths and I opened the door again. 

"The greatest joy in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall." -Nelson Mandela

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Choose your media


Evidently Troy has always liked Joel Osteen, but I just recently learned of his love affair with this man's Sunday morning show.  Our DVR has several weeks worth of episodes saved for later viewing.  I can't seem to pay attention long enough to get the message out of what he is talking about.

There was an episode Troy recently watched about appreciating the small things in life and he has taken it to heart. I attempted to ignore the advertisements flashing across the screen by closing my eyes and ended up asleep.  I will have to attempt to watch it again someday because Troy says I will love it if I just try a little harder.

A week ago we were talking and Troy expressed his appreciation for something that many would have seen as a negative.  I was caught off guard and a smile began to stretch across my face from ear to ear.  Troy has been reading my blog and has actually gotten something out of it!  Life is good!!  I flashed my pearly whites and with a little too much excitement in my voice asked him where he got his inspiration for this new take on life.

His response....Joel Osteen!

POP!  My self esteem bubble just got deflated.  Here I am writing a blog about seeing the positive and I know for a fact that Troy reads it every day, but when Joel and I talk about the exact same thing it is Joel's message he remembers and takes to heart.  Does he not remember when I wrote about Choosing Happiness, Giving Back, or Why I Blog?

I gave him a hard time about it and he, of course, back tracked and tried to pretend that I misunderstood him.  If Joel Osteen is the voice that speaks to him, then I am thankful for the several weeks worth of episodes he has saved on the DVR.  If this man has said something that stuck with Troy so much that he has become the one pointing out the positives to me, then there must be something to what he said. 

Today I appreciate the extra effort Troy has taken to see the positive in the midst of negative.  Practice makes perfect (or at least better) and we are practicing like crazy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mercy Me - I Can Only Imagine



Today I am thankful for a husband that enjoys listening to the same music as me.  We had this song on repeat as we were in and out of the car all day long.  Even as we were listening to it for the 6th time we had the volume at the max and were still singing/screaming along with it.