Warmth – Soup, Home, Family


Exercise in Gratitude

Today I’m kicking off 365 days (or more) of gratitude.  I’m the first to admit that although I believe in gratitude and expressing it, I am not always the best in doing so.  When I forget about being grateful, I notice things don’t seem as joy filled as they are when I do.  So I intend to make it a habit to express my gratitude daily.

There will be days like today, that I will write about my gratitude here.  But I know there will be days when I forget, don’t have time or get a little crazy.  What I will commit to is posting on Twitter everyday no matter what.  You can follow me at @JVsimplified or hashtag #dailygratitude.

One of the reasons I want to write about my gratitude is I find more power in exploring why I’m grateful.  You can’t always do that in 140 characters.  It also allows me to share my gratitude in more places like Pinterest, Instagram @JVsimplified, and Facebook.

Day One – Warmth of  Home, Family and a bowl of New England Clam Chowdah

Today is the coldest day of the year.  It was -10 this morning when I woke up and the house took 2 hours to get up to a reasonable temperature.  Brrrr.

I am grateful for the warmth coming out of my heaters and my fake fireplace.  I am grateful for the warmth coming from my oven.  I am grateful for my hot cup of tea and the warmth of my New England clam chowder I had for lunch.

Today is also the day my Dad came home from the hospital after nearly a week’s stay.  He was grumpy, but I’m grateful he is healing and for my sister and brother-in-law.  Their love and support is the biggest source of warmth in my day.

Sacred Space


My Sacred Space

Most mornings I journal.  What I write about isn’t as important as writing.

This morning I pondered why this daily ritual was so important.  The truth is, my journal is my sacred space.  When everything seems to be moving at the speed of light, I know each morning, there is a friend patiently waiting just to listen to me.

A sacred space is an oasis in your life where you can sit back and reflect without interruption.  It doesn’t matter whether it is a church, temple, or the ocean going there reminds you to slow down and listen to the wisdom of your inner voice.

I often crave time alone to decompress.  Just like you, I have whirlwind days.  After a 12-14 hour day I thankfully flop into my bed falling asleep after barely closing my eyes.  Alone time consists of driving from place to place.

When I don’t journal I feel out of sorts.  I get grumpy and frustrated.  Give me some peppermint tea and my journal in the quiet early morning hours and all becomes right with the world.

This week notice what sacred spaces you have created.  They don’t have to be traditional. Cooking sauce from a family recipe.  Reading a favorite novel.  Watching a fire glow in the fireplace.  It doesn’t matter where your sacred space is.  All that matters is you recognize the wonderful gift it brings into your life.

Clear Out Your Priorities



I finally cleared my garden this weekend. It feels like yesterday when I carefully put in the baby tomato plants that now I pull out with vigor ready for Fall’s squash and apples.

As we grow older, our lives seem to move faster.  What I realized today, is the pace doesn’t change, our attention changes.  With age we become distracted.  Whether it is with the daily to do list, or the worries about family, friends and business, we seem to fritter away our precious minutes, thus time appears to move faster.

My tomato plants don’t mourn that it is fall.  They don’t bemoan the upcoming winter season.  Instead they continue to cherish each ray of sunlight and rain drop until it is time to sleep.

We give so much of our time…ourselves away every day.  We over commit.  We push through.  We forget to cherish the sunlight, golden trees and even the rain.

After a day in the garden my priorities seem sorted once again.  Although I’m sure tomorrow I will feel sore, my garden brought me back to the present.  It felt more like two or three days instead of one.

This week notice what brings you into the present.  Is it spending time with your kids?  Is it cooking a fabulous meal in the middle of the week?  Is it walking through the woods?  Whatever it is, note it and remind yourself to go back there often.  You can recapture and slow time once you move into the present.

I’m off to make tomato jam (one of my newest discoveries this summer).  Enjoy your week!

Less is More


Summer Lessons



Waning Summer

My sister and I were talking on the phone the other day lamenting the end of summer.  It seemed to come as such a miracle to us here in New England this year, it is hard to see it pass.

A reader of my Monday Inspirations reminded me throughout the summer that “Vacation is a state of mind.” (Thanks Wayne!) It has been a mantra all summer long.

Now in the twilight of the season, I realize the quote above is also a subtle mantra I have been adopting this summer.

Getting Caught Up In Stuff

Summer allows us to shed what we don’t need.  We live out of beach bags.  We open the windows and simplify our homes.  The garden grows of its own accord.

As I put my fall calendar together, I find myself slipping away from the vacation mindset being replaced by “I’ll get through it.”  I am getting caught up in stuff again and it doesn’t feel as good as summer did.   A familiar stress seeps back into my life.  I feel my shoulders tighten as I add another to do to the ever expanding list.  I sit back and sigh.

I take a deep breath and then another.  I repeat “All I have is all I need and all I need I have in this moment.”  I grab a water and stroll through the garden marveling at all that has been provided for me.  Gratitude replaces the stress.

Summer is Gratitude for What Is

I’ve learned the vacation mindset isn’t just about getting away.  It is about letting go of the stressful stuff and giving thanks for all that is in your life.  It is looking beyond your four walls and seeing there is a beautiful world out there full of wonder, surprises and yes, everything you need.

If you feel your summer being cut short, take a moment and get back into the vacation mindset.  You have everything you need to be happy.  Take a moment and look around.

Meditation Anywhere

Meditation is refreshment,If we bump into each other at the gym, fair warning, I might be on the treadmill with my eyes closed so don’t laugh.

I know I am on the treadmill to get my heart pumping, I’ve found a different goal…meditation.

It sounds crazy, right?  Why would you meditate at the gym?

Let’s be honest, being on a treadmill isn’t the most stimulating mental activity so I began listening to audio books.  One stressful day, I decided to meditate, and my world shifted.

Treadmill time is my daily mini vacation.

Taking small breaks, helps you stay focused. They make you feel re-energized.  This week, try to take 15 minutes during the day and do something just for you.  Read a chapter in an inspiring book.  Have a quiet cup of tea somewhere beautiful.  Take a walk in nature.

Whatever you choose for your meditation vacation, do so with love.  Let go of the day for those few minutes.  You’ll come back a different person.

Summer Vacation – Week One



A New View of Vacation

Without the standard family vacation, I found myself floundering at the beginning of the summer.  At first I was depressed facing a vacationless summer.

What if the whole summer was my vacation? The thought inspired me.  I would have designated work days and times, but the rest of the time were for relaxing, exploring and living a vacation life.

The French Do It

At first my ego went crazy.  Who are you to think you can work like that?  It will never work.  On and on it screamed causing me to waiver.

Did you know in France they get 31 vacation days!  That is even less than Austria and Portugal which both allow for 35 vacation days (USAToday)

These numbers reminded me that it is possible to be productive and still take time to enjoy life, so I dove in.  Over the Fourth of July, I officially started my summer long vacation.

Week One

I was work free the entire Fourth of July weekend to get in the mode.  On Tuesday, I began my vacation/work schedule.  The first day of “work” I over did it, getting caught up in old habits.  Instead of respecting my boundaries, I sat at my computer for 12 hours!.

When I inspected the work completed, however, I saw how ineffective I spent my day.  I got lost on the internet several times, found myself on Facebook re-reading posts, and didn’t even answer all my emails.

Not only that, I found myself resisting vacation activities. For example when my sister asked if I wanted to take a day off the following week, my initial reaction was, “No, I’m busy” or “I have to work.”  I had to fight not to say either of those.

Instead I said, “Let me get back to you.”  When I cleared the resistance, I found I couldn’t wait to spend the day with her.

Lesson One

Working like you are on vacation means boundaries.  It means hard start and stop times.  It means respecting time, not wasting it.

I’m sure more lessons will come and I will keep you updated on my progress.

The Best Solutions Come From Love


“The best solutions will be found through loving thoughts and perhaps a good cup of coffee.” ~ Jen Vondenbrink

What I’ve found to be true is the best, most creative solutions have come when I’ve given up the “have to” thoughts and instead focused on loving thoughts.  When the solution presents itself, I find myself saying, “Of course, that is the right way to go.”

Loving thoughts are those that have no agenda but the good for all concerned.  In the business world, this may be called a “win-win” solution.  No one loses.  Everyone gains.

When you engage in thoughts that are not loving when trying to find a solutions, you will arrive at a very long to do list that feels overwhelming.  Literally your heart will not be in it.  As you proceed, you begin to dread each action.  Soon what seemed like the perfect solution, ends up being pushed to the side, ignored or faced with obstacle after obstacle.

I’ve seen this in my own personal life with my financial goals, weight loss or even relationships.  The more I solely focus with my head, the more off track I become.

I’ve also seen this in corporate and business goals.  At the beginning of the fiscal year, anything seems possible.  Budgets are refreshed.  Outlooks are positive. Goals are set with heads.  By this time of year, panic sets in because you haven’t looked at those goals in months.  When you do, you realize you are off the mark.  Then you spend the rest of the year trying to make up the difference.

I fall into this trap.  Every year I dedicate a notebook to the following year’s goals.  I engage my brain in what logically makes sense.  I write plans.  I write calendars.  When I look at this year’s notebook, sure I’ve accomplished some of those objectives, but the women’s retreat I’m planning for October wasn’t even on my radar.  That solution came strictly from my heart and it has been a joy to work on.

If you have a problem you are struggling to solve, grab a cup of coffee, tea or your favorite beverage.  Find a quiet spot and engage your heart in a solutions discussion.  If doing this is new, you will need to pay attention to the small whispers.  They won’t seem like much, but capture them for they are the seeds of something great.

Planning Quotes – Quotes about Plans

If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans. ~ Anne Lamott

Quotes About Magic

Books are a unique portable magic. ~ Stephen King

Just remember that Dumbo didn’t need the feathers; the magic was in him. ~ Stephen King

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